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.
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…
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.
58 thoughts on “FlOwErS MaN BaD”
“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. .
Wonderful article Eric!!
Please allow me to comment on some highlights:
From the Article:
This is about branding not dialogue
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….
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…..
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
And this is why Dr. Jerry Walls says:
“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……
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.
I think it’s a little more than the language of branding, it’s the language of authoritarian control. For a reference to what I’m talking about check out Steven Hassan’s BITE model, especially the “Thought” and “Emotional” sections.
Here’s what I believe I’ve observed. Calvinists can’t escape that basic idea that God created people whom he desired to banish to hell for all eternity. There is no logical continuation of that idea to the premise that God is recognizably good.
So…in order to keep Calvinists from thinking too hard about this, “thought stopping” techniques must be employed as well as other techniques of mind control. Otherwise, far, far fewer people would be Calvinists. I don’t think many Calvinists are actually aware of what they are doing in this regard, but mind control has now become part of the culture of the New Calvinists. The unbelievably common refrain, “So-and-so doesn’t understand Calvinism” is simply a thought stopping cliche that is designed to control thought. Calvinists aren’t the only Christians who do this: the phrases “God works in mysterious ways” or “God works all things for good” can sometimes function in the same way.
Hello Paul and welcome
Very insightful post!!
Yes – I’m familiar also with what is called “Milieu control” and “Closed system of logic” which I am convinced are an integral part of the Calvinist social structure.
I also very clearly see what Dr. Bella Depaulo Social Scientist calls ALTRUISTIC DISHONESTY as a Calvinist behavior pattern
“Altruistic dishonesty occurs when a person is working to protect a ‘target’. A high percentage of people who rationalize the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies. And this is especially true with people who are working to protect a ‘target’.”
These are called “other-oriented” or “altruistic” dishonesties. Protecting the ‘target’ allows them to perceive themselves as honest rather than dishonest. For the sake of protecting the ‘target,’ a high percentage report they would have felt worse if they had been honest, because honesty would have revealed things about the “target” they do not want people to see.”
Altruism is in fact an excellent way to understand Calvinism’s euphemistic, equivocal, and cosmetic language.
A battered wife may choose to restrain herself from communicating anything that may paint her husband in a bad light – even if she knows what she is communicating is false rather than truth-telling. She is simply protecting the ‘target.’
How much more would a Calvinist refrain from communicating anything that would in any way reflect badly on God or the Gospel. He would feel worse if his language were truth-telling – because it would reveal things about the ‘target’ he doesn’t want people to see.
John Calvin was honest enough to describe his emotional response to the doctrine – saying it produced in him a sense of “horror”.
That would be quite natural – given the fact that the doctrine depicts a god who designs the vast majority of human race – and a large percentage of the believing church – specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.
In TRUE Calvinism we have a higher degree of divine malevolence than divine benevolence.
Its no wonder then – “thought stopping” and “altruistic dishonesty” would be psychological byproducts of that.
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
Wonderful post Elizabeth!!
And welcome! :-]
I know many Calvinists who came out of Roman catholic church and yet say many of the same arguments. irresistible grace is one that Catholic’s teach, that you are born again by the grace of God and then are saved at a later time, but scripture says we are born again of the word of God. Jesus said my words are Spirit and truth, and we are born of the Spirit. I can’t say I believe any of the five points of Calvinism and don’t believe from what I have heard in their debate’s changes any of my beliefs on those points.
Welcome Joe! You said the three most important words… “but Scripture says”! As long as you continue to take Scripture’s meaning according to normal rules of grammar and context, you’ll never be misled by the false doctrines of others, like Calvinism.
Hello Joe and welcome!
You are correct when you point out that Calvinism “Comes out of” Catholicism.
N.T. Write for example – calls John Calvin a Catholic with a small “c”.
And the primary Catholic – which Calvinism comes out of is Augustine the Catholic NeoPlatonist.
However Calvinism’s conception of that which is IRRESISTIBLE to humans is more precisely stated by Calvin himself
The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that *NOTHING HAPPENS* but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed. (Institutes, book 1, XVI)
So in Calvinism *ALL* human functionality is made IRRESISTIBLE to humans – simply because *NO* human functionality happens that is not knowingly and willingly decreed.
If a GOOD impulse comes to pass within the human brain – that would be classified as a “GRACE” impulse. And since that impulse comes to pass infallibly – it is made IRRESISTIBLE to the human brain.
And if a SINFUL/EVIL impulse comes to pass within the human brain – that would be classified as a “BAD” impulse. And since that impulse comes to pass infallibly – it is made IRRESISTIBLE to the human brain.
So in Calvinism – every impulse that comes to pass within the human brain or the human body – to either make that human perform something good or to make that human perform something evil – is an IRRESISTIBLE impulse – which was FIRST CONCEIVED in the mind of Calvin’s god – and then made to come to pass at the exact instance he decreed it to come to pass.
I appreciate the work Leighton Flowers at Soteriology 101. I am not a Calvinist, and have always found some of their beliefs very jarring, appearing to me like an attack on God’s character, especially his sovereignty, justice and love. Yet, there are people I love, who also love God, that hold to at least some Calvinistic ideas. I referred one to your website. He saw the picture of Calvin with red dagger glasses on, and chose not to look at your articles. He assumed you hate your brothers, and doesn’t want to read your material. He has looked at the arguments of non-Calvinists who present their ideas in a respectful manner, so it was clearly a presentation issue. Given that many Calvinist have honest reasons for believing as they do, and given that such a picture is unnecessarily offensive (even to me as a person that considers Calvinism outright heresy), I wish you did not put such things on your website. I believe unnecessarily offensive pictures hurt your ministry, and encourage a mocking tone in others in this debate. As strongly as I disagree with Calvinism, it pains me to see things degenerate into uncharitable comments and mocking. We win our brothers by speaking the truth in love, not by being disrespectful. And there is plenty they can teach us, too. None of us has a monopoly on truth.
Welcome Jean. Tell your friend that picture might rightly be considered “unnecessarily offensive”, but I can assure you that it would be hard to find an offensive tone in anything Leighton has written or produced in a video.
Your friend should read more Calvin, if he wants to read hatefulness towards other real Christians. Consider this.
Calvin wanted heretics dead… even spoke approvingly of death for those who published things against his doctrine of predestination. Hmmmm. Not very Christlike!
Calvin – statements pro capital punishment for heresy.
In his Prefatory Address to the Institutes –
“For I fear not to declare, that what I have here given may be regarded as a summary of the very doctrine which, they [the heretics] vociferate, ought to be punished with confiscation, exile, imprisonment, and flames, as well as exterminated by land and sea.”
In Schaff’s Church History, vol VIII, para 157 – from Calvin’s Treatise Against Servetus –
“Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church.”
In his commentary on Christ’s command in Matt 13:30, “Let both grow together until the harvest” –
“This passage has been most improperly abused by the Anabaptists, and by others like them, to take from the Church the power of the sword. But it is easy to refute them; …. I shall satisfy myself with replying, that Christ does not now speak of the office of pastors or of magistrates, but removes the offense which is apt to disturb weak minds, when they perceive that the Church is composed not only of the elect, but of the polluted dregs of society.”
In his Letter 389 –
“…papers and books of his Castalion [a heretic], in which an attempt was made to impugn our doctrine touching predestination, have been condemned with a prohibition to publish them on pain of death.”
Responsio ad Balduini Convicia, Opera, IX. 575: (in Schaff, VIII, 137)
“Servetus suffered the penalty due to his heresies, but was it by my will? Certainly his arrogance destroyed him not less than his impiety. And what crime was it of mine if our Council, at my exhortation, indeed, but in conformity with the opinion of several Churches, took vengeance on his execrable blasphemies? Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.”
Hello Jean and thank you for your post.
He saw the picture of Calvin with red dagger glasses on, and chose not to look at your articles.
There are – of course – two sides to every coin.
And there will be people who will look at that same picture and want to discover what truth it represents.
The probability is – that person has never personally researched anything by John Calvin and will never do so – because he is afraid of the disturbing things he might in fact find when he does.
The average Calvinist pastor today – totally refuse to teach his congregation the dark side of Calvinism – because he knows full well – his congregation would dwindle down to nothing if he did.
He will not for example – teach Calvinism’s doctrine of the WHEAT AND THE CHAFF
Which stipulates that Calvin’s god deceives a large percentage of the believers
Giving them a FALSE SENSE of salvation
So that he can -quote “Forsake Them” and -quote “Strike them with greater blindness”
One can easily understand why no Calvinist pastor today would present that aspect of Calvinism to a congregation .
Consequently – Calvinists today are fed a sugar-coated version of Calvinism
And its quite understandable that Calvinists – would want to avoid anything that would create cognitive dissonance.
But we do thank you for your kind and sincere approach to the mater!
Thanks for the response Brian and BR.D. Leaving a response here is very confusing, so it may not show up in the right place! To Brian: I am aware that Calvin sanctioned the death of people who disagreed with him. He is not my favorite reformer. However, my friend who is a 5-point Calvinist does not believe he gets his theology from Calvin, but from Scripture. He is not the one I referred to this website. To BR.D: I am them sure there are plenty of people who fit your description. The person I know does not (a relative, not the friend I mentioned earlier to Brian). He encountered Calvinism in seminary, he already knows he does not agree with everything Calvin stated, he is honestly seeking answers. He is in a church that is not 5 point, but still has some teachings of the TULIP. Maybe you are intending to target a less well educated crowd, but then Leighton videos are way over their heads. The people such a picture appeals to, I would think, are probably people that cannot follow Leighton’s arguments. And although there are many articles on your website I would recommend, this is not one of them. I agree that Leighton’s opponents were not engaging the topic and unfair to assume ill motives, but at the end of the article the author does the same thing – assumes motives. It doesn’t help our cause when we stoop to the poor quality reasoning as our opponents. Anyhow, none of the people I know who hold to various amounts of Calvinism feel there ideas are coming from Calvin. They think they come from Scripture. So, engaging the Scripture should be the focus. Comparing Calvin or any Calvinist to Scripture is great. Pointing to Calvin’s offensive ideas may be ok in some contexts, but other times it is a straw man argument. Depends on the specific conversation.
my friend who is a 5-point Calvinist does not believe he gets his theology from Calvin, but from Scripture.
Yes – that is to be expected.
A person who claims to get his theology from a man – knows he is guaranteed to not be taken seriously
Every Jehovah’s witness make the same the same exact pattern.
Additional – one Calvinist will disagree with another Calvinist
With both of them have not problem insisting two contradicting positions come from scripture. :-]
Anytime someone claims to get his theology from scripture – is a tell-tale sign he is deceiving himself.
He might must as well claim he is no human! ;-]
Additionally- there is an observable degree of discomfort that Calvinists have with statements John Calvin made.
Calvin – during his life-time – had many detractors – which forced him into a defensive posture.
Within his theological writings – Calvin did not have the luxury of back-pedaling or distancing himself from his doctrine.
Over the years – various reformed thinkers recognized that people within congregations found John Calvin’s harsh IN YOUR FACE language unpalatable.
Various confessions were crafted – which are essentially statements which carefully omit the divine malevolence enunciated in Calvin’s writings
Calvinists today – label Calvinism “Doctrines of Grace” as a way of obfuscating the DARK SIDE of the doctrine.
It is actually a doctrine of “Good-Evil”
But the “Evil” side is obfuscated to make it palatable for current day Calvinists and to make it more a more marketable product.
Here are a couple of examples from Calvin
By the eternal good pleasure of god though the reason does not appear, they are NOT FOUND but MADE worthy of destruction. – (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of god pg 121)
Not only the destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked themselves have been CREATED FOR THIS VERY END that they may perish. – (Commentaries Romans 9:18)
if he has DOOMED US TO DEATH it is vain for us to fight against it. (Institutes 3:23:12)
You will not find any such characterizations within the reformed confessions.
Nor will you find any Calvinist pastor of any moderate sized congregation doing so either
But Calvin was LOGICALLY COHERENT with the underlying foundational core of the system – which is the doctrine of decree
The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly
decreed. (Institutes, 1, Chp 16, Par. 3)
Calvinists today avoid the doctrine of decrees like the plague – while insisting they are Calvinists.
Such claims are simply logically impossible – because they are denying the core essence of what makes Calvinism unique.
Wait a minute. You said: “Anytime someone claims to get his theology from scripture – is a tell-tale sign he is deceiving himself.” But I make that claim, too. I have read through the Bible in a year more times than I can remember. I compare Scripture with Scripture. Sure there has been human influence, but my reason for rejecting false doctrine mostly comes from engaging Scripture and having a healthy relationship with God (which includes healthy fellowship with other believers, of course). I once believed in the doctrine of the Trinity because I was taught it. Then a JW came to talk with me, and I challenged that person not to rely on the Watchtower, but to read the Bible for themselves, asking God to guide them. I felt like God challenged me to do the same thing regarding the Trinity. At first I was scared … that is a major doctrine. But I realized I would be duplicitous not to do so, and it would show a lack of faith in God, who said he gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. When I put my prejudice aside and looked at Scripture I found all sorts of passages supporting the doctrine of the Trinity, most of which are not typically used as proof texts. I no longer believe that doctrine just because I was taught it, but because I have seen it for myself in Scripture! That is why reading through the Bible for themselves, and being in right relationship with God, is the foundation of discipleship for my grandkids. That works to everyone’s advantage as it tempers false beliefs that I and my Calvinist leaning family members might have.
I remember feeling like I was going to throw up when I realized that doctrines of grace referred to the 5 points. That is part of what I find jarring in Calvinism, as I see the implications. I have found that few people are good at seeing the logical connections (though I am ok with them being pointed out in a healthy way that doesn’t get unnecessarily offensive; if offense comes when we are lovingly explaining the truth, so be it). Many people are good at holding to the 5-points and mutually exclusive sound doctrine at the same time, and this type of thing is not just limited to theology … I see it in my field, too. Rather than demean them, I recognize that God created us differently, and I shouldn’t expect everyone to see the connections I see.
Anyhow, this is going off topic. The other offensive claims of Calvin, which I was already vaguely aware of, really do not address the issue of how effective the website is for a place to refer my Calvinistic leaning friends and family. I think most are aware that Calvin made comments they do not agree with, so it typically appears to be a straw man.
Amen to what you have said. I’ve been hinting at your comments for a long time. I have a similar story about the JW’S as you regarding the divinity if Jesus. I believe Jesus is God alone, but I do not believe in the Trinity at all. I believe that the Father is God, I believe that the Son is God, and I believe that the Holy Spirit is God. But I do not believe in the Trinity. I’m sure you would agree that makes no sense, right? Well, my scripture only had me study 1 Thessalonians 5:23…in detail. Spirit, soul, body. Each needs study. My determination of Jesus being God alone came from that study, especially when Jesus told Philip that if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the father. Jesus is the body of God. The Spirit of Jesus is the Father. And the Holy Spirit is the Mind of Christ…soul of God. One person, not three people.
The Doctrins of Grace, whether Calvin’s Irresistible, or Armenians Preveniant, is totally dependent on the Doctrines (plural) of ORIGINAL SIN.
Based on scripture alone, can you debunk the Doctrine of Original Sin?
I can. Those who adhere to that doctrine think that Romans 5 supports it. I don’t.
We inherited death of the body only. But Adam was gonna die ANYWAY, based on 1 Cor 15:42-46…planted in corruption, meaning a decaying dying body, planted in dishonor, planted…the body is dirt, a natural body.
In order for Adam to have gained eternal life, he would have had to eat of the Tree of life, and he failed. I’ve got a lot more on that subject, but the so called experts came up with goofy terminology that only college educated knows. For example, I never heard of OPEN THEISM until about a year ago. I never heard that before. So I Googled it, and based on definition, yes, I’m open theist…but scripture must define it, and prove it.
Sure there has been human influence
The question then becomes the nature of the influence.
Jesus asks the lawyer who tempted him 2 questions:
1) What does the text say?
2) How do you read it?
The lawyer – answered Jesus’ 1st question – by quoting the text verbatim.
But notice – he did not answer Jesus’ 2nd question.
Jesus clearly draws a distinction between what the text says – and how one reads it.
They are two different questions
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Calvinists who refuse to acknowledge that distinction.
Even when I point out – it is a distinction which Jesus points out as important – they will still refuse to acknowledge it.
They will claim – they don’t INTERPRET the text – they just read what it says.
The reason they make that claim – is because they do not want to face the fact that the process of HOW THEY READ IT – is subject to human bias.
The text itself is Canon
But they have gone beyond that – and canonized the Calvinist reading of the text.
So they have 2 canons
1) The text is treated as Canon
2) The Calvinist reading of the text is also treated as Canon
The Calvinist reads the text the way he reads it within the Calvinist social structure.
He draws comfort from that social structure.
He derives an sense of personal identity within and from that social structure.
He will not risk threatening something which he draws comfort from and derives identity from.
Dr. Gordon Fee – in one of his seminary lectures on Biblical Hermeneutics – asks the question “What INFORMS your interpretation of scripture?”
In the Calvinist’s case – what INFORMS his interpretation of scripture – is INFORMATION his mind has received from Calvinist sources – which his mind has accepted as unquestionable truth.
His mind becomes conditioned to read certain concepts INTO THE TEXT whether he is aware of it or not.
And this becomes all to obvious – when we have Calvinists who quote scripture verses here.
They are not as savvy as the lawyer who tempted Jesus.
They don’t quote the verse verbatim like the lawyer did.
They quote the verse the way their minds have been conditioned to read it.
In in the process they read thing INTO the text that are not there – and remove things form the text that are there.
This becomes a clear indication – they have a high urgency for that verse to say what some Calvinist authority figure told them it says.
And that is the influence you wisely mentioned
Thank you Jean for your thoughtful response. There are many who self identify as Calvinists who cannot bring themselves to say anything negative about Calvinism. Those who are not loyal to Calvinism, like your friend or relative, if they want Leighton’s helpful view on specific scriptures, there are podcasts that address each one.
One picture, or some inconsistency in argumentation, doesn’t usually put off someone, who has a basic amount of Christian maturity, from their looking at opposing views, if they really are looking for good argumentation or understanding of the opposing side. I look at influential Calvinists argumentation, even Calvin’s, regularly, especially about specific Scriptures. And Calvin would have had me killed. 😉
Leighton has some good videos/podcasts about the main Scriptures that Calvinists lean on. Some are short in length. And I deal with a number of their favorite passages on my site, https://vbc.academia.edu/BrianWagner
And I would be more than happy to discuss by email with any of your friends and relatives any specific scriptures. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Thank you simon peter for your kind words.
And welcome! :-]
If you have good arguments, you make them. If you don’t, you call names and play rhetorical games.
So true TS00
Hope you are well my friend! :-]
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!
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.
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!!! :-]
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!🙈
“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!
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.
And then he turns around and preaches sermons accusing the non-Calvinist of those very things he is doing to justify his theology.
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…’.
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!
Thank you Dr. Flowers for your great work!
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.
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.
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.”
Wonderful list! Thank you Brian!!
Are there no more contributions coming in?
I appreciate this article, and Dr. Flowers. Very much.
Thank you kindly Chris!
You are appreciated!
Please proof read these articles! Sloppy grammar and spelling issues make them look less than professional, and this is a very good article that deserves to be presented with its best foot forward! Get a ‘copy’ of Grammarly, it does all the work of proofreading for you and is super cheap.
Thank you Vince
Can you point to a couple of the perhaps most observable examples?
Eric Kemp wrote:
Leighton Flowers is sincere and genuine…and that’s why Calvinists are angry with him.
No, that is not why Calvinists are angry (I would say frustrated) with him. This Calvinist, is frustrated with Leighton because he continually refuses to properly represent Calvinism. In a recent video I watched with Eric Hernandez, Leighton and Eric both discussed the importance of categories, in a philosophical sense, in order to make theological arguments. It is this very position that Leighton denies to Calvinists. He refuses to allow us to hold to our categories yet expects others to do so when he is stating his theological and philosophical positions. Leighton boils Calvinism down to this: God decreed it, therefore, we don’t have freewill, we are not responsible for our actions, God decrees evil, etc. It is really unfair to not allow us to hold our definitions and our categories. Among other things, Leighton loves to accuse us of straw man attacks, distinctions without a difference, ad hominem, and every logical fallacy he can think of. Of course, Leighton and his followers will deny this and say, “Oh, no. We quote everyone so that we do not misrepresent.”
I think it is entertaining how upset Leighton gets when James White plays his Choice Meats analogy and complains about it only being seconds of a longer segment. Yet, Leighton does this all the time. Unfortunately, nothing will change, the name calling of Calvinists will continue as we are called heretics, cultists, a false religion, association with JW, Mormons, and others. I’ve heard Leighton call us brothers, but I really don’t believe he believes that we are brothers in Christ.
Hello Roland and welcome
Leighton ….continually refuses to properly represent Calvinism
Dr. Flowers has address this a thoundand times.
Firstly he uses direct quotes from leading voices in Calvinism.
Some Calvinist don’t follow one particular leader – while they follow another one.
Then there are Calvinists who claim to follow a specific confession and reject specific things within historic Calvinism taught by Calvin himself.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted John Calvin – to a person who claims to be a Calvinist.
And he says “I’m a Calvinist and that is not what Calvinists believe”
Calvinists have turned this into a game of whack-a-mole.
Leighton…..refuses to allow us to hold to our categories
There is a difference between refusing to allow a category – and finding that category logically incoherent?
Dr. Flowers doesn’t have the power to refuse anything to a Calvinist.
But he does have the ability to critique something that is logically incoherent – or something that is simply a form of double-speak.
Leighton boils Calvinism down to this: God decreed it, therefore, we don’t have freewill
Now I happen to know that half of that is correct and half of it is false.
Dr. Flowers recognizes the Calvinist appeal to compatibilistic freedom.
But compatibilistic freedom is not a magic wand
It doesn’t magically get everything every Calvinist wants.
In Calvinism – you are free to be/do what you are infallibly decreed to be/do
And you are NOT permitted to be/do what the infallible decree does not decree you be/do
And it logically follows – you are not free to be/do what the infallible decree does not permit.
It is really unfair to not allow to hold our definitions and our categories.
See answer above on this question.
Among other things, Leighton loves to accuse us of straw man attacks
I don’t see how you can even go there!!
I’ve watched plenty of videos of James White and John MacArthur manufacturing straw-men of non-Calvinists
Dr. Flowers will say – Oh, no. We quote everyone so that we do not misrepresent.
If you’ve watched as many of Dr. Flowers youtube videos as I have – you’ll know that is correct.
I think it is entertaining how upset Leighton gets when James White plays his Choice Meats analogy and complains about it only being seconds of a longer segment.
Are you sure Dr. Flowers is getting upset?
Or is he simply expressing frustration with all of the games James Whites plays
James White must have some kind of following – but I personally feel sorry for anyone who does.
The name calling of Calvinists will continue as we are called heretics, cultists, a false religion, association with JW, Mormons, and others.
Now Roland – you are stretching things a little too far here!
Dr. Flowers has never made any such statements about Calvinists.
You may hear that from other non-Calvinists – but not from Dr. Flowers.
I’ve heard Leighton call us brothers, but I really don’t believe he believes that we are brothers in Christ.
I appears to me – that has to do with your feelings – and those feelings affect your perception of Dr. Flowers
BTW – I do find all of this quite ironic! If I had a dollar for every-time a Calvinist harshly accused me of being a god-hater or a reprobate, or a heretic – I could treat myself to a dinner at an expensive restaurant! :-]
I’m not so sure Jeff originally meant that Leighton is lying. You can misrepresent something by inadvertently leaving out an important aspect, or by simply being ignorant of an important aspect. However, Jeff did get too hot under the collar, and though that is understandable and human, it is not excusable. These things (soteriological matters) are important, and it is important to think through them soberly and patiently.
Personally, I don’t know much about Leighton, so I don’t think I can ascribe good or bad motives to what he does. I know a little about Jeff and I think he should just join on a chat-with-Leighton live session and not worry about brand so much (if that is what is happening). If Jeff has the truth and he is able to present it, then he should take the opportunity. If he isn’t able to present it, he should work on that, but in the meantime he can maybe get someone else to talk to Leighton. If he doesn’t have the truth, he should find that out sooner rather than later, since he is a pastor.
So, by now you have probably figured out that I’m a Calvinist (I know Jeff but not Leighton, so that is probably a big warning sign that I like Dutch flowers but disagree with Dr Flowers). I hope I’m welcome here to visit this website and see what Provisionism is. I’ve been yanked out of the cage stage by marrying an Arminian wifey and having a few warm disagreements with her, but I really appreciate that Arminians want to be Biblical. Now I’m curious about Provisionism, since I don’t think it is much represented here in my country.
Hello Calla and welcome
If you are referring to Jeffw – I would say we had a productive chat.
Thanks for your thoughtful input though
You will find a mixture of representations here from posters.
I personally do not identify with any particular label – such as Provisionist or Arminian.
And you may in fact already know that Jacobus Arminius spent and inordinate amount of time trying to defend himself from the charge that he had departed from Calvin. So a serious Arminian today will tend to be more Calvinist leaning than the average Non-Calvinist evangelical Christian.
The articles here by Dr. Flowers or Eric – will of course represent a more pronounced position toward Provisionism.
But a number of active people here who post would probably best be understood as having their own individual views.
No, I mean Jeff Durbin. I haven’t had a chance to read the comments yet.
Oh I see!
Well – from my observation – a lot of the “You are misrepresenting Calvinism” is all to often based on subtle semantics.
Hillary Clinton claimed she did not wipe her email server.
That was her representation.
And yet the evidence eventually proved that she did wipe her server.
Yet if you (based on that evidence) were to say she did – you would be misrepresenting her representation.
And on that account – her argument would (in that respect) be true.
You would not be duplicating her representation.
Thus she can argue you are “misrepresenting her representation”
Never the less you would be representing the TRUTH.
Quite frequently when a Calvinist claims to be misrepresented – his claim follows that very mode of argumentation.
I see what you mean. It would be my guess that people often don’t make the subtle yet crucial distinction between what they believe and what the truth is. That is to be expected: people usually don’t believe falsehood knowing that it is falsehood. They believe that it is the truth, and they believe that therefore they can treat it not only as their believe, but also as the truth itself. It is difficult to keep making that distinction, and people slip up. I know for a fact that I have slipped up in the past in this very respect. If a Calvinist is then a hard-headed person who doesn’t want to make allowances for anyone else, then it is only fair dealing to not give them the benefit of the doubt either.
My conclusion is this: we should all treat each other not as debating points but as humans. We are called to love humans. We aren’t called to love theological positions regardless of whether they are true or not, but as Christians we have the obligation to treat each other (not only unbelievers!) with gentleness and respect in accord with 1 Peter 3:15. I’m sure that passage is no justification for treating unbelievers better than we would treat our own brothers and sisters in the faith.
Hello spurcalluth and welcome
Yes I agree with you!
Treating people with respect is always the Godly thing to do.
But at the same time – if they believe a falsehood – even if they’ve not take the time to realize it – we don’t want that falsehood to mislead others.
This is why many, perhaps most, comment here. We believe people have been deceived by faulty premises, that are not only false, but lead to a lesser view of God, and a distortion of the most important truth of all time – that God loves and desires to save all men from sin and death. This is not an insignificant deception, and many who have come out of it believe it is worth taking risks to help deliver others from.
Hopefully, love is always the motivation.
politeness does not equal correctness. neither does it equal humility or love
Hello Alejandro and welcome
Seems that spurcalluth outed himself once before back in August on this post. So there was no doxing after all. Just a simple accident on his part.
I think we can all rest easy now.
yes thank you chapman
Pretty sure he typed something into a name field and then thought the system populated it all by itself
And the system doesn’t have the functionality to do that.
I did make it clear from the start that I did not think this to be deliberate. You can rest easy.
Apartheid: whites only, blacks go live in misery
Calvinism: Chosen only, the rest go to hell
Real God: Everyone is welcome, they just need to believe
i used this analogy with many calvinists but they weren’t able to give an objection to it, do you think this is a good analogy? do you think it could be used to prevent more people to become calvinists?
Hi Heinrich, yes, I think helping Calvinists see how bad their theology makes God look can help them stop and think.
But I’ve found in many testimonies of previous Calvinists that they must eventually return to looking at Scriptures for themselves, and at the grammatical, contextual evidence against favorite Calvinist proof texts, before they really make the break.