Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, August 28, 2006

A New Series: Mischaracterizations and Logical Conclusions

This series will pop in and out of “regular posting” as I throw out examples here and there, some that I already have ... and some that I am sure I will run across in my weekly reading. I think it would be fun to find dispensationalist and covenant theology examples, too. I have a few in mind already.

I read an article by Kevin Bauder that Jeremy had sent his readers to. I have thought about the article a lot. One thing that seemed quite telling was that he spoke of Calvinists and Arminians as though these are the only two options for theology. This dichotomy is something that some Calvinists do which peeves me. He never once mentioned “non-Calvinists” like me. Then again, I know Dr. Bauder is at least a four point Calvinist.

I did think the article was good overall, and it got me mind a-brewin’. I got to thinking about what he said were both sides’ mischaracterizations of the other. He didn’t give any examples, so I was forced to think of my own. While I don’t think mischaracterizations are helpful, I do think stating in stark terms the logical conclusions of a doctrine is helpful.

Here are a few examples:

Non Calvinist -- > Calvinist on Irresistible Grace
The Calvinist says that God irresistibly draws His chosen unto belief in the gospel.
The Non-Calvinist may mischaracterize this in very dramatic terms by saying that God drags them kicking and screaming into heaven.
The fairer “logical conclusion” would be that the Calvinist leaves no room for a responsibilty to accept or reject the gospel… the reason why one believes and another doesn't believe is because they were or were not chosen and drawn.

Do you see the point? It is not best to mischaracterize someone with whom you disagree for the sake of making their doctrine sound more repugnant than it is. However, I believe it is helpful to state what the logical conclusions of any doctrines are, even if these are not as palatable as the way those who hold those doctrines would state the doctrines themselves. This helps us all get to the nitty-gritty of what we and others believe.

Calvinist -- > Non-Calvinist on Faith
The non-Calvinist may say that faith is a response from man toward God (not apart from God), but it is not a “gift” from God, deposited in your heart ,so that you may believe.
The Calvinist would mischaracterize this by saying that the non-Calvinist believes people save themselves.
The fairer “logical conclusion” would be that the non-Calvinist believes sinners can yeild to Christ's gospel and respond to Him in faith when they are convinced of the truth.

This should be repugnant enough to the Calvinist because they don’t seem to see that unregenerate, not-yet-born-again sinners can yeild to God ... or have any faith.

Calvinist -- > Non-Calvinist on Human Responsibilty
The Non-Calvinist would say that because Christ is drawing all men unto Himself, if one hears the gospel and rejects it, they are responsible because they could have responded, they could have allowed themselves to consider God’s gift.
The Calvinist mischaracterizes this by saying that in the non-Calvinist view, faith is conjured up by man/woman … evangelization would be like calling people to "make themselves a new heart."
The logical conclusion is that the non-Calvinist believes that men can respond to the gospel and those who don’t are fools.


  • Hey Rose,

    That conclusion was a pretty logical mischaracterization.

    Ha Ha ah Ha. You know I couldnt resist and I know I beat everyone to it.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 8/28/2006 10:30 PM  

  • Rose,

    I have to disagree on your first example.

    You see, according to total depravity, men want nothing to do with God and are firmly grounded in their selfish state. Irresistable grace imposes some divine element which causes them to do things that, unless God intervenes with this imposition, the individuals most definitely do not want to do.

    The logical conclusion of the matter is that these individuals are being made to do that which they had no inclination nor desire to do. In this scheme, God is imposing many volitional and mental elements onto the beneficiary of His irresistible ministry.

    It is not that God is dragging them kicking and screaming into heaven. No, no, no! He, in some sense, brainwashes them. They don't want Him. They want nothing to do with Him. They don't love Him. They don't care for eternal life. God imposes, irresistibly, the mental and volitional acts of repentance, faith, submission, love, etc.

    He forceably does this because they had no chance of being wooed, persuaded, convinced, convicted, by His word and the Holy Spirit; and God's plans will not be frustrated! He WILL make a people for Himself by His absolute dictatorship and irresistible choice.


    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/28/2006 10:44 PM  

  • Rose, your second illustration I have to disagree with as well.

    Faith into Christ is not man's co-operation with God in his own salvation.

    It is merely the passive istrument of reception.

    I think you could have better articulated this point. I see what you were trying to say, but co-operation is not what men do when they believe into Christ.

    Faith's role in justification is purely instrumental, faith is an organum leptikon, like the empty hand of a beggar receiving a gift.

    Faith alone is the appropriate vehicle to receive reconciliation, eternal life, Christ and His merits.

    The following is based upon an article by Zane Hodges:
    Faith is not a good work (as it is taken to be quite often in Calvinistic circles). Faith is accepting the testimony of God as true (1 John 5:9-12). One may believe the Gospel without saying a prayer, without raising the hand or walking the aisle, indeed without any effort whatsoever. Work, on the other hand, always requires some effort on our part. To turn faith into a good work is a colossal confusion of categories and annuls the Pauline antithesis between faith and works.

    Saving faith is a mere beggar's hand (to use the Lutheran metaphor), without any trace of meritorious activity at all. It offers nothing to God, and receives everything from Him.

    Faith is not man's co-operation for salvation in any sense.


    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/28/2006 11:01 PM  

  • Hi Rose!!

    Looks like your blog is even better than before...

    That bun in the oven must be inspiring you! He or she may be a budding theologian. Try to play Mozart around the house so he learns to think fast, so he can keep up with the various historical debatings that have been going around for so long...

    I agree with what your saying, though I don't at all see faith itself as an "act" of the "human will". I agree taht deep conviction is more of a passive response. Just read Hodges on this issue...

    However, the reason I agree with the thrust of what your saying is that we can respond to God by seeking Him and trying to be open minded about the Gospel. Naturally speaking we don't seek God, but God knows how to tease various responses out of us. He "draws" us. So I agree with you that the Calvinist has a tendency to mischarachterize the various positions of non-Calvinists. (Go TEAM! GO!!) (get it? Like Non-Calvinism were a sports group...)

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at 8/29/2006 12:11 AM  

  • I put those words in quotes because they are used a lot as terms of art, not because I was quoting you...

    I'm still rusty I guess...

    But it's fun to be on your blog again...


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at 8/29/2006 12:13 AM  

  • Rose, I believe the point of your post is very good.

    It grieves me to see how differing sides of an issue treat each other, sometimes. It grieves me even more to know that in times past I have been party to that.

    God help us to stick to the truth, not only in what we believe about Him, but also in what we believe about others.

    By Blogger Gordon Cloud, at 8/29/2006 12:20 AM  

  • Rose, I too agree with your point. We sometimes seem to behave like a disfunctional family instead of the loving family He called us to be. We fail to even attempt to earn/give trust or communicate.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2006 6:03 AM  

  • Brian,
    Very funny! I appreciate that humor.

    Brother, I see precisely what you are saying. I was trying, in this post, (hard as it is) to be more objective in the way I stated things. It is a challenging exercise. I would say that your comment about total depravity is a stark statement of the logical conclusion thereof. I was trying to be a little simpler and less dramatic when I said:

    "The fairer “logical conclusion” would be that the Calvinist leaves no room for a responsibilty to accept or reject the gospel… the reason why one believes and another doesn't believe is because they were or were not chosen and drawn."

    That being said, I do see the logical conclusion similarly as you have stated.

    As to the second example, you are right. I cringed when I typed the word "cooperation" because I really don't see it that way either. However, when a sinner truly considers Christ's offer without actively closing his ears, he is, in a sense, not hindering what God intends ... he is not opposing the work of the HS. In this sense I meant "cooperates with." But ... I am unsatisfied with the way it sounds so I changed it around a bit in the original post. Thanks for your comments!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/29/2006 8:41 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Good post. I was going to state a disagreement, but I see there are other disagreements that I disagree with more. I think you're moving in the right direction, you are trying to put yourself in the shoes for someone else. This is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is extremely difficult. I can't do it with many others, as hard as I try. Part of the problem is that there are so many little details an nuances that are missed.

    So, I think you made an excellent start, and you stated some things I do in unfairly characterizing others I disgree with. Thanks!

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/29/2006 8:43 AM  

  • HK Flynn is back!
    Hi sister. It is good to see your contemplative face. :~)
    I don't see faith as an act of the human will either. If I gave that impression, it was not intentional. I guess this is what happens when one tries to say things in a way that isn't driven by their own real opinions.

    It is fun to have you back. I hope I will see you more regurlarly.

    (I added "non-Calvinism" to my profile. There are now three of us. he-he)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/29/2006 8:47 AM  

  • Gordon,
    I am glad you get the gist of what I was trying to do. I am going to try to do this on a regular basis. It is hard, though, when you feel passionately about this.

    I am glad to a part of the family with you, dysfunctionally behaving ... and loving sometimes as we ought. Better communication is a good goal.

    Come on - what is the disagreement? I am not going soft on you - I still want to discuss! Give it to me! (Thanks, though, for the encouragement on what I am trying to say. :~) )

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/29/2006 8:51 AM  

  • Yes, the Calvinists do tend to mischaracterise and misunderstand their opponents. And they are often very quick to accuse us of doing the same.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/29/2006 12:14 PM  

  • Confessional Calvinists (those who hold to one of the historic confessions) view that everyone is responsible before God.

    The issue is that

    (1) There are some major philosphical propositional assumptions that Calvinists accept that non-Calvinists tend not to accept. This is related to whether responsibility (and human free agency) is compatable under God's election. A second assumtion is that God's foreknoweldge of the same puts human freedom in the same category as God's election. Somewhere in those two assumptions, a strong non-Calvinist strongly disagrees.

    (2) Definitions. Usually terms are not defined. Responsibility is usually undefined. Trying to get an agreed definition of responsibility between the different groups can be very difficult. This is because often unstated assumptions either are included in the definition, or if not explicit, they are immediately there in the "unstated" part of the definition. It means that often the Calvinist and many non-Calvinists will go around and around without getting anywhere, usually blaming the other side for not listening or ignoring them.

    I cover much of the topic in these series of blog entries:

    Newcomb’s Paradox

    The Logic of Omniscience

    The Next logical Step in Foreknowledge

    Is God For You?

    Foresight or Purpose?

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/29/2006 12:59 PM  

  • Poor 'ol patient Earl. Give Earl some credit for possibly being a good face for Calvinist.

    I know a few fundys who were quick to accuse growing up. I am growing weary of the stereotyping. Isn't that mischarictarization within itself.

    KC and Gordon,

    God bless you guys and if you were ever guilty of mischaracterizing I must have missed it.

    Or thought I didn't anyway KC :-)

    God bless you guys.

    Hey Rose, and thanks for the post.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 8/29/2006 9:02 PM  

  • I could never be characterized as either a non-Calvanist or a non-Arminian.

    I could easily be characterized as a rabid anti-Calvanist and an anti-Arminian.

    This makes both groups characterize me as anti-Christ, which of course is a mischaracterization.

    I am pro-Christ.


    Sometimes even that makes people angry with me.

    By Blogger Joe, at 8/30/2006 3:50 PM  

  • Joe,

    that literally made me chuckle!

    you are so right

    By Blogger Antonio, at 8/30/2006 4:31 PM  

  • Amen Joe.

    I think we are all pro Christ here whether we are Calvinist or Arminian. Praise the Lord for what he has done on the cross. God bless you brethren. Isn't it wonderful to have brethren on this blog who love the Lord. At our work places the name of Jesus is cursed and we are cursed for bearing his name. You guys are all precious jewels in His hands for bearing his beautiful name.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 8/30/2006 5:36 PM  

  • I came upon your Blog during my downtime after a hard day. I am a staunch non calvinist and just wanted to tell you from reading from your blog that I admire your honesty and candor as you search for truth within the confines of the Bible. It is so visible that you desire to know GOD that I am deeply moved. This heart for GOD just leaped off the screen to me and it made me think of the kind of person that GOD can use to spread goodness in a world that is most often hard on those who desire more from this life than it will ever satisfy. We will meet one day in eternal life and until then although we may never meet, I will cheer you on from the balcony my sister in CHRIST. If and when you should ever ponder the state of man as it relates to Calvinism, I would hope that Cornelius from Acts will encourage you. Happy late Birthday...........


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/31/2006 12:33 AM  

  • The fairer “logical conclusion” would be that the non-Calvinist believes sinners can [yield] to Christ's gospel and respond to Him in faith when they are convinced of the truth.

    This too is a mischaracterization. Not all Calvinist hold to the thin thread of particular redemption and many Calvinists believe the sinner must "make a decision" to believe the truth by whatever means the Lord used to bring the sinner to that moment. Other Calvinists choose to disagree with this ;~)

    That is all... have a good day.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 8/31/2006 6:15 AM  

  • Hi DF,
    That was a short and sweet comment. You sometimes epitomize the word "pith" to me. :~)

    Earl, thank you! I read that comment over three times and I think I know what you mean. For me, responsibility implies ability. I cannot hold my first grader responsible for buying his own shoes. Why? Because he is unable. It would be totally ridiculous for me to hold him responsible for not buying himself some shoes. This is how I think of believing in Christ for salvation.

    I see God holding man responsibile for beleieving on His Son. Therefore, I deduce that there is an ability to do so. and vice versa.

    But, you are right - we could go round and round with terms like this. I will check out those links. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/31/2006 11:36 AM  

  • Bhedr,
    Earl is a gem. He inspired me to create that award on my sidebar. He is very patient and kind. I am glad you appreciated the post, Brian. Thanks for those sweet sentiments you expressed in response to Joe's comment.

    Hello! Welcome back. I have not seen a lot of you. I hope your wife is getting on OK.
    OK, so you are passing over the non-Arminian, non-Calvinist labels and going directly to the anti-Arminian and anti-Calvinist. Great! You are so brave! ;~)
    Pro-Christ is the simplest label yet. How fabulous!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/31/2006 11:48 AM  

  • DH,
    How very sweet. Your comment made my day as I woke up this morning. How grand to know that someone can read my web page and see what my desire is to be all about - the Word of God and the love of Christ. This is what I want my focus to be on. I have not arrived, but this blog is a reflection of that desire.

    I do wonder how one can read about Cornelius and come to some of the conclusions that I have read, but hey. What can I do?

    I will look forward to meeting you in eternity as well. You are very encouraging. Please come back!

    J. Wendell,
    So you are saying that I have mischaracterized my statement as belonging exclusively to the non-Calvinist? You are not accusing me of mischaracterizing the non-Calvinist, but rather narrowly attributing this belief to them? I am glad that you are not a "doctrines of Grace" Calvinist. It makes it easier to live. :~) Love ya!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/31/2006 12:01 PM  

  • I usually chew the pith a bit when eating oranges.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 8/31/2006 12:22 PM  

  • I thank you Rose and agree with the fairness your hubby is alloting. Whatever means allows the mystery, but I agree that man must respond or else he is damned.

    I like Affective Theology but I seem to keep being pinned as a Calvinist.

    I guess everybody thinks I am a Calvinist dressing drag:-)

    My wig doesn't cover it up?


    By Blogger Bhedr, at 8/31/2006 4:56 PM  

  • My Long Hair Just Can't Cover Up My Calvin Neck- Charles Haddon Cole


    Any redneck fans here. Trivia- Who really wrote that

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 8/31/2006 4:59 PM  

  • Rose, I give a response to your critique of the Calvinist position in my entry, Responsibility.

    By Blogger Earl, at 9/01/2006 9:15 AM  

  • Hi Ryan,
    I am glad you came to this blog and commented. Here you say:

    Actually, with due respect this nothing more than a caricatured straw man argument ...

    You say the above is reference to my statement:

    The Calvinist would mischaracterize this by saying that the non-Calvinist believes people save themselves.

    So, I just want to be clear... you are saying that the mischaraacterization I have spotted is never given and so therefore I am mischaratterizing the mischaracterizing? Wow, that will make your head spin.

    Actually, Ryan, I am not saying that all Calvinists would mischaraterize in this way, but I have been told this .. right here on this blog by my friend Daniel. You could see it under my post on Irresistibale Grace in my sidebar. He tells me that basicaly, if I believe that faith comes as anything but a gift implanted in the soul, if I believe that it is a human response to beauty if the gospel, then that person with faith is using Christ to save himself. He gave an elaborate illustration (perhaps on another thread, I'm not sure) of how if someone is falling out of a window and they grab hold of a curtain, they are using the curtain to save themselves. The curtain doesn't save them, he says. They are simply using the curtain to save themselves. He compared faith in Christ's work (from the view other than the doctrines of Grace) to the use of the curtain in the analogy. I appreciate Daniel, but not that mischaracterization of my viewpoint.

    I have also been given this idea by others. I suppose that some Calvinists would feel that this is a logical conclusion of the idea that faith comes as a human response and not a deposited in the heart gift of God. I hope that helps, Ryan.

    You go on...

    ... in much the same way your earlier insistence that we Reformed drift aimlessly through life wondering if we're one of God's elect. :-)

    Actually, Ryan, I have never said that. I think that was Antonio. He may have been saying that this could be the effect of the teaching of POS, if I remember correctly. I am not positive about Antonio, but for me, I don't think the people I have met who hold to POS drift aimlessly through life wondering if [they're] one of God's elect. I think they are confident in their salvation, most of them, because of the doctrine of faith alone in Christ alone. I think most of them know that they truly believe in Christ and they don't walk around with doubts about whether or not they are saved. This is not the point. The point is that THIS TEACHING muddies the waters for others. It could cause someone who hears these doctrines to be overly introspective and doubt Christ's ability and desire to save whosoever will.

    We could go round and round about that, I am sure Ryan. But there - that is what I think. I would rather have you know my thoughts than assign Antonio's thoughts to me. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 9/01/2006 11:10 AM  

  • Also Ryan,
    I agree with the quote you quote:
    ... the belief that we work together with God to accomplish and apply our salvation. But this is fatal to any sound doctrine of salvation ...

    This IS a deadly doctrine! But the idea of faith as a human response to God's gift is not ... the belief that we work together with God to apply our salvation.

    Here is the simple bottom line: you can't equate faith and works. To assert that if one believes the faith comes from people in resonse to the gospel and all this that God has laid before our eyes ... if you assert then, that faith is something one contributes and therefore salvation is not all from God, according to the non-Calvinist view ... this is a baseless argument. Faith is not a work nor a contribution in the non-Calvinist view. It is the means by which a man can lay claim to eternal life. It is everywhere in the Bible contrasted with the idea that man can "work with God" to save himself. Do you see where I am coming from, Ryan?

    One more thing ... I heard an interpretation of the Phillipians passage ...

    but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure

    ... that says Paul is telling them they ought to fear and tremble if they think they are working out their own salvation ... because in actuality it is GOD who has worked out salvation, not them.

    What do you think about that interpretation? I am considering it and need to do some research.

    Thanks for the appreciation of my gospel post. I am glad you approve. That shows we have more in common than not. Blessings are appreciated also.

    I will read it when I have a chance today. Thanks!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 9/01/2006 11:26 AM  

  • John MacArthur has listed seven fundamental points on which, Charles Ryrie, and Zane Hodges find agreement.

    He writes:
    1. The Cross. "Christ's death on the cross paid the full penalty for our sins and purchased eternal salvation. His atoning sacrifice enables God to justify sinners freely without compromising the perfection of divine righteousness (Rom. 3:24-27). His righteousness from the dead declares His victory over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:54-57).
    2. Justification by Faith Alone. "Salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone—plus and minus nothing." (Eph. 2:8-9)
    3. Good Works. "Sinners cannot earn salvation or favor with God (Rom. 8:8)."
    4. Prerequisites for Salvation. "God requires of those who are saved no preparatory works of prequisite self-improvement (Rom. 10:13; 1 Tim. 1:15)."
    5. Eterna Life. "Eternal life is a gift of God (Rom. 6:23)."
    6. Immediate Justification. "Believers are saved and fully justified before their faith ever produces a singles righteous work (Eph. 2:10)."
    7. Believers and Sin. "Christians can and do sin (1 John 1:8-10). Even the strongest Christians wage a constant and intense struggle against sin in the flesh (Rom. 7:15-24). Geniune believers sometimes commit heinous sin, as David did in 2 Samuel 11."
    —John MacArthur, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles (Dallas: Word, 1993), pp. 23-24.

    For the aforesaid, reason I have Antonio's reasoning to be disingenious particularly when he ascribes salvation by works to the other views, as he does on his blog in posts last month.

    By Blogger Ryan S., at 9/02/2006 7:24 PM  

  • Correction for emphasis: John MacArthur has listed seven fundamental points on which, he, Charles Ryrie, and Zane Hodges find agreement.

    By Blogger Ryan S., at 9/02/2006 7:25 PM  

  • Boy, I almost said John was John Morris.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 9/04/2006 12:47 AM  

  • Oh thanks JMoor I was wondering the same thing:-)

    What a compliment for John and you know what? They do favor one another a bit.

    I went to a seminar with John Morris at the Wilds and ate dinner everynight with him along with Ken Hay the director of the Wilds. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if John and Johns personalities are very similar as well. It seems that way having partially gotten to know him over the blogs.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 9/04/2006 12:26 PM  

  • Hi Jonathan,
    That comment belongs on the post above this one! No fair - I would have liked a comment from you on this post about this post since I quoted you in this post. :~)

    I have to refresh my memory on who John Morris is now.

    Hi Brian!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 9/05/2006 11:44 AM  

  • Hi Rose, I find your blog interesting as well as challenging to my way of thinking. Thanks for the perspective.

    To preface my comments, please know that my thoughts come from an Armenian point of view.

    That being said, I must disagree with Antonio's view that God draws people toward Him via brainwashing and through His "absolute dictatorship." Using these terms, Antonio has reduced the Almighty to someone akin to Hitler or Castro.

    As humans, we are drawn towards those people who are loving and kind, yet also just (insomuch is possible as fallen creatures are able to be just). We would not choose to be friends with someone who made a habit of brainwashing, or ruling dictatorally over us.

    Why then, would we want to associate with a God who displays those characteristics? 1 John says that God is love. Where does love fit in with a dictatorship?However, as God proceeds to draw us to Him, He does so by proving His unconditional love, his mercy, and his justice.

    It is my belief that if after seeing these proofs, we choose to reject Him, then so be it. That does not mean He stops loving us, but continues to draw us until such a time that we choose to follow Him, or die lost without Him, whichever comes first.

    God wishes to have a people that love & worship Him voluntarily, not ones forced to love Him. Forced love is not love at all, but rather duty. That is why He gave us the ability to choose.

    By Blogger Kristin, at 9/07/2006 2:45 PM  

  • Hi Kristin,
    I find common ground with you on a lot of your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 9/12/2006 10:17 AM  

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