Saturday, January 15, 2005

Calvinism discussion

Some of you1 wanted me to clarify my statement concerning Calvinism. I have only recently been considering it, but just now I had an interesting AIM chat with a friend, with whom, among others, I'd been discussing it, and I think it sheds at least a little light on what my views are. I present the relevant portion here, with the names changed to protect the innocent, in otherwise unedited2 form.

friend (10:57:19 PM): hey, how's it going?  
me (10:57:38 PM): okay  
friend (10:58:03 PM): that doesn't sound too positive.  
me (10:58:14 PM): it's not too negative either3  
me (10:58:20 PM): it's just... okay  
me (10:58:34 PM): it is a weekend. that's good  
me (10:58:37 PM): :-)  
friend (10:58:53 PM): I am just reading an article referred to me by a friend.  
friend (10:59:01 PM): s/freewill.html4  
friend (11:03:40 PM): what are your thoughts?  
me (11:03:59 PM): i'm not finished reading it yet. just a sed  
me (11:04:03 PM): sec  
me (11:13:01 PM): I like the distinction made, that our actions are always consistent with our nature  
me (11:13:28 PM): and that God does not force our actions, nor break our will, but gives a a new nature, a new heart  
friend (11:13:49 PM): so we have a free will, but our will is always to sin.  
me (11:13:58 PM): that, i think is the key to what I object to in what is often taught from calvinism5  
me (11:14:05 PM): correct  
me (11:14:21 PM): and that is a result of a corrupted heart/nature  
friend (11:15:18 PM): I think it presents a more realistic view of the five points.  
me (11:15:46 PM): i agree  
me (11:16:41 PM): ?id=1036  
me (11:16:47 PM): tell me what you think of that  
friend (11:25:32 PM): it makes some interesting points, but I think it fails to address many of the verses raised by "five point Calvinists"  
me (11:26:14 PM): i think he points out a lot of the weaknesses of the "system"  
me (11:26:45 PM): i don't think we can wrap such a system around the interaction that occurs between God and man  
friend (11:28:25 PM): god is sovereign and man is ultimately responsible.  
me (11:29:57 PM): the other fault i have with a lot of the explanations that are out there is that they have a strictly linear view of time.
me (11:30:37 PM): God is not in time
me (11:31:13 PM): his soverign will is brought out in spite of human free will***
(11:31:13 PM)
: but he did create it and defines things by it.
me (11:31:52 PM): he dances around our wills, and that of the demons to bend the result of the universe to his ultimate Glory
me (11:32:30 PM): the fact that he does it all while not breaking the things he has made is to his glory
me (11:32:51 PM): it surprised me to learn that Satan is never 'killed'7
me (11:33:31 PM): he's a spirit, and God had created him, so He will not unmake him
friend (11:33:52 PM): have you ever asked your dad about this issue?
me (11:34:09 PM): He will in stead show His glory by working out His perfect will in a corrupted universe while Satan runs wild
me (11:34:35 PM): I spoke about it with him while I was home after conference
friend (11:35:18 PM): I was sort of surprised when I first talked to him about it.
me (11:35:29 PM): well, he thinks he's a calvinist
me (11:36:42 PM): calvinism is a very good approximation of the truth. i just don't think it expresses it fully
friend (11:37:00 PM): I think it just addresses a particular issue.
me (11:37:29 PM): and it does, but it is unbalanced, and tends to overshadow valuable truths
me (11:37:35 PM): like human free will
me (11:37:52 PM): and the genuine offer of salvation that Christ makes to every human being
me (11:39:39 PM): i'm mostly a calvinist. you could say I'm a calvinist with a few provisos
friend (11:40:26 PM): I am just thankful that I am Christian:-)
me (11:40:34 PM): exactly
me (11:41:03 PM): one says, "i am of calvin,"
me (11:41:17 PM): another "i am of arminius"
friend (11:41:24 PM): another says, "I am of Darby."
me (11:41:31 PM): exactly
me (11:42:13 PM): and there's always that "i belive what the bible says" 'high' road, "i am of christ"8
me (11:42:33 PM): we are all of one spirit
friend (11:43:47 PM): I think there is a good verse9 in joshua. The one about "but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." the first part of that verse is good too.
me (11:45:56 PM): Jos 5:13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?"
Jos 5:14 He said, "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?"

1 One of you in particular, Caleb
2 Although I did mark it up with some notes
3 Hey, a note! see! Anyone get the Family Guy reference?
4 I encourage you to read this article so that you will know what we're talking about
5 Please note that I have left the timestamps in intentionally so that it will give you a clue as to what was said in response to (or continuation of) what.
6 Please also read this article, for the same reason stated above. Update: the link is dead: the article is "Born By The Railroad Tracks: Confessions of a Zero-Point Calvinist" by J.B. Nicholson Jr. An editorial from the Oct 1999 issue of Uplook magazine. As of 5/2006 it can be found at
7 God never destroys immortal beings, including you. Sometimes the only way to accomplish this is to banish them forever from his presence. That is what I believe consitiutes hell.
8 That is, without ever specifying what it is that one thinks the Bible says. BTW, we are both alluding to this:
1Co 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1Co 1:11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.
1Co 1:12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
1Co 1:13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
9 Jos 24:15 "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
This verse follows from the lesson that Joshua learned that the nature of God is not decided by majority vote, rather it is the only true constant. As I later articulated,
me (11:52:34 PM): we are on His side if we obey him. that is it.
*** For a good explanation of this kind of thing, see "Appendix B: On 'Special Providences'" in C.S. Lewis' Miracles.

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