Why Are You Reformed? Your Top 5 Reasons

Tim Brister —  April 16, 2007 — 111 Comments

Over the past week, I have been in conversation with some folks researching the rise of Reformed theology, especially among the younger generation of evangelicals and Southern Baptists. 

So if I may ask, “Why are you Reformed?”

Give me your top 5 reasons or influences that have lead to you embracing Reformed theology. 

[Note: Jesus, Paul, and Peter are already assumed for the sake of this survey.]

Thanks for your help and participation!

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  • http://www.joethorn.net Joe Thorn

    In my case (no church background, and after conversion not attending a Reformed church, just reading the Bible) it was reading that fleshed the details out for me. My earliest (1993-1994) influences were:

    James M. Boice
    Martin Luther
    John Calvin
    The Puritans

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks Joe! I agree. I really enjoyed Boice’s two books Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace and The Doctrines of Grace. They were some of the ealier books I handled on the subject of Reformed theology.

  • http://excogitatingengineer.wordpress.com/ excogitatingengineer

    I’m not sure if you are asking for reasons or what influenced me. My reasons are biblical but the influences were not all biblical. Here is what influenced me to become reformed:

    1. Too many references to pre-destination, election, effectual calling, etc. that were that my previous theological influences explained away with the sweepeing generalization of ‘foreknowledge.’ Trying to biblical pushed me to further study when I was dissatisfied with ‘foreknowledge’ as a reason that did not take into account all of Scripture.
    2. Two semesters of theology with Dr. Mohler
    3. What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism (a position paper by John Piper and the staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church)
    4. Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul
    5. Puritans

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks Excog!

    When I wrote my answers, the first thing (apart from the assumed answers I provided above) was biblical exegesis. I think that is what you are saying with #1.

  • http://www.burtonmemorial.org Hashman

    In addition to Scripture…

    Paul Washer, Heartcry Missionary Society, was the greatest influence. Though I have never heard him preach on election or predestination.
    His emphasis on the glory of God at the center of everything and the total depravity of man, pushed me down the slippery slope to reformed theology.

    http://www.heartcrymissionary.com

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks Hashman!

    In a couple of weeks, I will be down in Muscle Shoals to live-blog the conference where Washer and others will be speaking. It should be great! If you can’t make it, I will provide the commentary here (and some photos too hopefully).

  • http://www.lightalongthejourney.com John Hollandsworth

    20 years ago I saw R. C. Sproul’s videotape series on The Holiness of God and was just floored. That began my journey in understanding God and the doctrines of grace. Since that time the teaching of Sproul, MacArthur, Piper, Luther and Falwell (oops, just kidding) have been the most formative for me.

  • http://nmabry.wordpress.com/ Nathan

    1.) John Piper
    2.) Everyone John Piper has pointed me to.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanka guys! Yeah, Falwell is going a great job in producing Calvinists isn’t he? ;)

    I can imagine Liberty alumni answering such a survey five years from now,

    “I was in church when Jerry Falwell said that limited atonement was a heresy, so I want to see what it was all about. Then I studied what the Bible said about election, predestination, effectual calling, and perseverance and realized that it was not heresy but the gospel.”

  • http://psalm305.blogspot.com Paul Schafer

    Why are you reformed?

    Well,
    1) God has ordained my steps. Psalm 37:23-24
    2) God used my friend Brian in 1996 to introduce me to John Piper books while I visited him as he was going to seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
    3) Read, listen and watched many John Piper books and sermons from 1996 to the present.
    4) God used Brian to introduce me to the Sovereign Grace Ministries and CJ Mahaney while he was attending Crossway Community Church under Mike Bullmore.
    5) I’ve started listening and reading different Reformed authors and preachers and adopted their theology as my own.

  • KK

    1) Having a church member ask me in the first two weeks of my husbands first pastorate – Do you believe God predestines events? I said yes with absolutely no understanding on the matter. He pulled me aside and said he would never consider what I said to be true. He grew up Methodist married a Baptist. God used him to make me dig in on a journey to total truth that began Spring of 1998…….
    2) Read Chosen By God, got a New Geneva Study Bible and began the journey – It was settled quickly for me with absolutely no doubts.
    3) Went to Holiness of God conference held at Christ Pres. Nashville with RC Sproul speaking and Husband was forever change shortly following conference.
    4) Added Table Talk to quiet time. Daily listening to RC Sproul and Alistair Begg.
    5) Read many books starting with Packer, Boice, Sproul, Piper and any other books out there that I could get my hands on.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    KK

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thank you for the responses! They are very informative and helpful to see where folks are coming from. I hope this thread will not only be infomative, but also encouraging it not instructive for others wrestling with the issues . . .

  • http://hiraeth.squarespace.com kim from hiraeth

    Romans 9
    Ephesians 1
    Jonathan Edwards
    Chosen by God, by R. C. Sproul
    WCF

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks Kim!

  • http://karischurch.org Kevin

    1) Read Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul
    2) Listened to and read from John Piper
    3) Expositional Preaching practiced
    4) Cut my first “teeth” on John MacArthur and he helped me see God and love the Scriptures
    5) Frustration with Arminian, Watered-Down Churches

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Very cool. Thanks for commeting Kevin!

  • Greg Alford

    Why am I Reformed?

    1) I was Predestined to be Reformed :-)
    2) New-Birth
    3) The Conservative Resurgence (inerrancy of Scripture)
    4) Reading the Scriptures, reading more of the Scriptures, man this stuff is everywhere in the Bible!
    5) Mt. Zion printing ministry in Pensacola, Fl.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Ah Mt. Zion! It was there that I bought my first Puritan Paperbacks. Lots of love for the green metal building on north “T” street.

    Thanks Greg for sharing!

  • http://toberelevant.blogspot.com Chase

    I know it sounds weird, but I had a pseudo-understanding of election before I even truly believed Christ. I was at college and my mother told me that some folks at my home church wanted to get rid of the pastor because he believed “predestination.” I had no clue what that meant. I asked my roommate about it. He was a trusted friend and knew the scriptures as well as any pastor I’d met. He patiently and biblically explained it to me. After that, I saw it all through the Bible, even though I was yet to have a distaste for sin or acknowledge Christ as Lord in any real sense of the Word.

    When God finally saved me, I was heavily influenced to better embrace the doctrines of grace by Piper. In particular, I was greatly moved by “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election (11-30-03)” and “My Anguish: My Kinsmen Are Accursed (11-10-02)” and “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism.” MacArthur was also helpful in answering questions about prayer and the sovereignty of God. I think the breaking point there was a sermon entitled “Pray Boldly!” from Luke 11.

    I just wish someone would’ve locked me up for about a year after that. I was a passionate, yet ungracious, representative for the reformed faith.

  • http://lesliepuryear.blogspot.com Les Puryear

    1. Reformed doctrine is biblical.
    2. Reformed doctrine is God-centered.
    3. John Piper
    4. Jonathan Edwards.
    5. J. I. Packer and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Chase,

    Cage stage, huh? ;) Thanks for sharing. Oh, and Piper’s pastoral words on election are fantastic. For those interested in checking it out, I blogged on it here and provided the link to the sermon in the text:

    http://timmybrister.com/2006/11/08/piper-on-pastoral-thoughts-concerning-the-doctrine-of-unconditional-election/

    Les,

    Very true. Ole’ Packer was a hard-hitter back in the day. His intro in Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ has to be one of the best treatises on Reformed theology I have ever read.

  • http://trevinwax.wordpress.com Trevin Wax

    I know this will sound odd, but I actually came to Reformed convictions through the back door – through reading the work of N.T. Wright and Lesslie Newbigin (neither one of which can be considered “classically reformed”). The idea of “election” as a vocation – God choosing us to be his agents in the world – brought me into the Reformed camp, as it made sense of the Scriptural passages on calling and assurance.

    From there, I began to read Piper, MacArthur, Grudem, Sproul, Spurgeon, etc. I am still not considered truly Reformed by many in the Calvinist camp, since my view on Limited Atonement (see my blog) doesn’t actually fit the Calvinist or Arminian position. But I know that God in his grace foreknew me, elected me, called me, saved me, and will glorify me – based solely on his gracious mercy and not of my own will or merit.

  • http://scottslayton.net Scott Slayton

    I became Reformed not long after my conversion in 1997. Here were my biggest influences.

    1. As many have said, the Bible was key. For me it was reading Ephesians 1. I read it and then said, “Surely there is another way to explain this.”

    2. R.C. Sproul’s Chosen by God answered almost every question that I had.

    3. My frustration with the shallow evangelism going on around me.

    4. The preaching of John Piper.

    5. Discussions with my friends that sharpened my understanding and brought me (hopefully) out of the dreaded cage stage.

  • Justin

    1. a friend discipled me, and gave me “Grace Unknown” by Sproul

    2. another friend led a small group with “Desiring God” by Piper

    3. I went to the Scripture and read Romans and Ephesians and Exodus, all point to God’s electing grace

    4. The sense of humility and grace I felt through these friends, these books and ultimately God’s free grace and electing love.

  • http://kennicon.squarespace.com/ kennicon

    1. I wasn’t raised in the church and I spent so much time reading and trying to figure out what the Bible was actually saying. I quickly realized that most of the churches that I was experiencing weren’t environments in which God was being displayed in a way that the Bible was displaying Him. There were uncomfortable things in the Bible, but I saw the beauty behind them and realized that God had to be completely sovereign in all things or else He’s no God at all.

    2. John Piper. Specifically, Desiring God and a daily flood of sermons. He was my pastor from a distance before I ever belonged to a church. Exegesis, Exegesis, Exegesis. Passion. Passion. Passion. Joy. Joy. Joy.

    3. I looked at the authors of the books I was reading and the depth at which they approached all of life and realized that everyone who was brilliant, all the men who were so deeply seeking what the text actually said, were men that were (are) completely reformed in their thinking/theology. The greatest theologians of the world have been reformed. That’s hare to ignore.

    4. The beauty of reformed theology compared to all other forms of belief. There is an unmistakable beauty that exists within the doctrines of grace that cannot be reproduced or manufactured in any other form or system of beliefs.

    5. The constant manipulation of the words within Scripture that must take place when someone is not reformed. A reformed person can read through the Bible with confidence and know what they are reading is what they believe. An arminian (pelagian, semi-pelagian, etc.) has to tap dance around so many land-mines that they are never able to read the Bible without trying to find what it really means according to their system. The Bible really means what it really says. I enjoy the freedom of not having to do theological gymnastics to understand Scripture and to understand God.

  • http://tonykummer.blogspot.com Tony Kummer

    Listening to RC Sproul while delivering pizza in college

    Reflecting on my own conversion – effectual calling was a much better picture of what happened.

    Coming to Boyce College at SBTS and having Dr. Brand

    Hearing someone preach against Calvinism really firmed up my commitment.

    Praying to receive Piper :)

  • Jeff

    I heard a man say “I am reformed” and I had no idea what he meant by that. Detesting my ignorance, I did a quick search and ordered some books from men I trusted (or had heard of). You have asked us to omit “The Bible” as a source because all of us would say the Word was primarily the instrument of our intellectual understanding of the precious doctrines of grace. I was amazed at how prevalent the teachings are once the “scales fall off.”

    With that said, here are the sources most important to me:

    1) I first read Norm Geisler’s “Chosen But Free.” I would have said that I was in full agreement with him when I started and his “case” for “moderate Calvinism” had to opposite effect he intended. I finished his book truly questioning my Arminian/ Semi-Pelagian foundations.

    2) I then read James White’s “The Potter’s Freedom” since it was on the same page in the catalog with Geisler’s book. I was blown away. It all made so much sense and it all fit perfectly together within itself and with Scripture. He also impressed me greatly with his respect for and handling of the text (something woefully inadequate in Geisler’s book).

    3) I then read two books by Sproul (“Chosen by God” and “Grace Unknown” and the case was virtually settled (still had some trouble swallowing the parts about limited atonement). At this point, I would consider myself a Calvinist (4-pointer, if there is such a thing).

    4) Boice’s two books (“The Doctrines of Grace” and “Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace”). I had all these books on my nightstand for a period of weeks – my wife couldn’t understand my urgent need to finish these works.

    5) I probably purchased 15-20 books over the next few months (Horton, Boettner, Piper, MacArthur, Owen/Packer, DAVE HUNT, Geroge Bryson, Tom Nettles, etc.) I finally was willing to stand as an unashamed 5-pointer when teaching a 12-week course on the subject in my church and having to examine fully the work of Christ on the cross. White’s arguments here were most compelling.

  • Han Sola, Reformed Nerf Herder

    My journey towards Reformed theology actually began with a study of history. I’m a historian by trade, and after being introduced to the Doctrines of Grace by the ministry of John Piper I immersed myself in the works of the Reformers. I was confronted with the reality that the vast majority of them upheld what today would be described as Calvinistic beliefs. This in turn forced me to choose between foundational Protestant theology and “Free Will” doctrine more akin to Roman Catholic doctrine than I had ever realized. Scripture overwhelmingly supported the former.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Trevin,

    Wright and Newbigin, now that’s and odd entry into Reformed theology!

    Scott,

    I think I was one of your friends back then, but I was a flamin’ Arminian. ;)

    Justin,

    You said, “The sense of humility and grace I felt through these friends, these books and ultimately God’s free grace and electing love.” Amen! Would to God that the testimony of the Reformed community would be, to used Josh Harris’ nomenclature, “humble orthodoxy” and not intellectual pride or theological one-upmanship. May those of us who have been staggered by sovereign grace so limp like it.

    Nick,

    Exgesis – passion – joy. What a trilogy! You’re right in saying that the majority of great Christian thinkers both in history and alive today are Reformed. One would have a hard time finding theological gymnastics in Geneva. :)

    Tony,

    Pizza, Sproul and receiving Piper . . . what?! Now that explains it. You’re bad, really bad.

    Jeff,

    White’s books are really helpful. You mentioned Norm Geisler’s and Dave Hunt’s books. Man, those would be the top two books leading people to embrace theology in what politicians would call “negative turnout.”

    Han Sola,

    Amen to historical theology. Chronological snobbery would have us think that liberatarian free will and antropocentrism was somehow historically (and even biblically!) warranted. While there are deep confessional roots in the Reformed tradition, in unison the call would be semper reformanda. May it ever be.

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    My own (incomplete) journey towards Reformed theology can be laid squarely at the feet of Dr. Bruce Ware my first semester at SBTS in 1999. He was the first person to clearly explain the doctrines of grace to me after basically having them incorrectly explained to me while in college (and by a whiskey Baptist theology prof). Dr. Ware turned me on to John Piper, whom has been monumentally influential in helping me to establish a biblical mindset. From there it wasn’t until 2005 that I really began to study this stuff after encountering a “fully” Reformed friend on my load belt at UPS and becoming fast friends with him. My friend helped gel together much of my understanding from the wisdom Dr. Ware imparted to me, and expose fallacies in my thinking that allowed me to finally make sense of it. I’m still not all the way there but I get disgusted when people misrepresent and rail against this stuff without trying to understand it as I did.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks for sharing, Stephen. Dr. Ware is another influencer is passionately delivers the truth. I really appreciate his humility and conviction.

    You know, from one fellow Reformed UPSer to another, I would love have some of our Arminian brothers who think we don’t believe in evangelism to come out one night in the hub. While I am not near the soulwinner I so long to be, I think they would be more than willing to remove the caricature that Calvinists are not evangelistic. Maybe we don’t start by saying “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” but that by no means denotes we are not committed to the gospel! May we ever be proclaiming the gospel of Christ through satisfied hearts that sweetly attest to the glory of God.

  • Sean Gould

    1. John Piper
    2. J.I. Packer
    3. Charles Spurgeon
    4. Jonathan Edwards
    5. John Piper….again.

  • http://www.providencehill.org Jim Shaver

    A passion for Baptist History led me to Calvinism.

    When I read about the guys who started the SBC and Southern Seminary I was blown away and hooked for life.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Sean,

    Thanks for sharing brother. Glad you joined the blogosphere, BTW. Got your big tarp read for Thunder this weekend?

    Jim,

    That’s awesome man. Yeah, when I came Southern the only “Boice” I knew was James Montgomery. Having learned the lives and theology of men like James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr. John A. Broadus, and the like have given me a tremendous apprecation for what God has done through SBTS and the SBC when it was started. As always, I appreciate your input.

  • John Patrick

    1. working under a certain pastor that hated reformed theology made me study it to find out why it was hated (now I love it!!!…oh the irony)
    2. attempting to explain away Ephesians 1 and realizing I would not explain it away
    3. reflecting on the human-impossibility of my own conversion
    4. a mentor named Jeff who taught me to study Scripture and to submit to what it teaches (even when it blows my mind)
    5. David K. and I “saw the light” around the same time and began sharpening each other.

    Timmy, do you remember how all of us at the 832 used to hate the doctrines of grace? I remember a few conversations in which we ripped the dirty Calvinists to shreds. Ah well, if you can’t beat them…join them.

  • http://kingofbleh.com/vvblog Lucas Defalco

    1. A good friend sat me down many years ago to explain the TULIP. The knowledge did not assimilate my theology until years later, but it always stuck with me.
    2. An initial understanding of salvation, grace, Christian living rooted mostly in Arminianism. I was converted in an IFB church at age 6 and grew up in a SBC church with strong IFB tendancies.
    3. Depression. My walk with the Lord was in the toilet 3 years ago and I fell into deep depression for about a year. No spiritual disciplines, no church attendance, very few signs of life.
    4. A 10-part teaching series on the TULIP by John Piper. My brother turned me on the Piper as “a different kind of Baptist”. I downloaded the sermons and during one of them Piper gave a presentation of saving faith using the parable of the mustard seed that I had never heard before coming up as an IFB.
    5. Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Martin Luther, Augustine, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, John Newton, James Boyce, William Carey, John Gill, etc.

  • http://www.kenanplunk.blogspot.com Kenan

    Other than reading Scripture, the biggest influence on me was sitting under the expository preaching of Jeff Noblit every week in jr. high and high school. I also read some Jonathan Edwards. Reading R.C. Sproul’s Chosen By God the summer before 11th grade introduced me to the terminology of refomed doctrine.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    John,

    Man, you’re comments bring up a lot of memories!

    For those of you who do not know (that would be 99.9% of you), John and I, along with three other guys (including his older brother) all lived together in what was known as “832.” As we all moved on and graduated, we later came to find that God, in his marvellous grace and divine providence, brought us all to a Reformed understanding of salvation at the same time, independent of one another. Now, three of us are back together in seminary (that being John and David K.) after six years. John, I truly appreciate your friendship and edification brother. You have challenged me greatly in my devotion to Jesus.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Lucas,

    That TULIP series you are talking about is in the back seat of my car, and has been there for the past two years (unless it is borrowed by friends and family). The booklet that comes along with it, filled with Scripture references, is a great resource as well. What I love about DG and their ministry is that are so willing and desirous to spread a passion for the supremacy of God, they do it with great sacrifice to them. As a poor college student and now seminary student, I have reaped what I could not have sown and am incredibly blessed because of their generosity and graciousness.

    Kenan,

    I still can’t believe we grew up some 45 miles apart. I guess working in the nursery with you is making up for that. ;) One of the things I want to do is explore the areas of where the SBC is reforming. FBCMS and Noblit are definitely at the front, leading the charge along with Dever of course, Ascol, Hargrave, and others. Thanks for sharing man.

  • Robert

    1. Years before the internet or hearing the word Calvinism, I had a basic discussion of several words used in my bible. One Election I was told was God looking down the corridors of time. My reaction was that is double talk, trying to explain away the scripture. However, no one around to tell me to systemitize what I understood.
    2. Was exposed to a (what I believe) hyper-calvinist. This Gave me the basic 5 point’s to study. (still before Internet)
    3. Introducted to Risenger in a little book called (I think) Today evenagelism. Where I thank God for his ministry and clearing us what I was battling
    4. While at School, had a very Godly pastor who was Calvinistic but slightly dispensational.
    5. Arrival of the internet and exposure to various ministries such as Jounders, and (interesting enough) sermon audio where I was introduced to Fred Malone on the covenants.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Thanks for sharing Robert!

  • http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com Scott

    1. Johnny Helms (my father in law)
    2. Reformed theologically historically gives all glory to God
    3. Sue Ellen Helms (my late mother in law)
    4. R.C. Sproul
    5. J.I. Packer (Evangelism and Sovereignty)

    ***Assumed is that Biblical Study is the overarching principle over all others influences***

  • gavin

    Growing up, all the people that I looked up to spiritually were Arminian, so I just assumed that they were correct. Plus, all the Calvinists I knew were pretty much arrogant and pseudo-elitist. So, there was no reason for me to become a Calvinist.

    Long story short: it was hearing a topical sermon on original sin that actually convinced me of how wretched we are, and then subsequently searching the Scriptures.

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    Yes, exactly. Most of us grew up with at best non-Reformed mentors or at worst they were flatly “whiskey Baptists.” We never had a reason to give Calvinism a second glance, if we knew of it at all. Then we got exposed to doctrine and, to quote Josh Harris, were “ruined for anything else.”

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    I did not know that Johnny Helms was your father-in-law! Thanks for the input. Yeah, I had to make the assumptions of the Bible, Jesus, Paul, and Peter because I know they would occupy the top of the list. I did that so I would get a more varied response.

    Gavin,

    Your story is much like mine. I had never heard of Calvinism until my sophomore year of college, then by guys I saw much like those you mentioned. Not only was there no reason for me to be a Calvinist, there were many reasons for me NOT to be a Calvinist! But it was greater grace that piercing truth that brought me low. Thanks for sharing man.

  • http://www.provocativechurch.blogspot.com Bill

    My top reasons or influences were…

    1. Vos’ Biblical Theology and Goldsworthy’s Gospel and the Kingdom.

    2. Motive for Evangelism. Guaranteed success because God is the one who draws men and women to Himself. This has been very motivating and freeing at the same time.

    3. Seminary, RTS – grounded me in Reformed theology but doing so with a humility and thirst for God. It didn’t communicate Reformed theology with an arrogant posture, having buttoned down everything about God.

    4. T.M. Moore, friend and professor

    5. Freedom in Christ, broke me free from performance and legalism.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Bill,

    You said, “Motive for Evangelism. Guaranteed success because God is the one who draws men and women to Himself. This has been very motivating and freeing at the same time.”

    Amen! I thought this was illogical until I realize that God had ordained the means as much as the ends. Indeed, the greatest evangelist is the Holy Spirit. Thanks for sharing.

  • Scott Morgan

    Timmy,

    Top five reasons that I’m Reformed( In my case a little ” r”:

    1. Someone showing me the Scriptures.

    2. Dr. John Gill ( Body of Divinity)

    3. Charles Spurgeon( A Defence of Calvinism)

    4. John Brine( Baptist theologian)

    5. Reading of Particular Baptists

    I perfer the label Calvinistic Baptist over Reformed !

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    Thanks man!

    From your fellow Calvinistic Baptist . . .
    :)

  • Scott Morgan

    Timmy,

    I have never met you but I seem more and more to like you ! Nathan White has spoken well of you so that counts in my book. You seem to perceive that Calvinistic Baptist need to really look at some things like: The major difference between the padeobaptist and Baptist( A good reading : A Baptist Church Radically Different From PedoBaptist Churches by J. L. M. Curry and Protestant PaedoBaptism and The Doctrine Of The Church by Howard Osgood). These books can be purchased from the Baptist Standard Bearer http://www.standardbearer.org .

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    Wait – Nathan likes me?! :)

    I like the Baptist Standard Bearer. Actually, I am really hoping to puchase Cathcart’s Encyclopedia which is in one of the series.

  • http://www.thelowercase.blogspot.com stephen cavness

    i grew up as the son of a 3rd generation baptist minister and was in church all of the time..literally ( i helped clean the church on saturdays, laid out sunday school materials, etc.)

    i was 22 before i ever remember hearing the term “calvinism”. after inquiring what it meant, i completely rejected it.

    i set out with my bible, piper’s “what we believe…” and duane spencer;s book “tulip” and was determined to prove calvinism *wrong*.

    after about two years, i threw up my hands and had to admit that the bible taught these doctrines clearly.

    as i began to read on my own (mostly the same people as have already been mentioned by others: piper, packer, sproul etc., but also michael s. horton, spencer)

    as i stacked up what i had grown up hearing and believing of matters of salvation against what i was reading in scripture and explained by these authors and speakers, i was dumbstruck at how comfortable i had been at denying god all of the glory in every aspect of life!

    this was the main clincher. the glory of god is more exalted and exulted in reformed theology. how could any belief system that takes the credit for what god does be accurate, especially when the whole of scripture speaks *against* that attitude?

    also, studying church history and seeing how far the church wandered from the doctrines of the early church helped me see inconsistencies more clearly.

    so if i were to make a list…
    i am reformed because…

    1.) i used the bible as my evidence to try and prove reformed theology wrong (woops!)

    2.) i studied church history and saw the swath of compromise running through history on basic, orthodox christianity and how tradition has caused us to cling to imperfect “truths” to save face and promote self. (most recently, the pragmatism rampant in our churches, no matter what the cost, get people in and down the aisle)

    3.)the writings and ministries of piper, packer, sproul, horton, spencer, boettner, etc.

    4.) praying, begging god to help me to understand the truth, no matter what i may want it to be.

    5.) a desire to be honest and let scripture say what it says, even if it is hard and at first it makes me uncomfortable.

    -stephen

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Stephen,

    Thanks for your generous response. It is filled with a lot of great principles, not the least of which is taking a humble approach to Scripture and the sovereignty of God. Good stuff.

  • http://www.matthewhall.net Matt H.

    1. An undergrad intro to Luther & Calvin taught by Paul Schaefer at Grove City College. Although he couldn’t sway me to become a pedobaptist, he certainly “baptized” me into Reformed theology by having me read L & C!

    2. Oddly enough, Louie Giglio and the Passion movement in the late 1990s was instrumental in “turning on the lights” to an emphasis on the idea of God as glorious.

    3. Giglio introduced me (and hordes of other college students) to John Piper. The Pleasures of God challenged a myriad of my presuppositions.

    4. TBN – No, seriously – the revolting displays promulgated by televangelists made Reformed theology all the more satisfying.

    5. John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied was another book I read at Grove City that shaped my theological convictions before I ever knew I was becoming “Reformed.”

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks Matt for your contribution!

  • Scott Morgan

    Timmy,

    I order alot of my books from the Baptist Standard Bearer. Bill Lee is a dear friend. Bill is the only Strict ” Old School” Baptist that I really know. He knows his Baptist History better than anyone. Maybe he and Dr. Nettles are tied. We disagree on Eternal Justification and Duty Faith but he surely has pointed out alot of things about Andrew Fuller that most Calvinist Baptist miss. Bill is fixing to put out some very interesting things about Fuller concerning the Atonement and imputed righteousness.
    Bill and I share a great thankfulness for Baptist men like John Gill and John Brine, JC Philpot, and I love John Skepp’s work ( Divine Energy)which deals with Efficacious Operations of the Spirit of God Upon the Soul of Man in His Effectual Calling and Conversion. Dr. John Gill highly reccomended this work by Skepp and early Baptist deacons did as well which were in London. Bill has spent alot of time with me in the Word teaching me and alot on history. So has Nettles and Ascol who I love so much as well.
    Nettles is very kind to Andrew Fuller but I’m finding many old Calvinistic Baptist who were not. Jesse Mercer had concerns and Mercer called himself a Gillite Baptist rather than a Fullerite. I do not like the suffiency and effiency teaching of Fuller. It’s not the language of Christ. His atonement was for the sheep and it’s benefits. We need to stop this talk of ” It would have been sufficient for the whole world if Christ had intended for it to be”. Why do we have to say this when Christ never did. He said ” I lay my life down for the sheep” ! I better stop and be nice.
    Since I talk to Bill about three times each week I will get you a copy of Cathcart’s Encyclopedia. I will buy you a copy. Send me an email at scottmorgan33@yahoo.com and I will have Bill mail you a copy. I just got one of my new church members reading John Gill and he said the other day ” John Owen who ” ? I’m seroius ! I love Dr. Owen as well but Gill is the best theologian Baptist have had. John Brine runs second.We Founder guys can’t let the Ergun Caners scare us about Gill. They love to make John Gill the hypercalvinist whipping boy but we ought not to be scared to say as Cathcart has said about the Doctor. I have told you before that I don’t see alot Calvinistic Baptists talk about Gill rather I see more love for the Padeobaptist which blows my mind. Got to go and hope one day we can meet in person.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    I hope we can meet in person some day as well. I must tell you that I do use the word “fixin,” so we should have a lot in common, except that I am a big Bama fan. ;)

    Regarding Fuller, an interesting note is to see how Boyce dealt with Fuller’s view of the atonement. Boyce gives a great argument for limited atonement, disagree’s with Fuller, and then backtracks big time. For instance, Boyce says that the atonement “removed all legal obstacles from the salvation of any and every man” (338), and else where states that “while the making of an actual atonement for the Elect is not inconsistent with the securing of a method of atonement for all . . .” (340).

    Dude, the offer is very gracious, and if you are serious, I will take you up on it. I am a slow learner of Baptist history and look forward to deepening my understanding of Baptist roots and appreciate the contribution each pastor and theologian brings.

  • http://downshoredrift.com Alan Cross

    I’m not (I know I’m treading into unfriendly waters here, but, what the heck?). But, I so appreciate Reformed writers and theologians over almost anyone else, I wish that I was – it would be so much easier. I’d rather read John Piper and C.J. Mahaney over anyone on the other side any day of the week. I love the Christocentric emphasis and the place that God’s glory and supremacy have in Reformed theology. I am sickened by the human centered approach that is prevalent in so many churches that are not Reformed and I fully believe that all of life is to be lived as a response to God’s divine initiative and grace.

    But, I’m not convinced that Reformed theology is the best expression of Biblical truth. At the end of the day, it remains for me a human based system to explain the mysteries of God that lie outside of our perspective. Someone in this post previously said that people who are not Reformed have to do a whole lot of theological gymnastics to miss the obvious truth of the Reformed position. I feel that both groups are in pretty good shape from those same gymnastics. I truly do wish I was Reformed. Everything in me leans in that direction and it is so appealing. It explains so much. But, at the end of the day, I feel that too much Scripture has to be re-explained from the obvious meaning of the text to fit within the Reformed hermenuetic. That’s no help to me, though, because I do not find any other system that is totally satisfactory either.

    Maybe I’ll just stick with letting the Bible speak everywhere without trying to lay a system over it, one way or the other. Thanks for this post though, Timmy. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.

  • Jim Pemberton

    1) Prayer – I’ve prayed consistently for wisdom and truth, and trust God to deliver contingent on my willingness to submit my mind to the truth where I am proven wrong.

    2) Study – I’ve studied the Bible like a Berean and I’ve studied what various teachers have said about the passages in the Bible.

    3) It’s true.

    4) Confirmation by others. I’m an original thinker. It means something when others arrive at the same conclusions.

    5) Debate and debate analysis. I find that learning through debate strengthens what needs to be strengthened and weakens what needs to be weakened – when analyzed honestly. I’va also analyzed the debates of others.

  • Scott Morgan

    Timmy,

    Yes, I’m serious about buying you Cathcart from Bill who has republished it. I buy books for people who I believe are serious about reading. However, you must do two things though: First, you must say War Eagle( Auburn Rules) and Alabama coach Nick Saban is a girl, and you must say that you are a Gillite over a Fullerite. Just kidding ! I can’t believe I’m going to show love to a Alabama fan. My office is filled with Auburn stuff like Helmets, jerseys, pictures, and yes newspaper rticles like how we have owned you guys the last couple of years under the Shula reign. However, I’m worried because I know Saban will put you guys back as one of the elite programs again like Auburn is today.
    Please send me an email: scottmorgan33@yahoo.com with your address so I can have Bill send you a copies.The Flyswatter has you posted again as their lead story. Those guys are …….. . I had to order Spurgeons Hymn book from Bob Ross the other day since they publish it.

  • http://alindsey4.blogspot.com/ Andrew Lindsey

    1) My Dad, who is not Reformed in his soteriology, but who was radically changed by God’s grace from being an alcoholic to being someone with a heart to please Christ- after being saved by the ministry of God’s Word at New Canaan Baptist Church, Dad taught me that Scripture is our final authority, and that we should check out everything we hear by the Bible.
    2) Gary DeMar, my Mom’s boss when she worked at American Vision (Gary is a member at a PCA congregation). He let Dad borrow some Greg Bahnsen tapes (and, I think, some others), which Dad and I would listen to as he drove me different places.
    3) Russell Jones, my middle school Sunday School teacher at Paulding Baptist Church, who also was not Reformed, but who challenged his class to not accept the idea that we should base our assurance of salvation merely on having prayed the sinner’s prayer. Instead, he explained, we must have repented of our sins, preferring Christ above ourselves. This idea that the Gospel dealt with the heart and that the way I’d heard evangelism explained might be in error was instrumental both in my salvation and in my subsequent spiritual growth.
    4) John MacArthur, whose discussion of sovereign grace in his book “The Gospel According to the Apostles,” became a gateway, prompting me to read everything I could get my hands on concerning sovereign grace, starting with Sproul’s “Chosen by God.”
    5) Xavier Pickett. When I started to become convinced concerning Reformed soteriology, I decided to think of every possible biblical objection. Xavier patiently (and vigorously!) debated each point with me at the Baptist Student Union of Georgia State University. (Xavier currently attends Westminster Theological Seminary and is one of the founders of Reformed Blacks of America.) Xavier demonstrated to me how not only certain passages, but the entire Scripture testifies to God’s sovereign grace in salvation and that Man’s will is not free, but is enslaved to sin until God Himself sets us free.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Alan,

    Thanks for your honest contribution brother. Everyone is at different points in their theological understanding, and many of my close friends are not Reformed. Some are uninformed; others wrestling; and yet even more are simply indifferent. Having read your comments, I see that you have a passion for the truth and a commitment to God’s Word. Keep it up man, and I look forward to conversing with you in the future.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Jim,

    Thank you for sharing! May we have a resurgence of good Bereans in our day!

    Andrew,

    I thought it was BaptistFire that led you to be Reformed. ;) But seriously, it is encouraging to hear of the various people God has put in your life to sharpen and develop you theologically and spiritually. You looked sharp today in the Heritage Hall by the way. Me? I was wearing sweat pants and a dirty UPS shirt. Yikes!

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scott,

    I will email you soon. Thank you brother.

    Saban hopefully will get the program in order. We need a lot of help.

    The Flyswatter? What’s that? :)

  • http://shepherdtheflock.com Nathan White

    Timmy said Wait – Nathan likes me?!

    Uh huh, so you didn’t think I’d make it down that far in the thread, huh Timmy? :) LOL.

    Scott Morgan: are you telling me that Johnny Hunt didn’t play a role in your conversion to Calvinism? He did in mine! I realized that what he was teaching (or yelling) wasn’t quite right with what I read in scripture, and I set out to investigate.

    What a great idea for a post. There are some excellent responses here. But, I can here the anti-calvinists now… “you make ‘getting reformed’ out to be more important than ‘getting saved’! If only you’d put this much effort into evangelism….”

    However, for me, understanding reformed soteriology was getting saved, because they both happened at the same time. I wasn’t converted until I read John 6 and realized that there was nothing I could do to save myself, except beg for mercy.

    But many faithful men played a role in this ‘conversion’. A local man name Jerry White, the ministry of John MacArthur, a little book by Joseph Bianci, etc. Ultimately it was my ‘salvation experience’ of the personal terror upon reading John 6, and the follow-up discipleship by men who work so faithfully behind the scenes, they never get or care to be recognized for anything.

    SDG

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Nathan,

    I should have known you would have found that . . .

    Regarding Johnny Hunt, it is true that he has influenced many pastors in his huge network to shun Reformed theology. But it is also true that he has turned many people on to Reformed theology as well, especially after his recommendation of Dave Hunt’s book.

    I thought about people taking a post like this to rip the Reformed community, but what’s new? Understanding the sovereignty of God in salvation was the second biggest event in my spiritual life, after salvation of course. It totally changed my outlook on life, understanding of God, and affected every aspect of spirituality and ministry, including evangelism.

  • 2 Afraid 2 Say

    i am newly reformed, but i am afraid to be open about it. my church openly speaks out against reformed theology and i serve in a position of leadership. if it was widely known that i now may be called “reformed” i fear i’ll be ostracized or asked (told?) to step down.

    perhaps this thinking will fly in the face of my newfound theology, but i haven’t been able to speak openly about it …… yet. anyway, here are 5 of my many reasons.

    [01.] i thank the LORD for opening my eyes first and foremost. just this morning, i was reading in jude and i was blown away at how i could have read scripture so many times, yet i never was given the grace to fully understand. my, how this has changed! i know that it is by the Spirit that my eyes, heart, mind, and spirit have been opened up to the truth, or the truth to me. i know not which is the proper of the two.

    [02.] john piper. i quit reading and listening to him because it was chic and started feeding the hunger within with the word of God that he was preaching. it has absolutely changed my life. john owen and r.c. sproul may be thrown into this one as well.

    [03.] i began to exam my own words. i was amazed at how i spoke of God as being sovereign, yet i never believed it nor lived like it. either God is sovereign or he isn’t. at least, this is how i have come to understand it.

    [04.] the scriptures. how can you argue with, twist, manipulate (etc. etc.) scriptures like romans 9 or ephesians 1 or words like elect, chose, etc.? there is no way around it. so, hearing men like johnny hunt (and countless others) speak the way they do caused me to go to the scriptures and see for myself whether this was all true or not.

    [05.] real life happened. so much so that, when real life happened, it was BLATANTLY obvious that God had ordained each and every step. good, bad, evil, holy, beautiful, ugly, etc. – it was all being used by God and for his glory. it began to cement for me that which i had been fighting, doubting, and questioning for so long. this, i think, goes back to number 1.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    2 Afraid,

    I think I can understand where you are coming from. In my case, however, it was exactly the opposite, The leadership of my church came to the realization that they were not Reformed, and when they found out I was, immediately my position on staff was threatened. The leadership was uninformed about Calvinism, and I was the first to explain it to them. Yet, within a matter of months, due to the influence of Johnny Hunt, things quickly went sour.

    Because of the nature of our church leadership and my commitment to unity, I made a pledge not to teach contrary to the theological position of the church and its leadership when I was on staff there. Of course, this was incredibly difficult at times, especially when so much of the Bible was ignored or explained away, and ultimately it was in part what served as God’s providential leading me to seminary.

    So while I would encourage you strongly to not be embarrassed or deny the truths of Scripture which you believe, if I may, let me encourage you to labor to promote unity through submission and humility if others in leadership hold otherwise. It is important, however, that you find other like-minded brothers or sisters whom you can be sharpened and edified, and I pray you do.

    Finally, it is true that the early stages of being Reformed can be difficult. For some, there is the “cage stage” where all you talk about is Calvinism. For others, it is a sense of frustration and bitterness from not having been told of this earlier. And others still take a hard line approach and disassociate with others who are Arminian. John Piper has some excellent pastoral words in handling this, and I encourage you to check it out. As someone who understands God’s sovereignty in grace, if anything, it should produce humility, gratitude, and a desire to love and be merciful to others. Unfortunately, people find spiritual pride and bitterness among those who professed to taste the sweetness of the doctrines of grace.

    I hope maybe there can be something here beneficial to you. I pray that God gives you wisdom and grace to handle the situation. It is exciting to hear your testimony and how God has worked in your life recently, as I believe it attests to many others who can ‘Amen’ everything you said.

    tnb

  • http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/ Scott

    I am “reformed” because…

    When I was saved and received salvation I was thrown into intense Bible study. I knew what I believed and knew it to be true. But I could not articulate that believe.

    When I discovered “reformed” terminology, I found the labels for what I ALREADY believed and knew to be true.

    (As a side note…I do not call myself a Calvinist. I use a different label that makes my “reformed” theology more approachable to the Arminian: Sovereigntist.)

  • http://throughtheveil.wordpress.com/ Scott

    Oops! I did not list the “top 5 reasons”…

    Just consider the TULIP as my top 5 reasons. They are the labels “reformed” put on my beliefs.

    But in this order:

    U
    L
    T
    I
    P

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Thanks for sharing Scott. Yeah, I think Piper also in his TBI seminar on Calvinism changes the order as well (TILUP or something like that). What you shared is important too, that for many who embrace Reformed theology did not buy into a “system” but only later came to realize that is what they had come to believe through their own study of the Bible.

    I appreciate the feedback man.

  • http://nathanafinn.wordpress.com Nathan Finn

    Timmy, I think that many collegians and seminarians are first introduced to Reformed theology through a prominent speaker/author like Piper, MacArthur, or Sproul. Some also get involved in Campus Outreach, Navigators, or RUF while in college. The modern hymnody movement in many ways reflects a strongly Reformed emphasis that reinforces the above. Anyway, I think that these are initial avenues of introduction into the doctrines of grace. Although I am not much of a conference guy myself, I suspect that Together for the Gospel, Resurgence, and similar conferences also play a key role in all of this. Just some thoughts.

    NAF

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Nathan,

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree with you and plan on explaining my analysis of this in a future post. For now, I will say that there are “entry points” to Reformed theology. While these entry points may not be the fullest or best expressions of Reformed theology, they are nonetheless the most accessible and relevant ways of introduction. As you mentioned, conferences, hymnody and Passion (Generation 268) movement, campus ministries, and even the blogosphere are some such entry points. From there, I see a development or second tier to Reformed theology through books, various forms of theological education, and personal mentoring. Finally, there is a third tier where the person becomes an articulate and well-versed in Scripture and exegetical arguments, though the Bible of course serves as the fountain and spring of doctrine and truth.

    Anyway, I will elaborate on this some more in the days to come. Again, thanks for your contribution.

  • http://nathanafinn.wordpress.com/ nathanfinn

    Timmy, I co-authored an article on this topic for Baptist History and Heritage journal in 2004. You can read it at the link below. I think we were on to something back then, but the blogosphere is a more recent phenomena, so little was said in the article about the internet.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NXG/is_2_39/ai_n6116659/pg_1

    NAF

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Thanks Nathan. I will check it out. I have always benefited much from your analysis and reflective thought.

  • Dana

    1. I was raised in a Christian home by godly, humble, caring parents who put Jesus first in their lives. My dad was a pastor (and is still in ministry at age 82; he preached twice last Sunday) who faithfully preached the Bible and always emphasized Christ.

    2. I went to Bethel College in the late 70′s. What a time that was. My Greek professor was Walter Wessel. He often pointed out the meaning of the text as we struggled to read it: “What was that again? What did the verse say?” He would often smile as we answered. He pointed out again and again the plain, sovereignty-laced truth of passage after passage.

    3. I also studied under John Piper and Wayne Grudem there. Both were in their first assigments after doctoral programs. I had Piper for First John and, after reading Hirsch (ughh but important), all we did day after day was struggle with the meaning of the text. Each day he would walk in, lead us in devotions and prayer (the BEST part of the class and worth the price of admission), and then up on the overhead would go the passage for the day. (An Overhead Projector is a now extinct teaching tool in which the words of a text would mysteriously appear on the wall of the room in a bright light.) Back and forth we would go, tracing the argument of the passage. John was different than Paul, so it wasn’ t easy. But again, as we wrestled, the clear implications of so many passages came into view.

    4. Then as a senior I dove right into the issue. Wayne Grudem was my senior seminar advisor. I took on the topic “God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility in Salvation.” What an experience. It almost did me in. (I got a C in ceramics and pretty much flunked my NT Greek Grammer final and got a stern note from the theology prof I was supposed to be T.A.ing for.) Dr. Grudem was exceedingly kind in both his help and his analysis of my work.

    5. Finally, early in my seminary time, I heard Richard Owen Roberts speak on revival. His view? That revival had been silenced by the exceedingly man-centered theology of the American church. Until we return to a Sovereign, Holy God and truly fear him (in the best sense) and bend the knee, the church will continue on the journey to powerlessness.

    Those five experiences started me on the journey, but it has been reinforced over 24 years of ministry by two things: seeing how the critics again and again must turn away from Scripture and ignore the plain meaning of so many texts, while harping on two or three prooftexts and what I call “American philisophy;” and the rich teaching and preaching and writing of Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Sproul, Boice, Packer and, of course, John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Oops. One more: Biographies. Dallimore on Whitefield and Spurgeon; Murray on Lloyd-Jones, etc.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Dana,

    Thanks for the wonderful sketch of your theological journey. I personally found it fascinating. By the way, we still use overhead projectors here at Southern!

    Speaking of Richard Owen Roberts, he has a six volume (I think six) of Puritan sermons he printed that I have been wanting to get my hands on. Roberts is one of the leading authorities on revival, and I have also enjoyed his book on repentance.

  • Glenn

    Top 5 Reasons I Am A Calvinist

  • Glenn

    Top 5 Reasons I Am A Calvinist

    1. Scripture.
    2. R.C. Sproul’s CHOSEN BY GOD
    3. Going through a personal crisis when I found myself clinging to God’s Sovereignty over all the events as they unfolded. (This would be later reinforced by Jerry Bridges’ book, TRUSTING GOD: Even When Life Hurts.)
    4. A godly, gracious college professor who was known to be a Calvinist and was also a polio “victim” from a young age. He held to God’s absolute sovereignty. In a private moment, I asked, “Did you really believe that God ordained THAT into your life?”, he gently pointed me to Exodus 4:11 “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him muteor deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” Then he said, “If I didn’t believe that there was a purpose behind this and was left to conclude that I was merely the victim of so-called ‘blind chance’ — I would’ve have gone mad long ago!” He was such a gracious man, with a delightful sense of humor and a joy to be around. There was NO bitterness in him over his “condition.” I’d never met any body like that!
    5. D.A. Carson’s HOW LONG, O LORD? and GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY along with Packer’s EVANGELISM AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

    There are many more reasons, but these were the initial steps the Lord used in my life.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Thanks Glenn for participating. It’s amazing to see how much Sproul’s books have influenced people. I knew his stuff was widely read, but I did not imagine that his writings would be as formative as I have seen in these responses. Carson’s work on sovereignty and responsibility from what I can remember is quite technical and historical (and pricey!). It’s great to hear how God has used your professor to see what sovereign grace looks like in real life. It’s so easy to think of theological truths in abstract or ideological form. Examples like this show us just how practical and life-changing such truths really are.

  • http://www.colossiansthreesixteen.com Brent

    1) It is the approach, which I believe, does the most justice to the most biblical texts.
    2) It is the approach, which I believe, best captures and emulates God’s pursuit of His own glory.
    3) It is the approach, which I believe, most adequately portrays salvation as the miracle which Scripture portrays.
    4)It is the approach, which I believe, best deals with the biblical issue of God’s sovereignty/man’s responsibility
    5) It is the approach which, I believe best deals with questions of assurance/perseverance, thus providing a foundation for faithful living.

    Much more could (and should) be said, but not in a comment-box. Thanks for offering this discussion.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Thanks Brent! Each of those five reasons deals with the heart of Reformed theology, and you have outlined it very well. Great stuff.

  • http://bigstrings.blogspot.com/ Jim

    1) Reformed doctrines were the necessary trajectory of my decision to love and honor the Bible occurring years prior. Its doctrines are honoring to the text, and even the “hard sayings.” I haven’t found a system that better maintains the cohesiveness of the Old and New Testaments.

    2) Reformed theology is Christ honoring and Christ-centric. When my eyes are unveiled to see the entire Bible as centered on Jesus Christ, I gain an enjoyment of the Bible that I didn’t have prior. It also brings me some grief because I now have an acute awareness of the lack of Christ-centeredness in much of the church and “Christian” culture (books, TV, music, church programs).

    3) Patient and caring brothers in Christ who were willing to absorb comments like “The God I serve would never do that.”

    4) God’s uniqueness is presented in such a way that inspires wonder and worship from our hearts when other theological systems place God in a box and make him more acceptable. Like Narnia’s “untamed lion”, Jesus is not presented as the “safe” and declawed house cat that our idol-making hearts sometimes want.

    5) The knowledge of my sin combined with Jesus’s words about sin scare the living daylights out of me. I find no greater assurance and refuge than the grace of Christ as depicted in Reformed doctrines.

  • http://www.pscableblogspot.com Paul Cable

    My “reasons” for being Reformed or Calvinistic have been really well expressed by most of the respondents already, so I’ll give the top 5 influences that directed me toward the biblical understanding of God’s sovereignty:

    1. Working Centri-Kid as a worship leader, the camp pastor on our team, Wesley Smith, started asking me really hard questions about my flimsy interpretation of Romans. It was all “downhill” from Romans…
    2. R.C. Sproul’s ‘Chosen By God’
    3. Piper’s ‘Desiring God’
    4. Horton’s ‘God of Promise
    5. Goldsworthy’s ‘According to Plan’

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Jim,

    Very nice and well thought out response! Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this survey. Blessings.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Paul,

    The list of the books you provided are great. However, I am not as familiar with Horton’s God of Promise, although I enjoyed his Putting Amazing Back Into Grace. Thanks for your contribution to the survey!

  • J. Gray

    I know I am a week late to this conversation, but I enjoyed reading it anyway.

    The biggest contribution (humanly speaking) to getting me to a true understanding of the Gospel and Gods sovereignty is……the SBC.

    As I told a man at the SBC last summer when he asked why there are so many young reformed guys, I told him: “we actually took what you guys said about inerrancy seriously.”

    It is true. I believed inerrancy, and it drove me to study the Scriptures. This is what I found. I did not start out to become reformed, I am not sure I even knew what that meant. I just wanted to know what God had said.

    That combined with a growing recognition that I was not taught anything of substance in my home church, except inerrancy, I was driven to read and study.

    In college my roommates (one of whom went to SBTS with me) and I would stay up and discuss books we were reading (Piper, MacArthur, Packer, Sproul…you know, the usual suspects) and we would discuss Scripture…and we would listen to sermons (MacArthur and Piper mainly). We could not escape the God-exalting nature of Scripture. How could we understand salvation in any other way?

    In the end, I know that God had ordained my steps in my desire to know Him.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks J. Gray for your experiences and reasons for why you are Reformed. I hope the contributions keep coming as they are a testament to the sovereign grace of Almighty God. May we all be good Bereans and appropriate the truths of Scripture for transformed lives.

  • Ron Christensen

    I only have one reason.

    Grace.

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Nice.

    Thanks for sharing Ron!

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    I grew up Methodist and have always struggled with the contradictions of the pastors saying salvation is a free gift but you have a choice to accept it. But the accepting is a work, a doing and therefore contradicts grace as a truly free gift where as God receives all the glory and therefore no man can boast. The contradictions along side or the sweeping away the texts that contradicted their opinions became disconcerting to me. So…with God’s grace alone he has allowed me to see his wondrous works of salvation and life alone through his word.

    Also along the way He has supplied me such greats as:
    A.W. Pink
    Jonathan Edwards
    R.C. Sproul
    John Piper
    Daniel Fuller
    Spurgeon
    (Just to name a few)


    Stuart

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Stuart,

    Thanks for sharing man. That’s a nice list of theologians there, although Daniel Fuller is an interesting pick. :)

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    You don’t care for Fuller?

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Which Fuller?

    A. Andrew Fuller
    B. Charles Fuller
    C. Daniel Fuller

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    Daniel Fuller is who I had mentioned in my first comment and you comment back to me sounded as if you didn’t care of him. If this was the case i was just curious why.


    Stuart

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    not a big deal either way, just curious.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Well, my immediate thoughts come from the narrative provided by George Marsden in his book Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism where he gives a play-by-play of the revision of the Fuller’s view on inerrancy, led by none other Dan Fuller himself. The shift after his father Charles Fuller, Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry, and E.J. Carnell to Dan Fuller, William Lasor, Paul Jewett, and David Hubbard was the break which in large part has turned Fuller Seminary into what it is today. In less than twenty years, what was to be the evangelical school of all evangelical schools abandoned the fundamental issue of orthodoxy – the inerrancy of Scripture. If the founders of Fuller could see what Fuller Seminary is today, they would regret that they ever started it.

    I also recognize that Dan Fuller has had great influence on many people, not the least of which is John Piper. I could see, then, why he could be an influencer in Reformed theology, but I still would not place him with the likes of Edwards, Spurgeon, or Sproul.

    There are several other issues with his understanding of law and gospel, and Doug Moo as well as Denny Burk have detailed them in their reviews of his book on that subject. Here are their reviews should you have interest in reading them:

    Denny Burk:
    http://www.dennyburk.com/?p=34

    Doug Moo:
    http://www.covopc.org/Papers/Moo_Critique_Fuller.html

    Also, Jim Hamilton has provided pertinent portions of Marsden’s treatment of Dan Fuller’s view on inerrancy, and you can find it here:

    http://jimhamilton.wordpress.com/2006/04/25/dan-fuller-and-inerrancy/

    These critiques are no light matter, and I cannot overlook them. With that said, you don’t have to agree with everything a person writes to have them influence you for good. And I don’t consider Fuller an enemy of the gospel. I simply have my own concerns, and as you see, I don’t stand alone.

    I hope that explains a little of why I thought it was interesting you put Daniel Fuller in the same category of the other men you mentioned. Personally, I don’t think, historically speaking, he will be remembered for his theological contributions as the others have. I might be wrong in my assessment, and would be open to be shown otherwise.

    Anyway, I would be interested in your response to my comment, and whether, for instance, you hold to Fuller’s view of Scripture.

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    Let me say first that I now see where you are coming from. I in no way was putting down people of “equals” I was putting down people that have had influences upon me in different ways. And like you I do not think D. Fuller compares in anyway to the way in which the other men that I mentioned one had influence on me but as well will have influence on “the many”. I was pointed to Fuller by Piper and his text, “The Unity of the Bible” has had great influence on me. Though as you have pointed out and can apply to many I do not neccesarily agree with everything he has to say nor to I neccesarily agree with what Calvin had to say .With this being said with different things Fuller has had some influence on me and so I gave credit. I was in NO way trying to make a list of “most important theologians” this was a personal list so Fuller went on (heck I almost put my Dad on there but I resisted : D ).

    I don’t we are far apart from each other on this. Many applogies for any confusion or intent that you might have seen in my list of lowering these other “greats” by putting Fuller in my personal list.

    Also thank you for you opinion, I greatly appreciate it.


    Stuart

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    let clarify a point that I made and didn’t make clearly. I ment to say I don’t neccesarily agree with every point someone makes but this does not mean that in part they cannot have a point that I do agree with and then therefore has an influence on me (ie calvin has many points that I do agree with and some that I do not, but this does not mean he did not have an influence on me.) Just like Fuller I do not agree with everything, but some things I do and it has influenced me. Again you asked for a personal list of influences not who are those men that will last the test of time and influence all people.

    I’m thinking it was just a misunderstanding and no big deal here.

    Also I have read through most of your articles and I did not know the history behind everything. I find it interesting. But I also think that there are tons of things that are greatly displayed in “The Unity of the Bible” that are good but with most things you must examine them in light of God’s Word and see how they compare. So I already understand some of the reasons that have been stated.

    Again I’m thinking this was all misunderstanding. It seems that you thought I was putting D. Fuller in an overall same list with the other greats I named. This was a personal list and not one where if I was writing the most influencial names Fuller would be left out.

    Again, many appologies for the misunderstanding but again I appreciate your concern.

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    and no I do not hold to Fuller’s view of scripture. I do believe that scripture is the inerrant word of God breathed out by Him.

    again thank you for pointed me to this.

    I appreciate it and sorry for so many responses.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Stuart,

    No problem brother. As I asked and you mentioned, this was “your” top reasons why you are reformed, not necessarily a “who’s who” list of church history greats, so I in no means was intending to disparage those who have influenced your life. If it was taken that way, I want to apologize.

    I mentioned Daniel Fuller because reading his name stuck out because I had recently studied the history of Fuller Seminary, and in particular Marsden’s book. So I guess you could say I was a little more sensitive because of that.

    You are certainly right in that one can have a big influence on you and not be in agreement on everything a person espouses. I have learned a great deal from Presbyterian theologians, but I am not a paedobaptist! Earlier in my Christian walk, I was challenged by reading about D. L. Moody’s passion for souls, but I am not an Arminian or believe in decisional regeneration.

    Anyway, feel free to comment anytime man. I am learning with you and hope to be an encouragement to you in your devotion to Christ. Keep pressing on!

    All of grace,

    Timmy Brister

  • http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com Stuart McCray

    It is great Timmy that we can come together and bring encouragement and support to each other. There isn’t enough Christian encouragement as it is and for two complete strangers to be able to communicate and encourage is a real blessing of God’s grace.

    hope we can continue this in other ways.


    Stuart
    http://www.thirstforchrist.blogspot.com

  • http://www.timmybrister.com Timmy Brister

    Stuart,

    Anytime my friend. I’m glad you made it over here, and I look forward to visiting you over there. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Timmy

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  • http://www.fromtheashesblog.com Brian Daugherty

    I grew up amongst Arminian, charismatic churches, many of whom embraced word of faith theology to some degree.

    Still, I eventually became Reformed in my soteriology.

    1. By observing my life since I accepted Jesus at age 18, I believe that He had to be the one who chose me, because in my wretched sinfulness if it were left up completely to me I would have always chosen my sin and selfish desires hands down every time.

    2. The man who led the “college and career” group at the church I got saved at, and later planted a Foursquare church that I began attending, told me he leaned toward Calvinism.

    3. I would suppose by hearing Steve Brown and John MacArthur on the radio that some more seeds may have been planted in regards to my Reformed convictions. Steve Brown in particular made an impression on me that God loved me no matter what I did or didn’t do, and that He was working in my life to bring me to perfection in that day of Christ Jesus the Bible speaks of (all backed by his Reformed views).

    4. Being a participant on a blog run by a pastor named Michael Newnham, and the constant Calvinism/Reformed vs. Arminian debates going on there, helped me see the issues first hand, and come to an understanding of where I believed the Bible lined up in regards to this debate.

    5. Reading materials, and listening to podcasts by the likes of Piper, Sproul, Michael Horton, Mark Driscoll, Sam Storms and many others have reinforced my Reformed viewpoints.

  • http://alwaysreformingtoscripture.blogspot.com/ Kendall

    Like Joe Thorn, “In my case (no church background, and after conversion not attending a Reformed church, just reading the Bible) it was reading that fleshed the details out for me.”

    So, (1) converted out of the blue and (2) the Scripture explained that as a supernatural work (John 3:3-8;6:37-39, 44; Rom. 9; Eph 1:1-14; 2:1-10….). (3)Other books of influence like Richard Blecher’s, Journey in Grace or Steele and Thomas’s, Five Points of Calvinism. (4) Reformed friends like Dennis Helton. (5) Reformed websites.

  • Alan

    I have been a believer as long as I can remember. In studying reformed doctrine, I personally find things that concern me, mostly relating to the wide spectrum of what I’ve read by many authors, bloggers, and conversation with reformed friends. One is that some refer to the necessity of accepting the gift of salvation as a ‘Work’, as in a ‘works based’ belief system. It seems odd that one could have this opinion when there are so many references in scripture to an actual act that the person must perform, as in Romans 10:9, 10:10, 10:13, Acts 2:31, Acts 16:21, believing in your heart may or may not be an ‘act’ depending on who you’re talking to, but I guarantee you that confessing with your mouth that He is Lord is an action by the person without question. I won’t quote the verses, but it addresses salvation in just these few. So does this mean I believe in a works based theology, I think not.
    One other major issue that no one seems to discuss, maybe because it’s pretty distasteful. In this country alone, almost 50 million babies have been aborted since Rowe v Wade. It appears to me that enthusiastic adherents to reformed theology should address their opinion of the fate of the portion of these little ones that are not among the elect. I haven’t read all the texts, nor heard sermons that some posters cite, but I am a believer, so… if I assume that makes me one of the elect, why do I care? I can’t help but believe that Christ was sent for all, at least that’s what the scriptures lead me personally to believe.
    All I’m saying is that predestination and free will are both taught in scripture, so why can’t it be that they both are truth.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Alan,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • http://blackreformingkid.wordpress.com Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

    Here goes with my five reasons [in no particular order...]:

    1. I grew frustrated with the lack of teaching in my Pentecostal church
    2. I began to read the Book of Romans and couldn’t sleep when I got to Romans 9
    3. I couldn’t argue
    4. I couldn’t redefine the terms “predestined”, “chosen”, “elect” and such
    5. I downloaded everything I could from Monergism in one summer

    If I could add a sixth, it would be the counsel of several mature Christians who helped me with my many objections

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Thanks for sharing Douglas. Good stuff!

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