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Defeating Ebola . . .

10 Oct

http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/09/4170417/we-are-dying-wheres-the-world.html?sp=/99/274/

Remembering that Africa is not monolithic but rather is a continent with over 50 countries that are very different from each other, the ebola epidemic has some interesting dimensions.

Picture the largest, most influential country on each end of the continent. Egypt in the north; South Africa in the south; Nigeria in the west; Kenya in the east. Each of these countries has several smaller nations in its orbit. What each of these nations does *not have (thank God!) is an ebola epidemic.

Nigeria had ebola break out, thanks to a dying man who arrived from Liberia, but it has been largely eradicated, only a couple of months later. Nigeria, which is not really a third world country anyway, handled its outbreak responsibly and got rid of it.

Why have these nations been so successful in staying free of ebola while the U.S. has not? Do the words “travel restrictions” mean anything to us?

You see, ebola is not a civil rights issue. It is not a case of the U.S. (and other countries) showing hatred for Africans by not letting them in freely during an epidemic. Their own fellow African nations are not letting them in freely. There is a good reason for that. You don’t show sympathy for people dying of a virus by letting them share it with you.

We need to send aid in all of its various forms to the three stricken nations but what we do *not need to do is let their citizens come to the U.S. to escape the epidemic, possibly bringing it with them. It is just not sensible to have unrestricted travel from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone right now.

Link

Bowdoin College and Free Speech!

11 Mar

Bowdoin College and Free Speech!

For those of us who loved the movie Gettysburg and will forever associate Bowdoin College with the brilliant, if somewhat academic, military tactician Joshua Chamberlain, this news is chilling.

The fourth most highly ranked liberal arts school in the U.S. believes that freedom of association no longer works in the U.S., at least for Christians.

The leadership of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship chapter on campus are being told they must sign a statement that people of alternate sexualities are eligible for leadership in their group. The belief is that, since Maine state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, there should be no other additional standards to those in Maine law for eligibility to lead in this Christian group.

What? As the article says, are they going to apply that to leadership of dance groups (you can’t discriminate against non-dancers) or foreign student groups (you can’t discriminate against people who have never traveled outside the U.S.)?

Scary ground toward which we head.

Link

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

5 Feb

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

Disclaimer: not all young Christians are hipsters and not all hipster Christians spend their time acting like they would like to hide the fundamentalist folks in Christianity in a broom closet, along with their hardworking old grandmother who makes them feel ashamed in front of their friends by her terminal lack of coolness.

But there are enough young hipsters like that in Christianity to be ironic.

Ironic because they denounce fundamentalists for hating them and trying to make them go away.

They denounce us while using these same tactics against us.

Enough already. Mom here! I don’t care who started it. Let’s just stop it. We are all part of the same Christian camp.

The above post doesn’t address many things theologically.

If you want to be a hipster Christian and defend marriage as being other than Christ defined it (one man, one woman, for life), then show me where the moral authority comes from to do that.

If you want to believe in theistic evolution, explain to me theologically how death came along before Adam and Eve fell.

If you want to reconcile a world that is millions of years old with a Saviour who was born of a virgin, explain to me how a God who wasn’t capable of creating an old universe in the Old Testament (with starlight already in progress, since stars that we can see are millions of light years from earth) suddenly became capable of creating a virgin birth in the New Testament.

There are lots of things that need to be addressed theologically by the above post. They were not even attempted. The writer merely did some terminally cool posturing. I throw a flag on his play.

And just sneering at fundamentalists does not count as a logical argument. In fact, that is called an ad hominem argument, for anyone who is truly looking to learn the fair rules of debate.

Just sayin’

The Damage that can be done by People without Knowledge of History

14 Jan

This is going to be dangerous territory.

There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.  

You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.  

Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.

You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech.  You have a right to say it.  But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers.  You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.

People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us.  But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.  

In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing.  We don’t need to suppress speech.  But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.  

I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S.  She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.   

The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury.  What are we protecting, after all?

As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic.  Tragically so.  

But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.  

My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.”  Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”  

Really?  So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?  

So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check?  Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?

I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs.  But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does.  You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.  

In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note:  the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).  

I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history.  So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history.  Sometimes they try to give us lip service.  Sometimes they don’t bother.  

I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college.  But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you!  I always loved history.  Now I have a pretty broad background in it.  

There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II.  There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.  

And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”

It is important.  Very important.  

Link

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

29 Nov

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

Christena Cleveland, a young woman consulting on diversity in the church, Christ’s Body, packs a wallop with this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor and blogger.

The First Gay Legislator to Vote Against Gay Marriage

13 Nov

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2013/Exclusive-Why-Rep-Jo-Jordan-voted-against-Marriage-Equality/

Jo Jordan explains her no vote on gay marriage in Hawaii.

Interestingly, it was important to her that people listen to each other on this issue and one side consistently shut down dialogue with her. They had an attitude that they already knew they were right on every aspect of the legislation so she should just vote yes, with no questioning.

The same side that usually says fundamentalist Christians always believe they are right in every situation and won’t listen to anyone else . . .

Maybe they have learned from us, after all.

Nobody but God is always right!

Link

The Joy of Slander (Not!)

20 May

The Joy of Slander (Not!)

Have you ever noticed that when someone is intent on secretly slandering a person, they can always dig up someone from that person’s past who will call him a dirtbag?

I don’t care where someone has lived or what his job has been, if you want to shake the trees badly enough to find his enemies, you can always do it.

I have heard people say, “Oh, yeah, I know a chief who used to serve with him in the military and you should hear what that chief says about him . . .” or “I know someone who used to minister with him at his former ministry position and, wow, your head will explode if you hear what he has to say . . .”

Only, let’s be fair.

Does anyone who is active at all ever get through life without making a few enemies?

And, that said, why do people always dig into someone’s past looking for his enemies? Why not look for his friends?

Oh, yeah, ‘cuz then it wouldn’t be slander, would it?

Let’s admit it. The human race loves the juicy, negative stuff.

But let’s also admit that that part of us must die. It is the part Christ came to save us from!

Should Christians Stay out of Politics?

17 Dec

Mark 12:17, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”

I had a most interesting exchange with a stranger on a friend’s Facebook page the other night.  The position taken was that Christians have no place in politics because we haven’t yet fulfilled the Great Commission to evangelize the planet.

Three quick points on that:  

1) It is an example of “either-or” logic that says if a person is in the process of doing political work, she could not possibly be evangelizing the planet at that exact same moment.  I assert that she could be.  I believe every sphere of our lives as Christians is sacred, not just the ones we declare to be sacred or the ones we do on Sunday morning.  

2)  It is an example of a sanctimonious way for a person to say he is not interested in politics.  If someone isn’t interested in politics, that is fine.  Many people are not.  Just say it that way, instead of trying to put a guilt trip on Christians who get involved politically.  We are all different. Additionally, I have noticed most people who lecture others about not getting involved politically because the Great Commission takes precedence are actually doing neither.  Usually the person who voices this opinion, when questioned, will reveal that they are not actively involved in evangelizing anyone.  They just think you should be!  Nice! 

3) Is it even possible for a person to be actively evangelizing the planet 24/7?  Would not a person who tried to have the gospel coming out of his mouth every possible moment get a little too tightly wrapped and suffer a breakdown eventually?  I ask because a friend and I actually tried to do that in college.  We wanted every sentence to have the word Jesus in it, somehow (or at least “praise the Lord”).  Even in math class.  Ha!  It was after that that I realized the gospel is in every part of our lives as Christians and it is our job to not misrepresent it, as we go through our day.  I mean, once a co-worker knows I am a Christian, he will be watching me for consistency, no?

I do understand that there are some black and white thinkers among Christians who believe we must speak the gospel in order to evangelize the planet 24/7.  And, at its heart, that is what the Great Commission says!!!  We must sometimes speak the gospel.  There is no escaping it.  I just assert that evangelizing is a total lifestyle, in which we use words, deeds, and even thoughts to be transformed into Jesus’ image and to work with the Holy Spirit to transform our planet.  There is no “either-or” about it.  We are at it 24 hours a day, wherever we are!

I jokingly said to a few friends who saw a clip of my husband and me doing karaoke at his office party the other night that I couldn’t put the clip on Facebook lest someone send me a note about not fulfilling the Great Commission.  But the fact is, the friends with whom we were doing the karaoke (my husband’s work partner and her husband) know we are Christians.  We already have a witness there.  And nothing we did the other night compromised that.  That, at its heart, is Great Commission living.

Women’s Thursday, Women’s Ministry: If, then . . .

6 Dec

I Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

Show of hands:  how many believe that the above verse means women are to keep silent in all spheres of life?  How many believe that it means they are to keep silent within the church, in matters where teaching is being conducted in mixed groups of men and women?

Most of us will say the latter.

I saw a male blogger this week trying to work backwards from that verse to say that, because women are not to pastor churches, they should also not teach theology at seminaries.  And that they should not write theological blogs.  

The problem with the “If . . . then” construction that this man wrote was that no one has defined the line between faith and theology.  Since theology is, simply, the study of God, I will surmise that there actually is no line between my faith and my theology.  

And to tell me that I am never to speak or write of theology, i.e., my faith, outside of the church is to contradict the Great Commission.  

I understand the man’s intent and see that it was good.  He was trying to be fastidious in following a principle the Lord laid out.  But he went beyond that principle.  Far beyond it.  

I don’t think we really want to go around telling half the human race that they are exempt from the Great Commission.  Especially since some of the boldest witnesses to our Lord I have known have been female.

We have to be careful to not go beyond God’s Word and lay down laws He never intended.  There is almost always a law of unintended consequences that kicks in when we do that.

Sure, we can make women afraid that we will criticize their witness for the Lord by saying they are “teaching theology to men” at a dinner party.  We can make them afraid enough that they will only talk of sports, movies, entertainment, and recipes forever after.  But is that what we want them to do?  Is that what our Lord wanted?  

Just a thought. 

Really? Really?

30 Nov

Starting a new series of quotes I hear coming out of our mouths, as believers in Jesus, and what they sound like they really mean, I am going to lead out with a recent quote I heard about the book of Hebrews.

A friend expressed the idea that he was always glad to get past the “doctrinal” portion of a New Testament book, including Hebrews in the present case, and to move on to the “practical applications.”  “Just tell me what I gotta do!”

This friend would never, ever say that we are saved by works; he would not say that we are kept saved by works.  He would not say that our sanctification is by works.  He would say, like I do, that works are the fruit of our love for Jesus “because He first loved us.”

But does that quote give a different impression?

I think it does.  I think it implies skipping over the rich doctrinal part of Hebrews that describes in detail what Christ has done for us and rushing headlong to the part that tells us what we can do to start “paying Him back.”

Hint:  we can’t pay Him back.  Approaching Him as though we have a spreadsheet ledger system keeping track of what we do in one column and what He did in another is really quite diminishing of the faith we profess in Christ’s finished work!

We all say things like this at some point.  But let’s think how they sound to pagans.  They make Christianity sound like just another religion of works!

Strawman Monday: Shouting each other down

26 Nov

II Timothy 2:24, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient,”

Today’s strawman Monday will be brief and to the point, reflecting on this year’s just-concluded election cycle.

Wasn’t shouting each other down raised to a whole new level this year?

Wasn’t listening to each other relegated to the back burner, as an obvious “sign of weakness” in those who do it?

Is there any place in this morass for the servant of the Lord to live with integrity?

Yes, there is.  And it is in remaining steadfast and continuing to listen to others, regardless of how that is regarded.

To us, it is a very small thing if someone disparages us for the cause of Christ.  Disparagement is not eternal;  Christ’s cause is.

We must listen, and accurately represent the views of those with whom we differ.  In fact, there is no other way to hold a discussion–they give it their best shot, we give it our best shot, then we look at the two best shots and see which one is the closest to God’s truth, as expressed in His Word.

Constructing a strawman out of someone’s views so that we can laugh at their views is not ethical.

Our fellow humans are also made in the image of God.  As His image-bearers, they deserve to be heard, even when we disagree with them.  And if we engage them in discussion of our differences, they deserve to get that discussion in a normal speaking tone, without their views being twisted and misrepresented.

So let’s bring back civility to our culture.  Unsaved people may not understand, nor go along with us, but let’s bring it back anyway!  “As far as lies within us . . .”

Pushing Back, Part II (a new series for Thanksgiving week)

18 Nov

Hebrews 5:14, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:”

Case Study, a Person who Has Crossed the Line into Criminal Activity:  The “Pushing Back”  series is not going to consist of mean-spirited attacks.  It will, however, challenge people to continue on through to strong meat in their doctrine, discerning both good and evil, as the above verse in Hebrews says.

Fact is, we seem to be suffering an epidemic of toleration  of bad doctrine in the name of loving each other.   A lot of that is not being aware of when the most loving thing to do is to push back against a statement that is just wrong.

For example, this week I saw where someone appealed to Christians to practice forgiveness of the sins of others.  He readily admitted he had sinned and said he was learning to not do that particular sin again.

What he did not say was that his particular sin had led to an arrest, as his sin had led to an alleged invasion of another person’s being in a way that our law calls illegal.  Anyone who googles his name could find the arrest record.

So his statement that because we are all sinners, no one should be judging him was not exactly accurate.  In fact, he added that the one without sin should throw the first stone at him.

When the law has been broken, judges throw the first stone.  So do juries.  And they don’t have to be sinless to do it.

We are all sinners, but we are not all criminals.  And he left that part out.  The arrest part.

In mercy for his lack of logical thought, someone needed to call him on that one.

That is what this series will strive to do.  To bring us back to the reality of understanding we can’t play fast and loose with God’s Holy Word.

A person can’t use it to claim that people in the church are judging him when they are holding him accountable for an alleged crime, at least until the details behind that arrest get cleared up.  And he especially can’t use it to play bait-and-switch to convince someone that their judgment of a crime is worse than the crime itself.

The path back to sanity does not consist of twisting God’s Word.  We all need to remember that.

Oh, and it is only coincidental that this series is running Thanksgiving week.  I will put up a few thankful posts as well (I am working on those).  It is just that I arrived back from two weeks of travel yesterday and now have a week off . . . with plenty of ideas in mind.

Strawman Monday: If Not Total Depravity, then What?

5 Nov

Strawman Monday: If Not Total Depravity, then What?

Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

Last week I wrote about my belief in total depravity, as put forth as the “T” in the Calvinist “TULIP” acronym.

This week, I thought to see what the contrasting part of Arminianism is.  Interestingly, the five points of Arminianism (down below and in the link) don’t deny total depravity head on. As their argument against total depravity, they insert the doctrine of “free will” which says that man is not so fallen that he cannot choose God of his own volition.

In future weeks (when I get back from a two week business trip), I plan to look at Ephesians 2 in both ways, the Calvinist one and the Arminian one.  Calvinists believe that the Holy Spirit not only makes a person aware of his need for salvation (through common grace) but actually provides the special grace needed to get him across the finish line to salvation before the person plays a role in the process at all, while Arminians believe common grace, available to all, draws the person to choose Christ, at which time the Holy Spirit begins working in his life via special grace.

Since I am still studying up on the contrasts here, I am going to leave the topic for now.

But what is interesting to me about the total depravity doctrine is that it provides us (at least me) with much less despair about the fact that, as Paul said in Romans 7, “the good I would do, I do not do.”  While fully intending to serve God and man, I fall so miserably short sometimes that, if I believed that all kinds of good was inherent to human nature, I would have a hard time not giving up on myself as a lost cause.

I would also have a hard time explaining why saved people around me can be so callous to other saved people around me.

If we didn’t have a pretty strong sin nature, how would we explain the strength of our self-interest, even after salvation?

You know what I mean, don’ t you?  You have seen this as often as I have.  The way that Christians pick on other blood bought Christians, separating themselves into groups of “us vs. them” over very minor issues that often have nothing to do with the Bible.  And then defend that behavior, from a very self-defensive posture, when they would not be able to defend it from the Word at all.

What is that all about?  Why are so many of us intent on holding ourselves up as paragons of virtue to other people instead of holding up Christ and His glory over us all?

To me, it is becoming natural to think, “If something glorifies Christ, I don’t mind if it diminishes me.”  It has been a long time coming, this attitude, but by God’s grace I am getting there.  I am starting to see things more in terms of me being created to bring Him glory and less in terms of me saving face before other human beings  Praise God for that–I am sure it is entirely His work in me.

I have told you all that I believe God has given us immense freedom and many choices in this world.  This is certainly the case after salvation takes place.  Before that, I had choices, too, but I was more enslaved to sin as well.

I am just not certain at the interplay of my choice with God’s grace in the salvation process.  It is indeed a great mystery.  It is a mystery I will look at more in future days.

Five Points of Arminianism

The five points of Arminianism (from Jacobus Arminius 1559-1609) are in contrast to the five points of Calvinism.  The Arminian five points are

  • Human Free Will – This states that though man is fallen, he is not incapacitated by the sinful nature and can freely choose God.  His will is not restricted and enslaved by his sinful nature.
  • Conditional Election – God chose people for salvation based on his foreknowledge where God looks into the future to see who would respond to the gospel message.
  • Universal Atonement – The position that Jesus bore the sin of everyone who ever lived.
  • Resistable Grace – The teaching that the grace of God can be resisted and finally beaten so as to reject salvation in Christ.
  • Fall from Grace – The Teaching that a person can fall from grace and lose his salvation.

Strawman Monday: Heads, I Win; Tails, You Lose

29 Oct

Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

A particularly hostile type of strawman argument I have seen comes up when a person is, well, just plain in the throes of a grudge against another person so that nothing that other person could do would ever please her.

This type of strawman argument is often used against people in ministry, in my experience as an onlooker for 54 years so far.  Person A will have an invisible list of demands that she thinks a person in ministry should fulfill in her life and . . . the ministry person/people are, of course, blind to that invisible list of demands.  So they proceed, as human beings, loving Person A as best they can (but, of course, imperfectly, because they are human beings) and Person A goes off on them with a strawman argument that can’t be won because its terms are invisible!  And if, by any chance, the ministry person does make a valid point, Person A will turn the argument completely around so that it seems as if she expected something completely different anyway.

Sometimes Person A will argue both sides of an issue within the same discussion.

Like this (seeing as I am on the East Coast and we are in the midst of a hurricane today):

Person A:  I was really surprised you didn’t ask me to stay at your house during the hurricane.  You know I am a single woman, alone.

Pastor and his wife:  We did call you three times during the storm, but you didn’t seem to be picking up.

Person A:  I was leaving my line open for emergency updates from work.  But you could have texted.

Pastor and his wife:  Actually, when we couldn’t reach you, we did text.

Person A:  That text came in at 9:31 PM.  I don’t take texts after 9:30.

Pastor and his wife:  We weren’t sure what to think after we tried to contact you four times and couldn’t get you.

Person A:  Well, I am a very private person so you shouldn’t really keep me under a microscope like that!  (reminder:  this is the person who two minutes before had said she wanted to be under the same roof with them during the hurricane!!!).

Okay, that is a bit of hyperbole, but I have seen conversations take similar tacks many times when people have grudges and want to grind a mental ax.

Sheesh!  Sometimes people, especially ministry people, can’t catch a break no matter what they do!

Strawman Monday: Some Thoughts as a Baptist Looks at Calvinism

22 Oct

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

 

“Surely the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) are not all doctrines with which we disagree.  Total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.  Seems like we agree completely on total depravity, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.  Unconditional election is pretty hard to dispute by anyone who believes Jeremiah 17:9 about the heart’s deceitfulness.  There is nothing to recommend us to salvation except the fact that God loves us.  So . . . we get stuck on the limited atonement issue.  And fight so fiercely about it that you might think that Calvinist doctrine was more of an obstacle to Baptists than are the cults, or the Eastern religions, or the atheists.”

 

The above quote is from my first post on Calvinism, several months ago (see the category “Calvinism” to pull it up).

 

Remembering that a strawman argument occurs when we write down what we think someone believes, and then argue against that, instead of taking the time to learn someone’s true beliefs and then say why we disagree with them, I am going to try to deconstruct the anti-Calvinist reaction that many of us Baptists have.

 

It does not really go back to Arminianism, I have found (and I will write about Arminianism later, just not now).  It really, truly goes back to the era when Baptists were known as “four-pointers” (General Baptists or those who believe in a general atonement) and “five-pointers” (Particular Baptists or those who believe in particular atonement or, as Calvinists say “limited atonement).

 

Baptists have pretty much never gone to the extremes of Arminianism that other denominations have.  And it’s a good thing.  You see, I have seen an extreme reaction to the election doctrine among some of my Episcopal/Anglican friends.  These particular friends are born again, I am sure of it.  But they are teaching that, since they don’t believe in election, God not only doesn’t elect anyone for salvation but He doesn’t even know yet who will and who will not be saved.

 

How do you make a case for God’s sovereignty if you believe that?  I believe the doctrine is called “the open-ended universe.”  In that belief system, God doesn’t determine a lot of the outcomes in His creation.  And He doesn’t know about them till after they happen, as though God could be constrained by time, as we humans are.

 

No, we Baptists are left, along with the Calvinists, to try to explain in our systematic theology how we can reconcile a God who is sovereign and knows everything before it happens with a world in which we have choices.

The Calvinists choose an explanation of that which we Baptists would consider extreme, saying that the Holy Spirit engages in the salvation process in a much stronger way than we Baptists traditionally believe.  We all agree that the Holy Spirit starts the salvation process.  If He didn’t woo us, then we would never come to Christ.  We differ on what happens after that.

 

That, my friends, seems to be the area where Calvinists and Baptists differ.  Right there.  The Holy Spirit’s role in the process of salvation.

 

We Baptists are not Arminians, at least not unless we are Free Will Baptists who believe that you can lose your salvation.  See, that doctrine is part of Arminianism, too.

 

So . . . if we are very close to being “four pointer” Calvinists or even “five pointer” Calvinists as Baptists, it is important for us to listen carefully to each other, so as not to make strawmen arguments out of each other’s doctrines.  We are talking fine points of doctrine here, not differences that are like chasms between us.  And it is hard to understand fine points of doctrine if we are in attack mode.

 

It is only meet and comely to listen and to treat each other with mutual respect.  After all, we will have to share heaven together for eternity.

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