Why are so many people opposed to Calvinism Steven Lawson? “Cuz they don’t know their Bibles”

Questioner: Why are so many people against Reformed/Calvinist theology?

Steven Lawson: Because they don’t know the Bible; it’s not that they know too much of the Bible, but too little that leads them to the conclusion that Calvinism isn’t viable (my paraphrase).

To view the whole exchange on the above click here. The respondents also include the late R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur.

None of this is surprising, of course Lawson et al. will claim that people reject their version of Calvinism because, as he claims, people don’t know their Bibles. It is hard to fathom how folks can survive in this world living in such echo chambers, but that’s exactly what fuels the universe these folks apparently inhabit. They won’t even entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe there are multitudes of people out there who actually do know their Bibles, quite well in fact, who disagree vehemently with the hermeneutic that leads to classical Calvinism (in all its verity) in the main. But attempt to push back towards people like Lawson et al., let them know that there is a whole host of interpretive tradition that has developed over the millennia in the history of interpretation, in the Church catholic, and you’ll get the same refrain (just louder!): “you don’t know your Bible, because if you did, you would think just like me!”

I have already beat this dead horse to death but let me register it one more time: classical Calvinism, even of the sort that JMac and company affirm, finds its origins steeply rooted in Christian Aristotelianism. The whole development of Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (and “orthodoxy”) attests to this fact, as Richard Muller has voluminously developed in all of his writings (particularly his 4Vols Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics). But Macites et al. have so uncritically received their interpretive tradition that they can’t make Post Reformed orthodoxy for the Bible, and vice versa. They have so conflated, uncritically so, the categories they interpret Scripture through, with Scripture itself, that they cannot see a critical difference. So, when you challenge their position, you are not challenging their position, but Holy Scripture, and thus, God’s living voice (viva vox Dei) itself. This is why they get so animated when confronted with the possibility that they just maybe have collapsed substance metaphysics, and the like, into their respective exegesis of the text. I suppose it’s easier just to live life from the idea that they don’t interpret Scripture, that there is no ‘interpretive dilemma,’ so on and so forth.

But I have also come to realize that attempting to genuinely engage with people like Lawson et al. is a fool’s errand. I did that for years and years here in the blogosphere, particularly over at Pyromaniacs, the group blog of Phil Johnson (Johnson is the executive editor and front man for JMac at Grace to You Ministries). And yet I literally stumbled across the above video and thought I would at least offer some response here. That drumbeat is like the Energizer bunny.

5 thoughts on “Why are so many people opposed to Calvinism Steven Lawson? “Cuz they don’t know their Bibles”

  1. Whether true or not, the unease of uncertainty, along with prideful self-magnification, appear to succeed in driving herds down well-worn trails rather than striving to hear and locate the master’s voice. Theology is demonstrated by the life it bears.

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  2. @ Bobby, Not true, indeed! For there is one who is true, who is the door to the sheepfold, who calls his sheep to follow him as the way that leads to life (rather than driving them down the well-worn trials that find certain only death and destruction. His theology?… “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” (May it be our theology as well!)

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  3. ‘Natural theology’ as philosophical defense of the Christian faith in God is an illusion. The reason, (according to Miguel de Unamuno, 1864–1936) is that, “It prevents people from recognizing the crucified Christ, from perceiving the contradiction of their own existence, and from understanding God’s sorrow.” The sorrow of the loving God— who is also the living God— is the sorrow of a living God whose love suffers humanity’s inability to perceive the contradiction of their own existence… prevented both from recognizing the crucified Christ and from understanding God’s sorrow. A God who cannot suffer cannot love either. And a God who cannot love is a dead God. The scandal of the cross— that God should suffer and should experience what death is— is the truth of the suffering God that has been revealed to us in Christianity (in Christ Jesus’ agony and death on the cross). In this ‘scandal’ the living God who is the loving God is revealed to us in the Son— sent that he might redeem us by suffering and dying.

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  4. @Richard, yes. These folks are so committed to an inherent Thomist intellectualist anthropology (or some form thereof) that they can never give into the idea that their noetic capacities had to be rewired from the ground up. Even though this is what the incarnation and the cross reveals, they dig in their heels and end up living a Pelagian intellectualist existence. They don’t live from the re-creation reality of resurrection, but from some self-perceived natura pura (pure nature) wherein even after the fall of humanity in Adam and Eve, humanity retained intellectual capacity to know and see God; that is when provided with a new “supperadditum” of created grace ostensibly given to the “elect” by God. Terrible way to slog through this world as a Christian, it is sub-Christian existence no matter what the supposed Great Tradition and supposed consensus fidelium says.

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