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Neo-Calvinism, Radical, and David Platt

February 3rd, 2012 · No Comments · Bible, Christianity, Religion

A week or so ago a friend of mine asked if I could name one high profile young  (under 45) preachers who was not a neo-calvinist. The only one we could think of was Rob Bell. Can any of you think of any? I am going to read up on this a bit and may dive into that in some future posts.

That brings me to Radical by David Platt. I was introduced to this book at Gulf Coast Getaway. The point that was emphasized about this book at GCG was that we need to be more hungry for God’s Word and that we in the church have often compromised the Word for comfort and hearing things the way we want to hear them. So I thought I would have a listen to someone who seemed to have success in getting people hungry for God’s Word again.

I haven’t finished it yet but I can see the appeal of the book. It is about getting serious about our faith. It involves questioning our way of life. It lays out the need to live a more radical Christianity if we are serious about following Jesus. I bet you saw that radical part coming a mile away, right? Anyway, this book has Neo-Calvinist roots as well. You can find the points of Calvinism in its pages. Honestly, I think it distracted from what has otherwise been an engaging book.

My question for you is more about neo-Calvinism than it is about Radical or David Platt. Why do you think young people are drawn to Neo-Calvinism? Has it exploded in the last decade or have those presenting this view just gotten more dynamic and visible in their approach? More on Radical later because I do believe there are some good points in this book when it comes to our seriousness regarding the Word of God and our need to get back to textual study.

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  • K. Rex Butts

    How about Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Hugh Halter…they’re not all necessarily preachers per se but they’re all well known church planters/leaders who don’t fit within the Neo-Calvinists.

  • Terry

    Why are the new Calvinists making such an impact on the world?

    1. New Calvinists embrace the view of a powerful God. They understand God to be all-knowing and all-powerful. He is a God who is not surprised. He is a God who is in control. He is a God who can be trusted when one is facing trouble beyond his own control. We may be surprised at a job loss or a diagnosis of cancer, but God is not. We may not be able to handle our problems, but God is. When everything goes wrong in our lives, we can trust the One in control to do the right thing (even when it is the hard thing).

    2. New Calvinists embrace the view of a flawed humanity. They understand that people are sinners. They know that people need a Savior, because although we may not be as bad as we could be, we are nowhere near as good as we need to be. We have been tainted with a pride and selfishness that ruins our hopes of being who we know we should be.

    3. New Calvinists embrace the reality of sin and its consequences. They understand that they are sinners deserving of hell and undeserving of heaven.

    4. New Calvinists embrace the need for God’s grace in Christ. They understand that their only hope is in what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross. They know that Christ died in their place, taking on their sins and appeasing the wrath of God, so that they may live in a right relationship with God forever.

    5. New Calvinists embrace the Scriptures as God’s inerrant word. They understand that the Bible is trustworthy because God is trustworthy. Since the Lord is neither incompetent nor dishonest, they know that they can trust his message to them.

    6. New Calvinists embrace the distinctions between men and women. They understand that God created all people in his image, but that he made men and women to complement each other. In an age of gender confusion, they acknowledge that men and women are different and that such differences are good and healthy.

    7. New Calvinists embrace the glory of God. They are obsessed with bringing glory to God rather than to themselves.

    The new Calvinists are counter-cultural, but culturally engaged; and in many ways, their counter-cultural views make them more appealing in the culture. They offer something solid and stable to a generation without much stability.

    (I copied and pasted this from a post on my blog from a few years ago, when I asked a similar question about the popularity of new Calvinists.)

    • charliesohm

      Aren’t all these qualities also found in non-Calvinists?

    • Samuel White

      No, Its because New Calvinist are trying to reconcile this world with the millennial Reign of Christ. This is an idea from the catholic Church continued by most protestants, Its called Amillennialism. I my personal experience as a second generation missionary, the impact in my ministry has been of division,strife and of killing churches.

      • Samuel White

        Calvinist have been dead for about 50 years and there haveing a another one of ther wake ups. That is way we see so much of them now. It will soon die down again. It always happend in the past.

      • Kathy Becker

        Could you share more on Amillennialism? It came up in a conversation I had recently. What are some specifics on the difficulties you are having dealing with this perspective? Are you a missionary to the US? Thanks, I really appreciate your thoughts.

      • Samuel White

        I am a Missionary in Costa Rica, I’ve been here 12 years. Just this year Costa Rica has been contaminated by the Calvinistic ideas that plague the US an Europa. We are having church splits and young adult leaving good churches because of it, WHAT A MESS!! thank you John Calvin.

  • Barbara Admire

    I’d like to pose a questino – I wonder why do folks tend to associate groups with names in history like Calvinism, Restorationist, Lutheransim (and in the particular church my family grew up in Quaker there was even a song with name of the historical significance George Fox and as a kid I wondered why I was singing about ‘walking in the light’ and what a fox had to do with it..) rather than just look to leaders within the Bible to associate and follow those ways?
    I have no idea what it means when you say neo calvinist. Once someone is identified that way maybe then I would be biased…how about identifying someone as Isaiah-like. I guess many of us do tend to be followers of what is around us, or what interests us so I see measure of importance to know who it is you are following so one doesn’t blindly follow off a cliff. Someone helped me one summer read through Matthew and realize God’s word is much more important than Quakers of today hold – but honestly I can’t even remember that gals last name who spent many an afternoon with me 25 years ago..and while a guy named Gary Overbo baptized me, I’m not an Overboist…I’m a Christian.

    Someday, Lord willing, without trying to be pretentious about it, it would be neat to overhear ‘she’s got her Father’s eyes’, or ‘that was a fruit of the Spirit in her’…I’d so much rather be associated that way, than to hear ‘she has a view like David Lipscomb’ and I kind of hope I talk about others that way too. I’ll start today to think that way –
    I hope that was given respectfully Matt I sure am not trying to pick on your topic… I love reading your posts! I love even more listening to your preaching His word – your passion and love comes through.

    • mattdabbs

      Barb I think everyone would agree that we are to follow Christ. I don’t think a Calvinist would say they are following Calvin as much as they would say they agree with his interpretation of certain scriptures, especially pertaining to the human condition, the sovereignty of God and the process of salvation.

  • Jerry Starling

    Interesting questions.

  • James

    I think it’s a matter of it being that most of the well-known preachers in the evangelical world are…evangelical. And that’s naturally going to mean lots of Calvinistic influence. That’s one thing.

    Another reason I think many are drown to a neo-Calvinist view is that it (unwittingly, no doubt) appeals to our current pop-American narcissism. We want to think that everyone one of us is so special that God has taken the time to custom-build every moment, every decision, every “blessing” that comes into our life. “I know God has a plan for me” has become the chief cornerstone of many a Christian life. Jeremiah 29:11 now no longer has to do with exiled Jews, but instead it’s all about this week’s top American Idol contestant. There’s an ego trip involved.

  • K. Rex Butts

    In his book “Church Next”, author Eddie Gibbs offered a mild caution about deciding to quickly that the Mega-Church is all that it’s hyped to be by recognizing the fact that the Mega-Church phenomenon has yet to reverse the trend of secularization.

    I think the same caution can be issued about the Neo-Calvinist movement. That’s not an indictment against the movement, just a way of saying that some of their hype maybe over-hype. After all, I know there are some critics of Neo-Calvinism (such as David Fitch) who have question the missional nature of the movement, suggesting that some within the movement are simply gathering Christians from existing churches (a claim in which it would be nice to have some hard date to verify or disclaim).

  • John

    Very good points above.

    I would like to add that another reason is how Calvinism is packaged in Rock/Gospel music and entertainment. A rock singer belting out the “Security of the believer” does make it a bit more hip than the “old time” preachers of the past who kept you on an old hard pew for an hour or so.

  • Jim Welch

    No one has yet addressed Barb’s question about “what is neo-calvinism?” This term is thrown out there like everyone understands what your talking about. Give those of us who don’t understand your terminology some help or point us to some links that will help us know what you mean when you use the term.

    • mattdabbs

      I have really been wanting to be more vocal in the comments but I don’t have a computer with me this week and doing it from my phone is difficult. When I have better access to a computer I will address much of what has been brought up in the comments. Thanks for your patience.

  • Terry

    I’m sorry about the misunderstanding. I’m not saying that any of the 7 points that I brought up earlier are unique to Calvinists. They simply make the new Calvinists appealing to people. Non-Calvinists who share these qualities have a similar appeal. (I’m not saying that they appeal to all people, either. I understand that nothing appeals to everyone.)

  • WesWoodell

    I think the appeal of Neo-Calvinists – particularly among younger people – is that they are offering answers to big theological questions and teaching authoritatively rather than simply asking more questions. The popular Neo-Calvinist preachers I’m familiar with also preach Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and I believe there is great appeal to lifting Him up and reminding everyone it’s all about him.

    A well-known preacher under 45 who is not Neo-Calvinist is Francis Chan. I actually thought he was for a while since I was told he was, but I don’t think he is.

  • Andrew Patrick

    I have been thinking on this question for some time, and so my answer may be a little different from what has already been offered for discussion. From what I have read and observed, Calvinism offers an a type of authority structure and a sense of elitism, along with an “we have all the answers but we don’t have to prove anything to those who were damned before the beginning of the world.” It promises strength, and it is is easy. Just join ranks, march in step, and you will be accepted by Calvinists everywhere.

    If I am allowed to speak freely, what I think I am seeing behind Calvinism, in another setting, is also called Fascism. You have your “chosen people” and then there is everyone else who are “pigs and dogs.” Except God seems to show more mercy to the pigs and dogs than the non-elect for whom he specifically withholds and/or removes the ability to understand and repent. If everyone else is sub-human, than the Calvinist becomes the new Super-Human walking above the rest.

    I am not going to say that is the only reason, but I think it deserves some consideration, especially if one identifies oneself as a Calvinist. There might be other factors, for example, perhaps Calvinism and Universalism were presented as the only two viable alternatives? Then “Universalism” is disproved, and so the young person declares for Calvin in its place (I know of a case like this.)

  • Danielle

    I believe it appeals to the arrogance of our generation. We want to be right. Calvinist teachings are loaded with “apologetics” and “hermaneutics” – words that would make most Christians shrink back from a theological debate in an instant. It’s all fluff. It’s all dangerous.

  • Joe

    The reason Calvinism is “popular” to you is because it’s what the Bible teaches. The Word will live on and will never go away. God bless

  • Nathan

    Interesting take on Radical, I cant say I saw all five points in the book but I am very familiar with Calvinist language so it might have just slipped by me. I read an interesting article on David Platt addressing the SBC Pastors conference where he kind of addresses the Unconditional Election/Limited Atonement aspect of Calvinism, link is here

    Also great to stumble upon another local on the web, 33710 represent 🙂

    • mattdabbs

      Hey Nathan,

      Thanks so much for that link. I appreciate what he said in that article. He makes some really valid points about how we often provide solutions without discussing the problem. I do think that happens. I was struck by his take on scripture’s response to the “what shall we do” question of Acts 2:37. He said,

      “The first words out of the mouth of both John the Baptist and Jesus in Matthew 3 and 4:
      “Repent.” First words that Peter says in Acts 2 when the crowds ask, “What shall we do?” He
      doesn’t say, “Bow your heads and close your eyes.” He says, “Repent” (Acts 2:38). He says
      the same thing in Acts 3:19: “Repent…and turn, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts
      8:22: “Repent of wickedness.” Acts 26:20: “Repent and turn to God.” Acts 17:30: “God
      commands all people everywhere to repent.”
      Repent and believe. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” – Acts 16:31. The
      Gentiles in Cornelius’ home “believed” in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 11:17). And that’s the
      word that’s used all over John 3 and this entire Gospel. Seven times from verses 11-21:
      “believe, believe, believe, believe, believe, believe, believe.” Repent and believe.”

      Why not let Acts 2:38 speak for itself and include baptism? He supplies believe from other texts and I agree with that but Peter’s first word was repent and his second was to be baptized. It is pretty clear from all this that Platt would be supportive of baptism so I am confused why he left that out. Some say baptism is a work and we aren’t saved by works but baptism is passive. Repent is even an active verb of something we do and people will say that is necessary but not a work. Why leave out baptism? Thanks for sharing this…and glad to hear from someone here in the burg.

      • Nathan

        I read another article that this was a sermon in response to a 3 minute you tube clip of another sermon he did at Verge where he was questioning the method of the sinners prayer in ministry, and it created a bit of a firestorm of conversation. Without speaking for him, I believe that is what he was more focused on addressing, but interesting point about baptism.

        I heard someone somewhere (how is that for a vague easily retractable reference) say that in the early church time, the public baptism was the way believers performed their public declaration of conversion as a way to “confess before men” your new commitment to Christ. It is an interesting tension with understanding baptism, it is not a requirement for salvation, per se, yet it is a command for the believer. Can you be saved without baptism? In theory yes, but then if you are truly saved why would you not be baptized? When I am thinking through this or discussing it, my mind always drifts to another similar polemic often discussed in James 2:18 “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

        Thanks for the conversation and for the thought sparking blog posts, I am looking forward to going though your back catalog so don’t be surprised if you see new comments on articles that are a few years old 🙂

    • mattdabbs

      “Ultimately scripture, creedal statements, and doctrines are statements about what we believe reality is – so let’s live in reality! This isn’t something we can disconnect or disembody from the way we live. If you’re not actively seeking to live in it, you don’t really believe it.” – Mike Breen’s Multiplying Missional Leaders, 23

      Do you think what Mike is saying has any bearing on the baptism discussion?

      • Nathan

        Absolutely, I think that is also what James is saying as well in the faith/works debate. If you don’t live it you don’t believe it. When I start to carry that over to other areas in my life, I start to get a bit uncomfortable in my flesh. When Christ calls me to dedicate all that I have (1 John 3:17) to serving the body,expanding the kingdom and making disciples of all nations, do I do that?

        When Christ calls me to take up my cross, deny myself and follow him, is that really what my life looks like? In some ways yes, in others no. That causes me to think about my profession of faith and whether what I profess and what I live are in line or are at odds.

        That is a good process to think through in every area of our lives, no matter how uncomfortable it makes our flesh. I think that is the point of verses like 2 Corinthians 13:5.

  • Jenny

    A fabulous book on calvanism and arminianism is “Chosen but Free” by Dr. Norman Geisler.

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  • Ty

    Here is a sample of the anti-Calvinist statements in Radical by David Platt:

    “Certainly few of us would be so bold as to say we ‘would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell,’ but if we do not take the gospel to them, isn’t that where they will go?” (p. 64).

    “What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which he created us?” (p. 75).

    “What if these radical Christians joined together in communities of faith called churches that were surrendered to the purpose for God’s people that has been primary from the beginning of time? Maybe, just maybe, together we would see the accomplishment of that purpose” (p. 83).

    “But according to Jesus, people are God’s method for winning the world to himself. People who have been radically transformed by Jesus” (p. 90).

    “Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory” (p. 93).

    “Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people’s lives—this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ” (p. 103).

    “God’s design for taking the gospel to the world is a slow, intentional, simple process that involves every one of his people sacrificing every facet of their lives to multiply the life of Christ in others” (p. 104).

    “In the process we are realizing that we actually were intended to reach the world for the glory of Christ, and we are discovering that the purpose for which we were created is accessible to every one of us” (p. 106).

    “…if you lean toward practical universalism, living each day as though it’s not absolutely urgent to tell others about Christ, then I invite you to approach this chapter considering the practical and eternal implications of what the Bible teaches” (p. 142).

    “Those of us who have heard about Jesus have had the opportunity to receive or reject the gospel, and we are responsible for our decision” (p. 149).

    “God sends his servants. His servants preach. People hear. Hearers believe. Believers call. Everyone who calls is saved. Now look back at this progression and ask one question: Is there any place where this plan can break down? Think about it. Obviously everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. No breakdown there. Everyone who believes will call. Many who hear (not all, but many) will believe. People will hear the gospel when we preach it to them. And God is most definitely still in the business of sending his servants. That means there is only one potential breakdown in this progression—when servants of God do not preach the gospel to all peoples. We are the plan of God, and there is no plan B” (p. 156).

    “If this is true, then the implications for our lives are huge. If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not even heard the gospel, then we don’t have time to waste our lives on an American dream. Not if we have all been commanded to take this gospel to them” (p. 157).

    “In other words, for these 1.5 billion unreached and unengaged peoples, almost every individual within them is born, lives, and dies without ever hearing the gospel. Even worse, no one is currently doing anything to change their situation. No one” (p. 158).

    “Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven’t heard. That is unfair” (p. 159).

    “Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice? What if such sacrifice is exactly what it will take for many of the unreached people in the world who are presently hostile to the gospel to one day surrender their hearts to Jesus?” (p. 165-166).

    “This makes me wonder what would happen if we looked squarely in the face of a world with 4.5 billion people going to hell and twenty-six thousand children dying every day of starvation and preventable diseases, and we decided it was time to move this ship into battle instead of sitting back on the pool deck while we wait for the staff to serve us more hors d’oeuvre” (p. 171).

    “What happens when you and I take these words from Jesus and put them in a world where more than a billion people have still not heard the gospel? A fundamental reality snaps into focus: we are not praying. This is the only possible explanation for how there can be such great need yet so few workers. The multitudes are waiting to hear, and our most urgent need is to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out Christian into the harvest field” (p. 187).

    “There is a true God over this world who wants all people to bow at the feet of a loving Savior, and there is a false god in this world who wants all people to burn in hell” (p. 191).

    “When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God—words that have supernatural power to redeem, renew, refresh, and restore our lives to what he created them to be” (p. 192).

    “If there are a billion people who have never heard the gospel and billions of others who still have not received the gospel, then we have an obligation to go to them. This is not an option” (p. 200).

    “Indeed, the church is God’s plan for multiplying the gospel to all nations, and where Christians lock arms with one another in communities of faith pursuing a radical Savior, the very gates of hell cannot stop the spread of God’s glory. So this is the final step in the Radical Experiment: commit your life to a community of believers that is intentionally multiplying the gospel by making disciples” (p. 212).

    “Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream (p. 216).

    • mattdabbs

      Saying Platt is anti-Calvinist is like saying the Cookie monster doesn’t like cookies. He is a Calvinist…why try to say he isn’t when he says he is…if that is what you are trying to do here?

    • mattdabbs

      I am not big on people pasting comments here that they are pasting all over the internet and then not responding to any counter-points. If you want to have a discussion, I would welcome that. If you don’t, then please no more copy/paste comments.

      • Ty

        A friend of mine lent me the book and told me Platt was a Calvinist. I simply read the book and jotted down those statements. My question is, how could a Calvinist (who believes in TULIP) say those things?

      • Ty

        And why are you disparaging the fact that I did a copy/past from my own notes?

    • mattdabbs

      I just noticed that you had copied and pasted that same thing on multiple blogs, including Wes’ blog with no clarification as to what your point is, what question you had, etc.99% of the time when people do that they aren’t really interested in talking about anything. It just has the appearance of just wanting to make a point in as many places as possible without making any real effort to address the specifics of the post you are commenting on. That is why I asked if you wanted to have a discussion about it. Thank you for asking a followup question. It helps us all know what you are after in posting your list.

      Most of your quotes are centered on evangelism so I am assuming what you want to know is why a Calvinist would be evangelistic. Calvinists still believe evangelism is important even though God has already elected them. They would say we are still God’s instruments to help bring salvation to the world even though God has already ordained who is going where.****

      Here is how John Piper explains it,

      “Why engage in missions if people are already predestined to be saved, and the predestined cannot be lost?

      3.2.1. God commanded us to (Matthew 28:18–20), and no amount of philosophical speculation should deter us.

      3.2.2. God has ordained that his effectual call of the elect will happen through the preaching of the gospel and not without it (1 Thessalonians 1:4–5; 1 Corinthians 1:23–24; Romans 1:16; 10:14–17; Acts 26:16–18; 13:48; John 17:20; etc.).

      3.2.3. It is impossible that the elect should be lost (Matthew 24:24). Nevertheless, people are lost because we don’t evangelize and because we don’t pray, who otherwise would be saved. For if we evangelized and prayed, we would give evidence that God had planned to save people. The upsurge of world evangelism and prayer is the sign that God is about do a great ingathering.

      3.2.4. We should want to enjoy the thrill of being empowered by God as a channel of his saving grace. Not to evangelize because God has predestined is to be like the man who chooses to stay in bed because he says if God had predestined him to get out, he would get out.

      3.2.5. The effectual call of God based on God’s eternal election is an encouragement for missions (Acts 18:10; John 10:16; 11:52; 17:20).”

      Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.

      • Ty

        I put it on two places, not “all over the internet” as you claimed. Both places were talking about Platt and Calvinism (which is think is pertinent).

        Those quotes are not merely about evangelism (I’ve watched the Amazing Grace DVD and know what they teach). Many of those quotes make the statement that people are going to be lost if we don’t evangelize (read them closely). There are also statements about free choice (e.g. “Those of us who have heard about Jesus have had the opportunity to receive or reject the gospel, and we are responsible for our decision”).

        My argument is that a 5-point card-carrying Calvinist could not make those statements. I take issue with your comment that “you can find the points of Calvinism in its pages.” I am strongly against Calvinism and yet, I didn’t find anything in this book that I would disagree with (and I read it from cover to cover). I think Platt either doesn’t understand TULIP theology, or he was deliberately trying to make this book appeal to Arminians. If that is the bifurcation fallacy, please show me how.

        • mattdabbs

          He understands tulip quite well and ascribes to the Reformed movement. He has said so himself. Why try to prove he isn’t something he says he is? What did you think of Piper’s rationale about why evangelist is still important even given election?

        • mattdabbs

          When I get back to my books I will pull some quotes from the book that are clearly Calvinist.

        • mattdabbs

          Last, a Calvinist can say that under the umbrella of God’s sovereign plan and election. God is using all the pieces and we are submitting to His sovereign will. I think that would be the take.

      • Andrew Patrick

        Am I the only one that sees Piper contradicting himself in the same breath here?

        3.2.3. It is impossible that the elect should be lost (Matthew 24:24). Nevertheless, people are lost because we don’t evangelize and because we don’t pray, who otherwise would be saved. For if we evangelized and prayed, we would give evidence that God had planned to save people. The upsurge of world evangelism and prayer is the sign that God is about do a great ingathering.

        Setting aside that Matthew 24:24 says no such thing that “it is impossible that the elect should be lost” … from one sentence to the other, he said (in his own words):

        a) It is impossible that the elect should be lost
        b) People are lost because of human neglect, but could be saved with more human action.

        The only way I can see that he would have out of this is if he has two separate classes of God’s people, the “elect” and the ones saved even though God didn’t really want them saved. Is that what Piper actually thinks?

      • Ty

        Andrew is right. Piper says: this is true, nevertheless, the exact opposite is true. Calvinists are always making me scratch my head.

        • mattdabbs

          All they can say is Hod wills we evangelize. We are the elect. We obey God. God works it out. I agree with you. I don’t get the conditional nature of Platt’s comments.

  • Ty

    I think you are missing my point. I know what Calvinists teach about evangelism and I didn’t see anything new in your Piper quote. Platt wasn’t saying what Piper said in Radical. Again, I think you need to look more closely at those quotes. I’ll get you started with the first two:

    “Certainly few of us would be so bold as to say we ‘would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell,’ but IF WE DO NOT take the gospel to them, isn’t that where they will go?” (p. 64). Could a Calvinist use the conditional “if”?

    “What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually SELLING GOD SHORT by FRUSTRATING the very purpose for which he created us?” (p. 75). Does a Calvinist believe we can “sell God short” or “frustrate” His purpose?

    What am I missing? I would also like you to show me where “you can find the points of Calvinism in its pages.” I didn’t see it.


    Now, to answer your question: “Why do you think young people are drawn to Neo-Calvinism?” I suspect the reason is because it takes the responsibility off of the individual, and we live in a society that doesn’t like taking personal responsibility.

    • mattdabbs

      In Calvinism God ordains it all by his sovereign will. He ordains the going, the receiving, everything. You are right, there really isn’t any conditionality to it in their view.

    • mattdabbs

      Sorry, I am a little distracted and will return to this when I can give it more attention.

    • mattdabbs

      Here are a few quotes for you to consider

      T – Total Depravity
      “This is the reality about humanity. We are each born with an evil, God hating heart. Genesis 8:21 says that every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood, and Jesus’ words in Luke 11:13 assume that we know we are evil.” – p.30

      “Salvation now consists of a deep wrestling in our souls with the sinfulness of our hearts, the depth of our depravity, and the desperation of our need for his grace.” – p.39

      U – Unconditional election:
      “What’s worse is that we can do nothing to change our status before God. No one who is morally evil can choose good” – p.31

      “There is absolutely nothing we can do to come to him” – p.32

      I am confused by what he said in the middle of p 69 where he talks about all people being blessed and God’s global purpose of salvation. It really reads like it flies in the face of Limited atonement.

      • Ty

        Thanks for finding those. It’s not just page 69; there are statements everywhere that fly in the face of TULIP in one way or another. This is not going to sound very nice, but it’s like the guy has multiple personalities (one is Calvinist and the other is Arminian).

        • mattdabbs

          You have to read everything they say under the umbrella if God controlling it all. He makes it sound conditional but if you pressed him on it I think he would say it isn’t. They are trying to find a way to motivate evangelism.

      • Ty

        Well, good luck with that. If one’s eternal destiny was sealed from the beginning of time, what is the purpose of preaching to the lost? They say it’s simply obeying God, and God is letting us have the privilege of being involved. But, it’s just busywork. Why would we worry about evangelism? Nothing could be more foolish than to preach the gospel to “all” if only people whom God arbitrarily chose are able to accept it. And they will be saved or condemned whether I preach to them or not. If nothing can change anyone’s eternal destiny, why preach it? If unconditional election is true, it nullifies and really just makes a mockery of the Great Commission. I’m sorry; I’m not into doing busywork; there are too many other important things in which I could be engaged.

        Sorry, just a little rant (which I’m sure is proof-positive that I’m not one of the “elect”).

      • Andrew Patrick

        Actually, (presuming the Calvinist premise) none of your ranting and raving can do anything to affect your status if it was decided before you existed, so you will eventually be saved before your last breath if you really were one of the elect.

        The neat part about that is that no one can prove whether someone was “regenerated” during their last millisecond of life, so the theory is not testable and thus unable to be disproved.

      • Ty

        Oh, don’t rain on my parade. I thought I had some confirmation. You know, I could sleep easy knowing for sure that I’m NOT one of the elect (no need to wonder). I could now just live any way I want. I could quit praying and reading the Scriptures and quit trying to conform my life into the likeness of Christ; I wasn’t lucky enough for God to love me. I could just say, “Oh, well, it didn’t have anything to do with me anyway.” So… now I’m back to square one. Thanks a lot! 🙁

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