Answering the Calvinist’s #1 Argument

August 12, 2016

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.

Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

Learn more about Leighton, HERE.
Follow @soteriology101 on Twitter HERE.
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“WHY DID YOU BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, BUT YOUR FRIEND DID NOT? ARE YOU WISER OR SMARTER OR MORE SPIRITUAL OR BETTER TRAINED OR MORE HUMBLE?”

This is typically one of the first questions a Calvinist will ask a non-Calvinist when attempting to convince them of their doctrine.[1] In fact, when I was a Calvinist, I used this argument more often than any other, and it was quite effective. However, I have come to believe there are at least four significant problems with this line of argumentation:

1) QUESTION BEGGING FALLACY:

As we have discussed HERE, this is a game of question begging because it presumes a deterministic answer is required. It is tantamount to asking, “What determined the response of you and your friend?” As if something or someone other than the responsible agents themselves made the determination. The question presumes determinism is true and that libertarian free will (self-determination) is not possible. [2]

I believe that the cause of a choice is the chooser (or the cause of a determination is the determiner) and accept the mystery associated with the functioning of that free will in making its own determinations.[3] Now, Calvinists will often challenge my appeal to mystery at this point as if it is a weakness unique to my libertarian worldview. This is a very shortsighted argument, however, which will be made abundantly clear in the next point.

2) CALVINISTS ULTIMATELY APPEAL TO THE SAME MYSTERY:

While the Calvinist may feel he has the “upper hand” when asking about the “decisive factor” in man’s choice to reject God’s words, the role reverses quite dramatically when the conversation shifts to man’s first choice to reject God’s words. Whether discussing Satan’s first act of rebellion or Adam’s first choice to sin, it becomes quite evident that the Calvinist has painted himself into a corner by denying libertarian free will.

While on the one hand arguing that mankind will always act in accordance with his nature (assuming the nature could not be libertarianly free, mind you), the Calvinist has no rational answer as to why Adam (or Lucifer) chose to rebel. [4] For instance, John Piper openly admits:

How God freely hardens and yet preserves human accountability we are not explicitly told. It is the same mystery as how the first sin entered the universe. How does a sinful disposition arise in a good heart? The Bible does not tell us.”[5]

And RC Sproul similarly teaches,

“But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.”[6]

As you can clearly see, the Calvinist has just “kicked the can down the road,” so to speak, when it comes to appealing to the mystery of free moral will.[7] They eventually appeal to same mystery that we do, all the while thinking they are taking the higher moral ground by giving God all the credit for the Christian’s choice to repent and trust in Christ. In reality, however, by not simply accepting the mystery of man’s free will, the Calvinist has created a new mystery that is simply not afforded by the text of scripture.

This problem is made evident by simply turning the question around and asking this of the Calvinist:

WHY HAS YOUR LOST FRIEND CONTINUED TO HATE AND REJECT GOD?

Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them. Calvinists would rather focus on the elect who are saved by deterministic means while ignoring the inevitable conclusions about the non-elect who remain damned for the same deterministic reason. In my opinion, this is a dilemma unique to their worldview, not a tension created by the teachings of scripture.

So, the Calvinist rejects the mystery of libertarian freedom only to adopt another even more difficult mystery. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God — namely the suggestion that God is implicit in the determination of moral evil, as evidenced by John Calvin’s own teachings:

“…how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…Who does not tremble at these judgments with which God works in the hearts of even the wicked whatever He will, rewarding them nonetheless according to desert? Again it is quite clear from the evidence of Scripture that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as he will, whether to good for His mercy’s sake, or to evil according to their merits.”[8]

Which mystery is more difficult to swallow? One that seemingly suggests mankind might have some part to play in reconciliation (the bringing together of two parties) or the one that suggests God is the author of evil (that which divided to two parties to begin with)? More importantly, which of these mysteries does the Bible actually afford? (Listen to THIS PODCAST to better understand why a defense of free will is actually a defense of God’s Holiness, not merely an appeal to mystery.)

3) BETTER BY CHOICE OR DIVINE DECREE IS STILL BETTER:

Calvinists seem to think there is something morally wrong with admitting that a believer is better than an unbeliever. Of course it is better to believe than it is to “trade the truth of God in for lies.” Whether one believes because they were sovereignly made to do or simply given the ability to do so freely does not change the fact that believers are better. But, as we will discover in the next point, better does not mean worthy of salvation. So, even if the non-Calvinist were to say, “Yes, I’m more humble or smarter,” he would ultimately be saying the exact same thing a Calvinist has to say. The only difference would be that an unbeliever could rightly say to the Calvinist, “How arrogant of you to think that God made you more humble or smarter,” whereas if they said that to the non-Calvinist, we could rightly answer, “No he didn’t, you have no such excuse. You have just as much ability to humble yourself and understand the gospel as I have.”

We (non-Calvinist) are too often accused that we could/would boast in our salvation because we affirm that it is our responsibility to freely respond in faith to the gracious Holy Spirit wrought gospel appeal.

Is this really boast worthy?

We are the ones who believe anyone can believe the gospel. Why would we boast in doing something anyone is able to do?

It’s the Calvinists who believe this ability is uniquely given to them and not most people. It makes much more sense for a Calvinist to boast in an ability granted to him that has been withheld from most others.

A great singer, for example, is a given a rare gift from birth and can often become proud or boastful due to that unique gift. But if everyone was born able sing that well whenever they wanted, then boasting in that ability would not make any sense. Thus, Calvinism leaves more room for boasting than does our soteriological perspective. (Though I don’t believe true Christians from either soteriological system would boast in such things: SEE HERE)

This speaks to the biblical teaching on the attainability of goodness or righteousness, which we will discuss in the next point.

4) A DECISION DOES NOT MERIT SALVATION:

What is the underlying motivation for asking the question, “Why you and not another?” The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting or more deserving of salvation? As if the decision to repent somehow earns or merits one’s forgiveness.

Think of it this way.  Did the prodigal son earn, merit or in any way deserve the reception of his father on the basis that he humbly returned home?  Of course not. He deserved to be punished, not rewarded.  The acceptance of his father was a choice of the father alone and it was ALL OF GRACE.  The father did not have to forgive, restore and throw a party for his son on the basis that he chose to come home. That was the father’s doing.

Humiliation and brokenness is not considered “better” or “praiseworthy” and it certainly is not inherently valuable.  In fact, one could argue that it was weak and pitiful of the son to return home and beg his daddy for a job instead of working his own way out of that pig sty.  The only thing that makes this quality “desirable” is that God has chosen to grace those who humble themselves, something He is in no way obligated to do (Is. 66:2).  God gives grace to the humble not because a humble response deserves salvation, but because He is gracious.

Calvinists often conflate man’s choice to confess with God’s choice to forgive while labeling it all “salvation.”  They go on to convincingly argue that God is “sovereign over salvation” which actually means “God is as much in control over His own choice to forgive as He is over man’s choice to confess in faith.”  It’s difficult to argue with someone who is making the case that God is “in control of salvation” and is “the One who gets all credit for salvation,” but that difficulty only exists due to the conflating of man’s responsibility to believe/confess with God’s gracious choice to save whosoever does so.  Of course Salvation is all of God, but that is distinct from man’s responsibility to humbly trust in Him for salvation.

WE ALL AFFIRM THAT SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN SIN AND THE RESPONSIBILITY TO REPENT FROM SIN DOES NOT BELONG TO THE SINNER.

Clearly scripture calls us to humility and there is nothing which suggests we cannot respond in humility when confronted by the powerful clear revelation of God’s convicting life-giving truth through the law and the gospel.  Consider what our Lord taught us in Luke 18:10-14

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Did the tax collector deserve to go home justified because of his humble admission of guilt? Of course not. If that were so, then his confession would have merited his salvation and there would be no reason for Christ’s death to atone for his sin. He went home justified because of God’s grace and provision alone! Maintaining man’s libertarianly free responsibility to repent and believe does not negate the truth that salvation is completely and totally of God alone.

Throughout the scriptures we see examples of God “finding favor” in believing individuals (Job, Enoch, Noah, Abram, etc), but these men, like all of humanity, still fell short of God’s glory and were unrighteous according to the demands of God’s law. They needed a savior. They needed redemption and reconciliation. Even those who believe the truth of God’s revelation deserve eternal punishment for their sin.

What must be understood is that no one was righteous according to the demands of the law. However, that does NOT mean that all people are unable to believe God’s revealed truth so as to be credited as righteous by God’s grace. Paul taught that no one was righteous in Romans 3, yet he turns around and declares in the very next chapter that, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (4:3).

How can that be? Has Paul contradicted himself? First he declares that no one is righteous and then he tells us that Abraham was righteous? Which is it?

Paul is drawing the distinction between righteousness by works (Rm. 3:10-11) and righteousness by grace through faith (Rm. 3:21-24). The former is unattainable but the latter has always been very much attainable by anyone, which again, is why ALL ARE “WITHOUT EXCUSE!” (Rm. 1:20)

God can show mercy on whom ever he wants to show mercy!  We happen to know, based on Biblical revelation, that God wants to show mercy to those who humbly repent in faith, which is man’s responsibility not God’s!

If you wait on God to effectually humble you, it will be too late.

1 Peter 5:5-6:  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Isaiah 66:2: “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

2 Chronicles 12:7: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak.

2 Chronicles 12:12: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.

Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Psalm 147:6: The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Matthew 18:4: Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

 


[1] John Piper said, “More specifically, I rarely meet Christians who want to take credit for their conversion. There is something about true grace in the believer’s heart that makes us want to give all the glory to God. So, for example, if I ask a believer how he will answer Jesus’s question at the last judgment, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard it?” very few believers answer that question by saying: “Because I was wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble.” Most of us feel instinctively that we should glorify God’s grace by saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, we know intuitively that God’s grace was decisive in our conversion. That is what we mean by irresistible grace.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism#Grace)

[2] Libertarian Free Will is “the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.” See: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/philosophical-reflections-on-free-will/

[3] Question begging is the logical fallacy of presuming true the very argument up for debate. By asking what determined a man’s choice, the questioner is presuming someone or something other than that man made the determination, thus presuming true the foundation for deterministic logic (i.e. “a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws [or Divine decree].” Merriam-Webster Dictionary). While a determiner may state reasons or influential factors for his or her own determination (i.e. I chose to overeat because it tastes so good) that does not mean the factors listed effectually caused the determination (i.e. the taste of food determined the agent’s choice to overeat).  The agent alone made the determination based on the factors taken into consideration and deliberated upon. To presume without proof that something or someone outside the agent himself made the determination (i.e. was the “decisive factor”) is question begging.

[4] On the one hand, Calvinists argue that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination which is ultimately determined by their God given nature, yet on the other hand they affirm that Adam “was perfectly free from any corruptions or sinful inclinations,” and that he “had no sinful inclinations to hurry him on to sin; he did it of his own free and mere choice” Jonathan Edwards, ‘All God’s Methods Are Most Reasonable’, in Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, ed. by Kenneth P. Minkema, Works 14 (1997): 168.)

How does the affirmation of Adam’s freedom to sin or refrain from sin not violate the Calvinists own definition of human will and choice? For Adam to choose to sin he must violate the law of his own nature, as defined by the Calvinistic systematic.

[5]John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-hardening-of-pharaoh-and-the-hope-of-the-world))

[6] RC Sproul, Chosen By God, p.31

[8] John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11

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Jeff

Point 1: Scripture answers the question of why one and not another in Romans 8:28-29. My freely choosing God is based on his foreknowledge. His free choice precedes my free choice.
Point 2: God is not the author of evil. It was man’s free choice to reject Gid and its God’s free choice to elect a people unto salvation. He is not bound to save 1, b/c we all rejected Him in Adam. We are not told why Adam sinned, but we are told this is not from God.
Point 3: if it all comes from God, I have nothing to be boastful about. Let’s pretend I am a criminal and deserving of the death penalty. If the judge comes to death row and says he will take my punishment in my stead, and I would not only be pardoned, but be given the wealth the judge had, what exactly could I boast about? It would be quite arrogant and wrong of me to do so.
Point 4: The prodigal son is best understood in light of the three parables Jedus told at the same time to the same people. The other two are the list sheep and the lost coin. The context is the prodigal son is lost and is being found. He has just as much chance of finding himself as the coin or the sheep.

    rhutchin

    “Point 1: Scripture answers the question of why one and not another in Romans 8:28-29. My freely choosing God is based on his foreknowledge. His free choice precedes my free choice.”

    We also have this:

    “you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” (John 10:26)

    “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

    “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

    “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)

    “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16)

Ronnie W Rogers

Hello Leighton

Great article! Thanks for all the work you do in this area, and for taking on the tough questions.

Donald Morgan

Well done.

Jeff

The response to why some choose and others do not is clearly laid out in scripture. ‘For those He foreknew’ is equally as true as ‘whosoever will.’ In fact, it’s the cause of it. The fallacy here is than man is ultimately in control, and not God.

Jeff

Leighton states:
“Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them.”

This is backwards. God rejects us b/c we first hated and rejected Him. Grace is that we are undeserving of God’s love but He freely chooses to love us. Who are we to say who God should and shouldn’t save when we have all rejected and hated Him first?

    Lydia

    “This is backwards. God rejects us b/c we first hated and rejected Him”

    Babies? They hate and reject God?

      Jeff

      Lydia,

      Through Adam, yes, all mankind has rejected God. B/c of the fall, we are all affected. It seems Leighton is promoting a view where humanity is morally neutral, being capable of choosing either good or evil. We are not morally neutral, we are sinful from birth. Remember, it is what is inside us that makes us unclean, not what is outside. Heidelberg Catechism states it well. We have a natural tendency to hate God and our neighbor.

        Andrew Barker

        Jeff: The Heidelberg Catechism may state any number of things. It doesn’t give them validity as far as scripture is concerned.

          Jeff

          Andrew,

          Who called Heidelberg scripture? I just said it states it well. The fall is in scripture. Sin entering the works through one man is in scripture. Man not bring morally neutral is in scripture.

            Andrew Barker

            Well Jeff, it’s like this. The Qur’an states a whole lot of things. Some of them may be very worthy and some may even be true, but I don’t go along with them because they are not scripture. So why should I go along with comments based on the Heidelberg Catechism any more than the Qur’an?

              Jeff

              Andrew,
              you are comparing a confession to a heretical teaching. I assume you wouldn’t trust the Baptist Faith and Message, based in your logic. I also assume you believe this blog site has no value, based on what you just said. I also assume you have no books or devotionals in your house.

              What is behind your motivation in comparing a church document that confesses what a group of professing Christians believes to the Qu’ran?

                Andrew Barker

                Jeff: You’ve got it in one. I wouldn’t *trust* the BFM, would you?
                Your assumption(s) is/are just that, assumption(s) and wrong. If I didn’t value this blog, I wouldn’t contribute.
                If the HC states that I hate God and my neighbour I would say upon what basis does it state this? I would need to corroborate this from a reliable source and the only one I can think of is scripture.
                These confessions are all very well, but …. I wouldn’t quote ANY of them! :-)

              Les

              Well here’s a question for Andrew. Do you “go along” with anything Leighton has written here that is not explicitly a scripture quote? Of course you do. Well you have just “gone along” with something someone confesses, just not as formalized and organized as the HC.

              Les

              Let’s make it even more fun. Andrew, do you “go along” with anything ANYONE says that is not scripture?

              It’s ok to say you disagree with a given confession or catechism. But to say or imply that you only go along with what any one or any ones of persons say if it is scripture, is absurd.

                Andrew Barker

                Les: You have a near monopoly on being absurd. I cannot compete!!

        Lydia

        Jeff, exactly how do babies sin? Are you suggesting their very existence is sin? I get that we are born dying and we fight our flesh and such but this concept that our existence is sin is fatalism …… unless of course you are one of the random and lucky chosen while the others damned as their existence is sin.

        So your existence is sin until God activates your regeneration?

          Jeff

          Lydia,

          I explained from scripture. Your nature has to be changed. My 3 month old twins have a sin nature and they need regeneration. Through Adam, we are all condemned. Through Christ, we are made righteous. Christ does not merely eliminate the sins we commit, He imputes His righteousness on us. It is necessary b/c we are all born with a sin nature.

          ‘Random and lucky chosen’ is your words you chooses to use. Calvinists, Presbyterians, and historic baptists (prior to heavy Methodist influence) do not use those words. Why does God show favor on some and not on others? Scripture does not say. But we do know from scripture that we are all guilty, deserving of God’s wrath, and He has shown grace by saving a people for Himself.

            Andrew Barker

            Jeff: There is a good reason for …. “Why does God show favor on some and not on others? Scripture does not say” … he doesn’t! That’s why it’s not there. We also know …”and He has shown grace by saving a people for Himself.” because he has done this on the basis of faith! This is well supported in scripture. So why do you insist on relying on something which is totally absent in scripture more than something which is very evidently in scripture?? The mind boggles as to how you justify your beliefs!

              Jeff

              God has favor on who He chooses to have favor (Romans 9 and Exodus 33.). Of course it’s faith that pleases Christ, but why do some have faith and others not? You cannot answer. The scripture clearly teaches that it’s by God’s grace. None of us deserve it.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Jeff,

              When does He changes the repentant sinner who has trusted Christ, “old man”?

              Preach!

                Jeff

                I would say at the same time. There is not s non-repentant regenerated sinner or vice versa. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t have to change the heart for repentance to occur.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Scripture clearly teaches that God is Love.

            He loves all babies, and all children.

            So who does God hate just based natural birth since all of us at one time or another were babies and
            children?

            So He loves me, He loves me not?

            Thank God Almighty, we have His words on the matter.

            Preach!

            Lydia

            Jeff, well I guess it is understandable God foreordained so many of those tiny sinners to be aborted. Maybe they were just not the chosen ones. So it all works out, right?
            I don’t think you guys understand your religion very well.

              Jeff

              Lydia,

              Debating theology is one thing. Misrepresenting theologies within the church then calling those you don’t agree with not Chrstian, as you’ve done, is inappropriate. The vast majority of the Church would not believe traditional theology as outlined in this website. That’s ok. We’re all still the Church if we profess faith in Jesus Christ of the Bible. You make arguments no reformed Presbyterian or Baptist would make, then you attack it, as if you’ve accomplished something besides bearing false witness. If we can’t debate ideas, we should bow out.

                Lydia

                Jeff, They are my conclusions based upon what I believe your religion teaches after delving into it ad nauseum for the last 10 years. . I do understand there are plenty of semantic arguments with fancy concepts and words and appeals to creeds, etc. But one thing your tribe has done consistently is accuse us of thinking we can save ourselves. It has been the mantra I have heard for years. I cannot resurrect myself from the dead so I am not exactly sure where that silliness comes from. We have been told we don’t understand the “true Gospel” for years. Now the magic word is unity and lets forget the last 10 years of charlatans.

                The only thing you can think of is censorship?. Pass over my comments if you don’t like them or wait for the moderator to kick me off. Most Calvinist blogs have done that for years if you dare question them

                I honestly believe you don’t understand your religion or have been indoctrinated to never really think it through. I don’t believe you profess the faith at all. No faith is actually needed if you really think about it. Your religion presents a bait and switch angry God with a “lessor god” Jesus, that randomly chose some for salvation while damning others by default with no ability to choose truth from lies or right from wrong. It is Paganism.

                You can say the word “Grace” all you want. Your religion simply redefined the word and made it a horror.

                  Jeff

                  Lydia,

                  Stop it. Don’t say you won’t debate then argue. Also, you respond to things no one is saying. Also, stop telling me I’m not a Christian. I’m glad you enjoy personally attacking people as opposed to articulating and debating doctrine, but that’s not productive, nor is it Christ like. (Note I’ve never questioned anyone’s salvation nor assumed your beliefs. I trust what you say. Learn to have that same respect.). If you are professing Christ, we are brothers and sisters.

                    Lydia

                    Jeff,

                    Debate what? Your determinist filter of scripture? Black hole. The Creeds? I am an old-fashioned Baptist girl that doesn’t give a fig for Creeds.

                    All I have left are annoying questions and surmises of the Logical conclusion of determinism.

                    I think the Neo calvinists had every right to publicly declare we did not know the true gospel. Over and over. Conversely I believe I have the right to question the sanity of determinism. I would say you have the right to practice your belief but we all know that one does not practice determinism, it merely happens to them. :o)

                    I believe Calvinism has a lot in common with Islam. I call it Chrislam. The good news is that historically in this country Calvinists either went Social Gospel or became very small sects of people called the Frozen chosen. I think your movement bis already waning hence the cries for unity. I have read a lot of the history of the determinist trajectory. Those are not nice guys who are the historical heroes and/or authors of your belief system.

                    Look, you can’t church discipline me and I am certainly not running for Miss Congeniality here so what is to be done? And I won’t lose any sleep if you don’t approve of me because at Ground Zero I have been interacting with guys like you for 10 years.

                    Just ignore me. It will be good practice.

                    Lydia

                    Jeff, I have another comment you won’t like in moderation. :o)

                    Daniel P

                    Jeff,

                    It is not even worth arguing with Lydia. While others on this site can actually have a discussion, Lydia constantly resorts to ad hominem attacks and character assassination. Then, instead of apologizing, she just insists that by calling her out, you are using an ad hominem argument (which is neither true, nor the definition of an ad hominem argument).

              Les

              Jeff I don’t know how long you’ve been around this site. From my experience here Lydia never debates theology. Mostly insults aimed at Calvinists and our theology, even slightly veiled comments about us worshipping Allah.

                Lydia

                Les, We have had this convo before. II don’t debate creeds. And debating scripture is a waste of time with anyone who has a determinist god filter. It is a black hole.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Christ said in so many words, “Do not prevent children from coming to Him”.

          This tells me from these words, sometimes We are one of the Greatest hindrances to all of those children and others whom God loves rather than hate.

          Preach!

            Les

            Amen Dennis. I agree with most throughout church history that the bible evidences that babies dying in infancy are regenerated and immediately with Jesus should they die.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Hello Brother Les,

              Trust you and yours are doing well my friend.

              Preach!

    Paul N

    A man cannot reject what he cannot accept, or else the word reject means nothing. A man born blind does not reject sight. So, if Man is born so depraved to the point where they must be born again to believe (based on God’s election), how can said person whom God has passed over reject God? It is a impossible for them to accept God’s grace.

      Lydia

      “A man cannot reject what he cannot accept, or else the word reject means nothing”

      You make too much sense.

Manley C. Beasley

1. This is not question begging. When the Calvinist asks about the cause of determination, libertarian freewill is one of the options. In fact that is what is being examined. If the non-calvinist sees “self determination” as the answer then the “self” gets the credit and has the right to boast. If God alone is the cause then He alone is to be boasted in. Your first question is more accurately phrased by the calvinist “Who determined your choice to follow Christ? God or you?”
2. The calvinist appeal to mystery is a biblical mystery whereas the non-calvinist claims things are mysteries that God doesn’t. We see that God determined the wicked acts of many people throughout scripture while not being guilty of evil Himself. He determined the selling of Joseph into slavery, certainly a sinful act. He determined the destruction of the northern kingdom by Assyria which God then judged the Assyrians for. He also determined the greatest sin ever committed in history, the murder of Jesus. God was not sinful while determining these because what was motivated by evil in men had a good righteous motivating purpose in God.
3. A person can still be arrogant even while acknowledging that God alone is the cause of their right choices. The problem is simply that they are contradicting their own claim that God is the cause. This knowledge should humble the calvinist and give him more compassion on the lost. Unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t. On the other hand, the synergistic view actually has grounds for pride in that the one being saved is at least partially right when he thinks his self determination is ground boasting in self. The calvinist would contradict his own claims if he were prideful (which certainly happens).
4. Salvation is not just being freed from hell but being freed from the tyranny of sin. This is the cause of repentance in the believer and of their turning to Christ. Either God alone is the cause or man is part of the determination. Most calvinists would never say that protestant non-calvinists are claiming their self-determined choice merits salvation. What we are saying is that it is 1. Exegetically unsupported and 2. a ground for boasting in our salvation. It could never merit salvation even if it were true.

    Leighton Flowers

    Manley,

    Thank you for your feedback. I’ll attempt to respond point by point:

    ////1. This is not question begging. When the Calvinist asks about the cause of determination///

    It is if the question demands something more than the “self” as being the cause of the determination. Just as Calvinists readily admit that God is the cause of his choices and cannot explain how or why God makes his determinations, so too we say that God created mankind with the ability to make their own determinations. If someone insists that something more than the accountable moral agent is the cause or determiner of his choices then they are begging the question. Maybe that’s not what you’re doing, but some do.

    ///, libertarian freewill is one of the options. In fact that is what is being examined. If the non-calvinist sees “self determination” as the answer then the “self” gets the credit and has the right to boast. If God alone is the cause then He alone is to be boasted in. Your first question is more accurately phrased by the calvinist “Who determined your choice to follow Christ? God or you?”///

    This point was addressed in the article. There would be no reason to boast in an ability that everyone possesses. And if one were to boast in their decision to humbly admit their own inabilities, failures and inadequacies I seriously doubt that is true humility. (i.e. Look at me for my decision to leave my pigsty and beg daddy for a servant’s job, I’m awesome.)

    ///2. The calvinist appeal to mystery is a biblical mystery whereas the non-calvinist claims things are mysteries that God doesn’t. We see that God determined the wicked acts of many people throughout scripture while not being guilty of evil Himself. He determined the selling of Joseph into slavery, certainly a sinful act. He determined the destruction of the northern kingdom by Assyria which God then judged the Assyrians for. He also determined the greatest sin ever committed in history, the murder of Jesus. God was not sinful while determining these because what was motivated by evil in men had a good righteous motivating purpose in God.///

    I believe at times throughout history God does intervene to determine some things. That is what makes these things “of God” and uniquely supernatural. I also believe God uses means similar to what the compatibilist speculates in these instances. I do not believe, however, these unique determinations prove God’s meticulous determination of all things, especially man’s evil intentions. In fact, in every one of the instances listed above the purpose of God’s unique intervention is clearly redemptive. I refuse to believe God is merely seeking to redeem the very evil intentions and actions that He Himself determined.

    How does God bring about these purposes while remaining sinless if not in the manner the Compatibilist supposes?

    HARDENING

    To be clear on this point there are two kinds of hardening taught in scripture.

    Self-hardening: This is where a morally accountable person, who is able to refrain or not refrain from given moral actions (contra-causally free), grows stubborn or calloused in his own ways.*
    Judicial-hardening: This is God’s active role in blinding an already rebellious person in their rebellion so as to prevent their repentance for a time. God’s motive is ALWAYS to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellious actions (often including the potential redemption even of those being judicially blinded).*
    (*see footnote for biblical citations and further explanation)

    In my view, judicial hardening is simply hiding or confusing the revelation of truth that could otherwise lead to repentance (Mark 4:11-12; Rom. 11:8). So God is not said to have caused or enticed anyone. He simply lets them continue down their already contra-causally free, self hardened path and makes sure no revelation convinces them to repent prior to His redemptive purpose being served.

    Consider this analogy: When a police officer sets up a speed trap he has one ultimate desire: to stop speeders for the safety of all. However, by hiding the truth of his presence he is ensuring that those who want to speed will continue to do so. Thus, in one sense he wants the speeders to continue to speed so as to catch them speeding, but his ultimate purpose is the same: to stop speeders for the safety of all. The police officer does not determine the speeders desire to speed in any way, he simply hides the truth so as to ensure the speeder will continue to speed, something they have contra-causally chosen to do.

    More here: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/compatibilisms-quandary/
    and
    https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/judicial-hardening-gods-sinless-use-of-sinful-actions/

    ///4. Salvation is not just being freed from hell but being freed from the tyranny of sin. This is the cause of repentance in the believer and of their turning to Christ. ///

    It seems you are arguing that a person must be saved in order to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled. This seems to put the cart before the horse as if one must be cured of cancer before they can even respond to the doctors appeal to take the cure. One isn’t reconciled before responding to God’s appeal to be reconciled. They are not save prior to faith and repentance (even most Calvinists make this distinction…maybe you meant “regeneration” instead of “salvation” above?)

    Paul N

    Mr. Beasley, I think your point one was dealt with brilliantly in point 4 of this piece.
    There is a reason to boast if you think you are specially chosen above others. In fact, the religious leaders in scripture kept harping on and on about being Children of Abraham etc. They were quite boastful, and missed Christ.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Shouldn’t the Devil get the credit for being the Devil.

    Last time I checked there was still a “Determined” Devil on the loose!

    Fallen Man could not have, would not have even come up with the” thought” in his evil heart apart from the Devil to kill God in the flesh.

    He was a murderer from the beginning!

    Must he always be overlooked, especially when the discussion brings up Wickedness here on earh. We cannot ignore the origin of Wickedness in Heaven, which led to the beginning of Evil on earth and sin in the world.

    He gets a free pass when we all know his nature and recognize his works here in this sin sick world.

    So God “determined” wickedness in this lost world where Satan is the god of this world, the Prince of Darkness, the Wicked One, the Prince of the power of the air, the Father of Lies, Murderer, Thief, that Old Serpent, the Tempter, the Deceiver, Roaring Lion, and the Devil.

    What exactly did Satan “determine” for Adam and all of his offspring, righteousness?

    There was a Old Dragon on the loose before Adam’s day and he is yet going to and fro and up and down in the earth at this present moment. His dominion is structured to continue the deception he began in Heaven above, and the Earth beneath (Eden), along with the world at large.

    God must get so weary of us laying the blame for all of the above upon Him.

    That Old Serpent deceived the woman in Eden by Misrepresenting our God and His will for her life.

    Didn’t we learn anything from history?

    My “bad”, I just remembered what we learn from history.

    Great article by the way.

    Preach!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      The first “Evil Transformer”and his transformation in Garden of Eden continues in the present evil world.

      The World says there is no such being as the Devil.

      The lost souls in this evil world are only “able” to speak from deception and blindness.

      Now to the glorious Church of our Lord Jesus Christ the Devil has transformed himself into an angel of light.

      He along with his ministers, (apostles of new doctrines),are undetectable by the average church goer and extremely difficult to identify by the saints due to “false” light.

      This old world is in shape its in due to his involvement from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20.

      God did not determine our deception but the Devil sure did.

      He has Deceived the Whole world.

      Unlike Christ who Died for the whole world. What a picture, what a contrast.

      In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

      For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

      And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

      Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

      Preach!

    Greg Peters

    Mr. Beasley said: “Either God alone is the cause or man is part of the determination”

    This statement gets right to the point. There’s a lot of verbiage going on in this blog, but the answer to the questions here all boils down to ‘who caused our faith’.’ Paul in Ephesians clearly says that our faith is a gift. Either saving faith comes to us from outside of us (from God, Extra Nos) or it comes from within us; those are the only two choices. If it comes from within us we necessarily have reason to boast.

    1 Corinthians 1:30-31 It is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus… 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.

    As a Calvinist I know why I boast in the Lord when it comes to my salvation. Mr. Flowers, in your system of salvation, for what do you boast in the Lord? Don’t say, ‘the gospel’, or, ‘the scripture’, or even ‘the cross’, that’s not what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 1. In the passage Paul is boasting in God’s sovereign calling (saving) of whomever He wills. One of God’s greatest glories is His freedom to choose anything we wills, including His people. When Moses said to God “Show me your glory.” God replied “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” Why do you think God did that?

Lydia

“So, the Calvinist rejects the mystery of libertarian freedom only to adopt another even more difficult mystery. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God — namely the suggestion that God is implicit in the determination of moral evil, as evidenced by John Calvin’s own teachings::

Bingo. They avoid the other side of their conclusion like the plague.

Paul N

This is excellent.

Thanks a lot!

norm

We are saved by grace through faith — lest anyone should boast that they “worked” their way into salvation. If Calvinists want to deem choosing to respond in repentance and faith and humility and gratitude to God for the offer of salvation as a “work” or as boasting, so be it. God offered. I accepted. I would only boast in God’s goodness and mercy in the offer, because my spiritual condition at the time of my acceptance was hardly boast-worthy.

Thank you, Leighton. I remain amazed that some would challenge you, a former Calvinist, who lived that “system” and later rejected it because of biblical convictions.

doug sayers

Thanks Leighton. Great points.

The beauty and brilliance of the Gospel is that our salvation requires a condition that is impossible to be proud of. It is impossible to be proud of true contrition. If you are proud of your faith then you have the wrong kind.

An irresistible repentance cannot be true repentance.

    Paul N

    “An irresistible repentance cannot be true repentance.”

    Amen to that!

      Lydia

      Why would Jesus tell people to repent when He knows they can’t?

        Les

        Why would Jesus tell people to repent when He knows they won’t?

          Andrew Barker

          Wrong question Les. Why would Jesus tell people to repent when he knows they can’t????

          Les

          Wrong Andrew. That is exactly the right question, especially in light of Lydia’s question. Her question is supposed to be a Cal game changer? Hardly. So my question is valid, Why, God knowing all things, even the future actions of all people, would He tell people, some whom He knows will not repent based on their non Cal LFW, to repent? Can you answer that Andrew?

            Andrew Barker

            Les: You are free to remain in ignorance. That is one function of libertarian free will.

              Lydia

              Andrew, There are plenty of ways to convince people a sows ear is a silk purse. Semantics.

              See, it was not realky cruel or a bait and switch for Jesus to tell people to repent and believe knowing some could not. You see, Jesus already knew who would be activated and who wouldn’t.

              And those who would not be activated wouldn’t even miss it. They were so vile and depraved they wouldn’t even know it! They will a currently but merrily March right into damnation because they were not randomly chosen when the world was formed.

              But that doesn’t explain Calvin’s reprobates. You know the ones God allowed to think they were saved and behaved as if they were saved but would find out once dead— they never were.

              Wait! It sounds like we are talking about Allah!

              Les

              Lydia,,

              I asked, ‘Why would Jesus tell people to repent when He knows they won’t?’

              No answer I see.

                Lydia

                “Lydia,,

                I asked, ‘Why would Jesus tell people to repent when He knows they won’t?’

                No answer I see.”

                Its obvious. In your religion you worship a trickster god. Your semantics don’t impress me, Les. Try them on people who are impressed with “ruling” elders.

                Les

                No semantics Lydia. As straightforward question as the one you asked just before I asked mine. I get why you can’t/won’t answer. Your theological errors would be plainly exposed and your philosophical paradigm would crumble. Besides, I cannot remember you actually debating theology. Telling.

              Lydia

              Andrew, I get it! The repent and believe was the activation code for irresistible grace! Only those chosen before the world was formed would be activated. The rest don’t matter even though they had no choice. Get over it, right?

            Les

            Andrew, considering the source of that statement about me being “in ignorance,” I happily accept it. Wholeheartedly!

            norm

            Les: Why doesn’t your profile say that you are a Presbyterian? Do you not want people to know that? Curious to me that you would mention the Southern Baptist denomination (your former affiliation) and not mention your current one? And, as always, Les, I am curious if you are still baptizing infants, or endorsing that? And why?

              Les

              Norm,

              Thank you for visiting my website. Hope you had a look around to see what God is doing in Haiti, especially thru our team on the ground. They are such servants.

              Hmmm. I didn’t notice that my current denomination is missing. Thanks for bringing it up. Of course it is the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA we like to say. I think I only said Baptist, not “Southern” Baptist. But anyway…

              Baptize babies. Well of course since I’m not a teaching elder I cannot baptize anyone in my church. The TEs do that. But I wholeheartedly endorse it of course. Now I have baptized several people outside my church (in other contexts) since I’m a Southern Baptist ordained minister. Put them all the way under. And why do I endorse baptizing babies? As one of my Covenant Seminary profs (former Southern Baptist pastor) said in reply to, “Dr. so n so, how did you come to believe in covenant baptism?” He said, “I read my bible.”

              Andrew Barker

              Perhaps we should alert Radall so he has someone else to ‘troll’. Then again, we know exactly the game Les is playing so not much point. It’s not as though we are going to learn anything new from his exchanges!

                Les

                Andrew, my reply to Norm is still awaiting approval, but meanwhile…pray tell what game am I playing? If there’s a game going on and I’m supposedly playing, man I hate to miss not even knowing what it is. Come on man, tell me.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Not interested Les. Not interested … at all! :-)

                  Les

                  Andrew, that’s exactly the kind of response I expected. :)

                    Andrew Barker

                    Well, you’ll be really pleased to know that I’m still not interested …. but of course you knew that already! :-o

                Lydia

                Les has a history of playing semantic games and reframing everything. If you don’t play his game, his way…..he automatically declares a “win”. This is how it is played in many Reformed circles. Although I am not sure exactly what they “win” except protecting their huge egos? Frankly, I know a lot of athiests who play this way, too. Sometimes it is best to let them “win” because they will go 100 rounds and it is the same stuff over and over. The mistake I made early on when engaging Neo Cals was assuming I was dealing with reasonable people. I had no idea I was dealing with indoctrinated people who must defend a system that is indefensible. That is why it might be more informative to show absurdity by being absurd with the logical conclusions of their religion..

                  Les

                  ?

                  Les

                  Meant :) not ?

                  Ken

                  Lydia:

                  Les’ (as well as many other calvanists’ posting on this blog) formula for debating is consistent with cult members. He has been so firmly indoctrinated by other calvinist cult members that he can only react like a blabbering robot, blindly robo-repeating only those false doctrines with which being inculcated through the calvinist manifesto.

                    Lydia

                    Hi Ken, I am well aware as I live at ground zero and can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. It took me a while to recognize the “Thought Reform” inherent in the doctrine which is why it usually goes either social gospel or frozen chosen small sects, over time. One literally cannot practice determinism so it just all becomes a cognitive dissonance mess relying on the confines of creeds.

                    Right now we are seeing the beginnings of it going a social gospel route in the SBC in order to get the conversation off doctrine and rehab the image they created.

                  Les

                  Ken and Lydia (who apparently agrees with Ken),

                  Let’s see. Mohler doesn’t actually call Trads semi-Pelagians, but says some of the points may be close to SP. You all go absolutely nuts. Ken calls Calvinists a cult and has even said before the doctrine is from hell. But that’s ok.

                  Anyway, Ken you comments always warm the cockles of my heart, what wth your Christian fruit of kindness.

                    Lydia

                    Les, How exactly does this work? I piggyback on Kens comment and now we share exacting opinions on everything? I doubt it.

                    And Yes, I firmly believe Calvinist doctrine must rely on thought reform to some degree..

                    I aslsi believe the Neo Cal resurgence fits all 8 characteristics of Lifton’s Thought Reform.

                  Les

                  Lydia, you know exactly how it works. Someone says they believe some points of Calvinism or Piper says something your tribe deems crazy, and your then your tribe attributes whatever Calvin ever said or did and anything Piper ever said or did to that person. See how that works? You know it so well, because you girl are the master at it. :)

                    Lydia

                    Les, Determinism is a category for me. You, Piper and Calvin go into that category. I realize there are nuances but it all ends up the same place. Determinism.

                  Les

                  Like I said Lydia, you are the master.

              Les

              Norm, BTW we had a beautiful covenant baptism this morning. She is about 3 months old. Now has the sign of baptism on her.

                Lydia

                “Now has the sign of baptism on her.”

                Does this mean she is no longer a sinning depraved 3 mo old?

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Les,

                Norm has raised this question from time to time here on this site. Not sure why this is my first time actually reading your response.

                This practice above, along with many other Unsustantiated Scriptural practices let’s me know that created libertarian Free Will is part and parcel of God’s Creation before Adam’s offense and exist in the children of men after the Fall.

                Man is Free to be wrong even as men and women of God. To me all of the verbiage against Creative Libertarian Free is preference over substance in order to follow this man made system which makes the Word of God of none effect, even in our discussions and debates.

                No matter the passionate arguments by followers of Reformation theology, He created us to be creative and free. Sin, Sorrow and Death is without question the violation of the God created freedom of all mankind. The Fall affected and infected all of us but even still we have the freedom to be Wrong and yes by His Full Deliverance and our obedience to the gospel, can get eternally right.

                The proof is in the nonsense usher into His Church without Express Written Permission from His Word.

                Are “unbelievers” married to believer’s also “baptized”?

                Preach!

                Les

                Lydia, if you knew covenant theology you wouldn’t ask such a question.

                  Lydia

                  Ok. Then I’ll ask Jeff. Although his church might not baptize infants and she would still be a depraved sinning 3 mo old. (Sad face)

                    Andrew Barker

                    Lydia: apparently your spiritual education is lacking because you don’t understand ‘covenant ‘ theology. Mind you, Les doesn’t say which covenant! Must be another ‘new’ covenant which we’ve missed. Or maybe, Les is just making it up?

                  Les

                  Sure ask Jeff. And you are still as bad as ever with your assumptions. :)

                    Lydia

                    I don’t have the “special knowledge”. :o)

                  Les

                  Lydia, you would be correct. :)

                  Les

                  Andrew, to modify that old saying, it’s probably better you remain silent about covenant theology and be ‘thought’ ignorant than to speak about covenant theology and remove all doubt. :)

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: Your assumption serves only to confirm *your* ignorance, especially since my current Vicar holds to one form of it. You shoot your mouth off too quickly through force of habit I guess. Must be down to all those years of telling non-calvinists they “don’t get it” which has left you believing your own propaganda!!

                  Les

                  Thanks Andrew for the reply. You say ‘You shoot your mouth off too quickly through force of habit I guess’ after having earlier saying, “Must be another ‘new’ covenant which we’ve missed. Or maybe, Les is just making it up?” I think the “shooting off your mouth” comment applies to your earlier comment to Lydia. You have apparently become mixed up.

                  ‘Your assumption serves only to confirm *your* ignorance, especially since my current Vicar holds to one form of it.’ Your current Vicar holding to a form of CT means zero about YOUR knowledge or ignorance of it. Try again my brother.

                    Andrew Barker

                    No need to try Les. I know what I know and your wild and spurious assumptions are just that. What a laugh though. Presbys and Anglicans are at one in ‘covenant’ theology. Randall will be having words I’m sure.

                  Les

                  Or don’t try. No sweat for me. Just remember, trying to ride on another’s coattails one is prone to fall off fairly easily. :)

                    Andrew Barker

                    That’s rich coming from the archetypal copy paster!

                Les

                Dennis,

                Any and all of us are certainly free to be wrong on any number of our points of theology. I suspect, no I’m certain, that someday in glory we will know perfectly and thus our mistakes and wrong beliefs will all be made clear. Of course we won’t care then.

                “Are “unbelievers” married to believer’s also “baptized”?” No sir.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Norm,

              Thanks for raising this question with Les. Now this is what I call libertarian free will run into ditch and from there into the religious weeds.

              I have more to say about this once my other comment clears.

              Preach!

    norm

    The triumvirate is complete; three former Calvinists on the same page: Leighton, Ronnie and Doug.

    Which sounds prouder — that I repented and placed my faith in Christ or God chose me?

Dennis Lee Dabney

Apparently Joshua and none of the Israelites got the “determinism” memo because they had to make a choice there in chapter 24 as well as other places and situations.

Look like to me if one was already made for them there was nothing to choose. Rather they had to make a choice based on the awesome credibility of God and His Grace, Mercy and Goodness. His Power and Deliverance. His Provisions and Protection, involving His past dealing with the children of Israel.

14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

This becomes rather ridiculous due to all of the ramifications that could be read into this doctrine and assumed.

If this teaching was true, Adam could have answered the question in Genesis 3 with this ridiculous answer.

You made me do it!

9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Really?

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

Joshua 24:15 is a “beauty” in this connection because he actually uses reverse psychology on those who figured they didn’t need to even Make a Choice or that they couldn’t continue with “business” as usually.

This philosophy proffer “All ROADS” leads God’s will.

Wrong, “ALL ROADS” leds to Hell!

I love how the Spirit set this up. “If it seems evil to you to serve the LORD . . . Go on and serve those other gods who could not deliver your fathers. Go on children and serve the gods of the Amorites who couldn’t even keep their land in which you Now dwell.

If it seems evil to you to serve the LORD debunks this whole deterministic ideology within the framework of this discussion.

The service of God is not evil and to say God determined evil is a mouth full.

Preach!

Preach!

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Correction,

    Make a Choice or that they “COULD” continue with “business” as USUAL.

    Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

This comes down to who the Lord Jesus Christ
holds accountable and responsible for evil. I’m not willing and certainly not qualified to go beyond what He has effectively said on the subject through the Spirit of Truth.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Now, the Lord Jesus Christ said My Father work and He, Christ, also work. He also went on to say He does what He had seen His Father do.

None of the works of Christ can be compared to the works of the Devil.

About as close as He gets to the works of the Devil is to 1.)expose his works by the His Light and 2.)destroy them as the Spirit stated in the above text.

I see no need or benefit to implicate our God who is Alone Good, a Consuming Fire and altogether Holy, The Judge of the Quick and the Dead.

We don’t get to judge Him, He Judges us.

God has determined what He alone has determined. The Holy Scriptures makes that clear without us reading into the text what He hasn’t.

He didn’t judge the Old world by the flood without a heavy heart. He heard every last one those rebels draw their last breath from Him. He gave them 120 long years to get it right with Him. They responded (save Noah and his family) to God, “Can’t Get Right”!

It was that they ,”Can’t Get Right”.

The problem with that crowd was this, “Wouldn’t Get Right”! Some of their kin folk are with us today.

Yet the Lord God was patient in the days of Noah while the preacher of righteousness laid bare his soul with many words from God to turn them from their sins. But no, those sinners were DETERMINED, to make the preacher a liar just because it had never rained. Which happens to speak of future judgment to come with absolute certainty in like manner.

Preach!

Clayton

Leighton.

I want to start by saying thank you for your obedience to God’s calling on your life, and your desire to share the gospel and glorify God in and through your life. I also want to say thank you for your graciousness towards Calvinists (like myself) and not being aggresive or bitter towards us.

I just want to address a few things you mentioned in a response above. First being that Calvinists do agree with you that man can determine what he desires, BUT his desire comes from his nature, which is who that person is, and scripture is very clear that who we are is sinful sinners, therefore our nature is to sin, making our desire be a sinful desire. So yes, one can determine what he wants to do, but what he wants to do will always be sinful, so his determining or “will” is not a “free will” but a limited will; and limited to what his nature will allow him to do.
Romans 8 is very clear when it says those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Is repentence pleasing to God?
Is faith pleasing to God?
Is accepting Christ pleasing to God?
I think you would agree that all those are not only pleasing to God, but are also the best decisions one can make in his life. So how could a lost person do what Romans 8 says they cannot do, if God did not enable them or “choose” them to do so?

Also you said, no one can boast in an ability that everyone possess. I would disagree, they can boast if what that ability allows them to do something that is good, which again Romans 3 says no one is good. So that ability does not allow them to do anything good including accepting Christ, which as I’ve already mentioned is the best “good” that one can do. But even making that argument still gives the saved person a reason to boast, because he has done something the lost person has not, sure, the lost person might have the same ability, but he still hasn’t done it. He still has not done what the saved person has.

(If a classroom of students are taking a test, and one student finishes long before the rest, although all the students have the ability to finish, only that one student HAS finished. He has a reason to boast, he FINISHED!)
That may be a bad example lol but hopefully you get the point.

Just wanted to chime in a little on that. Thanks again.

Respond

kyle

Appealing to adam for completely ignores all of biblical revelation. You can’t argue against a red herring and loose. Adam’s sin is what plunged us into the mess of sinful depravity. Therefore, one must deal with calvanism’s real arguments of nature, if one is going to be true to biblical revelation. Leighton is not right of the bat in this weak piece of wasted argumentation.

    Andrew Barker

    Thank you Kyle, you’ve made my day. “You can’t argue against a red herring and loose.” followed by ” Leighton is not right of the bat in this weak piece of wasted argumentation.”
    I’m still trying to work out if these are a mixed metaphors, malapropisms or a new type of logical fallacy! You young Cals certainly set the standard when it comes to “argumentation” :-o

kyle

Not being able to answer the question about why Adam and Satan rebelled, is not the same as not being able to explain why man rebels now and cannot come to God on his own by the power of his “libertarian free will”. It is a significant matter of revelation. We do know now, from revelation of Scripture, why man is unable. That is, man is described throughout scripture as dead in trespasses and sins. His mind and will are affected by sin as a result of the fall.
Romans 3:10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11: THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12: ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”… 18: “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” Whatever else is derived from this verse, it must be understood that man is not seeking God on his own. Leighton would likely say that man gets prevenient grace that allows him to seek God unto salvation. The problem is that in that system, we must ask who gets prevenient grace? The answer is everyone. Since that is the case we must ask, “WHY DID YOU BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, BUT YOUR FRIEND DID NOT? ARE YOU WISER OR SMARTER OR MORE SPIRITUAL OR BETTER TRAINED OR MORE HUMBLE?”
Jeremiah asks: The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it? The implied answer is no one. Ephesians 2 tells us that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. I know that Leighton would claim this cannot mean what the word actually says (dead). In the debate with James White, he says that dead is like the prodigal son. The issue that might be of concern here is that it is a parable (not that we cannot glean some truth from parables) and not didactic theological teaching. Plus, the son was already the son of the father so it is difficult to make the enemy of God, as a sinner, synonymous with the prodigal son before he left to live in sin. A better understanding might be a saved person (child of God) coming back home, which is exactly what the story describes, i.e., coming back home. 1 Cor 2:14 says that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God for they are spiritually discerned. The implication is that the natural man needs to become a spiritual man, which would seem to imply a new nature before they could discern spiritual things. Would spiritual things not include the Gospel? Leighton denies that a person can be regenerate before they come to Christ so how does that person understand the things of the Spirit of God? Romans 8:7 “ because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In libertarian free willism the flesh is able to submit itself to God and the Gospel and thereby please God. How does that work? Do they have some transition period fleshlessness right before they submit to the Gospel in repentance and faith?
Just because God does not tell us why something happened in the past does not mean we cannot know why something is true after He has provided sufficient revelation about a particular subject. So, yes, there might be mystery about why Adam and Satan rebelled but it isn’t the same, in my opinion, as to why someone chooses what they choose now. Most of the same folks that would say they have libertarian freewill would appeal to environment in the home growing up and various other factors as to why people are like they are. So they would even appeal to the nature of a person as to why they make certain choices.
Leighton says in this article “Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them.” This may be true if the key word here is ultimately. Any clear thinking Calvinist would say that a non elect person would ultimately hate and reject God because he is reprobate. That isn’t a surprise as I would hope that Leighton would want to say biblically that everyone hates and rebels against God before they are saved. Only the electing Grace of God can change that. Leighton likes to share things like this to try and imply that Calvinists don’t want to admit something because we are supposedly ashamed of it or something. That’s just an emotional argument that has no biblical weight and is designed to get the hand claps from his base. Hilary Clinton does this kind of stuff as well. It would be like me saying that 99 percent of the church growth, seeker sensitive churches, in the world, are arminian. Of wait, that is likely true because that man can come to God on their own without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to free them from their deadness.
3) BETTER BY CHOICE OR DIVINE DECREE IS STILL BETTER:
If Leighton accurately represented Calvinism, then his argument would be without any value. Because, Calvinist do not think God makes them anything but aware of their absolute wickedness and the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, which they believe only comes by regeneration first. You will not hear a Calvinist stating man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man in relation to salvation.
If man has libertarian free will as Leighton claims, please sit down and write a list of what God is actually in control of in this universe that is His. He can control the weather, gravity and various other natural elements of His universe. However, what God cannot do is have an undue influence on anything whatsoever related to man without their permission. Please write out a list of what God can do in this universe of His. Think very carefully to make sure God is not manipulating anything without man’s permission. If so, it cannot go o the list. Please, I challenge you to make the list and then decide if the God of the bible is actually in control of this world.

    Andrew Barker

    A few “loose red herrings” there Kyle.

    Paul N

    Abel offered a sacrifice pleasing to God. How was he able to do that? The bible calls him righteous.

    Lydia

    Kyle, thanks for letting us know how depraved and unable you are. We can take precautions to protect our children when you come to town. When CJ Mahaney kept telling us what a vile sinner he was , we really should have believed him. I am starting to think a Neo calvinist registry is needed since God did not give you the capacity to make good choices.

      Andrew Barker

      Lydia: Good point and well made. Perhaps these Neo Cals are more into the prophetic ministry than we thought, at least in terms of self-fulfilling prophecies! Whether or not they will go with self-fulfilling is open to question though. I mean, it doesn’t sound as those God has determined a self-fulfilling prophecy does it, so perhaps again they will need to rename this?!

      Actually what it really reminds me of is the way children have a habit of telling you stuff in a round-a-bout way. When kids start asking you the “what if …. questions” you get to understand that they probably already have and are testing out the water just to see what they’ve got themselves into. In Mahaney’s case it looks more like a case of telling people how bad he was so when they found out, it would not look so bad after all!

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