A Response to NelsonPrice.com on “Covert Calvinists,” Part 2

Dr. Nelson Price continues his article on “Covert Calvinists” as follows:

I am sure that is not indicative of all Calvinists. As a matter of fact I have some warm and personal friends who are Calvinists. However, those emailing their defenses are not warm but hot. It seem strange that those who claim it is all by grace show so little grace. Where did civility, courtesy, and common sense go?

Again, despite our disagreements with Dr. Price, we should have enough humility to let the last three sentences of the above paragraph allow us the opportunity for self-evaluation. Do we communicate the doctrines of grace with a gracious attitude? Or do we act as if we have come to know the doctrines based on our own intellectual superiority? Do we have the patience, forgiveness, and love toward others that God displayed toward us in redeeming us while we were still His enemies?

But the first sentence in the above-quoted paragraph also intrigues me. In the comments of Part 1 to this response, Thomas Twitchell pointed out, “If he has good Calvinist friends, he should not be caricaturing and mischaracterizing them or their beliefs.” So the question is, why do so many speakers and writers, when giving strong anti-Calvinist rhetoric, insist upon mentioning that they have some Calvinists- Calvinists who, according to them, go against the general trend of Reformed mentality- for personal friends?
In order to answer this question, I ask you to allow me a personal anecdote:

Though I now reside in Louisville, Kentucky, I was raised in Dallas, Georgia, which (though it has since become more suburban) was a semi-rural Southern community. Now this may come as a shock to some readers, but many areas of the southern United States have been rife with the problem of racism. Sadly, Dallas, Georgia was not exempt from this problem. I still remember seeing a Ku Klux Klansman handing out flyers on a street corner one day. Much more prevalent than this explicit manifestation, however, was the common occurrence of hearing older people making blanket statements ascribing negative characteristics to members of another race. When making such statements in a group, the racist would sometimes perceive that not all of those listening shared his sentiments. Then he would begin trying to qualify his bigoted remarks.

“Now, when I say that black folks are a bunch of lazy ne’er-do-wells,” explains the racist, “I mean MOST black folks. I know they’re not ALL that way. Heck, I’m even friends with Tyrone, and he’s a real hard worker.

“‘Course,” the racist continues, “When black folks do work hard, they’re acting against their culture.”

Now, the point of this post is not to charge Dr. Price with racism. Again, with some of the ministries he’s been involved with, I’d be pretty shocked if he were racist. My point is to indicate some similarities of expression between anti-Calvinists and racists.

The first defense offered by racists when their bigotry is challenged is to ‘admit’ that there are ‘exceptions,’ just as Dr. Price admitted in a previous paragraph, “Not all Calvinists act alike…”

Second, the racist will often try to dodge the charge of ignorant bigotry by asserting friendship with members (or, at least, a member) of another race. Just as Dr. Price says, “As a matter of fact I have some warm and personal friends who are Calvinists.”

But, in the end, neither the admission that his statements cannot be universally applied, nor the friendship he might have with members of another race will keep the racist from drawing the same bigotted conclusions. Likewise Dr. Price… well, you get the point.

The anti-Calvinist rhetoric of Dr. Price is, indeed, bigotry. Dr. Price has been taught certain conclusions regarding Calvinism and these conclusions do not change regardless of evidence that contradicts them. Nothing else could possibly account for the bus illustration.

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4 Comments on “A Response to NelsonPrice.com on “Covert Calvinists,” Part 2”

  1. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    “The outcome of Whitefield’s return to England in March 1741 and the publication of his reply to Wesley, was an inevitable separation. Henceforth the evangelical forces engaged in the revival movement were divided, and a new party of Arminian evangelicals emerged for the first time in British church history. Due to the eminence of the Wesleys, this new form of evangelical faith has exerted a widespread influence even down to the present day. The contemporary strength of this influence can be judged from the manner in which George Whitefield, with his great predecessors the Reformers and Puritans, have been forgotten; indeed, it would not be too much to say that Whitefield’s views, as expressed in [his letter to Wesley], would appear to many to be quite alien to the evangelicalism that is commonly believed in today…

    An impression is given that Whitefield abandoned the strong conviction he had about Arminianism in 1741; in proof of this we are referred to the fact that in 1742 their personal friendship was in measure resumed and that ultimately Wesley even preached Whitefield’s funeral sermon. But all this is misleading. The truth is that Whitefield rightly made a distinction between a difference in judgement and a difference in affection; it was in the former sense that he differed from the Wesleys, and that difference was such that, as Tyerman writes, it “led them to build separate chapels, form separate societies, and pursue, to the end of life, separate lines of action . . . the gulf between Wesley and Whitefield was immense.”[9] But while their public cooperation was thus seriously disturbed, his personal affection for the Wesleys as Christians was preserved to the last.[10] In this respect Whitefield teaches us a needful lesson. Doctrinal differences between believers should never lead to personal antagonism. Error must be opposed even when held by fellow members of Christ, but if that opposition cannot co-exist with a true love for all saints and a longing for their spiritual prosperity then it does not glorify God nor promote the edification of the Church.”

    This can be found here with a link back to Whitefield’s letter

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/wesley/murray.htm

    What is interesting about Whitefield’s letter is that he addresses Wesley’s mischaracterizations and caricatures of the Calvinistic position. He also characterizes Wesley as heretical and blasphemous. How they could maintain an amicable relationship in this kind of atmosphere is a testimony to the grace of God.

    Ian Murray’s protrayal of Arminianism as a paracitical “new party” that was leavened into the revival movement and has become the dominant evangelical view today bears the need for scrutiny. His assessment is quite correct, the past has all but been forgotten and a new reconstructed history has taken its place. It is not that Arminianismt is Christian, at all, as Whitefield concludes (as did Edwards) but anti-orthodox. What Whitefield’s letter makes clear is that it was not the Calvinist leaders who were being devious nor bigoted. Quite the opposite, it was the party of Wesley’s Arminianism.

    Consistent with the past, this is the modus operandi of the oppositional Arminian party in the SBC and elsewhere. The reason is anit-intellectualism. What is meant by that is not that the leaders are not informed nor uneducated. Anti-intellectualism is characterized by those who though they have the facts set before them refuse to accept them and proceed to propogandize with pseudo-scholarship. The can get away with it because people are far more willing to let others tell them what to believe, resulting in an implicit faith.

    Whitefields conclusion was that the two parties can never cooperate. For how can two walk together, except they agree. What this portends for the SBC is that unless the Calvinists are will to be silenced, the oppostitional Arminian party will force a division. There has never been peace between the two camps. It is impossible for there to be any except that the politically correct form of tolerance, that is that the conservatives (Calvinists) shut their mouths, is resumed. The resurgence of Calvinism either must die, be silenced, or it will be forced from the fold of the SBC.

    I was suprised, however, by Gregory Tomlin’s “Baptist Associations Celebrating 300 Years,” in SBC LiFE for June/July:

    http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2007/06/SLA11.asp


  2. And it is notable that despite dozens of e-mails since last November, the bus illustration is still on Nelson Price’s website. I know because I checked. He has had several months to remove it, but it is still there. I have to ask, “Where did civility, courtesy, and common sense go?” It is neither civil nor courteous to misrepresent the views of those with whom you disagree.

  3. Charles Says:

    i have no doubt that he has “calvinist” friends…

    doesn’t norm geisler claim to be a “moderate calvinist?”

    😉

  4. Andrew Says:

    Good point, Charles.


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