Calvinism is the new fad in the SBC today. It has been around the SBC since its founding but make no mistake about it, it is infinitely more popular today than it has ever been in the SBC. More people are being indoctrinated with the errant theology with the proliferation of the internet and the increased influence in the academic arena. For many, especially the younger crowd coming up, they are dining on the vast buffets provided by the Pipers, and MacArthur’s and Mohlers of our day. The Founder’s Movement deserves a resounding round of applause for its determination to stick to its mission to make the SBC a reformed denomination.
Why on earth am I NOT a Calvinist? I will try to answer this question in the next series of posts.
First of all, I do not believe the Bible supports a total depravity/inability position. Without this foundation, one CANNOT be a Calvinist. Total Depravity is a thesis presented that forms the foundation for Calvinism. It has some level of validity to it. Man is without question depraved. Man is unquestionably sinful and all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Man’s depravity is not in question here. What is at question is the totality or extend of that depravity. Calvinism contends that man lost the ability to choose God when Adam sinned. Fallen man has no inclination nor any ability to choose God or anything righteous. This is a definition of depravity. Not total depravity.
I respectfully challenge you to think about the difference in depravity and total depravity. There is a profound difference. Calvinists argue God MUST change the totally depraved nature before he can respond to God. This is the foundation for the necessity of regeneration taking place prior to repentance of believing faith on man’s part. Since man cannot change his own nature, which is a sin nature, God MUST do it.
Here is a question I have with respect to man not being able to change his nature. How did he change his created nature, being created in the image of God? If the totally depraved man cannot change his nature and God must do it; that must be the case in the beginning as well. The Bible clearly states that man was created in the image of God and most believe this meant that man had a choice in the garden. God gave him that choice and He also gave him the consequences of his choices. God told Adam, “In the day that you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die.” So the question that looms large in my mind is, how did man go from being created in the image of God having been given the responsibility to choose to being not able to choose, where God is concerned? If man’s created nature was changed, God would have had to be the one to change it, since man is incapable of doing so, which is what Calvinism contends. Actually, I believe that statement to be true but instead of man NOT being able to change his sinful nature to one that can respond to God,
The Bible speaks of man’s sin nature and that all men have sinned and there is no one who is righteous no not one. This does not mean that men cannot respond to God’s initiative of revelation and reconciliation. The gospel message is of such a nature that it forces one to respond! I believe man is still created in the image of God and bears the responsibility to choose and to suffer or benefit from the consequences of those choices as set by God Himself. This seem to be perfectly logical where the Scriptures are concerned.
If Adam’s nature was changed, then it must be understood that sin did not change his nature; God must have changed man’s nature. A problem with that would be the statement that God made in the garden concerning Adam and Even in Genesis 3:22, ““Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” If God had changed man’s nature to one of total depravity and inability, it would seem difficult to square that with His statement in Genesis 3:22. Adam has sinned. God has confronted that sin. He has cursed the serpent, the woman and the earth. Man is not totally depraved; the difference between Adam and Eve after their sin as opposed to prior to their sin is that they now know BOTH good and evil. Calvinism and total depravity contends that man knows only evil. He can only sin. He cannot not sin and so he is unable to choose good or choose God without first being regenerated or made alive.
Genesis 3:22 speaks directly to this issue and Scripturally says something totally different. If total depravity and inability are accurate, it must have come into being after this statement and not before. One additional problem with the concept of total depravity and inability and regeneration being necessary for one to respond positively to God is that there is no evidence of that in the Old Testament where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are concerned; there is no evidence of that being the case with the calling of Moses at the burning bush; in fact, one could argue the opposite as God spoke to Moses he made every excuse in the book not to go back to Egypt and lead the people, even to the irritation of God in the dialogue process.
There is no evidence of God regenerating David before Samuel Anoints him to be king. Regeneration is not even an Old Testament concept. Another interesting note is the fact that total depravity and inability are nowhere to be found in the Jewish theological system. God has established a set of laws and He has promised to bless those who keep His laws and to punish those who do not keep His law.
The truth is, total depravity and inability are not Biblically sustainable concepts and in fact are difficult to sustain especially in the Old Testament and in the event of Adam’s original sin itself. Even when God came walking in the cool of the garden after Adam had sinned, there is no reference to regeneration taking place before Adam could respond to God. None. God spoke and Adam responded. God is still speaking and men are still responding to God and those responses determine both the direction of one’s eternal destiny and the quality of the journey to get there.
“A problem with that would be the statement that God made in the garden concerning Adam and Even in Genesis 3:22, ““Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” If God had changed man’s nature to one of total depravity and inability, it would seem difficult to square that with His statement in Genesis 3:22. Adam has sinned.”
It says “like” not “equal to.” The issue then becomes whether this gain in knowledge was accompanied by changes to man’s nature. So, we read:
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that does good.
2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that does good, no, not one.
The “fool” in this verse is the “unbeliever,” the unsaved. Cain was the first “unbeliever” that we find described and this describes him. By not seeking God, Cain was declaring that “There is no God.”
The point here is that the unbeliever does not, of his own volition, seek God. His nature is that of a fool. Proverbs 12 tells us “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes:” Proverbs tells us even more about the fool – the unbeliever. The unbeliever is also referred to as “the wicked.”
Calvinism says that the initial condition of all people is that of a fool and as wicked. People start out as unbelievers (or for some, they become unbelievers once they reach the age of accountability). The terms fool and wicked describe the unbeliever’s nature. Certainly depraved. But Totally Depraved?? The Calvinist says, Yes. No unbeliever desires to change his nature within himself. Such change must be initiated by something outside himself. Whatever it is that initiates this change, the Calvinist says that it can be attributed to God – its is God who changes the unbeliever and this results in the unbeliever believing the gospel. The Calvinist would disagree with your statement, “The truth is, total depravity and inability are not Biblically sustainable concepts and in fact are difficult to sustain especially in the Old Testament and in the event of Adam’s original sin itself.”
I think you have room to expand your comments to describe how the unbeliever comes to the point were he behaves in the opposite manner of that which the Scriptures describes him to be. How does one who “does not seek God” come to the point where he begins to seek God? You conclude, “God is still speaking and men are still responding to God…” Can you explain how you see this coming about given that the initial condition of the unbeliever is that they are not responding to God?
“I am not award of any passage that says God changed man’s created nature. Sin has affected that nature, but man is still created in the image of God if God did not change that.”
Sin has affected man’s nature in some manner. Calvinism says that it has corrupted man’s nature such that people no longer seek God. We see this illustrated in Adam’s attempt to hide from God in the garden after his sin.
So, how has the person’s nature been affected by sin? Psalm 53 tells us that:
1. The fool/unbeliever has no respect for God saying, “There is no God.” (v1)
2. The fool/unbeliever no longer does good – they only sin. (v1, 3)
3. The fool/unbeliever no longer seeks God (implied as a good – Paul says it directly in Rom 3). (v2)
4. The fool/unbeliever does not understand even why to seek God. (v2)
5. The fool/unbeliever does not call on God. (v4)
These are substantive changes.
This is a beginning – add to this everything else said about the unbeliever using the terms fool, wicked, unrighteous, etc. It seems that there has been a tremendous change in people after Adam sinned (they are now rightly called, unbelievers) as none of this would have described Adam before he sinned. Did God have to affect this change or was it the consequence of Adam’s sin. Somehow, people became corrupted after Adam’s sin. Was it the result of something God did in response to Adam’s sin or was it the result of Adam’s sin. Calvinists say that this corruption resulted from Adam’s sin. Adam was created in the image of God; Adam’s children are then created in the image of the corrupted Adam.
Certainly, people are not created as Adam was originally. But of course, you might have babies being created pure and sinless as Adam was in order to ensure their salvation should they die in infancy and then becoming corrupted only after committing sin personally as Adam was corrupted thus destroying the original image of God in them. However, let’s ignore the issue of infants and just deal with full-fledged unbelievers.
The unbeliever has no ability to believe the gospel given the way that he is described in the Scriptures. Or does he??
I think the issue comes down to this: How is the unbeliever able to believe the gospel given the depravity he is said to have? What prevents this depravity being “Total” as the Calvinists conclude?
Are you now giving up your earlier concept of a secondary nature ruling over the unbeliever? If not, the question is, How does the unbeliever overcome his secondary nature and believe the gospel?
My position no more makes man the “captain of his own ship” than your position does since we BOTH agree that man MUST repent to be saved. We do differ on how and why one repents but we are on the same boat when it comes to the necessity of repentance to be saved so as you say in your next comment, “that is simply wrong brother.”
My statement about the work of the Holy Spirit is spot on with respect to effectual calling which is the context with which you lifted that one sentence. Taken as a statement in and of itself, I might agree with you but my point is that until regeneration takes place which is solely God’s effectual call… there is no convicting work of the Holy Spirit; calvinists maintain man has deaf ears and dead hearts UNTIL God regenerates them or gives them new life that THEN allows the Holy Spirit to work in the new born person’s heart.
You KNOW this is true but for some reason will not acknowledge that truth.
As I’ve said before, if man makes the final choice…that is, if God puts salvation out there for a person and THE ONLY thing standing between that person and salvation is that person’s free will decision…well that person is the captain of his soul.
Now, as I said in my comment, you rightly deny that. We all know that man cannot be the captain of his own soul. But that is what your position actually is.
Bob, maybe we are talking different “languages.” How are you defining:
2) Effectual Call
That is a poor analogy but it is what it is.
I think you are trying to split hairs with your question about effectual call and regeneration. We BOTH know regeneration in the calvinist position is the direct result of God’s effectual call; regeneration is the new life that is the result of God calling the dead depraved person to life.
Bob, not a poor analogy at all. It is the end result of man having the final free will decision.
As to regeneration and effectual call, not splitting hairs. How we each are using the terms is vital. We may be talking past each other. Will you please define how you understand the terms?
I already have made my statement; why don’t you explain where I am wrong.
If you believe one must repent to be saved and I believe one must repent to be saved, then how does my position make man the captain of his own ship and yours not?
If man is the one who repents… then we are both on equal ground on that one.
Why not just help our discussion by defining how you are using the terms.
I do believe that man is the one who repents. All Reformed folks believe that. God doesn’t repent FOR man. Man repents.
“We BOTH know regeneration in the calvinist position is the direct result of God’s effectual call; regeneration is the new life that is the result of God calling the dead depraved person to life.”
Under Calvinism, regeneration precedes the effectual call and allows the call to be effectual. Per Ephesians 2, the unbeliever “walks according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:” This necessitates God’s action – “when we were dead in sins, [God] has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” I don’t think the Calvinist makes the effectual call the cause of this quickening but has the effectual call following, and made possible by, the quickening and being one step in the salvation process.
The effectual call would come through the preaching of the gospel. Paul writes, “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” It is in the interval between “foolishness” and “called” that the quickening occurs (or perhaps it could be simultaneous with the call). I don’t see how the Calvinist position could be, “regeneration in the calvinist position is the direct result of God’s effectual call;” as “to result from” would have regeneration (the quickening) following the call (unless you meant a simultaneous event).
I hate to have to tell you this BUT Adam hiding from God in the garden does not substantiate total depravity. Also there is no debate that sin affects man’s nature or character but the calvinist contention that he is rendered totally depraved is just that; a contention.
Listen to WHAT you say here: Calvinists say that this corruption resulted from Adam’s sin. Adam was created in the image of God; Adam’s children are then created in the image of the corrupted Adam.
That makes no sense. Man cannot change his created nature. Sin does not change his created nature. (I am sure that has raised some eyebrows.) The only One who can change man’s created nature is the Creator. I maintain He has not done such a thing. I believe man’s acquired nature is his sin nature and that came about when he was put out of the garden of Eden and he lost his right standing before God.
You ask, How does one who “does not seek God” come to the point where he begins to seek God? You conclude, “God is still speaking and men are still responding to God…” Can you explain how you see this coming about given that the initial condition of the unbeliever is that they are not responding to God?
That is very simple. Man does not seek God; Jesus said I am come to seek and to save them that are lost. God has come to seek out the lost. He does that through His expressed efforts in revelation through His Word and reconciliation through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. I did not get saved because of anything I did; I got saved because the convincing work of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of repentance and faith in the promises and provisions of God.
We both actually believe the same thing at this point. The only real difference in that the calvinist believes God brings him to new life and gives him a new heart and he repents BECAUSE God has regenerated his dead hearted, deaf eared and blinded eyed being. I will argue in a future article that repentance is actually the first act of sanctification because once a person has new life there is not really anything else he needs… except to live as a new born being. But that is another article for another day.
I believe it is not regeneration but revelation and reconciliation that bring us to a point of repentance, not actual regeneration. Both views are equally of God and both views require man to repent and believe to be saved. That is flown over the heads of most who claim they have read my position.
“I got saved because the convincing work of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of repentance and faith in the promises and provisions of God.”
This is how all people are saved. The Holy Spirit takes the preaching of the Scripture and convicts the person. Without the Holy Spirit’s actions, you would not be saved, would you? Thus, your starting condition is that you are unable to save yourself (having no desire for salvation) and unable to be saved – the conclusion of the Calvinist. In order for you or any person to be saved, God must intervene in your life to bring you to “…a place of repentance and faith in the promises and provisions of God.”
You claim to be opposed to Total Depravity but the process of salvation you describe says that the person is unable to initiate that salvation process requiring that God intervene to initiate the process that brings a person to salvation.
Because God is required to intervene to bring a person “to a place of repentance and faith in the promises and provisions of God,” then God determines who will be saved and who is passed over – the conclusion of the Calvinist.
We know that God acts in the life of the elect for they come to salvation. Does God act, in a similar manner, in the life of the non-elect? He cannot or the non-elect would be saved also. Thus, God treats the elect differently than the non-elect ensuring the salvation of the elect and the destruction of the non-elect – which He chose to do before He created the world.
For your system to work, you have to adjust the timing of the Holy Spirit’s work to convict unbelievers of their sin as this is necessary to bring a person to salvation. So long as you have a salvation process that requires the Holy Spirit to act first, the final conclusion must be that God saves some (the elect) while passing over the rest (the non-elect). This is what the Calvinists concluded. I have yet to see anyone explain how a different conclusion can be reached.
You add that people must repent and believe to be saved. That is true, but the person’s actions can only come after the Holy Spirit intervenes in his life as you describe the process. To avoid the Calvinist conclusion, you need to have unbelievers take some first step and make the Holy Spirit’s intervention a reaction to something done by the unbeliever.
You wrote, “The Holy Spirit takes the preaching of the Scripture and convicts the person. Without the Holy Spirit’s actions, you would not be saved, would you? Thus, your starting condition is that you are unable to save yourself (having no desire for salvation) and unable to be saved – the conclusion of the Calvinist.”
Understand the conclusion of the calvinist is that we are all unable to save ourselves; at that point we all agree. However, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit has NOTHING to do with the calvinist ordo salutis; it is effectual call from God that puts everything into motion and apart from that effectual call, the power of the gospel falls on deaf ears, dead hearts and has NO POWER TO DO ANYTHING. So your associating my position and the calvinist position I am afraid fails.
Again you wrote, Because God is required to intervene to bring a person “to a place of repentance and faith in the promises and provisions of God,” then God determines who will be saved and who is passed over – the conclusion of the Calvinist.
God does intervene to bring a person to a place of repentance and faith, He does not determine man’s response; man must make that choice on His own based on the consequences of that choice which God has set. So God is not the One who determines who is saved and who is passed over. This does not necessarily mean that the gospel MUST touch every person; I do not know what God does in those cases but not ALL who do come face to face with the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit are saved. Repentance is MAN’ CHOICE not God’s.
“So long as you have a salvation process that requires the Holy Spirit to act first, the final conclusion must be that God saves some (the elect) while passing over the rest (the non-elect). This is what the Calvinists concluded.” Salvation is all of God. However calvinism is NOT the only answer to satisfy that position. Your simple statement does not at all form any significant basis dealing with “this is what calvinists concluded.” Your statement may be read as technically correct, but it is seriously lacking in a LOT of details.
With respect to your last paragraph, there is a profound difference in saying the Holy Spirit and the gospel message must first be at work in a person’s heart so that this person might repent and believe and the calvinist position of repentance being one’s response to regeneration, which is God’s sole choice.
All of what you say here is true. Essentially all non Calvinists have to swerve into the truth here else they end up making man the captain of his own soul…which they rightly deny.
Your last paragraph says it so well.
You said…”However, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit has NOTHING to do with the calvinist ordo salutes…”
That is a wrong statement brother.
You wrote, “It says “like” not “equal to.” The issue then becomes whether this gain in knowledge was accompanied by changes to man’s nature.” I never even hinted that man had become equal with God. Like however does mean “like” or in some way similar to God.
Your statement, The issue then becomes whether this gain in knowledge was accompanied by changes to man’s nature. Basically that is the essence of the article. Calvinism maintains sin changed man’s nature and then they go on to talk about the imputation of Adam’s sin to all men. Even in the imputation argument, that does not account for a change in man’s created nature; I am not award of any passage that says God changed man’s created nature. Sin has affected that nature, but man is still create din the image of God if God did not change that.
Your reference to Psalm 53 is fine but it does not have anything to do with the validity of man’s created nature being changed. It verifies that all men are indeed sinners but that does not speak to the issue of total depravity and inability as a fallen nature that keeps sinful man from responding to God’s initiative in revelation and reconciliation.
I stated this pretty much in the same way you did…. The terms fool and wicked describe the unbeliever’s nature. Certainly depraved. But Totally Depraved?? The Calvinist says, Yes. No unbeliever desires to change his nature within himself. Such change must be initiated by something outside himself. Whatever it is that initiates this change, the Calvinist says that it can be attributed to God – its is God who changes the unbeliever and this results in the unbeliever believing the gospel.
My question was IF the position you are taking applies to regeneration in that man cannot change his fallen nature, then he could not have changed his created nature either; God must have done it if that indeed did happen. I do not see that expressed in the Scripture. it seems to me the same concept that you use to justify regeneration prior to repentance and faith is the same concept that contradicts your position in its inception. That is a point I am making in this initial piece.
I see you completely ignored the statement that man knows BOTH good and evil, which is in direct conflict with the tenet of total depravity and inability.
“I see you completely ignored the statement that man knows BOTH good and evil, which is in direct conflict with the tenet of total depravity and inability.”
I go with the explanation that “knowing” evil is to be understood in the experiential sense – man now does evil. Man cannot accurately discern the true difference between good and evil because “There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” This was true of Adam and Eve for of Eve we read “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise…” It was Eve’s false perception of “good,” not corrected by Adam, that led to their eating the fruit.
Adam and Eve knew “good” because God spelled it out for them. They came to know “evil” when they did evil. Unbelievers can know “good” today only by reading the Bible. Unbelievers know “evil” because that is what they do.
“God does intervene to bring a person to a place of repentance and faith, He does not determine man’s response; man must make that choice on His own based on the consequences of that choice which God has set.”
Calvinists say that the person’s original state is one of inability – no one seeks God; no one can be saved absent direct intervention by God “to bring a person to a place of repentance and faith.” The Holy Spirit does the work.
There is the issue of man’s response and this response must be a free will decision (libertarian) if it is truly to be man’s response. The idea here is that the person must have the ability to choose otherwise meaning that the person is able to see both sides of the issue, evaluate the evidence, and make a “rational” decision. If the person is not able to make a “rational” decision, the person does not have a free will [God is still allowing the person to be blinded by Satan].
A person able to make a free will (rational) decision will always choose salvation – eternal life always trumps eternal death if the person truly has free will. When God brings a person to a place of repentance and faith, God must also restore a person’s free will thereby allowing the person to respond freely. In that situation, a person would not reject the gospel because that would be an irrational decision. An irrational decision indicates that the person does not have a free will – even if God has not brought that person to a place of repentance and faith, the person would irrationally choose to reject the gospel.
The unbeliever has a sin nature that prevents the person making free will decisions. That sin nature must be replaced by a new nature that empowers a person to make a free will decision. Thus, regeneration is required prior to a person being able to make the free will decision to accept salvation.
You are correct to say, “man must make that choice on His own based on the consequences of that choice which God has set.” However, the ability to make that choice comes about because of God’s regeneration of the sin nature. So God is still the One who determines who is saved and who is passed over.
If God brings a person to a place of repentance and faith but does not deal with the person’s sin nature, then that sin nature will continue to enslave the will and the person will reject salvation.
“…but make no mistake about it, it is infinitely more popular today than it has ever been in the SBC.”
Probably thanks to the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Life which was nothing but an indoctrination session into the Calvinistic view that God has pre-scripted everything. And we all know most Protestant churches went through a chapter study of this book in church as if it were a new book of the New Testament fallen down from heaven.
Rick Warren says plainly on page 32 “God also planned where you’d be born and where you’d live for his purpose. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail to chance. He planned it all for his purpose. Most amazing, God decided how you would be born. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you.”
If all of that is true, then God would also have planned all the abortions and not left any details involved in them up to chance, not even when it comes to the ones committed by Kermit Gosnell. This sort of grotesque Calvinist thinking destroys all the foundations of Christian morality and cannot be tolerated by anyone who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ. And, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Corinthians 16:22)
I read the PDL and did not and still do not relate the statement you quote here to reformed theology. If God is the Creator of the world and Giver of life THEN it must be that He gave you and me the parents we were born to and obviously that became the determining factor in WHERE we were born; country, nationality, ethnicity etc. To say “God had a plan in creating you” is not tantamount to saying God has determined whether or not you will repent and be saved. Very BIG difference.
Now, I agree somewhat with your last paragraph. I Doubt the calvinist is going to accept your premise BUT the determinism that dictates calvinism is a difficult thing to side-step as I see it. These guys have a difficult time saying God is sovereign over this, this and this, meaning what God wills to happen DOES happen but then on the other hand, there are a LOT of things that happen that He does not necessarily will but allows. My problem with this position is who determines what He WILLS and what He ALLOWS?
My position is that He ALLOWS everything; He has determined the means of salvation and has provided those means and has provided the consequences to our choices with respect to those means and has revealed Himself and His provisions to us and has sent the Holy Spirit to reconcile the world unto Himself… and He THEN ALLOWS us to make a decision based on those promises and provisions.
“If all of that is true, then God would also have planned all the abortions and not left any details involved in them up to chance, not even when it comes to the ones committed by Kermit Gosnell. This sort of grotesque Calvinist thinking destroys all the foundations of Christian morality and cannot be tolerated by anyone who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Whenever Gosnell performed an abortion, God was present and watching. Nothing was hidden from God. As God is omnipotent, He could have stopped the abortion at any time. It was God who had the final say in whether that abortion would occur. Because God is sovereign, He had to make the final decision – allow the abortion to proceed without interference from Him or intervene to stop the abortion. God cannot be indifferent to anything that happens – nothing that happens is left to chance – God specifically decides, and must decide, all that happens. If there is an argument against this grotesque thinking, the non-Calvinist has not found it. As much as you don’t like the conclusion drawn by the Calvinist, you are unable to present an argument against it and get to a different conclusion – one that you would tolerate.
@rhutchin, “God cannot be indifferent to anything that happens – nothing that happens is left to chance ….”
That’s what Rick Warren wrote in his book as well: “God left no detail to chance.” (BTW, I got the page number off by 1, it was 31 not 32.)
But this is precisely where I have a problem with it.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
@sbcissues, “If God is the Creator of the world and Giver of life THEN it must be that He gave you and me the parents we were born to and obviously that became the determining factor in WHERE we were born; country, nationality, ethnicity etc.”
I don’t that this follows at all. It makes no sense in point of fact. This would mean that God plans every fornication and adultery; that God literally brings a man’s wife together with another man, etc. It is not logical at all to leap from God being the creator of all, to God having to literally arrange every birth. God made the world, he gave people freewill, and when they sleep together, babies are conceived. This does not at all diminish the value of those children, even of adulterers. But it means precisely as Solomon says that “time and chance happeneth to them all.“
Brother davidbrainerd2, I’m afraid you are misreading The Preacher. The verse you quote is from the human, finite perspective. It is how things appear to be happening from our human standpoint. In fact, he wrote in Eccl. 7:14, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
Elsewhere Isaiah wrote, “I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.” Is. 45:7
Nothing happens outside His sovereign plan.
“Nothing happens outside His sovereign plan.”
A plan which includes the existence of both freewill and chance. Just because God is sovereign doesn’t mean he micromanages everything. In fact, if he did, that would mean none of us is even real. He would be a sovereign with no subjects! He would then be a sovereign over sock-puppets! He’d be Mister Roger, in other words.
Right. He doesn’t micromanage every detail of every event. He doesn’t have to. And no one yet has shown the existence of truly free will nor chance. No such things exists. But maybe you can.
“The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.” Prov. 16:33
I’ve heard Proverbs 16:33 abused in this way many times, but I never notices this was an issue of mistranslation until now.
You are quoting from the ESV, I assume: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
The KJV says: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.”
There’s a bit of a difference there. The disposing means the process that governs how randomness works was created by God. It doesn’t mean God is personally controlling the dice. So, in reality, Ecclessiastes 9:11’s claim that “time and chance happeneth to them all” is in perfect harmony with Proverbs 16:33’s “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Time and chance happen, but even chance itself was created by God.
But let’s say for the sake of the argument that the ESV translation were correct (which I don’t believe for a second). I would then put more stock in Ecclessiastes 9:11’s statement that “time and chance happeneth to them all” than in an absolutist interpretation of Proverbs 16:33’s (mistranslated as) “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord,” due to the principle of reductio ad absurdum. To interpret this mistranslation so absolutely, would lead us to becoming like Two-Face in Batman and flipping a coin for every decision. Every time before you make a decision, if you really take Proverbs 16:33 (as the ESV mistranslates it) that absolutely, you should pray “God, if you want me to do X make this coin land on heads; if you want me to do Y, make this coin land on tales.” Then, flip the coin. This is the absurdity that taking this verse (as found in the ESV) in the absolute would result in.
One more thing davidbrainerd2 and then I’m off for a while on other things. Habakuk gives us a great example of God sovereignly ruling over all things, including evil.
“Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.”
Then God answers,
““Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.”
Haven’t left just yet so I clicked over to your site. Interesting. And I see you have Lydia as an admirer. Even more interesting.
On your interpretation of the proverbs quote, I’m afraid you’ve come up short. Maybe check out the lexicon on “disposing” or “decision,” whichever translation you choose. And my Ecclesiastes comment stands just fine. I think you are misinterpreting the passage.
@Les Prouty, “And I wrote more that you can reply to if you like.”
Like what, the thing about Billy Graham?
“Billy Graham was asked if God determines the day we are born and the day we die. His answer was,”
Why should I care what Billy Graham’s answer was? Did he go back in time and write one of the books of the Bible? I never knew that. Interesting that a Calvinist is an admirer of Billy Graham, and yet I’m not. Interesting indeed.
So, BG quotes Job 14:5 “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;”
But what is more interesting is that you and BG don’t consider Job 14:5 to be written from a “human, finite perspective” and yet you believe Ecclesiastes 9:11 was written from such a perspective. Interesting, very interesting. Who is even speaking in Job? Job? or one of his very errant friends? If one of the so-called “friends” it could be instantly dismissed as from (as you call it) a “human, finite perspective.” If from Job, it still could be! Does not Job wish for death? What perspective is that from, if not a “human, finite perspective”?
Job, of course, is poetry. He can say something without really meaning it quite literally. Also, when Job says, for instance, “the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass,” is he even referring to God deciding each persons life explicitly, or only to a standard life expectancy?
But what is Job’s point, anyway, in this chapter? See Job 14:6 (the next verse), “Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.” Job is arguing that since man is finite and will die, God should just let him live happy and not punish him for his sins! Is this from a “human, finite perspective” or God’s perspective? Answer if thou hast knowledge!
It amazes me that Calvinists always run to Job, usually to his friends who are rejected by God as wrong at the end of the book, and cherry-pick phrases that are so obviously from a purely human perspective to pit them against phrases from elsewhere in Scripture that are clearly from God’s perspective, and then they reverse them, and accuse the solid verses of being from a human perspective while utilizing verses from Job’s accusers obviously from a human perspective as if they are from God’s perspective. And if by chance a Calvinist accidentally picks a verse where Job himself is actually speaking, they still seem to invariably cherry-pick one that is clearly from a human perspective.
No not what BG said. That was a toss in for fun. Look for scripture sections refuting your view of God’s non-sovereignty and your belief in chance.
Have a good evening.
Everything is planned to conform to God’s sovereign will to His glory and our good. Romans 8.
And, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.”
Billy Graham was asked if God determines the day we are born and the day we die. His answer was,
“When we will die is not a matter of accident or chance; the Bible makes it clear that our lives are in God’s hands. He knows the time of our death, and He has even appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5).”
Abortion is a human tragedy. Absolutely. And so was the murders at the hands of Herod we read about in Matthew. Did know about these? For sure. The bible tells us He knew and planned around it.
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
First, I don’t think Romans 8 is saying anything other than that God takes bad situations and turns them around.
Second, as concerning this prophecy. First, let us quote it from the Old Testament.
I don’t think its really a prophecy of these events in strict predictive terms. The prophecy in question, in its Old Testament context is clearly about the exile of the Northern tribes, particularly of Ephraim (one of Rachel’s sons), into Assyria. Rachel was weeping for her children for they are not — i.e. are not any longer in their land. God comforts her by telling her they will one day return to their own borders. They are not dead; they are in exile. This is made clear by the context.
Yet, Matthew saw in it, via midrash of course, a connection to the events that evil Herod performed by freewill, and he mentioned this. But that doesn’t mean to me that God planned the murder of those children. Nor does it mean that this prophecy was in any strict sense really predicting these events. If you are going to assert otherwise, you are left with the hard task of explaining how Ramah turned into Bethlehem. And yes, the angel knew a little ahead of time that Herod was doing and rather than saving the children, simply warned Joseph to leave, but that’s because God doesn’t typically override freewill.
Yes of course Matthew employed the OT prophecy. And by divine inspiration applied it to that current situation.
And yes of course Herod exercised his “free” will. Herod did what Herod was by nature sure to do. His will was not free in the truest sense. His was enslaved, as are all outside Christ.
And I wrote more that you can reply to if you like.
Curious, why do you have the moniker david brained? He was a Calvinist after all…and an incredible evangelist to boot.
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“The verse you quote is from the human, finite perspective.”
So is Psalms 51 that Paul quotes in Romans 3 for corporate election but that has not stopped you guys from using it in the same way he is using Ecc.
Lydia, it’s called hermeneutics. Nope. Not using it in the same way. We don’t hold to corporate election.
“Lydia, it’s called hermeneutics”
Yeah, I know. It must have tickled when this part of YOUR hermeneutic was used on you:
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
I know I’m slow far too many times. But, “Yeah, I know. It must have tickled when this part of YOUR hermeneutic was used on you…”
Not tracking with what you are trying to convey.
“And I see you have Lydia as an admirer. Even more interesting.”
Les, why do you go there? It is so snarky. I find all sorts of people interesting and interact with them. I have atheists, charismatics, Calvinists, Agnostics, etc. An interesting perspective is an interesting perspective. It does not always mean one is in total agreement. That is one of the problems with the YRR movement. it is becoming a ghetto of group think.
I am just glad burning what Reformed think are heretics at the stake is illegal now thanks to the Founding Deists. :o)
I apologize if I came across snarky. That was not my intent. As you said, “An interesting perspective is an interesting perspective,” in the same way I find his site interesting and you there interesting as well. We both find things interesting.
“That is one of the problems with the YRR movement.” Well I’m not in the YRR movement whatever that is. I’m Reformed for sure, but not so young and not restless at all. Don’t even know anyone in the so called YRR nor into “group think.” Well, I have seen some “group think” on some other blogs, but they’re not Reformed at all.
“I am just glad burning what Reformed think are heretics at the stake is illegal now thanks to the Founding Deists. :o)”
“Don’t even know anyone in the so called YRR”
Well, I guess we could “parse” the word “know”. Perhaps acquaintances? You spent an awful lot of time on SBC Voices back when many YRR were hanging out there.
“Well, I guess we could “parse” the word “know”. Perhaps acquaintances? You spent an awful lot of time on SBC Voices back when many YRR were hanging out there.”
I suppose you could parse it. But as the YRR label is often used pejoratively, I again say, “Don’t even know anyone in the so called YRR” You see, you or others labeling some (well maybe all Calvinists in the SBC) as YRR doesn’t make it so.
A couple of thoughts before the blog likely heads for the “U” in TULIP
[Mr. Sayers…., you have been charged with eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil, in the Garden of Eden, how do you plead?
“I’ve been charged with what?”
Eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is
“Your Honor, I don’t recall ever even seeing the Tree of the Knowledge
of Good and Evil. Is it in Michigan?”
Sir! Answer the question or be held in contempt. I remind you that you are under
“Well Your Honor . . . uh . . . Sir . . . I . . . uh . . . I’m not really sure
what to say . . . umm . . .”
Stop wasting the court’s time. You have been charged with eating from the Tree of
the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. HOW DO YOU PLEAD?]
The nitty gritty of the debate over depravity is found in the Calvinistic doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity. (see WCF,Dort, Spurgeon’s Catechism…) In real/historic Calvinism every baby would not merely be born in sin (Rom 5, Ps 51) but they would be born “dead” in sin and guilty of Adam’s transgression. According to Matthew Henry, this “guilt” would be why some babies are born with handicaps and diseases. (Commentary on Rom 5).
We know that sin is not imputed when there is no law, and where there is no law sin is not imputed. Rom 4,Rom 5.
Q: By what law would the guilt of Adam’s sin be imputed to his descendants?
Q: How can we be guilty of a sin we never actually committed?
It is imperative that we understand the difference between the consequences of Adam’s sin and culpability for Adam’s sin. One is biblical; the other is one of the many inferences of Calvinism.
Great analogy, DP. Last few sentences very true. Consequences not culpability.
How unfair is that!? “You didn’t do anything, but I’m punishing you anyway.” Ok, that makes it better.
“How unfair is that!? “You didn’t do anything, but I’m punishing you anyway.” Ok, that makes it better.”
Well, having alcoholic parents means consequences for the kids that were not their doing. They are not guilty of the alcoholism but suffer the consequences of it. To punish them for their parents behavior and hold them as equally guilty of it seems monstrous to me.
I know something about alcoholism. My dad struggled with that for much of his adult lifetime. And the consequences (fallout) on me and others was severe.
But, I wasn’t punished for his actions. Death is more than a consequence for Adam’s sin. The rest of humanity suffering death because of sin is not just some sort of collateral damage like being in a restaurant when a suicide bomber detonates his bomb.
No, death is part of the condemnation upon all mankind. It’s is a silly sidestep attempt by some to suggest that death is some sort of collateral damage that happens on man while said man is not guilty. If that were the case, then how is that any better than imputed guilt? Like I said, “You didn’t do anything, but I’m punishing you anyway.”
“It’s is a silly sidestep attempt by some to suggest that death is some sort of collateral damage that happens on man while said man is not guilty.”
Then I am silly for thinking there is collateral damage because of evil. I am responsible for all sin that I commit. I do not believe I am “born guilty” but that I am born in a corrupted body into a corrupted world separated from God. I do not believe babies are vipers in diapers.
I can live with you thinking I am silly. :o)
For the record, I did not nor am I calling you “silly.”
I should have been more clear. Death is collateral. But my point is that it is MORE than just collateral. It is more than innocent bystanders being killed.
In the biblical concept of the fall and consequent death, there are no innocents. Are there in your view?
And further, many non-Reformed folks say that it would be unfair for God to hold anyone guilty for someone else’s sin (Adam’s sin). So my point further is that you do nothing to assuage any perceived unfairness when you say that babies or anyone else are not guilty but oh by the way, that death punishment thing? You get that anyway.
davidbrainerd2 wrote, “Just because God is sovereign doesn’t mean he micromanages everything.” Les Prouty responded, “Right. He doesn’t micromanage every detail of every event. He doesn’t have to.”
I believe this is wrong. Because God is sovereign, He necessarily micromanages everything because God works all things after the counsel of his own will. God’s sovereignty is derived from His omniscience and His omnipotence – He knows all that occurs before it occurs and He exercises power over all that occurs. Thus, there is not a single event, no matter how insignificant that can be hidden from God. God must, because He is sovereign, consider each event and decide whether to allow the event to follow its natural course without interference from Him or to intervene to alter that course. Consequently, God necessarily micromanages everything.
I don’t see how a different conclusion follows from sovereignty.
davidbrainerd2 then concluded, “In fact, if he did, that would mean none of us is even real. He would be a sovereign with no subjects! He would then be a sovereign over sock-puppets! He’d be Mister Roger, in other words.”
I don’t see how this conclusion follows. Naturally occurring events account for all human actions absent God’s intervention to alter the natural course of events. Within the course of natural events, man exercises freedom to do all his sinful nature desires except as hindered by God. We are God’s subjects and are accountable to Him for that which we do and we are not sock puppets in that God is not directly causing (or coercing) us to act even if God can manipulate the circumstances we encounter to which we then respond to freely seek all whatever the sin nature desires.
“I believe this is wrong. Because God is sovereign, He necessarily micromanages everything because God works all things after the counsel of his own will. God’s sovereignty is derived from His omniscience and His omnipotence – He knows all that occurs before it occurs and He exercises power over all that occurs. Thus, there is not a single event, no matter how insignificant that can be hidden from God. God must, because He is sovereign, consider each event and decide whether to allow the event to follow its natural course without interference from Him or to intervene to alter that course. Consequently, God necessarily micromanages everything.”
I totally agree with this part of your above paragraph:
“God works all things after the counsel of his own will. God’s sovereignty is derived from His omniscience and His omnipotence – He knows all that occurs before it occurs and He exercises power over all that occurs. Thus, there is not a single event, no matter how insignificant that can be hidden from God. God must, because He is sovereign, consider each event and decide whether to allow the event to follow its natural course without interference from Him or to intervene to alter that course.”
What I disagree with is the word “micromanage” in the sense that many non-Calvinists use it. I take many who use it to say that God causes all things. But if you or others are using it in the sense of “attention to detail,” then ok.
“He necessarily micromanages everything because God works all things after the counsel of his own will.”
rhutchin, have you ever had to go to the doctor when you didn’t have an appointment? You know, you call in and the receptionist says “We’ll work you in.”
I’m amazed at how illiterate Calvinists tend to be on the semantic range of words. “‘Worketh all things after the counsel of his will’ must mean that God literally pre-scripted everything!” proclaims the Calvinists. Oh, of course, immediately jump to the one option that is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE because it asserts that God is a foolish King of Sock-Puppets. Completely ignore the more reasonable interpretation that works everything in to his ultimate plan. You guys are a joke.
db2, “You guys are a joke.” Is this your usually way of dialog? Calling others a joke? I’m impressed.
You said, “Its your dishonesty that is the problem. And if there were a problem with my reading comprehension, then on your own theory it would be because God is micromonanging this puppet to have bad reading comprehension. You know what, Les, go back and hide in a cave like your co-religionists in Islam do.”
To which I reply,
You call us jokes. Here you resort to saying I’m dishonest. db2, when you try to win an argument, and can’t, calling people names really doesn’t help your case. Try to win an argument on the merits of your argument. Now admittedly you’re at a disadvantage on this discussion. But you appear small by using the ad hominem.
Back to the cave.
“I suppose you could parse it. But as the YRR label is often used pejoratively, I again say, “Don’t even know anyone in the so called YRR” You see, you or others labeling some (well maybe all Calvinists in the SBC) as YRR doesn’t make it so.”
Well there was a book written by one who coined the term. it was once thought cool and many young men at SBTS were all enthralled using it but I guess some are growing up and want to ditch it?
Well, I think I remember that book. DeYoung? Anyway, of course as men grow older they cannot rightly be called young. and maybe they’re not restless anymore. In any case, YRR as I think you are using it becomes meaningless if everyone who is a Calvinist in the SBC is one according to you.
“I know I’m slow far too many times. But, “Yeah, I know. It must have tickled when this part of YOUR hermeneutic was used on you…”
Not tracking with what you are trying to convey.”
If you want to interpret psalms 51 literally to proof text the doctrine of imputed guilt” (Notwithstanding Psalms is man talking to God in poetry verses the “finite human” you used earlier for another proof text) then I assumed you would take the part about being washed with hyssop literally, too. :o)
I just hope you are not taking those imprecatory prayers in there literally! Perhaps Calvin did?
Oh, ok. So, have you ever studied hermeneutics?
“Oh, ok. So, have you ever studied hermeneutics?”
Les, you should know by now I am an ignorant peasant with no fancy “Ruling elder” title. And as a woman, I am even lower. All I know is what the Holy Spirit illuminates to me and points me to Jesus Christ as God in the Flesh. I am just a priest in the Holy Priesthood who believes in soul competency. I have no desire to rule over others.
Wait! Stop! Ignorant peasants cannot have the Holy Spirit! They need a “ruling elder” to explain truth to them. Sigh.
Oh, stop it. I’ve learned so much from my non-ruling deer wife and so many other women through the years. Many have so much biblical insight. In our ruling elder led church, there are so many godly women who provide much wisdom and biblical insight. 🙂
“In the biblical concept of the fall and consequent death, there are no innocents. Are there in your view?”
Using the word “biblical” does not make one automatically correct. Sigh. That one gets old.
Answer: Yes. (GASP…heresy alert!) Babies, the mentally challenged. They have no way to overcome their guilt UNLESS God randomly chose them as elect before they were born and before Adam even sinned. (including babies who die in infancy)
Of course, then we also have to believe God chose for the mentally challenged to be that way, too. And for babies to die of cancer. But, at the same time, He is NOT the author of sin, oh no.
Cognitive dissonance is a by product of Calvinism. You should get mental combat pay.
I should have been more specific. You implied my thinking is silly which, I guess, is different than calling me silly. :o)
“Using the word “biblical” does not make one automatically correct. Sigh. That one gets old.”
Sorry. I wasn’t using it the way you took that. I was simply using “biblical” to distinguish the idea of death from a biblical standpoint from a physical view or whatever. Wasn’t trying that old “well my view is just the biblical view” which sounds like you don’t have a biblical view.
So my bad. That’s not what I meant to convey.
But I commend you for your straightforward answer…that you believe people are born innocent. Many holding the reality of your view are not so straight up about it. Of course I disagree, but commend you just as well.
“They have no way to overcome their guilt UNLESS God randomly chose them as elect before they were born and before Adam even sinned. (including babies who die in infancy)”
Ah, the way you frame things. Yes, they have have no way to overcome their guilt. They’re in the same sunken boat as everyone else. They need to be rescued from their guilt and certain eternal doom. Sound familiar?
So God rescues them He does for them what they cannot do for themselves. Same as everyone else He saves. He actually saves people who cannot save themselves.
“Of course, then we also have to believe God chose for the mentally challenged to be that way, too. And for babies to die of cancer. But, at the same time, He is NOT the author of sin, oh no.”
Correct that He is not the author of sin. And it is true that nothing, nothing happens apart from God’s sovereign will.
“Cognitive dissonance.” You do love those two words.
Les, this is fun but gotta run. Perhaps I will run into you again. As ruling elder, you get the last words as it should be in a top down hierarchical Calvinist organization. :o)
Has been fun. I actually always learn something from you in our exchanges.
Have a blessed day.
Spurgeon captures it so well.
“With God there are no contingencies. The mighty charioteer of Providence has gathered up all the reins of all the horses, and He guides them all according to His infallible wisdom. There is a foreknowledge and predestination which concerneth all things, from the motion of a grain of dust on the threshing-floor to that of the flaming comet which blazes athwart the sky. Nothing can happen but what God ordains; and therefore, why should we fear?” Spurgeon
“Spurgeon captures it so well. ‘With God there are no contingencies….'”
Just a man’s opinion, and the opinion of a lung-rapist to boot. But if with God there were no contingencies, then most of prophecy would be a lie. There are all these ifs, like in Jeremiah’s vision of the potter’s house. Jeremiah 18 “If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” Apparently you Calvinists have redefined the word “contingency” as you have done with so many many many words. So the lung-rapist was clearly a false-teacher.
To return the discussion to the original topic, I think that the Bible is pretty clear on the subject of human inability; Jesus said “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him . . .” (John 6:44; cf. v. 65). And Paul, apparently describing his own condition as a Jew before he came to Christ could say, “I am carnal, sold under sin,” “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find,” and “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7: 14,18,23). And describing the Gentiles he says, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:18,19). It sure doesn’t sound like “free will” to me!
Exactly right Bob W. Man is helpless to help himself. He needs a supernatural work of God to want to repent and believe.
It’s like Lydia. “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”
“It’s like Lydia. “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”
I always take into consideration WHERE she was and WHAT she was doing at the time. She was seeking/worshiping Yahweh. Like Cornelius. God responded.
Like the Pharisees too? Remember what Jesus said about their worship? Surely you don’t believe that every time the bible records that someone was worshiping Yahweh thatbthe worship was true worship…as in “in Spirit and truth?” Do you?
Or do you believe that all the Jews and proselytes of that day were truly worshoping God truly?
BTW, the text doesn’t say she was “seeking” God does it? It says she was a worshiper of God and then God did something. Something we Reformed folks believe is absolutely necessary. He opened her heart. That’s what we call regeneration.
Thanks for the comment… but since we are “getting back to the original topic… ”
Please answer the real question I posed… if God said man has become LIKE US… knowing good AND evil; how can the calvinist say man is totally depraved and completely unable to respond positively to God? Seems to me this would affirm my position that God not only gave men the ability TO choose; He gave them no other choice BUT TO choose! He set the consequences of my choices for a reason; our choices DO matter.
The whole purpose of the gospel message is simple; The Word of God presents who God is and what He has done to make provision for the salvation of them that are lost that Jesus came to seek and to save. Those who believe in those promises and provisions and repent and come to Christ WILL be saved. I do not like the phrase “free-will”; I believe it is too easy to manipulate the phrase but the choice to choose is another matter. We have the choice to choose in every aspect of our lives and there are consequences to our choices and those consequences are most of the time beyond our control; we are however responsible for our choices and there are eternal consequences to those choices.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him . . .” (John 6:44; cf. v. 65).
That is the purpose or revelation and reconciliation… both completely at God’s initiative; our response to revelation and reconciliation is what matters.
As for Paul’s statement; we are all depraved for ALL HAVE SINNED and come short of the glory of God; we do not have anything within us to EVER earn or deserve right standing before God; it is what Christ has done for us that makes that right standing possible.
As for the statement about the gentiles being blinded and ignorant of the things of God; the Jews were not very evangelistic as a general rule; they had no knowledge of the light that was found in the Torah much less the gospel message that was now being made available to them.
One more comment; my contention is that there is NO established concept of TD/TI in the Old Testament; Judaism has no teaching that even remotely hints of TD/TI.
It is what it is!
As hard as you fight it, the fact is you are a Calvinist. You wouldn’t use all their catchphrases if you weren’t.
Excuse me… but who was this last comment referring to?
“Please answer the real question I posed… if God said man has become LIKE US… knowing good AND evil; how can the calvinist say man is totally depraved and completely unable to respond positively to God? Seems to me this would affirm my position that God not only gave men the ability TO choose; He gave them no other choice BUT TO choose! He set the consequences of my choices for a reason; our choices DO matter.”
To know good and evil, does not mean that a person concludes that he is evil or that, if he thought he were evil, that he had anything to worry about. The necessity for the Holy Spirit to convict a person that he is evil suggests that the unsaved aren’t worried about it initially. There is none that seeks God. Further, there is none that really does good yet people tend to think that they are good – at least born good and mostly good most of the time.
Total Depravity says that people see no reason to seek God and absent God’s initiative to draw a person to Himself to be saved, none would be saved because the unsaved don’t think they need to be saved – the preaching of the gospel is foolishness to them. So, you are correct to say, “That is the purpose or revelation and reconciliation… both completely at God’s initiative; our response to revelation and reconciliation is what matters.” That is a Calvinist conclusion – people respond to God; God takes the initiative to save. Consequently, if a person is saved, we know that God drew them to salvation. If a person is not saved, we conclude that God passed them over.
You are also correct to say, “The Word of God presents who God is and what He has done to make provision for the salvation of them that are lost that Jesus came to seek and to save. Those who believe in those promises and provisions and repent and come to Christ WILL be saved.” The real issue is why any person would fail to believe. Some unique quality must separate those who believe from those who do not believe.
You say that God gives a person the ability to choose good (salvation) over evil because He gave people free will – or choices. The essence of free will is that people can evaluate options and make a rational decision as to which way to go. Any person able to make rational decisions would always choose salvation as eternal life trumps eternal death – that choice is a no-brainer. A person rejecting salvation makes an irrational decision telling us that something is wrong – they must not have free will or cannot appreciate the choice before them. One reason for this is that the god of this world has blinded the person. If, as you say, God has given people the ability to choose, then people should make rational decisions. Given that only the elect make rational decisions, we can conclude that God only gave the elect the ability to choose. If God truly gave the non-elect some sense of free will, than those non-elect would also make a rational decision – to accept salvation.
First of all, your definition of TD is for sure, seriously lacking. You describe what I would call depravity; there is a grace difference in speaking of God’s initiative in salvation and His sole choice in salvation. I believe in the former and not the latter.
You wrote, “That is a Calvinist conclusion – people respond to God; God takes the initiative to save. Consequently, if a person is saved, we know that God drew them to salvation. If a person is not saved, we conclude that God passed them over.” the calvinist conclusion is that God decides who will respond to Him. If a person is saved, it is NOT that God just drew him, it is that God birthed him and because he who once was dead is now alive, he repents and believes like a new born baby breathing and crying. You are correct in your last statement. I do not believe that to be the case; I believe a lost person is lost because they did not repent and exercise believing faith. God is not the One who made that decision. I believe He made provision for all to believe and be saved. Notice the phrase, made provision for.
Now to your poor analogy; Any person able to make rational decisions would always choose salvation as eternal life trumps eternal death – that choice is a no-brainer.
Let me ask you a question… in ANY aspect of living… what right decision is there that ALL MEN MAKE because it is the right decision to make? There ain’t one. Men are obstinate and prideful and sinful in need of a Savior. The purpose of revelation and reconciliation are to bring men to see the error of their ways and to come to reject self-sufficiency to a place of dependence on God. Man sees his standing as sufficient where God sees right standing in Christ’s provisions at Calvary. So repenting and coming to Christ is everything BUT humanly rational. Even those who are confronted by the gospel and revelation and reconciliation do not make the obvious rational decision that you suggest because they do not believe they need Christ and as a result perish.
My point is that God does not determine who repents and who believes; He saves those who do but that decision is ours to make; not His.
“First of all, your definition of TD is for sure, seriously lacking. You describe what I would call depravity;”
The key point of agreement is that under the Calvinist TD or your depravity, the unbeliever does not, and cannot, take the first step to salvation (technical details notwithstanding). It is God who takes the first step in any person’s salvation. So, is there a real difference between “God’s initiative in salvation and His sole choice in salvation”? We know that only the elect are saved through God’s initiative (as was determined when God created the world). Does God extend grace to the non-elect? Not that we can tell as the non-elect do not come to salvation. I don’t see a real difference between your position and the Calvinist position despite what you choose to believe about the non-elect.
“I believe a lost person is lost because they did not repent and exercise believing faith. God is not the One who made that decision. I believe He made provision for all to believe and be saved. Notice the phrase, made provision for.”
I suspect you really believe that a person is lost because they sin and a person is not saved because they do not repent and exercise believing faith. If God made provision for all to believe, then the issue becomes why all do not believe. God made provision for the elect to believe and they believe. If God made similar provision for the non-elect to believe they would also believe as both elect and non-elect start out as equally depraved. If God makes equal provision for both to be saved, then both should be saved. The failure of the non-elect to accept salvation can only be because God treats them differently – no other factors come into play to explain the different decisions.
“Now to your poor analogy; Any person able to make rational decisions would always choose salvation as eternal life trumps eternal death – that choice is a no-brainer.”
It is not an analogy. The key point you make (along with those who advocate free will) is that people have a choice – God treats both elect and non-elect the same; removing the inability of depravity and extending His Holy Spirit to convict. The person is then able to evaluate his situation and make a decision – he makes a rational choice. As you state, “Men are obstinate and prideful and sinful in need of a Savior,” and they naturally reject salvation. Then, “The purpose of revelation and reconciliation are to bring men to see the error of their ways and to come to reject self-sufficiency to a place of dependence on God,” and here they accept salvation. Otherwise, they really didn’t “see the error of their ways.”
Then you say, “So repenting and coming to Christ is everything BUT humanly rational.” That is true before grace, not after. Then, “Even those who are confronted by the gospel and revelation and reconciliation do not make the obvious rational decision that you suggest because they do not believe they need Christ and as a result perish.” Really!! Can some people really not believe they need Christ after being confronted by the Holy Spirit when others, similarly confronted, do believe? If the difference is not in the work of the Holy Spirit, then somehow those who do not believe must be different than those who believe. The Bible does not speak of such a difference – all are equal and equally sinners – from Hitler and Stalin to Billy Graham and Mother Theresa. If the Holy Spirit is doing the convicting, a sinner will come to salvation.
“My point is that God does not determine who repents and who believes; He saves those who do but that decision is ours to make; not His.”
I know you believe this. You just haven’t yet devised a theology that can support that belief. Here, you make all people equally depraved, equally lost; you have the Holy Spirit equally convicting; but then you want to claim unequal outcomes. Obviously, you cannot explain how unequal outcomes result – but we know that there are unequal outcomes. The only way for this to happen is for the Holy Spirit to treat people unequally.
[I do not get a reply prompt after your comments, so I just replied using the reply prompt to my original comment. I think that results in my comment to you may come before your comments. Guess we’ll see.]
You may not be a five-point Calvinist, but if you believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved” you are still a Calvinistic Baptist. This false teaching is sending a lot of Baptists and evangelicals to hell due to a false sense of assurance.
The Back-Slidden Baptist’s Salvation Check List:
Just as there are many orthodox Christians, including Lutherans, who, to their eternal damnation, rely on their infant Baptism as their “Get-into-heaven Free Card” as admission into heaven, I believe that there are many Baptists and evangelicals who rely on their one time “Decision for Christ” as their automatic ticket into heaven.
Just to be clear, I am sure that there are many, many Baptists and evangelicals who are much better Christians than I am. As Paul, I am the first among sinners. But I believe that the teaching of Decision Theology accompanied with the horrific teaching of “Once Saved, Always Saved”, has damned just as many Baptists and evangelicals to hell as “Once Baptized, Always Saved” has damned many poorly catechized orthodox Christians.
I was taught growing up fundamentalist Baptist that a born-again Christian who stops going to church, reading the Bible, praying, etc. is a “back-slider”. He has back-slidden into sin.
So let’s review the “Back-Slidden” Baptist’s and (Baptistic) Evangelical’s Salvation Check-list:
1. Have I attended church in the last twenty years: No.
2. Have I partaken of the Lord’s Supper in the last twenty years: No.
3. Have I read my Bible in the last twenty years: No.
4. Have I prayed (other than, “Lord please help me win the Powerball!”) in the last twenty years? No.
5. Have I shared the Gospel with a non-believer in the last twenty years. No.
6. Did I pray the Sinner’s Prayer twenty-one years ago in a Baptist altar call. Yes.
Now, if you present this to a Baptist or evangelical of the Baptist persuasion, he or she will say that the person above was never saved. That is why we do not see any “fruit of the Spirit”.
They have a much harder time, however, using that explanation when the “back-slider” is a prominent conservative Baptist or evangelical pastor or evangelist who has “won many souls to Christ” and has preached great moving sermons for years. “How could the person who led me to Christ have been a non-believer??” Situations such as these really rattle these “Once Saved, Always Saved” Christians.
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
an orthodox Lutheran blog
Your whole soap box here is completely off based. No one preaches or promotes “once saved, always saved” as “fire insurance” for eternity. That is an argument raised by folks who do not agree with it. Fine.
I believe in the eternal security of the believer. One who is truly saved, is saved for all eternity. When an individual is truly born again and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a person’s life, he belongs to God forever. That is what I believe. Call it what you want.
I will not argue that apostasy is IMPOSSIBLE; but I will say this; if it is possible for someone who IS saved to lose his salvation, he is eternally damned at that point and there is no more hope for him whatsoever.
I am no more a calvinistic baptist than you are a car because you shut the door on your garage.
Thanks Bob, for keeping us focused on the Scriptures and avoiding juvenile comments about Spurgeon’s smoking. The texts you quote are a very important part of the biblical revelation but they are not as clear as you suggest in proving that fallen man has no power of contrary choice in the context of contrite/saving faith. This may be the title fight in the context of our debate.
Weighing in, at one corner, the Bible says that fallen man can do “by nature” the things contained in the law, and evil fathers can give good gifts to their children. (Rom 2:14; Mt 7: 11) Yet, in the
other corner, the Bible says that the natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God and we are by nature children of wrath. (1Cor 2:14; Eph 2:3) The friction between these types of texts is at the heart of our dilemma.
The question we need to be asking is whether the common grace of God, including the Spirit’s work convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment is sufficient to enable saving faith in every one; or that the irresistible grace of God is necessary for saving faith and is only given to a predetermined elect.
As to the drawing of John 6:44, the Calvinistic inferences are 1. The drawing is irresistible although it is not stated or necessarily implied. 2. The drawing could not be universal even though the oft’ neglected vs 45 explains the nature of the Father’s drawing. It involves a teaching and learning which implies an element of human responsibility in the drawing to the Truth. We both agree that sinners must be drawn but what you must prove is that the drawing is irresistible. (Same with the other texts often used by Calvinists.)
God would not have to give up His “all power” to delegate some “limited power” to fallen sinners. Calvinism ignores, marginalizes, and emasculates the common grace of God, which God gives to every sinner ever born. We can’t live without sinning but we can repent. Grace does not need to be irresistible to be amazing.
I know I am NOT that bad of a communicator… but you wrote: “We both agree that sinners must be drawn but what you must prove is that the drawing is irresistible. (Same with the other texts often used by Calvinists)”
Let me put this in as simple terms as I know… I AM NOT CALVINIST; I DO NOT BELIEVE IN IRRESISTIBLE GRACE…. not even in the slightest means.
So, while I would not probably write what you did in your last paragraph… I do agree that God’s grace does not have to be irresistible to be amazing. And… just in case you do not realize this, I do not believe in total depravity and inability either.
Since you have told us what you are not, it might be helpful to have us tell us what you are.
I ask the question because there are two different responses opposing Calvinism. One of them is the Arminian position advocated by John Wesley. He did not deny total depravity or human inability. He tried to get around the idea of predestination by resorting to the idea of “prevenient grace,” i.e., God gives each person who hears the gospel sufficient grace to enable him to respond to it. But he insisted that this grace was resistible, so that that the responsibility for the final decision rests with man. Wesley, of course, believed that you could lose your salvation.
The other viewpoint originated with the “New Haven Theology” of Nathaniel W. Taylor and some of his colleagues at Yale, and popularized by Charles G. Finney. They denied total depravity outright, insisting that if God commands us to do something, we must have the ability to do it. Regeneration consists in our deciding to change our own hearts. This type of theology bears a strong resemblance to Pelagianism, and I get the impression, from reading the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of the Gospel that it is widespread in the SBC. Would you like to tell us where you stand on this?
I do believe there are more than 2 categories of folk who do not advocate calvinism. Why there are several brands of calvinists. I do not believe in ANY of the 5 points of calvinism; depending on HOW you define the 5th point. But simply because Al Mohler says anyone who believes in eternal security is calvinist, does not make it so.
I am NOT arminian and I have no idea what New Haven Theology is. That is a new one on me. Now for the record, the TRAD statement is no more pelagian or semi-pelagian that you are a monkey because you love bananas. Once more time… we believe God is the SOLE initiator of salvation; He and He alone saves those who believe. We do not believe that man has any ability to establish right standing before God apart from the salvific work of Christ on the cross. Conviction comes through God’s initiative in revelation and reconciliation. Man does not start the journey and God THEN gives him grace to be saved. So lets end that silly uneducated charge of pelagianism here. That continued charge really does make you look sort of dumb and heavily misinformed.
For the record, today I am a Conversionist and a proponent of Transformed Theology as opposed to reformed theology.
Steve Lawson says well,
“@DrStevenJLawson: God’s sovereign grace overcame our resistance to the gospel and changed our hearts so that we would treasure it.”
Who is Steve Lawson and why does his tweet demand any special attention?
This really confirms my contention that revelation and reconciliation are not means to regeneration; effectual call or God’s sole initiative in regeneration are what give BOTH revelation and reconciliation any efficacy. That my brother is problematic.
Steve Lawson is a Southern Baptist pastor. And his tweet doesn’t demand any “special” attention. I just thought it relevant to the ongoing discussion.
I am without a doubt a Five Point Calvinist and a Southern Baptist. However, I should rephrase that as I agree with the five points of Calvinism. We as Baptists are NOT Protestants! Our ancestors were Reformed when Reformed did not even exist. Yes, I agree with the Trail of Blood. The five points came from our Baptist ancestors, not John Calvin. Therefore, if one disagrees with the five points, one cannot truly be a Baptist. Therefore, I am a proud Founders Member.
The question is, do you believe that the unregenerate sinner has the natural ability to understand and believe the gospel apart from a work of divine grace in his heart? Or does the Holy Spirit give him an ability that he did not previously have?
I believe because we were created in the image of God we have the ability to choose the directions that we take in EVERY aspect of our lives, including a response to God’s initiative in revelation and reconciliation, both which require a response. Revelation without a response it no revelation at all. Same with reconciliation. Me being reconciled to God MUST involve my response as I see it.
What is interesting is we do not have any conflict in the issue of a man having the choice to choose with ANY OTHER decision with the exception of ONE choice and that is to repent and believe. For the calvinist, THAT choice is God’s.
Sorry, I cannot accept that conclusion.
“…we have the ability to choose the directions that we take in EVERY aspect of our lives, including a response to God’s initiative in revelation and reconciliation,…”
The issue here is the meaning of the phrase, “God’s initiative in revelation and reconciliation.”
It is God’s initiative. Man is depraved and cannot initiate salvation. God must initiate the process of salvation through “revelation and reconciliation” if any person is to be saved.
What is revelation? Revelation cuts through the blindness imposed on the lost by the god of this world. In Colossians, Paul writes to believers that God “delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Further in 2 Corinth, “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
It is removal of this blindness that now enables a person to choose. Unbelievers cannot choose to accept salvation while under blindness – the preaching of the gospel seems only foolishness to them and they have no desire for God or to seek God.
A person can have the ability to choose salvation only if God gives the person that ability. The person blinded by the god of this world has a will but it is not free – that will loves sin and rejects God and God’s salvation. God removes that blindness allowing the person to choose salvation and do so freely. The choice is never in doubt. The person to whom God has revealed His son will always choose salvation.
Sorry SBC/Bob, my previous comments were directed more to Bob W’s comments. (My bad for not being clear. You have effectively convinced me that you are not a Calvinist.:-). I am with you, brother, but we need to put some clearer definitions on our terms or we will be going around and around the merry go round forever. “Original sin”, “federal headship”, “made in God’s image”, and “free will” are useless terms until we put some clearer definitions on them. Both sides use the terms but don’t agree on definitions. The same is true of “natural ability”.
The debate is not grace vs works but grace vs irresistible grace.
It is meaningful responsibility vs. divine fatalism.
The debate is not whether God is sovereign or not (of course He is).
It is over how God chooses to use His sovereignty.
Calvinists rob God of His sovereign right to delegate the power of contrary choice, in repentance and faith, to everyone born in sin. (Note: “contrary choice” is a better term than free will, here, because sophisticated Calvinists will agree that the elect choose Christ using their “free will”. (See J Edwards, Freedom of the Will.)
Bob W is marginalizing the power of God’s common grace. Jesus used the faith of children as examples for adults. Why/how could He do this if they are born dead in sin with no “natural ability” to believe? God needed to blind unbelieving Jews to assure that Jesus would be crucified. Why would this be necessary if they were dead in sin by the Calvinistic definition? God expected Job to trust Him based on His marvelous creation. Why would He do that if Job did not have the ability to trust Him based on creation. Everyone has the law of God written on their hearts and the law is spiritual. Everyone born in sin can SEE the invisible (spiritual) attributes of God in the creation without needing to be born again. This shows a natural/spiritual ability to have faith. Invisible attributes must be seen with the eyes of faith. Rom 1,2
Where does Scripture EXPLICITLY teach that sinners need extraordinary irresistible supernatural grace to trust God? Sure we need grace to repent but where is it clearly taught that we need irresistible grace? The command to repent is universal and it stands to reason that God would not command that which He does not provide the ability. Like he did for Peter when they walked on the water.
“Calvinists rob God of His sovereign right to delegate the power of contrary choice, …”
Actually, Calvinists say that God has the right to delegate the power of contrary choice to anyone He wants including to everyone if He chooses to do so. It is the non-Calvinists who rob God of His sovereign right to delegate the power of contrary choice by requiring that God delegate the power of contrary choice to everyone and not less than everyone.
There is also the issue of the definition of “contrary choice.” I take this to be no different than libertarian free will. If it is different, I have not seen it explained.
Nonetheless, the concept of contrary choice seems to be that a person has alternative choices and understands those choices sufficient to make a reasoned and rational decision from among those choices. If that is true, and a person really has the power of “contrary choice,” then all should choose salvation. To choose otherwise indicates that the person really doesn’t understand the choices he has and really doesn’t have the power of contrary choice.
” If that is true, and a person really has the power of “contrary choice,” then all should choose salvation. To choose otherwise indicates that the person really doesn’t understand the choices he has and really doesn’t have the power of contrary choice.”
Funny the same reasoning would say… I am over weight and I SHOULD choose to diet… to choose otherwise indicates I do not really understand the choices and really do not have the power of contrary choice.
I have a great greek word for that… bologna!
The choice of salvation involves the choice between eternal life and eternal death. So, everyone should choose salvation even if on their deathbed. The choice is a no-brainer. The only ones who don’t choose salvation would be those who die suddenly without opportunity to choose salvation.
I’m with you on the dieting. Dieting doesn’t offer anything beneficial. Overweight people tend to live lives that agree with being overweight. I am obese and comfortable with it. The best health factor is to be born with good genes. I don’t see any reason for you to diet.
Well, let’s probe the matter a little more deeply and see what the Bible actually says about the psychology of an unregenerate sinner;
Paul begins his indictment of the human race by noting that the lost “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). He goes on to show that they know the truth — they can see the evidence — but in spite of it they did not glorify God. Instead they “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21). In Ephesians he says that Satan is the “spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” so that they conduct themselves “in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2,3). In chapter 4 he elaborates further: the Gentiles “walk in the futility of their mind.” They have “their understanding darkened.” They are “alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them,” and this is “because of the blindness of their heart.” The Greek word translated “blindness” is “porosis,” which properly means “a hardening.” And then he says that “being past feeling” they “have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:17-19. As a result of all of this “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (I Cor. 1:18). “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). In other words, the natural man is a slave to his sin, and as a result is spiritually blind. This is why he cannot respond to the gospel until the Holy Spirit gives him a new heart, changes his will, and enables him to see and understand.
Bob W. These are important texts but only part of the story.. We are corrupt… no doubt. But you fail to answer the questions previously posed. How is it that the unregenerate can do most anything that the regenerate can do except take the blame for Adam’s sin and embrace the cross? Whitefield, (in Method of Grace ) says that God would be just to damn someone to hell even if they never actually sinned once in their entire lifetime! This doesn’t reflect very well on the character of God. Do you believe the same thing? Do you believe that newborn babies are guilty of Adam’s sin.. and could justly be thrown immediately into hell if they die on their birthday?
A related question: What did Paul mean when he said that he was alive once without the law? In what way was he alive?
The fact of the matter is that an unregenerate CANNOT do “most anything that the regenerate can do.” “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7,8). Paul could say of himself, when he was a devout Jew, “”For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Rom. 7:18). That is the whole reason we need to be born again.
When Paul said earlier in the chapter that “I was alive once without the law” (v. 9), what he apparently meant was that he was not aware of the power of sin over his life until the law came, and he tried to keep it, and discovered that he could not. Paul’s whole argument through chapters 7 & 8 is that the Law (Torah) could condemn him, but could not deliver him from the power of sin. “But what the law could not do . . . God did” (8:3). first, by reconciling us to himself through the blood of His Son, and then by sending His Holy Spirit into our hearts to change us inwardly. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit; it is not something we work up by ourselves.
Not all Calvinists believe in the immediate imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, although Romans 5:12 must mean something. But the subject under discussion is man’s total depravity and inability.
OK, sticking quite strictly to the subject under discussion, I still don’t hear any attempt to answer the previous questions about why Jesus would use the faith of children as examples for adults if they are born with no ability to have faith. Why did God have to send a blinding Spirit of stupor to the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day to ensure that He would be crucified? If they were dead in sin by Calvinistic definition, totally abandoned to the flesh, and totally unable to receive the things of Christ then God would not have to send the blindness to assure they would kill His Son. They would not need any help in rejecting their Messiah. In this situation, it took a special work of God to hinder faith in Christ… not believe in Him. There is no indication that these Jews eventually came to Christ.
Further, (if you agree this episode belongs in the Canon) how could the unbelieving Jews, who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery, have their conscience pricked if they had no ability to “hear” the words of Jesus. Jesus referred to the Jews who opposed him as sons of the devil, but it is apparent that their conscience was working. They put down their stones and went home after a few timely and convicting words from Jesus.
Also, how could Cornelius be a devout man who feared God and whose prayers were honored by God, BEFORE Peter even told him about Jesus, if his mind was all natural enmity towards God? How can people who are supposedly not born again fear God like Cornelius and his household? A pagan king rebuked Abraham for lying about his relationship to Sarah and also naturally knew that it would be wrong to take another man’s wife. This is long before Moses brought the 10 commandments down from Sinai.Was Abimelech born again or totally depraved by Reformed definition?
We agree that nothing good dwells in our flesh. I am not here to tout the basic goodness of fallen mankind!The question is: How is it that evil fathers know how to give good things to their kids and how can fallen man “see” the invisible spiritual attributes of God in the things that are made?
Answer: The universal common grace that God gives to everyone when He writes His law on our hearts and convicts the world (not elect only) of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We must be careful not to disparage the common grace of God. It answers a lot of questions.
DP, I’m short on time and about to walk out the door. But you’ve basically hit upon the answer to how a pagan father can give good things to his kids and how fallen man can ““see” the invisible spiritual attributes of God in the things that are made.”
It is common grace as you mentioned. What is known about God to all men is made known to all men by God. Psalm 19 talks about this. Romans 1 talks about this.
But common grace is not enough to save anyone. The common grace whereby God blesses a pagan farmer with a good crop is not enough to save that farmer.
Salvation of anyone involves more than common grace (grace common to all). It involves God the Holy Spirit coming upon a man and saving that man. Now we can argue and discuss HOW that plays out (regeneration, ordo, etc). but we evangelical believers have to acknowledge that when a person stops on the street to explain the gospel to two people, and one of those two people professes faith in Jesus and is saved, and the other rejects it, we have to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit did something in the professor that He didn’t do in the rejecter. Can we agree on that?
Blessings brother. Gotta run for now.
Common grace is a familiar feature in Reformed theology and not at all inconsistent with the doctrine of Total Depravity. By “Total” Depravity we do not mean that each and every human being is totally devoid of good. What we mean is that man’s sinful nature affects every part of his being — his emotions, his will and his intellect. And the Bible emphatically states that because of man’s sinful nature he is “vain” in his imaginations, i.e., useless, ineffective. When fallen man tries to create a worldview devoid of God his whole view of reality becomes warped and distorted, and that is why the Bible, again quite emphatically, states that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.
The Bible makes it clear that every human being knows that there is a God — His attributes are clearly visible in nature. And every human being has a conscience — a basic sense of right and wrong. His sin lies in the fact that he “suppresses” this knowledge and refuses to acknowledge God , worshiping idols instead of the true and living God Who created him (Rom. 1:18-25). As a result “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:12; quoting Pss 14 and 53).
My good Presbyterian friends will dissent when I say that when Jesus pointed to children as an example of faith, he was pointing to their natural teachableness, and not necessarily the presence of saving faith.
As for the spiritual condition of the Jews, Paul gives a detailed explanation in Romans 7. Having been brought up in the Jewish faith, he was taught to have a high regard for the Law, the Torah: “For I delight in the law of God, according to the inward man.” (Rom. 7:22). But he quickly adds, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (vs. 23). Because of his sin nature he was utterly incapable of keeping the Law. He was a slave of sin. As a Jew he was privileged to know the Old Testament Scriptures. That was common grace. But God sent additional blindness that cancelled out that common grace. None of that demonstrates, however, that he had the ability on his own to embrace the gospel, which is “a stumbling block” to the Jews (I Cor. 1:23).
Bob W., thank you for so thoroughly answering DB’s and Bob H’s questions. You have answered them well. Here you said, “My good Presbyterian friends will dissent when I say that when Jesus pointed to children as an example of faith, he was pointing to their natural teachableness, and not necessarily the presence of saving faith.”
I’m an elder for many years in a PCA church and I wouldn’t necessarily answer differently than you. My fuller response on Jesus pointing to children would be that He was rebuking the disciples in Mark 10 for trying to prevent parents from bringing children to Him. Jesus was showing His love for children and their proper place in His covenant promises (PCA covenantal beliefs coming through) but also that children are a perfect example of not trying to earn their way to Jesus. They just receive. Children don’t come at it trying to earn their way in. And I agree with you that it shows teachableness as well. Adults can learn from that.
Could a child be possessive of the Spirit of God early on? I think the answer is yes. Even in infancy a child can already be born again. After all, the new birth is monergistic. And true faith will manifest it self in due time if an infant is regenerated early on.
Thanks again brother for your steadfast defense of the truths of scripture.
Les, you raise a good and fair question that does get us close to the heart of the debate. My answer: (Presuming that the “profession” is proven genuine and thus there would be actual justification and the washing of regeneration) I would say that the one who believed “came to his senses” and turned back, in godly sorrow, to that which he knew to be the truth all along. To put it another way: he would have purified his soul by obeying the truth through the Spirit.(1 Pet 1) He obeyed the law of faith and that is why boasting is excluded. (Rom 3) If we are proud of our faith then we have the wrong kind. Justification by faith is the perfect condition for salvation. It is impossible to be proud of humbling ourselves before the mighty hand of God. (Hab 2:4)
As to the one who rejected, I would say that there is still time for the seed to germinate but he is even more responsible, now, having heard (we hope) a credible presentation of Christ. If he persists in willfull unbelief, denying the witness of his own conscience, then he runs the risk of God withdrawing His common grace and the man would be up the creek with no paddle. We might use the term reprobate in that instance. (or apostate). I would deny that any baby (including Esau) is ever born anywhere in the world that cannot have a bona fide hope in Christ. The Bible won’t let me go there.
The grace of God would have been sufficient for both to repent. An irresistible repentance is no repentance. This is getting ahead of ourselves a little, but as a Calvinist, I was never able to explain how saving faith could be both voluntary and irresistible at the same time. Trying to explain that ain’t no job for boys!
BobW, To this: His sin lies in the fact that he “suppresses” this knowledge and refuses to acknowledge God , worshiping idols instead of the true and living God Who created him (Rom. 1:18-25) – I would add “in spite of the God given ability to receive the truth”. I presume you would disagree and must think that it is indeed just of God to punish someone for suppressing the truth who was utterly incapable of doing anything but suppressing the truth, because of Adam’s sin. I can’t buy that anymore.
I would quibble in that the Jews received more than common grace but unto much is given… much is required. This is the nature of the “law of faith”. Also, as we read the Reformed Creeds we find a substantive contradiction in their descriptions of common grace and the typical hyperbolic Calvinistic descriptions of fallen man. (My favorite being Spurgeon’s ,of course: “What can a dead man do?…Nothing but stink”)
This might help: I am not saying that anyone has the ability to embrace the gospel “on their own”, that is, in the flesh. I am saying that what God demands of us in terms of the gospel…He provides for us. Like Peter on the water. That is why we say, “God be thanked, that you obeyed from the heart….”
Thanks for your reply. Before I reply in more detail, could you clarify for me something I think I see in your responses.
Please tell me if I’m getting this wrong. You seem to be saying that all people have common grace and that common grace is sufficient to enable all people to respond positively to the gospel message. Is that what you are saying?
In other words, in my example of two people hearing the same message, are you saying that there is not a special work of the Spirit in the one who believes? They both received via common grace sufficient enlightenment to respond in faith?
I don’t want to mischaracterize here. Just looking for clarity.
Let me chime in on your scenario of one man repenting and the other rejecting. Your question was, “we have to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit did something in the professor that He didn’t do in the rejecter. Can we agree on that?”
The problem I see with the scenario you present, is you are making the assumption that the presentation of the gospel is an isolated case and the response of each man must have been God’s responsibility. I do not believe that to be a fair evaluation because the Holy Spirit may have been working in the heart of the one who repented for a while where the man who rejected the offer THEN may or may not repent later. So in the situation that you suggested, I would say NO… the Holy Spirit did not do something special in the professor that He did not do in the rejecter. Your assumption is that the only possible explanation is that God effectually called the repenter to new life and through regeneration he THEN repented and believed and was gloriously saved.
God did not effectually call the rejecter and so there was no regeneration; there was no new heart nor any new life bestowed and because of THAT, the rejecter did exactly what his natural sinful nature would allow him to do. This man rejected the offer of forgiveness and through the means of repentance and believing faith he would gain new life.
The key is not so much one repented and the other rejected; the key is that BOTH responded! They responded differently but they BOTH did respond. Response is the result of Divine revelation and reconciliation, both of which are God’s salvific initiative. So I would argue God’s initiative did exactly what it was supposed to do; illicit a response.
If we look at God’s initiative from the perspective of requiring a response as opposed to one producing repentance or rejection THEN it at least gives one a different perspective to stand on?
Also one other thought. If one begins with total depravity and inability THEN I believe yours is the only viable conclusion. That is of course, why I maintain the tenet of TD exists in the first place. However, that is NOT the only explanation for man’s sin nature which has unquestionably affected his ability to come into God’s presence. As long as an individual does not have right standing before God, I believe every decision he makes will fall short of the glory of God and that makes those decisions sinful. God’s initiative through revelation and reconciliation invites this sinful man to come into His presence through repentance and believing faith and THEN God gives him right standing, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which becomes the guarantee of the prized possession of the promised home in heaven.
“The problem I see with the scenario you present, is you are making the assumption that the presentation of the gospel is an isolated case and the response of each man must have been God’s responsibility. I do not believe that to be a fair evaluation because the Holy Spirit may have been working in the heart of the one who repented for a while where the man who rejected the offer THEN may or may not repent later.”
Well I wasn’t making that assumption, but since you brought it up, there are surely people walking around today who have had no prior exposure to the bible or someone explaining the gospel to them. So, let’s suppose these two are in that situation. No prior written or spoken biblical exposure.
So why would one repent and believe and the other not?
Does the Spirit do exactly the same thing in or to each person?
“God did not effectually call the rejecter and so there was no regeneration; there was no new heart nor any new life bestowed and because of THAT, the rejecter did exactly what his natural sinful nature would allow him to do. This man rejected the offer of forgiveness and through the means of repentance and believing faith he would gain new life.”
Is this paragraph what YOU believe? Or what you think Reformed people believe?
When I read Dr. Hadley’s last comment I thought that the angels in heaven must be rejoicing because he finally saw the light and came around to Calvinism! When he said “God did not effectually call the rejecter and so there was no regeneration; there was no new heart nor any new life bestowed and because of THAT, the rejecter did exactly what his natural sinful nature would allow him to do,” that’s irresistible grace. And when he said “As long as an individual does not have right standing before God, I believe every decision he makes will fall short of the glory of God and that makes those decisions sinful,” that’s Limited Atonement. The only reason that the elect can respond properly to the gospel is because Christ has already atoned for their sin.
I realize, of course, that Dr. Hadley didn’t mean to say quite that. He wants to make repentance and faith antecedent to regeneration, which brings us back to the original question, how can an unregenerate sinner repent and believe apart from the saving grace of God in his heart, when the Bible clearly says that he is a slave of sin and his mind is darkened?
Les asks, “You seem to be saying that all people have common grace and that common grace is sufficient to enable all people to respond positively to the gospel message. Is that what you are saying?” My answer: Yes.
There is no explicit text (or group of texts) that teaches we must have a “special” (aka: irresistible) work of grace on the heart in order to trust the Truth. That is a doctrine drawn by inference. (We will see the same thing in the other objectionable “points” of historical Calvinism; they can offer no explicit proof texts to support their assertions…only inferences.)
Here is the better inference in light of the entire biblical revelation: If ,as fallen sinners, we can naturally see the invisible attributes of God in the creation and “do” the things contained in the law, then it stands to reason that we can submit to the universal summons to repent.
A slave can still want to be free. He is just not able to make himself free. (See Paul’s lament in Rom 7) If God has delegated the ability to either savingly believe or reject the Truth to fallen sinners, then who are we to argue with Him? If He is sovereign then He can delegate a limited authority to sinners. His sovereign reign will not be threatened by giving us some liberty of choice. Look at all the authority He was willing to give the Devil.
DP, I’m fairly busy today. I do plan to come back tonight for more good interact. Let me, though, quickly reply to something you said:
“There is no explicit text (or group of texts) that teaches we must have a “special” (aka: irresistible) work of grace on the heart in order to trust the Truth. That is a doctrine drawn by INFERENCE.” (CAPS mine)
Yet, you go on to say, “Here is the BETTER INFERENCE in light of the entire biblical revelation: If ,as fallen sinners, we can naturally see the invisible attributes of God in the creation and “do” the things contained in the law, then it STANDS TO REASON that we can submit to the universal summons to repent.” (CAPS mine)
It seems we are doing a battle of inferences? Battle meant in a friendly way.
What really is the issue here is man’s natural ability. If you do believe, as you affirmed, that “all people have common grace and that common grace is sufficient to enable all people to respond positively to the gospel message,” then I think our gap is never going to be bridged. As Bob W. has demonstrated several times here, the bible teaches that man in his natural condition “is a slave of sin and his mind is darkened.”
Bob W. above reminds us that ““There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:12; quoting Pss 14 and 53).”
“The Bible emphatically states that because of man’s sinful nature he is “vain” in his imaginations, i.e., useless, ineffective. When fallen man tries to create a worldview devoid of God his whole view of reality becomes warped and distorted, and that is why the Bible, again quite emphatically, states that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.”
and Bob well stated,
“Jesus said “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him . . .” (John 6:44; cf. v. 65). And Paul, apparently describing his own condition as a Jew before he came to Christ could say, “I am carnal, sold under sin,” “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find,” and “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7: 14,18,23). And describing the Gentiles he says, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:18,19). It sure doesn’t sound like “free will” to me!”
I’ve yet to see anyone effectively interact with what Bob W. has written on the natural condition of man, the point that I think is THE issue between our positions.
Blessings and later…
Les says, “I’ve yet to see anyone effectively interact with what Bob W. has written on the natural condition of man, the point that I think is THE issue between our positions.”
It is there in the previous blogs, but you are right…you haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been where you are. Once you’ve given your heart to John Calvin it can be hard to get it back! 🙂
Indeed, there is none righteous but who says we need to be righteous to repent? Only the unrighteous can be contrite. That’s the whole point of repenting. If we were righteous we would not need to repent. Repentance is an admission of guilt, fault, need, helplessness, etc No boasting in that! We need the law to lead us to Christ (Gal 3, Rom 7) and the essential moral law is given to everyone.(Rom 1, 2) Everyone experiences guilt. You don’t have to be born again to feel guilty. If we can “by nature” do the things in the law and the conscience excuses us, then it is evident to me that we have been given the ability to repent along with the command to repent. The struggle here, and what Bob W does not seem willing to do, is reconciling biblical texts that appear to contradict one another. We can’t just cherry pick the texts that fit our system; we have to consider all of Scripture , and as Luther said, “evident reason”.
The gospel IS foolishness to those who are perishing but I maintain that it doesn’t have to be. They can [metanoyah], that is repent. They can change their minds…by the grace of God. It is good news. In real Calvinism, real repentance is impossible. The Calvinistic system, which neglects a potent common grace, insists that God would be commanding people to repent, under threat of eternal damnation, who do not have the ability to repent because of Adam’s sin. It is an unjust and fatalistic system.
I don’t want to stand before God someday and have to explain to Him why I told people that He would be just to damn someone to hell even if they never actually sinned once in their entire lifetime. I don’t want to stand before God and explain why I told people that children born with handicaps, diseases, and addictions are to blame for their condition. I don’t think God wants me to tell young parents in church that their babies might be reprobate with no hope of ever being forgiven for a sin they didn’t commit, sins they could not prevent, and sins they could not even confess properly. Are your churches clearly teaching the startling implications of your views regarding total depravity, minus a potent common grace? Or are they dancing around them, hoping nobody asks?
In ALL the texts being used, in this blog, to support the Calvinistic view, where is it explicitly taught that fallen man is left entirely to his flesh? Why wouldn’t the biblical writers simply say that no one can repent until they are irresistibly born again first. Its not a difficult concept to explain clearly.
I expect the debate between grace and irresistible grace may go on for a while. I do appreciate your wanting to keep this “battle of inferences” friendly. I’ll do the same.
“but you are right…you haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been where you are. Once you’ve given your heart to John Calvin it can be hard to get it back!”
That’s funny. I can say the same thing about you brother. I’ve been where you are…believing man ultimately controls his eternal destiny. But I grew past that. 🙂
But I won’t do that. My heart belongs to Jesus, not Jean Calvin.
So let’s get back to friendliness. You’ve said a lot without really saying anything new, save bringing babies and the mentally impaired into the discussion. More on that later.
The bottom line is that we have opposing views of man’s spiritual capabilities in his natural state. You say, “In ALL the texts being used, in this blog, to support the Calvinistic view, where is it explicitly taught that fallen man is left entirely to his flesh?” Where is it explicitly stated that man has a libertarian free will choice to be saved? It doesn’t.
We could each trot out more and more texts. We both are probably familiar with each other’s arguments and texts supports.
For now, until I come back to reply about babies, let e leave Dabney with you:
“The gospel IS foolishness to those who are perishing but I maintain that it doesn’t have to be. They can [metanoyah], that is repent. They can change their minds…by the grace of God.”
That’s the conclusion of the Calvinist. The gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing (the unsaved). How do they change – by the grace of God.
Those who repent do so, and can only do so, by the grace of God. Those who do not repent still consider the gospel to be foolishness.
No person moves from foolishness to repentance except by the grace of God. No person fails to move from foolishness to repentance, except in the absence of grace.
“I don’t want to stand before God and explain why I told people that children born with handicaps, diseases, and addictions are to blame for their condition.”
Tell them that Adam sinned and the world has been groaning even since – and things will get worse until Christ returns to set everything right. Tell parents to pray for their children before they even are conceived and do not stop praying for them until they (the parents) die.
And tell them that if Adam hadn’t done it, someone else would have. Because we have freewill. It was bound to happen eventually. Which is why Adam’s sin doesn’t damn us individually and could not. He merely brought sin into the world. And if he hadn’t, then Cain would have. Adam just started it. But his sin doesn’t damn us, for Ezekiel 18 makes it plain “the son shallt not bear the guilt of the father.” Yes, it is true those babies that died before baptism, those mentally handicapped people, they don’t go to hell. Only those who have sinned personally can go to hell. There is no imputation of Adam’s guilt, for “the son shallt not bear the guilt of the father.” But as for the physical effects of Adam’s sin (pain in childbirth, increased difficulty in agriculture, broken and sinful society) these things have plagued the world every sense. And these are things that will be dealth with in the end, when this world is burned and the sons of God recieve a new heavens and a new earth. But because Calvinists believe in the lie of imputation of guilt, and the lie of total depravity, they raise their children as little demons ensuring they grow up as little demons, ensuring that they will never love God nor obey him even once, ensuring they will be murderer and rapists, ensuring they will contribute to the problem not the solution, and making sure their polluted offspring end up burning in hell where they belong. Even so, Lord, let it be, that no Calvinist will escape the scurge of eternal damnation that thou hast prepared for them that hate thee and that propagate this hate of thee beyond the third and forth generation. Amen.
“Even so, Lord, let it be, that no Calvinist will escape the scurge of eternal damnation that thou hast prepared for them that hate thee and that propagate this hate of thee beyond the third and forth generation. Amen.”
Now there’s your basic demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. Nope. Opposite day friends.
Sorry for the delay. Lot going on yesterday and last night.
I really cannot add much to what rhutchin and Bob W. have said regarding man’s spiritual condition in his natural state. It seems clear enough that we believe natural man needs a supernatural act of God on and in his heart to enable him to truly want to repent and believe and you and Bob H. do not believe that natural man needs a supernatural act of God on and in his heart to be able to truly repent and believe. Interestingly you say above, though, “[those perishing] can change their minds…by the grace of God.” By the grace of God? That’s all we are saying too. Apparently “by the grace of God” means something else to you.
But on to babies. You said, “I don’t want to stand before God someday and have to explain to Him why I told people that He would be just to damn someone to hell even if they never actually sinned once in their entire lifetime.”
Well, you want to withhold the biblical truth from them then? ALL have sinned. Not some. ALL. In Adam our federal head all of mankind is sinful and guilty. Why not tell them that? Everybody pulled over the cliff by Adam and hurling toward sure eternal destruction. That’s the biblical picture. But God!! God steps in and graces some. Not all, unless you subscribe to universalism. Some are redeemed out of all of fallen humanity. That is grace, beautiful grace. Some hell deserving sinners snatched from sure destruction.
Now, so God would be just to send babies (I assume you mean babies and mentally impaired when you say those who have never personally committed an act of sin) to damnation. But I don’t think He does. Most Reformed people over the ages believe that all babies and severely mentally impaired from birth are regenerated and go immediately into the presence of Jesus. That is what I believe, along with such as Spurgeon, John MacArthur, RC Sproul and many more through the years. A great book on it that did a lot to help me think it through is “A Theology of Infant Salvation” by RA Webb.
“I don’t want to stand before God and explain why I told people that children born with handicaps, diseases, and addictions are to blame for their condition. I don’t think God wants me to tell young parents in church that their babies might be reprobate with no hope of ever being forgiven for a sin they didn’t commit, sins they could not prevent, and sins they could not even confess properly.”
See my comments just above. And I don’t tell parents that their children might be reprobate. Why should I? Why tell them that they might never be forgiven? I have ministered in a Presbyterian church for over 20 years and two SB churches prior to that. I’ve dealt with my share of babies and children dying. As a pastor, you bring comfort and grace to grieving parents. And hope grounded in the scriptures and Jesus. And there is absolutely no warrant to doubt that infants dying in infancy are with Jesus. No warrant at all. And parents raising children? Like my 5 grandchildren all under the age of 5? I believe in God’s covenant promise. God is a God to me and my children and their children. (Acts 2:39). I have no warrant to doubt that they belong to God.
“Are your churches clearly teaching the startling implications of your views regarding total depravity, minus a potent common grace? Or are they dancing around them, hoping nobody asks?”
My church teaches the biblical gospel from Genesis to Revelation. We do not shy away from teaching God’s sovereignty in all of life. I don’t know what you mean by “startling implications.” We DO NOT teach that common grace is enough to save anyone. We teach that man requires a supernatural act of God to be saved. And we have some pretty gifted teachers in Sunday school…like Dr. Robert Peterson (http://www.covenantseminary.edu/academics/faculty/robert-peterson/). So we don’t wring our hands “hoping nobody asks” about depravity and common grace, etc. We hope people are asking those and many other questions. We think the bible speaks to all our questions in life and speaks to them convincingly and comprehensively.
Have a blessed day brother.
You’re missing the whole point. Why don’t the unregenerate repent and believe? Because of “the futility of their mind” (Eph. 5:17). They think, but they do not come to the right conclusion. Their intellectual activity doesn’t bring them to the truth. Why? Because they are “darkened in their understanding” (v. 18). Why don’t they understand? Because they are “excluded [marg. “alienated”] from the life of God. They have no spiritual life within them, they cannot appreciate spiritual things. Why? “because of the ignorance that is in them.” Why are they ignorant? “because of the hardness of their heart” (v. 18). It all comes down to the condition of their heart. They are ignorant because they do not want to know the truth. Their hearts are bent on evil, and they are in perpetual rebellion against God. As a result their whole view of reality is warped and distorted. The next verse goes on to describe the tragic results: “and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (v. 19). This is why Paul in another context and say could say they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18) and quoting Ps. 14 (and 53) could say “There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11). How, then, can someone who is rebellious, blind and ignorant, understand the gospel, repent and believe, apart from a work of God’s grace in changing his heart?
Sorry, if I appeared to leave friendliness. I like what Vance Havner said about Christians needing to have the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros. One does have to keep his “big boy” pants on when discussing some issues, and this is certainly one of them.
I think Les is right in his assessment of our debate to this point. We are at something of an impasse. As I see it, both sides agree that we are fallen, radically corrupt, even totally depraved, and utterly unable to repent and embrace the Truth ON THEIR OWN, without God’s enabling grace. The difference, and impasse, lies in our understanding of the nature of that grace. You guys are taking the historical Calvinistic view that this grace is “supernatural”, “irresistible”, and only given to a predetermined elect, who must believe after they are effectually called/regenerated. On the other side, I (and maybe Bob H) have been arguing that this grace is universally given to every fallen sinner. We can repent, in spite of our blindness, alienation, darkness of mind, natural corruption, etc, not because we are good but because God desires everyone’s salvation and, thus, has given everyone the necessary grace to overcome our natural corruption, respond savingly to the law, the preaching of Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment
But as we all know, and have shown in this blog, the main “points” of the debate are very much related to one another. It is hard, if not impossible, to debate one point without naturally bringing in the others.
Here is a question for consideration that may help: If the Calvinistic creeds are correct and the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to each of his posterity, by what law is that sin imputed? We know that where there is no law-sin is not imputed. (Rom 4:15; 5:13) What law did an infant/embryo knowingly, and actually, fail to keep that resulted in the alleged imputation of guilt? What would Esau, himself, actually do wrong to deserve being damned to hell before the foundation of the world? (If your answer to this question is “nothing” then you probably are a real Calvinist. But please don’t tell church visitors that God sends people to hell for nothing.)
Note: I am very glad that, if in your respective churches, you teach that every dying infant/small child is assumed to be elect and will be forgiven for “their guilt in Adam”; but you don’t have a Calvinistic leg to stand on, in teaching it. (Even as Presbyterians… since Esau would have been a reprobate child of a true believer. It wouldn’t matter if he died as a child or as an old man.) I think the scholars would call it a felicitous inconsistency. Your hearts and your creeds are in conflict. How could dying in infancy identify someone, who would be guilty of Adam’s sin, as elect? I’m with you in heart but not on paper!
We probably should clarify the terminology here. The view you are advocating is called “prevenient grace,” and is typical of Wesleyan theology. Wesley was perfectly content to say that men are totally depraved and need grace to come to Christ, but argued that God gives “prevenient grace” to all, at least all who actually come under the sound of the gospel. The problem with this view is that there is practically no mention of it in Scripture at all.
“Common grace” is a term used in Reformed theology to account for the fact that unregenerate men are capable of acting in a civilized manner and are even capable of great accomplishment in government, science, the arts, etc. It has no bearing on salvation, however.
If I understand Dr. Hadley’s answer to a previous question of mine above, he repudiates the Wesleyan view.
No worries brother. I do have a pair of “big boy” pants BTW. Been doing this a long time and have the scars to prove it.
“Here is a question for consideration that may help: If the Calvinistic creeds are correct and the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to each of his posterity, by what law is that sin imputed? We know that where there is no law-sin is not imputed. (Rom 4:15; 5:13) What law did an infant/embryo knowingly, and actually, fail to keep that resulted in the alleged imputation of guilt? What would Esau, himself, actually do wrong to deserve being damned to hell before the foundation of the world? (If your answer to this question is “nothing” then you probably are a real Calvinist. But please don’t tell church visitors that God sends people to hell for nothing.)”
First, I think you misread what Paul is saying. I don’t think he means that until the written code there was no sin and thus no culpability. See Paul in Romans 2:12.
What law did an embryo or an infant violate? Nothing as you suspected is correct. Not personally or actually. They did not need to to be guilty. They’re guilty on account of Adam’s sin. Adam represented us all.
“But please don’t tell church visitors that God sends people to hell for nothing.)”
We don’t. We tell people listening to the sermon and in conversation that God has reserved judgement for them. And as far as infants, they who die in infancy are in no danger of hell as I said in my last comment.
“Note: I am very glad that, if in your respective churches, you teach that every dying infant/small child is assumed to be elect and will be forgiven for “their guilt in Adam”; but you don’t have a Calvinistic leg to stand on, in teaching it.” (Even as Presbyterians… since Esau would have been a reprobate child of a true believer. It wouldn’t matter if he died as a child or as an old man.)”
Maybe I was not clear enough when I stated my view on infants. My belief is that those dying in infancy are elect and go to be with Jesus. One who lives on may or may not be elect. We just don’t know. We have on good advice that Esau was not elect since God hated him so Esau could not have died in infancy, especially since all our days are numbered by God.
“I think the scholars would call it a felicitous inconsistency. Your hearts and your creeds are in conflict. How could dying in infancy identify someone, who would be guilty of Adam’s sin, as elect? I’m with you in heart but not on paper!””
We being inconsistent may be the case. I certainly am not 100% sure I have it all figured out. One dying in infancy is still born guilty of Adam’s sin and is a sinner (all have sinned) but elect and thus regenerated and goes to Jesus.
Thanks brother for the exchange.
I am grateful to you folks for the exchange as well. I like what Augustine said: In essentials…unity. In non-essentials… liberty. And in all things…charity. The Bible does take us to the edge of some deep mysteries and difficult doctrines but I think we can build one another up in discussing them, as long as we don’t come to love the debate more than the Truth. Les, I also am willing to concede less than 100% certainty on these issues but I do think the Protestant, Bible believing churches can come up with a systematic theology that includes a better understanding of how all children should be viewed in light of the fall and the gospel. (The problem is that the people who tend to care deeply about doctrine are mostly Calvinists and they don’t want to change their system!) Many Calvinists just assume that dying children will go to heaven but can’t biblically explain why. I believe the answer lies in how God imputes the guilt of sin and the righteousness of Christ. (See the previously and shamelessly plugged book “Chosen or Not?” available at Lifeway online store.
One reason that I invaded this blog is its name. “SBC Issues” caught my eye. As Bob H has been saying, there has been a marked increase in the debate over Calvinism in the SBC and I have little doubt that the topic of changing the doctrinal statements of the Convention has been, is, and will be debated. One issue they will be discussing would be to include the imputation of Adam’s guilt into the SBC statement(s) of faith. As you know, I have been laboring to show that without that doctrine, the historical Reformed teaching on salvation hits the iceberg… the whole system sinks. They cannot sustain their views of Romans 9 without their views of Romans 5.
I am hoping that if the issue ever comes to a vote, the majority in the SBC will understand the implications and reject the teaching that every baby is born guilty and deserves to perish at conception because of what Adam did. The Federal Headship of Adam should be understood in terms of consequences… not culpability. I am a firm believer in the omniscience and foreknowledge of God but the Bible teaches that the final judgment comes after we die…not before we are born.
Looking for that Blessed Hope…
Thank you for your latest post and the spirit in which you said what you said. These debates/discussions can be had in a gentlemanly and brotherly manner if we all would submit ourselves to engaging in a spirit of love and due deference to one anoher. I somestimes struggle with that, but it is my desire.
As to this, “Many Calvinists just assume that dying children will go to heaven but can’t biblically explain why,” I might say that while I believe I can make a reasonable case for my view biblically (looking at the totality of scripture and by good and necessary inference), I hold my views on infants somewhat loosely and tenuously since there is scant biblical reference in any direct way. It is not as clear biblically as some even in my circles would like to think.
” I am a firm believer in the omniscience and foreknowledge of God but the Bible teaches that the final judgment comes after we die…not before we are born. ”
+1 amen to that!
One of the best statements I believe I have EVER read. Thanks Clay.
“but the Bible teaches that the final judgment comes after we die…not before we are born.”
Amen to that Clay.
thanks guys, but I was responding to DP’s statement above… he said it… but I “amen’ed” it!!!!
I’d like to pose this question one more time because it is crucial to our discussion, and only Les has attempted an answer. The imputation of Adam’s guilt to each of his posterity is the foundation stone of the historic Reformed teaching on salvation. We know that those who lived and died before Moses were not accountable to the laws of Moses but they were accountable to the law written on their hearts. Thus, they would be without excuse for their suppression of that truth. (Rom 1-2)
We also know that there is no sin where there is no law (Rom 4:15), and sin is not imputed where there is no law (Rom 5:13). This a biblical (and common sense) principle of justice. The Bible never actually says that Adam’s guilt is imputed to his posterity; (the word “impute” is not used in Romans 5.)
So by what law would God impute guilt to any newborn baby? How can guilt be imputed to someone who has not been exposed to any law?
As I see it, it is biblically impossible for the sin of Adam to be imputed to his posterity and that is a mortal blow to historic Calvinism. This is why we can teach that every baby is born in sin but also in a state of grace before God, thus assuring that they would go to heaven if they die before God imputes the guilt of their own sin to their own account. Give it some thought my friends; it is surely better than assuming every baby deserves to go to hell as soon as they are conceived.
Note to Les: Ron Steel was a co-pastor, at the (Baptist) church in Orlando where I was a deacon, back about 1980 ish. Can you believe it?!
I’d love to go deeper on imputed guilt tonight, but I’m behind several episodes of Downton Abbey as well as the season premier of The Following.
So how’d you connect me to Ron? I suppose you know he’s an in-law and was our former sr. pastor at the church where I’m a member. What a small world. Are you still in that Florida church?
While I find this concept of imputed guilt to be foreign to the Bible, I would say that the calvinist position is that Adam’s guilt was imputed to all who were born AFTER him. Your issue of “no sin where there is no law” as to do with individuals and their own personal guilt and sin. It would be theoretically possible for man on his own apart from imputed guilt, to NOT sin, at least from a calvinist position apart from the issue of imputed guilt.
To further complicate the matter, total depravity and inability require imputation of Adam’s guilt therefore taking away any possibility of no TD/TI. It is a philosophical necessity to keep the system in place.
Imputation of Adam’s guilt is not necessary if one looks at man losing right standing when he was put out of the garden of Eden for in that scenario, without right standing EVERYTHING one does would be sin and since all men since Adam are born outside the Garden of Eden and therefore do not have right standing, then there is no need for imputation to satisfy the statement All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. To the calvinist, imputed guilt is the best explanation of HOW and WHY all men are sinners in need of a Savior.
That’s idiotic stupidity. No wonder Protestantism is in such a mess. You guys just make one idiotic illogical leap after another. “Not having right standing make everything you do a sin.” Moronic. There is no logic here, but merely the assertion of whatever stupid doctrine you need to make your completely asinine system hold together.
“That’s idiotic stupidity…the assertion of whatever stupid doctrine you need to make your completely asinine system hold together.”
db2 writes like a frustrated atheist.
First of all, the Bible says anything that falls short of the glory of God is sin, so not having right standing before God certainly qualifies as I see it.
Second, you are a guest and I would suggest that you remember that if you want to continue to contribute.
No it doesn’t. It says “All have sinned AND fallen short of the glory of God.” Its not giving a definition of sin. Its listing two things.
Well… ALL have sinned and ALL have fallen short of the the glory of God. To fall short of the glory of God is tantamount to sin.
That is good enough of a definition for me.
So are you challenging man not having right standing or are you saying that this state has nothing to do with his sin nature, as I suggest?
Falling short of God’s glory has nothing to do with any real failure. It is a tack-on to this verse, not a definition of sin. Its an extraneous point Paul throws in, not part of the overall point about sin.
It says “All have sinned AND fallen short of the glory of God,” NOT “All have sinned BY falleING short of the glory of God.”
There’s no way anyone, even the angels, could fail to fall short of the glory of God!!!!! It simply means you aren’t God, you aren’t as glorious. Paul is only pointing out that in addition to sinning, you aren’t God….just in case some mega-pastor forgot that.
Bob H, not sure if I follow you. ? Do you distinguish between consequences and culpability in the fall/curse? I do not think that we each have to made in the same upright condition that Adam was in order for God to judge us fairly. When you conduct the funeral services for infants and small children in your church, on what basis do you teach they will go to heaven? (Assuming you think they will go to heaven.)
I believe the consequence of Adam’s sin was that he was put out of the garden. When God put Adam and Eve out of the garden, I believe they lost their right standing before Him. When we are not rightly related to God, EVERYTHING we do falls short of His glory and that is the Biblical definition of sin. So, what did God do? He sent His Son to be the incarnate Son of God. When we are saved, what happens? The Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and I maintain our right standing is restored and we have the ability to come to God’s presence in prayer. I see what God did to correct man’s problem as the best indication of what actually WAS the problem.
I do not understand your ‘same upright condition” statement.
I do not believe the Bible adequately answers the questions related to the death of infants and so I do not get into that philosophical argument. I leave those details in God’s hands.
“I believe the consequence of Adam’s sin was that he was put out of the garden.”
There are several consequences of Adam’s sin:
1. Physical death and lack of access to the tree of life.
2. Spiritual death and denial of daily face-to-face meetings with God.
3. Changed relationship with God – Adam must now approach God rather than have God come looking for him.
4. Corruption of A/E’s nature – no longer able to choose not to sin.
5. Loss of God’s blessing – A/E now must deal with the weeds/thorns God had been taking care of.
6. Now under the rule of the god of this world and not God.
7. In the garden, A/E were essentially in heaven. Now A/E must petition God to enter heaven.
8. A/E subject to judgment – need a remedy for their sin to enter heaven.
Others can add to the list.
Les, we made the connection via google. I look up to Ron as a man who made a positive impact on me as a young Christian. Although, I have lost my Calvinism, I am very grateful for the emphasis placed on the sovereignty of God, which the Reformed view brings. God is the Potter and we are the clay. He can do what He wants with our lives; (of course, His holiness prohibits him from making us sin). I often have said to myself, “Stop whining, play the hand you’re dealt, and leave the judging to God”. I don’t agree that Romans 9 is about Jacob’s salvation and Esau’s reprobation but it is teaching the sovereignty of God loud and clear. Also, take your time on the question of Adam’s guilt. Your hesitation is the exact same response that I have received from my other Calvinistic friends. It is a bizarre doctrine to be had by inference.
Bob H, I certainly agree that Adam’s fall got him kicked out of the Garden and estranged from God. Would you agree that Adam became “dead in trespasses and sins” the day/moment he ate? God did promise that in the day he ate… he would die. In this we can agree with our Reformed brethren but we don’t have to agree with their assumption that “dead in sin” means we can’t repent and trust Christ. Calvinism ignores, marginalizes, and emasculates the common grace of God and the universal working of the Holy Spirit as He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This explains how someone dead in sin can still repent in godly sorrow. I think 1 Peter 1:22 says it well: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…”. As we have been seeing the real debate here is whether the Spirit’s prevenient work in the “dead” sinner’s heart is resistible or irresistible.
I am saying (that the Bible is teaching) that when God imputed the guilt of Adam’s sin to his account… Adam became dead in sin. He wasn’t a child, he understood the law, and he possessed the power of contrary choice by God’s decree. He was not irresistibly compelled to sin by God, Eve, or Satan. If there was something in Adam’s constituent nature that made him eat the fruit then he was not made very good, and we know that he was made very good. The same thing happens to us (albeit with a sinful nature that Adam did not have): when God deems it just to impute the guilt of our own sin to our own account (at whatever age/circumstances) we then become dead in sin. As infants and small children we are in a state of grace (alive) because the guilt of our early sins is Adam’s fault and the law is not in force…yet (Rom 7:9) By ONE man sin entered the world. Not by all men. (Rom 5.)
db2, I honestly don’t think your posts will deserve a response until you can lose the hateful venom. Your confidence far exceeds your ability to teach the Bible. Remember, 1- We know that we have passed from death to life… if we love the brethren. (1 John 3) 2- But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.(1 Thes 4) 3- The faith that saves is a faith that works by love. (Gal 5)
Ron is a good brother. I’m thankful he had a good impact on you.
“Also, take your time on the question of Adam’s guilt. Your hesitation is the exact same response that I have received from my other Calvinistic friends. It is a bizarre doctrine to be had by inference.”
Not hesitation brother. Just been extremely busy getting ready for my next Haiti trip next week, and of course other things.
I know you know this, but here goes. As a result of Adam’s sin, Adam being at the beginning of mankind, all creation and all creatures were subject to the consequences of his fall. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—”
“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
You mentioned Romans 5:13 the other day,
“We also know that there is no sin where there is no law (Rom 4:15), and sin is not imputed where there is no law (Rom 5:13). This a biblical (and common sense) principle of justice. The Bible never actually says that Adam’s guilt is imputed to his posterity; (the word “impute” is not used in Romans 5.)”
Well surely you are not saying no one was guilty before Moses are you? No. But you are saying that “sin is not imputed where there is no law (Rom 5:13)” What do you mean? To no one? Were babies born innocent? But then the law came and then what? Then all were born with imputed sin since there was now law? I’m confused.
Rather, Paul has already said in Rom. 2, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”
That seems to negate what you are trying to say.
In any case, you and others who reject Adam’s federal position and thus inherited guilt usually say that death (as a result of Adam’s sin) did indeed come to all including babies, but that’s just a general consequence of the fall. Collateral damage to those not guilty of any personal actionable sin. That seems more fair.
But how is that more fair? Say to the baby, “you are not guilty. In fact therefore, you’re innocent of any sin. You are not being punished for someone else’s sin (Adam). But still sorry about that baby. You still are gonna die. But be assured, you don’t deserve it. It’s simply collateral consequences. I (God) am being benevolent to allow you to experience death as collateral consequences and not as a result of anything YOU did. That’s more fair, right?”
Come now please brothers. That seems more fair? That seems more just?
“This is why we can teach that every baby is born in sin but also in a state of grace before God…”
But we need not do this? We need not try to save God from Himself. All humans can be born in sin AND guilty by virtue of being of Adam’s posterity and God can still bring that baby to Jesus by monergistic regeneration.
“it is surely better than assuming every baby deserves to go to hell as soon as they are conceived.”
No not really. Everyone ever born deserves hell. God saves some (thus we avoid universalism) and that my friend is GRACE. Getting what you nor anyone else deserves. Pure, unmerited grace.
I do not believe ANYONE would argue against your statement, “all creation and all creatures were subject to the consequences of his fall.” That is indisputable. What is questionable is the conclusion that calvinism offers in imputed guilt. That my brother is the problem.
My position of Adam losing his right standing when he was put out of the garden fits your statement of being a consequence of the fall. I believe it is much more accurate than imputed guilt. Only those who have right standing go to be with God in heaven. That to me is the purpose of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
So your position of A is True and B is True then C must be true does not work, for me at least.
I agree Adam lost his right standing with God. He was seperated from God in a way he had not been before sin.
But let me ask: We agree that Adam sinned and became into a state of NOT being in right standing with God (trying to stick with your terminology). SO, why is everyone born after Adam also NOT in a right standing relationship with God?
You asked, “SO, why is everyone born after Adam also NOT in a right standing relationship with God?”
That is EXACTLY my point; all born outside the garden are born outside God’s perpetual presence and do not have right stand before God and have no ability within themselves to gain that right standing. We stand in close proximity at this point. The principle difference in our positions is this; I believe all men are still created in the image of God… as Adam was. There is NO reference that God ever changed that. When man was put out of the garden, I maintain he lost his right standing which is the essence of our sin nature.
That is an acquired nature or a secondary nature to our created nature. We are slaves to this acquired nature. Revelation and reconciliation speak to the created nature; we have the ability to respond to God’s initiative. So my position is very different on the total depravity and inability. I believe calvinism’s conclusion here presses the point to justify the limited atonement, unconditional election positions. I understand the system and I understand how and why they are all inter-related but I do not believe the finer aspects of those tenets are Scripturally supported and I most certainly do not believe the text’s will bear those interpretations out; one must bring the interpretation TO THE TEXT because you cannot take the position FROM the text.
db2, here’s a few texts that will help you see the reason that this issue is not as simplistic as you insist. Rom 5 is clear: by the sin of Adam many were made sinners. Proverbs says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Paul stated that the Ephesians were by nature children of wrath. In Ps 51, David said that he was conceived in sin, and he was not talking about being born out of wedlock.
At the same time, Scripture teaches that man, by nature, can do the things in the law, yet no one will be saved/justified by the works of the law. We also know that Jesus taught that we are basically evil but capable of giving good gifts to our children; and He used the faith of children as an example of saving faith for adults. NOTE: Jesus did not use the “obedience” of children as examples… He commended their simple trust. (I’ve had kids and grandkids-that one is a no-brainerd, if you’ll pardon the pun). We are trying to protect the inerrancy of Scripture and reconcile these texts, which on the surface might seem to contradict one another.
I think we are learning that our debate boils down to a dispute over the definition of terms like “original sin”, “dead in sin”, Federal Headship of Adam, common grace, and free will. For a very long time, many Evangelical Protestants have let the Calvinists define these terms and now we are beginning to see why that was not a good idea!
Les, to your point about there being no significant difference between imputing Adam’s guilt to babies and ordaining the consequences of Adam’s sin to babies, I would say that there is a huge difference between the two. One ascribes to God a grievous injustice, as He would be condemning someone to eternal hell before they would see the attributes of God in the creation, commit any sins, and suppress any Truth. Remember, in your system, God did not base the reprobation of the non elect on anything foreseen. He just did it for no reason, except perhaps the foreseen sin of Adam. (One supra…one infra, if you know what I mean). It would not be unjust of God to ordain that we each suffer under His curse on Adam; especially if He planned all along to judge us based on the law faith and not of works. (Rom 3:27) God would be under no moral obligation to create everyone born after Adam in the same way that He made Adam, (that is with no sinful nature/flesh). If a man robbed a bank and the local judge held his kids responsible for the crime (even when unborn) that judge better leave town; or get a gun and a big dog, it might be time for some good ol’ fashioned vigilante justice! Hope you follow…trying to keep it short.
On the point of David, it is not David speaking but the child he sired with Bathsheba, as David says “You have sought wisdom in the secret parts,” i.e. God caused his bastard child to rebuke him saying “In sin my mother conceived me.” But what you guys do is simply force every text to bear your Manichean heresy’s needed end.
“Paul stated that the Ephesians were by nature children of wrath.” By nature children of wrath “as others” — as others — not, as all others, just as others. Clearly this is not about your fictional inheritance of original sin. This is something that only applies to some, not all; it therefore refers to raising. In fact, everybody knows the word translated as “nature” here really refers to nurture. Else he couldn’t use it to describe the cultivated olive tree as being so by nature.
Romans 11:24 “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”
Not only are the wild olive tree wild by nature — the cultivated olive tree is cultivated by nature. Because nature here doesn’t mean abject nature but the state in which the thing was raised. This is why “you were by nature children of wrath as other” but not as all, for all were not raised as you were. But again, you Manicheans do violence to scripture at all times and by any means necessary to make your lies stick.
Perhaps silence would be better for you.
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
“dead in trespasses and sins”
Dead man walking on the green mile. Is he really dead yet?
And also, trespasses and sins — plural — because this is not about babies born with a non-existent imputation of “original sin” but about people who have themselves committed sins in the plural. Again, see how the Manichean liars twist all scripture, making plural sins into a singular “original sin” hoax.
You said, “Les, to your point about there being no significant difference between imputing Adam’s guilt to babies and ordaining the consequences of Adam’s sin to babies, I would say that there is a huge difference between the two. One ascribes to God a grievous injustice, as He would be condemning someone to eternal hell before they would see the attributes of God in the creation, commit any sins, and suppress any Truth.”
As I’m sure you know, my point was/is this: you say that ascribing guilt to babies would be a “grievous injustice.” Ok, for argument sake let’s grant that. After reading your comments, I cannot see how that is any more unjust for the babies than the babies suffering death or any other consequence of Adam’s sin.
We are talking about justice here. How is the baby suffering all the **consequences** of the fall not unjust (since said baby has done nothing deserving any consequences at all) but same baby ascribed guilt in Adam is a grievous injustice?
Sorry bro, I just don’t get it. But I’m kind of slow.
Les, sorry I didn’t see this post until today. Consequences and guilt are not at all the same things. Temporal “judgments” may be corporate in nature but the final eternal judgment will be of individuals. (Ask Achan’s family!) Anyone who expects perfect justice to be found in this earthly life will die disappointed. That is why “if we have hope in Christ, in this life only, we are of all men most miserable.” 1Cor 15:19 God has done no wrong by making us all suffer the consequences for Adam’s sin, in this life, because this life is not the whole story. This cursed life is a blink of the eye compared to eternity.
I think what Jesus said to the disciples about the blind man in John 9 is helpful: ” Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, ” Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
Jesus was clear that the man born blind did not do anything wrong. This would have been a perfect place to give the Reformed explanation that the man was born blind because of his alleged sin in Adam, but Jesus did not say that. God (The Potter) sovereignly decreed that he should be born blind just as he decreed that Jacob ( & the Israelites) should get the gold mine while Esau (& the Edomites) got the shaft… in this life. We are all “made sinners” (Rom 5) so that “the works of God should be revealed in” us. God is under no obligation to create everyone with eyesight. He is under no obligation to create us equal in every way in order to judge us fairly. He will ultimately judge each one of us based on what we did with what we were given. This is how the “law of faith” works. Rom 3:27
In your Reformed system, Esau would be found guilty of Adam’s sin and sentenced to inevitable eternal hell for it. I can’t say that about God any more… it keeps me awake at night! That is not a good or necessary inference. I will need an absolutely explicit text before I believe and teach something so bizarre and contrary to evident reason.
The Bible is pretty clear and plain about original sin. It was because of the sin of the one man Adam that the entire human race was plunged into sin. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned . . .” Rom 5:12 (NASV). “. . . by the transgression of one the many died . . .” (v. 14). “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men. . .” (v. 18). ” . . . for as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners. . .” (v. 19). ” . . . For as in Adam all die. . .” (I Cor. 15:22).
Now there is disagreement among Calvinists as to just exactly how this came about, and it is not clear exactly where Calvin himself stood on the issue. Theodore Beza believed in the immediate imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity. Jonathan Edwards and his followers modified this somewhat and held to the mediate imputation of Adam’s guilt, i.e,. we inherit a sin nature from Adam, and this is imputed to us as guilt.
But any way you look at it, we are all sinner by nature because of Adam’s sin.
But any way you look at it, we are all sinner by nature because of Adam’s sin.
This is a fair statement. Sinners by nature because of Adam’s sin does not justify or demand a total depravity/inability position. That is MY point.
“Sinners by nature because of Adam’s sin does not justify or demand a total depravity/inability position. That is MY point.”
I have just finished reading “Salvation and Sovereignty” by Kenneth Keathley. In it he writes:
“…man, in his natural state, is incapable of responding to God,”(pg 88)
“…the lost do not have the capacity in their natural state to turn to God…on this point there is universal agreement.”(pg 106)
“So before anyone can be converted (i.e., repent and believe), God must graciously invade the darkness of a person’s heart. God takes the initiative. Salvation is entirely a work of God.”(pg 129)
He basically agrees with Total Depravity bu then argues against the TULIP system in the book offering ROSES as a substitute.
The inability of Total Depravity means what Keathley says, “…man, in his natural state, is incapable of responding to God…” Thus, absent grace (overcoming grace to Keathley), no depraved person can be saved.
I kinda thought you agreed with this and believed that the preaching of the gospel was the grace that conveyed to the lost the ability to respond positively to the gospel. But I read a lot of comments and often forget who said what.
So, could you clarify your position again in hopes that I will remember it this time?
I do not care who says what; I disagree with the following statement…The inability of Total Depravity means what Keathley says, “…man, in his natural state, is incapable of responding to God…”
I disagree. I believe man in his “natural state” is one created in the image of God and has not only the ability but responsibility to respond to God’s initiative in both revelation and reconciliation. In fact I will argue that revelation AND reconciliation are not even possible if there is no possibility of a response.
In hope that YOU will remember it? I have been as clear as a person can be. I do not mince words and do not side step my theology as some repeatedly do. If YOU do not remember it, it is certainly not my fault.
db2, I tried. You’re just too smart for us. Maybe you should try another blog where you won’t have to suffer such fools.
He is DONE. Stick a fork in him.
Thanks Bob. It’s too bad…but necessary. db2 was flagrantly guilty of the same thing he accuses Augustine (Luther, Calvin, Puritans, etc) of. I think the scholar types call it “eisegesis vs exegesis”. What he did with David’s words in Ps 51 was a clear instance of “reading into” the text that which you want to be there, in order to fit your pre-supposed system. Its the same mistake that Augustine is accused of. Augustine’s opponents say he was falling back on, and forcing his past Manichean/gnosticism on the Bible. They may be right but that is not the point. The point, as you know, is “What saith the Scripture?”. In “Chosen or Not,” it is put this way:
“If we are Bible believers, then we agree that when it comes down to the nitty gritty we must have biblical support for our doctrinal positions. I don’t care who I might agree with, or disagree with, on any particular doctrine, as long as I believe it to be biblical. It doesn’t matter if we happen to agree with Calvin, Luther, Pelagius, Finney, Carl Sagan, or Oprah Winfrey; truth is truth. We will not be playing the “wrong by association” game of biblical debate. The Bible is our final rule for faith and practice, and it doesn’t matter if we agree on a certain point of doctrine with the Three Stooges or Homer Simpson. If it is true, then it is true.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if db2 comes back under another name!
Unfortunately we ALL have Biblical support for OUR position. That does not mean that we are correct where the application of the Scripture is concerned nor the interpretation of that particular text. Some of his comments exceeded the scope of constructive discussion and was personally demeaning and that is where I decided to draw the line.