THE CHRONICLES OF THE ELECT

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Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 17, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Posted in Calvinism, Evangelism

The Cage for the Calvinist

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Cage-SA24It is an emotional rollercoaster ride when one begins dealing with the subject of God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. When we attempt to meditate upon the scriptural evidence pointing to the God’s purpose of election, we cannot help but experience at least some initial confusion. We need to ask ourselves if we are going to continue working through this whole topic or if we are going to simply brush it aside. I have done both! I was being confronted with texts such as John 6, Romans 8,9, Ephesians 1, Acts 13, John 10,12,17 and so forth and the first time I tried to address these issues I wholeheartedly backed away. I felt that perhaps I didn’t have the maturity to properly exegete these texts. The problem is however that these texts are in the bible hence shortly after this episode I was once again confronted with them. I have told the story of this part of my life on other forums and blogs… hencevery briefly; I took a long time in reading numerous books for the monergistic position and even more for the synergistic position. I listened to debates and consulted with many brethren in order to get some sense of what exactly I was seeing. The result, as can be obviously seen from this blog, was that I embraced the biblical doctrine of a monergistic salvation. It became tremendously clear to me that this is the biblical doctrine of salvation!

This is not the main point of this post however. I am not writing to share my road in acknowledging the doctrines of grace but I want to simply offer a small suggestion for those who have newly received these truths. I remember how riled up I was to get these new found doctrines out there to my brothers & sisters who had perhaps not seen these scriptures. I didn’t start in my church right away because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to really address them as I would have liked. I decided to dialogue with other brethren  in an online message forum. Let me just say that the amount of animosity I received was amazing. I had received more respect from those in pseudo-christianity that I had debated in the past than those who would refer to me as “brother”. Once this occured I decided that I was going to debate this issue but all that happened was more and more insults and emotionalism. It was never one on one but many against me duking it out tooth and nail. The problem was that even though I didn’t show my “emotionalism”, I did have way too much zeal to which caused them to retaliate. Yes, I should have been put in a cage and let out only when I had calmed down! I did realize after time that this topic, no matter how wonderful it is and how many blessings have come from understanding God’s elective purposes, produced more heat than light. Shortly after this I read an article by a man by the name of James McGuire entitled “A Kinder, Gentler Calvinism“. This is what I would like to present to you today…read this article especially if you are a newby to the doctrines of grace. I realized after reading this that my efforts shouldn’t be trying to convert everyone to this view but to show the love of Christ as a representative of this wonderful theology. In other words, I can understand and be blessed by these things but my main attitude should be a loving one; mainly I should just be first and foremost a Christian! I should be showing love to these individuals who are my brothers and sisters in Christ primarily. The reason why we have received such a bad name is simply because we tend to get emotional as well about these issues and an emotionalism that lacks reasoning and respect leaves nothing but a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

So…if you are a new Calvinist and you want to go around beating everyone on the head with the Soverignty of God by A.W.Pink, then perhaps prior to this take a deep breath, read Mr. McGuire’s article and think about the best method in being a good testimony to others in light of these biblical truths. If you absolutely can’t help yourself then perhaps a cage might not be a bad idea! Why not simply make people know your position if it comes up rather than being over-enthusiastic in going after everyone with it. I have personally found it is the best means by which we can honour Christ in a loving manner while keeping with the doctrines of Grace.

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Calvinism

Happy 500th Birthday John Calvin

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calvin-500Today is the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great reformer John Calvin. There are those who may find this post a little irrelevant and even bizarre seeing that most people don’t care about remembering the birthday of a man who has passed away many hundreds of years ago. I can certainly appreciate that some will be indifferent however some will appreciate, even for just a moment, the devotion and genius of Mr. John Calvin. I know that this is not Michael Jackson with whom the world seems obssessed these days because of  his passing on but an old theologian/pastor/preacher/teacher/writer/worshipper of Godwho lived in Geneva hence who cares right? Wrong! Calvin may not be the king of pop but he  left us with a far greater influence than most even realize. From theology to politics to language, Calvin was a great innovator of his time and one of the leaders of the great protestant reformation! For Christians, he has left us with some incredible amounts of literature that are still to this day are a tremend blessing.   

O.k., I’m not saying that we should be having a huge party to remember Mr. Calvin or break out the berets while having a parade in your city but let me make a few suggestions to what you could do today in order to remember Mr. Calvin.

  1. Today, you could devote a few weeks reading over his masterpiece “Institutes of the Christian Religion“.
  2. You could spend a few moments trying to understand the doctrines that have his name attached to them.rfg
  3. You could listen to the latest edition of “Radio Free Geneva“, the live streaming broadcast by James White and the see the emotional reaction that most have to some biblical principles that John Calvin’s name is associated with.
  4. You could grow a long thin beard, lose alot of weight and learn to speak french.

Whatever it might be, whether you like him or not, he was one of the most influencial theologian in the history of Christianity. Of course, there are those who will only remember the events surrounding Calvin & Servetus. These folks usually dont’ know the whole story and pass Calvin out to be a barbaric murderer. All I am asking if  please try to be at least a little respectful and don’t be those who are going to go rampant in remembering his unfortunate flaws as a fallible human being.

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 10, 2009 at 11:34 am

Posted in Calvinism, John Calvin

Point #2

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calvinI truly hope that my previous post wasn’t too harsh. I still feel that I am a part of the church and that I am responsible along with them for the decision to meet in the future at this establishment owned by this organization. As I had said previously, I truly love the people there and enjoy their fellowship. Perhaps I shouldn’t make such a big deal out of meeting in such a place but when you’ve been an apologist then you understand the need for consistency and testimony.

The second issue I’ve been having as of late is probably a little more difficult to deal with. The issue of meeting place will eventually be dealt with when we move into our new building hence there is an end in sight to my contention. Unfortunately, this next issue is doctrinal and I can’t see any true resolution in sight. The Church I frequent is basically one that is what I would refer to as a traditional evangelical church in their soteriology. In other words they are far more Arminian than Calvinistic. I’m not going to expand on the definitions of these two theologies and trust that the reader will do the searching for him or herself. I should probably mention that the church I frequent are definetly not entirely Arminian but would be more of a 4 point Arminianism where they would still hold to the doctrine of eternal security. I, on the other hand, am a 5 point Calvinist. I have embraced this soteriological position probably about 3 years ago and even though it has been a tremendous blessing all around, I have kept these beautiful truths to myself. Why you might ask? Well, it’s pretty simple, the doctrines of grace tend to cause this strange emotionalism in those who don’t hold to them. In other words whenever I have discussed these issues with others, there has been more heat than light that has surfaced. I have no problem in agreeing to disagree yet the other side has always been more particular about their condemnation of this biblical view. I had decided to simply let it go and if someone actually asked me I would certainly be happy to share what I believe. Recently, during a bible study at our church, the text of 1 Peter 1:1-2 was presented. It reads as followed:

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Generally the issue of election is skipped because it is felt that no one has a really good understanding of it. This night however it was spoken upon believe it or not. During the discussion one brother spoke about election meaning that God has chosen Christ as His elect and when we choose Christ, we become the elect. He argued that we are chosen unto blessings but never unto salvation. Of course this is the view of “corporate election” to which the Lord Jesus becomes a “corporate entity” or the body of the church. When we believe in Christ, we enter into Him or the body and because He is elect then we become elect. Interestingly enough the entire argument went into Ephesians 1 rather than 1 Peter 1. The principle statement was that we are chosen “in Christ” and not “to be in Christ”. I couldn’t hold myself back any longer since the tone that was used was less than respectful hence I finally spoke up. I pointed out to him that in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 we read that “we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginningfor salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” I then pointed out that part of the blessings we are chosen unto is the election and predestination. These things were purchased at the cross as well. I pointed out to him also that even though the text doesn’t say we were chosen “to be in Christ”, it also doesn’t say that we were chosen “because we chose to be in Christ”. The outflow of Christ are the blessings found in Ephesians 1:4-14. I pointed out as well that in 1 Peter1 the only reason that any of them would have had any hope in persevering as commanded by Peter was that they would have known they were the elect, sprinkled by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit. This would have given them much encouragement!

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Written by shawnkjmcgrath

July 4, 2009 at 4:15 pm