"Defend Your Calvinism" Challenge

An excerpt from my post,  "Letter To Our Elders Regarding Calvinism Growing In Our Church".  A challenge for dogmatic Calvinists out there (or for those who just think they're Calvinists but haven't really studied what Calvinism really is):

If you are so sure about your Calvinism, then how about taking my "Defend Your Calvinism Challenge":  

1.  Read my blog posts on this issue (find them in "Links To My Anti-Calvinism posts").  Read them carefully, thoughtfully.  Write down the arguments against Calvinism.  Look up the Bible verses quoted, and read them in context.  Research what Calvinism is really about so that you can truly understand it.  Etc.  Basically, study what Calvinism really is, study what I say against it, and study what the Bible really says, in context.  And then ...   

2.  Do your best to defend your Calvinism against what I say, to find loopholes in what I say, to try to defeat what I say, and to find biblical support for your Calvinism.  (Defend it in your own head, not to me.  This is between you and God.)  

If I am wrong and you are right, you should be able to do this.  And it should only help to strengthen your position.  (Or how about giving this challenge to your church, making it a church-wide study?  Challenge the people to seriously study this issue to figure out what the Bible says.)  

3.  BUT ... you can only do this using the Bible and a good concordance.  That's basically the way I did it.  I didn't quote commentaries or theologians or authors or use my own reasoning as a foundation for my beliefs.  I formulated my view, specifically and first-and-foremost, from the Bible and a good concordance.  So no referencing Calvinist authors or theologians to see what they say or how they interpret a verse.  Study this issue using a Bible and concordance only.  (And you must keep Bible verses in context, reading it as it was meant to be interpreted.)  

But it has to be more of a "word for word" translation of the Bible, such as RSV, NASB, KJV.  And I would use a couple different ones for cross-referencing because each version has its own "issues" - such as where the NIV says "elect" in one verse (sounding Calvinistic), the RSV says "exiles" (sounding like it's talking about the Jewish exiles at that time).  Big difference!  

DO NOT use one of those recent, conversational-style Bibles like The Message or The Living Bible or The New Living Translation.  The way they write, you won't be able to look up words in the concordance.  Those translations were not trying to be true to the original words.  They are simply trying to get across the general thoughts of the Bible verses.  It makes it hard to do a serious study.  Click here for a quick comparison of Bible Translations (this is only one person's review, you can find more online), to see which versions are going for word accuracy and which are just trying to get across the general thoughts of the authors.    

[I just found this, and I'm still thinking about it ... but it shares some concerns about the ESV and the NIV, about how they are Calvinist-leaning.  Apparently, it seems like most Calvinists prefer the ESV.  There must be a reason why.  Also be careful with the ESV Study Bible, because its general editor, Wayne Grudem, and theological editor, JI Packer, are both huge Calvinists.  And with the MacArthur Study Bible, as in John MacArthur, Calvinist hero to many.  And with the HCSB Study Bible (updated to CSB), a Study Bible meant for those in the "reformed" tradition, a code word for "Calvinist."  

Be careful about where you get your theology from.]

4.  BUT ... before you start this challenge, before you read my posts, before you study what the Bible says, you have to pray.  Sincerely pray and ask God to open your eyes to the truth about what the Bible says, about what Calvinism teaches, about if Calvinism accurately reflects the Word and God's character.  Ask God to reveal to you if you are willing to see the Truth, if you are willing to find out you might have been wrong all this time.  If you are not willing to find out you might be wrong and if you are not willing to see the Truth because you want to cling to your own beliefs about what the Bible says, then you will not be able to see the truth.  If you want to stubbornly cling to your own views, twisting the Bible to say what you want it to say, then you won't be able to see what the Bible really says.  

Ask God to examine your heart.  Ask Him to show you what's in your heart.  And if you are really willing to see it, ask God to open your eyes to His Truth.       

So, what will it be?  The red pill or the blue pill?

Are you going to take the blue pill, continuing to live in blissful ignorance about what Calvinism really is?  Saying you believe it without really understanding what it says?  Not knowing why you believe it?  Not able to really defend it because you haven't really studied it for yourself?  Trusting that the Calvinist theologians have correctly taught you what the Bible really says?

Or are you going to take the red pill?  To really study for yourself what the Bible teaches, in context, to see if it really does support Calvinism?  To deeply study the Calvinism you say you believe in, so that you can figure out if you really do believe it?  Enough to stand by it?  Enough to defend it?  Enough to shut down the arguments against it?  

Don't just let someone else - Calvinist theologians, or even me - tell you what to believe about the Bible, about God's character, about the Gospel Message, about Jesus's sacrifice!  Find out for yourself!

Don't just say "I'm a Calvinist" ... unless you really understand what it is and can defend it!  

I am challenging you, right now, to take the red pill, even if it makes you feel sick to your stomach at first!  Let God open your eyes to the truth of what Calvinism teaches and what the Bible teaches, and see if you can really reconcile the two!   

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