Am I hyper-Calvinist, or just hyper?

Talk about hyper!I was recently told that my articles showed a leaning toward hyper-Calvinism, so I grew a little concerned until my wife pointed out that A:) I am hyper, and B:) I am Calvinist.  But in all seriousness, I had looked into this term a loooong time ago, but I could not remember what the specifics were.

The first thing I needed to do is find out what the hyper-Calvinism doctrine teaches. I do remember that it did not have an good connotation to go along with it.  I also know that definitions can range widely, so you might find that people who are labeled as hyper-Calvinists, might just be  nothing more than a passionate Calvinist.

I am not a theologian, so I need to find someone I know who has the resources and background that I could trust.  I started with Googling the term and found a great article from Tim Challies on this subject. That was a pretty good find, but Tim said in his post that Phil Johnson did some extensive work on this subject.

Phil Johnson runs the blog over at teampyro.blogspot.com and is the Executive Director at Grace to You and the main editor for John MacArthur. So between Phil’s article here and Tim’s, I think I get a pretty clear picture of the theological definition of hyper-Calvinism.

Here is an excerpt from Tim’s blog-

[Hyper-Calvinism] manifests itself in an over-emphasis of one aspect of God’s character at the expense of another. Hyper-Calvinists emphasize God’s sovereignty but de-emphasize God’s love. They tend to set God’s sovereignty at odds with the clear biblical call to human responsibility… Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of a Hyper-Calvinist is an unwillingness to evangelize at all, or to evangelize without extending a call to accept and believe the gospel.  A hyper-Calvinist is one who:

  1. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
  2. Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
  3. Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
  4. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

In my posts, I go to great lengths to stress God’s anger at sin, and His wrath on those who will not repent. Could I talk more about God’s love of humanity? Absolutely, but that does not make me a Hyper-Calvinist. In person, I am very passionate toward understanding the Gospel rightly. I have also been increasingly frustrated at the bad theology that is floating around the town I live in.  This is compounded by the fact that I attend a church, but as of yet, I do not have a place where I call home.

Most pastors I have heard don’t present God’s anger at all, only His love. That is one of the reasons for this blog. To try and present a thoughtful response to the non-biblical, seeker sensitive, Perry Noble type error that I see so much of.  That is probably why I talk more about God’s wrath than I do His love. But the truth is that people need to understand who they are before they will truly understand Christ’s love that was shown on that cross.

People have been lifted onto a ivory pedistal of self worth by the unbalanced preaching of God’s love alone. Remember that God’s love that is shown to us in the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. This has caused some tension when some of the “visitation” committee have come by my house after I have visited. One more than one occation, the people sitting in my living room on Tuesday nights (that seems to be visitaion night) have called me “very intense” after meeting with me, because I am tired of the soft Gospel.

I want a church home who knows what the Law of God is for, who knows WHO church is for (not for the seekers but the sheep). I want a church that preaches law to the proud and grace to the humble. I want a church that I can lay it all out on the line and have them tell me if they are the church I am looking for or not.  I am eager to join that church, I am looking forward to serving there.

Bring it on…

–Danny

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Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Free Will Baptist- an important question

Yesterday I sat down with a pastor from a free will baptist church and had a chance to talk some theology with him.  From what I have heard, Free Will Baptists believe that a person can lose their salvation, so this was an excellent opportunity to learn something different from what I believe. Below is a shortened version of the conversation.

When we got around to the subject, I started with a more fundamental question… “Do you believe that a person is justified when they come to Christ? Are their sins forgiven, past, present and future?”

And he answered, “Yes, I believe a person is totally justified. The death of Christ was sufficient for ALL sin.”

Then I asked, “Do you believe that someone can lose their salvation, and if they can, tell me how that happens?”

He replied, “I believe that a person can backslide to the point that God cuts him off.  And after a person has lost their salvation, they cannot be brought back into a saving relationship with God.”

So I then asked him the big question, “If a person has to maintain a minimum level of personal righteousness to stay in God’s grace, how is that not works righteousness?”

To that he answered, “You bring up a valid concern, but I cannot explain, from a theological standpoint, how these two fit together. There are some things in the Bible that you and I will not be able to fully understand. The Trinity is an example, I will never fully understand the nature of the Trinity. You cannot work your way to heaven, but I do believe that the Bible does teach that someone can lose their salvation, and I have known people that I believed had the fruit of salvation in their lives that walked away from God.”

I do understand his point, but to say that someone can be justified of all their sins and then say they can lose their salvation because of their sin is a contradiction. So what about those people who seeming have the fruit that comes with salvation? There IS another  explanation that does not violate the doctrine of justification.

There are verses in the Bible that indicate a person saved by God, will be kept by God. This doctrine is known as “the perseverance of the saints”. If God is the author of our faith, He will be the finisher of our faith (Heb 7:25).  He is able to keep them from falling and present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

So what about those verses that seem to talk about people falling away from the faith?

These are people who look righeous on the outside but their heart has never been converted. They go through the motions, sometimes with passion and conviction, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. The inside of the cup is still dirty. These are the Ted Haggards and Ray Boltz of the world.

These people are called hypocrytes, pretenders. And if you know someone who you would have sworn was a Christian,  and they walk away from God, then they were never saved to begin with. When someone is saved by God, they are a new creature with a new heart and new desires. If they go back to the world, then their heart was always with the world.

I think this is what the apostle John meant when he said , “They went out from us, but they were not really of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 Jn 2:19)

–Danny

Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm  Comments (5)  

Beth Moore- no wrath in witnessing

Beth Moore has a 2 minute audio ministry and on her Dec 9th spot, she talked about God’s wrath, and I applaud her for that topic.  I think that needs to be a regular subject in our pulpits.

What concerns me is that she does not think that our best approach to non-believers is to talk about God’s wrath, but his love. She tells us that God’s love is a huge draw and she justifies the “love only” approach with Romans 2:4, saying that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. This is a serious error in interpretation and we need to be clear on what scripture actually says.

Mrs Moore clearly interprets Romans 2:4 as, telling people about God’s kindness leads them to repentance, but that is not what the verse says. The verse tells us that the fact that we are able to repent is evidence that God is kind. If Paul was telling us to tell people only about God’s love, then he violated his own teaching in Acts 24:25 when he spoke of the need for righteousness and the judgment to come.

John the baptist said, “who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” And Jesus spoke often about the fires of Hell and commanded that people repent or perish. The Bible says that godly sorrow works repentance, not the knowledge that he is kind. James 4:9 tell us to “mourn and weep, letting our laughter be turned to sorrow and our joy to heaviness”.  How does telling people that God loves them produce sorrow and heaviness without a personal conviction of sin and its consequences?

Even the cross is evidence of God’s terrible wrath. Isaiah 53:10 said that it pleased God to CRUSH HIM. The fact is, that Christ centered witnessing needs God’s wrath to allow His love make sense.

“[Satan] stirs up daily, new sects, and last of all, which of all other I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect as such as teach… that men should not be terrified by the Law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ.” –Martin Luther

–Danny

Rick Warren- Truth and Error

I saw an interesting interview on Beliefnet with Rick Warren, and the interviewer brought up some things that I believe we need to be able to answer- correctly. If we do not have a firm, biblical foundation, the theology we build on that foundation gets way out of wack. We end up inserting what we think, instead of what scripture says.

Please understand that I am not trying to single out Pastor Warren, but I feel an obligation to speak up against bad theology, no matter who it is.

Pastor Warren’s messages are mixed with solid truth one minute and bad theology the next.  For example, Pastor Warren says loud and clear that Jesus is the ONLY way to get to heaven– YEAH! But then he will say to the unsaved that God is not angry at them– EXCUSE ME? Doesn’t scripture say something about God’s anger and wrath on unbelievers? And these errors are not on some secondary issues, these are serious problems that effect how people respond to the gospel. These are FOUNDATIONAL issues.

Before watching the interview, there are a few basic things I want you to think about as you listen.

  • People are not sent to Hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus, they are sent to Hell primarily for breaking God’s laws. The Bible tells us that liars and thieves, adulterers, idolaters, covetous, and the sexually impure (and other law breakers) will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Unbelief IS a sin, but it is not the primary reason people are sent to Hell.
  • What happens to those who have never heard of Jesus? The Bible says that everyone is given a conscience (Rom 2:14-15).  People know it is wrong to lie and steal and commit adultery. So if someone does not sin, they will be fine, but if they have broken the law, then they will be guilty before God, and will be judged according to light that they have.
  • If non-believers die in their sins, they are judged for ALL the sins they have committed. Every one. Every sin requires payment. Every sin requires that justice is done. Either you repent and put your faith in Jesus, and the price He paid for our sins , or you pay for your own sin be spending an eternity in Hell.

See if you can spot the “personal” beliefs of both the interviewer and Pastor Warren that have no basis in scripture.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

–Danny

The Prodigal Son is not about backsliding

A Sunday School class I was helping out with went through the parable of the Prodigal Son but the interpretation that the teacher gave to the students troubled me and I would like to tell you what concerned me and why. I also found out that the interpretation that the teacher gave seems to be a pretty popular one.

I have been told that the first rule to interpreting scripture is that if you have a different understanding of the text than the original hears would have had, then your interpretation is wrong. This parable is a perfect example of how the meaning can get twisted based on the current culture and viewpoints of people today. So what is the view of today’s Christianity and how does it shape the meaning of the Prodigal Son?

Today’s Christianity says that you can be a child of God and “backslide” for a period of time, and not have to question the sincerity of your salvation. You can go off and live in a lifestyle of sin and say, “I backslid for a few years, but I was saved the whole time”. Ted Haggard was an example of this mindset, when he was exposed for having a homosexual affair with a prostitute and taking meth-amphetamines for three years and lying about it, many said, “Don’t question his salvation!” Even though it is likely that he would have continued in that lifestyle for as long as he could.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that anyone can “lose” their salvation by falling into sin, but when you knowingly live in a lifestyle of unrepentant sin, then you need to question your salvation. Ray Boltz, who says he is still a Christian after admitting he is living openly as a homosexual, is another example.

So, FINALLY, here is the interpretation the teacher gave- The father represents God and the two sons represent Christians. The one child ran away from God and live apart from him for awhile, but came running back to open arms. He was still a child of God but he had to realize that God knew what was best for him. And we need to realize that if we run from God, he is always there ready to take us back.

The Prodigal Son Returns

The Prodigal Son Returns

The first problem was, that Jesus was talking to a crowd of Jewish leaders. They were self righteous Jews who thought that just because they were born as children of Abraham, and were “faithful” Jews, they were children of God already. They would not have understood this “backsliding” concept. They would have believed that the rebellion of the second son was worthy of death.

The second was that the second son, the prodigal, HATED his father. Wanting his inheritance immediately was paramount to saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead so I could get what belongs to me now”. Does that sound like something a true Christian would say, or does that sound like a rebel who shakes their fist at God? The fact that Jesus called him a child does not mean that he was in a right relationship with the father. God created us, so in that sense, he is our father, but this parable shows us that it is not about our heritage, but about our relationship.

The fact that Jesus started the story off where he did tells us a lot too. Jesus did not start off by giving us a son who honored his father and fell away, he started the story off with a son that rebelled against his father.

The third problem I had was that the son went off to live in a lifestyle of open, unrepentant sin. Jesus told us that the son wasted his livelihood on prostitutes and riotous living. There is a saying that goes something like, “you cannot call yourself a Christian and live like the Devil”. If you live in a manner that betrays what you say you believe, then you are a hypocrite, a pretender, you are a false Christian.

One other thing to notice about this story is the first son, the “faithful” son. If you carefully read the story, you can tell that by his attitude, he was not in a right relationship with the father either.

This parable is not about what to do if you backslide, but about true repentance and God’s willingness to forgive.

If you want to dive deeper into this parable, I suggest John McArthur’s book, “A Tale of Two Sons“. The book goes through the culture of the time and the audience that would have heard this story for the first time. It also takes a look at the two parables leading up to the Prodigal Son.

–Danny