Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Parsing Words and Thoughts and Nit Picking

I came across this short passage a bit ago and wondered why people sit and ruminate about such things. Half the time if not more they don't know what in the world they are talking about but just as often they puff up a reply to sound knowledgeable.

But if you preach the gospel, you just might discover that it is not quite so popular. But it is powerful and it is mysterious. Why? Because it was a mystery that God hid from previous generations in order that it might be displayed publicly at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ

Is the answer to the question regarding the mysteriousness of the Gospel found in stating that it was because it was a mystery? I don't think so but I'm just toying with the post. Having it be a mystery until Christ also doesn't address why it is powerful. It is like stating the beach is sandy because it has sand on it. Skim away the dross and the question remains unanswered yet it sounded good. Wise men can nod their heads with little wisdom pouts and feel good but the serious question remains. Why is the Gospel powerful and how is it that these words and this message of hope carry with it the power to change men's lives? I think the author should have simply said he didn't really know why instead of pretending he did with the reply given. I certainly do not have the grand reply but it is worth pondering for a while.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sometimes It Is Better To Slow Down

Occasionally while in a rush to respond to a comment we make foolish mistakes. I hate it when that happens. While replying to a poor soul in a rather hasty manner, I inserted something that sounded nice and biblical but wasn't even close. It was a lot like that familiar saying that some folk have heard a lot over the years, "God helps those that help themselves". It sounds nice but it's not scriptural. In my rush I tossed in an old and familiar saying and attributed it to the Word of God. "Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". Doesn't that sound wise and biblical? I should have known better but rushing to beat another at his own game, I shot myself in the foot. The old proverb is actually Chinese and I realized it shortly after replying however the damage was done. Roasted crow is on the table and in my embarrassment I must eat it.
The lesson here is to measure our words and reply with patience otherwise the fool gets his glory. That is not exactly scriptural or even close but the intent seems wise to me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Calvinist Trees Blocking the Christian Forest

Once in a while an argument is encountered or a speaker is engaged in a long monologue that you wish the presenter could have stepped back and taken a more sound approach with his argument. Instead we are left with a spurious design and empty, fallacious rhetoric. This is often the case with Calvinist apologetics and with a recent post by R.C. Sproul, the tradition continues.  More than a few Calvinists have recommended Sproul's seminal book Chosen By God as a representative tome of modern Calvinist thought. I read it quite some time ago and found it to be a continuation of the expected arguments I've encountered far too many times from Calvinists of all stripes. A straw man is constructed, an argument devised to tear it down and the ensuing victory party all proceed from the same tainted arguments over and over again. The same is true with the brief extract from "Chosen" that Sproul has posted on his website.

Sproul has built an argument using John 3:16 to oppose a position that is rarely made i.e. that non-Reformed (non-Calvinists) stake a position on this passage to argue that man has some innate ability to freely choose to come to the LORD. He states "... What does this famous verse teach about fallen man's ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing. The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ ...". Unfortunately for Sproul, he has dedicated considerable capital to dispelling this straw man without addressing the more appropriate argument that Arminians such as myself make with John 3:16. No classical or Reformed Arminian I know of argues for the Pelagian position of innate goodness and ability on the part of fallen man to do anything whatsoever with regard to a first step or a last or any step in between. Instead, this universal passage and the most often quoted verse in scripture is a clear denunciation of the spurious Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement. It tears down the idea that God reprobated a large percentage of mankind for his glory and showed some sense of partiality for an "elect" independent of foreknowing their faith. Even John Calvin in his commentaries regarding this chapter of John acknowledges the universal application of Christ's atonement without exception.

R.C. Sproul, instead of taking another victory lap around the ashes of your little bonfire from several years ago, perhaps you could address the true importance of the passage and attempt to address actual Arminian doctrine instead of the fabrications of your rather ill-informed polemic.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Campus Crusade for Christ International Dropping Christ

I would like to think I am surprised by things such as this but I no longer am. The Campus Crusade for Christ International is dropping the mention of Christ from it's name because it offends a small number of Christians and a lot of non-Christians. As with hiding a light under a basket, removing Christ as your first and foremost focus, especially for fear of offending those who find Christ offensive, is anti-missionary. The mention of Christ in their name somehow handicaps their "mission", whatever that might be. My take on this is that if Christ handicaps anything you are doing, you need to change what you are doing instead of distancing yourself from Jesus Christ. This move seems to be nothing but a compromise with those who neither know Christ nor love those who do.