Hey Pastor (redacted),
I hope your having a good day so far. I finished reading through “The Darkside of Calvinism” by George Bryson today. I have to say I was really disapointed in it. I thought I would share a few observations on it since you sent it to me to read.
1) on page 15 and many, many other pages George writes something like, “Despite formal denials from Calvinist…” and then he will go on to give an explanation of what Calvinism teaches on a particular aspect of Theology.
Doesn’t formal denials from those who believe in a system count for anything? Not according to George Bryson. He misrepresents “Calvinism” quite badly, yet says that despite what Calvinist teach, this is what it really teaches.
2) on page 106 Bryson comes out and says the audience of a piece of writing doesn’t matter in regard to how we interpret a text. He is speaking in regard to 2 Peter 3:9. Thats one of the first rules of good interpretation. The audience of a letter must be taken into account.
3) George obviously believes that Salvation is determined on men meeting the condition God has set out. He believes that the condition to be saved is “faith.”
4) In Chapter 8, George basically denies that saving faith is a gift of God as set down by Paul in Ephesians 2:8-9.
5) He keeps saying that Calvinist believe that “many or most of the individiuals in the world” will not be saved. That is a misrepresentation.
6) George never deals with many texts of the Bible that teach the Doctrines of Grace such as John 10, John 17, Romans 9, Phillipians 1:29, 1 Corinithians 1 and many, many others. His explanation of John 6 and Ephesians 1 was lacking in my opinion.
7) From what I gather, George believes in Free Will, Conditional Election, Universal Atonement, Obstructable Grace, and Perserverance of the Saints (yet not the Calvinistic version). So According to Chuck’s pamphlet on these issues, George is a 4 point Arminian, or basically what Calvary Chapel believes.
8) Most of George’s texts to prove his points were John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4-6, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 2:9. This is fine, and I understand the points he was making, but he never gives a alternative interpretation in response to many other areas of scripture that teach the Doctrines of Grace.
I have come to the conclusion, it is impossible for God to have revealed a contradiction in scripture. We are supposed to interpret the Bible by the Bible. We have to look at the whole of scripture and then interpret it as one complete text.
I know you said that the Bible teaches both paths, the freedom of man and God’s sovereignty, and that when we get to Heaven we will understand how it all works. I don’t agree with that. Why would God reveal to us a contradiction? I can’t accept that there is a contradiction.
Just for the lack of a better term, if you believe the “Arminian” way there is no reasonable way to interpret those texts that teach God’s sovereignty in Salvation without twisting and turning scripture. If you believe God’s sovereignty, you can interpret those few texts that George relied on so heavily in light of the others with ease.
God can do whatever He wants with Man, and He is right in whatever He chooses to do.
Am I a Calvinist? Am I an Arminian? I have no idea, but all I can do is cling to God’s Word and believe all of it the best way I can. I want to love the God of the Bible, not what I want God to be.
I know you would say, “What about the fruit of all these different movements.” My response to that is what about all the “fruit” of Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Muslims? Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but we both know that is not of God.
And concerning fruit, Spurgeon was a Calvinist. Whitefield was a Calvinist. Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist. John Wesley was an Arminian. Billy Graham is an Arminian. I don’t think “fruit” can determine who was correct in this matter by measure of “fruit.”
And one other thing in regard to this subject. You were the reason this subject came up so prevalently in the church there. When you taught on Romans 8-9, (redacted) was in the audience. He began to look into these things and he became a Calvinist. Then we started talking about it and it just went from there. I had to come to the conclusion I was wrong even though I wrote and debated the Calvary Chapel view so confidently and enthusiastically.
I was disappointed when I listened to your sermons on John 6 and you dodged the issue over two Sundays. I remember you saying in the first one that I listened to that you were going to cover those things in more detail the following week. Then the next week you said you had covered it in the prior week. These were the sermons around John 6:44.
Plus, in 2 Peter 2:8 I thought it was interesting you skipped the part of the text that they disobey because that is what they were destined for when you were teaching through that book. I wanted to ask you about that, but I thought better of it at the time.
I thought it was interesting too that you changed the Church’s Statement of Faith.
Wherever the Bible is taught verse-by-verse, this subject will keep coming up because Predestination and Election are taught in the Bible.
Anyway… I’m not trying to debate or convince you of anything. I just wanted mainly to let you know that I read the book, and I did so with an open mind. All I want is God’s Truth… I want to love His truth. That is what is important to me.
“We love God’s Word, and we make every effort to seek out the truth in it’s pages. Truth and knowing the God of truth is more important to us than traditional dogma, what we have been taught growing up, or what we want to believe about God. We are here to be pleasing to God, believe, and teach the truth, not to be pleasing to men, confirm error, or continue contradiction.”