Over on LDM, someone posted a blogpost from someone who has decided to openly ‘speak out’ against and ‘warn’ folks regarding Reformed theology in Christian hip hop.  The writer says that because of his convictions against RT and the doctrines of grace, he actually went and deleted folk from his friends list on facebook.   More on this in a bit.

After giving it a read (which was a bit painful), I’ve come to the conclusion that this guy is simply another ignorant believer.  Ignorant simply because he doesn’t really have a solid clue as to what reformed theology is – either that, or he doesn’t choose to have a clue. In the case of the former, it’s cool. We can sit down like brethren and discuss these issues without the need for anyone to come off (as he comes off in his article) confrontational, divisive and ‘heated’.  Humility works both ways. 🙂 [side note: ever notice how most of the time, the people complaining about RT are usually the ones typing in all caps with exclamation points, yet they call reformed folks divisive and argumentative ?] Humility is especially useful when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

If the latter is the case, then dude simply needs to reserve his comments. God doesn’t tell people to speak up about things they aren’t equipped to speak on and aren’t able to represent properly.  Remember – we are (according to scripture) to speak the TRUTH in love (Eph. 4:15). Speaking the truth also means properly speaking what is true about what others believe, even when you disagree with it.  To personally and purposefully misrepresent brethren and what they believe is a 9th Commandment violation. I appreciate men like Pricilli and Oden because although they aren’t Calvinists, they do go to great lengths to explain what reformed theology is correctly.  Unforutnately, most of them are set in the shade by people like Ergun Caner, Vance, Dave Hunt and others who spend tons of time attacking Calvinists and Calvinism, but refuse to represent reformed theology accurately.   It’s much easier (for them) to tear down a lie than to deal with biblical truth.

And that brings us back to  Mynista’s post.  He writes:

I believe that man has a free will. Throughout the bible people are directed by God to make CHOICES. Starting with Adam and Eve.

Where’s the disagreement ?  Reformed theology teaches that folk do have a free will and that they do make choices. Reformed theology also teaches that those choices are not forced nor coerced, but the person freely makes them according to his/her nature. Human nature, after the fall, is not the same as it was with Adam and Eve before the fall.  Scripture bears this out repeatedly (Romans 5, Jeremiah 17:9, Eccl. 7:20, Ephesians 2:1-3). Fallen men, according to scripture, cannot and will not choose God of their own ‘free will’.  Their will is enslaved to sin, so their choices – FREELY – are limited. As an example, if I drop a marble in a box, the marble is free to roll around the box according to the shape of the box. It can roll to the corners, along the top, bottom and sides. The marble, however, is entrapped by the box (there’s a lid on it with no hole). The marble is not free to leave the box. The marble has freedom to roll around in the box, but does not have liberty (the marble’s options are constrained).

I think what he’s aiming for is trying to say that man has liberty to choose good and evil – something the bible explicitly does not teach with regard to the unregenerate person (Romans 8:6-9).

His problem with the concept appears to run along the lines of: “God tells us to make choices, therefore, we MUST be able to do what he asks us to do, otherwise, that wouldn’t be fair.”  I’ve seen many a non-Calvinist trip over this question in attempting to understand reformed theology (and/or argue against it).  Truthfully, it’s the same question that tripped up Pelagius in the early 400’s.  The assumption that underlies this question is command means ability to carry it out.

The major question, of course, is this: is this assumption a biblically accurate one ?

The usual answer to this, of course, is that God bases His commands on responsibility, not ability.   No one loves God perfectly (Deut. 6:5), something that we are indeed commanded to do.  What people have done (especially in the Weslyan tradition) is modify what being ‘perfect’ means to include a progressive sanctification that can eventually end in extended periods of sinlessness. Such a modification, however, doesn’t find a root in the biblical text, but in human assumptions. The question of God’s fairness will be addressed a few paragraphs down.

Another quote:

Yes, I believe that God is sovereign, and I believe (according to His Word) that in His sovereignty He will not violate His Word…this is a partnership, not a dictatorship. It’s possible to grieve and quench The Holy Ghost.

This statement’s a bit complex to deal with. Sovereign, by definition, implies dictatorship – at least it did back in ancient times. Folk in Babylon hearing Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:29-37 wouldn’t have understood any part of that to mean ‘partnership’.  In fact, anyone reading Daniel 4:29-37 NOW would have to seriously strain and read foreign elements into the text to get anything of a ‘partnership’ from:

29At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.

34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A few more quotes:

I don’t believe that His grace is irresistible, Man CAN resist God’s grace.

A common mistake that non-Calvinists make when they run into the term ‘irresistible grace’.   Arthur Custance corrects this error:

If a man by nature always resists the grace of God, then in order for that grace to be effectual it must in some sense be irresistible; for if the grace of God were ineffectual none would be saved, and this we know is not the case.

We know by experience that “the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him; neither indeed can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). On the other hand we also know that “to them that received Him gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
Thus to speak of the grace of God as irresistible is not to say that man cannot resist it, for he does. It is only to say that human resistance is allowed to proceed so far and no further than God pleases. The Jewish authorities were allowed to resist the Holy Spirit to the very last (Acts 7:51), but Paul was allowed to resist only to a point when his resistance was suddenly brought to an end (Acts 9:5, 6). The grace of God is sovereign; but it cannot be said to be irresistible, for men do resist it. Loraine Boettner suggested that it might indeed be better to employ the term Efficacious Grace instead, for this is really what the saving grace of God is. This would spoil a widely accepted mnemonic aid, the acronym T U L I P, beloved of catechists for many generations, but in the interests of greater doctrinal precision it might be well to abandon it.
Arthur Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace, Chapter 9: http://custance.org/Library/SOG/Part_II/Chapter9.html

Again, this is simple reformed theology that anyone could ‘get right’ if they actually took the time to read it.

His next statement is one that most people who disagree with reformed theology get ‘hung up’ over:

I believe that Salvation is for ALL, and not only for an elect few. The elect & chosen are simply those who believe on Jesus (John 3:16). He chose to have mercy on ALL! The called are those who hear the Gospel period. ManyARE CALLED, few are chosen (believe).

Aside from turning words on their head (any ENGLISH dictionary shows that ‘chosen’ and ‘believe’ do not mean the same thing). A poster on HCR made this very wise observation which served to answer Mynista’s objection months before he wrote it:

Well this doesn’t help you. YHWH did not warn any of the Egyptians to put Blood on their door post. Thus the symbolic atonement there was completely limited to the House of Israel only. Thus that is an exact picture of LA. So it was a picture of Salvation.

This is also why, in Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He does not pray for the world, but only for those who were given to Him (the elect) by His Father (John 17:9).  Romans 9 is a very helpful passage in discussing this issue.  First, it directly contradicts what Mynista says – God does NOT choose to have mercy on all. He has mercy on some.  This is what He tells Moses and what Paul references in Romans 9.  It isn’t an issue of injustice with God (which is really what Mynista is objecting to) – God owes no man anything (another hidden assumption).  God didn’t choose to redeem fallen angels when they sinned. He provided no substitutionary atonement for them.  Does that make God less good ?  Of course not!  God is not obligated to provide a way of salvation for ANY of His creatures that violate His law.  His choosing to do so for humans (and not for angels) is a function of His mercy.   Mercy is not obligatory, but voluntary. Why God chooses to have mercy on any is a mystery!

Over the past 10 years of me being reformed, I’ve witness non-Calvinistic folk make horrendous statements against RT, to the point of treating it like a cult.  Some of Mynista’s comments are definitely divisive and downright destructive – much like a child with a nuclear weapon who thinks he knows what ‘the enemy’ looks like.

My personal assessment based on interactions with folk over this time period (especially on Holy Culture Radio during my years as moderator and then head admin there) have equipped me well to answer these same questions as well as give me a ‘heads up’ on things that people usually assume (unspoken assumptions) when it comes to the doctrines of grace.  Brother Mynista is no exception here – just another ignorant non-Calvinist who has problems (huge ones) with the doctrines of grace and isn’t very precise in his theology (or his understanding of others’ for that matter).  He’s also sloppy with his handling of the bible.

But let’s trek back in time, shall we ? How many of you current Calvinists had ‘sharp ears’ and ‘huge amounts of discernment’ so you could spot truth and error immediately, even after a few years as a believer ?  How ‘theologically correct’ were all of us who are now Calvinists when we first heard (and in many cases, heavily disagreed) with the doctrines of grace ?   How many of us reacted to them exactly or worse than this brother is now doing ? How many of us actually understood what we were arguing against ?  How many of us simply THOUGHT we understood (and arrogantly told people ‘you’re just saying that because I disagree with you’ when, looking back NOW, you really DIDN’T understand ) ?

So this brother’s rant has to be viewed also from the position of grace and graciousness. It takes some people years to get out of the muddle of messed up theology they become entrenched in and along the way, they are going to say some stupid things. Indeed, even afterward, there are many ‘new Calvinists’ who say plenty of stupid things that end up turning non-Calvinists off to any discussion, but that’s another blogpost series.

After reading, I felt a little sorry for dude. He’s fighting against stuff that’s pretty clear in scripture and he’s mixed up. I’ve learned to deal a bit gentler with folks over time because just like a kid who swears up and down that they know everything when they really know very little, when that emotional rant gets moving, the person cannot be reasoned with from scripture or otherwise.  Further could be pointed out about his post -  the cluelessness at the fact that most of the REAL (not imagined)  ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ he’s talking about has come as a result of believing (not rejecting) the doctrines of grace (from William Carey, the father of every modern missionary movement) to men like Wilberforce (abolitionist), Spurgeon and Whitefield (powerful evangelists who preached to thousands at a time) and these names could be multiplied a thousand times…. but it’s a small thing for now. The usual response is to accuse the other person of wanting to ‘debate’ and then running away from the discussion.  The reformed person in this equation should be the first person to show grace and graciousness in handling personal shots (and they will come). The reformed person should also be sure to keep the discussion on the Word and not get drawn off-topic into discussions on Calvin himself, the Institutes, Spurgeon, Piper or anyone else for that matter.  I think it’s probably part of the reason why dude said he was dumping people from his friends list – he really doesn’t want to hear biblical truth because he’s comfortable where he is and doesn’t want to be challenged.  And it can be a very difficult thing to re-evaluate one’s beliefs or have them constantly challenged….unfortunately, his reaction, instead of actually ‘defending’ what he thinks is the faith, is akin to turning, sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears, and running away while screaming (much like the Pharisees did when they rushed Stephen in Acts 7).

A lot of his post was a lot of zeal with very little knowledge and a boatload of emotion.  I can’t say it should be a surprise. It’s a bit of the normal reaction….seen it before and it won’t be the last time it happens.  Newly reformed folk should be aware of what to expect.

My advice to someone over on my board was pretty simple….

Let him be.  If you run across people like him (or those of you reading who run across him)…..if they bring up the topic, ask them first and foremost are they willing to discuss the issue from scripture and not divert over to talking about Calvin, Servetus, Slavery, Jonathan Edwards or anything else…but scripture.  Ask them if they are willing to discuss biblical teaching and not simply talk ‘about Calvinism and Calvinists’ (which is what a lot of discussions break down to).  If they divert, ask them again and tell them you aren’t willing to talk about anything else than scripture and whether or not these beliefs are taught in scripture.  If the usual advance accusations of ‘debate’ and ‘argumentative’ come to mind, remind them that right now, all you’ve done is ask them to discuss scripture as brothers (or sisters).  If they are unwilling to do this, tell them you’ll pray for them to one day be open to discussing scripture and not be so ‘defensive’ and willing to divert to other topics.

And walk away.  God will deal with them.

Sometimes, it takes God bringing folks to a point of crisis before they humble themselves.

As an additional resource, if you run into folks who constantly spend time spewing misconceptions on the doctrines of grace and you find yourself having to constantly correct them, refer them to this VERY helpful article on the subject:

http://www.corkfpc.com/criticisingcalvinism.html

4 thoughts on “Calvinists attacked… what else is new ?

  1. Interesting experience with Arminian

    […] to a blogpost that I did on this very subject ? I just posted on this very subject on my blog: Calvinists attacked… what else is new ? | Think! – Wrestlin’ With Wordz-N-Ideaz Take a read through and tell me what you think. K. Joel Gilliard, Husband of Danielle since […]

  2. Hone Phillips

    Just a short comment. In dealing with Limited Atonement it does have to be remembered that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” should also be dealt with since it is one passage which seems (at first sight) to support the idea that Christ’s atonement was for all.

    I particularly liked your dealing with the assumption that “to be commanded to do something assumes you are able to do it.” Grace is irresistible but so also, sometimes, is God’s punishment. As God intervenes to prevent his people being lost so he also sometimes intervenes so his justice in punishing the wicked is accomplished. (Pharoah was hardened lest he repent and let the people of Israel go before God’s judgment of the land of Egypt was complete.)

  3. Tyler Nuzum

    Nice. Thanks for that.

  4. […] Anybody who has had more than one conversation with me knows I love Reformed theology. I left Word-of-Faith Pentecostalism at 16 after growing up in it (and being converted in it) for Reformed Baptist theology. If we could sit down and talk, I could tell you story after story of God’s providence in bringing me out of that into the knowledge of the truth. So it was with a little humour, that this article by a “Holy Hip Hop” artist by the name of MYNISTA came across my path. (HT: Kerry Gilliard) […]

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