John Calvin in his own words, Article 3: John 3:16

August 23, 2012

By Ron F. Hale

He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, and Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.



Have you noticed that some theologians enjoy using the phrase, “On the other hand?”

I like my theologians to be “one-handed” and armed with a straightforward exegesis of the biblical text. I like my theologians to pull out of the text all that is duly and definitely there — no more and no less.

I have to “hand” it to him; John Calvin had a great theological and philosophical mind. He could pull out of scripture some simple and profound truths. Then he would say, “On the other hand,” and the philosophical side of Calvin would bring things out of the blue.

We shall look at Calvin’s treatment of the popular and well-loved John 3:16.

As Calvin addresses the phrase “… that whosoever believeth on him may not perish,” he states:

“It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term world, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance to life.”[i]

Calvin informs us that the universal term “whosoever” serves the two-fold purpose of inviting all sinners to partake of life and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Calvin looks at the word “world” and handles it properly as he sees Christ reconciling the world unto himself and invites all men without exception to believe in Jesus Christ.

Amen, Brother! Most Southern Baptists could agree that God desires the salvation of all people (whosoever) and that Jesus was offered to all those in the world.

But, John Calvin doesn’t stop with his in-depth exegetical work; the philosophical side of him always seems to break the surface causing confusion. John Calvin goes on to say:

“Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.”[ii]

Hold your horses, John! Where did that come from? Do you have an axe to grind?

Did you see that phrase “on the other hand”? I think Calvin is bringing a second-handed Augustinian tidbit into the commentary of the Gospel of John. In one fell swoop, Calvin suddenly throws biblical exegesis to the wind and defaults to a personal position of reconciling scripture with preconceived philosophical constructs. Well, fiddle-dee-dee.

Even young theologs know that eternal life can’t be genuinely offered to those incapable of receiving it. Think about the character of the God of history; does he invite “all” indiscriminately to partake of life and cut off every excuse from unbelievers and … on the other hand …withhold eternal life from some (or many) by opening only the eyes of the elect to faith?

Dr. Calvin — does your left hand know what your right hand is doing? You can’t have it both ways. Are you a theologian or a philosopher? Are you going to be true to John’s Gospel or Augustine’s philosophical construals? When you make a clear biblical point in one paragraph, the content and context shouldn’t be construed in the next paragraph. You can’t read your personal views of election and predestination into the text; that becomes eisegesis.

Here is the bottom line for John 3:16:We have a God whose walk matches his talk. The Bible tells us God loves us. And, he made salvation possible for “all” through faith in his only begotten Son. On the cross, the soldiers stretched both hands out wide and nailed his hide, hair, and holiness to rough cut timber.

Jesus didn’t speak in terms of “on the other hand.”

His hands are still outstretched and he is saying, “Come to me … ALL … you who are weary!”


[i] John Calvin’s Commentary on John’s Gospel, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids and located online at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom34.ix.iii.html

[ii] Ibid.

 

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Rick Patrick

Ron,

I love the way you let Calvin speak for himself. How could such beliefs be treated any more fairly or respectfully? Your article critiques Calvinism, but certainly does not mischaracterize it, a common claim by Calvinists when they read opposing views.

As to your analysis itself, this is absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately, what Calvin the theologian offers with one hand, Calvin the philosopher removes with the other. He reads a view of faith into the passage that clearly does not spring from the passage itself. We all agree that “God so loved the world.” May we come to agree that this love includes a genuine offer of eternal life to all who believe, and that every man is freely capable of expressing this faith.

    Mike Leake

    “every man is freely capable of expressing this faith”. Where is that in John 3:16? You may very well be correct. But all I read in 3:16 is that whosoever believes will not perish. I don’t read anything about anyone being capable of expressing faith or incapable of expressing faith.

    I’ll agree that what Calvin says concerning election in that comment doesn’t spring from that text. He’s bringing his theology derived from other Scripture into the whosoever. You just did the same thing, though. All the text says is that whosoever believes. And we teach that and preach that and urge men to believe. A theology of Whether or not they are able is foreign to this particular text.

      Rick Patrick

      I believe when God inspired “whosoever believes” He did not intend us to reinterpret that as “whosoever I cause to believe.”

      Thus, the capability of believing expressed in the passage is admittedly tied to what I consider to be the normal usage of the word “whosoever,” implying both the option of believing, as discussed in verse 16, and the option of disbelieving, addressed even more clearly in this same passage in verse 18.

        Darryl Hill

        Rick, what Mike has pointed out is correct. You have done the same thing Calvin did with that last phrase in your first comment above…

        “May we come to agree that this love includes a genuine offer of eternal life to all who believe, and that every man is freely capable of expressing this faith.”

        The text does not say that every man is freely capable of expressing this faith. You have read that into the text. If the text simply said “whoever shall have eternal life” then you’d be correct. But it doesn’t say “whoever.” It says “Whoever believes.”

        And actually, it becomes even more clear as you read. The emphasis in the following verses remains in the word “believe” not the word “whoever.”

        17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
        18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
        19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
        20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
        21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

        That last phrase is very calvinistic, by the way- the deeds are “wrought in God.” But that’s not my point. My point is that you’ve done the same thing Calvin did when you added the phrase “and that every man is freely capable of expressing this faith.”

    Ron Hale

    Thanks Rick … I appreciate your kind words and look forward to reading one of your articles soon. You are a gifted writer and I want to be like you when I grow up! Blessings.

Tim Rogers

Ron,

(Begin Satire) You have fallen for the obvious. It is obvious that Calvin is not against scripture he is merely interpreting it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The problem is you are interpreting it under your own devices of ignorance and non-academia standards. If you would get out more and read more then you would realize that lack of understanding is due to your lack of intelligence as you have not progressed to the point of Biblical theology as you should be. (End Satire)

Great article. You allow John Calvin to speak for himself. Seriously, I think we will find many of the New Calvinists never look at the passages that Calvin handled they just look at his philosophical position on the passages.

    Randall Cofield

    Tim,

    Seriously, I think we will find many of the New Calvinists never look at the passages that Calvin handled they just look at his philosophical position on the passages.

    Or perhaps we can read the second quotation of Calvin above and recognize literally dozens of passages being alluded to in his statements…something both yourself and Dr. Hale seem to have missed…

    Soli Deo Gloria

      Ron Hale

      Tim,
      I appreciate you posting, for I do see you as a very intelligent and convictional writer. We disagree on things, but I’ve seen enough of your comments to know you represent your camp with passion and pithiness.

      On the other (gulp) hand, it may seem that I or we missed the meaning of the second alluded to statement, but is it possible that I or we did understand and simply do not concur?
      Blessings!

        Ron Hale

        Randall …my second comment to Tim …was meant for you.

        Sorry Randall and Tim for the mix up — long day.

          Ron Hale

          The second in frame of time …

        Randall Cofield

        Hi Ron,

        On the other (gulp) hand, it may seem that I or we missed the meaning of the second alluded to statement, but is it possible that I or we did understand and simply do not concur?

        I’m not sure, brother. I guess it would depend on what you didn’t miss. :-)

        Grace to you.

    Ron Hale

    Thanks Tim,
    Dr. Calvin was a prolific writer and there is so much ground to cover …maybe if I can do enough of these articles …a book will arise with the same title. Blessings!

      Ron Hale

      Dr. Rogers,
      You’re intelligent and convictional too!

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Southern Baptist dispise the word “Arminian.” But, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck,….. Southern Baptists were predominately Arminian “hybrids” for most of the 20th century. They embraced all but the last one of the “Five Points of the Remonstrants” which are paraphrased by:

•True faith cannot proceed from the exercise of our natural faculties and powers, or from the force and operation of free will, since man, in consequence of his natural corruption, is incapable of thinking or doing any good thing. It is therefore necessary to his conversion and salvation that he be regenerated and renewed by the operation of the Holy Spirit which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

•God, from all eternity, determined to: (1) bestow salvation on those who, as He foresaw, would persevere unto the end in their free will faith in Jesus Christ and (2) inflict everlasting punishment on those who would continue in their unbelief and resist His divine grace.

•The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ covered the sins of all mankind in general and those of every individual in particular; however, none but those who believe in Him can be partakers of that divine benefit.

•The Holy Spirit begins, advances and brings to perfection everything that can be called good in man; consequently, all good works are to be attributed to God alone. Nevertheless, this grace does not force man to act against his inclination but may be resisted and rendered ineffectual.

•Those once united to Christ by faith may, by turning away from God, lose the great gift of salvation.

Rejecting this last point, the Traditional Southern Baptist believed that, once saved, no man can exercise his free will to reject God and thereby lose his salvation. This put all Traditional Southern Baptists in the precarious position of wearing the shoes of an Arminian except that one shoe didn’t quite fit! Given a carefully defined set of axioms, Arminianism offers a logically tight, self-consistent soteriology. The same can be said of Calvinism. But mixing the two doesn’t quite work. Loose ends appear. For example, why would God squelch your free will to reject Him? Nevertheless, the Traditional Southern Baptist fully embraced the Arminian concepts of Total Depravity, Conditional Election, Unlimited Atonement and Resistible Grace. He also embraced the essentials of Prevenient Grace as defined by Arminianism. Therefore, for the purpose of discussion, it is convenient to refer to a 21st century Traditional Southern Baptist as Arminian. This will, of course, offend the legions of Southern Baptists who puff their chests out and say, “I’m not Arminian, I’m not Calvinist, I’m just a Bible Believing Baptist.”

    Dean

    Dr. Bruce, I’m not offended though I believe you use the term Arminian because you know it does rancor the traditionalist. I know of no SBC theologian or scholar who follows the traditional camp’s thinking that says God removes your free will once your saved. I believe the free will does exist. A person could certainly choose to disavow Christ. However I believe that God in His wonderful grace is able to keep that from happening without ever violating my free will. He is God after all. I’m grateful for God saying that what I start in you I”m going to see it through to completion. He protects us, keeps us but does not take that free will away.

    If you feel good calling us Arminians then I’m glad I can make you feel good. You can call me a Muslim if you want to. What ever I can do to share joy.

Steve Martin

I think it’s good to stick to the actual words of Scripture, and work from there.

Calvin’s doctrine of double-predestination is not at all helpful.

God is the One who gives us faith, that is true, St. Paul calls it a gift, but Scripture tells us that when we don’t hear the gospel Word, it is not God’s fault…but our own.

God saves in Christ Jesus. He gets all the credit (ALL)…but we should get ALL the blame when we reject Him.

That is biblical, and that how we ought approach this topic.

    Robert

    Hello Steve,

    You wrote:

    “I think it’s good to stick to the actual words of Scripture, and work from there.”

    Agreed, and if we start with scripture and interpret it properly, we end up affirming certain things including (that Jesus died for the world, though not all will be saved so universal atonement is true while universalism is false; that people are eternally separated from God due to their own unbelief for which they are responsible so people end up eternally separated from God only after they have continually and repeatedly and for their entire lifetime’s rejected God and any light that he gave them: that the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit is necessary for a person to have a faith response to the gospel, etc.).

    We also need to remember that what it usually comes down to when there are differences is because of differing ***interpretations*** of the biblical texts. That sometimes there is a difference between **our interpretation of the text** and what the biblical author actually intended for us to understand.

    Many, many people will say things such as: “stick to the actual words of Scripture”. At one time I did a lot of work with non-Christian cultists and they all made the same claim: we need to stick with what the bible says. Problem was, their interpretation of scripture was not at all what the biblical authors intended to mean. One of the amazing things you see frequently in counter cult ministry is that so many people present themselves as Biblicists (i.e. I am only interested in what the bible says, I only believe what the bible teaches). But they cannot all be as their interpretations conflict with Christian orthodoxy and also contradict what other groups who make the same claim to being Biblicists say as well!

    “Calvin’s doctrine of double-predestination is not at all helpful.”

    It is not only “not at all helpful”: it is false.

    Actually it is way beyond being unhelpful, it is outright dreadful when properly understood. If Calvinistic repobation is true, then it is the most hateful thing that could be done to a human person, and this would mean that God does this to the majority of the human race. Non-calvinists including Traditionalists, Arminians, Lutherans affirm election of believers while rejecting reprobation of unbelievers/double predestination.

    “God is the One who gives us faith, that is true, St. Paul calls it a gift, but Scripture tells us that when we don’t hear the gospel Word, it is not God’s fault…but our own.”

    Scripture teaches we cannot hear the gospel **with understanding** unless the Spirit gives us that understanding. It is true that rejection of the revelation that the Spirit gives is our fault and not God’s. But in order to reject it, we first have to understand it. People sometimes hear and do understand and still choose to reject (the Pharisees were a great example of this, they heard the Word, saw the miracles right in front of them, understood it, even understood that some of the parables were directly aimed at them, and yet still chose to reject it).

    “God saves in Christ Jesus. He gets all the credit (ALL)…but we should get ALL the blame when we reject Him.”

    The bible presents that while God demands our faith and repentance (those are things we have to do), our faith and repentance is not what actually saves us. Rather, it is God’s actions alone that save us. Those who understand this and have experienced this are grateful for their salvation and realize it is a gift that they neither deserve nor earned. On the other hand, those who knowingly reject what God reveals to them are fully responsible for their rejection of God and His Word.

    “That is biblical, and that how we ought approach this topic.”

    What theological determinists/calvinists do not always let on, is the reality that Christians who are biblical, (including non-calvinist Arminians, Traditionalists, Lutherans, etc.), all believe that *****God alone saves*****. It is theological determinists/calvinists alone who in addition espouse double predestination.

    Robert

    PS- Steve I wrote directly in response to you on your comments about free will (at the end of the thread called: “A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
    Part 2b: The Optional Nature of the Gospel Invitation” and you never responded, just a reminder that I did write responses directly to you there, perhaps you missed them).

      Steve Martin

      Robert,

      I agree with so much of what you have said.

      Except this:

      “The bible presents that while God demands our faith and repentance (those are things we have to do)..”

      Repentance and faith are brought about by God (says Scripture).

      “Faith is a gift of God” St. Paul

      And St. Paul also tells us that “we are led to repentance by God”.

      Repentance and faith are not prescriptions…they are descriptions.

        Robert

        Hello Steve,

        “I agree with so much of what you have said.”

        Nice to hear.

        You then wrote:

        “Except this:
        “The bible presents that while God demands our faith and repentance (those are things we have to do)..”
        Repentance and faith are brought about by God (says Scripture).
        “Faith is a gift of God” St. Paul
        And St. Paul also tells us that “we are led to repentance by God”.
        Repentance and faith are not prescriptions…they are descriptions.”

        If we look at scripture we find that in some places it speaks of God enabling faith or repentance [that appears to be what you are emphasizing, e.g. “Repentance and faith are brought about by God (says Scripture)”].

        But in other places it speaks of God commanding faith, commanding repentance.

        Perhaps the clearest example is when Paul is engaging in his famous sermon on Mars Hill to the Greek intellectuals at Athens. In the midst of the sermon/apologetics presentation the scripture says:

        “Acts 17:30
        30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,”

        It cannot be any more clear. This **is** a command and it is aimed at all men everywhere. So in fact God does command repentance.

        Jesus said the same thing in his public ministry, consider his statement in Luke 24;46-47:

        “Luke 24:46-47

        46 and He said to them, “ Thus it is written, that the [a]Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance [b]for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed [c]in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

        And:

        Mark 1:14-15
        14 Now after John had been [a]taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, [b] preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [c]is at hand; repent and [d]believe in the gospel.”

        Jesus’ statement here about repentance and belief is a command. It is not just a suggestion! :-)

        In these scriptures we have clear instances of where repentance is not merely “descriptive” as you claim, but “prescriptive.” (contra “Repentance and faith are not prescriptions…they are descriptions.”).

        We also have clear statements that talk about how the gospel must be obeyed, and you can only obey or disobey a command:

        “1 Peter 4:17
        17 For it is time for judgment to begin [a]with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those WHO DO NOT OBEY the gospel of God?”

        2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
        “7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted [a]and to us as well [b] when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with [c]His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who DO NOT OBEY the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power”

        So Steve I believe your statements here about faith and repentance not being commanded are clearly mistaken according to scripture. I believe your error is an easy one to make as again in some bible passages the thought conveyed is that God enables faith and repentance. At the same time in other bible passages the thought conveyed is that repentance is commanded as is obeying the gospel. And obeying the gospel means having a faith response to the proclamation of the gospel.

        Robert

      Steve Martin

      Robert,

      Another thing that goes along with what you said about interpretation of Scripture is the basic interpretive grid that is chosen.

      I think there are basically two…the law grid, or legal scheme…and the grace grid, or scheme.

      Luther was pretty much the 1st one to interpret the Bible through a grace scheme, and therefore the words of Scripture were more focused on what God has done for sinners, than what sinners should, ought, or must be doing (the law).

      Anywho, I think that is an important consideration.

        Robert

        Steve you present the Lutheran “grid” when you write:

        “Another thing that goes along with what you said about interpretation of Scripture is the basic interpretive grid that is chosen.
        I think there are basically two…the law grid, or legal scheme…and the grace grid, or scheme.”

        I am wary of putting any “grids” on the bible. Seems to me that we should first interpret the bible properly and then base our conclusions or develop our thoughts based on the bible. To put any grid on the bible makes you liable to eisegesis rather than exegesis.

        “Luther was pretty much the 1st one to interpret the Bible through a grace scheme, and therefore the words of Scripture were more focused on what God has done for sinners, than what sinners should, ought, or must be doing (the law).”

        Actually others including Augustine have tried to interpret the Bible “through a grace scheme”. That is why Augustine got into the debates with Pelagius. Pelagian thought is “graceless” theology, while any kind of biblical theology has got to involve a “grace theology” of some sort.

        Robert

      Steve Martin

      Robert,

      Pardon me for hogging these comments (of late), but this is very good on ‘the interpretive grids’ used by Christians in their understanding of Scripture:

      http://theoldadam.com/2012/02/21/here-it-is-the-question-that-percipitated-the-reformation/

      I think you’ll get a few good things from it, whether or not you agree with all of it or not.

    Zack Skrip

    Steve – I don’t think a Calvinist would say it was God’s fault either. You see, people aren’t condemned to hell because they didn’t accept Jesus, nor are they condemned because they didn’t hear the gospel. They are condemned because they sinned against a Holy and Righteous God.

      Robert

      Hello Zack,

      You wrote:

      “Steve – I don’t think a Calvinist would say it was God’s fault either.”

      Of course not, the consistent calvinist believes that God predestines everything that occurs and at the same time people are held responsible for their actions.

      So God could choose to damn you from eternity, set you up to be a “reprobate” (he does this by predestining the fall and then choosing not to regenerate you), ensure that you are a “reprobate” (by predestining your every thought, action, belief, desire, and sin), then punish you for doing the very things God predestined you to do (as a “reprobate” you are condemned at the final judgment for being and doing exactly what God made you to be and do). As your every thought, belief, desire, choice, actions were predestined for you to do, you could not do otherwise, you had to do them. So your every action was **necessitated** and yet God holds YOU responsible for doing what HE predestined you to do.

      And yet despite the fact God predestines it all, the calvinist tells us the human person in what amounts to a divine puppet show puppet is still responsible for their actions: that it wasn’t God’s fault.

      As a friend illustrates it: imagine a puppet show where the puppets’ every action is controlled and determined by the puppet master. A puppet then murders someone in the crowd at the puppet show! And keep in mind that the puppets are directly, continously and completely controlled by the puppet master. They do nothing unless the puppet master makes them do it.

      Do we then blame the puppet for the murder?

      Or do we blame the puppet master?

      Or like calvinists, do we claim that the puppet is to blame and the puppet master is not at fault????!!!

      You wrote:

      “You see, people aren’t condemned to hell because they didn’t accept Jesus,”

      If the Spirit works in your life drawing you and revealing Christ to you so that you will accept Jesus, and you keep saying No. Then you will go to hell because of your sin and for not accepting Jesus as an atonement for your sin. Without atonement for your sin you will not be saved. In the OT era atonement was practiced via the sacrificial system. In the NT era the one and only true sacrifice for sin has come. Reject Him and you have no hope to be saved. Without a covering/atonement for your sin you cannot stand before a Holy God and his wrath against sin. Especially in light of the fact he is the only way of salvation, the only legitimate covering for sin. So if you don’t accept him, you will not be saved.

      Conversely you could be the worst sinner imaginable and if you repent and receive Him, you will be saved.

      You wrote:

      “nor are they condemned because they didn’t hear the gospel.”

      While I agree with this statement, there are some Calvinists (I have heard them myself) who make the following argument. A person can only become a believer if they hear the gospel and believe the gospel. God predestines everything. God predestined that some would never hear the gospel thus ensuring their damnation. These people never had a chance because made sure they never heard. He could have set things up so they would hear, since according to the calvinist he predestines everything. But he intentionally made sure they never had a chance.

      You wrote:

      “They are condemned because they sinned against a Holy and Righteous God.”

      Believers have also “sinned against a Holy and Righteous God”. In fact unless we are liars says John in 1 John, we still sin “against a Holy and Righteous God.” It is not sin alone that condemns you to hell, it is sin coupled with non-repentance and rejection of Christ that damns you. The sinner who repents and trusts in the Lord to save him will be saved despite the fact he/she may have lived a lifetime continuously and repeatedly and blatantly sinning “against a Holy and Righteous God.”

      Robert

        Chappy

        Robert,

        Paul answers your exact objection in the Bible in Romans Chapter 9.

        Chappy

          Robert

          Hello Chappy,

          First of all, are you like the fourth and lost member of the ZZ top band??? :-)

          I believe that Romans (like all scripture) needs to be interpreted contextually. That means the book itself is its own primary context (so for example the objector that Paul cites in Romans 9 first appears in Romans 3, this also establishes the objector as a Jewish unbeliever questioning Paul’s gospel). It also means that certain sections of Romans are to be interpreted in light of whatever else is said in the section (i.e. that means that Romans 9 is part of a larger unit, Romans 9-11 that must be interpreted together not in isolation, what Paul says in Romans 10 and 11 is very helpful in interpreting the texts of Romans 9).

          What theological determinists often do, is to cite Romans 9 with certain assumptions in mind. They ***assume*** the objector in Romans 9 is objecting to **unconditional election**. They ***assume ***the objector is a generic human person, a nonbeliever who is objectiong to unconditional election. They **assume** that Romans 9 is discussing their pet doctrine of unconditional election.

          Based on these assumptions (and I maintain they are all false assumptions), you will sometimes see determinists claim that the apostle Paul is answering modern objections to “unconditional election” in Romans 9.

          This is all mistaken, but quite common.

          “Chappy” makes just such a claim when he writes:

          “Paul answers your exact objection in the Bible in Romans Chapter 9.”

          Actually Paul was dealing with a Jewish objector (this is easily seen when you compare the objections that occur early in Romans 3 with the objections that occur in Romans 9). It is true that Paul is discussing the issue of God’s sovereignty in Romans 9. But he is not discussing unconditionial election of individuals to either salvation or damnation.

          The main issue that Paul is dealing with in the Romans 9-11 section is the rejection of the righteousness of God obtained by faith message of Paul (i.e. Paul’s gospel message for both Jews and Gentiles is that the righteousness of God is obtained by faith alone). Paul and the other apostles had been preaching the gospel which speaks of a righteousness of God apart from the law obtained through faith in Christ. For the most part the Jews in the first century were rejecting this message and instead trusting in their heritage (i.e. we are saved since we are part of the elect Nation Israel, we are the children of Abtraham) and their own keeping of the law (i.e. they believed that their own efforts at keeping the law would save them rather than in trusting in Christ, Paul talks about this error primarily in Romans and Galatians). So the issue came up: Paul, is God’s Word, your message of righteousness of God obtained by faith apart from the law, your gospel failing?

          If your gospel is true Paul then why are so many Jews rejecting it??

          Has the Word of God failed??

          Paul’s answer is the whole book of Romans but in Romans 9-11 he deals primarily with how this gospel message he is preaching works out with his own people the Jews in particular. So he starts Romans 9 with a history lesson about God’s sovereignty. God has elected Israel as the chosen nation (i.e. the dicussion of loving Jacob who represents the nation of Israel and hating Esau who represents the Edomites the non-elect nations). God as God has the right to do whatever he wants with humanity (i.e. the illustrations of sovereignty). Paul then argues that God in his sovereignty has chosen to save people via the righteousness of God obtained by faith, not via the works of the law (this is particularly seen towards the end of Romans 9, the people not seeking it, the Gentiles, were being saved rather than the Jews who should have been seeking it but instead stumbled over Christ). In Romans 10 Paul talks about how the Jews had no excuses regarding this righteousness of God obtained by faith. So he talks about the importance of faith and how they had heard the message. In Romans 11 Paul then puts it all together and explains how this gospel is working out with both Jews and Gentiles. If you interpret Romans 9-11 properly as a section you see that Paul’s primary concern is the gospel and Jewish unbelief (though the branches were for the most part being broken off, they could always be restored if they repented of their sin of trusting in their own righteouness and instead obtaining the righteousness of God by faith in Christ).

          It is an easy mistake to **read in** unconditional individual election into Romans 9 because Romans 9 ***is*** in fact a discussion of God’s sovereignty (and if God had unconditionally elected individuals to salvation, that would be based upon his sovereignty). And yet if the chapter is examined closely and carefully it is seen to be God’s sovereign dealing with Israel, not individual election which was being discussed.

          Now Chappy if you would like to demonstrate how your assumptions are true, go for it. I am familiar with both the text as well as your assumptions. And you will not be able to establish your assumptions from exegesis of the text. All you can do, and all that you theological determinists do in fact do, is interpret the text via your assumptions. It may convince those already convinced or those wanting to see unconditional election of individuals there, but it will not persuade those who properly exegete the text and find it to be discussing something else.

          Robert

carl peterson

“Amen, Brother! Most Southern Baptists could agree that God desires the salvation of all people (whosoever) and that Jesus was offered to all those in the world.”

First while I think in a sense the above statement is true, I can’t see that in what was quoted from Calvin in the first paragraph. That is I do not see him stating explicitly that “god desires the salvation of all people (whosoever).” Again maybe in a way Calvin states this but not in the way I think the author of this piece wants it to be. Sure Calvin states that God offers everyone salvation (the whole world) but no where does he state that he desires the salvation of all. I think one would have to define what is meant by “God desires all men to be saved” before I could state that Calvin could agree with it. And that i clear by the next quote which should not come as so much of a suprise.

“Did you see that phrase “on the other hand”? I think Calvin is bringing a second-handed Augustinian tidbit into the commentary of the Gospel of John. In one fell swoop, Calvin suddenly throws biblical exegesis to the wind and defaults to a personal position of reconciling scripture with preconceived philosophical constructs. Well, fiddle-dee-dee.

Even young theologs know that eternal life can’t be genuinely offered to those incapable of receiving it.”

Wow! why badmouth Calvin and his exegesis when he could be getting what he beleives from scripture? Did the author do it just because he disagrees with Calvin? How lame. The author tries to spin it that Calvin is falling back on his preconceived Augustinian theology (presumably anti-Biblical and his philosophical pressuppositions that must come from that theology (I guess). While this might be true no where in the quote does Calvin mention Augustine (as if that is a sin to listen to another’s interpretation of a passage) nor any real philosophical terms. Actually the quote is pregnant with scripture and allusions to scriptue. So while the author could disagree with Calvin. That is fine. There is no need to bring up a strawman and reject his thoughts without giving them a proper hearing. I think this part of his post shows the authors eisegeses and pre conceived notions more than Calvin’s. He assumes much but proves nothing.

The author also uses the horrible and weak debating technique of stating “even young theologs know . . . ” That was horrible and is used by lazy authors who cannot back up their own arguments. I could say that even a first year seminary student can see that Calvin’s commentaries are full of Biblical quotations. But I won’t. This kind of phraase is very close to its cousin. “Everyone who is an expert in theology knows . . .” Again another weak phrase.

Finally the author puts much stress on the phrase “on the other hand.” Why? This is often the case in the Bible. God is the transcendant creator. He is all powerful and no one has seen Him. On the other hand God is immanent. He is the God with us. He became incarnate and suffered and died for us.

See. And the Bible is full of “On the other hand.” God is sovereign yet we have free choice. God is loving and yet just. God is forgives and yet God sanctifies. etc. etc. etc.

I am continually dismayed and do not understand the lack of quality articles that is coming out of this blog. This could be a very healthy debate. But one has to really engage with the other side and give them some benefit of teh doubt. At least treat them like you would want to be treated. I think I read that somewhere.

    holdon

    Carl:
    “I think one would have to define what is meant by “God desires all men to be saved” before I could state that Calvin could agree with it.”

    If you go to that reference you will find this from Calvin (under v. 16):

    because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.

    Now as to the following of which you say, “Actually the quote is pregnant with scripture and allusions to scriptue.”:

    For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.”[ii]

    I found only two explicit quotes in the cited ref. on ccel. (Eph 1:5 and Rom 5:8) on v.16 in general and nothing about this particular clause under “the other hand” that averts “elect alone” are worked on by God for their salvation.

    The overarching assumption of Augustine and Calvin that there is something like “election unto salvation” or “predestination unto salvation” spoils their theologies, because Scripture doesn’t say that. Calvin was ambivalent and wrong.

      Don Johnson

      holdon,

      You are correct. No one is predestinated to salvation.

        volfan007

        Don,

        If men are saved, it’s only because God chose to save them…planned to save them…called out to them… convicted them…and saved them by His grace.

        I’m not sure I’m getting what you’re trying to say, because the only reason that any of us are saved is because God planned(predestinated) to save us. God chose to save us, and He planned to save us.

        Could you clarify?

        David

          Don Johnson

          David,

          If you are saying God chooses to save men in the sense He desires all to be saved, then I agree. But if you mean God chose only certain individuals to be saved, then I disagree.

          I am not aware of any Scripture which speaks of God choosing (electing) to save us, or predestinating us to be saved. Those that teach such usually do so by either changing or adding to the texts of John 15, Rom. 8, or Eph. 1; instead of believing exactly what is written.

            jdbarker

            9 For this is the word of promise: “ At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “ The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “ Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

            14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “ I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “ For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

            Don Johnson

            JD,

            Which one of the verses states one is predestinated to salvation? I’m not seeing it.

            volfan007

            Don,

            I’m just saying that God chose to save people before the world began. He planned to save us. He knew Adam and Eve would fall, and He chose to save people, and He planned to save anyone, who believes on Jesus for thier salvation.

            DAvid

            Darryl Hill

            Don, if you will back up to Romans 8, you’ll see the verses that speak of being predestined for salvation…

            29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

            Now, whether you want to say that men are predestined based on God’s foreknowledge of their choice or that He chose them based purely upon the counsel of His own will and not based on anything good or bad they had done (which Paul speaks of in chapter 9), the fact remains. God chose to save those referred to in Romans 8 before the foundation of the world and then He predestined them to become conformed to the image of Jesus- and those He predestined He called He justified He glorified. The conjunctions there represent an unbroken sequence of events.

            That means, you could easily state: those whom He foreknew He did also glorify. That seems to me to clearly be predestined for salvation.

            Don Johnson

            Darryl,

            I agree one could say “those whom He foreknew He did also glorify.” That’s been my point.

            However, are you saying a person is glorified when he gets saved?

      carl peterson

      holdon,

      “If you go to that reference you will find this from Calvin (under v. 16):

      because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.”

      Okay. But still what does Calvin mean by that? See I think Calvinists and non-Calvinists would agree with Calvin here. But what does he mean? You see I am not arguing that Calvin believed that God desired all men to be saved. I am only stating that the author seems to add more than just what that simple statement would suggest to Calvin’s meaning. I think that is clear by the author’s response after the second quote. Of course I could be wrong but that was my point.

      “Now as to the following of which you say, “Actually the quote is pregnant with scripture and allusions to scriptue.”:

      For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.”[ii]

      I found only two explicit quotes in the cited ref. on ccel. (Eph 1:5 and Rom 5:8) on v.16 in general and nothing about this particular clause under “the other hand” that averts “elect alone” are worked on by God for their salvation.”

      It was only one sentence. Two explicit quotes is pretty good. Also he uses phrases from scripture or that allude to scripture. My point is that what is quoted from Calvin is informed directly by scriptural passages and not philosophy. The author made no attempt to show at all Calvin’s use of philosophy. He just made the comment. To make such an explicit and foreceful claim that Calvin used philosophy and not scripture to inform his exegesis (or eisegesis) needs some sort of support. Something. It is not enough to give me a quote that does more to support his reliance on scripture than philosophy.

      “general and nothing about this particular clause under “the other hand” that averts “elect alone” are worked on by God for their salvation.”

      Can you specifiy what you mean here. I am not sure.

      “The overarching assumption of Augustine and Calvin that there is something like “election unto salvation” or “predestination unto salvation” spoils their theologies, because Scripture doesn’t say that. Calvin was ambivalent and wrong.”

      I can understand that you do not agree with Augustine and Calvin on this ponit. I can also understand that we all come to scruipture with pre-conceived ideas and assumptions. But could it be that Augustine and Calvin got their ideas from their reading of scripture more than philosophy? You can still disagree with their theology and interpretation of scripture without stating that they received it from other sources. theologians can be very wrong and still be attempting to understand scripture. Arius is a good example. He was trying to understand scripture and his debate (and the future Arians debate) with Alexander of Alexandria, Athanasius, and other church Fathers was a debate about the interpretation of scripture. We both believe Arius was bery wrong. But Arius was trying to understand what scripture taught. See this is my point and one reason why I think the article is very flawed. Instead of arguing a point it just makes statements based on assumptions (I guess. Can’t be sure). But the article makes no attempt to prove that Calvin used philosophy more than scripture or even that he received his arguments from philosophy instead of scripture. See The author’s comment ot me below. Nothing but an attack. That is the type of problems many of the articles including this one have had on this site.

      Some articles have been very good. But othes just lack substance.

        holdon

        Carl,

        What I meant was that under the “other hand” clause there are no Scriptures referenced, in particular regarding his statement that God works on the elect alone. And therefore your argument that Calvin did support that “pregnant with scripture and scriptural allusions” can not be verified.

        Now I agree that Augustine and Calvin, (and anybody else) brings a certain baggage to the text; and as well that all Christians base their interpretations on the biblical text. There is no doubt about that. Calvin may have reasons to state that God works on the elect alone to save them. But on the face of it, such a statement undermines his’ that God desires none to perish. And that was the point of Ron Hale’s piece and the substance of it clear enough.

        Whatever led Calvin to believe such contradiction (be if philosophy or influence), does in the end not matter: we must reject it. And I don’t care whether he is called Calvin, Augustine or an angel from heaven as the apostle said, we must reject what does not have the authority of Scripture. And we all have a duty to judge those who preach to us. (1 Cor 14:29) and we have a duty to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. (all the churches). We are warned from the earliest days on that leaders and teachers would lead us astray. (by the way: the seeds that are disseminated in seminaries will multiply; so how good is the seed?) All major problems in the Church throughout the ages have come from such teachers. Should we not hear/read Calvin, Augustine and others? Of course and we can learn from them and one another as well, but Scripture alone remains the touchstone:
        “hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (that is: Scripture)

        Be a Traditionalist in that sense.

          carl peterson

          holdon,

          First let me say that although I disagree with your theological views that it is a pleasure to read and respond to you. I think you have written posts that are intelligent and edifying. However, I have to bow out of this discussion. The discussion has led me to sin. I get too caught up in the debate and how fair one author is to someone else that I do not focus on what is really important. I had lunch with my associate pastor and before I could even talk about this blog he was telling me of how he has stopped responding to blogs and facebook posts because it is too easy to be misunderstood or hurt someone else (even if one does not mean to do so).

          That convicted me. So while I woudl love to talk to you about how I feel that Calvin and Augustine were more right in their theology of predestination than wrong I think it best that I leave it for some other day.

          Keep loving God and those made in his image.

          CARL

            holdon

            Much appreciated Carl.

            May we all stay close to Him. He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins. What a
            Savior!

            Randall Cofield

            Carl & Holdon,

            Now THAT is the kind of spirit that should characterize our discussion.

            Soli Deo Gloria

      Sam

      I have to disagree. The Scripture says “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ”. (Eph. 1:5) That IS salvation!

      Only a bias philosophical construct could make that statement anything else but salvation. If you stick with the text (Ephesians 1:5) without adding theological baggage to it, it clearly teaches that we were predestined to salvation. Sonship is salvation.

        Sam

        2 Thess 2:13-14
        “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

        Paul tells us that God chose the Thessalonian Christians for salvation. Again, if you do not import your Traditionalism philosophy, it is very clear “chosen for salvation”.

          holdon

          “because God from the beginning chose you for salvation”

          This verse is mistranslated (reformed bias perhaps?).

          The word “chose” is here is a completely different one in Greek than in all the other verses pertaining to election. In 2 Thess 2:13 it means “preferred”. Paul tells the Thessalonians that God had preferred that salvation would come to them.
          The next issue with this verse is that “from the beginning” is in many of the best manuscripts “as first fruits”. (it’s only 1 letter difference). This is a well known expression that Paul likes to use. Thus the verse could mean God had preferred that the Thessalonians would be the first fruits of God’s salvation plan. Of what would they be the first fruits? Macedonia was divided into “regiones” one of which had Thessalonica as capital. Paul links elsewhere the notion of “first fruits” with a geographical area.

          Further 2 Thess 2:13 cannot possibly have reference to “election before the world began” (as is stated in Eph 1:4), because there it is “before” and in 2 Thess 2:13 it is “from” (if that reading be retained). Before and from cannot refer to the same thing.

          Election unto salvation is not found in this verse of Scripture (nor anywhere else I think.)

        Don Johnson

        Sam,

        “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Eph. 1:5

        Eph. 1:5 is not speaking of salvation, but glorification. One is predestinated because he is saved. It is one of the spiritual blessings one receives by being in Christ (verse 3).

        We are still waiting for the adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself. Rom. 8:23 refers to it as the redemption of the body. When Christ comes again He will “receive us unto Himself” (John 14:3). Until that time God has given us the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15). “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” Eph. 1:14

        One must first become a saint to get predestinated.

          Sam

          Brother Don,
          I appreciate your thoughts here but I’m having trouble following. Why do you say “We are still waiting for the adoption” when the text clearly says in past tense “having been adopted”? Moreover, if we are still awaiting adoption, why are we told to call God our Father? Why can we come boldly into His presence if the adoption has not already taken place?

          Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you. But these were the questions your comments raised for me. Thanks.

            Don Johnson

            Sam,

            I say we are still waiting for the adoption because Paul said we are still waiting for the adoption (Rom. 8:23).

            The text does not say “having been adopted.” It says “Having predestinated.” Hope that helps.

            Sam

            It helps make the case I was trying to make. You admit it says “having predestined” so you admit it is past tense. What were were predestined to according to that text?: Adoption as God’s sons. It is quite clear if you just take the text at face value (sort of like taking John 3:16 at face value is very clear too)

            Don Johnson

            Sam,

            Paul was writing to saints, not would be saints. So yes “having predestinated” is past tense, because they are already saints. The spiritual blessings mentioned in Eph. 1 are for those “in Christ” (vs 3). When one gets “in Christ” he gets predestinated. I’m not the one who said spiritual blessing are for those who are in Christ, Paul did. I just accept them.

            Sam

            Don,

            Saying “when on gets in Christ he gets predestined” is like saying “Being fat makes us eat lots of candy bars.” No, the reading that makes more sense is “Eating lots of candy bars makes us fat.” And you too have the sentence on its head. You put the cart before the horse. You put Predestined “after something” rather than “before something” as the word demands. For your reading to make sense, Paul should have said we were “post-destined”. Rather than pre-destined.

            It is an awful use of a clear word. Don’t for get the PRE in predestined.

            holdon

            “It is an awful use of a clear word. Don’t for get the PRE in predestined.”

            So, what do you make of the word PRE in Eph. 1:12?

            “that we should be to the praise of his glory who have pre-trusted in the Christ”

            Don Johnson

            Sam,

            According to Rom. 8:23 we are waiting for the adoption. If we are waiting, then it has not yet occurred. Is this some other adoption? How many times do we get adopted?

          Sam

          Don wrote: “One must first become a saint to get predestinated.” If there were the case, what a crazy word Paul chose to use. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that “pre” means “prior to”

          Don: The passage could not be more clear that prior to God creating the foundation of the world He destined us to adoption as His sons. Now, obviously you do not like the implication of this text, but your olympic-like gymnastic to make it say somethign other than what it actually says is no different than the very complain in this post about Calvin’s abuse of John 3:16. You are clearly guilty of doing to Ephesians 1 the same things this post accuses Calvin of doing to John 3:16. That much is obvious.

            Don Johnson

            Sam,

            You are correct “pre” means prior to. But prior to what, salvation. No! Consider the word predestination. It is pre-destination. Is becoming saved a destination? No! Your destination is glorification. Which you were predestinated to when you got saved.

        Don Johnson

        Sam,

        In 2 Thes. 2:13 please note there is no period after the word salvation. Paul is not saying “God chose to save you.” Instead Paul is saying by what means God chose to save us. Which is “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” That’s how God chooses to save everyone.

        An added note, the word “chosen” is often the same word as “elect.” However, in vs. 13 it is not the same Greek word for “elect.” Calvinists always seem to forget to mention that.

        holdon

        ““having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ”. (Eph. 1:5) That IS salvation!”

        Adoption as sons (1 word in the original) has to do with a cherished position. See Rom 9:4 and compare that with 9:6 to see that adoption does not equate with salvation.

        In the OT, non-Israelites could be saved too, although not being in position of adoption or in that of a chosen people. Eph 1:4,5 deal with things that far exceed the problem of sins. Therefore they it would be wrong to say that “election is unto salvation” or “predestination is unto salvation”, if that were the (only) purpose of elections and predestination.

Ron Hale

Dear Carl,

You said, “I am continually dismayed and do not understand the lack of quality articles that is coming out of this blog.”

I think that I have asked you before — please point me or us to your repertoire of high quality articles; I’m always open to higher learning.

Blessings!

    carl peterson

    ron,

    WOW! I guess I hit a hard note for some. Trying to discredit anything I have to say because I have not written tons of articles. Again when you can’t debate you ONLY attack. I think I proved above that the author of this piece used some very poor reasoning to come to his comculusions. that is enough to make it poor. Unfortunately I have seen it regularly on this blog. That was why I made the comment.

    If one wants to publish an article then one can not use logical fallacies and terrible debating techniques. Why is that so hard to understand? Again only post an atack when one cannot defend with arguments.

      volfan007

      Carl,

      Ron is the one, who wrote the blog post. And, I didnt see him call you any name. What in the world are you talking about?

      David

        carl peterson

        David,

        I know he was. Who said anything about name calling? I only said he had to attack instead of analyze and debate. I think my point of my post is very clear and easy to understand. The point of his post is clear also. If you cannot see it then I think you need to take the blinders off. Oh wait that is something the author of the article would have said. Sorry.

        CARL

          volfan007

          Carl,

          YOU are the one, who got all of that going. Ron was simply responding to your put down of blog posts on SBC Today. YOU are the one, who attacked him, and every other writer on SBC Today.

          DAvid

            carl peterson

            DAvid,

            Yes, I put down the quality of the posts on this blog. And I gave reasons and commented on why the current post was not very good. Instead Ron just attacked. That seems common with those who will not or cannot debate. Ron did the same to Calvin in the sense that he makes accusations without proof or substance. So while I said his post was not very good and gave reasons. Ron just asked a question that had nothing to do with the quality of his post or his arguments. That is exactly part of the problem I see in this site and the more recent posts (in general. some posts and articles have been great) I do not mind disagrements but I want to read polemical articles that take the time to understand their subject AND be fair to him or her or it. If they do not then I believe the quality of the article or post is greatly dimished. But oh well.

volfan007

Excellent analysis, Ron. You really know how to bring out things so clearly. I’m sure that the shouts of “Strawman,” “Micharacterization,” “Liar,” and other such wonderful names will be coming your way very soon.

:)

Did you enjoy the half price milkshake last night, BTW?

David

    carl peterson

    huh? analysis of what? He asked me a question. hmm.

      volfan007

      Carl,

      I wasnt talking about you in any way, shape, or form. I was simply telling Ron that he gave an excellent analysis in his post….you know, the original post.

      Carl, this is the second comment you’ve made which makes little to no sense, whatsoever.

      David

        carl peterson

        dAvid,

        This is my fault here. I thought this post was a response to his post to me above. Makes more sense now. please disregard. I made a mistake. ;)

        CARL

          volfan007

          no problem, Carl. I was just wondering why you were thinking it was about you?

          David

Bob Williford

Ron writes this \”In one fell swoop, Calvin suddenly throws biblical exegesis to the wind and defaults to a personal position of reconciling scripture with preconceived philosophical constructs.\” And I agree and would add that this is true for the Calvinist point of view, generally speaking.

Exposition or the lack thereof, seems to me, is the real issue. The Calvinistic view is fails the test of critical exposition at every turn because context is almost always ignored. From what I have read along the way the Reformers are very, very good at applying \’proof texting\’ and often ignore the context of the text that is used in proving a point of view.

Reading and studying John 3:16 within the views of historical context from which Nicodemus comes will help the expositor immensely.

Jesus is Lord
BobW

Bill Mac

I don’t think Calvin has been misrepresented here, except possibly the idea that he took his marching orders from Augustine. I don’t know enough about him to know that.

But just so we are clear, it would seem to me that the non-cal disagreement with the above quotes is the idea that God opens the eyes of the elect. Am I wrong? And if so, is your disagreement that God does NOT open the eyes of people to their need of a savior or that God opens the eyes of everyone?

    Jim G.

    “I don’t think Calvin has been misrepresented here, except possibly the idea that he took his marching orders from Augustine. I don’t know enough about him to know that.”

    I do. Let me shed some light if I may. Among the quotes or allusions in Calvin’s writings (not counting those from the Bible itself), Augustine is by far the most-quoted Christian in the whole of Calvin’s corpus. Now, on the surface, that should not seem surprising. Augustine is easily the most influential patristic Christian thinker in the west. There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which is Latin was his language and it survived the Middle Ages along with the Vulgate.

    Even though Augustine was a baptized Christian and the bishop in Hippo, he still had a lot of pagan influence from his pre-baptism past, namely Platonism and Manichaeism. He began his Christian writing career largely in the scope of the received tradition of the first 4 centuries of Christianity but made an abrupt turn in his theology around the year 395. It is at this time that he embraced something that did not exist within Christianity before him – divine determinism – the belief that God orders all things. Within his lifetime, he did not work out a deterministic theology to all of its logical conclusions. But he laid the groundwork for those who would come after him.

    He believed that God guides and brings about all affairs in the created order for his good. Everything that appears evil to us God has ordained (and rendered certain) for his own higher purpose. Combine this assumption with the idea that human evil is inevitable (in his words we are a mass of perdition) and the fact that some babies died unbaptized, and you have the groundwork for the doctrine of unconditional election and either single or double predestination. As the centuries rolled by, these ideas of Augustine were periodically revived and reinterpreted in the context of the times. Notable re-interpreters of Augustine for the succeeding millennium were Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, Thomas Aquinas (with some severe nuancing), Thomas Bradwardine, John Wycliffe, and Gregory of Rimini. Gregory was a very influential figure on Calvin and others in the Reformed tradition. Perhaps the brightest interpreter of Augustine was Ulrich Zwingli.

    Long story short, Calvin follows Augustine in almost every interpretation of Scripture where determinism is proclaimed and defended. I’ve read enough of both of them to know that Calvin’s ideas on theological determinism are not unique to him – they come from Augustine filtered down through 1000+ years of Western theological tradition. Hope this helps.

    Jim G.

      Lydia

      Thank you, Jim. The parallel track of history on this subject is not only fascinating but imperative to at least acknowledge.

      I often wonder, why? Why was Augustine so readily accepted, reengineered and systemized throughout history? Mass quantity of writing? Position and status from former days in the academy? Acceptance by Rome?

      This is also where I get off the bus with the oft quoted mantra: If it has been believed/praticed for centuries in the church, it must be true

        Jim G.

        Hi Lydia,

        I think there are several key reasons that help explain “why.”

        1. During his lifetime, Augustine was widely recognized to be a man of tremendous intellect and great personal piety. He won the respect of his peers in both his ability and lifestyle. That respect continued long after his death.

        2. He is the first Latin father to arise in both: a. the post-persecution church and b. apart from the richer Greek patristic position. He is to Latin theology what George Washington is to America.

        3. He wrote on everything. Because he had a long and relatively undisturbed career, his writings span the entire theological spectrum. His body of work is so large it cannot be ignored, even by the critics. No other church father presents us with the theological bibliography as does Augustine.

        4. The era in which he lived was critical. His days were also the last days of the glory of the western Empire. Not long after his death, the west would be plunged into the Dark Ages, and his writings were disseminated with a wistful longing for the good ole days.

        5. No one of his immense stature came after him for hundreds of years. Consequently, he was cemented as the standard.

        6. His synthesis of the received Christian tradition and Platonic / Manichaean beliefs was just what the doctor ordered for the survival of an intellectually vibrant faith in North Africa in the early 5th century. He was able to almost singlehandedly ensure the defeat of both Plotinus and Mani by co-opting the strongest parts of their traditions and synthesizing them into a remixed Christianity. There would be little opposition because the received Christian tradition by this time held to apostolic succession, and the reverence of the bishop as the unquestioned teaching office of the church.

        7. With all of this, who needs another interpreter? Thus Augustine became enthroned as the theological lens through which the succeeding bishops and doctors read the Bible, including his determinism. The greatest champions of Augustinian determinism were the magisterial reformers – Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. They brought to logical ends what Augustine had begun.

        Jim G.

          Lydia

          Thanks Jim. The Latin angle really makes sense to me. I love thinking about the ‘whys’ of history and why it keeps repeating itself in some varied forms.

    Bill Mac

    Jim: I asked you this elsewhere but I don’t think you saw it, or if you did, I didn’t see your response.

    Can one be a Calvinist and not be a strict determinist? Because I think I am.

    Thanks.

      Jim G.

      Hi Bill,

      I did respond to your question. If it is possible, it is highly unlikely. In my response, I highlighted that it is just not determination to salvation that is in play, but the determination to perseverance. I don’t know if anyone else in church history believes that God determines all who will be saved while leaving other things undetermined. I don’t know of anyone who does and quite frankly, I don’t think one can. But there’s a first time for everything.

      Jim G.

        Jared Moore

        Bill, yes you can. Look at the Calvinist confessions in church history, and see how many include strict determinism.

        Jim, you’re ignoring the Calvinist confessions of Christian history. Edwardsian Calvinism is not always confessional in church history. If you want to understand what Calvinists have believed in church history, look to the confessions.

          Jim G.

          Hi Jared,

          Like WCF 3.1, or
          2London art. 3, or
          Belgic art. 13, or
          2Helvetic ch 6, or
          Dort art. 6-7, or

          am I missing any? Look ’em all up and see for yourself.

          Jim G.

            Jared Moore

            Jim, you’re assuming the “strict determinism.” Yes, these confessions point to predestination and election being divinely decreed, but they do not affirm philosophical determinism (the determining of all human actions). You won’t find it confessed. In other words, your statement is inaccurate,

            “I don’t know if anyone else in church history believes that God determines all who will be saved while leaving other things undetermined. I don’t know of anyone who does and quite frankly, I don’t think one can. But there’s a first time for everything.”

            What you say isn’t true. What you say you can’t find, is actually the majority position in Calvinist history. They were largely soft determinists, as the confessions testify (unless you read strict determinism into the wording).

            After all, do the confessions speak of strict determinism concerning the actions of all humanity? They do of soteriology, but not all human actions.

            Jim G.

            Jared,

            You did not go back and read the confessions. Westminster 3.1 is crystal clear: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” That is determinism, plain and simple, as defined by numerous Calvinist authors (like Paul Helm and John Feinberg, among others). Come prepared to this discussion before you start telling me how wrong I am.

            Jim G.

            Bill Mac

            Jim: We’re back to the meaning of ordain. I confess that I may well not be using or understanding the term properly, as I do not think the term ordain is synonymous with the word determine. I take it to mean that God has foreseen all things that will come to pass (some of which He actively determines) and will allow them (the things he does not actively determine) to come to pass. Not all these things will be pleasing to Him, but for His own reasons He will allow them.

            I read it to mean that there is no risk, no contingencies, no uncertainty with God. God does not hope. God does not try.

            Bill Mac

            I had never read the Calvinist confessions, and so am unfettered in what I can believe. I just read article 3 of the London Confession and it does seem that my view does not square with it, which doesn’t bother me at all.

            Jared Moore

            Jim, 
            First, we can do without the insults. This debate is more nuanced than you're acting.
             
            Second, you didn't quote the whole article in The Westminster Confession (Chapter 3, I.): 

            I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

            That's not strict determinism. That would come later. The Westminster Confession argues that human freedom is established due to God's decree.  A general decree establishes all things, but His special decree is in the doctrine of salvation alone. The two are distinct. If you'll read the confessions carefully, you'll see the contrast between decree and predestination.
             
            Third, strict determinism is not in the Canons of Dort. Would you say they weren't Calvinists?
             
            Fourth, same goes for the Second London Baptist Confession.  Were they Calvinists?
             
            Fifth, same goes for The Belgic Confession.  Were they Calvinists?  This confession is very telling, for they say in Article 13,

            We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.  
             
            Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.
             
            We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ's disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.
             
            This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.
             
            In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.
             
            For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.  20 Matt. 10:29-30

            Sixth, same goes for the 2nd Helvetic Confession.  I actually think you can affirm Chapter 6 of that confession!
             
            Seventh, same goes for the French Confession of Faith.
             
            Eighth, the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms agree as well.
             
            Finally, governing, ordering, ordaining, and decreeing man's actions are not the same as predestinating them.  Calvinists prior to the 18th century, prior to Jonathan Edwards, were not strict determinists; today, many are. Back then, they allowed for more contingency in human choices.  God, however, predestined salvifically to save His people and to not save the others.  Once again, these confessions separate the general decree of God in the creating and ordering all things, and the special predestinating decree of God that saves His people.
             
            See the works of Richard Muller for further reading.

            holdon

            “nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.”

            The Belges were wrong with this text: it does not have “can fall”, but “shall fall”. and it is not”without the will of our Father” but “without the Father”.

            A nice example how certain texts are rendered based on a certain pre-conception of its meaning.

            Jim G.

            Jared,

            You and I are operating on different definitions of determinism. The definition I am using is the exact wording of WCF 3.1. If God decrees an act in eternity and then renders it certain in time, then I am calling that act determined. By this definition and using it in this way (which, like I said above, is Feinberg’s and Helm’s usage), then the confessions are deterministic. The only way I could say they were NOT deterministic is if one thing, call it A, occurred that God did not decree. I am aware of no historical confession that would allow the possibility of A. None of the texts of the confessions you quoted would allow for the possibility of A either. So, that is determinism.

            Notice determinism does not mean that God is the sole cause of human actions. (I believe determinism certainly implies it, but I will be content to agree to disagree on this point.) All it means is that God decrees an action in eternity and renders it certain in time. It does NOT necessarily mean that God directly causes the action (although, again, I believe it implies it). All it means that an occurrence A is impossible.

            I assumed you understood my meaning and you did not. For that I do apologize.

            Jim G.

            Jared Moore

            Jim,

            Richard Muller writes,

            “Reformed doctrine in no way denies that some events are genuinely contingent, having a ’cause that could by its nature could have acted differently,’ that others result from divine persuasion, and that still others are the result of human free agency or deliberation. Reformed theology only insists that the beginning of the redeemed life is solely the work of God, and therefore distinguishes between the general decree of providence that establishes all things, whether necessary, contingent, or free, and the special decree of predestination that establishes salvation by grace alone. Far from being a rigid metaphysical determinism of all human actions, a form of necessitarianism (which was never Reformed doctrine in any case), predestination applies only to the issue of salvation. And the Reformed exegesis of biblical passages related to predestination, far from indicating a determinism of all human actions, indicates the ultimate determination of God in matters pertaining to salvation.”

            Richard A. Muller, “Grace, Election, and Contingent Choice: Arminians Gambit and the Reformed Choice,” The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, vol. 2 (ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce Ware; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 271.

            I’m fine saying we disagree; historical theologians, the top in their fields even, disagree on this.

        Bill Mac

        Jim: Thanks. Frankly, I can’t see why it is that hard. Does a strict determinist think that God actively makes things fall if you drop them? I honestly don’t see the need for God to determine everything, only some things (which I assume all orthodox Christians affirm).

          Jared Moore

          Bill, I think the confessions largely agree with your position brother.

            Darryl Hill

            I agree Jared, and I also would say, along with Bill, that this: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” I do not believe that this necessarily means the same thing as “determine whatsoever comes to pass.” There is no question in my mind that God allows or ordains that evil exist, otherwise it would not exist. But I do not believe that He determined it to be- or actively caused it to be. In my mind, there is a vast difference.

            I would say the same thing regarding reprobation. Paul makes it clear, as did Moses, that God hardened Pharoah’s heart, but there were other times in that narrative from Exodus that Moses states that Pharoah hardened his own heart. I don’t think that is accidental, but that it is completely true. I would say that there are very rare times when God actively hardens the hearts of people. And I would even go so far as to say that He does not do that with anyone who has not already hardened their own heart to the point of no return.

            These are just my thoughts as I have studied Scripture. I am not a student of Calvin nor am I a student of all the confessions. I have read some of them but have not sought to be molded by them. I seek to be molded by God as His Holy Spirit guides me through Scripture, times of prayer and meditation, and through the Church often as well.

            On that thought, this is why I so dislike the fact that I am forced to be called a “Calvinist” by those who call themselves traditionalists. I have no desire to be identified with a man other than Jesus Christ.

            Don Johnson

            Darryl,

            When God hardened Pharoah’s heart, was He making sure Pharoah couldn’t use his free will?

            holdon

            “And I would even go so far as to say that He does not do that with anyone who has not already hardened their own heart to the point of no return.”

            Calvinists generally would disagree with you. They will argue that Pharaoh had no choice because it “is not of him that wills, nor him that runs”.

            However, I think you are correct: Pharaoh hardened his heart and then (only then) did God harden his heart in judgment. See 1 Sam 6:6 for proof.

            Darryl Hill

            Don that appears to be what Paul is saying in Romans 9, yes. Read it for yourself bro. For this very purpose I raised you up to demonstrate my power in you. And Paul follows that with… so then he has mercy on whom he desires and he hardens who he desires.

            It’s pretty clear. God hardened pharoah’s heart for His own glory. That doesn’t mean He always hardens the hearts of people but it does mean that He does what He pleases. But I don’t think we can make the statement that God reprobates people as a general rule. Scripture is clear that man needs little help reprobating.

            Don Johnson

            Darryl,

            It’s good to see you believe man has a free will.

          Jim G.

          Hi Bill,

          See my reply to Jared this morning about “determine.” The most standard understanding of “determinism” by Calvinists is that God decrees events and renders them certain, but does not necessarily actively “cause” them. I put “cause” in parentheses because that word has been parsed to death since Aquinas. So do you believe that some events that occur are not part of God’s decree and are thus not planned by him?

          Jim G.

            Bill Mac

            Jim: I wish we were discussing this face to face, because I still think we are missing some nuances in what we want to say. I don’t quite know how to answer you because I still think are definitions are not synchronized.

            The Fall was a certain event. God created human beings knowing they would Fall. For whatever reason, He did not prevent the Fall, so in that sense God planned for it. He decided it was better to let them fall, and then redeem them than to arrange events or personalities in such a way as to prevent the Fall. From God’s perspective, there was no risk, no uncertainty. It was going to happen. God was not happy that they fell, but in no sense was God “hoping” they wouldn’t fall.

            holdon

            “The Fall was a certain event.”

            How do you know?

            “God created human beings knowing they would Fall.”

            Yes, God knows all things all the time, but only the things that can be known.

            Jim G.

            Hi Bill,

            Agreed that face to face would be much better. So much of communication is lost in the keyboard.

            The assumption that there is no risk whatsoever is the equivalent of what I described above as determinism. Determinism has difficulties with the fall. If there is no sense in which God was hoping that Adam and Eve would not fall, then it was God’s will (in the hidden sense, to a Calvinist) that they do indeed fall. That is unacceptable to me because it would mean that God willed the evil in the world. God would be both good and evil at the same time (or, as Hart says, neither). Any meaning in saying “God is all good” is lost or at least severely compromised. All evil would have its true origin in the will of God. If God is “no risk,” then how are we to avoid the problem that God, in his hidden, decretal will, is not the “father of lies?”

            This has always been the charge against divine determinism. It was at the heart of the historic semi-Pelagians, the Remonstrants, and now the trads in the SBC. The theological pushback (and I’m well aware enough to know this discussion goes MUCH further than just theology – ultimately it is about power) in this present debate is about determinism.

            Jim G.

            Bill Mac

            Yes, God knows all things all the time, but only the things that can be known.

            Holdon: This is a classic Open Theist statement. If you are an open theist, the the conversation between Jim and I is not going to profit you.

            Jim: I can’t reconcile risk and hope with exhaustive foreknowledge. How do you do it? Risk only has meaning when the outcome is uncertain. Is there anything uncertain to God? Is there any outcome that is hidden from him? How, in any real sense does God hope for something that He knows will not occur?

            holdon

            “Holdon: This is a classic Open Theist statement. If you are an open theist, the the conversation between Jim and I is not going to profit you.”

            I think you’re wrong. I simply said that “things can only be known, if they exist”.
            And: “that God knows all things, all the time” is certainly not an Open Theist statement. But perhaps you don’t know what that is.
            And I am sorry if you feel I butted into a two party conversation. Good luck!

            Bill Mac

            And I am sorry if you feel I butted into a two party conversation. Good luck!

            Not at all. If you are not an open theist, then join the party. If you are, we might have to start a new comment thread, that’s all. The statement I quoted is not necessarily unique to Open Theists, but I’ve seen them use it a lot.

            My own view, and one I think is shared by most orthodox Christians, is that God knows all things, past, present and future. Every thought, every choice, every outcome. That is why I don’t believe God risks, or hopes. Risk and hope both are contingent upon an uncertain outcome and I don’t believe omniscience and uncertainty are compatible.

            Bill Mac

            By the way, my thoughts in the above comment are not a result of my Calvinism. I thought this before I became a Calvinist. I honestly thought everyone believes this.

          Robert

          I believe that Jim G. is correct in this discussion. He has defined determinism and shown that Calvinists ***are determinists***. This is also amply documented in their confessions.

          Jared claims that Jim mistakenly is saying that calvinists are “strict determinists” (“Jim, you’re assuming the “strict determinism.” Yes, these confessions point to predestination and election being divinely decreed, but they do not affirm philosophical determinism (the determining of all human actions). You won’t find it confessed. In other words, your statement is inaccurate,”).

          There are two basic versions of determinism, soft and hard. Both are “strict determinism”, both affirm that all events are determined by sufficient causes.

          Jared questions this and quoted Richard Muller. But I don’t put much credibility in the Muller quote that Jared shares. Here’s why. Muller earlier in the same chapter/essay wrote:
          “In addition, none of the writers, certainly not Calvin, assumed that the doctrine of predestination was a form of fatalism or philosophical determinism that removed human responsibility” (p. 252, vol 2 THE GRACE OF GOD: THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL, Schreiner and Ware editors).

          Muller mistakes “philosophical determinism” for FATALISM.

          And he says that “philosophical determinism” removes human responsibility. But these statements show a real lack of knowledge regarding contemporary discussions of determinism.

          The basic distinction regarding determinism in philosophy is between hard determinism (which denies human free will and also denies responsibility) and soft determinism (which claims that free will, as defined by soft determinists, is compatible with exhaustive determinism and also affirms that while everything is determined the human person remains responsible).

          Most sophisticated and philosophically aware calvinists designate themselves as soft determinists/compatibilists.

          In a later chapter IN THE SAME BOOK, John Feinberg who ***is*** familiar with contemporary philosophy writes:

          “I believe Calvinists as determinists must either reject freedom altogether or accept compatibilism.” (p. 465)

          Feinberg states openly and explicitly that calvinists ARE DETERMINISTS.

          He then suggests that calvinists as they are determinists ought to be compatibilists (again compatibiilsm is a version of determinism, also referred to as *soft determinism*). I put much more stock in what Feinberg a philosopher says in that book regarding determinism and calvinists being determinists than Muller who is a historian.

          While Jim has defined determinism and shown how calvinism does involve determinism.
          Jared speaks of “strict determinism” but never defines the term nor does he define the term determinism.

          Seems to me that we may have a case of different people using the same term, determinism, with different definitions here.

          Jim has given his definition, what is Jared’s definition of determinism?

          And I would like to see Jared’s argument that calvinism is not determinism, and specifically not compatibilism/soft determinism.

          Robert

volfan007

Stephen,

You sound like such a nice fella. Would you like to join me for coffee and donuts sometime?

David

    Lydia

    David, I am starting to be concerned. Baconators, milk shakes, doughnuts, etc. People love you and want you around for a while! Have you tried the Krispy Kreme donut burger, yet? I don’t want to give you any ideas. :o)

      volfan007

      Lydia,

      My Great Grandmother was chubby and ate fried Southern food her whole life. She lived to 96….first time she ever went to a hospital, she was 94. My parents eat Southern fried food, and they’re in thier late 70’s now, and enjoy really good health for thier age.

      But, thanks for the kind words. God bless.

      David

      David

Norm Miller

Thank you, Ron, for quoting directly from Calvin so as to accurately represent him and avoid the ever-present ‘strawman’ accusation from those who would not see thing things your way. — Norm

Lydia

Good stuff, Ron! More, please.

    Ron Hale

    Thanks Lydia,
    I will take an encouraging word any time it comes close. Blessings!

Sam

Dr. Hale writes: “In one fell swoop, Calvin suddenly throws biblical exegesis to the wind…. Are you going to be true to John’s Gospel or Augustine’s philosophical construals?” I don’t believe so. Calvin is trying to be faithful to the whole counsel of God. He is trying to unify all of the Bible’s statements. For this I applaud his efforts.
Dr. Hale comments on John 3:16, saying: “every man is freely capable of expressing this faith”. That is not found in the text any more than Calvin’s “on the other hand” comments! Dr. Hale, are you a theologian or a philosopher? Are you going to be true to John’s Gospel or Traditionalism’s philosophical construals? You can’t read your personal views of libertarian freewill into the text; that becomes eisegesis.

    Norm Miller

    Sam: So, ‘whosoever will’ is not an explicit statement from Jn 3.16 that “every man is freely capable of expressing this faith”?
    I s’pose you’re right, for it was John the Baptist who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the elect.” — Norm

      Sam

      hmm. Something to think about. Thanks Mr. Miller.

      Sam

      Mr. Miller, any thoughts on Zack Skrip’s comments below concerning the Greek word for “whosoever” in John 3:16? I no nothing about the Greek, but he got me interested in checking it to it.

        holdon

        “concerning the Greek word for “whosoever” in John 3:16?”

        Listen to Calvin as quoted by Ron Hale above:

        And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers.

          Sam

          Holdon,

          Who would have thought we could simply turn to Calvin to argue the Traditionalist position? Pretty cool!

            holdon

            I think you need to read better. Read Ron Hale’s piece and you will see that Calvin in his interpretation of “whosoever” supports the Trads position….

            Sam

            Holdon. Yes. I was agreeing with you.

            holdon

            OK.
            It wasn’t clear to me when you said “Calvin to argue”, as that could mean “argue against”, but it can also mean “argue for” of course.

          Zack Skrip

          Still don’t want to deal with the Greek I see, Mr. Holdon.

          Please deal with this exegetically.

      Darryl Hill

      I see what you did there Norm. Good stuff.

      Of course, it could be that Jesus knew his audience was primarily Jewish and He also knew that they had this egocentric view of redemption being focused only on Jews. And this is something that Jesus clearly wanted to let us know- this is not merely for Jews, but for all who will believe, regardless of their pedigree.

      And we see the fulfillment of this in Revelation when we see people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” represented in heaven. So, it is for the whole world, not just Jews.

    Ron Hale

    Sam,
    Just “Ron” …no Dr.

    Btw …when you quote me by saying, “every man is freely capable of expressing this faith,” are you quoting my article? Just wondering?

      Sam

      Dear Mr. Hale,

      Now I feel stupid. I indeed read your entire article from start to finish, but then when I was going through the comments, I came across Mike Leake putting that statement in “quotes” and I latched on it and assumed it was in your article. I’m sorry brother. I surely did not mean to put words in your mouth or misquote you. I enjoyed the article by the way. I desire to learn from believers in both camps.

        Ron Hale

        Sam,
        No hay problema! After all you gave me a doctorate. Blessings!

Stephen Garrett

A person reading the Bible for the first time sees John 3: 16 (“God so loved the world…”) and he sees Romans 9: 13 (“Esau have I hated” before he was born) and must reconcile the passages.

Blessings,

Stephen

    Jim G.

    Hey, neighbor. I’m also in Union Co.

    That is why 1 Tim 3:6 says novices should not be elders / teachers.

    I find it interesting that the two people mentioned in the OP were very young in Christ when stating their theological formulations. The first edition of Calvin’s institutes came 3 years after his conversion in 1533. Augustine was a bishop only 8 years after his baptism. He became bishop about the time he embraced determinism.

    I just find it interesting.

    Jim G.

    Don Johnson

    Stephen,

    Where in Genesis does it say God hated Esau before he was born. For that matter, where in the Bible does it say God hated Esau before he was born.

      Darryl Hill

      Seriously Don? “where in the Bible does it say God hated Esau before he was born.”?

      Romans 9
      10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      Paul establishes the timeline as this happening “though they were not yet born.” He then states “Esau have I hated.” The only way you could argue that God’s attitude regarding Esau was any different prior to his birth would be to deny His immutability.

        Don Johnson

        Darryl,

        Seriously Darryl, did “The elder shall serve the younger” before they were born? Isn’t this also in the “timeline”?

          Darryl Hill

          Don you are ignoring the entire meaning of the verse. The point Paul is making here is that election means that God doesn’t take into account man’s goodness or actions. He made his choice before they had done anything good or evil, before they were even born. That is the meaning of the text.

          Darryl Hill

          By the way Don, the last part of my original argument still stands. If scripture says of God “Esau have I hated” then the only way to deny that would be to deny His immutability.

            holdon

            “If scripture says of God “Esau have I hated” then the only way to deny that would be to deny His immutability.”

            So, you say that God hated Esau before he had done anything, good or bad, before he was born?

            What does that make of God’s justice, holiness, and goodness? “they have hated Me without cause” is then perfectly acceptable?

            Your playing God out against Himself. And it would be you who is denying God’s immutable character of “wisdom power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth”.

            Don Johnson

            holdon,

            Good point.

    Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

    “To love” often means “to favor” and “to hate” can mean “to favor less.” God, by divine foreknowledge, foresaw at once Esau’s entire life, not just a fetus in the womb.

    Sam

    I too still have trouble reconciling statements like that. I find Psalm 5:5 even more troubling. It says of God: “You hate all workers of iniquity.” We are all guilty of iniquity, so does that mean in some sense God hates us all (or at least until we are saved)? This text says God hates the sinner, not just hates the sin. That’s why it is troubling.

    Any how, I think when it all comes down to it, Calvinist Christians are on one side and Traditionalist Christians are on the other side, grappling with the same seeming contraditions in Scripture and trying to make sense out of them.

      Lydia

      Sam, Should we read Psalms so woodenly? It is man talking to God and poetry. Yes, inspired but we also do not pray imprecatory prayers either, do we, since we are to love our enemies? Would it mean that God “hated” King Saul or even Uriah, for example?

      In some of those Psalms, David seems to be “spittin nails” and rightly so.

      Darryl Hill

      I think the trouble we have is that we assign human emotions and ways of being to God. When we think of “hate” we think of someone sinfully despising a person. When Scripture speaks of hate, I think we could rightly understand that He is against them or opposed to them. And this is true- He is opposed to all who live in sin. He is for His Son. When we are justified by the blood of His Son, He is no longer opposed to us.

Zack Skrip

Could someone point me to the Greek term use in John 3:16 for “whosoever”? Wouldn’t a better translation be “All of the believing ones” as the Greek is ??? ? ????????? So, who will avoid destruction and come into life eternal? All of the believing ones. So, those who believe, will not die, but instead be given eternal life.

This verse does not remove limitations on who can be saved (nor does it place any), rather it gloriously presents the gift given to those who believe. “Whosoever” as we read it, as if saying ‘whoever wants to believe,’ or ‘anyone in the whole wide world could feasibly believe,’ is not in the Greek.

Readers Note: Not one iota of philosophy was used in the writing of this comment :-P

    Zack Skrip

    Doh! apparently it doesn’t like unicode font. The Greek is pas ho pisteuwn. My apologies for messing it up!

    Sam

    This is interesting Zack. I haven’t heard it explained this way before. You got me wanting to check out the Greek. Thanks!

      Zack Skrip

      Thanks Sam.

      If you want it broken down a bit, you’ve got pas which means “all” or “every”. Then you’ve got ho which is the masculine singular nominitive article “the,” and finally pisteuwn which is the participle form of pisteuw which means “I believe” and in this particular situation would be typically translated “believing.” So, for a really rough translation it would be “all the believing.” Now, it is common for a participle that has an article to function as a substantive (confused yet? :) — think noun). So it would be “the believing [ones].”

      We see something similar in the Lord’s prayer. Jesus prays that God would protect us from “the evil.” This is an adjective functioning as a substantive.

      That’s how the Greek works out.

        Sam

        Thanks Zack. I don’t know Greek. I barely can use the computer Greek tools for the laymen. Are there any books out there that deal with the Greek that interprets\translates it the same way as you?

          Zack Skrip

          I’ve been looking around and I found some resources for you.

          Dr. Jerry Vines disagrees with this position in this sermon given at SBTS.

          Dr. James White looks at Dr. Vines’ exegesis and interacts with it here. He posts that section of Dr. Vines’ sermon while interacting with it. Dr. Vines’ section starts at around the 10min mark.

          To look to see if pas is ever translated as “whosoever” as Dr. Vines argues, check here.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

What if all the unsaved, all the seekers and all the new Christians in the world studied these blogs in chronological order starting with June 1? Would they conclude that the Southern Baptist doctrine of salvation is an irrational collection of logically contradictory propositions? Would they conclude there is no SBC doctrine of soteriology? Would a little outside research suggest that 4-point Arminians (Traditional Southern Baptists) and 5-point Calvinists have never and can never co-exist in a single denomination? Or, after some effort, would they discover an obscure denomination, somewhere in the world, where the two peacefully coexist? If so, perhaps that denomination could be used as a role model for the SBC.

Mark

I just don’t know what to do with acts 13:48 than to take it at face value. Paul finishes his sermon at Antioch and Luke writes:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

I submit the bible is much more nuanced than we often admit. We try and make everything fit into our western construct (both sides). God is capable of complex emotions. He can desire that all be saved and appoint some to eternal life. Both can be true. When we question “how?”, I believe God’s answer would be “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts” or to paraphrase- “you can’t figure me out.”

    Sam

    Amen! This is why I lean toward the Reformed way of seeing Scripture. But I appreciate the Traditionalist position too. Both groups are grappling with the same difficult texts and have simply made sense out of them in different ways.

    holdon

    “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

    My take on that verse is that it has been mis-rendered. This is about the “were appointed” part.
    The verse stands in contrast with the attitude of the Jews concerning eternal life in verse 46.
    The Greek word (“appointed”) means so much as “positioned” and is especially used in military contexts, either of taking position on the battle field or as the enlisting.
    Further the phrase is to be understood as reflexive because of it’s form as well as the context: the Jews put themselves out of reach, whereas the Gentiles put themselves ready to accept the message of eternal life.
    See also the place where the same verb is used in 1 Cor 16:15, where the house of Stephanas, had “enlisted” themselves to serve in the army of the saints, so to speak. They enlisted themselves.

    So the verse means as many of Gentiles believed who put themselves in the position to hear about eternal life. (I think practically by coming to Paul’s meetings, and by their internal disposition of willingness; see verse 44 and 45 for both).

Mark

I think that’s a stretch. I’m all for good hermeneutics. But most other versions translate the word as ordained, which gets even farther away from your interpretation.

Both sides do unnecessary dancing in order to resolve a tension that doesn’t desire to be resolved (Spurgeon said something similar to that once). A “traditionalist” will NEVER be able to properly dismiss the overwhelming evidence that God ordains salvation, and the narrow-minded “Calvinist” will NEVER be able to make sense of verses that state Gods compassion for the whole world and his desire to save all. I’m being critical of both camps here.

In practicality, I’ve never met a Christian who would honestly take sole credit for any part of the salvific process. They would attribute it all to God.

I’ve also never met a Christian who doesn’t pray for God to save their loved ones outright. There is no tap dancing with the nuances of free-will or election when it gets personal. “GOD SAVE THEM! BRING THEM INTO THE KINGDOM! OVERWHELM THEM WITH GRACE!!”. In that moment, no one prays for God to nudge, but not too much. To influence, but not too much.

Robert

i am posting this here to make sure that people see it, so it does not get lost in the earlier discussion.

I believe that Jim G. is correct in this discussion. He has defined determinism and shown that Calvinists ***are determinists***. This is also amply documented in their confessions.

Jared claims that Jim mistakenly is saying that calvinists are “strict determinists” (“Jim, you’re assuming the “strict determinism.” Yes, these confessions point to predestination and election being divinely decreed, but they do not affirm philosophical determinism (the determining of all human actions). You won’t find it confessed. In other words, your statement is inaccurate,”).

There are two basic versions of determinism, soft and hard. Both are “strict determinism”, both affirm that all events are determined by sufficient causes.

Jared questions this and quoted Richard Muller. But I don’t put much credibility in the Muller quote that Jared shares. Here’s why. Muller earlier in the same chapter/essay wrote:
“In addition, none of the writers, certainly not Calvin, assumed that the doctrine of predestination was a form of fatalism or philosophical determinism that removed human responsibility” (p. 252, vol 2 THE GRACE OF GOD: THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL, Schreiner and Ware editors).

Muller mistakes “philosophical determinism” for FATALISM.

And he says that “philosophical determinism” removes human responsibility. But these statements show a real lack of knowledge regarding contemporary discussions of determinism.

The basic distinction regarding determinism in philosophy is between hard determinism (which denies human free will and also denies responsibility) and soft determinism (which claims that free will, as defined by soft determinists, is compatible with exhaustive determinism and also affirms that while everything is determined the human person remains responsible).

Most sophisticated and philosophically aware calvinists designate themselves as soft determinists/compatibilists.

In a later chapter IN THE SAME BOOK, John Feinberg who ***is*** familiar with contemporary philosophy writes:

“I believe Calvinists as determinists must either reject freedom altogether or accept compatibilism.” (p. 465)

Feinberg states openly and explicitly that calvinists ARE DETERMINISTS.

He then suggests that calvinists as they are determinists ought to be compatibilists (again compatibiilsm is a version of determinism, also referred to as *soft determinism*). I put much more stock in what Feinberg a philosopher says in that book regarding determinism and calvinists being determinists than Muller who is a historian.

While Jim has defined determinism and shown how calvinism does involve determinism.
Jared speaks of “strict determinism” but never defines the term nor does he define the term determinism.

Seems to me that we may have a case of different people using the same term, determinism, with different definitions here.

Jim has given his definition, what is Jared’s definition of determinism?

And I would like to see Jared’s argument that calvinism is not determinism, and specifically not compatibilism/soft determinism.

Robert

John Adams

I am enjoying serving as interm pastor of my present church where we have had the priviledge of baptising 33 converts to faith in Jesus Christ in the pastor 7 weeks. What a great blessing and we give God glory and praise. J. Adams

Ron, you are a great guy……….on either hand!!!!!!!!!

Grover Westover III

Thank you Bro. Ron for your treatment of this beloved text. I’m am constantly amazed at the theological gymnastics some perform to make a text say whatever
fits their theological view. Either “whosoever” means “whosoever” or it doesn’t. By the way, John 3:17 simply states that the only reason a person is condemned is “because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Jn. 3:18).
Thanks again Ron!

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