John Piper – God Purposely Plans Our Pain

Desiring God, John Piper, Discipline, Hurt and Pain

 

Screenshot 2018-08-24 at 6.34.59 PM

-by Kathi

Desiring God recently tweeted an article from 1997.

Broader context of the tweet:

It says that God is disciplining us; he is teaching us and correcting us and transforming us. In other words, God has a purpose and a design in what is happening to us. God is the ultimate doer here. Verse 6 goes so far as to say, “[God] scourges every son whom he receives.” Who is scourging? Who is whipping? (See Hebrews 11:36). God is. God is not a passive observer in our lives while sinners and Satan beat us up. He rules over sinners and Satan, and they unwittingly, and with no less fault or guilt, fulfill his wise and loving purposes of discipline in our lives.

God uses sinners and Satan as part of his purpose to cause us pain?

God plans the hurt in our lives?

Thoughts?

 

58 comments on “John Piper – God Purposely Plans Our Pain

  1. I think a lot of people believe this passively – even if they don’t realize it – because of verses like Romans 8:28:
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    But, the story of Job in the Old Testament gives us an insight into God’s position on pain and suffering. In the story, Satan approaches God to get “permission” to torment Job and then Satan does the tormenting. God does not purpose to cause pain.

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  2. Okay, maybe this needs a trigger alert. Read at your own risk…

    I really really struggle with this. Just take Job for example, yes, Satan wanted to attack Job, but God gave him permission. It even seems kind of capricious – like the two old guys in Trading Places betting $1 and completely turning two guys’ lives upside down. But, Job is interesting because it doesn’t end after the first chapter. Satan loses the bet, but asks permission to torment Job further. There is this huge argument. Job’s wife says “curse God and die” – as in give into the temptation and it’ll be over. Job’s friends say, God blesses the righteous and curses the unrighteous, so you must be unrighteous. Yet, Job himself buys into this – he says “I don’t deserve to suffer, God is acting unjustly towards me”.

    To me, it seems that point of the book is that God used this suffering to bring out a character flaw in Job, which Job repented of and was restored, yet Job was not unrighteous in the way his friends accused him of.

    So, I think that Job says that suffering has a purpose. I don’t think it is always to bring about righteousness in the sufferer. For example, Jesus told the Pharisees that he was going to send them prophets that they were going to kill and bring blood upon themselves.

    The other question comes to sovereignty – just as Satan asked permission to torment Job, the World Trade Center towers collapsing wasn’t a surprise to God. I don’t know where we would be if we believed that God didn’t allow for that to happen, yet it happened anyway, and I don’t know where we would be if God didn’t mean it to bring about what he wants to bring out.

    I look at my life in a similar way. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through, but I realize that many with my church background who didn’t go through what I went through are completely blind to the abuse of the church, and many who did go through some of what I went through – or in many cases had it worse – really had their eyes opened.

    My best guess at this point is that all suffering has a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to show us some fault of ours, sometimes that suffering is natural consequences of our poor decisions, sometimes we suffer for doing the right thing against public opinion. I think we can only through the Holy Spirit discern specific suffering. I think Evangelicals often greatly confuse this through scripture twisting – they think that suffering for viciously judging others is persecution. They think that bad things in someone else’s like (of course not theirs!) is due to God’s judgment. They deny natural consequences and turn everything into spiritual judgment. They think that making others suffer or preserving suffering (condemnation and refusing to help) is somehow helping God’s purposes.

    But… claiming that Hurricane X or Bridge Collapse Y is God’s judgment on the US for doing A B and C is, in my opinion, spiritually abusive. When Jesus was asked why a tower fell, he said, “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?” I think that dispels the myth that every cataclysmic event has some societal disciplinary purpose.

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  3. Anybody here want to enlighten me to what doctrine John Piper’s embraces.

    Maybe there are others that believe the same as he does, which must mean he didn’t invent the doctrine he embraces, thus he was mentored. (though he may have added a couple of “Points”.

    I need to be educated.

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  4. Speaking of the Twin Towers, someone said once that faith cannot move mountains but it sure does a hell of a job on skyscrapers. 😦
    I would suggest that anyone who believes that their god sends them bad things to teach them lessons should find a new god.

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  5. Carmen, I think a lot of it has to do with tone. The Christian parenting books talk about discipline in a very horrid way. Basically my kid does something, anything wrong and I need to have the ‘rod’ at the ready to punish them. It’s pretty purposeless and destructive. I tried essentially that for the first 2-3 years with my eldest and I couldn’t even approach her to hug her without her flinching or backing away.

    That said, there are some major struggles we’re having – for example, our kids are seemingly addicted to screen time and struggling to stay on top of their homework. Is it “good” for us to step back and let natural consequences happen that may jeopardize their future? Is it better to try and provide structure – no screen time until your afternoon checklist is done, or even no screen time on school nights?

    Now, we can put that in a divine context. I struggle with confrontations and refuse to ask for help even on things that are really important. The consequence of that is essentially that I end up being disconnected and a loner, even when I do enjoy interacting with others. So, is this “pain” that God has “inflicted” to push me to work through this issue? Would I have any interest in improving this area of my life if I didn’t have the pain of missing out to challenge the fear of confrontation? I don’t know.

    But, if this is the case – it’s not God saying, Mark you won’t stand up for yourself? Here’s pain and more pain. It’s not vindictive. Maybe it’s God saying “you’re missing out on such great relationships! But, you need to be able to protect your boundaries without just walking away from others in order to maintain them. If I show you how hard it is to lack relationships, will you work on improving your boundaries?”

    I don’t think, though, that Piper has that tone. To Piper, it’s a holy, distant God who only intervenes to whack people. It’s punishment, not encouragement, like God shoving our faces in the mud after we’ve already fallen so that we get the full impact of our failure.

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  6. Julie Anne,

    Did you say a “New Calvinist”?

    Don’t New Calvinist believe we don’t have a free will? (also 5 Point Calvinist, Hyper-Calvinist or Reformed Calvinist)

    I just looked up John Piper, he thinks he is a 7 Point Calvinist.

    Maybe Mark can help us out here.

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  7. For an interesting ‘take’ on this whole concept, you might want to watch Episode 4 (Season 2) of The Handmaid’s Tale.
    Under its eye. 😉

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  8. Jesus came to show us the Father. Whenever we are tempted to think that God is looking for ways to cause us pain, all we have to do is look at the life of Christ and we’ll be reminded that God truly is a loving God who extends compassion and mercy and grace to all. Jesus lived a life of healing and love and mercy. Even when his enemies were torturing him… his response was still one of forgiveness and even understanding: “They don’t know what they’re doing”. The evil is this world is a result of “free will” choices that people make… and that is where the Calvinist gets into trouble. If people can’t freely choose to fly airplanes into towers, then you are left with the conclusion that God somehow made them do it. I don’t think so!

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  9. I also found this site :
    “Hyper-Calvinism | Monergism
    https://www.monergism.com/topics/hyper-calvinism

    Below is a partial list of Extreme Calvinism, Not having free will is what I find puzzling.

    -that men/women have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect

    that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men
    that it is wrong to evangelize
    that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith

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  10. Personally I think THE Pied PIPER likes to stir the pot with extreamist talk for self promotion & aggrandizement. These guys in that camp greatly exaggerate their influence. In their minds they are spiritual renaissance men and the whole world is just waiting on their next book or white paper. They issue all these statments & “reports on the church” as if they are some definative analysts.

    Doug Phillips the perv, Geoffro Botkin the pontificator, Scott Brown the phony,CJ $ Mahaney the cover up man, Marky Mark Devers, JD jerk HAll and his pen & Pimp pals, the villege idiot Matt Chandler, Tough Tony Miano and the google review celebrity and manly MAN Chuckie O’Neal all fall into the same catagory. They greatly exaggerate their own self importance in their own minds. Outside of their little kingdoms , they are of very little importance, impact or consequence. .

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  11. Here’s a good summary: Keep in mind that “New” Calvinism, inappropriately called Neocalvinism is different from classical Neocalvinism and some have tried to get it called “Neopuritanism” so, here’s a summary:

    Neo-Puritanism appropriately enlarges our view of God’s authority and thus our view of evangelism, worship, and the church’s role in society. It is very concerned with theological issues like the reality of sin and its destruction in both individuals and society, Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Justification as the means for individuals to be saved, and for some, the Five Points (“TULIP”) of Calvinism are discussed and/or debated.

    It is very active in the religious cultural clashes in today’s American society, especially the issues of gay marriage and abortion. Neo-Puritanism sees the answer to society’s woes as starting with personal piety and then it moves out toward society, seeking to influence the culture to live by the pious standards in which Christians live.

    They [Neocalvinists] insist that there has not been enough attention paid on the first and last chapter. Acknowledging that the cross is the climax of Redemption’s story, neo-Calvinists insist that focusing just on Fall and Redemption (i.e., personal sin and salvation) neglects the deep implications of the cross to the cosmic story of God’s redemptive plan.

    While both Neo-Calvinism and Neo-Puritanism are both concerned about personal piety and cultural influence, they come at these things from different angles. Neo-Puritanism focuses on “the sovereignty of God in salvation.” Neo-Calvinism focuses on “the sovereignty of God over creation.” Their Calvinism has a ‘changing the world’ comprehensiveness, seeing that the implications of the redemption found in Christ infiltrates all spheres of society so that the ultimate end of God’s plan is the restoration of His creation.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/reintegrate/2014/05/27/whats-wrong-neocalvinism/

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  12. I think the New Calvinism is bent on trying to change society by enforcing personal piety (through law if necessary) with the idea of the church/church leadership being the spokesmen for Christianity, where Neo-Calvinism leans towards vocation and individuals as bringing about grassroots change, but failing when social justice gets divorced from the gospel.

    Here’s another great quote from the article:

    “Neo-Calvinism doesn’t neatly fit into the emerging ‘old – new’ Calvinist paradigm. Hence, I find the Neo-Puritanism / Neo-Calvinism distinction to be more helpful. There is a profound difference in their approach to the gospel. Neo-Puritans focus on the personal nature of salvation and see the church as primarily a salvation-factory, the workshop of the Holy Spirit in which the Word is sovereignly applied to the hearts of the totally depraved and they are brought into a vital relationship with God. The meaning of this for the rest of life is understood to be secondary and a by-product of a faithful life which has the church and the covenant community as its primary focus.

    Neo-Calvinists on the other hand, focus on the church as the recharging station for the people of God and focus on the work of the spirit taking the witness of God’s people into their everyday lives. In practical terms, preaching and church life focuses on equipping the people of God for their comprehensive callings.”

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  13. D, Hypercalvinism is quite a bit different. They take many of the Calvinistic teachings to a bizarre extreme. For example, unconditional election, they believe that there is nothing that we can do to help or hurt someone in their faith, so there is no reason to witness, etc., to people because their path has already been determined.

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  14. My thoughts are this is precisely the kind of thinking that led Hubby and me away from a certain church 14 years ago, away from John Piper, and me ultimately away from Protestantism itself. I kept looking for some proof that these teachings were wrong, but it was harder to find on the Internet in those days. Finally, though, I found it: found that this is from Calvinism, and the theological arguments I needed to fight against it.

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  15. Mark,

    Some would argue the 5 Point Calvinist is hung up on election theology and that because we don’t have “free will” to not sin or as I quoted “-that men/women have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect”.

    Is this belief wide-spread among the 5 Pointers?

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  16. Piper and his kind must believe their god is a monster. I believe God is a forgiving Savior if we repent of our sins.

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  17. D- I don’t know where people lie on this issue. I think it’s somewhat the kind of issue that gets debated between pastors, but generally doesn’t find its way into the congregation.

    I think it’s quite possible that 5-point Calvinism is like complementarianism where there is a lot of theological rambling about how it doesn’t lead to the undesired conclusion (i.e. people are robots and God is the author of sin) but inevitably that’s where it seems to lead. I haven’t really studied it deeply enough to understand whether the individual pieces are consistent against each other. Each individual point does make sense to me, but I haven’t looked at the interplay. It comes down to pretty much how do you answer the question: “If God is all powerful and all good, then why do bad things happen?”

    In my church of origin, I presume all the pastors were 5-pointers, but there was a pretty broad spectrum between Puritans and Kuyperians, so I don’t think that being a 5-pointer makes you Neo-puritan. I think the biggest takeaway from the article is how the church is viewed. My former church, you could know where a pastor stood based on his view of Eph. 4:11-12 and I’ve heard this elsewhere, too. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” Neopuritans tend to believe that there is a comma between saints and for – that is that the pastors and teachers DO the ministry. Neocalvinists tend to believe that there is no comma, and that pastors and teachers equip SAINTS to do the ministry. So, in the Neopuritan view the church is where ministry happens. Saints bring people into the church to be ministered to. In a Neocalvinist view, the church is where saints are refreshed and equipped. When you really dig into what the Neopuritan view looks like, it’s a celebrity pastor who is idolized by his megachurch, without whom his church can do nothing.

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  18. Mark,

    It seems Hyper-Calvinist and the “ordinary” 5 Point Calvinist aren’t that far apart.

    The difference being is the Hyper ones are more aggressive about humans not having a free will and the way they emphasize election theology, comparable to the way the Pharisees embraced themselves as the chosen elites. The Pharisees referred the people as sinners and not themselves as they took it upon themselves to enforce their a more reckless interpretation of scriptures.

    The Pharisees didn’t see the need to evangelize to the “non-elects” and went so far as to criticize Christ.

    Mark it seems as if much of the abuse that many in this thread have endured was doctrine based. They were mentored some of which from modern day seminaries teaching new students (YRR Movement) to use any sinful Pharisee like methodologies to enforce their doctrine, without disclosing what their doctrine is. (referred as Stealth or Covert Calvinist or simply “Reformed”)

    My impression is many that have endured abuse in this thread (like me) didn’t even know the doctrine of their abusers as they were trained to keep their doctrine a mystery. Some of the “younger” ones that were indoctrinated years ago, are now in their 60’s and 70’s.

    Imagine being in a church, where a pastor is secretly centering his teachings strictly within the perimeters of “TULIP” while attempting to indoctrinate a non-Calvinist church into Calvinism and purposely not revealing his belief in TULIP 2 years into his ministry until he was confronted.
    Imagine being the one trying to question and understand his doctrine and him referring it as “Truth” and then being retaliated for trying to get him to stop keeping his doctrine a mystery while he is holding the rest of the congregation captive in sin. (like the Pharisees did)

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  19. @Mark:

    D, Hypercalvinism is quite a bit different. They take many of the Calvinistic teachings to a bizarre extreme. For example, unconditional election, they believe that there is nothing that we can do to help or hurt someone in their faith, so there is no reason to witness, etc., to people because their path has already been determined.

    “In’shal’lah…”

    If Calvin “Islamized the Reformation”, these More-Calvinist-than-Calvin guys have ISISed it.

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  20. “The Pharisees didn’t see the need to evangelize to the “non-elects” and went so far as to criticize Christ.”

    That doesn’t jive with this: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

    Unless someone convinces me otherwise, I don’t see how TULIP in and of itself is a recipe for Hyper-Calvinism. Much of what I see is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what those points are.

    For example, Total Depravity just says that we are incapable of seeking God in our natural sinful state. That is in line with verses like:

    What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,

    “There is none righteous, not even one;
    There is none who understands,
    There is none who seeks for God;
    All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
    There is none who does good,
    There is not even one.”

    But, the hyper-calvinists (and neopuritans for that matter) use equivocation to turn that concept into a denial of common grace, and an excuse to preach shame and worthlessness. In my experience, it also becomes bifurcated into a subtle repudiation of total depravity in the church leadership and an enlargement of it in the membership.

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  21. @LorenHaas:

    According to Piper God causes highway bridges to fall and kill people to envourage us to love God.

    “Love God” or “Love God OR ELSE!”?

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  22. Well, I know that in all the classes and reading I did when looking into joining an Evangelical Free church, nowhere did I find any indication that it was Calvinist or Reformed. I didn’t know what Reformed was, or anything about Calvinism except for predestination. In the past, the E-Free Church in general had seemed much like the church I grew up in. Their list of “essential” doctrines everyone had to believe, seemed compatible. They didn’t say you had to be Calvinist or anything like that.

    Then the pastor began preaching Piper-style doctrines about glory and how it was a “cat” thing (ie, selfish) to grieve and everything God does is for God’s glory, etc. etc., all sorts of things my husband and I had never heard before. Then the church started teaming up with a local Reformed church.

    It took several years of searching online to find out where all this came from, where Piper was getting it from. By then we’d already left that church and–ironically–turned to the Presbyterian Church, but this was USA, the moderate/liberal one, not traditional Calvinist. Piper-style doctrines were nowhere to be found.

    As for the E-Free Church, they started work on a new doctrinal statement to replace the “essentials,” and sure enough, there in the drafts was Calvinist/Reformed doctrine, more explicitly stated this time. What we thought was a heresy brought into one church by one preacher, was denomination-wide.

    We finally left Calvinism completely, with Hubby going back to the Lutheran church and me turning Orthodox. No, Piper is not compatible with either one.

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  23. @Headless Unicorn Guy: You sure get around in comment sections, don’t you? Seems like every time I read some blog about religion and abuse, there you are, posting a comment or two to make me smile. 🙂

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  24. D – I think it is critical to understand that the fringe people usurp the language of the teaching and purposefully blur it so that they can teach it without being questioned. For example, I was in a church with a Theonomist assistant pastor. He preached a sermon on courtship, and talked about “moral case laws” like the bride price and the evidence of virginity, etc. and talking about how these are still binding today. I accused him of teaching contradictory to the Westminster Confession, which pastors in the church are required to uphold (not subscribe, but uphold).

    He was purposefully twisting (by using the word “moral”) the WCF understanding that the “case laws” no longer apply today, but the “moral” law does. By arbitrarily categorizing some specific case laws as “moral” he was saying that they are still literally binding on us today, which is apparently a Theonomic sleight of hand by which they also propose “avengers of blood” and “cities of refuge” and other OT stuff that was ONLY for the nation of Israel.

    And, most in the congregation did not understand the technicality of the matter – what he was really saying by using that language, and how blatantly contrary it was to what the church (even a legalistic neopuritan church) taught.

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  25. Nyssa, “Then the pastor began preaching Piper-style doctrines about glory and how it was a “cat” thing (ie, selfish) to grieve and everything God does is for God’s glory, etc. etc., all sorts of things my husband and I had never heard before.”

    That’s garbage. The second teaching (that the universe exists for the purpose of maximizing God’s glory) had its proponents in my old church. I guess I don’t understand how God sending rain on the just and the unjust and allowing his enemies to spit in his face while being loving and merciful is “maximizing glory”. I think, yes, God is glorified through his work in creation, but that is not the primary focus of God or his creation.

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  26. Mark,

    Seminaries are whipping out New Calvinist at a pretty alarming clip. They are going into churches and aggressively judging those that struggle to embrace their doctrine or their methodology.

    They are attempting to indoctrinate non-Calvinist churches through any means, whether it is love bombing and if that doesn’t work then they use fear and if If you don’t convert to Calvinism then retaliation.

    They teach a near Catholic type of methodology, based on works, doubt, but New Calvinist are more aggressive and more judgmental.

    It is difficult for me to want anything to do with a 5 Point Calvinist because most of the abuse I’m witnessing are from Calvinist. Though Catholic Priest are being called out for sexual abuse.

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  27. “Anybody here want to enlighten me to what doctrine John Piper’s embraces”
    –Christian Hedonism–
    “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
    And
    “Unless a man is born again into a Christian Hedonist he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    And
    “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
    SO
    If you’re not enjoying God enough or you’re disappointed with what you think He’s dishing out, or you get mad at Him when bad things happen, or fail to interpret tragic tornadoes or lightning-struck steeples or kids making out down by the river as God trying to get good ol’ Pastor John’s attention to enjoy him more, you’re probably going to hell in a big ol’ bushel basket so god can torment you eternally to glorify himself forever, and there ain’t nuttin’ you can do about it.

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  28. Yes, I think I would have been able to remain in my former church had it not had an invasion of the New Calvinist types, but they’ve pretty much taken over everywhere.

    Remember Jesus talked about the outside and inside of the cup? The New Calvinists have an amazing ability to portray themselves as holy on the outside, but when they come into churches they destroy the community by creating a graceless performance-based spirituality.

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  29. “If you’re not enjoying God enough”

    And, as I’ve said before, these guys equivocate on “joy”. There is a difference between spiritual joy and emotional joy. The New Calvinists create a rock and a hard place between the two. If you don’t (emotionally) enjoy your job, then God wants you to stay there because it’s all about producing (spiritual) joy. If your a parent and you want to produce (spiritual) joy in your child, then you must spank them when they don’t (emotionally) enjoy every chore you give them. It’s pretty dizzying how they can thread the needle between these two to create a works-based righteousness system where it is somehow holy to be empty and joyless, yet come to church with a big smile on your face.

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  30. “You’re probably going to hell” . . . Blah, blah, blah
    Right Pastor John. You know what that little speech was? A marketing tool to keep you in business. Pure bullshit. Asshole.

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  31. Easy does it, Carmen. I understand that words like that can make you sore, but I’m pretty sure “Pastor John” is trying to parody the Pied Piper. It’s hard to tell, I know — Poe’s Law and all.

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  32. Carmen
    AUGUST 27, 2018 @ 3:00 AM
    “You’re probably going to hell” . . . Blah, blah, blah
    Right Pastor John. You know what that little speech was? A marketing tool to keep you in business. Pure bullshit. Asshole.

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  33. Mark,

    The New Calvinist that infiltrate our church went so far as to send kids regularly attending Sunday School home if their non-Calvinist parents who never went to church didn’t start attending church.

    That by itself shrunk the Sunday School class in half.

    It’s like the New Calvinist was attempting to covertly push out the ones he knew he couldn’t indoctrinate and start from scratch so he could turn it into an exclusive Calvinist Utopia.

    He also believed that you needed to wear your suffering on your sleeve, which is a works based theology. Another words, if you wore a smile on your face or you are a naturally happy person, something was wrong, as you weren’t suffering in the faith enough.

    How are we going to evangelize if the world is witnessing less joy in church attenders faces than they do?

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  34. Unless someone convinces me otherwise, I don’t see how TULIP in and of itself is a recipe for Hyper-Calvinism. Much of what I see is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what those points are.

    I think so too, Mark. This is a little bit like what I’m thinking in a different thread – people take all sorts of things in the bible to one extreme or the other and make a mess of them. We’re supposed to be looking at it as a whole and that takes balancing. These abusive places are ones who have misweighted the importance of various things. I think if your church weighs towards treating people well, helping the poor, widows, etc, your doctrine is rarely going to end up abusive, because it has been put into proper perspective.

    By then we’d already left that church and–ironically–turned to the Presbyterian Church, but this was USA, the moderate/liberal one, not traditional Calvinist. Piper-style doctrines were nowhere to be found.

    Nyssa – Exactly this. I think people talking about the churches and pastors who were trying to ‘secret’ and sneak doctrines in rather than doing it openly are demonstrating part of why those pastors and churches were unhealthy. Something was already screwed up in their thinking if they feel the need to LIE about who they really are and what they believe.

    Also, I happen to like cats and cat things ;0 Imagine trying to convince people that grief isn’t allowed. Maddening.

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  35. Lea, Mark,

    Hyper Calvinist, (Reformed or New Calvinist, who knows what they want to be called?) use TULIP as a manuscript. The same manuscript as ordinary 5 Point Calvinist embrace whom are also attempting to indoctrinate to aggressively force feed TULIP onto others.

    It seems the practice of election theology or teaching we have “no-will” over our sins may have colliding interpretations within the Calvinist school, even between 5 Point Calvinists’. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m made to believe that is a couple requirements of being a 5 Point Calvinist.

    It seems the New Calvinists’ are priding themselves to being academic purists’ of TULIP.

    There are many dialects exists’ within the Calvinist School. A 1 Point Calvinist will still refer themselves as a partial or simply a Calvinist.

    What puzzles me, is I don’t understand what that means, because they are either a full blown Calvinist or not One can’t be a little bit Calvinist, any more than a woman can’t be a little bit pregnant.

    I thought the Bible was sufficient enough. So why do we need TULIP?

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  36. D, “Another words, if you wore a smile on your face or you are a naturally happy person, something was wrong, as you weren’t suffering in the faith enough.”

    I was thinking about the children in the marketplace.

    If you have a smile on your face, you’re a sinner, if you come in sad, you’re a sinner. You can’t win. No matter what you do, the “superiorly righteous” people will find some way to pick it apart and label you. I was an insubordinate hypocrite complainer by pointing out instances where my former church acted in the very same way they loved to highlight in other churches. Like X church has altar calls, well we had altar calls as well, we just called them something different. Y church allows history to trump scripture, well, we do too. The Catholic church erroneously believes the Pope speaks infallibly, yet our pastor says from the pulpit, “this is not what I would want you to hear, this is what God would have me speak”.

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  37. At least in the Catholic Church, it isn’t an automatic sin to smile.

    The more aggressive Calvinist embraces a more Sin Centered Theology than a Christ Centered

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  38. For what it’s worth, I was in the YouTube Time Warp this weekend and some videos by a “Desiring God” started showing up in my feed. Has the Pied Piper made the jump to YouTube, or is this someone else using the same name?

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  39. Hyper Calvinist, (Reformed or New Calvinist, who knows what they want to be called?) use TULIP as a manuscript.

    TULIP is what my pastor calls ‘bumper sticker theology’ – an easy way of remembering some basic theory. I don’t know how it works in neo-cal/neo-puritan/whatever land…but real Presbyterians generally read calvin’s institutes – which is really long as I understand it. You are not required to sign onto everything calvin believes to be in a calvinistish church. I think I said this elsewhere, but many of us have been in different denominations and have different life experiences, and we pull bits of theology that we agree with from them with us as we go along. Nobody has it all figured out, imo. Calvinists, catholics, Baptists, whoever…we are all just trying to interpret the bible in a way that makes sense and sometimes we get it wrong. Jury is still out on the details, but what is important is how we treat each other. That’s what Paul said and that’s what I believe.

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  40. Lea, “but real Presbyterians generally read calvin’s institutes – which is really long as I understand it”

    Doubtful, we just have to turn our brains off when anyone quotes from them :).

    One of my “fights” was over something a pastor was taught in seminary, I happened to look at Calvin’s Commentary on the passage and found that Calvin agreed with my conclusion with the same reasoning. That didn’t convince the pastor that he was wrong, and I’m sure he’ll quote Calvin as an authority on any other passage of scripture.

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  41. Doubtful, we just have to turn our brains off when anyone quotes from them :).

    Ha, Mark. I meant the pastors and seminary candidates and stuff read it. I sure haven’t!

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  42. I bet the pastors haven’t read it either. I’ve read bits and pieces. My dad consumed the whole thing and he was not the favorite of pastors or seminary students either, but he was a lot higher up the totem pole, so they couldn’t just throw down the authority/insubordination trump card when he called them out on it. Plus, he had a lot of experience in posing the disagreement in the form of a question that would make it obvious to only a certain subset of the room what exactly had transpired. My usual tactic was… doesn’t this verse say the opposite of what you just said? Which is more direct, more understandable to the general audience and more confrontational. Hence…insubordinate(?).

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  43. Mark,

    I’m sure there are passages in the Bible that most Christians interpret the same way, including Calvin, but that doesn’t make us all Calvinist.

    I have had a discussion about those who practice (judge) on others their eternal destiny in the Pharisees practice predestination on the “sinner” based on works. As the more aggressive 5 Pointers actually look for “evidence” in someone to whether or not they are saved.

    I’m under the impression, the “evidence” 5 Pointers are really looking at, is if they happen to be full blown Calvinist, though some of it is works based, primarily doing the works within a Calvinized church.

    I told them that the thief on the cross sentenced to death, salvation wasn’t works based.

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  44. I bet the pastors haven’t read it either.

    In my denomination, they have to read and take major tests on it. I can’t speak for any others, though, as qualifications for pastors vary wildly from seminary and acceptance by denomination, to showing up and hanging out a shingle.

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  45. Not my former church. I think they required expertise in the Westminster standards and the law and order of the church. I would say that their focus was more on what they would consider the pinnacle of the Reformation than those who contributed towards it. I haven’t sat through pastoral exams, but I understand that they are more doctrinal and situational than academic, but that kinda reflects my old church. Example (heard second hand) question: “A mother in the congregation comes up to you and says ‘I caught my son masturbating yesterday. Can you talk to him?’. How would you respond?” They’re typically given 30-60s to answer.

    I think this leads to the knee-jerk Theonomic-type answers and not a lot of time to explain a deep train of thought and pastoral care. I think the “correct” answer was go tell him it’s wrong, scripture X, practical example Y.

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  46. Example (heard second hand) question: “A mother in the congregation comes up to you and says ‘I caught my son masturbating yesterday. Can you talk to him?’. How would you respond?” They’re typically given 30-60s to answer.

    When I was between Done and None and checking out various churches in the mid-Eighties, I got asked something similar, except it was “I caught my son playing Dungeons & Dragons…”.

    My response was that of an experienced gamer. It usually didn’t go over well.

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