As rancorous as the Calvinist / Arminian debate has become, a recent post at The School of Hard Knox caused me to wait for a few days before responding. I waited because of the frustration and disappointment that it evoked in me. Perhaps it was the author’s intent to be so provocative as to incite a flurry of quick responses either for or against his position. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, blogs are full of cheap jabs written solely to ignite unmeasured response, but this debate pertains to the eternal destination of people’s souls. Calling out those who do not share your theological position with what amounts to taunts of ‘chicken’ or diminution of their abilities to arrive at the correct conclusion has no place in Christian discourse.
What am I referring to? Here is the culmination of the author’s argument for all to accept the Calvinist theological system over the Arminian:
Face it. To reject Calvinism is to reject the whole of Scripture. You know this in your heart of hearts.
There’s one reason why you don’t believe in Calvinism…
You simply don’t want to believe it.
Now, please note that this is an excerpt and you should view the entire post to see it in context but I believe it is fairly presented here. After further belittling any careful exegetical efforts that may have gone into the development of a non-Calvinist position, the author again simply dismisses the possibility that another position could be valid with the childish taunt:
Come on…you know it’s true. Just admit it.
Just admit it, likening the correction of Arminian thought to some kind of addiction treatment. As if that is all that is necessary for those in the Arminian parts of the Body to absolve themselves of their silly fantasy system and come over to reality.
Is this the ultimate state of the discussion regarding these two theological systems? The author makes quite a claim at the beginning of his essay, stating that the positions of both sides are well known:
We know each other’s arguments inside and out and more importantly, we know what Scripture says.
Well, I can agree with that statement in part; both Calvinists and Arminians know what Scripture says. Sadly, what the author fails to recognize is that there is valid exegetical disagreement of how it is to be interpreted. (But I suppose all of those people who don’t agree with him should ‘just admit it’ and get over their stubborn invalid positions.) Further, if one were to sample the extent of knowledge regarding competing theologies, one would find that this is largely untrue. Arminian theology is regularly misrepresented by Calvinist adherents and Calvinism is often misunderstood by Arminians.
He casually throws out some loosely worded proof texts that are supposed to finally persuade the Arminian to cast aside their measured beliefs and come over to the right side. He says for example:
We know Scripture says that those He foreknew He also predestined.
The Calvinist will say yes, scripture says that God’s foreknowledge here represents his election of some to salvation. But wait, says the Arminian, foreknowledge is God’s ability to foresee those who will accept his gift of grace and the election under consideration is conditional upon that fact. Perhaps the best way to resolve this would be to turn to the usage of the word in our Greek New Testaments and discover that it has both connotations as used in NT writings. Of course, this interpretation is open to further debate but hey, let’s stop all this egghead stuff and ‘just admit it.’
The author’s penultimate dismissal prior to the aforementioned ‘just admit it’ is this:
You don’t want to believe that God has created some for glorification and some are created for damnation. This doesn’t fall in line with your view of what is “fair”.
Indeed, double predestination is a distasteful topic to have to explore. To consider that the God Who is Love creates some specifically for perdition really has less to do with God’s fairness or His sovereignty and more to do with His character and whether one believes that He efficaciously willed the Fall. But then, the discussion must turn to whether or not He is the author of Sin. This seems a bit more complex than ‘just admitting it.’
This post and others like it have no place within the Body. While I support the author and his freedom to believe and write whatever he wishes, we as disciples of Jesus Christ must also consider the greater good before we take off on a rant. There are innumerous other avenues of division besides those generated by Calvin and Arminius that weaken our ultimate witness to a needful world. Taunting from such a precipice leaves one open to a fall and clothes no one, offers no companionship to the imprisoned, will fill no stomach or offer one drop of water to the thirsty, admit it.