Adrian Rogers on Calvinism—Part Five

August 21, 2014

This excerpt on irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints is from Reformed Theology by Adrian Rogers. (Archived by Louisiana College) Read the full sermon.  Read part one.  Read part two.  Read part three.  Read part four.

Then IRRESISTIBLE GRACE…you’re going to get saved, no matter what…God’s going to catch you…God’s going to zap you, and you’re going to be saved. You cannot resist the Holy Spirit of God. Turn to Acts 7 for a moment. Here’s Stephen who is being stoned to death because of the message he preached and he says to them in verse 51: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears…ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do you.” Now, tell me that the Holy Spirit can’t be resisted. Stephen said He could. “You do always resist the Holy Ghost.” Sure the Holy Spirit can be resisted.

Remember Jesus said in Matthew 23:37… “I would but ye would not…” There’s a classic passage over in Proverbs 1. Turn there with me for just a moment. This makes it about as clear as any passage. Proverbs 1:22, God is speaking: “How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity and the scorners delight in their scorning and the fools hate knowledge. Turn ye at My reproof. Behold I will pour out My Spirit unto you. I will make known My words unto you, because I have called and ye refused. I’ve stretched My hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at naught all My counsel and would none of My reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity and I will mock when your fear cometh.” Isn’t this plain that He can be resisted? Go on down to verse 27: “When your fear cometh as desolation and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you, then shall they call upon Me and I will not answer. They shall seek Me early but they shall not find Me, for that they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord they would none of My counsel. They despised My reproof. Therefore shall they eat
the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices for the turning away of the simple shall slay them and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. For whoso hearkeneth 8 unto Me shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

Now, it’s so clear that God speaks but God gives man the right to say, “NO!” This is not irresistible grace. Suppose one of you girls has a boyfriend and he begins to pour the sugar in your ear and tell you how much he loves you. But you don’t like him. But he says, “I love you.” And then you get a little nervous. You kind of want to get rid of him, but he keeps following you. And he says, “I love you. I love you very much. I really love you.” Well, you say, “So long.” And he says, “Listen, I love you so much I’m not going to let you go. I’m going to make you love me!!” Now friend, coerced love is a contradiction in terms. There’s no such thing as forced love. The idea that God has some irresistible grace…something that when you say, “I don’t want to be saved!” and He says, “Well, you’re going to be saved! I am going to make you love me!” No, that’s ridiculous. That’s not love at all! You become a robot! God gives us the privilege of saying “no” so that we can have the delight of saying “yes.”

They call this irresistible grace. Now, if God’s Holy Spirit is irresistible, would you explain to me what the unpardonable sin is? Explain what it is! Matthew 12:22: Then was brought unto Him one possessed of the devil, blind and dumb, and He healed him insomuch as the blind and dumb both spake and saw and all the people were amazed and said, “Is this not the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it said, “This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” Jesus knew their thoughts and said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and every city and house divided against itself shall not stand and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then shall his kingdom stand?” What Jesus is saying is, I’m not in collusion with the devil…I’m in collision with him. “And if I, by Beelzebub, cast out devils by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges.”

The point is God was speaking. The Lord had done a miracle and the Holy Spirit was working, but then Jesus goes on to say (and I’ll fast-forward)… “Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.”

Now, that’s the most extraneous passage of Scripture I’ve ever seen if people can’t be forgiven anyway. I mean, if they’re not part of the elect…what is the sense of that? What difference would it make if a person blasphemes the Holy Ghost or whether he didn’t if he’s not part of the elect? It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. There’s no rhyme, no reason, no nothing to that. The so-called unpardonable sin doesn’t make any sense at all if that’s what it’s all about.

The last is PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. I believe in the eternal security of the believer…just as I believe in election, foreordination and predestination. But I really don’t believe it’s the perseverance of the saints…I believe it’s the perseverance of the Spirit. Philippians 1:6: “He who hath begun a good work will perform it until the coming of our 9 Lord Jesus Christ.”

The hyper-Calvinist says this. He says, “If you claim to be a saint, and at the end of your life have a ‘spiritual blowout,’ you’re going to hell, because you did not persevere.” They believe only the “elect” persevere, so those who are not “elect” don’t persevere. This sounds so much like Arminianism it’s crazy. But that’s what they believe and they’ll tell you that right at the end, if you have a spiritual failure or you do this or that, then you just weren’t one of the elect. But, oh friend, if it’s the “perseverance of the Spirit” then “He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it.” And so really, I take all five points of TULIP in its extreme form and I just reject that.

(Stay tuned for the conclusion in PART SIX…)

 

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Michael Vaughan

“Forced love is a contraindication in terms.”

The Father loves the Son. It’s in his very nature. He can’t choose to do otherwise. Does that make his love invalid despite the fact that he delights in that love? Is the Son a “zombie” because he has no “choice” in the matter? Likewise, if Gid can’t help but do good, does that negate his choice to do good alwaysm does it make his goodness less because it is “forced?”

Also, Rogers is dead wrong–100% wrong–about what “hyper-Calvinists” believe about perseverence of the saints. He’s so wrong that it calls his whole understanding of Calvinism into question.

    Don Johnson

    Michael,

    The Bible states “We love Him, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. It doesn’t say “we were forced to love Him.”

    God’s love or His doing good are attributes of God. God is not forced to love. However, if irresistible grace was true, God would be forcing people to love Him. Now I know “forced” is not a word Calvinists use, but isn’t that what really happens?

    Robert

    I enjoy stage magicians immensely, the cleverness is very entertaining. They seemingly make impossibilities possible. I don’t however enjoy when someone tries to pull a fast one when it comes to an argument. I feel like I am being tricked because their argument is like a magic trick. Michael has now repeatedly engaged in such a trick. Adrian Rogers said that forced or coerced love is unacceptable and is not real love and ought not to be considered legitimate love. Most of us have no problem agreeing with him on this especially in cases such as rape which is coerced love. Coercion is making someone do something against their will: they are forced to do something against their will. Michael being the calvinist/determinist that he is wants to convince us that forced love is legitimate. So how does he perform this “trick”? He tries to argue that God’s love is forced, and since God’s love is forced and obviously a legitimate love, coerced or forced love can be legitimate. But where does this “trick” breakdown? The unproven premise, the hidden assumption is that God’s “nature” causes God to do what He does. God cannot go against his nature, so since his nature is to love, he has to love, he is forced to love by his nature. The problem is that God’s nature does not force him to do anything! There is not this entity called “God’s nature” that forces him to make a specific choice rather than making another choice. The same is true of human persons. There is no such thing as a “human nature” that forces us to make specific choices rather than other choices. There is no such entity. Speaking of a “nature” is to use a descriptive term for a being or person. We could say that human nature includes having a single brain, two arms, a single heart, two lungs, etc. But our brain does not cause our choices nor does our arms or our heart or any other aspect of human nature. Speaking of our nature is talking about our attributes, but none of these attributes functions as an independent entity that causes us to make the choices that we make. If that were true, then a criminal c ould defend their crime by claiming “my nature made me do it!” Similarly God does not have a nature that forces him to make the choices that makes, including love. The members of the Trinity are not coerced against their wills to love one another (their love is not coerced). The members of the Trinity are not forced to love one another by their *nature*. So Michael’s whole argument/trick falls apart once you see that God’s nature does not and cannot force him to do anything. We also know that God has and makes choices and acts with libertarian free will because we have scriptures that say He chose one and not another. For example he has mercy on whom he has mercy and hardens whom he hardens. God freely chooses whom to have mercy upon and whom to harden. His nature does not force him to have mercy on one and harden another. So Michael’s argument that God’s love within the Trinity is forced, is a sham. The trick/argument completely fails once you consider its initial premise: that God’s nature forces him to love. So Michael’s attempt to show that forced love is legitimate from God’s love within the Trinity fails. I hope we won’t be seeing this failed trick from Michael again.

    Robert

      Michael Vaughan

      Hi Robert,

      I don’t think we’ve interacted before. It’s good to meet you.

      Anywho, you’ll note that I never used the word “forced,” except as a quotation. I said that God cannot but love himself. He cannot choose to sin. No one forces him to do these things, but he cannot choose to do otherwise. And I’m not sure that you’ve really addressed my objection despite all your talk of my magic show.

      I personally would like to avoid using the word, because I think it fails to convey the proper meaning. One “forces” a struggling thief into the back of a patrol car. Imperfect as a metaphor as it is, a father does not “force” his child to love him, but demonstrates his love in a way that brings about a response. In a very different way, God takes out our hesrts of stone and replaces them with hearts of flesh, causing us to desire and love him when before we hated him and had no desire for him, for we love him because he first loved us. As to your characterization of rape as “forced love,” I would disagree strenuously. Nothing in rape changes the will of the victim to make them “love” their assailant. The emotion felt by the victim is about as far removed from “love” ad possible. It is a very poor description of Calvinism, and misses the concept entirely.

      (Tangent: And I agree wholeheartedly. It’s a false dichotomy to say that we are separate from our natures. Jonathan Edwards wrote a fantastic book on the subject called “Freedom of the Will” that I highly recommend. He argued that we never fail to act against our wills. He also demonstrates that the decisions we make are based off prior experiences and decisions all the way back to Adam, but that’s not directly related to our current conversation.)

      In a similar vein, you and I would very likely agree on the perseverance of the saints. Does God “force” you to continue in the faith, against your will, and if so, is that a bad thing? I think this a very strong argument against this idea of “coerced love” as being wrong as it applies to God.

        Robert

        You began by arguing that a forced love is a legitimate love, this attempt has failed. Neither our nor God’s nature causes or forces us to do anything.

        It is interesting that you are backing off of trying to justify a forced love because you say that, “a father does not “force” his child to love him, but demonstrates his love in a way that brings about a response.” That is right our Heavenly Father does not force us to love him. Instead he demonstrates his love in a way that brings about a response. Right, God gave Jesus to die for the sins of the whole world. The Bible says explicity that we see the love of God demonstrated for us in the Father’s giving of the Son on the cross! This is precisely what the Bible teaches and Traditionalists affirm: that God does not force us to love him instead he demonstrates his love for us by what Jesus did on the cross. And Jesus said that it is by this means (his dying on the cross) that the world will be drawn by Him (cf. John 12:32-33). All of this is contrary to and opposite calvinism where we are forced to believe, forced to love by the calvinist magic pixie dust called “irresistable grace.” Those whom he sprinkles this pixey dust on then are forced to love him and believe in him. This is not the demonstration of a Father’s love which God does, this is the forced love that calvinists believe in. So you use the very illustration that a Traditionalist would use and at the same time you argue for this forced love. That is extremely inconsistent.

        You also wrote:

        “It’s a false dichotomy to say that we are separate from our natures. Jonathan Edwards wrote a fantastic book on the subject called “Freedom of the Will” that I highly recommend. He argued that we never fail to act against our wills. He also demonstrates that the decisions we make are based off prior experiences and decisions all the way back to Adam, but that’s not directly related to our current conversation.)””

        I did not say that we are separate from our natures. I said our natures do not cause our choices. There is no such thing as a nature out there that causes us or God to make the choices that we make.

        Edwards book is not fantastic at all. Actually it is full of assuming what you want to prove and then proving your point. He does this over and over and over again. it is full of vacuuos statements and arguments. That is why in modern philosophy classes or in philosophical papers you never hear his book or his arguments mentioned or discussed. You state that he said “we never fail to act against our wills”. That is a really ridiculous and bizarre statement. So we simultaneously will to do something and will not to do something everytime we make a choice? That would be to act schizophrenically. You also claim that in his book he demonstrated the truth of determinism. No, that has never been proved, and Edwards provides no such argument in his book anywhere. In fact a very famous argument of Peter VanINWagen actually proves the opposite. No determinist has successfully refuted VanINWagen’s consequence argument. This again partly explains why Edwards is not discussed much in philosophy classes or articles today, he has nothing to contribute. The only people who cite Edwards today are a few calvinists who are fans of his book and think it is a powerful argument for determinism. But it is not, if it were it would be discussed in classes and articles. Fact is, his book and its arguments are passe.

        Robert

          Michael Vaughan

          Robert,

          I want to take a moment and hit “pause” on our conversation. I continue to be bewildered by the tone that you’re bringing to this discussion. We had never spoken before as far I can remember, and yet from the very beginning you have insisted upon belaboring this “magician” metaphor, often talking about me or talking at me rather than talking to me. When I have addressed people on these comment threads, I have tried to be respectful, using the labels that people self-ascribe, such as “Traditionalist.” I find your rhetoric to be disrespectful and a hindrance to dialogue. Can you not simply address me as a real person instead of a computer screen, or–better yet–as a fellow brother in Christ? I’m not asking you to roll over and give up; I’m asking you to show me the respect due to a fellow guest at the wedding feast.

          With that said, I will attempt to address your concerns. I fear that we continue to not communicate well. I have written all my previous posts using my phone, so I’ve been limited and perhaps didn’t elaborate enough in places. I want to go back and reiterate some points.

          1) I avoid using the terminology of “force” while still believing that God does, by his unconditional election and his unbelievable grace, irresistibly choose and effectually call some for salvation. I’m not backpedaling when I say, “Imperfect as a metaphor as it is, a father does not “force” his child to love him… In a very different way, God takes out our hearts of stone…” You read too much into my statement–I specifically described it as an imperfect metaphor, and I was contrasting it against a police offer’s arresting force.There are different ways to speak of force, and I find the word to be imprecise when it comes to this discussion. A police officer with a baton is quite different than a firm grip pulling a child’s hand away from a hot stove.

          2) To continue along those lines, I say that I was evil and hateful towards God before my conversion. I had a heart of stone. I did not seek him out. He came to me, using the means of the gospel and his word, and transformed my will, giving me the faith to believe and giving me a love for him. If he had not done so, I would have continued to hate him. He changed my will and changed the desires of my heart. He did that forcibly and inexorably, yes, for if he had not “forced” me, I would have continued to rebel against him. However, I maintain that human metaphor does not and cannot apply to any discussion of this “force” because metaphor falls short of the reality. Force cannot change someone’s desires; it merely changes actions. God through regeneration changes our hearts.

          3) I continue to ask why “coerced love” is bad. You assume that it is bad, but you do not prove the point. Adrian Rogers did the same, using words like “zombie” and “robot,” but in the end he assumes a great deal. If you want to argue that “coerced love” is a bad thing, I think the burden of proof rests on you, as it certainly isn’t addressed explicitly in scripture. We know that all that God does is good. If he should coerce us to love him, then it would by definition be a good thing, since it is God doing the coercing. And I’ll remind you that your rape metaphor is inappropriate as it doesn’t convey the idea that God changes our wills and hearts when he saves us. That brings me to my next point…

          4) In a comment I wrote below that you haven’t addressed, I wrote:
          Calvinists do NOT think perseverence is “all about us.” Calvinists rest assured that God is the author and finisher of our faith, and that we persevere because God holds us fast.
          You yourself quoted “those who endure to the end will be saved.” My point is to ask WHY they endure. I argue that we endure because God has elected, saved, and sealed us by his Spirit. He has elected us, and therefore we love him because he has first loved us. It is ALL about God. I glorify him eagerly for that. It is NOT about my ability to stay saved, as you seemed to understand from my previous post.
          Why do I love him and continue to love him? Because he has changed my nature. He “forced” or “coerced” me into loving him, to put it in your words. Were it not for his “coercion,” I could fall away! But I will endure to the end because he won’t let me. Why do you think you have assurance that you will “endure to the end?” I know that, if left to my own “free will,” I would never have chosen him in the first place, and I would have fallen away already. I thank God that he “coerces” me daily into his paths. I’ll say it again: God removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. I love him intensely for this! If I’m a zombie, I’m a pretty darn happy zombie.

          5) You wrote, “There is no such thing as a nature out there that causes us or God to make the choices that we make.” What would you say is our “sin nature,” then? What exactly is it, and how does it influence our actions? In the same way, you did not answer my point that our physical natures DO influence our actions. Like I said above, we cut a man’s leg off last week. He does things differently now. He makes different decisions than he once did. He is now incapable of doing certain things. Baptists say that our sin nature warps our actions, and to varying degrees we say that we are incapable of doing good because of our sin natures.

          6) You wrote, “Speaking of our nature is talking about our attributes, but none of these attributes functions as an independent entity that causes us to make the choices that we make. If that were true, then a criminal c ould defend their crime by claiming “my nature made me do it!”

          Just because it is in the nature of a man to do something does not remove his responsibility. The Baptist Faith and Message says, “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” Would you agree with that statement? Because I do. You say that criminals could use this line of thinking to say that their nature made them do it. They can certainly try, but in human courts of law they are still found guilty and punished. God’s law is just, and he calls men to account. Just because sinful men can misuse an argument doesn’t mean that the argument is invalid.

          7) You also wrote, “We also know that God has and makes choices and acts with libertarian free will because we have scriptures that say He chose one and not another. For example he has mercy on whom he has mercy and hardens whom he hardens. God freely chooses whom to have mercy upon and whom to harden.” I find this a curious statement coming from a traditionalist. How do you interpret these passages as someone that doesn’t believe in predestination?

          8) I must admit that you have the advantage when it comes to this Peter van Inwagen guy. I’ve never even heard of him, much less read him, so I can’t say much concerning his arguments. I’m impressed that you read Edwards’ Freedom of the Will cover to cover, and I can’t make the argument any better than Edwards, so I’ll leave that line of argument to him. A quick internet search reveals that Inwagen is a Catholic/Episcopalian, and while I would make a point of reading his arguments before rushing to judgment, that is a concerning point.

          9) Rogers used a story about a farmer and some boys drowning in a pond to demonstrate his (mis)understanding of Calvinism. I’m going to retell the story from the Calvinist viewpoint, because I think he really fails to understand the heart of the story. I think that if you’ll humor me, you’ll get a sense of our viewpoint and it might help to build some bridges. Take it for what it’s worth; it’s still just metaphor, and ultimately falls short.

          A Farmer cared deeply for his neighbors. Three boys, living alone and in need. He bought a few acres for them, built them a home, and helped them to grow their farm. When the boys were grown, however, they began to demand more autonomy. They felt like the Farmer was interfering with their lives. They wanted more control; they didn’t want to be told what to do. They told the Farmer to butt out. A hard winter came that year, and their crop failed because they had relied on their own understanding and ignored the Farmer’s advice. Throughout that winter, they became bitter over their troubles. Even though the Farmer sent them food out of the kindness of his heart on a regular basis, they resented his care for them; their hearts only grew harder. They grumbled. Their thoughts turned murderous.

          The boys, men now, began to march on the Farmer’s land. They passed sign after sign warning them away. They reached the gated fence, where they were met by a peaceful guard. They murdered him in cold blood. Then, for good measure, they murdered the man’s family and burned his house down. They continued their march, their thoughts turning more and more evil continually with each step.

          They burned the fields along the way. They slaughtered the Farmer’s herds. Finally, they reached the Farmer’s home, surrounded as it was by a pond. The Farmer called to them from his porch to go away, to leave in peace. They men responded with more rage–shouting obscenities and telling the Farmer exactly what they would do to his family after they had killed him. The Farmer warned them that to approach any further would be death, but they marched on, trying to cross the moat.

          Of course they began to drown. Did they call for aid? No. They became even more angry, and shouted far worse things at the Farmer. One man went down to his death, shaking his fist at the Farmer the whole time.

          The Farmer threw a line to one of the men, telling him to reach out and grab it. The man instead gave him a vulgar hand signal, dropping out of sight under the water like the first man.

          Finally, the Farmer leapt into the moat at great cost to himself. He swam to the third man, who began to fight him. The Farmer touched his hip, dislocating it, and the man submitted, seeing the Farmer’s way as best (I’ll say it again, metaphor really fails at this point to convey the reality–the Farmer doesn’t wrestle the man to safety–he changes his heart from the inside so that the man wants to come). In that moment, the Farmer changed the last man’s heart, and the man loved the Farmer. He submitted to the rescue, was carried home and bandaged, and feasted at the Farmer’s table.

          The moral to the story: I was not a simple country boy that chose to swim in a pond, minding my own business, not hurting anyone. I was a murdering liar, breathing out threats against God’s people, when God knocked me to the ground on the road to Damascus and told me that I would serve him. God is holy. I am wicked. His punishment is just and well deserved, and his grace is totally unmerited and unlooked for.

          When we Calvinists talk about this, this is the perspective we’re coming from. Our goal isn’t to minimize what men have done–we maintain that men are guilty of heinous crimes. Our goal isn’t to emphasize our own election or our obedience–it’s to emphasize our own unworthiness and God’s mercy. Our goal isn’t to make God into some kind of moral monster, creating robotic love-servants–he is RICH, so amazingly rich towards us who have spurned him and hated him and cursed him to his face.

          It’s late, and I’m going to bed. I hope that this has clarified some of my points. I don’t expect you to agree; I would be rather surprised to hear that you had suddenly become a Calvinist overnight from reading this short post. What I would hope to accomplish would be to help build an understanding of where we come from and a willingness to acknowledge us as brothers and not enemies.

            Robert

            Since Michael Vaughn took the time to write an extremely long post (I was surprised by the length because I thought we were not allowed to write posts that long!) I will make a few comments in response.

            Michael wrote:

            “1) I avoid using the terminology of “force” while still believing that God does, by his unconditional election and his unbelievable grace, irresistibly choose and effectually call some for salvation.”

            That is affirming a contradiction (he says it is not by force, but if we have to do it against our will/coercion then we **are** being forced to do it), what you describe **is** to be forced to do things. You say as much yourself later in the same post! (cf. “He changed my will and changed the desires of my heart. He did that forcibly and inexorably, yes, for if he had not “forced” me, I would have continued to rebel against him.”) So on the one hand you want to say that God does not force us to do things against our will when being saved but then say the exact opposite when speaking of your own conversion experience.

            “2) To continue along those lines, I say that I was evil and hateful towards God before my conversion. I had a heart of stone. I did not seek him out.’”

            Perhaps Michael was evil and hateful towards God, but most people that I witness to are not at all like this. Most are in rebellion against God, they are not going around murdering everyone they come in contact with, they are often quite religious trusting that their own goodness will save them! What most people need to see is that their own goodness cannot save them because God does not “grade on a curve” but grades by pass or fail (you either trust in Jesus and are saved or you trust in anything or anyone else and are not saved).

            Michael asserted that: “God through regeneration changes our hearts.”

            This is Calvinist lingo meaning that God chose to regenerate me, and when regenerated I was then forced to believe. This is straight determinism and it is completely unbiblical. It is also contradicted by the fact that in scripture faith precedes regeneration.

            “3) I continue to ask why “coerced love” is bad. You assume that it is bad, but you do not prove the point. Adrian Rogers did the same, using words like “zombie” and “robot,” but in the end he assumes a great deal.”

            There is not much hope for Michael if he cannot (or better intentionally chooses not to) understand why coerced love is wrong!

            Rodgers spoke of zombies and robots because he correctly understood that if the exhaustive determinism claimed by calvinism is true, then we are no longer genuine persons with our own wills, instead we are better described as zombies and/or robots.

            “If you want to argue that “coerced love” is a bad thing, I think the burden of proof rests on you, as it certainly isn’t addressed explicitly in scripture.”

            Actually in the scripture the acceptable love is never coerced. Whether it is the love of God for man or the love of man for God or the love of man for other men, it is never a coerced love, it is always a freely chosen love.
            “We know that all that God does is good. If he should coerce us to love him, then it would by definition be a good thing, since it is God doing the coercing.”

            This is just a straight out assertion of voluntarism and has dangerous implications. Whatever God does is automatically good because God does it, so if God does genuine evil, it is no longer evil, it is actually good because God does it.

            “4) In a comment I wrote below that you haven’t addressed, I wrote:
            Calvinists do NOT think perseverence is “all about us.””

            Michael framed it as if perseverance is a problem for Baptists who believe in free will as ordinarily understood (because then perseverance depends upon us keeping ourselves saved). In doing so he made it seem as our perseverance depends on us (when it does not). It depends instead on the promises and power of God.

            Michael wrote:

            “Why do I love him and continue to love him? Because he has changed my nature. He “forced” or “coerced” me into loving him, to put it in your words.”

            So you do not choose to love God?

            God forces you to love him?

            Hmm, that is not the way the Christians I know speak of their love for God. We choose to love God in response to what God has done for us. It is our choice and it is not forced against our will. Christians freely and joyfully choose to love God. To present the contrary that we only love God because God forces us to love God makes God a harsh Father who forces his children who supposedly have new natures to love him.

            “I thank God that he “coerces” me daily into his paths. I’ll say it again: God removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. I love him intensely for this! If I’m a zombie, I’m a pretty darn happy zombie.”

            I don’t believe that God coerces Michael to do what he does daily. If that were true then God also forces Michael to sin when he sins. Instead, the reality is that when Michael does sin he does so because he was chose to do so, not because he was forced to do so. When Michael does the right thing he does so because he freely chooses to follow the leading of the Spirit. Why does the apostle Paul tells us to choose to follow the leading of the Spirit if God(and presumably the Spirit as well) is forcing and coercing us to do His will.

            “5) You wrote, “There is no such thing as a nature out there that causes us or God to make the choices that we make.” What would you say is our “sin nature,” then? What exactly is it, and how does it influence our actions?’’

            I said that our nature does not cause us to make the specific choices that we make. There is no such entity that causes us to make the choices that we make. Our sin nature refers to the fact that apart from God and His Spirit our tendency is to do our own thing, to sin and do things our way not God’s way. But even then this “sin nature”is a description, not an actual entity that causes our choices.

            “In the same way, you did not answer my point that our physical natures DO influence our actions. Like I said above, we cut a man’s leg off last week.”

            Actually I did deal with this point in another post, so I will not add anything here.

            “‘6) You wrote, “Speaking of our nature is talking about our attributes, but none of these attributes functions as an independent entity that causes us to make the choices that we make. If that were true, then a criminal could defend their crime by claiming “my nature made me do it!”
            Just because it is in the nature of a man to do something does not remove his responsibility.”

            My point (which you apparently cannot understand), is that there is no “human nature” or “sinful nature”, that is an entity that causes us to do what we do. We cannot blame our nature for our sinful choices. They are our own choices that we make.

            “The Baptist Faith and Message says, “Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” Would you agree with that statement?”

            I agree with the statement, because it is true that the sin nature inclines us to sin.

            “7) You also wrote, “We also know that God has and makes choices and acts with libertarian free will because we have scriptures that say He chose one and not another. For example he has mercy on whom he has mercy and hardens whom he hardens. God freely chooses whom to have mercy upon and whom to harden.” I find this a curious statement coming from a traditionalist. How do you interpret these passages as someone that doesn’t believe in predestination?”

            I do not have the interest or the time to do an exegesis of the verses in Romans 9 to which I referred. You completely ignore the point, for that statement to be true (i.e. that God chooses whom he has mercy upon and whom he hardens) God has to have libertarian free will. He is not necessitated or forced against his will to have mercy on whom he has mercy or harden whom he hardens, those are freely made choices by him.

            “‘8) I must admit that you have the advantage when it comes to this Peter van Inwagen guy. I’ve never even heard of him, much less read him, so I can’t say much concerning his arguments. I’m impressed that you read Edwards’ Freedom of the Will cover to cover, and I can’t make the argument any better than Edwards, so I’ll leave that line of argument to him. A quick internet search reveals that Inwagen is a Catholic/Episcopalian, and while I would make a point of reading his arguments before rushing to judgment, that is a concerning point.”

            It is OK not to know about something (in this case you don’t know VanInWagen or the consequence argument): it is not OK to engage in the genetic fallacy as you do here.

            If a “Catholic/Episcopalian” says that 2 + 2 = 4, is that automatically false since the source of the claim is a “Catholic/Episcopalian”? No. Why not? Because if the claim is true it does not matter what the source is. You seem to rule his argument out simply because he is “Catholic/Episcopalian”. It would be just as wrong to say of every claim made by a calvinist like yourself, that “A quick internet search reveals that X is a Calvinist, and while I would make a point of reading his arguments before rushing to judgment, that is a concerning point.” It is not the source of the claim that is most important it is whether or not the claim is true.

            “9) Rogers used a story about a farmer and some boys drowning in a pond to demonstrate his (mis)understanding of Calvinism. I’m going to retell the story from the Calvinist viewpoint . . . .. “

            I am not going to take the time to challenge your story, I just think it has all sorts of problems and you miss the point that an analogy is just to make a point it does not deal with everything.

            “The moral to the story: I was not a simple country boy that chose to swim in a pond, minding my own business, not hurting anyone. I was a murdering liar, breathing out threats against God’s people, when God knocked me to the ground on the road to Damascus and told me that I would serve him.”

            Are you really a murderer?
            Have you actually murdered people?
            Were you really on a road to Damascus when you were knocked down by God?

            First of all, you are not the apostle Paul, so your conversion story is not like his.

            Second, I doubt you have murdered people. My guess is that prior to your conversion you were rebellious but were probably considered a nice guy. I also doubt that you breathed threats against God’s people prior to your conversion. Again, you are not Paul!

            “Our goal isn’t to make God into some kind of moral monster, creating robotic love-servants”

            That may not be the intended goal of Calvinist determinists like yourself, but if all is predestined, if all is ordained, then God did create robots not genuine human persons with their own wills. You folks repeatedly present a deterministic theology and then when non-Calvinists point out that if what you are saying is true, that makes us robots or puppets: then you get emotional and claim “No it doesn’t!”

            Robert

              Michael Vaughan

              Robert, I think we’re just going to continue circling around one another at this point, and further argument isn’t going to be beneficial to either of us. I appreciate your engagement, and wish you well.

      Michael Vaughan

      One final thought: I would challenge your assumption about our choices being unrelated to our physical bodies. One of my patients got his leg removed last week. He now makes very different choices then he did when he had two legs. Our bodies and our choices are highly interrelated; we just take it for granted.

        Robert

        “One final thought: I would challenge your assumption about our choices being unrelated to our physical bodies’

        I never said that our choices are unrelated to our physical bodies. I said that our human nature does not cause us to make the choice that we make. I used certain body parts as examples, the brain, our heart, legs, lungs, etc. are all part of “human nature” and yet these parts do not cause our choices.

        You speak of a person whose choices changed upon losing their leg. Inadvertently you have brought up the distinction between our having free will and our range of choices. Part of human nature is to have free will, that sometimes we have and make our own choices. We all have this ability to have and make our own choices and we experience this daily. This does not change regardless of our circumstances we always have and make choices. Our range of choices on the other hand may change or vary depending upon our circumstances. As an illustration Donald Trump and I both have free will, we both have and make our own choices. Our range of choices is different however when it comes to buying things. He has a lot more money than I do so he has a wider range of choices available to him than I do. I cannot buy million dollar properties like he can. Does that mean that I no longer have free will? No. Donald Trump has it within his range of choices the choice of buying million dollar properties, I do not have that choice within my range of choices. Similarly your acquinance that lost his leg did not lose free will: his range of choices changed in that some choices available to him before when he had both legs are not available to him now when he has one leg. Yes our body definitely affects our range or choices. If we are 7 ft tall it is unlikely that we will choose gymnastics as our favorite sport! Just because some choices are not available to us does not mean that we do not have free will, it only means that certain choices are not part of our range of choices. God has free will and yet he cannot sin and cannot lie. That does not mean that since he does not do those things he does not have free will, it means those particular choices are not part of his range of choices. Likewise, when we are in the eternal state, we will no longer sin, that does not mean we no longer have free will it does mean that sin will not be within our range of choices. If I go to a restaurant and some things are not part of the menu that does not mean I no longer have free will it means certain choices are not within my range of choices at that restaurant. And we all understand this, if you cannot choose to do certain things, that does not mean that you cannot choose to do anything! We all know this distinction between having free will and our range our choices. Many believe that greater education or more monely increases their range of choices which is why they value money and education so highly.

        Robert

Sean

Let me jump in here. I really appreciate Dr. Rogers and am truly indebted to him for his courage in leading us through the CR. He is a hero of mine and I would never say anything negative about the man. But I will say that this particular sermon fairly misrepresents Calvinism and puts up straw man after straw man only to knock them down. He did not accurately represent the Calvinist position on many of these issues.

The fundamental difference between Calvinists and Trad’s is 1) we have two totally different views of anthropology 2) we have two totally different views on God’s nature.

God does not “force” anyone to love Him. The Bible teaches that we are dead in sin and under His wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3) and that in our unregenerate state we neither WANT to come to Christ nor do we have the ABILITY To come to Christ (Romans 8:6-7). Jesus said that lost people lack the ability to come to Him unless He draws them. So irresistible grace is an unfortunate term. People resist the Holy Spirit every day. That’s not what the doctrine means. It means that for those whom God has chosen before the foundation of the world, and for whom Christ specifically died, the Holy Spirit will at a point in time apply those benefits to the person. He does this by causing them to be born again and renewing their will to make them willing to come to Christ. He grants them the gifts of repentance and faith so that they will come. No one would ever come to Jesus if left by himself because he neither wants to nor has the ability to.

We as Calvinists see humans as spiritually dead and under God’s wrath as hostile enemies to His holiness and we also see that God in his power is not obligated to save anyone. He chooses to save many out of the sheer pleasure of his will. He lovingly rescues those who in no way can ever rescue themselves and who would otherwise spend eternity in hell. This is not “forced” love, but an act of sheer grace.

Also, I am not sure why you Trad’s keep using the term “offers”. God “offers” salvation. I don’t think the Bible views salvation as an offer. The Bible shows God actually saving sinners by His grace. Not offering it. Grace cannot be offered. Grace is something God in His sovereignty chooses to bestow, not offer.

I welcome interaction. The main difference is Trad’s have a somewhat higher view of the nature of sinful man, and also have a philosophical construct of God’s love to mean that we must have libertarian free will and that God’s love is His highest attribute as opposed to His glory and holiness.

    Don Johnson

    Sean,

    “He does this by causing them to be born again and renewing their will to make them willing to come to Christ.” Are you really saying “to make them willing” is not the same as forced? Also, Rom. 8:6-7 has nothing to do with an inability to come to Christ. It’s about an inability to keep the law. Which all Trads affirm.

      Michael Vaughan

      Hey Don,
      I think Sean did a fantastic job, so I had planned to leave this dialogue to him. Since he seems to have been delayed in his response, I’ll ask a counter-question: As a Baptist, I imagine you believe in the perseverance of the saints. Would you say that God “forces” you to maintain your Christianity now that you have been saved? Do you think it makes you a robot or a zombie that you cannot walk away from Christ now that you are a Christian and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit? Does it make yiu angry to have lost the ability to abandon your faith? If you have a problem with the one, it would seem to follow that you would object to the other. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

        Robert

        So the calvinist magician Michael is at it again: trying vainly to legitimize his determinism. In this case he is trying to do so via the doctrine of perseverance. His argument now is that since you cannot lose your salvation: you must be being forced not to lose your salvaition by the doctrine of perseverance. Sorry this one fails as well. Jesus said that those who persevere to the end will be saved. Jesus said that no one can take us out of the Father’s hand. Paul said nothing can separate us from the love of God. Perseverance means that God will never give up on us, that he that begins a work with us will perfect it. Perseverance is really not about us, it is about God’s willingness and ability to keep his people secure in their salvation. If it were solely up to us, then we would have reason to be concerned, reason to wonder whether or not we could lose our salvation. If you look at Michael’s comments here it is all about our choices all about us. But perseverance is not about our ability but about God’s ability and willingness to keep us as His own. I find it interesting that Michael who is supposedly a calvinist is forgetting what calvinists themselves say about perseverance (they also argue that it does not depend upon our choices to “stay saved” but upon God’s ability and willingness to save His own people). Note also that Michael’s words here assume that a person could simply choose not to be saved and so would lose their salvation. But our salvaton is based upon some realities that none of our choices could ever eliminate or take away. These include: that when we are saved all of our sins are forgiven (including those we commit when saved), so say we made some sinful choices, would those choices unforgive us? Would God say, well that is it, you made those sinful choices so now you are unssaved? Or take the fact God gives us the Holy Spirit. Do we commit certain sins and so God then takes away the Spirit? God promises that those who believe will enter God’s kingdom at the end. Do we commit certain sins and then God says, no wait a minute, now you can no longer enter the kingdom? God promises that those who are his own he will never leave nor forsake. Do we commit certain sins and then God says no wait a minute I didn’t really mean that. I mean that I will never leave nor forsake you unless you commit those sins! Does God justify a person by faith and then when they commit certain sins unjustify them? Note the pattern here: we commit some specific sin and then God takes away salvation, takes back his promises. Is that how flimsy our salvaton really is? Is that really how weak our perserverance is, everything is OK until we commit such and such sins and then it all goes down the drain? I find Michael’s latest trick to be an attempt to play on our sinful choices as a basis for us to lose our salvation. But the Bible does not teach this at all. Again, the basis of our security of salvation is not us and our choices but is the power, willingness and promises of God.

        Robert

Michael Vaughan

Robert, I’m sorry, but I must be failing to communicate well. I’m arguing AGAINST the very things you’re accusing me of believing.

Calvinists do NOT think perseverence is “all about us.” Calvinists rest assured that God is the author and finisher of our faith, and that we persevere because God holds us fast.

You yourself quoted that “those who endure to the end will be saved.” My point is to ask WHY they endure. I argue that we endure because God has elected, saved, and sealed us by his Spirit. He has elected us, and therefore we love him because he has first loved us. It is ALL about God. I glorify him eagerly for that. It is NOT about my ability to stay saved, as you seemed to understand from my previous post.

Why do I love him and continue to love him? Because he has changed my nature. He “forced” or “coerced” me into loving him, to put it in your words. Were it not for his “coercion,” I could fall away! But I will endure to the end because he won’t let me. Why do you think you have assurance that you will “endure to the end?” I know that, if left to my own “free will,” I would never have chosen him in the first place, and I would have fallen away already.

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