Calvinism in
translation

 

Jamie Carter: I remember a deacon / elder / guy in a position of authority in my old church teaching me that “once saved always saved” was not a contradiction from “the shepherd holds his sheep firmly in his hands and no one can snatch them away from him, but he doesn’t stop them from freely jumping out of his hands.” I’m not sure which kind of Christian that makes me.

OSC: I suppose the fact that there’s an exception to the rule, namely the son of perdition, who is lost, would mean it’s not necessarily true that people are once saved and always saved, although, it may be believed from the text that true believers today are saved and always saved. The issue is so complex and exciting that it’s one of the reasons I call Calvinists my brothers, unlike in the case of Muslims, Mormons and the like, I can see an honest disagreement with the Calvinist and the traditionalist baptist. There’s fair ground for disagreement here. The Calvinist might say “God can save you in spite of your poor theology.” To which I can only reply “Of course, He can save us to the uttermost because His atoning sacrifice was unlimited.” Really interesting point, Jamie. I wonder if you came away agreeing with this elder guy’s views.

Jamie Carter: My motto is: “It’s important to learn everything you can, but nobody says you have to believe everything that you’re taught.” I respect his right to believe as he does, I think of his beliefs as neither right nor wrong, just different.

OSC: By “neither right nor wrong”, we’re meaning to write accurate and inaccurate, correct? I mean, it’s not a moral thing, but an accuracy thing. So, even if we haven’t yet formed an ironclad opinion on the views of somebody else as being accurate, their views are either right or wrong, it’s not that they’re neither, it’s just that we’ve not arrived at an opinion on their views one way or another. “the jury is still out” as they say. Have you had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Walls yet? After reading a little from your blog I’d really enjoy your take on his lecture.

Jamie Carter: More like: “sense of right and wrong – motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person’s thoughts and actions”. I never thought to think of “right and wrong” in terms of “accurate and inaccurate”. To the Calvinist, he is right and the Arminian is wrong, to the Arminian, he is right and the Calvinist is wrong; when in reality, there is every possibility that neither of them are right and neither of them are wrong, depending on which point of view you have from where you’re looking at the problem.

God, for example, may neither be Calvinist or Arminian, though His Word can be interpreted to support both positions, there’s always the possibility that he’s something else entirely. After all, when the Bible was bound for the first time, the potential to read Calvinism and Arminianism out of it was there, but nobody had thought to do that yet. And even now, there could be a whole third or fourth or fifth major school of thought to emerge from Bible interpretation given enough time and creativity.

 

I just refuse to take sides. I finished the video on your blog. It was interesting, it helped me understand the suspicion I had of doublespeak going on in their debates. No wonder it’s so hard to agree on much of anything when both sides mean different things by the same word.

OSC: “sense of right and wrong”, would this be big city fancy talk for the Calvinist/Armenian being “of the opinion” that their views are accurate, Jamie? Would I be being generous to read your reply as: “To the Calvinist, he is [of the opinion that he’s] right and the Arminian is wrong, to the Arminian, he is [of the opinion that he’s] right and the Calvinist is wrong;”?

That’s an excellent snapshot of people in their subjectivism, for which we’re simply sharing an array of opinions, due to what only views which are positively diametrically opposed would have to face off in a sense. An example being librarian freewill versus straight determinism (not compatible determinism), “the ability of the creature to choose A or to not choose A” versus “the inability to do anything other than choose A (full stop)”. In the case of libertarian freewill versus not libertarian freewill there appears to be no mystery third option, albeit some of our brightest are bound to go into hair splitting over varieties of determinism (soft / hard determinism).

Admittedly to read “there is every possibility that neither of them are right and NEITHER OF THEM ARE WRONG,” confuses to no end. There’s absolutely no need for the distinction between “right/wrong” when yourself and I are merely using your definition of “of the opinion that”, or “sense of right and wrong”, if we’re using right / wrong in your subjective sense they’re both right and both wrong in any room where both Arminianism and Calvinism are fairly represented.

Just so long as they’re being believed as accurate one way or another they’re “right” in your sense (hence you’ve shared “depending on which point of view you have from where you’re looking at the problem.”) Every camp believes their view nearer not to their own viewpoint, but to God’s ordained system of things as revealed by His revelation (the view from above).

 

Writing in my sense however, as in accuracy / inaccuracy, true / false, you’ve explained “God, for example, may neither be Calvinist or Arminian,” which can appear to make some sense regarding “neither [view] being right”, though not with regards to “neither being wrong”, because for straight libertarian freewill to be actual would undo a firm Calvinist’s determinism. It’s the old saying you could both be wrong (incorrect), but you can’t both be right (correct).

Even to have Calvinism / Arminianism both proven not to belong to the God’s eye view would mean punting to another view which belonged more upon one side than another concerning the hot question of human freedom and foreknowledge (the diametrically opposed either A not A views).

 

If Molinism were the most accurate viewpoint, for example, Arminianism being a bastardized Molinism would mean Arminius (Arminius and not Calvin) came away nearer to having had a God’s eye view of sovereignty, freedom, salvation. Calvin and Arminius don’t appear to be both capable of being right / accurate / true unless somehow contradiction corresponds to reality (which God’s word appears to deny).

“given time and creativity”
I do appreciate how new kinds of interpretation could emerge. I’ve never considered the sky the limit however, for example, creative minds don’t imagine in colours we’ve never witnessed, nor do they suppose shapes you and I couldn’t entertain. People are either free or they’re determined, you see colours or don’t, albeit fresh interpretations could come about like how a bastardized Arminianism differed over against Molinism (both supposing creatures truly free in the plain sense of the word free), and various soft deterministic readings of Scripture which aren’t straight determinism.

 

Like an abacus readers could develop their theology to the extent of either extreme (A or not A / A and only A), what they couldn’t do however is break the abacus (like how an artist can’t boast of having painted by shapes which nobody else could’ve done).

The doubletalk does utterly infuriate, especially when their use of language serendipitously results in an unattractive aspect of Calvinism being disguised. The confusion of language only comes about when people are in danger of concluding something ugly by Calvinism. “Double predestination” (terminology which I’m not sure Jerry actually used in the above video)
would be an excellent example of where communication appears to break down in the Calvinist’s favour.

 

The U of T. U. L. I. P. gets praised only as it relates to man unconditionally being rescued, for which glory be to God. However, election appears conditional, I’d write, it’s based upon the condition of having an alive faith (as opposed to faith without works). That’s not to write works save (it’s by grace through faith). Nonetheless, unconditional election implies double predestination (or as I’d describe it “unconditional damnation”). That’s where people begin confusing the subject.

 

In my experience, Calvinists are only straight shooters until they’re asked to believe damned people are damned without condition. “Oh, it’s all God. God gets the glory for gifting people faith and grace. You’ve got to attribute your rescue to God. To say you’ve had faith robs God of His glory.” Although they’re later inclined to write “Oh, it’s all man. God’s goodness isn’t discomforted because man’s sinful. You’ve got to attribute your damnation to yourself.” Again, a really interesting contribution, Jamie. Hopefully I’m being fair to your messages. God bless.

Jamie Carter: I think you’re being fair, but when it comes to the deepest aspects of Calvinism – I tend to end up getting confused and hopelessly lost at some point. Sometimes I wonder if they keep it wordy so that people’s attention spans will time out long before they realize that a lot of it doesn’t make sense. As much as I’ve looked it up time and time again, it’s just never really been my cup of tea. I try to align my beliefs with particular concepts: love God, love everyone else (neighbors and enemies, all people in general), be merciful, compassionate, and kind, put people ahead of the rules (it’s lawful to heal on Sundays), take care of others first; that sort of thing. I tend not to think about TULIPs for the most part.

OSC: You and me both, which was actually why I wanted to share Dr. Walls’ lecture. To find an articulate, accurate voice demystifying Calvinism, especially when the Calvinists wouldn’t, that’s something I knew was worth sharing. Anybody in their thirties or above will remember that really old TV show, magic circle unmasked or something (remember that?), where you’d have “the masked magician” explaining how famous magic tricks were done.

 

Total jerk, ;) ruined magic for everybody, although, that’s the kind of treatment Calvinism needed, because faithful Calvinists weren’t and are not helping. When believers won’t (or feel they can’t) share their Calvinism, share a view which they’re so bold as to describe as “the gospel”, that’s alarm bells in my head. Much like yourself, I’ve always found an overarching theme, or concept, one so overpowering within the Bible that it’s solid a foundation upon which to best understand the material when in doubt, God’s love is an awesome example of that.

When it comes to wordy presentations of Calvinism, I’m of the opinion that Calvinists have set the terms of the conversation for far too long. An example would be “particular redemption”, which is just another way of writing “defined atonement”, which is yet again another way of writing “limited atonement.” Now, why wouldn’t Calvinists just stay with limited atonement? Perhaps because associating the word “limited” to the cross is a source of discomfort for the reformed camp, for which they’ve got to micromanage every single speck of the conversation.

 

Of course Scripture on the face of the text goes totally against limited atonement, due to what the “I” of the tulip collapses also, for if God’s sacrifice were made on behalf of everybody, yet certain people are unsaved, then somehow, by some means, they’re resisting God’s Holy Spirit. They’re free enough to resist.

For people who would enjoy hearing an expert rebuttal from someone of the reformed viewpoint, I’d probably recommend Dr. James White, who uploaded a radio rebuttal (or perhaps a written article) about three years after Dr. Jerry Walls made their “What’s Wrong with Calvinism” video. It would be best to link to the actual video / article itself, sadly the links I’ve found have all been taken down, luckily there’s an article in which James’ arguments are listed minute by minute. I didn’t find their reply particularly impressive, although I did seek it out knowing he’s a very dedicated and intelligent believer. Let’s see. . .

 

https://dorightchristians.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/james-whites-response-to-jerry-walls-whats-wrong-with-calvinism/

Jamie Carter: I remember that show – he believed that the magic community had become complacent and by revealing the old tricks, he was hoping the magic community would innovate new tricks to thrill, delight, and surprise. It’s available on Netflix. I find that a lot of beliefs are daisy-chained together, you’ll find a great many calvinists who are young earth creationists and complementarians; as if what they believe in the specific manner of how they believe it is the only true doctrine out there and everyone who doesn’t believe as they do is misinformed.

 

I find a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to convert Christians from one denomination to another rather than focus their efforts on the unsaved. But if that strategy were a sound one, we wouldn’t have countless denominations and movements.

 

 

― Ty Cormack