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Noel 1525

Calvinism Doctrine

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I've been thinking a lot about Calvinism recently, and wanted to know what you guys think about it? I'm really trying to find a denomination, but I don't know what to pick. But the big question is - Do you agree with Calvinism's Doctrine? 

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A could never find myself at the service of a God who finds delight and glory in the torture of human beings.

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I've been thinking a lot about Calvinism recently, and wanted to know what you guys think about it? I'm really trying to find a denomination, but I don't know what to pick. But the big question is - Do you agree with Calvinism's Doctrine?

 

Out of all denominations of Protestantism, Calvinism is my least favourite. This is for two reasons. First, God as posited in classic, hardline Calvinist theology is an utter **** Cheney, and not someone I would ever conceive of worshiping. Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God illustrates this nicely:

 

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."

 

That's harsh. I don't like that god. He's mean and terrible and not at all a loving father. Is there a place of God's wrath? Of course. And there is no disputing there will be many who will be cast into hell. However I don't quite think the Lord hates us or derives sadistic pleasure from denying people; and here I disagree with classic rigorist Calvinism. Whether such an extreme doctrine continues in more modern variations thereof, I do not know.

 

There is also the second reason of predestination. Predestination messes with free will in all sorts of ways, and doesn't really make any sense to me at all. Christ's covenant of salvation must by necessity be open to all mankind or else the efficacy and importance of the Paschal Mystery may be called into question. No-one cares if Jesus' sacrifice on the cross only brought salvation to the lucky winners of God's private lottery.

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Calvinism has two things going for it:

 

-Cookies (because dark side)

-Caleb

 

And that's about it.

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Calvinism has two things going for it:

 

-Cookies (because dark side)

-Caleb

 

And that's about it.

 

Well, Caleb has basically become a Calvinist in name only. He has moved onto something called Evangelical Calvinism, which seeks to distance itself from Westminster Calvinism and the TULIP. It is kind of how Jurgen Moltmann is in the Reformed Tradition and speaks in that language, but actually believes in apocatastasis.

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He he, John to my defense. Yeah, I've pretty much abandoned TULIP for the Scottish, Barth-inspired, Torrance-reading, unio mystica-styled thing called Evangelical Calvinism. It is quite lovely and dispenses entirely with the notion of God creating billions of people who are by design entirely left out of the whole story of redemption.

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*peeks out from under a Greek textbook that's been dominating his life*

Though I'm incredibly new to Catholicism, I find that Calvinists who are actually aware of the dogma upon which they stand are easier to talk to than slack-jawed Driscoll-ites. Something about being open to a logical system and not being all "Jesus is my homeboy and women are penis homes."

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Guest JAG

I'm Arminian, but Calvinism isn't what people in this thread are making it out to be.  Pretty much the entire doctrine hinges upon a 'what if' probability statement Paul makes in Romans 9.  If Paul's question is true, I'd still worship God because the theology (the follow-up questions Paul asks) is philosophically sound.

 

With all of that said, I still lean towards Roman 9's question being rhetorical.

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I'm Arminian, but Calvinism isn't what people in this thread are making it out to be. Pretty much the entire doctrine hinges upon a 'what if' probability statement Paul makes in Romans 9. If Paul's question is true, I'd still worship God because the theology (the follow-up questions Paul asks) is philosophically sound.

With all of that said, I still lean towards Roman 9's question being rhetorical.

I think you should join me in Evangelical Calvinism. Since Arminianism is simply weak theological with too much reliance philosophical free will, and classical Calvinism is just fraglfarhschlop.

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Guest JAG

I think you should join me in Evangelical Calvinism. Since Arminianism is simply weak theological with too much reliance philosophical free will, and classical Calvinism is just fraglfarhschlop.

 

I find Arminianism to be the most biblical of all the theories.  At the end of the day, though, what matters is that Jesus saves, not necessarily how.

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No, I have failed to see how the Calvinistic understanding of predestination does not make God the author of sin.

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No, I have failed to see how the Calvinistic understanding of predestination does not make God the author of sin.

While I'm no longer a classical Calvinist, I think we should be careful to nuance what "author of sin" means. After all, depending on how you define that term, you could say God is the author of sin because He created people who sin.

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While I'm no longer a classical Calvinist, I think we should be careful to nuance what "author of sin" means. After all, depending on how you define that term, you could say God is the author of sin because He created people who sin.

That is in fact a reason I struggle to believe in God now.

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That is in fact a reason I struggle to believe in God now.

You might want to check out Barth's doctrine of Nothingness. It's a little weird, but intriguing

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While I'm no longer a classical Calvinist, I think we should be careful to nuance what "author of sin" means. After all, depending on how you define that term, you could say God is the author of sin because He created people who sin.

Would make an interesting discussion, but creating beings with the capability to sin, free moral agency, does not cause responsibility thus to fall on the Creator. A parent can raise a child properly, yet that child chooses to reject his/her parents. Are the parents responsible? Calvinism fails to logically provide free moral agency to the extent that it denies its existence entirely.

 

Meh, since this is a conversation I'll just post the following long quote. Here is what I specifically find difficult with Calvinist theology:

 

Now, I’ve found that often times when giving a description of Calvinists views, Calvinists would jump in and accuse me of a straw man argument, and I’m often puzzled at how I misrepresent their views since I’m just going on what I’ve heard other Calvinists themselves say, and I do my best to accurately describe their theological views. Given the doctrine of predestination, I find it hard to believe how you can escape the conclusion of how God is the author of sin. Never mind that historically, Calvinists themselves have said that God had ordained man’s sin (the fall of Adam and Eve mentioned in particular). But just looking at the Calvinist theology, if you take it to its logical conclusion, you find that God is the author of sin. For instance, if you affirm the doctrine of predestination (at least how the Calvinist interprets it, Arminians affirm predestination too, but we understand it to be something very different than what the Calvinist believes it is), you must also affirm double predestination. Why? Because, if you believe that God chose, before He ever created the universe, that certain individuals would go to Heaven unconditionally, you must, by default, believe that God preordained the eternal damnation of everyone else. If God chooses some for Heaven (i.e The Elect), He must also choose everyone else to burn in Hell (i.e the non-elect).

 

So, what follows from the doctrine of double predestination? It follows that God must pre-ordain everyone’s sins. If God unconditionally predestines some people to Hell and God condemns people to Hell because they did evil things, then God must have predestined the people’s sins so that He would have a reason to send them to Hell. If God chose for those people to go to Hell before the universe was ever created, he must have also chose that the people would do the things that were deserving of them going to Hell. For example, if God unconditionally chose from eternity past to condemn Satan to Hell, He must have also preordained His rebellion. In conclusion, if unconditional predestination is true, double predestination is true. If double predestination is true, the God-is-the-author-of-sin-and-evil belief is true. God cannot predestine people for Hell without also predestining the reason why God sent them to Hell. Unless we believe God just predestines people to Hell for the “Hell” of it (pun intended).

 

The belief that God determines sin is also very unbiblical. In the book of James, James states explicitly that God cannot cause people to sin. He writes “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” – James 1:13 (NIV)

 

Full article: http://evangelicalarminians.org/if-god-determined-everything-how-would-he-be-worthy-of-worship/

 

 

Calvinism's understanding of predestination and it's definition is flawed and causes God to be the author of sin.

Edited by God-Sent

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Would make an interesting discussion, but creating beings with the capability to sin, free moral agency, does not cause responsibility thus to fall on the Creator. A parent can raise a child properly, yet that child chooses to reject his/her parents. Are the parents responsible? Calvinism fails to logically provide free moral agency to the extent that it denies its existence entirely.

 

Meh, since this is a conversation I'll just post the following long quote. Here is what I specifically find difficult with Calvinist theology:

 

 

Calvinism's understanding of predestination and it's definition is flawed and causes God to be the author of sin.

 

I agree more or less with the article's assessment of classical Calvinism (to which I do not still hold), but I don't think the standard Arminian account of libertarian free will is a good alternative. After all, free will is supposed to be sustained and soured from the grace of God, but if free will is the space where people create evil, then evil is created by a gift God directly sustains.

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I agree more or less with the article's assessment of classical Calvinism (to which I do not still hold), but I don't think the standard Arminian account of libertarian free will is a good alternative. After all, free will is supposed to be sustained and soured from the grace of God, but if free will is the space where people create evil, then evil is created by a gift God directly sustains.

I do not claim to be Arminian, despite periodically quoting them.

 

The conversation interests me so I'm curious as to what your stating is the problem.

 

It sounds as if your saying that God is responsible for the misuse of the gift He gave to humanity.  God sustains man's moral agency to love. God is not responsible if a man chooses not to love. Evil is caused from man choosing not to love God, his neighbor, and/or creation. Darkness is the absence of light, Evil is the absence of good. James 4:17, "and to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." 

 

Can evil be created or is evil the lack of something?

 

"And in the universe, even that which is called evil, when it is regulated and put in its own place, only enhances our admiration of the good; for we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it with the evil. For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else." -Augustine "What is Called Evil in the Universe is But the Absence of Good"

 

Are you considering free will as problematic for being what it is, free? In other words, it bothers you that God allowed the possibility for humanity to reject Him which is necessary for a true love relationship to exist. Thoughts? :)

Edited by God-Sent

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I do not claim to be Arminian, despite periodically quoting them.

 

The conversation interests me so I'm curious as to what your stating is the problem.

 

It sounds as if your saying that God is responsible for the misuse of the gift He gave to humanity.  God sustains man's moral agency to love. God is not responsible if a man chooses not to love. Evil is caused from man choosing not to love God, his neighbor, and/or creation. Darkness is the absence of light, Evil is the absence of good. James 4:17, "and to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." 

 

Can evil be created or is evil the lack of something?

 

"And in the universe, even that which is called evil, when it is regulated and put in its own place, only enhances our admiration of the good; for we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it with the evil. For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else." -Augustine "What is Called Evil in the Universe is But the Absence of Good"

 

Are you considering free will as problematic for being what it is, free? In other words, it bothers you that God allowed the possibility for humanity to reject Him which is necessary for a true love relationship to exist. Thoughts? :)

My main point is that any theology which affirms that God created and sustains all things, including human will, could be construed as to say God is the author of evil, depending on how you define "author." So we have to clarify in what way God is separate from evil. After all, a radical Open Theist might say any theology in which God has exhaustive foreknowledge makes Him the author of evil.

Regarding Augustine on this matter, I think he drastically underestimates evil as a "real" force. While I'd reject a straight dualism between God and evil as though they were equal opposites, or even equally real, the idea of evil being no more than lack of good is too weak to account for how devastatingly it harasses the world.

I do disagree with your metaphysical ideas behind freedom and love. Freedom is not equal capacity to love or hate, to live in communion with God or in rejection of Him. God's love is our freedom, so our free will cannot be an abstract self determination. This isn't to say God is a determinist, of course.

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My main point is that any theology which affirms that God created and sustains all things, including human will, could be construed as to say God is the author of evil, depending on how you define "author." So we have to clarify in what way God is separate from evil. After all, a radical Open Theist might say any theology in which God has exhaustive foreknowledge makes Him the author of evil.

 

Calvinism makes God the active causation. Why do people sin in classical Calvinism? God determined them to do so. In Arminianism people sin due to self-determination. One could argue that God allows this to occur, but allowing something to happen does not mean you caused it. I can know my child is going to make a mistake, warn him or her, but still let the child make the mistake without being at fault for their decision to ignore my warning.

 

I do disagree with your metaphysical ideas behind freedom and love. Freedom is not equal capacity to love or hate, to live in communion with God or in rejection of Him. God's love is our freedom, so our free will cannot be an abstract self determination. This isn't to say God is a determinist, of course.

Love is meaningless if it is not self-determined. It becomes programmed and nothing more.

 

The Bible says God desires a real love relationship with His creation: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18). Love is not real unless one has the ability to not love. If one were able to choose not to love God, but chose instead to love God, that would allow for a real love relationship with God. One of God's attributes is omniscience. God knew that in a world with choice, there would be much evil -- to choose not to love is evil by definition. However, there would also be the capacity for real love. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga writes, "An all loving, all powerful, all knowing Being could permit as much evil as He pleased without forfeiting His claim to being all loving, so long as for every evil state of affairs He permits there is an accompanying greater good" (God, Freedom and Evil). The potential for love out weighs the existence of evil, especially if evil can only exist for a time. Evil is a side effect of love. Suffering and death are a side effect of evil (Romans 5:12). God says in His Bible that this side effect is only for a time. Evil serves the limited purpose of establishing real love relationships between creation and the Creator, and evil will be done away with after that purpose is achieved. "And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17) -The Problem of Evil

 

Edited by God-Sent

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Calvinism makes God the active causation. Why do people sin in classical Calvinism? God determined them to do so. In Arminianism people sin due to self-determination. One could argue that God allows this to occur, but allowing something to happen does not mean you caused it. I can know my child is going to make a mistake, warn him or her, but still let the child make the mistake without being at fault for their decision to ignore my warning.

Classical Calvinism does not affirm that God directly causes people's sin, only that He decides it will happen. The actual cause-and-effect that lead to it does not involve Him beyond creation. That still doesn't make Him entirely free of responsibility here, of course. But libertarian free will is still supposedly sustained as a gracious gift of God, and yet it is the space in which people sin. So I don't see how it is much better.

 

Love is meaningless if it is not self-determined. It becomes programmed and nothing more.

This is a silly assumption. God is love. God is free. God cannot sin or lie or refuse to love. So therefore God truly and freely loves without having the ability to do evil or sin. He must freely love. So why cannot humans have a similar freedom? Any freedom that opens the possibility of anti-love is less free. And what is this dichotomy between pure self-determination and pure determinism? There are other options.

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I can't say much about whether or not you should become a Calvinist - but I can say that when I was researching Calvinism, I could never bring myself to be a 5 pointer. I was stuck at 4 points. The one I couldn't accept was Limited Atonement - the idea that Jesus only died for "the elect". Maybe I didn't want to find anything, or maybe I didn't find anything because it doesn't exist - but I searched endlessly for biblical support for this point and couldn't find it.

 

Total depravity was something I also wrestled with, because this would send aborted babies to hell, simply because Calvinism considers them "sinful creatures"  - I just believe God is a little more rational than that. A God that would send a child to hell that wasn't even BORN or given a chance to sin isn't a loving and rational God - it's a hateful and enraged God that created us, yet... hates us? 

 

There's nothing about Calvinism that makes sense to me. Maybe I'm dumb and missing the point, I don't know. I'm an all or nothing person, so only accepting 4/5 points of a belief didn't cut it for me. I dropped the notion that Calvinism could be possible immediately.

 

I have found, however, that those who study Calvinism and become 5 pointers are often extremely unhappy and end up falling from the Christian faith altogether. 

 

Think about this - why would you want to follow a doctrine that pulls you away from God, instead of brings you closer to Him?

 

Pray about it more, and think more about why you're so intent on following a specific denomination. 

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I can't say much about whether or not you should become a Calvinist - but I can say that when I was researching Calvinism, I could never bring myself to be a 5 pointer. I was stuck at 4 points. The one I couldn't accept was Limited Atonement - the idea that Jesus only died for "the elect". Maybe I didn't want to find anything, or maybe I didn't find anything because it doesn't exist - but I searched endlessly for biblical support for this point and couldn't find it.

I was a 5 pointer, then a 4 1/2 pointer, and now I'm not a Calvinist. I agree that limited atonement is simply not in Scripture.

 

Total depravity was something I also wrestled with, because this would send aborted babies to hell, simply because Calvinism considers them "sinful creatures"  - I just believe God is a little more rational than that. A God that would send a child to hell that wasn't even BORN or given a chance to sin isn't a loving and rational God - it's a hateful and enraged God that created us, yet... hates us?

The Bible considers all people sinful, even infants. That doesn't necessarily mean they go to Hell. Total depravity simply means that every human being since the Fall (no matter how young or old) is too corrupted in heart and mind, body and soul, to ever reach up to God. Most Christian traditions would more or less agree. The question is of how God's grace fixes that. Calvinism says it is fixed when God gives irresistble grace to His elect only. Arminianism says it is fixed when God gives prevenient grace restoring free will to all people. Molinism says it is fixed when God gives overwhelming but resistible grace when people here the Gospel. Evangelical Calvinism says it is fixed by the Holy Spirit uniting us with Christ and thus bringing his faith into our life. Out of all these traditions, almost everyone agrees infants who die will not be damned. Even Calvinists.

 

I have found, however, that those who study Calvinism and become 5 pointers are often extremely unhappy and end up falling from the Christian faith altogether.

This is probably an overgeneralization. Many Calvinists do struggle with Calvinist doctrine, but most of the time they simply stop worrying about it. Or they, like I did, abandon Calvinism (usually for Arminianism or Molinism, though in my case it was Evangelical Calvinism). Those who apostatize rarely do so because of Calvinism itself.

 

Think about this - why would you want to follow a doctrine that pulls you away from God, instead of brings you closer to Him?

I do agree with this.

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I used to be a Calvinist because of their understanding of divine monergism (God is the sole worker in salvation), but I think Lutheranism is a better alternative. God is still the sole worker in salvation but without all that "particular atonement" stuff. It's not as logically satisfying. 1. God elects some to salvation but doesn't elect others to damnation. 2. He desires to save all and has the power to save all, the external call of the gospel is always accompanied with divine grace, yet man often resists it. 3. Some may lose their salvation (connected to number 2).

 

But I think it makes more sense of the most passages in Scripture.

Edited by Rayn

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