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Hello everyone – a few years ago, I was invited to speak at a church about talking to kids about death.  Recently, a child had died in their community, and they wanted tools to talk to their children about it.  Recently, in our community a child was kidnapped and apparently killed.  As Alethia scrambles to get resources to the seminar, you might find this video helpful (there is a part two as well):

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Family Time

Psalms 118:24

“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I remember as a kid wandering around the neighborhood with other kids, all of us dressed in costumes, and going house to house greeting neighbors I rarely saw at other times… usually parents would come along – mine always did.  I would guess that it was the only time that our neighborhood gathered or united together for anything in a typical year.

I also remember when due to a combination of fearful Christian teachings and the rumors of reports (which turned out to be false, as I understand it*) of people poisoning candy and putting razors in apples, we stopped trick-or-treating for a few years. *http://www.snopes.com/horrors/poison/halloween.asp

Over the years, I consistently heard the Christian teaching on Halloween become more isolationist.  I heard about how Halloween was “The Devil’s Day” (or even the Devil’s Birthday!) when pagan Druids did evil things and that Christians should essentially avoid doing anything on that day that would smack of a Halloween celebration.  What did we have to do with the celebration of witches, ghosts, goblins, and candy corn (especially the ones with the brown layer made especially for Halloween), on the Devil’s Birthday, anyway?

So, the evangelicals generally boycotted Halloween for what seemed like at least a decade. Some still do.

In the last decade, there have been some changes.  Now, many of our churches are hosting “Fall Festivals” that happen to fall on the same weekend as Halloween and have lots of candy (ironic, since the pagans celebrated what would loosely be a “harvest” or “fall” festival and “Hallowe’en” (“All Hallowed Day’s Evening”) was the Christian name for the celebration).  At least, we seem to see this as our token capitulation – if the kids are going to be doing bad things in Satan’s name, we can at least give them a righteous version of that event… or at best,  perhaps we are just doing what our ancestors did:  throwing a bigger and better party than the pagans.

In my extensive and maybe exhausting (not an accident) discussion of the history of Halloween and other holidays (https://chrismlegg.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/historical-understanding-of-halloween/) I reference how so many of the pagan practices have been absorbed in our celebrations of Easter, Christmas, and Halloween… but that is not actually precisely what I really believe.  It happened for sure, but something else happened first.  The thing that happened first was that the pagans tried to absorb some the good things of God’s creation!

I believe that God created everything… first… and still owns everything.

I believe that God, not druids, created evergreen trees to be green all year long.

I believe that God, not pagans, created bunnies, eggs, and bright colors.

I believe that God, not witches, created pumpkins, harvest, and children having fun.

I think it is error for us to abdicate ANYTHING to Satan.  Just because some of his representatives throughout time have tried to take control of some of the things God, in His artistic brilliance, designed and brought into creation, doesn’t mean they get to own it!

October 31st, this year, and every year, is a day the Lord has made.  I think we should rejoice and be glad in it.  Satan doesn’t get a day.  He didn’t make one, and though he may be the governor of Earth at some level at this time (a discussion for another day), he created none of it.

Of course, as a family, we have some boundaries about what our kids can dress as… but that is not primarily about us thinking that it is inherently evil for them to dress as mythical or even pagan symbols… since they come up with some pretty crazy things in their own imaginations.  Plus, if we really examine it, our standards are pretty cultural, not moral (we would probably say no to an axe murderer costume, but not to a Darth Vader costume… no to a witch, but not to an Egyptian princess (who I assume would have have been a polytheistic pagan too))   I recognize and accept the tough line being drawn there…  Honestly, I prefer them to dress up (and this is in regards my children, who often dress up to some degree almost every single day!  As I mentioned in the Phalanx, my eldest son wore a cape for 2 years! http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/phalanx-introduction-2/) as people or ideals that we can find something honorable or admirable in them to appreciate (Phil 4:8)… like heroes, princesses, and race car drivers (ok, so that last one is a stretch 😉

None of this is about denial – I believe that evil spirits and devils exist… as well as axe murders, hippies in too-short skirts or French maids, but we do avoid glamorizing such things with our children.  These are icons that communicate something.  It isn’t fear that causes me to avoid them, but I want my children to think of Holiness and modesty as not flippant topics.  Man, being a parent can be tough, can’t it?

…but primarily these choices end up being about appropriate dress (modesty), not too scary for other kids (compassion), not ‘gilding’ something that has nothing good in it… and of course, we make an attempt at avoiding offending… based on the Romans 14 mindset.

So much about the grace filled life is about motivation and the heart behind something.  The kids design faces and we carve pumpkins pretty much every year, and some years the kids pick scary faces.  We are not trying to scare off evil spirits (we count on our Savior and His hosts for that), or celebrate something evil.  We just enjoy goopy, messy, creative fun with dad.

Great evidence of the truth that this day is not somehow owned by Satan, is that almost 500 years ago, on this date in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church.  Though the Christian reformation had been ongoing for many years, this date marks whenthe Protestant Reformation was finally fanned into a rolling flame.  God’s Day, not Satan’s.

So, my vote is that Christians don’t bunker up or hunker down with their dark porches and hide behind the couches on the “Devil’s Day”  with crucifixes in hand and the guns loaded.

I vote we have fun and celebrate as only people with new life, abundant life, and eternal life, can.

Celebrate this day as others – it is good as a reminder of the lives and deaths of Christian Martyrs, many of whom will likely die on this day again this year, as on every other day of the year (www.persecution.com)!  Thank God for His faithfulness.  Have fun with your neighbors on typically the one day that neighbors join together on something anymore – make the most of it!  Meet them, greet them and invite them back for dessert and love them in the name of Jesus Christ… and love their little witches, axe murderers and even Power Rangers who come knocking at your door.

But that’s just my opinion.

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Ginger and me

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was recently asked to comment on the question of how much time a husband and wife should spend together… and most often this actually takes the form of “how much time is it reasonable to for me to ask my spouse to spend with me (since I have asked and they told me what I was asking for was unreasonable).

I have a couple of comments.

First, before I say anything else, I want to communicate that one of the things that can make marriage fun is when you know you can ask for what you want.

I think a spouse should generally not be chastised for asking for what they want… I am serious when I tell my wife that I want her to feel welcome to ask for what she wants.  If my wife wants more time, more focus (can you imagine?) from me, then I want to know it!

I cannot promise that she will always get it, but sure want to know about it just in case I can!  This rule is a family rule, by the way.  The kids area also allowed to ask for what they want… but not promised to get what they want…

And I love, even when I cannot provide, to dream with my wife or child.

“I really want that toy” …  “Man, I bet it would be great to have every toy we could imagine – what else would you like if you could wish for it?” – that isn’t sarcasm, it can be just dreaming with them!

Also, different people have different Love Languages – one of which is “Quality Time” (according to Gary Chapman)… in my marriage, I would translate that for my wife into “Undivided Attention.”

The idea here is that one spouse may be satisfied with less time than the other… but why not take the opportunity to give it?  I want to be able to give what I can when I can, because The Lord knows that I will not always be able to say yes.

God is a God who loves to give good gifts… and I love to reflect Him as a good gift giver to the people I love the most.  I love to give them what they want, when I can or when I think it is right/best. Now, on to the question more directly…

**************

For years, counselors have compared marriage to a garden.  This comparison works on many levels.  I have pointed out before that one comparison is that the “natural” state of a garden (meaning the state it exists in without the intentional input of energy) is death; the “natural” state of marriage is divorce.  Without the intentional input of energy, marriage dies.

Many want to think of marriage as similar to drifting downstream together… but that would imply that the natural state of marriage is to go where it needs to, but that isn’t the case, as anyone who is married knows.

I assume most therapists would agree with me that very few marriages end with the emotional bang… most marriages that end in divorce, drift into divorce.

There is more to look at in regards to this issue here at boring marriages… and ideas of how to avoid that drift!  If the question is one of sex, it may actually be about intimacy, so I would encourage you to take a look at the conversation about how those things are linked in powerful ways.

But in response to the question asked, the first answer would have to do with what kind of garden you have?  If a garden is otherwise healthy, and in an environment that engenders health (think two people who are generally healthy and who have quite a bit in common), then less scheduled and intentional time is probably necessary.

Years ago, I think I remember hearing James Dobson say that he figured a good minimum goal would be:  15-30 minutes a day, 2 hours a week, 1 night a quarter, and one weekend a year.  I like these, and would generally agree…

By this he meant (if I am remembering it correctly) that we need direct and meaningful conversation and interaction 15-30 minutes every day in order to keep the garden in good shape.   Then, we need to plan a more extended period each week in addition to that – a date, couch time, etc. of meaningful interaction; then an overnight away about 4 times a year and a longer couple’s vacation about once a year.

Keep in mind, this is focused time!  Watching TV together, while nice at times, would not count, unless you were engaging at the time with one another (in which case, feel free to turn off the television).

Now, you can already see that a one-size-fits-all rule just won’t work, though.

So, what are some concepts that might work?  Jump on over to part II

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As a well known serious Star Wars fan, I am getting a lot of questions about my opinions about Ep VII.

After watching it 3 times in two days a (and a 4th since), I have determined that it is, in fact, a Star Wars movie.

It feels Star Wars, looks, smells, and pretty much sounds like it.

I agree that maybe Abrams and Kasdan over-did the mirroring of Ep IV plot line. However, I am so thankful that they did it at all, though, that I can forgive that perhaps they over-did it.

I don’t think it is fair for those of us who were children when 4-6 came out to look for the same feelings we had back then. We aren’t children anymore. However, even for today’s children, we cannot hope for the same experience.

Until we saw A New Hope, our best Sci-Fi involved a cardboard Enterprise Star-Trek-gallery-enterprise-original-0085riding a string toward the camera and Claymation aliens. Today’s kids have seen “The Avengers” and other well-written stories with brilliant special effects. I know that hoping for them to experience our wonder at a movie is likely just nostalgia now.

However, I was hoping for my kids to get to experience a Star Wars movie – preferably untouched by George Lucas when he has no accountability or controls over him.

In my only real critique at this point, I am super-frustrated with the poor handling of the grieving of Han Solo. I almost expect a cut scene to show it… but Chewbacca walks right past Leia in the immediate aftermath of Han’s death? I don’t think so. Epic error that I am sure they will hear about. No memorial for one of the legends of the rebellion? Of course, there are at least two more movies to make this right. To quote Snoke, “We shall see.”

Of course there are other details I could pick on, but that is true of any movie I think I have ever seen. My hope wasn’t that it would be the perfect movie… but that it would be good and be a Star Wars movie.

However, one of my favorite aspects I already love: in true Abrams fashion, he left us with an excellent mystery that will keep us guessing and writing for the next 2 years.

He left us with Maz’s question: “Who is the girl?”

In other words:

What is Rey’s real last name?

It seems obvious that someone hid Rey on a desert planet to keep her out of the hands of those who might control her.

  1. Skywalker – she is the daughter of Luke Skywalker and some unknown mother.

Making the case:

* R2D2 comes back to full power when she sets foot on the same planet.

* She is a naturally gifted at mechanics (young Anakin), a super-naturally gifted pilot (older Anakin) and a quick study on the lightsaber (Luke).

* Maz insists that she gets the light saber (and says it “called to her.”)

* Maz references her finding what she has lost by recovering Luke.

* The light saber comes to her.

* This series of movies is about the Skywalker family (but this works for being a child of Leia too).

* This overcomes the difficulties with Han and Leia seeming either ignorant of her identity or weirdly not letting it be known. Granted, Han and/or Luke could have lied to Leia about Rey dying at birth or something and then hidden her.

* Her clothing matches Luke’s from IV.

Solo – she is the daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa (presumably the fraternal twin of Ky Lo Ren)

Making the case:

* This would follow the pattern of the original with twins and allow for brother-sister interactions later.

* Ky Lo seems to engage with her in an odd way – like he is related to her. Their whole interaction feels brother-sister.

* There are a lot of “proud papa” looks and interactions from Han.

* Ky Lo references Han as the “father she never had.”

* Maz asks Han who she is and we cut away at that time.

* This keeps Luke from having a mystery-lover.

* Her clothing at the end matches Han’s… and her blaster is slung low, like his.

Kenobi – she is the granddaughter of Obi Wan Kenobi

Making the case:

* This would be a curve ball and that would be cool. I have nothing else.

She is a grandchild of Qui Gon Jinn

Making the case:

I cannot and will not since this would lend authenticity to Ep 1-3 which VII certainly did not do in ANY way. Also, who? That person doesn’t exist.

She is another immaculate Midichlorians child.

Don’t even think about it.

Another likely idea:

She is Luke’s child by an unknown mother (so far) and he is unaware of her existence. The mother hid her away to keep her from “following old [Luke] on some damn idealistic crusade”, so to speak. They could have chosen a nicer care-taker, though. Where is Aunt Beru when you need her?

ob_adffb7_star-wars-7-le-reveil-de-la-forceFurther Commentary:

One of the coolest things about Episode VII that sets it apart from Ep 1-3 (which I only acknowledge in criticism) is that I am already intrigued and looking forward to getting to know these characters more. Each of them are interesting and three-dimensional. I really want to know who Rey’s parents are.

One of my friends, who is a decade younger than me, already said “I am excited about the next one.” This is the pain I miss – waiting TWO WHOLE YEARS to find out what happens next! Maybe this is a little like hazing – wanting people to suffer as I did as a pre-teen… but it sure beats just hoping that the next one doesn’t stink as bad as the last one.

After 4 viewings, and listening to the soundtrack (loving anything with Rey’s theme in it especially), I find my affection for the movie continuing to grow.

Now you can chatter, Red 2… anything to add, Wedge?

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The Thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus Christ.

For years I have talked to mostly men, and a few women, about issues connected to the temptations particular to pornography.   Since the incidents of women engaging in pornography is apparently on the rise, I have decided to go back and add both genders to the conversation here…

Hooked on love

Hooked on love

“Porno-graphy” is the combination of two Greeks words meaning the graphic representation or the graphic version of sexual immorality.

It isn’t new.

Since people could carve stone, there have been examples of pornography.

 

And for years, I have wondered at the roots of why it is tempting to us.

When you take out all of the factors that might “explain” the temptation – unhappy life, unchosen celibacy, and even the general drive toward sexuality – and all of these can be removed as variables – there is still an intrigue.  Why?

Even if we are happily married to a beautiful person with an active, varied and adventurous sex life… and we aren’t particularly in the mood for engaging sexually at some point we can still find ourselves tempted by pornography!

Now, before I go on, I want to clarify that I believe that viewing, reading, or participating with pornography is sin.  The fact that it is a temptation generally common to all people doesn’t make it less destructuve.

All sexual immorality is condemned as sin in the Bible.

See passages like 1 Cor 5:1, 1 Cor 6:18, 2 Cor 12:21, Col 3:5, and 1 Th 4:3.  It is sin, and as such, is toxic to human life.

God desires something better for us – a  more full, meaningful and life-giving way of living…

But Pornography is incredibly destructive to relationships and famously addictive… worse, it isn’t like alcohol or drugs.  As lethal as these are, they are external of the person.  Technically (though it is incredibly hard), a person can just leave drugs or alcohol somewhere and stay
away from that place.  Sexual addictions, like pornography (once it is inside your head) is like food.  You can stop doing meth…

But you can’t stop eating and you can’t stop being a sexual person.  It can make the addiction that much more lethal.

The endorphins that make the experience so addictive come from inside our own body, and they are some of the strongest feelings we
have.  The linkages can be very strong.

So, as we begin to look at some of the aspects of temptation posed by pornography, I don’t want it to be taken as treating sin with kid
gloves.  Far from it.  I think it can be healing and empowering to understand things.

Truth sets us free.
When sin is brought into the light, it loses a lot of its strength.  Additionally, for those NOT tempted by pornography, it may be valuable to hear and understand more.  So, let’s get to it:

Why is pornography tempting?

*  I believe that it is a “normal”, healthy thing that men are attracted to the female form (or in the case of a female, the male form).

*  I believe that it is also so that men are typically specifically intrigued with the parts of the female form that are special and different from the male form (and vice versa).

* I believe that it is also healthy for men and women to be intrigued with sexuality.

I believe that these are generally God given desires and interests.  Certainly most women and wives would feel like something was wrong if the men and husbands in their lives did not have these interests!

Again, I think these are God given healthy desires that anyone might want to find in their husband, son, etc.

Note:  I am not making any comment about homosexuality or any other specific individual attractions.  I can do that in another article  ometime… and attraction is a very complex science that would requires more than I am willing to take here.  I am speaking in general terms at this point.

God has offered an amazing provision for the experience and expression of these desires and interests… a place that is meant to be safe,
free and full of grace (https://chrismlegg.com/2011/03/07/facets-of-sexuality-part-2-intimate/)…

… called marriage.
Marriage is particularly crafted to offer this place of safety for handling something as powerful as sexuality.
Marriage is like a secure castle wall in which the power of sexuality can be safely engaged with and enjoyed…

Does anyone doubt its power?
Like a fire, in the proper setting, sex is life-giving and enchanting;  out of the proper setting, it creates a constant risk of death and destruction.

I didn’t anyone doubted it… we all know how powerful it is.

Those listed above are God-given and healthy interests.

But there is a rule about that here on planet earth…

If there is a God given yearnings and God given provision, then there are also going to be alternatives…

Believe it.  Satan offers us many alternative ways to fill the God-given desires.  I don’t think he can create true desires.  He can only offer substitute provisions for the desires that God created.

So he does.  He has provisions too.

Counterfeits.counterfeit_0612

Pornography is one of them.

More on this battle we face next time.

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Now, here are some of my personal responses to these points.

My issue with the Calvinism branch of reformed theology is mostly based on the view that if one thing is true, others things cannot be… when often this is not the case biblically. If something appears to be paradoxical, it may be our error. The extreme views often held are either misunderstood or unnecessary.

I will also offer a percentage that expresses my own personal stance as compared to the full Calvinist view. A very strong Calvinist would score 100% on each one, many who would claim to be Calvinist… and especially “reformed” would not score 100%. I represent no one but myself here… these are my thoughts only.

I think this is a more accurate conversation, at least from my perspective, rather than referring to myself as a “four pointer” or something like that.

 Total Depravity: 80%

I believe that mankind and each man is depraved and plenty depraved… but not “totally” depraved according to the way I would use the word “total”. I typically like the “intensive” vs “extensive” clarification.

First, I think we are still created and still bear the image of God. That image itself is not depraved.  

Additionally, I am not as depraved as I could be – there are sins and perversions I have not ever engaged in. I think we represent (each) a cup of water with poison in them (which is poisoned enough) but not a cup of poison. If I use the word “total” to say “I colored a picture totally black,” I mean that there is nothing but black on the page.

Calvinists often say that mankind comes to God like a criminal comes to a policeman – in other words – runs in the other direction while hateful and resentful. I think this is accurate… but that even a criminal has some concept ofimages eternity in him (Eccl 3:11)… so I think it is plausible that we might seek God like a criminal seeks a policeman, when the criminal is falling off of a 1000 foot cliff and is Cop offers him a hand.

What I think is necessary to understand is that no one has the right righteousness, nor enough of it to cancel out our fallen-ness. 

Unconditional election: 60%, or depending on your definition of “unconditional”

The questions isn’t whether the Bible teaches election. It does (Eph 1:4). The questions are about what the term means and what, by existing, it cancels out.

There are things that God elects (Rom 9:10-13) but does He elect for Salvation unconditionally?

Could it be conditioned upon the works of man? No, passages like Eph 2:8-9 make that pretty clear that nothing man can do is what motivates God to save us.

My thoughts are that I can list out a dozen or maybe 100 passages that back the idea that God chooses with utter sovereignty (Rom 8:29, Rom 9:13, John 15:16, and Eph 1:3-11 just for a start) depends on no one but Himself to make that call.

I can also list out dozens of passages that defend the idea that man is responsible to freely believe in God (John 3:16-18, Rev 20:12, and even Eph 1:12-14!)

For this reason, I have come to the opinion that both are true. Man freely and honestly chooses. God sovereignly and freely (dependent on no one else). How is this logically coherent? There are several ways, but I like middle knowledge best.

Limited atonement: 10%, if that.

Verses in defense of the idea of limited atonement:

2 Tim 2:9-11. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Heb 5:9-11. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”  11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 

John 17:1-3… “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (ESV)

This passage might say that Jesus was only planning on dying for the flesh the Father had given him. It may not. It seems to be referencing the last phrase, which is about knowing the Father and the Christ…does that mean Jesus did not die for the other flesh too? It is not clear.

These, however, seem more clear:

2 Cor 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

The word “all” here is the same as Romans 5:12

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”

Romans 5:6. Look to Romans 5:6 – the Greek for “ungodly” is “without religion”  – I cannot believe that Paul MEANT to say “died for the ungodly elect” but left the word elect out.

John 3:16. Further, read John 3, Christ’s discussion with Nicodemus about how to be saved.  “For God so loved the ELECT that He gave His only begotten Son…?”  For God so loved the WORLD.

Acts 17:30, “All men to repent,” not just some men.  How could they repent unless their sins had been paid for? One problem with Calvinism is the quick leap to God calling upon people to do things they have no option of obeying as mystery.”

Romans 5:18.  “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

1 Tim 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle–I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying–a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (my underlinings)

1 Tim 4:10  “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (this one is the toughest one to me… it seems to actually delineate between believers and non and yet refers to Christ as savior of all)

Heb 9:11-12  “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Well, that oughta give some stuff to think about… now you can see why I do not accept the teaching of “limited atonement.” I understand the logic behind it, but I just think it is not scriptural.

Irresistable Grace: 60-80% depending on definitions.

To the degree that “irresistible grace” means “drawn,” I am on the same page.

I am not 100% on irresistible part, though.. can the Spirit not be quenched in regards to salvation? This is a problem, I know, sprung of the less than 100% agreement with UE.

However, I do think it is impossible for someone to come to Christ unless God draws them. Certainly, part of that is that the Image of God plays a role here, as does the eternity put in the hearts of all men.

Also, does the irresistible grace apply to every person who believes? Could it be that some are drawn irresistibly, and not others?

Also, I think this argument is greatly augmented by Middle Knowledge again. In many ways, this argument is so linked to Unconditional election that the same arguments and verses apply, since if the teaching here is that God, once electing someone, saves them. I agree with this principle, but not that man has no role in the saving part. See the quandary? If UE is not 100% true, then IG is limited in the exact same ways.

Here are some verses that make it clear that people can only come to God is He chooses and draws them. God is not a passive member of the salvation of any human being.

John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Romans 11:5,6 – “a remnant chosen by grace”

John 15:16 – “you did not choose me”

Romans 11:7 – “others are hardened”

John 17:9 – “I do not pray for the world, but those you have given me.” {This is an interesting verse despite the issue of “prayer” not “die.”}

Eph 2: “made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved.”… verse 8: by grace through faith.”

John 3:18 – belief is the source of “not being condemned” – unbelief is the source for condemnation.

Perseverance of the Saints 100%

Since salvation is dependent on God’s work, its maintenance is also dependence upon His work… which is settled. As Jesus once said… “It is Finished.” Since I am on the same page here, that once Christ has set you free, you are free indeed, then I will leave this one at that.  This is not really “perseverance of the saints” since it isn’t the saints who are doing anything about it.  You could argue that it should be called “perseverance of the Savior.”  I like to change the term “security of the saints” to “security of the savior” and then I can agree.

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John Calvin (1509-1564) was a serious player in the reformation – the break of what is now known as the Protestant Church from the Roman Church. He had very strong opinions on the way that the Sovereignty of God trumps any freedom that mankind might have… which might be none.

Often today one misnomer for Calvinism is “reformed theology”. Actually there are many more who would share the theology of the reformers, but not the same theology as Calvin or his students.

Calvin was a serious player, but the reformation was not build around him. It was built around mainly 5 (ironically, what is it with that number in theology?) theological statements… the 5 soli (or sola) statements that were meant to distinguish the reformers from the Roman Catholic Church to which they were contemporary:

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)

Solus Christus (Christ alone)

Sola Gratia (Grace alone)

Sola Fide (Faith alone)

Soli Deo Gloria (To God’s glory alone)

These are the actual 5 tenets of reformed theology. Instead, what we think of as the 5 points of Calvinism sprung from a series of views of different people within the reformation.

arminius Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) was    student of a student of Calvin.

His followers wrote the Five Articles of  Remonstrance in response to the  theology of Calvin:

 

  1.  God has decreed to save through  Jesus Christ those of the fallen  and sinful race who through the  grace of the Holy Spirit believe in him, but leaves in sin the incorrigible and unbelieving.
  2. Christ died for all men (not just for the elect), but no one except the believer has remission of sin.
  3. Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
  4. All good deeds or movements in the regenerate must be ascribed to the grace of God but his grace is not irresistible.
  5. Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the faith. But it is possible for a believer to fall from grace.

In 1618, followers of Calvin’s original teachings at created the Canons of Dort refuting these 5 articles. These have been (often to the chagrin of Calvinists) simplified to these 5 points (these are the passages that a Calvinist put with the tenets). These are often referred to as “TULIP” because of the first letter of each item. I will offer a super-simplified explanation of each one here:

Total Depravity (Total Inability)

Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. john-calvinSometimes, , though not always, when Calvinists speak of humans as “totally depraved,” they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality — his thinking, his emotions, and his will.

Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.

The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called “Total Inability.” The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God’s making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).

Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would “accept” the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).

This doctrine does not rule out, however, man’s responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God’s sovereignty in salvation, and man’s responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true — to deny man’s responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-Calvinism; to deny God’s sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism.

The elect are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, though good works will never bridge the gulf between man and God that was formed in the Fall, good works are a result of God’s saving grace. This is what Peter means when he admonishes the Christian reader to make his “calling” and “election” sure (2 Peter 1:10). Bearing the fruit of good works is an indication that God has sown seeds of grace in fertile soil.

Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)

Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, “for whose sins did Christ atone?” The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28).

Matt 26:27-28

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. NASU

Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church — the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name “Christian” (Ephesians 5:25).

This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Christ’s death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. Believing that Jesus’ death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ’s act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!

Irresistible Grace

The result of God’s Irresistible Grace is the certain response by the elect to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him (John 6:37). Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them (John 6:44), and the very Spirit of God leads God’s beloved to repentance (Romans 8:14). What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!

Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God’s hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will remain in God’s stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the “last day” (John 6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ’s promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect.

Next time, as requested, I will offer up my own personal thoughts on each one of them.  But, please d
on’t blame anyone else for my folly.

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