Christ did not come to destroy lives but to save them.

October 19, 2012

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism

Part 8: The Evangelistic Aspect of the Gospel Invitation

 

by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


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This is the eleventh of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
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The notion of God choosing not to make salvation available to people through “election,” thus leaving them in their sinful condition and its penalty of condemnation, clashes with scriptural teaching which states that Christ did not come to destroy lives but to save them. Such a “gospel” delivers no “good news” at all to lost sinners. We learn from Ezekiel that God inspired prophets to warn the wicked (Ezek. 33:8-9). The text shows that the prophet could choose to obey God and warn the wicked, or the prophet could opt to disobey God and not warn the wicked (another excellent text arguing for the freewill of man!). Whether warned or unwarned, the impenitent wicked would die in their iniquity, but God would somehow require the blood of the unwarned from the hand of the disobedient prophet who refused to warn them. This implies that God did not want the wicked to die in their iniquity and suggests that they could do so, even though God did not want them to die in the grip of sin. This text also suggests the responsibility of the messenger to speak and of the listener to obey. This is, indeed, a compelling passage for promoting evangelism. Be reminded that Ezekiel was sent primarily to the chosen people; yet, they could die in their iniquity, chosen or not. We further learn from Ezekiel, as pointed out earlier, that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires that all people repent (Ezek. 33:11). Additionally, Jesus proclaimed that the Son of Man came not to destroy, but to save (Luke 9:56). And, we saw earlier that John the Baptist testified that Jesus is the true light, that all might believe (John 1:7).

The universality of mankind’s sinful condition demands the universality of the available cure, which must be personally appropriated. With Newport, I assert that, this side of heaven, nobody can be exempt from the possibility of redemption.1 With this understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God, therefore, W. R. Estep charges that Calvinism’s God resembles Allah, the God of Islam, because he is malevolent.2 But, make no mistake about it – the biblical triune God, unlike the God of Islam, is benevolent, not malevolent.

I truly believe that Christ and Satan are locked in a cosmic struggle for the affections and souls of mankind. This fight is not restricted only to some group called the elect. Satan’s targets include all of mankind. He wants to kill, spiritually and physically, the whole world. C. S. Lewis says, “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”3 Newport insightfully asserts that Satan’s main objective is to frustrate the redemptive purposes of God.4 Conversely, and thankfully, Christ Jesus refuses to concede any, but rather, fights for all.

Now, stay with me here. By virtue of the fact that Satan desires to rule all, not just some, Christ also desires to rule all, not just some. If there are those “elected” for salvation and others “elected” (or left) for destruction, why would there be a cosmic battle? Over whom would the war be waged, since, if Calvinism is correct, everyone is accounted for? But, since there is obviously a war over souls which is raging, everyone is not accounted for; hence, the need for deception on behalf of the enemy, who would blind the hearts of all (2 Cor. 4:4), even the elect if he could (Matt. 24:24). The Bible openly states that the devil snatches away the word from the unsaved so that they will not believe and be saved (Luke 8:12). Estep argues that, logically, Calvinism is anti-missionary, and should rationally view evangelistic efforts as nothing more than exercises in futility.5 This rationale, as Estep and others point out, contradicts The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).6 History bears witness that this evangelistic contradiction has frequently led adherents not to extend invitations for the lost to be saved at the conclusion of services.7 Estep writes that Andrew Fuller penned The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation against the Calvinism of John Gill. Fuller noted that, “Had matters gone on but a few years, the Baptists would have become a perfect dunghill in society.” Estep further concludes that it was Fuller’s modification of Calvinism among Particular Baptists that paved the way for the foreign mission movement of which William Carey, labeled by John Ryland, Sr. as “a miserable enthusiast,” became the catalyst.8 Estep then reports that London pastor John Gill was proud of the fact that he never extended an invitation for a sinner during his more than fifty years of ministry there.9 What a tragedy.

Calvinism simply does not deal adequately either with the corporate or universal relatedness of mankind as a whole. This inadequacy severely undermines any theology of evangelism, which is certainly a biblical mandate not intended to be done merely out of obedience, as many Calvinists do, but out of a fervor to persuade men, women, boys, and girls to turn from sin and to Jesus Christ. Calvinism has a deplorable evangelistic weakness.

 

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The next article in this series will explore the theodical weakness of Calvinism.


1John P. Newport, The New Age Movement and the Biblical Worldview: Conflict and Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 49.

2William R. Estep, “Doctrines Lead to ‘Dunghill’ Prof Warns,” Texas Baptist Standard, 26 March 1997, 12.

3C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967), 33.

4John P. Newport, What Is Christian Doctrine? (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1984), 97.

5Estep, 12.

6Ibid.

7Ibid.

8Ibid.

9Ibid.

 

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Steve Martin

There is NO persuading people to “choose Christ”.

Spiritually dead people cannot choose anything of God. God does choose us (as the Bible correctly states in many places (google it).

So, what is our task then? To announce the gospel to all. That is how God elects people…in the hearing of His Word.

So the Calvinists fall off one side of the horse, and the “free-will” folks fall off the other side of the horse.

The truth is in what Scripture actually says about it. God does elect. He does it through His power. Romans 1:16

Christ loves and died for all. (biblically true – sorry Calvin).

God chooses us, we don’t choose Him. (biblically true – sorry Zwingli)

    Robert

    Steve wrote:

    “There is NO persuading people to “choose Christ”.”

    This statement is absolutely false and is COMPLETELY CONTRADICTED BY SCRIPTURE:

    In 2 Cor. 5:11 Paul writes:

    “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God: and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”

    In Acts 18 Paul’s visit to Corinth is described, look particularly at the early verses of the chapter:

    “After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working , for by trade they were tent-makers. And he was REASONING in the synagogue every Sabbath and TRYING TO PERSUADE Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:1-4)

    I guess the apostle Paul did not receive the memo that Steve received from somewhere that “There is NO persuading people to ‘choose Christ;’”. :-)

    I think we ought to go with scripture on this and not the false claim made here by Steve Martin.

    Steve concludes with:

    “Christ loves and died for all. (biblically true – sorry Calvin).
    God chooses us, we don’t choose Him. (biblically true – sorry Zwingli)”

    This is half right. Steve is correct that Christ loves and died for all.

    But Steve where do you ever get this notion that “we don’t choose Him”??

    I can understand if you want to argue that God must enable us to choose Him, that we cannot make this choice on our own. But that is not what you are claiming.

    You are claiming that WE DON’T EVEN CHOOSE HIM. That is not true at all.

    We have to choose to trust in Him alone or we cannot be saved.

    For example, when Paul tells the Phillipian Jailor that he must believe in order to be saved, that Jailor has to make the choice to trust in Christ or he could not be saved.

    Robert

      Steve Martin

      ( I have done this many times but I will go through it again)

      “You did not choose me, but I chose you”

      “You are born NOT of the will of man…but of God”

      “NO MAN CAN come to me, except he be drawn (compelled is the better translation) by the Father.”

      “The Spirit blows where it will.” (to Nicodemus)

      The words ‘make a decision for Christ’, or ‘choose Jesus’ are not in the New Testament.

      The two most commonly used words in the New Testament to describe how faith comes, are “called”, and “chosen”.

      So much for your free will.

        Norm Miller

        “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” — Norm

          A woman *gasp*

          The edict was from Joshua to a host of “chosen” people, compelling them to walk in the ways of the Lord BECAUSE they were chosen. Probably not a good defense.

dr. james willingham

As usual the critics of calvinism (so-called. The more appropriate term is Sovereign Grace which fits the biblical phrase “so might grace reign” in Roms.5:21) totally ignore history. There is the effort to Reform the corrupt church beginning with Martin Luther who, in addition to his labors to bring back justification by faith alone, sets forth the reality of man’s condition in his, “The Bondage of the Will.” Shortly after he began, Calvin arose. While Lutheranism has its adherents, calvinism took most of the countries in Western Europe, more particularly, those that had the dominant influence in the New World, i.e., England, the Netherlands, France, and Scotland. Then comes the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions, the establishment of religious liberty, the creation of a new nation that had more freedoms than any other in history, and that nation tagged with a term all but forgotten in today’s secular reinterpretation of American history, a “calvinistic republic.” This failure of discernment concerning the historical background casts serious doubt on the value of Dr. Cox’s comments, especially when we remember that Jonathan Edwards’ one of the leaders in the First Great Awakening wrote a tract, Humble Attempt, which inspired Andrew Fuller and William Carey, five point calvinists (cf. Fuller’s works and Dr. Akin’s comment regarding Carey), to launch the Great Century of Missions. We also find a strong calvinism in Luther Rice who encouraged Southern Baptists to enlist in the launching of the Great Century of Missions. And Let us not forget the Great Evangelist, George Whitefield, whose evangelistic and charitable preaching moved even Benjamin Franklin. Has SBC Today become a tool only of Traditionalists? Sure seems that way, and, having seen nothing by the those who claim affinity with the originals of the Sandy Creek, Charleston, and other associations and churches that were clearly calvinistic in their articles of faith and practice we think this is all one-sided and prejudicial. Besides, Dr. Cox is nothing, if not inflammatory to the calvinists who are heirs to the originators of allowing for differences as in the union of Separates and Regulars in 1787. I shall never forget my ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell, a self-professed supralapsarian, a hyper-calvinist (his words from the pulpit and in personal conversation) and the fact that he pleaded with a member of my family to trust Christ until tears ran down the man’s face. Now that just sounds like indifference and unconcern, doesn’t it? Baloney!

rhutchin

The elect (however one believes that they come to Christ) are known to God before He creates the world. All the evangelistic preaching across time and space will not increase the number of the elect or decrease the number of the reprobate. If Dr. Cox chooses to deny this, then his argument might be valid (as a logical argument) even if still not true. The problem for the non-Calvinist is to find some way to deal with God’s election. Until Dr. Cox can do that, his other arguments have no power.

There are two purposes for the preaching of the gospel: to draw the elect to Christ and to prepare the reprobate for judgment. There is no lack of evangelistic zeal among the Calvinist preachers who understand this. The giving of a formal invitation to people to “accept” Christ, while one might take it as an indicator of a pastor’s evangelistic zeal, does not guarantee anything about one’s true desire for Christ. If the pastor does not gain his enthusiasm from a desire to tell people what the Bible says, apart from the reaction of people to his message, he should find another line of recreation (for how can such really be work to those God has called to preach).

Dr. Cox may rightfully complain about the behavior of certain men who call themselves Calvinists, but he offers no real critique of Calvinism.

    Robert

    “rhutchin” provides a very nice example of some common problems with calvinists.

    First they merely assume their view to be true as he writes:

    “There are two purposes for the preaching of the gospel: to draw the elect to Christ and to prepare the reprobate for judgment.”

    The bible never presents these as the two purposes of gospel preaching.

    Especially the second “purpose” that he gives (i.e. that it prepares the reprobate for judgment). A careful perusal of the bible will not even reveal the term “reprobates” or that God chooses to damn people before they are born (it can only be derived from eisegesis of biblical passages, especially Romans 9). His claim is merely a crystal clear case of begging the question.

    He then goes on to claim that:

    “There is no lack of evangelistic zeal among the Calvinist preachers who understand this.”

    Anothor vapid claim, which is shown by his comment about ****the**** motivation for gospel preaching according to him:

    “If the pastor does not gain his enthusiasm from a desire to tell people what the Bible says, apart from the reaction of people to his message, he should find another line of recreation (for how can such really be work to those God has called to preach).”

    Note what is completely ABSENT here:

    love for the lost!!!!!!

    He says the pastor gets his enthusiasm merely from telling people what the bible says.

    Sorry, that is not enough. There has to be a love for the lost that drives people to proclaim Christ to a lost and dying world.

    rhutchin leaves out love from his description of what ought to motivate evangelism.

    And that confirms again the problem with many of these calvinists.

    And why should this be surprising?

    If you really believe that God chooses to damn and “reprobate” most of the human race before they are born, why should you have much love for the lost?

    Your “love” then amounts only to a love for those who will believe just like you do.

    It is not love for lost sinners, it is only love for not yet saved elect.

    This starkly shows again the anti-evangelistic nature of consistent calvinism (the version that claims that God predestines everything including the salvation of some and the damnation of most). If your man made theology makes God into a hateful person who delights in damning most of the human race, and evangelism is motivated only by telling people what the bible says or out of mere duty, RATHER THAN ACTUALLY HAVING A LOVE FOR THEM. Then you are not going to be very evangelistic.

    Robert

Shane Dodson

With all due respect, this is amazingly bad argumentation.

I’m a Calvinist evangelist who preaches the Gospel in order to FIRST and FOREMOST bring glory to my Lord and Savior who rescued me out of darkness and into His glorious light.

I also preach the Gospel because that is the means by which God has chosen–according to His good will and pleasure–to draw His elect in to be saved.

I love the Lord and, thus, I love His elect and, thus, I desire to see as many people saved as He wills.

And this makes me…ummm…ANTI-evangelism?

These arguments have been answered time and time again, and yet there are some who PERSIST in digging up dead arguments and attempting to breathe new life into them.

I’m sorry, but only the Lord can breathe life into what is dead. :-)

    Robert

    Shane writes:

    “I’m a Calvinist evangelist who preaches the Gospel in order to FIRST and FOREMOST bring glory to my Lord and Savior who rescued me out of darkness and into His glorious light.”

    That’s nice, at least you claim to be driven by a desire to glorify God.

    “I also preach the Gospel because that is the means by which God has chosen–according to His good will and pleasure–to draw His elect in to be saved.”

    It is true that the gospel is the means by which God saves sinners.

    But your only love is for the not yet “elect”, for them to be saved.

    There is no love for the lost, for those who will in fact never come to salvation.

    And again that is no surprise, I mean if God himself has chosen to damn them from eternity and for eternity, why should you care about them?

    If anything they only get in the way of your efforts to save the not yet saved elect.

    “I love the Lord and, thus, I love His elect and, thus, I desire to see as many people saved as He wills.”

    OK now you speak of love for God and for the elect.

    But you are in contradiction to God and his word when you write “thus I desire to see as many people saved as He wills”. Your theology which is grace -restricting, restricts the grace of God only to the preselected elect. This is in contradiction to God’s Word where he clearly and repeatedly says that he desires for all to be saved and provides Jesus as an atonement for the whole world. So in being consistent with your theology you contradict God’s Word and have no love for the lost who never end up saved.

    “And this makes me…ummm…ANTI-evangelism?”

    A theology that maintains that God hates most of the human race and so chooses to damn most of them before they are born, lacks love for the world (which God himself says that he has, remember John 3:16????) and is not going to be very conducive to evangelize the world when most of it according to this mistaken theology is already predestined for hell.

    “These arguments have been answered time and time again, and yet there are some who PERSIST in digging up dead arguments and attempting to breathe new life into them.”

    These arguments have not been answered because if we look at most calvinists, especially those who spend most of their time on the internet, very few are evangelistic. Look at the fruit, most of them have never led any one to the Lord (and why should they as even the concept of leading someone to the Lord is contradicted by their theology). Jesus said to examine people by their fruit. Examine the majority of calvinists and you find people who love to debate and talk theology, who are extremely hostile and arrogant persons, and who have not led others to Christ for salvation.

    Instead of having altar calls they are arguing against altar calls!

    “I’m sorry, but only the Lord can breathe life into what is dead. :-)”

    And the Lord brings people to Himself through the faithful preaching of and sharing of His Word and the faithful obedience and lifestyles of believers. He uses means, people are not just zapped into the Kingdom of God apart from any means.

    Robert

      dr. james willingham

      Whitefield use to stop and weep for sinners during his sermons. Amazing what ignorance of history can do to vitiate arguments against or for a position.

    Dean

    Shane, lets say I am lost, as an evangelist who happens to be a Calvinist would you tell me that Jesus died for me?

      Robert

      Hello Dean,

      Dean before you get a response from a calvinist who will try to dance around your question. Consider the following joke that does in fact answer your question:

      “How can u spot a Calvinist at a football game?

      He’s the one holding the sign that reads John 3:16 may not apply to you.”

      Robert

        Randall Cofield

        Hey, I didn’t know we could tell jokes on this thread.

        Here’s one:

        How can you spot a non-Calvinist at a football game?

        He’s the half-naked guy with blue hair holding the John 3:16 sign…

        Know how to spot a Southern Baptist at a noon game on Sunday?

        He’s the half-naked guy with blue hair holding the John 3:16 sign…

        Ooops. That was two jokes, wan’t it? ;-)

          Tim B

          I met a guy the other day whose testimony is that he saw a Jn 316 sign on tv, didn’t know what it said so he looked it up, was saved, is a faithful believer today.

          Robert

          I told a joke that expresses very well the nature of the false calvinist view on John 3:16 (i.e. whereas the text properly interpreted presents the fact that God loves all and so provides Jesus for all, the calvinist will deny the meaning of the passage and substitute the false idea that God desires to save only some and so gives Jesus only for some).

          Randall responded with his own counter joke about some guy who is “the half-naked guy with the blue hair holding the John 3:16 sign”.

          If I had to make a choice between this “half-naked guy with the blue hair holding the John 3:16 sign” and the calvinist holding the sign that says “John 3:16 may not apply to you”: I would definitely and without hesitation take the “half-naked guy with the blue hair”.

          He may be crazy looking but at least he is telling the truth, while the other is telling a lie.

          Robert.

      Shane Dodson

      “would you tell me that Jesus died for me?”

      No.

      There. That didn’t require any “dancing around the question,” now did it?

        Dean

        Shane, thanks for answering the question. I never accused you of dancing around the question. Blessings

          Shane Dodson

          My “dancing” comment was directed to the gentleman who seems to think all calvinists dance around such questions.

          I cannot speak for all Calvinists, but I have no problem answer such a question.

          Simply look to the apostles in the book of Acts. Did they ever tell everybody in the crowd that Jesus died for all of them when evangelizing?

          One might retort with “just because they were not recorded as doing so doesn’t mean they never did.”

          To that I would respond with…if preaching a universal atonement is so vital to our evangelism, where IS there no recorded event of such preaching?

            Dean

            Shane, I am not interested in debating I promise. I would love to be fly on the wall and witness personal evangelism when the evangelist never makes the substitutionary death personal for the lost. How does that work, “Jesus died for some to pay for their sins. Do you feel like you are the elect today?” I’m not being a wise guy that is a serious question.

            Robert

            Shane wrote:

            “My “dancing” comment was directed to the gentleman who seems to think all calvinists dance around such questions.
            I cannot speak for all Calvinists, but I have no problem answer such a question. “

            I never said that ALL calvinists dance around such questions: but because in fact so many of them do so, I predicted Shane would do so as well. I was wrong about Shane, he is quite open about his calvinistic beliefs.

            Most of them are not as forthright as Shane appears to be. I dare say that if more calvinists were as forthright as Shane is about his views, calvinism would be more out in the open and also more rejected by other believers.

            Some examples, the forthright calvinist would openly and without qualification declare things such as:

            That God hates most human persons and has preplanned for the vast majority of them to go to hell (instead, most calvinists will not openly declare this fact of their theology or they will try to water it down with things such as infralapsarianism, i.e. that God does not actively damn most of the human race, rather, he merely “passes over them”).

            That John 3:16 really does not mean that God loves the world, he only loves the elect whom he calls out from the world (if calvinists were honest about John 3:16 and not evasive the vast majority of Christians would reject their calvinism based upon how they mangle this one verse alone).

            That God does not desire the salvation of all, he really only wants to save a few preselected individuals (this is why texts such as 1 John 2:2 must be **reinterpreted** with the calvinistic party line).

            That God picks most human persons to be damned before they are born, predestines their every thought, motive, belief, action, and sin. And then at the final judgment condemns them for doing and thinking and being exactly what he predestined them to do, think and be. That these so-called “reprobates” never had a chance to be saved. It was impossible for them to be saved and God wanted it that way (calvinists downplay the implications of their exhaustive determinism, they speak of free will, though they redefine it away from the ordinary meaning, they speak of sinners “freely” sinning of doing what they want to do, though they leave out the fact that if God predestines everything, that includes these sinners thoughts, beliefs, desires as well).

            That God since he preplanned everything that happens, God also preplanned every evil and sin so that it happens exactly as planned (they really don’t have any good way of getting around this, though they have tried).

            Etc. Etc. Etc.

            The point is that while Shane is forthright about his beliefs, most calvinists are not. Most of them are evasive about what they really believe. Most of them have developed all sorts of semantic distinctions and subterfuges to not directly speak out what they really believe. If they did, most other believers would immediately reject their false doctrines. But if these false doctrines can be covered in verbal evasions and semantic distinctions, and other verbal sleight of mouth, the bad medicine will supposedly go down more easily. I want this stuff all out in the open for all to see, because I am confidenct that if it is out in the open, bible believing Christians will as a whole reject this stuff.

            Robert

            Shane Dodson

            Dan said…

            “How does that work, “Jesus died for some to pay for their sins. Do you feel like you are the elect today?” I’m not being a wise guy that is a serious question.”

            Dean…did you read my previous response to you?

            Do a cursory study of the book of Acts. Did the apostles preach the Gospel by saying “do you feel like you are elect today?”

            You’ll find the answer is “no.” So…considering what I wrote you to previously…how does that answer your serious question?

            Shane Dodson

            Sorry…DEAN, not “Dan,” as I began that last response.

          Dean

          Shane, I asked if you would tell me if Christ died for me. You said no. I asked if you would ask if I felt I were one of the elect. You said no. Is there any net drawing in reform evangelism?

            Shane Dodson

            Any net drawing?

            Come again?

        Calvin S.

        Personally, I believe the 5-point Calvinist can say to each non-believer: “Jesus died for you.” Because each person bears the guilt of Adam, Jesus died for the sin of Adam to take away Original Sin and therefore He died at least in some sense for every person.

    Daniel Wilcox

    Shane,

    You say,
    “I also preach the Gospel because that is the means by which God has chosen–according to His good will and pleasure–to draw His elect in to be saved.”

    Only that isn’t the Gospel!

    The real Good News is that God loves every single human he has ever created and ever will create, and sent Jesus to reconcile each one of us to himself IN LOVE.

    I suggest you listen to the audiobook by Baptist Billy Graham. I am listening to it now on my car stereo.
    The book demonstrates how false Calvinism is by showing how right the real Good News is.

    Daniel

      Shane Dodson

      “The real Good News is that God loves every single human he has ever created and ever will create, and sent Jesus to reconcile each one of us to himself IN LOVE.”

      And yet most people are not reconciled to Jesus (“few there are” that find the narrow road). So you’re referring to a Jesus that was sent to reconcile everybody who ever lived and everybody who ever will live in the hisory of the world…and yet failed BIG TIME.

      That’s not the Jesus I preach.

        Robert

        Shane I have some real problems with what you wrote here.

        “And yet most people are not reconciled to Jesus (“few there are” that find the narrow road). So you’re referring to a Jesus that was sent to reconcile everybody who ever lived and everybody who ever will live in the hisory of the world…and yet failed BIG TIME.
        That’s not the Jesus I preach.”

        If you are not preaching the Jesus who loves the world and so died on the cross for the world, you are not preaching the Jesus of reality, but of your own imagination (or better yet the Jesus who acts in line with your false deterministic theology).

        Regarding Jesus failing BIG TIME.

        You seriously and intentionally misrepresent the truth here. The truth is that God decides the nature of the plan of salvation. That God says he desires for all to be saved. That God sets up the rules by which men will be saved (they are saved by freely choosing to place their faith in salvation in God’s actions to save them alone, not their own actions). God designed this actual world. And he designed human persons to have the capacity to have and make their own choices (i.e. free will). He also designed the plan of salvation in such a way that the human person must choose for himself to trust the Lord alone for salvation. If the human person instead chooses to reject God, reject God’s grace, reject the provision of Christ for his salvation: then that person will not be saved. As God set up the rules of the game, when it comes to “failure”, whether 1, or 10, or 99 of 100 persons chooses to reject God’s gracious provision of salvation in Christ, God has not failed, the human person who rejects God has “failed.”

        The game goes exactly according to the rules that God set up.

        He set it up so that a freely made choice to trust is involved (i.e. justification is conditioned upon faith). If you don’t make that choice, you have no one to blame but yourself. Jesus desired to die on the cross for the world, in that he was absolutely successful and it went right according to plan. God desired for people to have the capacity to have and make their own choices: again, God was successful in his design plan (he said after completing the creation that it was all good, and that included human persons capable of having and making their own choices). God has accomplished everything that he has set out to do. There is thus no failure with God. Failure is always on the part of man not God.

        So Shane you intentionally misrepresent God and his plan of salvation. You are actually mocking God’s design plan for human persons as well as mocking his plan of salvation. I expect that from a non-believer, I find it pathetic coming from a professing believer.

        And why does Shane mock God’s design plan and plan of salvation: for the sake of a man-made and false system of theology known as calvinism.

        Robert

          Shane Dodson

          Your slanderous accusations are duly noted, Robert.

          “And he designed human persons to have the capacity to have and make their own choices (i.e. free will).”

          You fail to recognize that humans make their own choices IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR WILL, which is enslaved to sin.

          Jesus said in John 8:24 that he who sins is enslaved to sin. Does mankind sin? Then mankind is enslaved to sin.

          Does that mean that man lacks “free will?” Sure, in the sense that mankind can freely choose anything other than what is in accordance with his enslaved will.

          We are free, to be sure…free to sin in whatever manner our enslaved nature directs us to.

          That is why need NEW life out of slavery and into freedom through Christ.

          I don’t preach a Christ who tried to save everybody who ever lived and everybody who will ever live in the history of the world and yet failed.

          I preach a Christ who purchased for Himself a people from every tongue, tribe, and nation (Rev 5:9).

            Norm Miller

            To say “nothing has ever been done about it” is completely inaccurate, Calvin. — Norm.

wingedfooted1

I thought this was interesting…..

“W. R. Estep charges that Calvinism’s God resembles Allah, the God of Islam, because he is malevolent”

From the Westminster Confession…..

“By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
Wherefore, they who are elected are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased to pass by and reprobate; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praised of His glorious justice.”

From the Qur’an: Surah 6:125……

“Those whom Allah, in His Plan, willeth to guide He openeth their breast to Islam; those whom He willeth to leave straying He maketh their breast close and constricted as if they had to climb up to the skies: thus doth Allah heap the penalty on those who refuse to believe.”

Now compare the two……

Those (the elect) whom Allah, in his plan (according to His decree), wills to guide, He opens their breast (regenerates, effectually calls) to Islam; Those (the non-elect) whom He wills to leave straying (passes by), he makes their breast close and constricted (reprobates), as if they had to climb up to the skies (makes salvation an impossibility): thus does Allah lay abomination (eternal damnation) on those who refuse to believe (who Allah could have saved if he had so desired).

Ouch!

wingedfooted1

    dr. james willingham

    Wingefooted1 would do well to read Lorraine Boettner’s work on the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination where he points out that a group of English Calvinists and some Moslems were on a ship. A Moslem fell or was swept overboard. The other Moslems said if Allah wills it, he will be saved…and did nothing. The Calvinists said God willed for us to throw him a rope, and the man was saved. The Calvinist believes in the use of means. That is why the Calvinist Jonathan Edwards wrote his tract, Humble Attempt, which inspired the Calvinists Andrew Fuller and William Carey to begin praying for God to send the Gospel to India, and then the Calvinist Carey joined a Hyper-Calvinist who had been in India for 7 years (Dr. John Thomas) and spent 7 years seeking to win Indians of India to Christ. John Thomas, while setting the arm of Krishna Pal, a fellow Carey had tried to win a number of times, won Pal to Christ. Then went insane with joy. Strange is it not. And o yes, the Calvinist, Luther Rice enlisted Southern Baptists in the launching of the Great Century of Missions. and inspired Basil Manly, Sr., a Calvinist who would lead Southern Baptists to found the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the first teacher would be, Dr. James Petigru Boyce, a Calvinist. I nearly forgot Dr. P.H. Mell who was elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention more times than any one else in its History (and I think second after him was Boyce) published a book on Predestination. I hardly have to say what his theological view was…Calvinism as some call it that are not well acquainted with the Bible, and Sovereign Grace for some who are.

      Robert

      “Wingedfooted1” brought up a very interesting parallel in calvinistic and Islamic thought regarding God choosing whom will be saved and who will be damned:

      “Now compare the two……
      Those (the elect) whom Allah, in his plan (according to His decree), wills to guide, He opens their breast (regenerates, effectually calls) to Islam; Those (the non-elect) whom He wills to leave straying (passes by), he makes their breast close and constricted (reprobates), as if they had to climb up to the skies (makes salvation an impossibility): thus does Allah lay abomination (eternal damnation) on those who refuse to believe (who Allah could have saved if he had so desired).”

      This sounds just like infralapsarian calvinism (which seems to be the majority position among calvinists at present, with fewer holding to supralapsarian calvinism) in which God actively chooses the elect for salvation but merely “passes by” the reprobates thus leaving them in their unsaved state with no hope of being saved.

      It is chilling that Islam which is so wrong on essential Christian doctrines such as the trinity (they deny it) the deity of Christ (they deny it), the incarnation of Christ (they deny it) holds a view of election that is virtually identical to infralapsarian calvinism.

      How could the Muslims get so many important things wrong and then get it right when it comes to election?

      This seems extremely unlikely. It seems much more likely that just as they are mistaken on the trinity, deity of Christ and the incarnation, they are also mistaken regarding election.

      James tried to deflect this problem by changing the topic to whether or not calvinism is fatalism. And so writing:

      “Wingefooted1 would do well to read Lorraine Boettner’s work on the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination where he points out that a group of English Calvinists and some Moslems were on a ship. A Moslem fell or was swept overboard. The other Moslems said if Allah wills it, he will be saved…and did nothing. The Calvinists said God willed for us to throw him a rope, and the man was saved. The Calvinist believes in the use of means.”

      But that was ***not*** Wingedfooted 1’s point at all.

      Wingedfooted1 was not arguing that calvinism is fatalistic and denies that God uses means to accomplish ends.

      And regarding calvinism being fatalism it depends upon which definition of fatalism one is using. One common definition of fatalism is that certain outcomes will occur not matter what is done preceding these outcomes. But this is really irrational as for example if someone decides to shoot someone in the head or not shoot someone in the head these two different actions are definitely going to result in differeing outcomes. By that definition of fatalism calvinism is not fatalism.

      On the other hand, if we go by standard usage of the term fatalism among contemporary philosophers (where fatalism is the denial that one can ever do otherwise), then calvinism is fatalism.

      So whether or not calvinism is fatalism depends upon which definition of fatalism one is operating by.

      Wingedfooted1 did not bring up the almost identical understandings of election between Islam and calvinism to show that calvinism is fatalistic.

      Instead, he brought up this parallel to show that calvinism teaches the same thing on election as Islam does (and vice versa). And THAT should cause some concern among Christians and should also alert us yet again that calvinism is a false human made system of theology (just as Islam is as well).

      Robert

Bob G

Awesome article! Please keep up the great work! Please do not be discouraged by the negative comments, which betray the “disquieting realities” of extreme Calvinism. I am so blessed and encouraged by your teaching.
God Bless you and this ministry.
Thank you.

Bob Hadley

Rhutchins… WOW… what an enlightening statement indeed:

The elect (however one believes that they come to Christ) are known to God before He creates the world. All the evangelistic preaching across time and space will not increase the number of the elect or decrease the number of the reprobate. If Dr. Cox chooses to deny this, then his argument might be valid (as a logical argument) even if still not true. The problem for the non-Calvinist is to find some way to deal with God’s election.

Seems to me you have reinforced the thrust of Wilcox’s article as stated in his final sentence, “Calvinism has a deplorable evangelistic weakness.” Note, he said Calvinism and not Calvinists. Believe it or not, there is a tremendous difference in the two. A person can call himself a calvinist but hold to beliefs that are inconsistent with what calvinism actually posits and that is a MAJOR problem today.

Steve Martin basically says the same thing as he says, “There is NO persuading people to “choose Christ”. Spiritually dead people cannot choose anything of God. God does choose us (as the Bible correctly states in many places (google it). Google it??? Oh well….

Now let me address one of the REAL problems calvinists have with calvinism as I see it. Steve goes on to say, “So, what is our task then? To announce the gospel to all. That is how God elects people…in the hearing of His Word.”

Shane echoes this statement as he writes, “I also preach the Gospel because that is the means by which God has chosen–according to His good will and pleasure–to draw His elect in to be saved.” I will acknowledge rhutchins’ comment , “There are two purposes for the preaching of the gospel: to draw the elect to Christ and to prepare the reprobate for judgment.”

Here is the problem calvinism has with “the gospel being the means God uses to call the elect”; for calvinism, the gospel is powerless to save the non-elect. The non-elect cannot respond to the gospel because it falls on deaf ears and dead hearts. This is true until God FIRST regenerates the unregenerate individual. The theology states that regeneration according to the effectual call of the Sovereign God is the means God uses to call the elect; it is not the gospel as most calvinists argue. Understand something; it is absolutely possible for one who calls himself a calvinist to argue a point that the theology itself does not support. That is what I believe is the case in this calvinistic argument that the gospel is the means God uses to call the elect. The fact that this is what calvinists believe and teach has absolutely NOTHING to do with the validity of the argument brought out by the theology itself.

Calvinism does not allow the gospel to be the means God uses to “call the elect” since it maintains regeneration must FIRST take place so the gospel can have effect. The gospel in calvinism is the means of sanctification and not conversion. Conversion is the result of God’s effectual call and His sovereign will not to mention the fact that Jesus died on the cross to effect the salvation of the elect. It would seem to me that this is also problematic for the calvinist and here is why. If the tenet of Limited Atonement is true that Jesus died for the sin of the elect… and His death on the cross paid the penalty for the sin of the elect, then there never is a time when the elect are lost… or condemned in their sin because the penalty for their sin was paid for on the cross and even at birth, they are covered by the blood… there is never a time in their lives that their eternal security is in jeopardy… they are saved before they are born.

Calvinists do not preach that but it IS WHAT CALVINISM contends… at least as I see it. So once again, Wilcox’s closing statement looms large, Calvinism (not necessarily calvinists) has a deplorable evangelistic weakness.

Now comes Dr. Willingham’s closing comment, “Now that just sounds like indifference and unconcern, doesn’t it? Baloney!” Yep… bologna… eat up!

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