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#21 Ryan H.

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 08:29 AM

Many Evangelicals believe some aspects of Reformed theology, but almost never everything of, say the Five Points.

How do you define "evangelical"?

I grew up in many different evangelical churches and went to an evangelical high school and an evangelical college. In all of that, I've always been in conctact with self-identifying evangelicals who teach and believe the Five Points. Furthermore, no definition of evangelicalism that I've studied over the years excludes Reformed individuals; indeed, the Reformed tradition has quite a voice in evangelicalism through prominent figures like John Piper.

Edited by Ryan H., 09 February 2011 - 08:36 AM.


#22 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:00 PM

I said MANY. I learned the hard way from discussions and arguments with Reformed bretheren that many never means all, or most. I grew up in a milieu quite different than yours. The basic of Evangelicalism as I understand it are:
  • Born Again
  • Evangelism/Missions
  • Inerrancy
  • Divinity of Christ
  • His Death and Resurrection

I don't think that any of those are incompatible with Calvinism. However, those beliefs are not exclusive to Reformed doctrine either. Much of Evangelicalism has its roots in the Second Awakening which backed away from pure Reformed teaching. If I am not mistaken, some Reformed are a bit uncomfortable with traditional notions of evangelism and Missions. Such notions are the hallmark of the tradition out of which I came. While I cringe at the PR methods of the para-church mission my parents once worked for (notably a come on that implies relief of hunger and lack of shelter, for example, that finishes with a plea for funds for propagating the Gospel in its unique way and no further mention of the come on issues; nothing wrong with either point in my mind, but to use one only as an attention grabber for the other I don't like), I certainly and whole heartedly agree with their reason for being and their ministry. I'm betting that the more comfortable a Reformed pastor or congregation is with emphasis on witnessing and evangelism and missions, the more evangelical the pastor and/or congregation. Honoring these in the breach is just as good. So much of my heritage does too

#23 Ryan H.

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:07 PM

I said MANY.

You said that many that believe "aspects" of Calvinism, but "almost never" the entirety of the Five Points. That's a pretty strong statement.

#24 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:28 PM

I guess it is. The many I referred to almost never accept the five points as a package. I could have worded that better. I'm sorry.

I'm in my late fifties. It is my recollection that evangelicals of my stripe and yours only started to become familiar with each other in my teens and early twenties. One could say that a significant aspect of my adulthood has seen increasing comingling of these stripes. And yet, there are still somewhat pure examples of each still around.

#25 Jason Panella

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:47 PM

I'm in my late fifties. It is my recollection that evangelicals of my stripe and yours only started to become familiar with each other in my teens and early twenties. One could say that a significant aspect of my adulthood has seen increasing comingling of these stripes. And yet, there are still somewhat pure examples of each still around.


Yeah — many in my congregation, maybe even denomination, would describe themselves as both (or at least recognize that they were part of the 'greater evangelical world'). The people that only stick with Reformed are mostly the oldest members or 20-somethings.

OK, how 'bout them Gnostics?

#26 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:56 PM

OK, how 'bout them Gnostics?

Yes. Sorry for the hijack.

#27 Ryan H.

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 05:23 PM


OK, how 'bout them Gnostics?

Yes. Sorry for the hijack.

Eh, it had been hijacked before you showed up.

#28 Jason Panella

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 09:29 AM

Just finished N.T. Wright's Judas and the Gospel of Jesus, a response to the buzz about the "Gospel of Judas" around the time of the Da Vinci Code's popularity. I'm not super familiar with any of the Gnostic "Gospels," but it seems like Wright does a nice job of briefly introducing them before focusing on Judas. I realize that one of the book's main target audiences is Joe Public, especially anyone that might pick the book up hoping to learn more about "what the Church hid." Wright spends much time disproving some of the main claims about "Judas" (that it was suppressed by the Church; that the Gnostics of the second century were really peaceful, accepting people that were persecuted by Christians; that the Christ in "Judas" has any connection to the Christ in the canonical Gospels; etc.) He closes with a good summation of the good news of Christ and how radically different it is to the dualistic nature of the Gnostic worldview.

It's a quick read, but — like some of Wright's other works — suffers from the "too soon" syndrome. You can tell Tom wrote this on a lunch break, or something, after his publisher asked him to respond to the Dan Brown hysteria. He rambles a bit, and repeats a lot. It feels like a long 146 pages (even with the ginormous white space on each page). Still, it might be worth checking out.

#29 Pathetique

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:04 PM

I'm not sure how much this reflects historical Gnosticism, but I found this interview with Timothy Freke interesting.

#30 Attica

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 03:51 AM



Sounds just a little bit like hyper-Calvinism.

In what way?

Oh, just the "we live in a deterministic prison absolutely controlled by a demented/arbitrary/capricious deity" thing. Oh yeah, or the "having an exclusive knowledge of God in your own select little special group that no one else is allowed to have" thing. Along with the "we are dead in our sins/asleep/completely incapable of doing anything good until the deity awakens us first" thing (Dick's #s 5 & 6). And finally, this would also include believing that Scripture has a "secret hidden meaning" that can only be understood by selected group. I've personally found passages like I Timothy 2:1-6 equally useful against both Gnostic and Calvinist teachings. I don't think that it's merely a coincidence, but I haven't really researched any historical connection between the two yet. It's just that my arguments against Gnosticism are occasionally identical to my arguments against Calvinism.





Well. Some would say that there is a historic connection, which if it is to be believed, manages to run a thread through pretty much all of Western Christianity, considering
that Luther was an Augustinian monk. This could possibly explain why your arguments against Gnosticism are sometimes the same as your arguments against Calvinism.



http://www.allaboutr...tianity-faq.htm


From the article

Gnostics also believed that mankind was wholly evil and some sects even renounced marriage and procreation. They also believed in two gods, one evil god and one good god.
Their teachings are believed to have influenced Saint Augustine in the development of his theology of "total depravity" of mankind and concept of God. For nine years St. Augustine
adhered to Gnostic Manichaeism, a Persian philosophy proclaimed in southern Babylonia (Iraq) that taught a doctrine of "total depravity" and the claim that they were the "elect." He then turned to skepticism.

Next, Augustine was attracted to the philosophy of Neoplatonism. He blended these beliefs with his later Gnostic Christian teachings. His teachings were in turn passed on to John Calvin in his extensive study
of Augustine's writings. It is very easy to follow the trail of John Calvin's theology from the pagan religion of Mani in Babylonia to his writings in France and Geneva.

#31 ldwenzel

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:48 AM

Of all the so-called Gnostic Gospels the one that fascinates me most is the Gospel of Thomas. Not really a gospel if you mean that it includes the story of the life of Christ. Thomas’ doesn’t do that. It is more like a giant Sermon on the Mount with Jesus sharing his “words of wisdom” in talks and parables. Themes of self-discovery are very important with Jesus being a source of enlightenment. What is interesting is that it is dated to as early as 60AD, or the same time the canonical gospels were written. Large portions of this gospel are rewordings of the synoptic gospels especially, which leads some scholars to believe that Thomas had might have used the same source as Matthew and Mark, the so-called Q theory. Though no one will ever know, one wonders if there are some lost phrases here that came from the mouth of Jesus. While the has church did its best to snuff out this gospel, its themes resurface in Teresa Avila, St John of the Cross, and many other places.

#32 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 02:30 PM

ldwenzel wrote:
: Of all the so-called Gnostic Gospels the one that fascinates me most is the Gospel of Thomas. . . . What is interesting is that it is dated to as early as 60AD, or the same time the canonical gospels were written.

Well, by SOME people, at least. Wikipedia quotes two scholars who say:

Assigning a date to the Gospel of Thomas is very complex because it is difficult to know precisely to what a date is being assigned. Scholars have proposed a date as early as AD 60 or as late as AD 140, depending upon whether the Gospel of Thomas is identified with the original core of sayings, or with the author's published text, or with the Greek or Coptic texts, or with parallels in other literature. . . .

Most interpreters place its writing in the second century, understanding that many of its oral traditions are much older. . . .

And of course, given that quite a few of the sayings in Thomas also appear in the canonical gospels, no one would dispute that it reflects older traditions on at least SOME level. But as far as when the Gospel of Thomas ITSELF was actually composed ... it seems we're looking probably at the 2nd century, AFTER the canonical gospels were composed, rather than the 1st.

: . . . Thomas had might have used the same source as Matthew and Mark, the so-called Q theory.

Actually, Q theory holds that Matthew and LUKE used Q (in addition to Mark) when forming their own gospels. But it's only a theory, and we don't actually have any hard evidence that the Q source actually existed. If "Q" is simply understood to mean "all the material that Matthew and Luke have in common that cannot be found in Mark", then it could refer to many sources, not just one.