Christians Can’t Get Enough C vs. A

Ok, the current “discussion” of Calvinism, Arminianism and Albinianism has broken all records on my weblog for traffic. Hundreds of you have clicked in several times a day to follow this discussion, although many of you don’t bother to add any personal wisdom.I’m guessing a happy post about love and unity wouldn’t generate nearly as much traffic.

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90 Responses to Christians Can’t Get Enough C vs. A

  1. RubeRad says:

    I have to confess, I think about 400 of those views are probably me reloading…

  2. That’s funny. Here’s another 15 minutes of fame. Number 23 on “fastest growing blogs.” Is that like “most improved player” awards?

  3. danielbalc says:

    23? thats really interesting especially when you see this

  4. Brad says:

    Cuz

    I sympathize with you. You know how the TV execs reply when they are scorned for all that lasciviousness on TV; “Hey we’re just giving them what they want.” So it must be for a Albinian when scorned by his brother and sisters for putting up such dreadful claptrap on his Blog: “Calvinism, I’m just giving them what they want.” :-)))))

    Brad

  5. Actually, my theory is that most of the spectators are Calvinists, amazed that it’s actually possible to disagree with Calvin and be a Christian!

  6. RubeRad says:

    Dbalc, I thought you were going to link #23 to this

  7. Echo_ohcE says:

    Albino,

    I’m still amazed that Daniel wants to distance himself from 90% of those who speak in tongues, yet still affirms the practice, and meanwhile wants to embrace 90% of Reformed theology, but doesn’t want to be part of the Reformed church.

    Now that will amaze a Calvinist.

    E

  8. Echo_ohcE says:

    Albino,

    Re: Calvinists amazed at possibility of being a Christian and disagreeing with Calvin.

    And your father in the faith is depicted here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Seymour

    Should we quit insisting that any denomination or school of thought necessarily has one man as its figurehead, with the exception of Roman Catholicism? Because I know you don’t want to be associated with this guy. The rest of us are trying to follow Christ and his Word, not a fallen, fallible man. Calvinists don’t hold Calvin in the godlike status that you think we hold him. So please stop.

    If you can’t use the term Calvinist without thinking that to these folks, John Calvin (who didn’t even write TULIP) has a supernatural status, please use the term Reformed instead of Calvinist.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    E

  9. RubeRad says:

    I’ll put some words in Albino’s mouth, by taking them out of his mouth — I doubt Albino would distance himself from Azusa street, given that he makes no effort to disavow Finney: “As to his systematic theology: I’m not impressed. Others do a better job at that, but few preachers had a greater impact in his day at reaching the lost as Charles Finney” Doctrine is just not important, as long as you are a good enough public speaker to persuade people to mouth a decision.

  10. zrim says:

    wow. now that is a quote to consider! “i don’t like his message (ST) but ya gotta appreciate his ability to get people to the table!” if the content stinks (which is what you say yourself), does that not impact the fact that throngs press inward? how can you cavalierly separate content from effect? how do you reach th elost with a bad message? i am willing to bet any critique to bring against rome can be sifted out to be nothing more than prejudice when you give a heretic like finney such a generous and LIBERAL pass. yes, there is a reason PREF’s have been renamed evangeliberals.

    zrim

  11. danielbalc says:

    Echo, I much prefer the term “reformed” to “Calvinist”. The term “Calvinist” by it’s very nature implies that you DO hold him in a”godlike”status. Like it or not, once you attach yourself to a man’s name you give the implication that you are elevating him to the highest degree. Buddhist, Marxist, Leninist, Christian, Lutheran, Calvinist, Arminian, etc.

    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

    Someone once told me I subscribed too much to Paul’s teachings, he called me an “apostlepaulian” and claimed he was better off because he was a “christian”. hahaha

  12. zrim says:

    daniel,

    luther himself made it clear he didn’t want his devotees to call themselves lutherans. oh well.

    as to this “God-like” status comment, i like to think of my own self-ID as calvinist to be a distinct sub-set of a larger nomenclature like reformed or even confessionalist. so i agree with you but for other reasons. also, calvinism for this calvinist bespeaks a system, not a man. and i think the best of our tradition quite well understands this. how well certain individuals naviagte this dimension, well, it can certainly be a crap shoot. so i would caution these sorts of charges brought to our door that they tend to be shots from the hip due to some bad conversations one may have had or as a low-ball and dirisive way to simply counter the claims of the calvinist system.

    no, following a man is what your garden variety sects and cults tend to do. that is quite different from embracing a *system*, a system that simply uses a “handle” for better intercourse, the common sense tool used in any verbal back and forth.

    zrim

  13. danielbalc says:

    Z,

    I agree. but in a culture where stereotyping is the normative social interaction I would prefer to take the most defensible title possible. This title will become more and more specific as personal interaction and knowledge grows. Christian becomes Reformed becomes Calvinist becomes Presbyterian becomes Orthodox? It would differe for each individual I suppose, but for someone who seeks not be pigeonholed by the shrinking name game (like albino or myself) should we really take it upon ourselves to classify them as something? I say take the person at the highest and lowest title they claim for themselves. In Albino’s case that would be “Christian” and “Texan”. I take him at his word. sure there is a lot of gray in between but it’s not my gray to color, it’s his.

    I think you do harm by placing on someone else a label they choose to reject, “Arminain” “pietist” “PREF”. The motives may be right (seeking to better understand them) but the offense that it causes to them may not be worth it because it most likely will limit your ability to have productive communication with them. For example check out Secrets most recent blog entry

    http://itsasecret2u.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/psycho-babble/

    notice how she always seeks to classify someone, if she told everyone she met that she had just (using her own tools) classified them with 4 letters I think they would give her another four letters to explain how they feel about her.

  14. danielbalc says:

    BTW the “god-like” comment was in response to echo’s

    “Calvinists don’t hold Calvin in the godlike status that you think we hold him. So please stop.”

    I don’t think Calvinist actually do this, but I can see how some get that implication, Calvinist should be willing to defend that insinuation by at least explaining how that is NOT the case without being offended that it is the presumed case.

  15. Rube and rzim,

    Some guys are powerful evangelists who should NEVER be teachers and NEVER presume to write a tome on systematic theology! Remember Apollos in the book of Acts? Eloquent preacher, but had some teaching wrong.

    Finney should have stuck to evangelism.

  16. zrim says:

    daniel,

    when you say you are a christian that is itself a packed theological statement. much as some seem to want to avoid being “pigeonholed” and much as you seem to assume that the phrase christian is somehow a broad one, it simply is not. albino may like th eterm bible-believer but that comes with a whole host of meaning, too. and all you have to do is spend 5 minutes asking someone what those 2 phrases mean and you quickly find out that they can be on very different sides of the isle.

    don’t get me wrong, i understand what you are driving at when you criticize my putting a label like PREF onto someone. i think your point is that human beings are complicated agents, and i quite agree. but it’s that very complication which makes collaring useful. when i was a PREF i recall feeling quite adrift, kinda like how someone with a disease gets so much relief when the doc finally diagnoses what’s ailing him after years of groping in the dark. someone simply told me i was a confessionalist trying to make my views work in a PREF circle. no wonder i was so frustrated! i wasn’t a heretic or unbeliever. it was liberating to be able to say i am a christian but not a PREF christian, a CRO christian; i could stop trying to hold that balloon underwater and get on with real abundant christian living. that probably sounds totally pathetic to PREF assumptions, that i feel liberated by boundaries, but there you go.🙂

    happy to be collared, defined and informed,

    zrim

  17. BTW, traffic on my site is still staggering, but now a lot of the visitors are herding over to see the “Jesus Tomb” stuff.

  18. zrim says:

    al,

    i am still baffled, sorry. if he was wrong on the content why should his evangelism be championed? i mean, that is like saying my daughter’s third grade teacher is a know-nothing about science but he sure gets them nice and revved about science! it’s like, uh, i’ll take the guy who knows his craft and might bore the kids once and a while over the yahoo who thinks the sky is green and butterflies are born that way. he might be infectious but what is he infecting my kid with? ya feel me yet?

    zrim

    btw, is your addressing me as rzim instead of zrim consistently asome sort of slight or just bad keyboarding?

  19. danielbalc says:

    Z,

    great for you, but let it be for you. Don’t feel obligated to press it on someone else. Judge in your mind (if you must) but not with your mouth.

  20. zrim,

    No insult intended by the wrong spelling…my bad

    Charles Finney was responsible for a huge wave of revival on the East Coast. His main message was one of repentance from sin and an appeal to be saved and filled with the Spirit. (Acts 2:38). His impact cannot be underestimated. Thousands repented of their sins and came to saving faith in Christ as a result of his ministry.

    As an evangelist, he was highly gifted by God. When he stepped out of the area of his gifting and tried to be a teacher and write systematic theology, he was awful. That would be like me attempting to sing opera…not my thing.

    To sum up: In his primary calling and area of HS giftedness: highly effective
    In his attempt to be a doctrine teacher and writer: horrific

  21. zrim says:

    ok. so just so i get you…i can refer to someone as christian only when he calls himself thus and only because it is the most general term? beyond that i am breaking some rules. is that right? what if he refuses the term christian because it was actaully a name of derision given by the romans to the early christians…yet he confesses classic doctines and rejects the same errors classical christians reject?

    note again that i don’t feel the need to make a PREF a CRO. but to hog tie how we understand each other seems nonsensical to me.

    often times when i have these discussions i feel like retreating back to me secular ways. at least there folks had no trouble with collars. christians begging me to come in and then telling me, like you, that nobody here wants to be collared as holding to anything dogmatic…so why am i here again? so what if i want to also hold to other gods? i can’t do that, you say? why not? this guy who calls himself a christian (albino) wants me to believe that two opposing theologies (calvinism and arminianism) can co-exist and he takes from both…maclaren tells me is at once a fundamentalist and a liberal. phew! you christians are way too cornfused for me. what’s stopping you from being christian and hindu and jewish if you claim you can similtaneously be calvinistic and semi-pelagian? get me outta here! at least in the secular world i can have a few beers and watch movies.

    zrim

  22. zrim says:

    al,

    ok. thanks. that got me still no where. i feel like that pesky school kid who keeps asking why we gotta learn math…maybe you feel like the teacher!🙂

    i am still puzzled.

    i am with you that finney was extremely importnat, kinda like that barth question on the quiz…important because of his indisputable effect and influence,, yes, but not because i embrace his system

    what was he so bad at, what do you mean? do you mean he wrote poorly or that what he wrote/taught was sub-christian in content?

    zrim

  23. Let’s try this. How about letting people pick their names? I am “Albino”, and don’t want to be “Copper”. I prefer being called a “Bible-believing Christian”. Now we can talk about what that means, but all your cute little labels don’t seem to be sticking here, because most Christians don’t fit into your categories. But, I realize it is a weakness of yours, because you looooove those systems and grids! 🙂

    What’s stopping me from being Hindu? Are you serious? You better get started on that beer.

  24. zrim says:

    al, i am still confused about your take on finney. are you going to leave a poor, dim soul to languish in his darkness? maybe byth etime i publsih this you will have posted a distinct answer to that, so sorry in advance if you did.

    as to names…your name albino has no truth import to it. you are comparing apples to oranges. the names or lables i have been working with are meant to collar truth claims or otherwise significant worldviews, just like your “christian” and “bible believing” ones. you are confuing issues of prefercne with those of truth. if i tell you that you are *wrong* to *prefer *hot dogs to hamburgers i am clealry out to lunch.

    come on, you can better than a smart aleck response. why can’t i be polydeistic if you can be both calvinist and armnian or if maclaren can be liberal and fundy?

    and daniel, “great for you but let it be for you.” i hate saying this but that sure sounds like the same relativitic spirit PREF’s are so eager to chastize the wider world for. i would advise folks that it is not a little hypocritical to pull the wider culture up short for its relativism and exercise it within one’s own four cultic walls.

    zrim

  25. Finney over-reacted to the hyper-Calvinism that was a cause, in his day, for churches being dead, lifeless, and totally bereft of the desire to evangelize their neighbor or seek a vibrant relationship with Christ (even many Calvinists concede this point).

    In his zeal, he wrote some lousy theology, in which he downplayed our sin-nature, and seemed to also de-emphasize Christ being our righteousness (by over-emphasizing personal holiness). This has led many to call him a lot of names, “heretic”, “evil”, etc., but I see his errors as the result of stepping out of his primary area of gifting and stepping into deep doo-doo. Now, in heaven, he is “a just man made perfect”.

    And let’s be honest. He did take some lumps just for rejecting Calvinism.

  26. zrim says:

    well, for those of us to use calvinism for a nickname too faithful biblical witness, his lumps are due. but you wouldn’t expect anything less from me, would you?

    of course, i read your take on finney as much, much too liberal. he re-warmed ancient heresies, a pelagianism that was the most condemned teaching ever down through church history.

    you also offer up a critique that is predictably, again, sympathetic to very deeply seated ethics in PREF: you contrast doctrine over experience, pit belief against life. now stay with me here…i don’t criticize you for that because you are only being true to your system.

    whatever faults might have been perceived by what you likely call “dead orthodoxy” are not fixed by adopting experietialism. there simply is no such thing as dead orthodoxy. orthodoxy by its very nature generates orthopraxis. the PREF take is like this: people aren’t buying, you say? ok, start breaking into their homes at night, leaving the product on their mantle and take the 10 bucks they “owe.” the ends justify the means in your tradition.

    zrim

  27. zrim says:

    the antidote to any perceived deadness is to preach the unfettered gospel. there’s a general statement, unfettered gospel. what i mean by that is what is defined in the confessional standards, of course.

    i wonder if in finney’s day they were preaching a “christian america” or how to improve your walk with jesus or how to get yourself right with God or how to raise your family and manage your money and protest pop culture which led to deadness. because it sure couldn’t have been due to preaching the gospel.

    funny thing about claiming you got the HS conjured up by your own man-made formulas and were responsible for revival is that it looks like something was happening when in point of fact is was just more hype. like john lennon sang, “everything is happening and nothing’s going on.” quartz ain’t diamond, al.

    zrim

  28. danielbalc says:

    Z,
    this statement, “and daniel, “great for you but let it be for you.” i hate saying this but that sure sounds like the same relativitic spirit PREF’s are so eager to chastize the wider world for.” is a demonstration that you either aren’t interested in what I am saying to you or you simply don’t understand.

    I reiterate, if you feel that YOUR evaluation of a person’s words/actions/looks/whatever is the best way of knowing who that person is and what they believe then fine, go ahead and label them. But don’t be upset when they buck your label. That doesn’t make them wrong, it makes you wrong. Consider. Can someone actually take the label “pietist”? Is such a thing even possible? You defined it as someone who rejects labels. HELLO! logic overload here.

    No matter what you say the label YOU place on someone will only help to remind you of what you think of them. It tells no one anything factual about the individual.

    Lets put it into racial terms.

    Lets say you call people with the darkest skin tone “Negro’s”. Lets say I am what you call a “Negro” but to me this is an offensive term. i prefer the term “African-American”. Do you come up to me an insist that I accept your label of me, “Negro”? probably not. Now is that going to stop you from thinking of me as Negro? You have already decided that anyone who looks like, talks like and dresses like me is a Negro so to you I will always be a Negro. But what benefit does it do you to call me that? But wait, you call yourself a “Cracker” so that should make it OK right? Heck no! It doesn’t matter what label you chose to give yourself, you must, as a matter of decency, respect an individuals decision to label himself what he or she wants to be labeled as. Right?

    now I realize the very slight danger this may have in opening the door for liberal relativism, but I think that is more the exaggerated result of an unbending and unrelenting harshness. Hence now people are offended by the term “articulate” when describing Barak Obama. http://www.racialicious.com/2007/01/25/barack-obama-is-awb-articulate-while-black/

    Crazy! My initial response is to deny that Obama is even BLACK! He’s half black! See how one exaggeration leads to a greater exaggerated response?

    same thing happens when you insist on telling people, “you’re a PREF!” Like albino says, take them at their word. Call me a Christian, call me an Evangelical, call me a “Bible-believer”, but don’t call me an “Arminian” or a “semi-pelagian”. in the words of Tupac Shakur, “Only God can judge me.”

  29. zrim says:

    daniel,

    i am not upset when the collar is refused. in fact, it just makes my point as to one of the dimensions of PREF. does the fact that once was a PREF figure in here as to what sort of credibility i might have in making such a collar? nothing albino says ever surprises me because i used to give the same answers because i had the very same POV.

    your race tie in makes little to no sense. it’s just like al’s analogy of his preference to be called albino and not copper. the import behind my collaring has to do with worldviews and beliefs; his and yours still operate at the level of preference. on ehas to do with a belief system. being black is not a belief system. it has meaning, etc., and what a black perosn wants to be called, depsite cat-calls about political correctness, has relevancy (perhaps too much at times). but that’s a cultrural category, daniel. my collars are cultic an dones that supercede cultural ones. these dynamics are why true christianity is truly culturally diverse.

    again, when you say you want me to use the terms christian or evangy or bible-believer, despite what you may think, these are packed theological terms, cultic meanings are behind them and are informing them. and they share the same category as arminian or semi-pelagian or augustinian-calvinist or CRO or confessionalist.

    so when i accuse you of adopting the very relativism you likely deplore in the culture this is what i mean. an d, IMO, this is a reversal of how it should be. there should be a “radical intolerance for things cultic and a radical tolerance for things cultural.” that is to say, when you are operating at the cultic level where God’s eternal truth is at stake, there can only be one right answer; when you are trying to solve cultural problems there are many legit answers. there is only one answer as to the nature of sin and grace, for example, but plenty of legit answers to how to solve economic/social/political/moral/cultural ones. PREF’s usually get that all turned around as they allow various and diverse theologies yet are rabid about cultural values. like mike horton once wrote, “one wonders what would get one in hotter water, disagreeing with Rush or with the Doctrine of the Atonement?”

    zrim

  30. Alex says:

    This thread reminds me of the problem Muslims are having. The more moderate calvinists don’t seperate themselves from the “exteme” calvinists. The muslims claim that it’s a peaceful religion but the extremists are telling quite a different story. Rube, I think you may have to “gather your boy’s” and make it a point to seperate yourselves from these extremists. They’re hijacking the label of Calvinists!!! Don’t make the mistake of saying nothing Rube.

    I often wonder why the Imams here in the U.S. don’t make it a point to clarify that these terrorists are not following the Koran.

    Or is this ultimately what the religion teaches????

  31. zrim says:

    “The more moderate calvinists don’t seperate themselves from the “exteme” calvinists.”

    if you are referring to the likes of me, i just did under another post of al’s when i said why i disdain stuff like “calvinist gadfly.” while i share their calvinism proper ,i do not share their approach. there is a difference if you are willing to engage it, alex.

    zrim

  32. Alex says:

    Zrim,

    You give yourself way too much credit. You want CHRISTIANS to see that you have some “special” insight to the Word that no one else has. If you haven’t noticed I could care less about my fellow Christians approach, I care about their Salvation. If someone professes to be a Christian and they believe and understand that Jesus Christ died for their sin and that this was the doing of God the Father then I’m excited. Is my standard to low? Should I expect more? No, of course not. Who the heck am I? These are my standards. I can only judge by their fruit. I have several family members who are Catholic and they profess that Jesus Christ is their Savior. I have to believe them. I am not God. I cannot completely understand God’s grace and I will not act like I do. Call me a liberal Christian, I don’t care.

    Now please tell me why would I want to question my CHRISTIAN brothers “approach”?
    I debate with some of my Christian family about doctrine but at the end of the day I know they are saved and they know I’m saved. But you want to take it a step further and analyze their “approach”? Come on, give me a break!!!!

  33. zrim says:

    alex,

    no, i do not contend i have some special insight into scripture that no one else has. again, it’s not about me but about what is right. i cling to a tradition that claims such. if it were about my dazzling insights into scripture i would not be so institutional about things; i would draw attention to *my* mere opinions, etc. i would write tons of books about what i think, i would have group sessions dominated by “here’s what i think that verse means,”…oh, wait, that’s Evangelicalism.

    couldn’t care less about the approach? wow, that is pretty cavalier. your pitting of method over substance is to be quite expected. the radical divorce between methodolgy and content is classic american cult and culture. your disdain for method is not at all surprising. but let me ask you: where do *you* draw the line? i mean, there must be some sort of boundary marker or rules.

    the middle part of your post seems hazy, i cannot quite make out what you are saying about fruit and standards. but what strikes me is what i discern as your inference that i do not consider certain folks christians (i think). my family is made up of PREF’s, roman catholics and mega church evangies. all contend they are christians. and like i have said before, i temd quite heavily on the benefit of the doubt side of things. likely they are. but they do not adhere to a true church. opps, there goes my pesky institutionalism again. that last comment probably sounded like charlie brown’s teacher to you. no, it’s my fundy PREF family that actually has a lot of prejudice for roman catholics. my PREF SIL over thanksgiving gasped and spat about a family member who had recently “married a devout RC.” when i asked what the problem with that was she had no answer, beyond “it justisn’t right.” see, strip away what PREF’s really have against RC’s,namely ritual and religion, and you find not much more than ignoraance and prejudice because you have folks who also “have quiet times reading scripture, love the Lord as He dwells within their hearts and lives and monastically groom the inner life of pietism.” but PREf’s don’t have those categories so they are left with mere prejudice. don’t get me wrong, alex, i believe that a Reformed believer ought to be disciplined for marryin goutside th efaith. but that would include not only RC’s but PREF’s.

    i can see why you brand me extreme, alex. the standards i contend for are much too much for your POV. you seem really put out. but the sky isn’t blue because i believe it; it just is. what an odd thing to say “I believe the sky is blue.” what a more odd thing for someone to be disdained for saying the sky is blue. that is how odd your vitriol is to me.

    zrim

  34. Matt S says:

    Zrim,

    Why are you so confident that your way of approaching Christianity (i.e. reformed Calvinist) and the Bible, and your interpretation of the Bible is right?

    Is it at all possible that when you reach heaven the Lord will reveal to you that you had some things wrong and you misinterpreted some Scriptures?

    If so, then why do sound so sure that your way is right?

  35. Matt S says:

    I believe that the way I interpret Scripture and the way I conduct my life as a Christian is the right way, but I would definitely stop short of saying that stated as a matter of fact(i.e. you won’t find me being 100% dogmatic about these things that are open to interpretation)

    When I reach heaven, I know there will be things that will be revealed to me that I had wrong while here on Earth and I am ok with that. I look forward to that day.

    I wonder if you will be ok with that, or will that be a shot to the heart because you feel so passionately that you are 100% right about these “gray” area issues?

  36. RubeRad says:

    I often wonder why the Imams here in the U.S. don’t make it a point to clarify that these terrorists are not following the Koran.

    Because the terrorists are following the Koran.

  37. Echo_ohcE says:

    Rube,

    Kudos for simple eloquence and the dual meaning, speaking volumes.

    They won’t get it.

    E

  38. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex,

    I could be wrong, but you are coming across as if you are more humble than zrim. You seem to be boasting in the fact that you know better how to interact with your Christian brothers than zrim.

    I don’t know if that’s what is on your heart, but that’s how you’re coming across.

    And I’m sure zrim is well aware of how he comes across, I don’t need to tell him.

    E

  39. Echo_ohcE says:

    Albino,

    Perhaps a word about how you come across will be helpful to you. When you say to a reformed Christian, that you insist to be called a “Bible believing Christian”, here’s how we interpret it.

    When we read that, we see you saying that you’ve got the entire Bible down pat, that you have cornered the market on truth, and that there are no flaws in your theology. There is nothing in your mind or heart that contradicts the Bible.

    When you insist on being called a “Bible Believing Christian”, that’s how the reformed interpret it. None of us have a perfect theology, so none of us believes the Bible perfectly, yet that’s supposedly what we’re all striving for.

    But how we interpret what you’re saying is VASTLY different from how you mean it. How you mean it is that you don’t want to be associated with the theology you believe, but simply with the Bible. You don’t want to be associated with your beliefs about soteriology, tongues, evangelism, or anything else. You want to put those differences aside as if they don’t matter much, and have unity.

    But you see, the reformed cannot and will not think that way. We would respond by asking, “And just what would you like to base this unity on?”

    We call Christians “believers” and non-Christians “unbelievers”. As Christians, we are characterized by the fact that we believe something. Christians are made by believing certain things. Christians are united because they believe the same things. These things are called doctrines. If you want unity, then we should believe the same things, the same doctrines, because that is the basis of our unity, because these doctrines are what are found in the Bible, and they teach us about our salvation.

    Unless of course justification has nothing to do with our salvation.
    Or sanctification. Or eschatology. Or the doctrine of the church. ALL our doctrines have their roots in our salvation. Doctrines matter because they affect what you believe about your salvation.

    If you want unity so badly, then why do you preach in your distinctive way in your church? Why not stop doing that and join the Roman Catholic church if your distinct doctrines don’t matter?

    The fact is, we ALL distinguish ourselves because of what we believe. You do it too, don’t pretend you don’t. If you don’t, then stop preaching and have your congregation attend the Roman church down the road.

    But why won’t you do that? Because they disagree about tongues, they disagree about soteriology, they disagree about the saints, confession, pennance, and a host of other things.

    And we call these things doctrines.

    We cannot have unity despite huge doctrinal differences. We have to have unity BASED on common doctrinal beliefs. That’s why the reformed have their confessions of faith as a basis for unity. It is our common confession of faith that unites us.

    Sure, you say, but our unity is really based on our having the same Lord. Yes, that’s right, but having him as Lord entails believing certain things about him.

    If you think Jesus, for example, is only a prophet, a good moral teacher, like many in the mammoth PCUSA, and that he isn’t really divine, well, guess what? Such a man doesn’t have the same Lord I do. They don’t worship the same God.

    E

  40. Echo_ohcE says:

    Daniel,

    I like reformed better too. Calvinist has far too broad an application these days. I have argued for that before, of course.

    E

  41. RubeRad says:

    Kudos for simple eloquence and the dual meaning, speaking volumes. They won’t get it.

    I don’t get it. I only intended one meaning!?

    A little more eloquent and a little less simple: the only Imams that actually believe that “the terrorists are not following the Koran” are just like the liberal “Christians” that deny the authority of scripture, and the historicity of the resurrection, etc.

    Just as you think of yourself as merely a “Bible-believing Christian,” the terrorists think of themselves as “Koran-believing Muslims”. Turns out there really is a difference between our religions. We can’t just all get along.

  42. Matt S says:

    I don’t get it. I only intended one meaning!?

    HAHA, apparently the author of the quote did not get it either! I guess this proves your superior intelect, Echo.

  43. zrim says:

    alex,

    like most interactions i have with those who share your very basic assumptions, etc., i am once again at a loss as to how i should respond. you clearly have not grasped any points i have been making. i am almost certian such a comment will be interpreted as to be from some high-falutin calvinist who thinks he’s better than everyone else, etc., etc., etc. nevertheless, once again, it isn’t “my” way. ah, forget it, i have already broken my own rules wthis week by having these discussions. guess i was just in a mood that i even attempted this.

    echo, the more i go on the less i worry about “how i come across.” this is not to adopt the R in PREF (revivalism) and make an irresponsible distinction between method and content. rather, it is to simply rest in the truth and let those who hate hearing it have their tantrums. depart from the confessional standards? fine. that means you are in need of witness and evangelization, plain and simple. that may sound mean and condescending. but if so, i put my unbeliever cap back on and ask “you christians” once again why i should be in the church if anything less should be said. the doctrines we confess are either right or wrong. seems to me historic christianity had a lot more balls than that. and having balls is quite different from merely goading and provoking folks like calvinist gadfly does. the truth is the truth. it needs no help from us. this is the dimension folks like alex completely miss.

    i walked my daughter to class this morning. another teacher was humiliating another student in the hall for his lying, goading him to explain why he had lied (same reason you lie, bud. to get away with something, so tuck in your self-righteousness and get on with doing what needs doing). that approach is gadlflyish. i say punish the kid plain and simple for his departure from what is right, but don’t humiliate him. an dif you cannot see the difference, pity.

    zrim

  44. Danielbalc says:

    I agree with an Echo with this exception. he says that we “cannot have unity despite huge doctrinal beleifs”. I guess this depends on your definition of “huge”. Yuo qualified eschatology as a “huge” doctrinal point. Are you saying that you can’t have unity with someone who doesn’t share the same eschatology as you? Similarly, subject like Church gocernment, administration of sacraments etc. Are all things that you will find it difficult to have perfect unity with everyone on. So should that prevent you from having unity? There is a difference between unity and uniformity as I am sure you realize.

    for example. In your marriage, are you and your wife united? Do you ever at any point disagree? Can you have a disagreement and still be in unity?

    Of course you can, and this is what we ought to be striving for. How is it possible? In Christ. You yourself have written elequenlty about this topic on other pages. It seems strange to me this rush (mostly on Zrims) part to try to classify PREF’s as unsaved and in need of salvation. that sure isn’t goign to help build unity. Neither is Alex’s percieved “I’m more humble than you” stance.

    I think the present attitudes on display (myself included) would probably be prone to arguing with the Apostle Paul if we were in a church in Asia Minor 1930 years ago.

    As a good friend of mine used to say, “attitude is everything so pick a good one.”

  45. Matt S says:

    the truth is the truth. it needs no help from us. this is the dimension folks like alex completely miss.

    I hope I can be there on that day in heaven when the Lord reveals to you that you had some things wrong (you do feel this could be possible, right?). Don’t let it get to you though, alas, you still made it to heaven anyway!🙂

  46. zrim says:

    “It seems strange to me this rush (mostly on Zrims) part to try to classify PREF’s as unsaved and in need of salvation. ”

    ah-ah-ah, not so fast, daniel. i *knew* this would be interepreted this way, the tapes played in my ears as i wrote that post. again, and at the risk of being painfully repetitive, i said no such thing but in point of fact said the opposite. when i say PREF’s must be evangelized i did NOT mean they are not unbelievers. PREF assumptions are leading you, ironically, to such interpretations, i would contend. i do not use phrases like “unsaved” about fellow christians as PREF’s are so given to using (read: code for not like us in every conceivable and entirely secondary way in various opinions and cultural values, etc.). like i said, i tend on the optimistic side of these things because scripture (and our tradition) does. again, wheat and tares, wolves within and sheep without. i amke no effort to overturn inward stones, like the PREF’s i know who have rigid litmus test for who’s in and who’s out based upon high-octane templates of sentimentality and sincerity, etc. if you adhere to a true church and are a member in good standing i have no reason to suspect your status. if you adhere to a false church i have reason to be suspect but no ground for suggesting your eternal status. i plan on seeing plenty of folks outside my tradition in hereafter (to answer also poor matt below). because of my high view of sin i confess i get plenty wrong. *I* do, but not my confession. again, like horton saud, “we are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone–not by our doctrine.” don’t mistake us for the Fundamentalists who grasp doctrine for its own sake, or promote the “doctrine of doctrine.”

    so, yes, matt, all things being equal and assuming the best of you (i.e. that you are a believer who has his doctine skewed), i plan on seeing you. i, for one, will make no plea but Christ.

    zrim

  47. zrim says:

    “when i say PREF’s must be evangelized i did NOT mean they are not unbelievers.”

    opps, see matt, there you go, i mussed up! i meant to say, “when i say PREF’s must be evangelized i did NOT mean they are not believers.”

    sheesh. sorry.

    zrim

  48. Matt S says:

    I am not debating whether you or I or anyone else will be in heaven, I know we all will be there (all that comment on this blog).

    I am trying to understand why you are so 100% sure that the intricacies of your faith and doctrine are correct.

    I believe there is an (ever so slight🙂 ) chance that you will be unpleasantly suprised when you meet the Lord face to face that it was not in your best interest to preach with 100% certainty the finer points of your doctrine and confessions because you just may be enlightened to the fact that you were wrong.

    I do not care if you want to believe these things with 100% certainty (in fact you should) just be careful not to push it on others as a statement of fact because you may not have it all figured out after all.

  49. Danielbalc says:

    Wouldn’t assuming the best of Matt be assuming that he is a beleiver and his doctrine ISN’T skewed?

    You have been baiting over and over for someone to grasp the inference that you think that PREF’s are “unbelievers”, “unsaved”, “cult members” and in need of “evangelism”. Don’t pretend like you didn’t write it on purpose. You’re such an obnoxious liar. you claim to hate the calvinistic gadfly stuff but you are far worse because you are a hypocritical gadfly. You are all over this site trying to get people to fight with you, it started with you labeling them something condescending and refusing to allow them to defend themselves. that obviously wasn’t enough so now you have continued to imply serious doubt regarding their salvation.

    You know, I really enjoy debating with Echo, sometimes it gets a little personal and we end up apologizing to each other. He makes many great points and interacts honestly with my counter points. But you’re nothing like echo. You just want to fight for the sake of fighting. You never make a point except to try to pick another fight. you are the stereotypical “calvinist” and the reason why many (not all) calvinist churches are simply not growing. And I don’t mean in numbers. i mean they aren’t bearing fruit. Fruit isn’t reading theological books. Fruit isn’t debating on blogs. Fruit isn’t having the right opinion or even doctrine.

    Fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

    i’ve demonstrated in this comment that I also am lacking in much of that fruit. I apologize for the harshness of my rhetoric, but not for the motivation of my words. Grow up. Stop trying to pick a fight with people.

  50. Matt S says:

    I will add the same goes for me and others that believe the things we do. I believe what I believe because I feel that is what the Bible teaches.

    I also understand that I will never have a perfect revelation of the Word until the end. Therefore, I have no problem showing people what I believe and why I believe it, but if they disagree that is fine.

    You will not find me insisting to anyone that the finer points of my belief are 100% fool proof, I know it is very possible that I have misintrepreted some things and that is fine. I look forward to the perfect revelation that is to come.

  51. Matt S says:

    I know it is very possible that I have misintrepreted some things and that is fine.

    I wonder if this sentence is something you could say or type Zrim?

  52. zrim says:

    i have tried to be clear that i am not debating anything with anyone. i have stayed away from the finer points of calvinism. how has this been missed? this has been my larger point. i have simply maintained that the calvinist system is the faithful biblical witness. i have also been clear that calvinism is but a subset of a richer thing called reformed or confessionalism. i have not labored as to the finer points lik echo or rube. ok, i dabbled a tad here o rthere because i was repeatedly asked what i thought (even though i was making much wider points). how much more clear can i be: i am not fighting with anyone. i have been the one championing nurture over fighting and less than useful debate, etc. the doctrine is closed, done. and if you think that is intolerant in te bad way i guess we have some apologizing to do to the arians of the early church, right? they called themselves christians but had a whole different idea about the nature of christ than we do. He was mostly a creature, inferior to the Father and not co-equal. the very basic trinitarian theology we have today was born out of down right nasty fighting. but do we fight those finer points of christology today? no, we say that the nicene, trinitarian doctrine is closed, no more debate. there are 3 perosns, one God. what would you say to those who teach 2 persons, 1 God or 9 perosns, 1 God? does it even matter? i simply say they are wrong and unorthodox. sure, they may very well be believers, but they have it wrong.

    wow, daniel. that’s quite a bit of mud-slinging. i don’t think i have slipped to that level. “an obnoxious liar.” sheew.

    “Wouldn’t assuming the best of Matt be assuming that he is a beleiver and his doctrine ISN’T skewed?”

    no. now you are saying that because one is a believer his doctrine is just fine and we ought not be concerned. *that’s* being doctrinnaire. we are not saved by our doctrine, daniel, but by God. where does this thinking come form?

    matthew, yep. a high doctrine of sin cannot say anything otherwise. *I* misinterpret plenty. but the confessional standards and forms do not. period. and i know, you are going to say that is just plain wrong. but that’s what confessionalists do! we adhere to forms that are themselves faithful to revelation. you consider me a jerk, but i am only acting the way a confessionalist should.

    where has been my name-calling and mud-slinging? where have I gotten just plain mean? where have i lied? where have i disallowed anyone to defend themselves? how is my labeling condescending? why can’t i call a revivlaist a revivalist? is it because they are ashamed of being a revivalist? do i have a value judgment about revivalism? yes, i make no apology for that. there are value judgements a-plenty here about calvinism. i think they are wrong, of course, but i don’t take it personal. of course, revivalists see calvinism as wrong; they are good revivalists!

    zrim

  53. Matt S says:

    no. now you are saying that because one is a believer his doctrine is just fine and we ought not be concerned. *that’s* being doctrinnaire. we are not saved by our doctrine, daniel, but by God. where does this thinking come form?

    This, in my opinion, is the root of most of these disagreements. The priorities that the Reformed have vs. the priorities that everyone else (Albinians, Arminians, Charismatics, etc…) has.

    You as Reformed value and prioritize doctrine and working toward helping others understand the “correct” understanding of such doctrine. Is this wrong to do? Of course not.

    I, on the other hand, do not think of doctrine as a priority in my Christian walk. Is it important to understand what I believe and why I believe it, of course, but it is not the MOST important to me. Is this wrong? Of course not.

    These are just differences and it is what makes the Christian walk so fun and interesting.

  54. Bruce S. says:

    Can’t find the “PREFs are cult members” quote or inference. Help me out here.

  55. zrim says:

    Matt: “I will add the same goes for me and others that believe the things we do. I believe what I believe because I feel that is what the Bible teaches.”

    zrim: mostly agreed. i would delete the “I feel” phrase. in fact, i might say this paragraph is a bit too over run with I’s. there is a body of truth and i believe it. but its truth has nothing to do with whether i believe it or not. the sky is blue. that’s what most folk say. very few say i believe the sky is blue, even though that is perfectly valid to say.

    Matt: “I also understand that I will never have a perfect revelation of the Word until the end. Therefore, I have no problem showing people what I believe and why I believe it, but if they disagree that is fine.”

    zrim: agreed. no form is perfect. but some are better than others. i have no problem with others disagreeing with me. but when they disagree with the forms they make an entirely different tack. don’t like choen bros movies? fine. think grace is irresistable and that sin is just a bad sickness? then there is where we part company. fellowship is different from friendship or socializing (despite what we tend to name that wing off to the side of church sanctuaries).

    Matt: “You will not find me insisting to anyone that the finer points of my belief are 100% fool proof, I know it is very possible that I have misintrepreted some things and that is fine. I look forward to the perfect revelation that is to come.”

    zrim: again, over run with i/my statements. and when the fulcrum is personal preference you couldn’t be more accurate. it is wrong to insist that any one system is right over another when it’s “my” system. i would even agree that plenty of us reformed people do violence to the confessional standards when WE misinterpret and misapply them. as rube knows, my own CRC does that quite a bit.

    zrim

  56. itsasecret2u says:

    Zrim,

    In my estimation, part of the problem is how much you assume about the vast group you label “PREF.” You just did it at the end of your post. You assume that a PREF will say that Calvinism is wrong. I suppose that depends on what you mean by Calvinism (if you’re referring to reformed doctrine as a whole or if you are referring mainly to TULIP). I imagine you’d label both me and Daniel as being PREF, yet we have both said we believe in the 5-points of TULIP. How does that fit in with your stereotyping?

    How do you explain that I score extremely high in the “Reformed” category on that ridiculous test?

    My point is that I think you have allowed your personal experience with PREF family members to grossly distort how you view all “PREFs.” You claim over and over that you are simply saying we PREFs are following our own system and that’s ok… yet in the same breath you say our system is totally skewed, wrong, imply that PREFs are not saved (though you create enough loop holes to say that’s never what you said), and that reformed doctrine is the only true, correct way to go. The rest of us must just be lost and confused or simply dumb. Or in denial of truth. Do you see how that doesn’t really gel with your previous implication that we follow our system and “that’s ok?”

    You also assume WAY too much about the way we all view evangelism and this whole “sincerity witness” thing. But I’m not even going to go there.

  57. zrim says:

    matt!!!!! thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! yeehaaa!!!!!!!!!!!

    “You as Reformed value and prioritize doctrine and working toward helping others understand the “correct” understanding of such doctrine. Is this wrong to do? Of course not.

    I, on the other hand, do not think of doctrine as a priority in my Christian walk. Is it important to understand what I believe and why I believe it, of course, but it is not the MOST important to me. Is this wrong? Of course not.

    These are just differences and it is what makes the Christian walk so fun and interesting.”

    yes, yes, yes, hugs and kisses. methinks we have made a breakthrough! we come form very different approaches. this has been my main point all along. here is where i could begin to make value judgements about the different approaches, but i wil refrain so no one gets cornfused again.

    thanks, bud, for sticking with me and not just calling me names.😉

    zrim

  58. Bruce S. says:

    fine. think grace is irresistable and that sin is just a bad sickness?

    I think he wants to say “think grace is resistable?” N’est pas?

    Still can’t find the PREFs are cult members bit.

    Also, I hate to break up the hug-in, but the Christian walk is most definitely not fun. Romans 8:17.

  59. zrim says:

    secret, you were doing so well until you again charge me with calling PREF’s unsaved. someone bump me, my needle keeps having to repeat. although, you say something interesting. let me ask you: when your RC friend tells you that one is justified by faith in Christ and good works together, what do you say? do you correct him or skip along? further, what would be YOUR definition of a “unsaved” person? you agree there are such folks, yes? what are the criteria? remember, once you begin to answer you are in danger of being dogmatic.

    you made that point before and i told you it was a really good one. you never came back! generalizations are just that, secret. i know right well that not every individual fits into a syatem without some problems. that would be a simolistic approach.

    the R in PREF is for revivalists. and for anyone who has done an iota of serious reading can attest, revivalists are no friend of calvinism. an dthey make no bones about it. finney felt no hesitation in calling the calvinist system a problem.

    if you believe in the 5 points, great. when it comes to that aspect of the reformed system we have no disagreements. so my stereotype is quite favorable of your views.

    as much as i disdain the assumptions of PREF to discern divine truth, namely, subjectivism and experitentialsim, i don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and despise those things called intution, subjectivity and experience. and that is what allows me to say that how i have formulated my stupid little acronym via these things, by experience and how i intuit their system. one has to be able to discern what is being said without it having been said. there is great valeu to intution and experience to begin getting a grapp on folks and where they are coming from.

    zrim

  60. Bruce S. says:

    Hey zrim, did you ever figure out who RubeRad’s grandpa is?

  61. itsasecret2u says:

    Zrim,

    You are mistaken. I said you imply that PREFs are unsaved. I didn’t say you said it. I even put it in italics so you wouldn’t miss it. 😉

    OK, so here’s a question so that I can better try to understand you and where you come from: Do you consider me to be a PREF? You definitely consider a couple people I go to church with PREF, but what about me? Based on your intuition, of course…

    Also, sorry for disappearing. It means I’m thinking.

  62. zrim says:

    ha! bruce is a dear reformed brother who has just pointed out again how awfully sinful i am. thanks, and yes, that is what i meant.

    oh, you won’t find a reference to me charging PREF’s as being cult members, etc. that’s pretty absurd. you will find plenty of charges that i said as much and even implied it. but i don’t think i did. hey, wasn’t it ed carnell who said “fundamnetalism is orthodoxy gone cultic”? i think so. HE said it, not me. but i would have to agree with the spirit of his slogan inasmuch as fundies (I expand it to PREF) rely on the same american made certainty in zeal and feelings.

    and, now, you all can breath easily as i am out the door for the weekend. the troll is off. hopefully, my mood will have changed and i will once again realize i enjoyed the last 10 years NOT butting heads like this and simply simmering in the good reformed faith.

    zrim

  63. Matt S says:

    Also, I hate to break up the hug-in, but the Christian walk is most definitely not fun. Romans 8:17.

    Are you comparing what litte if any suffering we go through in America for His Name to the suffering the early church or other believers across the world endure? Please stop, that is crazy.

    We are blessed here in America to believe and prosilitize without fear for our lives, not something the early church or other places in this current world can say.

    And yes my walk as a Christian is fun and rewarding, maybe we can talk about how yours could be too!🙂

  64. zrim says:

    bruce, yeah…well no. i mean, i know he’s your graddad, yes? but i cannot locate him in our directory.

    secret, i really wish i could stay and continue. but i gotta go. maybe next week. let me just say that it is complicated. i think most of american cult and culture is PREF, even much of my own denom (CRC). i used to be and have only recently been able to see it in myself. my bio family if mainline, liberal and extended is PREF proper. they have a lot in common.

    zrim

  65. Wow. I’ve been too busy to duck here in for a while and I see the rhetoric has amped up again. For the record, I don’t think anybody has called anybody else “unsaved” here, but zrim’s inferences “Non-Reformed Christians need to be evangelized” have led some to believe that.

    BTW, Bruce, is this guy one of your relatives back in Ohio? I thought I recognized him from Reuben’s wedding🙂

  66. Danielbalc says:

    Sorry for the exageration of you implying PREF to be “cult members”. I gathered that from tha associating them with the Romans. It may be an exageration, but it’s clearly what zrrim wanted all along. Read his posts and tell me he hasn’t been bating that inference. Maybe it’s just me, if that’s the case I apology, but it sure seems like that is his deliberate inenent especially since he even says, “i’m going to kick up some dust here”.

  67. Matt S says:

    i would delete the “I feel” phrase. in fact, i might say this paragraph is a bit too over run with I’s.

    I like the “I” and “me” because that this what they are. They are mine. A large group of people may also hold to the same beliefs, but I do not hold to them because others do, I hold to them because I believe that is what the Bible says.

    I will take the accountability for being wrong if I am found to be. I will not say, “well my pastor told me this is right.” Or, “I read this in ___ confession.” Or, “It is not my belief it is Calvin’s”

    Be a good Berean, study to show thy self approved, question things, don’t just drink the kool-aid🙂

  68. Matt S says:

    Save me the comments about how I am not in submission to my pastor, I am. I am elevating my understanding to that of my pastor, I am not.

  69. Matt S says:

    Be a good Berean, study to show thy self approved, question things, don’t just drink the kool-aid

    This is how all you ex-Arminian\Charismatics became Calvinists, right?🙂

  70. danielbalc says:

    Bruce, I am not quite sure what you mean by this,

    “Also, I hate to break up the hug-in, but the Christian walk is most definitely not fun. Romans 8:17.”

    You should keep on reading Romans till you get to 14:17 and maybe even read Philippians. Had you said “the Christian walk is most definitely not ALL fun”, or even “not OFTEN fun” I guess I would let it pass, but I think it worthwhile to challenge the representation that faith must be miserable.

    Why can Zrim call you a “dear brother”? Do you know him? Does he know you? i think the main complaint (at least on my part) in this thread is that zrim attacks (what he calls) PREF’s he doesn’t even know because of how he has stereotyped them, while he embraces (what he calls) “dear reformed brothers”, again while basing this on stereotypes or labels. It seems odd to me that it is this way, but consistent with many experiences I have had. Unfortunately I don’t think either party is trying to stop it, the best efforts usually themselves get caught into the fight and are brutalized in the process. Tragic.

  71. itsasecret2u says:

    Zrim (for when you come back)…

    Here’s what it sounds like you are saying in a different context.

    You mentioned that you were dropping your daughter off at class today (or maybe the other day). I homeschool my children. What if I said to you, “That’s great that you send your children to private or public school. Fantasic. Obviously your family has decided that this is the best option for you. You are doing what you have decided is the right thing, given the information that you have been provided. I applaud you for that.

    I homeschool, though. Anyone who is truly seeking the most-correct way to raise children does, after all. I have viewed the same information you have and have come to a more correct conclusion about child-rearing. I’m not knocking your conclusion, of course. You are just acting based on the protocol for your position. Wonderful! Yay! I just happen to be more correct. I shall now retire to rest in the correctness and greatness of my parenting beliefs.

    Don’t worry. I still consider you a parent, just like me. I’m just a better parent. Wait, why are you offended? I said your conclusions about parenting were ok. They are misguided, of course… skewed, to be sure. But you’re still a parent. Why are you twisting what I’m saying? I never said you were a bad parent. You’re just less-right than I am. My children are being brought up in a more correct environment. Nurture. It’s all about nurture. Don’t get mad at me. Nurture is what my parenting system requires. No, you’re still ok! Just not quite as good.”

    Do you see how all of my insistence that you are “ok” and “still a parent” and just “doing what your family has decided is best” is completely undermined by the fact that I also keep insisting that I am the most-correct, most-nurturing, most-loving, therefore the best parent? This may be where the “liar” accusation comes from. My former statements now ring completely false when qualified with the latter.

  72. danielbalc says:

    For the sake of clarifying why i called z an “obnoxious liar” it was this double talk.

    “ah-ah-ah, not so fast, daniel. i *knew* this would be interepreted this way, the tapes played in my ears as i wrote that post. again, and at the risk of being painfully repetitive, i said no such thing but in point of fact said the opposite. when i say PREF’s must be evangelized i did NOT mean they are not unbelievers.”

    The guy sounds like John Kerry.

    It’s both obnoxious and dishonest, hence, “you’re such an obnoxious liar”.

    for crying out loud if you “*knew*” it would be interpreted a certain way then you also “*knew*” the inference you would be making. so you can’t say “I did NOT mean they are not unbelievers” two sentences later.

    Secret I applaud your effort to try and illustrate the way z comes across but I think he already knows how he comes across.

  73. Echo_ohcE says:

    Daniel,

    I hear what you’re saying about “huge” doctrinal differences. There does become a problem of where you draw the line.

    That’s why confessions are so valuable. I know many think that the Westminster Confession of Faith is very narrow, but it is actually very broad in a number of areas.

    For example, you can believe that creation was 6 literal calendar days, or you can be day-age, or you can be one of those other exotic views that the “cool guys” hold, like framework and analogical views.

    Also, the restriction on eschatology is very broad. Pretty much all that’s ruled out is dispensationalism. Post-mill, and some preterist positions are allowed. Most are amill, but there isn’t really a rule about this. (Although I secretly wish there would be, because I think post-mill to be a bad thing. But there isn’t, so ministers can be post-mill all they want, and there’s nothing I can do about it.)

    The point is this: the confession is a compromise document. But it is the whole church who got together and said, ok, this is what we think is important, and here’s where we’ll compromise. So we have said we’ll compromise on creation, provided you still believe X, Y, Z, and we’ll compromise on eschatology, provided you still believe A, B, C.

    In other words, the confession (i.e., the church who adopted the confession) defines what counts as “huge” doctrinal differences. Arminianism, tongues, dispensationalism, and many others have been considered “huge”, but there is actually a lot of room for debate.

    And also, let me just reiterate that members don’t have to subscribe to the Confession, only the ministers/elders/deacons do. Which would be a difference between the Presbyterian tradition and the CRC/URC tradition.

    E

  74. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    Here are some helpful categories I’ve learned recently.

    Evangelism = bringing Christ to the lost, “selling” Christ. (for free of course)

    Outreach = bringing people into your church, “selling” the/your church (also free).

    E

  75. Echo_ohcE says:

    Daniel,

    Wow. The reformed don’t bear fruit? Certainly true of some I suppose. But, ummm, perhaps this is an unfair blanket characterization.

    You know, people who come on blogs tend to get…edgy. Pushy. Contentious. I think it’s something inherent in the medium. I haven’t figured out yet why that is, but it is.

    Anyway, I’m just saying that it is inadvisable to judge someone by how they act on a blog, and inadvisable to judge parts of Christianity by how some act on blogs.

    To be sure, there is an element in the reformed churches that is quite contentious, but these are of course the guys that are the loudest voices. There is a silent majority whom you perhaps might not have had as much experience with who don’t fit the stereotype that we all agree is well founded. It IS well founded you know.

    Michael Horton talks about guys who are in their cage phase. This is the first couple years when someone comes into reformed circles. Somebody (like me) learns about election, and then they run around trying to cram it down everyone’s throat that they used to know, and can’t understand why they refuse to accept it, since it’s so clear from Scripture. But after a while, this passes.

    Now, you might say that I haven’t really passed out of this stage. You’d be right. But I think blogs somehow draw that spirit out of me more than anything else. Again, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we can talk without being interrupted. But anyway, who I am on blogs is probably a lot more like how I was in person for a very long time. But I am changing/growing, thanks only to the grace of God to be sure.

    But it is these cagey folks who spend a lot of time interacting with those who are not reformed, and giving others a bad name. Most reformed folks are about the nicest, sweetest, most loving people you’d ever hope to meet. And they are kind and considerate and warm and giving, you know, all that stuff you want to see in Christians. I have generally typically been impressed with that about the reformed. I sometimes speak as a bit of an outsider, because I’ve only been in the reformed church now for about 4 years. Bizarre, huh? Prior to that I was a Pelagian, and spent a good 8 years outside of church.

    You make a good point about thinking the best of people. What people confess is not always what they believe, and what they believe is not always what they think it is. If someone is saved, well, then we know that what they actually believe are some things, such as that contained in the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed. But ultimately we don’t know if someone is saved.

    However, that being said, all we can go by is someone’s confession. That’s all we’ve got.

    But that only highlights the importance of not judging people, because we don’t know what’s on their hearts, not ever, regardless of their confession. Someone can make a great, but false, confession. It can happen. Someone can even be one of the 12 disciples and not be saved. Hmmm…

    But we should speak the truth in love as much as possible – no, I don’t do that either. No one does. But that’s our goal. To speak the truth in love. That certainly means not cramming stuff down peoples’ throats, and it means not trying to make them swallow all the truths right now, but patiently giving them time to slow cook on all these things that took us so long to come to terms with.

    All Christians bear fruit. Some more than others. Christ died for each.

    E

  76. Echo_ohcE says:

    Matt,

    Re: March 2, 2:22 (I can’t copy and paste on this blog for some reason)

    You said that doctrine wasn’t a priority for you as a Christian.

    My question in response is: let’s talk about what the Bible says our priorities ought to be as Christians.

    I think the Bible is saying that the individual Christian’s priority should be to grow in maturity, to grow in sanctification. That means growing in obedience, growing in faith. Part of obedience (and it is absolutely ONLY part) is being obedient to believe those things that God says about himself and our salvation in his Word. That would mean doctrines. Believing the wrong thing about God or our salvation is actually a sin, and the goal of the Christian life being sanctification, we do want to strive to lay sins aside. Of course, this also means that we want to grow in love and knowledge of God. So while doctrine is a very high priority, it’s not the only priority.

    Thoughts?

    E

  77. Echo_ohcE says:

    Matt,

    NEVER drink the Kool-aid. But I’m glad you added that bit about submission. It’s an important point.

    Don’t believe anything you aren’t convinced of in the Scriptures. That’s a good rule of thumb.

    E

  78. Echo_ohcE says:

    PS that doesn’t mean you can’t trust someone to help you understand the Scriptures.

  79. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    What is the difference between defending the truth and defending yourself?

    I would never say not to defend the truth, but not all truths are equally important.

    I would only rarely say defend yourself.

    Loving someone and being patient with them is far more important than defending yourself. Thus, when Jesus went as a lamb to be slaughtered, he opened not his mouth. I can’t even imagine such a thing myself. But do you see where his priorities were?

    Throughout his earthly ministry, no one, I mean no one understood what he was about. John the Baptist was even confused. But they still believed in him. The disciples believed in him. But they sure were confused about him. Just look at what happened on the road to Emmaus. They were totally confused by his death. They didn’t get it. They despaired. They didn’t even believe in the resurrection!

    But Jesus tolerated all this unbelief and confusion patiently, because he knew that they would eventually figure it out. But of course, he didn’t cease to challenge them and confound them, but he also didn’t cease to love them and shepherd them.

    Zrim, I know you think you’re defending the truth, but you’re really coming across as defending yourself.

    Someone says, “Zrim said…” and you come on and say, “No, I didn’t” and then you imply that if they knew more of the truth they’d understand what you were saying better.

    Now I’m not defending them. They seem to have been pouncing on you like sharks in a feeding frenzy, but you have been a willing participant. At least that’s how it seems. It sure seems like you’re interested in defending yourself, making sure everyone knows that you’ve got it right, and whenever something you say hurts someone’s feelings, it’s because they don’t understand the truth like you do, because if they did know the truth, their feelings wouldn’t be hurt.

    While you may have a point, you are also being very cruel, intentions aside. You are acting as if you have the right to stomp all over people. But you don’t. If anyone had the right to do that, it was Jesus. And once in a while, he sure did do just that didn’t he, with the Pharisees.

    But there are some interesting and important differences between Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees, and a Reformed rebuke of an Arminian in a blog. I will elucidate them presently, though I am sure just seeing it put that way makes it obvious.

    Here are the more obvious differences. You are not Jesus. Jesus can look on the heart, so his judgments are right and true. You can’t look on the heart, nor can I. (I am guilty too. I’m not picking on you. You know I’ve taken some well deserved lumps too.) Jesus is God. He has the authority to pronounced judgment. We don’t.

    Arminians are not Pharisees. Are Arminians wrong? Yes. They are wrong. Are they misguided? Yes, they are misguided. Does that put them into the Pharisee category, and therefore we can pronounce judgment and curses on them? No. The idea is laughable I would think. The Pharisees were far more than wrong or misguided. They were more like the Pope. If you want to say that the Pope is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist, go right ahead. I’d probably applaud you. But Arminians are not the Pope, who has led many astray, like the Pharisees did. Remember, while we disagree with them on many things, Arminians do still believe in justification by faith alone. We can argue all we want that some of the other things they believe are inconsistent with that, but that’s another matter. A belief in justification by faith alone, professed, makes someone our brother in Christ. They don’t need to understand how it works before they become our brothers.

    But, you say, all error is due to wicked unbelief and sin in our hearts. Therefore the Arminian needs to be rebuked, in order to give up his evil ways.

    I have been guilty of the same fallacious thinking. When has anyone ever given up sin by being bullied by someone?

    Rebukes have their place, they really do. But sanctification comes by grace through faith, which comes by the preached Word of the gospel of Christ. It is the gospel, not the law that sanctifies. And it is surely not heated and personal debate on a blog that brings about sanctification.

    No one ever became less sinful because someone told them that they were ignorant.

    In my recent memory, there was one rebuke that I can recall that was really beneficial to me, having an effect on me for my good. He was a pastor, and he told me that there was such a thing as a lust for knowledge, and I was exhibiting it. He told me to stop and simmer, to slow cook on these truths for a while, because they aren’t grasped overnight.

    I guarantee you I’ll be quoting those words till the day I die.

    But notice the form his rebuke took on. It took the form of instruction. He essentially told me that it was ok not to get it all overnight. He had sensed that I wanted to understand it all, right now. But he told me that that was impossible. Words I needed to hear. It was a rebuke, but it was also patient instruction, and he had been thinking about it for a long time.

    I should email him every time I talk about it, so he knows that I still remember that.

    Anyway, it was good advice, and one that we should bear in mind. I might also encourage you to think about the Arminians you know. Don’t think you can convert them to the reformed camp in a conversation. Certainly not in a blog. it takes a long time to slow cook and simmer. Seeds must be planted, watered, nourished, grown to maturity. These things take time. Be patient with everyone, because it takes a long time to even begin to come to terms with these things, and that’s even when you are becoming convinced. Who knows how long someone will be exposed before they even begin to accept. Maybe never. It doesn’t mean they aren’t saved, that’s for sure, so we can hold out hope for them.

    I need to hear this at least as much as you do. I am twice as guilty as you are, to be sure. But my guilt or innocence is for God to decide. I am not condemning you. I am just trying to give you some things to think about. It might save you some stress and grief.

    E

  80. Echo_ohcE says:

    Daniel,

    Given your opinion of Zrim, I’m surprised you want to engage him at all. Are you enabling one another? Zrim’s weakness, as you said, picking fights for their own sake, has now become exposed. How should you respond to your brother’s weakness? Do not fail to be merciful to him in his weakness. Help him to flee temptation.

    E

  81. Matt S says:

    So while doctrine is a very high priority, it’s not the only priority.

    I agree with this statement. Unfortunately, I do not feel that others in the reformed camp will go along with this. It seems to me there is an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and undertanding that consumes some people’s lives (some on this blog even). Obtain knowledge and use it to further His kingdom, not attack other Christian brothers for their supposed lack of understanding

    There needs to be balance in the Christian walk, and we should all strive to obtain this balance. Some on my side of the theological side of the fence would do well pursue a better understanding of doctrine and some on your side of the fence would do well to pursue areas outside of doctrine.

  82. Echo_ohcE says:

    Matt,

    I agree with you.

    However, I would disagree that that “others in the reformed camp will [not] go along with this.” I am pleased to report that I am in the reformed camp, and I didn’t make this up myself. I actually have been taught this by the ministers in the reformed camp. Doctrine is a very, very high priority, but it’s not the only priority. That is a very accurate way to characterize the thinking of the reformed camp at large. And by that I mean those ministers and teachers and elders, in other words, the leaders and shapers of the reformed camp, these men feel that doctrine is very, very important. In a lot of ways, that’s what we strive for, a precise understanding of the truth. But it’s not all we strive for. We strive to love one another, to help one another, and to avoid destroying one another. That is just as important.

    There are some in the reformed camp who do not understand this. I SURELY fail to manifest this in many of my posts. But that doesn’t mean that that’s not what the reformed church teaches. It just means that I have failed to live up to what the reformed church teaches.

    So too, everyone fails to live up to that standard, because it is the Bible’s standard, and thus it is God’s standard, and if we could live up to God’s standard, then there would be no need for Christ to have come and died for us, because we’d be able to earn our own salvation. The fact is, none of us can live up to God’s standard, even after we are saved. We still continue to sin. We have to learn and grow and mature, in the two areas of love and doctrine.

    The guys that typically post more on these sorts of blogs are more likely to be guys like me: young, inexperienced, lay people, who have become passionate about reformed doctrine and want to share it with others. This may not have ocurred to you, but the older and more experienced men in the reformed churches, such as its ministers, are conspicuously absent, in large part, from blogs and that sort of thing. That’s because they’re busy with their ministries. They are preparing sermons, visiting the sick, counseling those who are struggling, and fighting to have a few moments with their families at the end of the day. Thus they have no time for things like blogs, for example. Even for me, a seminary student, this is a very poor use of my very limited time.

    So who’s left to speak on blogs, who is left to be the face of the reformed camp to the non-reformed camp? Just like I said, the young, inexperienced layman who has recently become passionate about reformed doctrine. The distinction between the reformed and the non-reformed boils down to doctrine, after all, and they are excited about that difference. They aren’t all that excited about being Christians, because they’ve been a Christian for a long time. They’ve been struggling with love for a long time, and you and they agree about the need to love your neighbor, so why discuss it? But what they’re passionate about is the difference that these newfound doctrines have made in their lives, and so that is what they discuss.

    But being young and inexperienced, like me, we fail to deliver our message in love, because we have been so focused on the doctrine.

    And you’re quite right, the other camps sometimes tend to get it the other way around, so focused on love that they forget that doctrine matters too.

    In short, I agree, a balance must be struck. Not so much a balance though, because we aren’t 50% love and 50% doctrine. But both are important, and the importance of the one doesn’t detract from the importance of the other, and we do not believe that we have to choose to focus on the one to the exclusion of the other. That’s just how it often happens.

    But those old experienced guys who have learned to be solid in their doctrine, and solid in their care for others – you’ve probably never come into contact with them, though they are out there. I met a number of them this weekend at a special conference. I was astonished at what loving care they exhibited, and yet how concerned they also are with solid reformed doctrine. I have been continually impressed particularly with the ministers I have come into contact with in the OPC and in other reformed churches. It is truly a blessing to have such men as our shepherds, and very humbling for someone like me, a wannabe shepherd.

    But what happens on a blog is not shepherding. A blog is not the formum to conduct shepherding, nor is it everyone’s place to conduct shepherding.

    God calls shepherds, and puts sheep into their care. And that doesn’t take place on a blog.

    So when someone appoints themselves someone else’s shepherd, and then proceeds on a blog to conduct that shepherding, well, it’s wrong.

    I think I just finally convinced myself of why I shouldn’t be spending so much time here.

    Adieu.

    E

  83. Matt S says:

    I think I just finally convinced myself of why I shouldn’t be spending so much time here.

    Perhaps this is a reason why these blogs have a “Hotel California” vibe to them, you can check out but you can never leave!

    “Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken (err.. blog) that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smart***!

    -from the cult classic “So I Married an Axe Murderer”

  84. zrim says:

    Secret,

    Of all the posts since my last one I find yours the most intriguing.

    It is particularly attractive to me that you use the domain of education. As you might guess, I do have a rather extended POV when it comes to the subjects you raise, but that is likely due to my whole career being in education.

    I think you make a good point. I am a very strong PS advocate. That is a hard position to hold here in Dutch Reformed West Michigan! It is very much a minority as most around my wife and me are ardent CS proponents, with the home-schoolers right behind. I am not a transformationist; I do not see the legitimacy of creating a Christian version of an aspect of culture (education). The issue, I think, when it comes to education is where will a child receive the best education. That answer may conclude with Catholic schools, private, Montessori, Christian schools or even home-schooling—there are many valid options. And let’s be honest, we who make such decisions also make value judgments about the other options. I do of CS and home-schooling. And I would suspect those that choose CS or HS make those same value judgments of PS. In fact, I would do more than suspect since I live amongst heavy-handed CS pedagogies and am quite in a minority, so I know what it’s like to be viewed as less-than, even though much of that goes unspoken. But at the same time, I have found the Dutch Reformed also to be highly charitable people. My own CRC communion has not seen fit to bar me from office over such an issue, for example. However,, one simply cannot escape the more de jure attitude that one is doing something wrong. But maybe that is also a bad inference made on my part. Human relationships are very complicated.

    However, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. The issue of what to do with the education of one’s child is completely a secondary issue, one squarely in the domain of Christian liberty. I know of one wonderful Prebsy church in my hometown which is a God send in many ways. However, they won’t allow anyone who does PS into office of elder. I think this is grossly misguided and a blot on their session. They have made dogmatic what is not. The only criteria should be a member in good standing of a true church and a holding to our confessional standards, etc. I should be able, for example, to even send my child to a (gasp!) Catholic school if I so deem worthy.

    Secondary issues are not at all in the same league as dogmatic or doctrinal ones. It’s this sort of blurring of the lines in the influences of pietism that makes, actually, for tyranny. Remember you are speaking to a confessionalist; we don’t see our confessional standards as merely “really good ideas.” They are the things that bind and create our unity. It isn’t our shared and subjective experiences of “being a Christian,” but our objective confession. What this should allow for is increased diversity when it comes to secondary issues like where I send my kid to school. So your comparison doesn’t work for me.

    So while I do appreciate what you are trying to do in your post, I am not persuaded that it solves the inherent irritation when the fulcrum is doctrinal confession. We ought to be dogmatic when it comes to those doctrines of sin and grace (read: the controversy of the Remonstrants, etc.), Christology (read: the controversy of the early church with the Arians, etc.) or the doctrines of justification (read: the Reformation and the Roman church, etc.). They are all vital doctrines that separate the true church from false churches. While I have a very strong, vehement POVwhen it comes to education (i.e. PS views over against all others), it is still a secondary issue and should not be cause for schism.

    zrim

  85. zrim says:

    *disclaimor: i am posting this as a way to generate discussion. i am not baiting or seeking to trap anyone and trumpet myself (whatever that might mean).

    i wonder what anyone thinks of the following quote. is there anything wrong with it, do you think? is it generally right but a little simplistic or spot on?

    “If the truth isn’t inside of us but outside of us, then it’s something we can’t make up. If you’re a weather reporter in Chicago telling your audience every day during winter that it’s going to be a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for sailing or beach-combing at Lake Michigan, then you’ll be fired by early January. Christians, too, are witnesses, reporters, announcers whose commission is to tell it like it is, not to make it up. In Jeremiah, God attacks the false prophets for “dressing the wounds of my people, as if it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Really what he was accusing them of was spin.

    Similarly today, the church seems all too prone to spin the truth rather than face it and proclaim it. Like many politicians, preachers seem to think that they have to hide their convictions in order to get re-elected. God’s holiness is not that terrifying or strange; it’s more like friendliness. God’s justice doesn’t require satisfaction, and as for God’s wrath, when’s the last time that was part of the conversation? In any event, whatever God’s scarier traits, love will always win out.

    The wages of sin is not death, but unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. Jesus Christ is not a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin, but an example who helps us live above it. We’re not the ungodly who can only be justified by an imputed righteousness, but the righteous who need encouragement and a good life coach. We’re just consumers who need to see the relevance of Jesus, not sinners who need to repent of our having thought for one moment that we knew what was relevant in the first place.

    The church craves the world’s approval. We call it evangelism, mission, and outreach. But what we really want is the world’s approval. We’re like the unpopular kids in school who are always too willing to do the bidding of the jocks on campus in the hope of a little respect. But respect is the last thing that empty flattery carries. Whether the world likes us or not, those who become believers will thank us for telling the truth, and those who don’t may at least be taken aback by a church that finally knows its place and its message.”

    zrim

  86. […] that taste great together! Like Echo_ohcE, zrim suffers from having too much good stuff lost in comment #87 of a thread that only about 3 people read. By elevating (copy&pasting from Albino […]

  87. RubeRad says:

    Zrim — you win the lucky prize! Your reward? A guest-posting spot Blogorrhea. (including FREE capitalization of the letter I)!

    I know it’s what you’ve always wanted — a way to have your own blog without actually having your own blog…

  88. zrim says:

    i’d like to thank all the little people who made this so possible (sniff). i just never thought a dude like me could ever hope to have a blog (sniff, sniff). you love me, you really love me, oh! thank you!

    now let’s get back to the posting.

    zrim

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