Comments 18/09/19 continued.
What encouraged you to begin your site?
I was particularly interested in your position on Calvinism. I was brought up on this teaching, in Northern Ireland, but left it several years ago. I realised how destructive and unscriptural it is; it appears to be back again in several churches – globally – and I wonder what you would consider are the best resources for challenging this teaching.
I agree with you about the idea that many people agree with their leaders/pastors – a sort of ‘well that’s his job, since that’s what he gets paid for’ approach. Most Christians appear to have this approach regarding many teachings and doctrines in the Church. It appears to be some-one else’s responsibility.
Many blessings, from a former Calvinist, who’s seen the light.
Thank you again for your encouragement. It is certainly very much appreciated.
I don’t think there’s a short answer to your enquiry regarding why we began our website. However, I have been retired for 9 years now (from Principal of a Christian school) and do have some time to call my own. Our state government authorities tried hard to close our school down during my time there, informing us that we were not permitted to teach that God created the world and everything in it. They ordered us to keep this to our “myths and legends devotions time”! Only evolution was science! And because we stated on our school website that God was the ruler of the universe, they considered it anti-authority and ordered us to remove it or else. Of course, we refused to back down, and in the end we retained our registration. It was 3 years of fighting before that happened, after which I retired, having become too stressed out to continue.
Being 60 when I retired, I decided to concentrate on my personal studies in the Bible. I believe that there can be no compromise in my beliefs; it’s all or nothing! Therefore I check out as far as I can all scriptural details, including Greek and Hebrew terms, cultural aspects, biblical consistency, and the context, of any teaching I come across. When our local church began teaching things which seemed to be non-biblical, I started to research them. They were leaning toward calvinism. Then the nearby church that my sons attended started to become too friendly with a neighbouring calvinist church (it had an almost identical doctrinal statement to John MacArthur’s church). I couldn’t recommend they come to our church because it was leaning that way also. So we started a home church to give us some breathing space while we considered where we would go from there.
At this point in time I began seriously researching calvinism (along with Calvin and many calvinist teachers, both current and past). I had originally considered calvinism to be a Christian teaching with some undesirable aspects. (I had been brought up in the calvinist Presbyterian church and had been indoctrinated with some of its supposedly more acceptable doctrines.) Now the more I researched calvinism, the more I realised that it was unacceptable. One of the young men from my son’s church tried to discuss doctrinal issues with us, but it soon became clear that he was not interested in our views, but instead was obviously trying to convert us to calvinism. The more he tried, the more I knew that I could never accept it, and so I started looking at calvinism, not as a Christian doctrine, but as a heresy taught by false teachers. I just couldn’t match up their beliefs with anything in the Bible, no matter how hard I tried. They said they were saved by Christ, yet had to be born again (regenerated) before they could believe in Christ. They said they had eternal life through Christ yet had to have eternal life from the Spirit before they could respond to Christ’s gospel. They said that man had no free will to choose salvation for himself, yet it was man’s fault if he went to hell. They said that foreknowledge in the Bible couldn’t mean knowing things ahead of time because there were no free will decisions to foreknow. They said that “all” in the Bible only meant “all without exception” if calvinism said it could; otherwise it meant “only the elect of God”. And so on ad infinitum.
We knew that we were talking about 2 different, diametrically-opposed gospels, and only one could be right. If we were right, then they were lost; if they were right, we were lost. The 2 gospels could never be reconciled biblically. So we contacted my son’s former church members and tried to explain why calvinism was wrong, but were told very quickly (by the church leadership) to not contact them again. We soon found out that if you disagree with them, they won’t bother arguing with you, but instead will just go silent and ignore you. I tried to make contact with some of the members of my former church but also found out that no-one would talk about it there either. It was clear that some of them had been warned by the church leaders to not rock the boat.
Our home church was keeping us busy studying the Bible. I used to do much of the running of a church without a pastor for many years in the past, and I was also the church organist. So we were able to run our home church quite well. (We love having all our favourite hymns without the noise of a big band thumping away out the front!) However, we felt that we had a mission to inform our friends (“used-to-be-friends” now, it seems!) of what we saw as a serious threat to the church today: that calvinism today sees non-calvinist fundamentalist churches as their mission field to evangelise (and they are quite aggressive at this!). We then decided that we should commence a website to air our views on heresy in the church today, and invite people to discuss the issues from the Bible alone (that is, sola scriptura, one of the catch-cries of calvinism!).
At first I wasn’t all that hard on calvinists, declaring their doctrines to be skewed away from the Bible. But negative comments would come in with very little reasoning behind them. They would tell me I was wrong, but never quote what it was that I said wrongly. They would accuse me of being unbiblical yet would never give biblical reasons why this should be so. A few comments were supportive, though, and we were thankful for those who encouraged us. I soon realised that calvinists were opposed to us without any logical explanation for what they said. They never used the Bible properly to explain why I had to be wrong, and they could never quote what I had said when they accused me of misrepresenting them. Even today they refuse to tackle our website with any serious effort to use the Bible to defend their doctrines, despite me challenging them many times to do so.
Over a few years now we have researched calvinism and its opposition to biblical truth. We have concluded that they refuse to answer us truthfully because they do not have any truth with which to answer us. They claim to be Christian yet cannot believe in Christ until after their god has regenerated them. We now believe that calvinism is a doctrine of satan who tries to enslave man through his lies. I have read many calvinist authors including Calvin and realise that so many calvinists just do not read as widely as they should. They blindly accept the teachings of their leaders, putting them up on pedestals and worshipping them, it seems. It is a belief system that says that God is the only sovereign will in the universe and that man has no independent free will to make any decision that is not already foreordained by God. Thus it has to teach that God authored/ordained/decreed/created sin and evil. They tell us that God needs sin to demonstrate His glory, and that without sin God’s glory is incomplete. They also tell us that God’s wrath is one of His attributes and therefore God cannot be completely God if He has no sin upon which to vent His wrath. They teach that there must therefore always be sin for eternity so that God can be completely God for all eternity. Therefore God created sin to fulfil Himself! What blasphemy. (All of this can be documented!)
This is how our website has commenced and progressed, in an effort to declare the truth, to be a watchman on the walls crying out, “Danger!” at all the heresy that is flooding the church today. We do not condemn all calvinists; so many are merely deluded, blinded to the truth by their false doctrines. They are not the enemy. Our desire is that those who are affected by calvinism will take some time to make the effort to research it for themselves. If we can prompt people to test all things against the truth of the Bible, then it will be worth the effort. Calvinism works best on those who want others to do their thinking for them. We just want all Christians to think for themselves concerning biblical doctrines. This is the best medicine against heresy!
I trust that this has somehow explained why we commenced our website, and how we seek to direct those affected by calvinism to seek the truth of the Bible for themselves. As for resources to tackle the problem, my first recommendation would be to read the Bible to test all things taught. The one thing that stops calvinists in their tracks most of the time is a requirement that they use the Bible alone to demonstrate their doctrines, because they cannot do so without twisting it somewhere. I often use the term “verbal gymnastics” to describe their contorted explanations of their doctrines.
Calvinists seem to have a strong hold on reference books, teaching ministries, Bible colleges, seminaries, Christian bookshops, etc. They like to portray themselves as educated, scholarly academics, such that all who oppose them are portrayed as less so. Even online forums are mostly controlled by calvinist interests, so people are getting overrun with calvinist material. Those who are opposed to calvinism often get advised by the forum moderator to leave. However, there are some websites that I have found helpful. (I do not necessarily endorse everything they say!) The best way to find them is to do an internet search, making sure that you check out the background of any website before using its information. If a website quotes a calvinist, I do an independent search for that quote and will only use it if I can find proper provenance for it. I prefer to document my resources as fully as possible on our website.
A website worth investigating is https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com/ (by a person in USA who has recently had calvinist conflict in her local church. Calvinism is rapidly taking control of many churches in USA especially those in the Southern Baptists, notably through their seminaries and Bible colleges) Probably 90% of visitors to our website are from USA.
I also recommend that Christians learn some basic rules concerning the original biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew, and get access to the original languages through such as the Interlinear Bible, or use an online website to see the Greek and Hebrew. For example, “foreknowledge” in the New Testament is prognosis, a word used as a medical term as early as 400BC by Hippocrates, and is still used in the same way today. It is difficult to see how prognosis can mean anything else than a knowledge of what will happen in the future. Yet calvinists deny that foreknowledge is God’s perfect knowledge of the future, because they teach that God foreordained all things, that is, He wrote the complete script for all the world from beginning to end before the world began.
I hope this answers your enquiries. Please feel free to ask further if you wish. Thank for your encouragement; we do need it! God bless.
Many thanks for the site you mentioned. I’ve been in contact with Heather, and we’ve written a few times. She’s done so much work on Calvinism. The usual suspects keep coming up. One of the best sites I’ve seen is Leighton Flowers. He’s a real gentleman, when it comes to debates and information; he was a Calvinist pastor for 10 years. He’s written a few books, and they’re very easy to grasp. His site is https://soteriology101.com/ He’s debated James White. He has some great videos on James, who sees himself as a sort of the ‘mega pastor’ – White is a great representation of the archetypal, stereotypical Calvinist – brash, condescending, dismissive, patronising, condescending…the list goes on. This isn’t just my opinion.
You mentioned that you were a Principal of a Christian School; things are really beginning to change in Australia, and not for the better – much like the UK and Ireland. I’m on the list of an American, who’s been based in Australia for several years. (billmuehlenberg.com) He’s a Calvinist, but writes lots of decent materials on Australia and globally. He has a Christian take on the world. He doesn’t push Calvinism.
You mentioned about your school being put under pressure around Creation and the myth of Evolution. I used to teach Religious Studies @ ‘A’ (Advanced) level. The way I managed to get around that – in England – was to point out that I and the Bible teach Evolution. Initially, this looks like a compromise, but even in the very first chapter of Genesis, the Bible makes it clear that we bring forth after it’s own kind. Dog+ Dog=Dog; Human+Human=Human. This is scientific fact. It is observable, repeatable, measurable, falsifiable…I explained to the classes that this is called micro-Evolution. I asked them to duplicate the same results via the macro-Evolution (monkey to man) approach. As we both know, the ‘macro position is flawed. Speciation versus macro-evolution. As you know, Speciation requires no new information adding to the genome. It uses the existing genetic information to create the differing species within one family/kind of creatures. Macro-evolution requires mass increases in genetic information and this has never been observed, something evolutionary non-Christians are prepared to admit. No-one could accuse me of being anti-scientific. I agreed to discuss science and evolution, as long as it was ‘micro’. The template for every discussion was ‘micro’ and I encouraged the students to discuss this with their science teachers, using the ‘macro’ model. I had the usual comments from the students, that I was unscientific, a fundamentalist, ‘blind’, misguided, mad…I made it clear that I was prepared to openly discuss or debate, in the school, micro-evolution and include thermodynamics, biochemistry, mathematical models, the original Hebrew/Aramaic. The opponents had the responsibility of trying to challenge this – using science. Nothing!! Just name-calling.
It’s funny as so many people see Australia as a free and open country. This is plainly not the case over the last year or two with same-sex marriages, transgenderism and over 100 ‘genders’ being recognised.
You mentioned about your situation with the onslaught of Calvinism; what do you think was the main teaching of Calvinism that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for you and your family?
The thing that we’ve both found is that Calvinists refuse to truly discuss doctrine, especially if they are opposed. I asked quite a few, why this is so. Their standard answer is that, since we don’t or won’t accept ‘gospel’ teachings then we must be apostate and not one of the elect. It’s like talking to the JWs, who also have an elect system of 144,000.
I used to annoy them, when I asked why God needed Satan if He already knew who was going to Hell and to Heaven; also, if God pre-determined everything then this must mean that God was the author and originator d evil and ultimately sin. Do you think being the principal of a Christian school helped prepare you for the home church?
You mentioned friends that “used to be friends”…because of the move from Calvinism?
When I’ve spoken to Calvinists and identify as a former Calvinist, they usually ask how long I’ve been an Arminian (the catch-all term for the non-Calvinist). Also, only Calvinists can be ‘sola scriptura.’ How would you describe your position today?
One of their champions on YouTube is ‘Dr’ James White. He’s very outspoken and anti anything that challenges or doesn’t support Calvinism. He is acknowledges as probably the most arrogant and condescending proponent of this position. Even White has problems stating categorically that he’s one of the elect, which is surprising given verses such as 1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” You mentioned the subject of regeneration; I guess you’ve had the protracted discussions around regeneration before faith, or visa versa? I’ve noticed a lot of sites are also challenging Calvinism as a supported of the whole Lordship salvation position and the idea of salvation plus works.
You said that “Therefore God created sin to fulfil Himself! What blasphemy” as a Calvinist position. James White extolls the virtues of situations such as rape and how sin glorifies this and the benefits of sin from a Calvinists viewpoint.
Why do you believe that Calvinism, which was on the wane for a while, has waxed lyrical and is making a comeback?
I agree with you about biblical languages; I think Christians are quite lax, when it comes to self-education. A great site I’ve found is Bible Hub https://biblehub.com/ This is especially good for those, who haven’t had much training or their languages have become a bit rusty.
This site has been very useful: https://oncesavedalwayssaved.org/websites-blogs-exposing-calvinism/
It looks like we have so much in common, and are singing from the same hymn sheet.
This email is very long as you brought up a lot of issues and I find it difficult to give half-answers. I am a researcher by nature and am driven to seek answers until I can understand them.
A large reason why calvinists are so much in your face on the internet is that they constantly recommend each other. Their networking with each other is extensive and they rarely refer to anything or anyone outside their calvinist heroes. Those who are opposed to them tend to be pushed to one side, ostracised and treated like lesser-qualified beings. (Or declared non-spiritual – their word for unsaved, I think.) The trouble is that we (as meek Christians) have tended to stand back and let those more aggressive voices shout us down. I think that the time has come for those who believe in the truth of the Bible (sola scriptura) to stand up for the truth. We have to encourage and support each other.
Talking about sola scriptura – this is one of the “sola” catch-cries of the calvinist, yet I have found that when they are asked to defend their doctrines from the Bible alone, they don’t! (Or can’t!) I have challenged them many times (I know that many of the visitors to my website must be calvinist, seeing as most of them are from USA) and not one yet has made any serious attempt to defend from the Bible alone. I have found that requiring them to use the Bible alone seems to be a serious problem for them. You say that only calvinists can be sola scriptura (I think in the same way that I say that a calvinist can never be wrong!). Yet they never explain their doctrines from the Bible unless it is firstly interpreted according to their calvinist beliefs. My position, of course, is sola scriptura – the Bible alone. If I say anything that I cannot defend from the Bible alone, then I have a problem.
I am often accused of being Arminian or even Pelagian (I am neither), yet I maintain that every doctrine must stand or fall using the Bible alone. I constantly refer to myself as a biblical Christian. I left the Presbyterians around 50 years ago, and became Baptist, being a member of an Independent Baptist church for many years. They had a good fundamentalist doctrine, yet its weakness was that they discouraged members from testing all things. The doctrines were set in concrete, unable to be reviewed or changed. Questioning anything they taught was seen as a deviation from the truth (their truth). 40 years ago there were many Independent Baptist churches around Australia (many with USA missionary-pastors). Many Christian schools were commenced and some flourished. But now, most of those churches have either taken on a weaker doctrine biblically speaking, and many have gone into calvinism (such as the 2 churches that we and my sons used to attend). A good doctrine must permit reasonable testing of its beliefs, that is, a church must be able to defend its doctrines biblically, not discourage its members from asking why they believe as they do. (We must give be able to give biblical reasons for what we believe.) This is one reason why calvinism is building its forces today; many of our fundamentalist churches are being taken over because their members do not know how to test all things for themselves.
Add to this that calvinism today is not the calvinism of the past. Most aggressive calvinist teachers today are actually New Calvinist, which is a revised calvinism largely stemming from Westminster Theological Seminary in USA from around 1970 onward. The catalyst here was Robert Brinsmead (a Seventh Day Adventist [SDA] with reformed beliefs from Australia) who introduced calvinist SDA beliefs into Westminster’s thinking. From this stemmed a doctrine known as Sonship Theology, which taught that if you were a child of God, there was no sin you could commit that could prevent you from going to heaven. If you could commit the sin, then God had permitted you to do so in order to restore you by His grace, thus their emphasis on grace in their churches. This became New Calvinism. The old calvinism said that if you fell off the horse into serious sin, you were out of the race because you couldn’t be one of the elect. New calvinism says that if you sin, even seriously, and then get back on the horse and continue the race, then this is only possible by God’s grace, thus proving you to be one of the elect. Therefore, your elect status is demonstrated by being restored to fellowship (by God’s grace, of course) after sinning. You need to sin in order to be restored to prove you are going to heaven. God’s grace is demonstrated best when you sin!
Note the following from the Gospel Coalition: A world with no fall and no salvation is altogether less God-glorifying than a world with a tragic fall but also a wondrous salvation. (“Why Did God Allow the Fall” The Gospel Coalition)
This required a means by which calvinist churches could control this (or rather, use this to control their members!). Enter Biblical Counselling which is widely used in many churches today. Biblical Counselling developed (around 1970) at Westminster Theological Seminary alongside the New Calvinism doctrines. In many churches it is the Biblical Counsellor who decides if you should be restored to fellowship and thus demonstrate that you are one of God’s elect. You have to confess your sins in order to be restored. Those who do not confess any sins cannot be one of the elect because all Christians sin and therefore all must confess in order for God’s elect to be restored. This is the New Calvinism of today. It has been marketed very well in an aggressive and arrogant manner. They are the custodians of the sovereignty of God, the dictators of true biblical doctrine and the ones who have the best knowledge of God (or so they claim). This defines it as an esoteric belief system.
Calvinists do not evangelise the truly lost; they, along with Calvin, believe that God must draw His elect to Himself to start things off; this means they are drawn to attend church – this represents regeneration. (Many Presbyterians teach that evangelism is not to be done outside the walls of the church – no street preaching! This was Calvin’s teaching, too.) The calvinists see other non-calvinist churches as their mission field. They see these people as having been drawn by God to church, and now they need to be taught the higher truths of calvinism in order to ensure that these less-spiritual non-calvinists become truly the elect calvinists. They prey upon non-calvinist fundamentalist churches that claim to be biblical. Many become calvinist because they genuinely desire to be better Christians and calvinism falsely promises them this. This is why our local fundamentalist churches were a target for the calvinists. We have a MacArthur clone church in our area, GraceWest Bible Church, which has been largely responsible for the takeovers. Note that calvinists like to call their churches Grace (or Sovereign Grace) or Bible churches.
For further information I have some documents on our website that explain the above in far greater detail. But a lot of reading, too.
(Extra reading – Biblical Counselling & New Calvinism Today)
To answer more of your questions:
I believe that the rise of New Calvinism (and Biblical Counselling with it) is the major reason for the calvinist comeback of today. It was an amazingly successful marketing tactic that offered more of what people wanted today. Compare this with the seeker-sensitive gospel of such as Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church.
I do believe that being a Principal of a school did prepare me for running a home church, but not as much as having around 15 years of running a country church without a pastor most of the time. I was church secretary and organist.
And the last straw that broke the camel’s back with calvinism for us was the arrogance of the calvinist church that manipulated my son’s church such that it literally presented itself as a like-minded sister church. And despite our warnings, those members just couldn’t see what was coming! I saw one young man whom I had thought was a strong Christian who desired to be a better Christian become totally deceived by the teachings of this local calvinist church. They prey most of all on those immature Christians who actually want to be better Christians, so they present themselves as mentors to such people who are so trusting of these wolves who prey upon them. It’s those who have experienced the negative side of calvinism who can see the dangers. Others just don’t seem to want to know. Only those who are hurt by it can see past the deception. One recent contact on our website had been strongly tempted to leave God because calvinism had destroyed his faith in their God. And our friends didn’t become scarce because we moved from calvinism, because we weren’t calvinist to begin with. (I left the Presbyterian church long before this.) It was because we left the church with its slipping into heresy, and that cut us off from friends as well. And they didn’t really want to know what we thought about calvinism’s lies. This all started around 2012 onward. Our home church commenced in 2013 and our website in early 2017.
James White, like all good calvinists, cannot ever be sure of his entry into heaven until he has persevered until the end. John Piper, along with many other calvinists, also says the same. The calvinist has no assurance of salvation because there is no point in time where he made a commitment to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. I can remember when I called upon Christ to save me: May 1969. I know I made that commitment and it is my testimony today. But what testimony can a calvinist have when they deny a personal testimony of calling upon the name of the Lord to be saved? They teach that you do not choose God; He chooses you! Their testimony has to be that they are one of the elect, chosen by God. But this can only be proven if they stay the course to the end. How can they be certain they will not fall away before the end, thus proving they were never one of the elect in the first place. Calvin taught the doctrine of temporary faith, which he termed an inferior operation of the Spirit (Institutes Bk 3, Ch.2, Section 11). Thus Calvin taught that no-one could be sure until he died! God might have given you a temporary faith! Calvinism doesn’t teach that you will persevere to the end; it actually teaches that you will go to heaven only if you persevere to the end.
I agree that while macro-evolution is a serious problem, micro-evolution is quite scientific. We actually taught both evolution and creation with an emphasis upon creation being correct. After all, we needed to prepare our students for what the world taught so they knew how to oppose it. We didn’t believe in hiding it from them. (But the government authorities shouldn’t have had any right to deny our opinions.) They stated that we could only teach evolution as science; creation must never be mentioned in science classes! The mere mention of creation in our science courses was enough to prevent the renewal of our registration for a couple of years. The miracle that God brought about to overcome this is a whole extra story again.
While calvinist teachers can be correctly termed false teachers, there are many who are calvinists because of the deception of those false teachers. Your average calvinist is not the enemy but instead someone who needs to hear the truth.
It is true that there will always be some things we disagree upon, hopefully minor; it would be amazing if every genuine Christian believed exactly the same as every other genuine Christian. But I agree that we do seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. I cannot see anything that I can disagree with in what you say.