Posts Tagged ‘Calvinism’

Definition of Terms: Dating, Groups & Courtship

February 20, 2008

Now that I have been blogging on this topic for a while I think it is more than appropriate that I define some terms, especially as they have been applied in Sovereign Grace which is the group Harris is a part of.

Here is a summary of the three stages I have seen:

DATING

This is what a lot of people do. It can be a casual date doing things as friends where a person dates different people to see what personality works best for them. It could be a long drawn out thing with no intention of marriage. There is quite a spectrum here. SG moved away from this early in their church history. Incidentally, in Joshua Harris’s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” book he doesn’t seem to make a distinction between casual dating (as friends) and a long term dating.

GROUP APPROACH

This is what Sovereign Grace Ministries started promoting early in their church history (1978). With this approach, singles are encouraged to do things in groups vs. two single people of the opposite sex going out on “dates.” Dating might not have literally been forbidden but it might as well have been. Only after having done a lot of thing in group situations and in that context gotten to know each other was a couple allowed to pursue a relationship and do things one on one.

COURTSHIP

This system is something SG gravitated to around the mid 90’s. It especially worked well for children growing up in the church. This is an extension of the group approach and goes even further.

With this approach an interested young man must first approach the young woman’s father and gain his approval to court or “woo” as they like to say his daughter. Getting the father’s approval may take some time and is done before the young man can spend any significant time with the young woman to determine if she is even a good match for him.

At one time this approach was introduced as having prospective couple do things around each other’s family where they couldn’t put on a facade for their potential partner but now has moved toward getting the father’s approval first before much contact between the two single people. To me the having to get the father’s permission to “woo” his daughter before you can spend time to get to know her to see if she is a good match is like putting the cart before the horse. How can one know if they want to court a girl until after spending time with her? It’s almost a Catch-22.

I will be curious to see what comments people have about this. Correct me if I am wrong about my definitions.

Return to Main Page

Revised 2/25/08

Advertisements

“Sovereign Grace” & Courtship: A Contradiction?

January 26, 2008

If you have read my previous post about Courtship being a means for parents extending control of their children then you should have a good idea of where I am coming from.

Courtship: Extending Parents “Protection” Beyond Home Schooling?

Sovereign Grace Ministries, the church association (some would say denomination) that Joshua Harris author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a senior pastor in teaches the Calvinistic belief. Harris’s group uses the title “Reformed” and not “Calvinism” though most say they are synonymous. In fact, their name “Sovereign Grace” implies they are Calvinistic/Reformed.

The Reformed Doctrine is based on a strong emphasis on God’s Sovereignty. Some including myself would say that this doctrine takes God’s chosen Sovereignty too far. Their strong emphasis on Sovereignty leads them to believe that God chooses who will be saved and that man has no choice or control in the matter. Put another way God provides an “irresistible grace” to some and those he gives this to are assured of being saved. Putting this another way, man has no free will in his salvation and it is God who decides who He will save including when.

What about those that don’t get this “irresistible grace?” They have no chance of salvation according to Reformed Theology. Either by default or also by God’s selection (depending on which variation of Calvinism taught) they will not be saved and hence eternally damned. This is the dark side of Calvinism that many times proponents choose to downplay.

Nevertheless Calvinism teaches that man has no choice with respect to salvation. God controls who will and who will not go to heaven. Thus this teaching promotes what some say is an extreme view of God’s Sovereignty.

A summary of Sovereign Grace’s teaching is summarized in one message on their web site:

Sovereign Grace & The Glorious Mystery of Election

Note: Many who question the Calvinistic doctrine will state that the use of the term “mystery” is another way of stating the contradictions in Scripture that conflict with Calvinism.

Now here is where I see a contradiction.

Why do groups such as Sovereign Grace Ministries promote a system such as courtship that seems to “over protect” their children while at the same time stating they believe how much God is in control and sovereign? That is according to their doctrine, if God wants to save their children he will do that. Conversely, if God hasn’t chosen to save them, there is nothing they can do to prevent that.

I am not downplaying the benefits of and that one should bring up a child in proper God fearing environment. I am just pointing out the contradiction. Others have shared my same concern. Also, if it is God’s sovereign choice, wouldn’t a Godly environment have no affect on whether their children come to Christ or not?

On a side note, I am always curious if leaders who promote Calvinism are willing to admit that God may not choose to save some of their children. It is easy to teach something like this when it doesn’t hit home and affect your family. It is much easier to say you believe this while pointing to crowd of strangers and not your own family.

One well known Christian author, Dave Hunt, has a book titled “What Love Is This?” That phrase sums it up. How could a God we portray as having a father heart not at least afford all individuals an opportunity to be saved?

Note: I do not hold to or promote a Calvinistic viewpoint though I don’t consider myself to be what is the opposite of the spectrum, an Arminian. If anything I would call myself a “Calminian.”

Tim Lahaye is quoted as saying that Calvinism is “perilously close to “blasphemy.” I would agree with Tim Lahaye. I am just seeing a contradiction. Maybe this should also be called “mystery?” 😉

Comments?

Return to Main Page