Thursday, May 23, 2013

Help, Mom! There are Arminians Under My Bed!

Yes, this is a real book published by a division of Lifeway (affilliated with the SBC) and when a Facebook friend told me about it, I just had to read it. It's written by a Calvinistic Baptist and is supposed to teach children about Calvinism. Unfortunately, I think the title is the best part of the book. You would expect a book with a such a title to be humorous but it really wasn't and the plot didn't make much sense. The book attempts to portray a boy's (Mitchell's) nightmares where he sees the doctrines of TULIP worked out. The strangest section is the one dealing with the Limited atonement or "Particular Redemption" as the book calls it. This chapter, along with the rest of the book, portrays Jesus as a knight on a white horse conquering. He comes through and breaks the chains of the elect. But the strangest thing about this chapter is that there is no mention of the atonement at all. The atonement isn't really mentioned at all until the chapter on Irresistible Grace and talks about how the King wanted to show his justice and mercy by punishing his son in the place of certain criminals. Everyone else gets what they asked for--"their idols and sin and rebellion." You would expect Mitchell to ask why the King wouldn't have his son be punished for all criminals and maybe ask how that was fair to the son but Mitchell doesn't ask these questions. I highly doubt that the book would convince any Arminian to become a Calvinist. It certainly didn't convince this Lutheran to become a Calvinist. But I think it's a good illustration of the lopsided nature of Calvinism in general. Calvinism does not approach the Scriptures as being primarily about Christ-crucified (which plays a very minor role in this book) but being about God's glory. I would say that in this book it's not even so much about God's glory but of God's election and everything is viewed through the lens of election. In the book God works apart from any real means. He doesn't work through His Word, He certainly doesn't work through His sacraments. It's no wonder that Mitchell continues to have these nightmares. He really has nothing to cling to that proves he is one of the elect. If you read between the lines of the first chapter it would seem that the only thing you can cling to is your outward moral behavior that you perform after you become a Christian.


Emily Cook said...

nightmares, indeed!
thanks for the review, I'm glad I know this book exists! funny stuff!


James Jordan said...

Calvinists could easily dispense with the cross and the historical existence of Jesus to boot. Justification by faith alone, and faith by predestination alone as a system of salvation will "work" no matter what the object of faith is. They could place their faith in Barak Obama. "If you believe in Barak Obama you shall be saved. But you can't believe in Obama unless you are elect." Boom; there's a valid Calvinism right there: no Jesus needed. The cross functions as nothing but the thing they are predestined to believe in, which could have been anything else, including the Statepuff Marshmellowman or a Ninja Turtle.

James Jordan said...

And, honestly, some times it sounds like they believe they were predestined to believe they were predestined and nothing more.

David Gray said...

Calvinists could easily dispense with the cross and the historical existence of Jesus to boot.

Perhaps if they were insane. Calvin couldn't and it would be a poor Calvinist who could. Of course a Calvinist Baptist is in a real sense an oxymoron.