Segunda, 29 de Maio de 2017
   
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Theoretical and Irrelevant Discussion? No!

Many people think the debate between Calvinists and Arminians is useless and fruitless, only raising divergence among brothers and divisions in the church. I understand these brothers’ concern and I join them when disapproving foolish and unproductive discussions that generate strife. Actually, I am the number one enemy of discussions like this, especially when they end in personal insults and aggressive language. In this particular aspect, I think that such discussions do not match the magnitude and nobility of Christian doctrinal themes. Borrowing part of the figure of speech in Proverbs 11.22, I hold that the theological debate in the mouth of a man with sharp and indecorous tongue is the same as sticking a diamond necklace in a pig’s neck.

However, I must say that on the issue of Calvinism “versus” Arminianism, the debate is far from being irrelevant from a practical standpoint. If this debate was merely theoretical, without consequence for life nor impact on applied ecclesiology, I would have abandoned it long ago. I would have done that because, first of all, I have being a minister deeply involved in the ecclesiastic practice for thirty years. I am no desk theologian who is away from real like and uninvolved with the dramas of God’s people. That is why I bend over a theological theme and advocate. I do so because I know the impact in my life and the life of people whom God entrusted me with. Indeed, I cannot afford wandering into futile concepts for mere intellectual pleasure.

At this point, someone may be thinking: “OK, OK… I get it. But if you think so, why do you get involved in the defense of Calvinism, which seems so theoretical?”. Well, once again I insist it is not theoretical. In my opinion (I pray this won’t hurt a precious brother), the horrific scenery of the current days’ church is primarily due to the prevalence of Arminian ideas in the evangelical circles.

More precisely, I believe the harmful impact of current Arminianism is felt both in the Christian liturgy and in evangelism. In order to understand that, just follow my reasoning: believing that every man is able to make a decision for Christ by free will of prevenient grace, the church begins to make a service focused on man, trying to press the right buttons so to convince him to accept Jesus. From there, they allow almost everything: from emotional appeal to insertion of worldly practices. All to attract, please and then “win” unbelievers.

I therefore consider that neo-Arminian concepts are at the root of “fun” services, gospel nightlife, funk gospel shows, ecclesiastical samba schools and of all absurd practices we see today in emerging and postmodern churches. According to their neo-Arminian leaders, the watchword is: “Do not say or do anything that may scare unbelievers away, for this may cause them to never decide to embrace Christ. Singing traditional hymns, preaching longer than fifteen minutes, talking about everlasting damnation, mentioning the reality of sin… These are all strategic mistakes that hinder the work of ‘winning souls’. So, make everything revolve around the taste and expectations of unbelievers. This way, they will not be scared off and we can gradually convince them to use their free will properly. After all, their conversion depends solely on their own decision. As for us, with the right knack and as good sellers of faith, we must induce them to take the right step”.

At the end of the day, you see what is out there: worldly churches, profane services, Christian communities almost exclusively consisting of non-believers, sermons that never condemn sin, “Christian” meetings centered on man rather than God and songs that are just shallow poetry talking about self-esteem. Once more, at the root of it all there is a belief: modern Arminian belief that faith depends on man and that the church needs good marketing strategies to sell the fish of salvation. And so, ironically, those who falsely accuse Calvinists of undermining evangelism end up undermining the missionary task themselves. They do it by involving and turning it into a cheap way of marketing and in an excuse to make the holy church of the Lord into a mere show house of fun and ego worship.

In my opinion, this is one of the most dramatic losses caused by Arminianism in its current form. There are others, but here I wish to highlight just that. And if anyone considers the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism irrelevant after considering all that was said, then I do not know the meaning of the word “relevant” to such person.

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo Gloria

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