Paul's Passing Thoughts

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 29, 2016

Originally published January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help Tim Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help the Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

Calvinism’s Parasitic Deception: How the Puritans Hijacked the Great Awakening

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on October 15, 2014

TTANC Vol 2Originally published October 30, 2013

The writing of The Truth About New Calvinism—Volume 2 is in full throttle. From time to time, I would like to share some things that I am stumbling upon as I define my research of the past three years.

Many thanks to those who have helped me define the direction of volumes two and three. Volume 2 is guaranteed to be understandable. This is the unveiling of Calvinism’s fundamental detriment to Christianity and humanity in general. It doesn’t matter whether you understand the doctrine or not; volume 2 will trace and define the logic that formed the doctrine. From there, the assumption that the ideology is dressed up in Bible verses to look, sound, and feel biblical is a correct one. Volume 2 is for the layman, volume 3 will be an in-depth theological evaluation for those who want it. Once the ideology that formed the doctrine is understood in volume 2, volume 3 may be easier to understand.

If it can be confirmed that the Reformers used the Bible to sell an ideology, and it can, and they did, what they came up with is fairly irrelevant. Not only that, volume 2 will examine the fruits of the doctrine which is also telling. In order to sell the ideology, the Reformers proffered a theological treatise from the Bible. Volume 3 will demonstrate why that doesn’t even hold water.

One character trait of New Calvinism is to exploit the overall lack of education concerning its history, ideology, doctrine, and character. New Calvinism, the authentic Reformed article, is looking for a result based on covert assimilation. The result that is sought is CONTROL. This control is sought through justification by faith alone which is a doctrine that is literally justification alone because it eliminates sanctification. Stated in layman’s terms: it emphasizes the work of God while deemphasizing anything the Christian does in salvation or post-salvation. This is done by out of sight, out of mind. If you only teach justification (salvation) to the exclusion of sanctification (the Christian life), the masses will eventually live according to the Reformed version of justification alone. The Reformers were masters at redefining the terms and teaching sanctification in a justification way.

This leads to the Reformed practice of infiltrating religious movements throughout history as a stowaway and then taking over the movement. The prime example is the Great Awakening (1730s – 1790s). The Great Awakening was a pushback against Reformed ideology, not the result of it. The Pilgrims created the need for the Great Awakening. The Pilgrims, a soft idiom for “Calvinistic Puritan political refugees,” brought European tyrannical polity with them. The motif that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom is patently false—they came to establish their own vision of a church state. To this point:

Throughout the colonial period, and even in the early years of the independent United States, most colonies or states had established churches—churches legally recognized as the official state church. Different colonies privileged different Christian sects, for example, Congregationalism (the descendent of Puritanism) was the official state church for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire; and Anglicanism was the established faith in most colonies, including Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. Along with official recognition came special privileges, like financial support from public taxation. Before the Great Awakening, colonial Americans harbored no expectation that there should be any separation between church and state.[1]

In reality, there are NO religious movements that could be considered legitimate revivals post apostolic church until the Great Awakening which was ignited by the Age of Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was predicated on the ideas of all men being created equal by God, and mankind’s ability to solve problems through reason. This resonated with colonials and slaves alike that were under European tyranny:

Joseph Tracy, the minister, historian, and preacher who gave this religious phenomenon its name in his influential 1842 book The Great Awakening, saw the First Great Awakening as a precursor to the American Revolution. The evangelical movement of the 1740s played a key role in the development of democratic thought, as well as the belief of the free press and the belief that information should be shared and completely unbiased and uncontrolled. [2]

Enlightenment ideas were completely contrary to Reformed thought as exemplified by the Westminster Confession.[3] Most of the Westminster Divines were Puritans. Colonial Puritans believed in slavery according to their extreme European caste mentality, and executed doctrinal detractors. Contra Enlightenment ideas that ignited the Great Awakening can be seen in the present-day New Calvinist movement; for instance, an article written by New Calvinist James MacDonald bearing the title, “Congregational Government is From Satan.”

Nevertheless, Reformed hacks like Jonathan Edwards infiltrated the Great Awakening, and to a large extent hijacked it. The Great Awakening was a revolt against the organized institutional church state, and was a gargantuan human mass of people searching out new ideas. Hence, the thousands who showed up to hear Reformed teachers during that time were not necessarily enthralled by the supposed gatekeepers of the Awakening, but were flocking to hear anyone who had an idea. Edwards et al proceeded to connect the movement to the Reformers of old who were the ones directly responsible for the tyranny that the colonials were experiencing in the first place.

Moreover, the colonial Puritans wasted no time in trying to infiltrate the American Revolution, its founding declarations, and constitution. James Madison fought the infiltration tooth and nail with his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

Unfortunately, the colonial Puritans did succeed in identifying Reformation thought with the Great Awakening. The many denominations and groups that were created by the Awakening usually, and unwittingly, identified themselves as Protestants. As a result, the primary Reformed institutions of learning[4]  were built with money from the children of the Great Awakening who were really the product of Benjamin Franklin’s contra ideology.  Incredibly, and undoubtedly the zenith of historical misrepresentation, those of Reformed thought who hijacked the Great Awakening have been credited with the Abolitionist movement. The Abolitionist movement was nothing more or less than an Enlightenment idea, while the Puritans were the first to bring slaves to the shores of America (ironically, slaves brought many cultic beliefs with them that in part incited the Salem witch trials).[5] The Enlightenment era was directly responsible for the massive conversion of slaves to Christianity shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The ideas of freedom and reason ignited colonial revivalism, not the contra idealism of the Reformation. Franklin was an abolitionist while he was governor of Pennsylvania, and the epicenter of revivalism among the slave population was Philadelphia.

This form of parasitic deception and covert assimilation is a Reformed hallmark. Those of Reformed idealism, historically, do not build anything. The Pilgrims were utterly inept in fending for themselves in the new world. They latch on to what is alive and feed off of it. Their very institution is a historical Ponzi scheme. A contemporary example is the home church movement in America. Because of the fundamentals that came out of the Great Awakening, the American church remained fundamentally Reformed in its overemphasis on justification because sanctification infers human ability. Therefore, per the usual outcome, a mass exodus from the institutional church began in circa 2000. This resulted in the home church movement. According to the Reformed mode of operation, New Calvinism hijacked that movement as well, primarily for self-preservation. This is the motivation for flock groups and “churches” like Apex. However, they are not purely home churches, and are connected to a central institution in order to maintain control.

A proper understanding of church history is the key. Until then, Reformation thought will continue to suck the life blood out of anything that lives in Western church culture.

Endnotes

1. Shmoop Editorial Team. “Religion in The American Revolution” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

2. Wikipedia.org: Great Awakening.

3. Paul Dohse: Inseparable: The Reformation’s Principles of Persecution and its Gospel; Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com, August 31, 2013.

4. Columbia University (King’s College, 1754, Anglican), Brown University (Rhode Island College, 1764, Baptist), Rutgers (Queens College, 1766, Dutch Reformed), and Dartmouth College (1769, Congregationalist).

5. 1619: Slavery begins in the colonies, as twenty Africans are brought by a Dutch ship to Jamestown for sale as indentured servants. 1664: Maryland makes lifelong servitude for black slaves legally mandatory. Similar laws are later passed in New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas and Virginia. 1667: The Virginia House of Burgesses passes a law that binds blacks to servitude, even if they convert to Christianity.

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