Monday, February 02, 2009

New category: moderate Calvinism, 5-point Calvinism, hyper-Calvinism, and...

...silly Calvinism.

By this I mean the sort of Calvinism that looks like a self-parody. It takes the truth of God's sovereignty and blots out other balancing Biblical truths such as human responsibility and the evil of evil.

It's the sort of Calvinism that shrinks from calling bad things bad things, as Scripture certainly and unhesitatingly does — even right up against God's sovereignty (i.e. Genesis 50:20).

For instance: I love and respect John Piper. He's done me great good, and I expect he's going to do me a lot more good. I get and give and recommend his books and sermons.

But I'm not a Rom-Piper-an Catholic with Piper as my pope. I'm not obliged to rubber-stamp everything he says and does.

But I think sometimes brother Piper gets a little... well, giddy.

For instance, as I remarked, Piper's statements about Obama on the eve of the election were regrettable and unhelpful, as I remarked at the time. Since then he's evidently discovered to his chagrin (the very thing we here at this blog all knew full well long ago) — that Obama is a merciless, doctrinaire, pedal-to-the-metal pro-abort extremist. Well, that's fine. Welcome aboard, Dr. Piper. The nation could have used your unambiguous voice before the election, but it is welcome now as well.

And yet Piper speaks of "our new President, over whom we have rejoiced...." Um... huh?

Okay, well, that's ambiguous. It could mean... well, I don't think it's a helpful or careful statement. It's nothing I'd ever imagine myself saying.

But that isn't my example of silly Calvinism. There are examples of it (IMHO) in the meta. One that struck me that way is this good brother's comment:
Do you rejoice over the cross or do you weep over it? It was the greatest evil ever committed. And at the same time, it was the greatest good ever accompished! Just an example of how the two can be together in the same event. Praise God for the cross!!!
(NOTE: I had further dialogue with that commenter, who seems like a good guy, and may not himself have been making the point I'm criticizing. So this is not a criticism of him, if he doesn't hold this thinking. It is a criticism of the thinking, and of whoever holds it — and a caution to all of us Calvinists to watch how we express ourselves. HSAT....)

Er, yeah, I certainly do rejoice in the cross, in God's plan of redemption, in Jesus' love-to-the-uttermost, in its wonderful fruits. The statement in itself is a very good statement.

My problem is the context.

Had I been a contemporary, would I have spoken of "Herod and Pontius Pilate, over whom we have rejoiced"? I really don't think so; and I think that, had a friend uttered the words, I'd've slapped him.

So: I can say that it's a good thing that a (half-)black man was able to win the Presidency in America, given our shameful distant history.

But I think I am obliged to say that the election of this man — whether he were white, black, purple or green — is not a good thing, and I do not "rejoice in" him. I can rejoice in good God may bring out of humbling and chastening America for its asinine choice of the greater of many evils; but not in Obama himself and his evil plans.

When we say things like that, as Calvinist, we look silly. Worse, we make Calvinism look silly. Should a victim rejoice in her rapist? Parents rejoice in their child's murderer? Would-be grandparents rejoice in the abortionist who butchers their grandchild?

And, worst of all, since we (I) think Calvinism sees God as the Bible portrays Him, we risk making God look silly.

Da Point: Let's not get our heads so in the clouds that we lose them altogether. We look silly, and that's bad enough; but far worse, we make the sovereign God we talk about look silly.


CR said...

I couldn't have said it better myself.

JackW said...

Dan, what category are those that teach both Calvin and Arminius views? The church I go to started a study on salvation and it all looked good until I got to the last page where it gave a brief synopsis of both views and then it said that they teach both because holding to only one view or the other was an “unbalanced” view of what scripture teaches.

DJP said...


It's quiet.

threegirldad said...


It's quiet.

Here's what I think: I think a fair number of people are pretty sure that The Last Word(TM) on the subject has already been spoken. So why are you still talking about it? Ahem...

Had I been a contemporary, would I have spoken of "Herod and Pontius Pilate, over whom we have rejoiced"? I really don't think so; and I think that, had a friend uttered the words, I'd've slapped him.

Well, exactly. When I read Acts 4:23-31, I don't see a hint of rejoicing over Herod and Pilate per se.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think the issue with what Piper said is the "over whom." And only a bit later on he said, "Some of us wept with joy over the inauguration of the first African-American President."

So, while I can speculate only as much as anyone else can about what Piper actually meant when he said "over whom," I think it'd be fair to read it in light of the very close re-statement or clarification; namely, that he was rejoicing over there being a black man as the president.

I think both that statement and the "over whom" statement, though, are actually quite different from "rejoicing in" somebody. When I hear that, I think about people taking delight in a person because of the pleasantness of their character / their person. I don't think Piper meant that at all, even in the "over whom" part of the sermon. I think the "whom" wasn't intended to refer to Obama personally, but generally to the first black man who occupied the presidency.

I dunno... that may not make any sense. Hopefully somebody'll get it and pick me up

trogdor said...

Indeed. Those of us who agree really can't add much to it. Those who disagree are probably still trying to formulate an adequately nonsensical response.

Aaron said...

Good post on the subject of John Piper a thread was started on John Piper haveing Matt Chandler speak at Desireing God link ( cant use html to save my life) So I cut and pasted it. by the way I am the other guy who posted under the handle Parsifal22 (it's a Wagner refrnce)

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Dan, what did you make of Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer" article from a couple years ago?

DJP said...

Michael — without re-reading it, I know it didn't strike me at all the same way. My memory of his point is a perfectly Biblical one: that nothing is an accident, nothing sneaks by the hand of God, we must look to God and delight in Him in all situations, not let situations devastate and immobilize us.

I don't recall him saying anything like that he weeps with joy over cancer, rejoices in cancer per se, or that cancer itself is a good thing. I'd have issues with that.

DJP said...

Banned troll One Salient Oversight authorized me to tell you all how embarrassing the last few weeks have been for him.

He's realized what a fool and a bore he's made of himself. He knew that the Bush-derangement barkings he'd given voice to had been long and well-refuted, but he was so enamored of that edgy, risky, cool image it got for him to try to combine some kind of Christian profession with shilling for Marxist, pro-abort, kum-ba-ya ideology on the other. He apologizes.

Further, he's embarrassed at his own ignorance both of American history and Biblical teachings regarding politics and society. He had never appreciated the wisdom of the Founders in their limited view of government, and how well it comports with the Bible's teachings on the depravity of man. He apologizes for wasting readers' time with his childish, un-Biblical notions.

He's also thankful, now, for how safe President Bush kept America. He's no longer a 9/10 socialist. He realizes the importance of stopping the thug before he rapes your wife, rather than watching the rape, and then scolding him.

Above all, he regrets having used the language of compassion to shill for the most uncompassionate, anti-child figure ever to come to the White House. He wants his name off that roll, and pledges to begin living down the shame.

Because he knows it will take a long, long time.

Aaron said...

Wow Dan remind me to never get on your bad side that was a scolding!

DJP said...

It's not hard to avoid. The blog posts rules, just stay within the very broad area in between those rules.

And if (as I don't expect) you are so deliberately obnoxious that you do get yourself banned, be a grown-up about it, and take your goods to one of the literally tens of thousands of blogs that would welcome you.

Don't make a fool of yourself by persistently going to the one place you've made yourself unwelcome.

That's not so hard, is it?

RT said...

Wow, OSO truly said all that? What a profoundly humble, repentant, really neat person. I think you should let him post again. Well, maybe as an interim measure you could post for him, regularly - in detail - sort of a running commentary of repentance - one sinner's salient overstatement - something like that. Ok, enough on that trivial subject.

Actually I like the term "silly Calvinism" and plan to use it - with due attribution of course. But don't you wonder just how I will use it?

Seriously I have trouble grasping why anyone professing to be a Christian would find anything at all to rejoice about connected to the recent election. To rejoice over the fact that he is African-American strikes me as mere tokenism. He deserves to be regarded as an individual, not as the representative of a race, and it is as an individual that he fails. I would love to be part of electing a Black president, presuming he were qualified to be president and not the greatest baby killer since Herod. No, rejoicing is misplaced. Now is the time for Old Testament-style rending of garments, tearing of beards, sackcloth, ashes, wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc. - metaphorically at least. There is no reason at all to be confused because he happens to be African-American.

DJP said...

Well-put. It's a fine line to walk. I'm fomenting a brief post on it, to hit at the balance.

But I never want to give reason for this blog being known as "All-Obama, All-the-time." I'll turn it into a warehouse for Rick Astley videos first.

Solameanie said...

What would Calvin call Calvinism? I ask that as a Calvinist.

DJP said...

Something in French or Latin. "Readium plainum Scripturae," or something.

FX Turk said...

I think on the one hand we can rejoice that President Obama's election refeats the idiot stereotype of our nation that we are a racist society, and systematically we reject "black men". Barack Obama's election is the death blow to race-baiting.

That doesn't make him a great president, and I think (and I'm of course hesitant to exegete anyone these days after being poked by JT over at TeamPyro) Dr. Piper's point was that we rejoice that another deadly blow was dealt to racism in the election of President Obama.

In that, can't we rejoice?

The rest of this stuff? There is no joy in mudville. Mighty Casey is a lout.

FX Turk said...

"election refeats the idiot stereotype"

should be

"election defeats the idiot stereotype"

Sorry dude.

DJP said...

I was ready to put "repeat" in my dictionary. Frank Turk is to words what Jack Bauer is to... well, everything else.

trogdor said...

No need to apologize on that - refeat is a perfectly cromulent word. It's used mainly in a sports context (I defeated him once, then refeated him), but it applies here as well. It's certainly the most decisive blow by far, but it's not like it came out of nowhere or happened in a vacuum. The evidence that our national racism is majorly overblown is not in short supply.

That doesn't mean for a second that the race-baiting industry is dead, of course. Overwhelming evidence has never gotten in their way before, why should it now? In the past week or two in Chicago, a big story is how the mayor passed over an incompetent black female crony in favor of an incompetent white male crony, and all the finest racial extortionists have come to the party. No, racism may be in its death throes, but the race industry looks strong for at least the immediate future.

CR said...

It's encouraging to see Comrade OSO has seen the light. There is hope after all.

DJP said...

It is a Happy Day.

threegirldad said...

(and I'm of course hesitant to exegete anyone these days after being poked by JT over at TeamPyro)

Understandable, but please don't stop. Pretty please.