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Christian Pipe Smokers :: View topic - The Sovereign God of “Elfland”

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tuttle
Gonna eat small
Gonna eat small


Joined: Dec 03, 2008
Posts: 8453
Location: Middle-west

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:51 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I know that this link will likely give Del an aneurysm, but I honestly can't resist posting this. I'm so glad there are guys like Piper out there because he explains things so much better than I. I line up with him 100% on this but could never say it as clear. (I once attempted to say something along the same lines round here before and wound up just quoting piper...)

In the article, John Piper explains why Chesterton's anti-calvinism doesn't put him off, as well as explaining why Chesterton's assesment of calvinism in Orthodoxy miss the mark of true calvinism.

Hopefully this article will give a bit of insight into why calvinists love Chesterton and maybe even clear up a few misunderstandings about calvinists...

The Sovereign God of "Elfland"

(I want to recommend, that if at all possible, we steer clear of Catholic/Protestant theological differences that don't focus on the main subject)

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"You're my kind of stupid" -Mal Reynolds

"Better to die cheerfully with the aid of a little tobacco, than to live disagreeably and remorseful without." -CS Lewis

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OldWorldSwine
rootle round the ear 'ole
rootle round the ear 'ole


Joined: Aug 02, 2009
Posts: 7555

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:09 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
(I want to recommend, that if at all possible, we steer clear of Catholic/Protestant theological differences that don't focus on the main subject)



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colton
Spiffy Enough
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Joined: Aug 01, 2007
Posts: 7840

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:17 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Piper is quite right in calling Chesterton on his greatest flaw: glossing history to make a neat point. I don't know whether William Cowper was really saved by his friendship with John Newton, but I do know Chesterton has a sometimes-endearing, sometimes-annoying tendency to act as though history were as simple as a play with it's morals and metaphors.

Still, Piper neglects Chesterton's most serious criticism: that the logic of Calvinism traverses too small a circle, that it's a selective logic requiring the student to ignore or downplay the untidy bits. Of course, whether that criticism is fair is a whole other matter. For my part, I'll concede that both the catholic and Reformed views require a truce with paradox; I just find the catholic paradox far more compelling, not least because it traverses a wider circle.
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Murf
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Joined: Apr 20, 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:19 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Great article. That echoes my sentiments precisely.

I wish that I could communicate with the grace simplicity that John Piper does. I always felt that we apply less logic and ascribe more wonder to the Lord than our reputation impresses. I never once felt coldly logical but only vibrantly alive.

I hope this article reveals to the non-Calvinists just how much they might be loved, appreciated and respected by those of the Calvinistic/ Reformed tradition, perhaps unknowingly.

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tuttle
Gonna eat small
Gonna eat small


Joined: Dec 03, 2008
Posts: 8453
Location: Middle-west

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:53 pm Reply with quote Back to top

colton wrote:
Piper is quite right in calling Chesterton on his greatest flaw: glossing history to make a neat point. I don't know whether William Cowper was really saved by his friendship with John Newton, but I do know Chesterton has a sometimes-endearing, sometimes-annoying tendency to act as though history were as simple as a play with it's morals and metaphors.



The Cowper/Newton friendship is worth researching, not necessarily to discover that calvinism isn't the 'culprit', but because it's a beautiful picture of Christian friendship and sacrifice on Newton's part.

colton wrote:
Still, Piper neglects Chesterton's most serious criticism: that the logic of Calvinism traverses too small a circle, that it's a selective logic requiring the student to ignore or downplay the untidy bits. Of course, whether that criticism is fair is a whole other matter. For my part, I'll concede that both the catholic and Reformed views require a truce with paradox; I just find the catholic paradox far more compelling, not least because it traverses a wider circle.


I don't know if 'traversing too small a circle' is Chesterton's most serious criticism. I think Piper covered the most serious ones against Calvinism. But still, you have a point in that Piper didn't really address that. At least not directly. His 'tree' analogy I think touched upon it a bit.

Continuing the terms of 'wide' and 'small' circles, my gut tells me that while Catholics might view the Reformed circles as 'too small', the Reformed probably view the Catholic circles as 'too wide' in that they've passed beyond the bounds which God has established. In those terms it's easy to see why each side would probably lob criticism at each other.

But, regardless of the tit for tat back and forth, I find that Piper does a nice job putting forth a view of the Reformed faith which is often maligned or misunderstood here on CPS.

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"You're my kind of stupid" -Mal Reynolds

"Better to die cheerfully with the aid of a little tobacco, than to live disagreeably and remorseful without." -CS Lewis

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wosbald
What's the funny part?
What's the funny part?


Joined: Feb 26, 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:29 pm Reply with quote Back to top

+JMJ+
The paradox of "Man has free-will" with "God is Sovereign" is the juxtaposition of two positive and affirming doctrines that glorify God and dignify Man. This demonstrates the sublimity of a paradox.

But the juxtaposition of "Man has no free-will" with "God is Sovereign" (or that "Man has no free-will" but "Man is still held responsible") doesn't befit the sublimity of paradox. These are not two affirming doctrines. The first is a negative and nullifying doctrine that degrades Man in order to glorify God but only ends up only deforming both. The picture of Man is degraded and demoralizing. The picture of God is cruel and wanton.

Even dignifying this with the sublime name of "paradox" is a desperate tactic. Calvin was upset that he couldn't make his theological terms balance. So, he simply erased the human term, and voila!, they balanced out! And now, Calvinists want to come along 500 years later and cloak this in some pious veneer of the human intellect humbly submitting to divinely revealed truth?

I think that GKC's devastating critique simply hits too close to home for many Calvinists. Piper has revisited this topic many, many times. Perhaps, in his heart, he's not as comfortable with his beliefs as he claims. I find that hopeful.

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tuttle
Gonna eat small
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Joined: Dec 03, 2008
Posts: 8453
Location: Middle-west

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:23 pm Reply with quote Back to top

wosbald wrote:
+JMJ+
The paradox of "Man has free-will" with "God is Sovereign" is the juxtaposition of two positive and affirming doctrines that glorify God and dignify Man. This demonstrates the sublimity of a paradox.

But the juxtaposition of "Man has no free-will" with "God is Sovereign" (or that "Man has no free-will" but "Man is still held responsible") doesn't befit the sublimity of paradox. These are not two affirming doctrines. The first is a negative and nullifying doctrine that degrades Man in order to glorify God but only ends up only deforming both. The picture of Man is degraded and demoralizing. The picture of God is cruel and wanton.

Even dignifying this with the sublime name of "paradox" is a desperate tactic. Calvin was upset that he couldn't make his theological terms balance. So, he simply erased the human term, and voila!, they balanced out! And now, Calvinists want to come along 500 years later and cloak this in some pious veneer of the human intellect humbly submitting to divinely revealed truth?

I think that GKC's devastating critique simply hits too close to home for many Calvinists. Piper has revisited this topic many, many times. Perhaps, in his heart, he's not as comfortable with his beliefs as he claims. I find that hopeful.


I find it interesting that the calvinist's understanding of man is always characterized by critics as 'degraded and demoralized' and that God is 'cruel and wanton' and yet for some reason calvinists act and believe the very opposite about man and God and claim that their 'calvinism' supports their belief and action.

They hold these beliefs which obviously (says the critic) make God out to be a monster and man out to be, at best, a worthless puppet, and yet, for the calvinist, these 'logical' conclusions are never attained.

_________________
"You're my kind of stupid" -Mal Reynolds

"Better to die cheerfully with the aid of a little tobacco, than to live disagreeably and remorseful without." -CS Lewis

The Reformation Drinking Song
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wosbald
What's the funny part?
What's the funny part?


Joined: Feb 26, 2008
Posts: 13141
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:42 pm Reply with quote Back to top

+JMJ+
tuttle wrote:
wosbald wrote:
The paradox of "Man has free-will" with "God is Sovereign" is the juxtaposition of two positive and affirming doctrines that glorify God and dignify Man. This demonstrates the sublimity of a paradox.

But the juxtaposition of "Man has no free-will" with "God is Sovereign" (or that "Man has no free-will" but "Man is still held responsible") doesn't befit the sublimity of paradox. These are not two affirming doctrines. The first is a negative and nullifying doctrine that degrades Man in order to glorify God but only ends up only deforming both. The picture of Man is degraded and demoralizing. The picture of God is cruel and wanton.

Even dignifying this with the sublime name of "paradox" is a desperate tactic. Calvin was upset that he couldn't make his theological terms balance. So, he simply erased the human term, and voila!, they balanced out! And now, Calvinists want to come along 500 years later and cloak this in some pious veneer of the human intellect humbly submitting to divinely revealed truth?

I think that GKC's devastating critique simply hits too close to home for many Calvinists. Piper has revisited this topic many, many times. Perhaps, in his heart, he's not as comfortable with his beliefs as he claims. I find that hopeful.


I find it interesting that the calvinist's understanding of man is always characterized by critics as 'degraded and demoralized' and that God is 'cruel and wanton' and yet for some reason calvinists act and believe the very opposite about man and God and claim that their 'calvinism' supports their belief and action.

They hold these beliefs which obviously (says the critic) make God out to be a monster and man out to be, at best, a worthless puppet, and yet, for the calvinist, these 'logical' conclusions are never attained.

I don't know what to say to that other than that I'm glad for you. Srsly.

Even though I'd had these thoughts before when I'd read Calvinists' (and Piper's particularly) treatment of this topic, I kept silent. But since Piper visited it yet again, and since you were asking...

But considering that you recommended, wisely, that we focus on the main subject, I don't see what more I can add. This mulberry bush has been well rounded many times before.

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