"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why "Calvinism My Way"?

I am frequently asked if I am a Calvinist? People also frequently make assumptions about my views based on the name of my blog. So, I am writing this blog to explain the name of my blog. I am doing this to keep from getting blogged down with always responding to this question. 

The reason for the name of my blog is because my name is John Calvin Carroll. I am not a hyper-Calvinist. I am merely expressing my views on this blog. Because John Calvin is my name, and because the views are mine, hence the name "Calvinism MY Way."

When I tell people that my name is John Calvin they often respond: "That explains a lot."

People now you know the reason behind the name. There is no conspiracy. There is no dark, hidden meaning. It is simply using my name to play on a known soteriological scheme. It really is just that simple.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Impact of Inconsistentcy on One's Argument

I have participated in a number of discussions over the past few months with fellow ministers concerning various issues. Inconsistency is one of the things that consistently comes up in discussions about Apostolic issues. So the question becomes, what impact does consistency have on one's argument? Must one be absolutely consistent within the framework of a particular issue in order for their argument to be received?

I must confess that when one is inconsistent in their argumentation and application I tend to discredit the validity of their argument. This may or may not be a valid response. Be that as it may, it is the common response. The sentiment is as follows: if you cannot consistently apply your own doctrine, then why should I be convinced of it's validity?

Just because someone does not consistently apply their doctrine, that does not mean that their doctrine is wrong. Conversely, if a view is so inherently flawed that it can be applied consistently with little to no success, then it's weakness is self-evident. A doctrine that is practically impossible—or even improbable—to apply consistently in real life does not bear the marks of a true doctrine. 

I guess the point that I am getting to with this blog is this: don't be angry because people question your positions when they have gaping inconsistencies. 

With that being said, we all have blind spots in our lives. We are all strong in one area and weak in others. But we should seek to have a logically and scripturally consistent presentation of any given doctrine that we teach. And if it cannot be practiced in a livable way then it may be worth reconsidering. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Call for Calm About Christmas

There is a significant demographic of Apostolics that do not celebrate Christmas. There are a range of reasons why they don't. Not all anti-Christmas advocates use the same line of reasoning. However, the two primary arguments are: 1) It's pagan. 2) It's Catholic.

In making these arguments there are strong claims made about pro-Christmas advocates participating in paganism and teaching ancient trinities. The anti crowd makes heathen charges from Jeremiah 10. Now while this all makes for powerful points, it never translates into practical participation. If the anti crowd really believes that the pro crowd is partipating in paganism, idolizing idols and teaching trinities, then why are they still fellowshipping? 

I have yet to see any of my Apostolic brethren apply this issue the way they claim to believe it. The most ardent anti advocates that I have known have preached for or preached pro advocates. It were really as pagan, heathen, and idolatrous as is claimed, then why would fellowship anyone who participated in those anti-God activities?  You see no one really practices it the way they preach it.

This is not a pro-Christmas post. It it a call to calm on both sides of the isle about this issue. I was recently involved in a social media conversation started by an anti brother. The anti advocates were making it an heaven or hell issue. Brothers and sisters, can we stop?

Whatever your view is on this issue, we be brethren. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Silence Says!

There are many situations in life when people attempt to judge another's silence. We often judge silence more harshly than we judge speech. In fact, there is a large group of people within the body of Christ who think that "interpretation of silence" is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit. And they feel they have been gifted in this way.

The Bible calls them "busybodies" and those who "sow discord among the brethren." These people insists on knowing where you stand on issues that matter to them. If an issue is of no consequence to them, then they couldn't care less about your opinion. But if an issue is important to them, you must speak or be considered an enemy. 

The person gifted with the iOS (interpretation of silence), will use any means necessary to force you to speak. They will threaten you with hot button labels like "compromiser." To which they expect that we will respond by saying, "Nooooo, not a compromiser. Anything but that. I will talk. Just don't call me a compromiser." They will almost always throw out deep quotes about the vice of silence. Bonhoeffer is their favorite: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." 

But what does the Bible have to say about silence? 

Ecclesiastes 3:7 teaches us that there is a time to keep silence. There are times that silence is not a vice, but silence is a virtue. This means that one shouldn't speak to certain issues in certain situations. What are some reasons why one should keep silence?:

  1. One should keep silence when speaking would break confidence. 
  2. One should keep silence when they are not authorized to speak. 
  3. One should keep silence when they are not qualified to speak.
  4. One should keep silence when someone is soliciting information from them for the purpose of using it against them. 
  5. One should keep silence when the mistrust they person attempting to make them speak. 
  6. One should keep silence when speaking would require that they speak contrary to their convictions.
  7. One should keep silence when they are uncertain what to say or what they think about the question.

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:27-28

Silence says you are a smart man. Silence speaks so convincingly that is persuades the public that even fools are wise and intelligent. 

We should all reserve the right to remain silent. And we should all extend the right to silence to others without suspiciously reading anything into it. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Apostilics Won't Debate!

This is a continuation of a previous blog:  "What I Wished Apostolics Would Do." If you have not read that blog, then you should read it before you continue reading this one. Go on. Go read it. I will be waiting on you right here when you return. 

Now that you know that I wish that Apostolics would have intramural debates about our differences, I will give you a few reasons why I don't think it will happen in some circles. Recently a couple Apostolic brothers were making posts on Instagram and other forms of social media about Christmas. I noticed as one person in particular began to interact with them about their views that they were not interested in dialoguing with others. They were only interested in dictating to others what they wanted them to hear. The attitude was: "My mind is made up and nothing is going to change me." This is not an attitude that is characteristic of truth seekers. Honest truth seekers always have the capacity to humbly hear the other side of the argument. 

The following reasons may not be listed in the proper order of importance, but they are all factors that  keep some Apostolics from debating. 
  1. OVEREMPHASIS ON PASTORAL AUTHORITY: This reason could very well be the most important reason of all the ones I will list. Many Apostolic pastors would never engage in a public debate or a public discussion about differences for fear of losing authority. We have created a dangerous climate in the Apostolic movement where the pastor has unchecked and unlimited authority. We claim that we have elders, but for the most part it is a facade when push comes to shove. We have created a climate in which the pastor is always right. In fact, as I have heard it said, he is right even when he is wrong. What does this have to do with the reason that we won't debate? This culture of pastoral authority is not conducive to debate because it does not allow for leadership to be questioned or wrong. If it can be demonstrate that the pastor holds an inaccurate or unbiblical view, then his infallibility is undermined and his entire system of authority crashes. Yes, pastors have authority over the congregation. But as with all levels of authority, there are limits. Therefore, what I am pointing out here as the obstacle to in-house debating is not pastoral authority, but "overemphasis" on pastoral authority. I certainly believe that pastors have God-given and Scripture-mandated authority. But when pastoral authority comes to mean to a pastor that he can never admit to being wrong or change his mind, then he has abused his authority as a pastor. A pastor that has created a culture where he can never admit to his congregation that he has been wrong about an issue will find himself in the unenviable position not being able to follow the Spirit in crucial moments in his church's history. The truly sad part is this is a self-imposed and unnecessary limitation. The Apostolic movement is in need of God-fearing and transparent leaders who are only concerned with truth.  However, in an attempt to preserve our pseudo, overreaching authority, we are perpetuating doctrines and traditions that are less than accurate, biblical and productive. Open dialogue in the form of debate would expose them. And that's the thing of which the abuser of pastoral authority is most afraid. 
  2. WE ARE AFRAID WE MIGHT BE WRONG: For some, the reason they are uncomfortable with debating their position is because they are uncomfortable with their position. While they preach it long and loud when no one can respond, questions are screaming in the back of their own heads. They are--in the words of a friend do mine--trying to drown out those voice with their own screaming voice. Or as the late great Marvin Hicks said about one of his debate opponents: "He is just whistling in the graveyard to keep his courage up." The problem is: the voices in one's head pick the most inconvenient times to talk. They couldn't care less that you have to get up early in the morning. They will keep you up half the night. Pesky little fellas! The fearful person is so afraid to be wrong because everything they believe is interconnected. They are afraid that if one thing they believe is found to be untrue then everything they believe is untrue. So they revert to an all-or-nothing defense of what they believe as a coping mechanism. This is why we need to understand the hierarchy of doctrine. Not everything we believe need to hold the same level of significance. I have some opinions about scriptures that I could not care less if they turned out to be wrong. Then I hold other views about scripture that are at the core of who I am as a christian.
  3. WE DON'T HAVE A HIGH VIEW OF SCRIPTURE: Some Apostolics don't want to debate because they do not have a high view of scripture. In other words, for some Apostolics it doesn't really matters what the Bible says. They have a higher source of authority--their own opinions manifest as traditions. The reason that I know that they value their opinions above scripture is because when confronted with scripture they admit that scripture is at odds with their opinions yet they maintain them anyway. Some have even gone so far as to say, "I don't care what the Bible says." When one places their own opinions above scripture, then their view of scripture is low. Why debate when your views are set regardless of what scripture say?!
  4. PEER PRESSURE: This is a significant reason that we don't engage in intramural debate. At least not honest debate. We defend the consensus vigorously. But when it comes to defending what we really believe, he hide. I fully understand the impulse and have been guilty of it many times. We have to create a culture where we are free to safely discuss scripture with other Apostolics. This is especially true for Apostolic preachers. If we cannot have honest debate, we will continue to lose men to extreme positions. They will keep their concerns to themselves until they cant take it an longer. Then in an explosion of freedom they will over react.
These are some of the reasons that Apostolics will not engage in discussion about in-house issues that face our movement. Brothers and sisters: this must change. As always feel free to rebuke me, shoot me full of holes and call me a heretic.