Friday, January 14, 2011

MOST STUPID THING I HEARD TODAY

The most stupid thing I heard today came from Norman Geisler, who said: "These people [Calvinists] teach that Christ only loved the elect and only died for the elect. And I think that's some kind of theological racism."

If Geisler really thinks that, he needs to retire. Almost everyone who has read the Bible and a theology book other than Geisler's knows Calvinists believe election is based on God's foreknowledge and choice. For example, Paul said "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blamelss in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption thorugh his blood..." Ephesians 1.

Paul addressed the Ephesians letter to the saints. The saints are those who believe in Christ and receive eternal life. Paul identified himself as one of the saints by using the word "us". So, he says God chose the saints before the creation of the world to be holy and just. He did not choose the non-believers. He took those he chose and through his grace provided his Son to die and pay the penalty for their sins. They will therefore be holy and blameless in his sight.

Further, he predestined (chose beforehand) the saints to be adopted as his sons. Why did he do this? It was not because he was a theological rascist. We know that because he chose people from all races. We do not know, however, why he chose them. All we know is what Paul told us here in Ephesians: It is because it was his pleasure and will to do so. And because it was, we, the saints, have redemption through his blood. Non-believers do not have redemption through his blood. They do not have the benefit of Christ's payment for our sins. Or, as the Calvinist would say, Christ did not die for them and did not atone for their sins.

Geisler is entitled to believe whatever he wants and he is entitled to argue for it. I think it is even a healthy way to flesh out your theology. However, this kind of name calling is sleazy. It is the kind of thing you see in politics. Every time you want to smear someone, you say he is a rascist, or his actions are rascist, whether or not it is true, for it takes the focus of the audience off of the real issue and distracts them to hatred or disdain based on the made up charge of rascism.

Ironically, the call in the political world after the Arizona shootings is for less incendiary rhetoric and more reasoned debate. Maybe theologians of Geisler's ilk should take the same pledge.

I would also caution Geisler about applying the theological rascism critique too far. The original election was racial. The Hebrews, and only the Hebrews, were God's chosen (elect) people.

And just one other thing to ponder. When the priests made sacrifices of atonement, whose sins were atoned? Only the sins of Israel, the Hebrews, were atoned. The sins of the Amorites, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Euopeans, the South American Indians and all other Gentile races, were not atoned.

Now that's limited atonement.
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