Tag Archives: evangelism

Face it, You are at Least a Little Bit of a 5 Point Calvinist!

So, in studying the Canons of Dort, I’m reminded of the statements of dear friends and mentors like Dr. Radmacher who have said (to the effect), “I’m a O.O Calvinst and a O.O Arminian.” I mention Dr. Radmacher because he has been very vocal about this issue in recent years, but it doesn’t diminish my love or appreciation for him.  We all must learn to disagree graciously…and on this one, I just disagree.  Of course, I regularly have disagreements with myself as well (so, I’m very in-discriminant in the matter!). The idea is that if you buy one part of the “5 Points” of Calvinism, you must necessarily buy them all.  I’ve addressed this elsewhere.  While I find some of the points in Dort untenable , I find other points quite wonderful.

ARTICLE 11 (under the First Head of Doctrine) And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

ARTICLE 5 (under the Second Head of Doctrine) Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 11 is basically saying that the saved / justified / elect cannot, for any reason, lose their salvation.  This was a huge point the Reformers recovered (thought there is some muddling in the matter as they invite an over-dependence on works/fruit as proof of faith…to be discussed later…or see www.backtofaith.com).  Surely, those of us who believe in eternal security have to agree with Dort on this one.

Article 5 is a plain statement of the gospel…whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have eternal life…how clear would I want it?  I know there are some who question if faith in Christ’s crucifixion should be included (see GES Gospel: Lybrand Open Letter), but I certainly find this statement to resonate with my own soul and the forgiveness I have found through faith in the Savior and His finished work.

The point is that as one works through the system of Dort (or Westminster, or the Remonstrance, or Augsburg, etc.), one will find point on which he agrees and points on which he differs.  Taken as a ‘whole’ system, one can be forced to reject or accept…and yet, is that really an accurate description of the view?

The challenge is in the logic of the system, and in theology, it tends to come down to a couple of errors we consistently see:

1.  Bad premise, bad conclusion

2. Good premise, non sequitur conclusion

These are oversimplified, but just because something seems logical, it nowise means it is logical.  Certain points are often pushed along until the absurd becomes the nauseating.  Please know, all sides fall into this from time to time.  Theology is too often built on the shaky cliffs of inference, conjecture, and speculation.  What might happen if we ever dared to just affirm what the Scriptures say and leave the rest to class-time in eternity?

God bless,

Fred Lybrand

My Favorite Conversation (ever) with an Atheist

Occasionally I get to bump into an atheist—even in Texas!

Here’s how I remember the conversation, though it probably wasn’t this smooth 🙂

Me: So, where are you on your own spiritual journey

Atheist: Oh, well I’m an atheist.

Me.  Cool!  I’ve hardly ever met a real atheist.

Atheist:  Well, congratulations, I guess.

Me:  So, can I ask you a question?

Atheist:  Sure.

Me:  So how do you absolutely positively know that there is no God.

Atheist:  Well, I don’t absolutely positively know that there is no God.

Me: Oh (very disappointed and crest-fallen), then you’re just an agnostic.  Well, which kind of agnostic are you, open or closed?

Former Atheist: I don’t know what you mean.

Me:  Well, an atheist knows there is no God.  An agnostic doesn’t know whether there is a God or not.  The closed agnostic says that if there is a God we can’t know because He is so beyond us we couldn’t grasp His existence anyway.  In this sense the agnostic is closed because the system is closed.  An open agnostic says that he just doesn’t know if there is a God or not.  The open agnostic doesn’t insist that God’s existence is unknowable, but rather that it is unknown to him

Former Atheist: Well, I’ve got to catch my plane.

Me: OK, have a nice day.

Well, it didn’t happen quite this way…I for sure didn’t look so ‘clever’ and he didn’t look so anxious to leave; but don’t you get the point?  Their is an innate arrogance in most atheism which really amounts to FAITH.  The atheist BELIEVES that God doesn’t exist…perhaps based on evidence, but really taken more as a matter of faith.  We too can offer our evidence, but it really comes down to a matter of faith.

Perhaps, all of this explains why I think open-agnostics are pretty cool—hey, they are honest.  What a refreshing thing to encounter; a person who doesn’t know and admits it!  I think we should celebrate these folks and invite them to consider why God’s existence makes sense to believe…but plese remember, it is ALWAYS an INVITATION.  We aren’t going to talk people into believing in God, but we can sure invite them.

I’ve always thought of golf as a great metaphor for ‘evangelism’ as such.  Basically, when you play golf, you play the ball where it lies.  Sometimes you use an iron and sometimes a putter.   And, yet, you are always simply trying to move the ball closer to the hole.

Isn’t that a better way to go?  Helping an atheist move to an agnostic is a BIG move!  Of course, I’m not really ‘moving’ anyone…just inviting them to consider things in a fresh way.

We all can do that as opportunity arises.  True?

God bless,

Fred Lybrand