Tuesday, June 19, 2012

AOG guards against threats to the Gospel like atheism, Islam, Buddhism... and Calvinism?

The Assemblies of God, that denomination which teaches that born-again Christians who don't speak in tongues can't really serve or live for God, the same that brought us Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Paul and Jan Crouch, David (Paul) Yonggi Cho, is clanging the warning-bell against such "challenges to the Gospel" as...


Yep. Teaching that Christ died for, saves and keeps His sheep is a "challenge to the Gospel." In AOG-land, anyway, the land where just being in Christ isn't really enough.

Raising the inevitable question: "Um... to which Gospel?"

BTW, dibs on Fisking Olson's article.

UPDATE: it has begun.

77 comments:

The Blainemonster said...

Hmmm...I should have taken that picture after removing the plasticky covering.

DJP said...

I thought it was artistic effect.

Oh well, send me another, I'll replace.

Les said...

2 of these things are not like the others...

My my what fun this could be!

Cameron Shaffer said...

It's fantastic that eternal security is included on that list.

Les said...

@Cameron

It's that kind of teaching that leads people to think they can "live like the devil and still go to heaven" -I believe that's the phrase I've heard my Arminian connections use...

Isn't this historically rooted in RCC teachings as well, if you have personal eternal security you won't need to depend on the church for.. whatever it is the church gives them...

Si Hollett said...

The bottom two link together - Hell has to be eternal, as God can and will kick out those in heaven that displease him - after all, we're not eternally secure.

Oh, and yes, Eternally Secure looks like another dig at Calvinism. Hopefully it's going against the "once you've done something for God in saying the sinner's prayer you have your fire insurance for ever" sort of stuff that passes for Calvinism among the ignorant, but I doubt it is.

Si Hollett said...

The bottom two link together - Hell has to be eternal, as God can and will kick out those in heaven that displease him - after all, we're not eternally secure.

Oh, and yes, Eternally Secure looks like another dig at Calvinism. Hopefully it's going against the "once you've done something for God in saying the sinner's prayer you have your fire insurance for ever" sort of stuff that passes for Calvinism among the ignorant, but I doubt it is.

JG said...

Wow. I wish I was shocked.

Chris H said...

I just laughed out loud. It's not even intended to be humourous, but I laughed anyway.

I'm still chuckling. I shouldn't be, because it's sad and not funny, but I can't help it.

Sorry.

Sonja said...

I visited a church with a friend that is an offshoot of the AOG since the AOG wasn't charismatic enough for them. Weird experience. Orderly worship should be listed on the sign post too.

Sir Aaron said...

That's funny, because it is Arminianism that came up with the sinners prayer! You'll never hear a Calvinist evangelist advocating that the sinners prayer saves you.

BerlinerinPoet said...

I suffered from Chris H.'s reaction too. I knew it wasn't supposed to be funny, but I laughed anyway.

It's odd to me why Calvinists are labeled angry and prideful and mean yet we never claim that the average Arminian doesn't believe in the gospel. Whereas now we are a "threat to the gospel." Crazy!

Jules said...

Consider the source.

Jules said...

Was the AoG emboldened by the recent, "A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Soteriology SBC Today" to jump on the anti-Calvinist bandwagon?

The Blainemonster said...

This is preposterous. Like Chris, above, I laughed out loud but then was just floored. I know plenty of A/G people (which I am) who would never make such a bold statement. They may not agree with Calvinism or eternal security (which I actually DO) but they would never declare that these are hindrances to the Gospel. Very disheartening.

Marla said...

Since when is Eternal security a threat to the gospel? I wonder which gospel they mean -- can't be John 10:28.

Those un-Biblical Calvinists! Um..wait...

Kerry James Allen said...

Here is the full statement on eternal security:
The Assemblies of God has declared itself regarding the security of the believer in
its bylaws (Article IX, Section 1): In view of the Biblical teaching that the security of the believer depends on a living
relationship with Christ (John 15:6), in view of the Bible’s call to a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:16; Hebrews 12:14); in view of the clear teaching that a man may have his part taken out of the Book of Life (Revelation 22:19); and in view of the fact that one who believes for a while can fall away (Luke 8:13); The General Council of the Assemblies of God disapproves of the unconditional
security position which holds that it is impossible for a person once saved to be lost.

CGrim said...

I'm curious why they think "eternal security" is a challenge to the gospel. I cannot think of a single reason.

And the inclusion of annihilationism is kinda odd, as it seems like kinda a niche belief compared to the rest.

You know what I would include as an affront to the gospel? Imposing man-made tradition over clear biblical revelation, particularly traditions that emphasize human autonomy over God's sovereignty. But that's just me.

trogdor said...

I didn't know AoG was Traditional SBC.

jmb said...

It's hard to take Roger Olson seriously since he answered "No" to the question: "If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn't question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?" (From Against Calvinism, p. 85.)

It would seem that he worships his own pov above all.

trogdor said...

It has been revealed to us in a way we couldn't question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms. It's called Scripture.

Jeremiah Halstead said...

I think that the dodge mentioned by Kerry James Allen is handled by John in 1 John 2:19. They say you can have salvation and lose it, we say they never had it.

Kerry James Allen said...

Jeremiah, just want you to know that was their dodge, not mine! I already know you can't lose your salvation, because if it was possible, I would have lost mine long ago!

Kerry James Allen said...

"If believers are lost, God loses more than they do, for He loses His honour, he loses His character for truthfulness, and the glory of His name is tarnished."
and
"If He wanted reasons for rejecting you he had reasons from all eternity, for He knew what you would be."
CHS

DJP said...

Oh, yeah: entrusting the maintenance of MY salvation to ME would have been like handing a priceless crystal vase to some Jerry Lewis character. You'd know EXACTLY what was going to happen next.

Kerry James Allen said...

Bet they don't pronounce it "voz" in Houston.

trogdor said...

You're less than a real Christian if you don't babble nonsense. You're an enemy of the gospel if you adhere to the clear, cogent teaching of scripture regarding salvation.

I see the problem. God put all these teachings in a book, where they could be read, debated, researched, and clearly understood. Perhaps they'd be more widely accepted if He'd just put them in unverifiable impressions, meaningless jibber jabber, voices in my head, weird feelings, entrails, skull bumps, every eighth letter of the New York Times front page columns, the alignment of the stars, or backmasking.

Daryl said...

Wouldn't want a gospel that teaches that God actually saves, now would you?

I grew up in that fear, it didn't exactly have the hoped-for gospelly effect.

That Evil Calvinism did though...funny thing that.

Daryl said...

Wouldn't want a gospel that teaches that God actually saves, now would you?

I grew up in that fear, it didn't exactly have the hoped-for gospelly effect.

That Evil Calvinism did though...funny thing that.

DJP said...

Trogdor, my main complaint against you is my perennial complaint against you:

That you don't comment more often.

George P. Wood said...

I am the executive editor of Enrichment. The Assemblies of God considers Calvinists brothers and sisters in Christ, though it disagrees with their Calvinist soteriology. As I noted in my editorial, not all challenges to the gospel are equal in nature. Some are propagated by unbelievers, others by fellow believers.

As for the notion that Calvinists "never claim that the average Arminian doesn't believe in the gospel," as BerlinerinPoet wrote, I would simply point out that the journal didn't make that claim.

It is interesting to consider how the Reformed have characterized Arminianism. The Synod of Dordt referred to Its own canons as "the orthodox teaching" and the Remonstrance's declarations as "errors." The canons describe the Remonstrants this way: "they deceive the simple and Plainly contradict Holy Scripture." The synods describe Remonstrant teaching as "pernicious error." not just error, mind you: pernicious error. It says Arminianism "smacks of Pelaginism." Then there's this: "they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ...and summon back from hell the Pelagian error." And "they attempt to give people the deadly poison of Pelagianism." Etc., etc., etc. (http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_dordt.html)

Westminster Seminary (California) characterized the synod's work this way: "The Canons of Dordt represent a remarkable consensus of conviction among the Reformed churches on essential doctrines. Indeed, the very Reformation was at stake. If God’s favor is conditioned upon anything in us, then we are lost because we are dead in sin. If the Gospel is reconfigured to include our obedience, then it is no longer the Gospel. If atonement is merely hypothetical, if the elect can fall away, then grace is no longer grace" (http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/the-canons-of-dordt).

To me, this sounds like Calvinists believe that Arminianism is a challenge to the gospel. And the Canons of Dordt, I remind you, represent a "remarkable consensus of confession among the Reformed."

Because of feedback from both AG ministers and Reformed brothers and sisters, we are reviewing the cover art. I wonder whether anyone in the Reformed community is reviewing Dordt's uncharitable characterization of Arminians.

openid said...

My name is George Paul Wood. I am the executive editor of Enrichment. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the most recent issue of the journal!

I would like to respond to something BerlinerinPoet said: "It's odd to me why Calvinists are labeled angry and prideful and mean yet we never claim that the average Arminian doesn't believe in the gospel. Whereas now we are a 'threat to the gospel.' Crazy!"

Actually, trogdor does precisely that in his comment below. More interesting is the way Reformed confessional standards characterize Arminianism. Take, for example, the Synod of Dordt, which issued its canons precisely in response to the Arminian Remonstants (http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_dordt.html).

Dordt describes its own declarations as "the orthodox teaching" and Remonstrant declarations as "error," even "pernicious error." It routinely links Arminianism to Pelagianism:

"[T]his smacks of Pelagius."

"For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all acknowledge the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon back from hell the Pelagian error."

"For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism."

"For the early church already condemned this doctrine long ago in the Pelagians..."

"For this view is obviously Pelagian; and though it intends to make men free it makes them sacrilegious."

In its concluding exhortation, the Synod says: "Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers."

As a result of the Synod's work, the 13 Arminian ministers were prohibited from ministering in the state-sponsored churches, and when they declared that they would continue to preach the gospel outside of state churches, they were banned from the United Provinces.

Regarding the Synod, R. Scott Clark has written: "The Canons of Dordt represent a remarkable consensus of conviction among the Reformed churches on essential doctrines. Indeed, the very Reformation was at stake. If God’s favor is conditioned upon anything in us, then we are lost because we are dead in sin. If the Gospel is reconfigured to include our obedience, then it is no longer the Gospel. If atonement is merely hypothetical, if the elect can fall away, then grace is no longer grace" (http://wscal.edu/resource-center/resource/the-canons-of-dordt).

To me, these quotes from Dordt and Clark's comment about Dordt indicate that the Reformed think Arminianism is a challenge to the gospel, if not a heresy.

Do you believe that Arminians like me are "well-intentioned but theologically misguided," which is how I described Christian advocates of limited atonement, eternal security, universalism, and annihilationism in my opening editorial? (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201203/201203_020_introduction.cfm). If so, why is it wrong for me to describe Calvinists (with whom I have a principled disagreement) in the same way?

I'm currently in the process of reviewing the cover art to determine whether we needlessly or carelessly offended our Reformed brother and sisters in Christ. Is anyone in the Reformed camp reviewing Dordt's slanders against evangelical Arminians?

Elaine Bittencourt said...

@Mr. Editor.

Sir, the topic here is not the Synod. If you are offended by what the Synod says you should write about it on your own blog.

The topic here is AoG's view of Calvinism. AoG as a whole does not consider Calvinists brothers and sisters in Christ.

I've been part of AoG in South America and North America. They teach to despise and not to fellowship with Calvinists, at the same time not even teaching their congregants what a Calvinist is. They don't know, and they are not encouraged to find that out. We, Calvinists, the ones who love the biblical doctrines of grace, are seen as the enemy.

That is why your cover puts us in the same level of atheists, muslims, buddhists, and those who believe in annihilationism. Don't try to divert the topic.

Grace to you and peace,
Elaine

Kerry James Allen said...

Can't remember the last time I saw herring this red. "You don't like our magazine and doctrines?" Look how mean you were to us about 600 years ago!"
"The basis and groundwork of Arminian theology lies in attaching undue importance to man, and giving God rather the second place than the first." CHS
How is the Gospel good news if it is a system of "eternal life" that isn't eternal, and that you must hold with a death grip lest you lose it?

Kerry James Allen said...

And almost without exception, every Pentecostal who believes you can lose your salvation has one of these stories: "Well, I know someone who was saved but who walked away from it, doesn't go to church, doesn't read the Bible, doesn't live for the Lord. That proves you can lose it." No, all it proves is that your theology is based on observation not the Bible.

Jeremiah Halstead said...

Kerry, BTW, I know that, didn't mean to imply that was your dodge.

openid said...

Kelly:

I think the fallacy you're reaching for is tu quoque, not red herring.

Regardless, the reason I cited the canons of the Synod of Dordt was to test the consistency of your standard of judgment.

Is it always wrong for one Christian to call another Christian's soteriology a challenge to the gospel? I don't believe so. I believe Calvinists are brothers and sisters in Christ, but I believe Calvinism is a defective soteriology. Saying so out loud simply contributes to an honest, if not sharp, theological debate.

Based on what you've written, I think you agree, though from the opposite side. At least, I certainly hope that you believe Arminians such as me are fellow Christians, even if you believe our soteriology is defective. I am not offended by you stating your mind on these matters.

Where I think the cover may err is by not distinguishing typically Christian challenges from typically non-Christian challenges, a distinction I draw in my editorial. And as I wrote above, my editors and superiors will review the cover when I return to the office from vacation.

If we issue a statement, I will make sure to post the link here.

George

jmb said...

I think Judas Iscariot put on a pretty good show of being a believer.

Pierre Saikaley said...

Yup, cuz, AoG is a denomination known for its orthodoxy and stability when it comes to the Gospel.

Carl C. said...

[soapbox]
I grew up in the A/G. To me, 'Calvinism', 'eternal security' and even 'Baptist' were taboo words. This was never said explicitly of course, but the implication was always in the background of conversations - "you know, those people." In fact they were thrown in such a light that as a kid, I was convinced those people weren't going to heaven (admittedly, this was my own conclusion). On the other hand, I was constantly afraid I might not be saved and often feared the rapture had happened; needless to say, the Thief in the Night rapture/tribulation movies from the 80's gave me nightmares. (Anyone seen those? Every time I see a UPS van now, it gives me the creeps - they look so much like the Unite vans!! hmmm, I'm not the only one - an example from an 'ex-evangelical')

This didn't stem from just one off-the-beaten-path A/G church, either. We attended a number of different churches growing up, and there was consistency throughout. After becoming a Christian, I slowly came to realize the concepts I had were severe caricatures of Reformed theology.

Even with my upbringing, I'm actually very surprised at this graphic, as it puts a much more official face on what was always taught implicitly. On a par with Buddhism and atheism???? Come on, you can't tell me this image wasn't planned to make a bold statement! As Mr. Wood mentions, the article differentiates between dam-stoppers and water-muddiers. But there is still an unfair light placed on Calvinism, giving it worse than even the worn strawman treatment (eg. the anti-evangelism theology). In listing some of the modern challenges to the simple, profound Gospel encased in John 3:16, the following appears right next to the other bad guys shown on the signpost:
“the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement, which challenges its scope“

Does limited atonement challenge the scope of the Gospel? Only if we presumptiously pretend we can see through God's eyes and know who he has chosen. Otherwise, us horrid, run-of-the-mill Calvinists will continue to preach the Gospel to everyone... and the Father's choice sheep will come to Christ (John 6:37).
[/soapbox]

Kerry James Allen said...

George, if I may be facetious, I got a little nervous when I saw my name wrong. I'm sure I sinned yesterday and thought that perhaps you and the "erasing angel" knew something I didn't! :-}
Second, to answer all the heresy present in a salvation you can lose would require a book, not a blog post. I would say that the dander you have raised relates to the ineffectiveness of God's blood to remove all sin, names written in the Book of Life in pencil with the "erasing angel" standing by, and at the end of the day, if I have to avoid the "big" sin that would damn me, salvation by my own works. And what was the "big" sin that Adam committed that caused him to lose his eternal life? I could multiply texts, but after all, you probably know people who have "lost" their salvation (see my earlier post, about every Pentecostal I've ever talked to about the issue), so who am I to argue with that? And if I was somehow in the loins of my fathers at Dort (federal headship in a new way, wow!), please forgive me. One other question: Where is Lot right now, Heaven or Hell? Just curious...

Ian said...

George,

I find it interesting that you felt the need to look outside the A/G movement for "challenges" to the Gospel. Are you willing to investigate within and report it in your Journal? LMK I have a list.

Ian

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
trogdor said...

George Paul Wood:

"Actually, trogdor does precisely that in his comment below"

Did not. Actually, I like and will fully affirm your phrasing: Arminians are "well-intentioned but theologically misguided". Christian brothers, but wrong.

Then you asked: "If so, why is it wrong for me to describe Calvinists (with whom I have a principled disagreement) in the same way?"

Because, as my comments stated, Calvinism more closely fits what Scripture declares about God, man, and salvation. In other words, I don't care that you label something you perceive as an error as a threat to the gospel - that's what you should do, and I wish more of us had the courage to do so!

No, what I object to is that you have so labeled the system which most closely and consistently aligns with the overwhelming weight of scripture. You've identified as a threat to the gospel that which most closely adheres to the gospel! You're not wrong to label, you were wrong in labeling the wrong thing. And the judge of that is God's word.

Anyway, I consider Arminianism to be an error - otherwise I would still hold to it. But I don't think it's anywhere near as harmful and dangerous as ideas like 2-stage Christianity (before and after Spirit baptism) or ongoing non-Biblical revelation.

Robert Warren said...

Interesting that their statement you link to says that "All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire..."

Really? We should seek the judgment of baptism with fire?

Carl C. said...

And don't even get me started on the A/G caste system. You know, there's the just-ok Christians who don't speak in tongues, and then everyone else who's on the upper pedestal.

I know the Assemblies haven't changed in doctrine, but I can only hope some of the practices have changed. Such as, the immense pressure on children at kids camp to 'get saved and filled with the Holy Ghost'. The pressure came in the form of any number of intimidating adult-types surrounding the poor sot until he gave in and started jabbering. Such was I, and thus came my "conversion" at a young age. (For a technical example of jabbering, click the audio option on the captcha before posting your comment.)

There are many wonderful, solid brethren in this denomination, but I fear it's more bad teaching than Biblical.

Sir Aaron said...

George:

I think your artwork speaks for itself. AoG views Calvinism and Eternal Security (even though some Arminians believe this) as a "challenge to the Gospel" in the same way as Atheism and Islam.
That's the conclusion I drew from the picture and I believe based upon the meta here, that others reached the exact same conclusion. So I find it hard to believe that you or anybody else involved with the arwork failed to realize the rather obvious comparison.

Instead of pointing fingers just admit that AoG thinks Calvinists are on the same wide road to hell as a Buddhist and that's why it's on the artwork.

DJP said...

BTW, I'm corresponding with Mr. Wood, who is trying to respond to comments but right now is having some access issues. He plans to rejoin us when he has access to a computer.

Let me say that I appreciate Wood's coming here and actually interacting. Contrast that with the lack of response from TGC leadership (to this day) to all the weighty concerns we registered for months regarding ER2. Here's someone who doctrinally isn't in the same ballpark with us actually interacting. We might not be satisfied with what he says, but I assign "points" for even trying to connect substantively.

Carl C. said...

DJP,

Agreed as to Mr. Woods interacting here. I respect someone who stands their ground and is able to verbalize it, and hope he continues to do so.

Lately I'm the dullest tool in the shed. It took me a few days to decipher your 'dibs on Fisking Olson's article' signoff, and realize that Mr. Woods' piece was just the intro to an array of articles. Dibs duly noted, and I really look forward to your response to Roger Olsen's article.

Robert said...

DJP,

It just makes me more sad than anything that TGC can't seem to get over themselves and correspond with their critics. Maybe they should read through Proverbs and see what it says about people who won't listen to criticism. Or just study what the Bible says about pride because that is what drives that type of mentality. Hint: God opposes the proud.

DJP said...

Yep. I should have mentioned the "Band of Bloggers," as well.

Fingers in ears and "la la la I'm not listening" isn't a very adorning response, is it?

Ian said...

I don't know why GPW chose to pick a fight with Calvinists, but in the meantime this is the AOG position on Salvation, is there anything here that a Calvinist disagrees with?


Man's only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Conditions to Salvation

Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life.

•Luke 24:47 [KJV/NIV]
•John 3:3 [KJV/NIV]
•Romans 10:13-15 [KJV/NIV]
•Ephesians 2:8 [KJV/NIV]
•Titus 2:11 [KJV/NIV]
•Titus 3:5-7 [KJV/NIV]

The Evidence of Salvation

The inward evidence of salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit.

•Romans 8:16 [KJV/NIV]

The outward evidence to all men is a life of righteousness and true holiness.

openid said...

Dear Reformed Friends:

I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comments.

Yesterday, I was at the beach all day for a family reunion of sorts. I tried to respond to everyone's comments as they came in. Unfortunately, I was on my iPhone, and I had problems with Blogger's user verification protocols. You'll have to take it from me that my replies were suaviter in modo and fortiter in re. Unfortunately, I don't remember what they were this morning. Nevertheless, I'll give it the old college try...

@Ian: Please send me your list of Pentecostal/charismatic errors. Several months ago, I decided to commission a new quarterly feature called "Discerning the Spirits"--or maybe "Testing the Spirits," I'm still working on the title--that will examine questionable theologies and practices among Pentecostal/charismatic believers. I know this will shock the Reformed, but the AG has generally exercised a moderating force on the American Pentecostal movement. Also, I am in the planning stages of an issue on spiritual warfare, an important biblical theme that gets neglected by many because of the crazy theologies and practices that are often associated with the label, "spiritual warfare." (One thinks here of some of C. Peter Wagner's writings, strategic level spiritual warfare, New Apostolic Reformation, etc.).

@Trogdor: I am glad that we agree on the formula of well-intentioned but theologically misguided. Obviously, we disagree on its application. I think it applies to Calvinists. You think it applies to Arminians. I don't know of any way to resolve that dispute without recapitulating 400 years of soteriological debate. I'm not interested in doing that given that I'm pretty sure I'm not going to change your mind, nor I yours.

@Sir Aaron: I don't believe Calvinists are on the road to hell. (By contrast, Dordt said that Arminians "summon back from hell the Pelagian error.")

openid said...

As for the artwork: I haven't talked with my editors about the cover art, but I have talked to my wife. In our magazine's internal editing process, the cover is the very last thing to be developed. My wife suggests that the editors and I viewed the cover through the lens of my editorial, which draws a distinction between typically Christian challenges and typically non-Christian challenges. Of course, readers see the cover first, not the editorial, so it conveys a completely different meaning to them than it did to us editors. That doesn't excuse any offense caused, of course, but it does explain why we approved the cover. We approved it with one interpretation in mind and failed to see that it lent itself to another, offensive meaning that came naturally to people who saw the cover before they read the editorial.

One more comment, then a question, then a request:

Several commenters have pointed to negative experiences with the AG, either in the US or abroad. I haven't responded to those for this reason: While I think it's appropriate for an individual with a negative experience of the AG to draw conclusions for his or her own involvement with the AG from them, I don't think it's appropriate to draw global conclusions from them. Surely you wouldn't want me to draw negative conclusions about Calvinism from a negative experience in a Calvinist church, would you?

In this issue, we addressed five Christian challenges to the gospel: limited atonement, nonviolent theories of the atonement, eternal security, universalism, and annihilationism. For obvious reasons, you all have focused on the articles that pertain to Calvinism. (Although I should point out that the author on eternal security notes that his critique applies to "moderate Calvinism" not to "classical Calvinism." Perhaps a better distinction would've been between "dispensationalism" and "classical Reformed thought.") My question is whether you objected to including nonviolent atonement theories, universalism, and annihilation as challenges to the gospel.

Finally a request: If you have time, please read the articles that don't apply to Calvinism, and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Daryl said...

Count me among those who have all sorts of problems with Pentecostal theology and practice.

It occurs to me,though, that so long as it remains divorced from Calvinist soteriology, the doctrine of eternal security really does pose a threat to the gospel.

My reasoning is that, from just about any perspective other than Calvinism (not all perspectives, but from a Pentecostal perspective certainly), eternal security winds up becoming decisional regeneration whereby you get people imagining that that rebellious 35 year old dead-beat dad (or otherwise pious non-church-going sinner), is really a believer because they responded to an altar call when they were 12.
In that way, it really is an enemy of the gospel.

Properly understood, however...it is simply the plain teaching of Scripture that God really does save those who believe on Him.

Kerry James Allen said...

Ian, for some reason you didn't include their official statement on loss of salvation, which I cited above. So, since DJP pastors there, "Houston, we have a problem," or for you purists, "Houston, we've had a problem," since that was the original statement and the AOG has had the loss of salvation statement for decades.

Kerry James Allen said...

One thought just hit me: If you believe you can lose it, wouldn't AOGers have to call it "probation" and not "salvation?" Probation: "Subjection of an individual to a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness." And if anybody here believes you can lose your salvation, please stop referring to it as "salvation" and refer to it properly: "PROBATION." And, we won't get very far in this debate with Scripture. As a tongues speaking man once said to me, "Well, I can't debate the issue with you Biblically, but I know what happened to me."

Ian said...

KJA,

The A/G makes a distinction between fundamental truths and positions. IE they take a position on gambling and drinking but the positions aren't included in the 16 fundamental truths. It has a position on the security of the believer, but it's not one of the 16 fundamental truth's or never was, at least that I can recall. Here is the security of the believer position.
http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/gendoct_09_security.cfm

Nevertheless I can't see why any Calvinist can't agree with the statement in the 16 fundamental truths. Just trying to find common ground here. That's a good thing, right?

threegirldad said...

Mr. Wood,

I thank you for being willing to comment here, and also for much of what you have said so far.

One question: Are you aware of Roger Olson's "doctrinal trajectory" over the past few years? I find his inclusion with the other contributors at least as problematic as the cover art (and, by the way, thank you for your explanation of the thought process behind it).

openid said...

Ian:

You're correct that the AG distinguishes between its Statement of Fundamental Truths and its position papers.

All credentialed ministers (and AG churches) must affirm the Statement of Fundamental Truths. Position papers are the official positions of the General Presbytery, which it recommends AG ministers/churches to affirm and/or practice (or to negate and/or not practice).

The Bylaws of the Assemblies of God also include a section called "Doctrines and Practices Disapproved Of." Both universalism and eternal security fall into that section. Advocacy of either doctrine puts one's credentials in jeopardy.

If one examines the theological influences on the AG's theology, as well as consistent statements in its official publications over the years (Pentecostal Evangel, GPH publications, etc.), one realizes that AG soteriology is broadly Arminian, though the labeled is often eschewed. Indeed, I can't think of one classical Pentecostal denomination with a Calvinist soteriology. This is because much of the Pentecostal movement has Wesleyan/Holiness roots. The AG is somewhat unique in this regard because its doctrine of sanctification is not Wesleyan/Holiness.

openid said...

ThreeGirlDad:

I'm unsure of what you mean by Olson's "doctrinal trajectory."

Daryl said...

Taken from the link Ian provided:

"Once saved can mean forever saved–if one continues in faith, growing in sanctification and holiness day by day."

So there is absolutely no assurance, since the onus is on woefully unfaithful people and not on a faithful God.

Thankfully...

"if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself."

I wonder though, if the AoG and others, who teach that one can lose their salvation, also believe Hebrews 10:26-27?

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God"

openid said...

Kerry:

The following statement of yours is what is known in the trade as the fallacy of hasty generalization:

"And, we won't get very far in this debate with Scripture. As a tongues speaking man once said to me, 'Well, I can't debate the issue with you Biblically, but I know what happened to me.'"

I believe, as do most AG Bible profs, that Scripture teaches what one might call (anachronistically, of course) an Arminian soteriology. Or rather, and more accurately, I believe that evangelical Arminians teach sound biblical theology.

We could debate these issues on the basis of Scripture. I simply don't want to. As I stated earlier, I don't want to recapitulate 400 years of soteriological debate.

openid said...

Ian:

I failed to provide my email address for the list you're going to send me. It's gpwood@ag.org. And, in case you're wondering, I'm serious about you sending me the list. Sometimes, brothers outside of one's denomination better or more clearly see problems within it. The day we Christians are no longer capable of receiving a friendly rebuke or of repenting from error is the day we mistakenly transfer the infallibility of God's Word to ourselves.

Kerry James Allen said...

Ian, sorry, but if Christ's all sufficient sacrifice on the Cross securing the salvation of the elect forever is not a "fundamental" truth and is only a "position," I think I'll part ways with you on that one.

Kerry James Allen said...

Openid: Since you seem to really enjoy Latin phrases, your statement is what is called prima facie evidence:
"We could debate these issues on the basis of Scripture. I simply don't want to."
Thank you for summing up what the rest of us have been saying.

Ian said...

GPW,

I'll prayerfully consider emailing you, it sounds like your open to other thoughts, that is good. However my concern's aren't limited to just "Pentecostal/charismatic" errors. I doubt I will open your eyes to anything new there. Where I am afraid we will disagree is what is the A/G willing to do when the errors are found. Also probably of most concern to me is what would be commonly referred to as methodological issues. (BTW, I don't distinguish between "methods" and "theology", the two go hand in hand)
That seems to be off the table. At least it seems to be from what your father said in his closing interview in the journal.

In short I am happy outside the A/G now. I'm involved in a fellowship that shares similar doctrine without the challenges I feel the A/G fails to address . It would be nice, that should the time come to look for a different fellowship I could put the A/G on the top of my list. It would be fitting since my family has a deep history there.

Enjoy your vacation, Ian

Ian said...

KJA,

My favorite Latin phrase

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari

I say 2000 logs, I bet you disagree.

threegirldad said...

I'm unsure of what you mean by Olson's "doctrinal trajectory."

Yes, my apologies. I should have waited to comment until I had time to elaborate. More later...

Sir Aaron said...

Mr. Woods:

No need to apolgize for taking a while to respond. Your family and other duties are more important than responding to the likes of us.

As for your comment "I don't believe Calvinists are on the road to hell. (By contrast, Dordt said that Arminians "summon back from hell the Pelagian error.")

Incidentally, I agree with the conclusions reached by the Synod of Dordt. But what does that have to do with your artwork or what AoG presently believes?

openid said...

Kerry:

Four years of high school Latin does tend to make a person fond of Latin phrases. By the way, I threw suaviter in modo, fortiter in re into the mix in case there are any Van Til aficionadoes posting on this thread. It was his way of describing the apologist: "sweetly in the manner, strongly in the matter" is a basic translation.

Now, regarding your use of "prima facie evidence": The key question is what you think my statement is prima evidence of. In order to answer that question, you need to quote me in full, not selectively. So here's my full quote:

"I believe, as do most AG Bible profs, that Scripture teaches what one might call (anachronistically, of course) an Arminian soteriology. Or rather, and more accurately, I believe that evangelical Arminians teach sound biblical theology.

"We could debate these issues on the basis of Scripture. I simply don't want to. As I stated earlier, I don't want to recapitulate 400 years of soteriological debate."

This full statement clearly implies or explicitly states that (1) I think Arminianism has biblical warrant, (2) Calvinists and Arminians have disagreed about these issues for 400 years, and (3) I don't want to recapitulate those debates.

I refer to an earlier statement, which was this:

"I am glad that we agree on the formula of well-intentioned but theologically misguided. Obviously, we disagree on its application. I think it applies to Calvinists. You think it applies to Arminians. I don't know of any way to resolve that dispute without recapitulating 400 years of soteriological debate. I'm not interested in doing that given that I'm pretty sure I'm not going to change your mind, nor I yours."

This clearly implies that the reason I'm not interested in recapitulating a 400-year-long debate is because (4) both of us (meaning, in the context of the quote, Trogdor and I) are convinced of our own positions and unlikely to be persuaded by the opposite case.

When you combine these statements with the fact that (5) I'm on vacation, trying to spend time with my family, you have a pretty clear picture--prima facie evidence, as it were for my reasons for not engaging in a lengthy debate regarding the respective merits of Calvinist and Arminian soteriologies.

Your selective quotation of my remarks drains them of any context, and (misleadingly) makes it appear that I'm unwilling to be corrected by Scripture. At least, that's what a prima facie reading of your remark looks like to me.

George

P.S. I'm unavailable for the rest of the day. I'm heading off to a wedding rehearsal and party for an in-law. I'll probably be unavailable tomorrow as well, waiting in line so my son can ride the new Cars ride at Disneyland. I'll try to respond to any new comments this weekend. After I've returned to the office next week and met with my editors and superiors, I'll make sure to notify this group of any official statements regarding the cover art.

DJP said...

Oh no, now George's family will be able to say "And another thing about Calvinists — they ruin family vacations!!"

(c:

Carl C. said...

Mr. Wood,

I take to heart your concern about negative experiences. I do not take lightly when someone rules out all Reformed-based churches from the bad taste in their mouth following an encounter with an ungrounded kook in Calvinistic clothes. But as you'll see, this is far from my case.

I concede that my comments betray more of the dregs of my past than any solid elements along the way. And looking at them again, I ask your pardon for a quite snide attitude. But I hoped that I was clear as well: my experience is not limited to one isolated incident or even church, but rather quite a broad range of local bodies both in size and geographically (throughout the US, some here in Spain, as well as missionary outreaches here). This was intentional, to draw attention to the consistency of practical implications throughout the denomination. So I hope you're able to take seriously someone that was within your ranks for 20+ years. I heartily applaud the emphasis on missions I've always seen, although with Daryl I'm saddened by the emphasis on 'decision evangelism' that's been equally consistent, among other doctrines put into practice.

Mine is neither a casual interest in, nor with a mind to spite the A/G. I have a vested interest in understanding its positions and practices, since much of my family - including my parents - have been active members most of their lives and continue there. The 'bad taste' experiences I referred to aren't hypothetical, but rather very real encounters my parents have had with supposed Calvinists. Untangling these aren't easy, but that's where the rubber hits the road, isn't it? --When our views get reduced to straw men. If you won't engage us on Scriptural grounds, then on what authority?

I've trespassed the reasonable bounds of the comment zone, and risk deletion by our ├╝ber-blogmeister. If you would like to correspond with a layman who has serious concerns, let me know.

Carl C. said...

As to your request, I am reading the articles with interest.

I'll only say one thing about Mr. Olsen's article, to leave the meat for Dan. In contrast to Olsen's implication that Calvinists come to their position on limited atonement via some kind of detached logical process or presupposing TULIP, I had none such. I came to love the doctrines of grace through my own reading and study, mostly plain ol' reading of the Word. Are there difficult texts? Sure. But I cannot, in good conscience, deny what Scripture teaches. By God's grace, I hope to always hold my logic captive to the ultimate authority of his Word.

Kerry James Allen said...

Ian, it depends on whether you are an Arminian or a Calvinist. The Calvinist would say that God's foreknowledge and determination of all things would limit the marmot to a number that could neither be increased nor diminished. The Arminian would have to say it's all up in the air, so let's just sit down and count and see how long his free will enables him to chuck. And if he doesn't chuck enough, he's lost forever.

Carl C. said...

Ian,

Where I am afraid we will disagree is what is the A/G willing to do when the errors are found. Also probably of most concern to me is what would be commonly referred to as methodological issues. (BTW, I don't distinguish between "methods" and "theology", the two go hand in hand)

Rather insightful, and a much more concise grip on some of what I'm trying to get across to Mr. Wood. (1) Methods and Practice are born out of - and inextricably tied to - theology, whether taught explicitly or otherwise. (2) When these practices are shown to be erroneous, what is the leadership's response? The Bible does hold shepherds accountable for guarding against error (Acts 20:28-30), and that's not limited to soteriology.

Signing out from this side of the puddle,
Carl

openid said...

This afternoon, I posted the following apology for the summer 2012 Enrichment cover on our website:

On behalf of the editors of Enrichment, I would like to apologize for any offense or confusion caused by the cover art of our summer 2012 issue, “21st-century Challenges to the Gospel.” By grouping “Calvinism,” “Annihilationism,” and “Eternal Security” together with various non-Christian ideologies and religions, the cover implied that we believe certain forms of Christianity are as equally challenging to the gospel as outright denials of it. This offended fellow believers who advocate these doctrines, and confused members of our own Fellowship regarding our stance toward those with whom we have principled theological disagreements.

Moreover, the cover miscommunicated both our personal beliefs and the actual content of the issue. My editorial on pages 20,21 clearly states that “not all challenges … are created equal.” It distinguishes those challenges in terms of their respective origins (“nonbelievers” or “Christians”) and effects (“block [the gospel] at its source” or “muddy the clarity and purity of the [gospel].” It also described Christian advocates of these positions as “well-intentioned but theologically misguided.”

We stand by the content of the articles themselves, however. Though fellow believers advocate limited atonement, nonviolent theories of the Atonement, eternal security, annihilationism, and universalism, such doctrines are not part of the Assemblies of God’s theological witness. For example:

Regarding nonviolent theories of the Atonement, Article 5 of our Statement of Fundamental Truths declares: “Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (emphasis added).
Regarding eternal security, Article IX. Section B, Section 1 of our Bylaws states: “The General Council of the Assemblies of God disapproves of the unconditional security position which holds that it is impossible for a person once saved to be lost.”
Regarding universalism, Article IX. Section B, Section 3, Paragraph a. of our Bylaws states: “We are opposed to all forms of universalism.”
Regarding annihilationism, Article 15 of our Statement of Fundamental Truths declares: “Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life … will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (emphasis added).

The Assemblies of God does not have a formal statement on limited atonement. However, what might be referred to as “unlimited atonement” has biblical support (e.g., John 3:16,17; Romans 14:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18,19; Colossians 1:19,20; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 2:2) and is testified to in the various systematic theologies and doctrinal primers that have been published by the Assemblies of God over the years. It is the common teaching of our Fellowship.

Nonetheless, the cover art caused offense and confusion, and we regret the error.

For questions regarding this statement, please contact George Paul Wood, executive editor of Enrichment, at gpwood@ag.org or at (417) 862-2781, ext. 3024.

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201203/statement_regarding_cover.cfm