Posted by Keith E. Buhler


  1. It’s funny how your link to Patton’s article goes right to your comment on it.

    I don’t understand why Patton, as a self-proclaimed Calvinist, would care that sovereign God allows his followers to leave His fellowship. Is it not foreordained?


  2. I’ve never understood that aspect of Calvinism either. It seems to me that, while you might be able to gin yourself up into action by telling yourself that God expects you to work hard whether it’s beneficial or not, you can’t really get too worked up over the upward and downward developments in the church. After all, God has already picked who is going up and who is going down.

    Having said that though, since I’m not a Calvinist, it does worry me. Part of the problem, I think, comes from one of the big changes to occur in our churches over the years. I don’t know exactly when it came about, but somewhere along the line, Sunday service became less about coming together with other believers to learn about God with some worship included, and more about bringing in non-Christians while putting on an entertaining show…I mean “worship service”. Think about it. We try to convert people by “inviting them to church”. That’s not what church is supposed to be for. But, by trying to make it accesible for all, we’ve dumbed down the theological content in our sermons. If people want to actually learn something, they have to read or investigate on their own, join a small group, etc. It leaves a LOT of Christians without sufficient theological firepower to defend themselves when confronted.

    Frankly, that is in part what made me start to get more serious about really studying my faith. A buddy I went to high school with got back in touch after not hearing from each other for a few years (over a girl…of course). By this time he had converted to Islam. He explained why, and though he fortunately didn’t want to spend more time discussing it, I realized that if he had, I would have very quickly run out of answers to give him. I was raised in a Christian family, went to Christian school, never smoked, never drank, etc. And yet, it was that easy for me to coast through the first 20-odd years of my life without ever really learning to defend what should have been my first priority.


  3. If one is truly a Calvinist, I do not see how they could be characterized as evangelical; it is a contradiction in terms.

    For those who believe that the true fellowship of Christ can grow–or shrink, in this instance–the exodus of believers should be troubling.


  4. It should be concerning for anyone who loves Christ and loves people, their other theological convictions aside. A Calvinist who loves people will be sad that 31 million are supposedly leaving the church (which seems like a weird statistic to me, but I’ll have to think about that a little more before commenting), because they love the souls of those who are walking away, just as any good Evangelical would. We are not sad because our institution is “going out of business,” (though perhaps it will encourage us to examine our practices) but because we love those who are being lost. Though I am not particularly Calvinistic myself and so might not be the best defender, it seems to me that a belief in God’s sovereignty does not negate a love of the lost.


  5. The Calvinist would recognize that those leaving the church were never really Christians at all and even those who faithfully attend church and lead Christian lives may be consigned to eternal damnation by divine fiat.

    It’s called predestination and the condemned cannot change their fate nor can anyone else.

    And there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.


  6. Misscate-I guess what I’m saying, and I think what Prufrock is saying too, is that the 31 million leaving the church couldn’t have been Christians to begin with, so it is no more sad than the billions of people who aren’t now and never have, claimed to be believers. Obviously any Christian can be concerned for the souls of those who don’t know Christ, but it’s the distinction between these folks and say, a Buddhist that I don’t get.


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