• For users new and old: the forum rules were streamlined when we transitioned to the new software. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. Continued use of the forum means that you (a) know the rules, and (b) pledge that you'll abide by them. For more information, check out the OrthodoxChristianity.Net Rules section. (There are only 2 threads there - Rules, and Administrative Structure.)

Looking back on your Protestant past

Story

Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
105
Reaction score
0
Points
16
Location
United States
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
GOA
This is a thread for former Protestants to look back on the good and the bad of their old tradition. Not looking back in a turn-into-a-pillar-of-salt way, just in a contemplative way ;) Also, note that I came from a non-denominational Evangelical tradition so my observations definitely won't apply to all forms of Protestantism equally.

It's an interesting thing to think about. I'm of course overwhelmingly glad that by God's grace I found the Orthodox Church; I feel deeply like Protestantism could never truly satisfy me and that there was ultimately nothing for me there. There was a certain lack of depth in the spirituality, despite people's truly deep sincerity and devotion. There was a lot of focus on being in a "saved" state, which made it harder to understand what the purpose of life was once you were sure you're in that state, other than "don't sin" and "evangelize".

I tried to fill the lack of depth with Calvinism, which seemed at first to work, but turned out ultimately terrible, because it does not actually fix the problem I mentioned at all, adds a bunch of doctrines which I eventually realized were completely horrifying, can potentially make people be more focused on being intellectually right than on being Christ-like, and focuses so completely on the soteriological significance of Christ's sacrifice that you pretty much do not have any understanding of or connection to Him other than that, at least in my case. Yes, it was wonderful to contemplate His sacrifice, but in retrospect, everything about Christ other than that was barely emphasized at all, which is troubling to say the least.

Also, not to be mean, but in retrospect Protestant beliefs, no matter how hard they try (and sometimes they try very hard), have a lot of intellectual failings. I began doubting Protestantism in large part because of the Bible itself, which is especially bad when "Sola Scriptura" is one of your tenants.

But, it would be dishonest and ungrateful to be completely negative about my spiritual past. It still grounded me in basic Christian teachings, and in solid Biblical knowledge that I think is very beneficial. Plus, while I find Protestant approaches to evangelism to be rather dubious a lot of the time, they have reached a lot of people with Christianity even if it's not the fullness of the truth, and I do think it would be beneficial if Orthodox Christianity could perhaps be a bit more proactive in this regard.

There have been occasional moments when I feel nostalgic for my faith past - not to the extent of ever wanting to return, but just a feeling. I feel like that's less to do with doctrine or practices and more on a cultural/familiarity level. Protestantism in America feels so...accessible, I guess you could say. It's easy to digest, easy to get into, and is well-integrated into American culture in general. None of those are inherently good things, but the fact that Orthodoxy doesn't have them does make it more difficult in a lot of ways.

Fellow converts from Protestantism to Orthodoxy, what are your thoughts and feelings when you contemplate the faith you left behind?
 

FinnJames

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Apr 17, 2015
Messages
1,126
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Age
74
Location
Finland
Faith
Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church of Finland
Maybe not what you're looking for, but
as someone who grew up in a Methodist family I really miss the hymns in the Methodist hymnal. But that's not to say I didn't fall in love with Russian/Finnish church music when I first heard it. There's a lot more theology in the music of both traditions than most people realize.


 

123abc

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
76
Reaction score
1
Points
6
Location
Jersey
Faith
Anglican
It is clear you never read Puritan devotional writings or ever really understood Calvinism.
 

WPM

Taxiarches
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
7,775
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Age
39
Faith
Ethiopian Jew
Lutherans refer to the Book of Concord for further explanations about doctrinal theology.
 

Agabus

Taxiarches
Joined
Apr 10, 2009
Messages
6,324
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Faith
Salve Regina
Jurisdiction
La Virgin de Cobre
What can I say? I am glad for my upbringing and the sense of belonging I had among those people but I'm not going back.
 

noahzarc1

High Elder
Site Supporter
Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
762
Reaction score
71
Points
28
Faith
Catholic
I spent 20 years of the middle part of my life as a mostly a Fundamentalist and Southern Baptist (save for a short stint with the Assemblies of God.) I can honestly say I met sincere, wonderful people and it is always the people in any church that stand out for me. I have very fond memories of my years and have much I can say. Yes, some have chosen to ignore me through a stone cold silence. Others are still my dear friends. I suppose looking back I sought to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). My path is what God has determined it to be because I hoped then and hope now to always pursue that path through the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.

God be with you.
 

Iconodule

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jan 2, 2010
Messages
16,486
Reaction score
14
Points
38
Age
39
Location
PA, USA
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Patriarchate of Johnstown
123abc said:
It is clear you never read Puritan devotional writings or ever really understood Calvinism.
That's what happens when God foreordains someone to reprobation. And who are you to gainsay the eternal decree?
 

Alveus Lacuna

Taxiarches
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,424
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Missouri, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
OCA
Iconodule said:
123abc said:
It is clear you never read Puritan devotional writings or ever really understood Calvinism.
That's what happens when God foreordains someone to reprobation. And who are you to gainsay the eternal decree?
All-Holy Deterministic Determiner, glory to Thee!
 

MalpanaGiwargis

High Elder
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
691
Reaction score
42
Points
28
Location
Atlanta, GA
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
ACROD
I was brought up in a largely Southern Baptist context, though we were not dogmatically Baptist; we spent some time in independent and Methodist churches, too. The biggest gift I received from this upbringing was familiarity with the Bible, especially the OT. There was absolutely no contact with patristic commentary, but just being intimately familiar with the stories is a blessing in itself. As I began being interested in Orthodoxy, I was particularly drawn to the way OT typology is woven throughout the hymns of the Orthodox Church.

My maternal grandfather was a huge influence on me, too. He was a very Protestant man, but he took instruction in Catholicism from some of the monks at the local Benedictine monastery; he was not drawn to convert to Catholicism, but in the rural context he had grown up in, he knew he was surrounded by a lot of ignorance and prejudice and decided he should at least know what Catholics themselves actually believe, and he was smart enough not to get that information from a Chick tract.

I do miss the KJV and the music. The latter is mostly sentimental, as I don't think a lot of them have all that much theological depth.
 

Mor Ephrem

Hypatos
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
36,372
Reaction score
239
Points
63
Age
40
Location
New York!
Website
www.orthodoxchristianity.net
Faith
Mercenary Freudianism
Jurisdiction
Texas Feminist Coptic
Story said:
There have been occasional moments when I feel nostalgic for my faith past - not to the extent of ever wanting to return, but just a feeling. I feel like that's less to do with doctrine or practices and more on a cultural/familiarity level. Protestantism in America feels so...accessible, I guess you could say. It's easy to digest, easy to get into, and is well-integrated into American culture in general. None of those are inherently good things, but the fact that Orthodoxy doesn't have them does make it more difficult in a lot of ways.
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
 

Ainnir

Taxiarches
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
7,242
Reaction score
669
Points
113
Age
38
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
Story said:
It's an interesting thing to think about. I'm of course overwhelmingly glad that by God's grace I found the Orthodox Church; I feel deeply like Protestantism could never truly satisfy me and that there was ultimately nothing for me there. There was a certain lack of depth in the spirituality, despite people's truly deep sincerity and devotion. There was a lot of focus on being in a "saved" state, which made it harder to understand what the purpose of life was once you were sure you're in that state, other than "don't sin" and "evangelize".
Truth.  It's strongly evangelical around here, whether nondenominational or not.  This is how I ended up feeling in my Southern Baptist churches by the time other issues propelled me to go searching.  Starved, anemic, and a general "now what?" feeling.

I don't miss the evangelical Southern Baptist churches of my 20's at all.  To be fair: at the time, I needed the simple, straightforward message they had, and I don't think at that stage I would have warmed up to a fully liturgical church very quickly, if at all.  The nondenominational Bible study I was in during that time was good for getting me into Scripture far more than I ever had been.  So in those respects, I appreciate that stage of my journey, but there is no nostalgia for me.

I have an amicable appreciation for the Methodist tradition I grew up in, but that's about it.  It was never really home, and I left it as soon as I had a choice.  By the time I decided to revisit it, it was as a socially acceptable alternative to Orthodoxy and I wasn't content with it.  But they seem like the most balanced of the various Protestant traditions, so there aren't any negative feelings, either.
 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,407
Reaction score
10
Points
38
Location
Omaha
Faith
Greek Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
Agabus said:
What can I say? I am glad for my upbringing and the sense of belonging I had among those people but I'm not going back.
Same.  I wish my faith tradition had more of what I desperately needed but that was not going to be the case.
 

Alveus Lacuna

Taxiarches
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,424
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Missouri, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
OCA
Mor Ephrem said:
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
Of course it is. And when Catholicism sought to inculturate itself into the United States, it essentially Protestantized itself in most meaningful ways.

This is why I have serious doubts that Orthodoxy has any real future in America beyond what it is now: an insignificant minority religion.
 

Agabus

Taxiarches
Joined
Apr 10, 2009
Messages
6,324
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Faith
Salve Regina
Jurisdiction
La Virgin de Cobre
Alveus Lacuna said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
Of course it is. And when Catholicism sought to inculturate itself into the United States, it essentially Protestantized itself in most meaningful ways.

This is why I have serious doubts that Orthodoxy has any real future in America beyond what it is now: an insignificant minority religion.
but it's the fastest growing religion in America by an arbitrary metric I've just created!!1!
 

Ainnir

Taxiarches
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
7,242
Reaction score
669
Points
113
Age
38
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
Alveus Lacuna said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
Of course it is. And when Catholicism sought to inculturate itself into the United States, it essentially Protestantized itself in most meaningful ways.

This is why I have serious doubts that Orthodoxy has any real future in America beyond what it is now: an insignificant minority religion.
Have God’s people ever been otherwise?
 

Svartzorn

High Elder
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
761
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
32
Location
Brasília/DF, Brazil
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
?
Mor Ephrem said:
Story said:
There have been occasional moments when I feel nostalgic for my faith past - not to the extent of ever wanting to return, but just a feeling. I feel like that's less to do with doctrine or practices and more on a cultural/familiarity level. Protestantism in America feels so...accessible, I guess you could say. It's easy to digest, easy to get into, and is well-integrated into American culture in general. None of those are inherently good things, but the fact that Orthodoxy doesn't have them does make it more difficult in a lot of ways.
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
That's the place where all the poison comes from.
 

WPM

Taxiarches
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
7,775
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Age
39
Faith
Ethiopian Jew
Are you kidding me? Nothing more to find. Still Lutheran (I've been looking at Religion)
 

platypus

High Elder
Joined
Apr 20, 2018
Messages
713
Reaction score
4
Points
0
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
MalpanaGiwargis said:
I do miss the KJV and the music. The latter is mostly sentimental, as I don't think a lot of them have all that much theological depth.
I'm curious; why miss the KJV instead of using it?

 

WPM

Taxiarches
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
7,775
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Age
39
Faith
Ethiopian Jew
I recommend getting 9 hours of sleep.
 

MalpanaGiwargis

High Elder
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
691
Reaction score
42
Points
28
Location
Atlanta, GA
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
ACROD
platypus said:
MalpanaGiwargis said:
I do miss the KJV and the music. The latter is mostly sentimental, as I don't think a lot of them have all that much theological depth.
I'm curious; why miss the KJV instead of using it?
Oh, I will still read it, but 19 years in the Catholic Church and now an Orthodox parish with services in modern English mean I don't encounter it in Church.
 

David Young

Archon
Joined
Oct 9, 2008
Messages
2,209
Reaction score
9
Points
38
Age
74
Location
Wrexham, North Wales
Website
primitivemethodism.com
Faith
Baptist
Jurisdiction
local church, Wrexham
Although not strictly relevant to the question in the OP, it strikes me that much of what has been written above could also have been written by people who have moved from any Christian community to another, not necessarily to Orthodoxy. My move out of Methodism, in which I came to faith back in about 1963, and my later embracing of Baptist church principles, has not erased my sense of exile from the church that brought me to God. As William Sangster once said, "Who would not love the Church which nourished him in holy things?" Bur he also commented elsewhere that there is no private way back. Some of you are Orthodox because it is what you have come to believe, as I am Baptist because it is what I have come to believe. But a number of us who have commented on this thread can say with thanks to God that we received blessing where we once were, and it is written, "I know that whatever God does endures for ever."
 

hecma925

Orthodox Taliban
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
21,477
Reaction score
983
Points
113
Age
160
Location
Wandering Fool
Faith
Truthful Chalcedonian Truther
Jurisdiction
Enemy State Orthodox Church Abroad
Agabus said:
Alveus Lacuna said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Sounds like Protestantism is the ethnic religion of the United States people.
Of course it is. And when Catholicism sought to inculturate itself into the United States, it essentially Protestantized itself in most meaningful ways.

This is why I have serious doubts that Orthodoxy has any real future in America beyond what it is now: an insignificant minority religion.
but it's the fastest growing religion in America by an arbitrary metric I've just created!!1!
Everyone wants to know America's best kept secret with this one weird trick!
 

hecma925

Orthodox Taliban
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
21,477
Reaction score
983
Points
113
Age
160
Location
Wandering Fool
Faith
Truthful Chalcedonian Truther
Jurisdiction
Enemy State Orthodox Church Abroad
Agabus said:
What can I say? I am glad for my upbringing and the sense of belonging I had among those people but I'm not going back.
+1
 

WPM

Taxiarches
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
7,775
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Age
39
Faith
Ethiopian Jew
Isn't this a long look at Russian or Eastern Orthodoxy? . . .
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
1,478
Reaction score
9
Points
38
Location
Midwest
Faith
Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian Archdiocese of NA
MalpanaGiwargis said:
I was brought up in a largely Southern Baptist context, though we were not dogmatically Baptist ... The biggest gift I received from this upbringing was familiarity with the Bible, especially the OT. There was absolutely no contact with patristic commentary, but just being intimately familiar with the stories is a blessing in itself. As I began being interested in Orthodoxy, I was particularly drawn to the way OT typology is woven throughout the hymns of the Orthodox Church.

I do miss the KJV and the music. The latter is mostly sentimental, as I don't think a lot of them have all that much theological depth.
Same with me. I always loved the old hymns over the modern praise music. I always thought they had much richer lyrics. The KJV was and still is my favorite translation. However it is harder and harder to remember the KJV Psalms after hearing the HTM Psalter every week.
 

WPM

Taxiarches
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
7,775
Reaction score
10
Points
0
Age
39
Faith
Ethiopian Jew
Yes the St. in your "Saint" is an idol figure.
 

rakovsky

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
12,366
Reaction score
113
Points
63
Location
USA
Website
rakovskii.livejournal.com
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
That's what happens when God foreordains someone to reprobation. And who are you to gainsay the eternal decree?
Right. You can't really blame someone for failing, in the Calvinist scheme, because they were predetermined to be blind and fail anyway.
 

123abc

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
76
Reaction score
1
Points
6
Location
Jersey
Faith
Anglican
Right. You can't really blame someone for failing, in the Calvinist scheme, because they were predetermined to be blind and fail anyway.
Most of the criticisms leveled at Reformed theology I have found come from a woeful ignorance of the totality and cohesion of the tradition. Your statement above is a classic example of such.

Sadly I have found that many who convert to Orthodoxy from a Reformed background seem to have never picked up a good Reformed theological book. If they had they wouldn't parrot long since answered objections to the mostly strawmen arguments offered. This even goes for a certain well known priest who comes from a Reformed background.
 

rakovsky

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
12,366
Reaction score
113
Points
63
Location
USA
Website
rakovskii.livejournal.com
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
Most of the criticisms leveled at Reformed theology I have found come from a woeful ignorance of the totality and cohesion of the tradition. Your statement above is a classic example of such.

Sadly I have found that many who convert to Orthodoxy from a Reformed background seem to have never picked up a good Reformed theological book. If they had they wouldn't parrot long since answered objections to the mostly strawmen arguments offered.
Sproul, a Calvinist, explains:
Calvin, in examining the question of free will, says that if we mean by free will that fallen man has the ability to choose what he wants, then of course fallen man has free will. But if we mean by that term that man in his fallen state has the moral power and ability to choose righteousness, then, said Calvin, “free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to fallen man.” And with that sentiment I would agree.

This is why I say:
"You can't really blame someone for failing, in the Calvinist scheme, because they were predetermined to be blind and fail anyway."
In the Calvinist scheme:
Was that person predetermined to fail?
Yes.
Did that fallen person have the ability and free will ability to choose good?
No.
Were they a free agent in this decision?
No.
If the person does not have the free will or ability to choose good, and they are not a free agent can they be considered personally responsible for their bad choice?
No, because they act under compulsion.
 

123abc

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
76
Reaction score
1
Points
6
Location
Jersey
Faith
Anglican
Sproul, a Calvinist, explains:


This is why I say:
"You can't really blame someone for failing, in the Calvinist scheme, because they were predetermined to be blind and fail anyway."
In the Calvinist scheme:
Was that person predetermined to fail?
Yes.
Did that fallen person have the ability and free will ability to choose good?
No.
Were they a free agent in this decision?
No.
If the person does not have the free will or ability to choose good, and they are not a free agent can they be considered personally responsible for their bad choice?
No, because they act under compulsion.
Man does not need to be compelled to choose evil. The Scriptures clearly teach that man in his natural state runs from and rejects God since that is his natural, fallen inclination. To take what Sproul says and then conclude that man is compelled to reject God is to set up the strawman that makes it as if God slams the door in the faces of men seeking Him and drags those to Heaven who want nothing to do with him.

All men if left in their fallen state would choose sin and Hell. That any are saved is a gracious act whereby God illumines the heart of the sinner to freely come to Him. John 6:37:44, Romans 9, Ephesians 2:1 all clearly show man's deadness in sin and God's electing grace. I know these ideas are not only foreign to Orthodoxy but are hated since it takes away man's ability to choose the good even though "no man seeks after God" Romans 3:10-12 because his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked Jeremiah 17:9

To conclude that man is not responsible then for his own damnation is blasphemy which accuses God of evil. Man naturally, through his own free will, rejects God. We are not morally neutral beings.
 

Jude1:3

High Elder
Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Messages
553
Reaction score
66
Points
28
Location
USA
Faith
Eastern Orthodox
Thank God that I was able to carry the belief of having Christ in my heart into Orthodoxy as a former Baptist / Evangelical. Maybe that's why when I actually found out about Orthodoxy it was so spiritually authoritative, potent and weighty to me :


“It is futile, in fact it is precisely absurd, to speak of reforming society, of changing the path of history, of emerging into an age beyond absurdity, if we have not Christ in our hearts; and if we do have Christ in our hearts, nothing else matters.”

- Fr. Seraphim Rose







"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
• Revelation 3:20


 

Addai Gaspar

Jr. Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2020
Messages
65
Reaction score
17
Points
8
Location
Brazil
Faith
Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Archdiocese of Buenos Aires
I left the Pentecostal church in a very weird time in my life in wich i was coping my father's death, my mind has a strange way of dealing with trauma and turns out i forgot almost everything from that period, i can't recall exactly when and why i decided i was no longer protestant, i loosely recall finding out that pentecostals are a joke even among other protestants on the internet, i grew up unaware of that fact.
I should say i miss going to Church with my family, and that i miss listening to my father preach, he was an exceptional speaker and everyone respected him, but in reality i don't really miss anything, probably again due to trauma, if i try to recall anything back from 2015 or before, my mind just can't relate at all, it feels like i have the memories of another person.
 

rakovsky

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
12,366
Reaction score
113
Points
63
Location
USA
Website
rakovskii.livejournal.com
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
Man does not need to be compelled to choose evil. The Scriptures clearly teach that man in his natural state runs from and rejects God since that is his natural, fallen inclination. To take what Sproul says and then conclude that man is compelled to reject God is to set up the strawman that makes it as if God slams the door in the faces of men seeking Him and drags those to Heaven who want nothing to do with him.

All men if left in their fallen state would choose sin and Hell. That any are saved is a gracious act whereby God illumines the heart of the sinner to freely come to Him. John 6:37:44, Romans 9, Ephesians 2:1 all clearly show man's deadness in sin and God's electing grace. I know these ideas are not only foreign to Orthodoxy but are hated since it takes away man's ability to choose the good even though "no man seeks after God" Romans 3:10-12 because his heart is deceitful and desperately wicked Jeremiah 17:9

To conclude that man is not responsible then for his own damnation is blasphemy which accuses God of evil. Man naturally, through his own free will, rejects God. We are not morally neutral beings.
123abc,
It's well known that Calvinism represents a rigid Determinist philosophy. The criticism that I have been making has been made for a very long time by lots of critics, ranging from Catholics to Methodists. The criticism has been that Calvinism's idea that God alone "predestines" and thus "predetermines" people's fates, so that they reject the Good unless he alone chooses to make them choose the God in effect makes God alone responsible then for their damnation, thus making it a system of "blasphemy which accuses God of evil."

This is why when Sproul says that if free will means that "man in his fallen state has the moral power and ability to choose righteousness, then, said Calvin, “free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to fallen man.” So in the Calvinist system, the fallen man does not have the ability to choose righteousness, thus making him incapable of choosing good. If a person does not have the ability to do something, like a handicapped person, then they can't in effect be blamed for that inability or their failure to do it. As a result, Calvin's idea that a person does not have the ability to do good in effect has the logical conclusion that the person is not responsible and thus leads to the blasphemy of which you speak.

Arminians, ex-Calvinists, other non-Calvinists and Calvinists have been debating Calvinism's Deterministic system for centuries ever since Calvinism began. I don't know if there is an easy, quick way to do it with you here.

I got Confirmed in the nice liberal PCUSA, and when Calvinism was taught to me, it was taught in a kind of simple, sensible way that I did not question. In my young mind, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Methodists all generally taught the same kind of thing on this topic.

As a teenager, after learning more about Calvinism and its rigidity and absolutism, I wanted to leave Calvinism. The idea that the un-Unelect are "totally depraved" and that the Elect are basically so holy that if you are sinning you must be "Totally Depraved" came across as very Inquisitorial. Actually, John Calvin himself was an ex-Jesuit, and one time when a Unitarian in in France debated him, Calvin turned over the person's correspondence to him to the French Inquisition. Later on, Calvin and his followers executed him in Geneva. The dark, rigid, punishment side of Calvinism was very off-putting to me.

To give you an example of this rigidity, in your words to me above, you wrote: "The Scriptures clearly teach that man in his natural state runs from and rejects God since that is his natural, fallen inclination." Without doing the work of checking your Bible reference, it makes sense that since the Fall, Man naturally does that and has that inclination. But there is no need to read that statement in an absolutist, rigid way, as if Man cannot actually do any good or cannot ALSO feel the appeal of God. A tribal person in the wild who has never heard of the Bible can still de facto do something that is good. This is because a Man can have a bad inclination in his nature, BUT MAN CAN ALSO DO SOMETHING THAT IS GOOD in his post-fall state. There are Chinese people who kept the memory of Shang Di, the Supreme Deity, from ancient times despite them not being Christians, so to say that they also never go toward God when they are outside of the Christian Election would not be correct.

The statement that "man in his natural state runs from and rejects God" leaves room for more statements and explanations. But Calvinism is very absolutist. Calvinism would say " man in his natural state runs from and rejects God" PERIOD. The Calvinist idea is that to do anything good, you need to get the Biblical ELECTION and then you get GRACE and become Christian. There is no room in Calvinism for non-Christians who stay non-Christians for the rest of their lives after hearing the word to get ELECTION and GRACE. So Calvinism is a very absolutist, rigid system.





“Men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what he has previously decreed with himself, and brings to pass by his secret direction.” John Calvin, Inst. I.xviii.l. 1559 edition. See A.N.S. Lane, “Did Calvin Believe in Freewill?” Vox Evangelica 12 (1981): 73

 

123abc

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
76
Reaction score
1
Points
6
Location
Jersey
Faith
Anglican
123abc,
It's well known that Calvinism represents a rigid Determinist philosophy. The criticism that I have been making has been made for a very long time by lots of critics, ranging from Catholics to Methodists. The criticism has been that Calvinism's idea that God alone "predestines" and thus "predetermines" people's fates, so that they reject the Good unless he alone chooses to make them choose the God in effect makes God alone responsible then for their damnation, thus making it a system of "blasphemy which accuses God of evil."

This is why when Sproul says that if free will means that "man in his fallen state has the moral power and ability to choose righteousness, then, said Calvin, “free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to fallen man.” So in the Calvinist system, the fallen man does not have the ability to choose righteousness, thus making him incapable of choosing good. If a person does not have the ability to do something, like a handicapped person, then they can't in effect be blamed for that inability or their failure to do it. As a result, Calvin's idea that a person does not have the ability to do good in effect has the logical conclusion that the person is not responsible and thus leads to the blasphemy of which you speak.

Arminians, ex-Calvinists, other non-Calvinists and Calvinists have been debating Calvinism's Deterministic system for centuries ever since Calvinism began. I don't know if there is an easy, quick way to do it with you here.

I got Confirmed in the nice liberal PCUSA, and when Calvinism was taught to me, it was taught in a kind of simple, sensible way that I did not question. In my young mind, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Methodists all generally taught the same kind of thing on this topic.

As a teenager, after learning more about Calvinism and its rigidity and absolutism, I wanted to leave Calvinism. The idea that the un-Unelect are "totally depraved" and that the Elect are basically so holy that if you are sinning you must be "Totally Depraved" came across as very Inquisitorial. Actually, John Calvin himself was an ex-Jesuit, and one time when a Unitarian in in France debated him, Calvin turned over the person's correspondence to him to the French Inquisition. Later on, Calvin and his followers executed him in Geneva. The dark, rigid, punishment side of Calvinism was very off-putting to me.

To give you an example of this rigidity, in your words to me above, you wrote: "The Scriptures clearly teach that man in his natural state runs from and rejects God since that is his natural, fallen inclination." Without doing the work of checking your Bible reference, it makes sense that since the Fall, Man naturally does that and has that inclination. But there is no need to read that statement in an absolutist, rigid way, as if Man cannot actually do any good or cannot ALSO feel the appeal of God. A tribal person in the wild who has never heard of the Bible can still de facto do something that is good. This is because a Man can have a bad inclination in his nature, BUT MAN CAN ALSO DO SOMETHING THAT IS GOOD in his post-fall state. There are Chinese people who kept the memory of Shang Di, the Supreme Deity, from ancient times despite them not being Christians, so to say that they also never go toward God when they are outside of the Christian Election would not be correct.

The statement that "man in his natural state runs from and rejects God" leaves room for more statements and explanations. But Calvinism is very absolutist. Calvinism would say " man in his natural state runs from and rejects God" PERIOD. The Calvinist idea is that to do anything good, you need to get the Biblical ELECTION and then you get GRACE and become Christian. There is no room in Calvinism for non-Christians who stay non-Christians for the rest of their lives after hearing the word to get ELECTION and GRACE. So Calvinism is a very absolutist, rigid system.





“Men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what he has previously decreed with himself, and brings to pass by his secret direction.” John Calvin, Inst. I.xviii.l. 1559 edition. See A.N.S. Lane, “Did Calvin Believe in Freewill?” Vox Evangelica 12 (1981): 73

rakovsky:
It's well known that Calvinism represents a rigid Determinist philosophy.

I would not use the term 'rigid' if you are using it as a synonym for absolute. That God 'foreordains whatsoever comes to pass' but accomplishes His will through the free agency of His creation in secondary causes presents a certain tension and paradox but to use the term 'rigid' seems to imply that God actually makes people sin where they would otherwise not do so.

rakovsky:
Calvinism's idea that God alone "predestines" and thus "predetermines" people's fates, so that they reject the Good

This implies that man is able to naturally choose the good but then is thwarted from doing so by God. What you seem to be describing is a kind of double predestination or hyper-Calvinism. Man by default is lost. He does not come into the world in a position of moral neutrality in which God then picks winners and losers. ALL mankind is lost by default and by virtue of their sinfulness which makes it impossible to commend himself to God in a saving relationship.

rakovsky:
As a teenager, after learning more about Calvinism and its rigidity and absolutism, I wanted to leave Calvinism.

Perhaps your understanding of the somewhat complex Reformed tradition wasn't quite all encompassing and comprehensive as a teenager?

rakovsky:
So in the Calvinist system, the fallen man does not have the ability to choose righteousness, thus making him incapable of choosing good.

Let's be clear with our terms lest we confuse the issue. By righteousness and good we mean the regenerative righteousness and goodness which allows us to enter into a relationship with God, through the merits of Christ, henceforth being in a state of justification before God. Calvinism does not state that natural man is incapable of doing good deeds. We know that even atheists are capable of doing good deeds, loving their family, giving their lives for others. These acts do not, however, commend themselves to God in a salvific sense.

rokovsky:
If a person does not have the ability to do something, like a handicapped person, then they can't in effect be blamed for that inability or their failure to do it

Don't confuse absolute inability with moral inability. Man CAN in a strict sense come to Christ through his freewill. This is why we say that once the Holy Spirit illumines a sinner they do come freely. However, in a moral sense he lacks this ability because he does not want to come to Christ in his natural state. Scripture is clear on this fact. Think of a car which is out of alignment. Strictly speaking the car has the ability to drive straight. However, until such time that somehow grabs the wheel, it will go into the ditch. This is different from a car that doesn't have wheels at all. In that case it would be missing something essential to allowing it to drive down the road in the first place.

rokovsky
I got Confirmed in the nice liberal PCUSA, and when Calvinism was taught to me

Forgive me for saying so but I would not trust the PCUSA to clearly teach the doctrines of Grace since many of them seem to deny essentials of the Gospel to begin with.

rokovsky:
The idea that the un-Unelect are "totally depraved" and that the Elect are basically so holy that if you are sinning you must be "Totally Depraved"

This is terribly sloppy on your part. First you seem not to have a good grasp on what is meant by Total Depravity. We are ALL, saved and unsaved, totally depraved. Note this does not mean utterly depraved. TD does not mean we are as wicked as possible, but that every part of our human physiology has been tainted by sin. Our bodies, souls, minds, hearts, reasoning, knowledge....all have been effected by the Fall, including our ability to choose Christ.

The last thing a Calvinist would ever claim to be is holy. Being elect has absolutely nothing to do with any goodness in us. That is why we call it unconditional. Our holiness, that holiness which commends us to God the Father, is the righteousness of Christ given to us. It is credited to us. In the same way that Christ "became sin" we in turn become the "righteousness of Christ." This does not happen in an ontological sense. If that were the case Christ would have actually become a sinner rather than bearing our sins. Christ bears our sins and He clothes us in His righteousness. The sides of the "Great Exchange" is an act of imputation.

rokovsky:
A tribal person in the wild who has never heard of the Bible can still de facto do something that is good. This is because a Man can have a bad inclination in his nature, BUT MAN CAN ALSO DO SOMETHING THAT IS GOOD in his post-fall state. There are Chinese people who kept the memory of Shang Di, the Supreme Deity, from ancient times despite them not being Christians, so to say that they also never go toward God when they are outside of the Christian Election would not be correct.

Answered above. We are not talking about natural goodness but a Righteousness by which we are born again and made the "righteousness of Christ"
 

rakovsky

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
12,366
Reaction score
113
Points
63
Location
USA
Website
rakovskii.livejournal.com
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
rakovsky:
It's well known that Calvinism represents a rigid Determinist philosophy.

I would not use the term 'rigid' if you are using it as a synonym for absolute. That God 'foreordains whatsoever comes to pass' but accomplishes His will through the free agency of His creation in secondary causes presents a certain tension and paradox but to use the term 'rigid' seems to imply that God actually makes people sin where they would otherwise not do so.

rakovsky:
Calvinism's idea that God alone "predestines" and thus "predetermines" people's fates, so that they reject the Good

This implies that man is able to naturally choose the good but then is thwarted from doing so by God. What you seem to be describing is a kind of double predestination or hyper-Calvinism. Man by default is lost. He does not come into the world in a position of moral neutrality in which God then picks winners and losers. ALL mankind is lost by default and by virtue of their sinfulness which makes it impossible to commend himself to God in a saving relationship.

rakovsky:
As a teenager, after learning more about Calvinism and its rigidity and absolutism, I wanted to leave Calvinism.

Perhaps your understanding of the somewhat complex Reformed tradition wasn't quite all encompassing and comprehensive as a teenager?

rokovsky:
If a person does not have the ability to do something, like a handicapped person, then they can't in effect be blamed for that inability or their failure to do it

Don't confuse absolute inability with moral inability. Man CAN in a strict sense come to Christ through his freewill. This is why we say that once the Holy Spirit illumines a sinner they do come freely. However, in a moral sense he lacks this ability because he does not want to come to Christ in his natural state. Scripture is clear on this fact. Think of a car which is out of alignment. Strictly speaking the car has the ability to drive straight. However, until such time that somehow grabs the wheel, it will go into the ditch. This is different from a car that doesn't have wheels at all. In that case it would be missing something essential to allowing it to drive down the road in the first place.



rokovsky:
The idea that the un-Unelect are "totally depraved" and that the Elect are basically so holy that if you are sinning you must be "Totally Depraved"

This is terribly sloppy on your part. First you seem not to have a good grasp on what is meant by Total Depravity. We are ALL, saved and unsaved, totally depraved.
Here you are saying that Calvinism teaches that Christians remain totally depraved. But here I read from a Reformed Presbyterian theologian that we do not remain totally depraved:
Yet it is because Christians are no longer totally depraved but born again in union with Christ that the apostle urges, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you" (Phil. 2:12-13). Thank God that regeneration does not leave Christ's people in the situation of those who reject him in unbelief. We are certainly still dealing with sin in the totality of our beings, but thank God that we are no longer totally depraved. Praise God that, as Paul wrote, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Cor. 5:17).

Dr. Richard D. Phillips is the senior minister of the historic Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina. He is the chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.
Where does Calvin specify that those saved from their total depravity remain totally depraved?
There is a big problem with Calvinism when basic issues like this are going to come across when taught by Calvinist theologians as "terribly sloppy" and wrong.

One of the big turn offs for me in Calvinism has always been this negative, condemnatory, and accusatory side.

That is, Calvinism combines
A. accusations and support for punishment, eg. the car going into the ditch or the sinner going to his predestined hell, with
B. a rigid doctrine that the sinner, natural man has no ability to accept The Good or to turn to God. You compare natural man to a car with wheels with no one at the wheel driving into the ditch. That means that the car was not able to avoid the ditch.
And then Calvinism concludes
C. That the sinner, or in your case the car, was morally responsible for its disaster. In other words, an unsteered car bears the blame for going into a ditch.

This is a punitive, cruel, irrational condemnation. One does not say that an unsteered car bears moral blame for going into a ditch any more than a rock bears the blame for landing in a space directly below it. If a person is "morally incapable" of choosing good, then the person logically cannot be held responsible for failing to perform that of which he is "morally incapable."

Here you are asking if as a teenager my understanding of Calvinism was not encompassing enough. It's like you are making the "You don't understand Calvinism" accusation. Basically, Calvinists and anti-Calvinists agree that it is a Deterministic or Predeterministic theory about salvation and punishment especially when compared to ther theologies like Eastern Orthodoxy or Methodists or RCs or Lutheranism.

More Determinism means more rigidity. If you are rigid about punishment, it seems to its critics that it leads to alot of harshness and strictness because compared to those other theologies, it downgrades peoples' ability to change and do Good and have Good. And so historically Calvinist societies like Calvin's Geneva and Colonial Massachusetts in New England have had lots of harshness and punitive strictness.

So it has been a great saving relief to get away from that. Glory to God.
 

123abc

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
76
Reaction score
1
Points
6
Location
Jersey
Faith
Anglican
Total Depravity pertains to our ontological state, not our redeemed state which is an imputed righteousness. Just because one is redeemed does not mean that one is free from the effects of sin. St. Paul himself expresses this idea when he speaks of the law of sin still active in him. As Luther said, we are simul peccator et Iustus.

rakovsky:
One of the big turn offs for me in Calvinism has always been this negative, condemnatory, and accusatory side.

Come on. Your argument was sloppy and I pointed it out. Let's have a mature conversation shall we?

rakovsky:
One does not say that an unsteered car bears moral blame for going into a ditch any more than a rock bears the blame for landing in a space directly below it

Most likely due to the fact that neither a car or a rock is a moral agent.

rakovsky:
Here you are asking if as a teenager my understanding of Calvinism was not encompassing enough. It's like you are making the "You don't understand Calvinism" accusation

Your understanding seems shallow. Have you read any of the Institutes? Any Puritan Divines? Any Reformed dogmatics?

rakovsky:
And so historically Calvinist societies like Calvin's Geneva and Colonial Massachusetts in New England have had lots of harshness and punitive strictness.

This is not limited to Calvinist countries in history by any stretch. Neither is it much of an argument against Reformed theology.

But I want to hear you understanding of the passages I quoted above. Start with John 6:44 and Romans 9. This is something that turned me off from Orthodoxy (among other things); the recourse to what such and such a Father said rather than dealing with the text of Scripture and engaging in exegesis. Man loves his free will and rights. However oftentimes that comes at the expense of God's rights to do as He chooses, even if that means making one vessel for honor and another for dishonor.
 

rakovsky

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
12,366
Reaction score
113
Points
63
Location
USA
Website
rakovskii.livejournal.com
Faith
Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
But I want to hear you understanding of the passages I quoted above. Start with John 6:44 and Romans 9. This is something that turned me off from Orthodoxy (among other things); the recourse to what such and such a Father said rather than dealing with the text of Scripture and engaging in exegesis. Man loves his free will and rights. However oftentimes that comes at the expense of God's rights to do as He chooses, even if that means making one vessel for honor and another for dishonor.
123,
The Calvinism topic is interesting, but at the moment after a couple exchanges it does not feel very pleasant for me because of its combination of negativity, punitiveness, and rigidity.
Pretty much any of the mainstream nonCalvinist churches are going to have alot of the same criticisms of Calvin, and there is a forum where Arminians and Calvinists have threads and threads rehashing the same Free Will vs. Absolute Determinism debates:

Peace.
 
Top