Posted on : 09-13-2007 | By : Andy | In : Calvinism / Arminianism, religion, TEDS
When I refer to Piper in these upcoming posts, I am citing “What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism”, a position paper of the pastoral staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church, written by John Piper, and available from Piper’s website.
Outside of this treatise, my arguments will come from two sources: Scripture, and my own human reasoning. There are two things to keep in mind here:
- I hold Scripture to be infallible in its original writings. This means that our modern translations could be slightly off on some wordings, but I believe that God has been faithful to preserve the root meaning of the text for our use.
However, this also means that I believe nit-picking at words and such—while it can be tremendously helpful at times—is de facto a risky enterprise, and could lead us to reading a lot into a text that was never intended to be there. I have witnessed very smart, educated, well-intentioned readers and scholars mis-interpret literature (as confirmed by the authors themselves) in the past, so I understand the danger.
That is to say, I heartily accept that seeking clarification in the original languages of scripture is both beneficial, and indeed, necessary in many cases, but I also caution scholars that one of the marks of a false teacher that Paul laid out to Timothy is “He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Timothy 6:4b-5, NIV)
- I understand myself to be human. This means that both my interpretation of said infallible Scriptures, and my own human reasoning should be examined in light of the Scriptures. I pray that I listen to the Holy Spirit well enough to properly see God through these two mediums, but I dare not consider myself infallible. I will state what I state as it if were fact, because I in all sincerity believe it to be so, but I also accept that I have made mistakes in the past (see my previous blog entries if you want proof of my fallibility!) and that I will make mistakes in the future.
By this same reasoning, when I question Piper (or Calvinists in general) I do not intend to make him out to be evil nor purposely deceptive, (for I am sure that he believes he is faithfully perceiving the truth of God) but rather assert that he, too, is human and therefore inherently fallible.
Finally, I must also state that this doctrinal disagreement seems pointless to waste too much time on. Some of the most heated arguments occur between two side who will both categorically state that salvation is by grace alone through faith. While it may have further theological impact farther on down the road, if you are reading this (or interested in the debate) out of curiosity of whether or not you’re actually “saved”, simply ask yourself this:
Do you believe that Christ was the Son of God who died for the forgiveness of sins, and have you trusted that act to be the sole reason for your salvation?
If you’ve answered “yes,” both sides would probably agree that you’re saved. I certainly do.
Now, if that satisfies you, I would advise that you move along to other more pressing concerns in your mind rather than blindly plunging ahead into this endless circle of debate. If God ever lays it on your heart to revisit this issue, or if you’re up for a lot of smart people arguing against each other about where that faith came from, I suppose you could read on. I don’t want to say that the question isn’t a valid one, but I do want to say that there are much better things you could be thinking about, and much more useful ways you could be growing in your Christian walk.
In the question of Calvinism, ignorance is bliss, and I would argue that it’s not always necessarily a detrimental type of bliss.
It’s amazing what technology has done in bringing worlds together. I was sorting through the mess of spam friend requests in my myspace account today (which i rarely use, btw, so just email me at if you want to hear back), and I had an invite from an old classmate and an old college friend. I also chatted on AIM with an old friend I met in spain who found me on MySpace, and it was kind of neat. She hooked me up with the email address of the other guy I met in Spain who’s now also in Chicago (I ran into him a couple weeks ago, but lost his number).
It’s a small world.
I spent some more time surfing around MySpace, and it’s crazy to see how some people have changed. Other outcomes were a little more predictable…
But anyways, it gets me to wondering if I’ve been faithful in speaking up about Christ enough in the past. He’s the only thing that can make sense of it all, and from the looks of things, there’s a lot of people that could use some direction. And so I pray that God would not only answer the questions in my heart, but also give me the courage and the wisdom to speak his truth appropriately.