preaching/teaching Calvinism- does Piper have things mixed u

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rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
Read this short article by piper (atleast the bold parts). Does it seem that he is being overly simplistic? Is this a correct way to go about things?

[quote:db8be40e33][b:db8be40e33]How to Teach and Preach "Calvinism"[/b:db8be40e33]
July 4, 1998
4. Make Spurgeon and Whitefield your models rather than Owen or Calvin, because the former were evangelists and won many people to Christ in a way that is nearer to our own day.

5. [b:db8be40e33]Be an evangelist and a missions mobilizer[/b:db8be40e33] so that the criticism that Calvinism dulls a passion for the lost is put to silence.

6. Work the five points out from the "I" in tulip not the "U". That is, show people that they don't really want to take final credit for their coming to Christ. They don't want to stand before God at the judgment day and respond to the question, "Why did you believe and others with your opportunities didn't?" with the answer, "Well, I guess I was smarter, or more spiritual." They want to say, "By grace I was brought to faith." Which is "irresistible grace." That is, grace that triumphs over all resistance in the end.

8. Don't ride hobbyhorses that aren't in the text. Preach exegetically, explaining and applying what is in the text. If it sounds Arminian, let it sound Arminian. Trust the text and the people will trust you to be faithful to the text.

9. [b:db8be40e33]Avoid theological jargon that is not in the text. The word "Calvinism" is probably not helpful. "Doctrines of grace" may not do it either. Just stick with what is there in the text, or come up with some new striking phrases that will cause the people to wonder and be excited.[/b:db8be40e33]

10. Tell stories and experiences from biography and from the lives of living saints that illustrate their dependence on the sovereignty of God. [b:db8be40e33]Especially stories related to missions and evangelism[/b:db8be40e33] and holiness of life.[/quote:db8be40e33]

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/doctrines_grace/calvinism.html

Number 9 sounds a bit fishy. The reason I am asking is that the pastors at my church seem to have this concept that Calvinism is [i:db8be40e33]just[/i:db8be40e33] a worldview. And any theological words are completely unnecessary. Now this is not a bad idea (as it is correct in a way), but if it gets out of hand its another story. Such as not preaching theological points that people need to hear. The thing is, that it seems that they are leaving the great points of Calvinism out in the open for anyone to interpret it at their own will, and just presenting a very broad worldview message.

????????????

Rembrandt
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Rem,
I don't have any problem w/ being relatable. many of the clinical terms we use could cause the idea to be veiled slightly. I say, use the scriptures; let them speak. This is not to say that in every instance we should keep away from using the terms Piper notes, sometimes it can helpful in distinguishing where we are in regards to the fenceline; other times, it can create animosity. There is a undeserved stigma attached to the term "Calvinism" and Calvin. Mainstream people think that Calvinism is a heresy or a cult of some sort; at least, that is what I was taught at calvary Chapel.



[Edited on 4-23-2004 by Scott Bushey]
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
I've been preaching and teaching in arminian churches for a few years as an undercover 'calvinist'. I've had to choose my words very carefully and be patient. There is no greater thrill then to watch the older folks weep as I present a sovereign God and a Christ of REAL saving POWER. They miss that preaching today. There just so many misunderstandings about calvinism. I know a pastor who refers to Calvin's Intitutes as Calvin's Stinky-toots. He actually published that in a paper. He's never read the institutes but he's angry over the Servetus affair and assumes Calvin's writings are worthless. It's sad.


I see your point Rembrandt and I agree with you Scott, we must be oh so clever in teaching the 'pure' expression of the Gospel.

In a perfect world there would only be tulips!
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
True. My main concern is that, is it possible to be a "Reformed" church, and yet still have a thoroughly semi-pelagian congregation. At least Piper does get into the great things of Calvinism. But I'm starting to wonder why the pastors at my church appear to be so big into Calvinism (when I see their bookshelves, and talk to them and all), but yet the doctrines are not being preached. As if the worldview can just sort out all the hard stuff...

Rembrandt
 

JWJ

Puritan Board Freshman
I too really don't have a problem with what Piper said and agree with Scott. However, I would qualify point 8 :"... Preach exegetically, explaining and applying what is in the text. If it sounds Arminian, let it sound Arminian. Trust the text and the people will trust you to be faithful to the text."

I would say if you are preaching from a text that is the in the divided sense be faithful to the text. However, if you are a true preacher and teacher you will also, in the course of time, preach the whole counsel of God-- and thus preach texts in the compound sense as well.

JWJ
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
But what if there is no need to be under a disguise? Especially when people are completely theologically ignorant. Would they be able to rationalize from the Bible to the 5 points? Or would they just think that God is sovereign and that solves everything...

It just seems that there is a lack of great doctrine being preached today. We are assuming that people are smart enough to figure these things out... forgeting that all are born pelagians...

Rembrandt
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
1Co 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.



Rem,
You are correct. We are in a theological wasteland. Your job, my job, is to preach the scriptures...........In a previous thread, I stated that I begin w/ Gods sovereignty; get this item wrong and you're soon to find out your theology is skewed because you are still sitting on the throne and not Christ. Men cannot help it. It is their nature; especially the unregenerate or the newbie.

[Edited on 4-23-2004 by Scott Bushey]
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
I think point #9 is totally reasonable and good to follow in the case of sunday morning preaching.

It is this kind of simple, exegetical preaching......bringing up only what is in the text, that made this story about my college roommate possible:

When I moved in, i knew my two roommates went to teh same church but i did not know them very well.....one, i knew was reformed, the other one I did not know much about his theology, other than that he was pretty solidly grounded and participated in a number of bible studies and was active in sharing the gospel. This roommate, I'll call him John, once overheard me and my other roommate talking and we said the words "reformed" and "calvinist" - and he did not know what these terms meant specifically, although he had heard them before. So, he asked me to go through the major tenets of reformed theology with him.

So, I presented an overview of God's sovereignty and eventually went through all of TULIP. He did not balk or hesitate when I said things like "God chose a specific people from the very foundation of the world that He would redeem, not based on their foreseen faith, but only upon the pleasures of His will" and "The salvific grace of God is invariably effective, and always accomplishes its purpose of bringing a man to faith, it is irresistible" and finally, to the dreaded L "Christ came to lay down His life for His people, the elect only, that their faith and justification would be secured, and the wrath of God on them satisfied." Now, i know you all know how phrases like these can startle and upset those who have never heard these doctrines before, who have been raised in our overwhelmingly arminian christian culture.

His exact response after I presented all these things? "That's it? The scriptures declare those things clearly, I already believed every inch of what you just said"........his church and pastor had faithfully preached the doctrines of grace only from an exegetical standpoint; John was reformed and didn't know it, he had only been taught, and studied for himself, the scriptures with regards to the issues of God's sovereignty.

I love that story. Now, I do think it is very good to have, for example, a month-long wednesday night study on specifically the D.O.G's where important theolgical jargon is defined and explained, and where people are made more aware of the history and controversy regarding the Biblical doctrines they hear on sunday mornings. But, I do not think John's church was in any way negligent in their teaching and discipleship - John was solid, loved these doctrines with all his heart, and was as capable of defending these points as anyone I know......he was simply not familiar with the jargon.

Exegetical preaching offered to a regenerate, passionate heart is more than sufficient to make a man love and defend the D.O.G's.

[Edited on 4-23-2004 by smhbbag]

[Edited on 4-23-2004 by smhbbag]
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
Good story. What if #9 is taken to the extreme? For instance, not explaining any solid theological points. I guess that is departing from the Pipe's purpose in writing that-- he is only talking about technical words. But what if one were to take it further and say that Calvinism is not about theology but [i:eb3e78a6d0]just[/i:eb3e78a6d0] about worldview? And they didn't get into any solid doctrine? For instance, if God's eternal decree to save sinners is not really expressed in [i:eb3e78a6d0]any[/i:eb3e78a6d0] way.
 

cupotea

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:d9a4ab452b]5. Be an evangelist and a missions mobilizer [i:d9a4ab452b]so that the criticism that Calvinism dulls a passion for the lost is put to silence[/i:d9a4ab452b]. [/quote:d9a4ab452b]

I take a bit of issue with this, although it may sound as if I quibble over an unimportant point. We aren't called to evangelize and be missions minded [i:d9a4ab452b]in order[/i:d9a4ab452b] to squelch the criticisms of Calvinism. If there is one thing I have learned since coming to Calvinism is that for us to have the unmitigating gall to dare put man's autonomy in jeapordy will garner a hatred I have never seen the likes of. I have been called heretic. I have lost friends. And I have been flamed on message boards for daring to take man's free will and give it rightly to God. In short, the criticisms of evangelism would be replaced by something else were Calvinists to become the number one missionary at home and abroad.

I also disagree with number 7. Once a person completely understands and grasps Total Depravity, all the others fall perfectly into place. I start with the 't'.

Number nine sounds fishy to me as well. "... or come up with some new striking phrases that will cause the people to wonder and be excited." sounds so much like Rick Warren I had to read it twice. For all you 40 Days of Purpose lovers, I apologize, but I found him to be...I found him to be exceedingly unscriptural. What's wrong with theological jargon? Are we to assume everyone has milquetoast for brains and cannot either understand or ask what something means? Automatically assuming people require Calvinism for Dummies is insulting.

As a learner, I want the truth. I want the cold, hard, living truth. If I can't handle it, that's my issue, but to dumb down the Doctrines of Grace is ridiculous.

That said, I love smhbbag's story as well. When I began teaching my now eighteen year old son the DoG, he said, "I already believe all of that." I was aghast! Especially given the fact that he was raised in a staunchly Arminian church.

Just my ha'penny.

By the way, smhbbag, my 23 yr old son is a junior at Clemson majoring in Physics. He just took a commission in the Navy to get their Nuclear Engineering school.
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
I dunno

There isn't an inherent problem with point 9. We aren't called to proclaim the title of the doctrines of grace but the actual doctrines themselves. It is no sign of comprimise necessarily to use fresh language to communicate the same truth. It does us good to not get rigid with Christianese, but we must be sure that we are communicating things with accurate language. So the issue is not whether or not one uses the traditional terminology as much as one is accurately communicating theological bread with clarity.

Piper's preference in approaching the Calvinism isn't the end all success method. It's just his opinions on how to approach the doctrines in a fresh way. The "I" in Tulip does aproach the epistemological sense of God's sovereign hand in Salvation. It's difficult for most Christians to get around this point, and I've personally used it as a bridge in difficult arguements. Certainly if one understands the doctrines of Grace at all one will acknowlege the high place of the Spirit in gaining spiritual knowledge. No method in of itself can convince man of anything true about God unless the Spirit reveals it. Thus there is no fool-proof method to gaining a convert or a calvinist, apart from the Spirit's work. However God does use means of dilligent thinking and passionate teaching as a means to reveal truth to man, so it would be to our benefit to approach the fortress of man's mind through diverse means as long as they are God ordained means.
 

turmeric

Megerator
As I've said before in other posts, the majority of fundamentalist/evangellifish have been brought up on a blend of rapture/amyraldist/keswick/gnostic nonsense all of which appeals strongly to the emotions and little to the intellect. They are more "relational" than doctrinal. They very simply will not take Reformed people seriously, I know from experience. They don't usually even bother to do something so "carnal" as disagree, they just ask if you've been reading the Bible lately, or if you're trying to distance people with those big words (like total depravity). If we don't get the truth across to these people, we may well lose the shreds of cultural influence we have left in this country as the church simply becomes irrelevant.

Piper is "affectional" enough for any or all of them. He cannot be accused of being "frozen chosen". We are not here to win a popularity contest, but 1) we do need to communicate, and if people can't hear anything but "relational" stuff we have to start where they are, and 2) unfortunately in the past some Calvinists have actively discouraged missions (which is extremely unBiblical) and Piper doesn't want it to ever be a true criticism of us anymore, nor do I.

Maybe the 'gellifish will listen to his tapes on Romans 7, and begin to understand how things really are because he says all this emotional stuff about delighting in God. And BTW, I wish I delighted in Him more!

[Edited on 4-25-2004 by turmeric]
 
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