Check, Arminians

As I mentioned the other day, Calvinism is one of the managery of topics that has been pinballing around my head the past few days or so. This is probably the shortest stream of thought, so it’s going to be the first topic I cover.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with a lot of theology this will probably not make much sense, I’m writing to an audience that I assume knows the subject matter. If that isn’t the case I would recommend you do some research before boring yourself with me.

I was going to post a screenshot of the conversations I had over the weekend with some very angry anti-Calvinists that sparked the whole thing, but for some reason the guy with the original post has disappeared. Kinda suspicious methinks.

Anyway, the post was basically something along the lines of “Calvinism makes God into a monster!”

I of course took exception to this. The Doctrines of Grace do not make God a monster. Quite the contrary, they put particular emphasis on the grace of God. The fact that God saves anyone should humble us.

What really got my blood boiling though was the accusation that Calvinists are preaching a false gospel. We are, I was told, “demonic” and “leading millions to Hell.”

There is a temptation in rhetoric to tell people that they simply don’t understand your position. I see it all the time and I have definitely been guilty of it. But I see it as a cop out. If your opponent doesn’t understand you, it’s probably because you (or your compatriots) have not adequately stated your position. So I avoided that strategy and instead inquired about what the true Gospel is.

For his credit he did state the answer correctly. But when pressed to tell me how Calvinism is preaching a false gospel he throws down the John 3:16 trump card.

It’s always funny to me when Arminians throw down John 3:16. Like Calvinists disagree with it or something. Apparently because we believe salvation is limited to the Elect, we must think that Jesus was lying when he said “whosoever believes will have eternal life.”

I do believe that “whosoever believes” will be saved. I just believe that only the Elect will be that “whosoever”.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Is not incongruous with:

“whosoever believes in Him shall be saved.”

Those who He foreknew and predestined are precisely the same people who believe. Check, Arminians.

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Daily Thoughts #65

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Titus 3:9 – I think most of the people I know on Facebook have somehow never come across this verse. Especially in Reformed Theology groups.

Speaking of quarrels, something I ate is not agreeing with me. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow I have died of dysentary.

I’m going to be an uncle again this week! Super excited!

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Fatherhood Is Not Babysitting

This was in a Facebook group I’m in. Most people got the joke. One guy commented:

“What exactly is this meme saying?

Why is the woman abandoning her God given role as mother “for the next few days”?

Why is the father being regarded by both women almost as a boyfriend?”

My response was “you gotta be trolling.”

But looking at his timeline I really don’t think he was. His posts show that his worldview assumes men and women were created exclusively for distinct “roles”, women to pump out babies and stay with them constantly until they are capable of pumping out their own, and men to go out of the house most of the time to till the fields and provide the means to buy food (which definitely falls into the woman’s role). These roles are rigid and unbending.

I’m not completely opposed to the idea of roles. In any organization, such as a family, division of labor is helpful to ensure that all jobs are taken care of.

But implicit in this guy’s worldview is the idea that men are incapable of raising children. The fact that a woman would “abandon her God given role” and leave her children in the incompetent hands of their father is appalling. We all know men don’t have the capacity to nurture. We know their attention spans are way too limited to ensure the kids get all that they need to survive.

Implicit in this worldview is the concept that fathers are nothing more than babysitters when they take responsibility for the care of their children. If this guy had his way, the mother would never be out of the child’s presence. The father would will never be left out of his league watching the kids for a few days, let alone a few hours.

Maybe I am being uncharitable. Maybe this guy is a great father. Maybe he lets his wife “abandon her role” and go out occasionally. I don’t know.

All I know is I take exception to the idea that men are useless for raising children. I reject the notion that fathers are babysitters and the jokes about them needing “rescue” and being incompetent.

This guy may not have understood the meme, but I think most of us got the point loud and clear.

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Music and Art Monday, August 6th, 2018: Culture and Christianity

How are Christians supposed to interact with culture? Are they supposed to ignore it? Avoid it? Yell at it?

A couple of things got me thinking about this topic over the weekend. One was a Facebook post complaining about Christians who watch Harry Potter or listen to Black Sabbath or appreciate other “things of darkness.” Another was an interview with Alistair Begg about the Beatles.

The first took the position that we are supposed to avoid all the “darkness” of the world. They quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The second took the position that we ought to know the culture we live in. We ought to be intimate with it so we can engage it with truth. We should analyze culture to learn it’s theology and understanding of humanity.

Which do I agree with?

Well, I do agree with scripture that we should not be unequally yoked. We should not marry a non-believer, we should avoid serving two masters, we cannot follow both the world and God.

But I don’t think that means completely shutting out the culture around us. If the separator is going to be completely consistent he would need to avoid working for non-Christians or even working with them. He would need to be like the Pharisees and wash up every time he came in contact with a non-believer. The whole world is dark. We aren’t called to hide from the dark or completely avoid the dark, we couldn’t do it if we tried.

We are instead called to be light in the darkness. We are to shed light on the lies of Satan. And we can’t very well do that if we bury our head in the sand and have no clue what lies are going around.

In his interview, Begg quoted John Lennon as saying that the lyrics to “Help” were a subconscious cry from his heart. But no Christian of the day was reaching out to him with truth and light. No Christian responded with the Biblical definition of love when “All You Need Is Love” came out either. It was a great opportunity to show what real love is but it was missed.

It’s much the same today. We would rather chastise the unsaved than respond to them with truths. We would rather wear our spotless robes of piety and keep our distance from the world than risk getting muddy with those in it. It’s easier to yell at the darkness and deride it than it is to correct it.

Jesus went to the world. He spoke to the worldly and the pious both. He was not afraid of being soiled by the darkness, because He always had the light of truth with Him.

As Christians, we too should not fear the dark. We should instead shine a light into it. In order to do that we have to see the darkness and know it well.

And that may mean we have to get our hands dirty. It may mean that we read books with certain uncomfortable themes or listen to the lyrics of songs that may make us cringe. We have to take every opportunity to show the love of Christ to an ugly world, and that may mean looking that ugliness right in the face. We don’t have to yolk ourselves to it and hold it in high esteem. We don’t have to embrace the lies in it. But when there is a shred of truth we should grasp onto it and expound on it. We should commend truth and correct lies.

Christians need to be involved in the culture. We need to shine on it and spread the Gospel into it. We can’t very well do that from a bunker.

Daily Thoughts #31

Reading about the flakiness of the disciples or even of the Israelites gives me hope for myself and the Grace of God. They literally walked with Jesus (or under a pillar of smoke) and they still occasionally forgot Who they were trusting. But God forgave them and continued to bless them and them. How much more will He be compassionate on those of us who follow Him now!

Alone again for a few weeks…. Yep… Blah. I miss her already. Anyone around Alamogordo wanna hang out?

Plans plans plans. And tons of prayer.

Godly Men Want Godly Women, With Or Without Tattoos, Virginity, or Debt

I mentioned the other day how I learned God’s grace doesn’t cover sin when seeking a spouse, along with two other wonderful lessons of the week. Since this one got the most traction around the world I figured I would cover it first.

There is a blogger (The Transformed Wife) out there who wrote a post insisting that young men prefer young women who have no tattoos, no debt, and no sexual experiences. I don’t really want to give her traffic, but here is a link if you really care to read it. There are many many posts on there that are cringe worthy, so be careful.

Now, on the face of it I won’t disagree with her. Every young godly man would prefer a perfectly sinless, spotless, unblemished young woman. He would prefer a woman who has not, does not, and never will sin. Every young man and every young woman wants a perfect spouse. And yes, God’s ways are the best ways. Christ wants us to avoid debt and promiscuity. Christ wants us to live lives free from sin.

However, the author’s standards go a bit beyond God’s standards. Christ didn’t expect a perfect bride. Christ did not come to die for a perfect spotless bride. Christ came to live and die in order to create a perfect bride.

Also, while it is true that a perfect spouse would not have debt or a promiscuous past (tattoos? Maybe, maybe not), these are not the only standards by which we should live by.

A debt free, tattoo-less virgin may still be a backbiting, slanderous gossip. She may have an unrighteous temper. She may abuse alcohol or drugs, She might not be a Christian at all. She could easily be a pagan, a Hindu, or a Muslim. To claim that a lack of three very specific things makes her the ideal is seriously blind to the reality of the fallen world in which we live in.

A tattooed, debt-ridden, (formerly) sexually active woman may be the most godly woman you ever meet. She may have had a rough past which left her with a few marks and scars, but now she is on fire for the Gospel. She may have committed egregious sins in the past, but now since God has saved her and changed her heart, she is able to fully grasp what grace is and is able to give it abundantly to her (potential) husband.

Sure, everyone would like a spouse without baggage. The ideal spouse would not have a past. He or she would not have the same struggles as a person with a rough history. But honestly, how many of those people are really out there? It is rare to find anyone without at least a few things in their past they aren’t proud of.

And when you do find that rare individual, are they really ideal? First off, are they really being honest that there is nothing they are ashamed of? That should throw up a red flag right there. Second, does a perfect history really create the kind of character that is able to withstand the hardships of a marriage? Can a person who has never done anything wrong truly understand grace enough to give it to an imperfect spouse?

Personally, I want a woman who has endured some hardship and has come out of it stronger. I want a woman who understands forgiveness and is able to both accept and give it. I don’t care if she has tattoos, debt, or a “pure” body, as long as her desire is to worship and follow Christ with all her heart, soul, spirit, mind, and body, I am quite happy to be with her.

Normally, I would pick a post like this apart bit by bit but this one is almost so ridiculous that I don’t know where to begin. This woman is a Pharisee. She takes the laws of God and adds her own laws. She insists that only those who follow her laws are Godly.

“Your posts sound crazy to anyone who does not believe the Bible is true.” Well, I and about a million others who believe the Bible is true still think your posts sound crazy. No. Not crazy. Just laden with your own man-made laws and standards. We think your insistence on cookie-cutter Christianity is pretty disgusting and probably not pleasing at all to the Lord.

Christ didn’t come for a perfect bride, Christ didn’t come to save “good” people. Christ saves a variety of souls from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, family situations, ethnicities, cultures, and dare I say denominations.

Marriage is a mirror of the Gospel. If Christ doesn’t have a preference for debt-free, tattoo-less, virgins, neither should we.

Stabbing Anxiety In the Face With a Soldering Iron, Part 2

Last week I discussed some of the things I do to conquer the physical aspects of anxiety. But what about the thoughts?

In order to kill bad thoughts it helps to understand the motives behind one’s thoughts. Most of my anxious thoughts stem from my severe need to be in control of all things. I am a control freak. When things are out of my control I panic. I begin to think the worst. I lose all faith and go into the selfish cocoon of anxiety.

Knowing what motivates my wrong thoughts helps in creating a strategy to defeat them.

So what do I do?

Well, I take control of the things I actually have control of. Despite my negativity, there are things I actually have some power over. Like my time, my children, and my personal space.

I make a schedule and try to stick with it, understanding that sometimes things happen that make that schedule obsolete for the moment. At the very least I follow a routine and make habits.

I work on establishing healthy boundaries with my children. Kids can be chaos incarnate, but usually only because we don’t put a foot down and make it clear what is allowed and not allowed. Discipline goes a long way towards helping calm that storm. Boundaries are important to all relationships, if there are other relationships in your life that create stress and anxiety it is likely that you need to establish some basic rules regarding it.

By personal space, I mean my house. I have control over the cleanliness and clutter of my home. Part of a good schedule and routine is taking time to organize and clean up. Visual clutter and messes are huge triggers for anxious thoughts. It took me years to figure this out, but it has made a huge difference since.

As for the things I can’t control… (which are far fewer in number than my mind will let me believe) those things get put into my prayers. Only God can control those things.

That may seem like a cop out answer, but I assure you that faith is harder than any scheduling, disciplining, or cleaning. Having faith requires catching my thoughts and correcting them. Taking every thought captive requires constantly telling myself truths to correct the lies that my mind wants to tell me. In order to do this I have to know truths, I have to study and think about truths, and I have to believe truths.

Anxiety is ultimately the antithesis of faith. Faith is ultimately the solution to anxiety.