21 March, 2008

Calvinism is Like Long Division

Most people don't like, but it's not like it's calculus or anything. It's just kind of hard to grasp, harder to work through, and prone to error if you're not careful. And really, as you go through all the higher math, higher education, and real life that the world can throw at you, how often do you use long division? Most people can get by fine without it.

But when you need it, nothing else will do.

28 comments:

pearlie said...

I am not sure if I should take you on! haha ... I may be putting myself in headbanging sessions! I was just thinking the other day to try to understand how certain things are understood "on the other side".

Should we take it offline? :)

Missy said...

:P

...you might have a point...

...and I might be more comfortable with that...

...if it was just called Jesusism...

codepoke said...

Pearlie,

I know I'm hard headed, so I don't blame you for hesitating. Never answer a fool in his folly. :-)

Of course, that verse is quickly followed by "always answer a fool in his folly."

(Prov 26:4&5 - it tickled me to no end the first time I noticed that a couple months ago.)

codepoke said...

Ah Missy,

Your point is well made, but if I called everything I believed Jesusism, what everyone else call what they believed? I think maybe it's safer to call men's understandings of God by men's names. I mean, "Arminianism" sounds so much better than "Wrongism." ;-)

Kansas Bob said...

I don't like Calvinism or Arminianism.. or pretty much any other ism.. these things tend to separate us rather than bring us together because they are based in the head and not in the heart.. you knew I'd say that :)

Happy Easter Kevin - He is Risen!!

Missy said...

Very good response, Kev! I find agreements and disagreements with several ism's, not one in total and often I can differ daily. Can I get away with just calling my theology "Missyism"?

Milly said...

Does Missyism coincide with Millyism and the MoonPiest? Because if it doesn’t then you’re wrong and I’m the rightest.

pearlie said...

Let's start with your understanding of this verse:
Romans 6:10a The death he died, he died to sin once for all.

pearlie said...

Yeah ... I find these 2 verses mind boggling but very true - a paradox perhaps.

Proverbs 26:4-5
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

And if you drop in Proverbs 26:12?Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

codepoke said...

KB,

I do like Calvinism and dislike Arminianism because they are based in the head, and not in the heart. It's the moment when people make these things heart tests that they become dangerous, but our heads need the truth, and we need our heads. There's a reason we say a dependable man can "keep his head" during a crisis.

If someone tells us our eternal fate rests upon the power of our own will, then that must change the way we obey God. If someone else tells us our eternal fate depends upon a thing utterly out of our control, God's decisions, that will also change the way we approach God. Our heads can make our lives in Christ much easier, or much harder. So, I like the thing "ism's" give us. They give us the wise opinions of fallible people who have gone before us.

Sign me up.

He is Risen, Indeed! And that changes EVERYTHING.

codepoke said...

Thanks, Missy. I'll tell you whether I subscribe to Missyism right after you figure out what it is. ;-D

codepoke said...

Pearlie: P-K4
Kevin: P-K4

And the game is on. :-)

Rom 6:10a.

Paul is attempting to teach the Romans both why they should quit sinning, and how. In the midst of an entire chapter dedicated to saying that we are, at some level and in some way, dead to sin and should therefore no longer live as if slaves to it, Paul uses the Lord's death as an example.

In dying, Christ put Himself forever beyond the reach of sin. Jesus lived on Earth, susceptible to sin's powers. He was infinitely more powerful than sin and its weapons never scratched His holiness, but it could still reach Him. Using the very weapon of sin, its gravest power, he put sin's power behind Him forever. He died, and in dying He laid sin to rest forever, then He rose again.

We should reckon ourselves to be within His death, that might live within His life.

Rom 6:11 & 12
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.


Hopefully this won't turn into head-banging. :-)

But feel free to go private email if you'd like.

Weekend Fisher said...

Checking the Bible is like checking your math. Lots of people do long-division wrong. Your salvation never did depend on you but on God's love; TULIP has that part right, which can be very comforting.

codepoke said...

Very good, WF.

I like that. Thank you. :-)

Kansas Bob said...

"It's the moment when people make these things heart tests that they become dangerous, but our heads need the truth, and we need our heads."

Faith and trust are all about the heart.. really.. I am convinced that we will see a variety of ISMs in heaven.

But the issue is what ISMs do on earth.. they tend to divide the body of Christ rather than unite us. Just look at the landscape of Christian religion and you will see all sort of ISMs that seem to have brought division instead of unity. Theology has done little to unite any of us.

eclexia said...

Kansas Bob,
I sort of agree with you that ISMs tend to bring schisms, just by their very nature. At the same time, there is something almost protective in the ISMs. Even though I'm not a very good Calvinist (or Arminian, for that matter), the doctrinal teachings in the various camps, especially the ones that are different from my own views, keep me from being able to be dogmatically and arrogantly confident that I've got it right or figured out.

Somehow the tensions between any two theological extremes keep me aware that I don't know it all and can't figure it all out or make it all make sense in concrete, boxable ways. I used to argue theology. I don't anymore, not because it doesn't matter, but because when I listen to the other ISM on the other side of where I am, it's not that it makes me think I'm wrong, but it does humble me and make me realize they've got a point, and that point is (often, though not always)based on an understanding of Scripture and a grappling with the Scriptures and a wrestling with the mysteries and things that don't always make sense, just like my own views.

I'm not saying all theologies or ISMs are equal or equally right. Just that listening to proponents of groups that see it differently than I do, helps keep me from thinking I've got it all right or figured out.

I have my share of questions that I feel Calvinism doesn't adequately address or resolve or take into account, and I'm okay with that since I don't feel the need to adhere wholeheartedly to a particular theology. But, back to the original thought in the post, there are times I need to rest or fall back desperately onto what I know to be true, and what Calvinism teaches unapologetically and without compromise--the absolutely sovereign care and plans of God, into which nothing can slip by on accident. I'm glad I can find that systematic teaching in my brain during those desperate times, even though I can't make all the aspects of the theology add up or make sense.

Kansas Bob said...

I think that ISMs do more damage than good eclexia.. our debate is very civil but unfortuantely this is the sort of stuff that is not very civil at times and splits churches - interesting that schism is an ISM :)

But on this we can agree:

"the absolutely sovereign care and plans of God, into which nothing can slip by on accident"

See, even a non-ISM guy like me can agree. Of course it still doesn't beat:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so.

..on that we can also agree :)

codepoke said...

Great discussion. I hear you, Bob, and I hope you'll remember how many times I've stood against doctrine in much the say way you are. I've shifted position, though. Let me take a crack at why.

The power of sin is death - not sin itself. Unlike sin, I believe doctrine is a reasonably neutral tool. It has power for good and power for evil.

The power of doctrine is "denomination."

If we can learn to hold doctrine, and use its power for good without denominating, then it just may save us from a world of evil. I think the concern of the church falling away from the Lord is a bigger worry even than denomination. So, if I can start opening my heart to brick and mortar churches being within the purpose of God, then it's not a hard step for me to begin to embrace doctrine again.

Still, I agree. Denominating is killing us.

Kansas Bob said...

Good take on doctrine being different than ISM CP. Unfortuately Calvinism is more about a systematic conglomeration of doctrines - that is why it is an ISM.

I think that doctrine might say "Jesus saves" .. an ISM disects that and makes it all about the minutiae of why, how and who "Jesus saves".

Not sure that this makes sense but I think it is all about the disagreement on the minutiae of present day application and not the core doctrines of the faith.

pearlie said...

Pearlie: P-Q4

But what about using the verse as proof text for once saved always saved.

No, head not banging yet - we just got started.

And I know you'd hate this but I tagged you :)

codepoke said...

Thanks, KB.

> Unfortuately Calvinism is more about a systematic conglomeration of doctrines - that is why it is an ISM.

I'd prefer to look at Calvinism as technical jargon. Everyone hates jargon, but everyone loves their own jargon. We need jargon because it's much easier to say, "The CC build failed, so bounce the box," than to spell out everything you mean.

It makes sense to me to use the ISM's without abusing them. When I say, "Calvinism," you know I mean a system in which God decides who will be saved in 3 little syllables. If I try to redefine my position every time I mention it, I'll quickly become unreadable.

And then it's so important to know how to rest in God. Our feelings are anchored by our facts. When I feel abandoned by God, the fact that He called me before I was born is a restoring fact. It cannot be right to throw all that wisdom out because some believers excuse divisions by mere knowledge.

codepoke said...

Pearlie,

> But what about using the verse as proof text for once saved always saved.

I cannot tell what your position should be on this, so you're going to get an unnuanced answer. :-)

It seems like there are some good proof-texts for God fully saving those who first come to Him, but I don't think this is one of them. The entire context is of sin in the life of the believer, and not of salvation.

This passage specifically says Christ Himself died to sin, without imputing that death to us. This passage illustrates how it is possible for those in God to live separately from sin by being dead to it, because it worked for Jesus. Other passages talk about what happens to us "in" Christ, but not this one, so I see it as a sanctification thing, not a security thing.

pearlie said...

but I don't think this is one of them
I see. I have seen some who use this verse to say that Jesus has died once and for all, period. And take it to mean, he did it once, how many more times does he need to do it just so you can be saved, and so on so forth.

What are the other more valid verses?

pearlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pearlie said...

eclexia,
I like your way of putting it, which is also the stance I am taking, like you said it doesn't matter after all. But it serves to listen and see what we all have to say so that we are not caught up in our own pride. We are never always right - I don't think we can ever be, not until the final revelation of the Lord. Now is the time to love and accept one another and agree to disagree where it is not a matter of life and death.

Kansas Bob said...

"When I say, "Calvinism," you know I mean a system in which God decides who will be saved in 3 little syllables."

..but it does not communicate the basis on which He decides who will be saved. Does He decide on the basis of His foreknowledge of our response to His love or does it decide based on His love for Jacob and hate for Esau. You see, the ISM doesn't really communicate that much. It is in the dialog that we come to better understand each other.. the ISM just puts up a wall and gets in the way of communication.

I like what Pearlie said:

"We are never always right - I don't think we can ever be, not until the final revelation of the Lord. Now is the time to love and accept one another and agree to disagree where it is not a matter of life and death."

This is the issue with an ISM.. when you embrace it you typically believe that you are right and others are wrong.. present company exclued of course :)

codepoke said...

> when you embrace it you typically believe that you are right and others are wrong

Of course.

But you don't need an ISM to do this.

I think we're actually pretty close on this. I'm currently in a place of worrying that the church is ignorant of her Lord, but I hate it when brothers reject brothers, too.

Thanks, KB

codepoke said...

Pearlie,

Romans 5 comes to mind, as does Romans 8.

Hebrews 6 really says a lot about Christ's sacrifice from a negative viewpoint.

But I don't know how clearly I'm thinking tonight, and I've still got a good deal of work to do.

Thanks for playing along.

(Your meme is interesting, but I don't know whether I'll find the time to play.)