Friday, December 25, 2009

Only in America. Jim and Tammy Faye live on in our hearts.

America was made for - and by - Calvinism.

Money = Grace.

Passions over 'prosperity gospel': Was Jesus wealthy?


Anonymous said...

Your working definition of Calvinism is very flawed.

You're confusing it with the Prosperity Gospel. They are entirely different, diametrically opposed worldviews.

DanBack said...

I'm back. Did I miss Kevin taking me up on the beer offer? I'm in West Bend until Tuesday afternoon...

Mpeterson said...

When I was majoring in history this was still a fairly well accepted interpretation of the American psyche.

Calvinism -> pre-destinationism -> God knows who will be been saved -> God shows favor to the chosen and chastises the damned even during their lifetimes -> that favour is demonstrated in wealth.

This idea shows up even in the writing of the founders of Mass Bay Colony -- and their descendants -- I think it's probably still safe to argue, that bunch set the psychological tone for most of what came next. I mean, if any country in the history of the world could claim evidence that God loved us most (a fortuitous clearing of 90% of the original population within a few years of first contact and a nearly infinite amount of natural resource? I mean, c'mon), it's us. We've confused luck with grace from the beginning -- but it's much more satisfying, as a national myth, to believe we're God's chosen than to believe we're lucky.

It's always seemed obvious to me that the Prosperity Gospel is simply a more recent illustration of a much older, underlying, idea.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking when I put it up.

Anonymous said...

The Five Points of Calvinism, many times referred today as TULIP were initially introduced by the Canons of Dordrecht in response to Arminianism and are as follows:

Total Depravity - The inability for man to choose God over sin without preveniant grace and God's pre-determinism.

Unconditional Election - God chooses his Elect regardless of personal appearance or actions but by his own sovereign and divine will. Man's "interference" is irrelevant.

Limited Atonement - That Christ's death on the cross was a penal substitutionary atonement for the elect and only the elect. This particular point of Calvinism is more strongly supported by the newer Unlimited - Limited Atonement stance that Christ's death was propetiationary for all sins, but is only applied to the elect.

Irresistible Grace - When God calls one to election it cannot be resisted. Man has no free will in his election but is compelled by the will of God.

Perseverance of the Saints - Salvation cannot be lost. God elected those by his divine sovereign will and as such, his will cannot be countered and thus the impossibility for loss salvation.

Calvinism has never had anything to do with "God knowing who will be saved" as opposed to "God singularly chooses who will be saved."

It most certainly has nothing to do with "God showing favor to the chosen and chastising the damned." and instead emphasizes the wickedness of man and how they deserve no good thing. Most Calvinists and those of the Reformed theology shun any type of physical wealth.

For an awesome example of how completely backwards your view of Calvinism is, you should take a look at the blog of Matt Chandler. Matt Chandler is well respected rising leader within the Reformed movement. He recently suffered a stroke on Thanksgiving Day which lead to the finding of a malignant tumor in his brain. Though he has a rough road ahead of him, this strict Calvinist is staying truth to his theological worldview by seeing that God is glorified in his suffering.

Matt Chandler's blog can be found here:

It's seriously worth the read.

You could also take a look at any book written by Dr. John Piper. Piper is at the forefront of the current Calvinism movement, and probably one of the most down-to-earth people you'll ever find.

None of these people pursue fame. None of these people are the financial well off TV shouters you'll see on TBN asking for money for a "Spiritual Stimulus Check."

I'm not saying you have an inaccurate perspective of some Christians. I'm just educating you that you are incorrect in your views of Calvinism.

You're thinking more towards Oral Roberts and less towards Charles Spurgeon.

Mpeterson said...

I wasn't thinking about current Calvinist theology, but the stuff informing the foundations of the American sense of wealth and poverty...along lines like this, but interpretation is interpretation... so I'm glad for your observations.

Mpeterson said...

... wait, did you mean to suggest that Calvinism does *not* include predestination as a key concept?? -- because that's all I needed to make the rest of my argument.

In fact, take away the emphasis on predestination and we're simply back to, well, Luther, aren't we?

Mpeterson said...

sorry... just one more:

Sure you did.. you included unconditional election in the five.

Sorry, but to my jaundiced eye, your third and seventh paragraphs simply contradict each other.

Anonymous said...

The main difference between paragraph three and paragraph seven have more to do with the difference between the doctrines of Calvinism vs Arminianism and lesser so, Open Theism.

The Calvinist would quote Romans 9 and focus on how the elect were predestined by God to a specific outcome (Heaven or Hell) to his glory before the foundations of the earth, focusing on the lack of human free will over the matter. Though some call this "Double Predestination" it's honestly better referred to as "Pre-determinism."

An Arminian practicing folk theology would take a stance that God gives human's free will, but in reference to God's omniscience and the biblical concept of "the elect" he already knew (knows) or chooses (elects) who will or will not choose him before the foundations of creation.

An Arminian who is better studied, at least at the lay theologian or perhaps ministerial theologian view would posit that has elected a body (a church / bride) and through his grace, meaning the provision of that which is undeserved, provided man with the freewill to choose to follow God and become a part of that elect.

The Open Theist would probably deny God's omniscience and instead make reference to the concept of dynamic omniscience. That God keeps himself from knowing certain things to maintain a strange concept of free will that they adhere to.

So to draw this all back to your comment on conflicting paragraphs. I agree that God choosing an elect infers that he knows who that elect is, but what I was trying to say is that a Calvinist puts the emphasis on the electing process. This is what separates them from the other theological perspectives, and helps to define the reformed theological position.

The Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker types, as well as Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, pretty much anyone you'll see on TBN, and the like are not (never as far as I've experienced) tied to the Calvinist theological position. Instead they are referred to as "Word of Faith" movement, also chided as the "Name it, Claim it" faith.

This movement is the one that tells their listeners that God wants them to be successful, healthy, and financially secure. They even go so far as to say that if you are following God the way that you should that these things will be experiences that you too can share. They'll even tell you the first step in getting there! Of course it starts with financially supporting their ministry (for the low low price of...).

Your initial post isn't wrong. It's just inaccurate on a technicality.

Historically a Calvinist would have a heart attack if they saw someone claim their doctrinal stance as synonymous with the prosperity gospel.