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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Short Testimony: Why I Became a Calvinist

[Nota bene:  I have removed the name of the person I messaged in Facebook because it is not an essential point to know in regards to my response to the question of why I became a Calvinist.  I am not big on testimonies but this seems to come up often so here is another explanation.  --Charlie J. Ray]

Hi XXXX,

The WHNT?  I'm not sure what you're referring to there, XXXXX.  But my story is a long one.  I grew up here in the South, the Bible belt.  I've been reading the KJV since I was 8 and I learned the Lord's prayer in school from the first grade onward.

My parents were not Christians or church goers but I visited many churches over the years.  We moved from Georgia to Alabama and then to Florida where I came into contact with the Presbyterian church here in Wauchula, Florida.  In 1976 or so that church pulled out of the Presbyterian Church USA over women's ordination and went with the Presbyterian Church in America.  The PCUSA now ordains homosexuals--which is what women's ordination naturally leads to.

Anyway, to answer your question, it was reading the Bible from cover to cover for many years that laid the foundation for my belief in God's absolute sovereignty over all things.  At first, I fell away from my faith during my early adulthood.  Then at age 25 I visited a pentecostal church here.  It was an Assemblies of God church.  I thought that they believed in miracles because they believed in God's sovereignty.  How wrong I was.  It took me many years to see that that was far from the truth.  The idea that God needs our cooperation to do a miracle or heal is just silly....

Anyway, to make a long story short, I felt called to ministry and matriculated at an Assemblies of God college in Lakeland, Florida where we read J. I. Packer's book, Knowing God.  That piqued my interest and even as a child I had questioned why God had allowed my father to die when I was 12.  I remember reading the Encyclopedia Britannica article on the issue of predestination and the debate between the supralapsarians and the infralapsarians and how the Remonstrants or Arminians had arisen from that debate.

I wasn't ready yet to admit that Arminianism was wrong since I had been caught up in the A/G.  But I did question the Arminian view of Romans 9 and John 3, 6 and other places. 

I went on to Asbury Seminary, a Wesleyan Arminian and holiness school.  While there I heard Dr. Jerry Walls argue in a Christian philosophy class that compatibilism was false and "libertarian free will" was true.  But I knew just enough to know that neither Calvin nor Luther believed in free will and this seemed blatantly contradictory to God's sovereignty over evil.  I was rejecting Walls' view already.

Two other factors were clinchers.  The first was a seminar on Calvin's Institutes of the Christian religion by Professor Thomas O'Malley of Asbury.  O'Malley meant to criticize Calvin's logical thought and that when Calvin ran into a logical dead end he appealed to "mystery".  At the time I didn't know it but this was an indirect slam against Cornelius Van Til's theology of paradox, which is only a couple of steps away from neo-orthodoxy.  Van Til was a Calvinist at Westminster Seminary, by the way.

Anyway, it struck me that Arminians have an even greater mystery and problem.  O'Malley convinced me that Calvin at least tried to solve all the logical problems that reading Scripture apparently presented.  But Arminians simply read into the Scriptures a view that they think solves the problem of evil.  The trouble is the Arminian solution is rationalistic and introduces mystery from the get go!  For example, how can God foreknow what is certain to happen in the future without determining it?  That is, God foreknows that certain persons would do a good work of believing the Gospel out of their own cooperation with a common grace that allegedly neutralizes the depravity of man.

But Luther said that nothing happens by contingency and that all things happen because God has determined them.  This extends even to the fall of Adam and the destiny of men and angels.  Not even Adam had libertarian free will prior to the fall.  He lost his free will in one sense when he rebelled but in another sense--God's decrees--Adam never had libertarian free will whatsoever.

And the other event that finally pushed me over the edge was meeting James R. White online.  OK, offline.  That was around 1995 just before I graduated from Asbury with my M.Div.  I met James White in a Bible forum on Fidonet.  Back then the BBS or bulletin board offline packet system was all there was.  The internet had not yet been invented by Al Gore (tongue in cheek).  I was already leaning in the Calvinist direction.  So I found this Calvinist in Fidonet and decided to play the devil's advocate with him.  I argued the best Arminian arguments I knew to defeat the plain meaning of Romans 9 (i.e. Jacob and Esau and Pharaoh were metonymy and represented nations and not individuals).  We also debated John 3 on being born again and John 6 on the effectual call (6:37-44, 65).  White convinced me that the Arminian interpretation of these passages was not only illogical but completely contradictory.

In short, I came to accept compatibilism as the best explanation of the apparent conflict in Scripture between God's absolute sovereignty and man's accountability for breaking God's moral law.  I began to study Reformed theology and the Reformed confessions and the Scriptures from that perspective.  The rest is history.  Since then I've also become a Scripturalist and an advocate of the propositional truth of Scripture from the perspective of Gordon H. Clark's theology and presuppositional apologetics.

Sorry for the long explanation but in a nutshell, that is it.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Charlie J. Ray

Romans 5:1-2, 6-11; Ephesians 1:1-12; 2:1-10

See also:  My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace and

Top Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer Pentecostal

When Tragedy Strikes

5 comments:

aztexan said...

Just shotcha an email, Charlie. Be sure't check yer spam filter if'n y'don't see 'er.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm not getting your e-mail, Tex. Did you send it to gmail or hotmail?

Charlie J. Ray said...

cranmer1959 AT gmail DOT COM

aztexan said...

OK. It was addressed to Hotmail by default when I clicked the email link on your profile page. Time to update that link?

Charlie J. Ray said...

I just changed the default to gmail. Hotmail is harder to control. Please re-send to gmail? c r a n m e r 1 9 5 9 AT g m a i l DOT c o m

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