Monday, June 16, 2008


Just when I thought I understood Calvinism, they move the chairs. Paul Washer is a preacher who also is a staunch Calvinist. He says some good things and he has become a recent darling of the Calvinist camp and you can find some of his clips on YouTube and on many blog links as well. In this post though he has me confused. At about the 32:50 section in the video he rightly begins to reject the easy believism that is so prevalent in today’s churches. OK, so far. He rightly states that Rev. 3:20 is Jesus knocking on a church door, not the door of a sinner. He then quotes this statement,

“If Jesus wants to open the door of your heart, He’ll kick the door in, it’s His.”

OK, a little theatrical but I understand hyper Calvinism when I see it and there is no contradiction there with his theology. Then he tells a story of when he was preaching near Alaska and a huge unsaved man came to hear him. After the message the man came up to him and asked him how to get saved. Rev. Washer asks him if he heard the message and the man replied that of course he heard it and understood what he was saying but nothing happens when he desires to be saved. The man shows him a doctor’s invoice that explains that this man has only 3 weeks to live and the man says he is afraid to die. OK so far. But now Rev. Washer volunteers to stay with this man for the three weeks. And this is what Rev. Washer says they will do:

“We will get down on our face, we will read through Scripture, we will read through the promises of salvation, we will cry out to God, until you either die and go to hell or God does a work in your heart and saves you”.

OK, wait a minute now. Is he suggesting God will respond to that type of extended mourner’s bench and save this man because he expends such dedication? God couldn’t open his heart, in fact kick it in, during the message Rev. Washer preached? This man must do all these things? It is borderline Pelagianism as well. And how can this man cry out to God when he is dead to God? This is exactly what Charles Finney would have said to that man as well. Oh yes, Paul Washer has borrowed a chapter from Charles Finney who was the furthest thing from being a Calvinist as one could ever imagine. Finney encouraged sinners to seek God for salvation in the very way Rev. Washer begins with this man. Tears, crying out, Scripture, and begging God to save them was Finney’s altar call too.

Now to the glory of God this man made a profession of faith that same night after reading Jn.3:16. There is no doubt that God answered his diligence in my Arminian theology and I rejoice in that story. But then to cap it all off Rev. Washer makes this unbelievable statement:

“Now what would’ve happened, I’ll tell you what would’ve happened, you’ve got a majority of Southern Baptist evangelists that would’ve had him saved in five minutes, gone to Denny’s, and 3 weeks later that man would’ve died and gone to hell”.

That, my friends, takes the cake with several well frosted layers. First, the obvious implication is that by the elongated time of begging and seeking God, the Lord granted that man’s salvation. I suggest the presence of works. Second, Rev. Washer openly parades the fact that he led that man to Christ through his own sacrificial time and thoroughness which most other SBC evangelists would not have done. I suggest the presence of self righteousness. Third, Washer concludes that had he done what the other evangelists would have done that man would have died and gone to hell. I suggest the presence of a free will.

You know what, if the Calvinists can have it both ways so can I. I now believe in the five points of Calvinism AND I also believe in complete atonement for everyone, a full and free will for every man, one can commit apostasy after being saved and end up in hell, and that even a fallen man can make a step toward God.

This post just reveals what I have always suspected, even a Calvinist doesn’t always believe it, especially when Arminianism fits better in your message.


WatchingHISstory said...

So what determinines your theology Paul Washer or the Bible? Are you an Arminian because of Paul Washer's errors?

John Calvin doesn't define my Calvinism, the Bible does!

Rick Frueh said...

This was about Washer's doctrinal inconsistency. As fore me?

Jacobus Arminius doesn't define my Arminianism, the Bible does! :)

Unknown said...

I may not know much about Clavinism/Arminianism but I guess they are in a relation of opposition. I find it sad to see that someone sincerely claims that the Scripture talks about one of them, and right after that another man claiming something opposite. And I see this happen about a couple of other things.

(Now, on the subject: )
First. I don’t think it’s a matter of “presence of works”, rather the idea is that in fighting sin, that’s where Jesus is! In our weaknesses, that’s where you see God’s grace.

Actually, and this is a sort of an mid comment conclusion, Paul Washer talks not about being predestined or not or something like this, he talks about shallowness in understanding the Bible and ministering, and whether or not your theology can respond to someone who says something like “I understand the Gospel, a kid could understand it, but is that enough?”. Well, if you, as an evangelist, give a cliché in order to turn than man to an easy path (for you) that you learnt at the seminar(like in that cartoon when a girl took karate lessons and she got into a fight, or just tried to prove her skill to her friends, and when she was attacked she said: “Wait! Attack me as the teacher does during the karate classes!”), instead of having a theology that can understand and minister properly, well, that’s a shame. This is what mister Washer is talking about.

Second. Sometimes you cannot tell whether or not someone is being self righteous or not. For example I heard someone saying “I will not do that because I don’t want to lead that man into sin.” and it was difficult to tell if the person who said this is just seeing himself superior to the person he’s talking about (this I thought on that moment), or if he really is afraid to be the one who brings a brother to sin (which I hope was the case). (NB: don’t remark that that statement can also be interpreted in another way; I’ve pondered on the situation, which is real, and these 2 variants pretty much were the only that could have been considered.) Anyway, one should be careful when rushing to characterize people, this is the idea.

Third. I don’t get what you said here. That, or I suspect you’re referring to something to close to the concept of Arminianism.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

That was an EXCELLENT article. VERY true. Calvinism is a lie and we must repent in order to GET saved.

Anonymous said...

Great article! Thanks so much for your articulate thoughts! Paul Washer is quite a mixed bag...

I really appreciate his stand for righteousness, but I have a really hard time stomaching his emotionalism and his inconsistent calvinism...

thanks so much!


D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
daniel said...

Paul Washer is Calvinist in Theology but Arminian in practice! I really don't care about his theology but I like his sermons because he practices Arminianism.

grantrhooper said...

no understand it. because my theology is most close to paul wshers. our theology is absolutely contradicting. your right, hyper calvinism is the only way where it all makes sense, but paul doesnt believe God predestines to hell and neither do i. he believes we are responsbile. and he believes that we should preach and that, yes, God will honor obedience. he would probably add, that it was God himself who first, put the desire in him to preach long and hard to this man, and that it was God who used that desire in him to show him gospel truths. grace grace grace. but there is a contradiction in the sense that we absolutely have choices! the straw man hyper calvinist often painted does not exist among the popular reformed circles. we read the bible. and some mysteries we cannot explain. in the same sense that there are blatant verses that speak of God alone saving. there is choice. we are active in our salvation. thats ok. paul washer and i dont get too rapped up in debate about how the system works behind the curtain. we see in the bible that God is given all credit for salvation, so we try to do the same. but we see that choices matter, so we tell people and beg people to decide to make the right choice!!!! there is such a rift between calvinists and arminians. i feel if we just hung out, we would find out most of it is semantics. we all have this straw man idea of each other. you would be so surprised!!! just like i was when i found out things like the fact......... that finney told people to wheep and cry until they were saved. i was so surprised. i thought he just had people line up in drones and had them repeat prayer and then touched their shoulder and said "your saved" and moved to the next the way ive heard him painted. spurgeon is the calvinst we most cherish. not calvin. spurgeon contradicted himself as well, with his life. amen to that!!!! preach preach preach!!!!!! dont sit around and wait for God to "elect something" get up and go!!!! ive talked with paul in person many times. i really think arminians could benefit from him as well. just like leonard ravenhill has been such a blessing to me.

grantrhooper said...

actually you know what? i like that. i am calvinst in my theology entirely. but all the calvinists i know act like arminians. as if we can change things. and i think thats how we should act. we should never slow down to worry about whether or not this is elect or that is elect. we just watch people get saved and we preach preach preach. those who believed, were elect. this is how every calvinist i know acts.

Rick Frueh said...

I do like Paul Washer's preaching, especially since I know he was/is a missionary. And Spurgeon's ministry challenges me often and deeply.