The Lamb’s Book of Life:
Who’s In and Who’s Out?
By Ronnie Rogers – Part 1 of 4

July 18, 2012

**The title below dons chapter 16 in Pastor Ronnie Rogers’ book, “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.” Obviously, the subject matter is election. The author has permitted SBCToday to post the entirety of the chapter. At apx. 4,000 words, the chapter will appear in four installments. Here is the first.**

The Lamb’s Book of Life: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

I affirm that the “Lamb’s book of life” contains all the names of those who have or ever will be saved. I also affirm that the names have been written in the book since eternity past (Revelation 13:8). I further affirm those in the book are there because of exercising grace-enabled faith unto salvation and could have done otherwise, and those not in the book could have been there by exercising grace-enabled faith.

The means of this grace enablement include but are not limited to: conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11), working of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:1-6), good soil (Matthew 13:1-23), and the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Further, I affirm that man, because of these gracious provisions and workings of God, can choose to seek God, such as the Bereans, where it says because they studied the Scripture, “therefore many of them believed” (Acts 17:12). Moreover, no one can come to God without God drawing (John 6:44), and that God is drawing all men (John 12:32). The same Greek word for draw, helku?, is used in both verses. “About 115 passages condition salvation on believing alone, and about 35 simply on faith.”[i] Other grace enablements may include providential workings in other people, situations, and timing or circumstances that are a part of grace to provide the most optimal moment for an individual to choose to follow Christ.

I disaffirm that the book contains the names of those whom God elected to save through monergistic regeneration and those who are not in the book are the ones that He elected to voluntarily pass by—damn. I disaffirm that “the book of life is synonymous with the list of those who are elect and predestined for eternal life.”[ii] I also disaffirm that exercising grace-enabled faith is in any sense meritorious. I further disaffirm that faith is works and is not required prior to regeneration and justification (Romans 3:27-28, 4:5). Paul says, “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16. See also Romans 10:3-5). Thus, Paul’s declaration that faith is “in accordance with grace” is in stark contrast to the pronouncements of many Calvinists that faith is works. Therefore, being in accord with grace, it is in no way meritorious or works.

Everyone agrees that the “book of life” contains the names of the redeemed; the disagreement concerns what determines whether one’s name is recorded in the book. The following is to clarify what Calvinists mean when they refer to the book, and what I, along with many other non-Calvinists, mean. I am going to interact with two Calvinists by looking at Revelation 13:8 under the following areas: What does the text say? What do Calvinists say? What does the text not say? Why the double-talk? What about straw men?

What does the text say? Speaking of the tribulation period and those who will worship the beast (antichrist) John says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Revelation 13:8). This book is referred to specifically six times in Revelation. It is called “the book of life” (3:5, 17:8, 20:12 and 15), “the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27) and in this pass passage it is called “the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.”[iii] None of the occurrences explicate what determines whether one is excluded or included in the book.

What do Calvinists say? Calvinists view the book as the record of names of those whom God unconditionally selected to save through monergistic regeneration. John MacArthur says, “The book of life belonging to the Lamb, the Lord Jesus, is the registry in which God inscribed the names of those chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world”[iv] (italics added). Now it is important to notice that the elect are not those who received God’s gift of salvation by faith, but those “chosen for salvation.”

John Piper avers “the ‘book of life’ is a list of all the elect whom God has chosen before the foundation of the world. To be written there is to be secure in God’s sovereign, electing love….I argued from Revelation 17:8 that names are written in the book of life ‘before the foundation of the world’ and that this represents God’s free and unconditional election before we are ever born or have done anything to merit God’s blessing.” [v] In the same article he says, “In the New Testament the book of life is synonymous with the list of those who are elect and predestined for eternal life.”[vi]

Both have concluded that the book contains the names of those whom God “unconditionally” elected to salvation apart from faith. Although Calvinism teaches that faith is required to complete the salvation process, it is emphatically not the condition for receiving salvation or being written in the book of life. Actually, Calvinists believe that God wrote the names of the elect in the book, and then Christ died for their sins. The gospel efficaciously calls them to salvation, a call that they could not answer unless God monergistically regenerates them; only then are they made so they can freely exercise faith in Christ, which they will do because they cannot disbelieve. To wit, the book records God’s elect, although quite apart from believing, choice, etc.


[i] Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. VII, 273-274.

[iii] Something similar is referred to in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32ff; Psalms 69:28) and in the New Testament (Luke 10:20).

[iv]John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22, 50 (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 2000).

[vi] Ibid.

 

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Jeremy Crowder

Great finally I’m starting to understand what Ronnie Rogers was talking about and look forward to reading the rest of it. Thanks Norm and others that have been patient with me on the other blog entries.

Tim Rogers

Wow!! Finally something in writing that references what Calvinists will affirm they believe. Of course we may get those who will stop by and say that Rogers really was never a Calvinist and as such really does not understand Calvinism. They will probably then point to the quotes he us using as taking them out of context from the way Piper, MacArthur intended.

John Wylie

I’m definitely getting this book. Two things that I really loved in this article were the fact that Ronnie affirmed that faith is not a work (to miss that is to miss the message of the book Romans) and I love how he connects John 6:44 and John 12:32.

reformedsteve

I would like to mention briefly that faith is indeed required in the Calvinist view of salvation. Faith however is the gift of grace. This is that mongerism that Pastor Roger is talking about. The Holy Spirit regenerates the soul producing faith. In synergism (the other view), faith is rewarded with grace. So the Holy Spirit regenerates the soul after expressing faith.

The biggest concern in the system known as Calvinism is preserving the glory of God. Monergism is God working alone in the salvation of man, while synergism is God and man working together to complete salvation.

May God richly bless you all,
Reformedsteve

    Brad Reynolds

    reformedsteve
    You may want to research synergism a little more. It is not “faith is rewarded by grace.” The very article you and I just read made that pretty clear. We both might benefit from reading it again so we can better understand what he is saying about synergism.

    Further, the Traditionalists desire to preserve God’s glory as God has revealed it. If He reveals He is good and evil does not glorify Him then we would want to protect that truth. Further, if He reveals He has created man with free will to bring Him glory we would want to protect that truth also. I hope that helps you understand the Trads better.

      reformedsteve

      With all respect, this idea of “Traditional Baptist” is only a few weeks old. I would hardly call one document, written as a response to Calvinism in the SBC as something anyone fully understands.

        Leslie Puryear

        The idea of Traditional Baptists is hundreds of years old. Just because you haven’t been aware of it does not mean it has not existed. I guess you never heard of Adrian Rogers, Herschel Hobbs, or any other baptist prior to Al Mohler.

        The Original Les

          Jeremy Crowder

          Agree Les or The original Les. Many Baptists have long believed with is stated in the Traditonal document it didn’t come from thin air but long held ideas in the SBC.

          reformedsteve

          Sure I have. I’ve heard of a guy named Charles Spurgeon. Also, a guy named Octavius Winslow. Oh, and John Bunyan. All of these men baptists and long dead. Everyone you mentioned is still on this earth.

          FYI, I don’t really read Dr. Mohler and have read even less John Calvin. I owe much to a certain “traditional” Baptist who told me that the Bible was God’s Word. The Holy Spirit gave me faith by regenerating my soul and I believed. It is in the Bible that I see that God has a chosen people, mainly the Church of Jesus Christ. Of which, you are a member if you believe the Gospel in faith.

          “The idea of Traditional Baptists is hundreds of years old.”

          If you have any proof I’m willing to hear you out.

    holdon

    “while synergism is God and man working together to complete salvation.”

    But as pastor Rogers says: faith is not a work. And the apostle Paul said it too.

    So, I don’t think it’s fair to say that God doing the grace giving and us doing the believing is us “working”.

    In this sense “synergism” (because of the “erg” = work root) is misleading, because faith is not “erg”.

      reformedsteve

      Does the Bible teach that you were born with faith or that God by His grace gave you faith?

      “But as pastor Rogers says: faith is not a work. And the apostle Paul said it too. ”

      I know. That is why I hold to monergism.

      “So, I don’t think it’s fair to say that God doing the grace giving and us doing the believing is us “working”.”

      You said that, not me. Although, in fairness the implication of synergism is that faith is a work. You might not see it as fair, but you have to call it that, because that is what it is.

        holdon

        “Although, in fairness the implication of synergism is that faith is a work. You might not see it as fair, but you have to call it that, because that is what it is.”

        Ok. I am a Monergist. Fair enough?

          reformedsteve

          You are well on your way to becoming a Calvinist.

          Doctrine that is up next, Jesus’ death actually purchased your salvation and not merely the possiblity of it. This is also known as “Limited Atonement”.

            holdon

            “Doctrine that is up next, Jesus’ death actually purchased your salvation and not merely the possiblity of it. This is also known as “Limited Atonement”.”

            Well as a new born Monergist (remember to believe is not a work), I have to agree and not agree with you. But I don’t know what you know about Atonement. In short, there are 2 main aspects to it (you can read more about in Lev 16). One is the blood on the mercy seat for the entire people. When God sees the blood He is propitious towards all: propitiation. The other is the sending away of the animal with the sins transferred to it (substitution) and never to be found again.

            We have the first aspect (among many others places in Scripture) in 1 Tim 2:6 where Christ is the ransom FOR all. FOR means here: extending to all.
            And we have the second in Mt 20:28 where Christ is the ransom FOR many. FOR means here INSTEAD of many. (look it up in the original if you can)

            It is all Christ’s work and people can believe it: monergism….

            So, the atonement is unlimited and limited at the same time: one sacrifice.

            reformedsteve

            So, did the Mercy Seat sacrifice cover the sins of the Gentiles or just Israel, God’s chosen people?

            In the Reformed view, Jesus only died for the Church.

            holdon

            Not sure why you’re asking. Are you sincere? You should have those two verses in the bible just as I do.

            Jesus died for all. What is so difficult to understand. Throw away “the Reformed view”; stick with the Scriptures that can make you wise unto salvation.

            And here is another one:
            “whom God has set forth a mercy-seat, through faith in his blood, for the shewing forth of his righteousness, in respect of the passing by the sins that had taken place before, through the forbearance of God; for the shewing forth of his righteousness in the present time, so that he should be just, and justify him that is of the faith of Jesus.”

            T.R.

            Amen Reformed Steve! I rejoice with you in the truth that Christ actually purchased our salvation. He did not just make salvation possible.

    T.R.

    I’ve always thought of monergism is authentic Christianity and Reformation truth and synergism as heresy and Roman Catholic error.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Perhaps an analogy would be useful for the XBox generation that is not mired in theological goobledygook. Since no one is quite sure what Traditional Baptists believe, I stuck with the tried and true word, “Arminian.”

Does life resemble a scripted full length movie in which you are merely an actor reciting your lines and doing precisely those things specified by the film writer/director? Or is life more like an interactive video game in which the game designer allows you, as actor/player, to make free will decisions which change the outcome? Consider that video game designers know the consequences of all possible choices but don’t really care what choices you make; it’s just a game. But what if the creator of the life-game video did care? What if He encouraged you to make the right decisions and grieved when you did not? What if He became so concerned as He watched you on a path to destruction that He inserted Himself into the game, absorbing the consequences of your bad choices, nudging you to a different path and trying to help you avoid ultimate disaster? Which God is more powerful, more praiseworthy, more majestic and more sovereign: (1) the scripted movie writer/director making you say your lines, hit your marks and even die forever, if that is the role of your character, or (2) the “interactive life-game” creator who wants you to win?

The Calvinist believes life is merely a scripted video with you playing the part you were predestined to play. The Arminian believes life is an interactive video in which God allows you, as both character and player, to make free will decisions that change the outcome. The Arminian believes your free will choices impact the fate of your soul. But how can God create something He does not meticulously control? If God chooses to limit Himself by allowing events to occur outside of His exhaustive control, would not all of creation be on the brink of chaos? Surely we could no longer trust any Biblical promise. A poster boy for the “Young, Restless and Reformed,” who are the Storm Troopers of the Calvinist revolution, once said, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled…Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from returning.” Fortunately, the God of Arminianism is infinitely more powerful, praiseworthy, majestic and sovereign than the God of Calvinism. The infinitude of this one true God permits Him to instantly track all possible histories and futures of the universe with no more difficulty than for you to count the wheels on a bicycle. Comprehending the cumulative consequences, of all contingent first-cause, human free will decisions on subsequent events, is trivial for God. As the “interactive life-game” designer, God knows all possible paths your life can take from birth to death. God not only knows all contingencies but he has inserted Himself into the game as your advocate and He wants you to win.

    Donald Holmes

    “Perhaps an analogy would be useful for the XBox generation that is not mired in theological goobledygook. Since no one is quite sure what Traditional Baptists believe, I stuck with the tried and true word, “Arminian.””

    This is when I stopped reading Dr. Bruce’s post…

      Norm Miller

      Shoulda stuck in there, brother. I think Dr. M’s analogy is, for the most part, apt. — Norm

        Donald Holmes

        Norm,
        Thx…going back for a full read.

      Dale Pugh

      The illustration is good, but the first sentence does sound rather condescending to you young whippersnappers.

    Brad Reynolds

    Dr. McLaughlin,
    Interesting and thought-provoking illustration. I feel confident you would not want others to say you believe something you do not.

    “Traditional” or “Baptist” either one would work. That is, unless you don’t desire to abide by “do unto others…”

    Thanks

    selahV

    Dr. McLaughlin, loved the illustration. Ha. as an old lady who’s never played with Xbox, and who detests video games, I really appreciated your thought-filled illustration. As a Traditional Baptist, “Arminian” has been tried and found wanting as a descriptor for me, though. :) selahV

    Norm Miller

    Dr. M: One of the problems in all of this is the ‘either/or’ fallacy. Either you’re an Arminian or you’re a Calvinist. — Norm

      wingedfooted1

      Norm,

      And, according to Sproul, Arminians are saved but “just barely”.

      Since I am not a Calvinist nor Arminian (who is nothing but a 1 or 2 point calvinist), what does that say about my salvation!

      Yikes!!

        Norm Miller

        I would Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith. R.C. had/has nothing to do w/it. — Norm

          T.R.

          But Norm, how can you possible believe that Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith?? Isn’t this again the traditionalist double talk? After all, you also believe that faith is your part in your salvation. How can Jesus be the author of your faith, and yet faith be your cooperation with God? The Calvinist actually believes that Jesus is the author of their faith. The traditionalists says two different things: double speak.

    wingedfooted1

    Bruce,
    I have used that analogy myself.
    “All the world’s a stage….”
    Perhaps Shakespeare was a calvinist.
    According to Edwin H. Palmer…
    “God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen….He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’: the moving of a finger…the mistake of a typist, even sin.” The 5 Points of Calvinism
    So the Bible is not so much a story, but a playwright. Every man, woman, and child has been given his or her script. God has given each actor, or actress, their roles to play and each plays their part perfectly (and here I thought only Jesus lived a perfect life). However, most of the actors and actresses are eternally damned for doing so.
    If sin is rebellion against God, then why are the Lost eternally damned when they played their role perfectly?
    Perhaps this is where the notion of God’s two wills come into play. His “revealed will” we read in scripture and that “secret decreed will” that decides our fate.

    rhutchin

    Dr. McLaughlin says, “The Calvinist believes life is merely a scripted video with you playing the part you were predestined to play.” To be precise, he should have said, “…with you playing the part you were ordained to play.” That which God predestines is a subset of that which He ordains, a distinction made in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Te above is true simply because God is omniscient. Before God created the world, He had selected those whom He would save and every second off each and every person’s life was known to God – thus the analogy to our lives playing out before God as a video.

    Then he says, “The Arminian believes life is an interactive video in which God allows you, as both character and player, to make free will decisions that change the outcome.” This would be true only under the Open Theist scenario which he neglected to tell the reader. On purpose??

    Jeremy Crowder

    I fully agree and wish all Traditionalists would consider OSAS Arminian thought if not Wesleyan or Classical Arminian. I’m not saying to become something your not but to know the advantage of time that Arminians have had to deal with the weaknesses of Calvinism. I think Tradtionalists and Arminians share concerns and some people likely are somewhere in both camps. Lifeway said 30% (something like that) of the SBC polled identified as Arminian which means many Southern Baptists are Once Saved Always Saved Arminian. Some of those people may more accurately be Traditionalist but it would take time to sort out. The important thing is to see the benifits of non-calvinist Baptists working together to share ideas on confronting our shared concerns. You don’t have to be an Arminian to think an idea is good or part of a system has merit the same with Calvinism. Traditionalists if they want to be taken seriously have to deal with the good of each system as much as being critical of the bad. Otherwise Traditonalists look like the New Calvinists which nobody wants.

Darryl W

Rogers states his position well. Norm, the selection certainly piqued my interest. First, he actually admits that the Lambs Book of Life was complete before the world began. Ironically this Sunday I heard for what is a countless number of times from well learned men this pharse , You make a decision for Christ and at that moment God saves you, takes out His pen, and writes your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I’m am certainly interested is seeing how Rogers lays out his argument. His claim that belief is not meritorious is equally intriguing considering how John ends the section on Jesus being lifted up.

[F]or they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43 ESV)

On a side note, John 12:20-23 and John 13:3-4 are two beautiful sections of Scriptures that John gives reasons that are accelerants to Jesus’ actions. I have little doubt that John 12:20 will be in many rebuttals to Rogers’ exegesis of draw.
Good stuff! SBCToday guys.

-The Other Brother Darryl

    Donald Holmes

    Darryl,
    In reference to the Book of Life being completed…just looking at Rev 13:8 it seems that the more natural reading is for the Lamb being slain from the foundation of the world. I don’t have a real problem with either reading, but want to be true to the text. Can you give a grammatical explanation as to why “from the foundation of the world” would not modify Lamb rather than the book?

      Darryl W

      Donald,

      Waiting on me to dissect the Greek is not a recommended activity, or more accurately inactivity. There are more accomplished Greek guys than me here. Perhaps they will come to our aid.

      I look to the parallel passage in Rev 17:8 and then what Paul writes in Ephesians 1. They all seem to make the same claim.

      -Darryl

        Donald Holmes

        Yes, I see those. 1 Peter 1:19-20 speaks of the Lamb beign chosen before the creation of the world. Either reading seems to make theological sense. I have taught this verse in reference to the Lamb being slain from creation. I have done a bit of look around, and while I can find a bunch of people who share the conclusion that this verse speaks of the book being written from eternity, I haven’t found anyone who demonstrates why the more natural reading is not to be preferred.

          Darryl W

          Donald,
          1 Peter 1 passage is a good example of your point. If we are looking for a reason why many in our midst believe that God writes our name at the moment we are saved we might want to question our worship pastors. The idea is mentioned many times in Southern Gospel songs and perhaps in the Baptist Hymnal( not sure ).

          -Darryl

            Norm Miller

            If our infinite God exists at Creation and Consummation at the same time, then aren’t we humans, who mark time linearly, trying to fit an infinite God’s timing onto a human chronology? — Norm

            Darryl W

            Norm,

            I agree that we are bound by time and space. I would also juxtaposition God’s Revelation that transcends our finite nature. One of the most amazing things to me is the punctiliar attribute of the Incarnation. God has always been what He will forever be but the God Man put Himself in our time and space. Wow! If that doesn’t ring your bell then your clacker is broke!

            I believe that the primary meaning of the passages above is the security we have in God. In Ephesians 1 I don’t really think Paul was making an argument for supra/infralapsarianism as much as he was rejoicing in the knowledge that God had an eternal plan that shows He has been in control in the past, is watching over us today, and would always take care of His children tomorrow.

            -Darryl

              Norm Miller

              Thx for your input. I’m sure no human will never know all the answers. Some want to try and determine a chronology to salvation — the process of being saved. I guess I find that odd in that we insist on a linear chronology for something that comes from an infinite and timeless being, to whom one day is as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is as one day. In some measure, from the latter perspective, it makes the human, infinitesimal, chronological divisions of the salvific process seem almost futile. — Norm P.S. Today, I’m touting 3-point Christianity: 1) Act justly, 2) Love mercy, 3) Walk humbly with/God.

            Darryl W

            Norm,

            I see where you are coming from and you are correct that ignorance will be our companion, not only here but in eternity. We’ll know a LOT more but not everything.

            Perhaps it’s like the Hulu-Hoop; futile but enjoyable.

            I agree with your attitude. Colossians 3:12-15.

            -Darryl

              Norm Miller

              Col. 3.12-15, NKJV
              12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

            m. b. woodside

            Daryl W,

            That’s a great point. It was Luther who commented rightly on the importance of music and its ability to communicate theology. Our Baptist hymnal is a good example of the good, the bad, and the ugly of our theological history (insert the noise from the movie here, followed by cracked whip! ). And that’s not a particular critique of either side of the Cal/Arm/Trad argument. I do think an interesting study is to notice when a hymn was written and how telling the theology and influences of a tradition or movement were on the hymn writers. “Wonderful Words of Life,” ed. by Mark Noll is a good study of this dynamic.

            m.b.

          holdon

          The book is written from the foundation of the world. If you compare Rev 13:8 with 17:8 that is clear.
          It is an error to say that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. We know it was “in the fullness of times”.

          We can argue when the names are/were written in the book. Was it “right after Creation” (foundation of the world), or are the names added to the book when the individual believes?
          In any case, the expression “from the foundation of the world” does not jive with the “before the world’s foundation” of Eph 1:4. So, these are different things.
          Another book has the deeds of the unrighteous written: I think they are recorded as the deeds happen. Thus the writing is the effect and not the cause. It is therefore not a stretch at all to think that the names in Lamb’s book are written when they come to faith. I think it more of a stretch to state that it happened somewhere after Gen. 1, but before the first believer.

          As to 1 Pet 1:19,20 the immediate antecedent of the “foreknown before the foundation of the world” is the word “Christ”. He was known before the foundation of the world. We are not to infer from that text that the blood of the lamb was foreknown. We must bear in mind that the KJV translators as well as those of other versions, had a Reformed (or Augustinian) mindset and that they rendered accordingly. So, you have to go back to the original to find the intended sense of such obscure passages.

Donald Holmes

Shane,

I appreciate you posting this. However, I can\’t take an hour out of my work day (bi-vocational Pastor) to listen, and my rural satellite internet really isn\’t up to the task of streaming. Is there any way you could summarize some main points?

What I wonder is if JW tackles the hermeneutical differences between himself and RR. I am convinced that when well-intentioned men disagree on Scripture it is almost always hermeneutical differences. Back in Dr. Akins Hermeneutics class we read Moises Silva and I found his chapter on A\” Defense of a Calvinistic Hermeneutic\” very helpful as it really clarified why I am not, nor could I be a Calvinist. Now, that being said, I do come to some of the same conclusions as many who utilize Reformed thought on a large number of issues, but do so with a different (and I believe better) hermeneutic that was fairly consistently taught at SEBTS just after the turn of the century (more text-based and inductive).

Debbie Kaufman

What I cannot get past, and why I believe as I do and as far as I know will always believe what I do is that God is God is God is God.He’s God and with that is all that God is. He’s not limiting himself to not being God. This to me is not only not understanding what Calvinism teaches but has God limiting himself. Something I do not see in scripture that he does, especially in favor of fallible, sinful human beings running the show. I just don’t see this anywhere in scripture.

In Psalms, Job, Mark, Jeremiah, Daniel, Genesis, 1 Samuel, Judges, he is control of nature and the weather.

In Deuteronomy, James, and 1, 2 Samuel he is control of life and death. Proverbs is full of passages where God is in complete control, even over the roll of the dice. (Proverbs 16:33)

    Robert

    Hello Debbie,

    You wrote:

    “What I cannot get past, and why I believe as I do and as far as I know will always believe what I do is that God is God is God is God.He’s God and with that is all that God is.”

    I doubt anyone here; whether non-Calvinist or calvinist does not believe that GOD IS GOD. That really is not the issue of difference between the non-Calvinist and calvinist. We all affirm God’s attributes such as that He is sovereign (i.e. does as He pleases in any and all situations), all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. etc. Where we primarily differ is in the issue of whether or not God preplans every event (the determinist says that he does, the non-calvinist says that he does not).

    “He’s not limiting himself to not being God. This to me is not only not understanding what Calvinism teaches but has God limiting himself.”

    Define “God limiting himself”.

    If you mean that God’s attributes never change, that is true.

    If you mean that God does not create independent creatures that have and make their own choices at times, that is false.

    What you, and many other theological determinists seem to be incapable of understanding (or else you intentionally exclude as a possibility). Is that the sovereign God of the bible decided to create some creatures (i.e. angels and men) with the capacity to have and make their own choices (i.e. ordinarily termed as free will). If God decided to create creatures with free will, who are capable of both choosing to do good or choosing to do evil, then that is the way it is going to be, no matter what you may want to believe (i.e. that everything is predetermined and free will does not exist). Reality is reality regardless of what you or I may wish it to be.

    “Something I do not see in scripture that he does, especially in favor of fallible, sinful human beings running the show. I just don’t see this anywhere in scripture.”

    Already in Genesis there is clear evidence of God allowing other beings to have and make their own choices. Take two clear examples. God gave Adam the choice of what he would name the animals. This choice was up to Adam, not predetermined (unless you assume that) and the text indicates that whatever Adam decided they would be named is what they would be named. If a human father said to his daughter that her new doll would be named whatever she chose to name it, no one using language in its normal and ordinary sense would claim that the Father had first decided the name and then controlled the daughter to make sure she ended up naming the doll what the Father had first decided to name the doll (and that it was impossible for that child to name the doll anything else than what the Father had already decided the name would be). A second example is when Adam is given dominion over the earth. That is God giving partial control to Adam and again allowing Adam to make the choices himself. But again one can ignore the ordinary sense of language (if one wants to be a determinist) and claim that Adam’s every action in exercising dominion was already predecided by God. If you take the bible in its ordindary sense, you see free will in both of these situations. If you instead choose to be a determinist, you will claim free will was not present and that every action of Adam (whether it was naming the animals or exercising dominion over the earth) was predetermined (i.e. Adam was not choosing freely instead he was simply following a completely predecided script). This is one of the major differences between determinists/calvinists and non-calvinists (i.e. one believes everything is prescripted and already decided by God, the other believes that God allows some decisions and choices to be up to men or angels).

    Robert

      holdon

      Well said!

      Debbie Kaufman

      Robert: Adam was the only human being with choice. Read the passage.

    Dean

    If a Christian takes his or her own life it does not mean that God was not in control. God is God is God and in His sovereignty He allows man to have a part in certain decisions. I certainly wish I could adapt a system of belief that allows me to say hey God is in control I’m going to the golf course let God handle it. However there is an urgency of the Gospel and it mandates we take the good news to the lost world i e redeem the time.
    There was no reply option available for reformedsteve’s comment, “In the Reformed view, Jesus only died for the Church.” In the Biblical view Christ died for the entire world. There is no clearer passage than I John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Debbie Kaufman

I agree with what Charles Spurgeon wrote:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

    Debbie Kaufman

    Sorry about the double negative in the first comment, but hey we all have our peccadilloes. Double negatives is just one of mine. :)

    Robert

    Debbie shared a Spurgeon quote that presumably represents her deterministic theology well:

    “I agree with what Charles Spurgeon wrote:
    I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

    If I understand this quote correctly, Spurgeon is claiming that God determines every detail of what occurs with no exceptions. So EVERYTHING is fixed and already decided beforhand, correct???

    If that is true, then according to that quote God controls everything directly, completely and continuously. Is that correct?

    If so, then when you sin Debbie (assuming you are a believer who still sins at times), do you really believe that God is directly, completely and continously controlling you WHEN YOU SIN using you to bring about sin?

    It appears that according to you and Spurgeon, God first preplanned your every sin. He then controlled you to make sure that you committed them all in exactly the way that he wanted you to do so?

    If you believe that God controls us and causes us to sin, then how does this fit with His explicit claims in scripture that He is holy and hates sin?

    How does your theology not contradict God’s claims in His Word that He is holy and without sin?

    The non-Calvinist sees a clear contradiction here that he/she cannot accept. Despite the efforts of the smartest and most knowledgeable calvinist determinists for centuries they have done nothing to eliminate this contradiction of their deterministic theology.

    The scripture is very clear on this. And yet your determinism results in God controlling us all like puppets and causing our every action (incuding every sin whether in thought or deed, they are all exactly what God wants to happen according to your theology/belief in exhaustive determinism).

    Do you really believe we are all just puppets following a predecided script?

    Do you really believe that we never ever have a choice?

    I work with inmates who have committed and been convicted and sentenced for all sorts of criminal actions. According to your deterministic theology God controlled them directly and caused them to commit their every evil and sinful action. I do not believe that is biblical or true. Instead, I see these actions as freely chosen evil and sinful actions. In most cases they could (and should) have done otherwise. It is cop out to claim they could not have done otherwise that they had to do what they did, that they had no choice. Our legal system does not believe that, nor does the bible teach that. And yet if theological determinism is true, then their every criminal action is prescripted and desired by God. Non-calvinists cannot accept this conclusion no matter what double talk determinists attempt to engage in, in order to avoid the false conclusions of their deterministic thinking.

    Robert

      holdon

      Indeed. Determinism undermines morality.

        Debbie Kaufman

        Robert and holdon: All I have done is read scripture and go from there. The passages I have given have not been dealt with. Your ideas have to go with what scripture puts out. So far I have not been convinced of your argument. I will give further passages of God in action. You label it determinism, I label it God doing what he wants for his glory. I cannot ignore these passages. All of the Bible must flow into one thought. That thought is the whole Bible points to Jesus Christ. The Bible is not about morals, or choice. It’s about Christ from Genesis to Revelation.

          holdon

          “The Bible is not about morals, or choice. It’s about Christ from Genesis to Revelation.”

          Since you mentioned these 2 books:
          “And Jehovah repented that he had made Man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.”
          “And let him that is athirst come; he that will, let him take the water of life freely.”

          We see that God repented. And we see an invitation (=choice) offered to anyone.
          Sorry, but morality doesn’t get much higher than this.

          For determinism there is fundamentally no morality: all is as it is, says the determinist. There is no “should” or “ought”. No standard whatsoever. Even God becomes redundant: why would you still need Him today if the inexorable chain of events has been put into motion: nothing will change its course.

        Debbie Kaufman

        It is not determinism. First determinism is a philosophy. We are talking about God here who is not some philosophy. Second: The Bible is clear who God is and he is not a God who sits back hoping we make the right choice. He will bring about his sovereign will and nothing will thwart it. It is all done for his glory. Check the passages I have given which is just a small piece of what the Bible says.

        What I am saying is this and to label it determinism is simply untrue if going by scripture alone. What I am saying must be labeled Providence not determinism. Providence which I am advocating says whatever God ordained must be, it must come to pass and in God and his wonderful wisdom, all he ordains has a specific purpose. Everything in this world that happens, God is working for one specific purpose and end. Just as he worked Adams choice for the purpose of Christ and the cross, he is working everything for good.(Romans 8:28)

          holdon

          What is the difference between Providence and determinism?

          Darryl Hill

          I think we’ve discussed this 100 times since June 1 on this site Lydia. They will never see it, no matter how much you explain it. That’s why I think I’ve pretty much given up.

      Matt

      Robert,

      You say, “If I understand this quote correctly, Spurgeon is claiming that God determines every detail of what occurs with no exceptions. So EVERYTHING is fixed and already decided beforhand, correct???”

      Yes, this is correct, but you go on to say, “If that is true, then according to that quote God controls everything directly, completely and continuously. Is that correct?”

      Here is a misunderstanding of the reformed position. If by directly you mean that God is actively controlling people and causing them to act one way or another then this is not true. The word continuously is not very accurate either. The reformed position is that God, being omnicient, knew from eternity everything that would ever happen as a result of His act of creation. If He is truely omnicient, this includes everything all the way down to the movement of sub-atomic particles. It is apparent that the known results of any voluntary action are intended by that action, and so the acts of people as well as the orbits of electrons were all intended by God in His act of creation. This does not mean that God is actively working in the hearts of people causing them to sin, but He did intend those sins to happen from eternity.

      There are many times that God intervenes in His creation, but He never actively and directly causes sin. He created people as good, but mutably good. He knew of and intended the fall, but He did not cause Adam to eat the fruit. He knows of all sins and has intended them to further his purposes, but he has never directly caused anyone to sin.

      I will admit that this is a form of determinism, but it is logically necessary if we affirm that God is omnicient and omnipotent. It also doesn’t rule out our self-determination. We make the choises we do because we want to, and our choices are in accordance with our desires. This makes us self-determining. This is why we Calvinists affirm that people have free wills. It does not in anyway negate the fact that everything that may play a determining role in our decisions, either nature or nurture, was determined by God’s intention before creation.

      We believe that God continually sustains all things in the sense that it is only by his will that everything continues to exist, but He is not continuously directing all things in the sense that He is the immediate cause of the motion or actions of all things. All my actions can be traced to immediate causes that precede them, and the working of my mind in response to different things that I perceive, but all things can ultimately be traced to a greater (primary) cause, the actions of God.

      This is a very brief and simplified statement of what Calvinists believe about this, but I hope it explains how we are able to say that God has determined everything and at the same time say that God never causes anyone to sin.

      God bless

      Not The Original Les

      And Robert,

      This idea of God’s decrees is not neo…as some statements on soteriology are:

      Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

      1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
      ( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )

      2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
      ( Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18 )

      3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
      ( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )

      4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
      ( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )

      5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
      ( Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12 )

        Not The Original Les

        Sorry, LBC 1689.

        holdon

        Nice samples of “double speak”.

        “others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation”.
        I think they forgot how Luke 10:31,32 condemns such ungracious behavior and is not Christ like.

          Not The Original Les

          Holdon, holdon,

          I think the doublespeak is at the top of the post.

          “I affirm that the “Lamb’s book of life” contains all the names of those who have or ever will be saved. I also affirm that the names have been written in the book since eternity past (Revelation 13:8)”

          Let’s see. He affirms the book contains all who have or ever will be saved.

          The names have been there from eternity past.

          And then he says,

          “I further affirm those in the book are there because of exercising grace-enabled faith unto salvation and could have done otherwise, and those not in the book could have been there by exercising grace-enabled faith.”

          So those who have or will ever be saved have had their names in the book a long time.

          But wait. There’s more. Their names are there because they exercised faith. Example, modern day any of us. But we could have done otherwise.

          Oops. Bring out the eraser.

          But wait. Still more. Get out the pencil. Those whose names were not written there way back then could have theirs penciled in.

          And we Calvinists are accused of double speak?

          Those quotes in this post are THE DEFINITION of double speak.

          Grace,

          Les

            holdon

            Do you accuse me of double speak? Or what are you trying to accomplish?

            Not The Original Les

            holdon,

            “Do you accuse me of double speak? Or what are you trying to accomplish?”

            You need to re-read what I wrote.

            And then maybe respond substantially?

          Not The Original Les

          Oh, and when those names were written in the book? You guys need to get your story straight.

        holdon

        “angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life”

        What??? I don’t know what was in their pipe when they wrote this.

          Not The Original Les

          Read the scriptures. The LBC is based on them.

          Grace,

          Les

            holdon

            Where do you find in the Scriptures that angels get eternal life?

            If you can’t then we have to say LBC is not based on them…..

            Not The Original Les

            holdon,

            “Where do you find in the Scriptures that angels get eternal life.”

            I’m not going to do your bible study for you.

      Not The Original Les

      More non-neo on God’s decrees (been around awhile):

      Boyce on God’s decrees http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch13.html

      T.R.

      1. God exercises His sovereignty in actively ordaining everything Deu 32:39; 1Sam 2:6-8; Job 9:12; Job 12:6-10; Psa 33:11; Psa 115:3; Psa 135:6; Isa 14:24; Isa 45:7; Act 15:18; Eph 1:11
      o Including matters of “chance” Pro 16:33; 1Ki 22:20, 34, 37
      o The wicked actions of men Gen 45:5; Gen 50:20; Exo 4:21; Jdg 14:1-4; Psa 76:10; Pro 16:4; Isa 44:28; Amos 3:6; Act 2:22-23; Act 4:27-28
      o The actions of evil spirits 1Sam 16:14-16; 1Ki 22:19-23; 1Chr 21:1/2Sam 24:1
      o The good actions of men John 15:16; Eph 2:10; Phi 2:12-13
      o The actions of good angels Psa 103:20; Psa 104:4
      o The actions of animals Num 22:28; 1Ki 17:4; Psa 29:9; Jer 8:7; Eze 32:4; Dan 6:22
      o The operations of all creation Gen 8:22; Psa 104:5-10; Psa 104:13-14; Psa 104:19-20; Mark 4:39
      2. Man is not permitted to question His sovereign acts Job 33:12-13; Isa 29:16; Isa 45:9-10; Mat 20:1-16; Rom 9:19-24

        holdon

        So, according to this hyper-calvinist God is to blame for evil and the sins in this world.

        Anybody studying the given texts should be able to see that God can and does punish evil deeds. But that’s something different than to say “He ordains all things including the sins of all people”.

        Not impressed T.R.. Not impressed at all. It’s pretty sad actually to make a Holy God responsible for evil.

          Not The Original Les

          holdon,

          I’m sure T. R. Is not impressed, as I’m not either, with you being not impressed. God is not responsible for sins in the sense of causation.

          Keep reading my friend. Your disagreement is with Holy God and his word.

          Grace,

          Les

            holdon

            “God is not responsible for sins in the sense of causation.”

            In what sense then is He responsible for sins?

            (I am not sure I should interact with you given the yesterday’s treatment; but hey, it’s a new day)

            Not The Original Les

            holdon,

            “In what sense then is He responsible for sins?”

            See…

            “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein”

            and…

            “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
            (Genesis 45:7-8 ESV)

            But we know that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Was it God or his brothers? Yes. God, but He did not force his brothers to sell Joseph. THEY did that. But Joseph said it was God who sent him there.

            “(I am not sure I should interact with you given the yesterday’s treatment;)”

            I’m not sure what you mean? Did I say something to offend you?

            Grace,

            Les

            holdon

            “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein”

            So, I think this is a good example of double speak.
            First answer this:
            “Whatsoever comes to pass” definitely includes the sins of people, yes or no?

            Then please answer this:
            Could Joseph’s brothers have chosen NOT to sell Joseph?

            As regards yesterday, I had a question where we could find that angels where foreordained to eternal life (as per the LBC) in Scripture and you said you were “not going to my bible study for me.” That was offensive.

            Perhaps you can still give me a passage for that?

            Not The Original Les

            holdon,

            Forgive me for offending you. It was unintentional. But I was sort of following the pattern you set yesterday with reformedsteve,

            “Not sure why you’re asking. Are you sincere? You should have those two verses in the bible just as I do.

            Jesus died for all. What is so difficult to understand. Throw away “the Reformed view”; stick with the Scriptures that can make you wise unto salvation.”

            Now he did not seem to take offense. But again, forgive me for offending you.

            Nevertheless, you are perfectly able to look up the state of angels.

            As to this matter, “Could Joseph’s brothers have chosen NOT to sell Joseph?”

            I think is is a flawed question. The fact is that God decreed it before the world was created (as we know from scripture, he decreed all things) and he marvelously brought to his decrees and purposes the sinful (yes, they owned their decisions) actions of Joseph’s brothers, as he brought Judas’ sinful acts to his purposes to unwittingly carry out God’s decree to have Judas betray Jesus. God did not and does not need to create the sin in men for Him to carry out His purposes.

            Now if you call that double speak or double talk, so be it. These truths are taught in scripture, sort of like Jesus is God AND man. Sort of hard to comprehend logically, but true.

            Now, if you will, please respond above about the double speak I pointed out yesterday in this very post about the Lamb’s book of life.

            Grace,

            Les

            holdon

            “Now if you call that double speak or double talk, so be it. These truths are taught in scripture, sort of like Jesus is God AND man. Sort of hard to comprehend logically, but true.”

            So, yes you agree it’s double speak. I do too. If you read for example Jonathan Edwards he goes on and on for pages and pages in order to try to extract himself from that, but can’t. I think it’s because of the mindset; not because of Scripture. But hey that’s my take.

            I have nothing to say for the quotes from pastor Rogers: they are his. Ask him.
            I have also no desire at all to go into LBC and other creeds, as they are crafts of men and I don’t live by them: there is better food. I was just curious about what they said about angels, of which not trace is found in Scripture. Which is not surprising because they come up with a lot of stuff that’s not in Scripture.

            Not The Original Les

            holdon,

            “So, yes you agree it’s double speak.”

            Try again. That is not what I said.

            “I have nothing to say for the quotes from pastor Rogers:”

            I didn’t really think you would. How could you defend hi double speak anyway?

            Grace,

            Les

          T.R.

          God ordained the most evil sins ever committed by men: The torture and murder of His beloved Son. (Act 2:22-23; 4:27-28)

Scott

Are you guys sure that it’s the “New Calvinists” who are obsessed with Calvinism?

    Norm Miller

    Scott: I’m not sure how your comment applies to Pastor Rogers’ book excerpt. Are you unaware that numerous people have said it is time to talk about these matters, one of whom is Al Mohler? This blog is part of that discussion. If you have something substantive and germane to add, jump on in. You are welcome, here. — Norm

Eric Lockhart

Sorry, but monergism and synergism haven’t lasted as theological definitions all these years despite the fact one of them is essentially “wrong” in what it states.  You may not like the implications of synergism, but you don’t get to change it.  You can change your stance.

    holdon

    So you agree it is “essentially wrong”? Or what are you trying to say?

      Eric Lockhart

      No. I think it is right in it’s definition. I am saying you don’t get to change it because you don’t like that it involves working. That’s all I am saying.

        holdon

        “That’s all I am saying.”

        Then that’s all I am responding.

          Eric Lockhart

          apparently a poor choice of wording on my part. I simply meant that is all I meant by that comment.

Eric Lockhart

Here’s what I don’t understand, why would we affirm the redeemed are known and written down before the foundation of the world – and yet deny the statement on elect and predestined? We do realize those two words are not Calvinistic words but actually used in Scripture; right? And that they speak to the redeemed? I just don’t get it. It seems like we go out of our way to avoid those words.

    volfan007

    Eric,

    Of course, God elected, or chose, to save people before the world began. And, of course, God predestined, or planned out beforehand, how He was going to do it. And, in His foreknowledge, He knows who will be saved, and He knows who will not be saved. I really dont see anyone dodging these words. They are
    Biblical words.

    I believe that I’m saved, because God not only chose to save me, but He alo planned to save me. I believe that the only reason I’m saved is because the Holy Spirit called me…convicted me…wooed me….persuaded me….convinced me….to come to Jesus. I am saved by grace thru faith.

    But, this does not mean that I didnt have to choose…..and, it doesnt mean that I was unable to choose….and, it doesnt mean that I dont have free will…. which makes me responsible for the choices that I make.

    DAvid

Chris Roberts

It seems to me that the most natural way to understand the Bible’s references to God’s actions in ancient times is that the Bible is stressing God’s sovereign, autonomous actions. God does what he does because it is what he has determined to do, not because he knows how future events will unfold, causing him to adjust his plans and ways accordingly.

My favorite way of illustrating this will also apply here. Much has been made of the word “foreknew” in Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2. The non-Calvinist position is that God’s foreknowledge is his advance knowledge of what we will do. We are elect because God foreknew what we would do and elected those foreknown to believe. There are several problems with this. Keeping it brief, I’ll just mention one: the same word (verbal form) is used of Jesus in 1 Peter 1:20. That particular verse is all the more significant for our discussion since it also mentions before the foundation of the world. The Father did not choose the Son on the basis of knowledge of future events; in other words, if foreknowledge means what the non-Calvinist says it means, then the Father chose to use the Son based on the Father’s advanced knowledge that the Son would be obedient to the Father’s will. The Father looked down the corridors of time, saw the Son’s obedience, so chose the Son for the work of redemption. It is a ridiculous notion. The eternal triune God does not have to look down the corridors of time to see what a member of the godhead will do, determining future actions on that basis. No, this foreknowledge is itself what determines the future, God foreknowing what he will do. God determined in advance – foreknew – that the Son would come to redeem his people, though this work was not revealed in fulness until Christ actually came. In a similar way, God determined in advance – foreknew – whom he would save. These were both done before the foundation of the world. Before creation, before anything else existed, God knew whom he would save.

I think the point is driven home emphatically and conclusively by Romans 9:11. Say what you will about what is happening in the broader text, the meaning of this verse is crystal clear, and Paul is being adamant: God’s election of Jacob over Esau had absolutely nothing to do with either of their actions, past, present, or future. Why did God choose Jacob over Esau? Not because God saw that Jacob would be obedient (I’ve heard Ergun Caner make this claim). This directly contradicts the text. Their election had nothing whatsoever to do with their actions. It was because of God’s purposes of election, purposes not clearly revealed to us.

Paul stresses that God’s decision was before their birth, before they had done anything, because Paul wants us to realize that God’s actions were not based on their actions. One could reply “Sure, it was before they did anything, but God still knew what they *would* do” and yes, that is true, but that still betrays the meaning of the text. Paul’s whole point is that God’s sovereign election was not based on what these men would ultimately do.

Just so with the Lamb’s Book of Life. It was written before the foundation of the world, before anyone had yet done anything good or bad. God foreknew those he would elect, foreknown and elected according to his sovereign purposes.

    holdon

    “Paul’s whole point is that God’s sovereign election was not based on what these men would ultimately do.”

    I agree. But it doesn’t say “election to salvation”. And Christ wasn’t elected to salvation either.

    “Just so with the Lamb’s Book of Life. It was written before the foundation of the world”.
    Nope. It was written “FROM” the foundation of the world. Check your sources.

      Chris Roberts

      “But it doesn’t say “election to salvation”. And Christ wasn’t elected to salvation either.”

      That ignores my point. It doesn’t matter what their particular election, choosing, whatever, was about, it matters more why God did it. The same language used of them is used of us, and whether or not he is doing something different with us than he did with them, the election is on the same basis, at least in the case of Jacob and Esau.

      “Nope. It was written “FROM” the foundation of the world. Check your sources.”

      Take it either way, the point is the same: before any of us existed, the book existed.

        holdon

        We don’t know why God chose that Esau would serve Jacob. But the fact is that this has nothing to do with salvation.

        There may have be a book a long time ago. Your nor I do precisely know when our names where added into it. So, we cannot be too dogmatic about it….

          Chris Roberts

          holdon,

          I know a book existed ages ago, from – if not before (I think before is the most accurate translation; see, for instance, the ESV) – the foundation of the world, and that this book contained our names. The names were written before the foundation of the world. This is what the Scripture teaches.

          I realize we disagree on what these passages mean, but don’t allow your passion against Calvinism to lead you to distort the Bible. The text says what it says, and while Calvinists may be wrong about what it means, it clearly states that this book existed a long time before we did, and that our names were already in this book.

            holdon

            Put that ESV away then. (it’s too calvinistic anyway)

            The text is clear: “apo” is from.

            And no it doesn’t state that our names were already in the book a long time ago. Like I said: we can’t determine when the writing of the names occurs. So, you can’t build your theology on that.

            Chris Roberts

            holdon,

            Again, either way you take it, it is still clear that this is a book that existed long before we did.

    holdon

    “No, this foreknowledge is itself what determines the future”

    No the future determines the foreknowledge.

      Chris Roberts

      Can you argue your case from Scripture? I’ve given biblical reasons why foreknowledge determines the future, rather than the other way around.

        holdon

        Well, to be honest I didn’t follow your argument. Or rather I see through the sophistry of it.
        You cannot know anything if it doesn’t exist. Nor can you foreknow anything if it doesn’t exist or happen. In other words the (fore)knowledge of something is dependent on the thing.

          Chris Roberts

          holdon,

          So God is dependent on humanity? And why is it a problem for God to know what he will do before he does it?

            holdon

            “So God is dependent on humanity?”
            No, how does that follow?

            “And why is it a problem for God to know what he will do before he does it?” Not a problem at all. (Even I can.) But then the thing is already there in His mind.

            But you can only know what is knowable. So, if you do something, God knows it.
            Knowledge and the thing are the same. But if there is not a thing, there is no knowledge possible. You seemed to argue that you can have knowledge without a thing.

            Chris Roberts

            holdon,

            Somewhere in this I’ve lost track of what you’re refering to. God’s foreknowledge is his knowledge of his purpose, his designation in advance of what he will do, his determining future events on the basis of his will. Yes, he knows what will actually take place in the future. Yes, he sees all of time. But his foreknowledge is not a matter of him looking ahead and deciding things on the basis of what he sees; rather, what he sees is determined based on his decrees.

            holdon

            “But his foreknowledge is not a matter of him looking ahead and deciding things on the basis of what he sees; rather, what he sees is determined based on his decrees.”

            1. You (nor anybody) knows what all His decrees are. So, that’s just reformed talk that is not helpful at all.
            2. So to say that “what he sees” (things) are determined based on his decrees, is based on pure speculation: you don’t know the decrees, therefore you don’t know what is determined.
            3. I am saying this again: you cannot separate foreknowledge (or knowledge for that matter) from the thing known. If you have 1 you have the other. That’s why it is sophistry to say that “foreknowledge determines”. God knows all things all the time. But that doesn’t mean He determines all things all the time. Somethings may have been determined by you and I (like sugar in my coffee): yet He knows them.

          Debbie Kaufman

          holdon: Of course we don’t know all of God’s decrees, but the decrees we do know which are in scripture, also tell us how God worked to bring those decrees about. He worked through people and circumstances. He changed hearts and minds. He miraculously brought about every decree although men tried to thwart it to no avail. The birth, ministry, and death of Christ is one great example. Herod decreeing the death of all male Jewish babies is one such example, just as Moses story resembles much of Christ’s story in this area. It did not kill Christ as a baby nor Moses. This is how God works.

    Donald Holmes

    Chris Roberts says “Say what you will about what is happening in the broader text… ”

    So, just brush aside context?

    BTW, link me to the Ergun Caner statement about Jacob.

      Chris Roberts

      Donald,

      No, don’t brush context aside, but my point didn’t involve what they were elected for, but why they were elected.

      As for Caner, this is what I had in mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRmSJzEeMb0

        Chris Roberts

        To clarify – my point didn’t involve what God, in election, planned to do with them (whether it was something with a nation, with individual salvation, etc) but rather involved on what basis were they elected. What about them, if anything, caused God to choose them.

        Eddie OBrien

        I am a little lost on how you use Ergun Caner’s comment to support your claim… I listened to it and do not follow how it illustrates your point… He is basically saying that what condemned Esau was not God, but rather his own sin… Perhaps you misheard Ergun’s comment, and certainly might want to find the rest of the sermon for context. That little excerpt is like what MSNBC uses to slander someone with little regard to the context. I think that if we are going to throw names into the pot, we should be very careful…

Dale Pugh

I downloaded this book to my Kindle for a little over $3. Looks like an interesting cheap read!

    Lydia

    It is an amazing deal! Downloaded it to my kindle. Thanks, Pastor Rogers.

Shane Dodson

Interesting.

Where is an Biblical explanation for this “grace-enabling?” Is that the same idea behind the so-called “prevenient grace?”

IF everybody who has ever lived and who will ever live receives this same level of “grace-enabling,” why is it that some are saved and some are damned? It must be something special about the person…since the “grace-enabling” is the same down the board. Or is it?

Re.: The same Greek word for “draw” used in both John 6:44 and John 12:32…the context doesn’t seem to have been carefully considered.

The one who is “drawn” in John 6:44 is the one Jesus WILL raise up on the last day…the same one who is draw to the Father. Rogers is arguing that this is the same word used in John 12:32–and he is correct–but the “drawing” in John 12:32 is “all people to” Himself.

So…if the word “draw” means exactly the same thing–contextually–in John 6:44 and John 12:32, the only conclusion to draw is universalism.

“But we’re NOT universalists!” the Synergists will claim. Yet if the ones who are “drawn” in John 12:32 are the same ones who are “drawn” in John 6:44, they ARE coming to the Father and Jesus WILL raise them up on the Last Day. Does that describe the saved (as John 6 clearly indicates)? If it does, and John 12:32 is referring to the same “drawing” of the same people…then everybody will be saved.

So Rogers is either embracing universalism (which he would deny), or he is not exegeting the text correctly.

    Matt

    Shane,

    I agree with you that that pastor Rogers is not exegeting the text correctly. I would like to add a couple of other observations to what you have already pointed out.

    1. the word men in John 12:32 is translated as peoples in the NKJV. I believe this is an accurate rendering of the intent of this verse. Since universalism is not an acceptable option, the best exegesis of this verse seems to be that Jesus is speaking of drawing all peoples of the world to Himself as opposed to only the Jews. This is a huge New Testament theme; that the Jewish Messiah had come to save people of all nations.

    2. The word that is here translated as “draw” is a very effectual word. It is also used in John 21:6 to speak of pulling in a fishing net, and in Acts 16:19 it is translated as “dragged” when Paul and Silas are bound and “dragged” before the authorities. The drawing that Jesus spoke of in John 6:44 and 12:32 is clearly more than an invitation; it is the effectual bringing of a person to Himself.

    God bless you, and let’s keep contending for the truth brother

Truth Unites... and Divides

Ronnie Rogers: “Actually, Calvinists believe that God wrote the names of the elect in the book, and then Christ died for their sins. The gospel efficaciously calls them to salvation, a call that they could not answer unless God monergistically regenerates them; only then are they made so they can freely exercise faith in Christ, which they will do because they cannot disbelieve. To wit, the book records God’s elect, although quite apart from believing, choice, etc.”

As a soft and gentle Calvinist, I believe that this is an accurate representation. As such, I highly commend Pastor Ronnie Rogers for representing Calvinism accurately, at least in this instance.

    rhutchin

    Actually, Calvinists make a much stronger statement. It should read, “…Calvinists believe that God wrote the names of the elect in the book, and then Christ died for their sins and now intercedes for them before God.”

    The voluntary death of Christ and His subsequent intercession on behalf of the elect before God are actions taken by Christ to save the elect.

      holdon

      “The voluntary death of Christ and His subsequent intercession on behalf of the elect before God are actions taken by Christ to save the elect.”

      Are you sure that “His subsequent intercession on behalf of the elect before God are to save the elect.” is regular calvinistic doctrine??

      We can say all we want, but I don’t think that Calvinism would tolerate such a statement. Nor should any christian.

Tim G

This is a great series of posts and a great discussion. I think we are finally getting to the heart of the disagreements with Traditionalists and Calvinists.

Good stuff!

Alan Davis

Brother Rogers,

I guess this is a two part question. First part: your opening paragraph, “I affirm that the “Lamb’s book of life” contains all the names of those who have or ever will be saved. I also affirm that the names have been written in the book since eternity past (Revelation 13:8). I further affirm those in the book are there because of exercising grace-enabled faith unto salvation and could have done otherwise, and those not in the book could have been there by exercising grace-enabled faith.”

Ok, I agree with your first two sentences. My question lies with the next sentence. If every name of every person is in the Lambs book of Life in eternity past ( I assume a complete list) how could a man’s decision after the fact God placed the name there remove a name? Here is what I am asking; I was saved Oct 16th 1987. If God knew in eternity past that I was going to respond with faith on that day and placed my name in the Lambs book of Life, could I have thwarted the will of God on that day? Since He had already put my name there on that day (and He would know) was it not already fixed in heaven and earth? Or are you saying that God was waiting to see how I would respond or what? This is hypothetical in a sense since I did not say no.

    volfan007

    Alan,

    The fact that God knows all that’s gonna happen, doesnt meant that He causes everything to happen. Now, certainly, in the sovereignty of God, He does either cause something to happen, or He allows something to happen; but He does not cause everything to happen.

    Yep, God knew you would respond the calling of the Spirit on that date that you were saved….He knew…..But, that doesnt mean that He MADE you do it; like some kind of a puppet master working puppets.

    David

      Alan Davis

      David,
      I agree with much you said brother. I really wasn’t saying (or rather asking) that God made anyone do it. I was saying if he knew then could I have changed what He knew already since my name was already in the Lambs Book. If He knew I would repent and believe on Oct 16 1987 (which I believe He did) could I have said no, thus changing what God already foreknew? Was my salvation not already fixed in heaven and earth? Or was it changeable thus changing what God knew (I didn’t say caused)

      David I appreciate your words as always, and I really like the vols! lol

      I also would like to here from Brother Rogers on his take on this.

        volfan007

        Alan,

        I really, really appreciate that you like the Vols! That makes you go waaaay up on the scale of likability… unlike that CB, who pulls for the evil, Red Elephants.

        But, if you would’ve chosen to reject the Lord on that day. God would’ve known that, too. Alan, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything that you dont already know, but God is not bound by time like us. And, He can see everything as if it’s all already finished. He can see us sitting in Heaven, by a clear stream on Rocky Top, with our toes wiggling in the cool water. God can see it as complete…finished….whenever it’s not finished, yet.

        David

          Alan Davis

          I agree David, that God would have known that also… Im only 90 miles from UT, in WNC Waynesville. More UT fans here than NC state! Grew up pulling for the vols.

    T.R.

    This conversation is interesting. I am just wondering how it is you won’t have something of which to boast about over other man. After all, you did something others were unwilling to do, and because of your choice God gave you heaven and because of their choice, God gave them Hell. It sounds like Arminian\Traditionalists will have much for which to boast about over their fellow man.

      volfan007

      TR,

      How can a worm boast of being pulled from the ashes by a human? How can an animal, who’s caught in a trap, boast of being set free by some person?

      I was saved by the grace of God. God did all the saving. Just because I chose to respond to Him, doesnt give me anything to boast of….except Jesus. I brag on Jesus.

      But, the Bible is full of passages dealing with the wicked being judged for thier works….people having to make choices, and either being blessed by making the right choice, or being punished for making the wrong choice. It has nothing to do with one being better than the other, nor does it have anything to do with one being smarter than the other…..it has to do with one choosing wisely, and the other choosing foolishly.

      David

        T.R.

        David: It still sounds like double speak to me.

        You say:
        1. You are saved by the grace of God.
        2. You chose wisely, which is why you are saved. And others in the same situation as you chose foolishly which is why they are lost.
        But:
        3. You have nothing of which to boast.

        This reeks of contradition and double speak to me.

          volfan007

          TR,

          I’m sorry that you are unable to understand it.

          David

Alan Davis

Sorry Brother Rogers here is the second part…

I assume the church you were pastoring while you were a Calvinist had similar views and accepted that system of theological thought. After your ‘conversion” did the church use congregational polity (vote ) to keep you since your views now (assumed ) differed from the church? Did you consider leaving and finding a church that held to your converted view or did you attempt to sway the church to your converted view?

    Bart Barber

    Alan,

    Not every church locks down its confession of faith to exclude differences over these questions. Indeed, I only know of Calvinistic churches doing this. If Bro. Rogers changed his view between two points that were BOTH within the congregation’s statement of faith, then why would the church face a crisis as to whether to retain him?

      Alan Davis

      Bart,

      I would assume, but do not know for sure, that the church Brother Rogers was pastoring had accepted and was comfortable with a more Calvinistic solteroligy. My question was did he feel the need to maybe look for a church that was more compatible with his new view or did he change the view of the church. And second did the church use congregational polity in accepting this new position for the church and/or if they wanted to keep him as pastor since this was such a drastic change. It has been pointed out more than once here that this is too distinctly and drastically different views of solteroligy. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t be talking so much about it.

      There have been several including writers of articles here in the last few weeks that implied or outright said that a more Calvinistic pastor should go to a church which is compatible to his theology and not try to change the view of the church. This was said also of pastors whose view changes in mid-stream, that he should look at going to another pastorate at a church that is more compatible with him and not try to change the theology of the church. It actually was pointed to as an integrity issue so I was wondering how Brother Rogers handled this integrity issue side of the matter and how the church he pastors handled it.

Robert

Holdon wrote:

“3. I am saying this again: you cannot separate foreknowledge (or knowledge for that matter) from the thing known. If you have 1 you have the other. That’s why it is sophistry to say that “foreknowledge determines”. God knows all things all the time. But that doesn’t mean He determines all things all the time. Somethings may have been determined by you and I (like sugar in my coffee): yet He knows them.”

May I interject some ideas to clarify the discussion? We have a determinist arguing that God foreknows the future because the future is what He predetermined. In this way of thinking, God foreknows only what he predetermines. Of course we expect a determinist to think this way as their determinism determines the way they think about everything including foreknowledge. But the non-calvinist, the non-determinist believes as Christians have always believed that God foreknows the future because He knows what will happen whether or not he determines it.

Determinists like to trot out this canard that if God foreknows a future event because it will happen, not because he predetermined it, well then that makes God DEPENDENT upon the creation. At first glance this sounds quite alarming, how could God be dependent upon the creation for his foreknowledge? But this is a rhetorical trick that ignores an important distinction. The distinction is between a logical and a causal relation.

In a causal relation, one thing or person or process causes another event to occur. In a logical relation causality is not involved at all. Here is a simple example. And I must confess straight out that I hold to the correspondence view of truth (i.e. your knowledge is true if it corresponds to what is actually the case). I know that 1 + 1 = 2. If my knowledge is true, then it corresponds to what is actually the case. Well it is actualy the case that 1 + 1 = 2. My knowledge of this fact has a logical relation to the fact but not a causal one. My knowledge does not cause 1 + 1 = 2 to be true. Rather, my knowledge corresponds with the fact that 1 + 1 = 2. And likewise, the fact that 1 + 1 = 2, does not cause my knowledge of the fact that 1 + 1 = 2. The same is true of God’s knowledge of events/facts/future events. These events/facts/future events do not cause God’s knowledge, rather, God’s knowledge corresponds to what is true in a non-causal way.

Here is how this distinction cashes out with the subject of foreknowledge. Say that I had foreknowledge of O. J. Simpson’s infamous drive in the white Bronco down the freeways of Los Angeles before his arrest. So I would know that he was going to go down those freeways and be seen live by millions of people. Does my knowledge cause those events to occur? No, but if my knowledge is true it will correspond with what actually occurred. So what caused that white Bronco to go down those freeways? It was a combination of causes including O.J.’s friend Al Cowlings who was driving the bronco and had his foot on the gas pedal, it included that engine of the Bronco, etc. None of those causal factors caused my foreknowledge of the event (if I had foreknowledge of it). Instead my foreknowledge corresponded with the events that actually occurred.

The same is true of God’s foreknowledge. His foreknowledge does not cause my future sins, I do. He foreknows what sins I will choose to commit before they occur (so his knowledge has a logical relation with those future events but not a causal one). And the fact that God’s knowledge perfectly corresponds to what is true, does not mean that the events he knows about cause his knowledge either. So this deterministic canard that the ordinary understanding of foreknowledge makes God ***dependent*** is a rhetorical ploy on the part of determinists.

Claiming that God foreknows a future event even if he does not predetermine that event, does not make Him ***dependent*** upon the creation. Now if someone wants to play semantic games and claim that a logical relation between foreknowledge and the future event makes God ***dependent***, that is just what it is semantic games. When we speak of God being dependent upon creation, they have in mind the causal relation (as if the foreknown event causes God to know what he knows). But this is a category mistake. Millions of people saw O.J. and the white bronco on live TV heading down Los Angeles freeways, but their true knowledge that it was happening did not cause it to happen. Likewise God knowing all things that have, are, and will happen does not mean his knowledge causes all events to happen.

Robert

    Eric Lockhart

    I will get ready to get ridiculed here, but determinism and Calvinism are not the same thing.

      volfan007

      Eric,

      Why aint they? I’d say that Calvinism is either fatalistic, or deterministic…depending on how Calvinistic you are.

      David

        Eric Lockhart

        I didn’t write that comment, I assume it was someone playing a joke on me because I left this site up on my laptop.

          volfan007

          Eric,

          Who has that kind of access to your computer?

          David

            Eric Lockhart

            Well, anyone around at the time. Again, I left the laptop up and running. Course, I guess the other option is that I am just lying.

            volfan007

            Eric,

            I’m not accusing you of lying. Good grief. Calm down, Dude. But, who would have the kind of access to your computer to write such things as this, in your name???? That is strange. That’s all I’m saying, Man. That is odd.

            David

        T.R.

        David you would say “Calvinism is either fatalistic, or deterministic” and I would say Traditionalism is a repackaged form of glory-stealing Arminianism which dishonors God.

          volfan007

          TR,

          Well, I guess everyone has an opinion…some people’s opinions are better than others.

          David

          Donald Holmes

          This discussion would be helped a lot if people had to register and login with real names. Gotta’ love all the bravado pecked out by those hidden away behind pseudonyms.

      Darryl Hill

      Yes Eric, you are correct. But you’re right- ridicule is coming. Remember, this is part of the double talk we’ve been accused of. if we are to be consistent, we must yield to the accusation of being the equivalent of atheistic hard determinists because it is the “logical conclusion” of the position we’ve taken.

      Yes, let me bang my head on a wall for about an hour. It would be more productive than attempting for the 10th time to explain my position to the same people who are still accusing me of being a determinist.

    Chris Roberts

    Robert,

    But to be fair, in the particular context I was not speaking of all events, only those things described as foreknown. I hope we would all agree that God can and does determine that some things will certainly happen, no matter what. We are all determinists to some degree: there are times when God sets certain events, determines certain activities, etc. That’s what I’m saying about the word foreknowledge: these are things God has determined to do. Whether or not he determines all future events is irrelevant to that particular point.

    selahV

    Robert, love the math lesson on foreknowledge. You’ve explained that so clearly. Thanks. It makes me think of when Jesus told his disciples how to pray; He did not tell them He knew every iota of what they would do in the future (even though He did). However, He knew the prince of this earth would be in their lives to try and destroy what they committed themselves to doing. He knew Satan would sift them as He wanted to do Peter. So Jesus told them to pray:
    “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

    To me, this is part of the problem with all the arguments being offered today regarding how God is or is not in charge of events and whether man plays a role in his ultimate end (be it stealing a candy bar, cheating on his taxes, or accepting Christ as Savior). We seem to forget that we have an intervening God sometimes. We forget that as we pray, for ourselves and for others that He indeed answers prayers and changes His mind about consequences (as when He was going to wipe out the Israelites and Moses prayed and God heard Moses’ prayer). Just like “If My people which are called by My name willhumble themselves”… confess, seek and turn from their wicked ways, God hear, and will bless them and “heal their land”.

    If we had as many folks praying as we do arguing these finer points of theology which seem to create more irritation than solidarity, then I’d venture a prophetic guess that God would move in such a way, it would blow our finite minds to the other side of the moon. In all of these discussions (and I really am enjoying the reading of them, mind you), we see hearts so determined to be correct in their understanding of things. Yet, God told us not to lean unto our “own understanding” but to acknowledge Him in all things, to trust Him in all things, and He would direct (guide us by His indwelling Holy Spirit), in the paths which best fulfill His plans and purposes for HIS glory.

    I wonder how many of us actually consider what God is thinking about us as we discuss these things. Do we really lean NOT unto our own understanding, or must we contend in order to “trust” the Lord and “acknowledge” Him in all our ways? rather than fret, He says consider the lilies; rather than understand, He says to trust; rather than sin, He says to obey; rather than reject, He says to accept; rather than hate, He says to love. It’s so simple sometimes that my mind forgets in the complexity of debates. Am I the only one? or are there others like me? selahV

Eric Lockhart

volfan007,
Sorry was coming out of a meeting that left me pretty irritable, I guess.

Darryl Hill

I’ve been wondering all day if any traditionalist will figure out that Ronnie Rogers doesn’t really agree with this new traditionalism, either. It’s pretty clear to me that Ronnie Rogers is advocating a form of prevenient grace. oops…

    Donald Holmes

    “a form of prevenient grace”

    Is this what you would call any pre-Salvific work of the Holy Spirit?

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