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Arguments against hardcore Christian beliefs:
Presuppositionalism and Calvinism
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2003 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
Presuppositionalism is an ingenious, elaborate mental trap by which some otherwise extremely bright people manage to keep their minds locked inside the hardcore Christian box. And it is a trap used by some of the nastiest and most dangerous hardcore Christians of all, e.g. the Christian Reconstructionists, who advocate a return to "Biblical Civil Law" -- including death penalty by stoning for "blasphemy," "idolatry," and assorted other victimless crimes.
To really understand presuppositionalism, one must also understand Calvinism, on which presuppositionalism is based.
- Writings by presuppositionalist Christian apologists
- Responses to presuppositionalism by non-Christians
- Writings on Calvinism by Calvinists
- Writings on Calvinism by non-Calvinist Christians
- Christian Reconstructionism
- Other especially nasty varieties of Calvinism
Only a minority of hardcore Christians are Calvinists or presuppositionalists. However, it appears that Calvinists and presuppositionalists are overrepresented among the most intellectually-oriented fundamentalists, at least within the online fundy Christian apologist crowd. So, it may be helpful to know about this stuff if you wish to have any chance at all of prodding these otherwise very bright people to start thinking for themselves.
Furthermore, a knowledge of Calvinism may come in handy when debating non-Calvinist Christians too. The vast majority of Christians, including all Catholics and the majority of Protestant fundamentalists, are not Calvinists. The "Five Points" are extremely repugnant to most people, including even many hardcore Christians. So, when debating with non-Calvinist Christians, it might occasionally be worthwhile to use Calvinist-style Biblical arguments as one more way to show just how nasty and evil the God of the Bible really is. (To the latter end, see also Bible-sanctioned cruelties and other Biblical nastiness and Heaven, hell, "love," and "justice".)
- Writings by presuppositionalist Christian apologists
- Articles about Reformed Apologetics on the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics site
- Presuppositionalism links on The Repository
- Articles on presuppositional apologetics by Gordon Clark and Phil Fernandez on the Institute for Biblical Defense
- www.vantil.info -- collection of online resources on the theology, philosophy, and apologetics of Cornelius Van Til.
Responses to presuppositionalism by non-Christians
Is there any way to break the spell and snap them out of their "reasoned" rejection of "autonomous" human reason?
- Articles on the Transcendental Argument on Secular Web (Internet Infidels)
- More later (under construction)
Writings on Calvinism by Calvinists
The following is presented primarily as further background on presuppositionalism. But also, as mentioned earlier, Calvinist-style Biblical arguments may have some worthwhile shock value when discussing religion with non-Calvinist Christians, who are the vast majority, at least among ordinary rank-and-file non-theologians and non-apologists.
- Arminianism vs. Calvinism on Archegos: the Champion
- The Arminian and Calvinist Controversy on the website of Open Door Fellowship
- Ask the Pastor! (about "Arminisnism," i.e. non-Calvinist Christianity) on the website of Byron Center Bible Church. See also the articles on "Election" and "Eternal Security" here.
- Why the name TULIP? on Tulip.org (Christ Covenant Reformed)
- Are There Two Wills in God? by John Piper on desiringgod.org. One of the franker Christian statements about the character of the Christian god, who is believed to send people to eternal hell for the sake of his own "glory."
- Calvinism and Arminianism, in the Reformed Theology Class Notes on the website of Grace Valley Christian Center. Good historical perspective.
- The Five Points of Calvinism by R. L. Dabney, on Phil Johnson's website on Grace To You
- Calvinism / Soteriology articles on the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics site.
- Vol. 74; No. 2 (October 15, 1997) of The Standard Bearer on the website of The Protestant Reformed Churches in America
- A Defense of Calvinism by Charles H. Spurgeon, on The Spurgeon Archive
- What is Selective Salvation? (Election and Predestination) on BibleHelp.org
- Historic Church Documents on the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics site.
- Contra Mundum
For some examples of the use of Calvinist-style arguments to oppose Christianity, see Heaven, hell, "love," and "justice": Relevant issues of Biblical errancy.
Of course, your aim isn't to convert people to Calvinism. So, in contrast to Calvinism's emphasis on "the sovereignty of God," you might also want to remind people of Biblegod's finitude.
Writings on Calvinism by non-Calvinist Christians
If you do try using Calvinist-style Biblical arguments against non-Calvinist Christians, be prepared for the likely responses. The Bible can be used to support both the Calvinist and Arminian positions -- yet another of the many contradictions in the Bible.
- Soteriology: Calvinism & Arminianism on the website of Xenos Christian Fellowship
- Calvinism Refuted on the Bible Believers Resource Page
- 11 Questions on Calvinism & the Calvinist's Worldview and Free Will/Determinism Glossary on Answers in Action
- Arminius: The Scapegoat of Calvinism by Dr. Vic Reasoner
- Calvinism Refuted on the Interactive Bible site. (Note: Unlike these folks, most non-Calvinist hardcore Christians still do believe in "original sin." The vast majority of fundies and other hardcore Christians would consider these folks to be heretics.)
- Calvin and "Goid" on Pillar of Truth Ministries (Catholic)
- Article on Calvinism in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Includes a much broader view of what Calvinism was originally all about, besides the infamous Five Points, which were only one relatively minor aspect of Calvin's actual teachings, albeit the most controversial aspect in subsequent centuries.
Not all Calvinists or presuppositionalists are Christian Reconstructionists. Most are not. However, we do need to be aware of the Reconstructionists (a.k.a. Theonomists) -- a very scary bunch. They advocate the restoration of Old Testament "Biblical civil law," including death by stoning for "practicing homosexuals," heretics, "blasphemers," and even disobedient teenagers. For more about what the restoration of "Biblical civil law" would mean, see this collection of Reconstructionist quotes and this article by a Christian critic of Reconstructionism. Below are some Christian Reconstructionist websites (and some critiques):
- National Reform Association, the oldest Christian Reconstructionist organization. Site includes:
- Purpose and Mission Statement ("The civil government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of Biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments.")
- Should Civil Government Enforce the Sabbath? ("Christians must emphatically reject the notion that the basic principle of civil government is the democratic ideal and must resist the current tendency, especially among middle-class Christians, to view "democracy-American style" as the Christian way to run a nation.")
- Defense of the State's Duty to Confess Its Allegiance to Christ
- Media House International, including:
- Theonomy FAQ ("8. We want civil government to punish evil doers according to biblical sanctions. We want all moral laws of the Old Testament to be enforced according to biblical standards.")
- Puritan Storm (lots of charming literature, such as Enforcing the Crown Rights of Christ and Imprecatory Prayer: The Church's Duty Against Her Ememies)
- Chalcedon Foundation, the leading think tank of Christian Reconstructionism. Lately, especially since the death of founder R.J. Rushdoony, they've been trying to look more moderate. But they've changed only their emphasis, not their underlying views. With a little digging, one can still unearth such articles as these:
See also IFAS profile, BARF profile, QRD profile, and the November 1998 Reason magazine article Invitation to A Stoning: Getting Cozy with Theocrats. and ensuing letters in which Reconstructionists attempt to whitewash their views. (They're not trying to impose "Biblical civil law" immediately but only in a future "covenantal" society with a fundamentalist Christian majority, which they hope to attain via evangelism -- and by having lots of babies and homeschooling them.)
- Theonomy, Theocracy, and Common Grace ("The Constitution ought to be self-consciously theonomic" and should contain a "formal recognition that the Triune God revealed in the Bible is the one true God.")
- Stoning disobedient children
- Women and Suffrage (they're against women having the right to vote)
- The Age of M.A.I.D.S. (decrying "our collective failure to follow Godís Law and utterly outlaw public homosexuals")
- Ritualistic Abuse: Fruit of Neo-Paganism (promoting the long-discredited "Ritual Abuse" scare and equating RA with Neo-Paganism and occultism in general, as well as, of course, "Satan worship")
- Institute for Christian Economics, run by Gary North, another leading advocate of Christian Reconstuctionism. See also BARF profile.
- The Virginia Trinitarian Pro-nomian Alliance, including such statements as: "Toleration is the enemy of truth, and no individual or nation can tolerate falsehood, or they will be destroyed by that falsehood. ... Nor can a republican form of government grant suffrage to anti-Christian factions and expect the protection and positive sanctions of the Triune God," and "Probably the most dangerous enemies to The United States of American are elected officials, civil servants, judges, lawyers, and business CEOs who are unwilling or unable to take a Trinitarian Oath."
- I Smell A Rat! -- advocating "a Constitutional amendment to renew the national covenant and restore the religious test oath, in which officials must swear to govern according to the Bible." (Note: Unlike most other Christian right wingers, this site admits that many of the Founding Fathers were not Christian. See the FAQ and Constitutional Defects.)
- Southern California Center for Christian Studies and its degree-granting division, Bahnsen Theological Seminary, named after Greg Bahnsen, one of the early leaders of Christian Reconstructionism. Observe that they are training pastors and thereby seeking to gain influence.
- The Patrick Henry Institute, including the Center for Biblical Law and Economics. See also its Links page for still more Christian Reconstructionist groups.
- Institute of Christian Political Thought and Christian Heritage Party (U.K.)
Other especially nasty varieties of Calvinism