Reformation Day and SBC Calvinism

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The original article from the Illinois Baptist Paper referenced in this broadcast can be found by CLICKING HERE.


Is being “Reformed” synonymous with being “Calvinistic?”

No. The fact of the matter is that not all Reformers were five-point Calvinists. Many in Western Christianity have come to think of “Reformed Theology” as being synonymous with “Calvinistic Soteriology,” but that is historically inaccurate. Dr. Roger Olson explains:

“One of the major irritants (for me and many others) about the ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ movement is its leaders’ and followers’ tendency to identify ‘Reformed’ extremely narrowly—as focused on ‘the doctrines of grace’ (as they call them) meaning T.U.L.I.P.  The movement ought to be called ‘Young, Restless, Calvinist.’ Somehow that just doesn’t have the same ‘ring’ as ‘Young, Restless, Reformed,’ though. The problem is that the leading spokesmen for the movement would exclude many more classically Reformed people as not truly Reformed. And yet most of them are not ‘truly Reformed’ by the standards recognized by the World Communion of Reformed Churches! (All of those denominations practice infant baptism.)… Arminius and the early Remonstrants were historically-theologically Reformed. They just disagreed with the narrow definition of ‘Reformed’ being touted by the likes of Franciscus Gomarus and Prince Maurice (the power behind the Synod of Dort). The Reformed Churches of the United Provinces (Netherlands) by all accounts did not then (before Dort) have any authoritative doctrinal standards that excluded the Remonstrants who could gladly affirm the Heidelberg Catechism even though they wanted it revised. It was Dort that made Arminianism ‘heretical’ within the Reformed Churches of the United Provinces. And many Reformed theologians around Europe did not agree with Dort; some from England walked out of the Synod when they saw what a kangaroo court it was and how narrowly ‘Reformed’ was being defined there.”[1]

It is easy to minimalize the grand historical narrative by focusing attention on those scholars who best represent our given theological perspective. Human nature drives us all to paint the former advocates of our perspective in the best possible light while potentially neglecting to reflect upon the views of other lesser known Christian leaders. If experience tells us anything, however, the popularity and influence of any particular leader does not validate his or her beliefs.

Granted, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin were highly influential leaders of the Reformation. However, their views—though more closely aligned with TULIP soteriology—are a far cry from the five-point Calvinistic views resurging today. For instance, many scholars, including those sympathetic to Calvinistic soteriology, acknowledge that Calvin tended toward “unlimited atonement” in contrast to the more rigid limitations that became popularized in the later development of Calvinistic predestinarianism.[2]

In fact, if Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin lived today while maintaining their 16th century theological convictions, very few modern day Calvinists would even dare to be associated with them. These three well-known reformers held to some very questionable beliefs and practices. For instance, Calvin believed the sacrament of the Eucharist provided the “undoubted assurance of eternal life to our minds, but also secures the immortality of our flesh,”[3] while Luther condoned bigamy[4] and was known for his foul language. Philipp Melanchthon, Luther’s co-worker and friend, admitted that he could “neither deny, nor excuse, or praise” Luther’s vulgarity.[5] More shockingly, these two Reformers were known to have condoned the use of torture and even burning to death those who disagreed with them theologically. (Note: Please read this article in its entirety before critiquing it as being unfairly biased against Calvinistic believers.)

Luther believed the Anabaptist practice of “every member functioning in the church” was from “the pit of hell.” Within two decades, hundreds of laws were passed making this “Anabaptist heresy” a capital offense. As a result, many Bible-believing Christians were burned to death for their convictions with Luther’s encouragement and blessing.[6]

In Geneva, where Calvin ruled, a child was beheaded for striking his parents, and his own step-daughter and son-in-law were executed for adultery. Jacques Gruet dared to disagree with Calvin, calling him “ambitious” and a “haughty hypocrite.” Calvin ordered Gruet to be nailed to a stake by his feet where he was tortured until eventually beheaded for “blasphemy and rebellion.”[7] A friend of Calvin, Sabastian Castellio, rebuked his intolerance and cruelty by saying in part, “If Christ himself came to Geneva, he would be crucified. For Geneva is not a place of Christian liberty. It is ruled by a new pope [John Calvin], but one who burns men alive while the pope at Rome strangles them first.”[8]

In contrast, lesser-known leaders, like Balthasar Hubmaier, laid the foundation for the Reformation while standing for Christian liberty, believer’s baptism, and many of the same Christ-like values we hold to today. Before the rise of Luther or Calvin, Hubmaier—and others like him—took on the abuses of the Catholic church while defending even the atheist’s right to live in peace. While Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and many other reformers who left Catholicism continued to rely on state powers for the execution of “heretics,” great men like Hubmaier stood for Christian love and respect, even for his enemies, which sounds a lot like Jesus.[9]

Hubmaier was a popular preacher in his day and is said to have baptized around six thousand persons in Nikolsburg alone. Not long after enduring months of torture for teaching believer’s baptism, under the rule of Ulrich Zwingli, Hubmaier and his wife were arrested by authorities and tried for heresy. On March 10, 1528, he was burned alive. Three days later, his wife was tossed into a river with a large stone tied around her neck.[10]

Hubmaier taught a non-Calvinistic soteriology. He believed that it was by the means of the gospel that God takes the initiative in drawing all people to himself. As the gospel is proclaimed, God’s Spirit convicts human hearts and leads them to confess Christ. While God takes the initiative, he does not make the decision for man.  By His “attracting, drawing will . . . God wills and draws all men unto salvation.  Yet the choice is still left to man, since God wants him without pressure, unconstrained, under no compulsion.” [11] According to Hubmaier’s own testimony, his belief that God genuinely loved and desired the salvation of all His enemies influenced his views on religious liberty. He argued, “a heretic is not convinced by our act, either with the sword or with fire, but only with patience and prayer.”[12]

The simple fact is that not all Reformers held to the five-point Calvinistic soteriology being popularized today. Little attention, for instance, is given to the influence of the Protestant Anabaptists or Christian Brethren movement which flourished in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and other countries during the 16th century. Anabaptists were most notably associated with the doctrine of adult believer’s baptism, the separation of church and state, and voluntary church membership. But history reveals that their soteriology, as it developed, was anything but Calvinistic. While there was no direct link from the Anabaptists to the growth of the Baptist churches in England, it is very likely that the latter were influenced in their beliefs and attitudes by the former.[13]

But, even if we were to limit our historical studies to the inner circle at the heart of what has been popularized as the Reformation’s beginnings, one cannot overlook the influence of Reformed theologian, Phillip Melanchthon. An influential friend of both Martin Luther and John Calvin, Melanchthon accepted an invitation to become the University of Wittenberg’s first professor of Greek, where he worked closely with the other more notable Reformers. Melanchthon went on to publish the Loci communes rerum theologicarum (“Theological Commonplaces”), the first systematic treatment of Reformation thought, and The Augsburg Confession, a popular statement later to be endorsed by the Lutheran Church.[14]

Modern Calvinistic scholars understandably highlight the role of men like Luther, given his treatise The Bondage of the Will, but Melanchthon (the arguably more accomplished scholar) is often overlooked. And Calvin, though a close friend, took great issue with Melanchthon’s soteriology, as would most Calvinistic scholars today.[15] Melanchthon affirmed a more corporate approach to the doctrine of predestination, while rejecting the typical Calvinistic view that God predetermines to save some individuals to the neglect of the rest. For instance, Melanchthon wrote,

“The eternal fate of individuals was in their own hands at the moment when they heard the Spirit-illumined Gospel promises. Altogether, therefore, the choice for a saving faith in Jesus had three origins: the Word, the Spirit, and the individual free will.”[16]

No scholar worth his salt could make the case that Philipp Melanchthon was not a significant 16th century Biblical scholar who deserves at least as much recognition for his role in the Reformation as the likes of Calvin, Zwingli and even Luther. In fact, Robert Kolb’s research demonstrates that the majority of expositors followed Melanchthon rather than Luther in saying that Romans 9, while not exalting human merit, does not deny a general atonement that human beings must appropriate by a free decision. These included former students of Melanchthon like George Major, Niels Hemmingsen, and Cyriakus Spangenberg. Most Lutheran interpreters after Luther, owing to Melanchthon’s influence, not only adopted a corporate theological reading of Romans 9, but also insisted on some human role in faith and repentance, which leads to salvation.[17] To deny those of us in the soteriological line of men like Melanchthon the “Reformed” label on the basis of our theological differences is not only historically inaccurate, but it is somewhat insulting.[18]

Suppose Dallas Cowboy football stars, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin got together and uniquely set themselves apart under the label “Real Super Bowl Champions,” so as to contrast themselves with other teammates such as Mark Tuinei, Erik Williams, Kevin Gogan, Nate Newton and Mark Stepnoski, simply because they were lesser-known in their given positions as offensive linemen. They played no less of a role in the success of the Cowboys Super Bowl victory than the more popular players. Aikman, Smith, and Irvin would be the first to admit this fact, and they certainly know it would be incredibly insulting to insinuate otherwise by adopting a label that implied such a distinction.

Likewise, not all Protestants of the “Protestant Reformation” became well known, nor did they all play the same role in bringing correction to the errors of the Catholic church. And they certainly did not all agree with each other on every point of theology. So, when did it become acceptable for a particular stream of Protestants within the movement to lay claim to the “Reformed” label on the basis of one relatively small soteriological distinction? We hope to set the historical record straight and reclaim a label that has never been unique to those who affirm the TULIP systematic. We too are Reformed and are continuing to reform according to the Word of God. Therefore we too can declare, “Happy Reformation Day!”


NOTE: Many of the citations and quotes on Luther and Calvin can be found in journal articles submitted by Frank Viola under his series, “Shocking beliefs.” Viola puts these facts in right perspective saying, “The point is not to put the greatest influencers of the Christian faith in a bad light or disregard their legacy. Rather, it’s the opposite. It’s to show that even the most influential Christians who have changed the lives of countless people for good — Calvin [or Luther] being one of them — believed things that were surprising, shocking, and even outrageous. So tread carefully the next time you come across another follower Jesus who doesn’t believe just like you do on every doctrinal point.” Web site accessed: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/

[1] Roger Olson, Is Arminianism “Reformed?” web site: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/02/is-arminianism-reformed/

[2] As, e.g., in M. Charles Bell, “Was Calvin a Calvinist,” Scottish Journal of Theology, 36/4 (1983), pp. 535-540; idem, “Calvin and the Extent of Atonement,” in Evangelical Quarterly, 55 (April, 1983), pp. 115-123; James B. Torrance, “The Incarnation and Limited Atonement,” in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, 2 (1984), pp. 32-40; Kevin Dixon Kennedy, Union with Christ and the Extent of the Atonement (New York: Peter Lang, 2002). Source from: Richard A. Muller, Was Calvin a Calvinist? Or, Did Calvin (or Anyone Else in the Early Modern Era) Plant the “TULIP”? web site: https://www.calvin.edu/meeter/Was%20Calvin%20a%20Calvinist-12-26-09.pdf

[3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.32.

[4] Luther wrote, “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter.” Luther in De Wette II, 459.

[5] His books, Hans Worst and Table Talk contain unseemly and lascivious expressions and sentiments. The Swiss Protestant reformer Bullinger said of Luther, “Alas, it is as clear as daylight and undeniable that no one has ever written more vulgarly, more coarsely, more unbecomingly, in matters of faith, and Christian modesty, and in all serious matters, than Luther. There are writings by Luther so muddy, so swinish, so vulgar and coarse, which would not be excused in a shepherd of pigs rather than in a shepherd of souls.”

[6] Peter Hoover, Secret of the Strength, Benchmark Press, 1999, pp. 59, 198. Hoover clearly states that Luther and his friends believed that the practice of “the sitter’s seat” — the open sharing for mutual edification they envisioned in 1 Cor. 14 — was to be “dealt with only by fire, water, and the sword . . . Luther gave his blessing to the death sentence upon the Anabaptists . . . for the preservation of the public order” (p. 59). In addition, Hoover points out that “Martin Luther and his colleagues met at Speyer on the Rhein in 1529 . . . At that time they passed a resolution: ‘Every Anabaptist, both male and female, shall be put to death by fire, sword, or in some other way’” (p. 198).

[7] All of the above information about Geneva can be found in Will Durant, The Reformation, pp. 472-476. Durant cites his sources. See also Calvin’s Geneva: An Experiment in Christian Theocracy – published in The Radical Resurgence and Calvin’s Geneva: Applied Critical Thinking – published in The Radical Resurgence

[8] Quoted in How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West by Perez Zagorin.

[9] Hubmaier’s treatise, Concerning Heretics and Those Who Burn Them(1524), was the first treatise on behalf of complete freedom of religion produced in the sixteenth century.  He argued that the nature of the gospel precludes coercion and insisted that the state has no jurisdiction in religious matters.  He extended liberty even to law abiding atheists, “It is well and good that the secular authority puts to death the criminals who do physical harm to the defenseless, Romans 13.  But no one may injure the atheist who wishes nothing for himself other than to forsake the gospel.” (Estep, Anabaptist Beginnings, p. 51)

[10] Bergsten, Torsten. Balthasar Hubmaier: Anabaptist Theologian and Martyr. Translated and edited by Irwin Barnes and William Estep. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1978.

[11] Balthasar Hubmaier: Schriften. Edited by Gennar Westin and Torsten Bergsten. (Heidelberg, Germany: Guetersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1962), 322

[12] Hubmaier’s treatise, Concerning Heretics and Those Who Burn Them (1524), 202

[13] Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia (copyright 1993, 1994)

[14] Clyde L. Manschreck, Philipp Melanchthon: German theologian. Encyclopaedia Britannica; web site: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Philipp-Melanchthon

[15] Gregory B. Graybill, Evangelical Free Will: Philipp Melanchthon’s Doctrinal Journey on the Origins of Faith. Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 342.

[16] Ibid., 313-314.

[17] Robert Kolb, “Melanchthon’s Influence on the Exegesis of His Students: The Case of Romans 9,” Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) and the Commentary, ed. Timothy J. Wengert and M. Patrick Graham (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 201-205; Kolb, “Nikolaus von Amsdorf on Vessels of Wrath and Vessels of Mercy: A Lutheran’s Doctrine of Double Predestination,” Harvard Theological Review 69:3-4 (July-October 1976): 329.

[18] Certain labels adopted by Calvinists tend to make insulting implications. For instance, Dr. Michael Brown, a former Calvinist and notable Hebrew scholar observes, “I’m fully aware that ‘the doctrines of grace’ is a terminus technicus (albeit a popular one) for Calvinism, and I know that some of you use it here without the slightest condescension on your part, but as a non-Calvinist, I find the term offensive. I revel in God’s grace as much as any Calvinist I have ever met or ever read, and every Arminian I have ever met who sang Amazing Grace did so with amazement and astonishment. I fervently hold to the doctrines of grace!” Michael Brown, commentary on his Line of Fire radio program. Web site: http://www.lineoffireradio.com/2010/03/25/march-25-2010/

 

23 thoughts on “Reformation Day and SBC Calvinism

  1. Hubmaier was the true restorationist to biblical Christianity. RC didn’t need reforming… It needed rejecting… It started as a denomination in 325 already accepting as its foundation the magisterial sacramental false gospel of false teachers from previous generations they chose as their “fathers”.

    I’ll stick with Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Barnabas, James, Peter, and Jude as my church “fathers” and their writings as my only authority for the gospel and sound doctrine! And I choose to follow the history of restorationists like Tertullian, Priscillian, Patrick, Constantine Silvanus, Claudius of Turin, Peter de Bruys, and Hubmaier… not the history of Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Aquinas, and Luther.

    For more on Hubmaier as a restorationist – see https://www.academia.edu/6359349/Luther_Zwingli_and_Hubmaier_Who_was_More_Faithful_to_the_Principle_of_Sola_Scriptura

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  2. Let us not forget Paul’s attitude, “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.” (Galatians 1) Now, today, we argue over the content of “the gospel Paul preached to us.” Are we any different than others across the centuries because we are not chopping off each others heads? Nonetheless, shouldn’t our attitude toward the gospel be the same as Paul’s?

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  3. This article proves my point that we’re not to lift up men or their “isms”. Men are fallible. Therefore, we lift up Christ and His Gospel and leave men and their actions to God.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One important fact about Calvin. Not only did he NOT believe in believer’s baptism (he himself was baptized Catholic as an infant and never again), but he refused to baptize someone again….. and persecuted those who did.

    Imagine someone coming to Christ from a Catholic background….in Anabaptist circles they would welcome that person and encourage him to be baptized as a believing adult.

    Calvin would tell them that their infant Catholic baptism was enough. He would forbid them from being baptized…..and even persecuted those who did such things.

    Why he is referred to in a positive sense mystifies me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The same is true of Luther. He even used the argument that baptism among the Anabaptists had to be wrong for they were not in the “church”, the temple of God… which had the true baptism. And he knew he was still in the “true” church, trying to reform it, because 2Thess 2 teaches that the antichrist would be in the temple of God, and since the pope was the Antichrist, in Luther’s view, the RC church must be the true temple of God! Wow! (LWV 40 – Concerning Rebaptism)

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    2. FOH writes, “Why he is referred to in a positive sense mystifies me.”

      I think it is a human trait to want to remember the good that people do and not the evil. Today, people like you want to turn that around and focus on the wrongs that people did and not the good, so we have statutes being torn down and people being remembered for the wrongs they did and not the good.

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      1. Remembering how God uses a life for good is one thing! But being clear as to whether such a person was ever qualified to be an elder/overseer/pastor in the church Jesus was building is very important! Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and others may have been used of God to break the grip that RC had on nations… but they were never qualified as pastors in the Church of Jesus Christ because of their very harmful, unsound doctrine and their lack of discernment in their harsh treatment of fellow believers.

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  5. Our national colleague (on the mission field where we serve) has been in ministry for 30 years as a non-Calvinist, believer-baptizer. Via his son (early 20’s YRR) he has been introduced to the internet fad of all things reformed (YRR). He is now a newly-minted, proud Calvinist.

    But….since he believes in adult believer baptism, he refuses to let one precious couple with 4 kids have any active role in the church because they (the parents) have been baptized (in an evangelical protestant home) as infants.

    This couple…in their early 40s…. has not baptized any of their 4 kids….seeing that they wanted to turn the page on infant baptism.

    Not enough. Our colleague insists that they (the parents) be baptized.

    What is ironic is that his new hero Calvin would prohibit him from doing it—and persecute him if he did!

    My friend should be horrified that Calvin contented himself with his own infant, Catholic baptism…but some how a “proper understanding” of Romans 9 and Eph 1:11 and the “Doctrines of Grace” seems to be the hall-pass that forgives all other indiscretions.

    Think of it…. If his hero Calvin were alive today in his church, he would not be allowed to speak!

    That’s funny. The man after whom you name all your newly-discovered (his words) most important doctrines would not be allowed to teach in your church. How ironic that you now pattern all your new teaching on a man you would not even allow to teach!

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  6. Great article and I am glad you brought up baptism Leighton.

    It is natural for so many “Reformed” denominations to baptize infants. They feel that the whole thing is out of the individual’s hands anyway….

    Yes, I know there is the “covenant theology aspect” where they think that baptism replaces circumcision, but still I think it is fitting in the “out-of-our-hands” idea also.

    So, since Reformed people think salvation has nothing to do with the individual, so the same with baptism. Baptize those infants!

    I dont think there are any non-Calvinist denominations that baptize infants (only Reformed and Catholic). (Also notice that Reformed hero Augustine baptized babies, venerated Mary, venerated the saints, and persecuted other believers—very Catholic).

    Others of us call it “believer baptism” since we think that a believer takes that first step (knowingly, a choice). Of course that is his choice…..and obedience….and a personal decision of when and where. Pretty much like we think other decisions are: faith, obedience, patience, kindness, perseverance, long suffering.

    Life is tough. Many decisions. God calls us to believe and to obey.

    God calls and allows all the world to repent and obey. The Good News of the Bible!

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  7. The Methodist baptize babies. I find the reasons a bit confusing. Although they call it a sacrament, they affirm that baptism does not save you. They also do not ever re baptize a believer that has been baptized as a baby. Imo, the whole issue is one that unnecessarily divides Christians. Being dipped or sprinkled with Water doesn’t save anyone. And Wesley seems to have agreed with that, while at the same time baptizing infants.

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  8. Someone just sent me a link to a new Piper post.

    Piper regularly proves my point that determinism/Reformed theology is not true. He constantly makes the point that “what we do matters” (“dont waste your life”). What we do changes things…it changes outcomes. Life could go different ways (not all set) and the decisions we make affect the outcome. You can affect the future…..

    Have a look here at his inspiring new talk. Very good speech (my daughter went to see him when he was in her town recently). Very NOT Calvinistic.

    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/risk-your-kids-for-the-kingdom

    Where shall I start…..

    “Should a Christian couple take their children into danger as part of their mission to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world? Short answer: Yes.”

    “Why? Because the cause is worth the risk, and the children are more likely to become Christ-exalting, comfort-renouncing, misery-lessening exiles and sojourners in this way than by being protected from risk in the safety of this world.”

    …the children are “more likely”??? We can affect what they become?

    …to become Christ-exalting.

    You mean we can help our children become Christ-exalting? But I thought only Christ could do that? We participate? Is this “man-centered”? Of course it is!!

    “What is the greatest good you can do for your children?”

    Spoken like a true we-do-make-a-difference non-determinist.

    “He is thinking, How can I breed a radical, risk-taking envoy of King Jesus?”

    We can “breed envoys” of King Jesus??! Is this the talk of a determinist, who “gives God all the glory”? Surely that is a man-centered concept that I can “breed an envoy of Christ.” Where is the out cry from Calvinists that Piper has a man-centered faith?

    “Perhaps we lose too many of our children because they weren’t trained as soldiers”

    What do we “lose them” to? The world? How can we “lose them” to what is not God’s intention? Does he mean lose them from the faith? Sounds like it. If not…lose them to what? Are they not doing God’s will? So—what we do can help them better do God’s will? Once again….God’s glory and satisfaction appear to be dependent on our actions. Very “man-centered” stuff here.

    But indeed, he can talk like an Arminian since all of the YRRs know he is a card-carrying Calvinist. If I talk like this in this comment section…

    If I talk like what I do matters in faith, love, kindness, and children’s outcome…. I am met with “Sir, you are man-centered, and it grieves me.”

    “Wasting your life is worse than losing it.”

    So we do have a choice to do—-what?— non-wasting things or wasting things? So the future is not set? Right? If the future is set and known, then why does he talk like we can make future-changing decisions? Bad decisions, bad outcome. Good decisions good outcome.

    “A life not given to great things is not worth living.” What?

    ” We are not about rescuing people from earthly tyranny, but from totalitarian oppression and suffering in hell forever.”

    We rescue them!! Yes! Well said Arminius!

    Calvinists can argue all they want that the “dead man” cant do anything—but they cant claim that “God does everything” since Piper is telling men to rescues people from hell. Certainly he is espousing something that —at least sounds like it — is at least part dependent on men men making sacrifices to rescue people from hell.

    If that does not sound man-centered or “God-glory stealing” then nothing I say does either.

    “Our aim for our children is not historical influence, but eternal impact.”

    Yes! The choices we make have eternal impact. We can impact eternity.

    Bad choices —bad impact. Outcomes are obviously not determined yet. Preach it open theologian Piper!

    Why do we need to debate all these determinist-fatalist things when we can just let Piper tell us determinism is not true!

    What difference does it make if you preach that every particle of dust, falling bridge, raped child, is exactly where God wants it….if you then turn around and preach passionately that you can make a difference by your personal decisions?

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    1. FOH writes, “Why do we need to debate all these determinist-fatalist things when we can just let Piper tell us determinism is not true!”

      This just proves that Piper does not make a good poster boy for Calvinism. If he were, he would know better, or should. Under Calvinism, we do not change God’s plans; we appropriate God’s promises and carry out His plans: e.g., If a man lacks wisdom, ask God for wisdom; train up a child in the way he should go; go into the world and preach the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who appoints apostles, preachers, etc. for the purpose of carrying out God’s plan. Paul instructed believers to renew their minds and work out (not for) their salvation. We have great confidence that if God be for us, who can be against us, and God is working all things together for good for His elect. These things are not new to you; you probably preached about such things even if you did not believe them.

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      1. I am so often blessed by the way our Lord allows us to work for Him, plead with Him, even negotiate with him.

        I know it is not the topic of Leighton’s post, but maybe could be some time.

        Perhaps you all could join me in listing all the times the Lord God Almighty —in His word—shows us this about Himself. I think of:

        Abraham : 50 righteous, no 40, no 30

        Gideon —putting out his fleece. Requiring a sign —from Almighty God!

        Moses twice asking God to change His plan to destroy the people (after God said he would not it —not might do it).

        Jonah: was to announce that in 40 days God would destroy Ninevah. God did not give conditions —-just said He would, then didnt.

        Jeremiah 18: 7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.

        Feel free to add to this list (it could be quite long—-looking at “all of Scripture”). This is an awkward list for determinist-fatalists —since for them it implies some kind of weakness or lack-of-sovereignty.

        But for me…and may be many of you, it shows me a God of compassion, kindness….a God who wants man to walk with Him in the garden.

        Dont forget that God describes His sovereignty also in the Christ who lets prostitutes wash His feet with their hair.

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      2. FOH writes, “This is an awkward list for determinist-fatalists —since for them it implies some kind of weakness or lack-of-sovereignty.”

        At least, you excluded Calvinists from your comment. You appear not to have rejected all your previous Calvinist experiences.

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  9. I think Piper is a good man. Just inconsistent in his Doctrine. But of course, no one can live as if determinism is true and be passionate about anything. I’m convinced to truly believe it would lead to total inaction.

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    1. WW:

      My post was not meant to denigrate Piper.

      I think his “dont waste your life” approach is great (horribly inconsistent with his other philosophy). I especially appreciated in his “Let the Nations be Glad” book where he stressed that our effort and strategies where important and essential for the rescuing of lost souls. This is biblical and important….and very man-centered and not Calvinistic.

      In theory, ANY mention of “if we do this better/ more contextualized/ longer/ softer/ harder, etc” implies—-no, states(!) that we —man— can make a difference in someones decision. No matter how you shake it…. that eats into his ‘God-did-it-all’ position.

      My point was not really that he is inconsistent, or that he preaches like an Arminian and even Open Theist sometimes. Mainly, the point is theologizing is one thing—-preaching and living are another.

      It really makes no difference that he repeats the Confessions and Councils “every dust particle” because he does NOT live or preach that way.

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  10. The main and MOST DESTRUCTIVE TEACHING of the Protestant Reformation is the teaching of “FAITH ALONE.” All Christian churches thereafter have taught some version of the scriptures and in the gospel — and then taught that if you have faith in and observe what their church teaches, you are or will be saved. This is precisely what I experienced in the Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregationalist, and Christian churches my mom took me to before I was saved! I trusted, not Christ, but the church for my salvation.

    And that is what the Calvinist gospel is. I’ve heard “believe and follow” .. “believe and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.” The call to “believe and REPENT of sin turning to God” (the Traditionalist teaching) I’ve actually seen avoided by an SBC pastor while preaching on Acts 2 for 4 weeks in a row!

    Faith is NEVER alone. Faith always acts upon what the person believes.

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    1. Paul described his ministry – “… how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.Acts 20:20-21

      I do think that clearly taught in the NT, is that faith unto salvation includes true repentance, for you stop trusting in anyone or anything else for salvation from your sins. And correctly taught from the NT, repentance unto salvation includes true faith (trust) in Jesus to save you from your sins, turning your back on trusting in denominations, their beliefs, and their sacraments, if that is what you were trusting in before, or also, or as your/their definition of trusting Christ for salvation.

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    2. Robert Bauman writes, “The main and MOST DESTRUCTIVE TEACHING of the Protestant Reformation is the teaching of “FAITH ALONE.””

      “Faith alone” is another way to say “Christ alone.” If we are not justified by faith alone, then how is a person justified I don’t think you know what the argument over faith is all about.

      Then, Faith is NEVER alone. Faith always acts upon what the person believes.”

      You got this part correct. As Martin Luther supposedly said: Faith = Justification + works. (Contrast this to the RC position: Justification = Faith + works).

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