Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Ignorance of Calvinists & Arminians

I Found this today. I think it says alot:

(To the tune of Amazing Grace.)

Arminian “grace!” How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.

What “grace” is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God’s voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.

Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we’ve done,
We’ve no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.

Right now I can envisage that most Cavinists are grinning, thinking "Too right! Stupid Arminians", whilst at the same time Arminians are shouting at the screen thinking, "Stupid Calvinists!" Let me explain for those who are confused.

The above seems to portray what most Calvinists see of Arminian Theology. However, Neither Arminius, Westley, nor I would ascribe to this. It is closer to Pelagian Theology, a works based system that was rightly deemed herasy. The places where Calvinism and Arminianism really differ are Limited Atonement and Irresistable Grace and. We both hold that we are depraved and that God has to call and choose us. We both hold that this Grace is undeserved and totally an act of God. Arminians hold that we have to respond to this call, an ability which is given of God, and that all men are given this ability to respond.

Now I'm not saying that these are irrelevant differences, far from it in fact, but what I am saying is that we both need to read and understand properly each others theology, and not hold some wishy-washy idea of what the other thinks which leads to division. This is a two-way process.

R. C. Sproul wrote:
"As a Calvinist I frequently hear criticisms of Calvinistic thought that I would heartily agree with if indeed they represented Calvinism. So, I am sure, the disciples of Arminius suffer the same fate and become equally frustrated."
(R. C. Sproul, Willing to Believe (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997), 126. )

Wesley also wrote:
"To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal.
The more unintelligible the word is, the better it answers the purpose. Those on whom it is fixed know not what to do: Not understanding what it means, they cannot tell what defence to make, or how to clear themselves from the charge. And it is not easy to remove the prejudice which others have imbibed, who know no more of it, than that it is "something very bad," if not "all that is bad!""
(From the Thomas Jackson edition of The Works of John Wesley, 1872.)

Let us read then the works of Calvin and related works, let us read the works of Arminius and related works. I think both sides will be surpised with what the find. Let us serve God together, with the knowledge that we are saved by grace through faith alone, seeking to love one another and push each other in Love to a greater understanding of the Bible, becoming more like Jesus each day.

Till next time

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Athiest who knows God is the answer.

I came across a very interesting article on the Times Online website today.(See full article HERE)

I say interesting because its a very unique suggestion by an athiest about how to solve Africa's Biggest problems. His Answer: God!

He (Matthew Parris) says:
"Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing."

Very Strange! He shows that removing religion from Africa won't solve its problems, as most Athiests hold, but rather suggests that it would worsen them. He seems to put this positive change down to the individualistic nature of Christianity (I and Thou) which give people more worth then the traditional collectivist culture. However there are many cultures where this individual world view is true and yet there is still fear and oppression. Even in Britain there is fear; maybe not of Demons and witch Doctors as is so present in African Cultures but rather of debt, violence and lonliness, to name but a few. This change he accounts for is far beyond a social construct and a world view.

He says it himself:
"In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."

Praise God,
May he enlighten our hearts and bring that "rebirth", not just in Africa but to all people.
Till next time

Monday, 29 December 2008

My blog's readability level

blog readability test
Fitting really.
Check yours out here.

All I want for Christmas is........getting more difficult to decide!

As they saying goes "What do you get the person who has everything?"
Over the Christmas period I visited my Dad. He works in South Africa and hadn't had time to shop properly so he decided to wait to ask me if I wanted anything. So thats what he did. Funny thing is I couldn't answer. There was nothing I really desired. In the end we got some cycle equipment so I can cycle to work but it took a lot of proding. I wish I could say it was a holy contentment but in reality I don't think it boils down to more then already having all the stuff I want. There are no DVD's I want, I am so up to my neck in books i've not read yet that I stuggle to choose what to read next. Its funny really. I honestly think I'd be freaking a little if I wasn't a Christian. So many people base thier happiness of what they have and what they want next. So often I hear the phrase "If only I had.....I'd be happy" that if I was given a pound every time i'd easily be a millionaire by now. What do you do when you realise stuff doesn't make you happy? What next? I'm just glad that its "Christmas" and not "Stuffmas". Stuff gets dull, tiresome, expensive and needy. Christ however is another story: Free and eternally good, merciful and gracious.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Thought for the day

Do Charismatics put thier hands down if they want coffee?

Calvinism = Christianity?

Its time for another of my infamous rants. I hope you enjoy.
I was looking online today for something to read at work (Don't worry, I'm allowed as there is no work!). As you may know I am an Arminian, or should I more rightly say a Christian who holds an Arminian viewpoint. Although I strongly disagree with my Calvinistic brothers on various points I still hold that they are trying to be faithful to God and are saved. I thought "Lets look at Arminianism from a Calvinistic view point" expecting to find logical, reasoned arguements with a similar point of view to salvation (which despite this article is generally what one finds). My thought was that unless I question what I hold to be true it stands to become dogmatic and not truth. One website I came across was called 'A Puritans Mind'. I thought it sounded promising and thought i'd give it a read. Click here for the article. It starts off with the Biblical warning about false Christ and refers to cults and Roman Catholicism. Then it says this, quote:
"There is, however, another false Christ who is much more dangerous than the Christ of the cults and the Christ of Roman Catholicism. He has deceived people for many years and he continues to deceive millions. This Christ is so dangerous that, if it were not impossible, he would deceive the very elect (Matt. 24:24). He is the Christ of Arminianism."
Thats right kids, we're out to get you! How ridiculous. As if being an Arminian will mean you aren't saved. Another website, although I'm afraid I can't remember which(I'm sure Google will help if you want to find it), said that the Arminian Christ was possibly more dangerous then the Pelagian Christ. I think its awful that we as Christians have got to the point where we can't seperate biblical teaching from man-made paradigms. The article ended like this:
"If you believe and serve the Christ of Arminianism, you must recognize the fact that you do not serve the Christ of the Bible. You have been deceived! Study the Scriptures and learn of the True Christ. Pray for grace to repent and trust Christ as your sovereign Lord and God."
Crazy! I can only hope and pray that we will all indeed learn of the True Christ and follow him. It stikes me as rather ironic that the Christians which say they follow puritan theology then set about saying that if anyone doesn't conform to us then they are damned! Sounds a lot like medieval Roman Catholicism to me. Who knows? they may even start suggesting selling indulgences soon!
Follow Christ, accepting your brother who differ in the knowledge that it may actually be you who is wrong! Of course that doesn't exclude debate but do it in Love, logically and biblically!.
Till next time

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Thought for the day

"Appreciate what you've got because
basically I'm fantastic!"

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Are we gagging Jesus?

Compliments of ASBO Jesus I've been reading recently, due to a certain pet hate of mine, about the use of the Old Testament in the New. This pet hate of mine is the use of the Bible out of context. In fact I think the term pet hate is too weak for my feelings towards it. For a long time I have held the following belief: Unless we take the Bible seriously as the book it portrays itself to be then we may as well not bother using it. This meaning that it is a collection of 66 books, written over millenia by over 40 different authors each with an intended use and meaning in mind. Now none of this takes away from the idea that scripture is inerrent, nor from it being inspired/breathed by God but rather, i'd like to argue, the use that most Christians adhere to, especially in the younger generation, does exactly that. I'm sure we have all come across it, whether you agree with its use or not, where people quote a verse out its its context with a different meaning to back up their point. For example, ""Whatever you do for the least of these brother of mine you do for me", therefore give money to charity" Always a favorite but in reality what we actually see in the passage is care for fellow Christians. Thats not to take away from thier theology but rather thier method. New Testament writers too are often accused of getting the right doctrine from the wrong books which most people don't see an issue with but I'd like to argue that its a big issue. In our society which still has strong post-modern values (although I know we're not officially in that age anymore) any belief is ok, any reading is acceptable. The only time we ever question it is when it conflicts with what a certain organisation holds to be true (church, school, government). What we are doing is Gagging up Jesus and speaking for him. It is like we're saying "Your word is nice but I like to use it in another way thanks and take the bits that I like and agree with me". Whether thats using the Bible like a rule book, or quoting randomly and out of context, ot my favorite "doesn't it say in the Bible somewhere that...." Lets ungag Jesus, lets study the Bible, the word of God (Side point: Jesus is actualy the word, the bible is merely a record, a pointer to the true Word), and understand what he has to tell us today. I, like Don Carson and G. K. Beale, don't believe that Jesus or the apostles Quoted as they liked but rather with context and meaning in mind. I've not read thier book yet (Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson ) but I'll let you know when I do but untill then here is an interview which will get you started (
Lets take the Bible seriously as the Book which God reveals himself in and use it properly as Jesus and the apostles did.
Till next time

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A fitting name

Welcome to the start of my vitual fame.......well the hope of such. My name is Peter Churcher. I currently work for Cardiff Council, have recently finished a degree in Theology (and Religious Studies) at Cardiff University. I am a Christian and I am heading down the path to become a Minister one day, hence the title of this blog . Who knows? Due to this blog it may be sooner then later! I hope to pour out my many musing from the extremely deep (Doesn't Perichoresis make God in 3 gods?), to the not so deep (If I were a Sandwhich I'd be cheese). Log on and see what you get. One little disclaimer though. Since I am heading to be a minister I obviously think I'm really funny but, from what I've been told, I'm quite wrong about it. You never know. Scientists are bringing Mammoths back to life, perhaps it won't be long till Pigs fly too.
Till next time!