Thursday, February 11, 2010

Voddie Baucham's helpful response to Calvinism question

There are a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentations of the doctrines of grace also nicknamed "the five points of Calvinism". It is much easier to build a straw man (i.e. hyper-Calvinism) and knock it down than to study the history and exegetical work behind these doctrinal statements. As you know I hold firmly to the "five solas of the Reformation" and understand the "doctrines of grace" to represent a right interpretation of Scripture. It is a systematic presentation of Biblical theology. Questions are often posed to me about these doctrines concerning prayer and evangelism from people who are trying to reconcile what they are learning from Scripture with what they have (usually erroneously) learned from their religious tradition. Recently Voddie Baucham responded to such a question and his response was, while not exhaustive, clear and concise. Follow the link below and hopefully you will find this helpful.

1 comment:

AJ said...

Brother Voddie gives a wonderful answer to an old criticism/question, but doesn't address the issue of prayer as well as evangelism, and misses one thing I believe to be crucial in the matter of both evangleism and prayer. It involves an understanding (or admittance that we cannot appreciate or fully understand the glorious purpose and providence of the sovereign God)of the doctrine of providence, or the decrees of God.

Firstly let me add to the debate, that if the accusation is correct, and "Calvinism is death to evangleism" (in the words of the golden voice of Adrian Rogers), then Arminian theology demands that Satan is kicking God's tail. If salvation depends upon us, then sovereign God is fearfully losing every time a sinner dies. Christ has died for them and we haven't sold them on Christ so God loses, and shame on us. Perhaps we should slaughter the children before they reach the "age of accountability" and secure their place in heaven before it depends upon them to decide or us to convince them. But, this is an absurd argument, and every Arminian I know that is concerned about the souls of men, get on their knees and pray for GOD to save. Wait, do they really pray for GOD TO SAVE? Doesn't that contradict their doctrine? This activity is in opposition to their own position, God can't save remember, it's up to us to convince and them to make the decision. What can God do about that He hasn't already done. The ball rests in the court of men, so I ask the Arminian his own question, "Why pray?"

As a believer in God's sovereign decrees, I can rest in His providential workings through me and even through my failures. He is working "ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are the called according to His purpose". This gives me a boldness and confidence in my weakness, that God will win despite my failures. It isn't a license to sit down, but rather the greatest encouragement that His word will not come back void. As far as prayer, Calvin himself discusses this at length in the Institutes in the book on worship. He describes beautifully that we have the privilege of playing a part in God's beautiful orchestration of His plans. This should be a most encouraging thought. God uses us, He uses the weak, He uses the destitute, He brings beauty from ashes, He has put the glorious gospel in earthen vessels, He calls us to be His hands and feet, absolutely incredible! It's not that God will not work out His plan if we don't pray, but that He purposes for us to share in the privilege of taking such a major part in the activities. Just like Christ taught us to pray, that His will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven. The angels working out His purposes, not that God needs them to accomplish anything, but they have been given the privilege to serve Him. What could be more glorious than to know that God will bring His purposes to past, and that He has graciously allowed us to take part in the working out of it by ordaining for us to pray, sending us to evangelize, and then watch Him work mightily though it. Pray and see if He doesn't answer. He WILL because He is the one who ordained for you to pray. Now, if we are disobedient, He may use another, take your talents and give them to another, and discipline you if you indeed be His son. The end result, His glory. Any possibility for failure?, Not a chance! This is paramount in Calvinism, Sola Deo Gloria, To God alone be the glory!