The Resurgence of Steve Lemke's Argument Against Calvinism
I went to the bookstore the other day to pick up the latest copy of Christianity Today only to find that the August edition is still out, so it is obvious that the only information I have received about the cover story about the resurgence of Calvinism is through secondary sources. Another source came yesterday, as Tom Ascol shared his thoughts on the article. One part of the article I had not heard was the comments made by Dr. Steve Lemke who once against took opportunity to argue the historically fallacious position that a firm belief in the doctrines of grace somehow diminishes a passion for missions and evangelism. Dr. Ascol has addressed Lemke's "white paper" in a series of blogposts, so it is not necessary to rehash his rebuttal to Lemke. However, what is interesting is Lemke's renewed commitment to being wrong after having been debunked with a humble, honest, and open critique of his poor research and faulty conclusions. When one holds to a position that is obviously in error and still refuses to admit it, there is something motivating and driving that impulse other than the truth, for if one would square with the truth, these perpetuating statements wouldn't surface in print media. Many have experienced such a case in Dave Hunt's attempts to dismantle Calvinism after having been rebutted time and again by James White, refusing open discussion or debate of Scripture or history. Being in such a predicament is not desirable nor virtuous, so one must hope that hearing the other side of the story from an objective perspective would change one's disposition, if not position altogether. In the Christianity Today article, Lemke makes the following comment.
"For many people, if they're convinced that God has already elected those who will be elect ... I don't see how humanly speaking that can't temper your passion, because you know you're not that crucial to the process."
For the life of me, I do not understand how Lemke can make such a demonstrable error to think that a conviction to unconditional election equals a tempered passion for reaching the lost. Calvinists actually believe in evangelism and the gospel more than Arminians because they believe God has not only ordained the ends (salvation) but the means (the preaching of the gospel) as well. They also believe that God does not just make salvation possible but actually saves sinners, and uses His people in the process. The God who draws sinners by an effectual call also infuses a passion within the heart of the Christian to preach the gospel. That is why Paul, who believed that God had chosen those would be saved before the foundation of the world could also exclaim, "Woe to me if I don't preach the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16, cf. Rom. 9:3; 10:1). I have addressed this in greater detail, including the references to Dr. Lemke's paper in an article called "Corrupted Evangelism and the Recovery of Means." To argue that Calvinists believe they are not crucial to the process is to tacitly acknowledge that one knows little about evangelical Calvinism. I guess my point regarding Dr. Lemke and others who have disagreements with Calvinism is this: if you disagree with Calvinism personally, that's fine. No problem here. But when you attempt to explain why you disagree without the witness of church history (and Baptist history in particular) and biblical support, it is hard to accept your disagreements as plausible. Sure, Christianity Today will include you in their print articles, but what does that mean anyway?