Commitments

Recently, a fan of the blog remarked that I only write about things I disagree with, tearing down arguments, and never giving a positive case for what I believe. This is mostly true. Evaluating arguments is fun for me. It’s a fair criticism, so here are some of my commitments.

Spirituality

I’m not afraid of this word. How badly the cults and other Christian traditions have used the concept of spirituality does not scare me off. There is nuance, variety, imagination, beauty, and joy in the world. The world would not be worth living in without them. God gave us those things as gifts. Spirituality is subjective, real, and just as “true” as objective, rational truths. Just as I know my wife loves me even though I could not prove it to you; I know Jesus loves me and I know I cannot prove it to you. That is OK with me.

I have a mystical connection with Jesus, and specifically the Holy Spirit, and it guides my life as a flashlight and warms my soul like the embrace of a friend. This experience lives outside the intellect and is just as necessary to the healthy functioning of the human soul. Experiencing beautiful and good things in the form of art and relationships is just as valuable to a Christians’ health as good doctrine. For a long time I was imbalanced on this score and it caused me great harm. The Spirit, through my seminary experience, has awakened my soul to this truth but I am still healing.

This mystical spark draws me to other Christians I recognize as having it. Once observed, I don’t rightly care how much I disagree with them about theology. Seeing virtue and goodness in Christian leaders I have worked with is vastly more important than agreeing with them about theology.

Talbot School of Theology

I spent eight years of my life on the campus of Biola University two to three times a week as a seminary student, receiving an M.Div with an emphasis in Pastoral Care and Counseling. This experience has deeply shaped me.

Talbot had a few hills it planted its theological flag on (trinitarianism, inerrancy, conservative theology, etc.) but then allowed for widely diverse viewpoints from within those boundaries. I studied theology under both Reformed and non-Reformed professors; from biblical scholars to self-proclaimed “shrinks”. In an all the ninety-six units I took, only two classes were disappointing. The rest were taught by professors that were somewhere between good to fantastic professors and men and women of God.

One of the great gifts I received from this educations was the absolute obliteration of my pre-conceived notions of what a Christian should look like, talk like, and believe (within orthodoxy, it goes without saying). The body of Christ is wildly diverse and that’s a good thing. The other great gift was that is showed me how much I do not know. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I had yet to learn. This was the attitude embodied by almost all the professors I studied under, and it trickled down to the students and formed our experience of learning. I admire them for this and hope to never become too certain.

Hills to Die On

I do have intellectual, philosophical hills I have planted my flag on that I will defend. I haven’t planted my flag because I’m Absolutely Certain and I hopefully always admit that I could be wrong. But these philosophical presuppositions, these a priori first truths are worth defending and I hope you can see why I would defend them.

The first is God is recognizably good. He’s not good because whatever God does is good. No, God is goodness. God had revealed His character to us through common and special revelation and we can trust that objective moral values accurately reflect His good character. This means that good things are good and we can celebrate and participate in good things, in whatever form they come. We can affirm that all good things come from God. This is a defense of God’s holiness, an apologetic for God’s character, and an evangelistic tool for the hurting.

This one is a close cousin to the first: God does not want evil for you in any sense. There is no sense in which God wants evil for you. That terrible thing that happened to you was not a part of God’s plan. God has a specific plan and it includes the redemption of all the terrible and evil things; not that those things would happen to you. Rather, God is always with you. God never abandons you even if you are in the depths of despair. During the dark night of the soul God is with you.

The third flag is planted upon the worth of human beings. You are not a worm. You are a loved child of God. Some of you are not yet “beloved” because you do not yet believe. But if you do believe, you are beloved by God. Christians are saints, not worms, not wretched sinners, but saints washed clean by the blood of Christ.

I have planted my flag on those three hills because I love the Church. If those are not true then the perfectly rational progression for God’s people, and really all people, is abject despair. Thankfully, most Christians and non-Christians live their lives as if those three presuppositions are true, even if their theology contradicts it.

Socio-cultural Perspective

The Bible resists systems. Systematic theology has limited uses. The Bible is primarily a story rather than a theological textbook. Its theological truths are contained in the story the Bible is telling about God and His people. The Bible is rightly understood with in his historical, socio-cultural context. What follows from this is that biblical, literary, and grammatical context is king in understand the meaning of a biblical passage. What one biblical author teaches in one context need not be harmonized completely with another author’s meaning in a different context. These truths ought not be systematized but understood on their own merits. Any correlation and comparison can then be done after the author’s intended meaning is properly understood.

Doctrines, likewise, are best understood in their historical, socio-cultural context. Every Christian doctrine was developed by the faithful men of God who’s contemporary problems the creation of the doctrines were meant to solve. They often did not succeed, but that was their aim. The grand example of this, of course, is the Reformation but this is true of doctrines developed in smaller contexts. For example, “Provisionism” has been developed in response to the rise of Calvinism in evangelicalism while “Traditionalism” has been developed in response to the rise of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention (and its seminaries). These contexts can be complicated but if we don’t understand them, we don’t understand the doctrine.

There is much more I could say on each one of those topics. I’m sure each statements brings with it questions. Please, ask them in the comments below. As I continue to write here on Soteriology 101, you will see these a priori commitments shape my observations and arguments.

37 thoughts on “Commitments

    1. Hey Mark, sure, God “brought” the evil upon Job by allowing Satan to inspire free moral agents to do what they wanted to do.

      That God did this to Job because Satan singled out Job as a test of the faith of God’s followers doesn’t mean God always does this, btw.

    2. Simple, really, Mark. In Job 2:10, Job is speaking. He is mistaken. He thinks God is behind everything that happened. The first chapter dispels this notion for us, but Job didn’t know the “behind the scenes” story, like we do.

      Job didn’t sin in what he said, but that doesn’t mean what he said was correct. It isn’t sinful to be wrong about something. All kinds of erroneous statements come out of Job’s mouth in the book of Job.

  1. Hey Eric,

    I like your statement, “The Bible is rightly understood with in his historical, socio-cultural context. What follows from this is that biblical, literary, and grammatical context is king in understand the meaning of a biblical passage.” Unfortunately this can be ignored or misused in the name of promoting various unbiblical teachings. So what appears to be the context is not the context at all. I believe that the best interpreter of the Bible, is the Bible itself. And this is how I understood your following statement: “What one biblical author teaches in one context need not be harmonized completely with another author’s meaning in a different context. Any correlation and comparison can then be done after the author’s intended meaning is properly understood.” In other words, they will in fact harmonize in the sense that they won’t contradict each other.

    In your next paragraph you say: – “Every Christian doctrine was developed by the faithful men of God who’s contemporary problems the creation of the doctrines were meant to solve. They often did not succeed, but that was their aim. The grand example of this, of course, is the Reformation but this is true of doctrines developed in smaller contexts. For example, “Provisionism” has been developed in response to the rise of Calvinism in evangelicalism while “Traditionalism” has been developed in response to the rise of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention (and its seminaries).”

    Can I suggest that it might be better to say, ‘Biblical doctrines should not be “developed” but rather “preserved” in response to the rise of various theologies. Paul said in Ephesians 4:3-6, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” In other words, we look for the message that has been taught from the beginning by Jesus and the apostles. This is probably the best way to respond to any new doctrine, including our own. Perhaps this is what you meant, but I thought it might be wise to bring it to your attention for your consideration.

  2. Wonderful post Eric!!
    Thank you

    During your time in Talbot, would you say there were perhaps 3 professors whose contributions you appreciated the most?
    And if so what those contributions were?

    Thanks
    br.d

    1. Whoa, br.d, that’s a great question. My three favorite professors were definitely:
      Dr. Mark Saucy
      Dr. Joseph Hellerman
      Dr. Rob Price
      oh, and Dr. Kevin Van Lant/Dr. Sunny Song
      My seminary journey was a long one and each of them played important roles along the way.
      Dr. Price taught me I didn’t get to carry my pre-conceived notions to the table as I read the Ancients. He also challenged me to be a better writer (by giving me a C- on a research paper) and showed me what scholarly research actually looked like.
      Dr. Saucy taught me how to think through theology non-systematically. He was also a good man who spent time with his students
      Dr. Hellerman not only guided me through much of Greek, but showed me the significance of understanding it, the richness and the depth.
      Dr. Van Lant, and the pastoral care program he transformed as I was going through it, and Dr. Song, taught me how to listen, how to empathise, and how to walk through my emotions so that I can take on the emotions of others in a healthy way.

      1. Wonderful!
        Sounds like a totally rich environment!!
        Thank you very much for sharing!

  3. Eric, Thank you for that sincere, eloquent statement of your faith. It very closely mirrors my own.

    While I could take or leave any theological system, or any doctrine, I refuse to reconsider, even for a second, the goodness and trustworthiness of God, along with the revelation of creation and scripture that God abundantly values and provides for his creation, and the pinnacle of that creation is mankind.

    These core beliefs are unshakable in my mind, and anything that man or institution proclaims otherwise, I reject as being deception on the part of the god of this world. Such falsities are often perpetuated by well-meaning individuals who have themselves been deceived by one appearing as an angel of light, so contrary to what is sometimes alleged, the vast ‘conspiracy’ against God and mankind is, in my humble opinion, the work of a very small number of demonic powers and those knowingly aligned with them.

    The rest of us, vastly naive, trusting and unaware of how long dark powers have studied ways to deceive and manipulate mankind, often find ourselves incapable of imagining the means facilitated to present a false picture of God, his intentions and reality as we envision it. Conceivably, every so-called institution of influence and power in this world could be instruments, wittingly or not, of the god of this world, whose sole goal is to defame God and undermine people’s faith in him.

    Thus, we must regard with skepticism even the assertions and claims of institutions long revered and trusted. Time has proven, again and again, that these prominent institutions have proven undeserving of the unquestioning faith that so many put in them. This unswerving faith, due to God alone, when put in fallible and corruptible men and institutions will always lead to deception and destruction.

    I suppose that seems somewhat off track from your post, but it seems to me that an important corollary to who and what we trust is who and what we should not so unquestioningly trust.

    Thanks again for your powerful statement of faith. Your work and words are much appreciated.

    1. Once again thanks Eric…

      TS00 writes: “While I could take or leave any theological system, or any doctrine, I refuse to reconsider, even for a second, the goodness and trustworthiness of God,”

      GA: Ditto… these are the two truths that are most attacked by Satan ever since creation “Has God really said?” And in the garden the number one goal of attacking the truthfulness of God was to get Eve to doubt the GOODNESS of God which was the foundational basis for her disobedience of God. “God cannot be trusted to tell the truth or be Good therefore I must look out for myself, obeying God is dangerous to me.”
      This is why Calvinism is so subtle and so evil…it does exactly the same thing that satan did in the garden. One way it does this is constantly Redefining words. Some of those words or phrases get stood upside down by word jugglery such as: Love, Not willing that any should perish, whoever, world, for the sins of the Whole world, ALL etc… Calvinism is one of satan’s tools to deceive the Eve’s of this age.

  4. Thanks Eric, well done.

    To affirm your “God is goodness” I will say that the Bible says “God is love”. Not, “God is loving” (adjective). God is loving is like “God is just” (adjectives) (Calvinists plant on that “just” one!). The only thing of this kind (verb, not adjective) is “God is love”.

    Is God patient? Yes, but the Bible does not say “God is patience”

    Certainly “God is love” rises above all the rest.

  5. Singing my song, Eric. Can’t spell good w/o G-O-D. Likewise, God IS love. And, the only worms God made are great for your garden or for fish bait.

  6. Eric thank you I enjoyed your honesty on some of your experiences and I absolutley agree on where you’ve planted your flags! I’m still learning this statement below though and I never want to think I presume to know other’s intentions.

    “The body of Christ is wildly diverse and that’s a good thing.”

    I have honestly at times questioned my own husbands walk, because he doesn’t always seem as excited about talking about the Lord or His Word… but God over and over shows me how faulty my thinking is and I’m grateful!! my husband does love God, but his journey looks different than mine. I appreciate this site for many many many reasons but honestly though calvinism tends to upset me, because of its implications against a Holy God in my estimation 🙂 it doesn’t help anyone to be argumentative in regard to defending the Goodness of God and I’m learning that through this sites efforts so again Thank you🌻

  7. That terrible thing that happened to you was not a part of God’s plan. God has a specific plan and it includes the redemption of all the terrible and evil things; not that those things would happen to you.

    So glad to see this in writing, Eric. I teach Bible studies at my church and one of the topics we covered a few months ago was John 10:10:

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

    While Christians are quick to thank God when good things occur in their lives, they are usually quick to assume that every bad thing comes from Him to – because He “allowed” it. They quickly forget that God’s will is not automatically accomplished in this world or in their lives, and Satan is almost never blamed for anything. Yet Jesus says that Satan comes only to kill, steal, and destroy.

    Think about it. A family is travelling home after Thanksgiving, hits a patch of black ice, careens off the road, and who gets the blame wrapped in pious sounding language? “Well, God’s ways are beyond our ways.”

    A man loses his job after being falsely accused by a colleague. “God is teaching him humility and to depend on Him. He will now have compassion on others who are falsely accused and have newfound ability to empathize with how Jesus felt when betrayed by Judas.”

    A young wife dies in childbirth. “God knew she would have perhaps apostatized in later years and took her home before she could do so.”

    I have heard all of these ridiculous statements. Never once is the real instigator blamed. What a great gig. Go around detonating bombs and then creating fake news that blames the innocent party.

    Yes, God can use all things for good. He is the master redeemer of the shrapnel created by Satan, ourselves, and others. But He is not the author of these things – merely the good shepherd that cares for His sheep.

    God brings difficulties into our lives, but that is different than evil, destruction, killing and theft – which originates in Satan. When reading Job, one has to remember several things:

    1) Satan both brought all of the destruction and instigated all of it (Job 1:9-12)
    2) The majority of the book is filled with false, pious-sounding counsel from Job’s three friends. It sounds good, like most wrong teaching, and wraps itself in pious language that appears to give glory to God (gee, sounds a lot like Calvinism and its claims to be the only theology that gives the “appropriate” level of glory to God).
    3) The three friends uniformly (and erroneously) counseled that bad things only come as punishment for our own moral failure. Job chapter 11 is just one of many examples of such false assumptions/counsel.
    3) Job’s three friends were rebuked by God, told to offer a burnt offering to atone for their folly, and Job was told to pray for them (Job 42:7-8)
    4) Job’s fortunes were restored two-fold (Job 42:10)

    I wish that Calvinism was the only belief system that ascribed all things – both good and bad – to God. But it infects too many of us. How many times have I also blamed God for things that are from the enemy rather than from His father’s heart?

    1. mrteebs
      I wish that Calvinism was the only belief system that ascribed all things – both good and bad – to God. But it infects too many of us. How many times have I also blamed God for things that are from the enemy rather than from His father’s heart?

      br.d
      Nice post mrteebs!

      In the ancient religions of Christian Gnostisism/NeoPlatonism – what stands out is Dualism.
      Good and Evil are conceived as being Co-Equal, Co-Necessary, and Co-Complimentary.

      The THEOS in both of these religions was said to be Undifferentiated
      And if one knows what to look for – one will find these same conceptions within Augustinian/Calvinism.

      Augustine adopted and synchronized various elements of those religions in his Catholic Theology.

      Augustine describes this “good-evil” dualism as “Antithesis”
      -quote
      : “And because this orderly arrangement maintains the harmony of the universe by this very contrast, it comes about that evil things must need be. In this way, the beauty of all things is in a manner configured, as it were, from antitheses, that is, from opposites: this is pleasing to us even in discourse”. (ord 1.7.19)

      Jonathon Edwards enunciates divine evil is necessary for the manifestation of divine good:
      -quote
      the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect both because the parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the other do…nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

      1. >blockquote>
        Jonathon Edwards enunciates divine evil is necessary for the manifestation of divine good: “the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect both because the parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the other do…nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        Whatever did God do before Satan fell and took a third of the angels with him? Apparently, lived in diminished glory. How very tragic that evil was necessary. What if (just saying) free will is intrinsic to God’s character, the nature of love, and something He bestowed on all of his creation? Does light require darkness in order to fully be light? If so, then we should perhaps inform God of His error (see Rev 22:5).

        Moral of this story: take care where you get your theology. More to come on this topic in a few moments…

  8. HEAVY BURDENS AND GRIEVOUS TO BE BORNE

    Historian J.B. Galiffe translated the official Geneva records during Calvin’s reign, which detail citizens routinely brought before Calvin’s official Consistory for inquisition.

    Calvin’s officers deployed a network of spies, to monitor private activities within the homes of Geneva’s citizens.

    Imprisonment for falling asleep during Calvin’s sermon
    imprisonment for discussing business maters on church property
    punishments for music or dancing as impious sin, and for being caught singing in one’s home.

    Speaking against Calvin’s teachings resulted in floggings, beheadings, tongue-burnings, and banishments.
    Torture on the rack was also meted out for speaking critically of Calvin or his sermons.

    Galiffe writes that Geneva citizens were regularly:
    -quote
    scourged, reviled, obliged to walk in the streets barefoot wearing a penitential habit and carrying a torch to expiate for what Calvin arbitrarily called blasphemies….

    30 executions of men
    150 of women,

    subdivided by method of death:
    13 persons hanged,
    10 beheaded, 55 quartered,
    35 burned alive after being tortured

    Often there were many of these spectacles in a single day
    Two years of Calvin’s government produced 414 criminal processes

    Women who nursed family members back to health could be accused of witchcraft and burned alive.

    In all, the official Consistory’s registry, records over 400 punishments meted out to establish Calvin’s form of piety

    Human psychological needs are not easily eradicated by religious fervor.
    And what we see in Geneva’s records appears as a backlash affect, to a malevolent paternal character.

    1. Wow Br.d
      I appreciate all articles and posts, that constantly bringing things into the light!! I sure wouldn’t want to follow, imitate or reflect anything to do with what he offered as a leader.. I have a hard time seeing in John Calvin’s legacy he left a transformed life… I would not be willing to have any title from this man’s name attached to my walk with Christ and you would think after one torture or killing John might have paused to reflect..

      Hebrews 13:7 NASB — Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

      3 John 1:11 NASB — Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

      1. Yes I totally agree!
        How Calvinist leaders can make that appear to have any agape characteristics at all is a testament to man’s ability to reshape things.

    2. Calvin perfectly illustrates the difference between gifts and fruit. Here’s what I mean…

      About a month ago, I did some deep digging into Matthew 7. I have seen frequently that people confuse fruit with gifts but Jesus made no such mistake. Here are the verses (italics) I spent some time studying, along with my observations:

      15 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

      Jesus here tells us exactly how to identify wolves: by their fruit. To drive this point home, he now gives a rather remarkable example.

      21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

      Prophecy, miracles, and discerning of spirits (ability to identify evil spirits and cast them out) are gifts – not fruit. Jesus is saying, in essence, “Do not make the mistake of conflating fruit with gifts. It will steer you wrong. There are many gifted people, because the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Samson was gifted, and exercised his gift and calling as a judge of Israel even when he was engaged in gross sin with harlots. I have listed for you the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There are people with incredible teaching gifts, administrative gifts, and other gifts that are not even Christians. You will be able to tell not by their giftings, but by their fruits. There are people in the body of Christ that are like gallbladders, spleens, eardrums, kidneys, and sweat glands. They are less seemly but bear good fruit. There are also those who are wolves – phenomenally talented (gifted) but yielding bad fruit or no fruit. They injure and devour the saints, yet are heralded as celebrities. Don’t be fooled. I have told you how to identify them.”

      I view Calvin as a gifted man, but who did not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This is not a man I want to emulate, and it is not a man that I want to rely upon as an inspired source of biblical insight or theology. Much of his thought is not original and can be traced to Augustine, who was sincere, but sincerely wrong, and likely the true father of universal divine causal determinism.

      1. Wonderful post mrteebs!

        This would also relate to the Gnostic view that the capacity for faith and GNOSIS do not exist within people.
        And in order to make this appear to be congruent with scripture, faith and GNOSIS must be given as gifts.

        But gifts – as you point out – can be misleading – and can appear as false representations.
        And in Calvinism is faith ever really a fruit – or is it always a gift?
        Is there really anything within Calvinism that is synergistic?

        I think Calvinists try to make things APPEAR synergistic that are in fact monergistic.

        If a neurological impulse is actualized within a Calvinist’s brain – occurring at an meticulously predestined nano-second in time – having been meticulously determined to infallibly occur by an external mind – is that a synergistic event or a monergistic event?

        In such case every neurological impulse – whether good or evil – becomes a gift.

      2. I should have said: This would also relate to the Gnostic view that faith and GNOSIS do not exist within those who are NOT elect.

    3. To add to my prior post, I see Calvin as intellectually gifted, but otherwise devoid of fruit. Preaching, teaching, and even soul-winning are not fruit. A highly skilled debator can proclaim the word of God and it will not return void. But that does not mean the proclaimer is a saint.

      Calvin is a man given something closer to 8-10 talents of intellectual capacity rather than 1-2 or even 5. But gifts are not fruit. The parable of the talents should teach us that. The person of low giftings (talents) can squander as much as the person of high giftings (talents). The point of the parable is how the recipient used the talents – not how many talents they had. They were judged based on usage – not possession. Sadly, Calvin bore bitter fruit and probably did more than any other man to enshrine heretical teachings with his Institutes.

      1. Interesting how historians point the same effect to the writings of Luther in the hands of Adolph Hitler.
        Both persons have Augustine as the common denominator.

      2. Almost all of history’s despots have been intellectually and oratorically gifted.

        And thus: you shall know them by their fruits – not gifts.

        Back when I was in the heavy investigative phase of studying out “the doctrines of grace” (and thus my immersion into world-class twisting of language) I began corresponding with a man by the name of Allan Turner based on this little booklet that he authored.

        On page 9, he discusses something he calls “The Gamaliel Fallacy”. This is basically the erroneous reasoning (see Acts 5:38-39) that anything not born of God will not reach critical mass. One problem: it is a fallacy. Common sense tells us this cannot be true because if it were, there would not be billions of Muslims in the world, the teachings of Joseph Smith would not have gained any lasting traction, nor those of Charles Taze Russell nor Mary Baker Eddy.

        I view Calvinism similarly. The number of adherents cannot be a gauge of usefulness, merit, or authenticity.

      3. Very nice!
        I appreciated this topic as I had occasionally started to contemplate the Gamaliel argument.
        And found this very helpful

      4. I was raised in the Lutheran church. Then Baptist. Then Pentecostal. Quite a journey.

        Not a big fan of Luther on many levels. I admire his courage at the Wittenburg door and many of the reformations he championed, but for those that have ever been through the liturgy of a Lutheran service, it is remarkably similar to a Catholic service. Generally, a form of godliness that today (sadly) denies the power thereof and conflates salvation with baptism.

        Luther is also the man who referred to the book of James as an “epistle of straw.” Lest I be accused of exaggeration on this, I heard it in a Lutheran Sunday School class in my 40s, taught by the pastor of the local Lutheran Church. I take that source (a Lutheran pastor) to be reasonable reliable and unbiased.

      5. Brian wrote a thesis on Luther – so he’s got some interesting historical knowledge on the subject.

        But yes – Luther simply didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole went in regard to paganism synchronized into Catholicism.
        How many Catholic buildings are actually pagan structures – faced over with Catholic architecture.
        And the original structures below – retained for who knows what purposes.

        Statues of the god pan holding his flute – said to be young David the shepherd boy.
        Statues of Zeus – said to be peter
        Statues of the goddess Astarte holding her son – said to be marry with child.

        Here is EWnglish historian, Theodore Maynard, in The story of American Catholicism
        -quote
        “It has often been charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations.
        Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast.
        The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

        This is served as the embryo of Augustine’s Theology

  9. Who exactly is considered the definitive spokesperson for Calvinism? Hard to find any two that agree.

    When rhutchin says he is just here to “correct misconceptions” is there an officially recognized kilogram to which his kilogram can be compared, like Le Grand K in Paris? Or perhaps now Calvinism can appeal to Planck’s constant? It feels more to me that there are hundreds of different kilograms running around – each similar but each trying to outdo the other by making the unpalatable palatable and the unscriptural scriptural.

    How exactly does rhutchin know when he is “correct”? What if it was predetermined that he be incorrect and deceived? How would he know, now that he has clarified “the elect” cannot be known and is part of God’s secret counsel?

    1. How many times have I heard it said: “will the real Calvinist please stand up” :-]

      The funny thing with a certain Calvinist we know – is how he assumes to put words in the mouths of every other Calvinist including John Calvin himself.

      John Calvin said [A] but what he really meant was “insert my current argument here”

      And tomorrow that “current argument” will be the opposite :-]

  10. I am curious about your beliefs. I am searching for a Christ centered church, and teachings I can read about. My wife and I left the LDS church two months ago. I’m not interested in what I can and can’t do. We lived in that fear already. I want to know the real Jesus!!
    Can you help us out? Maybe point out some great books to help understand what the Bible is telling us. We were taught that the Bible was corrupted, and it was not to be believed. So that is why the BM had to be given. I just can’t believe this crap. I have looked and found that today’s scripture can be traced back many many years. Where the BM can’t even be traced.
    Anyway, we are going to a non-denominational church right now. It seems Christ centered. My fear is that it won’t be. And that fear just comes from the lies we have been taught.
    Thank you
    Matthew H.

    1. Hello Matthew and welcome.

      I’m sorry to hear someone has tried to influence you with corrupted information.
      Scholars have long settled the fact that the scripture – above so many other forms of historical literature – has an extremely high degree of viability, integrity and trustworthiness.

      You may want to start out looking at this source here:
      https://evidencetobelieve.net/reliability-of-the-bible/

      You are very wise to see that the LDS system is full of man-made inventions, and I thank the Lord for leading you out of it.
      You will certainly not want to come out of that and walk right into another problematic group.
      Therefore you will want to stay away from groups that are Reformed – because they – like the LDS – contain too many man-made inventions.

      You are going to have to be watchful and careful because church members tend to want to paint their church as having no concerning problems – when in fact that is not the case. You may end up transitioning through a few different churches on your path towards a stable, mentally healthy, and edifying church.

      But you can take assurance in fact that the Lord has given you discernment enough to recognize problems and come out of the situation you were in. He will continue to build your knowledge, and experience, and therefore continue to refine your understanding of the general problems to look out for in other churches.

      I would be looking for fellowship with believers who have a strong link with scripture. I would be weary of charismatic churches which exhibit an immature or childish (believe every manifestation is god) attitude. I would also be weary and on the lookout for teaching that raises ministry onto a pedestal.

      Give yourself and your wife the opportunity to check out different bible honoring churches without feeling like you need to jump right into the next church you happen to come upon.

      And stay away from Reformed or Calvinistic churches – because you need to keep your mind free from being manipulated.

      Thank you for asking!
      And blessings.

    2. Matthew,

      It is so encouraging to know you are earnestly seeking truth. A friend recently loaned me a book about an LDS missionary family that renounced Mormonism and became Christians. I was telling him about an article series I was writing for the SOT101 website and how the “cure” for Calvinism is to simply read the Bible without the “lenses” of TULIP refracting and redefining the clear teachings of scripture.
      My friend said, “gee – that sounds a lot like this book I read where a Mormon missionary read the New Testament and realized that it was not compatible with the Book of Mormon or the teachings of the LDS church – he had to make a choice to follow the Bible or follow his religion.”

      The book is called Unveiling Grace by Lynn K. Wilder.

      Ironically, they may have gone from Mormonism to Calvinism.

      I hope you have not come away from this website with the belief that Calvinists are not Christians. They are. The disagreements are largely over whether man has a free will or if everything is already determined (as required by the Calvinist understanding of God’s sovereignty). The Calvinist’s motives are noble (to glorify God by making Him solely responsible for the destiny of all humans) but noble intentions and motives are the not to be confused with scriptural accuracy or with the character of God’s love and goodness and mercy and fairness as revealed in scripture. Calvinists elevate God’s sovereignty above all other attributes and cheerfully / blindly sacrifice all other aspects of God’s goodness to His sovereignty. It is not pleasing to Him to have His character maligned, no matter how pure or well-intentioned. Truth is truth and falsehood is falsehood. Job’s friends made this mistake (speaking wrongly about God) and were severely rebuked as a result. Don’t be one of Job’s friends.

      I have never been a Mormon so cannot easily identify with the turmoil you must be feeling or the immense peer / social pressure exerted by the Mormon church to conform. I do realize the ostracism is real and intense – much like Muslims that apostatize and convert to Christianity. Many are disowned by their families or worse.

      As BrD coached you, you would be advised to avoid Reformed churches and that can range from Presbyterian to certain Baptist churches to (sadly) many other “Bible” churches today. It is not that they are not Christian. It is simply that they convey a set of erroneous beliefs about God’s character, the ultimate intention of life for ALL people (not just the so-called “elect”), and a faith tradition that is ultimately characterized by a lack of joy and extreme emphasis on doctrine versus a freely offered love relationship between the Creator and His creation. Coerced love is not love.

      Recommending a particular church is difficult because the name on the sign is no assurance of sound doctrine, pure motives, biblical accuracy, ministerial integrity, etc. As much as it pains me to say this, I would almost automatically avoid any church with the name “Grace” in it, as this is usually code for “the doctrines of grace” (i.e., an innocuous-sounding term for Calvinism). There are exceptions, of course, but about 65% of the time, an organization with the name “grace” means they have hijacked the word and repurposed it to mean determinism where salvation is only offered to some – not all.

      Above all, read the Bible.

      An extremely good teacher that I follow is Rick Renner. He pastors one of the largest churches in Moscow, Russia and is a Greek scholar. He is very trustworthy in terms of the fundamentals of the faith and in cultivating a love for the Bible and, of course more importantly, the One that breathed every inspired word of the Bible. Rick’s website (www.renner.org) has a daily devotional that you might enjoy, as well as a daily 30-minute video teaching. Another good teacher is Jon Courson out of the Southern Oregon area and Applegate Christian Fellowship there. His radio program is called “Searchlight”.

      God bless you. You are on the right track.

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