Friday, January 27, 2006

The dangers of popularized syncretism

Paul-the-papistical-syncretistic-mariolatrous-schismatic-Owen (hereafter Paul P.S.M.S. Owen for short) is at it again.

“I have become more aware over the years of the dangers of popularized Calvinism.”

To say nothing of the dangers of Paul P.S.M.S. Owen’s popularized papistical syncretistic Mariolatry.

“Popularized Calvinism oversimplifies biblical theology.”

Notice, throughout his hit piece, that Paul P.S. M.S. Owen never says who-all he’s talking about.

Which Reformed popularizers oversimplify biblical theology? How do they oversimplify biblical theology?

We’re waiting for Paul P.S.M.S. Owen to back up his allegations with names and direct quotes.

“It encourages people to think that the reason others reject Calvinism is because they do not want to accept what the Bible says.”

As a matter of fact, critics of Calvinism quite typically reject it simply because they don’t like it. We think that’s the reason because that’s the reason they so often give.

“If you just read a selected list of prooftexts with an open mind, you will be irresistibly drawn to Calvinism.”

Again, we’re waiting for Paul P.S. M.S. Owen to back up his allegations with names and direct quotes.

The reason that Paul P. S. M. S. Owen plays it safe with blanket allegations is because he lives on a diet of chicken livers. If he got specific, he’d expose his accusations to falsification.

“I have come to see that the issues are from from being that simple. Calvinism may be right (and I happen to think it is), but it is far from the plain and obvious teaching of Scripture that I used to suppose it to be.”

The fact that Paul P. S. M. S. Owen used to labor under a simple-minded grasp of Calvinism says a lot about him, and nothing at all about the rest of us.

“Popularized Calvinism encourages spiritual pride. For some reason, those who buy into the above mentality inevitably look down upon Christians of other traditions.”

Names? Quotes?

“Lutherans may be saved, but only if they do not really believe what they say they believe about baptism.”

It is clear from this statement alone that Paul P. S. M. S. Owen is incapable of serious religious dialogue. Lutherans regard Calvinists as guilty of grave error in matters of Christology and soteriology.

Should we accuse them of spiritual pride? Are they looking down on Calvinists?

Debate is a two-way street. If Lutherans regard these issues as serious issues, why shouldn’t we reciprocate their earnest evaluation?

“Arminians may be saved, but only if they do not really believe what their theology of election and the possibility of apostasy implies.”

Again, names? Quotes? Who says this?

To be saved you must be elect, not believe in election.

“Roman Catholics may be saved, but only if they reject what their official theology tells them about justification. “

And the problem with that is what, exactly? Is Paul P. S. M. S. Owen a universalist? Maybe so.

He believes that Mormons can be saved, and apparently that Muslims can be saved as well, and so on and so forth.

Given his nonexistent standards for what constitutes saving faith, it comes as no surprise that he takes umbrage at our denial that Catholicism affords a credible profession of faith.

At the same time, he takes no offense at the Tridentine anathemas. This is all too typical of Paul P. S. M. S. Owen’s Janus-faced theology: infinitely tolerant of heresy, idolatry, or false prophecy, but highly intolerant of Reformed orthodoxy.

Paul P.S.M.S. Owen is okay with Muhammad or Brigham Young, the Pope or the Dalai Lama. But if you’re a Reformed Baptist, that’s beyond the pale!

“It would seem that the only people who can consistently believe what their theology maintains, and still be saved, are the Calvinists.”

Lutherans say Calvinists are saved by a blessed inconsistency.

“ I have come to see how incredibly foolish that kind of thinking is.”

For once we agree with him. For it comes as no revelation that Paul P. S. M. S. Owen has an insatiable appetite for believing incredibly foolish things. We heartily commend his momentary lapse into candor.

“Popular Calvinism generally operates with incredible philosophical naivety.”

Such as what? Note the absence of specifics.

“ The fact of the matter is that the issues which divide Calvinism and other traditions often involve some rather subtle philosophical nuances, which lie far outside the overt categories of the biblical writers.”

Notice the implicit repudiation of sola scriptura.

“Calvinists love to quote the Bible, as if they are simply basing their views on the biblical text, when in fact, in order to arrive at truly Calvinistic conclusions, they are sometimes having to presuppose all sorts of data which comes from the realm of philosophy and the behavioral sciences. The idea that you can prove compatibilism for instance, and its theory of the actions of the will, from a direct reading of the biblical text is simply laughable.”

No, what is simply laughable is Paul P. S. M. S. Owen’s own ineptitude. Reformed apologists are not extracting compatibilism from Scripture.

Rather, they are using compatibilism to defend Calvinism when it comes under philosophical attack.

“But popular Calvinists are generally too ignorant of philosophy to even recognize what they are assuming.”

This is from a man who accuses Calvinists of spiritual pride. Of looking down on others.

But no one is more puffed up with pride and condescension than Paul P. S. M. S. Owen. He would make a peacock look humble by comparison.

And that is, of course, the reason he’s so sympathetic to theological deviations like Islam, Mormonism, Catholicism, and Anglo-Catholicism, where the merit of man remains an essential ingredient in his own salvation.

“Popular Calvinism encourages people to attack straw men.”

It’s funny to read a man so blind to his own faults, so incapable of self-criticism.

The fact that he intones the mantra of “popular Calvinism” as a substitute for naming and quoting his opponents is, of itself, a textbook illustration of a straw man argument.

Anonymity and innuendo are the weapons of choice for the demagogue. Paul P. S. M. S. Owen is the Ray Cohn of bloggers.

“For some reason, whenever Arminian and Roman Catholic views are critiqued in popular Calvinism, their folly looks painfully obvious. The reason that they appear to be so obviously erroneous though, is because the depth of their viewpoint is rarely reflected in the Calvinist critiques. How often do you see the subtle arguments of Aquinas and John Miley dealt with in any detail by popular Calvinists?”

Well, for one thing, popular Calvinism knows how to listen. We listen to the arguments offered by real live Catholics and Arminians, then we respond to what they say.

“Not very often, because frankly, popular Calvinists are rarely capable of even understanding them.”

Once again, Paul P. S. M. S. Owen positively reeks with the rancid odor of spiritual pride. Scratch his skin and a Mormon will crawl out.

“Popular Calvinism distorts the message of the Bible. Have you ever noticed that in some circles, the gospel seems to be all about the 5 points?”

Have you ever noticed that Paul P. S. M. S. Owen never documents his sweeping charges? As we say, Paul P. S. M. S. Owen is the Ray Cohn of bloggers.

“All these people want to talk about is what makes them different from their poor, ignorant, Arminian cousins.”

Waiving the hyperbole, when Arminians raise objections to Calvinism, our replies peg their objections. That’s called “responding” to your critics. Evidently a foreign concept to Paul P. S. M. S. Owen.

“Yet in the Bible, the distinctives of Calvinism arise only tangentially, usually in connection with some other more fundamental theological or practical consideration.”

Ah, so original sin (the “T” of TULIP) and salvation by grace alone (the “ULIP” of TULIP) are only “tangential” to the teaching of Scripture.

“I now view Calvinism’s distinctive teachings, not as the heart of the gospel, but as a fence around the Law.”

What a shock to learn that a papistical syncretistic Mariolater like Paul P. S. M. S. Owen no longer sees the doctrines of grace as lying at the heart of the gospel.

“They preserve the fundamental teachings of the Bible regarding grace and the human condition which are in fact accepted by all Christian traditions (including Arminian and Roman Catholic), though one might argue with less of a happy consistency.”

Accepted with their fingers firmly crossed behind their back.

“The distinctives of the 5 points have very little to do with the real emphases of Reformed theology… In fact, they are far from being the center of this tradition.”

Ah, yes, the canons of Dordt are “far from the center” of Reformed theology.

“Reformed theology is a tradition which historically has placed great emphasis upon the Supremacy of God over human imagination and folly in worship.”

True. So by his own yardstick, an Anglo-Catholic like Paul P. S. M. S. Owen can’t be a real Calvinist.

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Like a little dog that yaps ferociously behind the security of its chain-link fence.

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