Tag Archives: Calvinism

Why Are Some Reformed People Such Jerks?

Almost ten years ago I read a piece by R. Scott Clark called: “Why (Some) Reformed People Are Such Jerks.” The article was intended to address, as you can probably guess, a common criticism. It has always stuck with me. Admittedly—and somewhat to my own embarrassment—it took a little while for the harsh reality to sink in that I was, indirectly speaking, the subject of that post. Yes, I have been and can be a real jerk. However, I trust that in the years since reading it some of the rougher edges have been smoothed by the work of the Holy Spirit. But I know all too well that the little jerk called “My Sinful Self” is always crouching at the door.

Even though I’m stealing the title (kind of) I don’t want to simply restate what’s already been said–insightful as it is! This is a topic that is worth repeating and a point that is worth remaking because it’s a complaint that’s recurring. The truth is some Reformed folks can be complete jerks. Rather than being the “aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) we can be the stench of arrogance. Rather than “compelling people to come in” (Luke 14:23) we […]

Browse Worthy: Boning Up on Our Doctrine

Two of my favorite bloggers have done helpful series recently on doctrine. You would do well to sharpen your minds by reading these carefully written posts.

First, Kevin DeYoung reminds us of the five questions Francis Turretin asked in Institutes of Elenctic Theology regarding sanctification and good works. In the clear, readable style he’s known for, Kevin interacts with Turretin and others in pinpointing the distinctions necessary to stay on the straight and narrow path of holiness.

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: How Does Sanctification Differ from Justification?
Five Questions About Sanctification and Good Works: Can We Fulfill the Law Absolutely in this Life?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Are Good Works Necessary to Salvation?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Can Justified Believers Do that which is Truly Good?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Do Good Works Merit Eternal Life?

Next, David Murray highlights important truths in understanding the system that is known as Calvinism in his series. With great clarity, David makes the careful distinctions necessary to prevent veering off into forms of Calvinism that are caricatures of it rather than its true representation.

There’s More to Calvinism than the Five Points of Calvinism
There’s more to the doctrines of grace than THE doctrines […]

For Whom The Bell Toils . . .

Rob Bell is back, and the critiques of his latest work are coming in.  I’ve not yet had the opportunity to read What We Talk About When We Talk About God, but I’m starting to peruse the reviews.  Having read and taught concerning his previous work, I know that Bell’s claims about Christianity must be taken seriously and answered seriously.  It is precisely that fact which causes me to cringe a bit regarding the reviews of his most recent work.  So far, they seem to follow the typical pattern of analysis and refutation, which is well and good.  But, similar to the last batch of critiques, they contain an element which subtly but substantially undermines the otherwise helpful work within them.  

Flower Power: T.U.L.I.P. Analyzed and Applied

James tells us in 1:22 that the person who hears God’s word without doing God’s word is engaged in self-deceit.  Obviously, self-deceit is subtle.  How are we to know when we are self-deceived in our walk with the Lord?  According to James, we are successfully lying to ourselves when our lives do not change according to the pattern of the Word we have heard. 

Totaled Image Bearers

With this entry, I’ll begin a series of meditations upon the meaning and application of essential   Calvinistic beliefs.    I hope these thoughts will encourage all who read and be a particular encouragement to those grappling with Calvinism or wrestling with the claims of Christianity in general.  (Note:  Sorry for the formatting issues -I’m still learning!)

Calvinists subscribe to what are popularly called the Doctrines of Grace. These are summarized in five headings and planted in the acronym TULIP. This entry will deal with the T: Total Depravity.

Coming to Grips with Calvinism, part 2: Transformational Truth

           The last (and first!) entry ended with a plea to consider the claims of Calvinism for whatever biblical truth they may represent and expound.  This next series of entries will examine (relatively briefly) the major theological claims of Calvinism and consider what these claims “look like” when they are lived out, i.e. truly believed.

           But before we get to the particulars, let’s be reminded from Scripture of the nature of theological belief.  I’m currently preaching through the book of James – talk about a book with a sanctifying sting!  James continually puts before us the nature of true faith in Christ.  True Christian belief is demonstrated by actions in accord with the doctrine believed.  Anything less is self-deceit – 1:22.

           For the Christian heart, to know who God is and what He has done in Christ is to act in accord with that truth.  Thus, in Scripture, commands from God (the imperatives) always proceed from doctrinal statements about God (the indicatives).  The indicatives often segue to the imperatives with the simple word “therefore.”  Consider Romans 12:1 as a classic example.  The command in 12:1 is based on all that precedes it in chapters 1-11.  The indicatives imply and demand the imperatives.  Biblical doctrine […]

Coming to Grips with Calvinism, part 1: A Protestant’s (ongoing) Reformation

I’m deeply thankful to have been invited to write for this site.  I thought I’d begin by introducing myself in light of the site’s name and nature.

Writing for a blog entitled “Gentle Reformation” is a bit of an historical irony for me.  During my first decade or so of life in Christ, the terms “gentle” and “reformed” did not really apply.

When I first learned of Calvinism in college, I immediately and vehemently opposed it.  I thought it taught a puppet master God, a fatalistic view of history and an unnecessarily dark view of humanity.  I hated what Calvin taught.  True, I had never read Calvin, but that did not deter my zeal!

I read just enough of the Reformer to feel justified in my preformed conclusions.  Brimming with what I deemed righteous indignation, I felt I had found my purpose, the great contribution I’d make to Christ’s church.  I announced to one of my college roommates that my life’s mission was to debunk Reformed Theology. 

Of God’s Eternal Decree

In the Exodus account, a book brimming with God’s sovereignty- not least of which includes Paul’s citation of 9:16 in the ninth chapter of Romans- one is nevertheless confronted with a startlingly powerful affirmation of the viability of human volition.  The curious passage reads thus:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.  And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle” (Exodus 13:17-18).