So why did I start this website? Part 3
As mentioned in the previous 2 posts, I had a strong desire to protect local churches from the ravages of calvinist heresies. But why am I so opposed to calvinism in the first place? Surely it wasn’t just because they started teaching something I didn’t agree with? After all, I don’t automatically denounce another Christian for having differing views on eternal security, baptism, or interpretation of future events as prophesied in the Bible, and so on. I accept that I do not know all things yet, and am still in the process of learning and growing.
Of course, when we commenced our home church in 2013, I was greatly dissatisfied with what I had already seen of calvinist doctrines. I could not accept their doctrine of limited atonement, and was strongly opposed to their doctrine of unconditional election. (I do not, however, have any problem with the doctrine of election based upon God’s foreknowledge, according to 1 Peter 1:2.) I also believed that Calvin was a bigoted murderer, but was merely a product of his times. Studies I did in 2013 and into 2014 still allowed that Calvin had some things right, although I wasn’t sure I could actually list anything definite.
But, the way that GraceWest had seemingly manipulated the situation in order to impose some significant influence over Living Springs appeared to be sneaky and covert. When I spoke (via phone) to the current pastor of Living Springs in early 2013, he said he was opposed to calvinism. I mentioned the calvinist beliefs of GraceWest, querying why there should be any reason for them to be involved with each other. He replied that they (GraceWest) said they were calvinist but they didn’t teach it. This seemed to be either illogical or even deceitful.
So, after commencing our home church, I did a series of studies on calvinism and its origins. I read widely from many documents, including much of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. I read Pink, Piper, MacArthur, Boettner, and many others who seemed to be directing the calvinism doctrinal traffic. And, as I dug deeper into the teachings of these and others, I discovered many inconsistencies of interpretation, and also the many lies which were apparently told in order to cover up their false doctrines. For, if you tell one lie, you need another lie to protect it, and then another lie, and so on; the only way to stop the flow of lies is to finally tell the truth!
For people who claim sola scriptura (the Bible alone), calvinists had so many biblical passages that had to be “qualified” by changing the meaning of words, or adding or removing parts of the verse. I have been accused of misrepresenting good calvinist men, yet I mostly quote verbatim exactly what they say that is wrong. I have been told to read calvinist documents more in order to understand it better, yet I have probably read more calvinist writings than most calvinists ever do. I have been told that if I understood calvinism better, I would be more supportive of it, yet the more I understand calvinism, the less supportive I am of it.
I am a very logical person; that’s why I ended up doing Maths (Pure Maths, Statistics) at university (plus Music and Psychology) and a 3-year teaching qualification on top of that (6 years in all). I have a strong tendency to assess everything according to its logic. Of course, with the Bible, much is accepted by faith; nevertheless even that which I believe by faith must still be logically consistent across the whole Bible. In order to establish a biblical doctrine, one must be able to see the consistency of that doctrine throughout the Bible. Yet, more often than not, calvinism attempts to establish a doctrine using a minimum of verses, conveniently ignoring or rewording any inconsistencies. One calvinist says he unleashes God’s truth one verse at a time; truly, many lies may be taught using one verse at a time!
Because biblical honesty was important to me, I also decided 25 years ago that I would go into full time ministry, as a teacher in Christian schools. Much of this was also as Principal of small Christian schools with up to 10 staff. We left our farm in the country and were never to return to live there. After trying to keep the farm running from a distance for 9 years, we finally sold it. We believed that this was what God desired for us, so that we could continue to serve God elsewhere.
22 years ago, we bought a house on the edge of an Australian state capital, in a migrant and working-class area. For 4 years I taught Year 6 in a large Christian school near us. Then I felt a call to go to central Australia to work with aboriginal people, so off we went for 3 years to Alice Springs in the centre of Australia. It was mostly hot and dry, and a delightful place to live. The nearest small town was over 500 km away (either north or south), with the nearest sizable town around 1200 km to the north or to the south. (There is no reasonable through-road to the east or west of Alice Springs!) We became very close to some of the aboriginal people and were made part of their family; we still keep contact with our aboriginal family today (spread out, now mostly living in Tennant Creek and Adelaide).
My last school (where I was Principal) was in the north of Victoria. I spent 3 years there, becoming quite stressed through having to fight government officials in order to keep the school open. They wanted to close the school mainly because we taught creation rather than evolution; evolution was science, they said, and our creation myths and legends belonged to our devotions time. (I hope to write soon about Genesis 1 & 2 and evolution.) During my third year there they told us we had 30 days to remain registered as a school (you are not allowed to exist without that registration). However, God kept us open because the government assessment board had actually previously recommended (the year before) that we use the Science curriculum of another certain Christian school; they had considered that school’s curriculum acceptable. But, that curriculum actually still taught creation, yet the assessment board couldn’t shut us down. They had somehow got their information confused. In the end they gave up and left us to continue.
Since then I have retired from actual paid work, having enough to live on as long as we didn’t expect any luxuries. However, after commencing our home church in 2013, I have been kept very busy preparing messages every Sunday (I generally miss only a few each year). I do not use prepared sermon outlines, for I prefer to prepare my own messages. I study the words in their original Greek and Hebrew languages, and research the same words and topics in the rest of the Bible. Consistency of meaning is very important. Any inconsistency usually points to something wrong with an interpretation. If the straight-forward meaning of a word or passage makes logical sense, and is consistent with similar passages elsewhere in the Bible, then I use it. I then look at a number of commentaries to see what others think about the passage I am doing (although in many cases, especially with prophecy, they can be quite obviously incorrect). I also research dictionaries and encyclopedias to assist with my messages.
It takes a lot of time and energy to prepare an hour-long message but I would feel I had cheated by cutting corners if I did any less. I type it all out on my computer, including most of the extra cross-reference verses and passages in full. I then make a copy for each person attending Sunday services. I want them to read what I have said, including all the relevant verses, and then make up their own minds on what they want to believe. I will not demand that they believe what I think is right; instead, I tell them that they must test everything they are told, reading my notes through later, and deciding for themselves what they believe. Of course, if they disagree, then I ask them to present their views, plus relevant scriptural support for what they believe. They are permitted to make relevant comments during the service, and I stop at regular intervals to ask if they have any comment on what I have said.
And this is something I notice that is wrong with calvinism. There is far too much emphasis on the pastor or teacher being right, with the allegedly uneducated or unqualified church members being ignored or even criticised if they dare to have an opposing opinion that doesn’t toe the party line. In the following, A W Pink (a much-quoted calvinist writer) says of Joshua 6:10 – And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall [any] word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. that the rank and file of Christians are to keep quiet in all spiritual matters!
Pink: The forbidding of “the people” to open their mouths signified that the rank and file of Christians are to have no part in the oral proclamation of the truth―they are neither qualified for nor called to the ministration of the Word. Nowhere in the Epistles is there a single exhortation for the saints as such to engage in public evangelism, nor even to do “personal work” and seek to be “soul winners.” Rather are they required to “witness for Christ” by their daily conduct in business and in the home. They are to “show forth” God’s praises, rather than tell them forth. They are to let their light shine. The testimony of the life is far more effectual than glib utterances of the lips. Actions speak louder than words.
(Studies in the Scriptures, A W Pink, Page 9-10)
After much research, I finally concluded that Calvin was a bully despot who liked to control those under him. He was a dictator who would brook no opposition from even those qualified to speak! He was a cruel murderer, and is sometimes referred to as the butcher of Geneva (or even the pope of Geneva). Those “teachers” or “pastors” who follow his doctrines today generally rule with an iron rod, often unfairly. When calvinism takes over a church, the members usually lose the right to speak out in opposition to anything doctrinal, fearing that they will be persecuted or ostracised for their efforts to test for the truth. Those who break the rules may be publicly named and shamed in front of the congregation. They may be asked to repent and be restored to fellowship, or they may be encouraged to find another church.
Calvinism also relies on the upholding of many lies and biblical mistruths in order to establish its false doctrines. For example, they claim that man has no free will, especially unto salvation, yet are unable to establish this as a biblical consistency. They will state like Spurgeon, that It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free-will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. (Free Will – A Slave – A Sermon) Yet he makes no effort to actually demonstrate in the slightest just where this may be shown biblically. Where they cannot establish a doctrine by proper reasoning, calvinists will simply state that the non-calvinist belief is wrong and then propound their own belief as the only correct doctrine. Talk about sola scriptura!
They claim that John 6:44 clearly demonstrates that man has no free will in salvation, yet in order to do so they must have firstly made the assumption that man has no free will to resist God. For, if man has free will to resist God’s drawing, then he may choose to not come. Therefore, they make the assumption that there is no free will in order to prove that there is no free will! This is circular logic and unacceptable to any intelligent reasoning person!
[Also note that in John 12:32, the same word “draw” is used, where Jesus states that He will draw all to Himself when lifted up (on the cross). If all are drawn, and only some come, then free will to resist must be indicated!]
And if you disagree, they’ll quote their calvinist hero teachers, or say that you don’t understand because you aren’t spiritual enough, or tell you that it’s a mystery hid in the secret counsels of God, or they’ll ignore you because you’re a trouble-maker, or they’ll just straight-out tell you that you can’t be one of God’s elect because if you were, you’d believe in it! But, if their special proof verses don’t persuade you, then they’ll leave the Bible alone, heading instead to some of their calvinist hero teachers. Anyone who continues to use their Bible to face calvinists usually then gets ignored or even verbally abused.
So why have I written so much about the false teachings of calvinists? It is because they believe that they’re the only ones who know the answers, and if you disagree, you aren’t as good as them. They are aggressive, arrogant bullies who like to tell it as it is, but not for others to do the same to them. They are always “right”! As the saying goes: you can always tell a calvinist, but not much.