mē genoito

May it never be! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” (Ro 3:4)

Calvin – is – ticked

Calvinistic, Calvinism and Calvinian by adding these suffix to a word, we’ve essentially institutionalizes the original word. (Does this remind you of anything?) Human beings have a tendency to reduce an entire system of thoughts to just one word. Sometimes that is good, but sometimes that is bad. It is good in the sense that we can quickly communicate a set of complex ideas in the shortest amount of time. It is bad because it can be easily misunderstood and misrepresented. There are times when it is down right misleading. e.g. Christians have no problem being referred to as rational. But, I would object to being accused of practicing rationalism. Rationalism is antithetical to theism. Rationalism is anthropocentric as oppose to Christianity, which is theocentric.

Since I’ve chosen to express this blog in this reductionistic (there is that suffix again) term. I think it would be prudent to define what I mean by Calvinistic. However, instead of me attempting to define Calvinism, I will link you to someone more eloquent and wiser than I to explain what Calvinism is. Remember the old adage? A picture is worth a thousand words.
I’m sorry, were you thinking of another Calvin? What? You thought Calvinism was named after the Christian reform theologian John Calvin? Well…, I guess we could talk about John Calvin, over the objection of Bill Watterson.

I was planning to use as my reference texts Dr. James White’s book The Potter’s Freedom and Dr. R.C. Sproul’s book Chosen by God. Unfortunately, due to personal reasons I’ve misplaced my copy of White’s book, as a result, I will rely more on internet resources. In any case, this post is intended to be an overview of Calvinism and not a detail analysis of the acrostic TULIP, which will have to be reserved for a later date.

OK, enough already, what do I mean by Calvinistic. As I’ve alluded to earlier, Calvinism has been reduced to the acrostic TULIP.
T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints
I am not sure John Calvin himself would have approved this institutionalization of his name, let alone, the reduction of his entire theological works into these 5 points. The irony is that Calvinist did not originate these 5 points per se.

In the early seventeenth century, Jacob Arminius, professor of theology at the University of Leiden, came under suspicion by the more orthodox Dutch Calvinists. Arminius was viewed to have seriously deviated from the orthodox doctrines of justification and election. 1

The 5 points was the rebuttal by the synod of Dort in 1618 to the critics of Calvin’s theology. The essence of Calvinistic belief is how one views soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, period.

As I’ve said earlier, when you reduce a system of thoughts to a single word, there are bound to be misrepresentations. I can’t tell you how many times I hear other Christians criticize Calvinists using straw man arguments. e.g. Calvinists do not believe in free will. Calvinists do not believe in evangelism. Calvinists believe God predestines those who go to hell. Calvinists believe we don’t need to live a godly life because we can’t lose our salvation. Calvinists believe we don’t have free will therefore there is no point to do anything, a form of fatalism. Or the flip side to that argument, Calvinists believes that God is the author of evil. None of these straw man arguments are accurate representation of the Calvinist theology.

So when I say that I am a Calvinist, I am speaking only of one thing, what does the Bible say about the doctrines of salvation? I can still differ on many other issues with my theologically reform brothers and sisters. With that, I will end my first post here and leave the point-by-point defense of TULIP to subsequent posts.

1Christian History : John Calvin. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Carol Stream IL: Christianity Today.

7 Responses to “Calvin – is – ticked”

  • inunison says:

    I am very interested, will you please briefly explain TULIP for me. I need some definitions in order to understand. Thank you.

  • teleologist says:

    Hi inunison,

    Thanks for visiting. I am sorry for the digression from TULIP. Something has arisen at my church and I just needed to jot down my thoughts while it is still fresh in my mind. I will begin my review of TULIP in the next couple of days.

  • inunison says:

    “I believe that God created all that exist in what we know as the universe in 6 literal days and we are now living in the rest of the seventh day. These 6 days being long periods of time, showing the Earth as billions of years old and the universe is billions of years older still.”

    So than, you are NOT believing in 6 literal days of Creation? Sorry, I am a bit confused about your statement and don’t mean to argue the point but would simply like a clarification. It would be first for me to see someone, simultaniously believe in 6 literal days and 6 long periods of time.

    PS excuse my spelling, English is not my mother tongue.

  • teleologist says:

    So than, you are NOT believing in 6 literal days of Creation?

    Sorry inunison, I am being deliberately obtuse here. I know full well how the majority of Christian uses the “6 literal days” today. My only problem is that I also consider myself as a literalist, in the historical-grammatical sense. In that sense, the Hebrew word YOM has several literal meanings and I am relying on the scholarship of Dr. Walter Kaiser and Gleason Archer for the literal interpretation of that word. Both these OT scholars interpret YOM in Genesis 1 to be long periods of time.

    I’ve decided to be deliberately confusing because like the “fundamentalist” blog name, I am trying to reclaim a proper meaning of the word. I fully expect people to disagree with my usage of these words but that was my intention. 😀

  • inunison says:

    Now I am very confused.

    Don’t you find interesting that this particular interpretation of Gen 1-2 came at the time when science accepted long geological periods of time? It makes me wonder. Although some data from science can be interpreted in ways consistent with the biblical concept of creation, I am also aware of the data interpreted in ways that challenge the belief in a recent creation. The strength of these interpretations cannot be dismissed lightly. I do respect the claims of science, study them, and hope for a resolution. This does not preclude a re-examination of Scripture to make sure it is being properly understood. However, when an interpretation harmonious with the findings of science is not possible, I cannot allow science a privileged position in which it automatically determines the outcome. Rather, I think that it is not justifiable to hold clear teachings of Scripture hostage to current scientific interpretations of data.
    As you may gather, I believe in a literal and historical six-day creation (24 hours) because it is theologically sound and consistent with the teaching of the whole Bible. I might add that my limited understanding of origins calls for humility and that further exploration into these questions can bring us closer to deep and wonderful mysteries. We are living in a truly exciting times.

  • inunison says:

    Forgive me teleologist, but I think I hijacked this thread. Will not happen again.

  • teleologist says:

    Hi inunison,

    I understand what you are saying. I really do. I went through this with my church before. This will definitely be one of the topics in the future. I look forward to discussing it with you then.

Leave a Reply