The Problem With Calvinism Part 3

In Romans 1:16 the apostle Paul declares, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

I praise God for the gospel message that has the power to save sinners who repent and believe. I believe the gospel message contains life changing and life giving power. Proverbs 4:22 tells us that “these words to those who find them” and then John 6:63 clearly says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I believe the gospel is the means God uses to draw the lost to a point of conviction that leads to a response of repentance or rejection. Most calvinists will argue that God uses the gospel message to draw the elect to repentance as well.

I do believe this is unquestionably what the Bible teaches but I adamantly disagree with the calvinist position and will argue that not only is it inconsistent WITH calvinism it is impossible in the calvinist system. Now, understand, I did not say this is inconsistent with what calvinists maintain but it is impossible where calvinism is concerned.

The preaching of the gospel in calvinism CANNOT draw the elect to Christ and here is why: according to the tenets of calvinism, until regeneration takes place the unrepentant person has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes; he is dead. A lost man cannot respond to the gospel unless and until he is FIRST regenerated. Once regeneration takes place, he can do no other than respond with repentance and believing faith. So in all actuality, the gospel has NO bearing at this point whatsoever; repentance and believing faith are the result of and a response to regeneration and effectual calling NOT the gospel.

This has to be true or the whole concept pf total depravity and inability fails and the calvinist system in total with it.

Like it or not, for the calvinist, the gospel is for sanctification NOT conversion.

About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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141 Responses to The Problem With Calvinism Part 3

  1. Les Prouty says:

    Hey Bob. I missed the excitement of your two previous posts. Out of town most of last week and this week.

    Anyway, if I were a teacher I would give you an A for effort on your efforts to seek to show that Calvinism falls on its own weight. But a D on the actual content.

    If you want to analyze what Calvinists confess, look no further than Calvinist confessions. So on this issue of the post, let’s look at the WCF on effectual calling.

    Chapter 10 says:

    “1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

    I think what you may be missing is that Calvinism confesses that God works salvation in the effectual call ” by his Word and Spirit.” When the gospel is preached to an unregenerate person, one of two things can happen. A) the sinner can respond in repentance and faith or B) he can reject the gospel at that point.

    If A happens, it is because God used the preaching of the word (or perhaps the sinner read the word) along with God the Spirit to open the spiritual eyes and ears of the sinner. Assuming the sinner has intellectual capacity to understand the words being spoken or printed, there has to be more than mere intellectual assent. Merely understanding the facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for sinners and even intellectually believing these facts to be true is not enough to save him. Agree? God must do something in that sinner’s heart to make it more than an intellectual understanding. I think we agree on that, right?

    If B happens, and assuming all the intellectual assent I said above happens, it is because God did not at that time do something in that sinners heart. It doesn’t mean all is lost for the person. As long as he is living he has opportunity to have God act on him. But he must have God’s action on his heart to be converted. And we never know how God will use that gospel encounter later. Remember, God’s word does not return void. He uses it for His purposes always.

    But still, when the gospel is preached, Calvinism confesses that God uses that gospel (His word) and His Spirit to save sinners.

    I think you are so hung up on the timing of regeneration and faith and which one takes precedence that you may be missing the bigger picture. Most Calvinists state that when we talk about the order of salvation, we are talking about a logical priority, not necessarily a timing priority. The truth is that regeneration and faith are so interconnected that they could be simultaneous. But the Calvinist, at least most I know of, do not put faith prior due to the fact of man’s spiritual deadness.

    For instance, a person can open up an EE booklet and begin walking a friend thru an EE gospel presentation. EE by the way was started by a Calvinist. So much for Calvinism being a necessary hindrance to evangelism. Anyway, it is perfectly consistent with Calvinism that as the person hears the EE presentation, which includes the word and statements about Jesus and Hs death for sinners, that the person is “getting it” intellectually and somewhere along those 5 points of EE God by His Spirit regenerates that sinner. Suddenly it is more than intellect. It is a warmed heart to the message he is hearing. At the conclusion when asked if he would like to receive the gift os salvation, he says absolutely! Why? His spiritual eyes and ears have been opened. His heart has been changed. Now, instead of rejecting it as he has done in the past (like I did so many times) he inexplicably (to him at least) loves what he is hearing. He desires Jesus. He really understands his sinfulness and his deserving of hell and he figuratively runs to embrace Christ.

    That my friend is how Calvinism sees the gospel working.

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      I UNDERSTAND WHAT calvinists say; the point STILL IS apart from regeneration the gospel has no power to lead one to repent and believe; that is one’s only response to regeneration or effectual calling and apart from this one will not nor cannot repent and believe.

      You are side-stepping my argument as if it did not exist.

      • Les says:

        Bob, I’m not side stepping. I’m arguing against your point. You seem to be saying that if you or I quote the gospel to someone or they read the printed words, then that’s enough. I’m saying that is not enough. God’s Sporit must enlighten. The power is from God not written words on a page or coming from our vocal chords.

        “the point STILL IS apart from regeneration the gospel has no power to lead one to repent and believe.”

        I agree with this. You are over reading the Romans passage.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        That is NOT what I am saying at all. You say God’s Spirit MUST enlighten; I believe that to be true as well. However, you know just as I do that calvinism is built on a foundation of TD/TI and given that foundation regeneration or effectual calling MUST take place prior to repentance and believing faith. Am I wrong?

        I did not think so. Now once regeneration takes place repentance and believing faith necessarily follow. Prior to regeneration, the gospel has no power to effect repentance or faith in the calvinist system; these are not responses to the gospel but response to regeneration. I do not believe it is possible for you to continue to maintain the gospel is the means God uses to bring one to repentance (I believe that but calvinism will not allow that.) If one MUST be regenerated and repentance and faith are the only responses to regeneration… then the gospel has no power in the conversion process. I am sorry but it does not.

        That is an ACCURATE evaluation of the system and given THIS I maintain the gospel is NOT the power of God unto conversion but rather sanctification.

        Now, you can say whatever you want to say and ignore my argument and as far as I am concerned that is basically saying there is no argument…. which is exactly what I believe to be the case.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        First, I’m not ignoring your argument. I’m interacting with it. You say,

        “these are not responses to the gospel but response to regeneration.” A sinner responds to the gospel via or my way of regeneration. His new life (regeneration), his having been quickened, enables him to respond to the gospel.

        “I do not believe it is possible for you to continue to maintain the gospel is the means God uses to bring one to repentance (I believe that but calvinism will not allow that.) If one MUST be regenerated and repentance and faith are the only responses to regeneration… then the gospel has no power in the conversion process. I am sorry but it does not.”

        Calvinism certainly does allow it brother. I wrote a lot in my first comment and you reacted to virtually none of it. Please refute what I wrote if you can.

      • rhutchin says:

        “…calvinism is built on a foundation of TD/TI and given that foundation regeneration or effectual calling MUST take place prior to repentance and believing faith. Am I wrong?”

        It should read, “…regeneration and effectual calling…” there are two different actions. Regeneration is the act of God to give dead people life. Effectual calling is the effect of the preaching of the gospel on those who have been regenerated.

        You are correct that, under Calvinism, the unsaved must be regenerated in order for the gospel to be able call them effectually to believing faith and repentance.

      • rhutchin says:

        “…then the gospel has no power in the conversion process. I am sorry but it does not.”

        If a person is regenerated, then absent the hearing of the gospel, nothing else would happen – Why would it? The person who is quickened still resides in the old body. It is similar to the demon possessed man who has the demon cast out but having nothing to fill in the empty mind, the person wanders aimlessly until the old demon brings his buddies and takes up residence again. Having been quickened, it is necessary that the person come under the hearing of the gospel or there can be no repentance and faith. Being quickened does not make a person smart.

  2. Les Prouty says:

    Oh, and sorry for going so long brother.

  3. sbcissues says:

    I am AMAZED at this dialogue.

    Maybe I have made this too complicated. I will do the best I can to simplify my position.

    According to calvinism (NOT calvinists)
    #1. Repentance takes place AFTER regeneration. Repentance is man’s ONLY response to regeneration. In fact, calvinists claim repentance and faith are gifts from God.

    #2 The gospel has NO POWER to save the unregenerate. The unregenerate has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes. He cannot respond affirmatively to the gospel.

    #3 An individual cannot repent and believe unless and until he is regenerated and THEN he can ONLY repent and believe. He cannot do otherwise in EITHER CASE.

    #4 Repentance MUST be the response to regeneration and not the gospel where repentance and believing faith are concerned. Once an individual has been regenerated followed by repentance and faith, which ARE gifts, the gospel THEN has power to sanctify.

    Whether you like it or not, if the gospel has NO power over the unregenerate and the regenerated individual cannot not repent and believe, it is regeneration and not the gospel that effects conversion and the gospel begins the process of sanctification.

    It is what it is.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      Point by point response mine in ALL CAPS:

      #1. Repentance takes place AFTER regeneration. Repentance AND FAITH is man’s ONLY response to regeneration. In fact, calvinists claim repentance and faith are gifts from God. RIGHT

      #2 The gospel BY ITSELF WITHOUT THE POWER OF GOD has NO POWER to save the unregenerate. The unregenerate has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes. He cannot respond affirmatively to the gospel. WITHOUT THE POWER OF GOD, TRUE.

      #3 An individual cannot repent and believe unless and until he is regenerated and THEN he can ONLY repent and believe. He cannot do otherwise in EITHER CASE. TRUE

      #4 Repentance AND FAITH…MUST be the response to regeneration and not the gospel where repentance and believing faith are concerned. NOT EXACTLY. I SAY REPENTANCE AND FAITH MUST BE THE RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL AFTER REGENERATION. Once an individual has been regenerated followed by repentance and faith, which ARE gifts, the gospel THEN has power to sanctify. NO. AS I KEEP SAYING, THE POWER IS FROM GOD, NOT THE JUST THE WORDS COMING OUT OF YOUR VOCALIZATION AND NOT JUST THE WORDS PRINTED ON PAPER.

      AND THAT IS WHAT IT IS BROTHER.

      • sbcissues says:

        If repentance is a gift and faith is a gift and both are responses to regeneration which is also a gift… and the regenerated individual cannot not repent and believe… the gospel cannot be the means at this point… because apart from regeneration the gospel cannot bring about repentance AND the regenerated person cannot not repent.

        You are throwing in the gospel because the Bible demands it but your theological system does not allow for it where conversion is concerned.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Again, Calvinism says, “in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death.”

        Notice..”by his Word and Spirit.” Word…scripture. Spirit…the power of God. The gospel spoken or written is the means God uses to birth a new believer into the kingdom.

        My theological absolutely demands it. It’s right there in the Calvinist confession I have now quoted for you two times. It’s right there in plain English brother. All your protesting to the contrary cannot make what Calvinism confesses go away.

      • rhutchin says:

        “#1. Repentance takes place AFTER regeneration. Repentance AND FAITH is man’s ONLY response to regeneration. In fact, calvinists claim repentance and faith are gifts from God. RIGHT”

        Les added: RIGHT No, not right.

        Repentance and faith are not responses to regeneration; they are responses made possible by regeneration. Something else is needed to bring the person to repentance and faith and that is the preaching of the gospel that effectually calls the regenerated person to repentance and faith. Without the preaching of the gospel, the regenerated person will not come to repentance and faith – he would be a quickened sinner and no more saved than a dead sinner.

      • Les Prouty says:

        rhutchin,

        Bob said, “In fact, calvinists claim repentance and faith are gifts from God.”

        I added… RIGHT”

        Les added: RIGHT No, not right.

        Am I reading you correctly that you disagree that faith and repentance are gifts from God?

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        You wrote… Again, Calvinism says, “in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death.”

        Now… I have had it explained to me that regeneration and effectual calling are perfectly illustrated at Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus called out… “Lazarus come forth” and Lazarus rose and walked out of the tomb.

        Now… in the same light… God calls out… Les Prouty be born again… you repent and believe all a part of regeneration…. all gifts from God. How is THAT being effectually called by His Word and His Spirit? It is instantaneous… it is immediate and without that… walla there is NO repentance.

        What I am saying is accurate based on everything you guys have preached to me over the last 2 or 3 years. Its funny that these things are crystal clear and you understand them and use then when it is beneficial to your presentation and then when these concepts are turned around it is like you have amnesia and dementia and have no clue what I am talking about!

        At least I am consistent with my point and position.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, are you really reading what I and rhutchin have been typing? Re-read my post at 2:39 today. The EE example. That is biblical and confessional Calvinism. Calvinism is not what you are trying to paint it as.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Hadley wrote, “Now… I have had it explained to me that regeneration and effectual calling are perfectly illustrated at Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus called out… “Lazarus come forth” and Lazarus rose and walked out of the tomb.”

        I think RC Sproul uses something like this and I think his view is that the preaching of the word is the cause of regeneration followed immediately by the person naturally responding in repentance and faith. I am not sure that Calvinist writers have really nailed this down.

        In the example of Lazarus, Lazarus could not have responded to the command of Jesus to come forth as a dead man. His dead body had to be regenerated thereby allowing him to hear the voice of Jesus and then react to Jesus’ command. The point of the analogy is that a spiritually dead person can no more respond to the gospel than a physically dead Lazarus could have responded to Jesus. That is why Calvinists conclude that regeneration must precede a person’s response to the gospel. To have regeneration come after a person’s response seems incongruous. What purpose does regeneration have in that case? I believe even the non-Calvinists recognize the need for the spiritually dead person to be “not dead” when they respond to the gospel even if they do not call it regeneration.

      • rhutchin says:

        Les wrote “Am I reading you correctly that you disagree that faith and repentance are gifts from God?”

        No, I was reacting to Pastor Hadley’s claim that “Repentance AND FAITH is man’s ONLY response to regeneration.” You said “right” to his entire #1 which included that which you considered right and that which you do not. I was just clearing the record by reiterating that repentance and faith are responses to the preaching of the gospel and not responses to regeneration – they are only made possible by regeneration.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin,

        Ok NOW we are getting somewhere… YOU wrote… The point of the analogy is that a spiritually dead person can no more respond to the gospel than a physically dead Lazarus could have responded to Jesus. That is why Calvinists conclude that regeneration must precede a person’s response to the gospel.

        That is MY POINT. Two things. First, the gpspel has NO power UNTIL and UNLESS one is regenerated; as YOU said… a spiritually DEAD person can no more respond to the gospel” Now SINCE one CANNOT respond prior to regeneration… can you at least understand my position that the gospel CANNOT be the means of regeneration???

        Second… you write once regeneration takes place the lost person is THEN able to respond. Well I understand that thought… but is it not also correct to argue that repentance is a response to regeneration SINCE WHEN regeneration takes place Repentance automatically follows and is the direct response to regeneration?

        I understand you are saying it is a response to the gospel but the newly regenerated individual cannot NOT repent… and he repents instantaneously to regeneration…

        AND I am now also arguing since repentance and faith are gifts according to calvinism, just as is regeneration they are not really responses at all TO THE GOSPEL but human actions relative to the GIFT itself.

      • rhutchin says:

        “That is MY POINT. Two things. First, the gospel has NO power UNTIL and UNLESS one is regenerated; as YOU said… a spiritually DEAD person can no more respond to the gospel” Now SINCE one CANNOT respond prior to regeneration… can you at least understand my position that the gospel CANNOT be the means of regeneration???”

        I agree. Regeneration precedes, and makes possible, positive responses to the preaching of the gospel. Now, I am confused – What is your complaint about Calvinism since Calvinism also says that regeneration must the effectual call in the preaching of the gospel?

        If the gospel were the source of regeneration, then everyone who heard the gospel would be regenerated and consequently saved – or all would continue to be lost. You could not get some people accepting salvation and other people rejecting salvation because there are no factors to produce that outcome.

        Some people will claim that free will can explain different decisions. However, a free will decision evaluates the choice between eternal life and eternal death. A free will decision is a rational decision and will always choose eternal life. To choose eternal death (following regeneration) is an irrational decision and this points to a lack of free will – the will is still controlled by sin but this is the condition of the unregenerate.

  4. I have to admit, on this one I am totally baffled by Dr. Hadley’s argument. What he seems to be saying is that if effectual calling is necessary for conversion, then the gospel is unnecessary. Or on the other hand the mere spoken or written word (“the Gospel”) can accomplish what the Holy Spirit cannot, viz. give a lost sinner spiritual life. But I cannot, for the life of me, see where he gets either one from Scripture.
    The plain fact of the matter is that the Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit converts a sinner, and the Holy Spirit is what enables a person to respond to the Gospel. I don’t understand why Dr. Hadley has a problem with that.

  5. sbcissues says:

    What is interesting is I understand why you guys say what you say but you cannot seem to understand what I say. I am not asking you to accept it… but you act as if there is no basis for the argument I make.

    Les, you keep saying the confession says… well I understand that. However, I am saying there is a degree of ambiguity and conflict IN what it says in one place comparing it to the over-all foundation of the system itself. Just because it says one thing here and another there does not mean they are compatible. That is MY point.

    Rhutchin…

    You said… What he seems to be saying is that if effectual calling is necessary for conversion, then the gospel is unnecessary.

    Not exactly. You picked out what you wanted to disagree with but omitted some. If effectual calling is necessary for one to respond to the gospel THEN the gospel is a secondary cause and effectual calling is a priority cause… my second point is repentance and faith WHICH ARE BOTH GIFTS according to calvinists, and regeneration is also a gift… for God must give it… and an individual repents… not because of the gospel but in response to regeneration then all I am saying is the gospel is not the means unto repentance… repentance is a response to regeneration and not the gospel.

    Now… it is one thing to say… I do not agree; that is fine but if you cannot follow the logic then that is a problem of another nature.

    Lets look at your next statement; Or on the other hand the mere spoken or written word (“the Gospel”) can accomplish what the Holy Spirit cannot, viz. give a lost sinner spiritual life.

    That is a pitiful interpretation of what I said. I said, the gospel cannot bring someone to repentance unless and until regeneration takes place and once regeneration takes place that individual MUST repent. Up to this point, the gospel has done nothing.

    Remember… the totally depraved individual MUST be regenerated to repent; apart from regeneration the gospel is not good news. That is what I am saying.

    Your conclusion is correct and I agree with your statement completely. The plain fact of the matter is that the Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit converts a sinner, and the Holy Spirit is what enables a person to respond to the Gospel.

    I am arguing the fine points of the system itself do not support your conclusion as well as you might suggest. That is all I am saying.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      “What is interesting is I understand why you guys say what you say but you cannot seem to understand what I say. I am not asking you to accept it… but you act as if there is no basis for the argument I make.

      Les, you keep saying the confession says… well I understand that. However, I am saying there is a degree of ambiguity and conflict IN what it says in one place comparing it to the over-all foundation of the system itself. Just because it says one thing here and another there does not mean they are compatible. That is MY point.”

      Bob, I understand what you are saying. I’m just refuting it and you are largely ignoring my argument and reasoning.

      The confession is VERY clear. It is unambiguous. Show, please, the ambiguity and/or conflict using the confessional wording (not your interpretation of the confession).

      The WCF is perhaps best Calvinist confession and is clear that the Word and Spirit are both involved in effectual calling, regeneration and conversion. Please do not ignore it. You certainly may disagree. But it is definitively Calvinistic. And it makes plain that you are trying to count angels on a pin head to try to undermine Calvinism’s claims.

      les

      • sbcissues says:

        You are NOT refuting what I have said; you are offering another statement and then challenging me to refute that. I am not in the mood on that one.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Thanks Bob for the interaction.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Hadley says that regeneration results in repentance and faith. Les, the ranking Calvinist here, says that statement is not true. Under Calvinism, regeneration makes repentance and faith possible; regeneration does not produce repentance and faith.

        You are making a claim for Calvinism that is not accurate.

      • Les Prouty says:

        rhutchin,

        “Under Calvinism, regeneration makes repentance and faith possible; regeneration does not produce repentance and faith.”

        I agree and that is what I have been laboring to show Bob. Bob repeatedly makes claims about Calvinism that are not accurate.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        You wrote… Under Calvinism, regeneration makes repentance and faith possible; regeneration does not produce repentance and faith.

        Look my contention is regeneration does NOT MAKE repentance and faith POSSIBLE… they are the immediate result of regeneration.

        You can reword that any way you want but when one is regenerated he repents and believes… as Les just asked… they are gifts that follow regeneration…. and if one wanted to… since they are gifts… one could argue they are not even responses…

        Again… if the gospel has no power until regeneration takes place I can argue it cannot be the means of regeneration. If it is not the means of regeneration and repentance and faith follow regeneration one can logically maintain the gospel is not the means for repentance either.

        I know WHAT calvinists say… I am simply looking at the tenets and evaluating them.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Again Bob, you really not interacting with Calvinism. You’re interacting with your interpretation and really your own “logical conclusions” of Calvinism. Interact with this. Break it down and tear it apart:

        From the WCF (quoted way above this comment stream):

        “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        Regeneration is a gift from God. Yes or No?
        Repentance and Faith are gifts from God? Yes or No? According to Calvinism.
        Repentance is the immediate response to regeneration… Yes or No?
        (saying it is a response to the gospel is moot… since calvinism maintains that once regeneration takes place the individual cannot not repent. Regeneration takes place THEN repentance takes place… PERIOD. Yes or No?

        Can a regenerate NOT repent? No.

        So dont give me this intellectual side step and say I am not giving your position credence. You refuse to address my position but that is ok…

        Now… let me ask another question that I just maybe modified my position some…

        If repentance and faith are gifts from God that accompany regeneration… how can they be responses in the first place? How can MY response be a gift from God?

        The answer to that question cannot be God gave me the ability to respond… if repentance itself is a gift. A gift is something received not something accomplished?

      • sbcissues says:

        OK… lets BREAK this down…

        “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

        Read the last part of this statement… pray tell me where there is ANY reference to a “response to the gospel?”

        Enabled to “answer THIS call” is a direct reference to “effectual call of God”. Embrace the grace offered would include the “gift of repentance and faith” which would precipitate conversion.

        Now how does “the gospel play into this statement?” Seems to me it supports MY position that repentance and faith are indeed responses… embracing the grace offered and conveyed in God’s effectual call.

        In fact, the phrase “not from anything foreseen in man” should include him repenting because that would be adding to what Christ did on the cross… seems like one of the arguments I have heard supporting faith being a gift is that it cannot be something man MUST do because that would be a work… and give him reason to boast…

        You familiar with that line of reasoning?

        I see NO reference or even the slightest reference to the gospel in this statement; in fact no need for the gospel… God’s effectual call does exactly what it is supposed to do… call the dead to life and to repentance and faith offered and conveyed.

        How is that for a break down?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “How is that for a break down?”

        Pretty bad. Brother you are so blinded by an almost hatred for Calvinism that you can’t use reasonable reading skills as you read a Reformed document.

        “being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

        Being quickened is regeneration for Pete’s sake. How did that happen? By the Holy Spirit. This as I and rhutchin have been saying, the sinner is enabled to actually answer the grace offered…the GOSPEL!

        Bob, it’s late. Maybe more tomorrow brother.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Hadley wrote, “If repentance and faith are gifts from God that accompany regeneration… how can they be responses in the first place? How can MY response be a gift from God?

        The answer to that question cannot be God gave me the ability to respond… if repentance itself is a gift. A gift is something received not something accomplished?”

        Whether the unsaved have a dead faith or no faith needs to be resolved. If a dead faith then regeneration is needed to give that faith life and a live faith will always respond to the gospel. If the unsaved have no faith, then God would have to give them faith thereby allowing them to respond to the gospel. Faith does not work in dead people – they still think the preaching of the gospel is foolishness.

        I am not sure that I have this worked out in my thinking, but what I am certain about is that regeneration must come first. Faith, whether dead or absent, does not work in spiritually dead people. The unsaved must be quickened – regenerated – if faith is to work at all.

      • sbcissues says:

        I appreciate the dialogue… your analogy of a “dead faith” or “no faith” is not an accurate or maybe better put not the only scenario. I do not see faith as something I “have” but rather something I “do”. I understand the nuances there but faith is that which is an active response not a passive possession.

        I think you are trying to make faith a possession that MUST be given to man by God… I see it as a response from man to the initiative of God which is the same with repentance… I repent because the gospel message itself requires a response… so I respond in repentance or rejection… I do not believe God makes that determination for me.

  6. DP says:

    How about we look at some Scripture and see what it says and/or infers about regeneration and its place in the process of salvation? As we do, remember, the Bible never once states when someone was born again (OT or NT); and Jesus referred to the new birth as a mystery…like the wind.(John 3) A quick opinion: The Holy Spirit takes the hard science out of the Christian life… but Calvinism tries to shove it back in. I will buy an expensive steak dinner for the 1st person who can find a biblical text that explicitly teaches that regeneration precedes repentance and faith. My money is safe… this is why I call the 5 points…the 5 inferences.

    We know from John 3 that the new birth must precede seeing and entering the Kingdom. First we note the obvious: Jesus did not say that the new birth must precede counting the cost, repentance and faith. Seeing and entering is a typical Hebrew parallelism , which basically states the same thing in two different ways. No one alive on earth has fully seen the kingdom, yet. Thus, no clear order in John 3.

    Titus 3:5 calls regeneration a washing. This, of course, is a common metaphor of salvation. It is a cleansing by forgiveness. We know that Jesus’ blood is what ultimately does the cleansing (when imputed), yet here we see that regeneration *washes*. (Not a good fit with the Calvinistic definition of regeneration as a drawing, dragging or irresistible calling.) A washing and a new birth are not the same things…unless they describe our forgiveness of sin, which they do. See Col 2:13)Thus, we see the connection between regeneration and the imputation of Christ’s atonement through faith. Regeneration and forgiveness are shown to be essentially the same thing.

    This is consistent with Peter’s statement, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” [This language of “purifying” ourselves would be anathema to the typical Calvinist if it weren’t in Scripture, but it simply shows the independent role that responsible sinners play in the application of Christ’s work on the cross. This is also showing that our salvation, in its entirety, is a synergistic system and not a monergistic system, if you know what I mean.

    The order in these texts favors the non-Calvinistic view. If we don’t “obey the truth” we don’t get washed/purified/regenerated. Tomorrow, I hope to look at a couple more texts that spell deeper trouble for the Reformed inference that *irresistible regeneration precedes irresistible faith*.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Hey DP, I’m not even finished reading your post and have to respond with this:

      “I will buy an expensive steak dinner for the 1st person who can find a biblical text that explicitly teaches that…” God is a triune God or that Jesus was immersed or that females partook of communion.
      :)

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      I’ll refer to only 2 verses. John 1:12-13. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

      Robert Reymond writes,

      Why do some people repent and respond by faith in Christ to the divine summons to faith while others do not? Concerning those who believe in Christ’s name John immediately says in John 1:13: “[These are they] who have been begotten [egennethesan], not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of a husband, but by God.” By this particular reference to God’s ‘begetting’ activity John refers to regeneration, and clearly suggests by his statement that, while faith is the instrumental precondition to justification and adoption, regeneration is the necessary precondition and efficient cause of faith in Jesus Christ. In short, regeneration causally precedes faith.”

      Supporting passages on the inability of man to believe and repent while in his spiritually dead condition and because the things of God are foolishness to him in that condition, thus man needing divine action on his depraved condition prior to even being receptive to the things of God,

      John 1:12,13; 6:44,45, 63-65; John 3:1-10; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13; Titus 3:3-5

      Blessings brother.

  7. Clay G says:

    rhutchin wrote: “Having been quickened, it is necessary that the person come under the hearing of the gospel or there can be no repentance and faith.”

    this seems to be allowing the possibility that there could be regenerate folks who ARE made alive by God who have NOT YET heard the gospel NOR repented and had faith. So, while being regenerate if one were to die having not heard the gospel or repented, what is their fate?

    Or will you say that God only regenerates folks a millisecond before the gospel is heard? or will you say God will ordain that the regenerate will survive long enough to hear the gospel?

    • sbcissues says:

      Clay,

      Thanks for your comment. You ask some very good questions. I believe rhutchin’s statement is correct… but this is NOT consistent with calvinism since regeneration and repentance and faith are all gifts from God… once regeneration takes place repentance and faith all follow are are in fact the result of regeneration…

      Les and others are crying foul over this statement but it is absolutely true since repentance and faith are the immediate response to regeneration AND when one is regenerated he cannot not repent…

      Now I believe the calvinist WILL answer your question saying that regeneration takes place as the gospel is being presented…

      One thing about regeneration is that it is NOT progressive… it must be instantaneous… the individual receives new life… and repentance is like breathing… it is the first act of regeneration…

    • DP says:

      Les, nice try. And just to show that I acknowledge your point, I will double down and offer two nice dinners to anyone who can produce a biblical text that shows, by clear or necessary inference, that regeneration precedes faith. (Expecting explicit proof is a little unfair.) I probably should also offer some money for anyone who could show where the Bible teaches that “once regenerated, the elect, MUST then repent and believe the gospel truth.” That money would really be safe. (Only those who know the scriptures well can make certain mistakes in interpreting it.)

      John 1:12-13 will definitely not earn the dinner. No clear order. In fact it could easily (and rightly) be understood to teach that we do not enjoy the right to be called/become the children of God until we receive Him by believing. God makes us born again (that is, gives us the washing of regeneration) as we call upon the name of the Lord. Christ’s imputed atonement, and the imputation of His glorious righteousness, raises us to new life. (Col 2:13) Same with adoption. John *could* have clearly said that those who received Him were already born again… but he didn’t say that. Note: please do not include me among those who would teach that we, somehow, make ourselves born again. I know they are found among some forms of Arminianism. I wholeheartedly agree that regeneration, like justification, is a gift… but it is a gift, which is promised to those who repent and believe the Truth. Thus we see how that penitent faith is the perfect condition for our salvation. The seed of God’s Word only flourishes in the soil of a contrite heart. Boasting is excluded. Rom 3:27

      One more text that contributed to my Waterloo as a Calvinist is Ez 18:30-32.

      “…Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

      It is clear here that repentance precedes the giving of the new heart/spirit. The “turning” yields the new life.This theme runs through Scripture. (2 Chr 7:14, Jonah 3:10; John 12:40; Acts 2:38; 3:19)

      Q: How could they turn/repent if they did not have a new heart?

      A:The common/universal/prevenient grace of God that is given to every sinner, which enables us to counter the depravity we got from Adam.

    • DP says:

      Good question, Clay. This tenuous distinction among the Presbyterian Calvinists is how they assume that infants and those in the womb can be born again. Their system emasculates repentance and faith as a true and meaningful condition of salvation for adults and babies. In their view, there would be no meaningful condition for salvation. In their system, it is as if God had decreed: “Whosoever has wings will be saved.” And then He causes wings to grow on the elect and those wings only fly to heaven. It is Christian fatalism.

  8. As long as you keep up the idea of individual election you have to debate the depraved demon possessed Calvinists ad infinitum. Just admit that election is only corporate, only the church is elect and if you’re in her, you’re elect only by virtue of being in her, and then you don’t have to ever attempt to convince one of the demoniacs again. They need exorcism, after all, not arguments.

    • Les says:

      Bob,

      I get emails when a comment is made. I’ve seen other excellent comments but haven’t had time to reply in any depth.

      But if you want intelligent dialogue, you really need to ban brainerd.

    • sbcissues says:

      David,

      I am going to agree with Les. TO discuss corporate election as opposed to individual election is contributing to the conversation but to add depraved demon possessed is way out of bounds and will not be tolerated.

      I do not see your comments as being even remotely Christlike. Clean it up or go somewhere else.

  9. DP says:

    I used to be a Calvinist but I don’t remember any “exorcism” taking place. As I recall, it was through a pretty severe trial, combined with the study of God’s word, and assessing “arguments” that I recognized the flaws in the Calvinist system and gave it up. db2 is obnoxious and dis-respectful, but the primary issue is not that difficult; and we all likely agree that if we want to be counted among the elect then we need to repent (continually) of our sins in godly sorrow, trust the finished work of Jesus Christ, and finish our race in faith. If we want to make our calling and election SURE then we better examine ourselves,daily, for the evidences of the new birth set forth in the NT. Let’s be sure to keep our perspective in all of our wrangling over difficult and secondary issues.

    (db2, you may want to take a long look at the evidences of biblical salvation found in 1 John and 2 Peter 1:5-10 as you assess yourself and others. We have our Calvinist friends on the ropes and you are helping them by providing a distraction. Please, be helpful or get out of the way.)

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      I agree that it would be good for db2 to examine himself in light of those scriptures.

      My story is a reverse of yours. I studied the scriptures, weighed arguments from both sides and concluded that the Reformed expressions are true and saw the flaws and errors in the non Calvinist views.

      And I really appreciate when someone expresses great confidence brother. Your thinking that we Calvinists are on the rope is pretty confident. I can assure you that many have thought the same thing before in recent years and of course over the centuries as well…but to no avail. Perhaps they felt like George Foreman vs Ali in Zaire. Remember the now famous rope a dope? Poor George.

      Blessings brother.

  10. DP says:

    uh oh. I may be in for a big right hook! But then again, as Dizzy Dean said: “it ain’t braggin’ if its so”. I am a big sucker for sports metaphors! Hope you can do better than J Calvin and M Henry on Ezekiel 18.

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP, Ez. 18. So that’s your proof? What does that say for EZ. 11:19 and 36:26 where they were given a new heart?

      BTW, we Calvinists, having to answer the same questions over and over and answering them well, sometimes feel like Yogi Berra,

      “I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”

  11. My experience in debating a variety of non-Calvinists is that they will begin by insisting that the Bible doesn’t teach any such thing as predestination. It is then a fairly simple matter to point out what the Bible says about the sovereignty of God, the depravity of man, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also pretty simple to point out that nowhere does the Bible say that an unregenerate sinner has a free-will, but there are passages that explicitly talk about predestination and election. Critics of the “system’ are then in the position of having to explain away practically everything that the Bible says about the role of God in man’s salvation other than simply making it available.
    Limited Atonement is a difficult subject that poses difficulties for both sides. But interestingly, from a purely exegetical standpoint, the one point of “TULIP” that is hardest to support from Scripture is Perseverance of the Saints. An Arminian can point to a number of Scriptures that suggest that a Christian can lose his salvation. But most Baptists want to get rid of predestination but keep eternal security, which is hardly consistent. If it all depends on man’s freewill, it depends on man’s freewill from beginning to end. Presumably there is nothing God can do to prevent someone from making a freewill decision to fall away from the faith.

    • sbcissues says:

      I disagree. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the new born Christian’s heart He becomes the guarantee of the promised possession which is heaven. It really is not complicated at all… but I prefer preservation of the saint or perseverance of the savior… I do not believe perseverance of the saints is the best statement. That is why I can say I am not even a 1-point calvinist.

  12. DP says:

    Come on brethren, consider the texts. Lets skip the straw man arguments about what “most’ might teach and stick to the Bible. It is a relatively easy thing to debate the systems but we all know that biblical texts must make up our “systems”.

    Ez 18 is certainly not the ONLY text which contradicts the fatalistic hypothesis that irresistible regeneration precedes irresistible repentance and faith. It may be the most explicit but it is not alone. (See previous post.) No one has addressed Titus 3:5 (which shows that regeneration is a washing) or the Col 2:13 (which shows that our forgiveness is what quicken believers to our new life in Christ.) We are not just debating the timing of regeneration but we are debating the nature of regeneration, as well.

    By not speaking to the texts in question, or by failiure to present clear textual evidence to the contrary, you are conceding that the 5 points really are 5 inferences, which are not clear and/or necessary.

    • sbcissues says:

      DP,

      I think there is an additional issue here and it involves the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. The Bible says that it is the Spirit that gives life and apart from the Spirit there is no new life. Since this is true, calvinism posits two special works of the Holy Spirit; the first a work of regeneration and the second conversion or the indwelling.

      I argue there are not two but only one work of the Holy Spirit where new life is concerned and that is the indwelling which Then makes regeneration prior to repentance and faith impossible for the indwelling clearly takes place AFTER repentance and faith and not before.

      I do not believe calvinism adequately addresses this work of the Holy Spirit with respect to “new life” which is what they claim regeneration is that allows one to repent and believe.

    • I can’t see where either text supports your point. In both texts God is the agent of the change. “he saved us” How? “by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” This is placed in contrast with “works of righteousness which we have done.” Tit. 3:5. “And you, being dead in your sins and uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” What were we before salvation? “Dead.” Who “quickens” us? God. Who forgave us all trespasses? God. (Col. 2:13). Although it could be argued that this is consequent upon our baptized, in which we express our faith in Christ (v. 12).
      I am reluctant to get into a debate about whether regeneration comes before or after faith. The term is not defined very clearly in the Bible, and i suspect that it is a broad, general term that describes the whole process of conversion from the first conviction of sin to the point at which the Holy Spirit takes u= permanent residence in our lives. But the point is this: we are dead before the process, and it is the Holy Spirit Who makes us alive. Nowhere does the Bible say that an unregenerate man has a “freewill.”
      The point we’re trying to argue for is “Effectual Calling,” which the Westminster Confession of Faith defines this way: “All whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation to Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and , by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.” (WCF X.I). The proof texts they give for this are as follow: Rom. 8:30; Rom. 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11; II Thess. 2:13,14; II Cor. 3:3,6; Rom. 8:2; Eph. 2:1-5; II Tim. 1:9,10; Acts 26:18; I Cor. 2:10,12; Eph. 1:17,18; Ezek. 36:26; Ezek. 11:19; Phil. 2:13; Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; Eph. 1:19; John 6:44,45; Cant. 1:4; Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18. Is that enough to prove the point?
      The point is this: Christ is the Savior; we’re the ones who need to be saved.

  13. DP says:

    I hear you Dr H. The key term in discussing the issue is: irresistible. (Or as some like it: synergism vs monergism, which sounds better than irresistible.) I am quite sure that you don’t believe God makes people born again against their will.

    Indeed there are many roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives and conversion experiences. We are focusing primarily on the work of the Holy Spirit as it applies directly to individual salvation. Both sides agree that we are “begotten again by the Word of Truth. I have already mentioned the 1 Pet 1:22 text about obeying the truth; but the ESV doesn’t have “in the spirit” so we can look at Gal 3:2 where Paul clearly implies that they received the Spirit “by the hearing of faith” and not the works of the law. (That text by itself could doom Calvinism) Likewise, the somewhat controversial text in Heb 4:2: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (NKJV) Again, the ESV, which is favored among Calvinists, likes to translate it differently.

    I like the illustration that God provides in the story of Peter’s walk on the water. God could have kept Peter on the water without Peter’s faith… but He didn’t want to. God sovereignly ordained to exercise His power over nature… according to Peter’s faith. Likewise, as Dr H has been saying, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation… to everyone who believes. Jesus monergistically earns our redemption on the cross but the redemption is applied through the synergistic working of the Holy Spirit and our penitent faith. Thus, the gospel is protected on both sides… from legalism and fatalism.

    We all would agree that God opens our eyes and ears to the Truth but we don’t agree that Scripture teaches that this is irresistible for some… and impossible for others. Scripture shows that we are not altogether passive in receiving the implanted word that is able to save our souls. (Jam 1:21)

    • No one is denying that it is necessary to repent and believe in order to be saved. We are “justified by faith.” Much less are we arguing that people are “born again against their will.” God enables them to believe and makes them willing.

    • sbcissues says:

      DP

      I like the following statement; We all would agree that God opens our eyes and ears to the Truth but we don’t agree that Scripture teaches that this is irresistible for some… and impossible for others. Scripture shows that we are not altogether passive in receiving the implanted word that is able to save our souls.

      Very well said sir.

  14. DP says:

    TSaint, It is clear among most Calvinists that the new birth enables the elect to willingly believe but I know of no creed or breed of Calvinist that says someone dead in sin wants (or desires) to be born again! That’s the whole point of their definition of depravity. Remember, even the elect would be incapable of desiring the things of God before regeneration. I’m glad you recoil at the idea, and I doubt you would explain it this way, but in real Calvinism God is making people born again who don’t want to be born again.

    Still waiting for a response to the texts on regeneration, but here is a “system” question that helps define real Calvinism (and exposes the fatalism):

    In the Reformed/Calvinistic doctrines of salvation, what essential aspect of salvation can be resisted by the elect? Regeneration? Redemption/Atonement, the “gift” of faith? Justification? Adoption?

    • Les says:

      DP,

      Not much time. Running out for a beer with a missionary friend. You said,

      “in real Calvinism God is making people born again who don’t want to be born again”

      Absolutely. Bingo. That’s the only way enemies if God may be brought to peace with God. Of course it offends our natural man sensibilities. But you would never have decided to love God lest He had violated your depraved will.

      Cheers!

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      My time with a missionary brother and another elder from my own church was a very special time last night. Not only was the seasonal Sam Adams they had on tap very good the conversation was as well. Heard from him about what God is doing in S. Africa and how many are coming to faith in Christ through his ministry. SDG!

      I hope t reply to your attempts to knock the quite strong legs out from under Reformed theology later today or tomorrow. Quite taken with many Haiti related tasks right now not least of which is a board meeting later today and prep for our world missions conference beginning Friday of this week.

    • Les says:

      DP,

      Since I don’t have much time today, I’ll simply provide a link to an excellent answer to a skeptic on the question of regeneration and faith. John answers well.

      http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/regeneration-scripture.html

  15. DP says:

    tsaint, sorry I did not see your earlier post. will read.

  16. On the first point I would beg to differ. Historically there have been two major viewpoints opposed to Calvinism. The Wesleyan / Arminian view is willing to concede that men are born totally depraved, but argue that God provides prevenient grace which can, however, be resisted.
    The more modern (and ancient) viewpoint espoused by such figures as Charles G. Finney argues that God cannot command something that we do not have the ability to do, and would be unjust to send someone to hell over something he couldn’t help doing. Finney was quite emphatic in rejected the whole idea of total depravity.
    Dr. Hadley, if I understand him correctly, would disavow either viewpoint, but frankly I think he is closer to Finney’s viewpoint than Wesley’s. He would insist that an unconverted person has the real ability to respond to the gospel apart from any divine grace at work in his heart.
    On the second question i would say that until the elect sinner finally surrenders and embraces Christ he resists grace, and in many cases conversion comes only after an intense struggle.
    I think part of the difficulty we moderns have of accepting the idea of irresistible grace is because we have never witnessed a true revival. We have never seen hardened sinners weeping over their condition and pleading for God’s mercy. But when you read the accounts of past revivals, it was a very real phenomenon, and it left an indelible impression on those who witnessed it. They had no problem believing in irresistible grace — they had actually seen it firsthand!

  17. DP says:

    TSaint, you are a brave man trying to delineate the distinction between Calvinistic effectual call and the new birth. They seem to be two ways of describing the same thing. Sproul cuts the knot when he says, “You don’t come to Christ to get born again… you get born again to come to Christ.” But you are right to avoid/abandon the idea that the new birth comes before we repent and believe. It can’t be sustained biblically. This was the point of my posts, and Les has voiced his clear agreement and commitment to the fatalism of the Reformed view. (See above “Bingo” post, which he apparently posted *before* he started drinking) :)

    In Calvinism, the elect are born again/effectually called against their present will. And they would then be unable to resist having faith. It would be a benevolent rape of the soul. The eternal destinies of every single person would be determined by forces entirely outside of their control, and that would not be a just judgment for the reprobate. If there was no universal call/promise of salvation to all men everywhere then your system might make some sense. But there is. God has promised mercy to every sinner who repents, based on the merits of Christ. It was not Pelagius or Finney who made the promise. Salvation by grace, through (the genuine condition of) faith was God’s idea… Not Arminius’s. In your system, the mantra should be, “The just shall live by unconditional election”. There would be no meaningful obedience to the truth/law of faith

    I do agree that times of revival would seem to support your view. (But even Paul, whose conversion sure looked irresistible, told Felix/Festus that he “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”.) I think all believers know that God was pursuing them. But those who end up in hell will also confess that God was pursuing them and they resisted his calls and offers. Your system renders the final judgment perfunctory.

    The very fact that there is a final judgment teaches that salvation is conditional. We would not speak of justice in a system where there is no independent action/faith. We don’t speak of justice for rocks. We speak of justice for those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness but didn’t have to. They had the necessary (common/prevenient) grace to receive the Truth.

    If as you say, “The point is this: Christ is the Savior; we’re the ones who need to be saved.” Then we are brothers for life.

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      “This was the point of my posts, and Les has voiced his clear agreement and commitment to the fatalism of the Reformed view. (See above “Bingo” post, which he apparently posted *before* he started drinking)”

      Correction dear brother (in all caps):

      “This was the point of my posts, and Les has voiced his clear agreement and commitment to the BIBLICAL VIEW KNOWN AS the Reformed view. (See above “Bingo” post, which he apparently posted *before* he started drinking)”

      But keep trying to bring to ruin what no one else has been able to do, if it helps you make it through the day. :)

  18. It is true, in a sense, that salvation is conditional on man’s response. The clear promise of Scripture is that “whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But Jesus also said on a later occasion,”No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent draw him: and i will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:44,45,65). The alternative to effectual calling is to leave men in their sins. The disciples, it appears, had the same problem with “Calvinism” that you have: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (v. 60).

    • sbcissues says:

      TS

      Again my brother… you are bringing your theological position TO THE TEXT when you read John 6:44… where Jesus says.. ”No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent draw him:”

      I would argue “draw” is much different from effectual calling and most certainly one will not come up with effectual calling by reading this text. I do not know of anyone who would argue against the drawing power found in the preaching of the gospel message nor the drawing of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in a lost person’e heart. However, it is not fair to say that this text proves effectual calling; that simply is NOT the case.

  19. I guess the first thing I would want to point out is that the text quite clearly points to human inability. It specifically states that there is something that man CANNOT do unless God does something first — he cannot come to Christ.
    Secondly, the word translated “draw” (helko) literally means to draw or drag something — such as an ox drawing a cart. It obviously has a metaphorical meaning here, and Arndt & Gingrich say it refers to “the pull on man’s inner life.” But is this irresistible?
    Consider the next verse. “Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” That suggests that the “drawing” is always effective, which in turn suggests that it is irresistible.
    Another pair of verses that came to me are these, Phil. 2:12,13. In verse 12 it says, “So, then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (NASV). This, of course, is a pretty clear assertion of human responsibility. But does this negate irresistible grace, as some assert? Not at all, for Paul goes on in the very next verse to say, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The Westminster Divines could not have stated it any more succinctly and plainly!

  20. DP says:

    Les, glad to hear of your kingdom work in Haiti and S Africa. Indeed, I am sure we all agree that there is much to be done that doesn’t include arguing about irresistible salvation.

    Having said that (and sincerely meaning it) I have seen firsthand the effects of Calvinism both positive and negative. On the pro side, I am glad for my time as a Calvinist where I received some basic and essential teaching on the Scripture, the Sovereignty of God, and the absolute necessity and glory of Christ. I learned fairly early in my Christian pilgrimage that it is good advice to quit whining, play the hand you are dealt, and leave the judging to God. The Bible believing church owes much to Augustine, the Reformers, and the Puritans.

    On the other hand I have seen the confusion and danger that is inherent to the Calvinistic doctrines of salvation. (Some of which we have been discussing. My beef with the Reformed views goes beyond the words irresistible and unconditional). I was uncomfortable with the often smug and condescending spirit that was evident among many Calvinists (including me) towards non Calvinists; but my real doubts began with a study of assurance. (And no, I don’t think you can become “unborn” again!) I actually think that there are relatively few professing Calvinists who really understand what they are claiming. And I think there are even less, who, in their heart of hearts, believe that salvation is altogether unconditional and irresistible. But I am particularly alarmed by much of today’s brand of Calvinism (and those influenced by it) which is seen in the following Q & A:

    Q: What do Calvinists and Baptists call someone with faith in Christ with virtually no obedience or works?

    A: Eternally Secure.

    At least the Puritans were serious about seeing the 1st John evidences of the new birth develop in the life before they would offer the assurance of salvation. No matter the drama at the altar.

    Anyway, that is a little explanation, in light of the charges. I am only trying to pull the *broken* leg of unnecessary inference from the Reformed theology. I want to leave the others intact.

    What “helps me through the day” is a view of the biblical God that doesn’t include Him throwing people in hell for a sin they did not actually commit, sins they could not possibly prevent and could not even confess properly. The entire Bible won’t let us come to that conclusion.

    Hopefully, back to John 6 tonight.

    • Les says:

      DP,

      I’m thankful for the good experiences you had with Calvinism. I’m sad that some have been jerks. I’ve been one too at times. I think both sides have their share of jerks who are not representative of the vast majority.

      As to the Q and A,

      Q: What do Calvinists and Baptists call someone with faith in Christ with virtually no obedience or works?

      A: Eternally Secure.

      My answer? False professors. And that’s the answer most Calvinists I have ever encountered or read would give. Not sure which Calvinists you’re listening to on that one.

      As to hell, no one ends up there except for their own sin and rejection of God. No one goes to hell for the sin of someone else.

      Good evening brother.

  21. DP says:

    Dr H, I think you nailed it on this one. Tsaint is wearing his “irresistible” glasses when he reads the Bible.

    When a Calvinist reads the word “grace” in Scripture… he sees “irresistible grace”
    When he reads “calling” in the Bible…he sees “irresistible calling”
    When he reads chosen or elect…. he sees “irresistibly” chosen or elect.
    When he reads predestined… he sees “irresistibly predestined.”
    When he reads drawn in John 6… he sees “irresistibly dragged.”
    I’ll stop there. You get my drift. The word “irresistible” is not in these texts nor is it necessarily implied. This is what I mean when I say the Holy Spirit takes the hard science out of the Gospel but Calvinism tries to shove it back in. Repentance, that is, the changing of our minds is a bit of a mystery.

    In fairness, we must grant that the word [helko/helkuo] is sometimes used to mean irresistibly dragged in Scripture. In James 2:6 & Acts 16:19 the word is used to describe a literal dragging by superior force, against the will. But, as Led Zeppelin recognized, in Stairway to Heaven, “sometimes words have two meanings.” (Or a range of meaning with different intensity.) This is shown by Jesus when he used the same word in J 12, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all [men/people] to myself.

    As noted before, Jesus defines the drawing of J 6:44 as a teaching and learning. Not an unconditional election or irresistible dragging. There is an element of human responsibility in it. These Jews knew all about unconditional election. They lived it (in the flesh). They loved the doctrine of unconditional election… or so they thought. Jesus was setting them straight and showing that the flesh (being born Jewish) was not profiting them. They presumed they knew the Father but were rejecting the Son. Not possible. Jesus was showing that these Jews really didn’t know/like the Father thus they did not like Him.

    A careful and objective reading of this episode shows that the reason these Jews were offended was not the Calvinistic view of election or total depravity. They were offended that Jesus claimed to be the bread come *from heaven*. They “knew” His parents. Plus, He was talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. A hard saying indeed! This is an example of how the the things of the Spirit are foolishness to them that perish (aka: the carnally minded).

    • Read Phil. 2:13 again. It says “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Or how about Eph. 2:10; “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And when it says that He chose us (I Cor. 1:26-31 and Eph.1:4-6, it does not mean that “we chose Him.” And when Jesus said “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37) it does not mean “the Father will give me all that chose to come to me.”

      • sbcissues says:

        TS,
        “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

        Who is the subject of “you”? The lost or those who are saved? I believe it is clearly the latter and Paul is referring to sanctification not conversion. Have to be careful in the differentiating circumstances.

        “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

        What is Paul refering to when he says… “ordained that we should WALK IN THEM?” This phrase goes back to “good works” again exercised as a Christian; not works of righteousness that would save someone.

        I Cor 1:26-31 says…. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

        There is no reference to God “choosing us” in the sense that you suggested.

        The passage in Ephesians 1 certainly does support your position that He chose us… but it does not support the converse of that statement being incorrect as you state. There are other interpretations of this passage that do not portray the compatibilistic position calvinism contends but this passage is one of the stronger ones supporting your position.

        With respect to your final statement, And when Jesus said “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37) it does not mean “the Father will give me all that chose to come to me.”

        Actually the latter statement would fit the former perfectly. If all that the Father gives Me are those who believe then it fits perfectly. Verses 35 and 36 support that position… 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

        Those God gave to Jesus were those who believed and came to Him in the first place; if this were not true THEN Jesus’ statement to those “who did not believe” would have been of no value.

    • Les says:

      “Dr H, I think you nailed it on this one. Tsaint is wearing his “irresistible” glasses when he reads the Bible.”

      And ” A careful and objective reading…”

      I always find it amusing and have to smile when I see comments like this. One would think that all Calvinists have bias when they come to the scriptures and all non Calvinists don’t. That’s a bit funny. And that only non Calvinists are objective and read the scriptures carefully. Hmmm. More smiles.

      More later my brother.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        Your observation is absolutely correct but we are all guilty of the same thing to one degree or another. There is this “aire of superiority” in most of what we right because we all are convinced that our look at the Scriptures is the correct one.

        My point was that at least in the text cited, one would have to bring a calvinist perspective to THAT text because one would not read it FROM the text.

        There is a difference in the two different perspectives.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Exactly…we all have biases and need to constantly be aware of that fact.

        “My point was that at least in the text cited, one would have to bring a calvinist perspective to THAT text because one would not read it FROM the text.”

        And I could write,

        “…one would have to bring a synergistic perspective to THAT text because one would not read it FROM the text.”

        See? I and millions of others see the Calvinistic perspective in that text. Clearly. You and millions of others do not.

        But for anyone to say that HIS side is objective and reads the scriptures carefully…well.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        Obviously we ALL read from a systematic theological perspective; even if it is a simple one. When anyone begins to read a passage in light of other passages he is reading systematically.

        as for your suggestion that one must bring a synergistic understanding to the text… that is going to be a given where the Bible is concerned; repentance is synergistic; faith is synergistic; I maintain sin is the ONLY thing that is truly monergistic in the Bible if you want to push the envelope… but I am sure that will bring an interesting response!

        I have been a Christian for 37 years now and read the Bible critically for the biggest part of that time and I just learned of monergism in the last 3 years.

      • DP says:

        Les, are you saying that you don’t believe a careful and objective reading of the Bible is possible, necessary, or, that you don’t like it?

      • Les Prouty says:

        DP,

        “Les, are you saying that you don’t believe a careful and objective reading of the Bible is possible, necessary, or, that you don’t like it?”

        Of course it’s possible. I always read the scriptures carefully and objectively. And so do you. Right?

        See, that kind of statement is really useless in these discussions.

  22. DP says:

    Les says, “As to hell, no one ends up there except for their own sin and rejection of God. No one goes to hell for the sin of someone else.”

    I like the sentiment here but that’s not true Calvinism. (Any flavor, Supra, Sub, Infra, Chocolate Chip, it doesn’t matter).

    G Whitefield in Method of Grace,”…Did you ever feel and experience this, any of you? To justify
    God in our damnation? To own that you are by nature children of wrath and that God may justly cut you off though you never had actually offended Him in all your life?

    That is big boy Calvinism.

    Q: What must I do to be reprobate?

    True Calvinist answer: Nothing. Just be born…like isaac’s son, Esau.

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      “G Whitefield in Method of Grace,”…Did you ever feel and experience this, any of you? To justify God in our damnation? To own that you are by nature children of wrath and that God may justly cut you off though you never had actually offended Him in all your life?”

      Absolutely. Whitefield nails it. Read the first few lines of that paragraph.

      “But further: you may be convinced of your actual sins, so as to be made to tremble, and yet you may be strangers to Jesus Christ, you may have no true work of grace upon your hearts. Before ever, therefore, you can speak peace to your hearts, conviction must go deeper; you must not only be convinced of your actual transgressions against the law of God, but likewise of the foundation of all your transgressions. And what is that? I mean original sin, that original corruption each of us brings into the world with us, which renders us liable to God’s wrath and damnation.”

      Of course Whitefield is correct as he preaches his evangelistic sermon and shows that even unbelievers can be convinced in their minds of their sin. He tells them they must understand and be convinced by God of their utter corruption stemming from Adam and that God would be just to damn them even if they had never actually committed a personal sin.

      “That is big boy Calvinism.” And I happily own it. I’ve got my big boy pants on and wearing them just fine.

  23. One of the things that left a deep impression on me when I was first wrestling with these issues was hearing a taped sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones entitled “Calvinism and Evangelism.” In it he frankly admitted that many modern Calvinists are proud — they tend to be more intellectual than the average Evangelical Christian, and are self-conscious about it. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones pointed out that the problem is a failure to understand the implications of their own theology. If we really understood what it means to be a lost sinner under the wrath and condemnation of God, and if we really understood what it means to be saved through the pure grace and mercy of God, through no merit of our own, we would be profoundly humbled by the fact and would adore the God Who loved us so. He said that “proud Calvinist” should be a contradiction of terms.

  24. Les Prouty says:

    “Libertarian free will is the position that the unbeliever’s free will is sufficiently self-contained, self-sufficient, and self-caused (without external coercion) so as to be able to accept or reject Christ as Savior, on his own, apart from God’s enabling. It assumes that the sinful will is somehow capable, by virtue of being “free”, to be able to choose to believe in God and follow him through Christ.”

    Does this describe your view Bob and DP?

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      I believe God has chosen to reveal Himself to sinful men through the proclamation of the gospel and the reading of His Word. I believe this Divine revelation DEMANDS a response from the one confronted with it. I believe the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

      I also believe God has chosen to reconcile the world unto Himself and the Holy Spirit is actively using the gospel to do just that convicting men of their sin and that process DEMANDS a response.

      Who may respond? ALL men who are confronted with the gospel message respond. Men choose one of two ways; they reject the call to repent and believe and walk away sorrowful as the rich young ruler did. I do not believe he walked a way from Jesus sorrowful because God had no intention of him being “saved”; I believe it was his choice; He could have repented of his self sufficient attitude and walked away a believer.

      I believe man was created in the image of God and when Adam sinned, it led to him being put out of the garden and out of His presence and as such Adam lost his right standing before God. This acquired nature is the essence of our sin nature but it is secondary to our created nature.

      I believe man created in the image of God has the ability to respond to God. I do not believe God has to regenerate him so He can say “yes” to God. I do not like the language of “libertarian free will” and refuse to accept that tag. I believe man must choose this day who he will serve; he not only has the choice to choose but the responsibility to choose and to be bound by the consequences of his choices.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, I understand that you don’t like the label Libertarian Free Will.

        But I can see no difference in your stated views and the description of libertarian free will.

        Now, if you disagree with and differ from the libertarian free will description, it should be easy to show where specifically where your position is different.

      • sbcissues says:

        Whats the point? I stated MY position why should I defend your argument?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, I’m not asking you to defend my argument. Nevertheless, I think it is obvious, label or not, that the libertarian free will description I posted does indeed define your position. I really don’t understand why you don’t want to own it. But oh well. It is what it is.

        Les

    • DP says:

      He who gets to define the terms generally wins! Who wrote the definition? I can’t pick my nose apart from God’s enabling. I don’t know if I have ever seen an agreed upon/ consensus definition of libertarian free will. I hope to have more time later, but why did the Jews need a blinding/spirit of stupor to assure that they would put Jesus on the cross if they were not able to receive him apart from extraordinary and supernatural irresistible grace? It appears that they needed extraordinary grace to reject Christ not receive Him.

      Also, let me try again. In the Reformed view, what must I do to be reprobate? Another way to ask the same question is: What did God base his reprobation of Esau on? Infra or Supra, either way.

      • Les Prouty says:

        DP,

        Just saw this. Well you define your view of free will.

        “In the Reformed view, what must I do to be reprobate? ”

        Well if you are a believer, YOU can’t do anything to be reprobate.

        He bases His reprobation of Esau on His eternal decree. Maybe these quotes from Dort will help.

        “Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).”

        and…

        “The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act–unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just–of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God’s Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.”

        Amen SDG!

  25. I did take the time this morning to read Whitefield’s sermon, “The Method of Grace.” What a fascinating example of powerful evangelistic preaching! He spent the first part of the sermon trying to convince his listeners that they were sinners who needed salvation. It was in this context that he said that not only have they committed actual sins, but that they were sinners by nature. They were born that way because of what Adam did in the Garden. At the end of the sermon he warned his listeners of what would happen to them if they did not repent and come to Christ. In other words he did hesitate to do what modern preachers are afraid to do — talk about sin and hell. I have to get ready for work now, but the sermon is worth commenting on later.

    • Les Prouty says:

      His was an excellent evangelistic sermon by a Calvinist who demonstrated a deep passion for lost sinners and literally spent himself preaching to the lost and imploring them to repent and believe in Jesus. Whoever thinks Calvinism is inconsistent with evangelism and/or necessarily leads to cold hearts for the lost is sadly misinformed.

      • sbcissues says:

        It is not that calvinism is inconsistent with evangelism; it is that evangelism itself is not necessary where regeneration is concerned. God at the appointed hour will birth the elect and that has nothing to do with the evangelistic efforts of you and me.

        As I have pointed out repeatedly… the gospel has no power to do anything for the person who has not received the gift of “new life” from God. Once the individual has been “born-again” he THEN begins to experience life and NOTHING that anyone says or does will change that.

        God does it when He is ready to do it and THEN and only THEN does repentance and faith take place.

      • Les says:

        Bob,

        You said, “God at the appointed hour will birth the elect and that has nothing to do with the evangelistic efforts of you and me.”

        Notwithstanding that God tells us to preach to sinners, your statement is a bit silly. It would be like not eating or clothing yourself etc because God said he would do these things.

        “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

        Should we just wait for God to zap some clothes on us? Nay brother.

        God has ordained the elect and He has ordained the means of their salvation, namely preaching.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les… wake up and smell the roses… your theology maintains God at His appointed hour regenerates the lost person so that they THEN can repent and believe. That is NOT my theology but yours… so I do not think I would be so flippant about it… what I wrote was 100% accurate.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        I’m awake. But it’s tulips I smell and the fragrance is so sweet.

        My point about clothing is this: Yes at God’s appointed hour He “regenerates the lost person so that they THEN can repent and believe.” Yes, and I’m glad you recognize that it is MAN who repents and believes and you don’t try and say that we Calvinists think God repents and believes for them. So at that appointed hour it takes place. And He also appointed that, at that hour (or even sometime prior to that hour), someone would preach the gospel to them. Calvinism does NOT maintain that God just goes around zapping sinners into the kingdom. He has appointed the preaching as the means for them to be saved. Same as He has said He will provide food and clothing and housing for you and me and yet He has commanded us to ask Him for these things and He has told us to work to provide for ourselves.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I can argue the merits of calvinism better than MOST calvinists.. while I understand the truth of your statement, Yes, and I’m glad you recognize that it is MAN who repents and believes and you don’t try and say that we Calvinists think God repents and believes for them.

        When you argue repentance and faith are gifts from God… that gets dangerously close to the zapping… because one thing is true… God’s doing it is what causes the zapping to take place and if He does not do it there is no zapping… so I do not believe your position is as secure as you would like it to be.

        Now to your next statement; So at that appointed hour it takes place. And He also appointed that, at that hour (or even sometime prior to that hour), someone would preach the gospel to them.

        You still do not get the essence of my argument here. I do not agree that the gospel can be the means God uses in regeneration and repentance is a response to regeneration… so I do not see how cals can accurately say the gospel is the means God uses to regenerate; I believe that to be true but I maintain calvinism itself will not allow that nuance. I know your confessions do but given the principles of TD/TI and the dynamics of regeneration as concepts, I still argue the gospel cannot be the means but I also know that is going over your heads.

      • Les says:

        Bob,

        “Going over our heads?”

        Man I just wish I was smart enough to know my own confessional beliefs. :)

      • sbcissues says:

        You DO KNOW your confessional beliefs… my problem is that I do not believe the confessional statements line up correctly with the tenets they represent. That is MY point.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Nothing against you brother, but something north of 150 ministers and laymen meeting from 1643-1647 crafted the WCF and Large and Shorter Catechisms laying out the Reformed faith and you “do not believe the confessional statements line up correctly with the tenets they represent?”

        Well we all are entitled to our own opinions.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “because one thing is true… God’s doing it is what causes the zapping to take place and if He does not do it there is no zapping… so I do not believe your position is as secure as you would like it to be.”

        Not causing Bob. Enabling. Removing the blindness we are all born with. Removing the impenetrable wall separating us from God. Our spiritual blindness is taken away so we can spiritually see.

      • sbcissues says:

        He does NOT enable; He brings a once dead person TO LIFE… that is more than enabling. He does not REMOVE anything; He gives life to a dead person.

        You are saying on thing one minute and something else another. So I don’t care if 150 or 15,000 came together… if that is the conclusion they are ALL inconsistently wrong.

    • DP says:

      Amen. It was a great message… except for the part that teaches that the biblical God would send someone to hell for a sin they did not actually commit, and sins they could not prevent because of a sin they did not actually commit, or sins they could not even confess properly because of a sin they did not actually commit. We are born in sin… not dead in sin.

  26. DP says:

    Tsaint, I look forward to hearing your response on Whitefield’s statement and the question on reprobation. I have an idea of what it would be and won’t likely agree, but I do look forward to your posts. I have to commend you for your restraint in the discussions and your willingness to actually engage the texts in question. You have demonstrated confidence without smugness, and I appreciate it. For what its worth, I am resolved to keep the rhetoric and “Christian” smack talk to a minimum. As I look back on some of my comments, I see the flesh showing and am not proud of it. Let’s all strive to keep the smugness out of our posts or we owe db2 an apology! I think we have all proven that we are not world class scholars but we can do the best we can with what we’ve been given.

    Les, I appreciate your quoting Dort as it really helps to show what I mean when I say that the Calvinistic doctrines of salvation are very logically built… on a false premise. Here’s what I mean:

    Dort says: “Since all people have sinned in Adam…”
    This is the false premise that I’ve been referring to. Paul is explicit in Rom 5:

    “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world…”

    “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam…”

    “For if by the one man’s offense many died…”

    “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned…”

    “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation..”

    For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,

    1st the obvious (to both sides of the debate): The blame for the entrance of sin and death into the race is laid squarely and explicitly on one man. Adam. Not all men. It is never said in the Bible that all men sinned in Adam. (Nor is is necessarily inferred). If everyone from Adam to Moses (and by implication, the rest of us) had not sinned according to the *likeness* of Adam’s transgression then it is plain that we did not commit the sin in the Garden. (We probably didn’t need the Bible to tell us that… but thankfully it does.)

    Next we can see that the word *impute* is never used in Romans 5, yet, virtually every Reformed creed states that the guilt of Adam’s sin is *imputed* to his posterity. (See also Spurgeon’s Catechism and statements by J Piper.) They read into the text that which is not there… at a very crucial point. Now, the severe consequences of Adam’s sin are oozing off the page. We see them in every child. Physical death and natural corruption for everyone born into his race. Both. Not one or the other. But no guilt for Adam’s sin.

    There is absolutely nothing that suggests anyone would be irrevocably damned forever by God’s eternal decree. Here’s why: Sin is not imputed when there is no law and where there is no law there is no transgression. (Rom 5:13; 4:15) By what law could someone (not yet born) have their future sin, or Adam’s future sin, imputed to them before the foundation of the world?

    I know that’s a lot to consider. But, I think, there are better biblical options between the abject denial of Original Sin by Pelagius & Co and the absurdity and fatalism of Whitefield’s view.

    God’s word never changes. But in our understanding, a little “semper reformanda” may be a good thing.

  27. I would hesitate to call Whitefield a Fatalist when he spent a lifetime exhorting sinners to come to Christ — and saw dramatic results! The sermon in question is a vivid example of pleading with sinners to repent and believe. I wish I could preach like that!
    The comments to which you are referring is somewhat obscure. The point he was trying to make then was that not only do we commit actual sins, we ourselves are sinners by nature. He did use the phrase “even though you haven’t committed actual sins” twice, I believe (unfortunately i left my copy of the book at work, so I quoting from memory here) but he also cited as evidence of this that we are proud, angry, lustful in our hearts. But if I lust after a woman in my heart, didn’t I commit a sin, even if I didn’t physically lay hands on her? And Whitefield did mention sinning by thought, word and deed.
    There was, if I recall correctly, one reference to Adam’s guilt being imputed to his posterity, which i would feel uncomfortable saying. I don’t think that it is essential to any “Calvinist system,’ and I don’t believe Calvin himself taught this — it is usually attributed to his successor at Geneva, Theodore Beza. It is mentioned in the Westminster Confession.
    Advocates of the theory appeal to just one verse of Scripture to support it, and that is Romans 5:12, and that, in turn, depends on how you translate one particular phrase — “eph ho,” which could be rendered either “in him” or “in that.” If the former, than we all sinned when Adam sinned. If the latter, then it simply means that we are all guilty by virtue of the fact that we have all sinned individually. I would agree with you on this issue — according to Ezekiel God does not punish the sons for the sins of the fathers. But that hardly merits denouncing Whitefield.

  28. DP says:

    Tsaint, I wouldn’t want to be understood to be denouncing Whitefield, as a true believer and gifted and dedicated preacher. I have lost my Calvinism, but I still listen to and read far more Calvinists than non-Calvinists. Their preaching tends to be much more bible saturated and Christ exalting. All 3 of my grown kids attend an Acts 29 church, and I’m fine with it. Like most Calvinists today, they don’t teach the down and dirty details of their statements of faith. The non-Calvinistic churches have traded the routine Lord’s Supper for the routine altar call and it has been a bad trade. In addition, too many non Calvinistic evangelicals have been so pre-occupied with eschatology that the Calvinists are passing them by in terms of evangelistic zeal and Christian discipleship. Just my opinion. As a Gideon, I visit a lot churches in our area.

    I must stand by the charge of Christian fatalism, though. Here is what Presbyterian GI Williamson says in his popular study guide on Westminster:

    “But what is of cardinal importance is to recognize that God’s sovereign determination of the destinies of the souls of men is not conditional.”

    When our eternal destiny is 100% determined by forces outside of ourselves that is a fatalistic system. No way around it. In their system, the elect can only choose life and the reprobate can only choose death.

    The Calvinist can only say to those who end up in hell, “Sorry about your luck. Or Providence. Its too bad you weren’t chosen like me. I guess you shouldn’t have let Adam sin in the garden.”

    That’s just not the Bible.

    • Here’s a good question for you. (Warning! It’s a trick question): Can God foreknow what we are going to do?

    • rhutchin says:

      “When our eternal destiny is 100% determined by forces outside of ourselves that is a fatalistic system. No way around it. In their system, the elect can only choose life and the reprobate can only choose death. ”

      People determine their rightful destinies by their sin.

      Given the power that sin exerts over people – in that all sin – I think it difficult to argue that individuals have any real say in the matter.

      God can choose to alter that destiny if He wants to do so and can do it for as few or as many as He decides. The elect do not choose life through any special ability they enjoy over the reprobate. They choose life because “God delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

  29. Les Prouty says:

    Brothers, and I mean that sincerely, I just got home from a mission Haiti meeting. Great meeting by the way. Met a local St. Louis Dr. who is doing amazing work for the people of Haiti. Check out her site http://mfkhaiti.org/. Basically she has developed a small business in Cap Haitien employing 48 Haitians where they infuse locally grown peanuts (turned into peanut butter) with nutrients to quickly bring malnourished children back to thriving. There was a local Christian doctor and his wife who spent much time in Haiti treating people there. I could go on and on.

    Plus, I’m participating in our missions conference this weekend, Friday thru Wednesday actually, http://twinoakschurch.org/missions

    Add to that one of our sons doc appointments recovering from a severe concussion, and I will be scarce. I may be able here and there to pop in, but not likely. Just too much going on.

    SDG!

    Les

  30. DP says:

    Tsaint, I’ll take your bait… but I need to get a shower first. Our debate does eventually lead to this question.

  31. DP says:

    Tsaint’s “trick” Q: Can God foreknow what we are going to do?

    The Q may be a little over my pay grade but I’ll offer a few thoughts, for what its worth. I confess to a habit of poking fun at any who might claim to be experts on God’s omnsicience. Again, as we have been seeing, the overall debate over election is much about how we define a few terms. This may be one of them. I didn’t finish college, let alone seminary, so I’ll stick with scripture. I’m not even sure if “common sense” is much help in this question. If you are fishing for an open theist you won’t find one here.

    I like what some Puritans would say that God knows everything that is *knowable*. The simple answer would be “yes, of course, God knows what we are going to do before we do it”. The evidence of God’s foreknowledge is all over the Bible… but you don’t get very far in the Scripture before the “simple answer” starts to look more simplistic than simple.

    In Gen 2 we see God waiting to see what Man/Adam would name the animals. Perhaps, suggesting 1) that He might not know what the names would be and 2) God is clearly willing to delegate authority to man. He doesn’t want to manipulate every decision man makes (tho’ He certainly has the right if He wants to… according to His holy character, of course.)

    In Genesis 22, we also see the episode of Abraham offering Isaac. “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for *now I know* that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me!” The words “now I know” are staggering to our typical understanding of God’s knowledge. They appear to show that God did not know for sure what Abraham would do. (He really had only 2 options in this one!)

    Still in Genesis, we see the episode of Sodom, where God says, “. . . because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and *if not I will know*. Gen 18

    . . . If not I will know?? This is a puzzling passage indeed, but at face value, I am glad that God does not just take somebody’s word for it that things are going badly in my life, church, or community. Angels can be unreliable, sometimes corrupt, and I would hate for God to rain judgment on me based on some bad angelic intelligence reports. I’m glad to know that before God really brings it . . . He checks for Himself. (It is just a little surprising that He would need to.) We probably should also acknowledge Jesus’ parables that show the master, land owner, etc who leaves and lets His subordinates manage His property.

    If some particular future events (contingencies) are unknown to God then I guess we would say that those are unknowable. I think it is also important to note, in these events, that we never quite get the picture in Scripture that God *can’t* know these future events. Maybe it would be better to understand that God chooses not to know some things. He is sovereign, I guess He doesn’t have to know something if He doesn’t want to. The same is certainly true of His omni- power.

    Well, that just scratches the surface but its a start.

    I do hope you each will take to heart the explanation of Romans 5 and the imputation of guilt from yesterday’s posts. I hear your silence and understand it. I trust that this foreknowlege question was not a diversionary tactic to avoid dealing with that one. The biblical doctrines of imputation are key in understanding the gospel.

  32. My trick question was designed to get at the charge of fatalism, and specifically to see if you would eliminate open theism as an option. Thankfully you did.
    Now I want to be careful here, because we cannot even begin to understand that thought processes of an all-knowing and all-wise God, which is what makes subjects like predestination and the extent of the atonement especially difficult. We are not in a position to psychoanalyze the Deity. However, if the sovereignty of God is limited by man’s free will, then how can God possibly know what human beings will do in the future? If the future is knowable, then that suggests that it is determined in some way. If God can foreknow, before a person is even born, that he is going to believe, then it has already been predetermined that that person will believe.
    But if it is not God Who does the predetermining, who / what does? The apparent answer is a kind of mechanistic determinism. Presumably God would know what we are going to do because He can see how all of the relevant factors are going to play out. But that means that our actions are determined, not by God, but by blind fate. This, i maintain, is the worst fatalism of all!
    But the Bible says,that God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).

  33. DP says:

    TSaint, ultimately, the sovereignty of God could never be limited by man’s free will. That would be absurd. But we know that God is pleased make promises that restrict His options. The best illustration is that of the rainbow after the flood. God has placed the *self imposed* restriction on Himself that He will never destroy the earth by a flood again. (Now, He has other options… but a flood cannot be one of them.) God’s hands are tied… by God Himself.

    Thus, every promise of God is a self imposed restriction on His sovereignty, and this is where the subject engages our discussions of election. God has promised to save “whosoever believes”. OT and NT. As stated in previous posts, it would be a mockery of the term “promise” to suggest that God promises to save the reprobate if they meet an impossible condition and Jesus did not die for their sins. This is why we get quotes from people like J Edwards, who apparently denies that God has actually made the promise to every sinner. Sermon IV of Seventeen Occasional Sermons, entitled God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men (Romans 9:18). In section II, #2

    “For God has in no way obliged Himself to any natural man by his word to bestow salvation upon him. Men in a natural condition are not the children of promise; but lie open to the curse of the law, which would not be the case if they had any promise to lay hold of. ”

    I am glad when Calvinists indiscriminately offer Christ to everyone but they really shouldn’t. (That is if they want to be consistent with their views about reprobation.) I think Dr H has been making the same point, for a while.

    • Bear in mind, however, that the death of Christ is sufficient to cover the sins of the entire human race, and the promise of God to save all who repent and believe is perfectly valid. “. . . and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37; NASV). And in the case of the non-elect God does exactly what you think He should do — He lets them decide for themselves whether or not they want to be saved, and does not try to “force” them in any way by any such means as Irresistible grace. The way the Bible puts it, God “gave them up” (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). If they genuinely have a free will, then by all means, let them come to Christ! There is nothing preventing them but their own sin and rebellion!
      What inevitably happens, however, is that “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (v. 21). At that point, in the case of some, God does what you say He should not do, and that is send His Spirit to convict them of their sins and grant them repentance and faith, and they are saved.
      The non-Calvinist alternative is simply to leave them in their sins.

  34. DP says:

    TSaint says: “Bear in mind, however, that the death of Christ is sufficient to cover the sins of the entire human race.”

    [I am fine with this distinction as a non Calvinist, but struggle to see how a "definite and *particular*" atonement (as you define it) could still be sufficient for the reprobate. Why would it need to be sufficient for the reprobate if they are reprobate, before the foundation of the world? How can it be particular for some but honestly available to all? I know the creeds teach it but I don't agree. As a Calvinist, I could never answer these objections, satisfactorily.]

    Tsaint says: “He lets them decide for themselves whether or not they want to be saved..”

    [This is sleight of hand deception. Semantic chicanery. The reprobate would have no ability to choose life thus making the so called "decision" a perfunctory decision...a foregone conclusion. They could not exercise a contrite faith which works by love. In the Reformed hypothesis, God doesn't desire the reprobate to be saved. If He did, He would give them the necessary grace to meet the condition of salvation.... to make a true, actual, and bona fide decision via the power of contrary choice.]

    “God gave them up”

    [Romans 1 is talking about all mankind. Elect and non elect. We were all given up; but Paul also shows that no one is utterly abandoned to the flesh. We see God's invisible/spiritual attributes in the things that are made and He writes His law/word/Truth on our hearts, which is demonstrated in our consciences.] We don’t need to be obedient to see the invisible attributes by faith. Jesus used the faith of children (not the obedience of children!) as examples of faith for adults. This ability is common to every sinner.]

    “There is nothing preventing them but their own sin and rebellion!”

    [More sleight of hand chicanery. Simply untrue… in both infra and supra. This could only be a just judgment if they were *guilty* of Adam’s sin. Which the Bible does not teach. Their alleged “inability” (from birth) would be entirely due to *Adam’s* foreseen sin and rebellion. This would not be a just judgment. God won’t be throwing anyone in hell who could not confess their sin, repent, count the cost of discipleship, and trust the gospel promises.

    • Les says:

      DP,

      Wrapped up in our missions conference but got the email on your comment. Had to post this:

      “chi·can·er·y
      SHiˈkānərē,CHi-/
      noun
      1.
      the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose.
      “an underhanded person who schemes corruption and political chicanery behind closed doors”
      synonyms: trickery, deception, deceit, deceitfulness, duplicity, dishonesty, deviousness, unscrupulousness, underhandedness, subterfuge, fraud, fraudulence, swindling, cheating, duping, hoodwinking; More
      Origin

      late 16th cent.: from French chicanerie, from chicaner ‘to quibble’ (see chicane).”

      Not good brother to say this about us, your brothers. Not good at all. Poisonous.

  35. The bottom line is this: Are not all men sinners? If so, why?

  36. DP says:

    Les, I will gladly apologize for what you perceive to be toxic language… if you can adequately explain how someone who was “passed by for salvation” before the foundation of the world could possibly have a good faith opportunity to be saved during their lifetime. In the Calvinist system the non elect could never have a genuine opportunity to become the elect because their reprobation would be an “eternal decree”. (WCF Ch 3) Thus, it is a fraudulent claim. It would be underhanded to suggest to the reprobate, who might be “trembling over their actual sins”, (G W) that Jesus was holding the door of salvation open for them and they have an “extraordinary opportunity” to be forgiven. (As J Edwards said in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.) That is like Lucy holding the football so Charlie Brown could kick it, if you know what I mean. It would be bearing false witness to the reprobate to tell them that God loved them and wanted them to “enjoy Him forever”.

    TSaint, certainly all men are made sinners by Adam’s transgression. We are conceived in sin thanks to Adam. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child… because Adam chose to sin in spite of the ability to resist. (Even most Calvinists agree that Adam enjoyed the power of contrary choice in the decision to eat from the tree. Showing that they do have a natural sense of justice.)

    But here’s the point that I hope you each will pause and consider: The guilt of the sins that we commit in the ignorance and inability of childhood is Adam’s responsibility; thus, the guilt of these sins is not imputed to the individual. There is no active law in force for a baby and small child. And we know that sin is not imputed where there is no law. When we each begin to sin willfully, on our own own, with right understanding of the law, then the guilt of our own sin is imputed to our own account, and we become *dead* in trespasses and sins. We need the washing of regeneration. We need Christ’s propitiation to be applied to our account by faith. Like the faith of a child. This is why we can have a biblical hope of heaven for the children who die in childhood, even though they are born in sin. It is not so much an “age of accountability” as it is a “sin of accountability.” One deliberate sin, in which God imputed the guilt, was all it took for Adam to become dead in sin.

    I suggest that this was what Paul meant when he said that he was “alive once without the law”. The only time that Saul of Tarsus would have been without the law would have been in his childhood. He explained that when the law came, sin revived, and he “died”. That is when he became dead in trespasses and sins. The Holy Spirit, working through the law (as a schoolmaster/tutor) convinced him of sin, righteousness, and judgment and he knew he was in trouble.

    (Note: the explanation of Calvin & Co is usually something about how Paul “thought” he was alive but he was really dead. But this doesn’t fit the context well at all. Rom 7

    Give it some thought. It makes a lot more sense than God sentencing someone to hell for the unpreventable results of Adam’s foreseen sin. Or worse yet… for no reason at all.

    • Les Prouty says:

      DP,

      This is likely my last exchange with you. Your use of the poisonous language to describe my theology is an indictment on me. And on all Calvinism. and Calvinists. And on the theology I hold. You have assigned to us “trickery, deception, deceit, deceitfulness, duplicity, dishonesty, deviousness, unscrupulousness, underhandedness, subterfuge, fraud, fraudulence, swindling, cheating, duping, hoodwinking.”

      No, you can’t just disagree with our position and our theology. You have to call us dishonest and much more.

      You say, “I will gladly apologize for what you perceive to be toxic language… if you can adequately explain how someone who was “passed by for salvation” before the foundation of the world could possibly have a good faith opportunity to be saved during their lifetime.”

      Conditional. I see. And you really believe anything I say about the reprobate here on this blog will explain anything “adequately” to you? After all, you know my confession right? Will I somehow deny the WCF and the LC and SC now so that I can “adequately explain” it to you?

      Brother I first took my vows of subscription to the Westminster standards in 1992, before our presbytery candidates and credentials committee and after the extensive testing, and then on the floor of presbytery. Examination and explanation after examination and explanation, exegetical papers, etc. and etc.

      And now I’m going to jettison my positions? Ya really think what you’ve written in your long comments have been anything I haven’t seen before in the 22 years since my ordination in the PCA? I don’t think so brother.

      I thought for a while we would be able to have gentlemanly back and forth. But you have increasingly poisoned the conversation with such comments as “I do hope you each will take to heart the explanation of Romans 5 and the imputation of guilt from yesterday’s posts. I hear your silence and understand it.” Really? Bit of a taunt there on the silence remark? Are we so taken aback by your explanation that we are speechless? Like we’ve never seen it before?

      And this to TSaint, “I have to commend you for your restraint in the discussions and your willingness to actually engage the texts in question. You have demonstrated confidence without smugness, and I appreciate it. For what its worth, I am resolved to keep the rhetoric and “Christian” smack talk to a minimum. As I look back on some of my comments, I see the flesh showing and am not proud of it. Let’s all strive to keep the smugness out of our posts or we owe db2 an apology!”

      After calling us dishonest and using “sleight of hand chicanery” hey, bring back just plain ol’ smugness.

      I’m reminded tonight at our world missions conference (yes, a Presbyterian church made up of a bunch of Calvinists has a huge missions budget) of the beauty of the gospel and the mandate we are under to get that gospel to the ends of the earth. And I’m reminded of how many godly men and women we have out there around this globe pouring their lives into spreading that gospel. But according to you, our Calvinists missionaries are bunch of dishonest, fraudulent tricksters.

      Did you touch a nerve? You betcha!

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I really think you are reading more into one word than was necessarily intended and for the record, I think DP’s over-all argument is fair ground. He is commenting on TS’s statement:

        TSaint says: “Bear in mind, however, that the death of Christ is sufficient to cover the sins of the entire human race.”

        It is FINE to make a comment but if that comment does not square with what calvinism actually states then I believe it is fair game for discussion. If unconditional election and limited atonement are accurate as you contend, then I believe the aforementioned statement is questionable as DP argues. If Jesus died for the sins of the elect and the elect ONLY then there is no sufficiency for the reprobate because Jesus’ death was NOT for them. If Jesus did not die for Bob Hadley THEN there is no sufficiency for me in His death on the cross. NONE.

        Now to his next statement… again in response to TS… Tsaint says: “He lets them decide for themselves whether or not they want to be saved..”

        I find this statement equally inconsistent with the tenets of calvinism. It is not that God lets them decide for themselves… technically He lets the elect decide for themselves as well; in the calvinist system, God gives life to those He chooses to give life to and the rest die in their unrepentant sin and go to hell. That is it. The reason calvinists say “He lets them decide for themselves whether or not they want to be saved” is simple; it implies one thing but causes the reader to infer something else. It is as I see it somewhat deceptive because you are making a very difficult theology to swallow as palatable as you can to try to keep from running people off before they get started so to speak.

        If I were a calvinist, I would simply preach to Christians and say to everyone else, look do not worry about your salvation. If God is going to save you or your children or your neighbors, He will. If He has no plans to save you, THEN you will not be saved. Period. It is His sole choice.

        Trust God to do what is best for His glory and honor.

        That is basically what DP is saying and what I will echo. Softening the language implying one thing and inferring another is not right and simply saying “we are doing what the Bible commands us to do and leaving the results to God” is fine but that does not mean the methods are in line with the theology.

        That is where my focus is and I am more in agreement with DP on this one. Notice I did not use the same language he did.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        I don’t think I’m reading too much into it. In fact he doubled down on his non apology. Bob I can interact with just about anyone. You and I have our disagreements. But you do not call me dishonest (the same meaning of “chicanery.” You do not ascribe to me motives to deceive people when I share the gospel. That’s the difference my brother. If my arguing opponent (opponent in strictly a debate sense) believes me to be a trickster and dishonest and deceitful, then I have no use for debating that person. Really we’ve no where to go.

        No to your statement,

        TSaint wrote: “Bear in mind, however, that the death of Christ is **sufficient** to cover the sins of the entire human race.”

        You: “It is FINE to make a comment but if that comment does not square with what calvinism actually states then I believe it is fair game for discussion. If unconditional election and limited atonement are accurate as you contend, then I believe the aforementioned statement is questionable as DP argues. If Jesus died for the sins of the elect and the elect ONLY then there is no **sufficiency** for the reprobate because Jesus’ death was NOT for them. If Jesus did not die for Bob Hadley THEN there is no **sufficiency** for me in His death on the cross. NONE.”

        When we use the word “sufficient” to describe the atonement, we use it in it’s usual meaning which is “enough; adequate.”

        The atonement has invaluable value and sufficiency. That is, His cross work could have atoned for all, even a zillion worlds full of people. If that is what was intended.

        Next, “The reason calvinists say “He lets them decide for themselves whether or not they want to be saved” is simple; it implies one thing but causes the reader to infer something else. It is as I see it somewhat deceptive because you are making a very difficult theology to swallow as palatable as you can to try to keep from running people off before they get started so to speak.”

        No, true reason we say that is that it’s true…every sinner in hell is their because he refused the revelation given to him, which is in varying degrees of revelation but still enough see Romans 1, and decided by his own will to disobey God’s call to repentance (since He calls ALL men everywhere to repent). Most Calvinists I know and read don’t shy away from telling every man…”you are a sinner deserving hell and God calls you to repent and believe in Jesus. The decision is yours.”

        “If I were a calvinist, I would simply preach to Christians and say to everyone else, look do not worry about your salvation. If God is going to save you or your children or your neighbors, He will. If He has no plans to save you, THEN you will not be saved. Period. It is His sole choice.”

        Oh, you wouldn’t evangelize? Like our missions conf. friends do in Peru? The Calvinists missionaries? See the way you phrase that shows you really don’t get how the Calvinistic view of God and man intersect. God has His elect. We don’t know who they are. He does. He has commissioned us proclaim Christ to all indiscriminately and call all indiscriminately to repent and believe. We follow His orders and because our hearts are for the lost and He saves His elect. Since we can’t pick the elect out of a lineup, we preach to all…and because He told us to.

        We can be 100% confident that He will bring His people into the kingdom. I really don’t understand how this is so hard to reconcile.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les…

        I understand and personally believe the cross is indeed sufficient … completely sufficient to satisfy and pay for the sins of ALL MEN and it is efficient for those who repent and by faith believe. Here is the difference in what you believe and what I believe. Basically you believe that the cross is sufficient to save ALL GOD PLANNED to save and that would certainly include ALL MEN. However it is in reality sufficient for the elect. I understand the difference in sufficient and efficient but in reality, since Jesus died for the elect specifically… there is no sufficiency at all for the non-elect and that is where you and I will differ.

        So I maintain the language is intentionally deceptive at least to a degree and most calvinists will refuse to state things as they are but use language that side steps the reality of God’s salvific work where limited atonement and unconditional election are concerned.

        Now to your next statement: No, true reason we say that is that it’s true…every sinner in hell is their because he refused the revelation given to him, which is in varying degrees of revelation but still enough see Romans 1, and decided by his own will to disobey God’s call to repentance (since He calls ALL men everywhere to repent).

        Funny to me that this revelation given to him is “still enough to see.” Really? If the unregenerate has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes, how can he see at all? The whole purpose and necessity of regeneration is so that the lost person IS ABLE TO SEE.. can you not see the irony of that line of thinking? talk about inconsistency!

        Now to your last statement: See the way you phrase that shows you really don’t get how the Calvinistic view of God and man intersect. God has His elect. We don’t know who they are. He does. He has commissioned us proclaim Christ to all indiscriminately and call all indiscriminately to repent and believe.

        That is EXACTLY the point I am making where you are concerned. Note one other thing. I did not say I would not be evangelistic but I would tell people… the truth… if you are the elect God WILL save you. If you are NOT in that group, He will not save you.

        Answer me this… HOW is that an incorrect statement? I understand you do not know who God has planned to save etc… but tell me what is wrong with someone making this statement; it is consistent with the theological position of calvinism is it not?

        I believe it is and if it is then is ought to be the message you leave with people. Trust God to do what best gives Him glory.

        Please answer that question my brother and friend.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Let me respond by paragraph.

        You: “So I maintain the language is intentionally deceptive at least to a degree and most calvinists will refuse to state things as they are but use language that side steps the reality of God’s salvific work where limited atonement and unconditional election are concerned.”

        Bob, you are going to “intent.” You are saying that I and other Calvinists intend to be deceptive in our language. That’s not good brother. That’s the same thing I said to DP. DP was calling into question my motives and accusing me of deception. Don’t do that. I’m not refusing to state things as they are. There is a whole lot of theology that I do not explain when sharing the gospel. I don’t go into the specifics of God’s decree, for instance. Why should I? It’s true but unnecessary when sharing the gospel. The WCf says, “The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care.” And so I do.

        YOU: “Funny to me that this revelation given to him is “still enough to see.” Really? If the unregenerate has a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes, how can he see at all? The whole purpose and necessity of regeneration is so that the lost person IS ABLE TO SEE.. can you not see the irony of that line of thinking? talk about inconsistency!”

        Yes, enough revelation to see God’s hand…”For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [m]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

        The bibles says there is enough revelation so I said what the bible says, “I believe it is and if it is then is ought to be the message you leave with people. Trust God to do what best gives Him glory. So, I said, “every sinner in hell is their because he refused the revelation given to him, which is in varying degrees of revelation but still enough .”

        YOU: Now to your last statement: See the way you phrase that shows you really don’t get how the Calvinistic view of God and man intersect. God has His elect. We don’t know who they are. He does. He has commissioned us proclaim Christ to all indiscriminately and call all indiscriminately to repent and believe.

        You: “That is EXACTLY the point I am making where you are concerned. Note one other thing. I did not say I would not be evangelistic but I would tell people… the truth… if you are the elect God WILL save you. If you are NOT in that group, He will not save you.”

        I could say that, but it is neither necessary nor is it deceptive. Lost people don’t typically have any reference point for the term elect. If they have a background, I’m not shy to discuss this with a lost person. Remember, I believe that God is the one who will save when and by whatever words I may or may not use. And we agree, we don’t know who the elect are.

        You: “Answer me this… HOW is that an incorrect statement? I understand you do not know who God has planned to save etc… but tell me what is wrong with someone making this statement; it is consistent with the theological position of calvinism is it not?”

        I assume you are referring to your own wording, “if you are the elect God WILL save you. If you are NOT in that group, He will not save you.” It’s not inconsistent. It’s just not necessary when sharing the gospel. It will neither help nor prevent God saving someone.

        Here is what I do and would tell someone…anyone:

        You are a sinner. You have rebelled against your Maker and He justly has condemned you and in fact all of us. You deserve hell and damnation for ever and ever. You have no hope without God and unless you fall before Him and beg Him to save you from the coming judgment. But, He has made a way for you or anyone to be saved. He calls on you to repent (turn form your sin and self saving ways) and trust in His son Jesus who went to the cross and died to save sinners like me…and like you. He says in the bible that if you will call on the name of Jesus He will save you and make you one of His children, adopting you into His family. Now I implore you to turn from your sin and place your faith in Jesus and be saved.

        That Bob is a short version and the essence of what I say to sinners. If someone were to know about the doctrine of election and were to ask me if they are elect or how ca I know if they are elect, I would answer the way one OPC minister answered.

        “Do you believe that you have offended the all-holy Creator?

        Do you believe that your sins cry out to heaven itself for justice, and that you deserve to perish under the wrath of the God you have offended by your sins?

        Do you believe that you are, in fact, dead in your sins and unable to make yourself alive?

        Do you believe that nothing you could ever do no good deeds, no mighty acts of faith, no church attendance, no niceness of character will ever be sufficient to appease the wrath of your holy Creator against your sins?

        Do you believe that God, the God you have offended by your sins, has himself provided the way of escape through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?

        Have you been united to Christ by faith, a faith you did not earn, but received as a gift from God? Do you believe that, having been savingly joined by faith to the Son of God, your sins are finally and fully paid for, and that you are forgiven and declared righteous, as though you had never sinned?

        Do you believe that, by the grace of God, having turned from your sins and turned to the Son of God to pay for your sins and to give you his own righteousness, you will be received by God as his own dear child, to be loved and blessed by him throughout eternity that is, that you are saved by God’s unmerited grace?

        He goes on to say, “Think back to the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, we find Peter directing the crowds to consider, not election, but the Lord of glory whom they crucified. The elect will believe the gospel, but the reprobate will turn away from the gospel.”

        “In his book God-Centered Evangelism, R. B. Kuiper uses a wonderfully simple illustration (on page 38). He compares election to the foundation of a house. The foundation is there, essential but unseen. We enter a house, not through the foundation, but through the door. And Jesus Christ is the door. If we would enter the kingdom of God and be saved from our sins, it must be through him (John 10:9). So the Word of God directs us, again and again, to Christ.”

        “How do I know if I’m elect? Believe what the elect believe, the gospel of God’s saving grace.”

  37. Hey, let’s calm down, guys. It is true that DP hasn’t really told us anything that we haven’t heard before — but that being the case, why should we be surprised? In a way we’re simply rehashing the debate between Whitefield and Wesley over Wesley’s famous (some of us would say “infamous”) sermon on “Free Grace.”
    I would ask DP to consider one thing. Human inability is exactly that — it is HUMAN inability. The only thing keeping a sinner from coming to Christ is the sinner’s own indisposition to do so. The sin is all man’s; the grace is all God’s. It was man who got us into this predicament, and God offers us salvation on the basis of free grace. Let’s not blame God for man’s predicament, as though God were somehow “keeping” men from getting saved.
    The question of the extent of the atonement is indeed a difficult one, and the explanation I have seen of it is an article in Robert L. Dabney’s “Discussions” entltled “God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy, as Related to His Power, Wisdom and Sincerity.” You might also be interested in a couple of pieces I posted on my old blog on the subject, http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com/2013/08/limited-atonement-i.html and http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com/2013/08/limited-atonement-ii.html.

  38. “If I were a calvinist, I would simply preach to Christians and say to everyone else, look do not worry about your salvation. If God is going to save you or your children or your neighbors, He will. If He has no plans to save you, THEN you will not be saved. Period. It is His sole choice.”
    Here is what a real Calvinist (one that actually lived) said: “Come away, my dear brethren — fly, fly, fly to a throne of grace; and beg of God to break your hearts, beg of God to convince you of your actual sins, beg of God to convince you of your original sin, beg of God to convince you of your self-righteousness — beg of God to give you faith, and to enable you to close with Jesus Christ.” (George Whitefield, “The Method of Grace.”

      • Here’s a quote I ran across just this morning. It comes from a great classic work, “The Marrow of Modern Divinity,” apparently by Edward Fisher. In this passage “Evangelist” addresses an objection which is substantially the same as Dr. Hadley’s: “Wherefore, I beseech you, do not you say, It may be I am not elected, and therefore I will not believe in Christ; but rather say, I do believe in Christ, and therefore I am sure I am elected.”

  39. DP says:

    I must say I was taken by surprise by Les’s reactions. We are having a debate about our personal positions on some difficult and controversial issues. The title of the blog is “The Problem With Calvinism Part 3″. I remember one instance where Dr H suggested that the Calvinistic position was “reprehensible” but he didn’t get the same scolding.

    Since my objections are nothing new then I have no choice but to assume that your answer to them has always been silence (in terms of a purely biblical response).

    If I had said that it is “less than than forthright” to suggest that the eternally reprobate could ever have a real opportunity to be saved, would I have been accused of sugar coating the charge?

    Anyway, if Dr H doesn’t mind, let me try again ( a short one this time, I know I have been long):

    True or False? The Bible teaches that he elect can only choose life and the reprobate can only choose death.

    • The two statements are correct, but for different reasons. The elect can only choose life because “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10). The reprobate can only choose death, because “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23). It is also important to observe that the questions asks “can” and not “may.”

  40. DP says:

    “I would ask DP to consider one thing. Human inability is exactly that — it is HUMAN inability. The only thing keeping a sinner from coming to Christ is the sinner’s own indisposition to do so.”

    TSaint, As your question is stated, my answer is: “amen”. We need grace to repent and believe.
    (I say common resistible grace… you say particular irresistible grace.) Sounds simple enough… but the implications are significant!

    Also, thanks for the appeal for calm.

    • I think that what Les was objecting to was the implication that I was somehow being dishonest by pointing to man’s sin and guilt before God as the root cause of his difficulty. Unfortunately Les let his temper show through, but he did it on my behalf.

      • Les Prouty says:

        TSaint,

        Yes, and DP’s implication that all Calvinists are dishonest and tricksters. It was not really letting my temper show through as in being angry. No. I offered DP an opportunity to walk back his poisonous comments and he doubled down.

        From my standpoint, it is fruitless to dialogue with someone on these matters who openly declares me to be dishonest about my theology. It really matters not what I say if he believes me to be deceptive. In fact, why would he even want to dialogue if he believes my intentions are duplicitous?

  41. DP says:

    Let God be true and every man a liar. Les responded as if I was insisting that he personally is a bold faced, habitual, pathological liar, which I was not. I will concede this: If a rookie Calvinist suggested that every sinner has a genuine opportunity to be saved then I could write it off to an unwitting ignorance… and not deliberate deception, as he/she would not understand the details of the system. It would be a “felicitous inconsistency” for them. But when someone like J Edwards tells a group of people (who he admits he doesn’t know) that they now have an extraordinary opportunity to be saved, knowing what he believes about election and reprobation, it is a fraudulent offer for the reprobate. His ignorance of their election/non election is not an excuse to suggest that Christ’s work was for the non elect.

    If all Calvinists would evangelize as Les suggested above then it would be consistent. But I have been around (and read) too many Calvinists to know that they are not all so careful in their offering of the gospel. They tell their children, and the children of those who visit their churches, that God loves them and Jesus died for their sins. Which would not be true if the kids were reprobate according to the Calvinist system. Calvinists frequently infer that everyone can be saved when they don’t really believe it.

    The Calvinist must look any soul who perishes in the eye and say, Sorry you weren’t chosen. Jesus didn’t die for you. You never had an opportunity to be saved. Just deal with it.

  42. The facts of the matter are these:
    1. The death of Christ is of infinite worth and value, sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world if God so desires.
    2. God has made a promise to save anyone who believes, and that promise remains valid.
    3. All men are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30).
    4. No preacher knows who the reprobate are.
    Therefore we are fully warranted in offering the gospel indiscriminately to all mankind.
    “And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.”
    (Canons of the Synod of Dort, 2nd Head of Doctrine, Article 6)

  43. DP says:

    TSaint, I did check out your blog. It was very interesting and well done. I do love the Church history and it is good to engage the unbelievers… if/when they are willing.

    As to your last post, I will have to quibble with your use of the word “facts”.

    1. It would be better to simply quote the Bible and say that God loves the world, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and/or that He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, etc. Paul was not sure of the salvation of everyone in the Galatian and Corinthian Churches but he was sure that Jesus died for their sins. (True believers and vain believers both.) Also, you are subtly leaving the door open to the assertion that God may not desire the salvation of the whole world (that is every soul in the whole world). That would be an unwarranted qualification of many biblical texts.
    2. True, but misleading, for a Calvinist, since they insist that no one is able to believe from birth.
    3. Amen. (only exception would be infants, small children, and the mentally handicapped.)
    4. The reprobate, as defined by Calvinism, do not exist. There is no sound biblical defense for irresistible reprobation.The gospel is a good faith promise to all men everywhere. It is backed up by the death of Christ, who made the required payment for every sin ever committed. The “money” is in the bank (if you will) but it must be drawn/imputed by penitent faith. Thus, salvation is truly conditional upon obedience to the law of faith.

    Dort: “… but is wholly to be imputed to *themselves*.

    Sorry, but this is more deception/error. It should say that their unbelief is wholly to be imputed to *Adam*. In your system, it was Adam’s sin that caused them to be born utterly unable to repent and receive the gospel Truth. Again, what did the reprobate do wrong that left them with no ability to believe? The Calvinistic answer is *nothing*, and that would not be a just judgment. Sin is not imputed when there is no law. This mysterious/unjust transfer of Adam’s guilt to his posterity is the false premise that the Reformed view is built upon. it is biblically impossible.

    The Calvinistic system relies on half truths and double meanings like Samson relied on his hair. I don’t labor this issue because I like being hated. Please take it to heart. (My old Calvinistic friends only teased me about joining the Roman Catholic Church until they read the book “Chosen or Not?)

  44. The reprobate, as defined by Calvinism, are described in Rom. 9:17-24 where they are called “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (v. 22).
    I think you’re reading too much into the word “imputed” in the statement of Dort. In the context it simply means that the lost have no one to blame but themselves.
    Dort did say, however, “As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under a curse, and are deserving of eternal death . . .” (the very first sentence of the Canons). What exactly did they mean by this? The fact is that we are under a curse because of what Adam did is virtually undeniable (Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:21,22). Ancestors make decisions that affect their descendents, sometimes bringing a curse on their posterity. e.g., Ham and Esau. As I have stated elsewhere, however, I personally am reluctant to state that Adam’s guilt was “imputed” to his posterity. We may think that is unfair, but much of what I am is due to what my parents were (American, poor, etc.) Was it “unfair” that I was not born into a millionaire’s family?
    Paul says that the lost are condemned because they sin against knowledge (Rom. 1:18-32).
    The whole problem with your argument hinges on the question of human inability. You think that God would be unfair to require something that man is unable to do; therefore man must be able to do it. But that flies in the face of everything that the Bible says about the spiritual death, bondage and blindness of the natural man, as well as, I suspect, your own personal experience. How many times have you tried to witness to an otherwise Intelligent, well-educated person and he just couldn’t “get it.”
    I would also have to say that I am a bit rankled by your repeated accusations that “The Calvinistic system relies on half truths and double meanings.” Do you really think that the Synod of Dort was engaged in conscious deception? Is it not possible that they were acting in good faith and were simply trying to do justice to what the Bible says?

    • Les Prouty says:

      TSaint,

      “The whole problem with your argument hinges on the question of human inability. You think that God would be unfair to require something that man is unable to do; therefore man must be able to do it. But that flies in the face of everything that the Bible says about the spiritual death, bondage and blindness of the natural man, as well…”

      Absolutely correct. Our continued debate with the synergists (not meant in a derogatory way) is really over what man contributes (if anything) to his being born again.

      An excellent example of God requiring of us what we can never produce is “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Of course we are being told to do something impossible. Only in Christ and by His perfect obedience can we be considered fit for heaven,

    • Les Prouty says:

      TSaint,

      I forgot to mention earlier about the notion that it would be “unfair to require something that man is unable to do; therefore man must be able to do it.” Of course the supreme example of God requiring of all men something man cannot do is the 10 commandments, and nicely summed up by Jesus as, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

      Now who among mere mortals can love God with all our hearts? Obviously no one is able. But as one of my seminary profs used to love to say, “But God…!” But God sent His own son to accomplish perfectly what no man could ever do or hope to do and thus provide sinners a way to Himself. Marvelous grace indeed.

  45. DP says:

    Guys, Long day today and very early start tomorrow. Only time for a short one tonight. (I’m sure you’re disappointed!)

    TSaint says to me: “You think that God would be unfair to require something that man is unable to do; therefore man must be able to do it.”

    [I guess that makes me really weird. A full blown Pelagian. I guess I should be expecting my kids, Grandkids, and employees to do the impossible.... or else. (Pharoah should be commended for his brick quotas. He was being like God.) What a silly notion that what God demands (to avoid eternal damnation in the lake of fire) He would actually provide for. Remember also, how God lessened the consequences for un-intentional sins and freak accidents. This is common sense.]

    The commands to be holy and perfect are not salvific in nature. They are set as the gold standard of earthly sanctification for believers but failure to meet them is not met with eternal damnation. Everyone in heaven will have failed to be holy and perfect in their earthly walk.

    The command to repent and believe is salvific. Ultimately rejecting the Truth is met with eternal wrath. In the Calvinist understanding, God would be just in sending people to hell for being born short, bald, and nearsighted. They would have no more control over that then they would for allegedly being born with no ability to repent.

    It just makes so much more biblical sense to teach that the common grace of God is sufficient for penitent faith. Calvinism marginalizes the common grace of God.

  46. According to the Bible, people go to hell because they are sinners — they have broken God’s law.
    Common grace is a concept drawn from Reformed theology and really isn’t found in the Bible, not that it is necessarily wrong. (Common grace is what enables lost sinners to accomplish great achievements in the arts and sciences, etc.) What you are advocating is more like the Wesleyan view of prevenient grace. But that isn’t really in the Bible either. Prevenient grace is presumably what God grants to people to overcome the effects of their depravity and enable them to repent and believe. Supposedly he gives it to all and is resistable).
    What the Bible says is that the unregenerate sinner is dead, a slave, and blind. The gospel is “foolishness” to him.

  47. Paul C. says:

    Actually, not just for salvation, but anytime God uses His word to work in someone’s life toward change it’s a tag team effort of the Spirit moving and the Word being heard. God has chosen that He would bring about both salvation and other spiritual growth through the preaching of the Word coupled with the power of the Spirit. This is a basic truth of Christianity not Calvinism. Paul makes it quite clear for us:
    God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:10-14

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