Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Gospel According to Joni Eareckson Tada

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on December 19, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published October 21, 2013

Though Joni Eareckson Tada has experienced monumental life setbacks, namely, quadriplegia and breast cancer, she has lived a life of experience and accomplishments that others can only dream of. Also, it cannot be denied that she has propagated a gargantuan mass of good works that has benefited much of the world.

And she is a self-proclaimed Calvinist. THEREFORE, her good works and her life testimony have become an endorsement for Calvinism, because that is what she has proclaimed herself to be. Good works are not a pass for who you are, or how you define yourself, they endorse what you believe. And Tada believes Calvinism. She has even proclaimed that all of her good works, even a smile that she might give someone, flows from her Calvinistic beliefs (Crystal Cathedral: Hour of Power ; May 3rd, 2009).

That’s my point here. Everything Tada is, in turn, sells what she believes—that’s the choice she has made. So, the question/issue becomes the following: is Calvinism true?

The very definition of a Christian is someone who loves the truth (2Thessalonians  2:10).  In reality, and regardless of appearances, only truth sanctifies (John 17:17). The greatest errors are closest to the truth, and every landfill full of the dead is located at the end of a road paved with good works.

Tada has stated that shortly after her tragic diving accident that left her paralyzed, she was looking for answers (Scott Larsen: Indelible Ink ; Waterbrook Press 2003, Joni Eareckson Tada, chapter 1):

That was when Joni asked a friend to help her understand God’s sovereignty. Wisely, he gave her meat to chew on~hers was no simple, slightly uncomfortable situation~and started her on Berkhof’s Systematic Theology and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Still just a few years out of high school, Joni found Calvin too heavy, so her friend replaced it with Loraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.

“Somewhere in its pages I realized I was reading something mansized. Rather, God-sized. Perhaps it expressed the unspoken desire of my soul: to encounter towering biblical doctrine like the Himalayan peaks that rise to the breathtaking height of Mount Everest. To apprehend a God who was much, much bigger than I ever imagined when I was on my feet.”… “I realized that my suffering was the key to unlocking the hieroglyphics of God’s foreordained will. I was about to embark on the adventure of my life.”

Calvinism might have given Tada answers that invigorated her will to live on, but one searches in vain for her concern that Calvin taught a true gospel. And he didn’t. Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty was the issue, not his gospel. Is there a difference? Obviously there is. Calvin believed that God is completely sovereign, and also believed that we have to ask for forgiveness of daily sins in order to keep ourselves saved:

Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

Calvinism is no different than any other Christ + something else false gospel. In the case of Calvinism—keeping ourselves saved by perpetual re-repentance for sins in sanctification that remove us from grace:

In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.

Oh, and by the way, Calvin said such forgiveness can only be found in the institutional church and administered by ordained pastors (CI 4.1.21,22). This Protestant absolution was exemplified by Tada confidant John Macarthur Jr. during the 2013 Shepherds Conference. During a general session, MacArthur shared that a young Aids victim requested that MacArthur seek forgiveness for sins on his behalf. MacArthur agreed to the request accordingly.

During the aforementioned message at Crystal Cathedral’s Hour of Power, Tada stated that God brought said grievous trials into her life so that she would live by the cross daily:

And so God, bless his heart, forces us down the road to Calvary where we are not humanly inclined to go. It’s not our natural inclination to go to the Cross every day. And so God gives us suffering like a sheep dog. It is a sheep dog snapping at your heels, driving you down the road to the Cross where otherwise you might not normally go. You’re driven there by the overwhelming conviction that you just have nowhere else to go. And so God permits the broken heart. He permits the broken home. He permits, he allows, he ordains, he plans even the broken neck until we become broken… Even Jesus himself said blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Who are the poor in spirit? Those who come to Jesus every day in empty-handed spiritual poverty, asking him to show them the reason for living that day. Because we’re all richer when we recognize our spiritual poverty.

Come now, are born-again Christians spiritually impoverished? We need to seek God’s purpose for our life daily?  Our smiles are not even our own smiles, but we have to get them from God?

“I have no strength for a smile for this woman who’s going to come to the bedroom door in just a moment, and I’ve gotta give her a smile. And Lord, I don’t have a smile… So God, please give me your smile. I have no smile for this woman, but you’ve got a smile. May I please borrow your smile?” And not but a moment goes by and I have a smile. It’s already a miracle. I’ve experienced a miracle before 7:30 a.m. when my girlfriend walks to the door and I can smile, not in spite of my paralysis but because of it. My paralysis has driven me every single morning to the cause of Jesus Christ where I tell him how much desperately I need him. And so that smile is already hard-fought for and hard-won by early morning. That’s the first nugget of wisdom. Begin your day needing Jesus Christ desperately (Ibid).

Is this really the essence of the Christian life? We have to plead and beg God for even a smile? It is, if we also have to go back to the cross daily to beg God for salvific forgiveness. That’s Calvinism; daily resalvation. You have eternal security IF you beg God for smiles every day, and IF you were elected.

You are elected IF you practice a daily application of Christ’s death on the cross. You are elected IF you believe that even the slightest sin in your Christian life separates you from grace.

Tada is sacrificing her stellar life on the altar of Calvinism. Her good works point people to John Calvin who plainly taught a false gospel. What she believes and what she does cannot be separated. There is time to go back to the beginning and once again look for answers.

This time, pick up a Bible, not the Calvin Institutes.


11 Responses

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  1. lydia said, on December 19, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    What I do not get is how she lives with believing God predetermined her situation.


  2. Oasis said, on December 20, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    Maybe she is unable to accept the fact that she alone made a terrible mistake that caused her own paralysis, and that her life never would have been so drastically changed in an instant if only she’d been more careful? Like other Calvinists, she can feel better about her situation by using wishful thinking to transfer the cause of her personal tragedy to a god with ambiguous character, possibly freeing herself from regret?


  3. Oasis said, on December 21, 2014 at 4:18 AM

    Love your comment, Pondering. Thank you. I have just about had it with the non-stop celebration of suffering and evil, as well as the gleeful character assassination party.

    If one more person tells me that “everything happens for a reason” or for a “purpose” in our lives, I will run far away from civilization and build a hut on an isolated beach, and stay there indefinitely.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 21, 2014 at 6:37 AM


      It’s all right out of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation in which Luther claimed that ALL the wisdom of God is HIDDEN IN SUFFERING.


  4. lydia said, on December 21, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    “It’s all right out of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation in which Luther claimed that ALL the wisdom of God is HIDDEN IN SUFFERING”

    There is always a kernel of truth in big lies or they would never be believed. Many people have become closer to God through suffering. But that is not what they are teaching. They are teaching that suffering is FROM God and necessary for piety.

    I saw this taught in a youth group not long ago. I know one kid in there was suffering from horrible abuse from a parent who is a professing Christian. She not long after tried to kill herself. Did she connect the dots? God wants this for her?


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 21, 2014 at 4:22 PM


      Suffering was Luther’s hermeneutic for interpreting reality itself. This is “living by the cross.” Wisdom can come no other way except from suffering and self denial. This is what the Reformed mean when they say reality is interpreted through redemption, and this is the bases of Redemptive Historical hermeneutics. The everything cross and there a cross, here a cross, and everywhere a cross-cross is symbolic of redemptive progression through suffering. Hence, the following quotation by the golden boy of Redemptive Historical interpretation:

      “If the story is true, Jesus Christ is the interpretative key to every fact in the universe and, of course, the Bible is one such fact. He is thus the hermeneutic principle that applies first to the Bible as the ground for understanding, and also to the whole of reality” (Graeme Goldsworthy: Gospel-centered Hermeneutics; p.48).

      What story? The story of redemption. All reality is interpreted through the suffering of the cross.


    • Robin Zak-Legare said, on December 31, 2019 at 10:49 AM

      I totally agree. It is so tragic. My friend wants me to go with her to a Bible Study by Matt Chandler. I couldn’t find out a lot about him . I know he is a Calvinist so I told her I wouldn’t attend. I think I would be aggravated the whole time. They us the same words as I do but the meaning is not the same.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 31, 2019 at 2:05 PM

        Right, same words that mean different things and they are totally aware that they are playing on your assumptions. Deliberate deception.


  5. paulspassingthoughts said, on December 22, 2014 at 11:35 AM


    As TANC progresses, we see a future heavy emphasis on targeting youth with the truth and biblical alternatives. For certain, I am deeply convicted that I will not stand by and watch this movement have unchallenged access to our youth. That’s what the Louisville mission trip was about, and why we will return to the Cross Conference in Indy (2016) with the same face to face confrontation.


  6. lydia00 said, on December 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    I am very worried about the youth in this movement. ONce they swallow the concept of determinism that is their concept of God and “life”. They become good atheists and collectivists


  7. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on March 17, 2017 at 11:12 AM

    “I get some heat on occasion for calling Christianity a cult of death. But I challenge you, show me I’m wrong. The sum of Christian doctrine is based on the death of man. It is obsessed and fixated on man’s death. And it worships an icon of death and culture. It holds out Jesus’ death and destruction as its highest ethical action. At its root, it preaches that man’s highest ethical ideal is his own self-destruction.” ~ John Immel
    From Session Two of the 2014 TANC Conference

    Any wonder why Tada talks about going back to the cross? “It’s not our natural inclination.”

    Ya think?!


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