My pastor made a grave error during this last Sunday School at my church. My pastor is a proud Arminian, and I am a proud Calvinist. Therefore, we differ about things, and one of the chief things is predestination. He had an entire series in Sunday School a few months back dedicated to smashing predestination. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend so we couldn’t debate about it. Since I don’t know the content of those lessons, I won’t be able to explore them further here. However, I will be able to discuss the error he made this past Sunday.
My pastor was teaching on Revelation 21, the New Heaven and the New Earth. I’m a historicist, and my pastor is a futurist, so we could argue about interpretations of Revelation longer than we could about predestination. However, the specific error concerns the Lamb’s book of life in verse 27. Pastor says that the book won’t be “parsed out” until the end of time as we know it. Really? Let’s take a look at another verse that talks about the timeframe of writing, specifically, Exodus 32:32.
After seeing that the people had sinned by making the Golden Calf and bowing down to it, Moses intervenes with God and says, “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written” (Ex 32:32, emphasis added). This is the same Lamb’s book of life mentioned in Revelation 21:27 (among other verses). Notice when the book was written–in the past. In other words, God has already written this book.
I wouldn’t build a case for predestination based on this verse alone, but it does strengthen the case when combined with the other biblical evidence for predestination.
Posted on April 28, 2009, in Theology and tagged Calvinism. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Cory, I just wanted to let you know that according to what I understand of Steve, he isn’t what anyone would call a “proud Armenian” or anything like that. I’m pretty sure based on countless conversations we’ve had together over the past 3 years or so that he more accurately places himself in a position that supports the fact that both predestination and free will are entirely biblically supported and work together in a humanly unseen harmony.
Maybe that doesn’t clarify anything, but I didn’t want you to mistake a possible (since I wasn’t there to hear it) misspeak for his whole doctrinal position. I also know that it was not his aim to smash predestination in Sunday School, because he fully believes in its validity.
My bottom line: Steve’s always very open to criticism, especially if he’s said something that might confuse people as to what he was really trying to teach. SO, I would ask that if you have not already, please “hash it out” with him so that you guys can make sure you understand each other. You’re both very intelligent and well-read, so it would be a good debate/discussion/whatever.
I forgot to add: I also think that posting articles like this about issues that need to be addressed is great, but consider this as something to think about. I personally see blogging or whatever as a great tool to call out people who are way off base and we can’t really do much in the way of contacting them personally. However, I feel that if it’s someone like your own pastor, that it’s something that is best taken up personally (since you have that opportunity) whereas, you aren’t really able to just call up Richard Dawkins and tell him he’s a loony or something. THEN you can blog later about the error, plus the process you and he took working it out and the resolution you both came to. Just a suggestion. Also, the verse below, although talking about someone specifically sinning against you, I think applies to someone who disagrees with you too. Just something to consider.
15″If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[b] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Just to respond to a few of your points, Nate:
Pastor Steve is anti-Reformed theology; I’ve noticed that in conversations that I’ve had with him. Generally, when one isn’t Reformed, then one is some degree of Arminian. That is where I get the label “proud Arminain,” which, by the way, wasn’t meant as an insult. I know that Pastor Steve thinks, as I do, that there a great thinkers on both sides of the predestination debate, since he’s recommended Reformed thinkers to me (e.g. Francis Schaefer).
The bit that I overheard in Sunday School from a while back was aimed at the heart of predestination by elucidating one the most common objections to it; that is, 2 Pet 3:9. I wrote on that, too, in this article that was part of a longer series on predestination. Perhaps I wrongly concluded that his aim was to smash predestination, but that is what it seemed to me that he was doing at the time.
Perhaps, in light of the verse you cite, I was too eager to make a blog post rather than actually get into a discussion. I’m willing to admit that I might be in the wrong here. But, at the time, I hadn’t thought quickly enough to make my point in Sunday School where it belonged. My point here is not to besmirch Pastor Steve, nor is it to say that he isn’t a wonderful pastor. If I didn’t think that he was a good pastor, I wouldn’t go to church at Maumee Valley. My point with this post was to defend unconditional election, a doctrine in which I believe strongly.
I will mention it to him the next time I see him, and post the results of our conversation. I’m sure that it will be an interesting debate.
I can concede that you are probably more correct on his theological positions since I haven’t delved into that as much as you have, but I am glad that you’ll be taking it up with him personally. Your point/counter point will edify all parties involved and whoever listens and reads this blog.
Another thing I have noticed with him is that he often teaches on one side more heavily and then the next time will emphasize another, making it difficult to pinpoint his actual stand unless you attend the whole series (which can be difficult for anyone to accomplish). I think it comes down to the one-on-one, and I know he would like us all to sit down with him and do that more often than any of us do.
Thanks again for your ministry and as always, your willingness to accept constructive criticism.
Dear brothers, I honor you today, honor Christ in you.. I only ask why you insist on holding to these many labels?? Armenian, Calvinists, etc, etc? Consider Father’s words starting in 1 Cor 3:3…”for you are still carnal, for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos are you not carnal? Who is but Paul (calvin) and who is Apollos (armenian) but ministers through whom you first believed…
We say the same things today except instead of Paul or Apollos we say, “I am Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Non Denominational, etc, etc.
We are truly none of these things if we be in Christ. His spirit is the only true, identifying label we will ever need, for He alone is enough. If we hear the voice of Liberty within we will leave all this division and holding to various doctrines behind content to walk in the spirit in true fellowship and union. For there is no duality, no division in the spirit of God, for the Lord is One, whole, not divided and we can abide IN Him and He in us. He has given you the Holy Spirit to…lead you and guide you into all truth, now follow that spirit, that heart where He dwells within and…go on to mature men in Christ who are spiritually minded, fruitful and full of (His) light!
I am no better than you, no less than you either in Christ. I have been where you are, striving in Holy Writ and positional standings so I can attest there is a higher walk, a sweeter realm of the spirit in which He would usher us in to when we are willing to let go of our current state and trust His leading, trust His spirit. Are you content to squabble, to argue scripture, how long?? Oh dear ones, you were made for a higher light, a greater manifestation of His presence within. Only we decide how high we climb on the holy mount of revelation and light, dont limit Him…in yourselves.
The spirit led life, is the only life. Blessings and honor and light and peace…all to you in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen