Paul's Passing Thoughts

Practical Application: How to Lead Your Calvinist Husband to the Lord

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 6, 2015

ppt-jpeg4I really appreciate the clamoring I hear in regard to Biblicism; the comprehensive alternative to Protestant orthodoxy, “How can we apply this to our lives?” Well, that is new territory that must be mined by the laity since everything has been about justification for 500 years. All that we will receive from Protestant academia is some new version of progressive salvation, and there is no exception to this rule. And frankly, my sanctification, ie., faith working through love, will be hindered if I have to learn everything for myself. Let’s get busy and study the love book for ourselves and teach each other. Two Spirit born brains are better than one, but forget Protestant scholars – they are a complete waste of time.

By and large, the inquiries TANC ministries receives most about practical application comes from women married to Calvinists. While most of these women have been declared unbelievers because they reject Calvinism, and are yet married to one, they want to know how one proceeds with life in a way that pleases God. Even though I am, like all Biblicists, a rooky pioneer in the ways of sanctification as I claw my way out of the Protestant Dark Age, I can offer some basics to those married to Calvinists.

First, know this: your husband clearly believes a false gospel. The only saving grace in it all is that many Calvinists don’t really know what Calvin believed and may be confused enough to be saved. However, you must treat him as if he is an unbeliever because he proclaims a false gospel. As a Biblicist, you must be well informed on these theological issues in case he would question you about the true hope that you have in Christ.

But at this point, persuading him through theological debate is absolutely futile. He must be won over by your good behavior—albeit not compromising behavior.

The key follows: as a Calvinist, your husband is under the law of sin and death while you are under the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). He must focus on sin in order to keep himself saved. The Calvinist must consider himself condemned in order to have a shot at “final justification.” Basically, if he can pile up enough new birth experiences, the righteousness of Christ will cover his condemnation enough to earn heaven. This is the Calvinist definition of the new birth: you focus on your depravity leading to “despair of soul and death at hand” resulting in resurrection (some sort of joy experience). The “deep repentance” part is supposedly the “believer’s” work resulting in a new birth experience (God’s part in the process). Obviously, it’s works salvation via “deep repentance.” Let’s look at some evidence:

“. . . forgiveness of sins is not a matter of a passing work or action, but comes from baptism which is of perpetual duration, until we arise from the dead” (Luther’s Works: American ed.; Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press; St. Louis: Concordia, 1955, vol. 34, p. 163).

“Certain learned men, who lived long before the present days and were desirous to speak simply and sincerely according to the rule of Scripture, held that repentance consists of two parts, mortification and quickening. By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment. For when a man is brought to a true knowledge of sin, he begins truly to hate and abominate sin… By quickening they mean, the comfort which is produced by faith, as when a man prostrated by a consciousness of sin, and smitten with the fear of God, afterwards beholding his goodness, and the mercy, grace, and salvation obtained through Christ, looks up, begins to breathe, takes courage, and passes, as it were, from death unto life. I admit that these terms, when rightly interpreted, aptly enough express the power of repentance; only I cannot assent to their using the term quickening, for the joy which the soul feels after being calmed from perturbation and fear. It more properly means, that desire of pious and holy living which springs from the new birth; as if it were said, that the man dies to himself that he may begin to live unto God (Calvin Institutes 3.33).”

“This renewal, indeed, is not accomplished in a moment, a day, or a year, but by uninterrupted, sometimes even by slow progress God abolishes the remains of carnal corruption in his elect, cleanses them from pollution, and consecrates them as his temples, restoring all their inclinations to real purity, so that during their whole lives they may practice repentance, and know that death is the only termination to this warfare…It is not denied that there is room for improvement; but what I maintain is, that the nearer any one approaches in resemblance to God, the more does the image of God appear in him. That believers may attain to it, God assigns repentance as the goal towards which they must keep running during the whole course of their lives (Calvin Institutes 3.3.9).”

“He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Martin Luther: Heidelberg Disputation, theses 24).”

“In obedience to God’s word we should fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God’s to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father’s timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we work patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (John 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It will be a gift… Heaven hangs on having the taste of joy in God. Therefore, it might not be so strange after all to think of fighting for this joy. Our eternal lives depend on it (John Piper: When I Don’t Desire God; p.43, p.34).”

Here is what I am saying: the differences in worldview are radically different. Your gospel is a positive and radically different alternative; all you have to do is model that. Your gospel is a display of assurance, hope, love, and life while his propagates fear, condemnation, and death. Joy is experienced only as a rejoicing in evil which is the antithesis of love. Calvinism models death, your gospel models life. Merely strive to grow under the law of the Spirit of life.

“[Father,] sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Work on talking with your way of life lived out while excelling in the knowledge of justification AND sanctification. Refuse to talk about theology until he is begging you to share the hope you have in Christ rather than a theological debate. Such debates are futile because your perception of reality is radically different.

Also, love him and respect him for what he is apart from Calvinism. He’s NOT totally depraved and neither are you. Make a list of his positive attributes apart from the Calvinism. Calvin is dead, why should he be messing with your marriage? Let you husband know that you are not going to let some dead guy get in the way of you loving him. Your savior is alive—Calvin is dead.

And refuse to play the everything is about sin game. The Christian life is about love and hope, not fear and death. Listen to the apostle Paul on this wise:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Can you have peace while living with a Calvinist? Looks that way to me. Can a Calvinist have peace by dwelling on sin and death as a way of earning salvation? No way in hell. Show forth your peace in God, and let the chips fall where they may. You are God’s literal child and nobody can steal your joy…

…least of all a dead heretic.