A New Series: Mischaracterizations and Logical Conclusions
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.