About a year ago I had to change my comments policy because several folks were abusing the “anonymous” usage where anyone could comment without a Blogger account. People were saying all kinds of crazy things, and there was no way to find out who they were or hold them accountable for what they were saying. Since then, there have been many folks who have wanted to discuss something I wrote but chose to email me rather than get a Blogger account and chime in on the comments section.
In God’s kind providence, I have received many emails from people that have encouraged my socks off. I have made it my goal in blogging to be transparent and honest while opening wide my heart on the things that matter to me (e.g. “pantings”). I believe this was the way Paul wrote his letters and encouraged his readers to “open wide” their hearts to him as well. However, choosing to be so open and provide so much disclosure in my posts makes me vulnerable as well. There have been times where I just got discouraged and thought that blogging was just a waste of time.
Then God sends something like this my way.
Many of you will remember the notorious post I wrote about a couple of months ago called “A Question for My Arminian Friends” which got heated and lengthy. As I thought about how I could handle the situation better, I posted several things thenceforth on the blog, including becoming a better listener and the importance of talking to people rather than about them (both from Piper) as well as a series of great authors on the topic of election and predestination. My hopes were that these excerpts would be helpful to those wanting to study the matter for themselves.
Last week, I received an email from someone involved in that blogpost, and in that email they shared with me their story. I was so encouraged by this email that I asked for their permission to post it on my blog because I believe others would be encouraged by it as well. Below is not just some abstract story in a sermon or mere illustrative concoction. It is the testimony of someone who has wrestled and personally invested themselves in the study of the truth. The results are sweet, and the testimony of what God is doing in their life is even sweeter. If ever you wondered how God could use such discussion in the lives of believers, please consider this email as a reminder.
I just wanted to tell you that even in all this craziness and debate, God is working. I know you know that, but I’m sure it helps to hear it. It seems like people are preaching and blogging all over about Calvinism being this horrible evil. I heard it and I read it and I believed it. Then I started reading what Calvinist such as you had to say about it all. I saw that it was the complete opposite of what noncalvinists say Calvinism is. I thought I have to know the truth.
So, I started studying. I have studied for hours upon hours per day for over a month. I have read the Bible of course, Spurgeon, Piper, Ryle, Calvinist blogs, Calvin, etc. I realize that what noncalvinist call Calvinism is hyper-Calvinism sometimes and other times just something completely awful and made up. What I don’t understand is how men who have phd’s in theology and are pastors, and who I assume study would misrepresent Calvinism when I can go online and read the historical facts of what it is and hear from Calvinist what they believe. I think my favorite most clear explanation is Piper’s what we believe about the 5 points of Calvinism. I read the review of Page’s book Trouble with Tulip. I listened to Ascol and White sort of have the debate with the Caners. It is so apparent now that the “Arminian” view is reading the Bible through a filter. The filter is that we want God to be this way or He just has to be this way or it isn’t fair. It’s a man-centered and man-fair perspective. We will twist and explain away or ignore the Bible to keep this view.
The Bible says we are all sinners and we are slaves to sin and dead in sin. We all deserve hell. But God in His mercy chooses some just based on mercy. If he chose based on foreseen faith this would not be mercy or grace. It would be merit based. It is only fair for us all to go to hell. Once you start there all the other aspects of the relationship of God and man fall into place just as Calvinism states. I have read the Bible and studied it for years, but now it all flows together and makes sense. I am in love with it. I love to study it.
I have gone from an anti-Calvinist to someone who is actually pretty darn good at defending it. All the verses were there in my head and written on my heart they just weren’t useful in trying to defend my synergism. Now they pour out of my mouth proving monergism and showing how God is sovereign and it is His mercy alone that saves. I mean the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation flows beautifully with God at the center of His creation. It also makes sense when God tells Job, “Who are you to question me?” We cannot question why He created or why He chooses to show mercy on anyone. Those are the normal unexplainables that God says we cannot understand. Before I just couldn’t understand anything. Why God hated Esau or why the Bible spoke of election or why he hardened hearts or pretty much anything. Nothing made sense. Now I see God as awesome and the depth and riches of His word and mercy amazing.
I know you probably understand because there was a time when your eyes were opened to the doctrines of grace. It’s like everyone after he is saved is an Arminian but then once they approach God and His Word without the filter of my ideas of who God should be and what fairness is, it is then that they see Him and how truly merciful and glorious He is. This is even hard to express in words. I’ll just trust that you understand. All this debate and arguing does influence some to genuinely go study and look for the facts. Put emotion and traditionalism aside and see what God has to say about us and Himself.
It did me and my friend, and my brother who were all on your blog one day all upset about Calvinism. There is no consistency, truth, or fact in anti-Calvinism only emotion and a man-centered view. I also complete understand how you can say you are either Arminian or Calvinist there is no true middle position. I think Calvinism is the pure unadulterated gospel. When we are synergist we have just reverted back to Roman Catholicism, Pelagianism, and Arminianism. I think Calvinism makes the best case for evangelism also. It is totally moronic to say that evangelical Calvinism is an oxymoron. My favorite book that talks about all that is J.I. Packer’s Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God. Calvinism should be feared as evil if it is what noncalvinists define it as. The problem is it’s not at all what they say it is.
Excuse my ramblings. I just wanted to tell you I was encouraged to study and seek out the facts and not blindly believe what anti-calvinists said. If it weren’t for all the turmoil I would have never thought about it. I guess that’s one reason the turmoil has been allowed to rage on for centuries. We need to nail another 95 thesis on the door of the Southern Baptist Convention.