Conversation

Responding to a Fool

During an interaction online today, someone told me, “I’m really not interested in you responding to me.  I most likely won’t read it, so go ahead and save your time.”  In this case, there is really only one way I can respond:

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you (Proverbs 9:8).

If you are the scoffer: Repent.  Be humble.  Be wise.  Don’t be puffed-up and foolish.  And if you are on the receiving end of such folly: Be discerning, knowing that reproof and correction will not always be helpful and sometimes, will even be counterproductive (see also Matt 7:6).

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Conversation Between a Calvinist and an Arminian

This is from John Piper’s post earlier this week about how Charles Simeon, a Calvinist, tried to reason with John Wesley, an Arminian, about the supremacy of God in the salvation and perseverance of Christians.  I have adapted it to contemporary language.

So you call yourself an Arminian. People call me a Calvinist; and therefore we are supposed to argue about finer points of theology. But before we start fighting, may I ask you a few questions? Do you think that you are a depraved person, so depraved, in fact, that you would have never turned to God if God had not put it in your heart first?

Yes, I do indeed

And do you reject your coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And since you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you will be able enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is. This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance. This is really all there is to it and nothing else. Therefore, instead of searching for differences in language and definitions and having that be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?

Obviously, there is a lot more in Reformed theology than just this, but I think Simeon’s point is to show that “Arminians” and “Calvinists” have more in common than they think.  Furthermore, I think that Simeon may have tried to show the inconsistencies in Arminian thought.

How do you think the conversation would have gone if Wesley had asked the questions?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of coming to God with your works as the source of your righteousness, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

And supposing you were at first saved by Christ, do you try to continue to be saved by something other than him?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Since then you were first saved by the grace of God, do you need to keep yourself saved by your own power?

No.

Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, just like a baby in his mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you so that you can enter into his kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, let me say, my friend, that this is what Calvinism is to me.  This is election and justification by faith, and perseverance.  This is really all there is to it and nothing else.  Therefore, if you please, instead of fighting about language and having it be a source of contention between us, can we please be united in these things that we agree on?

Pitfalls in Communication: Clouding the Truth

Part 3 of a 6 part series. View series intro and index.

It’s hard enough to communicate with people who have different worldviews and come from a different culture—whether they are from across the street or another continent. Communication gets harder when it travels over gender lines. Add to this fact that we usually arrive with personal assumptions about meaning, definitions, and what information the other person has at their disposal.

So you’d think to make things a bit easier, we’d always be honest. Nevertheless, we aren’t. This comes from a heart that desires to please man and exalt self. Obviously, there’s always the old fashioned lie. More than that, there are (at least) three other ways we cloud the truth.

Withholding
The first way we cloud the truth is that we tend to withhold truths or facts that could damage our reputation. Most of the time, we get caught in our tangled web, and when asked why we didn’t speak up about a certain truth, we say, “Oh, that slipped my mind,” or “I didn’t think it was relevant.” We all know that when truth is inconvenient for us, our tendency is to simply pretend it doesn’t exist.

Manipulating
Instead of lying, we often mask or distort the truth. We call this “manipulating” the truth. This could look a lot like withholding, however it differs in that we tell the truth but put a subjective spin on it. More prevalent than that, however, is that we can use our charisma and charm and make something look good, if it’s bad, or make it look bad, if it’s good.

Changing the Subject
If you want to find out how honest a person is (or how intelligent they are!) pay attention to how often they change the subject. People who change the subject often likely want to avoid the truth. This technique, of course, is similar to the previous two types of clouding truth.

Changing the subject, on the other hand, is a way for us to have an excuse to say, “I didn’t withhold, manipulate, or lie!” We are essentially telling the truth. But the deeper truth is that when our friend asks us how our heart is doing from the burdens of family, work, church, etc. we say, “I’m okay. Do you want to go the game on Saturday with me? I have two tickets?” or “I’m fine. What kind of pizza do you want to order?” The problem with this is that it puts up an open hand to someone’s face to say, “You can come this far and no further. I don’t want you to really know me.”

If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll find out that, truly, we aren’t very honest all that often.

Unless You Become Like Children…You’ll be Bored

I was baby sitting the kids of some good friends of mine tonight.  They have four kids and when I was putting them to bed, two of them in particular started a conversation with me.  Daniel is six years old.  Allison is three.   They both wanted to tell me about certain dreams they’ve had.  This conversation happened about 20 minutes ago.  It went like this, word-for-word.

Daniel: “Sometimes when I dream, it sounds like a big train.”
Me: “Wow.”
Allison: “Me too. And I have dogs and pigs.
Me: “Really?”
Allison: “It’s very big, too.”
Me: “The pigs or the train?”
Allison: “Uh, both of them.”

I’m sure those have some sort of theological insight.  It probably has to do with eschatology.