Bad Theology — John MacArthur, Got Questions and Calvinism

Well, this post bugs me. Earlier tonight, I was searching online, and just reading some random Biblical sites … and I came across a mention of “Calvinism.” Now, I had heard of this before (the term) and had heard some people mention it before, in various sermons … anyways, decided to finally look into the topic more … and I cannot believe what it is.

First, I had a look at Got Questions, a very popular site I’ve relied on many times to explain all sorts of Biblical things: What is Calvinism?

Now, if all they did was explain it, that’s one thing. But upon further reading here, I found this shocking statement: “Four-point Calvinism (the official position of Got Questions Ministries)…” Um…

Now, what makes Calvinism absolutely crazy, without writing paragraphs about it in detail? Basically it can be summed up like this: God predestined (selectively chose) everyone who will ever get saved, before they were even born. Anyone he didn’t choose will NOT get saved, and cannot, even if they want to. Period. End of story.

So let that sink in. Calvinism says the overwhelming amount of people in the world not only will go to Hell (which is honestly true), but that they have no choice but to go to Hell (that’s where it falls apart). Forget being told about Jesus Christ or Him dying for the sins of the world, or asking Him to be your savior and repenting. Nope, if you are saved, you basically hit the eternal jackpot, and almost no one else did. Pure luck of the draw. Calvinism is pure, clique-ish, elitism.

What bums me out also is that now, I can’t even listen to people like John F.  MacArthur either, who is a well-spoken pastor and was my go-to for sermons as I commuted. Turns out he’s a hardcore Calvinist.

Live and learn I guess, but how Calvinism has survived 500 years and still pollutes peoples’ mind is insane. I guess elitism finds a way. Even worse, now I have to start being extremely picky about who I read and listen to, because if they can be so off about this, what other false teaching are they spreading, deliberate or not? Be on guard. I was wrong for years about MacArthur, apparently. Fool me once…

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The Encounter – Season 1

This one caught me by surprise because I honestly did not expect any more Encounter films, due to the last one being made way back in 2012 … so imagine my shock when I learned (from random web surfing!) that not only was it returning, but that it is now a full-fledged series … that came out last fall!

The show is about various people in different situations — such as a robbery gone bad, a woman heading home at night, staff in a stressful hospital — as they come face-to-face with Jesus Christ, and He helps them come to Him, or just come back to Him.

While it would have been better to have a full 45-60 minutes to flesh out the narrative in each of the eight episodes, the 30-minute runtime is adequate enough, and in some episodes gets a fairly thorough message across. Unfortunately, even though I really like the actor who portrays Jesus (Bruce Marchiano) and some of the actors do a really good job (like the parents in the penultimate episode), most of these storylines are so quickly-finished and simplified it’s often hard to really dig into anything of substance. In the second Encounter film, the discussion between Jesus and the five people at the resort was fascinating, lengthy and in-depth. That never really happens here, due to time restraints. Also, a couple episodes were very weak, like the eloping young adults and the power outage stories — again, maybe a longer time on screen would have been more impactful.

Even with its flaws on the small-screen, this is a great show to watch, and it’s on PureFlix streaming, which I discovered at the same time … and that has a ton of Christian films on it for a low price. I would recommend checking out the service, and especially this show.

LibertyU Blog – Week 4 Update

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since my last update, and it’s not because I have wanted to wait that long — I simply I have been swamped with classwork and my regular full-time job as well. I do IT work for a living, which is me staring at a computer screen for 10-11 hrs. a day, and then on the nights I have to do schoolwork, that’s another 2-3 hrs. of Bible-study/work of writing papers, researching stuff, taking quizzes, etc.

In short, this is not an easy program for an adult with other commitments, time-wise. My original plan was to take 4 classes this fall (there are two 8-week session times each semester, and in the first session I am taking these 2 classes), but today — after knowing the remainder of this year will be busy overall, I have decided to drop the 2 classes scheduled to start in October, and just pick my classes up again in January 2018, instead. Now, I was already planning on scaling back the classes I’d take anyways after this semester, so it’s not a horrible thing — just a slight change of plans. But it also means not having to pay tuition and books for 2 classes, which — honestly — means a lot to my finances right now. My medical bills and other costs I have to deal with are just crazy.

As for the classes themselves, I’m enjoying them, and learning some neat things — like how to use Bible websites and Strong’s numbering systems to dig into individual words’ meanings, context and structure. But, like I said, it’s just a lot of work overall, and I have already written multiple papers about different topics.

The Daniel Project

While browsing Amazon’s video service, I came across this free-to-watch documentary last night, and figured I’d give it a shot. A 2012 movie called “The Daniel Project” discusses about a couple dozen end-time prophecies, and presents them in a very clear, straightforward manner to the viewer.

Now, one thing that sets this documentary apart from others is that the narrator and person being focused on the most — some sort of European voice work actor — says right up front he’s not a Christian, and that he doesn’t believe, but is interested in the topic.

So, the filmmakers have given him things to read as they film him, with short summaries of events predicted and things that have already occurred. You can actually see and hear the narrator get caught off guard by how eerily accurate a book from 2,000+ years ago really is. By the end of the film, it’s pretty obvious that even though he only had a small dose of prophecy information, his brain was thinking differently, and not so immediately dismissive of Christianity’s end-time predictions. So it’s a good message and sign of hope.

The movie does have a few glaring issues though — for starters, Jesus Christ is pretty much ignored, and being saved is not even part of the discussion. Next, there are several clips of Obama speaking that hint the filmmakers were trying to say he was perhaps the Antichrist (which is absurd). Third, not all the prophecies are equally discussed or given weight — like water in the wilderness or Israel’s currency changes. Fourth, the 200 million Eastern (likely Chinese) army is quickly mentioned, but think of how no other nation on Earth has that potential size of military or 1+ billion population to draw from. Fifth, and most glaring to me — is that the Rapture isn’t mentioned at all. Not even once.

It’s not a bad documentary, but the Obama allusion and lack of Rapture parts keep me from wanting to recommend it to non-Christians.

LibertyU Blog – Welcome Week

My last post had me in an exhausted state, because on that day I had just spent about two hours formatting my first paper in Turabian style, which is the writing format that all written work at the university needs to be in. It was hard to do, but after submitting my paper yesterday and getting good feedback so far, I think I’m understanding it enough to do research papers with some confidence!

Today marks the end of the first week of classes at Liberty University, and I think this school is an excellent example of how to do online studies. Multiple times each week they host their “Convocation,” which is basically a big seminar all students on campus attend … however they also livestream (and record) each event for current students, so even remote students won’t miss out. I watched this live, and felt like I was part of the activity!

Then, on Wednesday evenings, they have “Campus Community,” which is a worship/church service that again, all* students attend. The very first one had a cool animated/performance art piece showcasing the dangers of constant social media/phone use. (*I’m not 100% sure if attendance is required like it is to Convocation, but I would have LOVED things like this at the state university I went to years ago.)

These frequent concert-/seminar-/performance-like events keep students around each other, and reinforce Christian messages that the school wants learners to stay aware of. Now, the music is something I’m not super used to, but I like the variety!

Lastly, on Wednesday evening I also took part in a live, interactive Turabian Writing class that lasted about an hour, had multiple assistants answering questions real-time in chat, and a real-time professor webinar presentation explaining things us students needed to know.

Class work-wise, I finished up my first paper yesterday (about the Trinity), and after you submit it, you have to read other students’ work and then write multiple, cited responses to them — I still need to do that. In addition, I probably have 100+ pages of text to read by Monday, across three textbooks. Oh, and this week I have 10 readings of Galatians 6, which is supposed to be written about at the end.

Overall, I am really enjoying this school experience. The cost-per-credit for this program is very affordable and the fact that I can do it while still working full-time and paying normal bills is great. I thank God for this opportunity, and want to make sure that I don’t waste it.

LibertyU Blog – College Materials

I’m not going to make this blog post very long because it’s late at night, I’ve been up for a ton of hours … I’ve been doing a bunch of school work … and my brain is about to go into bye-bye mode, very shortly. I will be posting later this week regarding my initial week at Liberty University, but for right now, I just wanted to give an update on class material-type things.

When I decided to return to college — even if it was only for online studies — I knew that mentally I had to get myself into the student mindset once again. This meant taking the whole experience seriously as a student … and so in addition to getting my textbooks for my classes (actually, two classes that haven’t even started yet will need even more textbooks) I did invest in other things: Like an actual LU backpack, organizer, LU notebooks, some LU clothing and other LU merchandise I could use (like a decal for my laptop, for example). I know it sounds weird, but it actually helps. I feel like a student again, plugging away at schoolwork. When I get ready for classwork, I take stuff out of my backpack and work on things. When I am done for the day, I put it all away. The daily organizer is also very helpful, because I have a ton of online class work — far more than I expected, quite honestly.

Anyways, just wanted to share an update and be sure to come back later on!

Reading: The New Testament

I officially start my Liberty University program next week, and I wanted to have completely read through The New Testament before I started … so as of today, I can officially say that have done that. I originally was taking detailed notes for all the non-Gospel books (for a project I’m working on), and that certainly contributed to my lengthy reading of the New Testament … but after finishing Jude I decided to go back and read Matthew through John first, and didn’t do any note-taking then, to save time.

That was actually a smart idea, because those four books took a long time to get through, as I read them in chunks after work, over the span of several months. After I completed all of those, I moved on to the final book — Revelation — because my aim was to have that be the final NT book I would read (order-wise).

All I can say is wow — Revelation is a shocking book. The amount of detail in it regarding the last days is amazing, and I can see how that book is more than enough to scare people into wanting to avoid that time (unfortunately, most will never read it). As for the other books, a lot of them mix together in my brain currently because it’s been awhile since I’ve read them … but each one — from what I recall — was a fascinating and wonderful book. Reading the Word of God, preserved to this modern day, just blows my mind. Hopefully the more often I read the Bible, the more details will stick with me over time.

Back in 2015-2016 I tried reading through the Bible (in a year) with one of those daily reading books, but it just jumped around way too much, and so much context was lost. After that, I decided to just read the NT from start to finish, essentially.

From here on out I will read the NT in any order I wish, as I really wanted to just absorb what the KJV version had to say, from start to finish.