October 24, 2017

You Need To Get Rid of Some Of Your Theology

I’ve been in this mood before. Remember the famous/infamous “I Hate Theology?”

Some of you won’t like what I’m about to say, but trust me, I’m not shooting at you. I’m not shooting at anyone. I’m trying to be pastoral, if there’s any hope that I have any pastoral instincts left.

Here’s the word: Some of us need to let go of some of our theology.

***bottle flies through air***

No, seriously. Some of us need to get to the trash can and empty out some of what’s in the theology file.

***tomato in flight***

Some of you people have got some seriously bad theology, and it’s stinkin’ up your life.

***pitchforks and torches sighted***

I’m telling you this for your own good. Some- not all- but some of what you’re holding on to so tenaciously is messing you up. It may be messing up your life, the lives of others and its going to spread to your children and those you minister to.

***angry voices***

Looks like I better get this said before the rocks start flying.

I believe what Christians believe. It’s what my life is founded on.

My Christian faith is like a map. It tells me where I am, who I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going and what it’s all about.

But I don’t believe everything Christians teach. I don’t believe everything I used to believe. Maybe it’s my own critical, skeptical nature. Maybe it’s the “sola scriptura” Protestant in me. Maybe it’s living a while and drawing some conclusions. Maybe it’s learning something about what matters.

Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

Or maybe, as some of you will conclude, I’m some kind of post modern jellyfish who quits the team when things get tough. One of those post-evangelical emerging liberals who prefers a big hug to a good Systematic theology lecture.

I don’t understand our loyalty to things that make God so unlike the one who revealed God on earth. Why we take on whole planks of Christianity that Jesus wouldn’t endorse or recognize.

Personal reference. When I discovered that God wasn’t going to stop something that I believed with all my heart and mind he had to stop, I was really pulled up short. My “map” was well worn with 30+ years of telling who I was and what God was supposed to do for me.

And now, I was discovering that my map was flawed. I’d believed it, and I had a choice. I could deny what was happening around me, in me and in others.

Or I could throw out some theology.

That meant admitting some of my teachers were wrong. Or at the least, didn’t know all there was to know.

It meant that some of what I was sure God had showed to me wasn’t God at all. It was me, or someone else.

I was wrong. My theology was wrong. My collection of Bible verses was wrong.

I hadn’t quite arrived. I didn’t have all the answers.

Part of my misery in the situation I was facing was my collection of theology.

There’s a moment when you realize things aren’t as certain as you thought they were. It’s a scary moment, and you want to blame someone. This collection of verses, statements and opinions was supposed to keep this from happening. The right theology was supposed to keep the sky from falling; it was supposed to keep the trap doors from opening up under my feet.

It makes more than a few people angry to hear that following Jesus is less like math and more like white water rafting. It’s less like writing down the right answers to a test and more like trusting yourself into the hands of a doctor. It’s less like standing on concrete and more like bungee jumping.

It’s less like what you think it is and lot more like something you never thought about.

Some of you have been beating your head against the wall of your bad theology for years. You’ve beaten your head against that wall until you aren’t a very pleasant person to be around. You’ve made yourself and some other people miserable. You’ve been like the Pharisees: you gave others the burden you’d chosen to carry and more. You’ve taken your misery and made others more miserable.

You’ve blamed others. You’ve silently accused God. You’ve sat there, arrogantly, insisting that you were right no matter what was happening. You’ve sought out arguments to assure yourself that you were right.

But the whole time, there was the trash, and some of that trash was theology that needed to go.

I’ve thrown out some of my theology, and I haven’t replaced it all. As much as I would like to know the answer to some questions, I’ve concluded I’m not going to know the answer to them all. I’ve concluded that lots of the theology I’ve been exposed to and taught falls considerably far shorter of perfection than I ever imagined. Some of it hasn’t served anyone very well. Some of it was nothing more than my way of jumping on a passing bandwagon.

The other day, someone who knew a bit about me wrote me to question why I didn’t believe in “Limited” atonement. He wanted my verses and my theology. He wanted me to debate, and if he won, to adopt his theology.

I couldn’t explain myself very well to this questioner. My reasons aren’t all about verses. They are about who God is; who I believe God shows himself to be in Jesus. It’s Biblical, but it’s also existential. It’s about the shape and flavor of truth, not about who wins the debate.

I can’t bend my faith into the shape of a “Limited atonement” Jesus. And I can’t explain that. I only know that I needed to throw that away, because it was shaping me and my world in a way that was taking me away from Jesus.

I don’t expect anyone to understand. It’s inside of me that, ultimately, his song has to ring true. If you can’t hear it, that doesn’t mean I don’t. Having everyone else tell me all about the music was taking away my desire to sing. And I am here to sing, not study music.

I’m pretty sure my questioner wrote me off because I wouldn’t sign up. That’s OK. I respect him, but here me clearly: I don’t need my theology- my opinion of my theology especially- to be that important. It’s unhealthy.

I believe a lot of things. I could teach through a course on theology without any problems. But the difference between myself now and myself in the past is that much of that theology is less essential than it used to be. It does not equal God and I won’t speak as if it does. I won’t pretend that my own thoughts about God are the place I ought to stop and announce what God is always thinking and doing.

Hopefully, it’s going to be a lot easier to have a theological housecleaning. In the future, I don’t plan to fall for the flattery that I’ve never changed my mind or said “I don’t know.”

I know. That’s me. The way too emotional, way too flexible, over-reacting internet monk. Baptist one day. Calvinist the next. Catholic tomorrow. Talking about being “Jesus shaped,” whatever that means.

And that’s my trash can in the corner, and what you’re smelling is what I finally threw out.

It was long overdue.

By the way, guess what? I’m still here, believing. Following Jesus, loving Jesus, wanting more of Jesus than ever before.

I don’t recommend my path be your path. I only ask if you’ve opened yourself to the possibility that a spiritual renovation in your life can’t keep all the old junk. Yes, you may upset someone or some important, self-validating group. You may, for a moment, wonder if you know who you are and where you are. It may frighten you to consider that Brother so and so or a sincere family member were wrong.

You may not be excited to discover that all that accumulated trash does not equal God.

I hope that soon you are excited. I am sad to see and hear some of you involved with a God that increasingly holds you hostage in a theological extortion scheme.

That’s not the God who came to us in Jesus. It’s not.

There’s more. He is more. Your journey is more.

Comments

  1. Great post!

  2. sue kephart says:

    God is no thing. Not created. So any theology is difficult for the created creatures, created by this God of nothing created. One of the reasons for Jesus.

    What you are writing about is the difference between the head and the heart. We need something in our head but if it doesn’t get to the heart it as good as trash.

  3. Sue — I’m right there with you.

    And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matt. 16:17

    Wherever you are with the results of Peter’s faithful proclamation, the blessings came precisely because he didn’t listen to what his human intellect and experience was telling him about the Lord. He heard and believed what only the Heavenly Father could reveal to him. Every example of the heroes of Faith in Scripture follows this same template.

    It doesn’t take any faith to believe what makes sense to us.

  4. To MS, Rick is correct! Our First principle is that God communicated in Christ and Christ through the Apostles to us. Without an objective source (bible) for revelation I can believe anything and attach it to the christian faith.

    Scripture either teaches “limited/actual” atonement or it doesn’t! Most people who reject it do so on a purely subjective basis: they don’t like it…it is “unfair.”

    Question: Did Christ actually take away the sin of all humans or did He just take away the sin of some?

    Answer: If He removed all sins from all people why is anyone going to spend eternity away from God? Therefore He removed the sin of some i.e. particular atonement.

    The problem is not with “Limited atonement,” but with your understanding of what Christ actually accomplished and the nature of the Atonement itself.

  5. Dion — “Question: Did Christ actually take away the sin of all humans or did He just take away the sin of some?

    Answer: If He removed all sins from all people why is anyone going to spend eternity away from God? Therefore He removed the sin of some i.e. particular atonement.”

    Maybe it’s not that He didn’t die for those who don’t get the benefit of it — but that you have to believe in it to get it.

    Thing is — everybody believes in something. It’s the standard “benefit/detriment” analysis: you made a contract of faith in something because of how it benefits you. But when the detriment of the agreement comes your way, you get to swallow that to. Maybe in the end, everyone gets the results of their choices.

    But that’s all really God’s business and not mine. I think I’m on a need to know basis with that stuff — and I don’t think I need to know that. I do need to know that I’m not to judge anyone else’s attitudes or actions but my own, and nor am I to withhold the gift of His love deposited in me from anyone — regardless.

    Why should I even consider such a thought that there are some of my neighbors who cannot benefit from His merciful kindness? How could such knowledge possibly help me …?

  6. Anna A says:

    Dion,

    How can you not be bothered by the idea that Christ’s death on the cross is not suffienct for what its intended purpose? That is what you are saying when you are talking about limited atonement.

    And just because the full debt for our sin was paid, does not mean that everyone chooses to accept the gift. People can and will reject God and His mercy.

    Surfnetter, I do like your statement about it being on a need to know basis.

  7. We’re not going to debate Limited Atonement on here.

    I will not post any further discussions of the topic.

    Calvinists telling me I’m not a Christian if I don’t believe in the L is more than I can take.

  8. Rick J. Penner says:

    iMonk:

    I did not say that you advocated Eastern religion.

    The fact that your suggestions and the Eastern tendency have some aspects in parallel does not mean that you advocate the Eastern view. I’m sure advocacy was far from your mind.

    What I’m saying is that the attention paid to thought-forms in our religiosity – speech, sentences, the “hearing” of the Word – is part of our Western and Hebraic tradition and is different in that way from the Eastern emphasis on mysticism or trained states of attention.

    Therefore we have a good ground on which to argue for theological discussion and mental ideas as being fully a part of our Christian spirituality.

    Rejecting the mind’s participation in spirituality because it is mental, on the other hand, reminds us of Eastern approaches to these questions.

    Surfnetter:

    Moses did not have the scriptures, of course, but God spoke to him, had conversations with him. On Mount Sinai God talked and Moses wrote down words. Abraham also heard God speak and command him what to do. Job’s spiritual trials can be seen as a great conversation with God. Thought-forms associated with speech and ideas predominated in the relationship between God and humans – despite there not being scriptures available at the time.

    The point is not that only written scripture or widely available oral traditions can be our guide (though I think they are most of the time), but that the forms of thought represented in the mind as speech patterns and mental ideas have been at the foreground of our relationship with God and how we should live our life.

  9. IMonk and others,

    I would never think of telling you what to believe. I am only communicating the biblical data. When you understand the nature of Christ’s work then you’ll understand the extent of that work.

    Anna, this is my point, Christ did fulfill His intended purpose! Didn’t He atone for all sin? Is unbelief a sin? If not, then why are people punished for it? If it is a sin then it must be one of the sins Christ atoned for! As for making a “choice” for Christ remember His words:

    “No one can come to ME UNLESS the Father grants it to HIM.” John 6:65.

  10. >When you understand the nature of Christ’s work then you’ll understand the extent of that work.

    Dion,

    I was a Calvinist for over a decade. It’s because I understand the L that I don’t believe it. I could teach the L to any group in America, quite convincingly.

    Please don’t assume that you understand more than those who disagree with you.

    These “only Calvinists understand” discussions are tedious, to say the least.

    We understand differently. There’s no need to toss the same tired array of verses at one another.

    You understand the atonement better than Luther?

    ms

  11. Rick — I’m not a Buddhist – but from my understanding of its traditions nobody spoke more than the Buddha. Men crowded around him with whatever they wrote on waiting to write down word for word what he said, and he usually talked incessantly. The one exception was when he taught the Zen which took awhile to catch on and not with his own Countrymen in India but with the Chinese who have genetic predisposition for abstract thinking.

    Moses didn’t just start chatting away with the Supreme being. He was fasting and praying for forty days. Paul was in the desert for three years in quiet meditation shedding his set-in-stone cognitive process in order to be able to converse with God as an Apostle.

    And if you can see Job’s experience as a thought form — well I will withhold further comment …. 🙂

  12. The difference in Eastern and Western religions is that in the East it is an impersonal god — or gods — who embody everything — good and evil, darkness and light, life and death. But they do speak and have quite a lot to say.

    Our God is quite different, of course. But I don’t see anywhere in out tradition where it is taught that you can just walk out of the worldly cultural mindset — especially now — and be in a state where you can just read the Scriptures and theological treatises and have the mind of God. There is an immersion process of prayer and fasting. In that the two traditions are quite similar in many ways.

  13. Anna A says:

    Rick,

    You seem to place a very low value on direct experience with God. Am I understanding you correctly?

    If so, how do you explain what happened to Thomas Aquinas? He wrote one of the most comprehensive documents on theology, his Summa Theological.

    Yet, after an encounter with God, he was unable to touch it again.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think that theology has a firm and necessary place in Christianity. But, direct encounters with God also do. Even though they tend to be scary, aweful (spelled on purpose) and humbling.

  14. Bob Sacamento says:

    Michael,

    For what it’s worth (proabably not much) I think maybe some people would be more comfortable with a post like this if you explained in some detail what parts of your theology you jettisoned and what you have kept. Just a thought.

  15. God is weird, really weird. I don’t understand Him. I mean, I love him a lot, more than I thought I was able to love. He’s great. But He’s really completely not like any human I have encountered. Except maybe Jesus. One thing for sure, I don’t put too much past God anymore. He really really really can’t be boxed in. And another thing, and this is not at all sacrilegous… It’s not funny either until maybe six months later. When I get all full of myself, sure God could send angels and flaming swords and stuff, but usually a well placed traffic jam + “you need to go to the bathroom… right……. NOW” and that’s enough to get me begging and off my high horse. Yeah, all it takes is a good case of gastric distress to bring me to my senses. What’s funny (later) is how predictable it can be. I’m angry at God and insisting on my way and being hateful all day? I can guarantee on my commute home being struck with a case of you know what. Sure God can do anything. What’s really amazing is when God uses the simplest things to thump me upside the head when I need reminding not to order God around or put God in a box.

  16. Bob Sacramento:

    I know that. I think the difference between that post and this one is this.

    One just becomes another chance to grouse at me for not being (Catholic or Calvinist or Baptist enough yada yada) i.e. it’s boring.

    The post I’ve written leaves a person unsettled a bit, maybe even irritated, but thinking.

    Making it about me takes the leverage off. Letting it be a bit of provocation keeps the creative tension going.

    I have a young Calvinist who is emailing my stuff around to friends making the case that I am a heretic. He wants me to blog the twenty things I believe that he does so he can feel better.

    He needs to read this piece twice.

    🙂

    peace

    ms

  17. I don’t know if anyone else is having this particular “theological” experience:

    It occurred to me a while back how “strange” it is that we Christians worship a Jewish man, read the words of Jewish religious men in a Book we consider to be the Word of our God that in our houses of worship that almost exclusively, and yet instead of us becoming more “Jewish” in this process, the more we do it, the less Jewish these people become in our minds.

    So the when I now contemplate Our Lord as a Jewish man my spiritual focus is much clearer and the boundaries of my experience broadened. I have many times had an almost “Transfiguration” kind of enlightenment when I think to pray this way.

    (go ahead and email this to whoever you like — I make a living catching fish, not men — they could care less about my theology… :-))

  18. it’s interesting to me how those with bad theology are the ones trying to get everyone to agree with them… (i’m generalizing here based on three or so people in my life who are like your calvinist email friend.) it’s as if deep down, they really aren’t that secure in their positions because they need validation from others.

    i could be totally off-base here. just a theory.

  19. KR Wordgazer says:

    What seems clear to me is this:

    The Pharisees put doctrine and rules before people and needs. Jesus didn’t like that.

  20. IMonk,

    Tired verses? I understand what you were saying in your blog, but in my view it seems like your in a difficult state. You are tired of theology but please remember that “Jesus loves me is also a theological claim!”

    John Owen pointed out that a rejection of “actual” atonement leads to universalism!

    Either Christ died for all the sins of all people or all the sins of some people or some of the sins of all people. If the last statement is true then no one is redeemed.

    If the first statement is true then why aren’t all people saved? Because of unbelief? Is unbelief a sin? If it’s not why are people condemned for it? If it is a sin then it is a sin Christ atoned for and therefore all people are redeemed! So because the scriptures do not teach universalism the first statement is false. Therefore the second statement is true. Still waiting for an answer to Owens arguments…

    I love Luther but you and I both know he would not quarrel about a christian claiming to know something he didn’t, if it could be proven from scripture.

  21. Jesus never once condemned or negated the necessity of understanding and obeying God’s living word. He condemned the pharisees because they taught it but did not obey it, and He condemned them because they misunderstood it and hence, taught it wrongly.

    Don’t confuse theology with God’s word. Jesus Himself attested that we should live be every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Yet he condemned giving equal or greater status to the traditions of men, which by and large is what theology is.

    I guess in short, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater by turning away from the Bible’s simple truths when doing some necessary theological housecleaning.

    We can’t know Jesus by feelings or inclinations alone. This approach leads us into conditions such as “ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” and “I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

  22. Dion – What you are doing is posing a syllogism, and arguing that because you have set up such a syllogism that we must answer the question according to your syllogism. But, uhm, that is quite far from the truth. I need not answer your syllogism if your syllogism in, in and of itself, invalid.

    Here is a quote, “. . . the syllogistic method is competent only within a well chosen series of data in a strictly defined field of study. It is unable to manage the great facts of life and history, of which Christianity is the most outstanding.”

    In fact the Calvinist philosopher Cornelius Van Til, who trained Francis Schaeffer, strongly denies that God can be found at the end of a syllogism.

    Now, how do we see this work out in Church history? Let me give you two examples:

    1. The Scriptures say that Jesus existed from before time. The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus began his existence in Bethlehem of Judea on a certain day. The Church’s resolution was eventually found in the doctrine of the two natures in the one person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal as respects his divine nature and was created as respects his human nature. But, most important, look at the actual words used in the definition. As regards the two natures of the person of Jesus, they are “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.” But, notice that they do not and cannot fully resolve the mystery. They are only able to say what it is not. The two natures in the one person of Our Lord Jesus is not fully explainable by our human logic, it is only partially describable.

    2. The Scriptures make it clear that there is only One God. The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus is the Son of God from eternity. The Scriptures make it clear that the Holy Spirit is the Lord of Life from eternity. The resolution by the Church is the doctrine of the hypostatic union in the One God. But, the Church can only partially describe it; it is not fully explainable by our human logic.

    The same is true with the doctrine of free will and of predestination. Whosoever will may come to Him and He has known us from before the foundation of the world. The same is true with the atonement. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus died for the sins of the world. Scripture makes it clear that the atonement only becomes effective for some.

    The resolution of both of the above pairs of statements has never been fully possible in the history of the Church. They are not fully reducible to merely human logic. The resolution is only partially describable by us. This does not mean that there is no logical solution. But, it is to say that God’s ways are so far beyond ours that they are not able to be fully comprehended by human logic.

    In order for TULIP Calvinists to maintain the syllogism that you gave, it is necessary for them to ignore or re-interpret every Scripture that speaks of free will in such a way that it does not mean what a plain reading of Scripture would give it. Only in that way can the syllogism you espouse be made to seem convincing. That is, TULIP Calvinists are forced to reduce God’s ways to our ways.

    What we really have is a mystery that can only be described by a series of negatives, just like with the Person of Christ and the Trinity. For instance, one Orthodox confession says, “We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He has chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He has rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause. For that would be contrary to the nature of God, who is the common Father of all, and no respecter of persons, and would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    That confession also says, “But to say . . that God, in predestinating, or condemning, did not consider in any way the works of those predestinated, or condemned, we know to be profane and impious. For thus Scripture would be opposed to itself, since it promises the believer salvation through works, yet supposes God to be its sole author, by His sole illuminating grace, which He bestows without preceding works, to show to man the truth of divine things, and to teach him how he may co-operate with it, if he will, and do what is good and acceptable, and so obtain salvation.”

    Can you see how the descriptions I quoted from the confession are actually a series of negatives that almost appear to contradict? Those negatives, and the negatives for the Person of Christ and for the Trinity are my answer to your syllogism.

  23. One item of theological trash I think should be kicked to the curb is the prevailing (though often unspoken) belief that individual church bodies, institutions, and denominations have to divide up and limit their fellowship according to theological battle lines. In my opinion, the premise that birds with identical theological feathers should always flock together leads to spiritual and intellectual stagnancy, isolationist policies, and the muzzling of free speech within church bodies and institutions. Over the last several years I’ve discovered that a reasonable degree of theological variance can be a very healthy thing for a fellowship of believers. So long as Christ is kept central and the law of love holds individual egos in check, such variance and the very interesting discussions it engenders can really raise the bar when it comes to scriptural knowledge and understanding, as well as the overall level of participation and contribution during church gatherings. Sure, there are theological extremes and errors that should be moderated or avoided, but when maintaining loving, Christ-centered relationships takes precedence over unbending theological integrity, errors and extremes can usually be addressed and corrected within the body without splits and divisions. You may not believe me, but this approach can and does work. From what I’ve read and, hopefully, understood of Scripture, Christ and the New Testament writers placed a much higher premium on unity of the Spirit in love than they did on uniformity of opinion and interpretation.

  24. I was starting to think that this thread was pretty much tapped out and getting more partisan with each post; but then Fr. Ernesto (thanks for sharing “syllogism” – a term I’d never known before) and Ron bring things back into focus. Well spoken, both.

  25. Back to Michael’s original post . . .

    Well said. I find it interesting and ironic that I read this from Job 42:1-6 earlier today. Apparently, Job had to discard some of his theology too. 🙂

    Then Job replied to the LORD :

    “I know that you can do all things;
    no plan of yours can be thwarted.

    You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

    “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’

    My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.

    Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

  26. There is some scholarly consensus on the theology of the Book of Job. It is this:

    “I’m God and you’re not.”

  27. Hey Surf! You might even be able to make it shorter. “I AM” 😆

  28. If I was Jewsih it would be even shorter —

    “—” 😆

  29. Fr. Ernesto,

    I don’t think it can denied that Christ’s work on the cross did one of the three things I enumerated above! The fact of the matter is that the scripture leaves us with only those options and your unwillingness to deal with it is quite telling.

    Your argument assumes that the scripture teaches that Christ died (atoned) for the sin of every person.

    No offense but who told you Christ died (atoned) for the sins of the whole “world?” Please do yourself a favor and look at how that term is used in scripture. Ex. John in ch 1 uses it in three different senses in one verse! When it is used of the atonement it is never used in a universal sense sir.

    To wit, “God so loved the world” Both John Gill “Cause of God and of Truth” as well as Alfred Edersheim have pointed out that the term was used by the 1st century Rabbis as a synonym for the Gentiles! See St. Paul in Romans 10-11 he uses it in the same sense.

    Therefore your argument contrasting the nature of the Atonement with the Two Natures of Christ as as examples of a biblical “mysterium” is not sound! We have no basis in scripture to teach that Christ died ATONED for each and every person!

    Luther’s work “Bondage of the Will” should be on your reading list. Sorry about the seemingly harsh tone, but God’s truth must be upheld.

  30. Dion,

    This is the last warning:

    Here at IM we do NOT attempt to convert one another. If you want to discuss the “Limited” atonement, that’s great, but please stop addressing Fr. Ernesto in an attempt to make him a Calvinist.

    You may be unfamiliar with how we do discussions here, but we do NOT attempt to convert one another. Omit the personal comments like “who told you.”

    If you persist in this tone, I’m going to ban you.

    And Luther wasn’t a Calvinist and didn’t believe in a “Limited” atonement like Calvin.

    MS

  31. Wow, I learned a lot from that, Fr. Ernesto. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I am blessed by it.

  32. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And Luther wasn’t a Calvinist and didn’t believe in a “Limited” atonement like Calvin. — IMonk (warning off Dion)

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Calvin wasn’t a Calvinist to today’s hyper-Calvinists. (They say both Darwin and Marx said late in their life “I am not a Darwinist/Marxist”; there’s a common stupid human trick to take an idea and run way too far with it.)

    My writing partner told me last week he’s encountering Hyper-Calvinists who are hyper to the point of “Socratic Atheism”, i.e. even God is under the thumb of Total Predestination and can do only what He has been Predestined to do. (“Eh, Kismet…”) At which point, Socratic Atheism kicks in; if God is subject to Predestination, then God is not God — Fate/Destiny/Predestination is. (My Church calls this “heresy”, specifically “Jansenism”.)

  33. IMonk,

    I am not trying to convert anyone to anything.

    Some bloggers have confused Van Til’s view that syllogisms can not tell us anything. I am only trying to give a correction. Van Til’s context was Apologetics! Fideism over-against evidentialism not the doctrines of scripture. Besides both Augustine and Aquinas would never say that a syllogism was meaningless.

    I cited Luther because some bloggers asserted “free-will” in a non-biblical sense and Luther although rejecting “actual atonement” did teach that “no one can come to Christ apart from the work of the Spirit.” I would also suggest Gordon Clark on refuting the non-biblical notion of free-will as well.

    [Mod edit]

  34. charlie.hr says:

    Last month I wrote about this very thing in this blog and I was banned!
    (Probably I was misunderstood then)

    Now it seems the right thing to think!

    ¿what’s going on?