Thinking Out Loud

December 23, 2014

Calvinist Manifesto

Filed under: Church, theology — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:54 am

Recently unearthed, or it should have been:

 

“Our goal is to completely dominate Christian publishing and internet media so that anyone, searching out any topic related to scripture or Christian living will land on one of our publications from one of our authors connected to one of our churches which is linked to our parachurch and conference organizations; and all quotations contained therein will be from the ESV.”

I want to continue where I left off yesterday. Consider this a two-part year-end rant.

I don’t mind if people want to believe differently on issues such as Bible translations, women in ministry, eschatology (end times), whether children should partake of the communion elements, the role of the laity in church life, or a host of other subjects. God knew what he was doing and his divine providence, he seems to have left a variety of things open to interpretation. Working out your salvation seems to involve a certain amount of thinking.

What I object to is the attitude that overshadows everything else when it comes to certain denominational tribes.

The problem with being so preoccupied with being right, is that it comes across Pharisaical, or to put it another way, not very Christ-like.

But all that is symptomatic. There’s also the issue of the underlying cause.

Here’s what I think: Some people simply want to be in control.

The nice thing about having God in a box is that once you have God all figured out, in a sense Christian growth has been achieved, the only thing left at that point is to amass further knowledge. When everything is word-based instead of Spirit-led, you end up simply wanting more words, more background, more truth, more axiomatic principles; and then there is no place for experience, no room for the Holy Spirit.

This then manifests itself in different ways, especially in print and online, and one of those is a very troll-like attitude, where there is, as we showed yesterday, a quote from an author you regard as outside your particular fence, and, like the proverbial kid with the finger who wants to test the ‘Wet Paint’ sign, you simply can’t leave it alone.

You have to defend the brand at all costs.

And you have to be seen as a brand defender.

And you have to re-post every article or book excerpt by the other brand-defenders because then you feel like you’re accomplishing something.

My point here is this: Try to identify this when you see it and resist the temptation to become absorbed into this mindset, resist the tendency to end up becoming like them.

Having God all wrapped up may look enticing. Having a God you somewhat control may be self-satisfying. But eventually, God breaks out of the box and you’re left with the wrapping paper strewn all over the floor. Because you never should have tried to contain him.


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4 Comments »

  1. I was briefly on staff at a Calvinist church as the leader of small group and discipleship ministry. Yes, briefly, because as soon as we hit upon an idea that did not fit their box, there was no invitation to discussion but rather a firm reprimand and an unequivocal ban on my even discussing the issue with anyone in the church. I was stunned. The issue was being baptized as an adult who had become a believer, even if they had been “baptized” as a baby and had gone on to live a faithless life. The lead pastor’s words to me were “To teach this is to throw the grace of God back in His face”. I don’t do well with a ban on rational and loving discourse. You are right too, Paul, the internet engines seem to be dominated by this kind of thinking. Good article.

    Comment by yokedwithhim — December 23, 2014 @ 9:52 am

  2. “Our goal is to completely dominate Christian publishing and internet media so that anyone, searching out any topic related to scripture or Christian living will land on one of our publications from one of our authors connected to one of our churches which is linked to our parachurch and conference organizations; and all quotations contained therein will be from the ESV.”

    You don’t source that quote, and it would be nice to know from where it comes.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your point here.

    One of the reasons that I hold the ESV with suspicion is because I have always believed that it is Calvinist translation of the Bible. I could be wrong, but that is where I stand. At the same time, I do have a copy and I do read it. IF, and I do mean IF that is the case, I find it quite disturbing. It is one thing to believe that your particular brand of Protestantism is the one that Jesus and the Apostles would embrace. It is another thing all together to allow that belief to influence the way you translate the Word. We shouldn’t do that.

    My experience in discussing theology with brand promoters is that they rarely have any knowledge of pre-reformation church history. They might know a little bit, but it has been handed down to them from the perspective of the Reformed. When you go back to the early church and move forward from there, one is usually a lot more humble when it comes to their “brand”

    Comment by Jim — December 23, 2014 @ 10:17 am

  3. I believe there is no source for the “quote” because there is no actual Calvinist manifesto. Paul is putting words in the mouth of every Calvinist everywhere, exaggerating if only a little bit to make a point.

    One of the criticisms I’ve heard of the ESV is that’s it’s “Calvinist friendly.” I have read, studied and preached from the ESV for years and if I am anything it is NOT a Calvinist. You want to know a secret? Crossway purchased the copy rights to the original RSV text, updated 6% of the verses and called it the English Standard Version. And I like it a lot.

    I think the key for anyone not fluent in translating archaic texts is to read multiple translations. Compare and contrast different versions, and consult the publisher’s and translator’s notes on why certain translation decisions were made.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — December 23, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

    • “I think the key for anyone not fluent in translating archaic texts is to read multiple translations. Compare and contrast different versions, and consult the publisher’s and translator’s notes on why certain translation decisions were made.”

      I could not agree more with this. When you want to understand a verse better, read it in 3-4 different type of translations. Then you have a pretty good idea of what the verse is actually saying.

      Comment by Jim — December 23, 2014 @ 1:46 pm


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