Perhaps I wasn't watching closely enough, but I don't remember any time in my life when the Calvinism/Arminianism debate has burned so hotly with such nasty, unChristlike rhetoric. It shocked me some years ago when a man desiring to become a preacher told me that he had never heard Calvinism presented and defended in a way that was God-honoring. My understanding of Calvinism is that it is a systematic theology that seeks to give all the glory to God (soli Deo gloria!), so I had trouble getting my mind around his objection.
Now, quite a few years later, I see a tremendous effort underway, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention, to discredit and destroy men who preach Calvinistic doctrine from the pulpits of their churches. Yes, I intentionally said that the effort is an attempt to destroy the men who preach this doctrinenot an effort to overcome the doctrine itself through valid debate.
The action on the part of these vocal Arminians (most of whom will not own up to the title) that causes me to say that they are attacking the men (ad hominem) rather than the doctrine is that they are intentionally misrepresenting the claims of Calvinism to make it appear to be a wholly vile theological system that makes God into a monster. If these men are not intentionally lying about Reformed theology and what it proclaims, then they are terribly incompetant and our concerns should rest more fully on our seminaries than on them. Many Reformed brethren have chosen to give these men the benefit of the doubt and say that they just simply don't understand what Calvinism stands for and therefore cannot explain it properly to their people. But several exchanges over the past few years have led me to believe that this is an intentional campaign to spread lies about the beliefs of Calvinists with the intention of removing the very possibility of valid consideration of these doctrines from the minds of their hearers. These men have seen that they cannot defend their Arminian position from scripture, which opens the people in their congregation up to the possibility of accepting Calvinist teachings since Calvinists tend to present their beliefs with a solid biblical exegetical hermeneutic. Bible believers are persuaded by the clear text of scripture, so to keep their people from considering the clear text of scripture these Arminian church leaders are making a monstrous caricature of Calvinism to scare their people away from the text of Scripture.
This activity has been demonstrated over the past five or so years by the somewhat famous anti-Calvinism rants and publications by such notables as Dave Hunt (What Love Is This?) and Norman Geisler (Chosen But Free). Just this year another example came from the horrific saga of the "Calvinism and Baptists" debate that was to take place on the campus of Liberty University and the Thomas Road Baptist Church. President Ergun Caner of Liberty Theological Seminary has shown himself to be virulently anti-Calvinist, even proclaiming that Calvinists are more dangerous than radical Muslims. Doctor Caner agreed to debate James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries about this topic after Dr. White called him on the carpet for making such terrible statements. When a debate was finally arranged, Dr. Caner's side continually reneged on its commitments and continually misrepresented the negotiations with the intent of making James White the fallguy for the debacle. The entire e-mail exchange leading up to the debate and its eventual cancelation is available in PDF format for those who want to know the truth.
Why am I bringing this up at this time?
The most recent example of horrific (and I believe intentional) misrepresentation of Calvinistic doctrine was recently posted at The Christian Index by Interim Pastor Nelson Price of Marietta, Georgia. What follows is an example Mr. Price has used from the pulpit of his church and is presented in this Christian Index article:
A mass of people are gathered at a bus stop marked “Planet Earth.” Along comes the Celestial Bus marked “Destination Heaven.” It pulls up and stops. The driver, who is God, opens the door, and says, “All destined for heaven get on board.” A number do. A missionary couple who with zeal have served Christ all their lives start on and God says, “Step aside. You haven’t been chosen to ride this bus.” A couple of infants start on and God tells them to step aside. Persons who from youth have loved and ministered in Christ’s name are told to step aside. As the bus is about to depart and the door is closing God says to those not on board, “Catch the next bus.” “No,” they plead, “here comes the next bus and it is driven by Satan and marked ‘Destination Hell.’”
“Sorry,” says God. “I didn’t choose to save you. Your love and commitment to Jesus doesn’t matter.”
Such intentional misrepresentation is inexcusable. We must pray that God will convict the hearts of these men before they cause any more damage to the members of their flock who have been placed in their care.
More blog-chatter about Norman Price's example:
Angelz cartoon answer to the whole thing. Check out Angelz' blog "Torched by an Angelit's a good one.