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Author Topic: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?  (Read 27862 times)

jd@

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Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« on: September 01, 2003, 01:15:13 AM »
This came up in another thread...

Knobbly

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2003, 03:01:58 AM »

A poll jd@ , thats a bit radical, are you sure polls are in the Bible, because if they aren't should we be doing them?  ;D

For the record I voted No because I wasn't confident enough in my understanding of Calvinism to identify myself as one, although I did attend a high school called Calvin Christian School but I don't think thatís what you were asking.

Sue Landow

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2003, 03:08:52 AM »
I voted no for one simple and uncomplicated reason. Calling myself a Calvinist to me would mean that I follow the teachings of Calvin. I know some argue against that definition, but that's how I see it. You can argue about it all day, but that is basically what it means. If you don't think so, go to any Calvinist forum and listen to them defending the teachings and writings of John Calvin, whether he believed this or that, or what his theology really was, etc. When they should be defending the teachings of the bible, not John Calvin.

Anyway, that's my view like it or not, agree with it or not.
"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

Knobbly

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2003, 03:13:13 AM »
Hi Sue,

I agree with your sentiments, however sometimes 'labels' are useful.  The question with Calvinism is whether or not it is a useful label.  Is it a 'label' worth defending and defining?

Sue Landow

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2003, 03:16:09 AM »
For the record I voted No because I wasn't confident enough in my understanding of Calvinism to identify myself as one

In this one line you've identified the main reason why I would not call myself a Calvinist. You see what you say here? What they believe and your understanding of this doctrine of Calvinism.

I'm sure though you would have no problem in being called a Christian, because you do understand what that means. Even though others might twist and misuse the word, you still know it means you take on the teachings of Christ. Just as Calvinism must mean you would take on the teachings of Calvin. That's putting the emphasis on the wrong man. No matter how others may want to deny that.
"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

Sue Landow

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2003, 03:25:30 AM »
Hi Sue,

I agree with your sentiments, however sometimes 'labels' are useful.


Labels are not useful if they confuse, misrepresent and imply something that is not the case.


Quote
The question with Calvinism is whether or not it is a useful label.  Is it a 'label' worth defending and defining?

No, I don't think it is. I think it has caused more trouble than it is worth. I have seen more than one conversation sidetracked from the bible to "John Calvin" because of it. We don't have to say we are Calvinists in order to say we believe in Predestination, as defined by scripture. We don't have to say we are Calvinists to say we believe in the doctrines of grace. I think the label Calvinism is more a hindrance and a matter of Church tradition rather than it being a necessary descriptive label. Because it is obvious we don't have to say Calvinism in order to identify this biblical doctrine. Reformed people do that because of a well entrenched tradition.

"And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened". Luke 13:20-21

John

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2003, 01:54:32 PM »
Are people labeled Calvinists because they follow John Calvin?

Are people called Arminians because they follow the teaching of a Dutchman, Jacobus Arminius? Are you a Protestant because you 'protest' church indulgences? Do you teach a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian doctrine because you follow a fifth century British monk named Pelagius? Are you a follower of Augustine? of Edwards? of Spurgeon? of Pink? of Wesley? of anyone?

The fact is, labels are convenient means to identify complex positions easily. If you merely reply, "I am a Christian" or "follower of Christ", while you are perhaps correctly label yourself, you've said very little toward enlightening anyone to your position. Continuing then, what type of Christian belief are you of?  Should you say, "a true Biblical Christian" -- you've still said too little. Certainly every heretical, cultish, and erroneous teaching or teacher claims that title. If you say, "I am of this denomination...Ē -- have you joined yourself with everything your denomination believes even to include its founderís original doctrines? Must you then defend Wesleyan Methodism to include every doctrine John Wesley taught because you are a Methodist? Then neither must you defend every utterance of John Calvin.

Labels can be confusing and misconstrued, but it is a fast way to get on point with the listener. When asked what you believe, say, "I am a covenantal sublapsarian who believes in Sovereign unconditional election, irresistible grace, and final perseverance through a judicial sacrificial atonement". What, more labels? Will not election, grace, atonement need more defining to avoid confusion? So, is it not true that by calling your beliefs by the commonly understood moniker of Calvinism, you have eliminated much confusion, defined your terms (most have heard of TULIP) so that the conversation can proceed forthwith and be edifying?

To someone who would say, "you are a follower of a dead French monk", do you instead hope to do better with one of such little mental development by expressing point-by-point the subtleties of Calvinist doctrine without the offending label? If they cannot understand that you mean by 'Calvinist' the Biblical teaching expressed by this dead monk, how do you hope to delve deeper into the Bible.

When searching for a new church, you are forced to speak with prospective pastors. You could ask twenty questions OR you could query, "Would you call yourself a five-point Calvinist"? Zap! Ker-thunk! The matter is decided in seconds by the reply, a reply as easy as "no".

When I am asked what I believe, the asker wants an encapsulated answer, not a dissertation. I reply, "I am an amillennial, covenantal, Bible-believing, Christ-centered Calvinist".  This naturally leads into and necessarily towards the Bible for the details, not to the writings of Mr. Calvin or other dead men. Invariably by using the word 'Calvinism' you are deluged with questions about the Bible, usually with great interest. It is rarely a distraction. If you want to be noncontroversial and nonthreatening, say, "I am a Christian", for who after all isn't a Christian these days -- ho hum. Use Calvinism, not because of the man, but because it carries meaning that most in the world understand and instantly recognize (for good or bad). If the title offends you -- then don't use it, but be prepared for more confusion as people seek to label your doctrine, despite your best efforts to avoid it.

john
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Chris

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2003, 07:04:27 PM »
There should have been a third option for those who hold to the reformed doctrines of grace, but do not choose to be called Calvinists.

But because Jd@ (in his usual "shoot from the hip" style) did not take aim and think this question out properly beforehand, has worded it so poorly that Arminians are probably also answering no. Which doesn't really make for a representative sampling of the core target audience.

I choose not to be called Calvinist, but I would have liked a more representative sampling.


Reformer

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2003, 05:36:51 AM »
The fact is, labels are convenient means to identify complex positions easily.
john


That's too simple an answer. The one "Calvinists" want to hear. But then why weren't Christians called after "Paul" or after "Peter's" doctrines? Because in truth it was not necessary then, and is not necessary now.

I gotta hand it to you. That's a well written explanation John. A few years ago I would have given it a hearty Amen. But after being challenged about it, I gave it more serious thought and I now believe that taking the name of Calvin over the name Christ is unwise. After not using this man's name for these last two years (much to my surprise) I have found that not only was that label unnecessary, but it caused more problems in discussions than it solved, and that my reasons for continuing to use it were merely my own stubbornness and self justification. I simply didn't want to give this man's name up because it was part of my Church tradition.

And to answer your question, yes, I would think someone who said they were an Arminian, were following the doctrines handed down by Arminius, and the Lutherans are following the doctrines handed down by Luther, and the Pelagians are following Pelagian doctrines. Yes to all those. That is the very purpose of labels. You open up a jar labeled peanut butter, and you expect to find peanut butter, not Jelly. By the same token, to call myself a Calvinist, people can (and do) reasonably expect that I am following the doctrines of Calvin. And they usually argue from that basis, whether it is factual or not. And Calvinists usually defend from that position. One of the most popular searches on the Internet is, "What was John Calvin's Eschatology". Because people want to know John's position so they can mimic it. When Reformed authors write, they quote John Calvin. A few examples:


  • John Calvin wrote: "For what purpose is there in living, except that our deeds should bear fruit?" (p. 254), by John Leith

    John Calvin wrote in his Institutes , "All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death." by Jonathan Brown

    John Calvin wrote, "This is the principle that distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God has spoken to us and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak of themselves but as organs of the Holy Spirit uttered only that which they had been commissioned from heaven to declare." by Wil Pounds

    John Calvin wrote, "Those who seek their or others' salvation in the labyrinth of predestination, while they move out of the way of faith set before them, are insane. by Philip E. Thompson

    On August 1, 1535, John Calvin wrote a letter to Francis I, king of France,  "You are too much impressed by the walls. you think you can find God's church in the beauty of the buildings, thinking that the union of the faithful can be contained therein." by William Plank

This is the typical apologetic of "Calvinists" who should be witnessing to the Lord's words, but instead are busy quoting from their bible of sorts, the writings of John Calvin. Anyone who claims they don't see the error in this is kidding themselves. We should be defending John Calvin by the bible, not defending the bible by John Calvin.

So while a few years ago I would have defended being called by the name of Mr. Calvin, I feel I'm a little older and a little wiser that I know better now. Just as I wouldn't call myself of Spurgeon or of Augustine, or even of the Apostle Paul for the same reason. Because Predestination and Sovereignty was not Paul's doctrine, though he preached it, it was the doctrine of Christ. On the other hand, I see no problem in calling the three persons of the Godhead the Trinity, or calling myself Protestant, Amillennialist, or holding to the Doctrines of Grace. Because they are not exalting the names of men or their words over Christ's name and his word.  As if we were their followers instead of them following Christ. To replace being called a Christian with being a called a Calvinist, under the guise of "better identification" is stretching it.

I think this has been proven out in my life over the last two years. I haven't called myself Calvinist in that time, and I have not had one single problem identifying what I believe, or what doctrines I hold. Not one single problem! In fact, merely saying I am Reformed usually has the same effect of saying I am Calvinist, since there are as many different types of Calvinists today as there are Reformed. And no one says, well what kind of Reformed Christian are you. In the process of conversation, they usually find that out rather quickly. As the early Church found out what type Christians the Apostles were. By their testimony of Christ. Not by them giving someone's name. Can you argue that they were handicapped by not being called Calvinist? I don't think so.



Christ_Alone

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2003, 08:09:42 AM »
I posted this about a year ago on my own forum:

Random Thoughts of a 'Calvinist'


Over the years, I have been called a Calvinist, more times than I can count. From the very first time, until the most recent time, something about the label of ĎCalvinistí has bothered me. Iíd like to share a few thoughts about this label/title/classification.
Long before I had ever heard there was such a thing as Calvinism, I was called a Calvinist Ė due to my extremely limited understanding of predestination.

Even as a small child, I never believed in coincidence, so after I was saved, and began to read verses in Scripture about predestination, it made perfect sense. Now I knew why I didnít believe in coincidence, because the Bible teaches that it doesnít exist. Based on a comment I once made about this, I was labelled a Calvinist.

I decided to find out, what one was, and why I was being called that. At the time, web search engines werenít nearly as comprehensive as they are now, so the best way I knew of, to meet Calvinists, was to seek them out in Christian chat rooms. Sounded easy enough, but I was in for a big surprise.

At first, I couldnít find any. Iíd ask people about it, and the answers I got back were from one extreme to the other: "huh?" to "Calvinism is false doctrine!"

Finally I found a Clergy chat room, where people were talking about predestination, election, limited atonement, and tulips. I wasnít sure what in the world they were talking about, except for predestination, so I just sat, and listened, for quite a while.

To make a long testimony short, I finally came to understand what a Calvinist was. It was a Christian, who agreed with Calvinís teachings. What I did not know, before this, was that what Calvin taught was what the mainstream church had taught for centuries, before him Ė before the church began to deviate from Scripture, and incorporate Roman Catholic traditions Ė and other teachings of men, that were unsubstantiated by Scripture.

So at least now I understood what a Calvinist was, and what Calvinism was. I still didnít like being called one Ė something about it didnít sit right with me. The teachings I agreed with Ė the labeling I didnít.

I realize the need to differentiate your stand on the Scriptures Ė anyone who calls themselves a "Christian" will also say they believe in the Bible.

Arminians say they believe the Bible, and so do Mormons, JWís, Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. All these religious groups, claim to be Christians Ė and they all say they believe the Bible Ė and yet the teachings vary so widely from one group to another, itís simply amazing.

The label of "Calvinist" simply says "I am a Christian, and I believe the doctrines of grace found in Scripture, the way John Calvin taught them". Seems simple enough, but itís really not.

There are MANY people out there, that just cannot get past the label of another manís name. Honestly, I donít blame them. Itís a hard thing to understand how an "ism" isnít following the teachings of a man, and not the Scriptures.

Over the years I have tried to explain it this way:

Saying you are a Calvinist, is not saying you follow the teachings of a man, per se, itís saying that you AGREE with the Biblical teachings that A man once preached on. Exactly the same way you would say you agree with what your pastor teaches and preaches on.

The problem with this is, if your pastorís name was Wally Hickenrigger, you wouldnít call yourself a Hickenriggerite, would you?

The other problem I have with this label, is in considering the man John Calvin, himself. From all I have read (and itís nothing, compared to whatís out there), and from all I have heard (my husband has read MUCH of the works, and on the life of John Calvin), it is my personal opinion that he would be extremely disturbed, by such a thing.

John Calvin spent a good portion of his life, devoted to teaching the Scriptures Ė magnifying the Lord Ė correcting wrong doctrines, with sound Biblical doctrines. I can only picture in my mind, his reaction to someone calling themselves after his name, instead of calling themselves after Christ. I suspect he would sharply rebuke them for such a thing, then point them to Scriptures to tell them why itís wrong.

The label itself, was never given by John Calvin, or by the first students to learn from him. It was given by those who opposed what he was teaching, as an insult, it was a derogatory label, given to anyone who agreed with what he taught, mocking them, and him, and his teachings.

I guess if you feel you have to give yourself a label, identifying with the teachings of the doctrines of grace, as taught by Calvin Ė isnít that big of a deal, but I think it might be prudent, to explain why you agree, from the Scriptures (if you have the opportunity to do so).

It has been my experience, that more people are eager to understand what you mean when you say "doctrines of grace" Ė than they are when you say "Calvinism".

For whatever reason(s) people have a wide variety of misconceptions about what Calvinism actually is. Most of the ones I have heard, are so far from accurate, that I am convinced most do not study these things out themselves, they just hear what someone else says, it sounds good, so they believe it.

A lot of these people really do want to know the truth. Some donít, some donít care, they feel perfectly happy with their own (false) understanding of Calvinism, and donít give a ratís nose about accuracy.

For those who do care, and do want to know the truth, we (those of us who are reformed, and/or reforming) should be sensitive to the misconceptions out there, about what we believe Ėand especially over the very title of "Calvinist".

We know we do not follow the man John Calvin Ė we know we follow Christ Ė the key is, finding ways around that Ďlabelí to help the earnest seekers, understand Ė and grow Ė and hopefully come to a deeper faith themselves, and deeper reverence, for the sovereignty of God.

In His peaceÖ Carla
In His love... CA

Tony Warren

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2003, 08:21:28 AM »
>>>
That's to simple an answer. The one calvinists want to hear. But then why weren't Christians called after "Paul" or after "Peter's" doctrines? Because in truth it was not necessary then, and is not necessary now.
<<<

I agree. I think that it is more of a myth than actual fact that saying we are Calvinists answers a multitude of questions. Am I a Amillennial or Postmillennial Calvinist? Am I a Baptist Calvinist or a Presbyterian Calvinist? Am I of the Pilgrims, Puritans, Huguenots, Dutch, or German variety? Am I from the doctrines of Reformed Palatinates, Scottish, or Scotch-Irish? Do I believe in New Covenant Theology or Covenant theology? To say that Christians, calling themselves Calvinist, simplifies things, is a panacea for all contrary opinions.

As you know, I agree with your assessment of things. The fact that Christians prospered and their doctrines of Grace were understood for over 1400 years before Calvin was even a gleam in his father's eye, is evidence enough that we don't need to be called Calvinists in order to have people know what we stand for. That is obviously just a convenient excuse to old to tradition. I don't want to be called Calvinist because I believe that it points to John Calvin and puts improper emphasis on him, rather than on Jesus Christ. We should take His name alone as the identifier of our doctrines.

Mark 9:5-7
  • "And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
  • For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
  • And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him."

Any way you cut it, calling ourselves Calvinists exalts Calvin and the doctrines he held, when we should be exalting Christ alone, and the doctrines He held.

And the argument that because there are professing Christians who aren't faithful to Christ's Predestination doctrines, this is a good reason that we should take hold of the name Calvin, has no solid basis. Because there has always been unfaithful Christians, but that didn't make the church start calling themselves by the name of the Apostles, or of Paul or anyone else in order to differentiate themselves from those unfaithful people. Paul somewhat touched on this briefly in his epistle to the Corinthians. And we should consider it wisely.

1st Corinthians 1:12-13
  • "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
  • Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

Clearly, this illustrates we should not be called of Paul or the Pauline sect, we should not be called of Apollos, and we should not be called of Calvin either. Despite unfaithful teachings of some Christians, we are not divided. There are only Christians, and false doctrines. This argument of differentiation doesn't really hold up under scrutiny. The early Church didn't need these type labels to differentiate themselves from the many antichrists and sects by calling themselves "of Paul" to show they held to the Biblical doctrines. And neither do we. Granted, we are a lot more creative today in coming up with reasons (imagined or otherwise) why we need to be called by John Calvin's name. But they don't stand the test of scripture, comparison nor of time. And this is the very topic Paul was addressing here. That we shouldn't say we are of Paul or of Apollos. We're not Apollians, or Paulites/Pauline, because we are all just Christians, and Christ is not divided. That divinely inspired message seems to be lost in our day where Calvinist Church traditions sometimes actually mirror Roman Catholic Church traditions. The truth is, we "really" don't need to say we are "of Calvin" anymore than these Godly men of the early Church needed to say that they were "of Paul" or Apollos. And make no mistake, the term Calvinism actually means "of Calvin." Moreover, I don't think (actuallly, I know) Calvin wouldn't  have wanted that, anymore than Paul did. Of course, this is ignored. The estion is, why?

nosce te ipsum"
 
Peace,
Tony Warren
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

Tony Warren

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2003, 08:29:13 AM »
>>>
The other problem I have with this label, is in considering the man John Calvin, himself. From all I have read (and itís nothing, compared to whatís out there), and from all I have heard (my husband has read MUCH of the works, and on the life of John Calvin), it is my personal opinion that he would be extremely disturbed, by such a thing.
<<<

I just wrote basically the same thing. All I can say is that I would not be happy if someone started speaking of the doctrines of Grace as "Warrenism!" God Forbid! And I frankly don't see what is so hard for Reformed Christians to understand about that. It's simply not a proper thing to do, in my opinion. And that "this opinion" garners so much animosity and downright anger from "Calvinists" is a vivid "Testament" to its error. Selah.


Quote
>>>
The label itself, was never given by John Calvin, or by the first students to learn from him. It was given by those who opposed what he was teaching, as an insult, it was a derogatory label, given to anyone who agreed with what he taught, mocking them, and him, and his teachings.
<<<

BINGO!! Even as it still is regularly used that way in our day. The proverbial Red Herring to detract from the fact that it is "Christ's Teaching." It is a Christian teaching, not a Calvinistic teaching. And that is the problem. Like the Christian in this thread who said he hesitates to call himself a Calvinist, because he wasn't sure what they believed. That's the point. We're getting away from Christianity and the Bible.

Excellent testimony Carla.

nosce te ipsum"
 
Peace,
Tony Warren
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. -Psalms 32:5"

John

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2003, 02:27:03 PM »
1st Cor 1:12-13 "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

Indeed, it would be a strange thing to find anyone who identifies their Christian beliefs as Calvinism to also assert that they are of Calvin in the same manner that some were 'of Paul'. These divisions in the church existed because men were teaching diverse doctrines and people were taking sides in defense. Are there cracked pots who think the moniker Calvinist means we are literally a disciple of Calvin and have chosen sides over against some other man (or Christ)? If so, they are in error.


"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you"

If as a Calvinist we say, "you are wrong because my French monk trumps your Scottish Reformer", then we certainly have division and contentions. Though the early church had people choosing sides, I must disagree that we have the same situation when labeling a system of theology as Calvinism.

As you know, I agree with your assessment of things.

I too could almost agree if I squint real hard.  ;)

Though I can call myself a Calvinist, I do not quote Calvin nor read him extensively ... he is not my master and I am not his student. Nor, unless I am completely unaware, do people conclude upon hearing that name that I am in division with Christ and have aligned myself with a man.

What I see as a valid objection is the use of the writings of theologians, including Calvin, to prove doctrine. My argument has always been that Calvinism is not focused on Calvin (though 400 years ago it may have), today it emphasizes certain Bible truths, setting these truths apart from many common heresies given other names. It is one thing to say I am a Calvinist and quite wrong to say I am a Warrenite. Why?  The answer is not mysterious -- one label is used today to express the Biblical doctrines of Grace in a systematic manner, the latter means you are a follower of a guy named Warren -- who has not become synonymous with any particular teaching. There used to be a sect that followed their master Pelagius, but today the term Pelagian does not define the man but a commonly understood doctrine held by some (if you seek authority by quoting Pelagius in like manner as some quote Calvin today that is another matter).

If someone says, "I guess my beliefs are more Pelagian than Arminian", I do not think, "Why has he divided Christ and become a disciple of Pelagian?Ē Rather, we know that he means the doctrine he holds aligns itself under these headers, monikers, labels, or category as commonly understood. It should be quite shocking if anyone identified as a Pelagian actually quoted Pelagius as proof of doctrine (or Arminius). Why? Because the terms are mere doctrinal positions as understood by common definition and common use. I am a Calvinist because I hold to the terms as commonly understood. I do not need to say Dutch, Scottish, etc., -- no one would know what I am talking about. These are not commonly understood terms defining any theological position (they may, but it is hardly common).

The early church labeled heresies after the men who held them: Montanus, Mani, Donatus, Arius, Pelagius, Nestorius, etc., if you err in the same manner than you will likely be called by that title. If you believe Christ is different in substance and being from the Father and reject the Trinity, then you err under the banner Arianism. Saying "he rejects the Trinity" or "Arianism" is saying the same thing -- it is not saying you read, study, quote, or prove doctrine based on the writings of Arius, who you may have never heard. It is a label -- nothing more (unless we make more of it than we should). Are we putting emphasis on Arius? No, we are not speaking of the man at all, but it is a doctrinal position. If the bad guy (heretic) gets a label, then likely the good guy (defender) will also be labeled. I could give examples, but labels have been used to define positions on both sides since the beginning of the church and they are used today in like manner.

Does Calvinism put too much emphasis on Calvin?  Yes, if we think quoting him carries weight, if we think it proves anything, or if we hang on his every word. There are some who do -- to their shame. But, there is that other way of looking that sees labels as a convenient and meaningful way to express difficult ideas succinctly. This is not a panacea to avoid all confusion, just the greater part of it -- because the term Calvinism does not remove every wisp of confusion does not negate its benefit.

If you think Calvinism glorifies the man and takes away from Christ, then I would agree not to use the title. If I thought the term caused my brother to stumble, or to take up sides against Christ, then I would never use it again (at least in his company). I will not offend those who cringe at the name and identify Calvinism with worship of Calvin instead of Christ.

Perceptions cause misunderstanding. Yet, it is the dreadful practice by some to hold Calvin's writings with unwarranted esteem and quote him like Scripture. Herein lies a separate problem, evenso it should not make us afraid to say Calvinism. Some avoid the problem by avoiding the label entirely -- I use the label judiciously, but if you feel safer from error or more biblical by not using this label, then I would support that. I will leave it at that, you decide what you think the term means to you -- if it is bothersome then don't use it.


john
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Drew

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2003, 06:02:51 PM »
Though I can call myself a Calvinist, I do not quote Calvin nor read him extensively ... he is not my master and I am not his student.



Then you are the exception Calvinist, not the rule. I have debated Calvinists for years in many forums and they will practically have a caniption {sp} when I say something bad about something Calvin wrote. And as has already been demonstrated here, they quote him extensively in support of their doctrines. If that's not being "of Calvin" and having him as their master or teacher I don't know what is.

As for causing divisions, there are very few things which has caused more division in the Church than the label Calvinism. It causes instant rejection among many people. Wouldn't it be better then not to use the name. You're not married to it are you? Or are you?

Even a Calvinist here wrote a message describing how she didn't even understand what people meant by calling her a Calvinist. Perhaps you just don't want to see this label as divisive in the Church because it's your tradition. The fact remains, it is divisive. Made clear even by many who I would call Calvinists on this forum who refuse to use the name. And I dare say to the benefit of the Church in general.

jd@

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Re: Do You Call Yourself A Calvinist?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2003, 09:14:56 PM »
Steady on, Chris!  You're quite wrong.  This poll is testing the statement "most of us in this forum don't choose to be called Calvinists", and I think it does so perfectly.  'Nuff said.


 


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