Stephen Craig Marcy is the founder and author of the website GoodNewsApologetics. Its purpose is to clarify, defend and proclaim the gospel message that is coherent with its biblical definition as “good news.” This is done in relation to and in contrast with Calvinist theology and soteriology which raise special interpretive concerns for the gospel as “good news.”
Steve’s present areas of interest and study are the mutual exclusivity of the Calvinist and non-Calvinist theological and soteriological positions, the intellectual and hermeneutical implications of that mutual exclusivity, and the effects this has upon the evangelical church and evangelism. His writings strive to be an honest and respectful examination of the incoherencies, inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in Calvinism.
There is no doubt that Calvinist theology and soteriology generate substantial logical and moral difficulties. Calvinists themselves admit this. Calvinists have definitions of God’s eternal decree and sovereignty that result in theistic determinism. This determinism holds absolute sway over their interpretations of certain key texts and other doctrines. But this determinism creates logical and moral incoherencies, inconsistencies and contradictions with other Scriptures and biblical teachings that Calvinists also affirm. Calvinists ultimately dismiss these logical and moral difficulties as incomprehensible mysteries of the faith. Non-Calvinists, rather, view these logical and moral difficulties as indications of misinterpretation. The Calvinist does not take coherence, consistency and non-contradiction on board in their hermeneutic. The non-Calvinist does. This is what Steve calls the hermeneutical divide. This is the divide that needs to be addressed for the controversy to be resolved or at least clarified as to why it is legitimate for the Calvinist to maintain a hermeneutic of incoherence.
Therefore, Steve is raising the issue of whether interpretive coherence is essential in a sound, evangelical hermeneutic. Are coherence, consistency and non-contradiction principles of hermeneutics, and therefore necessary for deciding upon the validity of a proposed interpretation of Scripture. That is, Steve is asking whether or not the Calvinist’s logical and moral difficulties are reliable indications of misinterpretations of the biblical text. He is inquiring into whether the Calvinist’s logical and moral difficulties are violations of sound hermeneutical principles and are therefore determinative of the invalidity of the Calvinist’s exegesis and interpretations of Scripture. Steve’s present conclusion is that they are. Interpretive incoherence is indicative of misinterpretation. He observes that the non-Calvinist incorporates logical and moral coherence into their hermeneutic, but the Calvinist does not. This leads the Calvinist and non-Calvinist to adopt and retain mutually exclusive interpretations of the same texts.
You may be thinking that it should go without saying that coherence is necessary for affirming an interpretation as an accurate refection of the authorial intent and the meaning of that text. But then you should also be astonished, not only that the Calvinist does not take their incoherence to be interpretively significant, but that the contemporary evangelical church embraces a theological and soteriological relativism in that it affirms these two mutually exclusive theologies and soteriologies as if they both are legitimate interpretations of Scripture. One of Steve’s goals is to raise awareness in the evangelical church that it is intellectually and interpretively irresponsible to be in denial of this problem in their midst. He would like to see evangelical Christians and evangelical leaders, pastors and teachers take this matter more seriously, not to argue for argument’s sake, but because the gospel is at stake in this controversy. Steve believes Calvinism’s theistic determinism has far-reaching negative implications for the evangelical church’s conception of God and that Calvinism’s soteriology (TULIP) is not a message of “good news.” He maintains that a message of truly “good news” is at the heart of the Christian faith, yet that is lacking in Calvinist soteriology. As admirable as it is to exalt God’s sovereignty and glory, these religious sentiments cannot be extrapolated to the degree of a universal divine causal determinism without destroying the gospel as “good news.” Therefore, to the degree that this theistic determinism is being preached and taught, is the degree to which the “good news” is being distorted and eroded in the evangelical church. Therefore, based on the emphatic stance the apostle Paul took towards any distortion of the gospel or “evangel” (Gal. 1:6-9. See also 2:5, 14, 3:5-9, 22), any church that calls itself “evangelical” must come to grips with this matter.
Therefore, since the gospel is at stake, we cannot treat these soteriological differences as a non-essential or secondary issue. Intellectual and interpretive integrity demand that a) the evangelical church come to better understand the nature of these theological and soteriological differences, b) cease denying the mutual exclusivity of the differences, c) cease denying that this mutual exclusivity has no bearing on the truth of a position, d) acknowledge that Scripture properly interpreted should not lead to inconsistent or contradictory interpretations, and e) realize the gospel is at stake in this debate.
Steve believes that a resolution is possible to this disagreement that has plagued the church for centuries. The resolution lies in coming to grips with the hermeneutical issue at its foundation. Evangelicals need to decide which hermeneutic is proper for biblical interpretation – a hermeneutic of incoherence or a hermeneutic of coherence. As Steve sees it, we must wrestle with whether Christian love and unity demand the suppression of our moral and reasoning faculties which is required to legitimize and embrace a hermeneutic of incoherence (Calvinism), or, that through continued logically sound, honest and mature dialogue and formal debate we come to acknowledge and embrace a hermeneutic of coherence (non-Calvinism).
Therefore, Steve welcomes constructive questions and discussion on this site from both Calvinists and non-Calvinists, believers and unbelievers interested in these issues. And although this is a very sensitive topic, especially when examining the incoherencies, inconsistencies and contradictions in the spoken and written words of Calvinist scholars, pastors, and teachers, nevertheless, the truth must be sought and acknowledged for there to be any progress here. God is a God of truth and the Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Therefore, speaking the truth in love, not ignoring the truth for love, is necessary (Ephesians 4:11-16). Speaking the truth requires honesty and openness. Speaking it in love means that everything that is said and done be marked by the Christian virtues of civility, dignity and respect. This is my vision and goal.