09 August 2016

The Bankruptcy of Grudem and Evangelicalism


While some of the people who denounce Grudem hardly represent positions in line with Scripture, this endorsement comes as no surprise. Grudem's ignorance of Scripture, history, law and the totality of his thought have long exhibited a trajectory of error. His endorsement of Trump is little more than the consequence or outcome. Grudem is revered by many and yet epitomises the Evangelical trajectory toward compromise with the world in order to seek power and approbation.

Some would argue such an assessment or verdict is unduly harsh. I think Grudem's disgusting endorsement of Trump perfectly demonstrates the corrupting influence at work within Evangelicalism. It also demonstrates how serious things are... not in America which has always been given over to evil, but in the Church. False prophets and lies are the rule of the day.

Grudem's thought exemplifies the bankruptcy of so-called Worldview thinking, which in reality is syncretism. Grudem's Calvinism is exposed as something of a joke... it is in reality a form of lip service masking a pragmatism subjugated to a philosophical outlook and expectation. This dominates his thinking from his treatment of the Text of Scripture to his bankrupt expressions of Christian Ethics.

His analysis of law, government and history are laughable if not tragic. He is quite literally blind as to what is the nature of government in general, our current government, and for that matter what type of government he wishes to see in power. His views are not only unrealistic they are wholly divorced from reality. He is a shill for a political faction which represents an amalgam of philosophies and beliefs, some packaged with a Christian veneer. His assessments do not represent the present state of things (like identifying Clinton as a Leftist!) nor are they produced utilising sound exegesis. The New Testament condemns not only his views but his very method of reasoning.

He lost my respect a long time ago, but perhaps now others will begin to realise that he's neither theologically conservative nor Biblically sound.



  1. "Grudem's Calvinism is exposed as something of a joke... it is in reality a form of lip service masking a pragmatism subjugated to a philosophical outlook and expectation. "

    Is it really a joke? Rather, might it be a logical outworking of certain problematic, let's say unbiblical, currents within the tradition? That's what I'd argue. It's hard to sustain a deep ethical approach when voluntarism dominates one's theological categories, and all attributes of God collapse down into will, defined and defended as God's freedom without recourse even to Himself. And then of course, with hardened dualistic categories of elect/reprobate with a highly forensic emphasis on grace, Trump can be immoral, godhating, and unrepentant and, yet, truly righteous. And then a particular form of total depravity calls all sorts of common-sense as worthless. Grudem's logic is in its own closed loop and impervious to any intervention. You can't be wrong if you operate according to a tautology.

    So I'm not sure Grudem's theology is merely pragmatic, but he's a true believer. That's what makes this even more problematic. I think he might actually believe Trump is the right man.

  2. Pardon my verbosity but you comment got me thinking...

    Don't you mean determinism rather than voluntarism, or you using that in reference to God Himself... voluntarism in the sense of an all-governing or universal Divine Will?

    Speaking of voluntarism, all too often socio-political Calvinism has rejected voluntarism as a (seeming) consequence of its absolute and authoritative determinism.

    And yet I don't seen a conflict betwixt Divine Determinism (Predestination) and temporal voluntarism. The Scriptures teach and assume both.

    Interestingly that kind of hyper-voluntarism/determinism morphs into a Monistic system, a rationalist construct treating the Scripture as an axiomatic starting point... and I would argue (as I have) that it turns or degenerates into a type of pantheism.

    Election and reprobation, even the forensic understanding of Justification are all valid categories that can be derived from Scripture. The problem isn't the doctrines but their theological method and commitment to coherence. That's where things are ordered, prioritised and systematised in a way that is foreign to Scripture. Once again Scripture is the starting point and subsequent to it, there's a lot of tinkering and restructuring.

    It's all in one's prolegomena. That's where it begins and the groundwork is laid for Biblical fidelity or subversion. Calvinism as a form of scholasticism falls prey to the latter. It's a bit different than Thomism, top-down rather than bottom up, deductive rather inductive. And yet to make an absolute distinction between the two methods is to create a false dichotomy.
    Grudem's theological approach smacks of such rationalism and the prioritisation of logic over and against Scripture. He would say there is no conflict. I would argue his method generates conflicts that he feels driven to resolve. I would argue the resolutions overthrow the text. He would likely say that I represent dialectic, dissonance, paradox, fideism and mysticism.

  3. And thus to the Arminian I'm a Calvinist and to the Calvinist I'm an Arminian.
    Are you referring to Scottish Common-Sense or just in general terms vis-a'-vis Total Depravity?

    Most Calvinists accept Scottish Common Sense. I don't at least not for anything transcendent or metaphysical which I would argue is the basis of reality. SCS and empiricism can make a neat digital watch or even a mildly successful political order but can't explain what anything actually is, why it is, what it does, how it does it, its meaning, how it relates to other things etc...

    Grudem's ethic is pragmatic, something he would try to empirically verify via results. It's not ideological. The end justifies the means. He would deny that of course, but I think the case can be easily made.

    I'm sure he's sincere, but he's very (even dreadfully) mistaken... but I do appreciate your optimism. I don't know the man. I only can bear witness to the fruit.

    Were Bonaventura, Albertus Magnus, Thomas, Charlemagne, Cromwell, John Paul II, or Kuyper fellow Christians? I have no idea. Maybe all were, some were or maybe none of them. Many would argue they all were and I would question their motives and their criteria. I know one thing. God is merciful and gracious but in This Age these were all men to be opposed, men labouring for the kingdom of darkness.

    That's how I perceive the question with regard to someone like Grudem.

  4. As per Voluntarism: I did mean voluntarism. I am not claiming to excise God's complete dominion over all things. But this is a fact mostly substantiated by the Creator-creation distinct. Open-Theism, despite some fair protests about certain fatalistic articulations among certain Reformed, make God creaturely in trying to bring Him down.

    No, what I'm talking about is a certain tendency in Reformed theology that collapses God down into His Will. Thus, as Barth might say, God, in freedom, chooses to be God in three persons for the World. Barth was not really that radical in saying this, but followed certain Reformed orthodox, though he certainly reconfigured somethings. But when all "attributes" of God, or even His very Being can be treated as a synonym to will. Truth, good, beauty, none of these are but synonyms for God's will.

    Per Total Depravity: In conjunction with the above, there is a kind of suppression of any critique of the "system" because any "reasonable" answer will be undermined through a "Thus says the Lord". When God is, implicitly, collapsed into an arbitrary will and combined with the inability for created things to tell us anything, people like Grudem can deflect. This is the kind idolization of an Idealized system, it ceases to be a created, and contingent, set of ordered thoughts and now becomes a way for Man to box God up and use him for whatever means.

    I am not denying Man's corruption and corruptibility, in every faculty. What I am saying is that the World-View teaching retools this in order to prop up a system. You know this sort of thing, why VanTillians are really annoying to talk to at times. Whatever possible counter reason, in things earthly (according to the rules of logic or common-sense) or Heavenly (trying to reason according to the logic of Scripture), it's wrong because it's wrong. This is not all Reformed theology, but a particular strand through the Kantian Dutch Neo-Calvinists. The system is the necessary synthetic a priori.

  5. As per forensic justification: First, I'm not denying the law court analogies in Scripture. But the question whether this is a metaphorical description for an actual mechanism being described, or it is itself the mechanism. In other words, is our main problem a legal one, or does the legal metaphorically describe something else? I'd argue the second. It's not that there isn't a judgement, but it has to do with something more than guilt. Sin has legal meaning, but it highlights something more abstract and ontological. Not all Reformed theology is hyper-forensic (Robert Letham is an interest modern example of this), but a lot of popular theology is and Grudem represents this. So, in a way, any question of character is substantiated in strictly moralistic categories, and is sort of an appendage to justification. Therefore, Donald Trump's spiritual state is able to be avoided through moralistic categories and a cheap salvation.

    Let me clarify, I am not saying any of the above is the Reformed tradition, but these are unhealthy currents many take in bad directions. Because of a certain valorization of the Reformation by many Reformed people, most are not willing to work out the problems and keep a reforming spirit burning.

    When I say Grudem is sincere, I'm not necessarily arguing that he is "saved" or with the Lord. I'm saying that he might be actively laboring for the devil and thinking he's doing Christ's work. There are plenty of false-prophets who've convinced themselves otherwise. God's mercy is everlasting, so I have hope that even Grudem, who've convinced themselves darkness is light, can be saved. So we're on the same page here. But the problem is that he's not merely doing this to make a buck, he thinks he's doing God's work. And that, more than a ruthless huckster who takes people for a ride, can much more disastrously dangerous. That's the problem with the David Jeremiahs, Paula Whites, Jerry Falwells, hell, even the Chuck Colsons. They really believe in the stuff their peddling. Too bad it only darkens the spirit.