Friday, August 26, 2005

Calvinism vs. Arminianism...vs. Biblicism?

As I have indicated in a few recent posts, I am a Calvinist. I have some friendly debates with some friends every once in a while, but generally I'm not an "in your face" type. I'll leave that to James White. He gets a little mean for my taste, though he does have a lot of good information to share. But I digress.

As I said, I'm generally not a confrontational, "in your face" kind of guy, but I have heard something that some non-Calvinists have said that sends me into convulsions. In order to set the scenario, let's say that a Calvinist is dialoguing with non-Calvinist. Often the Calvinist will draw a dichotomy between Calvinism and Arminianism on the grounds that you can either be monergistic of synergistic with no third option available. We'll leave the question of the adequacy of these definitions to the side for now. There is a response to this that kills me, and I've heard it several times now. Some of you other Calvinists may have heard this before as well.

"I'm not a Calvinist or an Arminian. I'm a Biblicist."


There are several things that get me fired up when I hear this. First, it's a cop-out that doesn't recognize what the Calvinist is saying. You fall into one of the two camps no matter what. Second, it's insulting to the Calvinist (and to Arminians, I suppose). In essence, the non-Calvinist is saying, "You're following the teachings of some man." Are we supposed to ignore the exegetical work that has been done? Do they think that we venerate Calvin so much that we do not question his teaching? We are Calvinists because we believe in the Bible. Third, it drips of pseudo-humble arrogance. "You can have your fancy theological systems. I'll stick with the Bible." Friend, this "fancy theological system" is derived from the Bible. Please tell me how you've transcended the debate such that neither label applies to you.

Bottom line: You are monergistic or synergistic, end of story. Denying a title because it has a man's name in the title gets you no points.

Phew. I feel better.


Jennifer said...

This is a long buried post, but I LOVED it - totally classic. Thank you. I feel better now too.

Pastor Davis said...

Since before Calvinism and Arminianism, other labels must have existed, then why not Biblicism. Since both A and C must employ exegetical gymnastics (with some texts)to uphold the consistency of their positions, then why not a position which coheres at places sometimes with A and sometimes with C, yet recognizes the inability of either system to handle all biblical texts.

Ashley said...

I think it just causes unnecessary division among the body to use labels like those. Why don't you just say that you agree with the teachings of John Calvin on those matters? If for no other reason than to preserve peace with your brothers and sisters who disagree.

Anonymous said...

T- Total Depravity (Romans 3:10,11)
U- Unmerited Election (Eph 1:4-6, Rom 8:28-30, 1 Pet 3:9)
L- Limitless atonement (Jn 3:16, 4:14, 1 Tim 2:3-6, Heb 2:9)
I- Instrumental Grace (Jn 1:11-14, Eph 2:8-10, Tit 2:11)
P- Preservation of the saints (Rom 8:31-39, Heb 7:25, 12:1-11)

5 Bible Truths.