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The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinist Caste System [Paperback]

By George Bryson (Author)
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Pages   398
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 2004
Publisher   Calvary Chapel
ISBN  1931667888  
EAN  9781931667883  

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Item Description...
A biblicaly based examination, evaluation and refutation of the Reformed Doctrine of redemption and reprobation.

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More About George Bryson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! George Bryson is the Author of a primer on Calvinism entitled The Five Points of Calvinism-Weighed and Found Wanting and the director of Calvary Chapel Church Planting Mission. George and his wife Debbi make their home in Oceanside, California. George Bryson is the author of a primer on Calvinism entitled The Five Points of Calvinism-weighed and Found Wanting and the director of Calvary Chapel Church Planting Mission. George and his wife Debbi make their home in Oceanside, California.

George Bryson was born in 1947.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
EXCELLENT BOOK!  Jun 18, 2008
EXCELLENT BOOK! Once I picked it up I could not put it down. Point after well thought out points were made and the researched content was eye opening! If you are in need of a balanced book on Calvinism, then this is the one for you my friend!
This book made me sad  Jun 15, 2008
I was hoping to read a fair,unbaised look at Calvinism,instead what I got was a very disappointing,almost mean spirited,poor attempt at justifying a man centered false gospel and unfairly bashing what the Bible truly shows about God and His Sovereignty in the salvation of men,nothing new here,but to be fair If you are an Arminian you probably will agree with many of his points,to his credit Mr. Bryson is a good writer,and I'm sure loves the Lord as well
Soverignty of God  May 4, 2008
No doctrine is more hated than that God discriminates among men. So ask an Arminian if he has ever asked God to save a particular person. If they answer yes,then they are hypocrites. If no,they are liars. Either way they dishonor God and deceive sinners. How amazing the arrogance and perversity of men.
[4.5 stars] "You can have John 3:16 or you can have John Calvin."  Nov 13, 2007
_ Prelude: Physicists concern themselves with systems that are either deterministic or that seem to be insolubly `open'. In a sense, `open' or `chaotic' systems are themselves still deterministic, in that they are open _by law_. So the `events' within such systems seem both inescapably `open' AND bound by `conditions'. In other words, things are either predetermined or they are not, if they are not, this fact too is predetermined, yet it remains that some such things are [by law] open [in a sense, `free']. Bewildered? It's like a kitten chasing its tail, and it's a broad philosophical puzzle that reaches beyond the study of physics. In the theological puzzle, which concerns itself more narrowly with sentience, willfulness/intellection, etc., determinism is called `predestination' and openness is called `free will'. (I'll revisit the relevance of this in a moment)

`Calvinism' is a theological formalism that has been built around selected views of John Calvin. Among its many difficult doctrines, Calvinism--where it is consistently applied, that is--demands that God is the author and purveyor of evil (as well as good), because no being apart from God can have the power to `do'/ produce anything of real significance. Human beings are puppets, programmed either for eternal life OR for eternal damnation, in both cases they have been inescapably so programmed for God's PLEASURE. When pressed past their pretty pictures of divine `election', even Calvinists must admit that this is a difficult version of God! It is also a difficult version of "goodness", sin, humanity, justice, and divine grace, not to mention `choice'! The differentiation of `good' and `evil', punishment and `election', becomes a hopelessly fuzzy mess if all are nothing but "God's pleasure"! Calvinists consider this extremely messy picture to be necessary to their understanding of divine sovereignty (Bryson shoots this down, as will I). They defend their version of God (and man) by two lines of appeal: (1) "Logic", i.e., what they believe is the internal consistency of their formal theological system, and (2) "Scripture", i.e., the identification and ideology-driven interpretation of selected verses that they believe all of scripture must be interpretively conformed to. The order in which I have listed these two lines of argument isn't necessarily important, as the consistent Calvinist will appeal to both. If chased from one line of argument, the Calvinist will seek cover in the other. But is their elaborate and rigid formalism with its vile picture of God, either logically or scripturally sustainable? Bryson rightly argues `no'.

_ Bryson's book, The Dark Side of Calvinism: The author first treats the Calvinist insistence that its five self-referenced "pillars", taken as an indivisible theological package, IS the Christian gospel, easily demonstrating that this cannot be. Next, citing at length the words of well-known Calvinists, he defines the five central doctrines (famously known by the acronym TULIP), and then critically analyzes both their logical flaws and extra-scriptural/anti-scriptural nature. Finally (chapter 12), he treats what he calls "the sixth point of Calvinism": that this formalism misunderstands, convolutes, disparages, and undermines the true Biblical nature of God's sovereignty and that it is also a slander against God's character (wisdom and holiness).

Much to his credit, Bryson displays a strong bent to serious scholarship (at least as regards the thesis in view), something notably deficient in much of popular evangelical propoundings. He employs no `straw man' mischaracterizations, instead citing prominent Calvinists themselves. Bryson intends to be both accurate and thorough. Some will think he is too thorough; by the middle of the book he has completely refuted both Calvinist logic and Calvinist exegesis--in fact he has successfully demonstrated that the consistent Calvinist must practice the dubious art of eisegesis (pressing a meaning into a text, as required by an immovable presupposition), rather than the necessary practice of exegesis (drawing a meaning from a text). Before showing how the consistent Calvinist misinterprets his supposed `proof texts' (an obvious example being Romans 8:29,30), Bryson provides examples of texts that Calvinism's eisegesis is compelled to brutalized for the sake of sustaining its formal system: " . . . you can have John 3:16 or you can have John Calvin, but you cannot logically have both." (pg 111) For consistent Calvinists, the "whoever" in John 3:16 CANNOT actually mean "whoever", nor can "the world" actually mean "the world"; "the whole world" in 1 John 2:2 MUST really mean "the church" instead of "the whole world". According to 1 Timothy 2:6, Jesus Christ "gave himself as a ransom for all." Bryson asks, "was the ransom paid for all? The Calvinist always answers this question incorrectly. The doctrines of unconditional election and limited atonement make sure that he does."

"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2 (ESV) Calvin said that in saying "the whole world," the apostle John could NOT have meant "the whole world," and that [in saying "the whole world"] what he [John] really meant was "the whole Church." (CNTC) Bryson notes, "so now we know that that a word (i.e., world) that is often used in Scripture as almost antithetical to the word `church' is really a synonym for the word `church.' The whole world is the whole church . . . It's a good thing we have Calvin to tell us this, otherwise we may never have noticed." pg 155

_ Logic?: The Calvinist believes that if man plays ANY active role in his relationship with God, if man is free to make ANY important choices, i.e., any choice that could actually matter in any way, then God's sovereignty is inherently impugned, and that therefore all such ideas MUST be consistently disavowed. This supposed application of "logic" IS the beating heart of Calvinism--note that nothing in the above `theology' is actually articulated in Christian scripture (at least not apart from concerted Calvinist eisegesis!). But is this beating heart of Calvinist "logic" actually logical? Bryson demonstrates that it is not: (a) If God makes the rules, God is sovereign. (b) If God's rule is that men should have meaningful minds and make willful decisions for which they are responsible and accountable (as is taught in scripture, Deut. 30:19 and many other passages; Origen may have exaggerated only slightly when, in refuting the heavy-handed `predestinationists' of his time, he said that 10,000 passages of scripture testify of the freedom of the human will), then God has [sovereignly] established this condition. It is His sovereign condition. (c) If God's rule is that He judges what individual men do with the freedom he has provided, then God has set forth this condition. It is His sovereign condition. It clearly does not logically follow that within these conditions (again, as determined by God) that God has "lost" his sovereignty. Only for the committed Calvinist has God thus "lost" any sovereignty! Only the committed Calvinist needs this non sequitur. But this fallacious demand is the `logical' foundation of Calvinism!

At the outset I briefly mentioned the predestination versus freedom question as it is addressed in physics (determinism versus openness). There was a method to my madness. Physics and neurophysiology have limited capability to address the more complex aspects of "will" (say if I decide NOT TO do something, contrary to a compelling material reason that I should want, or even `need', TO do it; or to do something contrary to powerful physical reasons not to do it). The relevant point that we can draw from those kinds of systems which scientists CAN closely study, is that open systems are open only within the physical laws by which they are, in fact, open. `Chaos' still plays by the rules. Nature's lawfulness has NOT been suspended. If we understand God to be the author of quantum law and human consciousness, then God certainly remains the sovereign lawgiver of both that which is deterministic [by divine law] and that which open [by divine law]. Openness (freedom, if you will) then certainly remains, but in no way is the lawgiver's sovereign position (defining the conditions of openness) called into question. Instead we have an intriguing peek at the lawgiver's powerful, mysterious genius!

_ Postlude: I've probably offended any dogmatically committed Calvinist that may read this review. That is not my intention; but as much as they will not like my review, I do not like their wrong version of "God". I cannot imagine how anyone would. The Calvinist can shrug his shoulders and reply "God elected me to like Him, why does that have to make sense to anyone?" Forgive me if I role my eyes in incredulity. This Calvinist answer holds that God has given men fake "minds" [if we may indeed consider them to be minds at all, which is doubtful within Calvinism, as we must then be Cartesian `brains-in-vats'!] so that He might mock our delusions of good and evil, thus willfully deceiving man for His own pleasure. No Calvinist, your answer is no good. If God makes individuals for the purpose of `hating' them, and "irresistibly" assigns them sin before punishing them for being sinners--and this is the consistent Calvinist perversion of divine `sovereignty' (the doctrine of irresistible damnation and irresistible election)--and perpetrates this hatred and deception for His own mysterious pleasure, this "God" would be immeasurably more evil than any possible conception of Satan. The principle of divine sovereignty certainly does NOT logically demand this view, nor do the teachings of scripture:

_ The Bible (OT): "I [God] have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live" Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB)
_ Calvinism: "I [God] have teased you with an illusion that you can make choices. You must participate in my deception in order that I may take pleasure in it."
_ The Bible (NT): "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17 (NASB)
_ Calvinism: "Every good AND evil gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights AND darkness, who is variously the purveyor of good AND evil."

On some points Bryson's theology and soteriology depart considerably from mine (the "other sheep" of John 10:16 and "others" of Isaiah 56:8 suggest a larger picture of divine grace than either Calvin or Bryson, or perhaps most present evangelical commentators, can admit). But he knows his topic here and he knows the arguments of those who would oppose him. His book deserves a large readership within the evangelical community, especially among Calvinists and those potentially tempted by Calvinism's `happy face' (unconditional election [to life]) but incognizant of its `dark side', as, to a limited extent, I was myself a few years ago. I am tempted to address two more issues, one being that of the non-paradoxical nature of what some wrongly see as either a tension or else the opposite, i.e., an equivalence, between the concepts of foreknowledge and predetermination. But there is no paradox and certainly no equivalence. The other is the problem which Christ's `greatest commandment' -- love -- presents to the Calvinist caste system and its iron-fisted `god'. If love cannot be freely chosen or meaningfully willed, then Christ's greatest commandment and exhortation is a divinely imposed deception, just another ruse in which `god' takes pleasure. Thus Calvinism, so ardently proud and confident of its supposedly chronologically precise soteriology, trivializes the teaching of Jesus.

It must be admitted* that Calvin was an erudite, sincere and intelligent man. That certainly did not keep him from being wrong, as regards the extreme theological system that is attributed to him. If you doubt this, read Luke chapter 15 and try to envisage the extreme philological and theological gymnastics that Calvinism demands to explain away Jesus' teachings about decision/choice and will. *(And it must also be admitted that Calvin was a humorless, haughty and cruel man, even a hateful and murderous man, and that his version of `god' largely reflected his own character. Were I and my present words transported back to Calvin's Geneva, I wonder whether "The Protestant Pope of Geneva" would demand I be burned at the stake for "heresy" -- or instead merely have me beheaded for "disobedience." Hmmm. . . Sorry, I digress.)
Excellent, Logical Rebuttal to Calvanism  Sep 30, 2007
This book puts into words the way I've always felt about the soverenity of God and the accountability of Man. I appreciated the way the author refutes Calvanism using logic. I especially liked the section where he shows how Calvanists skew the argument by only presenting two alternatives. (Have you stopped beating your wife, yes or no). So similar to the hyper preterists. Thanks for a great, meaty yet readable/understandable book!

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