What are you, some kind of [insert label here] or something?!

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So what are you, some kind of Calvinist or something?

Are you postmillennial?

Are you…*gasp*…a Theonomist?!

[Note to readers: Before continuing this post, if you’re a professing Christian, please take a moment to prayerfully consider whether you actually believe that truly converted, supernaturally reborn New Creatures in Christ can (and often will as a part of the individual paths placed before them) seriously disagree on matters of great significance that are beyond the core distinctives (essentials) of the Christian faith and worldview.

If you cannot approach differences of opinion on such serious but non-essential matters in a Spirit of biblical grace and love towards those with whom you may disagree, then I respectfully request that you pause here, prayerfully dive into the Word, and come back when you’re ready.

I’m not saying that vigorous, passionate and challenging debate is something to be avoided. Quite the contrary. We need to have thick skins and be able to push each other hard. What I mean to convey is the necessity of a biblical approach to such challenging situations if we are to reap the full benefit of such debates and best glorify God throughout the process.

Thank you for your grace and patience with me in this request!

For those of you who are able by the grace of God to consider hard things in a biblically loving and serious manner, please continue…]

Every now and then in response to something I post somewhere, I get one version or another of a perfectly reasonable question: Are you a Calvinist? Or: Are you postmillennial? Or: Are you a Theonomist? Or: Are you really an Oakland Raider fan?

Okay, so I don’t really get that last one much, but questions like the first two are recurring – and, as I mentioned, very reasonable. We should wanna know what others believe, and not just on the surface. We should want to know in detail.

That’s what true love for a brother or sister looks like, isn’t it?

Wanting to know – to really know – what others think, feel, fear and hope for in detail seems to be a basic test for sincerity where any claim to “loving others as ourselves” is concerned, doesn’t it?

In that context, it’s perfectly cool and good to ask questions like “What do you believe, exactly?” and “Are you a(n) [insert label here]?”

In this context labels can be very good and helpful. Are you a Calvinist? Are you an Arminian? Are you Dispensational or Postmillennial in your eschatology? These tags are perfectly acceptable and profitable tools when used rightly.

One thing I’m not advocating as “good” is the coddling or excusing of questions that are asked in a primarily hostile, condescending or otherwise jerky fashion born of un-Christ-like, self-serving motives. I’m talkin’ ’bout honest, sincere and often hard-hitting questions – questions that can be asked passionately and sometimes out of deep concern or in the heat of a good and proper “iron sharpening iron” debate on subjects of great consequence…like the nature of God, man, salvation, law, government, knowledge and truth, for example.

So before getting to some of my answers to those sorts of tag= or label-related questions, I want to take this moment to encourage you (and remind myself) to ask and be open to being asked these things. It’s important that we be eager to engage, share and grow together in conformity to Christ through the hard-hitting, challenging debates and discussions that He has lovingly commanded and equipped us to have.

What I’d like to do now is present some fairly brief and hopefully helpful answers to the most repeated and/or significant questions along these lines as often received in response to things I write here at Fire Breathing Christian.

I’m aiming to keep the definitions of these terms very simple. I’m not going to get into detailed explanations or detailed defenses of the positions associated with these terms, and I’m not gonna dive into detailed critiques of opposing views. Obviously, those things have happened and will continue to happen regularly elsewhere at Fire Breathing Christian.

That said, I hope here to provide readers with some clarity and at least an entry level elaboration as to what it is that I believe as a Christian in detail, particularly as related to some well-known and oft-used labels.

First off: Yes, I am a Calvinist. (This is the tag that I’m asked about most often.)

I believe that salvation is monergistic (with God doing everything by His grace to perfectly and completely save His people) rather than synergistic (where man cooperates with God in order to attain (or maintain) a salvation that has not been secured for him completely or perfectly by God’s grace alone). I believe that God has secured for Himself a particular people and that the sacrifice of Christ saved those specific, chosen people perfectly and completely, rather than making a generic, nonspecific group of people merely savable. I do not believe that Christ tried to save everyone and does the best that He can with what He’s got to work with, but ultimately fails to accomplish His will for His people. I believe that He succeeds completely in saving each and every one of His chosen people, all by His grace, all for His glory, and all to the eternal benefit of His people.

There is much more to a Calvinistic or Reformed understanding, but the centerpiece distinctive seems to be the nature of salvation (monergistic vs. synergistic), so I will pause on detailing my Reformed perspective here and leave further details for other posts.

One of many good resources for exploring and understanding the Reformed Christian perspective is Monergism.com. Another is Dr. James White’s Alpha and Omega Ministries.

Does any of this mean that I believe that non-Calvinists are inherently non-Christians? Of course not.

As Calvinists ought to know better than most, people are not saved by their theology; they are saved in spite of their theology. At the same time – and this is really important – those who have been truly saved have been saved unto good theology, meaning the active, ongoing pursuit of increasingly accurate understanding and application of God’s Nature as revealed in His Word.

Moreover, I’ve got tons and tons and tons of very awesome and dear Christian non-Calvinist Brothers and Sisters for whom I am most thankful.

Do I think they’re wrong about some very important things?

Yep.

Do I think their errors are serious and often radically impact their worldview (and therefore their lives) in very detrimental ways?

Yessiree.

And I love them and believe them to be true Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

See how that works?

(If not, please scroll back up and take another run through the previous section.)

Now on to the next answer to another recurring tag-related question…

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I am also a Presuppositionalist. Presuppositionalism (man, I feel so drained after typing that again) is a way-too-long tag for an approach to worldview and apologetics that is built upon the foundational presupposition that the Christian faith is the only coherent, defensible basis for all rational thought and intellectual pursuit. This worldview and approach to worldviews presupposes the Nature of God as revealed in His Word as the divine, perfect, sufficient and necessary means by which all things in God’s creation are to be understood. Presuppositionalism inherently rejects and refutes the notion of neutrality in any realm of Christ’s creation and is known for employing the tactic of “pushing the antithesis” as a way of making what is known as the “transcendental argument for God”. (I’ll try to add reference links for these later. In the meantime, Google away…)

One supercool reference point for a Presup worldview in action is Sye TenBruggencate’s site, Proof That God Exists. Check it out if you have the time. It’s fun…and solid. (A rare combo these days, eh?)

Some posts that I’ve written with a focus on presuppositionalism include:

Meology vs. Theology: Putting God on Trial and Man on the Throne

The (not so) Great I (probably) Am: The Man-Centered Myth of the “Probably God”

Razing Hell: The Christian Call to War on Autonomy

The Alpha of Apologetics…and Everything Else

Swiss Cheesiness: The Myth of Neutrality

Jedi Say the Dumbest Things (comic strip; not necessarily presup-specific, but still in line.)

Daddy (Isn’t There) Issues: The Myth of Autonomy

I’ve also written a short book, The Beginning of Knowledge: Christ as Truth in Apologetics, which I published late in 2013 as an introduction to Christ-centered apologetics. I’m hoping to have the time to get a revised version finished and released soon. (There were just too many typos to tolerate and I want to add a few new bits to it.)

So if I’ve gone as far as writing a book on the beauty and importance of the Presup position, then I must think that non-Presup types are inherently non-Christians, right?

El wrongo.

The same beautiful truth that covered the Calvinism deal earlier applies here: I have mountains of awesome non-Presup Christian friends and I deeply respect scores of non-Presup Christian preachers, teachers and authors.

I love ’em all.

So there!

Do I think that they’re wrong on some very significant things in ways that seriously impact one’s worldview and life in practice?

Oh yeah.

Certainly.

And…I love them!

See how that works (again)?

See the trend here?

Now on to the Big Eschatology (“end times”) tag-related answer…

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I am postmillennial in my eschatology.

This basically means that I believe that the Spirit of God living in His people will be used by His grace in accordance with His Gospel-fueled Great Commission to bring every enemy of Christ into subjugation and submission to Him before He physically returns to earth. This idea centers on a few key points:

  1. The Gospel drives everything. Everything that God’s people are called and equipped to accomplish comes by way of His grace-fueled Gospel. Everything.
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  2. God the Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – is actually, really and truly living within His people as they walk and live right here and now on planet earth.
  3. The Gospel- and Spirit-fueled Great Commission is the means by which God the Father has chosen to bring His entire creation into subjugation under God the Son.

As one exception to my earlier cited aim of avoiding much in the way of response to critics, I do feel as though it would be helpful and lovingly corrective to make plain that postmillennialism in no way advocates “men making the way possible for God”, as some claim (sometimes out of honest ignorance; sometimes not). The Christian postmillennial understanding centers on precisely the opposite notion, exalting the grace and Gospel of Jesus Christ as the essential persistent core of everything that His people do to “take dominion” in His creation. Every bit of this “dominion” is taken by His grace, for His glory, and through the very real Spirit of God that is really, actually and truly living and working through His people.

I hope that this clarification is helpful.

Here are a few examples of postmillennial-focused posts that I’ve shared recently at Fire Breathing Christian:

Man up, buttercup. Rome wasn’t conquered in a day.

Art, math, beauty, logic, law and economics…it’s all about Him.

A Tale of Two Churches (comic strip)

What if we are living in early Church history?

Roaring into Post-America Christianity

The Awesome Gospel (comic strip)

The devil only holds what we leave in his hands.

Encouragement from Satan (comic strip)

7 Empowering Truths for Politically Active Christians

I’ll try to get more reference links here later.

Now on to our fourth and final label-related answer for the day…

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I am a Theonomist.

Christian Theonomy, as I am coming to understand it, centers on the Gospel-fueled application of God’s Nature as revealed in His Word in detail where the realms of law and civil government are concerned. The Theonomic concept is not necessarily constrained to law and civil government, but these areas are those most often discussed in relation to Theonomy, for fairly obvious reasons. Ultimately, Theonomy is simply the natural, choerent expression of the comprehensive rule of Christ as King in practice in every realm of His creation, which obviously and necessarily includes the realms of law and government (at every level).

If the Word of God in detail is not to be the defining standard in detail for any concept, activity or pursuit anywhere in His creation, then we as Christians are right (and I think obligated) to ask and answer the question: If [insert concept here] is not to be understood, defined and pursued in accordance with the detailed Nature of God as lovingly reveled in the detail of His Word, then by what standard are we to test, measure, and define the thing in question? If the Word of God in detail is not to be our standard in defining and implementing law and civil government in detail, then by what standard are we to define and implement these things?

You get the idea.

Here are some of the more overtly Theonomic posts I’ve made recently here at Fire Breathing Christian:

Openly Reject God’s First Commandment? YES! WE! CAN!

Our Suicidal Lawlessness (comic strip)

The State as God in practice: How we currently evangelize through government, law and education.     

Love, Truth and Theonomy (comic strip)

Who defines “lawlessness”? Who defines “law”? (Or: Why it’s no surprise that Baltimore is burning.)

What does Jesus bring to politics, education, law, and economics?

One excellent resource for coming to an understanding of Christian Theonomy is The American Vision. Gary DeMar and Joel McDurmon have done great work there for many years, and the recent Theonomy Debate has been used by God mightily to shed some much-needed light on the necessity of His Nature as revealed in His Word as the standard by which we see, understand and pursue things like law and civil government.

Joel McDurmon’s post-event writings examining some of the statements made in The Debate have been fantastic. I highly recommend anyone seriously interested in Theonomy to check ’em out, as well as gems like Answers to Todd Friel’s Theonomy Questions, which I (and many others) have found to be very helpful, clarifying and gracious.

So there you have it: I’m a Reformed/Calvinistic, Covenantal, Presuppositional, Postmillennial, Theonomic Christian.

I hope that’s okay with you at some basic level. Not that I’m asking your permission or anything. What I mean is that I hope that you – if you are a professing Christian – will have the grace, patience and love for me that our King requires, and will handle any differences that we might (temporarily) have accordingly. I will, by His grace, strive to show the same grace toward you, wherever you are on any of the label-spectrums covered earlier.

Am I aware that even some of the people and ministries I’ve linked to in this very post may on some significant issues hold some positions with which I disagree?

Yep.

No doubt about it.

As a matter of fact, not a single one of the people I’ve recommended here is, that I’m aware of, a fan of the Oakland Raiders.

Oh, there are other issues too, I’m sure, but you get the picture.

Even many of the guys and ministries I’ve mentioned here have disagreements among themselves. And…I love, revere, respect and thank God for ’em all.

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The fact that we may disagree on some significant things doesn’t shake or call into question the essential unity that we share and the essential love that I have for them…and for all true Christians who may for now passionately disagree with most or even all of what I’ve shared here when it comes to Calvinism, Presuppositionalism, Postmillennialism and Theonomy.

If we love Him, we will strive to more accurately know and more diligently keep all of His commandments…and one of the biggies there is to love one another as we love ourselves.

That sometimes means sharing hard truths that people don’t want to hear and may even hate, but doing so in a manner that is loving and respectful, as God defines love and respect.

Am I the best, most knowledgeable or most consistent Calvinist, Presuppositionalist or Theonomist?

Nah. Not yet, anyway

But I’m working on it.

All by His grace and for His glory.

I thank you for taking the time to wade through and consider these things. I hope that they provide helpful clarification as to what I believe and who I am in some detail.

May God grace each of us with a thirst for His Nature as revealed in His Word, a zeal for that lovingly revealed Nature to be applied in detail throughout His creation, and a matchless love for one another, all by His grace, for His glory, and to our eternal benefit.


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The Beginning of Knowledge: Christ as Truth in Apologetics is an approachable, easy to read introduction to Christ-centered apologetics:

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Finally, here are a few good intro/reminder links for those of you who are new to Fire Breathing Christian and curious about exactly what’s goin’ on ’round here:

What are you, some kind of [insert label here] or something?!

What’s with that shark-fishie graphic thing?

Intro to Fire: The Power and Purpose of the Common Believer

When the Bible gets hairy. (Or: Is it right for men to have long hair?)

And especially this one: Never forget that apart from God’s grace you and I are complete morons.

Thank you for your support!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I have been challenging James White CONSISTENTLY to a debate. I'll challenge you. 🙂 Since you seem to be in agreement with him. What if I told you that John Calvin had only 20-30% of Bible revelation of the eternal whole counsel plan of God??

    What if I told you that Genesis 1:1 is not all about "all mankind in Adam". Genesis 1:1-2 is about God looking down at darkness… BEFORE the Genesis creation was created and saying, "Let there be light"… THEN creating the Genesis creation.

    That was the devil and his angels in their fall… the only source of darkness pre-existing the Genesis creation. And failure to study that… the true larger context… has left Calvinists Calvinists seeing only 20-30% of the eternal whole counsel plan of God…

    giving them so incomplete a comprehension of the Bible… they declare election (according to foreknowledge) to be "unconditional". Why?? Because a Calvinists looks only to the man-centered portion of scripture (which is not man-centered – but the lense of perception of Calvinism limits itself to "what about me as a man?"

    Sure, if all a person looked at was man and flesh… one would become a 5 point Calvinist.

    However, the full counsel of scripture shows us that the fall of the devil and his angels preceded God saying, "Let there be light"… that God's statement was inherently redemptive.

    That Genesis 1:26 is God speaking in council to the angels about creating mankind with their spirits in a second body male and female.

    That election is not unconditional and reprobation as a human is not arbitrary.

    The elect at flesh level are the same as the reprobate children of wrath according ot hte flesh like all the rest.

    But, in spirit, the elect saints are the elect angels made human male and female in incarnation and hypostatic union even as God who is Spirti was made a man.

    The reprobate in their spirits are the seed of the serpent, fallen angels incarnate.

    Election is NOT "unconditional" … but based on foreknowledge as the Bi ble says.

    God KNOWS the reprobate CANNOT be saved due to a spirit man that is their onw spirit man that is a devil.

    This whole creation was created so the reprobate would be made human, Jesus would die and destroy the devil… and the reprobate would be saved yet so as b y fire coming through the fire saved on the last day.

    We're angels in earthsuits… and we all become angels in the end.

    Not only does God so love the reprobate He sent Jesus… He so loved the reprobate… He created the Genesis creation and mankind.

    The reprobate are the fallen angels in earth suits even as Jesus Christ is God in an earth suit…and the elect are the elect angels in earthsuits.

    This is the only way that fallen angels can be saved…a nd why we are all here… for the cross.

    Calvinism is blind seeing only the narrow view of the man-centered counsel of Adamand all mankind in Adam… never seeing the greater and larger truths of scriptures… or the love and heart of God in sending Jesus. Please read my books at http://www.graceexplosion.com at the Library… free downloads.

    John Calvin saw only 20-30% of scripture with a man-centered focus on Adam and all mankind in Adam… never caring to look at the fall of the devil and the angels… put it all together… and realize this is a realm of redemption in which mankind are temporarily angels… get angel bodies in the end…and the manifold wisdom of God cannot be comprehended looking at man in time on earth.

    The beginning was the fall of the devil and his angels… not the creation of man.

    God sent a woman with the eternal whole counsel.

    God doesn't appreciate Calvinists saying, either, that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today… and that women can't teach.

    John Calvin perhaps had 20% or less of the eternal whole counsel revelation of scripture.

  2. Outstanding!!! Errr-hem, you left out covenantal. Let me take a weak stab at it. We observe and by faith believe, that God, the unchanging and faithful One, has saved His people (deliver us from the penalty, power and practice of sin, imparting to us His life), both Old and New Testament, in the exactly the same way, namely, by trusting in the once for all representative sacrifice for sin, perfect obedience to God’s commands thru His Son. In other words by grace thru faith in Christ. So then, since Christ has come in the flesh, there is no essential distinction between Old Testament and New Testament saints, and no special relationship to God based on genealogy or national/ethnic considerations.

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