Archives For Calvinism

I recently visited with a friend who is in his mid 60′s and has pastored Reformed Baptist churches for decades. He talked to me about how encouraged he is about the resurgence of Calvinism in the church today, particularly among the young people. He cited the preaching, the books being published, the websites, and the conferences. With glistening eyes he said, “Back in the 80′s when we’d go to Banner (of Truth) conferences we would never have imagined a day like this in our lifetime.”

We are living in something of an ecclesiological bizzaro world where Calvinism is wildly popular. But I want to make a distinction: Calvinism is popular but it is not sexy. Just because something is enjoying appeal among an admittedly increasing amount of people does not mean it is universally appealing.
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This is so good. It captures so much of what my and so many other hearts longs for. Thank you John Piper for stirring us once again to supremely treasure God in all of life.

I know the doctrine of predestination can be a thorny and contentious subject. Often times this is because it betrays popular conceptions about God and ourselves.

It is important to keep in mind that the Apostle tells us that this predestination of believers by God was done “in love” (Eph. 1.4). Whatever else follows must coming from this doctrinal spicket: God’s work of predestination is a loving work of predestination.

This morning my heart was arrested as I sat and chewed on various implications of this fact. Consider that if God had not decided, before the foundation of the world, to lavish you with his electing love then you would have remained in the throngs of self-love. Put it another way, if God did not so love you then you would have continued to love you.

This truth is simultaneously humbling and motivating. It humbles me to the dust because I know of my absolute inability and unwillingness to choose God. It motivates me to serve him, striving for holiness, because he has in fact so loved me!

While I don’t find the doctrine contentious it remains thorny. Every time I handle this truth it punctures my pride and reminds me of the goodness of the God who chooses to save sinners like me.

Below is a quote from J.I. Packer from his introduction to The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  I appreciate Packer’s boldness and clarity here.  I am quoting from the recent book, In My Place Condemned He Stood, pp. 123-124.

“Now the real nature of Calvinistic soteriology becomes plain. It is no artificial oddity, nor a product of overbold logic. Its central confession, that God saves sinners, that Christ redeemed us by his blood is the witness both of the Bible and of the believing heart.

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Just a quick note of follow up from yesterday’s post.

1) I was pleased to read the Grace to You Blog’s response. I appreciate the tone that was struck in that article and the attempt to highlight the maturity, experience, and care of Dr MacArthur along with the initial concerns.

2) I wrote my post because I thought the original GTY post was an unfair and overly broad characterization of a large, undefined group of people. I was individually linked among this group as a bad example or at least an example to make the author’s point. In my view this needed to be addressed and corrected.

3) As I had hoped to make clear in the post, I am still a beneficiary of Dr MacArthur’s ministry. His books litter my desk as I write at this moment and his sermons jam my iPhone. I recognize the body of his work is nearly unmatched. Please don’t get the wrong idea from me on this. I think you can disagree without discarding someone–especially someone I have benefited from so greatly.

4) I also recognize that there are young Reformed guys who are doing and saying things that not only would Dr MacArthur be not comfortable with but neither would I (because of how it intersects with Scripture). I think this is valid and timely point to make. However, it should be made in clear, specific terms. In short, I think there may be reason to point out some of these issues but it should be done in a far more nuanced and charitable way.

5) From my perspective the issue is done. I responded to an article and am done. Thanks for the comments, tweets, and messages–whether affirmative or negative they serve to make me think and evaluate. I apologize that I can’t get to all of them, but things are actually quite busy on my end. I will try in the near future to do so. But in the meantime, please know that I appreciate the way in which the Lord uses these things.

There are many things about the Christian life that are a mystery to me. One of the things that is a mystery and that chaffs my spirit is when a Christian begins to get something and then goes militant against his former ilk. You know what I mean; they begin to understand something theologically profound and impacting and then they are ready to shred anyone of their former friends because they do not get it.  Often times the refrain, “I can’t believe they don’t get this. Are they blind?!”

A friend of mine has likened this to the ex-chain smoker who now can’t stand people who smoke. The guy used to suck down cigs like slurpies but now he is free from that vice and everyone else is suddenly an idiot.

This happens a lot with Calvinists. We begin to understand (notice–begin) the doctrines of grace and we have little patience for those foolish Arminians. Why is it that we can hold to a system that emphasizes the soveriegnty and grace of God at such a premium, but at the same time we are ready to mow down anybody who does not sign off their email with Soli Deo Gloria (which I do by the way–because I mean it and want to be safe). After all, isn’t the understanding we experience as Christians a result of God’s grace? Or does this just come as a result of our superior smarts?

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This is a great word to younger, seemingly hungry God-centered guys. Piper stands prophetically on the street corner and is asking questions. He sees the ‘loose wires’ and is basically asking, “What is up with that?” (in his folksy Piper-ish way). I like it because I see and hate the disconnect in my own life. I think we do well to listen to the wise, loving observation of this brother.

(ht: Justin Taylor)