A church question....

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Molly, May 16, 2002.

  1. Molly

    Molly
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    How do you know the difference in a reformed church and others? Can you describe a reformed church in doctrine? How would it be different from a baptist church,or are some baptist churches reformed? Does this have to do with Calvinism and armaniasm? Does elction and predestination play a large part? Can you name a refomred church? Is John Mac's?

    Thanks,
    Molly
     
  2. Helen

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    Hi Molly,

    Reformed doctrine is doctrine that, in emphasizing the sovereignty of God, says man has no choice in the matter of his salvation. God has decided all from before any man or woman was born; He has chosen a few to be with Him in heaven and the rest are left with nothing but their own sin natures, and thus are condemned to hell for eternity. Reformed doctrine states that men are totally depraved by nature and that this makes them incapable of responding to God. It also teaches that, although they believe that salvation cannot be lost, they might not know if they were among the redeemed until the day of judgment. And yes, John MacArthur is of the Reformed pursuasion, although I have heard him speak of personal responsibility as though we really had a choice! So he may be trying to walk two sides of the fence -- I'm not sure. I have met the man and even had the opportunity to work with him at one point, and I accept him fully as a Christian brother and admire and like him tremendously. I'm just not real sure where he actually stands on all this!

    Personally, I find the Reformed doctrine to be one of hopelessness and fear. It seems to me that the Bible is very clear about the demand "Choose this day who you will serve." In Genesis 8:21 God mentions that every inclination of a man's heart is evil from childhood. And yet we expect our normal citizens, Christian or not, to control these inclinations! So I do not see where the total depravity doctrine can get to the point of saying that a man cannot even respond to God. And while the Bible is very clear that salvation is not renegotiable (nothing can separate us from the love of God), it is just as clear regarding our ability to accept or reject God's offer.

    Baptist churches have both Reformed and standard viewpoints, often depending on the pastor! Arminianism is different from both, however, in saying that man is in part responsible for his own salvation and that he can take it back, or walk away from God, should he so choose. In other words, for them choice is something from start to finish. But this disagrees with Bible, too. In Philippians 1:6 we read that God will finish the good work He began. He takes full responsiblity for His own, in other words.

    The way I explained it to some others who asked was to liken salvation to jumping out of an airplane: you can jump, but you can't take back that decision once you have jumped! It's irreversible.

    And, in the same way gravity then takes over and lands you on the ground everytime, once the 'yes' is made to God, He takes over, leads you to Christ, and you are then killed in your original heart and a new one given you. That death and rebirth make it totally final. You can't undo them.

    So the way I see it is that there are three main positions on this:

    Calvinism/Reformed -- man has no choice in his eternal destiny as God has chosen all from the beginning.

    Biblical -- man cannot accomplish anything on his own, but he has the freedom and ability to say yes or no to God's offer of salvation. Once a man is born again, that's that. He has a new nature and would not walk away from God ever, for his new nature desires God and inclines toward the good rather than the evil.

    Arminian -- man and God are partners in salvation and man can walk out of the deal anytime he wants.

    That's a pretty rough sketch, but I think it gives you the idea.
     
  3. Molly

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    Thanks,Helen...That was what I was thinking,but needed some clarification. You answered very thoroughly!

    Thanks so much!

    Molly [​IMG]
     
  4. jmbertrand

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    Molly,

    If you want to find out whether a church is Reformed, listen to the prayers that are said during worship. If thanks are offered to God for His election and predestination, you are probably in a Reformed church. Other Christians will argue over those things, and occasionally (though very rarely) teach on them, but I've never run across someone who thanked God for them who wasn't Reformed. I've always found that curious.

    Now, if you're really interested in Reformed theology (and with all due respect to Helen, the caricature she has given is not nearly as accurate as it is heart-felt), my advice would be to take a look at a document like the London Baptist Confession of 1689. You'll find it arranged helpfully in topical headings, along with Scriptural references. You will discover that, contra Helen, Calvinists do believe in human responsibility and even free will, although we do not allow humanistic definitions of these terms to serve as starting points for our theology.

    One thing you will not find much of is the hopelessness Helen mentions. People who know that God loved them from the foundation of the world and sent His Son to save them tend to share not only the Apostle Paul's soteriology, but his hopefulness, too. [​IMG]

    Mark
     
  5. tnelson

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    Hi Molly,

    I have been going to a reformed church for a year now and I love it. It also is just like Mark said, when men pray they thank God for the work of grace in their life. This church as showed my family more love this past year than I have every seen from God's people. They love God, they love His Word and they love one another. Also, the Paster does preach the Sovereignty of God and the responsibilty man. This is very clear in all his sermons. It is great to worship with those who give God all the Praise and Glory.

    mike
     
  6. Molly

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    I absoltely believe God's word is clear on election and predestination. I believe in the total deparvity of man and realize God does the entire work of salvation,including making us choose Him,which is all in His control...does this make me a calvinist/reformed theology? I guess I realize it is free(but still under God's ultimate control) will of those who believe,but on our own,would we choose God? I don't think so,it is only because of His drawing us that we can choose His ways.

    Maybe this should be in a different forum...
     
  7. tnelson

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    I would say Biblical Doctrine, Sound Doctine. :)

    mike
     
  8. By God's Grace

    By God's Grace
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    HI Molly:

    All the Reformed Doctrine does is make God sovereign.

    God being Sovereign is like us being pregnant..either you are or you are not.

    If He is sovereign, than we have nothing to fear and everything to be thankful for because He is in control and nothing can thwart His Will.

    Arminians say "God is with you, Satan is against you and YOU have the deciding vote." Well, you can clearly see that this gives Satan and man equal power with God...and that isn't sovereignty.

    When it really hits you ( I mean REALLY hits you) that our salvation is by Grace and Grace alone, you will fall your face and weep with gratitude for the gift God has given you. And you certainly won't be taking it all for granted, as we see 99% of professing Christians doing today.

    Unforunately, we have generations who have been raised in idol worship. "god" has to fit into their definition of fair and just..or they want no part of him. "god" has to explain himself to they and obtain their approval of how he does things. I use little letters because that certainly is not the God of the universe.

    At least, not the God that the Scriptures portray.
     
  9. By God's Grace

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    Typo correction .... they should be them!

    And may I add that we reformers preach plenty of man's responsibility. Just look at the world of "christians" today. Reformers teach that once you are saved, you are responsible to follow the teachings of Christ. Why do we witness?? It isn't because (as one Arminian preacher claimed) that we have someone's salvation in our pocket.
    We witness because our Lord commanded us to do so.
    We witness to anyone and everyone, because only our Lord knows who the elect are...the "whosoever will".

    And one must remember that God knows whosoever WILL NOT and He put them on this earth anyway!
    All He had to do was not create those who would supposedly refuse and there would be no hell...
    so even the Arminian thinking have God knowing who would go to hell and He created them anyway.

    Keep digging, the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit will not let you down. And God our Father and Jesus our Savior...certainly have all the other bases covered.

    I live in a world of "religious" chaos...and yet I have true peace. What a gift!!!
     
  10. Scott_Bushey

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    Hello Molly !
    Did ya evere think that you would get such a response to this simple inquiry?

    Marks explanation is as close as youll probably get from someone who is baptist. Here is a link that explains the "what and why".
    http://www.apuritansmind.com/ChristianWalk/WhyAreThereReformedBaptists.htm

    Also, The title "reformed" has in many ways been diluted over time. For example. The original reformer might have been Christ or the apostle Paul. As we move forward in history, we see the church (if I can use the term) vasilating towards Roman Catholicism and away from scriptural fundamentalism. Further down the line, along comes brother Martin (Luther); the time and event is better known as "The reformation", i.e. reforming back to that which the scriptures speak of. Luther is a consubstantiationist. He is also Paedobaptist (baby baptism). John Calvin was paedo. So was Johnathan Edwards. The Presbyterians of today would argue that the idea of baby baptism and covenant theology is central to the idea of being reformed. Without it, one is fooling themselves. Also, dispensationalism, again moves one further away from this concept. So in regards to John MacArthur, without at all intending to discredit him or his ministry, I would say that He is *NOT* what one would call reformed....in a historical sense. In a present sense, one may/can be considered exactly that which they claim to be I guess, huh?

    Food for thought.........

    In HIM,
    Scott

    [ May 19, 2002, 04:57 PM: Message edited by: Scott Bushey ]
     
  11. Gina B

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    Sounds like a Bible believer to me. [​IMG] The thing I can't handle about labeling ones self as either cal or arm is that people have a set definition and automatically see you as believing all that goes with either of those names. Better to just say the truth of what you believe and let others come to what conclusions they may.
    Gina
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    PLEASE don't allow Helen's post and her biased definitions to influence your thinking. :eek:

    And don't let MY opinions influence you into thinking the opposite! :eek: :eek:

    Reformed (calvinistic) theology is Biblical Theology. Sadly, many Christians cannot or will not accept that. Okay by me. We have "soul liberty" in many matters, that allow such differences.

    Examine the truths of God's word concerning these precious doctrines of grace for yourself, with a heart to be led by His Spirit through the Word.

    Don't be swayed by men (or women). God gives us ALL we need to know and understand. So get into the Word! And as each part of the doctrine might bring specific questions to mind, then ASK THEM! (Use the theology forum right below this, okay?)

    God bless the soul that searches . .
     
  13. mesly

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    Dr. Bob Griffin stated:
    -----------------------------------------------
    "Reformed (calvinistic) theology is Biblical Theology. Sadly, many Christians cannot or will not accept that. Okay by me. We have "soul liberty" in many matters, that allow such differences."

    "Examine the truths of God's word concerning these precious doctrines of grace for yourself, with a heart to be led by His Spirit through the Word."
    -----------------------------------------------

    Bob, I am sincerely asking this (no hidden motives whatsoever) - "Can you please show me from the Scriptures that Calvinism/Reformed Theology is biblical?" I ask this because everytime I ask a Calvinist this question, they always hand me a stack of books to read. My impression is that this theological system cannot be propogated by the Scriptures alone. Is my impression wrong?

    Where do I start in the bible?

    Thank you,
    Michael
     
  14. Scott_Bushey

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    Michael,
    Much like yourself in your post to Dr. Bob, I sincerely suggest this. You ask, "please show me from the Scriptures that Calvinism/Reformed Theology is biblical?".

    I always suggest that the reader begin at Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:1 has one of the most important biblical fundamentals. It states: Gen 1:1 In the beginning God ..............created the heavens and the earth (My emphasis added). Without this biblical understanding of God, understanding Calvinism and the theory behind it, will be fruitless. Everything, begins and ends with God.

    In HIM,
    Scott
     
  15. mesly

    mesly
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    Originally posted by Scott Bushey:
    ----------------------------------------------
    I always suggest that the reader begin at Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:1 has one of the most important biblical fundamentals. It states: Gen 1:1 In the beginning God ..............created the heavens and the earth (My emphasis added). Without this biblical understanding of God, understanding Calvinism and the theory behind it, will be fruitless. Everything, begins and ends with God.
    ----------------------------------------------

    Hi Scott,

    I appreciate what you are saying and I believe what you are doing is laying the foundation for the fact that God is sovereign. I have no problem with that at all.

    I have been around message boards (and bulletin board systems - remember them?) long enough to know that a message like mine might be construed as an invitation for debate. I am certainly not trying to start a debate here for I cannot refute nor defend Calvinism. I am sincerely asking a question that I would like to study for myself. My biggest complaint (which I mentioned before) is that everytime I ask a question about Calvinism, I am automatically told to go read Calvin's Institutes or some other pile of books. All I want is to use my Bible to see whether it is true or not.

    Thanks and God bless,
    Michael

    [ May 20, 2002, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Michael Sly ]
     
  16. wayne0214

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    Molly, in regards to your inqiery about identifying Calvinism and Arminianism-type doctrines in your Bible, may I suggest that you read John 6:22-40, 3:1-21, Rev. 3:1-6 (note vs 5), Matt. 13:24-30, 25:1-30. These examples should serve as "starters". If you have an adequate study bible in you posession, you can reference these scriptures with others related to the same topic as shown in the columns listing such.

    .........wayne
     

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