Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Agenda

Yes, I have an agenda, and I want you to know it before we go any farther. Here, in bold print, is my agenda. I want my readers to accept that a 5-point Calvinist can say the following things:

God loves all men.
God desires the salvation of all men and offers salvation to all by faith in Christ.
Christ died for all men; he died for you.

The last item on the agenda is particularly important to me as it affects the way I describe Christ’s work to others. Though I am not and have never been the pastor of a church, I have had many opportunities to preach in churches over the past 20 years. Until a couple of years ago, I was perplexed about what to say when preaching the gospel. What do I say about the death of Christ? Do I say nothing? Absurd! Do I say “Christ died for you” if I think that he might not have? Again absurd. Do I say “he died for sinners” when my audience might properly draw the conclusion that since they are sinners, Christ died for them?  Absurd — and dishonest (I make no accusation here — I speak only for myself) if I really am trying to hide from the consequences of belief that Christ did not really die for many in my audience.

To present the gospel freely, I believe we must be able to say "Christ died for you, and if you believe on him, you will be saved." The freedom to say exactly that is a great relief.  And it is perfectly in keeping with historic Calvinism.

That’s basically it.  There are some additional items that might qualify as pet peeves but are only tangentially related to the main topic.  I’ll squeeze them in anyway.  My main pet peeve — which I will address early and often — is the matter of the power of prayer.  Prayer does change things, and I can prove it from the Bible.

So there you go.  That’s the goal, the road map, the telos.  Have fun!

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9 comments:

joelsexton said...

Hi, I am not a calvinist but am studying reformed theology and am quite suprised to see debate within calvinism over the atonement, As an outsider looking in I dont know all the issues. Would you know of any articles on your site or others, book titles etc that would give a general overview to the whole atonment debate within calvinism? If you could answer by email, thank you. joelsexton1984@yahoo.ca

joelsexton said...

Hi, I am not a calvinist but am studying reformed theology and am quite suprised to see debate within calvinism over the atonement, As an outsider looking in I dont know all the issues. Would you know of any articles on your site or others, book titles etc that would give a general overview to the whole atonment debate within calvinism? If you could answer by email, thank you. joelsexton1984@yahoo.ca

Mark A. Kramer said...

Hi Steve, I just discovered your website much to my delight. Though I have just begun to study this topic more indepth and have been surprised to see this debate has been going for a rather long time, I nevertheless have long considered myself a Four and a Half point Calvinist. If I understand correctly, you prefer the title of Historic Calvinist. For me to hear this term, and I suspect for many others today, Historic Calvinist would translate into being a Five Pointer. But our views are inbetween the Four and Five Pointers, thus I like my term of Four and a Half. Interested in your thought.
Also, what brought me to this point, having no idea of what Calvin had said, was believing that a Holy and Just God would not have us offer a false Gospel saying Jesus died for the non-elect nor could I see Him judge them for rejecting Christ if He did not died for them. So I see it from a legal standpoint that Jesus did indeed die for all men but it would be only applied to the elect. The rest, because they would of their own will reject Christ, are without excuse. Your thoughts?

mark kramer

Steve said...

Thanks for leaving your comment, Mark. I'm glad you found my blog; I hope you enjoy it.

I suppose most people would say my Calvinism is 4-1/2 points. I don't use the label just because it doesn't communicate much information. I don't really care for "Historic Calvinist" for the same reason. Other folks have called me "Amyraldian," which is simply false.

So I don't know what label to use. I do believe in limited atonement ... the atonement must be limited in one way or another. I like R.L. Dabney's view that the limitation is in the decree to apply and nowhere else. How does one describe that view? I don't know.

But anyway, I appreciate your comment and I'm delighted that you like my blog. :-)

Kevin said...

Hi, I just came across your blog as I am dealing with these issues in my own Reformed Baptist church. I would be on the opposite side as yours, t am trying to understand your side, but just have not be convinced, even though I have read many things from the "heavy-weights" on these issues.

I have some issues with your "Agenda."

First, you say, "To present the gospel freely, I believe we must be able to say "Christ died for you, and if you believe on him, you will be saved." The freedom to say exactly that is a great relief. And it is perfectly in keeping with historic Calvinism.
- To this I say, why must we beable to say Christ died for you? In Acts, when the Apostles were evangelizing, you will find nowhere that they went around saying "Christ died for you." The Gospel proclamation, is Repent and Believe...not Christ died for you. But, if you can show me an example of this from the Apostles, I am open.
-Also, since it is a "relief" for you, maybe you are being guided by your feelings and emotions, regarding this issue and softening the Gospel is indeed a relief and much easier to the hearer....something to think about...

i'll continue in another post...

thanks.
Kevin

Kevin said...

#2
You list your agenda...
God loves all men.
God desires the salvation of all men and offers salvation to all by faith in Christ.
Christ died for all men; he died for you.

1. What does that mean? God loves all men?
- I have discussed this we many people who hold your view but the only answer they can give is, "God Loves all men, but not in the same way. Some he has a special love and some he just has a general love. Some he has an electing love, some he doesn't...what?
-You say you want to be completely honest with people, but how honest is it to say "God loves you," when you really don't mean it in the way they will assume you mean. The average listener will think you mean "hey, God loves the same as everyone else...." But you really don't know which "love" God has for any person...and if you're completely honest you would have to qualify what you mean by "love" and that would be very confusing to an unbeliever..it is for me and I am a believer....
- when in reality, "God loves you" is never part of the Gospel proclamation and should never be used as such....the Apostles never used it....

Kevin said...

#3
God desires the salvation of all men and offers salvation to all by faith in Christ.

2. "God Desires the salvation of all men." If his were true then God's decretive will and his revealed will are In contradiction and this can't be.
Also, if this were true, then God's desires do not come to fruition, since we Know that not all men come to salvation.
Also, if he did, then he would make it so every person on earth heard the gospel...and we know this isn't the case....see below.

"offers salvation to all by faith in Christ."
- how can this be true when millions of people die in their sins having never heard the name of Jesus or had the Gospel presented to them? So, we know that God does not offer salvation to all because not all hear the Gospel....and we know that general revelation does not save, only condemns....how do you reconcile this?

thanks.

Kevin said...

#4
Christ died for all men; he died for you.

3. You will disagree, but if Christ died for all men, then all would be saved. I think John Owen said that...I'm sure you've read that, so how do you disagree with that?

I still think you're initial premise is where you are getting your doctrine..." The freedom to say exactly that is a great relief..."....it seems to me your want "relief" in presenting the Gospel....could this be?

Thanks!
Kevin

Pip said...

powerofgod777@gmail.com

Genuine faith longs to exhibit the "fruits of the Spirit", not merely subscription to a creed. Genuine faith disdains the values of the world and forswears the vanities of the world. God longs not merely to save us from hell but even to save us from our sins now, the sins which we must repudiate lest they disfigure us even more hideously.