Calvinism and Arminianism 29

One of the greatest differences between the evangelical Calvinists and those they deride as “Hyper-calvinists,” is the evangelical Calvinists believe Arminians and Pelagians are otherwise sound “Christians,” and refer to them as their brothers and sisters. The Hyper-calvinists believe that as long as one is unconverted from his natural freewill state by the operation of the Spirit of God, and converted to the free grace of God by the Gospel of the grace of God, there is insufficient evidence to consider such as a “Christian,” or a “brother or sister.”

“This false idea of ‘free-will’ is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences” (Luther).

Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God (A.W. Tozer).

In the last post (Calvinism and Arminianism 28), one of the main points that was made was that what is called or thought to be Arminianism today is really a form of if not actual Pelagianism. It was also said that much that appears Reformed or Calvinistic today is closer to historical Arminianism than the teaching of the Reformers. But again, the real issue has to do what the Bible really teaches. Going along with what the Bible really teaches regarding the depravity of man and as such man’s inclination to deceive himself, the quote from Tozer is like an arrow to the heart of the situation at hand. Regardless of our creed and what we profess to believe, our hearts may have an enmity against the real God and try to hide that enmity toward Him with creedal statements.

This is not a post on the evils of creeds since I would assert that creeds can be helpful and in some ways necessary. However, there are dangers that come with holding any creed. As with anything religious, it can be used to comfort our hearts in self-righteousness and a spur to the pride that we are all born with and never fully escape. The human heart is so full of pride and self that it takes the actual working of grace and not just the teaching about grace to escape it. The proud heart of man can take anything and make it a matter of pride and self. Apart from the humility that grace works in the soul of a converted human being, there is nothing that can overcome the avalanche of pride in a person’s heart. But even after conversion, there is still pride in the human heart and it is always something that the soul will battle with.

The human soul has a deeply seated set of beliefs or at least feelings that are the deepest parts of the soul and from which the thoughts, desires, motives, intents, and actions come from. The heart of man has many twists and deep labyrinths that deceive the person as to what his or her actual beliefs and loves are. This shows us, at least to some degree, that the human soul can take a creedal statement and want to believe it for the wrong reasons. We can believe a creed, though we may interpret it wrongly. We can believe a creed in an intellectual sense and yet not believe it from the depths of our heart.

If we believe that the human heart is as depraved and helpless to self and pride as the historical creeds assert, then we should know that we can have a profession of faith in accordance with the creed and yet our hearts hate the truths of God that the creed actually teaches. This is to say that our real battle is for our hearts and not just for a set of intellectual beliefs. The real issue is the deepest beliefs and loves of our hearts which is the real “us.” It is not as simple as professing a creed, but it does take a lot of prayer and searching of the heart to get to the real root of our beliefs and loves since the deepest aspect of us is hidden from our casual looks at self. Pride makes us look at self and find what we want to find. Self will make us look at self and defend self at all times and all ways.

In the context of the discussion concerning Calvinism and Arminianism, Tozer’s statement is very helpful. Not all who think of themselves as Calvinists are really Calvinists and not all who think of themselves as Arminian are really Arminian. In our day of shallow theology and skin-deep religion, a person’s words may not mean much in terms of accuracy in the modern day. People can hold to the most orthodox creeds in word and yet hate the God that the creed actually teaches.

While true and historic Calvinism may be professed in creed, a person may hate the God that historic Calvinism proclaimed. Even more, one can hold to a creed or a historical position as a doctrinal position and yet reject that position in the heart and as such have a practice that contradicts the theological position. This is where many problems are located. One can have an intellectual position and yet want to be part of a group or denomination in the deepest part of the heart and so will have a practical position that contradicts the theological one. The Arminian position is dangerous (if not more so) in the practical position and not just the theory. It is the practical position of the Arminian when applied to evangelism that is so destructive. It is also the practical position of the Arminian that seems to have swallowed up historic Calvinism and that is also true of the professing Reformed today. Our hearts and practice must bow to God and His sovereignty and not just the head.

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