Hi, I’m Matt. “Strider” from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym “StriderMTB”. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.-StriderMTB
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I’m looking for a post that you created in January of 2012. I believe the original link looked something like this: https://atheologyintension.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/jonath an-edwards-slave-owner-and-bad-theology/
My professor assigned this as reading for my Church History class and would much appreciate it if you would it put it back on your blog, as there will be others also looking for it. If this is not possible, would you consider emailing me the article in order that I might read it?
Please let me know if you can do either of these.
HI John, I just checked and it is still up on my blog. However I wrote it last year so if you are looking in the January archive you won’t find. Click on the “Critiquing Calvinism” category and it should be the 5th one down. This link should also take you there: https://atheologyintension.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/jonathan-edwards-slave-owner-and-bad-theology/
Matt, I just read all 26 parts of your marathon Calvinism debate with Derek and I just felt compelled to applaud you for your efforts. There just simply aren’t enough people refuting neo-Calvinism today that it allows folks like MacArthur, Piper, Discoll, Chan and their Gospel Coalition cohorts to run amok on the internet and out there in the real world for that matter and say whatever they want in the name of the Church, so I just wanted to give you some kudos. You pinpointed precisely how they operate in your discussion with Derek. They absolutely obfuscate their doctrine from initiates by equivocating on the plain meaning of words, violating basic principles of logic, and affirming contradictory statements in the name of “mystery”. It borders on insanity the lengths that they will go to ensure their system of theology holds together. I do feel sympathy for Derek though, and not in a patronizing way, but it was clear in his posts that although he clearly feels the tension, the idea of a sovereign god in control of every molecule of the universe is too hard so resist that not even a “million arguments” to the contrary would cause him to give it up. And I think there’s the rub, it’s that human beings are only able to believe things that they are emotionally and intuitively able to accept. Intuition is something that is typically hard to change, and rarely through reasoned argument. At the end of the day, that’s what I’ve concluded. So folks like James White and Vincent Cheung, when you read their material or hear them talk, you can almost sense their desperation in needing to believe in a god that has everything under control, no matter what the theological or moral consequences, in fact, no matter what the Bible says to the contrary.
That being said, I think the interaction was great and hope more people find the exchange and read them online. I also think your approach was spot on, it is difficult to win a proof-texting battle, especially with anyone of any denomination who is well versed with the Bible. I think focusing on how the whole system is incoherent is really what it’s about. I think Dr. Olson focuses more on the character of God, which is good, but I think he isn’t as systematic when it comes to other arguments, at least that was my impression from reading Against Calvinism.
I think that the Reformed movement has hijacked American Evangelical Christianity, and the reason for their appeal to younger Christians is quite evident. I think arminianism has definitely lagged its new/old rival in terms of presenting a scripturally rigorous and intellectually nourishing version of Christianity to the modern day seeker and the Reformed folks jumped right in and filled that void, which by its systematic nature, seems to work great. I think in many ways we have ceded the theological banner of Evangelical Christianity to the Calvinists, and we’re seeing the consequences of that. I am meeting more and more new Christians, particularly Asian Americans, coming to Christ strictly through the lens of Calvinist doctrine. While I’m happy for their conversion, I’m deeply troubled that they are taught to believe that TULIP is synonymous with orthodox Christianity, or that free will theism is somehow a sub-Christian doctrine or equivalent to Pelagianism. That Dr. Olson has to refute that time and time again is ridiculous enough in and of itself.
Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I think you understand. 🙂 As for me, I am getting more and more comfortable with Open Theism and I disagree with you that the classical arminian concept of foreknowledge gets you to the same place. Would love to see some posts on that when you get around to it. Awesome what you’re doing in Southeast Asia. God bless.
Thanks Dean for your generous and kind encouragement! Congrats for being the first to read all 26 sections of the debate on Calvinistic Compatibilism. I’m not even sure I have done that yet 🙂 It was sort of a first for me. I did enjoy it because it helped me to flesh out my many thoughts on the matter. Despite our sharp disagreements, I found Derek to be a true gentleman and brother in the Lord. In retrospect I feel I could have softened my language at some points. For example when I spoke of Derek’s “dishonesty” I really meant profound inconsistency and lack of being theologically integrous (unified) to his own view. I ought to have said that instead.
I do agree with you that there is an epidemic within the Calvinist ranks to obfuscate on matters where they ought to speak the most clearly and straight-forwardly. Like you I believe it is undergirded with the intention and hope of drawing in more initiates to the fold before they truly know all they must commit to and concede to (i.e. not realizing until later they bought into a a view of sovereignty that insists God decreed every one of their sinful thoughts, desires and actions).
I really like Roger Olson and think he is a breadth of fresh air on many matters. I do think he could have been more stern and sharp on some points in Against Calvinism. He tended to give them the benefit of the doubt a bit too much. But all in all I thought Against Calvinism was one of the best treatments on the subject to come out in a long time. I hope multitudes read it.
As for the foreknowledge question I don’t yet see the big advantage O.P. has over a simple foreknowledge view, but I am very friendly to the theory and its adherents… and believe it should have a place at the table of evangelical thought and discussion. I’m philosophically persuaded that divine, exhaustive foreknowledge does not countermand or invalidate genuine free-will. Given the fact that the content of God’s foreknowledge about what we will do consists of what we ACTUALLY freely choose to do, then our free choices inform God’s foreknowledge rather than God’s foreknowledge determining our free choices.
I admit it gets a little muddled and confusing, but I am convinced it is philosophically sound. Where I think O.P. is the strongest is in certain scriptural passages. Practically I also think it revitalizes the faith of many to persevere in spiritual warfare–which is always a good thing. However I am not persuaded at this time that it can sufficiently overcome some of the strong scriptural challenges that classical foreknowledge can put forth–like the foretelling of Cyrus–without God subsequently running roughshod over the free-wills of too many people in order to obtain that prophecy fulfilled. I’m also concerned the view may unwittingly result in God being too close to the sins and evils of people–deterministically (i.e. did Jesus just anticipate Peter’s denial 3 times or render it certain through a sovereign arrangement of conditions).
I’m not enough of an egghead to understand all the various nuances but I hope to overcome some of my genetic stupidity by reading more on the subject in the future. All that to say I presently advocate for exhaustive divine foreknowledge because the jury is still out on too many issues related to O.P. I love Greg Boyd though! I’m a big fan. He rescued me from idolizing America and helped me to see the important distinction between “Christian” America and the Kingdom of God. I’m also looking forward to his forthcoming book on the “Crucifixion of the Warrior God.” I believe it will be either heretical or revelatory 🙂 Everything in the middle has already been done 100 x’s over!
“I love Greg Boyd though! I’m a big fan. He rescued me from idolizing America and helped me to see the important distinction between “Christian” America and the Kingdom of God. I’m also looking forward to his forthcoming book on the “Crucifixion of the Warrior God.” I believe it will be either heretical or revelatory 🙂 Everything in the middle has already been done 100 x’s over! ”
Haha…I’m right there with you on this. I was introduced to Greg Boyd through open theism, but what I really like about him is his “Kingdom” perspective on everything, it really is refreshing to hear, but a bit worrisome when you contrast it with the rest of Evangelical Christianity on issues like a Christian response to violence for example. I am looking forward to reading that book as well, these days I feel like if you’re being called a heretic by someone then you’re probably not saying anything interesting. 🙂
Greg Boyd is a theologically consitant Arminians. Why? Because he is a Open Theist who denies God’s omniscience, therefore must also logically deny His omnipresence and omnipotence. Open Theist are heretics, but thankfully most Arminians are theologically inconsistent affirming these three biblical attributes of God. Why does Mr. Boyd hold to Open Theism? If God is omniscient
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
God would know if someone will or will not become a believer in Jesus and man’s libertarian free will regarding salvation would be destroyed.
Those that hold to an Open View of the future are not heretics David. And they do not deny God’s omniscience the way you may assume. They hold that God knows all possibilities and contingencies in the future such that nothing takes him by surprise. If an event occurs he always saw it as a possibility and since he is an infinite being of infinite wisdom he can concentrate and focus on every possibility as if he knew it was a certainty… so there really is no loss. Open Theism may or may not be true, but if we are going to critique it we ought to at least get it right. I’m pretty sure you have never read any of Greg Boyd’s books and have only engaged with what dissenters of the Open View say… which is always going to leave you at a disadvantage and closer to ignorance than understanding. All the best.
Matt Slick of CARM.org-
In Open Theism, the future is either knowable or not knowable. For the open theists who hold that the future is knowable by God, they maintain that God voluntarily limits His knowledge of free will choices so that they can remain truly free. Other open theists maintain that the future, being non existent, is not knowable, even by God. Gregory Boyd, a well-known advocate of Open Theism says,
“Much of it [the future], open theists will concede, is settled ahead of time, either by God’s predestining will or by existing earthly causes, but it is not exhaustively settled ahead of time. To whatever degree the future is yet open to be decided by free agents, it is unsettled.”
In Open Theism God can make mistakes because He does not know all things that will occur in the future. According to them, God also takes risks and adapts to the free-will choices of people. They claim biblical support for their position by citing scripture where God changes His mind (Exodus 32:14), is surprised (Isaiah 5:3–7), and tests people to see what they will do (Genesis 22:12).
My opinion is that openness is a dangerous teaching that undermines the sovereignty, majesty, infinitude, knowledge, existence, and glory of God and exalts the nature and condition of man’s own free will. Though the open theists will undoubtedly say it does no such thing, it goes without saying that the God of Open Theism is not as knowledgeable or as ever-present as the God of orthodoxy.
Your quoting Matt Slick, Scott! That’s like asking the Pope to give a credible assessment of Martin Luther’s reformation ideas. Matt Slick is wrong. Open View adherents do not say that the “future is not knowable.” The view is that there are many aspects of the future that are “not settled.” In other words God has exhaustive knowledge of all possibilities inherent to the future. Therefore nothing takes God by surprise as if he was ignorant of any contingency or possibility in the future. And because he is infinite in wisdom he can focus on each possibility as if it were a certainty. God chooses to enter into “risks” in so far as he chooses to enter into the parameters of human freedom that make genuine love, obedience and worship possible and meaningful. For love, obedience and worship to be maximally meaningful it requires the choice to not love, not obey and not worship to be also possible. As I said earlier, the Open View of the future may or may not be true, (I have questions about it myself) but if you are going to critique it you might as well have the integrity of mind to interact with its able defenders rather than Calvinist
detractors like Matt Slick. Here are three basic articles to start you off:
Matt, I just want to let you know how impressed I am with your reasoning in the debate on Calvinistic Compatibilism. (Yes, I read it all, too, and am so glad I did!) I especially appreciate many of your summary comments in the final post, and hope I have your permission to send much of it, along with other excerpts from the rest of the debate, to friends and family. If you want to send me your email (you have mine with this post) I could send you a copy of the excerpts I created to make sure that the abridgement does no insult to your intended meaning.
Derek replies that: “. . . you present Calvinism . . . as a theological position which would actually be blasphemous, heretical, destructive, and entirely inconsistent with Scripture, if the position was actually held by anyone. I cannot think of any mainstream Calvinist who has ever held to the kind of belief you define as Calvinism. Even many hyper Calvinists would cringe at some of the propositions you tell us Calvinists must affirm. . . . Frankly, if Calvinism was what you claim it is, I would join you in staunchly opposing it. I would actually go further and condemn its adherents as anti-Christian heretics.”
‘Amen to that, Derek, and that is exactly how I feel about Calvinism!’ The problem is that most Calvinists – including most prominent teachers – have been conditioned by the wiles of Satan working within our culture over the centuries to be able to schizophrenically hold contradictory beliefs without ever recognizing its absurdity. Most Calvinists have been so cleverly brainwashed and saturated in faulty reasoning that it is difficult to get past their doublethink and expose the logical fallacies of the theology.
Hi Truthseeker, thanks for reading and commenting. You may be only the second that has read it entirely 🙂 Congrats! I am actually hoping to post up an even lengthier critique on John Piper’s “Two-Wills of God” viewpoint. The critique/response is about 100 pages (yikes!) and so I will break it up into chunks and post them up accordingly. As for your request to send along excerpts to friends and family, please feel free to do so. All the best and Shalom!
P.S. Just sent you an e-mail
I just wanted to say thank you for your work not only for God in Southeast Asia, but for the Christian community at large, particularly in your exposure of inconsistent Calvinism. Just recently I was reading your blog post about slavery and Jonathan Edwards that was enlightening. After reading the comments I noted how you are committed to showing people what consistent Calvinism entails. I agree with you on this, and I believe that more people would abandon Calvinism if they knew what it truly entailed as opposed to the “good side” of it promoted by John Piper, etc. Since so many people seem to be influenced by your site, I have here a list of quotes from prominent Calvinists that showcase the ABSOLUTE worst of Calvinism. Do you think I could email them to you in an attachment? And maybe if you think they are worthy you can make a post highlighting how they are just consistent Calvinism.
Anyway, as a fellow SEA member I just wanted to say thanks and encourage you to keep posting such excellent and informative material.
Hi Michael! Thanks for the encouragement. Yes Calvinism has a good side I call the Jedi side but it also has a dark side. That may be the nature of “the force” and the yin yang but certainly not the God we are called to worship “who is light and in Him there is no darkness AT ALL.” (1 John 1:5) I have been wanting to blog about that God vs The Force analogy in reference to Calvinism but have not had the time. But yes please send the Word doc to me of those quotes. That may help me put it together one day. You can send to me on the SEA members site or email@example.com Thanks
Are you still active? Do you have contact info?
Yes still active but presently writing a book on the Biblical story and also dabbling in children’s stories but nothing ready for publishing yet. Haven’t been very active on my blog lately but hope to return to it in a more active way later. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just found this blog. Very enlightening. Can you recommend preachers that I can listen to or read?
Hi Patrick, I am honored you find my site encouraging. Here are some resources for you. I would strongly suggest you join the facebook site: SEA Members Only (SEA = Society of Evangelical Arminians).
Here are some resources from the SEA website. I will also add some other links.
One more: http://beyondcalvinism.blogspot.com/2015/02/on-corporate-election.html