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Old 04-13-2004, 12:03 AM   #1
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Calvinism

This is mostly for Stammer (is there something better I should call you?), who said he had some questions on Calvinism. I'm ready for them now.....

(I'm opening this thread b/c I guess I can't PM you and also I'd like to see what others here have to say)
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Old 04-13-2004, 10:17 AM   #2
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I know nothing about Calvinism. I'd like to learn more about it as well
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Old 04-13-2004, 02:30 PM   #3
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...waiting on stammer for this debate....where are ya buddy?
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Old 04-13-2004, 02:49 PM   #4
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Maybe you could email him? There should be a link in stammer's profile if he's chosen to let people email him. I guess not everyone is as addicted to FYM as some of us.
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Old 04-13-2004, 05:02 PM   #5
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FINALLY, I'm back. I moved into a new house last January, and the people who lived there before us only allowed for the installation of one internet line, and so for the last four months we've all been sharing the internet on one computer in the living room. The owner of that computer moved out last week after an argument, taking all of his stuff, some of our stuff, and the only access to the internet. Roommates . . . can't live with 'em, can't afford rent without 'em.
So right now I've got a connection at work, and that'll probably have to do until I move again in May. Sorry to leave you waiting, Lies. And you can call me Aaron.
I don't know what's wrong with finding my email address. I haven't signed up as a premium member, so that may be the case. If so, just go to my website, and if you ever need it, my address is at the bottom of the page.

Anyway, the main question I've always had about Calvinism comes from the doctrines of the TULIP. Being that my seminary was strongly Armenian, we didn't dig too deep into each of the doctrines, just looking more at a surface glance to at least have some knowledge of the "the other side." The letter that bothers me the most is "Limited Atonement." Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's been explained to me as the doctrine where Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross was limited only to those were and would be chosen to be saved. I've even had a Calvanist tell me that the reason it was limited in that way was because his atonement was only strong enough to cover the saints, and didn't have the power or ability to cover everyone who wanted to be saved. First of all, I can't help but find this in conflict with basic Christian ideas ("For God so loved THE WORLD . . .") and scriptural teachings ("He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" - 2 Pet 3:10). Second, is this implying that Christ's atonement wasn't good enough? He had to limit his grace to those He chose because he wasn't powerful enough to save everyone?

I've got a lot more developed thoughts on this other than those scant remarks, but I've got to close up work now. I'll respond more tomorrow.
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Old 04-13-2004, 05:43 PM   #6
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aaaaaah, the TULIP, it never fails to bite us in the ass, lol!

OK, the FIRST thing you must know is as always, the context: TULIP is a result of the Synod of Dordt in 1619. John Calvin died in 1564. I'm guessing you're already aware of this, but sometimes people tend to attach TULIP to the name John Calvin which is a fallacy. It's my observation that Armenians usually use TULIP to contrast themselves with Calvinism. My personal reaction to this would be that TULIP is over-rated in the first place. I say this because the Synod of Dordt occured during a period where the major Reformations had settled and theologians had nothing better to do than focus on highly intellectual systematization and speculative theology (maybe you know about the supralapsarians vs. infralapsarians debate - a good example of "university/scholastic theology" with absolutely NO practical value to the Christian faith....). So you can argue against TULIP all you want, but I'm a Calvinist b/c I believe in the theology of John Calvin, not those who extrapolated from it and speculated over it years after his death. It's kind of like me trying to convince you that some doctrine is a herecy, but you're non-denom so you never paid much attention to that doctrine in the first place. I hope I'm making sense so far....
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Old 04-13-2004, 05:56 PM   #7
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Oh, I just read this from my notes "*all of the Calvinists share the same conclusion, but their treatments of doctrine and the original context cause debate and speculation." There you have it.

*ahem*

Limited Atonement. I'll first give you exactly what I have from my theology class (Prof = Presby, not Calvinist) "Limited Atonement = limited to the 'elect' however, Christ HAS the power to atone all" Now you ask, how does one know if one is elect? Article 12 gives the test of "practical syllogism" (remember this is all coming from Synod of Dordt, NOT Calvin...). The test says, look backwards. If you are elect, then you are justified (one-time act). This is true because God has complete control so if you are elect, then you WILL be justified. If you are justified, you will also be sanctified. So to see if you are elect, ask yourself "is there eveidence of sanctification throughout my life?"

There, that's what is in my notes. I'm not defending it b/c like I said before, I don't care as much about TULIP as I do about the original theologies of Calvin.

As for your question, I'm not sure why some people would argue that there are 'elec' b/c Christ only had the power to atone a select few. This goes against what I've learned so I don't have an explaination for where that idea comes from. I think it's stupid.

The problem I have with Limited Atonement is that if I'm correct in assuming that it's directly related to Calvin's ideas of Predestination, again it's an original doctrine being stripped of its context and purpose and twisted into something else. TULIP might be considered "the 5 points of Calvinism", but Predestination was never a major issue for Calvin. I wonder if today he'd be sorry for every mentioning it at all. I will defend John Calvin, but TULIP I can only try to explain. I don't reject it, I just don't hold it to the same standards because it's doctrine based on something else with no input from that person.

It's kind of like how in history we learned that even though many people think of Buddha as a "god", Buddha would never have claimed to be a god or THE God.

Does this help?
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Old 04-15-2004, 01:51 PM   #8
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Hmmm. A Calvinist who doesn't hold to the TULIP. That's a new one for me, and it's leads me to argue . . . . not very much.

From my Armenian background, my knowledge of Calvinism was pretty much limited to the TULIP. Without that, I'm afraid I don't have much to argue. You've taken all the bullets out of my barrels. Thinking back to my Church History courses (ah, the good ol' days), after spending considerable time on Martin Luther, we then barreled through to the Restoration of the 1800's, the foundation of our church's movement. So when it comes down to the theology that John Calvin ACTUALLY formed, I'm afraid I'm a little weak on the subject.

I guess my only question left for discussion is, where do you stand on predestination? Strongly Calvin (in the cultural understanding of the word), strongly Armenian, or somewhere in between?
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Old 04-15-2004, 02:27 PM   #9
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I don't mean to jump in and disrupt this thread, but what is the concern with the "Elect"?

If we can agree that not everyone will accept God's gift of grace, we are left with a group of people that is somewhat less than "all". This group would be the elect.

God's knows this group called the elect (but we don't). From our perspective, Jesus came to save everyone.
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Old 04-15-2004, 04:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I don't mean to jump in and disrupt this thread, but what is the concern with the "Elect"?

Exactly. I mean, Calvin never meant for it to be what distinguished his theology. He had far more important points to assert. I think the importance of the concept of the "elect" is not to say that so and so is saved and so and so is not, but for Calvin's theology to be more consistent. Basically, he (and I) believed that God is totally omnipotent and powerful. God controls EVERYTHING. Therefore, you can't say that humans choose whether they are elect or not. That blows holes in the theology that God is supreme....shoot, I gotta leave work now, I'll explain more later if you need...
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Old 04-15-2004, 05:01 PM   #11
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The way I understood it from what little Calvin I've read, since God knows everything he already knows whether you're going to get into heaven or not, so it's predestined from his point of view. You can choose to be good or bad, but God already knows what you're going to choose. Though I'd listen to Lies, she obviously knows more about it than I do.

My question is... with predestination, isn't life kind of depressing? I mean, you're going where you're going and there's essentially nothing you can do about it... I don't know, kind of takes the fun out of living, to me. Of course, I'm not a Calvinist.
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Old 04-15-2004, 05:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kristie
My question is... with predestination, isn't life kind of depressing? I mean, you're going where you're going and there's essentially nothing you can do about it... I don't know, kind of takes the fun out of living, to me. Of course, I'm not a Calvinist.
This seems to contradict your prior statement. If we go along the line of thinking that "everything is out of our control" - we get to a point where God is responsible for our sin, which is simply ridiculous.

The best illustration I've heard of explaining this paradox is a door. On one side is John 3:16 (whoever believes in Him). We go through the door, and on the other side is Ephesians 1:4 (for he chose us in him before the creation of the world).
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Old 04-15-2004, 07:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by stammer476
Hmmm. A Calvinist who doesn't hold to the TULIP. That's a new one for me, and it's leads me to argue . . . . not very much.

I guess my only question left for discussion is, where do you stand on predestination? Strongly Calvin (in the cultural understanding of the word), strongly Armenian, or somewhere in between?
I do hold to the TULIP; I agree with the five points. But I only take them for what they are: speculative conclusions based on Calvin's theology. Like I said before, I accept TULIP, but don't defend it. I'm only making this distinction b/c I don't want people to think I base my religious beliefs on TULIP. My understanding of Calvinism comes from John Calvin theology. TULIP may or may be entirely consistent with this.

This is where I stand on predestination: the way Jonathan Edwards explains it. If you'd like me to explain it I will, but I don't want to try and tell you things you already know (since you're the one that went to Sem.!)
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Old 04-15-2004, 07:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kristie
The way I understood it from what little Calvin I've read, since God knows everything he already knows whether you're going to get into heaven or not, so it's predestined from his point of view. You can choose to be good or bad, but God already knows what you're going to choose. Though I'd listen to Lies, she obviously knows more about it than I do.
Actually, John Calvin absolutely does not believe in Free Will. God "knowing" what you're going to choose is more in line with the idea of "foreknowledge", which is Armenian (right Aaron?...at least this is what they taught in class). According to Calvin, God doesn't need to know what you're going to do b/c since God is all-powerful and all-supreme, He's not going to save you based on your choice. It's not up to you, period.


Quote:
My question is... with predestination, isn't life kind of depressing? I mean, you're going where you're going and there's essentially nothing you can do about it... I don't know, kind of takes the fun out of living, to me.
I guess I had plenty of fun before I understood Calvin and I'm having plenty of fun now. Does anyone really know where they're going anyway? OK, so that's a cop-out answer. Well, I guess to some yes it's quite depressing, but again it's not something we should even stress over. God is God and what He wants, He gets. As long as we are humans here on earth, our place is to love our neighbors as we would ourselves.
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Old 04-16-2004, 02:15 PM   #15
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This is where I stand on predestination: the way Jonathan Edwards explains it. If you'd like me to explain it I will, but I don't want to try and tell you things you already know (since you're the one that went to Sem.!)
Oh, Lies. You're too kind . . . and too generous. Bible college educations do have their place, but there are definately areas of Christendom that I have little or no knowledge of, or simply have chosen to forget. Like I've said before, being an alumnus of a conservative, non-denominational, Armenian school means that we don't spend too much time in theological history; it's just not our emphasis. We don't have a Calvin or Luther or Edwards or Roberts that we prescribe our teaching to, and thus what knowledge we do have of their teachings is brief. Our fundamental focus is solid methods of exegesis, interpreting the Bible in the most relevant and historically accurate way as possible. Thus, for my Biblical Literature major, the majority of my classes had to do with principles of hermenuetics and issues of interpretation, not so much theological history. We did discuss the TULIP, the Q, gnosticism, predestination, millenial views, etc; but the major philosophy of our school was "go and search the Scriptures yourself and see what YOU find, then go compare that to others." There's definately good things and bad things about that method, but our conversations have made me aware of how little I really know about specific individuals and their theologies of those who lean toward Calvinism. B.W. Stone, Walter Scott, Thomas & Alexander Campbell; those guys I can discuss. Others . . . not so much. (I guess I've got some reading to do!)

So that was basically a long way of saying that I'd like if you could spell out your position on predestination. I feel like I'm pretty solid on my stance, but I'd love to hear intelligent responses from the other side.
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Old 04-16-2004, 10:23 PM   #16
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OK, Jonathan Edwards (Calvinist Revivalist) on Predestination.....

Everyone has something that to them is the most pure thing, the best thing. For some people, this is God. For others, it could be wealth or their own personal happiness. There is a difference between "freedom" and "freedom of the will". Everyone's will desires the one thing that they think is the best. There is NO "freedom of the will" b/c YOU do not choose what you think is the best thing. For example, if I'm correct that you are recently engaged....you did not just decide one day that you would fall in love with a marry your fiance. Also, you couldn't wake up tomorrow morning and choose not to love her anymore. You CAN choose how you love her, how you treat her, etc, but you CAN'T keep yourself from loving her. The same is true for religion. Humanity is free in a negative sense: freedom is the absence of constraint or restraint. You are free to pursue that thing which to you is the greatest thing, but you are NOT free to choose what that thing is. For those whom that "thing" is God, these are the elect. Their wills are fixed on God and they will eventually come to pursue God above all else. There are other things that are good that can be tempting, but whatever is the BEST thing is what determines who is elect.

This is a helpful metaphor:

Imagine you are on a class trip to an art museum. You step off the bus and immediately inside the lobby is a picture on the wall. You notice that five of your classmates are staring at the picture and walking towards it with looks of awe on their faces. You look at the picture and see a good painting, maybe a great painting, but you know there's a better painting you've been waiting to see inside the museum. These people didn't decide to like that painting the best, they just did. You didn't decide to not like it the best, you just don't. You look at the painting and try to see what's so great about it, but you just can't see why it's their favorite. All of you are free to walk around the museum and stare at whichever paintings you want. No one's forcing you to look at the picture in the lobby and no one's forcing the people staring at it to stare at THAT painting (constraint). At the same time, no one's keeping you from finding your favorite and no one's keeping the people in the lobby from only looking at that one painting the entire trip (restraint).

Edwards also places emphasis on the beauty of God. The thing that attracts the elect to God is his instrinsic beauty that manifests itself through Creation (Edwards has another very interesting conclusion on the purpose of Creation/humanity). For those not elect, they aren't attracted to God the way the elect are. Maybe for them money is the most beautiful thing.


I'm writing this all without my notes so I hope I didn't miss anything important.
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Old 04-20-2004, 02:58 PM   #17
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Don't worry, i really am going to give a response to this. I've just been hit with a nasty bug this weekend, and as soon as my mind is coherent enough to put two sentences together, i'll tackle this one. Sorry for the delay. I hope to be back on my feet soon.

(PS, if you're wondering why i still managed to respond to the "absolute truth" thread . . . i just couldn't resist. I knew i could write it shortly, but this response will require some effort.)
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Old 04-20-2004, 03:36 PM   #18
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Oh no worries! Get well soon!
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Old 04-23-2004, 04:31 PM   #19
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Allrighty. Back on track. Clear sinuses and I can walk without passing out! It's good to be human again.

Before I take on this beast, my first point:

Quote:
For example, if I'm correct that you are recently engaged....you did not just decide one day that you would fall in love with a marry your fiance.
So I see that you read my post in ZC. BUT, I also see that there isn't a note of congratulations. Hmm. Don't worry, I'm not offended. I'm sure you had plenty of things going on and simply forgot. It happens. I understand. Really. No big deal. No need to even mention it. I mean, it's not like people get engaged once in a lifetime or anything. Or that you're the first person on Interference that I've had any real dialogue with. Or that we're both from the same state. No big deal. I barely even noticed. And no matter what you hear from anyone else, this adds nothing to the stereotypes that many of us on the east-side of The Mitten hold of those on the west-side. I think those claims are childish and unfair. Sure, you guys may have all the museums, universities, parks, trees, people without guns, nights without wondering if Tiny & the 8-Mile Crew are going to come back for their payment, etc., but that doesn't for a minute make me think that what people say about you guys is true. That's just silly.
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Old 04-23-2004, 04:53 PM   #20
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Now for real. Sorry about that. I'm healthy again, and that seems to put me in a mischievous mood. Just ask the Mrs.

I must say that your statement were very, very intriguing. That's a new spin on predestination and the state of the elect I've never encountered before. Interesting . . . but still doesn't answer my problems with Calvinism.

Frankly, I'm not sure if I buy this "freedom" vs. "freedom of the will" thing. Everyone has a "best thing" in their lives, and they are helplessly drawn towards it as their life passion? To move back to the debate strategy of the sandbox in 3rd Grade: "says who?" This is quite an assumption to make on the psychology of human behavior, let alone make it the basis of your understanding of God.

We all have attractions/passions/"best things" in our lives, some of the time without explanation. If we're honest, though, most of those attractions are based on infatuations that are reinforced through logical reasons. For example, the Joshua Tree was what hooked me into U2. It was catchy, meaningful, and just kind of . . . good. I was instantly drawn to it without reason just as the example you used in the art museum. My present obsession, though, only came to life with the reinforcement of the depth of their passion, their unique perspective on Christian faith in pop-culture, the sheer brilliance of Bono's metaphor, a deeply spiritual attack in the live show, the ability to re-invent, and a never ending supply of kickin' tunes. But I love U2 because I CHOOSE to love U2. Not because I'm helplessly drawn into them. If when
the next album comes out, they announce that their entire careers were just a joke on Christianity and they were just trained actors fooling influential spiritual seekers, I'm afraid I'd have a hard time being a fan anymore. Not because I can instantly stop loving their music and their message, but because my love and devotion comes with a choice.

In the same way, I fell deeply in love with my fiance for many reasons, few of which were apparent when we went on our first date. As time went on, and as I began to know her more, I began to truly love her with passion and depth that I cannot and will not be ever able to explain. Still, I had a choice. If she suddenly told me she was a ex-con who had a sex-change operation and has been hosting orgies every Tuesday night for the last six months, I'm not going to love her anymore. I'll still have emotions for what we've been through and the emotional and spiritual ties that bind us together would not be instantly severed, but I can choose to reject and separate myself from that which is not good for me or does not deserve my love. It would be hell, but I could do it for proper reasons.

My point is, I think "choice" is a foundational piece to our love and devotion to God, and I've always had a hard time understanding those who take that out of our love for God. I love those brothers and sisters as my own blood, but I simply cannot put my intellect around that concept. God chose to love me, a wretched and worthless sinner. In light of His grace, I chose to love Him, the wonderful and glorious Lord. Hallelujah, amen.

So what do I do with Scripture that plainly uses the words "predestined," "elect," and the like? Join us next episode, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

P.S. Please feel free to respond to this before I write again. I have no resentment whatsoever to those on the Calvinist side, I just simply can't understand. But I want to. I would love to know how they answer the questions I've never been able to.
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