I am at the end of the road with the issue of calvinism in the SBC.
I do not believe the Bible comes close to teaching that God hand picks who is and is not saved. I do not believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus died for a select group of individuals and that eternity is reserved for “God’s four and no more.” I do not believe the Bible teaches that man is dead in his trespass and sin to the extent that he is totally incapable of responding to God’s revelatory work found in the Scriptures nor His reconciliatory work rooted in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an unbeliever. I do not believe a lost person must be “born again” so that he MAY repent and then exercise believing or saving faith to become part of God’s forever family. I do not believe the Bible ANYWHERE teaches that God’s call to salvation is an irresistible call that the lost person automatically responds too… like Lazarus did when Jesus called him by name to come out of the grave.
I do not understand how anyone who reads the Bible can come to conclusions similar to these. I really cannot understand that.
I have been asked the question on a number of times, “Do you believe that Calvinism is not the gospel? Do you believe that Calvinism is heresy?” In all fairness, calvinism cannot be heresy if one uses the following definition of heresy, “Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (esp. Christian) doctrine.” Calvinism is OBVIOUSLY in line with orthodox religious belief and as such cannot be heresy, using THAT definition. However, if one were to define heresy as being contrary to what the Scriptures teach then I would answer with a resounding “yes”. Does calvinism promote the gospel? Yes it does in that it is firmly based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. However, it goes beyond what the gospel declares in that it seeks to establish a select group that is able to receive and respond to this gospel.
Calvinism seeks to establish God as being solely responsible for those who are and are not saved. According to the consistent calvinist, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation not for everyone who believes, but for all that God gives the ability to believe. Apart from God’s efficacious grace and His effectual calling, NO ONE WILL BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.
The calvinist will argue that they are evangelistic since they do not know who is and is not the elect and so they preach the gospel to everyone and leave the choosing up to God. In all fairness, that is what every preacher does. I do not know a preacher who believes that the words he speaks either in a sermon or a one on one gospel presentation has any salvific power. God is the ONE who saves every single time. Here is the great news as I see it; God can still save individuals who listen to a calvinist preacher; most of them preach the Word with the possible exception of dwelling on the DOG exclusively, which most do not openly do because of the repercussions and ramifications of doing so in most Southern Baptist Churches. One MUST also understand that God can save someone listening to Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen as well IF they present a gospel message along with the rest of what they say. Fortunately for the lost, God can and does use inept presentations of the gospel to touch lost men’s hearts and bring them to repentance and reconciliation.
The issue is the underlying theological position that calvinism posits. It simply amazes me that anyone can read the Bible and come to the conclusion that God requires repentance so that an individual CAN be forgiven and be saved but the only way one CAN repent is if God gives him the ability to do so. It amazes me that anyone could teach that God requires faith on the part of the lost person to be saved but the caveat here is that God is the only ONE who can give the lost person that faith. If God does not give the unregenerate the faith to be saved then he CANNOT be saved.
This is like telling a dying man to drink but I am holding the cup that has the life giving water that he needs to live. If I do not give it to him, he dies. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone, especially God, could declare that this kind of message is “good news” to the world. Calvinism posits that the gospel is good news for the elect, those whom God has chosen to saved. Many will go on to say that the gospel is even “good news” to the non-elect in that His glory is magnified as those NOT CHOSEN are condemned to hell. The interesting caveat here is that the ones making that pitiful statement ALWAYS use THEM to describe the non-elect. There is no reference to any possibility of THEM being in danger of eternal damnation; it is always THEM.
One final note. If calvinism were correct and God hand picks who is and is not saved, then Christianity is reduced to being an extension of Judaism. The Jews believed then and still do that they are the “chosen ones of God” because they are born physically into the Jewish family. God most certainly is the One responsible for a person being born a Jew. That is an undeniable fact. If calvinism is correct, then a Christian is born again because God chooses to save him, which is no different than God choosing to make someone a Jew.
The Scriptures are clear; the true chosen one in God’s eye is not the one born into a family, the one who is truly chosen is the one who by faith repents and believes God as Abraham did and follows Him.
Calvinism as far as I am concerned is an abominable theological position.
I agree with you. If we are to go back to the 1,500’s and embrace the doctrine of the Reformers, let it be the Radical Reformers like the Anabaptists!
Love and agree with you that Calvinism is an abomination. I am writing a book exposing this principality no 500+ pages. Would love to connect with you by email!
Kindest regards in Christ,
Man, thanks for the bold word on this issue. Here is what I don’t understand – why is the example of Lazarus used consistently by Calvinists to defend their position? The truth of Lazarus’ resurrection was never used in scripture any way at all as an allegory about salvation. That’s what really get’s under my skin. It is about the Lord Jesus Christ raising a dead man, for all intents and purposes a believer in him from what I can tell, back to physical life. Trying to use that to justify Calvinist theology is like hammering a square peg in a round hole.
Before God called me to the ministry I was blessed to serve as a Gideon. One of the greatest observations I made then was that simply getting the Gospel into somebody’s hands has great power. The Holy Spirit convicts through the Gospel message of God’s words and provides an opportunity for response. Some still reject Christ, but others embrace and believe and are born again into eternal life. I still see it today in jail ministry as we have great faith if we can just get God’s word into an inmates hand it can have a life changing effect. If I embraced Calvinism wholeheartedly, how could I believe these things?
“The Holy Spirit convicts through the Gospel message of God’s words and provides an opportunity for response. Some still reject Christ, but others embrace and believe and are born again into eternal life.” AMEN
Calvinism posits there is no “opportunity for response.” They will argue this is false; but consistent calvinism presents “a response” that is God’s not man’s. Man does not really respond to the gospel according to calvinism; he responds to God’s effectual call. So. the power of the gospel according to calvinism is not to save because the gospel has NO POWER to save the lost person who has not been first, “born again” so he can THEN believe.
This is itself, unbelievable for me.
I don’t have the time or inclination to get into a lenghty back and forth, but
“Calvinism posits there is no “opportunity for response.” They will argue this is false; but consistent calvinism presents “a response” that is God’s not man’s. Man does not really respond to the gospel according to calvinism; he responds to God’s effectual call. So. the power of the gospel according to calvinism is not to save because the gospel has NO POWER to save the lost person who has not been first, “born again” so he can THEN believe”
This is just not true brother. We Calvinists absolutely believe that man responds savingly to the gospel when God opens the sinner’s heart. God does not believe for man in Calvinistic theology. Man believes.
And you saying “…consistent calvinism presents “a response” that is God’s not man’s” is untrue no matter how many times you say it. That’s your logic. That is not our position.
First of all, you are playing with my words. I said, for the calvinist, there is NO OPPORTUNITY FOR A RESPONSE.” I did not say that men do NOT respond; they DO RESPOND because God’s choice is that they respond. There is a difference.
Like it or not, conversion is God’s response in the calvinist system… God makes the choice and man responds to God’s choice. Without God’s choice in the matter, no one would respond.
“And you saying “…consistent calvinism presents “a response” that is God’s not man’s” is untrue no matter how many times you say it.” The wording is not the best; but the implication is… man responds because God’s choice about his conversion has already been made and God is the One who made it. So man does not really believe salvifically; he responds to God’s effectual call. It is a response on man’s part but only because it was God’s choice in the first place.
Unfortunately that is NOT MY LOGIC; it is the logical conclusion to the DOG.
Hi, I’d like to point something out that showed me a ” response ” to the gospel and a choice of repenting and being “obedient” to the call of salvation as opposed to rejecting it.
Paul says in Acts 26: 19 ” O King Agrippa I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”
When I read this last month I was awe struck I have read this many times and over looked Paul saying he was obedient when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
If you look at the verses above it Jesus is talking to him to Saul who was clearly unsaved and a murder, Saul did not recognize who Jesus was, then Jesus told him the plan and Paul with his very own mouth said he ” was not disobedient”
Now plain and simple the reason for the whole conversation between Paul and King Agrippa was to convert him, yet in the very same chapter King Agrippa said ” thou has almost persuaded me to become a Christian”
Best example I ever read of two different response to the same gospel.
Certainly if Paul said he was disobedient he must have been able to be, yet he chose to be obedient and not reject the gospel message that day, and it transformed him into Paul.
That was Paul’s account & testimony of his ” conversion” to Christianity even King Agrippa who rejected it acknowledged it was and Paul plainly told him he was no disobedient to the call of salvation…..God bless
I know what the response to this one will be. The calvinist will say that we all have the ability to choose according to our nature; so Saul could have KNOWN that he NEEDED to be saved but would not because his nature would not allow him to do so. When God changed his heart and nature, he could do no other than repent and respond in faith.
Same for Agrippa. He was almost persuaded because that is all men can do; had he been among the elect he would have been born again.
The example with Agrippa points to the fallacy of calvinism in this way, which you touched on. Paul preached the gospel to Agrippa. The Bible says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe. In calvinism, this CANNOT be true. For until one is regenerated, the gospel has NO POWER to save. Regeneration in the calvinist system applies to sanctification… it is effectual calling that brings about conversion and THEN repentance and belief kick in and until this time the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE.
This to me may be the most problematic for the calvinist.
Bob, not meaning to play with your words brother. In any case, I will happily stipulate that a person’s response is because of God’s choosing that person. We love Him because He first loved us. Obviously we all agree that all men do not love God and some will die in their sins without ever loving God. So they were never savingly loved by God.
Still, “conversion is God’s response in the calvinist system,” is incorrect. Conversion, repentance and faith, are actions of men after God has opened their hearts.
Anyway, have a blessed day.
Hey Les, thanks for being a good sport here. I don’t want to come off overly hostile or anything. One of my greatest spiritual mentors is a staunch Calvinist of the 4 point variety. I enjoy bouncing questions off of him and we have great discussions. I just want to make sure I understand where you are coming from in your theology and you correct me where I’m getting it wrong:
1) It is impossible for man to respond to God in and of himself at all.
2) God chooses to open somebody’s heart to receive the saving power of the Gospel.
3) That person cannot resist God’s will of accepting that saving power.
4) The person is chosen in a manner that man cannot comprehend and not based on any personal merit.
5) If God does not choose to open somebody’s heart to receive salvation, then that person is dead in his sin and eternally condemned to hell.
Please let me know if I have my line of logic correct. What bothers me if this is the case is that God is choosing to allow some to be condemned to hell. Consider how this looks in light of these verses:
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
If I understand the Calvinist position correctly, even from a 4 point stance, God’s grace is irresistible. According to how I read the Scriptures listed above, it is God’s desire that all should be saved and come to repentance. My question then becomes, why does God not then extend his grace to all mankind as they would all find it irresistible and therefore would all be saved?
Now I understand that I may have some fundamental concept of Calvinistic theology wrong, but I really want to wrap my mind around your thoughts on this. Thanks for your time.
Hi Randy. Thanks for your gracious way of framing the issues.
Reading your five points listed above I cannot disagree with any of them. I might change a word or two here or there. But I think you have stated what I believe as a five point Calvinist very well.
Now, let me add that I see in scripture those same verses you quoted, but I interpret them differently. My overall view of God’s soverignty in salvation forces me to look at those verses and ask a question or two.
1. If Man is dead in sins and cannot discern the things of God and cannot choose God in man’s deadness, then what can those verses mean?
2. If I think that God has chosen, from the foundation of the world, some (but not all) for salvation, if He has appointed some (but not all) for salvation (Acts 13:48), then what can those verses mean?
I think those verses cannot mean that God wills all to be saved, at least not the same kind of “will” that was His will that Jesus be crucified when and where and by whom he was crucified. All of that happened perfectly according to His predetermined plan. He **willed** it and it could not have happened any other way or time or by anyone else. Peter tells us so in Acts 2:22-24.
So this cannot be the same kind of will. It also cannot be the same kind of will such as “You shall not murder” on His moral law. Us nt murdering is surely His will. But not the same way as the crucifiction. People still murder. But it His desire, His will, that we not murder.
So I look at His will in the above verses and I cannot see that kind of will (like the cross) else no one would perish.
You go on to say, “What bothers me if this is the case is that God is choosing to allow some to be condemned to hell.”
Yes it does. But your view (I assume you’re not a Calvinist) has the same difficuty. If, as many non Cals say, God has given man libertarian free will and wants all to be saved but ultimately the final decision is left to man, well you still have God “choosing to allow some to be condemned to hell.” He COULD step in to prevent it but does not do so.
In any case, I believe we are all to take the gospel to all. I cannot ever know who has been chosen from the foundation of the world. That’s not my job to know. My job is to call any and all to repent and believe and trust the results to God.
Les, you cited, “We love Him because He first loved us. ”
But you don’t believe at all that God LOVES those sinners who are not on God’s roster list and were born unlisted there. You are playing with God’s words. What you didn’t mention was that you really mean that those who don’t love God were never loved BY God.
You felt entitled to correct sbcissues, saying, “Conversion, repentance and faith, are actions of men after God has opened their hearts.”
But you heavyhandedly forgot to qualify that you really and blasphemously mean that these actions are no more theirs than the movements of a puppet; that these actions are not AUTHORED by the repentant himself, but by God. You knew that the writer was using the term response to mean that the person is the author of his/her own volitions and is not merely reacting to external motives like a puppet irresistibly moves in reaction to the string being pulled. Shame on your deceitful pernicious obfuscations.
With Lifeway data a couple years back now, we learned that among all SBC churches the baptismal records are in dismal decline, the fall-away rate of members is in decline, 88% (approx.) of all teens who graduate never return to darken the church door, and divorce among members is eerily aligned with the world (approx. 30%-40%). This has been an ever-trending reality in our “bow your head close your eyes” man-centered generation over the last 100 years at least. Now, if it’s true (and it is) that among all SBC Pastors (those leading a congregation) that approximately 10% represent a Reformed/Calvinistic theology; I contend that Calvinism is not the problem! “Sheep” hear His voice. Those who do not hear His voice, simply are not “His sheep.” Is that so difficult to understand or must you force into the context of Scripture what is NOT there to satisfy a will-worshipping notion that somehow puts God on notice that He’ll have to wait on men, women, boys and girls to decide for themselves. Spurgeon once said, “The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.” …..and through the SBC churches today!
Your conclusion…. Now, if it’s true (and it is) that among all SBC Pastors (those leading a congregation) that approximately 10% represent a Reformed/Calvinistic theology; I contend that Calvinism is not the problem! “Sheep” hear His voice. Those who do not hear His voice, simply are not “His sheep.” Is that so difficult to understand or must you force into the context of Scripture what is NOT there to satisfy a will-worshipping notion that somehow puts God on notice that He’ll have to wait on men, women, boys and girls to decide for themselves.
Given your conclusion, you are suggesting one of two things:
1) there is NO PROBLEM or
2) God is DIRECTLY responsible for the dismal decline… which would mean there is NO PROBLEM.
I agree that calvinism is not the problem for the decline… but your argument means it is also NOT the solution!
But it was a nice try.
Question, why is there a white throne judgement for the unsaved?
In revelations 20:11-12 it says the dead where judged according to their works and the books were open and the book of life….now Why would God judge people for there name not being in the book of life if they weren’t chosen and had no choice or chance of ever getting in it to begin with then toss them into the lake of fire?
And why would God call someone a fool who died in their sin if they had no choice to become wise and be saved ” thou fool tonight thy soul is required of thee”
Great points, Thanks!
The following statement is illogical: Obviously we all agree that all men do not love God and some will die in their sins without ever loving God. So they were never savingly loved by God. The fact that someone may not love God in response to His love for them does not in any way diminish His love for them.
I agreed the wording, “conversion is God’s response in the calvinist system,” was not the best; it should have been… “conversion is God’s CHOICE in the calvinist system”, not man’s.
“Conversion, repentance and faith, are actions of men after God has opened their hearts.” Ok… but you must concede that NONE are even remotely possible apart from God’s effectual call and choice; so these are results of God’s choice and not choices made by men themselves. There is a difference between a response and a choice. In the calvinist system these are responses men exhibit to God’s choice as opposed to choices men make themselves.
Is that better?
Well, I understood what you said and are saying. But as we’ve known, we just disagree.
I’m a self-proclaimed Biblicist, but I find your statement that Calvinism is heresy and “an abominable theological position” extremely troubling. What shall we do with great saints of old that held to the Reformed position? William Carey? Charles Spurgeon? George Whitfield? Lottie Moon? Jonathan Edwards? The Puritans? Martyn Lloyd-Jones? John Bunyan? John Paton? Are they heretics or holders to “abominable doctrine”? I would tremble greatly at calling some of God’s instruments from yesteryear such names. The nature of the Gospel is such that we will never fully understand its grandeur and glory. Paul himself said it was a mystery. Any person, regardless of theological conviction, who fully claims to understand every part of the Gospel is either full of arrogance or a complete fool or both. Whether we are Calvinist or Arminian, we should first fall down in worship and ponder in awe at the revelation of God’s marvelous grace in Christ toward sinners like us and then go out to the ends of the earth with reckless abandon proclaiming the Gospel, calling men to repent and believe, and trusting the Holy Spirit to do His work for the glory of God.
I had the privilege of meeting you in New Orleans and am grateful for that. You are an impressive young man and I believe one that God is and will continue to use in great ways.
I have clearly said that I do not believe the tenets of calvinism are scripturally correct. I would also remind you that I referenced the traditional definition of heresy as teaching that is held by orthodox Christianity and therefore those who espouse calvinism are not heretics. We simply disagree in our theology. So given that position, your statement is not applicable to my assertion; “I would tremble greatly at calling some of God’s instruments from yesteryear such names.”
Now as for the following statement, “The nature of the Gospel is such that we will never fully understand its grandeur and glory.” You are correct. While I do not claim to understand God’s salvific role in its entirety, I do maintain that the Scriptures are clear enough for me to say that Reformed Theology is not the picture of salvation in the Bible. We can disagree but my point is still valid given my predisposition. It does not mean that I am right but simply put if it is not Scriptural then it is wrong. That is my contention. For the record, Paul’s statement of salvation being a mystery had absolutely nothing to do with calvinism.
You wrote… Whether we are Calvinist or Arminian, we should first fall down in worship and ponder in awe at the revelation of God’s marvelous grace in Christ toward sinners like us and then go out to the ends of the earth with reckless abandon proclaiming the Gospel, calling men to repent and believe, and trusting the Holy Spirit to do His work for the glory of God.
I am neither arminian nor calvinist. I realize many want to squeeze everyone into one of the two camps but sorry I will not concede that position. I am going to assume your comment that you are a self proclaimed Biblicist would cause you to agree with what I just said. For the record I agree with your next statement as to what our tast ought to be and I am doing all that I can do to do just that.
However, that does not mean that I am to turn a blind eye to what is going on in the SBC with respect to the increased level of influence of Reformed Theology in the entities of the SBC that I believe will lead the convention to be a Reformed Convention if we all sit back and hold hands and sing kumbahah and let folks continue doing what they are doing. If that is what the folks in the SBC decide to do them shame on them but I am voicing my disapproval and the reasons I disapprove. I am at least doing it on my own blog and I am not talking in circles saying one thing meaning another.
There is no amicable solution to the situation that exists in the SBC today where the influence of calvinism is concerned. That is my position. People may disagree, that is their prerogative as well. Time will tell who is right.
Thanks for your input.
Thank you for your kind words to me and the honest and quick reply.
My comment and question was based on your initial comment on Facebook: “If one defines heresy as being contrary to what the Scriptures teach then Calvinism fits.” One reads that as, “If Calvinist, then heretic.” You can’t have it both ways.
“I am neither Arminian nor Calvinist. I realize many want to squeeze everyone into one of the two camps but sorry I will not concede that position. I am going to assume your comment that you are a self proclaimed Biblicist would cause you to agree with what I just said.” Yes sir, I agree!
“For the record, Paul’s statement of salvation being a mystery had absolutely nothing to do with Calvinism.” I was not saying that at all, as Paul never used the words “reformed”, “Calvinism”, or anything that referred to a theological camp. I was referring to Ephesians 6:19, where Paul wasn’t referring to salvation but to the Gospel, where he emphatically stated that the Gospel was indeed a mystery.
I guess my initial beef was the attitude in which the article was written. You said you weren’t an Arminian, but in the manner in which you wrote the blog, everyone could tell that you are anti-Calvinist. To be a Biblicist means that you embrace all of Scripture, passages that Arminians use as proof-texts as well as Calvinistic proof-texts. The doctrine of inspiration demands such. Romans 9 and Romans 10. John 17:2 and Revelation 22:17 and John 3:16. Matthew 11:28-30 as well as Matthew 11:27 and John 6:43-44. John 1:11-12 and John 1:13…all of it. The parts where we don’t understand, we believe it to be true and proclaim it. If it’s outside my logical ability, I shouldn’t be surprised…it came from the Great Omniscience. As Tozer said, “God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, ‘O Lord, Thou knowest.’ Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.” My job is to proclaim the Gospel.
Our common belief in the Gospel should promote unity within the Church (not a false unity compromising on a false gospel creating a false expression of the church) not division. How we speak gives us credibility. I’m just worried you are alienating solid brothers and sisters who see the Gospel through a slightly different lens than you, and in doing so, you are charging men and women that God has used across the centuries to accomplish exploits for His glory to holding “an Abominable Theological Position.” That’s dangerous. Brother, I would encourage you to change this attitude and love the brethren. Thanks for having this medium for good discussion. I don’t claim to be the final authority in any of this…I just realize that He’s too big and I’m too small to claim that my small eyes see the whole picture…a picture and kingdom that’s big enough for any and all that repent and believe and hope in the merits of Christ.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, I am not really anti-calvinist. I am not a calvinist so I do not want calvinism being the theological flavor of the day in the entities of the SBC, which is exactly where we are and there are those who have premeditatedly brought about this with the convictional intent of reforming tomorrow’s SBC. That is my beef.
If a church or an individual wants to be a 10 pt calvinist, I will applaud their right to do so. Calvinism is not the predominate theological position in today’s SBC and I for one do not want it to be tomorrow, next year or ever.
I will comment on the following statement. “Our common belief in the Gospel should promote unity within the Church (not a false unity compromising on a false gospel creating a false expression of the church) not division. How we speak gives us credibility. I’m just worried you are alienating solid brothers and sisters who see the Gospel through a slightly different lens than you, and in doing so, you are charging men and women that God has used across the centuries to accomplish exploits for His glory to holding “an Abominable Theological Position.”
I have no problem with wanting unity. However, I cannot accept the political posturing by those who have moved the issue of calvinism to the place that it is today in the SBC. I did not ask for these actions and no one has given the green light for these changes to be effected. Now, I will agree that Mohler and company have every right to do what they have done to reflect their convictional position where Reformed Theology is concerned. I have NEVER said anything to the contrary. I have in fact both in person and in writing applauded and complimented their achievements. I simply disagree with what they have done and am expressing that disapproval. If that is causing any disunity is not my fault for I am not the one who effected the changes that we are now seeing in the entities.
No one wants to take this argument of unity at any cost to include the proponents of baptismal regeneration or the prosperity gospel folks… I do not see Southern Baptists reaching out to the likes of Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn… so lets not be too critical of me voicing my disagreement on serious theological issues concerning how a person comes to Christ, even if some try to argue that as being a tertiary argument. For me it is as primary as it can get.
As for my “alienating solid brothers and sisters who see the Gospel through a slightly different lens than me” I ask you to take a look at EVERY reformed group that is even remotely associated with the SBC and taking monies left and right from NAMB to plant churches and see how tolerant they are of folks of my theological persuasion. You are delusional if you think for one minute that the Reformers are interesting in associating with me on anything. Their confessional statements are blatantly reformed and they have every intention to keep it that way. These guys stick together and do not deviate. They tolerate us today because they do not have the majority voice to do what they really want to do but if things continue on the current path soon and very soon that will not be the case and then talk to me about the cooperative spirit of unity in the SBC.
Finally, as far as I am concerned calvinism is “an Abominable Theological Position.” I meant that when I wrote it and I stand by that statement. In my opinion is as “downright damning” as the sinner’s prayer is to David Platt.
One other brief thought… when God sent Joshua and the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He was not a big proponent of unity but those in the land were! When Jesus cleansed the temple, I did not hear Him preaching a sermon on unity; there is a time and a season for everything; that includes unity and it includes purging to allow unity to exist.
I am in complete agreement with you as far as Calvinism being an incorrect interpretation of Scripture. Les even made a comment that I will paraphrase. He must believe X about Scripture because his view of God’s sovereignty forces him to. I believe if we look at the whole of Scripture without a preconceived view, we will say Calvinism falls short of biblical correctness.
However, if we say that Calvinism is heresy, must we not say the same about Arminianism? I think many of John Wesley’s Arminian views are misinterpretations of Scripture, but I would not label him a heretic.
I don’t know, maybe I am wrong, but that is why I believe the traditional definition of heresy is the correct one.
Hi Joey. I know you were replying to Bob, but since you mentioned me I thought I’d reply.
You said, “He must believe X about Scripture because his view of God’s sovereignty forces him to.” And that’s pretty close. I actually said above, “My overall view of God’s soverignty in salvation forces me to look at those verses and ask a question or two.” The questions I asked were then really trying to understand what the verses Randy quoted might mean in light of God’s sovereignty in salvation. i.e. my view that scripture teaches God’s sovereignty in salvation (and unconditional election as I indicated) forces me to try to interpret other scriptures that seem at first glance to say otherwise. This is called the analogy of faith, a key interpretative principle recognized by all evangelicals. The London Baptist Confession 1689 stated it this way:
“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.”
Charles Hodge said about this interpretative principle, “”If the Scriptures be what they claim to be, the word of God, they are the work of one mind, and that mind divine. From this it follows that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. God cannot teach in one place anything which is inconsistent with what He teaches in another. Hence Scripture must explain Scripture. If a passage admits of different interpretations, that only can be the true one which agrees with what the Bible teaches elsewhere on the same subject.”
Now you may disagree with my interpretation of these scriptures, but the principle I alluded to above and made more clear here is a well established one.
I dare say that Bob for instance simply cannot ever see in scripture what I see. He doesn’t agree that scripture teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. Therefore he will have no problem seeing the above verses teaching that God wants all men to be saved and the only reason they are not all saved is man’s libertarian free will.
Anyway, as to Calvinism being heresy in the traditional sense, you are way in a minority and would be hard pressed to make that case.
Blessings to you brother.
You wrote, “He doesn’t agree that scripture teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. Therefore he will have no problem seeing the above verses teaching that God wants all men to be saved and the only reason they are not all saved is man’s libertarian free will.”
Brother that is a cheap shot! Just because I do not see sovereignty in the same way you interpret it does not mean I do not believe God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. For the record, I have NEVER argued libertarian free will either.
One of the fallacies I have read in the calvinist argument concerning God’s sovereignty in salvation is the concept that If God wills that all men be saved and since they are not, there is a problem in His sovereignty for the non-calvinist. I adamantly disagree with that statement. I believe God’s choice concerning my eternal home is based on my choice concerning Jesus. I do not see that as being problematic at all where His sovereignty is concerned. The truth is nothing can take away from His sovereignty. That is a lame argument period. He is sovereign; completely sovereign and that is a fact Jack!
I believe God saves those who believe; that is what the Scriptures say. I believe those who do not believe are not saved. Again, that is what the Scriptures way. Now, what I do not believe is the illogical conclusion that calvinism makes that God must be the One who decieds who does and does not believe. The Bible does not say that. This is a conclusion that is drawn from a philosophical approach to conversion based on a rebuttal of universalism. I am of course not a universalist but that does not mean that I have to be a calvinist.
Let me also comment on a statement you made earlier to Randy I think… you wrote… If, as many non Cals say, God has given man libertarian free will and wants all to be saved but ultimately the final decision is left to man, well you still have God “choosing to allow some to be condemned to hell.” He COULD step in to prevent it but does not do so.
Here is the difference in our respective positions. Yours posits God as being the One who solely determines who does and does not go to heaven. In the comment you made concerning the God of the non-calvinist, it is not that God CANNOT save whomever He chooses, it is that He only saves those who choose Jesus, which is according to His promise and provision settled at Calvary. I prefer the latter.
I still love you though…
I just want to thank you again for your civility and kindness in your answers Les. We are certainly on opposite sides of this issue, but I believe sincere and civil dialogue is necessary for us to truly understand each other. You have stated that the best method for interpreting Scripture is Scripture itself. I could not agree more. This is where I struggle where my Calvinist brothers and sisters come from. Consider these handful of Scriptures please:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
These are just two of many examples in the OT Scriptures where God calls on his people to follow and obey him. It is implicit in these statements that people have a choice under these circumstances. If this is not the case, then the theology of Moses is flawed in the verse from Deuteronomy and he is calling on the people to do something that they cannot do. If this is not the case, then Joshua is filled with arrogance and hubris as he proclaims he and the people have a choice and he has made his choice to follow the Lord.
We see similar commands from the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. My problem Les is that if we are incapable of choosing to follow God, then I cannot understand why he calls us to follow him and then punishes people who are incapable of doing it when they don’t.
Consider the case of Ananias and Saphira in the book of Acts. If they lacked free will and liberality, then their sin against God was impossible for them to stop, and God struck them dead for undertaking an action they could not help but take to set an example for other people who were incapable of choosing to be obedient to his will. For me, if I adopt this theology, I am following a God who sits down and plays chess with himself, fatalistically controlling all moves and deciding by divine fiat who will and will not inherit eternal life. Such a God is not a benevolent deity in my eyes.
If I have misrepresented your stance in some way Les, please correct me and explain it because in all honesty, I am trying to wrap my mind around the view my Calvinist brothers and sisters hold.
I did not say Calvinism is heresy in any sense. I said I will stick to the traditional definition of heresy. My intended meaning was, that though I don’t agree with Calvinism, I do not think it is heresy.
Also, I understand these interpretation principles you speak of. However, we should all not “force” anything. That was my only point. I know that it is difficult for all of us to not have presuppositions when we read Scripture. However, when we say we “force” something it usually means we are trying to make something fit into what we believe instead of letting instead of shaping our belief around it. It being the Bible of course.
“Brother that is a cheap shot! Just because I do not see sovereignty in the same way you interpret it does not mean I do not believe God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. For the record, I have NEVER argued libertarian free will either.”
Bob I apologize. I probably should not have used you as an example. I made some assumptions. Please forgive me.
You:”He COULD step in to prevent it but does not do so.”
Right. Which is what I was pointing out to Randy. Randy was wondering why in the Calvinistic view” God not then extend his grace to all mankind as they would all find it irresistible and therefore would all be saved?”
I was merely pointing out that in neither view does God extend his grace to all manking savingly.
“Here is the difference in our respective positions. Yours posits God as being the One who solely determines who does and does not go to heaven.”
No, God is not responsible, if that’s what you mean, for anyone going to hell. Whoever ends up in hell is their because of their sin and rebellion to Holy God.
Sorry for such a long time to reply. As you can see below, I was hosting a missionary family last evening.
Anyway, the passages you quote on “choosing” of course are wonderful passages. God is the author after all.And the Calvinist has no dilemma here in these passages. We believe that man does have a choice to make. When I reach or when I witness and proclaim the gospel t someone, I make sure to put the ball squarely in their court. I want them to know that eternity hangs in the balance. I want ti impress them with the importance of their choosing Christ or choosing death. Calvinist Jonathan Edwards said ner the end of his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,”
“And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence.” and “Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.””
Edwards put the choice to them. So do I. But man left to his own will not choose God. What Edwards also believed was that for any of those hearing him preach to who were unsaved, in order for them to awake and flee to Christ, God must open their spiritual hearing and open their spiritual seeing. Man in his natural born state cannot see the kingdom of God. He cannot understand the things of God spiritually. Oh he can get it intellectually. Cognitively. But not i the heart.
You said, “We see similar commands from the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. My problem Les is that if we are incapable of choosing to follow God, then I cannot understand why he calls us to follow him and then punishes people who are incapable of doing it when they don’t.”
Most Calvinists don’t really see it is “incapable.” Most Calvinists, along with Edwards I mentioned above, see it as “unwilling.” It’s not that man cannot make a choice. Cognivitely man surely can make a choice. But spiritually man left totally to himself will not choose Christ. Man eft to himself does not WANT to follow Christ. He is loving the darkness too much and hating God. His “want to” has to be changed. That’s where God steps in.
And “…and then punishes people who are incapable of doing it when they don’t.” Again, it’s not inability. It’s unwillingness and enmity against God. It’s hostility towad God. It’s hatred toward God. It’s rebellion. It’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge Jesus as King. Those are whom God punishes eternally.
With Annanias and Saphira, here you have believers who chose to sin. Well presumably believers. The passage doesn’t really give enough info. Either way, many people seem to think Calvinists don’t think man has a will or the ability to choose. We surely do think man can choose. It’s just that man’s will is corrupt and enslaved to sin, so that his moral will is not free.
God’s moves are not like some sort of divine chess master at all. He has chosen to be active in the affairs of man and he does nothing capriciously. He works through man’s actions, sinful or not, to achieve his ends.
“My intended meaning was, that though I don’t agree with Calvinism, I do not think it is heresy.”
Joey, my apologies. I misunderstood what you wrote. Blessings brother.
I believe there is a difference in a misinterpretation of Scripture and holding to an errant system of theology. There is a difference. There are a number of calvinists that believe any system that takes away from their view of God’s sovereignty and His omniscience is heretical; they just are not willing to step up to the plate and publically admit it.
The real point my post is not the reference to heresy; the real point has to do with the errant positions espoused by the theological position. I believe calvinism is an indictment against the character of God; when someone says that God decides who goes to hell, they are ascribing characteristics to God that I do not believe the Scriptures support and that is a serious accusation in my book.
Obviously I agree with you, but would you make the same claim about Arminianism? I do not agree with some of John Wesley’s beliefs, but I would not label him a heretic.
I make a distinction between referring to calvinism as heresy and calling calvinists heretics. There is a difference. What people believe is their own business; what a theology posits is another.
As for Arminianism being heretical, I have not given that question much thought. That being said, Arminianism does not make the same charge against the character of God that calvinism makes. Since both begin with a foundation built on the premise of total depravity and inability, neither is likely to end up in the right place theologically. Since irresistible grace is a form of prevenient grace that is essential to bring the unregenerate to a place of response, that is equally problematic. For a part from this prevenient grace on God’s part, both theological positions will agree that salvation is not possible. If one considers the work of the Holy Spirit as prevenient grace, then the arminian position is certainly less problematic for me than the calvinist position of irresistible grace and effectual call.
In short, I probably would not consider Arminianism heretical in the same vein I consider calvinism to be so.
“If calvinism were correct and God hand picks who is and is not saved, then Christianity is reduced to being an extension of Judaism.”
I’ve been reading up on Judaism a lot lately, and even listening to some audio lectures from Outreach Judaism by Rabbi Tovia Singer, and the quote above is an unjust and outrageous statement. Judaism doesn’t teach that only Jews go to heaven — nor does it teach that all Jews go to heaven because of the election of Israel. The election is simply of a people to a special covenant, a special relationship with God, not salvation per se. Gentiles who keep the “7 laws of Noah” are said to be saved, and Jews who don’t keep the covenant are said to be lost. And not only that, but the Gentile who was obviously NOT CHOSEN like physical Israel CAN nonetheless, of their own FREE WILL, convert to Judaism: so its not at all like Calvinism. It doesn’t put this big rasberry out “Na-na-na-boo-boo, you can’t repent! You can’t do anything! Its all by God’s choice! You get no say!” Don’t accuse Judaism of being like Calvinism!
I did not accuse “Judaism of being like Calvinism.” I said the Jews believed they were the chosen people because of natural birth. That was to some degree an accurate statement at least in Jesus’ day. My point was simply this; given that backdrop, calvinism sort of posits the same position or mindset. It is the example I was pointing to not Judaism itself.
Your point, “the Gentile who was obviously NOT CHOSEN like physical Israel CAN nonetheless, of their own FREE WILL, convert to Judaism” is an argument I have made in other venues that point to conversion today; the gospel as always been a whosoever will gospel even in the OT days because God’s covenantal invitation has always been to all who would allow Him to be their God and those who agreed to be His people, on His terms and not their own.
I am in agreement with you; I am not in any way attempting to disparage Judaism.
WOW! Thank you for articulating so well what I agree with concerning Calvinism! With your
permission I wish to share this article with others. I fully agree with what you have said &
applaud your courage!
John H. Gregory
Share away if you dare!
Brother sbcissues! I have NEVER been shy when sharing the truth.
John H. Gregory
You said: ““My overall view of God’s soverignty in salvation forces me to look at those verses and ask a question or two.” The questions I asked were then really trying to understand what the verses Randy quoted might mean in light of God’s sovereignty in salvation. i.e. my view that scripture teaches God’s sovereignty in salvation (and unconditional election as I indicated) forces me to try to interpret other scriptures that seem at first glance to say otherwise.”
Thank you for bringing this up. It the very thing I have been trying to reconcile in this whole subject and discussion. IMHO there is a breakdown in applying those principles as you have with the act of Salvation. Your understanding of God’s sovereignty is not only causing you to ask questions but it is forcing an adding of a word – particularly in the verses mentioned above. The word “elect” is not seen in those verses in the Greek at all.
So how can an approach be accurate when it causes one to change the inspired Word? How could it be possible for the understanding of Calvin’s approach to the process of salvation to be accurate when it forces the Word to contradict itself?
“Thank you for bringing this up. It the very thing I have been trying to reconcile in this whole subject and discussion. IMHO there is a breakdown in applying those principles as you have with the act of Salvation. Your understanding of God’s sovereignty is not only causing you to ask questions but it is forcing an adding of a word – particularly in the verses mentioned above. The word “elect” is not seen in those verses in the Greek at all.”
My confusion in in inserting unconditional election (UE) in that paragraph. I did not intend to convey that I thought those passages were talking about UE. I was merely adding that since I believe the scriptures teach UE, then when I come to a passage which seems not as clear, I must let scripture interpret scripture. God will not disagree with himself. Then I went on to explain more.
“So how can an approach be accurate when it causes one to change the inspired Word?”
It wouldn’t be. And I nor any other Calvinist I know or have ever heard of changes the inspired word.
“How could it be possible for the understanding of Calvin’s approach to the process of salvation to be accurate when it forces the Word to contradict itself?”
It can’t be possible as you state it. Calvinists I know do not “force the Word to contradict itself.”
Oops. Sorry about mispelling your name Tim.
I am entertaining some missionaries tonight for the evening. Yep, missionaries to South Africa. Reformed missionaries at that. How can it be? Reformed folks sharing Jesus in South Africa. Wow.
Be back later to interact.
That’s all we need is Africa turning Calvinist. Like there’s not already enough war over there.
They are not SBC so there is no problem.
Well I had them remove their horns and pose for a picture, which I have made public on my FB wall. We had great conversation about sharing Jesus in S. Africa and Haiti.
“That’s all we need is Africa turning Calvinist. Like there’s not already enough war over there.”
James, that right there was funny.
Give them my regards! Really.
While I agree with you on a lot of things, I can’t line up here. For one thing, if a system of theology is heresy, how in the world is the teacher of that system not a heretic for teaching it? The teacher would have to be a heretic for teaching heresy.
Another thing, I don’t know how you can call Calvinism heresy and not Arminianism. I would argue that Arminianism does make a false charge against the character of God. Arminianism teaches that you can lose your salvation, does it not? If so, that changes a person’s view of God’s character, in my opinion. It also, in my understanding of Scripture, clearly goes against numerous passages of the Bible that teach otherwise.
Please know and understand that I respect you greatly, but I believe this article is problematic at best. We should continue to discuss why we believe that Calvinism falls short of Biblical correctness, no doubt about that. However, if you truly believe that they teach heresy, that sort of changes things.
if a system of theology is heresy, how in the world is the teacher of that system not a heretic for teaching it?
Some could be said to be yes but most preachers have no real clue as to the ramifications of the theology they sort of hold too. So in that sense, I do not consider them heretics. Plus there is a profound difference in being critical of a theology and being critical of individuals. I see a difference and will hold to that position.
Arminianism has its problems. Believing a person CAN lose their salvation is not on the same level as saying God and God alone chooses who is and is not saved. Now I will agree that this is a major problem. If I were to make Arminianism a study as I have calvinism, I might change my position on it as well. I have not done so. The fact that I do not believe calvinism is Scripturally accurate and no where near being Scripturally accurate, I said what I did.
Also note, I redefined heresy to come up with my conclusion.
Here is the deal. I do not care for calvinism, not even a little bit. I appreciate most calvinist pastors and preachers and believe they have a responsibility to know what they believe and to proclaim it. most accurately portray the gospel; most are ardent in sharing Christ and doing so responsibly. God can use and bless their ministries. He can save folks sitting under calvinist preachers!
The issues are less important in the practical every day application then they are in the theological arena. I am assuming that is why Mohler wants to label the soteriological differences as tertiary. Perhaps in the pulpit he is correct. In the entities and the classroom that is not the case.
As I said in today’s article, I have pushed the envelope in this post. I understood that when I wrote it. I do consider calvinism detestable and therefore abominable. I would also consider it at least borderline heresy. To argue that Jesus died on the cross for a select and limited group of people is problematic. To say that God makes the decision as to who can and cannot choose Him and be saved is problematic.
It is what it is and that is basically the point of this post.
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21
Calvinism says that the following, John 3:16-21 is not true. Bob, you are correct when you write that the Calvinist proclamation is an abomination. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” HCSB. Jesus is Lord. BW
19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
“Calvinism says that the following, John 3:16-21 is not true.”
Bob, that is just a wrong statement. Calvinism says no such thing.
Les, of course it does. Following the erroneous logic……For the Calvinist, God loves only the elect and NOT whosoever believes. The only reason that God sent his Son into the world was for the elect and NOT the entire world. The Calvinist cannot have it both21ways. They are simply wrong in what they teach about John 3:16-21. I understood that when I posted that someone would suggest this, but the facts are revealing.
I fully understand what you are saying and believe that you are correct in that calvinism would argue and calvinists have done so, that the “world” is a reference to “the elect” and not every person in the world. I like you, do not believe that is at all what Jesus was saying and if it were I believe He would have used “elect” and not “world”; after all, He would have known that all this debate would be taking place today anyway!
Now… Les is also correct in saying that calvinists DO BELIEVE John 3:16-21 is true. While I believe as you say that they are wrong in what they teach ABOUT the text, it is also wrong to say that they believe that the passage is not true.
Do you see the difference there?
“Les, of course it does.” Well Bob, I’ve been Reformed for 26 years and ordained in a Reformed denomination for 21 years. I’m afraid you don’t get to tell my what I believe. You can attempt to extrapolate some sort of logic into your assertions, but they fail.
Fact is, most all Calvinists I know teach that God does indeed have love for the entire world, and that is wholly consistent with particular redemption. And that is my position.
Facts revealing? Brother you have your facts wrong.
Les, I am not attempting to tell anyone what they believe. The record is that Calvinism teaches that when Jesus says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” He really means this, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever is of the Elect will believe in him will not perish…..”
Les, what Jesus said is what I believe without adding the word ‘elect’ into the mix. This is what Calvinists believe about John 3:16. The ‘Elect’ changes the entire picture and statement of what the Christ was saying to Nicodemus and is saying to a lost world today.
In all fairness, not telling you what YOU believe but there is this theme that runs in many calvinist circles that pictures God’s love for the elect as being significantly different than His love for the non-elect. Now, granted that may allow for the statement that God does love everyone but a love that does not save compared to a love that does save are two very different expressions to say the least.
Now some might argue all have that problem. I would disagree. If God loves everyone the same, which I believe He does, His choice to save those who love Him in return or respond in repentance and faith to His initiative in reconciliation is much different than trying to say in the calvinist system that God loves everyone but He has a special love for the elect that is not contingent on their merit at all… but on God’s choice.
What that does is establish a principle that says… God chooses one and does not choose another… and that pictures a love that is different for one over another. This is what many find so reprehensible.
That my brother is the logic that is being extrapolated that does make a difference.
“In all fairness, not telling you what YOU believe but there is this theme that runs in many calvinist circles that pictures God’s love for the elect as being significantly different than His love for the non-elect.”
Well, we believe it is different. God can and has had differing love for some vs. others before. “Jacob I loved, Essau I hated.” However one interprets Romans 9, it’s hard to deny a discriminating love principle there. The fact that God chose one people group in the OT over all other people groups displays discriminating love.
““For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Deut 7:6-8
Notice, God refers to the Jews as “his treasured possession.” He said, “set his love on you and chose you” in a way that he did not do for “any other people.” He said it was “because the Lord loves you.” Well assuming he loved all the other peoples of the earth at that time, his love for the Jews was different and accrued to them blessings (graces) that other peoples did not receive.
Brother, there is really no way to wiggle out of the fact that God has a discriminating love for some over all people. We see it in Ephesians,
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Now we will all agree that God is not telling husbands to love their wives in some manner that the husband would also love all women in the same way. Of course not. Husbands are to love their wives in a different way than we love our mothers, sisters, daughters and other women in general. And God commands this comparing how he loved the church. Christ is not going to “present the [all people] to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Of course not. He will present the redeemed to the father. So it seems pretty clear from scripture that God has had and does have a different level or kind of love for his people than he does for all mankind.
Thanks brother for the interaction.
“This is what Calvinists believe about John 3:16.”
Brother can you demonstrate where Calvinism believes about John 3:16? I’m a Calvinist and I am telling you for a third time that I do not believe as you keep saying I believe (since I’m a Calvinist and hold to Calvinism).
So show where Calvinism “believes” what you say about John 3:16. And I don’t mean where some Calvinists believe that. Show where CALVINISM believes that.
You guys sure do wear that passage out about Jacob and Esau don’t you; I do not believe it has one bit of salvific significance neither textually nor contextually but I am sure that is not going to stop you from referencing it.
Now lets talk about “God choosing one people group in the OT over all other people groups displays discriminating love.” I am not sure that this is as sustainable as you suggest and especially where soteriology is concerned. I believe God most certainly had a plan for Israel. No question about that and the Scriptures say that they were a special treasure to Him… notice what the text you quoted says… because of God’s promises He made to the fathers… that promise had actually less to do with Israel and everything to do with Jesus who would come out of Israel. Here is another problem. God’s special love was not to ALL ISRAEL either; it was to those who were obedient to His commandments and speaking about Israel being a special treasure to God… let me point you to the following:
4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. Exodus 19.
So even with Israel it is their obedience to Him that makes them a special treasure not their being physically born a Jew which is reiterated in other places. So I would agree with you that there is no wiggle room here… the Scriptures do not bear out what you contend they do.
Now as for the Ephesians reference… you cannot really sport the salvific argument there because the reference is to the church that He gave His life for… now while it can be a reference to particular redemption you have to bring that conclusion to the text because one would necessarily draw that conclusion FROM the text.
Now does God have a special love for those who belong to Him, one might could argue that He does. However, the converse of that is not established that His special love for those who ARE redeemed is the reason they ARE redeemed.
“You guys sure do wear that passage out about Jacob and Esau don’t you; I do not believe it has one bit of salvific significance neither textually nor contextually…”
Well we wear it out because it is a death blw to non-Calvinism. Of course you guys continue to redefine and redirect. Salvation is all over that section of scripture.
Of course it was all about the Christ to come. But there is no way to deny a special love for a people group over and against all other people groups. Fact is, the Jews were blessed more than other groups. Look right there in Romans 9:
“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
God was being preferential. All I have to do to establish that God can have a love for all mankind and yet a special love for some is show examles from scripture, which I have done. The fact is established.
As for the Ephesians passage, you say…”you cannot really sport the salvific argument there because the reference is to the church that He gave His life for…”
Well that’s salvific f I ever saw it. He gave his life for his people. That is what brings about salvation. In that passage he shows us a different kind of love, the sacrificial love being called for by husbands. A sacrificial love wherein God will present a people, not ALL people, without spot ir blemish.
Thanks for the interaction brother.
I certainly hear what you are saying, but one cannot believe one thing and teach another about the same verse. With that said, I do not agree that they believe what John 3:16 says when they are teaching something else. That is why I am a Baptist and not a Calvinist Baptist. Water and Oil do not mix. They can be contained in the same vessel as the Reformers are doing while they are not speaking the Truth. I cannot agree that they believe John 3:16 as Jesus was telling the Truth to Nicodemus. BW
Well, I guess one can teach and believe two different things if they wish just as the Calvinist does. This makes his error even more complex and grievous, doesn’t it? BW
This is what you have been looking for, from the pen of John Calvin. Just like I have been saying, Calvinism seems to say, as the Bible says about John 3:16,17 and just as I believe, but he throws the following into the mix:
“Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.” Calvin, Commentary on John 3:16-17.
With this one paragraph, John Calvin places a disclaimer on all that he has said previously about John 3:16. For “Whosoever beleives” for John Calvin, ie, Calvinism, means only the Elect. There you have it.
Jesus is Lord. BW
Well Bob W, I’m afraid I remanin unpersuaded. Even in this quote from Calvin he says plainly that ” life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ.” That’s what John 3:16 says, right? So do Calvinists.
Besides, Calvin also said,
This is what I have been saying. “Our Lord Jesus suffered for all, and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation through him.”
Calvin was a Calvinist. Brother you have not made the case I’m afraid.
Les, I do not have to make a case for God’s Word. The TULIP is wrong, PERIOD. God’s Word is where I rest, not an ‘ism’ which is supported by hundreds, if not thousands of pages which have been written to support that. We simply must agree to disagree, and with this, we remain Brothers in Christ for He alone is Lord. BW
Thanks for the interaction brother. God bless you.
The Father loves all.
The Son dies for all.
And the Spirit does what for all?
The Spirit convicts lost men of their sin and points them to the cross. He does not take up residence in an unrepentant heart as regeneration suggests.
The Spirit does not convict everyone. Not everyone hears the Gospel.
The Father loves all.
The Son died for all.
The Spirit convicts some?
I did NOT say the SPIRIT convicts ALL men. That is a fallacious argument some of you folk keep offering up; the Spirit indeed does convict those who are exposed to the glorious gospel message that Jesus Christ saves those who believe…. not just those God has hand picked to be saved.
I never said you said the Spirit convicts some. I have no clue who else mentions this to you. But you do realize that in your theology the Father and Son have acted in salvific benevolence to all but the Spirit does not. Is your Triune God one?
No… I pointed out that I did not say the HS convicts all men; which was your last response. Your summary of my theological position is also incorrect. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit all work in conjunction for the same purpose; to save those who believe. My secondary point is that they do NOT save certain individuals to repent and believe.
But the Father loves all equally.
The Son died for all equally.
The Spirit doesn’t apply that love or death equally.
In what way is that not the logical outcome of your Trinitarian theology?
I guess you want to lets play MY WAY. Since this is my blog I am not obligated to play your little word game. It does not really make much sense anyway.
I will repeat what I said… the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one purpose and focus and that is to save those who believe. I do not see that it ought to be much more complicated than that because that is exactly what the Word says they are doing. No illogical outcome at all.
In what way does the Spirit show “the world,” that is, “every individual who’s ever lived in history ever” (John 3:16) the Father’s love?
In what way does the Spirit show “the world,” that is, “every individual who’s ever lived in history ever” (John 3:16) that Jesus’ death atoned for all of their sins?
If the Father loves all, and the Son died for all, in what way does the Spirit show divine action toward all?
I’m not playing word games. In what way in your theology is there a Tri-unity to desire and accomplish salvation?
Listen. I don’t know what part of no you are failing to understand. I do not translate world in J 3:16 as you suggest. So try getting on a different subject or change channels. You have already gone way overboard.
If you do not take “world” to mean “elect,” then who is the world? Do you not read “world” as “every individual”? If not, then how do you?
I read world as all nations and all people; so I have no problem with Go loving all men… God gave His Son for the sin of every person but that provision is available to those who believe as opposed to what you argue for the elect. We both accept an application that limits the atonement, we just see the application in different ways. Since the Bible supports those who believe that is where I stand.
The point I was making before is that the HS does not necessarily convict every man woman etc nor does he do so in the same way. I do not understand that difference but I know God does and what He does is up to Him. Our job is to continue to tell the old old story that Jesus saves and call people to repent and believe and leave the results up to God.
Matt, you start with a foundational premise that ignores man’s volition. Most likely you believe that man would elevate himself to God like status if he has any part of “Repent and believe” as Jesus first preached in His earthly ministry as God in the Flesh.
So you come to the only conclusion that makes sense in your dualistic determinist God construct. It is myopic and comes from the Augustinian/Calvinist filter you have been taught to read scripture through. That is why it is a big waste of time to discuss scripture with a Calvinist. They bring their filter and it is deterministic Greek Philosophy first constructed by Augustine then systematized by Calvin.
It is as simple as wondering why Jesus would preach “Repent and believe” to people He did not previously determine would be able to do just that. So what was the point?
First century deterministic Greek philosophy. Would you mind dropping some names and Greek books to read on this or are you just regurgitating blog comments from anti-calvinists that you have read? What works of Augustine? Have you ever read Augustine? Have you ever read Calvin? Please elaborate. You sound brilliant and smart in your comment. Apparently, I’m biblically illiterate and historically and systematically and philosophically ignorant as well. I’d love you to provide some primary sources for me to read.
SBC Issues, to follow up on your remark, how does the Father love all men if all men never hear the Gospel? Doesn’t sound loving in your paradigm.
It is no less loving than your position that God loves a select few that are hand picked to go to heaven.
I will stick with what the Bible says not what some errant philosophical theological system says.
“It is no less loving,” you say. So you recognize that the Father’s love does not reach “all people” the same.
Those who don’t hear the Gospel in your system – how would you describe them – “not hand-picked”? In your system, in what way do you explain that God decided for some to be born in places where they would not hear the Gospel?
That is simple. i do not know. Somehow I think we are going to have to answer to God why we were not more Great Commission minded and was not more diligent in getting the gospel to the nations. Why some may not hear the gospel I do not know.
Likewise, I do not know what God may or may have not done for anyone; I do know He does not raise dead men to life so that they can then repent, believe and be saved.
I have a question: How could one who believes in 5 point Calvinism share the gospel honestly with a person who is not one of the “elect”? (According to 5 point Calvinism, any person one shares the gospel with is either “elect” or not.) Should we say…God MIGHT love you so much he sent his only Son. Jesus died, MAYBE even for you. Jesus rose from the dead so that SOME could receive eternal life, and you could possibly be one of the chosen ones. Believe in Jesus, IF YOU CAN, since only those pre-chosen can have the faith to do so. We shouldn’t offer false hope to the truly hopeless.
Five point Calvinism seems rather like the sweepstakes letters I occasionally receive…”Look inside, you may have won!” Of course, I didn’t win any of those prizes!
Thanks for your comment. In all fairness to calvinists the answer to your question is simple: they will say none of know who the elect are so we all calvinist and non preach the gospel to all and those that God has chosen to save respond. So a calvinist can be as evangelist as anyone and do so convictionally.
Now they do believe that only the elect can or will be saved. They do not believe the non-elect can repent and believe and be saved so they will not do so. Those who do come came because they are the elect.
Now that leads me to an interesting question, which I have had before but forgotten about. Calvinsts blame the current condition of the SBC on unregenerated church members. Here is a question I have never asked nor seen asked… do calvinists believe that all who come to them confessing they are saved and are baptized… do they believe all those ARE TRULY SAVED?
Of course we ALL believe that all who ARE saved shall not perish but have everlasting life.
But do all that the calvinist baptize all believe?
Would love to hear and answer to that one.
I’m the love 5 point Calvinist commenting here. Well sometimes a couple others. But usually I’m the one taking all the heat.
As to your question of how we can honestly share the gospel, Bob did answer correctly for us…No one knows who the elect are. It has been attributed to the staunch Calvinist preacher Charles Spurgeon (and one of the great evangelists) a saying something about if God had put a yellow stripe up the backs of the elect it would be easier to find them. Research, however, attributes that to J. Vernon McGee (who in the following attributes it to Spurgeon):
Whoever said it, the fact is there is no yellow stripe or anything else to delineate who is elect and who is not. And God has told us to call all men to repent and believe by preaching the gospel, and trust Him with the results since He alone saves.
You asked, “do calvinists believe that all who come to them confessing they are saved and are baptized… do they believe all those ARE TRULY SAVED?”…and “But do all that the calvinist baptize all believe?”
No, not at all. There have always been false professions of faith. Heck, I was baptized by immersion 3 times. I was not born again the first time.
In our church (PCA) the membership interview includes the person’s profession of faith to the elders. We hear that and make a decision to as to whether we believe their POF to be credible. If so, they are admitted to membership (and then baptized when needed).
Over the years of course there have been some who turned out to be false professions. They had fooled themselves and fooled us. We are not infallible. Now, we still pursued them with the gospel after that because just because they showed themselves to be false professors at that time doesn’t mean that they will never truly be born again.
Hope that helps.
Maybe I am the “loved” Calvinist here too. But “I’m the love 5 point Calvinist commenting here” should have been “I’m the lone 5 point Calvinist commenting here.”
You have made a rather interesting statement, “In our church (PCA) the membership interview includes the person’s profession of faith to the elders. We hear that and make a decision to as to whether we believe their POF to be credible. If so, they are admitted to membership (and then baptized when needed).” And this adds to my confusion and disbelief for Calvinism. My question is, “Who is being baptized if men are making the decision as to who is and who is not of the Elect?”
Seems to me one who is of the Elect would know another who is……
I am not being fecicious.
Hi Bob. You asked, “Who is being baptized if men are making the decision as to who is and who is not of the Elect?”
I’m not clear what you are really asking here Bob. Could you state it another way?
“Seems to me one who is of the Elect would know another who is……”
Bob, we don’t know the human heart than you non Cals do. We have to depend on human professions same as you.
And if you turn away someone who is of the Elect…then what?? Just to say, ‘we do not know the human heart’ is a ‘cop out’ for the Calvinist. Certainly that is true, however, the Elect will be a select group of people and be easily detected among those of us who are not. Just sayin’…..BW
“And if you turn away someone who is of the Elect…then what??” No worries brother there. Getting into heaven is not dependent on valid membership in the local church. So if we inadvertently tell an elect person no on membership, well that has no effect on their election.
But assumptions are faulty perhaps. Maybe you are misunderstanding what we do and require in a membership interview.
We ask the person to share with us about their faith…when and what was their conversion experience like. So long as they tell us that they are trusting in Jesus as their savior and not on their own efforts, that is a credible profession of faith,
So I’m not sure your question is valid.
“the Elect will be a select group of people and be easily detected among those of us who are not”
I’m not sure what you are trying to say here.
And by the way, when we are talking about whether any of us can know for absolute sure if someone else is born again, saying we do not know the human heart’ is surely NOT a “cop out.” It is just plan biblical to say that. Only God can 100% know a human heart.
God elects those He forsees will elect themselves.Jesus is sent into the world to make it possible for all men to be saved,including thiose He has known for all eternity he would not save. A very pleasing doctrine.
Thanks for the comment. I agree in general but would prefer the following wording:
God elects those He foresees will respond in repentance and saving faith to the gospel. Jesus is sent into the world to make it possible for all men to be saved, including those He has known for all eternity that would not repent and be saved.
The truth of the Scriptures is Jesus has come into this world to save sinners. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those that are lost. How does the preaching of the gospel save sinners? Sinners are saved as they believe. (I Corinthians 1:21) This is why Paul said that Jesus had sent him to preach the gospel! (V17) Jesus said it all when He said, “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18 NKJV) This is what Paul believed; it is what Paul experienced in his own conversion and it this is the message that Paul believed anyone could hear and respond to and that is why his admonition was “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Once a sinner is confronted with the gospel, it is his response that will determine his eternal destiny and today is all anyone is promised.
Could Judas Ischariot be “anyone who could hear and respond to the Gospel?” Could Pharoah respond by faith in the Law & Prophets or was he “born for this cause” being that of his destruction? Did Jesus Pray for the whole world or did He pray for “them given by the Father?” Did the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ make it “possible” for all mankind to be saved and the only way to make it “effectual” is in/through the free will of man, his decision, his faith? Or could it be that man’s will has/is always been in bondage to sin? Or better yet, could it be that Jesus died for a certain group of people, namely the “elect” – those for whom He came. How can a dead man (spiritually) ever respond and “do his part” to heed the command to “repent” and “believe” apart from the “goodness of God that leads to repentance?” I can go on, Brethren, but does God not have the right to “make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?” or would you prefer to stand with the Pharisees and count your “free-will decision” as the rack of righteousness upon which you hand your hat of hope (which is no hope at all)? To whom belongs the glory? The Lord Jesus Christ or the will of man? That is really the question to ask when considering the plethora of so-called debates between the Pelagian-minded men and those who, like Spugeon; consider the Doctrines of Grace just what it truly is – the Gospel. To GOD be the glory, great things HE hath done!
First of all thanks for stopping by. I did check in at your site and will visit again when I have more time.
Could Judas have heard the gospel and responded? I believe he certainly could have, yes.
Did the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ make it “possible” for all mankind to be saved and the only way to make it “effectual” is in/through the free will of man, his decision, his faith? Yes. Repentance is a decision all men must make to be saved. You believe the same. So unless you believe God is the One who makes the decision to repent, then we believe that one must repent and believe in order to be saved. The difference in not in what man does, but why he does it. So as I see it, my position of repentance and believing faith is no different from yours and that decision is as essential in my salvific view as it is yours.
Or better yet, could it be that Jesus died for a certain group of people, namely the “elect” – those for whom He came. No; I adamantly disagree. Too many texts dealing with the fact that Jesus died for all men that God indeed loves all men and can forgive all men of their sins IF they will repent and believe.
Are the Doctrines of Grace the gospel? Absolutely not. Not as I see it and for the record, the Pelagian stab does not apply to this discussion as I believe God has chosen revelation and reconciliation to bring me in to a right relationship with Him so both are His initiative and the work of Christ on the cross and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in my heart takes me out of the Pelagian camp for sure; my response is to God’s provisions and initiative.
The Bible clearly indicates that Judas was not saved. Jesus Himself said of Judas, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). Here is a clear picture of the sovereignty of God and the will of man working together. God had, from ages past, determined that Christ would be betrayed by Judas, die on the cross for our sins, and be resurrected. Would you not agree that this what Jesus meant when He said He would “go just as it is written about him.”
As for mankind while I’m at it dear Brother, I would ask you to consider John 3:16. Once you’ve exhausted the word “world” translated from the (GR: Kosmos), I can only hope you’ll realize that “kosmos” has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament. You and others may ask me: Well Casey, has God used a word like “kosmos/world” to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures? Are you kidding? Of course not would be my answer! !Nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilatory, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with “serving,” they have no time and no heart to “search” and “study” Holy Writ! In fairness from what I’ve gleaned thus far from your shared response: I think it should be asked how a searcher of the Scriptures can know which meaning of the term “world” has in any given passage? The answer is (and I can only hope you’ll agree, otherwise I’m spinning my wheels here into potentially vain babbling, which I detest) that it may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of “the world” in each passage, and by prayer fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied.
I contend the principal subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us what moved God to “give” His only begotten Son, and that was His great “love;” the second clause informs us for whom God “gave” His Son, and that is for, “whosoever (or, ‘every one that’) believeth;” while the last clause makes known why God “gave” His Son (His purpose), and that is, that everyone (not head for head, not Judas, not those current in hell), but everyone “that believeth” “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
That “the world” in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God’s elect), in contradistinction from “the world of the ungodly” (2Pe 2:5), is established and unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God’s “love.” “God commendeth His love toward US” (the believing ones) Rom 5:8. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth”—every son, Heb 12:6. “We love Him, because He first loved US” i.e. believers, 1 John 4:19. The wicked God “pities” (see Mat 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is “kind” (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures “with much long-suffering” (see Rom 9:22). But “His own” God “loves”!!
For Judas, the fact that it was all foreordained does not excuse Judas or absolve him from the punishment he would suffer. Yes, Judas made his own choices, and they were the source of his own damnation. Yet the choices fit perfectly into the sovereign plan of God. God controls not only the good, but also the evil of man to accomplish His own ends. Do you deny or reject that? And how could you do that Scripturally?
I believe Judas was reprobated, left in his sin as was his natural state to begin with. I also believe his “will” was not “free” as many of my Armenian/Semi-Pelagian friends contend, but that like your will and my will (before Christ), his will was also in bondage – to sin. If we are now “His sheep,” and have “heard His voice,” pray tell; how did we “hear” if not by sovereign freeing of that enslaved will to be “drawn” to him? I would implore you in love to study the sixth chapter of John – for me, the greatest sermon ever preached by the Preacher of preachers! You’ll find that your response does not agree with the words of Christ who said “no man can come….!” In this sermon, you’ll find out why no man, including Judas, and even yourself have the “potential” or “possibility” to come to Christ outside of God the Father’s absolute sovereignty.
This topic could not be exhausted while our natural influence is to “prove our point,” as it were in that we are prone to succomb to our own pesonal experiences, influences and God-forbid, traditions. What I actually desire with all the strenghth God gives to me is to magnify Christ, make much of Him and the Gospel. The “invitation’ is always in the message itself, as I content most strongly that any mere words of yours or mine, any supposed contributory exegesis on our part, has no life in them whatsoever. Only the words of Jesus Himself are “spirit and life” and that is what I pray for you as you consider what we’ve discussed; although diametrically opposed, but thankfully in the love of Christ which constrains us.
The Bible clearly indicates that Judas was not saved.
I have no problem with that statement; my comment is that he could have chosen to do differently than he did; your contention that he was not saved and therefore depraved and could not have done differently is a position you being to the text; not one you draw from the text.
With reference to the statement, “go just as it is written about him,” I have no problem with either interpretation… that it was known from the beginning of time that Judas WOULD betray Jesus; that is certainly lifted from Jesus’ statement that one WOULD betray Him; however that does not mean that God predestined or predetermined that Judas would do this therefore meaning he had no choice or other options in the matter. My point was simple; Judas COULD have chosen to do differently; he did not do so but that does not mean he had no other option. There is a profound difference in the two arguments.
Your treatment of John 3:16 is also strained with your reformed foundation. If one were not reformed, he would not even come close to your conclusions. Draw what you wish from avoiding “spinning wheels here into potentially vain babbling.”
“I believe Judas was reprobated.” This is certainly your prerogative. My point is that this is a conclusion you draw and THEN base your position on that premise. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe Judas lacked right standing before God, as all who are lost do and that was the basis for his sin. I have no problem saying that God KNEW what he would do but that does not mean God caused him to do WHAT he did. He did have a choice and he could have repented and not betrayed Jesus.
Now to your next statement: In this sermon, you’ll find out why no man, including Judas, and even yourself have the “potential” or “possibility” to come to Christ outside of God the Father’s absolute sovereignty.
For the record I agree with the part that says no one can come to Christ outside God. However, it is not His sovereignty that brings the unregenerate to Christ but rather His initiative in revelation and reconciliation which involve the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. My position is no more pelagian than yours.
Perhaps the best statement you have made is the following: The “invitation’ is always in the message itself. I agree and that is why I maintain that revelation and reconciliation BOTH demand a response, as you suggest here. The Calvinist position is that the invitation is NOT in the message but rather in God’s efficacious calling. Apart from that calling, the gospel message has no power to save.
That is where I believe Calvinism is terribly errant.
Thank you for the dialogue.
Brother, the “invitation” is non-existent in Scripture. As many of my Baptist brothers could never preach “God invites” all men to repent, it certainly is implied unfortunately in so many sermons. The God of the Bible “commands” all men to repent, right? That being said, this command to do what men apart from, as you said, “His initiative in revelation and reconciliation”, could never do is where many have trouble reconciling God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility. As far as the Gospel message goes, the message is the death, burial, resurrection, and return of the Lord Jesus Christ. That message has power to save sinners – not the ‘potential’ power but effectual power to transform “all that the Father hath given me,” as Jesus declared. And when exactly was that transaction between the Father and the Son? Before the foundation of the world, before time began, before you or anyone who’s heard His voice took one step forward. It’s far more than “foreknowledge” brother which is one thing Calvin got right. They didn’t want to stone Paul for declaring God’s “foreknowledge” in Romans 7-11 did they? Oh no, they questioned, as many will-loving men do today, the justice of God in doing what He wills as the “Potter” with men who are the “clay.” Judas was no different than Pharaoh of whom God said “for this cause I raised him up.” For what cause?….To glorify Himself through the hardening of Pharaoh, the deliverance of the Israelites, the destruction of Pharaoh, and you know the rest of the story! I would ask you to read the account of Judas’ betrayal, the entering into him by Satan, and the command (keep that in mind) of Jesus to “do quickly” what he must. Judas was going to, had to, was ordained to, do all that he did in fulfilling God’s sovereign will. The Gospel is the power of GOD (not man) unto salvation to everyone that believes (THAT BELIEVES), to the Jew first and also the Greek. As for the comment on John 3:16, with love, you’re out of bounds brother! That’s quite an arrogant thing to say.My treatment of the text is the result of an honest and exegesis of it just as men like Charles Spurgeon have done time and time again. We certainly don’t need one another’s approval or agreement but it’s nice when we are able to agree on what matters most. To conclude, I trust that is the fact that God’s Word is true and we will give an account of “every idle word” we speak or write in attempt to speak for Him either with unbelievers or brothers/sisters in Christ. That’s a very sobering consideration and one that I trust you will consider as we seek to follow Him.
I fully understand the Calvinist position (even though many believe I cannot understand it or I would be one.) Judas plays a very unique role in history so I do not believe we can use his actions to characterize mankind. I still maintain Judas COULD HAVE chosen to do differently than he did. The fact that Satan “entered him” has a number of interpretations. Make no mistake about it, Judas betrayed Jesus. Jesus KNEW that Judas would do what he did. That does not necessarily mean Judas had no other choice. Same with Pharaoh. Seems to me Pharaoh was pretty much hardened BEFORE Moses arrived on the scene. After all, Pharaohs considered themselves God. Also, if he was not regenerated, then he was dead in his sin and had no ability to choose God in the first place; so why did God have to harden his heart? Does not seem possible and most certainly not necessary to harden a dead heart.
Not sure what you are talking about with reference to my “arrogance” and being out of bounds with respect to the brief statement I made concerning John 3:16. I do not believe anyone would read that verse with the slant you take away from it without FIRST bringing to it a reformed perspective. That is not being arrogant it is just being truthful. As for the final sentence, I just used your own words there. No harm intended really, if that was the problem.
Here is the deal. Either God determines who is and who is not saved or He saves those who choose to believe that He is everything His Word says He is and He will do everything His Word claims He will do. I believe the second is the correct answer. I do not believe God decided He would save Steve and not Stan. Sorry. That is a DOG that simply will not hunt with me. I have tried to understand the reasoning but it does not coincide with what I read in the Scriptures. Not even in the least.
But being a determinist, you will have to understand that I am not a calvinist by God’s divine design… for if He had determined it to be so then I would be one… and since God is sovereign, that means I MUST by necessity be right where God wants me or I would not be where I am. Whew… that made me dizzy!
Now, in all “fairness” since you chided me over being arrogant and out of bounds, your final statement seems to fit that bill as well; “That’s a very sobering consideration and one that I trust you will consider as we seek to follow Him. Unless I am reading more into that statement than you intended, it is as if you in your spiritual superiority are attempting to put me in my place. Let me assure you, I take God’s Word very serious and though I will make mistakes in a lot of areas, I do everything I can to protect the integrity of The Word of God in every aspect possible. While I may make a mistake intellectually, it is NEVER a trust issue where God is concerned nor an attempt to make the Word say something I do not believe it says. I do not believe God’s Word has an idle word in it. Given that position, I do not believe calvinism presents the proper picture of God’s character where His love for all men is concerned nor His salvific work in the hearts of those who believe… Man’s choices determine God’s direction where conversion is concerned. God does not make that determination for those He saves.
You raise no substantive problems for reformed theology brother. God is completely sovereign over his own creation regardless of proud Arminian will-worshipers who believe it was their decision to follow Christ. Apparently, they have some special insight that others lack. Unfortunately, your position, like theirs, doesn’t allow you to give all the credit to God without betraying your view of free will.
I draw attention to the fact that you refuse to deal with the same inherent problem that you accuse Calvinists of having. I have heard it over and over again that “if God ordained the existence of evil, then that makes him responsible for every bad thing that happens” (Pharaoh, Judas, etc) But if God created the “potential” to be saved with the full knowledge that creation was going to fall into sin…well, that’s different. God couldn’t possibly be responsible.That’s the slant from which I hear you loud and clear.
You see quite determined at constraining God to what I’d consider a humanistic itnerpretation of love and fairness. Tell me: Is it all about God, or all about you? To whom should glory be given? God, you say? How can that be if it was your ultimate decision to believe? I do appreciate your fervor and hope that this exchange has not convinced you of anything other than the fact that we “are but dust.” Sola Deo Gloria.
I hope I am reading more into your statements that I should but have to be honest… your comments are quite sarcastic.
You wrote, You see quite determined at constraining God to what I’d consider a humanistic itnerpretation of love and fairness. Tell me: Is it all about God, or all about you? To whom should glory be given? God, you say? How can that be if it was your ultimate decision to believe? I do appreciate your fervor and hope that this exchange has not convinced you of anything other than the fact that we “are but dust.” Sola Deo Gloria.
Personally, I am not concerned with YOUR CONSIDERATION, since your perspective related to my theological position is so limited. You could not be any further from the truth in your assessment mentioned here. Secondly, your little tirade concerning “giving God glory” is off based as well. We can BOTH give God glory but as I read what you write as well as many other calvinists, it is as if you guys think you have that market cornered. That my brother is really very sad. I think you KNOW or you certainly OUGHT TO KNOW I nor any other truly born again Christian thinks their salvation is all about themselves. That is an empty charge to say the least.
As far as me defending the importance of me believing, that is easy; the Bible commands us to do so. The difference in my position and yours is that you say God gives you the ability to believe and if He does not give it to you, then you cannot do so. I maintain God gives His Word through revelation and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart in reconciliation and both demand a response from me. Either way, God is the initiator and the provider of grace and forgiveness and He and He alone saves those who believe. We BOTH believe the same thing we just differ on how and why one believes. Your pious intellectual superiority is not very becoming and quite irritating.
Look at your last statement; it is derogatory and condescending. Sad.
Thank you for the exchange…I honestly had to chuckle, shake my head, and thank OUR Heavenly Father for his longsuffering grace towards you and I as pitiful as we truly are. Go back and read your reply…”your little tirade,”….”YOUR CONSIDERATION”…”your pious intellectual superiority”….ad nauseum. Maybe we BOTH are guilty of being derogatory and condescending and yes, it is sad indeed when you consider the fact that two brothers in Christ approach the same verses, but come to different conclusions. Is the Holy Spirit in us confused? Impossible as I’m sure you’d join me in agreement! It will always be US where the deficiency exists and never in the Word. “Let the Word of God be true and every man a liar.”
As for “Calvinism”, the truth is that one needs only examine church history to see that Christians labeled “Calvinists” have been on the forefront of evangelism and missions. George Whitefield was outspoken in affirming all five points of Calvinism, yet he was one of the most zealous and effective evangelists of the Great Awakening. Wherever he traveled, both in England and America, people would turn out by the thousands to hear him preach in the open fields. The modern missionary movement began in 1792 when the Calvinistic Baptist, William Carey, left England to minister the gospel in India. With the help of William Ward and Joshua Marshman, he founded 26 churches and 126 schools, and translated the Bible into 44 languages including Sanskrit. In 1812, Adoniram Judson, another Calvinistic Baptist, sailed to Burma, becoming the first American to depart for the overseas mission field. . . . Other Calvinistic evangelists and missionaries of note include Jonathan Edwards, Asahel Nettleton and Charles H. Spurgeon. More than this, the Protestant Reformation was perhaps the greatest evangelistic movement of modern history.
The Lord brought it about through the evangelistic zeal and unfailing courage of men who believed that God is fully sovereign in salvation—men such as Martin Luther,William Tyndale, John Calvin and John Knox, as well as lesser known men such as William Farel, George Wishart, Martin Bucer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and countless others. I don’t know what “Calvinists” you’ve met, discussed the Gospel with, debated with, prayed with, argued with, talked about, listened to , read after, etc, but I don’t know any who follow John Calvin.
Like many other “Calvinists” so-called, I have a greater desire to take the Gospel into all the world than I ever did having been raised under Arminian-ish/Dispensational teachers who seemed to put most if not all the emphasis of their hermeneutical approach on the will of man which has, in my experience, done more to deify man and reduce God to a poor fella who hopes someone, anyone might take him up on his offer. That’s not the God of the Bible brother who “commands (not invites” all men everywhere to repent.” I am with you….God is sovereign indeed, and as our Lord Jesus said “all that the Father hath given (past tense) me will (future tense) come to me.”
Some of the most faithful, and yes, soul-winning, brothers in Christ I know would be considered “Calvinist” because of the credence they give to the Doctrines of Grace. What’s sad, is that while the numbers of membership, baptisms, church growth dwindle among SBC churches, only around 10% of the pastorate would be considered of the “Calvinistic” persuasion theologically speaking. The declining numbers have been the case for many, many years in the SBC, but the amazing hypocrisy in motion is what I have witnessed as an attack on “Calvinism” by the 90% who are more closely associated with Dispensational theology. Would you recommend that Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. step down as president and shut the doors of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary? I suppose you’d call for the destruction of all contributions to the church by the likes of CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Martyn Lloyd Jones, William Carey, and Lottie Moon – all well known Christians who very willingly identified with “Calvinism.”
As someone who desires to see heathen converted; I know that God has myriads of His elect among them. And so, we must go and search for them through highways, biways and hedges. This passion for evangelism ought to characterize all who call themselves “Calvinists.” If it doesn’t, it calls into question the authenticity of the label and does nothing but help to give more fuel to the false witness given by so many against brothers in Christ.
Let’s forgive one another for anything communicated in anger or with any spirit contrary to that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for discernment and to be used by God for His glory and the good of the Body of Christ. The real enemy is the “spirit of antichrist which is now already in the world.” While we may never come to agree on the great doctrinal divide we face regarding the Doctrines of Grace, we can AND SHOULD agree that it is more likely we are wrong in some way that would not be able to guarantee 100% absolute certainty of our hermeneutical approach to substantiating our theological positions.
I will give a hearty AMEN to most of what you say concerning the attitudes with respect to our responses. I simply responded to what I read in the things you said.
You are absolutely correct; we may BOTH be wrong but one thing is certain; we cannot BOTH be correct. I have no problem with you or anyone else being calvinist; I do have a problem with calvinism being the direction the SBC is headed in but that seems to be a lost cause at this point from my perspective.
As far as who did what and how “calvinistic” they may or may not have been is not a concern for me. My issue is with the theological posits not those who portray them. I see a LOT of inconsistencies in what a lot of calvinists both say and write. But that is another subject that I see no need to get into.
Simply put, I do not believe God decides and handpicks who does and does not repent and believe. It has nothing to do with who gets the glory; that is an empty caricature that sounds a lot better than being accurate. It is an empty charge. Calvinism no more gives God glory that I do and vice versa.
We BOTH believe man MUST repent to be saved. So neither of us worships the god of self than the other. The only REAL difference is the impetus that brings one to repent. We do differ there but not as much as you think… I believe the gospel reveals and reconciles through the work of the Holy Spirit and that brings about repentance and belief. My position is no more Pelagian than yours but some like to cry that charge. It is baseless.
As I see it, calvinism and Romans 1:16 conflict especially where conversion is concerned. The gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE the unregenerate; it only has the power to sanctify the one who HAS BEEN REGENERATED.
For the consistent calvinist, the gospel cannot be the means of salvation either for unless and until one is regenerated, he has deaf ears, a dead heart and cannot receive the things of God. So it is effectual call like Jesus calling Lazarus from the tomb that gives the gospel any efficacy at all.
I do not believe that to be consistent with the truth of Scripture. SO I CANNOT ACCEPT THE TENETS OF CALVINISM IN ANY FORM OR FASHION.
So while I certainly agree that there is no way that either of us will be able to guarantee 100% that either of our positions is correct, I am fairly certain in my head and heart that calvinism as a soteriological system is terribly errant.
All men can be saved. Talk is cheap. Grab your tracts and make it happen. Iran would be a good place to start.Happy hunting.After you are be-headed,where would you like your head to be sent.
Some might suggest that you ought to lead the way.
I agree ALL MEN CAN BE SAVED. While there are many many opportunities to share Christ with a lost person, I assure you that is a priority I share. I believe EVERY person who hears the gospel message may respond in repentance and by faith be forgiven and saved.
If I did not believe that, I would be doing something different tomorrow than pastoring a church.
You should be doing it for no other reason than the one the Bible gives – God commanded it. Is that not enough reason brother? If that’s not enough reason, then yeah; maybe you should be doing something different.
I am here because God has called me to preach and placed me where I am.
What is the difference in blasphemy between Mormons saying that God is in heaven making spiritual babies with women and calvinist saying that Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world but for the elect?
The calvinist belief makes God prejudice, conditional, unjust and a liar.
This is another Jesus and another gospel, I believe this is heresy.
Not every calvinist fully understands the grave errors in the doctrines, I did not fully understand until I studied the calvinist view of the character of God.
Do you think God’s character is important to Him?
I strongly feel calvinism is a cult that is 99% truth and 1% poison and it is entering into the churches in a form of rat poison.
I feel strongly that majority calvinist are sincere people who truly love God but have a completely twisted view of who He is and it is my hope they will recognise this and put it right.
While I do not believe calvinism is a valid theological position, I am not sure the way you have expressed your thoughts was effective either. There is no comparison in the calvinist position and the mormon position you cite.
I do believe calvinism portrays a character of God that is not Biblical and is in fact an indictment against His character. I also agree that calvinists love God and do not understand the full ramifications of the system they are holding onto, for the most part. However, to be fair, they will say the same thing about my position… although they do not really know MUCH about my position; they just think they do.
Communication is a special privilege. It is useful when we use it truthfully and tactfully. I am not always successful in this endeavor but it is my goal MOST of the time.
Thanks for visiting.
The comparison I gave I can agree is not a very good one but my idea in writing it was that just as mormons who are considered a cult blaspheme God’s name with lies, so calvinist who are considered brothers in the Lord blaspheme God’s name with lies about His character.
I cannot understand how christians who know the truth can consider people who hold to the DOG as brothers to fellowship with but would refuse fellowship and stand against mormonism, JW’s and so forth?
I am open to understanding better why this is?
Calvinism is an ugly doctrine. It belittles faith and free will of men. It says only a few were chosen out of the masses to receive eternal life. The rest God did not care enough to choose. God only wants to save a few, which is contrary to the heart of God. Although the Bible says over and over again that the one who believes receives eternal life, Calvinism rejects the notion of man having the power to believe except for those who were elected to believe before the foundation of the world. Although the Bible speaks of condemnation for those who reject Jesus, Calvinism says they had no ability to accept Jesus unless God had elected them, putting the blame for the condemnation on God who decided not to elect them. He apparently put forth Jesus as a potential Savior and used Him to condemn those who couldn’t put their faith in Him. This is just the opposite of the message of the Bible, that God loved mankind so much that He sent a means to save them from the condemnation of their sins. Does God’s love only rest on a few? Is His love limited? Why then would He only elect some to be saved? The Scripture declares that God does not wish any to perish. In other words, He loves all mankind and Calvinism states that it is not true that God loves all mankind since He only offers grace to a few.
I am sorry you feel this way. Yet, you would be wise to not call your brothers in Christ heretics. I am consistently amazed by responses like this one. I see Calvinists not making an issue out of this, and consistently living gospel-centered, Jesus-proclaiming lives. In fact, a large number of churches in the SBC today that are making disciples and planting churches are Calvinistic leaning. Furthermore, you betray the historicity of the SBC when you call Calvinism an abominable doctrine.
Thank you for visiting and sharing a response to this very difficult post. For the record, I do not call anyone a heretic; here is what I wrote:
I have been asked the question on a number of times, “Do you believe that Calvinism is not the gospel? Do you believe that Calvinism is heresy?” In all fairness, calvinism cannot be heresy if one uses the following definition of heresy, “Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (esp. Christian) doctrine.” Calvinism is OBVIOUSLY in line with orthodox religious belief and as such cannot be heresy, using THAT definition. However, if one were to define heresy as being contrary to what the Scriptures teach then I would answer with a resounding “yes”. There is a big difference in referencing a theological position and those who hold to it. If you want to make associations because the shoe fits, then so be it.
Your comment about “calvinists not making an issue out of this” is equally interesting. There are several groups specifically associated with the SBC which is the sole focus of this site, that are making a huge issue of the propagation of calvinism not to mention major moves of a political nature that are affecting the entities of the SBC and the future of the convention. I detest those moves.
As for betraying the historicity of the SBC, it is interesting that calvinists point to the history prior to the last 75 to 100 years as being calvinistic while ignoring the fact that the last 75 to 100 years have been much less calvinistic leaning. My point is simple. Calvinism is more popular today in the SBC than it has EVER been and is only going to get worse.
One final point concerning betraying the historicity of the SBC: I have no concern whatsoever in defending or decrying the historicity of the SBC. My post is in reference to what I believe the Bible says. I am 59 years old and have been a Southern Baptist most of my life and a serious student of the Bible for over 30 of those years. Calvinism is simply not only hogwash as far as I am concerned, it is a hog that will not wash.
I am not even a 1 point calvinist and I can say that from an educated viewpoint and one that I have given a considerable amount of time and effort to confirm.
I do not believe there will be a single calvinist in heaven just like there will be no atheists in hell. For once all these leave this earth, they will know better and no longer hold to those errant views. (Said with a simile.)
May God bless.
You’ve read Romans right?
Quite extensively along with the REST of the Bible.
I have two thoughts after reading this post. First, you did not make a single argument against Calvinism. This is nothing more than a rant against something you don’t like. Second, the only way a person can come to the conclusions you have is by ignoring many passages such as John 1:12 (which speaks of man’s responsibility to believe) and the following verse (which tells us whose will was involved in that belief). Also Acts 13:48 tells us who will believe when the gospel is preached. John 10:25-28 speaks to this matter as well.
I have come to realize that most people who disagree with Calvinism, especially those who rant against it do not correctly understand it. I suspect this might be true in your case. This is a link to a documentary that establishes the premise that the single greatest issue any human will ever face is “how does a sinner stand in righteousness before a holy and just God?” It then goes on to see how the church has answered that question. It contains a lot of church history and even if you disagree with its conclusions, you would at least correctly understand Calvinism and perhaps be better equipped to argue against it.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your critique. I am sure you do realize there are counter interpretations to the scriptures you presented. I have dealt with them all numbers of times. For example, the key to understanding the passage in John 10 you quote is found in verse 9… “9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” This group that hears the gospel and believes are the ones who THEN hear His voice and come out and belong to Him.
Look at John 1.. 11 He came to His own,[c] and His own[d] did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Is John saying that those who are born again are not born of the will of man but of the will of God meaning He and He alone has decided who will and will not be saved? I say “no” that is not at all what John is saying. It is a philosophical conclusion derived from calvinist presuppositions; it is reading something into the text that is not being read from the text. Those He gives eternal life to are those who have heard the gospel and believed in Him. So what is verse 13 making reference to? Those who believe do so not because of their pedigree… or their good works nor of their own mental desire; it is God’s initiative that brings them to a point of saving grace in hearing the gospel and then responding to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in a lost person’s heart. God and God alone saves those who hear and believe.
The context of Acts 13 speaks specifically to the carrying of the gospel to the nations or the whole world. The gospel was to be shared with the Jews FIRST but because of their unbelief, they were to go to the gentiles which was God’s plan from the beginning. So those appointed unto eternal life (gentiles who were included in God’s salvific plan) rejoiced. Once again, to argue that those who believed were those who were appointed is reading a calvinistic pretext into the text and not taking that FROM the text.
Most of the passages that calvinists use to bolster their theological position are texts that support the premise that is brought to the text. That is problematic as far as I am concerned. Now to be fair, the passage in Acts 13 COULD defend the calvinist position of the elect who are “appointed unto salvation.” My point is that this conclusion is not one that is demanded by the text and is therefore not a good text to use to support the premise.
Here’s a question. If Calvinist are correct and who is saved and lost is predetermined why does anyone go to hell? I mean the only reason someone goes to hell is that they reject Jesus. If Jesus never died for them in the first place, how can they be cast into hell? Also scripture says it is appointed unto men to die once. Nobody is appointed to die twice (spiritual death).
If Calvinist are correct and who is saved and lost is predetermined why does anyone go to hell? The correct calvinist response is that people go to hell because of their sin. So since all have sinned, all deserve to go to hell but God is gracious in that He has chosen some to go to heaven. That fact that “Jesus never died for the lost” is immaterial since they simply get what they deserve. The more interesting caveat to that line of thinking is that the ones making that claim are ALWAYS among the elect. So the unjust argument applies to someone else, not the calvinist making the claim.
With respect to the second statement you made, “Also scripture says it is appointed unto men to die once. Nobody is appointed to die twice (spiritual death).” the scripture says it is appointed unto man once to die and AFTER THAT THE JUDGMENT. This is where the second death comes into play.
Thanks for your visit and for your comment.
This is a really poorly thought out article. There’s a lot of theological pit falls here and minimal exegesis. Just not good work. I hope you’ve changed your rationale against Calvinism since this was written in 2013.
Thank you for your kind remarks. I assure you if anything my theological position has been made even stronger. I stand on the statement I ended this article with:
Calvinism as far as I am concerned is an abominable theological position.
I am curious. Are there any records of Christians in non-western world that came to a conclusion of Calvinism? Based on what I know, people who accept Calvinism are those in western-world who either have religious education, meaning they were exposed to Calvinistic ideas, or those who heard or read Calvinistic authors and preachers. I might be wrong, but I have yet to hear someone read a Bible on their own and come up with Calvinism idea.
Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I am not a history buff where theology is concerned because the acceptance or rejection of a theological position for me carries no relevance to its veracity.
The latter point is a good one however. I am in agreement with you, calvinism is caught outside the Scriptures as opposed to captured from the Scriptures. I do not see how ANYONE can read the Scriptures and come away with this errant calvinistic system that has God as the Sole determiner as to who receives the “get out of hell card” and who does not. I believe this horrible theological position is in fact an indictment on the character of God itself… the only comforting this is the fact that there will be no calvinists in heaven! For once they get there, they will find out God is not calvinist!
Except that Orthodoxy doesn’t believe that in the slightest. I have heard Orthodox priests use the term “Calvinist” as an insult. There are probably some Orthodox priests who think that Calvinism is ok, but none that I have ever met
Have no clue what you are making a reference to.
I think the point being that the Eastern Church (Orthodoxy), does not believe in Reformed Theology, and that in essence, those in those churches, who know of Calvinistic theology hold it in contempt as being incorrect, hence the insult of “Calvinist”. In fact, I grew up in the Orthodox church, with my Dad still a (retired) priest there. Thus, all Protestant theology was new to me at one time.
One thing that stands out reading all these comments is that everyone has an opinion, which of course is normal. Yes, some have a learned opinion, come to by reading and studying. And others simply are repeating back what they’ve heard other’s say without necessarily fully understanding their position.
And yet, was not the Holy Spirit supposed to lead us (Christians) into ALL Truth? Based on the many, many theological differences across the entire Protestant world, it sure doesn’t seem like the Holy Spirit has led anyone into ALL Truth. From an outside observer viewpoint, He’s led many into some truth. This is clearly the result of many things, but faulty theology is a big one.
Orthodox do not believe as Protestants do. Protestants are very fond of, “He got saved today.” Give your heart to Jesus, and be saved. Be born again. Give your heart to Jesus. While, these are not bad statements, they are very limited. While Jesus said you must be born again, He did not stop there. He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus called us to be His disciples. We are told to count the cost of following Him. THAT is what BEING SAVED, BEING BORN AGAIN really means. Not just some quick prayer out loud, or in secret, or coming to the front of the church. That’s simply your decision to repent and just a beginning of following Jesus, and being transformed into His image and conformed to His mind. It’s really how you live out your “salvation” that counts. Why would James speak about “faith without works is dead”? Protestants often completely separate faith and works. And very often say you can never lose your salvation no matter what you do. The Bible (Ezekiel 18:24) says that if a righteous man turns to evil, his righteousness will not be remembered and he will die because of his sin.
Does not the Bible say to work out your salvation in fear and trembling? Both Paul and Peter urge their readers to stay faithful to the end. Paul talks about winning the race, and not being disqualified in the end. Why would they need to do this, if it wasn’t possible to fall away and lose your salvation? In fact, the parable of the sower clearly says that it’s possible to fall away. Those who receive the word of God with joy, but in times of temptation fall away. Or those who have no root, and wither away. This is a cautionary parable for believers, not for unbelievers. Or the parable of the servant, who sees that his master delays, and begins to drink/gamble and beat this fellow servants. Revelation says that Jesus hate’s lukewarm churches/Christians. He would rather you be hot or cold. Lukewarm will be spit from His mouth. Is not a lukewarm Christian one who has “accepted” and “believed” in the Lord, but does not live like he believes it, as James would says his faith is dead because he has no works to prove it. Jesus said, “He who loves me will obey my commands”. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ 24Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock..”
All this to say, you either Love the Lord, or you don’t, there is no middle ground. And by your actions over the course of your life, your prove or disprove it. I sometime wonder how many people go to hell over the the doctrine of once saved always saved. Since they think they are good to go, they’ve done their little transaction with Jesus, and don’t need to do anything else. Run the race in order to win it as St Paul says. If St Paul says to work (your job) as unto the Lord, then how much more should be doing our good works as unto the Lord, having been saved to do those good works.
You are correct… good post. There’s so much more that could be said regarding the dangers of Calvinism, especially when their intellectually pleasing arguments are followed to their logical ends.
“ I do not know a preacher who believes that the words he speaks either in a sermon or a one on one gospel presentation has any salvific power. God is the ONE who saves every single time.”
Hmm. Have you ever heard a man refer to himself as “the mouthpiece of God”? I sure have. Do you suppose that those who “stand in the place of God” think that God will use any words but their own for salvation? Especially if these people are not encumbered by scripture for their doctrine? Their ideology produces their doctrine, the Bible serves as proof text. Therefore the Bible is secondary to what they preach. I once confronted a pastor regarding misuse, abuse, and avoidance of scriptural truth in regard to his doctrine and he essentially expressed that it has been given to them (reformed clergy) to interpret the scripture according to the times. Do we suppose that a man who views himself in this light would accept the notion that a person can “come to light” by any other words?
Thanks for your visit and comment.
The quote you referenced, has to do with the reformed objection to the means of preaching and the necessity of that message of the gospel being shared. When I mentioned a preachers words “having any salvific power” had to do with the fact that it is God who saves… not anyone’s words or for that matter anyone’s actions. Repentance and believing faith are NOT salvific either… they are human responses TO God’s salvific initiatives…
Your experience of preachers doing ANYTHING does not surprise me. I am sure if we listen to enough of them, we will hear all kinds of abdominal and unbelievable concepts.