Calvinist Smackdown

smackdownThe following is in response to a friend who shared his concerns over the apparent arrogant and condescending behavior of some Calvinists. Note: I am a Calvinist.

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I want to begin by acknowledging what I see as the two groups within the little “r” reformed camp to which you may be referring. I intentionally use the little “r” reformed to identify them as not all who claim the title of reformed are truly Reformed.

First is the group which has come to be known as “cage stage Calvinists”. This group is made up of brothers and sisters who have come to the Calvinistic view of soteriology and have adopted a generally pugnacious approach to…well, just about everyone. It’s said that this stage is just that…a stage and that it will pass. I’ve found that to be true for the most part. I know that I went through that stage myself, having come out of the Charismatic Arminian Credobaptist Premillenial Dispensational camp through the study of God’s Word.

The second group are what I refer to as the Smackdown Calvinists. This group is known for it’s arrogance, condescension and an all-around smackdown approach. Folks in this category have built their internet reputations on this behavior. They take pride in their ability to execute a theological bully beat-down, wielding doctrinal acumen like a club. I suspect that this is the group which you’re addressing and for the record, I agree with your view of this group completely. Their behavior is a blemish on the Body of Christ. Jude 1:12 They are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

Having said all that, I want to add that arrogance and condescension is not confined to those who hold to a Calvinistic view. In fact, I’ve found what I consider to be the height of arrogance coming from one of the most noted Arminian theologians today, Dr. Roger E. Olson, Professor of Theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. Dr. Olson maintains a blog at Patheos.com where he regularly airs his disagreements with Calvinism. In a post dated 21 May, 2014 Dr. Olson stated, “…if it were revealed to me in a way I could not doubt that the God of consistent, five point Calvinism is the one true God over all, the maker of heaven and earth, I would not worship him because I would not think him worthy of worship.”

In other words, if it was proven to him that the God of Scripture did not meet with his approval and his definition, He would be unworthy of worship.

Are some Calvinists arrogant, condescending and snarky? Undoubtedly. But, Dr. Olson shows us all what true arrogance looks like.

Willful Ignorance?

According to an article updated 14 December, 2016 at My South Now (part of the USA Today network) by Tiffany Stoiber, a staff reporter wrote…

chantry“The elder said that a committee of church association members investigated the claims, which included interviewing every adult and child at the church about their contact with Chantry.


“After the church investigation, the elder said in the report that other elders, parents, and other church members were “not happy with the end result.” He added that the church association told parents about their options, including reporting the incidents to law enforcement; however, it seems that no families contacted the police at that time.”

“According to a police report filed in January 2016, an elder of the church reported that Chantry had, during a private meeting, admitted to spanking some kids at the church and said that “maybe he had taken it too far.” He added that Chantry apologized to one of the families and left the town a few days after.”

arbcaAccording to the article, these statements are from a January 2016 offense report from the Prescott (AZ) Police Department. 

Presumably, the church association to which the elder was referring is the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches or the ARBCA of which Miller Valley Baptist Church of Prescott, AZ is a member according to it’s Our History page. It should be noted that Christ Reformed Baptist Church of Hales Corners, WI is also a member of the ARBCA.

This then begs the question…

• Why would the ARBCA knowingly allow Chantry to take a position at another ARBCA member church?
• Was Christ Reformed Baptist Church informed of Chantry’s past confession to the association committee when they hired him?
• Were the parents of Christ Reformed Baptist Church made fully aware of Chantry’s proclivity for spanking by the very same association which reportedly investigated the claims of abuse and told parents “their options”, which included reporting the incidents to law enforcement?
•  Likewise, were the parents of students at Christian Liberty Academy made fully aware of the above?

Are churches, denominations and associations truly so ignorant of the difference between a crime and an issue of church discipline and the fact that pastors and elders must be mandatory reporters?

Update: As of 20 December, 2016 Chantry’s bail was revoked according to Arizona state law and he is now incarcerated in the Yavapai County Detention Facility in Camp Verde, AZ.

If The Watchman Does Not Warn

thewatchman‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ – Ezekiel 33:6

How is it that the church can regularly address the sins of homosexuality, adultery and abortion in the world around us, but when one of the most heinous of sins, committed under the cloak of shepherding the flock, a sin which many in the fallen world still view as beyond redemption, is committed in our midst we become flaccid, impotent enablers?

Where Are the Protectors of the Flock?

big-fat-pastor

Here We Are Again

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. – Luke 17:1-2

Forgive me if I don’t articulate my thoughts perfectly today, but I’m angry. To be blunt, you should be angry, too. The fact that I’m even writing the following four words should make all of us very, very angry, Church.

Here we are again.

Again the usual suspects are following standard damage control procedure. The Celebrity Pastors Club, the ones with a platform and a voice and a mic, are either mute or wagging their fingers with the usual “Let’s not rush to judgment” scold. Wringing their hands over the Twitter Trial that’s sure to come, the clergy class are circlin’ the wagons and hinting that the victims are untrustworthy.circlingwagons

When pressed, “What if he is convicted?”, we’re met with the flaccid, “He should receive the due penalty under the law.”

What is it you want, you may be asking.

I want outrage, that’s what I want.

This is outrageous and deserving of outrage. I want a shepherd with guts and a spine who will stand up and be a shepherd, taking the rod in his hand, thundering at the top of his voice, “ENOUGH!” I want a shepherd who will beat back the wolves and for once defend the sheep instead of his fellow shepherds.

I want to hear men of God demand justice be done and call this what it is. WICKED! WICKED! WICKED!

The Purple Prose of Voskamp

 

voskamp-limerick

Voskamp spoke at Moody Bible Institute’s Founders Week on 3 February, 2016.  She said, “The insanity of the Creator of the cosmos dwindling down to earth, and his trembling slick appendages and one damp fist unfolds on the planet he himself breathed into.”

Hopeless Hope – A Repost

From the archives, March, 2010

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What is it like to live without hope?  With the dramatic changes that we’re  currently undergoing in our nation, hope is a precious commodity.  In truth, it always has been.  As a Christian, hope is a cornerstone of my faith, my very life.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteous.  Every Christian should be able to heartily affirm that phrase.  But, tragically, some cannot.  For some, hope is built on personal decisions for Christ, good behavior, and self-righteousness.

When I consider the Arminian view of evangelism and salvation, my heart aches with sadness for my brothers and sisters who cling to the notion that a Christian can lose their salvation and that we are responsible, through concerted human effort, for bringing the lost to Christ.

What must it be like to wake each morning, place your feet on the floor and wonder if this will be the day you’ll lose your salvation?  Will it be during breakfast, or on the drive to work?  Will it be while cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry?  Will I return to an unregenerate state over lunch or during afternoon rush-hour traffic?  And, what will be the catalyst?  Will it be a lack of faith?  A doubt of God’s existence?  A moment of anger or jealousy?  What tripwire will send me hurdling from redeemed to reprobate?  A temptation?  A lustful or covetous thought? A curse or cross word?  What event will snatch me from the Father’s hand? John 10:29.  As Christians we may all agree that Christ secures our salvation, but for some this security extends only so far.  For some, Christ wins our salvation but He does not keep it.  No, that is a duty laid squarely on our shoulders.

This is also the case with evangelism.  Some believe that the burden of bringing the lost to Christ rests entirely on the shoulders of the saints.  A few days ago I was running an errand and I turned on the radio in the car.  The Bible Answer Man was on, and host Hank Hanegraaff took a call from an older women.  She began to speak, through tears pouring out her regret that she’d not done enough to secure her husband’s salvation during their 38 years of marriage.  She wept over the fact that she could have prayed more, could have shared the Gospel more, could have simply done something more in her efforts to save her husband.  Her anguish reminded me of the film Schindler’s List.  Schindler’s List was released in 1993.  It earned seven Oscars including best picture.  Adapted from the book “Schindler’s Ark”, it told the true story of German business man Oskar Schindler who, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, saved over 1,000 Jews by hiring them as workers for his factory.  In the closing scene of the film, the workers present Mr. Schindler a ring with an inscription.  Overcome with emotion, he says…

“I could have got more out.  I could have got more.  If I’d just…if I’d made more money.  I threw away so much money.  You have no idea.   If I’d just…I didn’t do enough.  This car…he would have bought this car.  Why did I keep the car?  Ten people right there.  Ten people.  Ten more people.  This pin…two people.  This is gold.  Two more people.  He would have given me two for it, at least one.  He would have given me one…one more.  One more person.  A person who’s dead.  For this…I could have gotten one more person and I didn’t.”

As Christians we should weap for the lost and we should desire to share the Gospel in fulfillment of the Great Commission.  We should agonize over lost opportunities and chances which have slipped through our fingers.  But, when we believe that the redeemed come because of our efforts, rather than by grace alone, rather than by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, we take on a mantle of authority which does not belong to us.  When we cease to view ourselves as a conduit who in obedience to Christ delivers the one, true Gospel, we elevate ourselves to a level where we do not belong.

As I drove home I wept for the woman who phoned into the Bible Answer Man broadcast.  She wept much the way Oskar Schindler did.  And, what comfort did Hank Hanegraaff offer?  Did he remind her of God’s sovereignty in all things, including salvation?  Did he tell her that, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:16.  No.  He told her to confess her sins then quickly went to a commercial break which advertised CRI’s upcoming Caribbean cruise.

More about losing your salvation by Pastor John Samson…

If You Don’t Know, You Have No Business Voting

wgrudemOn February 20, 2016, Dr. Wayne Grudem was the featured speaker at the Illinois Family Institute Worldview Conference held in Barrington, Illinois where he addressed the issue of Christians and their choice of political candidates, placing a strong emphasis on, in his words, “moral character”.

Throughout his talk Grudem repeatedly stated, “Does moral character no longer matter?  Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people,” referencing Proverbs 14:34.

He continued by naming several recent presidential candidates and political figures, beginning with then Senator John Edwards. Grudem noted Edward’s extra-marital affair with a staff member, stating,

“[Edwards] political future crashed and burned because the nation decided that a man who cannot be trusted to be faithful to his marriage surely cannot be trusted to lead the most powerful nation on earth.”

He then went on to list former Governor Mark Sanford, General David Pattreus, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, though he declined to call Trump by name saying, “I’m not going to mention this candidate’s name. If you don’t know, you have no business voting.” Grudem described Trump as the candidate who, “Has earned millions of dollars from…strip clubs in his casinos.”

Subsequently, on July 28, 2016 an article by Grudem was published entitled Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice.  The article originally appeared at Townhall.com, but was subsequently removed and replaced on October 9, 2016  with a retraction entitled, Trump’s Moral Character and the Election. In the retraction Grudem writes,

“I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.”

In other words, Grudem states that he was unaware of the true extent of Trump’s lack of moral character and if he’d known, he wouldn’t have endorsed him. This statement stands in stark contrast to his emphatic remarks at the Illinois Family Institute Worldview Conference in February. Following is the portion of the video where Grudem addresses Trumps lack of moral character.

Transcript:
“Now we have a Republican candidate leading in many polls who boasts that he has slept with many women, married and unmarried. Many of the most beautiful women in the world, he boasts about it and yet he’s leading in many polls. Does a man’s moral character no longer matter, in choosing someone to be the most powerful man in the world? Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. Pastors, are you speaking about the fact that moral character matters? Or if you’re tempted to support this candidate have you forgotten that moral character matters?  The same candidate has earned millions of dollars from being the first casinos in the United States, those he owned, to put strip clubs in his casinos. Strip clubs that exploit young women and leave lasting emotional scars for the rest of their lives, that corrupt the men who patronize those strip clubs and scar their souls for the rest of their lives and he’s made millions of dollars off of it. Does moral character no longer matter?  Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. This same candidate recently said on national television, I’m not going to mention this candidate’s name. If you don’t know, you have no business voting.”

Note:  This 3:36 minute clip from the original 22:22 minute video is used under the Fair Use Doctrine for the purpose of Commentary and Criticism.

What Remains of Christianity’s Moral High Ground

moralhighground

Let Me Think About That

donald-trump-holds-bibleFollowing is Wayne Grudem’s statement regarding his support for Trump as it appears in the Wall Street Journal, 7 October, 2016.

“Wayne Grudem, a prominent evangelical who has called Mr. Trump the “morally good choice” in his race against Mrs. Clinton, declined to say on Friday whether he still supported Mr. Trump after listening to the recording. “Let me think about that,” he said when reached at his Arizona home.”

Awaiting a full statement from Grudem.

Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Original Article

wayne-grudem-at-frc Following is an article written by Dr. Wayne Grudem and published at Townhall.com. on July 28, 2016. It’s title was, Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice. It was removed on or about October 9, 2016 without comment.

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Some Christian friends tell me they can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump because, when faced with a choice between “the lesser of two evils,” the morally right thing is to choose neither one. They recommend voting for a third-party or write-in candidate.

As a professor who has taught Christian ethics for 39 years, I think their analysis is incorrect, for reasons that I will briefly mention here and that I have explained in greater detail elsewhere:

I did not support Trump in the primary season, but now that Trump has won the GOP nomination, I think voting for Trump is a morally good choice because he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. I do not think Trump is an “evil candidate,” but rather a good candidate with flaws.

I agree that he is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people.

But he is not racist or anti-(legal) immigrant or anti-Semitic or misogynistic – these are unjust magnifications by a hostile press exaggerating some careless statements he has made. I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. But the main reason I call him “a good candidate with flaws” is that I think most of the policies he supports will do the most good for the nation.

The nation under Clinton

If this election is close (which seems likely), then if someone votes for a write-in candidate instead of voting for Trump, this action will directly help Hillary Clinton, because she will need one less vote to win. Therefore the question that Christians should ask is this: Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps a liberal like Hillary Clinton win the presidency?

Clinton would quickly replace Justice Scalia with another liberal like Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. This would give liberals a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court even without Justice Kennedy, and 6-3 when he votes with them.

But that is not all. Justice Ginsburg is 83, and she has had colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and has a heart stent. Justice Kennedy is 80. Justice Breyer is 78. A President Clinton could possibly nominate three or four justices to the Supreme Court, locking in a far-left activist judiciary for perhaps 30 or more years.

Liberal Democrats are now within one Supreme Court justice of their highest goal: gaining permanent control of the nation with a five vote majority on the Supreme Court, and then systematically imposing every liberal policy on the nation not through winning elections but through a relentless parade of one Supreme Court decision after another. The nation would then no longer be ruled by the people and their elected representatives, but by unelected, unaccountable, activist judges

The nation under Trump

But if Trump would appoint a conservative replacement for Scalia (as he has promised), and probably one or two other Supreme Court justices, then we could see a 5-4 or even 6-3 majority of conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Such a Supreme Court would finally return control of the nation to the people and their elected representatives, removing it from dictatorial judges who repeatedly make law from the bench.

Unborn children would finally be protected from being killed, and our religious liberty would once again be protected rather than trampled.

In addition, Trump has pledged to reduce taxes and cancel onerous regulations on business, leading to a substantial expansion of businesses, more jobs, and higher pay. Finally our economy would snap out of its eight years of anemic growth. This would help the poor and the unemployed most of all.

Trump has promised to expand school choice in our inner cities, something badly needed by many minority children, but Hillary Clinton will bow to the teachers unions and oppose school choice at every turn.

Trump has promised to rapidly rebuild our depleted military forces, but Clinton would continue the liberal policy of weakening them through denying funding.

And Trump’s policies would bring far better results in rebuilding our military, securing our borders, defeating terrorism, standing up to China and Russia, protecting Israel, removing foolish restrictions on oil and coal energy supplies, and repealing the disaster of Obamacare and replacing it with a much better free-market-oriented system.

How can we know that Trump won’t change his mind? 

“But Trump has changed his mind in the past,” a politically-minded friend said to me. “How do you know that he will do what he has promised?’

In the history of American politics, candidates who have been elected president have occasionally changed their minds on one or another issue while in office, but no president has ever gone back on most of what he has promised to do, especially on issues that are crucially important in the election. In this election, it is reasonable to think that the most likely result is that both Trump and Clinton will do what they have promised to do. That is the basis on which we should decide how to vote.

Does character matter? 

“But are you saying that character doesn’t matter?” someone might ask. I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.

In addition, if someone makes character the only factor to consider, that is a fallacy in ethical reasoning that I call “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered. In this election, an even larger factor is the future of the nation that would flow from a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

Consider instead the most likely results. The most likely result of voting for Trump is that he will govern the way he promises to do, bringing much good to the nation.

But the most likely result of not voting for Trump is that you will be abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death under Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court, thousands of Christians who will be excluded from their lifelong occupations such as having just, thousands of the poor who will never again be able to find high-paying jobs in an economy crushed by government hostility toward business, thousands of inner-city children who will never be able to get a good education, thousands of the sick and elderly who will never get adequate medical treatment when the government is the nation’s only healthcare provider, thousands of people who will be killed by an unchecked ISIS, and millions of Jews in Israel who will find themselves alone and surrounded by hostile enemies. And you will be contributing to a permanent loss of the American system of government due to a final victory of unaccountable judicial tyranny.

When I look at it this way, my conscience, and my considered moral judgment, tell me that I must vote for Donald Trump as the candidate who is most likely to do the most good for the United States of America.

Dr. Wayne A. Grudem is a celebrated theologian, seminary professor, and author. He has held the presidency of the Evangelical Theological Society and served as the general editor of the ESV Study Bible.  

Irenicism a/k/a The Red Herring

redherringTodd Pruitt has addressed the latest salvo from the ESS camp here. The article to which his post refers, “Where are the Gentleman Theologians?” by Dr. Jason Duesing of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is simply the well worn red herring commonly known as, ‘Let’s All Be Nice’.

This seems to suggest that the ESS controversy is nothing more than an in-house debate, and thus the call for irenicism. And, why not? This approach has been quite effective in disarming defenders of the faith in the past because who among us wants to be labeled as “unloving”? Niceness, after all, has become the gold standard for the postmodern Christian.

The discussion often sounds something like this…

“You’re teaching and promoting soul-damning heresy.”

“That wasn’t very nice.”

“But, you’re teaching and promoting soul-damning heresy.”

“Can’t we be gentlemen about this?”

“This error is leading the bond-servants astray.”

“I don’t care for your personal attacks.”

“We must uphold the sound teaching of God’s Word.”

“This is quite unhelpful.”

“We must defend and guard the truth against damnable heresy.”

“Wow. Just wow.”

“This is a biblical doctrine which is non-negotiable.”

“Hater. I’m not going to tolerate such unloving and unhelpful rhetoric.”

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