Monday, August 11, 2008

"Jesus Loves Me" in Calvinist Perspective

Jesus loves me this I know

Really? Who gave you a sneak peek at the Lamb’s Book of Life? Or is this just some intuition of yours? According to Calvinism, there’s a good chance that God’s attitude toward you is better described by Jonathan Edwards: “The God who holds you over the pit of hell much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the flame abhors you and is dreadfully provoked.” Calvinism teaches that God has either chosen to save you, or not to save you, in which case you’re going to hell.

For the Bible tells me so.

Ah, the Bible. What passages from the Bible, and where is your exegesis for those passages? We Calvinists base our position on the Bible, but as we see it, the Bible teaches that God may or may not have elected you. As Rom 9:18 says, “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and whom he wants to he hardens.”

Little ones to him belong.

Ever hear of Jacob and Esau? Rom 9:11 says “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, --in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” So even when Esau was a “little one,” he did not “to him belong;” quite the contrary God hated him. The Bible tells me so.

They are weak but he is strong.

Finally a true statement, but it comes a little late in the song, don’t you think? I mean what do they teach in the (Sunday) schools. Instead of teaching the Five Points of Calvinism like they are supposed to, they are teaching sentimental songs like this with blatantly Arminian implications. No wonder so many people end up becoming Arminians or something even worse, like open theists, universalists, process theologians, deniers of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, and ultimately secular humanists.

OK, OK, don't go ballistic and hit me over the head with that book by D. A. Carson. I am misrepresenting what Calvinists say about this. They don't deny that God loves those who are not elected for salvation. Most Calvinists aren't nearly this consistent. (Or so I think).

I do have a fresh insight into the debate about Calvinism toward which I am moving rather indirectly, but this, so far is not an attack.

7 comments:

havoc said...

Dr. Reppert, I love you and a I respectfully disagree with you.

normajean said...

Dr. Reppert, this is the funniest post I've read in a while!!! I suppose the Calvinist will retort with the high probability that their belief and commitment to Jesus the Messiah is authentic (indicated by an inner witness of the Holy Spirit) so that they are within their epistemic rights to believe God has flipped their switch toward salvation. Dr. Reppert, I love you also and think your on to something. Hoo Ha!

Mike Darus said...

"Jesus loves me when I'm good
When I do the things I should.
Jesus loves me when I'm bad,
But it makes him very sad."

sounds like open theism to me -- A child's action changes God's emotive state

Kyle said...

If you check out my blog, you have a Calvinist actually saying that John 3:16 is about God's love for all of the elect throughout the world. So he, and some others I've seen, would deny that God loves the non-elect at all (which is the truth any, since His "love" for them is just fattening them up for the slaughter).

I love to ask them how they know God loves them. "I am born again, I have God's promises." But if God has no moral problems with damning many (most?) people unconditionally, then I'm certain He would have no moral problems promising things He doesn't follow up on, or giving you a delusory experience, only to damn you later (Calvin's false hope).

The Calvinist has no hope in the world of knowing anything about God's goodness to them. When you deny God's goodness, you slip into a world of frightening agnosticism in which even God's commandments could be lies, and fearing Him worthless (CS Lewis' point).

Poor Calvinists. If only they would stop limiting God's sovereign right to love the world.

Robert said...

Hello Kyle,

“If you check out my blog, you have a Calvinist actually saying that John 3:16 is about God's love for all of the elect throughout the world. So he, and some others I've seen, would deny that God loves the non-elect at all (which is the truth any, since His "love" for them is just fattening them up for the slaughter).”

Quite a stretch to claim that “world” in John 3:16 refers exclusively to the elect. And yet if the determinist wants to maintain his system in the face of biblical evidence then he’s got to bite the bullet and reinterpret bible verses away from their intended meaning.

“I love to ask them how they know God loves them. "I am born again, I have God's promises." But if God has no moral problems with damning many (most?) people unconditionally, then I'm certain He would have no moral problems promising things He doesn't follow up on, or giving you a delusory experience, only to damn you later (Calvin's false hope).”

Like you, I would not be able to trust a God who says that He loves the world (cf. Jn. 3:16) but then has predetermined that most of that world go to hell with no opportunity to be saved. You couldn’t (or shouldn’t) trust such a character. Someone who takes pleasure in damning people before they are born and ensuring that they cannot be saved, and yet making promises in the bible that anyone who trusts Him will be saved, that He loves the world, that He desires for all to be saved . . . Is of a sadistic character and does not have the character of the God of the bible.

“The Calvinist has no hope in the world of knowing anything about God's goodness to them. When you deny God's goodness, you slip into a world of frightening agnosticism in which even God's commandments could be lies, and fearing Him worthless (CS Lewis' point).”

Oh, they believe that God is good to the elect. It’s just the so-called “reprobates”, which is most of humanity, that is not quite so lucky.

“Poor Calvinists. If only they would stop limiting God's sovereign right to love the world.”

The determinist wants to believe that God is sovereign (which the bible defines as HE DOES AS HE PLEASES; which they mistakenly define as He exhaustively predetermines every event). Well if He is sovereign in the biblical sense, not the mistaken determinist sense, then can’t He create human persons with libertarian free will? Can’t he develop a plan of salvation that involves an atonement that is provided for all and sufficient to save all and yet only saves those who put their trust in Him? And of course in His sovereignty He cannot desire for all to be saved and yet allow those who reject Him to freely reject Him. According to the determinist he is sovereign he just can’t do those things! He is only sovereign so far as to do things that determinists/Calvinists want to believe that he does, how convenient.

By the way, Kyle has an excellent blog and you will find some very sucessful “challenges” of calvinism/determinism there. Kyle brings up things that the Calvinists simply cannot handle.

Robert

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,
You missed the fact that hymns like "Jesus love me," are all about "me, me, me." It's like setting original sin to music. All those hymns repeating over and over again how much God loves us and our church and how much hell everyone else is going to pay come judgment day.

So what purely UNselfish reason is there for anyone to convert to a religion? It's self interest from the moment you walk in the door of a church, sing the hymns and read the Bible.

Most converts are teenagers, still are, and self interest plays the largest role according to studies over the past 200 years as published in Christianity Today and that I've shared here ad infinitum.

Tom said...

What if self-interest and others-interest need not be incompatible?

E.g.: "He who loves his wife loves himself." (Eph. 5:28b)