Opinions on faith and life

You Are The Man!

2009-02-22

2 Sam. 12:

5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘… 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword…”

From Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 1, chapter 11:

Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity… it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God. To these evils a new wickedness joins itself, that man tries to express in his work the sort of God he has inwardly conceived. Therefore the mind begets an idol; the hand gives it birth.

What sort of God did Calvin conceive in his mind, that would lead him to vow the death of his adversaries, not for defying God but for questioning a mere man? I’ve written before about Calvin’s death wish on Servetus, and the fact that he never felt remorse over such a gruesome and cold-blooded execution, but maintained to his own death the rightness of his actions against Servetus.

As you can see in the quote from his Institutes, Calvin condemned himself with his own words. He had invented a God who is without mercy, without justice, without love or compassion, as evidenced by his words and actions. As Voltaire is credited with saying, ”God created man in his own image, and man returned the favor.“ People act upon whatever worldview they have, or whatever God they worship. If Calvin faithfully followed God as he saw Him, then he must have seen God as a cruel tyrant, a heartless avenger whose standards of justice are far below those of his creatures. His actions and words both attest to this. He knew that people tend to make God in their own image, yet was blind to that very flaw in himself.

The lesson for all of us in this is to be open to criticism. As it says in Prov. 27:6, ”Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.“ Calvin refused to be corrected or questioned. Many religious leaders today have the same problem, thinking themselves little gods to be worshiped or kings to be obeyed. And we can see the sort of God they worship by the way they live, the words they say, and the things they do.

In exempting themselves from the rules they make for others, they preach a God that mocks justice and holiness. In lambasting their critics, they preach a God that never said ”Come, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). Where in their teachings or examples is the love of God who died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6), who instead of coldly cursing his rebellious creatures first wept over them (Luke 13:34) and then laid down His life for them (John 15:13, 1 John 2:2)? Where is the God of freedom in their words (Gal. 2:4, 5:1, Heb. 9:15)? Where is compassion for the lost, mercy for the backslidden, or lifting up the lowly as Jesus did (Phil. 2:5-11)?

As pointed out in one of the articles at A Wilderness Voice, it is not wrong to refuse to knuckle under a tyrant, but it is wrong for any believer to raise themselves up above their spiritual siblings. We do not sin in exposing sin, but obey the command to hold leaders to a higher standard (1 Tim. 5:19-20, James 3:1). We must not follow any believer claiming preeminence, or a special calling reserved only for their class or gender or race, or lording over the people. We must know the Shepherd’s voice and follow only Him.

Yet neither is this a call for becoming doormats. There is constructive criticism, and then there is mean-spirited bashing. There is exposing sin, and then there is making up one’s own list of sins and demanding others live by it. There is disagreeing, and then there is attempting to censor all voices of dissent. We must know what God we worship, how we are to treat each other, and what it means to be humble. We show the kind of God we follow by our lives. Is God reasonable, compassionate, liberating, caring, waiting till the last moment to close a door, and leading by example? Or is He a cold dictator who uses His power to smash people without mercy, without giving them a chance to be persuaded, throwing babies into the flames of hell like some ancient heathen god? Those questions will be answered every day in how we live.

12 Comments

Lin

The explanations I have heard defending Calvin about Servetus are ridiculous. It amazes me that folks buy into it.

But then, I have to ask..If Calvin was so brilliant a theologian, then why wasn’t he hiding in caves with those refusing to baptize their babies in the state church where Calvin preached? They believed in believers baptism.

There are many things about Calvin that do not add up in light of what we know to be scriptural truth today that Calvin did not go to the death for such as sacraments, state church with magistrates, infant baptism, etc. Many other nameless saints went to their deaths over these biblical issues.

This new realm of Calvin worship today is truly scary. And this is from a gal that believes in election.

Lin

BTW: I am not suggesting that Servetus was a believer. But he certainly did not deserve burning at the stake for going against the state church teaching. He actually came to hear Calvin preach and was turned in! Calvin did try to get him to recant but Leonard Verduin wrote that Calvin also ordered that ’green wood’ be used on Servetus to burn slower and suffer more. (Verduin wrote and researched his book on a grant from the Calvin Foundation)

Paula Fether

Yeah, even Fox’s Book of Martyrs makes excuses for him, in spite of the obvious hypocrisy. As for Servetus, I actually see more evidence of salvation in his life than I do for Calvin. Even atheists have had some profound insights into scripture, proving that it isn’t what one writes theologically that indicates salvation, but how they live and what they do with Jesus. For Calvin to openly express hatred and wish to see Servetus dead, to the point of actually carrying it out without remorse, is evidence of one like the Pharisees who knew the scriptures inside and out yet could not recognize their own Messiah. Salvation is in relationship, not mere knowledge which even the devil has.

But my main point in this post was that how a person views God is typically shown in the way they live, and today’s Christian leaders-- from the Warrens to the deacons-- seem to believe in a God that looks on the flesh, is a respecter of persons, sweeps sin under the rug for the privileged, and values externally-enforced "peace" over truth and humility. King David repented in bitter tears when confronted with his sin, but today’s leaders would have had the prophet Nathan exiled or executed. They fight for the first place in line, and they beat their fellow servants (presumably because they don’t consider them on the same level).

I refuse to call any believer by some invented title anymore. I will not show them respect or mince words for "hired hands". Titles and offices are for the world.

Lin

"But my main point in this post was that how a person views God is typically shown in the way they live, and today’s Christian leaders– from the Warrens to the deacons– seem to believe in a God that looks on the flesh, is a respecter of persons, sweeps sin under the rug for the privileged, and values externally-enforced “peace” over truth and humility. King David repented in bitter tears when confronted with his sin, but today’s leaders would have had the prophet Nathan exiled or executed. They fight for the first place in line, and they beat their fellow servants (presumably because they don’t consider them on the same level)."

Sorry, I did not mean to get off topic and I agree with your point. But look to who the hero’s are. Those with supposed ’success’ and great ’leaders’. We still value worldly success principles even in Christendom.

As to godly sorry and repenting in tears, After Servetus, Calvin wrote to a friend lamenting that he was being ’persecuted’ by some over his role with Servetus.

Such is godly sorrow and repenting with some of the hero’s.

Paula Fether

No prob, sis. :-)

Yes, Judgment Day will come, and we’ll see what becomes of all those little popes.

Kathleen

Paula, this thinking has really been on my heart lately. Recently coming out of a church that really featured modern "heros" and self-appointed leaders, I’m sick to my stomach of all the idolatry. In the process, I’ve found my attitude to be the most troubling. How do I not lash out bitterly over the "lording over" that goes on in Jesus’ Church? This post was good, because I’m right there, going to God and asking Him to change my heart about these people (and He is doing that every day).

BTW, the congregation I left had the celebrity pastor frequently proclaim from the pulpit that the church’s leadership were Calvinists.

I also believe in election, but I can’t swallow the hypocrisy of Calvin, or any man’s teachings that add to the Gospel with "twisty" works. WWJD seems cliche’, but I’m being drawn to the Gospels more and more to just listen to the voice of my Savior.

Also, I’ve seen that picture before somewhere, of Christ and His Bride, 1 Thessalonians, you have posted up there. I have ALWAYS loved that picture.

Paula Fether

Hi Kathleen, welcome! Glad to be of service.

There’s nothing wrong with exposing the sins of those who set themselves up above their brothers and sisters. In fact, IMHO, it would be wrong not to do so, just as we know it would be wrong to stand silently by while someone trashes a loved one. We just have to make sure it’s God’s honor we’re fighting for and not our own. What you’re feeling is the same as if one child in a classroom decided to boss all the other children. It’s wrong for them to do that.

Yes, keep your eyes on Jesus and the scriptures, and let no one step between you and the prize!

I found that picture on the net somewhere, can’t remember the site. It just seems to sum up the rush and glory of the Rapture, doesn’t it?

Kathleen

The Rapture will be glorious, and all this posturing will be put to an end, hallelujah!

Thanks for the encouragement to stand strong in the freedom for which Christ has set us free. :)

Lin

"In fact, IMHO, it would be wrong not to do so, just as we know it would be wrong to stand silently by while someone trashes a loved one."

It is actually a JUDGEMENT on the church that God does not send more Nathan’s. When we see (and I saw this all the time) that a scandal (or bad behavior by leaders) is hidden because it would ’hurt our witness’...what they do not understand is that they HAVE NO WITNESS. That was a huge revelation to me a while back.

Paula Fether

Yep. What kind of witness lies and covers its sins? It tells us they have no clue what Christianity is all about. If they want to prove otherwise, let them become the lowest slaves, serving the other believers without pay or recognition. Those are the kind we should follow, not the self-important.

Greg Anderson

Paula,

After considering all the meanness and cruelty that has come out of organized religion throughout the centuries and which continues even to this day, I can now better understand why John the Revelator wept on Patmos when there was no one worthy to loose the seals. Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Paula Fether

Yes, and why Jesus asked whether there’d be faith left on the earth when He returned...

I’ve said before that I think the Rapture will come, not so much because the world is so bad, but because the "church" is so bad.