According to Calvinism, God chose hell for most and help for few. While Scripture is clear that God is righteous and just if He sent everyone to hell, Scripture is equally clear that God does not claim to be merely just, but He is also inestimably kind and longsuffering.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
This article seeks to address the question: does physical birth demonstrate the Calvinist idea that faith precedes spiritual birth? Calvinists argue that the new birth (regeneration) precedes and provisions faith, whereas I am contend that faith precedes and provisions the new birth. Calvinists frequently seek to demonstrate their belief by employing an argument based on the analogy between physical and spiritual birth. They thusly claim that just as man did not contribute to his physical birth, he does not contribute to his new birth; hence, regeneration precedes faith. I find the Calvinist analogy to be both unnecessary with regard to the creation of life and disanalogous to the relationship of faith to the new birth, which is the point of the analogy. Read the rest of this entry »
Christians must always remember whom we are to love and what we are to like.
The difficulty in giving up the comforts of this life should remind us as Christians to be modest in our acquisitions of them, lest we find ourselves choosing financial bondage rather than separating from them.
Extra comforts and opportunities in this life can be a blessing indeed, but if one’s heart is unguarded, what begins as an extra blessing can soon be possessed as a strong emotional narcotic, which is only overcome by a degrading and destructive financial collapse.
Seeing material blessings as temporary blessings can safeguard against our propensity to become so accustomed to their presence that we shun willful uncoupling from them until they are forcibly taken.
Modest acquisitions safeguard against future deprivation.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
The call to be faithful concerns today only.
No one can live faithfully in the near or distant future. For example, one cannot walk in faith tomorrow, or even an hour from now, because faithfulness exists only in the moment.
One may desire to live out his life in faithfulness to God, and therefore concern himself with being faithful to grow today for today and tomorrow, but no one can be faithful tomorrow because faithfulness is accomplished in the present; when one is seen to be faithful tomorrow, tomorrow will be today.
Only God’s directions today that concern future opportunities, obligations, or trials can be objects of faithfulness because then God has made, at least, preparation for them a matter for the day.
For example, if God reveals today an opportunity or a future assignment that He has for you, then that becomes a matter of faithfulness for the moment.
“So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
The greatness of loyalty is most clear in the storms of disloyalty.
Quotidian loyalty is characteristic of many good times, but great loyalty alone survives and shines during the dark tempest of disloyalty. For it is in the gales of disloyalty by those in whom you placed your trust that the genuine loyalty of nobles rescues you from the avalanche of despair resulting from isolation, loss of camaraderie and support that is unleashed by the disloyalist.
“And He answered, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me’” (Matthew 26:23).
Loyalty that runs deep in our soul, so that we are not just a friend to others but rather a treasured friend indeed, will be tried in the fires of disloyalty.
Disloyalty is suffered most often and most heartbreakingly by loyalists. Deep anguish is the sometimes lot of the loyal friend. To be sure, the path of a loyal friend is, at times, paved with wounds of the heart and disappointment; may God grant that we will bear whatever pain betrayals bring rather than abandon loyalty.
Only by the loyalist’s willingness to bear the pain of disloyalty, without succumbing to the same, can there be grand role models for the rest to follow. Oh how we long for loyalty in this day of disloyalty; we need loyalists all the more. Without loyalty there would be no missionaries, no founding of America, no children who grow up secure, no enduring friendships, and no Bible.
“At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16).
John Leland, a Baptist preacher, “emerged a leader among the Commonwealth’s Baptists. He was instrumental in allying the Baptists with Jefferson and Madison in the bitter Virginia struggle to disestablish the Anglican Church and to secure freedom for religious dissenters.” (italics added) According to L.H. Butterfield, Leland “was as courageous and resourceful a champion of the rights of conscience as America has produced.” (italics added) Leland, who allied with the Baptists, supported Jefferson because of his commitment to “the rights of conscience.” (italics added) This did not refer to separating religious beliefs from politics, but rather allowed one to believe according to his own conscience without government interference. For example, Leland celebrated Jefferson’s election from his pulpit. By conscience, they referred to the first table of the Ten Commandments as Roger Williams did. Conscience refers to ‘opinions’ so referred to by both Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists in their correspondence. Read the rest of this entry »
Since writing Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism, I have been unexpectedly involved in engaging Calvinists through writing and speaking. I must admit that, at times, I have found my interactions with some Calvinists quite frustrating because of the great difficulty that I have often experienced when trying to discuss a particular point without being misread, when I am given a standard response (one that as a Calvinist I used to give) that is the very response I am trying to move beyond, or when they simply will not engage my point and scurry to something that I am not even addressing.
For instance, I have given precise examples of various disquieting realities of Calvinism to only, at times, have them either distortedly generalized, which, ipso facto, moves the discussion off topic, or summarily dismissed as “emotional arguments.” This is unfruitful for the Calvinist and those who do not understand the seriousness of the entailment mentioned because, while these disquieting realities do affect us emotionally, they are not merely jejune emotional arguments to be dismissed by such paplike indictments. They actually have for their substance the very nature and plan of God and the nature of man as portrayed in explicit Scripture. Consequently, I thought I would share three distinct levels of consideration that I find helpful in properly evaluating Calvinism. These distinctive levels do operate as a unit, but considering them separately seems to be helpful in the process of consideration. Read the rest of this entry »
How we desire to be thought of is a good guide for how to view other people. Eagerness to quickly think the worst of others is more often than not symptomatic of one’s indifference to his own weaknesses.
Impatience with the frailty of others, their inability to measure up, and/or leaping to attribute the worst of motives reflects a troubling sense of one’s imperceptiveness of his own failings. We are seldom as quick to welcome the eagerness of others to think the worst of us, so why should we be so inclined?
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
The future belongs to God, and we are not God.
Yet how quick we are to guarantee the future.
People frequently speak about the future with certainty, but God rarely discloses our personal future. When we speak about the future with phrases like “I will never” or “This will never” or other such phrases of future certainty, we are pridefully blind to the actual uncertainty of our future and our limited ability to change it. Speaking with certainty about the future seeks to elevate us to godhood and eliminate the walk of faith, neither of which is possible.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).