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Saturday, September 30, 2017

If You Can't Beat Them, Keep Attacking Them!


Many are the so-called Christians who seemingly are interested in proclaiming the truth, but in reality, all they do is embark upon a crusade against a particular doctrine. Nothing, it would seem, will dissuade them from what they see as a commission from God to right all the wrongs in the church. Take Reformed Theology as an example. There are few doctrines that draw as much criticism in our generation than the one that tells us that God is the decider—not man. And it is no wonder, for man's natural inclination is to want to have things his way--Burger King was on to something!

Often, I publish articles or messages that have little to do directly, or sometimes even indirectly with the Doctrines of Grace. Nevertheless, some find it necessary to argue against an imaginary plot they have committed themselves to argue against even if it has little to nothing to do with the subject at hand.  I have difficulty understanding why individuals find it necessary to again and again attack what they see as the bane of their existence even when it is not mentioned at all. I can only surmise that they feel the need to set those of us who are Reformed “straight.”

“Luther wanted to take some books out of the Bible,” “Calvin thought that executing heretics was acceptable,” “Augustine was the first Catholic,” and on it goes. When you can’t attack the scriptural nature of a doctrine, attack some of its proponents. As though the nature of individuals and their sin determined the truth of a particular position. David murdered Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14ff). Lot got drunk and committed incest with his daughters (Genesis 19:33). Peter denied the Lord three times (Luke 22:60-62). Yet, we are told that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), that Lot was a righteous man with a vexed soul (2 Peter 2:7) and that Peter was the apostle to the circumcision (Galatians 2:7). Although all those men were flawed, as are we all, they nevertheless served a purpose for God and we are the better for having their writings an experiences available to us. I wonder what a history of our lives would look like if all that future historians emphasized were our many warts!

I am always more than willing and happy to engage in good, robust debate about the Faith and our Christian calling. But too many show a desire that is nothing more than to “bash” what they see as grievous error without concern as to what the Reformed doctrine is all about or for those who follow it. There is often no appeal to introspection or a desire to discuss these matters in order to understand them better. All that can be seen are continuing efforts to stick a finger in our eye for whatever reason they consider it appropriate to do so.

And there is never a lack of the usual appeal to submission to Christ. Obviously, we submit to Christ and to no one else. But the problem is that such submission is used as a bludgeon in order to criticize studying what others have had to say about the Faith. I can speak for myself and many others when I say that we don’t follow the dictums of men other than those times when they happen to agree with the Scriptures. We do not follow Calvin, Luther, Augustine or Joe down the street for that matter. Our appeal is always to Scripture and to what it has to say to us. If the aforementioned gentlemen's writings agree with its pronouncements, then we say that they say such and such in accordance with Scripture. We simply speak of such men in the context of their study and their explication of Scripture, nothing more.

There is a myriad of things that every so-called doctor of the church has proffered that are erroneous and dangerous. But there are also many things that those who have come before us have put forth that agree with the Word of God and in those instances, we agree with them. Were it not for the Reformers, we may still be living under a system that commands us to submit to the Magisterium with no recourse as to whether what they teach agrees with Scripture or not. It has been said that “God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick” and when it comes to humanity that will be the case 100% of the time! Since we’re all flawed human beings, God works through flawed human beings, there’s no other kind.

I am saddened by the continuing insistence of some to denigrate what they perceive as “false teaching.” The spirit too often shown is not the spirit of brethren coming together and attempting to clarify our ideas and beliefs. The irony in all this is that we are often accused of being too intellectual and insist on studying and researching. Reformed, exegetical teaching, is often accused of being too brainy and not having enough feeling and love. But all too often, those who levy such criticisms show an imperial attitude that says that they have decided that they have arrived at the place where their dictums must be heeded or else we must be false brethren.

I am always happy to continue to hear from folks who desire to dialogue in the spirit of brotherly love and with the desire to learn and grow. But if their intent is to continue to belittle the Doctrines of Grace and to brow beat me with “studies” or other opinion pieces, then such approaches will be rejected. The irony is that many who accuse us of depending on what other men have said, attempt to show us the fallacy of our ways by in turn appealing to what others, whom they agree with, have said! Consistency, thou art indeed a jewel.

 

 


 


2 comments:

  1. Wow! Excellent! Having been a sovereign grace believer since the mid 70's, I've known many who have made the very errors you are listing. I have been called "lost," "heretic," "deceiver" for believing God is sovereign, and men are not. The disingenuous and the spiritually naïve and foolish often try to malign this doctrine by calling attention to the warts of it's various adherents, as you clearly note. Sometimes, one needs the patience of Diogenes to find an honest Arminian.

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    1. David, thanks. I always value your opinion because it is always sincere, refreshing and to the point. The one thing above all others that really gets me is when folks tell me that reformed theology is a "stain on God's character." As though God has some sort of responsibility to behave and do things the way that the particular individual believes. Thankfully, there are still folks such as yourself that see clearly and can guide those of us who are new to the truth. Again, thank you!

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