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Monday, November 14, 2005

Bits and pieces, 11/14/05

Hallowed Calvinists and Arminian Weenies?

(Yeah, so it’s almost Thanksgiving but I’m a little slow...) Dan Edelen notes, in The Clash of the Titans: Calvinists think we should participate in Halloween and Arminians think we shouldn’t. An interesting observation. What of it? He asks for input.

There are many more great posts at Cerulean Sanctum –- too many to mention except for a couple: Dan makes a thoughtful contribution to the charismatic/cessationist debate (more posts below the one linked), and also writes a challenging post on faith and whether we really have it or not. The discussion in the comments section gets a bit into Calvinism vs. Arminianism (again) and the question of whether our faith or lack thereof is up to us, or God.

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The truth about evangelicalism

Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, is someone who finds exegetical problems in all four major Evangelical theologies -- Calvinism, Arminianism, Pentecostalism, and dispensationalism.

In an interview at ChristianityToday.com, he is asked a question from a rather “tolerant” point of view:

The serious question is this: These four streams of evangelicalism have more or less learned to co-exist for decades now. Each one brings something unique to the table, so why stir up a theological hornet's nest?

Witherington responds:
That would suggest that what matters is not truth, what matters is, "Can't we all just get along?" And I would say that the Reformation fathers, especially Luther, would absolutely disagree with that attitude. This is all about truth with a capital T. Therefore, we need to work these things out and ask where in our own tradition we have shipped water.

There are many who would probably disagree with this today, or rather, would debate what Truth actually is. Some would accept a Truth in which the doctrine of social action ranks extremely high. Yes, “feeding sheep” and helping one another out – especially the least of us and the ones from whom we have no hope of any return – is of utmost importance, but even more important is the why, which cannot be correctly answered if it has no basis in Truth. I think that the way we treat one other, i.e., the way we treat the people we live and interact with, is as much a part of taking care of His people as is meeting needs outside of our immediate circles. Does God call us to be like Bob Pierce, who neglected his family in order to care for very needy children of the world? I don’t think so, and can’t imagine anyone else would either. It’s the people closest to us that can be the hardest to minister to, to truly love. As they say, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and besides, we can be hurt the worst by those we love the most, making it hard to truly love them.

We do need all the voices of evangelicalism, but not merely for the sake of having a cornucopia of ideas. We need to listen to them in the hopes that amongst all the bounty will be found truth, especially via challenge to falsehood.

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Character

On the wall at the gym where my son trains:

Character is who you are when no one is looking.

5 Comments:

  • and also writes a challenging post on faith and whether we really have it or not. The discussion in the comments section gets a bit into Calvinism vs. Arminianism (again) and the question of whether our faith or lack thereof is up to us, or God.

    Did we read the same comment thread? No-one debates Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Or were you assuing commenters positions? All the arguments I read (and the ones I made) are ones I've heard in Arminian discussions. Some would fit into Calvinism. But I didn't see Calvinism vs. Arminianism.
    Sorry but you have stumped me.

    By Blogger Catez, at 8:30 AM  

  • Thanks for the links, Bonnie.

    Did you see what I wrote recently on homeschooling?

    By Blogger Dan Edelen, at 11:09 AM  

  • Hi Catez,

    I didn't say that Calvinism and Arminianism themselves were debated in the comment thread; I said that "the discussion gets a bit into Calvinism vs. Arminianism," referring to the essence of some of the arguments. The two streams of thought on the issue of faith that were presented and that opposed one another represent what I understand to be the Calvinist/Arminian difference on the matter.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:47 PM  

  • Hi Bonnie,
    I'm sorry for the way my comment was. I was in a bit of an annoyed mood when I landed here which had nothing to do with you.
    Actually, I don't see the distinction you've made.
    I saw what I've seen before within Arminian debate. The "unbelief" view and the guilt trip that goes with it and what I consider a more biblical approach.
    So I do disagree with your summary there.
    To put it another way, when I was in Charismatic churches which were Arminian both positions were held by people. Unfortunately the drive for the spectacular held sway too often. And the damage too people was tragic sometimes.

    By Blogger Catez, at 6:25 PM  

  • Thanks, Catez. I agree that guilt can be greatly misapprehended and grossly misapplied.

    Perhaps I'm conflating issues of faith with issues of election; I will look into and consider this further. I was just thinking that if someone called by God can reject Him (something that an Arminian would say but a Calvinist wouldn't, unless such statements actually miss nuances of both positions), then it would follow that someone could reject the gift of faith, via fear especially. Fear can be the major component of a doubt.

    I would also say that faith that is a belief in what God can do is faith that is rewarded; not necessarily a faith in what God will do in any situation.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 1:49 PM  

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