On Being Uncertain, on theological issues

In a comment on a recent post here Robert Kan asked me,

How certain are you that a particular teaching in scripture is not relevant for us today because “times” have changed?

I think I surprised Robert with my reply, because he made no further comment on that post:

… The answer is: not at all certain. Christians come to different conclusions on many of these matters, and I don’t think one is objectively right and the others objectively wrong.

In practice each of us finds our own footholds on the slippery slope. I’m not sure that is a bad thing. It’s only a bad thing if we use it as an excuse to break Christian unity or start condemning others for choosing different footholds. Paul outlines the principles of the strong and the weak, and I think they may well apply here.

A clarification here: as the broader context shows, I am not denying objective truth in matters of fact, but rejecting only the objective status of positions on issues of ethics and morality.

In a further comment on the same post, Iconoclast helps me to unpack further Paul’s teaching on the strong and the weak, and how it applies in this case.

Austin and Allison FischerProbably independently, Austin Fischer has written a guest post at Roger Olson’s blog Certainty Not, in which he criticises the theological pretension (not “pretention” – Fischer mixes up the two spellings) of “young, restless and Reformed” neo-Calvinists:

And lots of things go into pretention: pride and projection, arrogance and insecurities, knowledge and ignorance. But at its very core pretention, especially theological pretension, feeds on certainty. We become pretentious when we get certain, when we become convinced that there is simply no way we could be wrong about this, when we cannot see any truth in alternative positions, when we can no longer feel the weight of dissenting voices and as such seek to squelch them out.

But of course when it comes to theology, certainty is impossible. Finite human beings are trying to make sense of an infinite God. We always know God subjectively, never objectively. Perhaps the most certain thing we can say about God is that we cannot be certain about anything. This is not to say we cannot be confident, that we cannot have good reason to believe what we believe. But it is to say that certainty will always lie just beyond our grasp. Certainty? No. Confidence? Yes.

Indeed. Sometimes it is good to be confident that we are right, especially concerning central matters of the Christian faith. But even here we need to avoid the kind of pretentious certainty which only repels others and divides the church. Probably more often we need to recognise that our own conclusions are provisional, based on our own limited understanding of the issues and of the relevant Bible passages.

And that implies that we should treat Christians who differ from us on these issues not as enemies to be defeated or as apostates to be shunned, but as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Concerning our attitude to them the world should be able to say, in the words quoted by Tertullian in the 3rd century (see also John 13:35),

See how they love one another.

Packer: “A totally impassive God would be a horror”

J.I. PackerFollowing the death of John Stott, J.I. Packer is surely now the unchallenged elder statesman of Anglican* evangelicalism. He is a special hero among the “Reformed” Calvinists, whether Anglican or not. But is he in fact a Calvinist? Or is he more an Open Theist?

According to traditional Christian theology, one of the key characteristics of God is that he is “impassible”, i.e. he “does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being”. This view has its origin more in Neo-Platonism that in biblical teaching, but came to dominate Christian thinking through the influence of Augustine. The Reformers such as Luther and Calvin took on this idea, and it has become enshrined in “Reformed” theology through doctrinal statements such as the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562) and the Westminster Confession (1646), which both describe God as “without body, parts, or passions”.

Most of today’s “Reformed” Calvinists would follow their heroes and their confessions and teach that God is impassible. But in recent years many other theologians, evangelicals among them, have challenged this doctrine. Some of those making this challenge are associated with Open Theism, a teaching which is anathema to Calvinists.

It is in this context that Roger Olson has had some interesting things to say about Packer.

A few days ago Olson quoted Packer as writing that “Arminianism is an intellectual sin”, and so writing off Olson, and myself, as sinners. Ironically Packer justifies his position by quoting the Arminian Charles Wesley. But this is from something which Packer wrote in about 1958, and so may not represent his current views.

Today Olson shows he bears no grudge for being called a sinner by posting And now…kudos to J. I. Packer for this brilliant article, about a 1986 article in Christianity Today. It is this article which is relevant to the impassibility debate, because in it Packer seems to reject this doctrine, at least in its classical form. Olson quotes him:

Let us be clear: A totally impassive God would be a horror, and not the God of Calvary at all.  He might belong in Islam; he has no place in Christianity.  If, therefore, we can learn to think of the chosenness of God’s grief and pain as the essence of his impassibility, so-called, we will do well.

In other words, Packer agrees with the biblical text that God suffers grief and pain, and tries to turn the definition of “impassibility” on it head. In doing so he goes not only against Islam but also against the Westminster Confession, and against the Thirty-Nine Articles of his own orthodox Anglicanism. Olson comments,

In fact, I believe IF that article were to be published today WITHOUT the author’s identity attached, many conservative evangelicals would assume it was written by an open theist or a “leftwing evangelical” and attack it as dangerous.

Personally, I do not see how the article’s central thrust can be reconciled with classical Calvinism. … Classical Calvinism is closely tied to classical theism.  It certainly does not believe that God can change his mind or “make new decisions as he reacts to human doings.”

So what can we conclude? Is Packer’s thinking inconsistent? I suspect not in quite the same way that Olson claims. Clearly the mature Packer of 1986 is not the same as the young Packer of 1958. But even while misrepresenting Arminianism in 1958 he could agree with the Arminian Wesley that a key effect of God’s grace is “my heart was free”. And by 1986 his position seems to have embraced much more freedom and openness than classical Calvinism would seem to allow.

Packer is a hero of “Reformed” Calvinists worldwide. No doubt he would still reject with horror any suggestion that he might be an Arminian or an Open Theist. But what he has written seems to put his current position closer to Arminianism and Open Theism than to Calvinism. It is also further from Neo-Platonism and closer to biblical Christianity.

* Packer is apparently still an Anglican, despite leaving the official Anglican Church of Canada in 2008. The church where he is Honorary Assistant Minister, now known as St John’s Vancouver Anglican Church and meeting at a new location, states that “We remain in communion with the greater part of the worldwide Anglican Communion through the auspices of the Anglican Network in Canada.”

Driscoll’s two faces: God loves you, God hates you

JanusWhich does Pastor Mark Driscoll believe? That God loves everyone, or that God hates most people? Like the Roman God Janus he seems to have two different faces, and he can’t make his mind up which to present to the public.

Scott Bailey has quoted from a video by Driscoll, which was formerly posted at his church’s website but has since been taken down (annotations apparently by Zack):

Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is “meritous” [the word he’s looking for here is “meritorious”]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.

The sermon this is taken from is new, but there is nothing new in Driscoll’s sentiments. Here at Gentle Wisdom I reported him saying much the same in 2007, in my post What Driscoll really said about God and hate, which included

GOD HATES SINNERS. …

The whole “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” — that’s the wrong place to start. “God hates you and its going to go really really bad forever!” – hey now that is true…

But a completely different face of Driscoll is seen in his response when Fred Phelps and his family threatened to picket his church, a blog post from June this year with the long title Westboro Baptist Church, This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings Welcome You to Our Whore House for God’s Grace and Free Donuts. (Thanks to Jeff commenting on Scott’s post for the link.) In this post when Driscoll writes:

God does not love everyone—in fact, He hates the majority of mankind, and has purposed to send them to hell when they die.

he is quoting, and then rejecting, the teaching of Westboro Baptist Church. Driscoll continues:

The whole ”read-the-words” of the Bible thingy is actually pretty good advice. And in reading the Bible, we see that it says everyone is loved by God, and though not everyone is saved, anyone who turns from sin and trusts in Jesus will receive eternal life. Additionally, we know that it’s not God’s hatred that leads people to repentance but instead his kindness (Romans 2:4). Here are some Scriptures that speak plainly about God’s love for people:

  • John 1:29: “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
  • John 3:16–17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
  • 1 Tim. 2:3–6: “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…”
  • 2 Peter 3:9: “He [God] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Good teaching! Here Driscoll sounds almost like an Arminian, choosing to quote the Bible verses most commonly used to refute Calvinism.

Driscoll offers a more nuanced presentation in his recent FAQ: Predestination and Election. Much of this is a fair presentation of the issues between Calvinists and Arminians. In it he mostly avoids the “hate” word. But the generally Calvinist tendency becomes clear in the section “Answers To Common Questions About Predestination & Election”, which omits from its long list of Bible verses discussed the “Arminian” verses Driscoll chose to quote to the Westboro Baptists. Just before he confirms that his own position is more or less Calvinist (although he calls it Augustinian), Driscoll writes:

Does God love the non-elect?

Yes, he does, and does so with common grace (Matt. 5:45). Yet he also has a special affection for the elect. So, God loves everyone in a general way, and also loves the elect in a saving way.

In other words, as 4xiom interprets this in a comment on Scott’s post,

God brings a person into the world to be tortured endlessly as an object of his vindictive hatred, but his love for said person is clearly demonstrated by a brief period of ‘common grace’?

If Driscoll really believes what he wrote to the Westboro Baptists, why isn’t this material included in his FAQ? And why is there no explanation of how he apparently believes in two contradictory things, that God hates many people and predestines them to hell, and that God loves everyone and wants them all to be saved?

So why the contradiction? Could it be that Driscoll is just so naturally combative that he always takes the contrary position to anyone he is discussing these matters with? Perhaps more probably he does in fact take the moderate Calvinist position outlined in his FAQ, but sometimes in his preaching he gets carried away with “God hates you” type language and so goes against his own theology. That would explain why the offending video was taken down.

But what does it say about Driscoll as a preacher if he is so little in control of what he says that he makes unintentional public statements like this? With this hate speech he is not only denying his own theology, he is bringing the Christian faith into disrepute. At least Fred Phelps is consistent in how he spews out hatred. If Mark Driscoll really doesn’t have the same beliefs, why does he sometimes say the same things?

Judgment, Hubris, and True Christian Maturity

Roger Mugs, whose blog Theologer is subtitled “bible. beer. blog. (and a word for missiology which starts with a b)”, seems to have been more amused than offended that John MacArthur called him “Young, Restless, and Reformed”, although he writes

I resent all three.

John MacArthurWell, Roger can hardly be surprised that some Christians object to his post Beer. Glorious beer, in which he encourages missionaries like himself to brew their own. But it was quite an honour for him to be called out for it by the infamous MacArthur, even in terms like these:

deliberately cultivating an appetite for beer or a reputation for loving liquor is not merely bad missional strategy and a bad testimony; it is fraught with deadly spiritual dangers.

Roger has now followed up his initial response with what he calls “a response to/rewrite of/mockery of John McArthur’s recent post”, Judgement, Hubris, and True Christian Maturity. In this he counters MacArthur’s condemnation of the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” stereotype with his own observations about the “Old, Bored, and Reformed” like MacArthur. The result is hilarious! But there are also many important serious points, such as:

Apparently judgment is also an essential element in the missional strategy. Judging others publicly is often touted as a necessary means of influencing  youth culture, and conversely, humility is deemed a “sin” to be repented of. …

deliberately cultivating an appetite for pridefulness or a reputation for loving myself is not merely bad missional strategy and a bad testimony; it is fraught with deadly spiritual dangers.

Indeed. MacArthur and other “Reformed” leaders need to look more closely for the planks in their own eyes before condemning what they think they see in others’ eyes. Sadly, I suspect that if they did they would find that the greatest sins in the genuine “Young, Restless, and Reformed” tendency (not including Roger Mugs!) are not so much beer drinking as the same self-righteousness and judgmentalism that Roger has identified among their older and more bored fellows.

Better a universalist than a Calvinist

Roger E. OlsonRoger Olson asks How serious a heresy is universalism? Universalism, the belief that everyone will be saved, has been a popular topic of Christian discussion since Rob Bell was wrongly accused of it. Olson makes it clear that he considers universalism to be a heresy. But he concludes that there are different versions of universalism and some are more seriously in error than others.

He also makes it clear that he considers universalism, at least in some versions, to be a less serious error than Calvinism – or at least than some versions of Calvinism. He writes:

I’m not a universalist.  On the other hand, I’d rather be a universalist than a true Calvinist (i.e., a five point Calvinist who believes in double predestination).

Someone once asked me whether I would still worship God if somehow I became convinced the Calvinist view of God is correct.  I had to say no.  Sheer power is not worthy of worship.  Only power controlled by love is worthy of worship.

If somehow I became convinced that universalism is correct, would I still worship God.  Yes, but….

I would have to wonder how a God of love can enjoy love from creatures that is not given freely.  Of course, someone might argue that, in the end, every creature will freely offer love to God and be saved (e.g., Moltmann).  I would just call that optimism.  There’s no way to believe that true other than a leap of optimistic hope.

Indeed. Universalism born from optimistic hope may be unrealistic but it is not a serious heresy. Believing in a God who condemns most people to everlasting torment without offering to them the grace they would need to be saved is a serious heresy because it turns the God of love into a monster. Like Olson, I could never worship a God like that.

But read the rest of Olson’s post before condemning him.

The inner logic of Calvinist attacks on “Love Wins”

Roger E. OlsonRoger E. Olson, as one of his “evangelical Arminian theological musings”, explains Why I defend Rob Bell’s Love Wins (and other controversial books). In doing so he offers some fascinating observations about Calvinist attacks on Arminianism and other perceived theological errors. He refers to “American evangelical Calvinisms’ DNA”, but much of what he says applies equally to some strands of British Calvinism, such as that of Adrian Warnock.

Olson considers Calvinist responses both to open theism and to Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, and compares them with general Calvinist criticisms of Arminianism. He is careful to point out differences between these three positions, but point out that Calvinists who reject them offer the same arguments against all three, that

they are human-centered, belittling the glory of God, neglecting God’s justice and wrath in favor of too much emphasis on God’s love, etc., etc.

At this point I would add that there is a similar character to much Calvinist and “Reformed” polemic against those seen as rejecting penal substitutionary atonement, like Steve Chalke, with the same arguments being made that the rejected position is human-centred and neglects God’s justice and wrath.

Olson then considers specifically the arguments against Bell’s book. He looks at 1 Timothy 2:4:

God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

He rejects the Calvinist position that “all people” here means any less than everyone. He also agrees with Bell’s rejection of universalism. So the implication is that what God wants does not actually happen. And, Olson writes,

I think that is what offends critics of Love Wins–the suggestion that God doesn’t get what he really, perfectly wants.  That seems to them to demean God, to lessen his glory. …

The deep, inner logic of the attacks on Love Wins seems to me of this variety.  The ones I have read and heard ALL arise out of Reformed assumptions about God rather than out of Arminian assumptions about God.  And there’s the main difference.  Not all Arminians will agree with everything Bell says, but the general thrust of his theology in Love Wins is classically Arminian–that God permits free creatures to resist his love out of love and therefore love wins even as God seems to lose something.  Because of the risk his love forces him to take, and human resistance to it, God ends up not getting all that God wants.  ON THE OTHER HAND, of course, God DOES GET WHAT GOD WANTS–this world in which his love can be resisted.  It’s dialectical but not contradictory.

Olson makes it clear that he does not accept all of Bell’s arguments. But he concludes with

I would like to suggest to both sides that what is really going on in this whole controversy over Bell’s Love Wins is another round of the old Calvinist versus Arminian debate.

That’s what it looks like to me as well.

Which Calvin has the better theology?

John CalvinCalvinIn case anyone is confused, the Calvin I was referring to in my post Calvin, Preacher of Legalism is the Reformer of Geneva, left, not the cute cartoon boy, right. But I’m not sure there is much to choose between their theologies as put into practice. One was profound but toxic, the other wrong but harmless.

Thanks to Jeremy Myers for informing me on the boy’s theology:

Calvin's theology

Calvin, Preacher of Legalism

John CalvinSome words of Virgil Vaduva, quoted in a post The Toxic Fruit of Legalism by Martin Trench:

He killed fifty-seven people; banished seventy-six. Confiscated property of political and theological enemies; took power by public revolt and despotism; he ruled with an iron fist. … his name was John Calvin; an incredible attorney, stellar theologian, a tyrant and a murderer. …

There is more in Martin’s post, and a lot more in Vaduva’s 2006 article, The Right to Heresy. Vaduva explains how Calvin came to exert supreme power in the city state of Geneva, dominating the elected council in a way rather like how the Ayatollahs dominate the elected government in today’s Iran. And just like the Ayatollahs Calvin and his Consistory ruthlessly enforced public and private morality, with their officers randomly searching people’s bodies and homes for anything which didn’t meet their absolute standards. When the heretic Servetus arrived in Geneva, he wasn’t even given a fair trial before being burned to death.

Now I’m sure that today’s Calvinists would write that they reject this kind of behaviour. After all, so did Calvin, when he wrote, before he arrived in Geneva, in the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion (as quoted by Vaduva – these words are not in later editions but may be footnoted in the Battles translation for which I give the Amazon link):

It is criminal to put heretics to death. To make an end of them by fire and sword is opposed to every principle of humanity.

But when Calvin had acquired the power to do so, he put a heretic to death. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Calvinists insist that theirs is a religion of grace, not of works, and that that is what Calvin preached. And indeed that is true as far as justification is concerned. But when it comes to sanctification, there seems to be no room for grace in Calvin’s scheme, but only for legalism. Jesus said

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31-32 (NIV 2011)

Paul exhorted the Galatians:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 (NIV 2011)

But Calvin brought Jesus’ disciples in Geneva (as well as those who believed only outwardly) under a new yoke of slavery, a new law of his own devising. As such his teaching was the very opposite of Christian.

Now I am not suggesting that all of today’s Calvinists are teaching this kind of legalism. Some clearly are not. But it seems very strange to me that, while claiming to be evangelical Christians, they revere so highly someone whose teachings and practice were so antithetical to the gospel message.

P.S. Please don’t think that I endorse the teachings on Virgil Vaduva’s site Planet Preterist, as made more explicit on a linked FAQ page. This site is promoting full preterism, not the partial preterism of Martin Trench which I largely accept. Full preterism includes the teaching that the second coming of Jesus will be

[not] a physical and bodily return of Jesus [but] a return of his spiritual presence

– and that this spiritual second coming took place in AD 70. Thus they have made the same manoeuvre as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and more recently Harold Camping: because eschatological events did not happen in a visible way when their understanding of the Bible says they should have happened, these groups have reinterpreted the events as spiritual and therefore invisible, rather than accept that they may have misunderstood the Bible. That, I would suggest, is one of the clear marks of a false teacher – but not as serious as Calvin’s error of turning Christian freedom into fearful bondage.

All will be saved, not just the elect

Calvinists teach that God has divided all the people of the world into “the elect” who will be saved and others who will not. All have sinned; God will have mercy only on “the elect” and condemn the others to the eternal punishment their sins deserve.

One of the main Bible passages used to support this idea is Romans 9-11. But in fact here Paul is teaching something quite different: in the end both “the elect” and the others, those who are “hardened”, will be saved – at least among the ethnic Israelites whom he has in view here. This becomes clear when one reads this section of Romans carefully, as I did when preparing my post Restoring the Kingdom to Israel.

The Apostle PaulPaul starts this section by making a distinction among the descendants of Abraham between “the children of promise”, the true Israel chosen by God, and the descendants of Ishmael and Esau who were not chosen (9:6-13). I don’t see this passage as about eternal salvation at all, but about being called for God’s purposes. More to the point, it is not really about believing and unbelieving Jews in Paul’s time, although it is building the background for Paul’s discussion of this matter.

Paul first brings up the idea that only some Israelites will be saved with a quotation from Isaiah (9:27-28). He moves into explaining how Gentiles and Jews are saved on the same basis, their confession of faith (10:12-13). Then he comes back to the question of whether God has rejected his original chosen people – to which his answer is an unambiguous “By no means!” (11:1, NIV). He teaches that

at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened …

Romans 11:5-7 (NIV 2011)

Now at first sight this looks like strong support for the Calvinist position, that God has chosen by grace an elect remnant, and “the others”, like Pharaoh (9:17-18), are hardened beyond recovery and so bound for eternal punishment. However, Paul is quick to reject this understanding. After quoting the Hebrew Bible to show that “the others” have stumbled, he writes:

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

Romans 11:11-12 (NIV 2011)

Paul explains his enigmatic hint about their “full inclusion” (Greek pleroma, “fullness”) a few verses later:

Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved.

Romans 11:25-26 (NIV 2011)

Thus he makes it clear that, at some future time, the hardening of “the others”, the Israelites who have stumbled, will be reversed, so that these people, as well as “the elect” in Israel, will be saved.

Now when Paul says “all Israel will be saved”, I don’t think we need to assume he means every individual. This is not universalism of the kind that Rob Bell was unjustly accused of. More likely “all” here means large numbers from all groups, including “the others” as well as “the elect”. Does it mean that Jews who died as unbelievers will have another chance to believe after death? Possibly. But what is very clear is that exclusion from the original group of “the elect” does not imply eternal damnation.

Calvinists like to quote this verse from early in Paul’s argument, as if it proves their point that God hardens the hearts of some people so that they will not be saved:

God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Romans 9:18 (NIV 2011)

But, after showing that hardening does not imply eternal damnation, Paul ends his argument with the other side of the same picture:

God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Romans 11:32 (NIV 2011)

So what does it mean to be among “the elect”? As I quoted Chris Wright in my March post Election: not to be saved but to save others:

If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God’s elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God’s plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham.

In other words, when Paul writes of the elect in Israel, they are those Jews like himself who were chosen by God to bear witness to the Gentiles. And when he writes of God’s elect or chosen people without specifying Jews (8:33, 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12 etc), he is referring to all who are called to bring God’s message of salvation to the world. Now by that he intends all Christian believers. But, as is clear from the example of the Jews, that by no means implies that others will not subsequently believe and be saved.

The Calvin Gene? Harold Camping and I don’t have it

Archdruid Eileen writes an interesting, but as usual not too serious, post Calvin Shrine Genes, in which she speculates about genes which might predispose people to belief in God. John CalvinShe marks today as the anniversary of John Calvin’s death by writing:

if your genes decide whether you believe or not – then Calvin was right. And it is down to God whether or not you believe in God. And that strikes me as a bit unfair, although I’m sure Calvinists would be able to explain to me why it’s not. Some argument along the lines of “God’s gaff, God’s rules”, I would have thought.

I can’t help wondering if there is a gene which predisposes people to Calvinism. I suppose people who carried this gene would have a seriously compromised free will, but they would be predestined to believe in the God of Calvin and the other Reformers and so to be saved. Meanwhile the rest of us with an intact free will would be able to decide freely whether to accept or reject the gospel message of salvation.

This Calvin gene would seem to be especially common among certain ethnic groups such as the Dutch, and so their ethnic churches are strongly Calvinistic. But this leads to problems for members of those churches who do not have the gene. Among them, very likely, is Harold Camping, who was once an elder in a Reformed church which, according to Robert Godfrey, “was almost entirely Dutch in background”, but then exercised his free will to go off the theological rails, and very likely to lose his salvation.

Well, I too have left the more or less Calvinistic fold in which I was first established as an evangelical Christian. Probably some of my brothers and sisters from those days, as well as some of my blogging friends today, would say that I too have gone off the theological rails. After all, I have dared to criticise on this blog such giants as John Piper and Wayne Grudem. But through the Holy Spirit I have assurance of my salvation from the only direction that matters.

I’m glad I don’t have the Calvin gene.