FlOwErS MaN BaD

Leighton Flowers is sincere and genuine…and that’s why Calvinists are angry with him.

Let me premise this article with a disclaimer: Dr. Flowers does not tell me what to write. Never has. Not once. On occasion he has asked me to amplify something he wrote but he has never told me what to say about him or what position to take on a subject. He does not hold up these blog articles for his editorial oversight, though perhaps some would argue he should.

Let’s begin.

The general consensus among the Calvinists who watch online teachers and engage in online discussions (“Internet Calvinists”) regarding Dr. Flowers is not that he is wrong, not that he is mistaken, but that he is a liar.

I will use a recent interaction to highlight this consensus

Leighton Flowers and Jeff Durbin

Jeff Durbin, who is an apologist focusing usually on such topics as Abortion and Mormonism, recently put out a sermon he gave at his church where he defends Calvinism from common objections. I will embed the sermon below:

Dr. Flowers put out a broadcast critiquing Durbin’s use of the Early Church Fathers to defend Calvinism and lo! “Apologia Studios”, presumably Jeff Durbin himself, commented during the live broadcast. Here is what he said:

According to Jeff (presumably), Leighton wrongly portray the point of Jeff’s use of church history not because he’s simply mistaken nor using faulty reasoning, but because he’s “misrepresenting the message”. In other words, Leighton really does know what the message is about, understands Jeff’s point regarding the church history references, and is lying about it.

My point is not just to point out the substance of the critique laid against Leighton all over the internet every day, but to display Dr. Flower’s response to it in real time, which is the real source of the Reformed anger towards him. Let me show you.

To Durbin’s accusation of dishonesty, Leighton said this:

I would love to know how I’m misquoting what you said, I’m playing you for yourself, you did just read the quote and then say ‘That sounds like a Calvinist’…I’m open to correction and so if you can explain to me how I can ‘do better’ that would be great”

36:40

While Leighton is standing on what he said, he comes across as genuine in his openness to correction. “…that would be great” is not couched in sarcasm that says “I can’t possibly be wrong”, none of it is condescending and dismissive. You don’t have to take my word for it, I time-stamped the quote and will embed the video below:

The exchange continues:

Unwillingness to properly represent opponents is another way of saying Dr. Flowers is lying. Flowers responds:

Jeff we just disagree with each other, obviously, you’re a Calvinist and I’m not, I think we have different reasons for why we hold to the views that we hold to.

37:25

Notice that he gives Jeff Durbin the benefit of the doubt, the charity, to assume that he is sincere, that he has reasons for believing as he does, and is sincerely mistaken; this is a level of charity that Durbin cannot give to Flowers.

What, specifically, have I said, Jeff…like, if you could quote me or just say ‘when you said xyz‘ you misrepresented me this way. That would help us because right now I’m playing your own words, I’m playing your video. And I’m letting you represent yourself and then I’m disagreeing with you…

38:00

Here is the sincerity the Reformed Internet Teachers cannot muster and their Internet Calvinist followers know it and so they cannot stand it when they see it from Flowers, whom they are told is a liar.

I welcome you on the program, just like I have welcomed James White on the program, you have a standing invitation, if you want me to send you a link right now you can come on [the program] and defend yourself even now, if you’d like to. I’d love to have that conversation with you. I’m a nice guy…I’ll…let you have time to talk, if that’s what you want to do.

*Flowers then waits for a few seconds, and then says, smiling all the while, his tone being one of how silly this all is*

It doesn’t sound like he wants to, it sounds like he’s doing to do a show in response, just like James White! Why don’t you just come on guys? I’m nice, talk, face to face, we don’t have to do dueling shows…just talk…brother in Christ, talk…I don’t understand it.

Why Are We Doing This?

I’ll let two tweets from a Calvinist tell you:

This is about branding, not dialogue. Showing strength, not dialogue.

Matt Estes recognizes that Durbin calling Flowers dishonest makes it look like Durbin does not have good arguments. That’s true…it does. The part that Matt probably would not admit is that some of the arguments Jeff Durbin uses to defend Calvinism in this sermon are truly weak just from a rational standpoint. Durbin acts like he doesn’t have good arguments because he actually does not have good arguments.

While Calvinist sincerely believe they have good biblical reasons for their theology, know also they do not have good arguments for those reasons; that’s why Dr. Flowers’ demeanor in the face of being called a liar is such a threat to them. Calmly looking at the camera and going “Let’s talk about it and you can tell me exactly how I’m being dishonest” is an infinitely better response than “I’m not dishonest” because going on the defense let’s Durbin maintain the dialogue on Dr. Flowers’ character. “Let’s talk about it” asks Durbin to show his hand and so he has to call or fold.

Calvinists Are Playing To Win

Calvinists see the soteriological controversies in terms of power.

Leighton Flowers is a threat, and so the worst thing they can do to is give him any more air time. Flowers, and Provisionism, cannot be destroyed by argument, if it could, that’s what they would do. But they cannot so they throw the rhetorical kitchen sink at Flowers to see if he will flinch so they can assuage their collection conscious. Making him angry so he will be discredited is the goal.

What they don’t get is that the very reason Dr. Flowers does not get angry at being called dishonest is because he does not see the soteriological controversies in terms of power. He does not think that giving Durbin or White credit for the other parts of their ministries gives them power or some imaginary “brand points”; so he does so freely. Durbin, on the other hand, cannot do the same.

You may think I’m picking at low hanging fruit by quoting from anonymous Twitter randoms and that may be true. But it shows how the ideas and rhetoric propagated by Calvinist teachers filters down to their many followers who engage in the soteriological controversies online. You can trace a direct line from Durbin calling Flowers dishonest to this…

You don’t cordially engage with a liar, you say stuff like…

Twisting!
Correction!
Retract!

Repent!
Rebuke!

Not arguments. Not dialogue. Not Christian brothers who disagree talking about their differences. But “be quiet because we told you to be”. Why? Because Dr. Flowers is a threat, Provisionism is a threat, which cannot be destroyed with argument. When it comes to views I disagree with, I tend to think that more speech is better. If I think your arguments are bad, I want you to take more not less. So…why do they want us to talk less?

Is this self-aggrandizing and hopeful? Maybe. But if we’re such a silly, insignificant ministry, if we’re not convincing people and making good arguments, then why are Calvinists so mad at Dr. Flowers? It reminds me of when atheists are furious with a Being they do not think exists. It would be like being angry with the Tooth Fairy. Yahweh is the aroma of death to atheists; He reminds them their death is immanent and their lives are not their own and they hate him for it. Leighton Flowers is the aroma of death to Calvinists; unflappable, genuine truth-seekers, people who evaluate arguments and confessions, are their kryptonite, and they know it.

23 thoughts on “FlOwErS MaN BaD

  1. “Making him angry so he will be discredited is the goal” – I believe that comment is correct. Leighton’s ability to remain calm, reasonable and charitable while others take cheap shots at him, only underscores the fact that you point out – his arguments MUST be better. .

  2. Wonderful article Eric!!
    Please allow me to comment on some highlights:

    From the Article:
    This is about branding not dialogue

    br.d
    BINGO!!!
    BULLS-EYE!!

    Calvinist language is MARKETING language.
    And MARKETING language is NOT TRUTH-TELLING language.
    Christians need to recognize the signs – and understand – Calvinists are NOT TRUTH-TELLERS.

    So what percentage of Calvinism is simply FALSE APPEARANCE?

    From the Article:
    While Calvinists sincerely BELIEVE they have good biblical reasons for their theology….

    br.d
    And this is why Dr. Tim Straton says – a Calvinist is nothing more than a “bag of beliefs”.
    There is no RATIONAL thinking in that bag.

    From the Article:
    Leighton Flowers is a threat…..

    br.d
    The reason Dr. Flowers is a threat is because Dr. Flowers thinks RATIONALLY.
    And RATIONAL thinking is the real threat to the Calvinist.

    From the Article:
    so they throw the rhetorical kitchen sink at Flowers

    br.d
    And this is why Dr. Jerry Walls says:
    -quote
    “If Calvinists didn’t rely so heavily on misleading rhetoric, their theology would lose all credibility within two years.”

    From the Article:
    the very reason Dr. Flowers does not get angry……

    br.d
    Dr. Flowers understands how futile it would be – to be angry at IRRATIONAL & SHALLOW thinking.
    There is nothing substantive to be angry about.

    The more LOGICAL response would be disappointment.
    Disappointment with the consistent lack of intellectual honesty – one finds with Calvinists.

  3. They are like any false religion, telling their followers to not engage with anyone who sees things differently than them because they will be taken captive by lies. Fear is their main tactic

  4. You’re doing a good job. Making people think and inspiring people to re-evaluate their beliefs. Causing genuine Christians to hold on to the right to think, read the Bible and believe the Bible and if need be, think differently.

    Christians believe what Christians have believed for 2000 years. Christians do not invent doctrines and mould Scripture to their own persuasion. For me, I welcome any challenge. No system of belief or interpretation of the Bible is beyond criticism. If it thinks it is, it is wrong.

    In his 1534 New Testament, William Tyndale once wrote (to the reader) that if there be faults in his work and “the word of God disallow it”, “refuse it”. He then stated “And where they find faults, let them show it me, if they be nigh, or write to me, if they be far off: or write openly against it and improve it, and I promise them, if I shall perceive that their reasons conclude I will confess mine ignorance openly.”

    I believe Tyndale’s example is one of excellence. None of us are perfect or beyond reproach. If our doctrines are true then they are not our own. If we are true, then we seek truth.

    May the Lord guide and strengthen us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  5. It’s a pity Jeff Durbin hasn’t shown the same humility as Leighton in basically admitting ‘I could be wrong’. And if I am wrong I want to know it, so that I can know and speak truth. In fact, I believe that Leighton would actually be thankful to the person who showed him the error of his ways, because he found out about it now, and was able to correct it. I didn’t see Jeff Durbin show that same spirit!

    What is there to fear if you are genuinely seeking after the truth? And what is there to fear if, at the very least, you trying to love others with what you believe is the truth, and would be of unimaginable benefit for all concerned? Why would you not want it to be examined – if you had nothing to fear? I think the question answers itself!

  6. Leighton Flowers appears to make a fundamental mistake when he offers “just talk…brother in Christ, talk.” He appears to assume that his opponent is a brother in Christ who might respond in a Christian way to such an entreaty. I suppose it is conceivable that he is a brother in Christ but it is almost certain that said “brother” does not regard Leighton as any kind of brother, and so treats him with disdain. I suppose Leighton is giving him the benefit of the doubt in speaking so kindly to him but really these guys wanna fight and they ain’t gonna let anyone rob them of the satisfaction of it and the cheers of their fans.

    1. Hello zoransulc and welcome.
      Your point is well taken!

      Yes – I think Dr. Flowers is following the principle of charity – which is practiced by scholars in debates.
      But your point is correct – also for Calvinists themselves.
      For no Calvinist is permitted by Calvin’s god – to know whether or not he is TOTALLY DEPRAVED or not.

      Calvin’s god could have designed him specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for Calvin’s god’s pleasure.
      And according to Calvin’s doctrine – the Calvinist has no way of knowing.

      So it LOGICALLY follows – Calvin’s god does not permit the Calvinist to know whether or not Calvin’s god is deceiving him – and giving him a gift of FALSE faith. He doesn’t know how many beliefs Calvin’s god has given him are FALSE beliefs. And he doesn’t know how many perceptions Calvin’s god is giving him are FALSE perceptions.

      Makes you want run right out and sign up for Calvinism doesn’t it!!! :-]

    2. Zoransulc, it is possible they see Leighton as a threat, and are afraid to give him air time. It is better for them that they turn him into the big bad wolf and keep him at arms length. I’m not a provisionist, but I see that he makes some reasonable arguments and is a friendly reasonable guy.

      Remember, the truth is out there (actually it’s in the bible); it’s just not to be found in Calvinism! I’ve looked everywhere, and I couldn’t find Calvin’s name anywhere in the bible – I don’t know why they are following him!🙈

  7. Psalm 119:105
    “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
    It seems there is a fear to step into the realm of relying on the Bible to direct, rather than following a man. Many Calvinists don’t realize how far away from Biblically debating with people they have gone. This leaves them on a crumbling foundation which ends typically in name branding/name calling. I’m teaching through Exodus, myself having to revise some of my outside of Bible information in accordance with the new historical discoveries made/compiled within the past 10 years alone setting the Exodus back to an even earlier then the old Halley’s early Pharaoh from Bible college. Same for them, their Church historic views taught need to be updated with truthful information showing they are seeking truth. Traditions vs. seeking of truth. Traditions are the hardest thing to overcome since we all sit & like to relax in them…gives a sense of security. Threatening to take away traditions stirs up the hornets nest. God bless!
    -Pastor Mike

    1. Thank you Pastor Mike – and welcome
      Yes – I agree.
      The Calvinist is convinced that his doctrine has its source in scripture.
      What he is blind to – is the way he gets there.
      He starts with a non-Biblical concept which is sacred to him.
      He takes that concept and searches for verses that can in any way be construed to affirm it.
      Many of the verses he finds have nothing at all to do with what he trying to use them for.
      But that doesn’t bother him – he uses them anyway
      He looks for verses in scripture that he can super-impose his sacred concepts on.
      Then he can claim he derived is doctrine from those verses.

      The whole process is backwards – but certain Gnostic/NeoPlatonic doctrines are so very sacred to him he simply doesn’t care.

      Blessings!

      1. And then he turns around and preaches sermons accusing the non-Calvinist of those very things he is doing to justify his theology.

    2. I can identify with that. When I read the Bible I find it very clear and precise and I agree with every word. When I read the 16th century (1st generation) reformers, I am often very edified. But when I listen/listened to modern ‘Calvinists’, I am drawn away from the Bible and into circular arguments, confused interpretations and ‘echo chambers’. That’s why I don’t listen to them anymore, I find them confusing and out of touch. They spend all their time arguing themselves into Calvinism.

      These days it actually feels really good when a Calvinist says ‘I disagree with you Simon’. I respond, ‘Yes, that’s because I believe the Bible first, whereas you believe Calvinism first and the Bible after…’.

      1. Very insightful post Simon!

        The interesting thing I eventually discovered about Calvinists – which they are oblivious to – is that they both agree and disagree with you.

        For example, they will assert that they hold to a higher view of divine sovereignty than other Christians – who reject their system out of a concern for it making god the author of evil.

        But then they manufacture a constant stream of DOUBLE-SPEAK – all designed to masquerade those problematic aspects of their system – to make themt APPEAR to resemble the system of those very Christian’s who rejected their system.

        They will claim to hold to Calvin’s god determining 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – leaving ZERO% left un-determined.

        And after that – they will claim that Calvin’s god leaves many things OPEN for them to determine *AS-IF* he didn’t determine 100% of whatsoever comes to pass.

        So yes they will claim to disagree
        And then spend the rest of their time crafting denials of that disagreement within cloaked language designed to hide the contradiction.

        Its a massive amount of DOUBLE-THINK!
        Blessings!

    1. Thank you Mark!
      Dr. Flowers – due to a very busy schedule – doesn’t interact here very frequently.
      You may more readily find him on Facebook.
      But I can tell you – he does sincerely appreciate all who are thankful for his ministry.

  8. Hi!

    This might be weird, because I suppose one would consider me to be more “Calvinistsic” in my convictions, I however enjoy Leighton Flowers content. I follow both Durbin and White, but found out about flowers through that 2015 debate.

    I’ll be honest, while I’m more Reformed, and have become more so over the past few years, the online community couldn’t be more cringy and bullheaded. It’s like if 4chan scrolling neckbearded basement dwellers were Christians. It’s why I don’t primarily associate with that community, and honestly find myself more frequently in fellowship with Arminians or Molonists.

    So even though we might have some disagreeances soteriologically, I would like to say thank you for your ministry, and your love for Christ and pursuance of truth.

    1. Caleb, thank you for the kind thoughts. Even though you have not yet left Calvinism, 😉 you might find this interesting.

      11 Ways People End Up Leaving Calvinism that I have read.

      1 Some became willing to test again each of the arguments of Calvinism that they presumed were true only because of the men (books, podcasts) they respected teaching them those premises. They approached them anew for themselves, and from the perspective of a debater who must force themselves to take the other side and to try to see the strongest legitimate arguments for that other perspective.

      2. Some of those had started reading through the whole Bible and noting that the tenor of the majority of Scriptures was plainly teaching the opposite of what the few favorite Calvinistic proof texts seem to teach.

      3. Some started looking back on their life became convinced in their heart and mind by the HS that they could have done differently at times. They knew this thinking clearly rejects what their deterministic theology says about everything happening in a predestined way.

      4. Some started to sincerely listen to good testimonies of former Calvinists and the sound arguments from Scripture that began then to convince them what the HS had been nudging them to reject all along in the harmful doctrines of Calvinism.

      5. Some started wondering, after having children of their own, how their love for each of their children, even wayward ones, could be any more than God’s for all of His “children” by creation. How could He not give them all equal opportunity to seek His mercy and grace? This led them to recheck the underlying teaching and alternative teachings to predestination of a limited elect.

      6. Some started seeing the unspiritual responses of some who professed Calvinism, like calling it the “gospel”, or those in leadership being oppressive, plus seeing some other reformed teachings that they felt the Scripture didn’t support, all of which caused them to research the points of Calvinism more in depth and that study led them to reject Calvinism.

      7. Some started seeing that attributing their own failures/sins to God’s predestination and not accepting personal responsibility for them was a reaction from fleshly pride. They decided to reevaluate the theology that taught them all was predestined to work out only one way. Studying graciously presented teachings contrary to that idea of predestination helped them reject Calvinism.

      8. Some researched the Servetus affair and became alarmed by the defense and revision provided by Calvin and Calvinists for such an un-Christian response against heresy. They became willing to research opposing explanations of Romans 9 and other passages, leading them to reject Calvinism.

      9. Some saw the hardening effect the teaching of Calvinism was having on their children… producing a fear of God but not a love for God or for the lost. They then prayerfully read through Scriptures and saw more clearly God’s universal love, leading them to reject Calvinism’s view that God eternally hates most people.

      10. Some didn’t get satisfactory answers to the questions that plagued them. Listen to this personal testimony:
      “They couldn’t answer my questions. For me there’s a point where you think they just don’t want to. Then you graduate to – they just can’t be bothered. Then you graduate to the realization that it’s not that they won’t; it’s that they can’t. Then you either accept the incoherence for whatever reason or you roll up your metaphysical sleeves and get to work finding a system that is more coherent.”

      11. Some began to rethink why they should be forced to think God is less merciful. Listen to this personal testimony:
      “Seriously though, the thing that really got me rethinking Calvinism was a quote I saw on twitter…: ‘Calvinism has taught the church that we should all be shocked that God would show mercy to even one unworthy sinner, but anyone knowing Jesus and His selfless sacrifice on the cross should be shocked that God would refuse to show mercy to even one unworthy sinner!’

      …I couldn’t think of anything to say right then so I just went on about my day and forgot about it. That night I was trying to fall asleep and pulled back open twitter and my message box was still open waiting for me to reply… I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why do we (Calvinists) work so hard to try and make people think it should shock us that God would be merciful to as few people as we can imagine….’

      That question ran through my mind for a good week and I just kept trying to ignore it by telling myself, “My flesh is trying to take glory from God by claiming it for myself.” But deep down I knew that wasn’t my root motive in asking that question. My motive was that I really wanted to highlight God’s love for everyone and his genuine desire for their salvation. Deep down I wanted for God to be more loving and desirous of others salvation than I am. I know that my heart’s desire for my sister and many of my close friends that remain lost is for them to believe and be saved and I wanted to believe that God really wants that too. I knew that consistent Calvinism doesn’t allow for that and that was my struggle.

      So, that’s when I went back and read… articles about how defending free will is actually more about defending God’s holiness and something just kind of clicked.”

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