Why Can’t The Calvinists Be Calvinistic?

I just returned from a funeral where the deceased was a very young man who died in a particularly tragic fashion. During the committal service the (RCA) minister said,

“I am convinced that this death wasn’t God’s will.”

This came immediately after an injunction from him to the people that they shouldn’t ask the question ‘why’ and that the answer was buried inaccessible in the mind of God.

Now, if this wasn’t God’s will how could God have the answer buried in His mind let alone even know the answer?

If these kinds of things aren’t God’s will then why don’t we figure out whose will they are so we can pinch him a little incense and offer him a little worship?

The last time I heard something like this it came out of a Methodist ministers mouth.

I guess there really is no difference.

Funeral Service Douglas Lee Dipple

Call To Attention for the Funeral in memory of Douglas Lee Dipple and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

25Jesus said…”I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11


Gracious and Compassionate Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who art the author of life on each side of death, we cast all our grief upon thee, in faith confident that Thou dost care. With the suddenness of this death the meaning of your ways are kept in a mist from us, yet we confess that thy ways are higher than our ways, and thy thoughts higher than our thoughts. In this hour of bereavement, be an ever-present help in time of need, send forth a double portion of they Spirit for our comfort, and sustain us with faith when reason cannot comprehend the depths of your providence. In Jesus Christ name we pray. AMEN

* Scripture Reading

4″O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

6Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
7″And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.
8Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Do not make me the scorn of the fool (Psalm 39)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (II Corinthians 1)

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46)



The word ‘eulogy’ literally means ‘good saying.’ Its practice in funerals is the desire to accentuate the blessing that the departed was to those in this life because of their character. We speak eulogies not with the purpose of divinizing the deceased but rather to recognize that as all men bear the image of God so there is in the character of all men that which can be esteemed and well spoken of. In speaking the eulogy we are extolling the one we love who has gone to sleep but more importantly we are praising the one who gave life, breath and character to all that have come from His Creative hand.

When we speak of the life and character of Doug we are mindful of his easygoing character. Doug was not a particularly anxious sort and had the ability to field life in a way that spoke of a quiet confidence.

Perhaps this ability also accounts for his charm. Doug had the ability to put people at ease and make them comfortable. Somebody in the last few days put it this way when speaking to his family, “Doug was the kind of person who had the ability to make people feel, who he had only recently met, like they were his best friend.” None of us here should underestimate that kind of gift and many of us should pray that we might be given more of that ability.

However this gift was not a mere ability to glad-hand or to do a snow job on people. As we all read in the Lansing State Journal story Doug put feet to his friendships. I suspect the type of kindnesses extended by Doug that Mr. Middaugh recorded in that Journal article were not unique to Mike. I suspect that many here would echo Mr. Middaugh’s sentiments that Doug “would think about anybody else before himself.” The outpouring of affection that we have seen for Doug the past few days confirms his ability to have been more to people then just a really nice acquaintance. In the relationships he had with people there is every bit of evidence that there existed genuine depth.

Doug also retained a character trait that is not seen with a great deal of prevalence and that was his general respect for those who were a generation or two his senior. If you listened to Doug in conversations with those kind of people his address was consistently laced with respect…

‘Yes, Mr. Martens.’

‘Thank You Mrs. Douma.’

‘Good to see you Pastor.’

I would suspect that this was a gift that he learned in the home.

In my direct experience there are two things that I clearly remember about Doug. First Doug was intelligent. When I came to Charlotte Doug would have been about 13 years old and so he attended my initial catechism Sunday school classes. Doug consistently mastered the material and showed that mastery on the exams that were given. Further, he would interact with me during the class showing that he comprehended what was being taught.

Also, I recall Doug has having a keen sense of humor. In point of fact the personal memories I will always have of Doug is of him laughing or smiling. My memory of Doug’s sense of humor was reinforced in these past few days as somebody related to me the anecdote of how Doug had convinced a sizable portion of Spartan Motors that in a city without a port they were going to start building submarines. This planted rumor spread so far that at a plant meeting somebody unknown to Doug raised their hand and asked if the rumors were true that Spartan would soon be building submarines.

These are but a humble portion of the greater amount that all of you here know and remember. I can only encourage you to hold fast the imprints upon you that the life of Doug Dipple left.

We thank our Lord Christ for the traces of His fingerprints that can be detected upon the life of Doug.



It is my earnest prayer that you will pause to listen to the next 10 minutes for it is entirely possible that you will hear something more important in the next 10 minutes then you will hear in the next 10 years.

Doug was what Scripture calls a ‘Covenant child.’ In the Church that means a great deal, not least of which is the God of the Bible claimed Doug as His own in Baptism.

And even though God’s people might neglect God’s covenant claim upon them by absenting themselves from the proclamation of the Word and from feasting upon Christ in the Sacrament that doesn’t negate God’s ownership claim upon his people who he has marked as His own in Baptism.

Well, in the few minutes that we have what shall we say of this God of the Bible that has a special claim upon those brought to the Baptismal font but also lays a general claim upon all who live and breathe?

First Scripture records that God is big and man is small. Of course our tendency is to turn around this truth so that man is big and God is small. Still, the Bible teaches that God sits upon the rim of the earth and that its inhabitants are as Grasshoppers.

Scripture further teaches us that this Great Big Transcendent God is so Pure and Just that any creature that has any sliver of evil about them cannot be allowed into His presence, for to keep time with such sinfulness would call into question God’s Holy character.

Obviously what we have said already is not good news for people like you and I have more then just a sliver of evil to contend with. Indeed the Bible teaches that we were born with a human nature that is evil. We were born not able to commune with God due to God’s awesome purity. Indeed Scripture teaches that we increase our debt to God every day.
So, how do we resolve this dilemma?

On the one hand that God has a claim on us that if we fail to take seriously will result in eternal separation from the good life that only He can give — the good life that many of you here desire.
While on the other hand, because of our moral impurity, it is impossible for God to even hear any of our appeals for help.

The answer that the Church offers to this dilemma, in submission to God’s revelation in Scripture is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God, with regard to His mercy and the need of fallen men, out of love, sent forth Christ to be the means by which His Just anger against our moral impurity would be extinguished through the punishment of His Son on the Cross.

During the Christmas season we celebrate this coming of Christ to save His people from their sins. During the Easter season that is just ahead of us we celebrate that Christ triumphed over the death that we deserved insuring that we likewise triumph with Him.

You see my friends Scripture teaches that the soul that sins shall surely die. Every sin must be visited with its proper penalty or God stands being accused of being unjust. Scripture further teaches that in what happened in the death of Christ on the Cross, God out of regard for His own merciful character, decided that He would lay the penalty of the sin of His people, people like you and I, upon the God-Man Jesus. On the Cross Jesus takes the sin of His people and in repentance He covers us with His obedience – an obedience that makes us a delight to the Father.

The result of this work of the Cross where God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself is that people like you and I can know what it means to live the good life in fellowship with the God who created us. The rejection of this God who sacrifices Himself to restore us to our full humanity results in an increasingly inhuman life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

This is the God who laid claim on Doug in Baptism. And this is the God who even now offers Himself to those who recognize themselves to be living on the wrong end of a life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Christian Confession – Apostles Creed

Prayer For Family

Benediction / Dismissal – Numbers 6:24-26

Galatians 5:1

It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free; continue to stand firm, therefore, and do not be loaded down again w/ a yoke of slavery.

In the previous section of Galatians that we looked at together we saw the Holy Spirit’s insistence that as Children of the promise we are born of the Free woman (30, 31) — born of the Spirit and we stand in contradistinction to those who belong to the bondwoman and who are enslaved to the law.

In this next section the Apostle emphasizes that difference again by explicitly stating that the consequence of being released is Freedom accompanied with the injunction to not go back to those things that scream bondage and will, if returned to, deliver one back to that former bondage.

Now as the issue of Freedom has come front and center here we would do well to ask just exactly what kind of ‘Freedom’ is spoken of here. What does the Holy Spirit mean here when He speaks of Freedom?

To answer that perhaps we would do well to explore what it is we are Freed (delivered) from and what it is we we are delivered to.

In the context of this letter to the Galatians clearly Freedom means first to be delivered from the vain attempt to use a law system, that is absent of proclaiming Christ, as a means of salvation. The Judaizers were insisting that the ceremonial law that had been fulfilled with the coming and faithfulness of Christ remained in effect. They insisted on circumcision and many other of the Jewish accouterments that the death of Christ had made obsolete and retrograde.

The Galatians have peace and access (Romans 5:1-2) with God only because of their union with the Christ and His finished work (Romans 6). They are free from the wrong use of the Law that the Judaizers are seeking to foist upon them.

We have said repeatedly that the problem here in Galatians is with the desire to embrace a obviated ceremonial law. But we should hasten to add that we move back to bondage anytime we try to use God’s law in any of its senses as a means to catapult into God’s presence and favor apart from relying on His introduction on our behalf (forensic righteousness) and without our union with our ascended Lord.

In this Freedom that comes from the deliverance from the law we have a freedom from the nagging fear and accusing conscience that our performance is not what the law requires. As the Galatians were delivered from a salvation that was connected with their personal adherence to the ceremonial law so when we consider the implications of that truth we realize that, being completely and irrevocably saved, we are free from seeking to acquire a salvation based upon a performance that isn’t exclusively based upon Christ’s performance for us.

As Freemen we are not awake with night sweats that our performance is inadequate to what is required. Correspondingly, as freemen we no longer try to deceive ourselves that our lack performance really provides an obedience that measures up to God’s standard apart from Christ’s righteousness. We have been set free from both the despair that comes with the realization that our performance is not adequate (There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus) and the self-righteous delusion that our performance is adequate.

However not only is it the case that we have been freed from, but it is also the case that we have been freed to. The freedom is not only negative but it is also positive.

As the Apostle will go into a bit later in the letter we have been freed to walk and live in the Spirit, and so produce the fruit of the Spirit. Having been covered with Christ and united to Christ we are free from the compulsory service that comes from being a slave and delivered to the delight that comes from cheerful service that issues from a son. We have been set free from trying to use obedience to attain an uncertain salvation and set free to serve in gratitude from a salvation that is already present and can’t be recalled.

We might also say here that because of this deliverance that has issued in freedom that Christians should be people who do not carry the kind of psychological baggage that comes with being in bondage. Having been set free we are free from guilt and having been set free from guilt we no longer live our lives trying to alleviate ourselves by self-atonement that expresses itself in a host of different ways, nor do we allow ourselves to be manipulated by guilt that we no longer have. Having been set free by Christ we no longer do shame, or alienation or despair or fear, or any number of the other psychological consequences that come with not yet being freed from our sin and united to Christ. These things no longer should master us. All of these things belong to the children of the bondwoman. It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free.

From what we see from the Galatians though we understand that retaining this unbridled freedom is work. We must be constantly reminded that ‘we are not to be loaded down again with a yoke of slavery’ (5:1b). We must persevere in the fight against spiritual re-enslavement.

As Calvin said, the heart is an idol factory and each one of those manufactured Idols seek to enslave again the person who creates them. There is something about the fallen human creature that he fears the kind of freedom that Christ offers. Perhaps it is the fear that comes with the realization that this master cannot be manipulated. The spiritual slavery that comes with other false gods can be alluring if only because in all of these bondages there is a false sense that the Idol that is holding the keys to the slaves bondage can be manipulated by certain behaviors, incantations, or ritual. In the Christian faith we are spiritually free but that brings with it the reality of a God that cannot be manipulated. In our Christian freedom we must be satisfied with a free God who cannot be manipulated and who is free to do with us as He desires.

We still find that kind of thinking today in Evangelicalism. There is still a sense that by pursuing certain behaviors, incantations, or rituals we can manipulate God into doing what we want. As freemen we are not satisfied with a free God.

Quotes From The California Judicial Tyranny Front

We’re happy. We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

Lloyd Porter,
Member Board of Directors — California Teachers Association
Reacting to a recent California Appellate Court Decision on Homeschooling

I have public school teacher friends. I don’t want to say anything that would communicate a blanket disrespect for all government school teachers but when I read this kind of thing my blood vessels begin to pop.

“No matter what the setting?”

What a blinking idiot.

So, Mr. Porter, according to his own words, believes, if the setting required a gulag or concentration camp environment for educating children that would be preferable over parents teaching their own children in a safe and happy home as long as the gulag was equipped with ‘credentialed teachers’? Mr. Porter believes that inner city schools with paint falling off the walls and gangs hustling protection money is preferred over a home environment as long as they are stocked with ‘credentialed teachers’?

‘Foolish,’ is to kind of a word for this kind of blinkered thinking.

Forget about thinking that Mr. Porter is concerned about the poor wayward children of California. This is purely about job security. Unions exist in order to protect jobs and any judicial ruling that requires children who are not in Government schools to be forced into government schools is a reason for the Mr. Porters of California to rejoice since it means job protection, more teacher jobs and thus greater union muscle. The Mr. Porters of California don’t give a rat’s hind quarters about the children. All they are concerned about is keeping their government make work jobs.

“I’m kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep.I’m ready. I have damn good arguments.”

Debbie Schwarzer
Homeschooling Mom of Los Altos, Ca.

Debbie I admire your spunk but allow me to suggest that for every good argument you have you purchase two cases of shells for your favorite weapon of choice. If any truancy officer were to show up on my doorstep, with the intent of taking my children away without moral cause, he damn well better show up locked and loaded.

Debbie, you don’t seem to realize that some of these people don’t care about your good arguments. It isn’t about arguments. It is about raw judicial tyranny. It is about who has the money. If court cases were decided on the merit of ‘damn good arguments’ we wouldn’t get as many damn stupid decisions that we get.

Allow me to round off this section with an admission that when we acknowledge and make provision for the God given duty that parents have to educate their children there will be rare instances where parents are irresponsible and neglect their children. The question at this point is though whether we would prefer running the risk of having a few parents be irresponsible with their children’s education or whether we would prefer running the risk of having the state be irresponsible with children’s education. Given the quality of education in America I think the risk of an occasional parent neglecting their children’s education is substantially far less than the risk that obtains in the neglect that goes on every day in America’s educational concentration camps that we euphemistically call ’schools’ in this nation.

I can’t imagine how badly I would be frothing at the mouth if I lived in California right now. The reason that I am frothing at the mouth is that education is religious. If California home schooled children were to be forced into these government schools (an eventuality I don’t really see happening) they would be at the same time being forced to be trained in a pagan religion. Christians are supposed to be raising Christians. When we send our covenant seed to government school, whether we are forced to or whether we do so voluntarily, we are raising them to be non-Christians. This we cannot do, no matter what the consequences. We must obey God rather then men.

Finally we have a quote from the Honorable H. Walter Croskey.

“Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”

“Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply.”

“A primary purpose of the education system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism, and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.”

Justice H. Walter Trotskey
Writing for the majority in the 3-0 ruling

What we see in the last snippet is what this is all about. In addition to the teachers unions wanting job security, the ideological issue that predominates the resistance to home schooling by our elites is the danger that a non-brainwashed remnant poses to the secular humanist control that builds good citizens into little jack booted patriots who are loyal to the state and nation so that our Fascist project that we call ‘public welfare’ doesn’t get overturned or even challenged.

Naturally the question that begs being asked when it comes to training children into good citizenship is the question; ‘By whose standard or by what standard are we going measure what ‘good citizenship’ is.’ I will guarantee you that the standard for epistemologically self conscious Christians who are homeschooling their children as what it means to train children into good citizenship is going to be unrecognizable to H. Walter Trotskey’s standard for what it means to train children into good citizenship.

Finally, I must tell you that I am no more committed to protecting a public welfare that is committed to advancing an explicitly anti-Christ agenda then I would be committed to protecting the public welfare of an Aztec culture where human sacrifice was considered instrumental to their way of life.

On Honesty in Subscription to Creeds

“It (Subscription) is certainly a transaction which ought to be entered upon with much deep deliberation and humble prayer; and in which, if a man be bound to be sincere in anything, he is bound to be honest to his God, honest to himself, and honest to the church which he joins. For myself, I know of no transaction in which insincerity is more justly chargeable with the dreadful sin of “lying to the Holy Ghost” than in this. It is truly humiliating and distressing to know that in some churches it has gradually become customary to consider articles of faith as merely articles of peace: in other words, as articles which he who subscribes is not considered as professing to believe, but as merely engaging not to oppose at least in any public or offensive manner.”

Samuel Miller, 1769-1850
Doctrinal Integrity, pp. 59-60

The Canons of Dort open with statements that clearly articulate what is believed. After they are finished with the affirmations though they go on to write sections that delineate what is rejected because of what is affirmed. The men at Dort realized that every affirmation implies a rejection of its corresponding opposite. One finds the same kind of thing in the Belgic Confession of Faith. For example more then once the Confession, having made an explicit point will go on to say something like… ‘therefore we detest the errors of the ana-baptists,’ or ‘therefore we reject and abhor the errors of the Manichees.’ Similarly, when one reads the Heidelberg catechism with a close eye one realizes that certain segments are being written explicitly to contradict either Lutheran or Roman Catholic doctrines.

All of these documents are interested in defending the truth against error. We however, suggesting these documents are just ‘faith traditions’ no longer think there is a necessity to define the faith by rejecting what is not faith. Now, I realize that there is a necessity to be as broad and charitable as possible for fear of over restricting what lies within the circle of orthodoxy. I must wonder though if the modern danger we are facing is really the danger of being to narrow in our interpretations. Is it not instead the case that our generational error du jour is our proneness to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with everybody who shows up regardless of which Jesus they follow. The Reformed Church today has room for the Feminist Jesus, the Jesus in the American Flag (you know, kind of like a ‘pig in a blanket’), the ana-baptist Jesus, the Jesus whose Lordship is quarantined, the Pentecostal Jesus (whose followers seemed to have swallowed the Holy Ghost — feathers and all), and my personal favorite, the make him up as you go Jesus.

The very purpose of Confessional documents is to avoid this game of ‘pin the tail of meaning on Jesus’ that we see everywhere about us. Yet despite living in the kind of climate described above what we want to do is dilute the form of subscription in the Christian Reformed Church. This is like the one or two people who made it alive out of the Jim Jones compound in Guyana insisting that the Kool Aid needs to have more punch power the next time it gets served up.

I know… I know….

We live in a kinder and gentler time.

I have often noticed it to be the case that the people who remind me of that most frequently are the people who can afford to be kinder and gentler because their positions are in the ascendancy. Its easy for someone to admonish people to be kinder and gentler when the ones doing that admonishing are the ones having their way.

One must wonder what is afoot in the CRC. Recently we find out that it is proposed that in the projected new Psalter the Belgic Confession of Faith and the Canon’s of Dort won’t be included. Then we hear news of a proposed dilution in the force of the ‘Form of Subscription.’ If things keep going like this one won’t be surprised if one hears CRC ministers saying things like ‘Calvinism is like dry ice — to touch it is to be burned.”

Ok… so the latter would never happen but you take my point.