Thursday, 13 November 2014

Overthrowing Calvinism

Many arguments against Calvinism lack foundation

Calvinism, as a system has been around for a long time. You might want to think about 500 years, but Calvinists like to think a great while longer. We heartily endorse the words of CH Spurgeon who wrote in his Defence of Calvinism

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again."

Calvinism is proving pretty hard to shift from the consciousness of the Church of Jesus Christ. Like it or loathe it, it is here to stay. I have blogged before how it is in the library even of the most ferocious Pastor who denounces it. It is his hymnal and he encourages his people to sing it better . When John Newton wrote and you sing:

Twas grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace twill lead me home

Then you are singing the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, because this is the doctrine which this 5 point Calvinist affirmed. 

Calvinism will be hard to shift because (as Spurgeon noted) that it is the doctrine of the Apostle Paul i.e. it is Biblical. I accept that this is a contentious issue - begging the question at the moment - but you can't blame me for stating what is to me and millions of others pretty obvious. 

Less contentious is the observation that many of the mightiest men in church history have embraced, defended and earnestly preached it.  I have already quoted Spurgeon. The catalogue of worthies includes men like William Carey,  Jonathan Edwards, RL Dabney, Charles Hodge etc. Most of the major Post Reformation creeds affirm it. 

Another thought is that mightier men than you and me have failed to shift it. Arminius failed and so did John Wesley. The arch heretic Finney, the firstborn of Pelagius, failed too. To be honest, I can't see you punching a hole in its side. 

A whole rash of recent Twitter attempts to do so certainly don't leave me sitting up at night on watch duty. It seems to me that they are built on an initial misconception about what Calvinism actually teaches. Which is why I used the above graphic. As mantioned a few days ago, any argument that focuses entirely on what Calvinism teaches about the sovereignty of God and ignores the fact that it also affirms the free will of man is always bound to fail. If the truth is told, these doctrines will never be overthrown by those who are picking up scraps of information from Twitter. Especially from those whose whole plan of attack is summarised as follows:

1) Imagine or repeat something outrageous and untrue about Calvinism
2) Blast those Calvinists who don't believe this nonsense as inconsistent
 3) Tweet
4) Repeat

 If such can't get hold of a copy of one of the most basic Calvinist Confessions of Faith i.e. the Presbyterian Westminster Confession or the 1689 Baptist Confession and take time to familiarise with the concise though full statements found therein, then their attacks will fall idly to the ground. We live in a McDonald's age where people want fast food and they want it now. God doesn't do theology like that. Biblical verbs include words like study - meditate - search - ponder etc.

It is my opinion that poorly constructed arguments do more harm than good. All they reveal is the ignorance of the attacker. There is little advantage in someone shooting you down in mid air who produces the facts. Sometimes I even RT on Twitter some of these attacks along with the hashtag: #WhyCalvinismIsSafe i.e. why it is safe from such attacks. 

I accept that some of the attackers may well be spoof accounts. I certainly have my suspicions. The trouble is that some of the spoofers have their work cut out trying to keep up with the wide eyed variety of anti Calvinist brigade out there.

Just a few thoughts.


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