Resigned to a Powerless Christianity?


I talked with fellow believers a few days back after hearing a message about forgiveness. The topic is a standard in Christian circles, but the speaker was well known, so I thought we might hear something new.

The speaker talked about the power of forgiving another person and how freeing that is to the soul. No arguments from me.

But I think that people today don’t need to hear more messages about forgiving individuals. I think many of us realize that we are dust and so are the people who oppose us. How can we be mad at other people then?

When I look around America today, I don’t see people who are mad at individuals. I see people who are mad at systems.

A system is hard to define. It’s more than just a mass of people. It’s a way of doing things. It’s the collective processes that lead to a result, often which is unintended, which in turn causes anger. And sometimes those systems possess an almost palpable malevolence.

Americans today are mad about out-of-control health care systems. I know I certainly am. My health insurance company sent me a note a couple weeks ago saying they will be raising my premium 30 percent March 1. They raised it 30 percent back in September.

Yet to whom should I direct my anger for this? At motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets and don’t have insurance so that my rates go up to compensate their lack of payment to hospitals when they sustain a costly head injury? Or should I blame doctors who order round after round of tests just to ensure they account for that one percent chance at catching a rare disease and thus avoid the inevitable malpractice lawsuit? Should I blame Congress for not removing state-imposed protections for insurance companies, thus preserving high premiums due to a lack of open, national competition?

If I don’t know at whom I should be angry, how do I know to whom I should offer my forgiveness?

Aren’t we all more likely to feel anger at entrenched systems we seem to have no ability to change? Doesn’t that define the corporate anger Americans are feeling right now toward Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and the world at large?

I brought this up with these other Christians. I asked them how we can forgive systems. And if that’s what many people are angry at, why aren’t Christian leaders addressing that anger—and the subsequent means by which we can forgive nameless, faceless systems?

The answer, I was told, is found in the classic “Serenity Prayer” of President Obama’s favorite theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I want to focus primarily on the first section of that prayer.

My issue with American Christianity today is that you and I have somehow taken that idea of acceptance and “gigantified” the bucket containing “the things I cannot change.” In short, our “wisdom to know the difference” between the alterable and inalterable is hopelessly broken.

I’ve had some very sad conversations with young, 5-point Calvinists in the last few years. I’ve never met people so resigned to “fate.” Their concept of God’s sovereignty has gone so far off the deep end that they see no reason to ever wrestle in prayer for anything that seems unchangeable. In truth, they are nothing more than nihilists. I have no idea what they must think of Abraham’s pleading before God in Genesis 18 for the sake of Sodom. They resign themselves to think that God has set the top in motion and nothing can be done to alter its course. They are like the unbelieving leaders in John who asked,

“Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
—John 9:19b

How indeed.

But it’s not only the young Calvinists who seemed resigned that nothing can be done. It’s us other Christians too involved in our own lives to lift a finger to make a difference. Our inaction in the face of evil systems will cry out against us come Judgment Day because we loved our own lives too much to become martyrs for some “unchangeable” cause.

Folks, where is the Christian battle?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
—Ephesians 6:12

Look, you and I can’t change our chronological age, our ancestry, the era into which we were born, and a few things like that.  But nearly everything else is up for grabs. Ours is not a calling to serenity but to go out there and fight systems, no matter how innocuous they may seem.

And we can do it too:

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
—2 Corinthians 10:4

So how is it that so many Christians just roll over and play dead?

If Christians in Rome didn’t fight the prevailing evil Roman system of leaving the old, infirm, and sick to die, how would the Church have grown so rapidly?

If Martin Luther didn’t pound his worthy complaint to the door of the monolithic Roman Catholic ChurchSword-wielding soldier, where would the Church universal be today?

If William Wilberforce rolled over and relented to the seemingly unchangeable slave trade in England, where would our world be today?

If Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t stand up for the cause of civil rights in the face of catcalls, baseball bats, and the ever-present threat of a noose on a tree limb, where would American society be today?

And that list can go on and on.

When I hear Christians telling me nothing can be done, the simple answer is that they don’t want to be bothered. They won’t put in the time, energy, prayer, and faith to help make change happen. They don’t want their status and incomes threatened by standing up against tough, systemic opponents.

Increasingly, resignation seems to be the state of much of the Church in America. Doesn’t matter that the Bible repeatedly says that all things are possible with God. We keep thinking that some things are beyond His ability to change.

As for me, I contend that such a god is not the God of the Bible.

Christian, the Enemy is at the gate. Don’t resign your commission by resigning yourself to the way things are. Stand up and make a difference.

55 thoughts on “Resigned to a Powerless Christianity?

  1. “We keep thinking that some things are beyond His ability to change.”

    I have to disagree on this point. The only believers I’ve heard making this claim are the ones who are arguing against it. No, I think if pressed we would discover that what we really think is that these are things He has no desire to change.

    We’ve been reminded so often of our inordinate wealth and luxury, and the disparate comfort and ease of our lives (compared to most of human history). And we’re often chastised for desiring something “better” — because don’t we already have so much better than we deserve?

    So we try to slog through certain unpleasant (or painful) aspects of our lives, because deep down we embraced it as the flip-side of the “nice things” we’ve received in our lives. Like Job, we ask “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)


    Not saying it’s the appropriate response. Just trying to offer a different perspective as to where the seeming apathy comes from.

    • Jeremy

      I am not sure this sense of inability to cause change can be linked to just one thing or another (be it; Calvinism, dispensationalism, over realized eschatology, etc.). It is a plethora of socio-cultural “systems” and modes that have evolved from one generation to the next; causing oppression against change.

      Yet if I could throw a cause into the mix, I think it may have to do with self centeredness. If it inconveniences me, then I’de rather not be bothered. I am busy with my life and collecting things. If I can’t change it…I am not responsible or accountable for it. Isn’t that the world we live in; a world of “no accountability?” We have all the excuses. We complain often but act little.

  2. I don’t think Calvinism was the problem.. The problem is that America has rather recently adopted a very pessimistic Escahtology. We expect things to get very bad, then expect Jesus to come and fix everything..

    I don’t think the men above thought that way. They believed that Truth would prevail and the world could be renovated according to His Truth. You can really see it in MLK Jr’s preaching. And it is stunning how right he was.

    We oughta act in a way that brings about his Kingdom here on earth – At least a shadow of the even better things to come. We are Ambassador’s of the coming Kingdom.. We oughta sell those kingdom values the way MLK Jr. did..

    Way to many evangelicals cringe at this idea. I think that is sad.

      • No problem with people believing the word.. The problem comes in trusting in their own understanding more than God’s promises… Believing some promises at the expense of others..

        I don’t think People would accuse Martin Luther of not believing God’s word – And it was the same word that we have now.. Or William Wilburforce.. Some might question MLK Jr, but I am not sure how founded they would be..

        Do you think any of them where wrong for doing what they did? Do you think their actions where a sign of lack of faith, and dependence on man’s efforts? I really don’t. I think they where acting as God’s ambassadors and setting his Truth loose to do what it inevitably does – To shine light on the lies of the world. Darkness cannot overcome light.

        The popular understanding of Eschatology is quite new. And it is just — “our own understanding”. My fear is that we are leaning on it way too much, and it is crippling us when God is calling us to get up and walk.

        These optimists succeeded, and the world is a better place because of them.

        • Josh,
          I don’t agree with you at all about your assessment of modern eschatology, nor for that matter with your rosy assessment of how much good some of those you’ve mentioned have done. To me the world seems as bad as it’s always been, evil plays a shell game–something improves here, evil pops out there. We don’t sit on our hands, we do what good we can, but evil will wax worse and worse until Christ returns.

          • I don’t know man — If you compare our world now to the Old Testement days, we do live in a bed of roses… Yes, there is still pleanty of evil in the world, and yes it does get smeared around quite a bit when we try to clean it up.

            But most of the civility that exists in the world is there as an injection of Christian values — the most brutal places in the world are the places where Christianity most banished.. Morover places where brutallity has stopped, it has usually stopped because of the sacrifice and witness of Christians.

            There is power in the Word and it has been changing the world. We tend not to see it because our perspective is limited to recent history. But I don’t think it gives Glory to God not to acknowledge that things have improved quite a bit since the time of Nero — It isn’t perfect yet, and won’t be until Christ returns, but It has improved.

        • Hans


          I tend to agree with you , and I think it has a lot to do with theology of salvation taking precedence over kingdom living theology

          How often do we hear ” Jesus is coming soon , any day now” ! which is really in a way saying He’s not here now and not coming today.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I tend to agree with you , and I think it has a lot to do with theology of salvation taking precedence over kingdom living theology

            Not just “theology of salvation”, but a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation — while the world dies and burns.

    • Paul,

      My conversations with these under-40, upper middle class, mostly male Calvinists reveals a deep streak of fatalism that I find appalling. And since this group is supposedly growing, it’s something to watch. I started with that group because they seem to be the most blatant in the idea that things are the way they are and that nothing can change situations.

      And notice I did not limit my conversation to Calvinists. The group I was with the other night were not Calvinists. I also noted that the problem is widespread in Evangelicalism.

  3. Diane R

    The Calvinists that you are describing sound a lot like two other groups–the 18th century “God set the clock and is not involved in it too much anymore” Deists, as well as the 20th/21st century Dispensationalists.

    • Diane,

      There is some comparison, but it goes further than those examples. Those folks would deny that God is that hands off, but they would also insist that nothing, not even prayer in faith, can change a situation. In fact, in the conversations I’ve had with these guys, prayer is reduced to a relational conversation only, as if God never changes the outcome of anything based on prayer.

    • Diane,

      It’s not bloggers I have talked with but average Joes. Get cancer, face bankruptcy, marriage going south—it seems their answer is that those are all tough things and there is really nothing you can do about any of them, as they are all preordained. Problem is, you can use the preordained idea to shrug your shoulders and justify inaction for just about anything.

      I don’t know how you call any of that Christian.

  4. Jim

    Dan — it is disappointing to see you singling out “young Calvinists” in such a derogatory way. I don’t doubt that you’ve had discouraging conversations with some, but to broad brush the entire neo-Calvinist movement as nihilistic is absurd, and just plain wrong.

    Do you really think that the tens of thousands of young Calvinists who are influenced by the grace filled ministry of Tim Keller are doing nothing?

    The mercy ministry that young Calvinists are carrying out in my city is nothing short of stunning, and it is not exceptional among the reform minded that you disparage.

    We have ten young, married couples who have moved into a poor, black, crime-ridden neighborhood who have established a school, and have planted an integrated church, right in the middle of a blighted part of town.

    Here is just one example of young Calvinsts doing nothing:

    The ACTS 29 network of young Calvinists churches, which are spreading like wildfire, are more devoted to outreach to the poor than any group of evangelical Christians I’ve ever seen. These are young people who are walking the walk, and I find it shocking that you are either so misinformed, or so biased, to make the unfounded and uncharitable comments you’ve made here.

    Calvinists theologians and pastors are the ones leading the discussion concerning transforming the culture: Tim Keller, Nancy Pearcy and Marvin Olasky to name just a few.

    When it comes to “doing” something, I would suggest that the young Calvinists are putting charismatics to shame.

    • Jim,

      First of all, let me say that I have no beef against Calvinists—or Arminians, for that matter. And if you’ve read my blog long enough, you know that even though people will classify me as a charismatic, I have come down far more hard on charismatics than I ever have Calvinists or anyone else.

      And let me also say that I was a member of a church R.C. Sproul pastored. My own library is filled with Lloyd-Jones, Sproul, White, MacArthur, and Pearcey. So obviously, I’m not harboring some grudge. I have good friends who are Calvinists.

      That I’ve encountered some young Calvinists of the “young, restless, and Reformed” variety that have a very nihilistic point of view does not mean that I think all Calvinists are inactive or nihilists. I think you’re reading too much into that.

      I will also suggest that your last statement is a hard one to make, as nearly every study I have read on the issue shows Pentecostals to be the dominant force in Evangelicalism today. Their mission efforts dwarf those of most of denominations, with only the SBC challenging them. Studies on the influence of Pentecostals in benevolence ministries also show them to be a dominant force worldwide. When we talk about growth in the Church worldwide, that growth is predominantly Pentecostal. The same studies do not bear this out for groups that are historically Calvinist or Reformed.

      One of the oddities of the Internet, though, is that Calvinist bloggers are a disproportionally large presence. This has a tendency to inflate their message. I am not saying that they are not a force to be reckoned with and that amazingly good things are coming out of their ranks. Only that their louder voice makes them appear more active than the average Calvinist congregation might actually be. I also know that there is a tendency in some of the more vocal elements of online Calvinism to never stray outside the Calvinist “ghetto.” This is a problem with many denominations and sects, though. The upshot is that it creates tunnel vision, which makes understanding global trends in Christendom less likely. Everyone seems to think his own house alone is the one accomplishing great things, but this is only because the other houses were never checked.

      In conclusion, let me say this. Because there are Muslims who are terrorists, it is the interpretation of most Americans that Islam is unwilling to police its own. Calvinism has some of the same problem with this subset of fatalists that I keep encountering. If you don’t like that I keep encountering them and claim that they don’t represent real Calvinism, then what are you doing to cleanse them from your ranks?

      • Paul Walton

        Dan ,
        The verses you quote have to do with overcoming Spiritual strongholds and Kingdoms, and you are trying to apply it to social networks. Yes we are to combat evil, but Jesus never intended for His church to become a political figurehead but a spiritual one. His Kingdom is not of this world, I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. We are called to be light and salt, we are to reflect the glory of Christ on this earth, that is our calling. In the grand scope of eternity and where people will spend it, do we really think Christ is concerned about how much we have to pay for health care. It doesn’t seem Christ was so concerned about His disciples physical health, as compared to the eternal return of souls in suffering for His Kingdom, because suffer they did. I do hear what your saying in part, but I’m disappointed you only called out one theological group by name in your post.

        • Paul,

          Because we live in a fallen world, most of our battles have a spiritual element. Jesus definitely believed in justice for the oppressed. Even feeding the hungry has a spiritual warfare nature to it. The general nature of the post flip-flops between “simple” earthly battles and spiritual ones, but I believe that there is not much difference between the two, at least as I read the Bible. I mean, the Lord made the axe head float. That’s a pretty earthy miracle.

          Greed is a big problem, and it most definitely at odds with the Kingdom of God. If that’s behind paying more for health care, then it DOES matter, especially if people are being oppressed and ground up in the system. C’mon, you’ve read the newspapers. Do think that health care issues are hurting people? Did you know the majority of bankruptcies in this country are due to medical issues? If God is concerned about unfair weights and balances, is He concerned about this issue? If He is, should we be?

          Given the fact that physical healing was a hallmark of Christ’s ministry and the apostle’s subsequent one (and was one of the major reasons that Christianity took hold in Rome), I think it’s hard to make an argument that physical healing didn’t matter all that much. Ask the elderly man with one lung at my church how much difference it makes that God healed his emphysema.

          Lastly, I’m sorry that you feel I was unjustly focusing on one group in my callout. All I can say is, did you feel the same way during some of my callouts of charismatics? 😉

          • Hans

            Unfortunately too many ‘Christians’ exhibit more faith in government and all our systems

            A friend of mine ‘sees’ very clearly in the Spirit realm, during hurricane Katrina and its aftermath he was seeing these masses of prayers going up bending over and going to the government, then he saw this single pure prayer going up, breaking through and going strait up into heaven, it was a simple prayer from a young girl and her request was simply ” God , please send your angels to help us” My friend saw God release legions of angels and from that point there was a remarkable change in the tone of the media coverage

            Yes our prayers can change things…….if we have faith

            • Hans,

              We have grown up with that dependence. It is very hard for people my age to imagine living without it, much less ACTUALLY living with out. But it may (and probably must) come to that. I have long believed that Christians need to be more independent of the world’s systems. Perhaps we will be dragged there, but I would prefer we go on our own accord and with wisdom.

  5. Jim

    Dan — I’ve been reading your blog off and on for five years and have possibly commented once before, so please hear me out.

    One doesn’t have to “read too much into” this to be offended:

    “In truth, they are nothing more than nihilists.”

    You then proceed to flatly state that these young Calvinists are resigned that “nothing can be done” and that they are part of a larger group who are “too involved in our own lives to lift a finger to make a difference.”

    It sure sounds like you’ve got a big beef with the Young, Restless and Reformed, even though you “have friends…..”

    The reason why I responded is that we should all be applauding (loudly!) the extraordinary work that is being carried out in the name of Jesus by the young Calvinists that you accuse of being nihilists!

    Last time I checked, nihilists are not Christians.

    It is clear that you are simply misinformed when it comes to what is happening in the Neo-Calvinist movement.

    The young Calvinists who are flocking to the ACTS 29 church planting movement are more committed to loving the unlovely than any group of Christians I’ve ever seen. In less than four years, more than 3-thousand of these young Calvinists churches have been planted (already more than doubling the entire number of Vineyard churches) and they are settting some awfully high standards for mercy ministry, racial reconciliation, and missional Christianity in general.

    I’ve attended four of these churches in Virginia and North Carolina and all of them are full of young Calvinists, many of whom grew up in Vineyard or other Charismatic churches.

    The ten young Calvinists married couples who have bought homes in the blighted inner city neighborhood I mentioned are having babies and raising their children in this hell hole.

    And you meet the same kind of young Calivinsts in many of the PCA church plants, the vast majority of which are modeled on the success of Tim Keller’s church in NYC. At least in Presbyterian circles, Keller is the most influential voice in the young reformed movement, and yes, he is a 5-point Calvinist!

    So, what I see is a disproportionate amount of young Calivinists who are loving their cities and the people in them, in complete contrast to your reckless, baseless, and frankly, bizarre accusation.

    You don’t get a pass on being criticized just because you are hard on your own too.

    Truthfully, one has to wonder what this kind of post says about your own heart. It does seem as if you’ve become more cynical and angry than you used to be.

    • Jim,

      I am relating my personal experience over the last five years of talking with young Calvinists face-to-face. The large number of them have been fierce devotees of Calvinism and equally fierce in the resignation they feel over events they believe that cannot be changed. This has been my majority experience.

      If you claim that such conversations have not happened and that my experience is wrong, what can I say in response?

      The best comparison I can find to this is when Muslims insist that Islam is a religion of peace, yet they don’t seem to want to do anything about the terrorists in their midst. If a Muslim says that my experience of only meeting terrorists is way out of the mainstream, I would counter by saying that Islam’s got a serious problem and needs to do something about it.

      What are Calvinists doing to correct this issue in their own house? Jim, if my experience is any indication, it’s not a small problem, either.

      I applaud Acts 29. I definitely like what they are seeking to accomplish. More power to ’em. I have met a couple good people from Christ the King, which is a respected Acts 29 church in the Greater Cincinnati area (and which I believe has only recently joined Acts 29). There are also two other Acts 29 churches in the Greater Cincinnati area. but I know nothing about them and have not run into anyone from them. Given how tight the Christian community is in this area, I’m sure I’ll run into some folks from there soon enough, but I believe they must be new, small plants.

      That said, nearly all the young Calvinists I refer to do not come from Acts 29 churches. I don’t see how their not being a part of Acts 29 makes them any less Calvinists. Nor does it negate the reality that fastest growing Calvinist churches in my area that are attracting young people are NOT Acts 29. These non-A29 churches predominate. And many of them are filed with some very resigned young Calvinists.

      If reporting my genuine experiences with what others are saying makes me more cynical and angry, again, I don’t know what to say. I’m simply relating my experiences talking with many young, resigned Calvinists. If that makes you angry, it should. But don’t make me the target of that anger! Get angry enough to do something about reaching out to these folks. Perhaps that’s a ministry opportunity for you. I don’t like the charismania I see in charismatic churches, and I am speaking out about it.

      Jim, will you speak out about young Calvinists with such a gloomy worldview and reach out to correct them? Or will you say they don’t exist?

  6. Jeff


    I think your point is well taken. Doing what we can to work against injustice is part of how we worship God. The temptation (for me at least) is to passivity and inaction. We need to pray and act. I really appreciate your “call to arms”.

  7. Jim

    Oh my, now you are comparing fellow believers in Jesus Christ to Islamic terrorists.

    You are using your blog to vent and that is your right, but you are doing so in a most reckless, irresponsible and unedifying manner.

    • Jim,

      If you want to kill the messenger, I guess that’s your prerogative. If you don’t want to hear what I am saying about the large number of resigned young Calvinists, I guess that’s your choice, too. And if you don’t want to take my suggestion that perhaps you can reach out to these people as a fellow Calvinist and help them move from gloom into light, you have every right to do so.

      • Paul Walton

        Is winning a disagreement worth the cost of fracturing unity? In every theological bent there are groups that hover at the edges. I’m know Dan is not presuming all Calvinist are resigned to the sort of behavior he was describing, but rather some that he has come into contact with. Just as some in the charismatic movement are on the fringe of sound biblical teaching that we have all witnesses. In the print medium our words can sometimes be taken out of context of our intended point, and we can take offense to a statement as a slander. On the other hand when we write an unflattering account of a situation we have to remember is what I’m saying, said in love and truth. Do our words glorify Christ, or do they cause disunity at the price of being right? Not all Calvinist are resigned to winning at all cost Dan.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        If you don’t want to hear what I am saying about the large number of resigned young Calvinists, I guess that’s your choice, too.

        HyperCalvinism shows all the same symptoms and behavior as Islam, and for the same reason: Utter Predestination. God’s Will so Supreme that there is no room for anything (or anybody else).

        Some have even gone beyond Islam into “Socratic Atheism”. When even God is subject to Utter Predestination and can will only what He has been Predestined to Will, God is not God, FATE is. In’shal’lah…

  8. Sonya

    Calvanists are weak in prayer. They don’t wrestle or co-labor with the Lord not in the way I was taught in the 80’s in my non denon. I heard D James Kennedy talk about this once. Evangelism is also a weak area. Their strength is social justice and thinking about the word of God. Educated and able to strategize. Their approach is different. They are also not very emotive thus the appearance of gloom and lack of joy and warmth with some. The ” frozen chosen “.

    Knowing Gods mind about matters I think is hard sometimes to pray confidently and with passion and for how long? My 2cents

    • Paul Walton

      Perhaps you should research the Acts 29 church movement it might really open your eyes. I belong to a Acts 29 church, and we in no way reflect your assessment of what a Calvinist believes or operates. In fact we have many twenty-somethings that are home group leaders that meet in home groups every week for prayer and fellowship in the community. Our church is very missional minded and evangelism is paramount, our desire is preach the gospel.

      We believe in the gifts of the Spirit, and that they are for the edification of the body, and a sign to unbelievers of Christ’s living saving power. I know may people struggle with the doctrine of limited atonement. But what I profess is that Christ died as an atonement for all sin, His work on the cross was a complete victory over sin, only not all men will come to trust and treasure His work. We know that there will be people who end up in hell, thus Christ death was not an atonement for them by their own choice

    • Sonya,

      Having been in many different Calvinist churches over the years, and having friends that are Calvinists, I think what you are saying, while true in some cases, is not as true for some of the more evangelistic Calvinist churches that are springing up. These folks are energized and have a great sense of mission.

      But I, too, have experienced the frozen chosen. I think some old-line Presbyterian/Reformed churches have ossified for many of the reasons you cite. But then again, the problems you cite are problems in ALL parts of Western Christianity, not just Calvinism. Even non denoms suffer from this; I know plenty that are just country clubs for the “saved.”

  9. ian

    Hmm… seems like the greatest weakness of your Calvinist readers maybe the ability to take critisism! 🙂

    Not interested in getting involved in the debate, just to say thanks for the post, sorry that a few sentences are getting you all the flack – I found the whole thing challenging and provocative.

  10. Suzanne

    Interesting post. I spent several months last year unemployed, and in my visits to the local unemployment office talked to so many decent, hard working people who found themselves in a bad spot in life due to the economy. Yet, many of my Christian friends’ attitude is that we should just elect more conservatives and those unemplyed people with no health care should just quit being lazy and get jobs. Then the economic problems would be solved. They aren’t mad at the Wall Street execs who got million dollar bonuses while the company fell around them. We worship success in this country, but by the world’s standard, Jesus, the apostles, and the early church were highly unsuccessful. Some compassion among fellow Christians would go a long way.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Yet, many of my Christian friends’ attitude is that we should just elect more conservatives and those unemplyed people with no health care should just quit being lazy and get jobs.

      Jesus Christ: Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Republican Party and Ayn Rand.

      What’s wrong with this picture?

  11. Sonya

    One last thought . Something that still frustrates me some. In large non denom charismatic congregations for ex if past in drug and alcohol but you can sing…. you are gloriously saved…. You now sing or lead a choir and Gods annointing is evident. In calvanist churches maybe you are saved by teaching that is ‘covenant family’ never had a past in those type of sins. Can go to Julliard have a music degree and not be used in the non denom because God ‘ doesn’t get the glory’. follow me? Non denoms are still notoriously anti-intellectual which is also partly why they get in trouble with their bad theology ( shepherding movement )

    I still see that type of thinking alot

  12. Sonya

    The marginalized and immigrants etc go to pentecostal and fringe churches as they aren’t really welcomed in orthodox communities. I don’t see alot of crossover between the two.

    I have but after 30 years. I see strengths in both but don’t see a church or movement that has both in power.

  13. George

    Perhaps it’s better that you argue about Calvinists than about the rising cost of health care.

    Insurance premiums are being driven now largely by healthy people dropping out of coverage to save money, and leaving the insurance companies with customers who are sick and therefore cost more money. So be angry at sick people for the expense, and be angry at the income-pinched for dropping out.

    A structural reason for high expense is that health care in the US is readily available — no waiting for a CT scan here, as you would in other countries. Keeping more equipment (and staff) available for whenever you need it takes capital, and capital costs. So be angry at those people who expect prompt treatment.

    Did you know that most of a person’s medical expenses are incurred in the last three months of his life? So be angry at your grandmother.

    It’s been estimated that preventive care actually prevents a medical issue 20% of the time. In other words, the problem would never materialize 80% of the time. I inherited a tendency for blood clotting from my father, who died in his 80’s of cancer. But my doctor has me on blood thinner for life because a few years ago a clot was detected. So go ahead, Dan, be angry at me, too.

    • George (and Paul),

      I am hearing people complain that their health insurance company raised their rates as much as 18 percent in a year. Mine raised my rate 30 percent in September 2009 and now another 30 percent in March 2010. I called the administrator of the policy today to ask who approved this increase; they said it wasn’t them, but the underwriter. So I called the underwriter to ask who approved this increase; they said it wasn’t them, but the administrator.

      Sigh. As usual, no one is responsible for the increase. Using that logic, I guess the increase doesn’t exist.

      I understand that health care costs are rising. But they are not rising at the rate I am being charged. And the rate I am being charged is increasingly making it impossible for me to keep up, given the situation I face at home. What then?

      And Paul, I understand this is not the same as Christians being martyred in India. But does that mean that it has no value at all? Does it not have ramifications for my family that I must consider?

      I can say that feeding the hungry is more important than emptying the trash receptacles in my house. But if I do not empty the receptacles, my house fills up with garbage.

      Everyday life cannot be so easily reduced.

      • Paul Walton

        I hear and feel what you are saying, I’m not discounting the struggle you are facing with health care costs. But after watching people being badly beaten for professing their faith in Christ, ( I tried to embed the link but it didn’t happen) everything else pales in comparison. After you have viewed the video I think you will see what I mean.

        • Paul,

          This is a very difficult issue. I’ve talked about it before many times.

          I don’t think God intended that we be so globalized. It’s too much to get one’s head around. I believe it is one reason why depression is so rampant. Mudslides bury a school in Ecuador. Christians are shot at by Muslims in Malaysia, Dingoes carry off a baby in Australia. And it’s all right there in front of us 24/7/365. All the world’s grief and pain on display at all times.

          While I can pray for brothers and sisters in Christ in India, there’s not much more I can do, especially given situations in my own household. How should I feel about that? Should I feel guilty because I can’t do more? How long is that list of things I should be doing more about yet have too few resources to address? It’s endless, isn’t it?

          Am I a bad Christian if I am concerned about my son’s education and the time I take to try to meet his needs takes away from time I could devote to petitioning my Congressman about the world sex trade and what it does to people?How many small Christianized tribes across the world face antagonism from their pagan neighbors? Can I fix all their problems?

          If my car doesn’t run and I can’t get to work to put food on the table, do I just ignore fixing it so I can spend more time witnessing to my neighbor? If I am a lawyer who must help a family negotiate time-critical estate filings, do I instead spend that time working on behalf of an anti-abortion rally?

          These are hard issues. The answers don’t come easily. Real life intrudes on altruism. What is near displaces what is far away for good or ill.

          All I know is that people still have to live. If I don’t pay my mortgage, they take my house away, no matter how altruistic or selfish my reasons for not paying. Some comparisons just can’t be made.

          Life intrudes. I can say that I am overwhelmed with things to do, and people can tell me to “let go and let God,” but God’s not going to take my car to be repaired. He’s not going to take out the garbage. He’s not going to file my taxes for me. I still have to do those things. I still have to participate in society, even if that means that my ideal will not match my reality. And in most cases, the ideal Christian life I want to live is unattainable unless society itself and the way it does everything alters radically.

          So, who out there is ready to be a martyr for THAT cause?

          • Dan,
            You took the words right out of my mouth! Your reply is not only spot on, imho, but would be worthy of being it’s own post and the subject of its own discussion.

      • David

        Here’s the explanation I heard today: Health insurance costs are rising astronomically because those who are healthy are dropping their insurance to save money, while those who are not healthy are keeping it to cover their bills. So, the costs of medical care for the sick are being spread over a smaller body of insured, and that smaller body is the ones who are incurring costs. It’s kind of like car insurance that only covers the people who have accidents. So it’s not that the costs of medical care are increasing by 30%.

        I’d like to say that we look at issues through a very narrow prism, while God looks at the whole. But in His own words “you are worth more than two sparrows” tells me He cares about our individual concerns. How do we reconcile then the issues that we deal with daily. I can only say this: Joseph, the father of Jesus the Christ, died at some point in Jesus’ life.

        • David,

          My experience does not match what you are relating. I know of no healthy peers who are dropping their insurance. And the people I know who are sick are not able to get insurance. My doctor told me that insurance companies are not underwriting policies for people whose blood pressure is over 120/80. Note that mild hypertension is considered 140/90. So if you are 129/84, you may not get underwritten, even though you do not have hypertension. My doctor said that he’s amazed how petty the companies have become.

          I don’t know how healthy people can afford NOT to have health insurance. I recently read that 60 percent of personal bankruptcies are health related. In other words, people who had a decent amount of money in the bank STILL got overwhelmed by health care costs. Who is that smart to think that they WON’T endure some kind of medical expense? Who out there is immune to sickness and injury? You get in a car wreck and spend a week in the hospital and it may cost you $100,000. Who has that kind of money sitting around to spend on health care? And why in the heck does it cost so much?

          The costs have to come down. They make no sense. I went to see my personal doctor about a small skin growth. He was unsure what it might be, so he referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist determined that it was nothing to worry about and removed it. He saw me for 15 minutes total. The bill was $800. No sane person can consider that reasonable. Perhaps $200. But $800? That’s nothing more than greed and a completely haywire system.

  14. Paul Walton

    Perhaps this is what should be upsetting us

    “…some of whom they will kill…”
    Francis Chan highlights the persecution of Christians in India.
    Persecution in India: Francis’ Response from Cornerstone Church on Vimeo.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy

    I’ve had some very sad conversations with young, 5-point Calvinists in the last few years. I’ve never met people so resigned to “fate.” Their concept of God’s sovereignty has gone so far off the deep end that they see no reason to ever wrestle in prayer for anything that seems unchangeable. In truth, they are nothing more than nihilists.

    Or Extreme Muslims with a Christian coat of paint.

    One of my informants got mixed up in a HyperCalvinist church when he first moved to Kentucky, and reported exactly the same symptoms as Extreme Islam: The passivity, the fatalism, the acceptance of Evil as “God’s Will” — and the lack of restraint on impulses and behaviors because “God Must Have Willed It” and total inability to learn from experience/”God Willed It”.

    My writing partner (a burned-out country preacher) also has told me of run-ins with HyperCalvinists on his home turf in Pennsylvania. How to them even God is subject to Utter Predestination and wills only what He was Predestined to will — what my writing partner calls “Socratic Atheism”. (i.e. Since God is subject to Predestination, obviously Predestination is greater than God, so why worship God instead of the Predestination that controls even God?)

    Still, In’shal’lah is quite an opiate of the soul. (Karl Marx hadn’t seen anything yet.) Just coast along, because whatever happens, “God Willed It”. In’shal’lah…

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy

    And if I was a Worldly power who wanted to keep my boot on the necks of everybody (including Christians), I think I would encourage HyperCalvinism and Acceptance of (my) Evil as God’s Predestined Will among the proles.

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