Follow Christ, not a tulip

7 02 2011


(Skip to the first post of this series)
Our loving God has inspired me to make a video series about Calvinism, predestination, God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. This is a preface.

This series will first of all be for the glory of God and for the edification of your faith. It is my desire to give a Biblical frame of mind for those Christians who seem to have difficulty with making sense of predestination, election and free will in the Bible.

Calvinism or Reformed theology, maybe you never thought about it, maybe you hate it, maybe you love it, but it’s about a minority group of Christians who adhere to the five doctrines of Calvinism. If you’ve never met one of them, all the better reason to watch this series and allow me to inform you about it in the coming videos. You might even ask, if it is only a minority group, why even bother?

Well, as Bible believing Christians, we are called to examine or test everything what is said and to hold fast to what is good, examining the Scriptures to see if these things are so: “test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21 NLT), “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).

It is also out of love that I wish to show the truth to my Calvinist brothers and sisters. If you are a Calvinist and you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, then you should know that I love you as my brother or sister in Christ. But I do disagree with you and I encourage you to watch this through and listen carefully to what is said. Remember the good saying: (Proverbs 18:13) “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” and not mine.

Predestination and free will are usually linked to belief systems or –isms such as Calvinism, Arminianism and Molinism, theological traditions that were named after their founders John Calvin, James Arminius and Luis de Molina. Most of you have probably never heard of them before. And as you’ll watch this series, you’ll get to know more about them and their traditions.

As they’re said to be in direct conflict with each other, they seem to cause conflict among Christians who adhere to either view. And it is my experience that there is a lot of disagreement up to great tumult among Christians on predestination and free will. Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, whatever people call themselves, all suppose that they adhere to the true doctrine of salvation. But which view is correct? Who’s right and who’s wrong? What is the truth?

It has become an agonizing debate, honestly, a debate that’s going on for hundreds of years, even tearing Christian families apart. Of course, it has also spread to Youtube and has been going on for a while. When the emotions are running high, those who favour one view even go as far as to call the other a disease or poison, accusing each other of heresy and worshipping a false God.

  • “And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.”

– C. H. Spurgeon (A Defense of Calvinism)

But heresy is a relative term. A teaching is heresy only if it is contrary to another teaching that is believed to be more authoritative. People who base their beliefs on councils, decrees and synods in the past should be reminded of the fact that the earliest Reformers themselves also taught doctrines that were in direct conflict with the established teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants are, in fact, Protesting Catholics and what they taught was again protested and proclaimed heresy by the Catholic Church. Similarly, Remonstrants or Arminians are Remonstrating Calvinists, protested and proclaimed heresy by the established Reformed Church.

But, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that tradition is all together useless, quite the contrary, I think we should stick as close as possible to what the earliest Christians taught in accordance with Scripture, but we shouldn’t just take tradition for gospel. To speak in Reformed terms: Sola scriptura. Scripture alone is our authoritative teaching. God’s Word is the eternal and unchangeable Truth. And Truth is always consistent and reasonable. Only our faith in the Truth is changeable and fallible. As we reason from Scripture, it is our task as the church of the living God, as the body of Christ, as the pillar and ground of the truth to remain in the truth and to sustain it.

In the meantime, it can be very confusing, even humiliating, when you see your brothers and sisters arguing over a topic like predestination and calling each other heretics or worshipers of false Gods. If you are as heartbroken as I am about this endless quarrel, you’ll agree with me that it’s not a good testimony toward seekers of Christ.

Is Calvinism a way to understand the Bible? Yes. Is Calvinism the correct and truthful way to understand the Bible? No. Should we therefore show that it is wrong? Yes, but with brotherly love and respect. Name calling or anything below that won’t do anybody good and isn’t a healthy way of discussing these matters with each other. For God says that we should not speak vile of one another (Eph 4:29-30).

I do not think it is an evil to discuss these matters with each other, no, we ought to point out the rights and wrongs in each other’s views, but it should be done in a peaceful and respectful way, lest we’d grieve the Holy Spirit.

So let’s agree that whatever convictions on this issue we might have, we will not call brothers in Christ heretics. Anyone who believes that Jesus is the risen Lord and Saviour and is born again in the Holy Spirit is not a heretic, but a precious child of God. Let those quarrelsome people who delight in theological conflicts, do whatever they like, but you and I, let’s hold onto the truth in peace, since we’re called to be peacemakers (Math 5:9).

Another thing is that we shouldn’t be confused, when talking about this subject. Both sides seem to be able to make a Biblical case for their theologies. Does this mean that the Bible, the Word of God causes confusion? No, it doesn’t: for God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33).

The root of all confusion and disagreement among the body of Christ are fallible human beings, fallible theologians in the pursuit of their own interests instead of the truth. Let’s not give the devil the opportunity to disrupt and dislocate the members of the body.

We’ve got to face the challenge to keep a balance, fixing our eyes of faith on Christ and the whole Word of God and not be confused by people’s teachings. We should all be willing to seek and accept the truth with all its implications, striving for unity in the Spirit of truth.

Let’s not be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph 4:14 NKJV). But let’s hold on to the truth in love. We shouldn‘t put our trust in what people say, but in Christ. Don’t trust me for what I say, but test it, examine it, scrutinize it, prayerfully read the Bible and make your own judgement.

Even in the earliest stage of the Church, such quarrels as these were going on in the congregation of Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 1:11-13). Personal doctrines entered the church causing quarrels and division. “I follow Calvin!”, “I follow Arminius!”. People appealed to superior knowledge of salvation, to the saving power of their theology. And how did the apostle Paul respond?

  • “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

(1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

What matters is: do I follow Christ? Do I know Him intimately? For whatever your convictions are regarding predestination and free will, the responsibility of every child of God is to follow Jesus Christ and their destiny to become more like Him, the head of the body, who keeps all members together. The Lord appeals to us through the writings of Paul that we are to agree with one another and be perfectly united in mind and thought. So, come, let’s reason together.

  • “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

(Eph 4:16 NLT)

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One response

11 02 2011
Renton

For whatever your convictions are regarding predestination and free will, the responsibility of every child of God is to follow Jesus Christ and their destiny to become more like Him, the head of the body, who keeps all members together.

Yes indeed, and no calvinist denies that…

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