Why the vitriol?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by doulous, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. doulous

    doulous
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    I have not been on this board long, but I have been dismayed over the lack of chartity and respect one for another. In fact, I will go so far to say that the words of many (Calvinist and Arminian alike) are a reproach to Christ.

    Is it possible to have debate without the vitriol? Can and should caustic comments be witheld? Should we not act as brothers and sisters in Christ who walk always in the Spirit of God? What did Paul write?

    Galatians 5:19-26 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

    "enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying" Sound like the description of this place at all? My brothers and sisters, since we are to inherit eternal life why do some of us insist on displaying the attributes of those who will not inherit eternal life?

    But how should we act?

    "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" If an unbeliever came in here (and we all know that they do) and read our posts, would they find these qualities?

    Paul finished by saying, "Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another."

    No one is saying we cannot debate. No one is saying we should not stand together and refute heresy. No one is saying we cannot passionately defend what we believe is the right view of scripture. But the personal attacks, insults and caustic remarks have no place. They are a reproach to Christ.
     
  2. npetreley

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    Why the vitriol? I am not excusing it, but I think I can explain it a little.

    1. The doctrine of election is offensive to the flesh. Man in the flesh, by nature, wants the glory. Very few will admit it (some have, though, surprisingly), but the doctrine of salvation by free will boils down to this: "Okay, I can't claim I earned my salvation by works, but at least I can take credit for having made the right choice." Take away ALL boasting, and that offends and arouses the ire of the flesh. Hence the vitriol.

    2. The doctrine of salvation by free will is offensive to those who are passionate about God's Glory. A passionate reaction is not always a bad thing. Here is an extreme example of God commending someone for defending His Glory:

    Now, I'm not suggesting we should drive a spear through free willers. ;) I don't think they are deliberately spitting in God's face, as was this man with the Midianite woman. But I'm simply pointing out that it's not automatically wrong to react with passion in defense of God's Glory. What's wrong is to let your flesh take over and start slinging mud.

    3. Vitriol encourages more vitriol. It arouses ire when people who believe in election, appropriately called "Calvinists" because of what they believe, are accused of following Calvin, worshiping Calvin, etc. It is worse when they attempt to defeat Calvinism by attacking the character of Calvin himself, calling him a murderer. The issue isn't whether or not Calvin murdered anyone, it's the fact that you can't prove or disprove a doctrine through character assassination. So character assassination arouses the ire of anyone who cares about the truth.

    I don't want to be unfair, but I simply can't think of any equivalent arguments from the Calvinist side. I don't think I've ever read any Calvinists accusing free willers of worshiping Arminius. I don't think I've ever read any Calvinist posts that try to assassinate the character of Arminius. I'm not saying these posts don't exist, but I haven't seen any such examples.

    4. False accusations about a doctrine cause vitriol. When free willers state that Calvinism means God damns people to hell willy nilly, that is a false accusation about Calvinism. When Calvinists say that the God of free willers is an incompetent (and I have been guilty of doing that, which is why I chose this example), that incites vitriol.

    I'm sure there are more reasons, but these are some of my answers to "Why the vitriol?"
     
  3. doulous

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    npetreley - *sigh*

    I'm a Calvinist too. I will debate just as passionately as the next Calvinist about the doctrines of sovereign grace. But my desire is to do so in a manner which glorifies God. It really is as simple as that.

    Now, what do we do when someone reacts to one of our posts with anger and insult? Respond with grace. When in doubt respond with grace.
     
  4. npetreley

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    I agree with you 100%. And I admitted and will freely continue to admit I'm guilty of falling short. I pray that God will give me the strength to answer with grace instead of vitriol. I was just answering your question and offering some views on why I think there is vitriol in the discussions.
     
  5. doulous

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    I agree with you 100%. And I admitted and will freely continue to admit I'm guilty of falling short. I pray that God will give me the strength to answer with grace instead of vitriol. I was just answering your question and offering some views on why I think there is vitriol in the discussions. </font>[/QUOTE]Noted. I pray we can all move past it and spend more time discussing God's word and may that lead to confirmation of the truth or changes in what we believe....all to the glory of God!
     
  6. Andy T.

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    Your OP is a good reminder, Doulous. [​IMG]
     
  7. JackRUS

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    npetreley wrote:
    So then according to you all of the Arminians are walking in the flesh?

    When am I supposed to start laughing?
     
  8. rsr

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    And even a plea to end the vitriol evinces vitriol. Why is it that this topic brings out the worst in posters?

    Lord have mercy upon us; you would think we're in the politics forum.
     
  9. doulous

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    Yeah...even a "plea for peace" post gets hijacked.
     
  10. Brother Bob

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  11. LadyEagle

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    :eek:
     
  12. npetreley

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    I don't know any Arminians. However, when I was a free willer, I believed the difference between me and the unsaved was that there was something about me - I didn't know what it was, but it was something - that caused me to make the right decision.

    Obviously, the unsaved didn't have that attribute, or something else that was good enough, because they made the wrong decision.

    I don't know if I would have been unable or unwilling to admit that's how I felt. But I know in retrospect that is definitely what I believed.

    That is glorying in the flesh. You can write it off as just something I felt, and claim (most) other free willers never feel that way. I think that's hogwash. You can deny feeling the same way, yourself, if you like, but I, for one, won't believe you.

    Any free willer who says they don't, in their heart of hearts, reserve a little credit for themselves for making the right decision is either in denial, or simply won't pony up to the truth. It's easy to be in denial. It's easy to bury that credit underneath the fact that you couldn't have made the right choice if Jesus hadn't died for you, therefore (you reason, wrongly) that God deserves all the Glory.

    But if you dig deep enough, you'll find that you're reserving just a tiny bit of credit for yourself for having chosen the right thing. Because whether or not Jesus died for you, you still insist he left it up to YOU to decide whether or not to accept it. And you can only credit yourself for having made the right decision.

    So the answer is yes, free willers are walking in the flesh, at least with respect to this one thing.
     
  13. rsr

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    I don't know any Calvinists. However, when I was a predestinarian, I believed the difference between me and the unsaved was that there was something about me - I didn't know what it was, but it was something - that God saw in me to justify Him causing me to make the right decision.

    Obviously, the unsaved didn't have that attribute, or something else that was good enough, because they made the wrong decision.

    I don't know if I would have been unable or unwilling to admit that's how I felt. But I know in retrospect that is definitely what I believed.

    That is glorying in the flesh. You can write it off as just something I felt, and claim (most) other predestinarians never feel that way. I think that's hogwash. You can deny feeling the same way, yourself, if you like, but I, for one, won't believe you.

    Any predestinarian who says they don't, in their heart of hearts, reserve a little credit for themselves for God's making the right decision is either in denial, or simply won't pony up to the truth. It's easy to be in denial. It's easy to bury that credit underneath the fact that you couldn't have made the right choice if Jesus hadn't died for you, therefore (you reason, wrongly) that God deserves all the Glory.

    But if you dig deep enough, you'll find that you're reserving just a tiny bit of credit for yourself for God having recognized in you "the right thing." Because whether or not Jesus died for you, you still insist He saw something in you worthy of acceptance. And you can only credit yourself for having been among the elect.

    So the answer is yes, predestinarians are walking in the flesh, at least with respect to this one thing.
     
  14. whatever

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    rsr,

    When were you a predestinarian?
     
  15. Rippon

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    RSR , I can appreciate that you are trying to be evenhanded about this or maybe being tongue-in-cheek but ...

    I will ask the same question as whatever . Were you ever a predestinarian ? If so , why the big change ?
     
  16. npetreley

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    I'd like to say that was clever, but it wasn't. You can mimic the words, but it doesn't add up the same way as my story.

    I can see how a person who believes in election can fantasize that he was elected because God saw something in him that was better than another person. But the Bible clearly states things like how God chose Jacob over Esau so that His purpose in election would stand -- not because one was better than another, and before either one had a chance to do anything good or bad. So anyone who really believes in election as described by the Bible has to abandon any idea that he deserved election over anyone else by virtue of something that was in him. In fact, you'll see all sorts of Calvinists here harping on the verses that we have nothing that was not given to us by God, therefore we have nothing we can credit to ourselves.

    The fact is, the very doctrine of election precludes any possibility that we have anything whatsoever to do with our own salvation. That means all boasting (hidden or otherwise) is excluded.

    In sharp contrast, this is not true of free willism. A free willer can rightly say that, according to his doctrine, HE made the difference between himself and the unsaved. It was HIS decision to accept Christ. Therefore he can credit at least part of his own salvation to himself. And I believe he does credit that part to himself, whether he admits it or not.

    So mock my example all you want, but there is a very real difference, and it doesn't add up to a person who believes in election walking in the flesh. I'm sure you can find some that do, but they would have to contradict the doctrine of election as taught by the Bible in order to do so.
     
  17. SpyHunter

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    I used buy into Calvinism until I realized, within Scripture and pure social observation, that His people resist God all the time. People resist His grace; people cry out to Him. But since you're being so high-and-mighty in your self-professed "I boast of how I do not boast" philosophy, tell me what your version of Calvinism would say to this:

    2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

    I am saved by works-- Christ's works. But I make no pretense about God expecting me to be mature about things. I chose to sin against Him, and through repentance He has brought me back to His side. As for your religious paradigm of not working because of your election, either you or Calvin forgot to read that verse.
    I am not advocating works-based theology. I am just challenging your elementary trump card which says that I have never had absolutely any say in whether or not I am God's.
    In that verse, 2 Peter 1:10, "Make sure" and "practice" (KJV says "do") are different tenses of the same word.
    Again, I am not presenting works-based theology here, but Scripture definitely conveys the fact that whatever "election" is (however we choose to define it), it's made sure by something inherent to you.
    I have a few more things to say on the matter, but I will leave them for another time.

    Blessings,
    SpyHunter
     
  18. doulous

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    Then the case is closed, isn't it? Debate is in vain if, no matter what I say, you won't believe it. But I coming to realize that truly is the attitude in here.

    "I don't care what you say. This is what I believe." Or, "You can provide all the exegesis you wan't, I will continue to believe in (insert one) Calvinism/Arminianism." I really love this one, "You don't know what you are talking about." This is the spirit of virtiol that provoked me to start this thread.

    RSR, you assume that have latent feelings of superiority? I quote:

    HOW DARE YOU! I am not filled with vitriol, I am incredulous you would say such a thing. I don't have to impress you, nor do I have to fit into your theological box. I was a vile sinner, saved by grace. I deserved nothing and I earned nothing. My understanding of election, predestination and sovereign grace has done more to underscore my wretchedness than anything else I have ever known. Why did God choose me? What internal qualities did I possess? All I know is that I was a vile sinner that was deserving of hell. Consider myself superior? Give myself even the most micro of credit for my election? God forbid! If it were not for 1 John 5:13 and Philippians 1:6, I would question my eternal security. I live in awe that the Lord would actually grant me mercy and grace and call me to Himself.

    RSR, continue to speak for yourself. If that attitude (which you say you had) should find residence in my mind, may the Lord drive it from me that I may glory save in two things: His glory and His marvelous grace.
     
  19. npetreley

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    Then the case is closed, isn't it? Debate is in vain if, no matter what I say, you won't believe it. But I coming to realize that truly is the attitude in here.</font>[/QUOTE]I think you're quoting rsr, but I was the one who said that first. rsr was simply mocking my post, trying to show that it can apply to both free willers and Calvinists alike. rsr failed, but that was the attempt.

    Sorry to sound so arrogant, but I simply find it impossible to believe that anyone who thinks they chose Christ of their own free will does not reserve for themselves a little bit of credit for their own salvation. How can you attribute the turning point of your salvation to your own free will and not take credit for it? It's a contradiction in terms to say "I did it of my own free will" and then turn around and say "but I don't take any credit for it".

    Exactly. That's my point about the difference between free willers glorying in the flesh, and Calvinists glorying in God. If you truly believe in the Biblical view of election, there is no space for boasting.
     
  20. npetreley

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    I don't know what Calvinism would say, but I would say read the whole passage, not just the verse.

    Any good we do is only possible through His divine power, so even when we are encouraged to grow in faith, the only reason it is even possible to grow in faith is because it is God working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. There is no room for boasting.
     

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