Tuesday, May 05, 2015

CALVINISM: A BIG ISSUE, OR NOT?

I'm a Calvinist being held prisoner in an SBC church. But I don't mind in the least.

That's particularly startling in light of the fact that God visited the Dreaded Scourge of the Unknown Tongue on me, about 20 years ago. And I still don't mind.

The reason I don't mind is that I know what I believe. Sadly, that cannot be truthfully said of most SBC church members. After approaching six years of asking, I still have yet to encounter someone who knows why one must be baptized to join a Baptist church. And to reiterate what I've said before, I've asked members, deacons (assembled in a meeting), Sunday School teachers (ditto), and even, at one point, a seminary professor.

Nobody has yet known.

The charge is made that Calvinists aren't mission-minded. To those making that charge, I point out that the last Presbyterian Church of which we were members, from the day it was formed, designated that 1/3 of its budget would be spent on missions. And that was decided when the church was organized, even before the missions recipients had been decided.

I haven't found any SBC churches like that.

It's also been said that Calvinists aren't evangelical. To those folks I tell that we moved to Birmingham in 1975, and since that time I've been asked the "Key Question" ... if you were to die tonight, do you know where you'd spend eternity?" many, many times. But never once was it asked by an SBC church member. It was always by a Presbyterian. If that's not being evangelical, then Baptists are even less so.

The arguers against the 5 points of T.U.L.I.P. focus on man and his ability, and sometimes on God's love. But rarely on man's frailty and sinfulness, or God's justice and sovereignty. And His infinite nature that defies our finite attempts to truly comprehend the infinite.

A couple of things strike me as odd, about the controversies. One is that some churches have called pastors who were "secretly Calvinist" and then suffered when the new pastor tried to "convert" the church. I certainly wouldn't defend a pastor doing that, but I have to ask the quality of the Pastor Search Committee who cannot discern something like that, long before the call.

Another thing is that I never hear Calvinists excoriating Baptists who take the conventional Baptist view of soteriology, but I certainly see Baptists saying untoward things about Calvinism and Calvinists.

That screams at me.

It also seems to be Baptists who raise the issue as an issue. I never see Calvinists saying the SBC isn't reformed enough.  

I'm all for the SBC and the Baptist Faith & Message. Particularly the 1963 version. I've taught it numerous times, and will continue to do so if anyone's interested (there's been little interest in some years now).

The BF&M and the Westminster Confession both base their tenets on scripture, and cite the verses for their stance on every point. It reminds me of the old quotation "A man's position on most issues depends largely on which set of proven facts he chooses to ignore".

You could apply the same thought to one's position as to soteriology, but I don't choose to ignore any scripture.

If you want to explain stuff like the following, you're going to have to explain away something:

Romans 9:18: So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.

And......

1 John 2:2: He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

I cannot see how those mesh, but I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who said it was only the sinful mind of man who tried to make God's sovereign election and man's freedom to choose into two separate doctrines. News flash: I agree with Spurgeon. 

If the doctrines emphasized by John Calvin weren't scripture, they'd have died out long ago. If they are, then they won't.

Good enough for me.  

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