News from around the archipelago

222 LADIES IN BACOLOD CITY RETREAT

Two hundred twenty two ladies from 21 congregations were registered in the April 28-May 1 National Ladies Retreat in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. There were 7 participants from the United States and one from Singapore.

Next year, this annual affair for the ladies of Churches of Christ will be held in Baguio City. The A-Hill Church in Baguio will play host.

CHURCH LEADERS’ FORUM

May 30 has been set as Church Leaders’ Forum for Cavite congregations which will be conducted at the Church Planting Institute building at 28 San Jose Road, Dasmarinas.

BIBLE COLLEGE & SCHOOL OF PREACHING TEACHERS’ FELLOWSHIP

The Philippine Bible College Alumni Association Board of Trustees has marked May 28-30 on the calendar for a seminar-fellowship for teachers.

Those invited are Bible College & School of Preaching teachers in Luzon who are alumni of Philippine Bible College. There will be an exchange of information about curriculum, admission policies, grading system and school mission/vision. Brother Mon Devera will lecture on the benefits and demonstrate the advantages of using computer technology in classroom teaching and study.

Invited are PBC alumni teachers who are in the following schools: Rabon Bible College, Philippine Theological College, Central Luzon School of Preaching, Philippine International Bible Institute (branches in Angeles City, Olongapo City, Batangas and Naga City), Manila School of Evangelism, Philippine Bible College (Solano) and Philippine Bible College in Baguio.

YOUTH OVERNIGHT FELLOWSHIP

Fifty young people from eight Cavite congregations had an overnight fellowship at the church building located in San Jose, Dasmarinas, Cavite last May 1.

2 Comments to “News from around the archipelago”

  1. Why I could never, ever, ever be a Calvinist (I think)
    By Randal Rauser
    Calvinism. That mainstay of the Protestant tradition. Sometimes battered, but often breathtaking, as in the sprawling intellectual systems of an Edwards or Turretin. And now recently resurgent as told in Collin Hansen’s Young, Restless, Reformed (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008). The core essence of Calvinism — God’s unconditional election of some and not others for salvation — is found all the way back in Augustine and, if you believe the Calvinists, in the Bible itself.

    But as it stands I cannot see myself being a Calvinist. And the reason is simple. Calvinism limits God’s grace, and by doing so it limits his love. Within Calvinism God could save all people but he chooses not to. Instead he leaves some to face damnation. This is the limitation of his grace, which no Calvinist can dispute.

    Why does God leave some people to be damned? Calvinists from John Calvin himself down to John Piper today have given a reason which they believe is expressed in Romans 9:22-23:

    “What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory….”

    According to Calvinists this means that the reason God chooses to damn some people is because his glory shines through more fully as a result, and God’s glory is God’s supreme concern. By choosing to send some creatures to the most horrific eternal punishments, God manifests his wrath, justice, and his undying hatred of sin. And by choosing others for grace God manifsts his gentleness, mercy and abiding love.

    These two very different outcomes thus provide an occasion for God to display more of his attributes at once which makes him appear more glorious to his creatures. This illustrates what psychologists refer to as the “contrast effect” whereby a person’s experience of a particular outcome is intensified because of the contrast with another outcome. (For instance, you appreciate your mobile home that much more after seeing your neighbor’s mobile home get destroyed in a tornado. You appreciate your ham sandwhich more after visiting a camp of starving refugees.)

    So according to the Calvinist those God saves have a fuller grasp of his grace in virtue of the damnation of others. It is not that the damnation of the others is good in itself, but it is a second-order good for the benefit of grasping God’s glory more fully.

    On this scenario the lost are like a Christmas turkey. Nobody but a sadist thinks killing the turkey is a good thing in itself. But the killing is a second order good so that we might enjoy the meat at Christmas dinner. Similarly, damnation is not in itself a good thing. But it is a second order good because of the satisfaction damnation of the lost provides to God’s chosen.

    Try as I might (and I have) I cannot think of God in this way. I succeeded for awhile. Indeed, I managed to be a Calvinist for about three years. Then I engaged in some role playing. What if I was chosen and my daughter was damned, damned in part so that I might find a greater delight in God’s glory? At that moment Calvinism lost me. And with all due respect, I have to say good riddance.

  2. Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Canada, can’t fathom God’s sovereignty in election:

    According to Calvinists this means that the reason God chooses to damn some people is because his glory shines through more fully as a result, and God’s glory is God’s supreme concern. By choosing to send some creatures to the most horrific eternal punishments, God manifests his wrath, justice, and his undying hatred of sin. And by choosing others for grace God manifests his gentleness, mercy and abiding love.

    As always, Arminians like Rauser base their criticism of the Reformed faith on tired, old misconceptions arising out of rejection of Biblical truths because of human wisdom—wisdom that James calls “earthly, unspiritual, demonic”—as opposed to “wisdom from above” that produces spiritual fruits of purity and peace (Jas 3:15, 17).

    First, he assumes that man has a will that can freely choose, outside of God’s sovereignty, whether to accept or reject the gospel. This is contrary to Scripture (1 Cor 2:14; Rom 6:16-22; John 8:44; Jer 13:23).

    Second, Rauser assumes that God’s election of some for salvation and some for damnation is unfair. His human wisdom could not rationalize why God is not a universalist, “Calvinism limits God’s grace, and by doing so it limits his love. Within Calvinism God could save all people but he chooses not to.” Thus, being founded on Pelagianism, Rauser’s Arminianism is only the starting point to Robert Schuller’s universalism.

    Was God unfair when he damned the whole world except for eight people in Noah’s day? Was God unfair when he damned all—men, women, children, and animals—in Sodom and Gomorrah? What did those infants and cute little kittens ever do?

    God already warned Adam in the Garden of Eden of the consequences of disobedience: death. And because of the Fall, all men are reserved for death (Rom 3:10-11, 23; 6:23). It is only because of God’s grace, mercy and love that he chose some, out of all damned humanity, to be saved by sending his beloved, only-begotten Son to die on the cross for them. No, not even one of us wicked people merits any grace, mercy and love from God. But though he is perfectly just even if he destroyed all mankind after the Fall, he does save some, in spite of their undeserving condition.

    Third and last, he assumes that God’s purpose in election—for his glory—is unfair. But if God does not do everything for his own glory, what do we make of “to the praise of His glorious grace,” and “to the praise of his glory” in election (Eph 1:6, 12, 14)? And what do we make of all the commands in all of Scripture to glorify God? Even the mountains, trees and rivers glorify God for his judgments and redemption! (Psa 98:8-9; Isa 44:23).

    Ultimately, man’s rejection of the doctrine of unconditional election goes back to a high view of the human condition and a low view of God and Scripture. This is evidenced when Rauser concludes his criticism by his personal experience:

    Then I engaged in some role playing. What if I was chosen and my daughter was damned, damned in part so that I might find a greater delight in God’s glory? At that moment Calvinism lost me. And with all due respect, I have to say good riddance.

    In saying this, would Rauser reject God and refuse to give him glory, if ever—God forbid—his daughter turns out to be a reprobate? What if Noah, Abraham and Lot refused to give glory to God for roasting their family and friends as “Christmas turkey”? This is what happens frequently to people whose conception of God is based on human wisdom.

    Moreover, Rauser caricatures the Reformed as chosen people who gloat over and are “[satisfied with] the damnation of the lost.” Far from it, we glorify and thank God for choosing wicked people like us out of his mere grace and mercy. To be sure, we rejoice in the destruction of God’s sworn enemies, but we also sorrow over their demise, as we also sorrow when we see our family and friends die in unbelief.

    Long ago, after I—a lifetime Arminian—first learned about the Reformed faith, I did some role-playing. What if my children were not elect? At that moment, with the greatest of difficulty, I said to myself,

    Not my will, but yours, be done. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! To him be glory forever. Amen.

    And what joy to get rid of bondage to my worthless human pride, misguided human wisdom, and totally depraved human will, and to depend instead on “the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:11-12).

    What can you say, my Bro. Eusebio Tanicala?

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