RickD wrote:It seems there may be a HUGE misrepresentation of Calvinism, throughout Christendom.
This is what my old wise friend wrote when I asked him following:
I have to react to your long mail about calling and choosing. I was thinking and want to ask whether you are a Calvinist?Calvinism says that God has already pre-destined how many will be saved, so those who are saved can't be lost and those who are lost can't be saved. In the end, there is a fixed number of people who will be saved. Some people say that Calvinism is unbiblical.
I am just a lost student still.
Am I a Calvinist? Hmmmmm. Well, that depends. If I am because I learned it first from the Bible as I was reading it (and much later heard about someone named John Calvin) then ok, I guess I am a "Calvinist". If it means I am someone who is "unbiblical", well, I'm still a Calvinist but not the stereotypical "Calvinist" that others naïvly believe they understand. Most of what people think about Calvinisism reveals that they have never read his works personally, and only parrot what they have heard critics say about him. I believe it would amaze them to see the impact Calvin had on culture in his day, and ever since. It is amazing the institutions that Calvin conceived of first ( ). You might want to investigate this a bit. Unfortunately, Calvin was also a man of his times. There were abuses by both Catholics and Protestants in those days. Catholics were very strong and incredibly cruel (the Counter Reformation and Inquisitions). Calvin was very strict with non-Calvinists (having some put to death). There's no way I'm going to say that was "alright". It was wrong. But it's become like the person who lost their temper, then said or did something wrong, and thereafter all the good would ever do (or did) would never be noticed. That act of wrong is not going to fall into the background, but will remain in peoples minds most....and will overshadow all other good traits and deeds. Unfortunately, that has been the case with Calvin when he was mayor of Geneva, Switzerland. Calvin was indeed too harsh with those he opposed. But on the other hand, those who believed otherwise than he did were also capable of being very harsh. But compared to the Counter Reformation activities of the Catholic Church, and the horrible deeds done in the name of Christ by the Catholic Church in the Inquisitions, makes Calvin look like Santa Claus. But that is another email.
About "calling" and "choosing". I can only tell you what I read in the Bible. Those two words alone are all over the place. If language means anything, then words must stand, and they must have their impact upon us. The critics of "Calvinism" must deal with words that are indeed meaning-specific, plentiful, and thus, are indeed biblical. So no, I don't agree with those who say Calvinism is "unbiblical" (I mean, if they were right I wouldn't be able to find any of these words in the Bible would I?). The fact remains that those who criticize "Calvin" must bear the burden of showing why they think these "Calvinist" words are unbiblical! For it stands to reason that the words created the Calvin, not the other way around (what did we call Calvinists before Calvin?). And you don't achieve correcting Calvin or these words by saying you don't like what he (or the words) teach. Scientists do not accept that kind of logic. Neither should Christians who discuss these things. The burden of proof is upon those who disagree with Calvin to show what is incorrect with his explanations for these easily found words and teachings (and this is also not done by quoting verses that seem to contradict Calvin's interpretation, but rather to reply by explaining exactly how "calling", "election" "predestination" are really part of biblical teaching, and as such they must be understood in such a way as to seamlessly harmonize with all those "Armenian" verses, which are also in the Bible. Because both kinds of versese are easily found in the Scriptures, and because but you cannot have two radically opposed theologies existing simultaneously (unless you leave them as as two opposing systems of theological interpretation), I therefore choose to be a "Calvinist", because it seems to me that "Calvin's understandings for these verses remain the best way (and perhaps the only way) of harmonizing these two seemingly opposite systems in one seamless whole, as well as being the best explaination for the world I live in.
Yes, "some people" simply dislike "calling", "election", "predestination", etc., but cannot figure out what to do with the verses that clearly teach such things. And they usually commit intellectual dishonesty with linguistics and logic.
Therefore, allow me first to suggest that it is helpful Calvinist if you are not a precisionist. You must be rigorously concerned with accuracy and coherency. This kind of care for details will guard your intellectual integrity, keep you biblical, and allow you to be relevant to a very desperate and cynical world. Just to dislike something without careful reasoning is useless. So, let me be clear and precise with what you wrote:
[Calvinism says that God has already pre-destined how many will be saved]. This lacks something. And what it lacks makes it sound like God is a heartless quota machine: Cold, calculated and final. I don't think this describes the biblical view of God or the historical position of Calvin. . What it lacks is the serious complexity which the biblical (and Calvin's) teaching has on this subject. Some of the complexities involved in this one item alone include: "What did God know about the future, and how does it affect how he devised his plan (or how it did not influence his plans) for determining who or how one is saved. Some, for example, see God looking down into the future and see who will choose him, and they are the ones he therefore "elects", "chooses" etc. (which sounds more like God is licking his finger and trying to find out which way the wind is blowing). Some say that God knows that after the Fall, no one would come to him, so the intervention of Christ's work of grace for a sinner must be sovereignly applied (e.g., Ezekiel 36: 25-27), so that even Christ's death was predetermined to insure that some would be really be saved. The conclusion is that if God did not choose some, no one would be saved.
[those who are saved can't be lost] The emphasis in this statement must be on "saved" (as in actually, truly, converted by God's power). From God's point of view, this is absolutely a true statement. It was Jesus' teaching certainly (John 6: 37-40). But the logic behind it is that people are saved because of a decision by God to save them, not on their own will alone. Therefore, "saved" is a result of God's sovereign decree, and once that is set in motion and the actual blood of Christ is applied to a sinner, then nothing can undo that. Why? Because when Christ was on the cross, he was actually atoning for the real guilt of real actual sins with a definite group of people in mind "the elect". God was executing justice for sins committed against him--but not on the guilty, but on the innocent: his perfect Son Jesus. Jesus was "'the Lamb of God' to take away the sins of the world." Again, his death did actually accomplish salvation. It is impossible for the elect to lose the effectiveness of Christ's work on their behalf. Therefore his death was "sufficient" for all and "efficient for some."
[those who are lost can't be saved]. No Christian would agree with this statement. We know and believe that all were once lost, but now found (saved). A 16th. Century Poet wrote, "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."
[there is a fixed number of people who will be saved]. On the surface, it sounds like a "loaded question" (that word "fixed"). But in truth, as there is not an infinite number of people from creation to the end of the world, it is a true statement. But the question is really asking if Christ died specifically for a definite group of people (not a specific race of people, but the "fixed number" of people). The answer to that of course is "yes". Christ died to really save people, effectively save them. Calvin taught the efficacy of the atoning work of Christ (Big words, but very important). Not understanding this has caused most of today's religious to not know for certain that they are saved. Without a definite atonement on the cross, it becomes necessary to somehow try to influence God to be favorable to us, to pursuade him to be merciful. That's why so many of the world's religions are "works-based". For most of the world's religions God did not accomplish salvation, but only makes it possible if we do something to earn his graces. In actuality, these understanding of God's dealings with fallen man no one can be certain they are or will be actually saved. The burden is on appeasing God with our efforts to include us, to make us his choice. The Bible is not so cruel.
[Some people say] Some people do not say.
[Calvinism is unbiblical]. Let them prove it. But again, the statement as you put it is true: "Some people do say Calvinism is unbiblical."
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6