Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interesting Church Sign

The sign in the front of my local Presbyterian church read:

"God's love is meant for all."

I admit that I do not keep up with the Presbyterian church. I have heard some rumblings that there is some strife within the denomination, but I couldn't remember if it had much to do with the Calvinist Arminian debate. Is there a move towards Arminianism in the Presbyterian church or is there a "secret" meaning behind "God's love is meant for all" that I am just not clever enough to figure out?

8 comments:

Nick Norelli said...

It could mean: "all the elect" or "people from all walks of life" or it could be hyperbole and really mean "some." I suspect there's more to this "all" then a simple understanding of "all." ;-)

kangaroodort said...

Hey Nick,

I agree that there is probably some secret meaning or qualifiers attached (re-defining "all" or perhaps "love", etc.) However, the normal everyday person would never understand this in a "Calvinistic sense", which seems a bit deceptive to me.

I am not comparing Calvinists to Mormons (as I have had the unpleasant experience of Calvinists comparing my Arminianism to Mormonism on more than one occasion), but this seems like a similar tactic as employed by such groups. They make their teachings sound very "Christian" and only reveal that nothing is quite as it seems after the potential convert commits to the church.

Only then are they given the "inside information" which would plainly have repelled them if it had been revealed up front.

God Bless,
Ben

Pizza Man said...

I recently saw a sign on the local United Methodist church that said something like:

Love is either for all or it is worthless

No hidden meaning there. :)

Robert said...

Ben the statement on the church sign that: "God's love is meant for all." Completely contradicts calvinism. The determinist believes that all events are predetermined by God, that God only has a love for the elect,that God only desires to save the elect, that Jesus died only for the elect, and that the “reprobates” are predetermined for eternal punishment and are not loved by God in a salvific sense.

Is it not the determinist who quotes from Romans 9 and gleefully points out that God loved Jacob and hated Esau as proof that when it comes to salvation God only loves the elect? Is it not the determinist who believes that God glorifies himself by predetermining and then damning most of the human race in order to demonstrate his wrath (Jonathan Edwards is the exemplar of this mentality; with John Piper being a modern proponent of this belief)?

With the determinists God has a great love for the elect, but in no way is his love meant for the reprobates as they are hated by him and predetermined to live a life of rebellion and sin and then be eternally punished for it. A simple way to see problems with calvinism is to simply look at how they handle unbelievers, those who never come to Christ in faith. If you look at this you see clearly that they do not believe that “God’s love is meant for all.”

Ben you wrote:

“I am not comparing Calvinists to Mormons (as I have had the unpleasant experience of Calvinists comparing my Arminianism to Mormonism on more than one occasion), but this seems like a similar tactic as employed by such groups. They make their teachings sound very "Christian" and only reveal that nothing is quite as it seems after the potential convert commits to the church.”

I have no hesitancy in saying that calvinists engage in a similar method of “interpretation” as the cultist (i.e., when you confront a cultist with what scripture says about essential Christian doctrine, say the deity of Christ, in order to maintain and defend their false and nonchristian system of theology, they simply **reinterpret** the biblical texts so that the text no longer has its biblical and intended meaning, but now magically has a meaning that just happens to coincide with what the false system presents; likewise, present a clear biblical text such as John 3:16 and watch the calvinist **reinterpret** the meaning of the text so that it no longer presents what most Christians believe it means but now coincides with the false calvinistic system of theology).

The calvinist tries to speak of the love of God, but he limits it to the preselected lucky ones, since God only desires to save the preselected lucky ones. But this supposed love of God breaks down when you see what they believe about what God desires for the nonbelievers, the reprobates, the unlucky ones who get to be preselected for damnation, never ever having an opportunity to be saved. A good and loving and honest person does not say that He loves the World and desires for all to be saved (when in reality he loves only the preselected lucky ones and hates the preselected unlucky ones).

”Only then are they given the "inside information" which would plainly have repelled them if it had been revealed up front.”

I have read calvinists talk about how reprobation is something not to talk about with new or possible recruits, to wait until people are saved before you tell um about the bad news, the truth, the reality that God preselected all those who remain in unbelief for eternal punishment and ensured that they would remain unbelievers.

It is also significant that the vast majority of bible believing Christians (whether they be Protestants, Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox) **all** find the determinist beliefs about reprobation to be repulsive. And they are repulsive as they contradict: (1) the character of God as He reveals himself in scripture and (2) His own explicit statements in scripture. What the calvinists fail to see (or refuse to acknowledge) is that this repulsion is not just an extra-biblical sentiment, extra-biblical “moral argument” that Christians have. No, we have this sentiment that God would not and does not do that with people because of what God himself says in His Word, the bible. If I didn’t have the bible and someone presented their theological determinism and their belief in predetermined reprobation, I would not be able to argue against it with scripture. But I do in fact question it and see it to be false ***precisely because I do have a bible*** and know what it says about the **character of God** and **His revealed plan of salvation** (a plan of salvation in which **He says He desires to save all people**; which of course if you want to believe in theological determinism must be **reinterpreted** so that the text no longer says what it means but means what you wish it meant so that it coincides with your preferred system).

Robert

Trav said...

You must keep in mind that Calvinists believe "pas" is properly translated as "all of the elect". (removing tongue from cheek)

Rhett said...

I would suggest that just because the sign says Presbyterian, it does not follow that it's Calvinistic (or rather High Calvinist: those who deny God has any love at all for the non-elect)

Some PCUSA "churches" are barely Christian!

Jimmy Carter claims to be a Southern Baptist....

You can judge a book by it's cover or a church by the name on the sign.

kangaroodort said...

Rhett,

Of course you are right that it does not follow that the church is necessarily Calvinistic. However, I have heard Calvinists speak like this about God loving everyone while holding to some underlying qualifiers, which IMO makes it less than honest (in that no one would normally understand such statements as being qualified in such ways). I also have heard of some strife going on within the Presbyterian church so I was wondering if it was related to the C and A debate.

God Bless,
Ben

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