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Featured Christian or Calvinist/Arminian?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & Arminianism Debate' started by Reformed, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I am more selective these days on which threads to participate in. One topic I am interested in discussing was mentioned in a few recent threads. The gist of the comments were that [some] people are Calvinists/Arminians first and Christians second. The thought behind these statements was that some individuals self-identity by their doctrinal distinctives instead of their standing in Christ. Let me make some quick points about this charge:

    The C&A debate forum exists for the very purpose of debating Calvinism/Arminianism. Posting on either topic in that forum is expected.

    Passionate debate about either position does not mean a person thinks that is all there is to the Christian life (although they may consider the topic to be important).

    Looking at our brother through uncharitable eyes is the cause of many perceived offenses and hurt feelings. In short - if you are looking to be offended, you will be.

    We may knowingly or unknowingly exasperate the problem by returning fire with fire.

    We cry "Foul!" not because of a real offense but because a debate point was scored against us. Some people are more concerned with their own personal image than the truth.

    We make mountains out of mole hills. Instead of moving on we dig in and fight as if our life depends on it.

    We become unbalanced and make Calvinism/Arminianism a hobby horse that we will not get off of. That is when we make either doctrine more important than our identity as Christians.

    Notice that I did not blame one side. I have read enough posts over the years to know this problem cuts both ways.



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  2. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Just wow! It has gotten sad when some do not even know enough to just be ashamed.
     
  3. davidtaylorjr

    davidtaylorjr Well-Known Member

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    :confused: seriously.....
     
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  4. Rockson

    Rockson Active Member

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    Very true but I also consider there can be much justification for suspecting there's something seriously wrong in how some present themselves. Jesus said to as wise as serpents and to be as harmless as doves and I'm not speaking of just one side that fail to do this. (and I am a Non Calvinist)

    But sadly there are certain numbers that don't give one iota really about being kind or harmless. I'm guessing you might agree that theological positions can be like a contest to some. Their intent is to win an argument and they really do like a fight as juvenile children like the gratification of a big win to boast their self-esteem for egotistical reasons. So it really can be for some none other than a work of the flesh, no worries if someone's hurt the thrill of the win trumps all.

    I would just hope such ones would come to the truth which is so much greater than the other that one can have the right doctrine but the wrong spirit. and if it all just becomes exalting the flesh than they've done nothing really to advance the Kingdom and their actions are counterproductive to that end.
     
  5. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    There is a time and place for everything. C&A forum is a good place. In the S.S. class where 95% don't want to hear it is not a good place.
     
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  6. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    No one has any business tearing the other apart, no matter what.
    Personally, I've seen and done my fair share of the tearing, and not only am I ashamed of it, I find that, deep down, really don't want to do it.

    The Lord has given us rules of conduct, and I think we should do our very best to obey them.
    I also agree that "in the heat of battle", things can get sideways fast...

    But we mustn't let it.
    This must eventually come into play:

    " For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body." ( James 3:2 )
     
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  7. davidtaylorjr

    davidtaylorjr Well-Known Member

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    This is such a good point and it is something that frustrates me. There are people here who accuse the Calvinists of talking about nothing else. But the reality is, that is the busiest section of the forum and it is SPECIFICALLY for that topic so of course we talk about it a lot there. How often do I talk about it in day-to-day ministry? Only when certain passages are being taught/preached and even then it is more of a cursory overview.
     
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  8. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    We also have to remember this is not formal debate (moderation is not here to evaluate the argument but to enforce the conduct we all agreed upon when we joined this forum).

    When doctrine leads people to act (even in debate) in an un-Christian manner there is an issue greater than the doctrine being argued.

    Scripture, not the world, tells us how to discuss issues with other Christians. This guidence does not include false accusations, insults, and projecting upon others a belief. There is nothing to be gained in this type if dialogue except the hope of satisfying one's pride in shallow victory at the expense of a brother.

    We need to ask if our speech glorifies God, even on the Cal/ Arm forum.
     
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  9. Rockson

    Rockson Active Member

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    I'm not a Calvinist but I must say I like this post.
     
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  10. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    That is true and it cuts both ways.

    I am in complete agreement. The difficult part about that is two parties can be at odds with each other while respectively believing they are in the right. Because this a message board the truth is difficult to ascertain. It is easy to judge motives. Things can devolve to the point where it is virtually impossible to have a civil or profitable interaction with another poster. It is sad when that happens but happen it does. If we use the principle embedded in Matthew 18, we will try to work things out with a brother who we are having a difficult time with. But this is not a church setting. Relationships in this venue are more contrived and artificial. Sometimes the best courses of action are the least appealing. They include simply not engaging with the other person or using the block/ignore feature. Of course, these things only come into play when there is conflict that cannot be resolved.

    Theologically, I am Calvinist in my soteriology. I am not "proud" of that because pride has no place in what we believe. I am convinced by scripture that my position is correct. I acknowledge that there is much that I do not understand. So, while I identify as Reformed Baptist from a theological perspective, that is a subset of my primary identity as a Christian. I do not have a theological litmus test for fellowship with another believer. I have a very close friend who is a tongues-speaking, laying on hands healing, and a rapture-tribulation believer. I love him dearly, although we disagree on almost everything that is not essential to the faith. Can we partner together in ministry? No. We disagree too much. Can we enjoy each other's company? Absolutely! Are there certain things we avoid? Yes. He knows my opinion on tongues and the Pentecostal view of divine healing.

    In the end, I think we are defined more by how we interact with those we disagree with more than those who are in our camp. I do not like thinking about that too much because I know my history. It took me a long time to act more charitably towards those I do not agree with. I have to constantly remind myself of that history so I will not fall back into bad behavior. That does mean shying away from tough conversations. It does mean avoiding unprofitable conversations that do not have truth and glorifying God as their main goal.
     
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  11. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Some of the most Christ-like people I know belong to denominations I wouldn't be comfortable partnering with in a ministry because of the differences in doctrine. But I would not hesitate to fellowship with them as Christians.

    I am also a Calvinist (I don't say "Reformed"), but some in my own "camp" have proven to be anything but Christ-like (we've all had our moments, I know).

    The key is in glorifying God in all we do. God created us in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should do them.
     
  12. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Sometimes there are complications Reformed.
    The Apostle Paul wrote of being in peril among false brethren.
    The rules in scripture apply when the people are Christians.
    For example if people lie and bear false witness, slander and accuse real believers in a psychotic fashion...something else comes into play..
    A person like Diotrephies loves to have the preeminence..
    He got a little power,it went to.his head, he felt as if he would get away with it.
    Reformed, in such a case do you think God will.reward such a wicked person according to their works....like Alexander the coppersmith?
     
  13. Dave Gilbert

    Dave Gilbert Well-Known Member

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    I might not be reading this situation correctly, but it seems to me that I'm seeing something a bit one-sided...please correct me if I am wrong.

    With respect,
    There are rules that apply to us as believers, whether or not the other person is a believer:

    Romans 12:14
    Romans 12:17-21
    Romans 13:1-10
    Galatians 6:10
    2 Timothy 2:22-26
    Titus 1:1-2

    That's a few of them I was able to find quickly, and we as believers are called not only to a "code of conduct" within ourselves, but outwardly, to the world.



    May God bless you, good sir.:)
     
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  14. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    So what was Paul saying about Alexander the Coppersmith?
     
  15. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Brother, I am not excusing poor or sinful behavior on anyone's part. That type of behavior needs to be confronted (biblically) and repented off (hopefully) by the offending person(s). Since all of us are prone to sin we should be also be looking at ourselves (Matthew 7:5).

    So, for the sake of argument, let us say that we believe a brother on the Baptist Board has acted wrongly towards us. We have taken the issue up with that brother but the behavior persists. "Acting wrongly" in this context can be any of a number of things. Perhaps it is just needless bickering (wrangling about words, 2 Timothy 2:14). Maybe it is snide remarks, mischaracterizations, or plain rudeness. The goal is to see peace but sometimes we cannot. After all, even Paul understood that peace with all men is a goal that is not always realized (Romans 12:18). What do we do in such cases? To me, the remedy is simple, if not regrettable. We stop interacting with that person, whether it be for a time or permanently. The only other option is to stop posting on the board completely. There are members of this board who have placed me on block/ignore and I have done the same. Regrettable? Yes. Beneficial? For both parties, yes. We are able to engage on the board with a better spirit and (hopefully) be a blessing to others.

    Are there Diotrephies and Alexanders among us? Given the size of the board, I do not doubt it. What should we as individuals do about it? We have three clear choices. 1. Continue to feed the problem. 2. Disengage from the problem. 3. Stop posting altogether. Does it matter if we are right while being portrayed by another(s) as wrong? It certainly matters to our ego but in the eternal scheme of things not so much. Again, I am not excusing poor or sinful behavior, although I recognize such behavior occurs. The question is what do we do about it? What is the right way to respond? I have given some suggestions for consideration.
     
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  16. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    But as a Christian how should we respond on an Internet discussion board where other Christians will be reading our posts? There was an exchange between John Adams and Benjamin Franklin from the John Adams miniseries a few years ago that I just love. John Adam's was speaking about another member of the Continental Congress and asked Benjamin Franklin, "Should I insult him in private?" Benjamin Franklin responded, "It is perfectly acceptable to insult someone in private. In fact, they may even thank you for it." A private conversation is one thing. In open forum with other brothers and sisters watching? I leave that for others to decide.
     
  17. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I agree. We are commanded to do good to all men, especially the breathern. We cannot be kind to the choir while hating the people outside. Instead we are called to love, even our enemies.

    I think that sometimes people forget that while they were sinners Christ died for them. A Christian has absolutely no ground to act in hate towards another person because we were once enimies of God. Our "enimies" pale in comparison to our former state in relation to God. And God sacrificed for us. The "holy anger" of men is nothing but pride, something that should (given our former state) be foreign to any believer.
     
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  18. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    Alexander the coppersmith is a good example (although off topic as apparently he was not saved). He did significant hard to Paul’s ministry. Paul tells Timothy to be on guard against him.

    In the book I suggested to you, Grasping God’s Word, the first step is to examine what a passage meant to the original audience. The second is to list what differentiates us from the original audience and ultimately we are to derive the principles (what is being taught). I encourage you to consider the book, I think it will help you in your studies tremendously.

    We are not apostles, but we are to guard those under our responsibility against false doctrines. We are not to contend against these people (Paul leaves this up to God) but to guard against their teachings.

    I am a Calvinist. I consider Arminianism to be a false teaching. But my religion is not Calvinism. My faith is in Christ, not a particular understanding (which, as Spurgeon noted, is always prone to error as we are finite trying to comprehend the Infinite). Those who oppose Calvinism are not opposing God. They are opposing a system of understanding that they feel is in error. I have no right to insult them for their understanding even as I believe it a misunderstanding.

    It would be wrong of me to consider those who are non-Calvinists to be non-Christian. On a debate board they have just as much right to argue and express their views as do I. The same goes to differences within Calvinistic thinking. Yet we are right to judge doctrine within those under our responsibility (and as teachers we will be held to a higher standard, so this is not a minor thing).

    In regards to Alexander, we are not here to judge the world. We guard against false doctrine but God judges. We are here to demonstrate the love of Christ to the Alexanders while guarding those under our care against Alexander’s doctrine, leaving the judging to God.
     
  19. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Wonderful well thought out post Reformed. Thankfully we are not often put in a situation of being plagued by false brethren too often.
    Discussions can be complicated enough without this kind of complication.
     
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  20. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    There are some people that enjoy the debate and have a win-at-all-costs attitude. To these types the end justifies the means. No camp has a corner on these types. Again, this does not mean that there is no place for hard-hitting debate. There is. Contending for the truth creates sparks (and maybe a few mushroom clouds!).



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