Saturday, March 1, 2008

On Doctrine

Andew Clarkson over at Spiritual Pathways Ministries 1 is beginning a March series on Calvinism. I'm hoping to participate in a spirited exchange with Andrew and David Norris on this subject, in particular as the discussion relates to the doctrines of grace as expounded by the statistical minority of Reformed/Calvinist believers which stand over and against the doctrines of free will Arminianism which are espoused by the vast majority of the broader professing church.

Clarkson's first installment is entitled Calvinism - Prologue: "Manichaeism". In my view the foundation laid in this article is an unveiled effort to disparage Calvin's character through "guilt by association" tactics which are clearly intended to cast doubt on Reformed theology as articulated by John Calvin on the basis of views held by some of his contemporaries coupled with his own experiences in the Roman Catholic Church from which, by the grace of God alone, he separated himself. At best this is shaky ground from which to launch an intellectual/Biblical assault, and at worst it's a rank example of the logical fallacy of ad hominem. I'm a firm believer in earnestly discussing our doctrinal positions and reasoning from the Holy Scriptures since this is the only way to arrive at God's revealed truth.

Certainly few would argue that John Calvin was a "saint" or some similar Christ figure - he wasn't. He was a depraved sinner in desperate need of a Savior like all men apart from Jesus Christ Himself. Fewer still would argue that the Reformation ended with Calvin and that there's no more reforming to be done in the church. I am personally on record bemoaning the sad fact that the Reformers didn't do enough to cut clean the poisoned umbilical cord that tied the early Protestant church to Rome with such absurdly unscriptural doctrines as infant baptism and transubstantiation.

But regardless of the sins of the man there's no disputing that the Holy Bible itself is the source of the doctrines of grace, not John Calvin or any other human being. Some would argue that the doctrines of grace, as perhaps best articulated by John Calvin, are unbiblical concepts that were simply cobbled together by an error ridden wolf in sheep's clothing. These will often claim that they are merely following the truth where it leads - taking the high road - in contradistinction to being beholden to unseemly "doctrines of men". Yet isn't it interesting that many of the same individuals who make this claim follow after the error ridden teachings of Joseph Arminius and his modern day spiritual offspring?

I'm looking forward to your series, guys.