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5 Myths about Reformed Theology

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Dr. Horton was recently asked to address some of the common misconceptions about Reformed theology. His response can be found on the Resurgence website.

If you would like some more resources about Calvinism and Reformed theology, go to our on-line store where you can purchase Dr. Horton’s book For Calvinism as well as two conversations that Dr. Horton had with Dr. Roger Olson on the subject of “For and Against Calvinism.”
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  • I'm not sure that what Horton asserts are myths are in fact such when certain consideration are noted relative to each point.

    POINT #1. First, (a) Horton first points out that the term "Calvin didn’t teach anything unique that you can’t find, for example, in Augustine or Luther." However, he made no mention to the Early Church Fathers 400 years prior to him.

    Second, unfortunately, while affirming grace, Calvinist teaching inspires an unconscious pleasure in affirming the sinfulness of believers (e.g. the position taken on Rom 7), which effectively downplays the Biblical concept of grace.

    Third, the perception that Calvinists are "impatient, know-it-all, and harsh," is not entirely out of place with certain Calvinists, at least, many with whom I have dealt with.

    POINT #2. First, it seems that a denial of the allegation made that "men are robots" stems from Calvinists double-think. Briefly say, if teachings like those suggested in the WCF 5:1-4 are not equivalent to the way a robot is programmed, it is not made clear how.

    Second, that "We exist for [God's] purposes" and Jesus "is the Lord and Savior of the world" does not seem to lend any escape from said allegation.

    Third, the assertion that "grace is on the work of...freeing us", as far as Calvinistic doctrine is concerned, is, again, double-think and misleading. Calvinism teaches that God determines every action of every creature, even sin. As such, this purported "freedom" is nothing but the inevitable movements of divine decree.

    POINT #3. First, Calvinism, although affirming divine grace and love, effectively denies these essential saving attributes of God by the teaching that salvation is on the basis of divine decree in election and predestination.

    Second, what can attribute to the perception that Calvinism is "making people cold" is the teaching that not love but an arbitrary decision determines those saved and those damned.

    Again, double-think is the process that makes claim to the above propositions; for how can it be "merciful" if it is to be understood as absolutely nothing but an "unchangeable counsel" is the cause of one certain man's salvation and another particular man's damnation? And, how can it be rightly asserted as the damned being so by just deserts if it is absolutely "without any consideration of their works"?

    POINT #4. First, it can legitimately be argued that the reason why the apostle Paul "erupt[s] in praise" is because he understood divine revelation in their true meaning and not on the basis of Calvinistic presuppositions.

    Second, John 2:9, what can be argued is whether or not Calvinism has properly represented the manner by which that "salvation belongs to the Lord".

    Sections Three to Five under the 4th point: Horton claims "Reformed piety embraces the world" but Calvinists cannot agree whether or not God's grace and love extends genuinely to the all men.

    POINT #5. First, if election according to Calvinism is true, there are those left in their sins to the effect that there is "no point to evangelism" as it will have no effect whatsoever for their salvation thereby rendering means superfluous and practically ineffectual and unnecessary.

    Second, such assertions appear arrogant if it implies that only the Reformed are vanguards and exerted large influence for missions.

    It seems that one of the reasons for the 2nd Great Awakening under Charles G. Finney was due to the Reformed churches Calvinistic teachings, which dulled the "evangelistic impulse" for a time.

    Third, regarding Horton's "difficult[y] to imagine how Reformed faith and practice could be charged with killing community", is demonstrated in the history of the Protestant persecution of Arminians and Anabaptists, and the revivals under Charles G. Finney as mentioned above.

    Finally, I pray we reform and are being reformed daily for I believe it is better to own both a deep conviction and lively practice, which is faithful to God in the Spirit of the revelation of the Cross of Christ.

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