Learning not to react…

It’s said that a sign of the rightness and confidence in your position is how you react to criticism/slander. If one erupts violently and responds in kind, then that person isn’t too confident in their position (and could very well be wrong). If one takes the criticism calmly and responds with calmly asked (and usually unanswerable) questions, then that person is very confident in my position.

Ultimately, I don’t know how confident I really am in my beliefs. I think I am right on most topics but I know how frail my worldview can be at times. In any case, to the subject at hand…

I guess Doug Wilson is doing some kind of 3 minute interview series on various questions people ask. Really, that’s a genius move that few people have picked up on. I wish more people would do that. Nobody is going to read that 30 page essay you wrote on “The Strains of Nestorianism in post-Leonine Ontologies” (yes, that’s a real book). A few more might listen to that 30 minute talk you gave on Leo I. But 30 minutes is a lot to ask of someone. Most, whether they are really interested or not, will probably listen to the short interview.

Given the savage hatred most Federal Vision guys have of Eastern Orthodoxy, Wilson’s interview was surprisingly mild. He really didn’t say anything to noteworthy, either good or bad. There were a few howlers. EOx do not worship or pray *to* icons. A casual reading of Letham–which I know for a fact Wilson has read Letham–would have corrected that. Also, it’s funny when these guys define “the gospel” with “the Reformed faith,” so that disagreeing with the latter is abandoning the former. But this raises the immediate question: What of those who lived before the Advent of Calvin? What if I’m simply taking St Ignatius of Antioch (who literally sat at the feet of the Apostle John) as a reliable guide to the faith? Did Ignatius fall “into doctrinal sin” by not holding to the Reformed faith?

I’m not bashing the Reformed faith. It was the Reformed faith that gave me a deeper understanding of Scripture. It was Reformed mentors like Greg Bahnsen, Keith Mathison, and Robert Letham that taught me to read well and ask the “real questions.” Never once do I seek to “deny sola fide.” I simply asked questions on the canon and the nature of the Church.

Anyway, Wilson’s talk really didn’t bother me. I got a little irked when he said looking East is “serious doctrinal sin.” I wonder if he would have said the same thing to Athanasius.

But a friend of mine told me, “Don’t get defensive when people challenge you. They might be helping you see the truth. Look at their challenge and see 1) is there truth in it? and 2) if/where do they err? 3) how would you respond?”

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6 comments on “Learning not to react…

  1. I’ve found that a lot of people fixate on the icons thing because it’s an easy out — instead of challenging a worldview outright, they find something that they think they can easily rebut and go that way. I’ve also found that the Reformed, despite their claims otherwise, don’t really understand the terms when discussing icons and the veneration of icons (and honestly, if you’re working within a Calvinistic worldview, you probably aren’t going to); nonetheless, I would think that the FV guys would at least be sympathetic to the idea of letting someone define their own terms. The problem with equating the Reformed worldview with the Gospel is that — taken to its logical conclusion — you end up damning everyone else, other protestants included, because they aren’t teaching your Gospel either. With the rise of Internet Calvinism, there are now a few apologists who will say as much.

  2. I’ve found that a lot of people fixate on the icons thing because it’s an easy out — instead of challenging a worldview outright, they find something that they think they can easily rebut and go that way. I’ve also found that the Reformed, despite their claims otherwise, don’t really understand the terms when discussing icons and the veneration of icons (and honestly, if you’re working within a Calvinistic worldview, you probably aren’t going to); nonetheless, I would think that the FV guys would at least be sympathetic to the idea of letting someone define their own terms. The problem with equating the Reformed worldview with the Gospel is that — taken to its logical conclusion — you end up damning everyone else, other protestants included, because they aren't teaching your Gospel either. With the rise of Internet Calvinism, there are now a few apologists who will say as much.

  3. Darlene says:

    Jacob,As regards to what your friend said, (if he was a Calvinist) for #1. Only the ‘elect’ will be able to know whether there is “truth in it” as the reprobates are predisposed to being blind and ignorant. Even if they wanted to know the truth, they could not for God has already predetermined they cannot. So, having the ability to determine whether something is of the truth (in the theological/soteriological sense) can only be revealed to those who have been “limitedly” atoned for. Same for #2 as regards error.Speaking of the truth, if Calvinists were to be brutally honest about their beliefs, they would have to conclude that their system boils down to fatalism.

  4. Darlene says:

    Jacob,As regards to what your friend said, (if he was a Calvinist) for #1. Only the 'elect' will be able to know whether there is "truth in it" as the reprobates are predisposed to being blind and ignorant. Even if they wanted to know the truth, they could not for God has already predetermined they cannot. So, having the ability to determine whether something is of the truth (in the theological/soteriological sense) can only be revealed to those who have been "limitedly" atoned for. Same for #2 as regards error.Speaking of the truth, if Calvinists were to be brutally honest about their beliefs, they would have to conclude that their system boils down to fatalism.

  5. Darlene says:

    Hipster,I’ve tried to figure out the inner workings within the Calvinist mindset in which they believe THEY are solely the ones called to preach the gospel, and no other Christians have ever gotten the gospel right. What perplexes me even more, is that they do not hesitate to condemn numerous souls to hell because they got something wrong that doesn’t quite line up with Reformed thought. God the TULIP wrong? You must be a self-serving, self-glorifying humanist. Disagree with the Calvinist gospel? You must be a depraved reprobate who wants nothing to do with giving glory to God.Many people have come out of Calvinism, but not unscathed. Rather, they have been plagued with mental disorders while many have lost their faith in God (at least for a time).

  6. Darlene says:

    Hipster,I've tried to figure out the inner workings within the Calvinist mindset in which they believe THEY are solely the ones called to preach the gospel, and no other Christians have ever gotten the gospel right. What perplexes me even more, is that they do not hesitate to condemn numerous souls to hell because they got something wrong that doesn't quite line up with Reformed thought. God the TULIP wrong? You must be a self-serving, self-glorifying humanist. Disagree with the Calvinist gospel? You must be a depraved reprobate who wants nothing to do with giving glory to God.Many people have come out of Calvinism, but not unscathed. Rather, they have been plagued with mental disorders while many have lost their faith in God (at least for a time).

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