Sunday, August 26, 2007

This Thing Called Calvinism


First, some links are in order.

  1. Wikipedia:
  2. R.L. Dabney:
  3. Comparison between Arminianism and Calvinism:

I don't like this title, because it makes it sound as if we followed a man. I don't like Augustinianism, because it's simply too long to type, and doesn't go far enough back in history (much older than Augustine or even Christ [well, the time of His incarnation at least]). It gives the mistaken idea that this soteriological system was invented, as some of its opponents would have you believe.

Sovereign Grace

Redundant. This is so not just because of the Reformed concept of the idea, but because "grace" itself must be sovereign by its very nature and operation. That is, it cannot be coerced or earned, or it is no longer grace but something else. I cannot show someone else grace if they have coerced it or earned it (though if I am a good enough actor, I can make it to appear to be grace I suppose).

Doctrines of Grace

Forgive me for referring back to the KJV, here, but I haven't looked in the modern translations (yet). The English word "doctrines" appears in the KJV translation a total of five times, all in the New Testament, and all with a negative connotation (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7, Colossians 2:22, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 13:9). Three of those are in reference to the doctrines or teachings of men (Matthew, Mark, and Colossians), one is in reference to demons (1 Timothy), and the last one is in reference to falsehood in general (though in context, of men, I believe). I shy away from the terminology because of this.

There is really only one doctrine anyway, and that is the Word of God. I believe it can be referred to be a singular doctrine of Grace, revealed in the Word, centered on Christ, and glorifying to God. As believers, we seek to teach the entire truth of the Scriptures as accurately and faithfully as we can.


I actually like this term. It is defined here. I think (though I haven't verified this) that it literally means "one energy or force." But, it does not exactly roll off the tongue. In fact, the word "Synergism" is more pleasant to pronounce and to hear, and much more agreeable to our self-will and pride. But it is no more truthful than the idea that there is salvation outside of Christ.

[updated the section below]

So, I suppose I am stuck with the term Calvinist for the time being. It sounds menacing, like I have some dark and sinister agenda, and some equally twisted and heretical doctrine as its underlying foundation. I don't. I am just displeased that Arminianism is the new Baptist orthodoxy, at least in the SBC world, and considered unbiblical and barely tolerable (if that), when in actual truth I believe it is the more Biblical and Christian position to take.

I never should have written the above (under the Old: heading) in hindsight. I was just getting on my soapbox, and my comments there were unhelpful. I like what my pastor told me, that Christianity is a lot larger than Calvinism, and to preach the Scriptures and focus on Christ, which is where all the truth is. I have known many good Christian men who do not accept Calvinism, but fortunately do not make it a fellowship issue. We have fellowship together as Christians, because we believe Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jonah 2:9
But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

I can claim no credit to my salvation. Yes, I did cooperate with God. But I did that after God circumcised my heart, took out the heart of stone, and put in a heart of flesh. God opened my ears to hear the Gospel. Praise God! God gets all the glory!

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God alone).


Luke said...

I'm not trying to help you in your case here since I am not a Calvinist, though by others am considered to be, but may I offer a slight correction here: "I am just displeased that Arminianism is the new Baptist orthodoxy, at least in the SBC world, and considered unbiblical and barely tolerable (if that), when in actual truth I believe it is the more Biblical and Christian position to take."

I think you left out the word "Calvinism" after the word "and" and before "considered". That is, unless of course you are an Arminian, which I do not think you are.

Byroniac said...

Thanks, Luke, for the correction. That's what happens when you blog before you get your minimal morning caffeine intake. Oops. Well, on second thought, I probably should not have written it at all.

Luke said...


I think you are giving voice to the same struggle that "non-calvinists" find themselves in. Due to whatever reasons, and they are varied and many, the labels seem to be understood more as pejoratives rather than descriptives. I really do not know what the answer is to be honest. However, I believe that when there is honest, kind, unassuming dialogue between two or more individuals, the outcome results in the labels as being more descriptive than pejorative. An example might be the word "redneck". There would be some conversations where that would be considered a compliment and other situations where when thrown out in anger, becomes pejorative.

Even within the Calvinistic camp terms are thrown at the variations by others and the intention of the thrower is to use the term in a pejorative manner. I think the same can be said or Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal, Christian/Atheist. I think it all boils down to who you are talking to and the character of the person you are talking to as well.

I think I have chased a rabbit with the intention of your thread but my goal is to encourage you. I respect your desire to not be rejected just because you have been "given" or "used" a label. May God grant us discretion.

I will join your chorus of to God be the glory for Luke's salvation. I will also join you in that Luke's salvation was not of Luke's works.

Byroniac said...

Luke, stop making sense...

Nevermind, I give up. You're just not going to listen, are you? ;)

Byroniac said...

Now I just wish Peter Lumpkins would respond to my blog comment on his blog. -Sigh-

I'd really love to learn patience, but it just seems to take too long. The irony is, people have been gracious and patient with me. I suppose I need to learn this patience thing. Does anyone know any shortcuts?