Reconsidering Tulip

320Ex-Calvinist Alexander J. Renault, in his well-written and well-articulated assertion “Reconsidering Tulip,” provides the serious student of truth, especially those enamored by reformed thought, with a prick of doubt which plays the role of pea under the mattress, “How come those closest to the penning of Holy Writ didn’t hail identic oracles as those the Reformed insist upon today?”

From acrostic representatives “T” to “P” the author provides evidence from the next generation post-apostolic who simply did not agree with Calvinistic doctrine.

This is one of those “just can’t overlook” nuances. One cannot write the early leaders of the church off as less apt in interpretive skill, for these include those who studied under the tutorship of the Apostles; those who spoke and read the languages of the original documents, something we are far removed from, and so were Luther and Calvin, charges Renault.

The author, countering Total Depravity, provides quotes that suggest we hear the early Fathers speaking of men with free wills and an image-bearing nature that, although always meandering toward the wrong place because of the flesh, does in fact possess a nature (ousia) capable of choosing rightly.

If the author’s conclusion is accurate, then this is quite bothersome. If the consensus of Luther and Calvin regarding man’s will are so clear, why did those like Clement and Irenaeus not see it?

Struggling to dodge the anomaly, I pose a questioning thought, countering the counter, why then does Paul say, “…by nature children of wrath? (Eph 2:3)” We’ll wait with anticipation for cc’s revealing thoughts on this matter.

Being no Greek scholar or Greek anything for that matter, I can only rely on the English translators, but even the translations strictly abhorrent to Calvinism render the Greek word as “nature” in this text (NAB).

Ending with a few words that attempt to persuade the debate neither way, as I read through the writings of these from so long ago, along beside a determined stand for truth, it seems the personal disciples of the Apostles, and those soon to follow, were far more interested in the changed life effected by Christ’s gospel than a dot-your-i’s and cross-your-t’s grasp of theology. This thought, regardless which side of the fence you reside on, maybe adds fuel… or clutter.

Any thoughts or comments you might lend? Sources of early writings that defend the interpretations of Luther and Calvin?

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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9 Responses to Reconsidering Tulip

  1. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks Mike.

    Back in the early 1980’s during the original debates concerning home schooling, which was just then beginning to take off in spite of a great fight against it, a friend of mine told me something very simple but, as they say, profound. He and his wife we’re teaching their young children at home. Their children had never been in a traditional school.

    Concerning all the older children that had already been attending public school and would soon be home-schooled, my friend said, “The hardest part is unteaching them the stuff they had already been taught.”

    The home school movement was in the beginning a predominantly Christian movement in America. The schools had been greatly secularized by that time (30 years ago). Christians wanted their children to get a solid Christian education. But some had to be untaught…

    This is the problem that arises with about 1900 years of rewriting the original teachings of our Lord Jesus. Much bad teaching is so ingrained in us as good teaching we have a hard time figuring it all out. If we started from zero, so to speak, and entered the school of the Lord Jesus without ever attending any other school, we would not have the problem.

    But since we do the only solution is to make a determined effort to learn the full curriculum of the Lord while also unlearning the added curriculums of others.

    The Lord Jesus said we have one Teacher, not four million. One of the reasons Paul went through so many trials was to make sure people would not start following him. It’s too bad that so many Christians follow their favorite teachers, theologians, pastors, and etc. instead of the Lord.

    We must get back to our roots.

  2. This is dangerous ground. Realizing that the Reformers were wrong about predestination is a slippery slope toward realizing the Reformers were wrong about a lot of other things, too… 😉

    I think it’s a very important realization you make here, that we can’t just dismiss the understandings of those earliest Christian writers, those who were taught by the Apostles themselves or by the Apostles’ immediate disciples. If their understanding is so radically different than the Reformation understanding; if they seem to have had no notion at all of sola scriptura or sola fide or total depravity — then it comes down to a question of whose testimony we’re going to trust more: those whose teachings come from at most a generation after the Apostles, or the interpretations of Scripture of men 1,500 years later who were not considering the context of the Early Church at all in forming their understandings?

    Regarding Ephesians 2:3 and “nature”: I think your vision is too accustomed to the Calvinistic goggles. “By nature” simply means “by birth,” the way we were originally — original sin. We were born with a fallen nature; Paul is clear about that everywhere. But that in no way entails that we are “totally depraved.”

    • mtsweat says:

      Hi Joseph. I’ve been slow to offer a response to your comment intentionally good friend. Some really thought probing stuff has been given me in the comments here, yours likewise.
      I really hoped some of my reformed friends would bring conversation to the table also, maybe providing resoning for the absence of or evidence of, but I’m beginning to recognize something of we reformed that is cornering.
      As said, I am slow reaponding for to spend time digesting before engaging. Much to mull…
      Thanks for the thought Joseph.

  3. Ben says:

    I’m glad to see that you read this, I got quite a bit out of the book myself. Readers of your insightful review may also appreciate a glance at mine:
    http://frontierruminations.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/reconsidering-tulip-book-review-and-the-early-church-vs-calvinism/
    Reading Renault’s book started me on a slippery slope trying to figure out Protestant Christianity apart from Calvinism… and I’m still having trouble with it. The answers can be downright uncomfortable. If you want your world rocked further, check out the book “Four Witnesses” by Rod Bennett, and stuff written by Scott Hahn and Stephen Ray.
    God bless.
    -Ben

    • mtsweat says:

      Hi Ben. It was actually from your post on this book that led me to purchase it. I’m just so far behind reading that I’ve just gotten to it. I think it’s healthy to expand our reading into the area of the early Christians. Yours is a great review of this book, with much more detail should others be interested before considering purchasing. Thanks and many blessings good friend.

  4. ccragamuffin says:

    I submit…Calvin’s own words…
    “Therefore, in reading profane authors, THE ADMIRABLE LIGHT OF TRUTH DISPLAYED in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still ADORNED AND INVESTED with admirable gifts from its Creator.”
    And…
    “To charge the intellect with perpetual blindness so as to leave it no intelligence of any description whatever, is repugnant not only to the Word of God, but to common experience. We see that there has been implanted in the human mind a certain desire of investigating truth, to which it never would aspire UNLESS SOME RELISH FOR TRUTH ANTECEDENTLY EXISTED.”
    Oh…and…
    “No man is excluded from calling upon God, the great salvation is set open unto all men; neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own belief.”
    That is all.
    I am following your lead and only humbly offer “a few words that attempt to persuade the debate neither way.” No debate. Only love.
    Blessings to you.

  5. glane8029 says:

    Have you read A.W. Pink (The Sovereignty of God)

    • mtsweat says:

      Not as of yet good friend, but it rests in my library. Would love to hear your thoughts from Mr. Pink on this though. I must pick up the tempo… if I am to read everything ever written in this brief stay on earth. 🙂 Thanks!

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