If the Shoe fits...

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by 12strings, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    Question: If someone's theology mostly lines up with a well-known theological or denominational system, is it fair to say that they are a _________?

    EXAMPLES:
    -If someone agrees with unconditional election, and also that faith is required for salvation, are they a calvinist? What if they don't baptize babies? What if they don't believe in limited atonement? Can we call them a 4-point calvinist even if they don't want to refer to themselves as a calvinist?
    -If someone agrees with nearly all of Arminianism, but is an adamant supporter of eternal security, is it fair to call them an Arminian even if they don't care for the label? Can we call them a 4-point Arminian?
    -If a church agrees with all of the major baptist distinctives, but their church is simply non-denomination, or a "bible" church...are they Baptist?

    OR...should we let each person decide for themselves whether they are one of a certain group, or any group.

    Also, if this last choice is your option...Is it fair to others if you dis-allow ANY label, since labels sometimes help us understand each other better (I'm a Christian, Trinitarian, Innerantist, Baptist...If I argued with you for calling me one of those even though they fit my beliefs, you would have good reason to be frustrated with me)

    -----------------------------------

    I'LL START: I believe each person does have the freedom to say, "I'm not a calvinist, even if the do agree with most of calvinism. They have the freedom to say, "I'm not an arminian," or "I'm not a Baptist." That is perfectly fine...

    ...HOWEVER, I don't think we should get bent out of shape if someone else looks at what we believe and says, "Your a Calvinist!" or "Your an Arminian!" If the things we say we believe fit (for the most part) those belief sets. I can give us an opportunity to show where we differ, where we may say, "I'm pretty calvinistic, but don't consider myself a Calvinist." Or, Most of what I believe fits with Arminianism, except for this one thing." We should be able to be honest with ourselves and others not to get offended when someone sees our beliefs as fitting with a well-known system.

    Me, I would say I'm fairly Calvinistic; but if someone said, "Are you a calvinist, I would say, "probably, though I'm not sure I agree with Limited Atonement." It does not offend me to be called a calvinist, even though I disagree with infant baptism, magisterial reform, executing heretics, and the like...because I know that my view of election passages fits mostly with the view taught by those people called calvinists.
     
  2. mont974x4

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    I believe it is fair. If a duck refuses to be called a duck do we bend to its will and call it just another bird? No, that would be dishonest and unhelpful.
     
  3. Skandelon

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    I believe we have to be careful not to commit the all too common debate fallacy of 'tradition labeling.'

    This is where one labels someone by some known traditional view (i.e. "Pelagianism" or "Hyperism") and then dismisses their arguments all together as being 'heretical' and not worthy of consideration. This is a disingenuous and lazy from of debate.
     
  4. mandym

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    Those are men's labels which are contrary to God and scripture and create unnecessary divisions.

    1Co 1:11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
    1Co 1:12 What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ."
    1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
     
  5. mont974x4

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    I don't think we can say 1 Cor 1 (or 3) applies in every,or even most cases. Especially in relation to the OP. When someone says I believe A, B, and C and those doctrines have come to be understood as "suchanism" then it is fair to call it that for the purpose of discussion. We are not dealing with a situation like Paul is addressing where people are proudly claiming to be a disciple of Mr. Such to the denial (or simple ignoring of) Christ.

    When handled rightly these labels can be beneficial, especially in the case of an open and honest discussion. One example, I am a pastor. Currently I am in an associate pastor position. When seeking a pastorate it is good to know where I stand and where a prospective church stands. If they ask something like, "Are you a Calvinist?" Then I know which key doctrines are important for that aspect of the conversation and I can reply in an appropriate, even edifying, why. Typically, in that situation, I would say, "If you are defining that by the 5 key doctrines represented by TULIP, then yes it is fair to say that I am a Calvinist." If it seems appropriate I may even take the time to talk about the labels themselves. A typical follow up question may be, "What are your thoughts on the Sola's?" If I were unaware of such labels I would be seen as unprepared and not willing to try to understand some of these issues (and their labels). It would make it seem like I don't care about being thorough or doing my best for the Lord.
     
  6. 12strings

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    Are you saying it is contrary to God and scripture to call someone a Baptist? or a Trinitarian?
     
  7. mandym

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    This junk is the down side of systematic theology. People have difficulty relating to people outside of these unnecessary labels. Some people may find it helpful to them, but others find them unnecessary and burdensome. I find the labels to be a tool of the lazy. I can explain what I believe without the shorthand of any labels that I will actually fall short of.
     
  8. mont974x4

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    ok, thanks for helping me understand your view on the issue.
     
  9. Salty

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    Men's labels - YES
    Contrary to God - NO
     
  10. InTheLight

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    Sure.


    No to all three questions. You can label them in your mind and file it away as a handy way to remember their belief system AS YOU UNDERSTAND it, but if someone says they do not want to be called a Calvinist, Arminian, African-American, Norweigan, or Democrat you ought to respect that and not call them with those labels.
     
  11. DaChaser1

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    problem here on BB is that some refuse to be labeled by their theological syatem, sounding pious, but sometimes its because they actually cannot say what theirs is per the Bible!
     
  12. JonC

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    I would say no, it is not fair for you to say this. For example, someone could agree with all five points of Calvinism, yet disagree with many of the definitions others would suppose.

    Calvinism tells little about one’s stance on the theological issues that seems to cause such divisions among Christians (as does Arminianism). Classical Arminianism, for example, is much closer to the teachings of Calvin than many forms of Calvinism today.

    But yes, while I don’t think it is a good idea, people can call themselves whatever they want – but then they are at fault if their beliefs are misunderstood because they chose to summarize them with such labels.

    As a theological system, neither of these reveals anything important about the person. So what if you are a Calvinist, or an Arminianism, or an Amyraldianist? I want to know if you are a Christian. After that, sure we can talk theology – and maybe these labels will give us a starting point (although I think that they serve instead to project preconceived ideas of what you believe or how you understand).
     
  13. JonC

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    Here is the problem, in my opinion. What system to these people hold?

    Man A believes:

    1. man is depraved and cannot save himself.
    2. God unconditionally chose the elect before creation.
    3. Christ came with the purpose of redeeming only the elect, they are the only ones who have their sin atoned for.
    4. God will accomplish redemption, through grace, in the elect. They will, definitely be saved.
    5. the elect are eternally secure in their salvation.

    Man B believes that:

    1. man is responsible for his actions.
    2. man has to accept grace to be is saved
    3. sinful man rejects Christ and is lost
    4. salvation is conditional, it is based on faith in Christ

    Now, obviously this is one man, Spurgeon, who considered himself very much a Calvinist (too many people read Spurgeon to let this hang). It could be Timothy Keller as well. But I have seen, on this site, people labeled as Arminian for believing that salvation is conditional, or that man has to accept grace.

    Likewise, if I were to say that God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, has determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’ sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe – many would argue I’m a Calvinist. (That’s from the first of the Arminian articles). It has been argued, on this site, that “non-cals” do not believe in election, or predestination.

    Even if it seems clear, it is dangerous to label another person in such a way.

     
  14. jbh28

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    "Systems" are usually general. most understand when we say someone is a Calvinist, we know that there will be variaties.
    As was said, if they don't want to be referred to something we shouldn't refer them as it. And typically, baptizing babies isn't a point in Calvinism. Usually Calvinism only refers to soteriology.

    Heard one say they were a OSAS Arminian. But, same point as above.

    The church isn't baptist. There probably are people in that church that are baptist. My sister and her husband both go to a Bible church, but I would consider both baptist as they are individually baptist in doctrine.
     

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