Ronnie Rogers responds to selected comments from his recent posts.

July 28, 2012

As I have read the comments regarding my interview and a portion of my book, a few things deserve a response from me. First, I am greatly heartened by those comments, agreeing or not, that sought to interact with my actual words in a gracious manner. Being human, I know how hard that is, and hence my magnified gratitude and admiration for your valiant reliance on the Holy Spirit. Thank you!

Second, the comments have exposed a few of my descriptions that either need further clarification or that can be restated in a better way without sacrificing my point; for example, I used “God of Calvinism”, which I think would be better stated, “according to Calvinism, God….” I changed the wording in my following responses and will also in future revisions of my book. Also, I can see that the contrast between “vertical and horizontal passion” needs more clarification since so many infer that I am commenting on whether a Calvinist can be evangelistic, etc., which I am not. Thank you for helping me to see these.

If my inability to communicate has caused my words to unduly hurt some of you who disagree with my position, I am truly sorry and ask your forgiveness. I am and will continue working on this weakness.

The following remarks are to only briefly offer a few clarifications concerning misunderstandings about some of my comments that have appeared in this forum. Please forgive me if I leave you still in want of a more comprehensive response. I am sure you understand that I simply cannot rewrite my book here or comment sufficiently on every puzzlement.

In order that you may sense my personal spirit toward Calvinists, I excerpted the following from the introduction of Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.

“Disenchanted Calvinists would include me and all who once wore the label Calvinist, who now have doffed the Calvinist regalia, but yet still respect and love those who are Calvinist. Rather than being angry or resentful of Calvinists, disenchanted Calvinists are grateful for what they have learned from Calvinists and for most Calvinists’ deep love and respect for the Scripture.

Further, none of my statements concerning my soteriological position, or problems with the TULIP, are to be understood or characterized as against Calvinists, but rather against the system of Calvinism. I have great regard, appreciation, and esteem for most Calvinists’ love for God and His Word. Further, I owe no small measure of my spiritual growth and knowledge of Scripture to Calvinists.”

“Everything hinges on unconditional election”

Some Calvinists may believe that everything hinges (I mean in Calvinism and I am not concerned with decrees here, but just the TULIP) upon “irresistible grace”, which may be true. Others believe that everything pivots on “total depravity”, which again may be true.

However, I believe that in Calvinism, “unconditional election” is God’s eternal choice to elect some to salvation, and “irresistible grace” is the process for accomplishing that, whereas “total depravity” is why man needs saved. If God only desired to create man, allow for man to sin, and the next stop is hell, then his depravity—while horrid in its own right and end—is not the crux of the issue, but rather God’s choice, salvifically speaking, not to provide salvation. The only reason that man’s depravity matters in our discussion (or that there is a TULIP) is because of our belief that God desired to provide salvation for the depraved.

Therefore, I think it is better to see unconditional election as the axis and irresistible grace as the process, which overcomes the problem of total depravity in order to redeem man—remember I am speaking within the system of Calvinism. Now, if some disagree, that is quite all right, but those are my thoughts.

I do not think any of the three positions actually speak for or against the legitimacy of Calvinism; however, if one rejects unconditional election, he is not a Calvinist of any sort. Also, if I am correct, it does seem to me that my position brings greater stress upon those who claim to be 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-point Calvinists, but that is another discussion. Succinctly, I believe no unconditional election equals no Calvinism.

“I now am not a Calvinist-Biblicist, Arminian-Biblicist or Molinist-Biblicist, but simply a Biblicist without a preceding adjective.” If I would have referred to myself as a Biblicist and my Calvinist brethren as merely Calvinists, I would deem that to be an unwarranted and not-so-subtle slight. However, out of respect for the various approaches to Scripture mentioned, and because I do not seek the harmonization of the complexities of Scripture according to any of them, I now simply bear the title Biblicist. I recognize all serious students of the Scripture, which I consider most Calvinists to be, as Biblicists. The adjective just further identifies one’s overall perspective but does not imply any second rate standing. Undeniably, no honest Calvinist wants me saying I am a Calvinist-Biblicist. Additionally, I do not believe that I should have to also drop the term Biblicist since I am no longer a Calvinist. I believe we all desire to know God’s word better in order to love and serve Him more faithfully; hence, our discussions. I was no less serious about the word of God when I was a Calvinist than I am now, nor do I think such of my Calvinist brethren.

“But, what I find interesting is that Pastor Rogers is perhaps the first Calvinist, though now former, that I have ever heard of, who would claim to come to Calvinism through a study of systematic theology. Every Calvinist I know, myself included, would state they came to believe Reformed theology through reading the Scriptures. I just found that interesting.”

Sorry for any confusion that I might have caused in my interview, which might have led some to conclude this. Actually, with regard to the place of systematic theology in my adoption of Calvinism, I stated, “This provided me with a systematic approach to the perplexities of Scripture”. Two things should be noted; first, I did not say “This alone….” If I had, your inference would be correct. Brevity can either omit certain helpful clarifications and/or make each word present or absent all the more important; second, notice that the systematic theologies helped me with “the perplexities of Scripture” which came from spending five-to-12 hours a day in studying the Scripture and praying. Interestingly to me, I mentioned several five-point Calvinists’ theologies that I studied with equal diligence, but these were not (at least I did not see them) mentioned again in the comments regarding my not being a Calvinist—or at least one who really understood Calvinism.

“One might think it is double talk as Pastor Rogers has said more than once about other Calvinist claims. However, I do not know many if any Calvinists who would claim that God desires the vast majority to go to hell. They might say that it is part of his sovereign will but not that God desires people to go to hell.”

This is in response to my brief reference in part two of the interview where I mentioned that I had experienced my growing belief that Calvinism was wrong on a number of issues, one of which was, “God desiring the vast majority of His creation to go to hell”

The following seems inescapable to me. Here is the dilemma caused by unconditional election and selective regeneration. If God monergistically selects to regenerate some and not to regenerate others, and all whom He regenerates will necessarily believe, and none whom He does not choose to regenerate can believe, then God is necessarily the one deciding to send the vast majority (Matthew 7:13-14) of sinners to hell, just as He is deciding to send the minority to heaven.

In other words, according to Calvinism’s monergism, everything necessary to save one sinner—God choosing to regenerate prior to faith—is sufficient to save all sinners. The only thing lacking is God desiring to regenerate certain sinners. Therefore, it is an inescapable reality, based on Calvinism, that people are in hell because they are sinners and God sovereignly chose not to regenerate them—to say that God is just if everyone went to hell is neither denied by me nor a relevant response to what I am saying. God is the sole determiner that certain lost people cannot be saved and therefore must perish in hell. I maintain that the portrait of God painted by Calvinism is not the picture painted by Scripture and does not correspond to the picture of God’s love as portrayed in Scripture. Further, Calvinism says that God loves the elect different than the non-elect, which as a statement of fact I agree with. The problem is that Calvinism maintains that God’s  love for the non-elect withholds what they most desperately need (and in light of makes every other need inconsequential like we say about Christians except the other side of the coin so-to-speak), which is exacerbated by the fact that in the Scripture God seems to offer it to them. I simply do not believe that loving someone to hell is the picture of God in Scripture.

“Mr. Rogers does not exhibit a clear understanding of what it is he was against – especially in light of the appeals to emotion and claims of personal sins as if they stem from Calvinism. Any Calvinist who acts pridefully BECAUSE of their “Calvinism” doesn’t understand the doctrines of grace to begin with. They are immensely humbling when understood rightly.”

First, I actually said, “Retrospectively, I was very prideful about Calvinism. Everything else was wrong and un-intellectual. I deeply regret my prideful attitude about that now.” Thus, I did not say that my pride was generated by Calvinism, but about Calvinism. My pride came from me and my sinful heart alone. I have been prideful about other things (I could fall into that same sin with my present or any other theological position) but none of those things caused my pride that is me and me alone. Please, the only thing that I take full credit for in my life is my sin—pride.

“You may already have addressed this but I searched and couldn’t find it. How did you square things with the church you pastor when “leaving” Calvinism and becoming “traditionalist”? (I assume the church knew you were a Calvinists and accepted Calvinism in part if not whole) By square things with them I mean did you offer to leave since your theology changed drastically and you didn’t seem to have things figured out? Did the church use congregational polity to decide to keep you as pastor? Did you tell the whole church or just the leaders? Did your change cause any division in the church? How do you handle those who still embrace Calvinism? Do you keep them from holding leadership or teaching freely? Sorry so many questions but this scenario begs these. Thank you.”

The church I pastor is a conservative biblical Baptist church, but does not require one to be a Calvinist or a non-Calvinist to be a member or leader. Further, my migration from Calvinism was over 13 years of reflecting, and I did not seek to push my Calvinism nor do I do so with my present position. For example, I train six-to-12 men a year in an intense training program and have not once sought to make someone agree with me on everything so long as their views are within the scope of biblical orthodoxy. Many Calvinists who have gone through the training will attest to this. I am merely on a quest to know God and help my church to do the same.

Double talk: I understand that this thought is upsetting to all of us, but I believe that rather than giving a standard answer, or becoming defensive, we must evaluate the possibility. I ask you to please read my definition. I went to great lengths to define it so as not to be pejorative as the dictionary definition may in fact be used. The intent is to help us know God more, and the first place I faced double talk was in my own life, and I still seek to purge my life of it. I have and still do observe it in what I hear and read from Calvinists. Succinctly, by double talk, I specifically and only mean thinking, praying or speaking in a way that obscures the inescapable harsh realities of Calvinism—what I call disquieting realities. If a person accepts these realities, then he can be a knowledgeable and consistent Calvinist; but if one is unwilling to face them and accept them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist.

This is what I did and still see in Calvinism. Do others or I do it in other ways? Of course. I for one am trying to not do it, and hence my move from Calvinism. I either have or am considering each of your comments regarding double talk in my comments. I find such, while difficult to hear, helpful particularly if said in the spirit of Christ. If you or I are merely defensive, when I have defined it and expressed it as gently as I know how then I think we may find ourselves holding beliefs that do not glorify God. I do not believe that is what any of us seek. I do not think that I have arrived, but only that I am willing to face these difficulties and seek to harmonize each with each other and Scripture. If I were to use this concept to disparage anyone, I would have to be first in line. I am only asking others to do what I did and still do regularly.

Blogger, “how could I not have a passion for other sinners. Even if we only set out to “vertically” please God. Wouldn’t it be impossible to obey His command to love your neighbor without actually loving your neighbor”

The context is not discussing “love for neighbors” or love for family, etc., for even Calvinism recognizes various kinds of love. Rather the context makes it clear that I am only referring to passionate salvific love—that which Calvinists ascribe to the elect.

Every informed Calvinist knows that essential to Calvinism is, God does not love all of the non-elect lost enough to provide them with what would inviolably and unalterably grant them eternal life. If that were not an essential truth of Calvinism, the discussion would be over because everyone might have an opportunity to go to heaven.

Therefore, the love that a Calvinist may have in his heart that desires each certain person—whomever he may be unless he is one of the elect—or all persons to be saved is incongruent with God’s love in Calvinism because God, according to Calvinism, clearly does not so love; therefore, this universal love in the heart of a Calvinist is not emanating from God and for that reason is human love, etc., but not God’s passionate salvific love. I just don’t see it logically or any Scriptures that intimate that God has given a more far reaching love to His people than He Himself has for the lost. My position is consistent with unconditional election, selective regeneration and compatibilism. All of this is not to say a consistent Calvinist cannot have a general love for humans or people groups. But how can a Calvinist love each individual or all individuals with God’s passionate and salvific kind of love if God does not have that for them.

Blogger says, while the theology Calvinism posits does lend to his conclusions, I would probably argue with the Calvinist here that the FACT that no one knows who is and is not the elect, we all need to love one another in this life and leave the results up to God. I think in most cases, the charge that Calvinists are not evangelistic is unfounded. I do see the validity of the argument theologically but not in practice.

Brother, your admission that what I have said is congruent with the “theology” of Calvinism but not with the “practice” of Calvinism is my point. That being the case, Calvinism generates a serious problem that non-Calvinism does not. I think all of us desire for our theology to play out in practice. For any of us to allow or summarily dismiss such disjunctures as mentioned shields us from having to examine why this is.

Additionally, I believe that the concept “we do not know who is the elect and who is not the elect” helps to demonstrate my point. First, that is only a problem in Calvinism, which does not exist in non-Calvinism nor do I see such explicated in the Scripture; second, whether we know who the elect are misses the precise point I am making. I am saying that a consistent Calvinist cannot say he has a love and passion for all the lost to be saved, or look at a particular individual and say, I love you with God’s love and desire you to be saved since God in Calvinism undeniably does not have that kind of love for each person or all persons; thus, that horizontally passionate love does not emanate from God and for that reason cannot be His salvific love. It may be love for family, neighbor or even the non-salvation type of love that Calvinists claim that God has for the lost, but it is not God’s saving passionate love or else they would be the elect of Calvinism. Therefore, not knowing who the elect are is not germane to my position nor do I believe it lessens this quandary of Calvinism.

However, this passion to please God in no way excludes a passion for people. Pastor Rogers seems to portray the God we Calvinist believe in as a Sadist who has no compassion toward sinners at all, except for the elect. God is a just God, and His justness requires punishment for sins. Having perfect knowledge, He knows that His purposes are best achieved by actually punishing some people for their sins, while showing mercy and providing atonement for others. This does not mean that He sadistically takes pleasure in punishing the wicked; the Bible is clear that He does not.

First, my statement did not argue that the passion to please God “excludes” a passion for people nor do I think or say that the God according to Calvinism is a “sadist” who has “no compassion” toward the non-elect lost. Nor do I say, “He sadistically takes pleasure in punishing the wicked.” I do agree that the Bible is clear that “He does not.”

Your statement, which is consistent with Calvinism, “He knows that His purposes are best achieved by actually punishing some people for their sins, while showing mercy and providing atonement for others.” This is precisely what I am saying. How can a Calvinist show passionate salvific love from God for those whom God chose not to show mercy—again not knowing who the elect are is not germane to the issue? Further, I do not say that Calvinists cannot be evangelistic (he may in fact be the most evangelistic on the planet), but rather if he is consistent, it is a passion to carry out the mandate of God, to be used by God to gather His elect, vertical passion. Whereas I believe the Scripture teaches that God, Jesus, Paul, etc., demonstrated both a “vertical” and “horizontal” salvific passion for each and every individual; therefore, we should too, which Calvinism does not allow.

It cannot be a Holy Spirit led horizontal passion, which is a burden, love and hurt for all of the lost of the world, or even each particular individual, to come to know Christ. For God according to Calvinism does not even have such passion. (See my above response)

The following are John Calvin’s comments regarding the non-elect lost, “Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated…. This they do ignorantly, and childishly, since there could be no election without this opposite reprobation…. Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children”[i] (italics added)

Many Calvinists shy from the forthrightness of Calvin, but Calvinism inexorably leads to God sovereignly doing what pleases Him (which we believe, too, but we just disagree on what pleases Him), and therefore, either actively predestining some to hell or consequently doing so by choosing not to offer what would have surely delivered them from hell to heaven, i.e., selective regeneration. I agree that the Bible is clear that God does not take pleasure in the lost going to hell, but I disagree that is not the determined or consequential result of Calvinism.

Concerning missions in Calvinism, John Piper says the mission enterprise is “to reach all the peoples of the world and thus to gather the ‘sons of God’ which are scattered (John 11:52), and to call all the ‘ransomed from every tongue and tribe and people and nation.”[ii]

With regard to Matthew 28:18-20 Piper concludes, “Therefore in all likelihood Jesus did not send his apostles out with a general mission merely to win as many individuals as they could, but rather to reach all peoples of the world”[iii] (italics added).

Therefore, (I understand the options of the decrees but they do not alter my point) it seems undeniable that God either actively passed by the non-elect or did so passively, but God according to Calvinism does not afford a salvific love for the non-elect lost and neither can a Calvinist. Therefore, the mission of missions and evangelism is simply to gather the people of God – vertical passion.

A Calvinist simply cannot be in a room alone with one individual and feel God’s passionate salvific love for him if he is non-elect because God does not have that love for him. This same truth exists with regard to the lost world. Therefore, if a Calvinist does desire the individual (or world) to be saved, that desire is not from God. To wit, the Calvinist cannot have more compassion, etc., than God. This scenario illustrates how unrelated to my argument the response, “one does not know who the elect are” really is. I am talking about the limitation placed upon Calvinists by Calvinism regarding what they can believe, feel, and say, which I find contrary to the sentiment found in the New Testament.

“Moreover, the reason for a person being able to receive is God’s grace…. if faith is a gift from God then it does much more than affords man the capacity to believe. The gift of faith results in conversion. This is the underlying basis for the Calvinist platform. Faith is NOT a gift of God”

Calvinism emphasizes that faith is a gift given only to the elect. In contradistinction to Calvinism, I am arguing that, while faith is a grace gift, it is not given only to the elect. I believe that faith is good, and that every good thing (life, ability, family, faith, etc.) is a grace gift from God (James 1:17). The very idea, essence and capacity of faith (saving and otherwise), as all good gifts, are by God’s grace. If faith is not a gift from God’s grace, since it is good, it seems that it exists outside of God’s grace to us. Therefore, I maintain that faith is a gift of grace, but not only for some, or following regeneration and not emanating from compatibilism and therefore incapable of contrary choice with regard to salvation.

So now I don’t even have concern for the souls of men, eh? I guess I must be a disgruntled Calvinist too because I have had a greater desire to share the Gospel since I became convinced of sovereign grace than I ever had before. I guess I just haven’t thought it through and should just yield to brother Rogers and start hating people and be consistent. Oh well. (pardon my sarcasm)

I did not say, nor imply, that Calvinism leads to indifference for “the souls of men,” nor that consistent Calvinism requires “hating people.” Again, my statement does not say nor imply that Calvinists are not evangelistic or mission minded. There have been, and are at this present moment, many Calvinist missionaries and evangelists, and I thank God they are sacrificing to share the gospel. I don’t think one can ever find a statement by me that says Calvinists can’t be mission minded or evangelists.

In point of fact, there is a couple in our church whom God has called to the mission field. They are seeking to get on the field as soon as possible. The church is contributing to their support. I have told him personally and others as well, that I believe if anyone was ever meant to be on the mission field it was them. He is a strong five-point Calvinist.

My question is how can a Calvinist salvifically and passionately love a person whom God has not salvifically and passionately elected, for that is to love them more than God, which seems impossible to me.

My brother, according to Calvinism, God loved you with a passionate salvific love, which unalterably resulted in your salvation. However, the other side of that coin is that God withheld that same kind of love opportunity from others—the non-elect. Therefore, Calvinism’s claim that God loves the non-elect different than the elect seems to be the understatement of time and eternity, eternally speaking that is.

Although the forum and significance of our discussions may lead some to think that my love and respect for Calvinists diminished with my migration from Calvinism, but that is not the case. It was only my love for Calvinism that changed—see the introduction to my book. If we can listen and examine honestly our beliefs in light of Scripture, and graciously respond in agreement or disagreement, I think our reflections about God will be more honoring in five years. If we cannot discuss these important and difficult issues christianly, then the future does not seem so rich. To remove contrary opinions is to remove one of God’s greatest teaching tools. To eliminate contrary opinions is to create a monarchy.

I hold no ill will for anything said to me or about me and pray the same can be said of you, and that is what I assume. Thank You!


[i] Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, pages 225-226.

[ii] Ibid 204

[iii] Ibid.

 

 

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

Bob Hadley

Dr. Rogers,

I guess it is always nice to make the highlight reel… and I seem to be doubly blessed.

Blogger (Hadley) says, while the theology Calvinism posits does lend to his conclusions, I would probably argue with the Calvinist here that the FACT that no one knows who is and is not the elect, we all need to love one another in this life and leave the results up to God. I think in most cases, the charge that Calvinists are not evangelistic is unfounded. I do see the validity of the argument theologically but not in practice.

This response was written more to Jeremy and his question in response to your article than it was to your article. I was not saying that YOU made the charge that Calvinists are not evangelistic but speaking to the charge generally, which is what I understood Jeremy to be referring too. Your position of the Calvinist’s evangelistic fervor being more vertical as opposed to horizontal was both accurate in my opinion and good, although that is the first time I had thought of it in that reference. So, as you indicate, “that was my point” I agree and that is why I wrote what I did.

Now to comment #2.

(Hadley) “Moreover, the reason for a person being able to receive is God’s grace…. if faith is a gift from God then it does much more than affords man the capacity to believe. The gift of faith results in conversion. This is the underlying basis for the Calvinist platform. Faith is NOT a gift of God”

You wrote,

“Faith is God’s condition for receiving salvation, but not the condition for the offer of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Moreover, the reason for a person being able to receive is God’s grace. Faith is a gift of God, but not in the sense that God only gave the gift to some. Faith is a gift from God because it affords man the capacity to believe, the possibility of believing, the content of belief, the persuasion of truth, and the enabling of the individual to believe.”

I do not believe “faith is a GIFT of God.” I really believe you are accurate in your statement, “Faith is God’s condition for receiving salvation, but not the condition for the offer of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).” I really think the offer is the focus of God’s initiative (grace) and my response the focus of His attention (faith).

Your assertion that faith is a gift to ALL as opposed to just the ELECT, I think it problematic and here is why; faith results in conversion. In your own definition you said “faith is the exercise of our response to His grace.” Once that faith is exercised, conversion takes place. If faith is a gift to all, then as far as I am concerned you have universalism.

This is why I later said:

I believe this statement would be more accurately as follows: GRACE is a gift from God that affords man the capacity to believe, the possibility of believing, the content of belief, the persuasion of truth, and the enabling of the individual to believe. Faith is the exercise of our response to His grace.

I do agree that every good gift comes from God but if salvation or conversion is the gift and faith is the condition, it is problematic in my opinion to make faith a gift from God. This is the essence of the Calvinistic argument. Man cannot and will not be saved apart from the efficacious calling of God, which is or includes His gift of faith to the unregenerate man that results in salvation. Grace to me is a much better fit in your statement than faith.

May God continue to bless you and your family and your ministry for His glory and the kingdom’s benefit!

><>”

SBC Layman

Excellent follow up and clearly articulated. I want to again pose a question I asked in part 3 of Pastor Rogers articles regarding the double-talk issue.

Here’s a question for my Reformed friends: When you share the gospel with someone, do you tell them Christ didn’t die for everyone? Do you tell them that if they are elect, they will come to believe in Jesus regardless of what you or they do? Do you tell them to sit tight and wait for regeneration? Do you tell them if they are non-elect, there is nothing they can do anyway and not to sweat it?

Or do you call them to repent and believe?

I’m willing to bet (based on a lot of observation) that most of you don’t explain that Christ didn’t die for everyone when you share with unbelievers. That he possibly didn’t die for them and that you can’t be sure they can even come to him. I’m willing to bet you leave them with the impression (even if you don’t explicitly say so) that they can be included in the gospel offer. Why? Why not give them the whole enchilada? Why not tell them they may be forever outside the fold up front?

Why? I believe because deep inside you know in your soul that your presentation won’t be effective and you may confuse them or drive them away. This fact belies your professed view of Calvinism with your pragmatic understanding that we have a role in persuading and calling on sinners to respond affirmatively to the drawing of the Holy Spirit. If you truly believe the whole Calvinist ball of wax is the gospel, why don’t you give it all to them right off the bat?

If you are consistent enough to give them the whole Calvinist view (which I believe has to be a tiny number) when you share the gospel, I’m also willing to bet you don’t see much fruit.

Do I lose my bet? Am I wrong?

    Don Johnson

    Layman,

    No, you won’t lose your bet. Calvinists won’t tell the whole truth because deep down in their hearts they really don’t believe in “total inability and irresistible grace.” They believe them in their minds but not in their hearts. As such “their speech betrayeth them.”

      Mark

      Would anyone say to the unbeliever that salvation is “offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour?” Cf. BF&M – Salvation

      Also, on stating “Jesus died for YOU” see: http://hereiblog.com/gospel-jesus-died-for-you/

    Bill Mac

    That’s because most of us don’t believe Calvinism is the Gospel. So unless you always share your entire set of doctrinal beliefs with people when you share with them, don’t blame us for not doing the same. It is unfortunate that you keep implying that we are deceiving people when we preach the Gospel. When I tell people to repent and believe, I mean it. To all of them. When I tell them salvation is available to all who will accept it, I mean it. To everyone listening.

    Disagree with Calvinism all you like. But please don’t accuse us of being duplicitous.

      Don Johnson

      Bill Mac,

      “Salvation is made available to all who will accept it.” Does that not give the impression that salvation is made available to all? When in fact according to Calvinism it is only available to the “elect.”

      If someone said to me the local bank has $10,000 available for free to all who will accept it, I would think they had the money whether or not I went to collect. Let’s suppose I chose not to collect but my neighbor did. In the process of time I ask my neighbor if the bank really had the money available to all. He answered they only had enough to cover the ones who actually came and collected. I would feel I was lied to. Would you not?

      Norm Miller

      Bill Mac: There is a divergence of opinion anywhere we turn in these discussions. All Trads don’t agree on everything. All Calvinists don’t agree on everything. So, to the extent that anyone broad-brushes others — that does nothing to move the discussion forward. In fact, it’s counter-productive.
      The TS does note, however, significant differences extant within our SBC family. So many differences, in fact, that more than one patriarch has called for a discussion.
      As moderator of this blog, I would ask that ALL of us, and that means ALL (am I shouting? YES!) — that ALL of us would refrain from broad-brushing others, and also avoid satirical jibes, vindictive retorts, cutsie comebacks, generalized claims sans documentation, bomb-throwing, logical fallicies, etc.
      I know how easily the flesh is drawn into these matters.
      Any serious Christian blogger knows well the battle that can rage between one’s head and heart, and then the keyboard.
      Some have opined that, while these threads of “irreconcilable differences” progress, the world is going to hell. That is a point well-taken. But the point does not preclude the need for this discussion. The discussion is about the Gospel itself — that message we are to be proclaiming to the world.
      That said, the discussion is needed; the folderol is not.
      And, Bill Mac, this post isn’t pointed at you, Brother. It is far more representative of my first two weeks as moderator, and is aimed at all who will read this.
      Thank you for your input. — Norm

        Bill Mac

        I appreciate your words. And I appreciate disagreement, even strong disagreement with Calvinism. I really think dialog needs to take place, such as what I have enjoyed with some on here. Some, not so much. But most, as you observe, has not been dialog, but diatribe, from both sides.

        I appreciate brother Ronnie’s post, even if I disagree with some of his conclusions. For what my own opinion is worth, I feel like the two prior posts were so polemical that, as you can see, they did not foster much productive discussion.

        Thanks

      SBC Layman

      Bill Mac,

      You said “That’s because most of us don’t believe Calvinism is the Gospel.” Quite honestly, I am thrilled to hear you say that. I have often heard others equate Calvinism with the Gospel. Based on your beliefs, yours’s is a fair answer. You could infer that I’m implying duplicity with my comments, and I guess if a person believes that Calvinism is the Gospel, I am. If not, then no. I can get along with those who believe as yo do. I can get along with those who don’t. But I have a more difficult time with those who are convinced Calvinism is the Gospel.

      But let me say, I do share all of the Gospel as I understand it when I share. I don’t leave anything out in how I believe scripture teaches that a man is saved.

        Darryl Hill

        If when someone says “Calvinism is the Gospel” they mean that a person has to agree to and accept TULIP in order to be saved, I would wholeheartedly agree with that. I do not know if that is what Charles Spurgeon, for example, meant when he said that, but I do not think that is what he meant. I do believe that calvinism is scripturally well supported, otherwise I would denounce it.

        Salvation isn’t about knowledge per se, other than a knowledge of who God is and what Jesus Christ has done for all who believe and a knowledge of the fact the the person is a sinner and is commanded to repent and trust in what Jesus Christ has done in bearing our sin, bearing God’s wrath, rising again, and returning one day. The depths of theology are not prerequisites to salvation. If it were, we’d all be in trouble.

        At the age of 12, I knew very little of theology, but I was told who Jesus Christ is, what He has done, and was very much aware of my own sinful and lost condition.

        So, bottom line, I do not believe agreement to a soteriological system is required for salvation, whether than system is calvinism, arminianism, or traditionalism.

    Adam Embry

    “When you share the gospel with someone, do you tell them Christ didn’t die for everyone?” No, why would I? I don’t understand why that would be part of a Gospel presentation. My point in sharing the Gospel is to call people to repent of their sins and believe in Christ.

    “Do you tell them that if they are elect, they will come to believe in Jesus regardless of what you or they do?” No, because no one is saved with out repentance and belief. I have yet to meet a hyper-Calvinist. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but I just haven’t met one and I don’t see Calvinist authors leaning in that direction. If there is one out there, then that would concern me, as well.

    “Do you tell them to sit tight and wait for regeneration?” No, as no one is saved without repentance and belief. This is what motivated William Carey to head to the mission field and this is what motivates me to share with others, as well.

    “Do you tell them if they are non-elect, there is nothing they can do anyway and not to sweat it?” Again, no. I have yet to read or speak to a Calvinist who would believe this.

    “Or do you call them to repent and believe?” Yes, every sermon, and every time I have a talk with a non-Christian about the Gospel.

    “Why not give them the whole enchilada? Why not tell them they may be forever outside the fold up front?” To be honest, this doesn’t make sense to me, as I have no clue who will repent and believe just as I have no clue who is one of God’s elect. Neither Calvinist nor Arminian knows. I do not know God’s eternal plans, but I know he’s called me as a minister of the Gospel to call people to repent and believe and he calls sinners to repent and believe. Dr. Eric Hankins has said, “I felt that the underlying criticism of the Sinner’s Prayer from New Calvinists is related to the fact that they do not believe that all people can pray that prayer because some people are hopelessly condemned.” Similarly, in speaking about children and evangelism, Pastor Tim Guthrie has said, “The reason for this is that the author [Jared Kennedy of Sojourn Church in Louisville], and those who think like him [Calvinists], actually believe that you are either born being saved or you are born with NO hope of ever being saved. No decision is required. It is a settled thing with God and Jesus only died for the elect. So you are either elect at birth or lost, damned to Hell for eternity.” I have never viewed an objection to the sinner’s prayer this way and have yet to meet a Calvinist, whether “new” or “old”, who believes that one is born saved and does not need to repent and believe.

    “If you truly believe the whole Calvinist ball of wax is the gospel, why don’t you give it all to them right off the bat?” This doesn’t make sense to me, as the Gospel is the factual truth that God is holy, we are sinners, Christ died to save sinners, and we must repent and believe in him. The Gospel is that Christ saves! Calvinism is an attempt to systematize and present a cogent form of doctrine based on Scripture. Everyone does systematic theology whether we like to admit it or not, whether we’re Traditionalists, Calvinists, Molinists, or Arminians. There’s no equating the Gospel with Calvinism or Traditionalism or Arminianism, etc.

    Others on both sides (it’s awful I have to put it that way!) might disagree with me, but that’s my opinion. Hope this helps with some of your questions. They were honest questions. The best thing to do is take time reading books from both sides with your Bible open, your heart in a humble place, and then ask the Lord to help you understand and come to a conclusion on the differences. Usually a “perspectives” or “views” book helps, where different positions are put forward for the reader. There are godly men and great arguments on both sides, so it’s not an easy thing to work through. Keep the love of God at the center, keep trusting in his Word, and always remember that Jesus saves sinners.

    Blessings,
    Adam

      Stephen Garrett

      Dear Adam:

      Hardshells are Hyper Calvinists as you describe. I battle with them all the time in my “Old Baptist” blog.

      Blessings,

      Stephen Garret

        Adam Embry

        Stephen,

        I’m glad to see that you as a Calvinist are confronting hyper-Calvinist views where you live. I live in Louisville and have never met a hyper-Calvinist.

        Blessings,
        Adam

    wingedfooted1

    “When I tell them salvation is available to all who will accept it, I mean it”

    That statement is misleading in and of itself.

    2 Corinthians 4:2…..
    Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by SETTING FORTH THE TRUTH PLAINLY we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

    It would be more biblically correct to say “that salvation is available to all, but only obtained by those who accept it.”

    Matthew 10:27…
    What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.

    The gospel of calvinism is never “proclaimed from the roofs”, but rather kept behind closed doors.

    “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” Institutes – book 3, chapter 21, section 5

    If calvinism is true, I can only hope God “comes clean” at the Great White Throne. Those who are being damned to the eternal flames are entitled to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

      Darryl Hill

      wingedfooted, it is not misleading in the least because it is 100% true and it is also 100% what a calvinist believes. Whoever believes will be saved, period.

        Eddie

        Could I say the Calvinist view is “whoever is saved will believe” with reference to unconditional election and irresistible grace?

Steve Martin

“Faith is a gift of God.”

That certainly is biblical. Faith is the conduit through which God grace flows to the one “who hears the gospel”.

Not everyone hears. Who is faith meant for? “Those who have ears to hear it.”

“God desires that all would come to a living faith” “Christ died for the whole world.”

These are biblical statements. We believe them.

The trouble is in ‘man’s reason’. Trying to resolve ALL the tensions in Scripture.

Some things are actually above us and our reason. This is the downfall of Calvinism and many other Christian traditions.

Mike Davis

Succinctly, by double talk, I specifically and only mean thinking, praying or speaking in a way that obscures the inescapable harsh realities of Calvinism…if one is unwilling to face them and accept them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist.

But by designating a catch-phrase like “double-talk” as a pat response to anything in the other side’s argument that contains tension (like compatibilism, for example) you give the impression that you are defining the rules for the debate, which you are tilting in your favor. Every position except perhaps the one of the universalist or open theist has paradoxical beliefs which could be vulnerable to the charge of “double-talk” as you define it.

For example, the belief by any non-Calvinist (Traditionalist or otherwise) that holds to eternal security contains tension unless held by someone who is a universalist or a Zane Hodges-type non-lordship salvation adherent. Anyone else has to hold in tension the belief that they have free will but God will make sure that free will does not cause them to fall away.

Your own belief that God gives everyone faith but that this faith is only hypothetical and does not result in salvation for all is full of tension even for some Traditionalists. You are forced to say that all faith does not save, but the only faith I know of that does not save is described in the book of James as a professed faith which is not genuine. Obviously this type of faith would not be a gift from God. The faith God gives is saving faith, so obviously everyone is not given that gift.

So you still have views that are paradoxical, and charging the other side with “double-talk” for holding paradoxical views is not consistent.

    Norm Miller

    Mike: The inconsistency you note does not negate the evidence of Calvinists’ double-talk. If Trads are doing it — point taken. But the point taken should not be perceived as exonerating Calvinists’ double-talk. — Norm

      Mike Davis

      Norm,

      But I’m not saying that the tension in the Traditionalist view of eternal security is double-talk. Yes, I am pointing out the conflict in the view, which is fair, and is something a Wesleyan Arminian would probably do also. But I’m not saying that both sides engage in double-talk; I’m saying both sides have some views that contain tension and are difficult to resolve. I just don’t think repeating the phrase “double-talk” helps either side defend their viewpoint.

        Norm Miller

        Ahhh. Clarity is a wonderful thing, Mike. Thank you. Also, thank you for your measured tone. I’m glad for that, too. — Norm

    Darryl Hill

    Agreed Mike. There are many things in Scripture which are paradoxical or have to left in tension. God’s very nature is an example. As a matter of fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals accuse all Orthodox Christians of “double-talk” in regard to Trinity. We say God is 3 persons in 1 being. They say that is double talk and logically impossible to be simultaneously 3 and 1. Yet, that is what Scripture teaches us about the nature of God. Another example would be that God loves justice (Psalm 37), which requires the death of the wicked, but He takes no pleasure in their death according to Ezekiel 18.

    I think much of the mention of double talk is not helpful to the debate, though I can see how someone could come to that conclusion, especially if they disagree with a particular position. But, as you’ve pointed out Mike, every position Christians take must leave certain things in tension. So, it’s not helpful for that reason.

Mike Davis

Every informed Calvinist knows that essential to Calvinism is, God does not love all of the non-elect lost enough to provide them with what would inviolably and unalterably grant them eternal life.

God loves all humans enough to provide the cross. As to the fact that all are not provided with ” what would inviolably and unalterably grant them eternal life “, unless you are a universalist, you would have to say the same thing. You may seek to resolve it by claiming that everyone is given a semi-equal “chance” to overcome their hostile sin nature and respond (not an equal chance because some grow up in cultures more open and exposed to the gospel than others), but you still have to admit that most are not saved. Calvinists just have a different explanation for why all are not saved, and you are more comfortable saying everyone had a free choice and those who believed could have resisted. But these differences do not indicate that Calvinism diminishes God’s love for the lost or the Calvinist’s love for the lost.

    Don Johnson

    Mike,

    “God loves all humans enough to provide the cross.” Does that mean Christ died for the sins of everyone?

      Mike Davis

      Don,

      For the short answer, I would say yes. Do you want the long answer, or is that enough? ;^ )

      Norm,

      I couldn’t resist putting a smiley-face punctuation mark.

        Norm Miller

        Quite alright, Mike ;^>
        Someone noted recently on this blog the propensity to punctuate hurtful remarks w/a smiley emoticon. That sort of emoticon use I find insulting. It’s as if the commenter thinks the emoticon makes their ‘knife-in-the-kidney’ OK. Your commentary, however, isn’t like that. Thank you. — Norm

Luther Jones

In various ways in this post, Ronnie Rogers has demonstrated grace and I genuinely appreciate that. I especially appreciate his recognition that his previous statement “The God of Calvinism” was inappropriate. Thank you for your humility in recognizing this.

However, in some areas of this article, Ronnie Rogers has been less than gracious. I point you to the fact that he has stuck to his guns that Calvinists cannot have a genuine love for all the lost in the world. But digging in your heals on this point, in reality, makes you liable to the various rude charges that were leveled against you by Calvinists previously. You are showing now that those charges were justified about you. I see your accusation as contentious and deserving of rebuke. Your arguments are no different than others who claim that Calvinism leads logically to God being the cause of evil. They may think it but saying it is rude. I thought we were going to get beyond this name-calling. For instance:

You say that my Calvinism logically leads to me not being able to have saving love for all the lost, and I say to you that your theology of faith being a condition of salvation logically leads to man being the Captain of his soul and to robbing God of glory in our salvation. You say you’re logically correct. I say I’m logically correct and we get no where!!!!! But what you and I are actually doing is name-calling. It is immature, not fitting for Christians.

So I would ask for you, Ronnie Rogers, and those who AGAIN(!) posted this slander against Calvinists (Norm Miller, et al) that if any of you truly have genuine concern for unity among SBC Calvinists and Traditionalists, that you repent of this slander, and keep this rudeness to yourself. Otherwise, it seems to me that you and SBCtoday have no genuine concern for unity but rather slander of Calvinists is okay with you. I call your comments about our love for the lost slander and drivel and it promotes disunity in the body of Christ. I further call it immature name-calling. That is what it is and if you, Norm Miller, do not wish for immature name-calling to be lashed back at Traditionists, you would be wise to stop posting slanderous comments within posts. Otherwise, you really should expect similar rude, immature slanderous comments to said back in response, since we too are still in these bodies of death and rude, immature, slanderous comments to sinners will often be returned with equally rude, immature, slanderous comments. You should expect to receive similar to what you dish out.

-Luther

    Norm Miller

    Unfortunately, Luther, I have come to expect such responses from a few as you note — the command to ‘turn the other cheek’ notwithstanding. If some are offering “rude, immature, slanderous comments” as you claim, does that make it right for others to respond similarly? No, of course not. We are all bound by the Golden Rule. However, I can only enforce it upon my own life.
    Granted, as moderator I can limit who says what and when on this blog, but I am otherwise powerless to rule others’ hearts. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Therefore, your claim that the restraint of some will also restrain others is baseless. Some may follow the good example, but not all. Ultimately, individuals choose how they will respond. Even if equally reactionary, it’s still a choice.
    Further, it’s always been interesting to me that, when someone says, “He did it, too,” in reference to some bad action, the accuser is also accusing himself with the inclusive term, “too.”
    I agree it’s past time to move beyond name-calling. Let’s you and me covenant together to do this. — Norm

      Luther Jones

      Have I understood you correctly, Norm, that whether the comments are slanderous against Calvinists or not, you will keep them as is, and you instruct me and others not to speak equal slander in return, for that would be wrong. Or in other words, Traditionalists authors here may well have spit in my Calvinist face, and my continue to spit in my Calvinist face, but I should just turn the other cheek. You will continue to allow Traditionalist authors to spit in my Calvinist face and it would be wrong of me to spit back in return. You may well be correct about all this Norm to return evil for evil. But even so, forgive me if I refer to the stand you are taking as blatantly hypocritical. Wouldn’t it be better, Norm, if you posted only comments that followed the Golden Rule? That way Calvinists would have no excuse for returning evil for evil.

        Bob Hadley

        Luther,

        Is it remotely possible that “slanderous remarks” are in the eye of the beholder and not the intended purpose of the writer?

        Here is the way I look at that and I have seen it FULL FORCE… if something you say is “slanderous” I may attempt to address the issue without attacking the messenger. I cannot help WHAT you say; I can only HELP how I respond. If I do not like what you or SBC Today or whoever is doing, then it is NOT my place to correct THEM, it is my responsibility to control MY response.

        There are sites I do not frequent because I know what to expect from them. It is what it is brother!

        ><>”

        Norm Miller

        No, you missed several of my points, Luther. Your apparent desire to move past name-calling isn’t evident in your inference that I am a hypocrite. Even if I am, what good does it do to call me that? Does it make me want to converse with you further? Does it make me see the error of my way? No — the charge potentially puts me on the defensive.
        Part of the blog culture is to let people have their say. Almost none blogging here, myself included, has always exemplified the best of a Christlike spirit. Almost all have let their carnality show. Nonetheless, I sense the need to let the conversation flow even if some do say some things in less than the best way.
        This forum is perhaps the poorest way to have such discussions. That’s why we all need to re-double our efforts to use the best qualifiers we can, to abstain from generalizations, and avoid like the plague impugning the motives of others when we ought to be assuming the best. Again, I ask you, Luther, to covenant with me in doing these things. — Norm

          Luther Jones

          I certainly would want to covenant with you, Norm, in this good thing… if only I was convinced that the Calvinist-bashing would stop.

          This may be off topic, but I remember years ago voting against a Pastor because after I pressed him on whether he thought Faith came before or after Regeneration, he said “before”, so I cast my vote against him. I still believe Regeneration comes before faith, but I also believe that that man became the best Pastor God has ever used in my life. I guess my point is don’t judge a book by its cover. AND: I love to work along side non-Calvinists brothers. BUT I don’t appreciate being continually bashed by them.

          And so, Norm, if you were to covenant with me to disallow articles from being published which bash Calvinists, I would certainly covenant with you as you requested. But if you cannot disallow Calvinist-bashing articles from being published… well… we are then at an impasse.

            Norm Miller

            I guess one man’s definition of bashing is different than another’s. Also, I have made an appeal for ALL to behave themselves here, both in my original post about two weeks ago, and today as well.
            The covenant was between you and myself. Let’s you and me make the covenant. — Norm

            Luther Jones

            I am speaking about the articles themselves. You can call us all to behave ourselves, but such an appeal seems disingenuous if the articles posted themselves bash Calvinists. That is the root cause of the problems as I see it.

              Norm Miller

              Luther: I don’t write the articles themselves, and I have a balance to achieve between opining and bashing. I guess in this case, one man’s opining is another man’s bashing. You say “tomato,” and I ask, “Is it green and fried?” I have met Ronnie Rogers, and I would never characterize him as a theological basher. He shared his opinions, used the Bible to support them, and concluded today’s post like this:

              “Although the forum and significance of our discussions may lead some to think that my love and respect for Calvinists diminished with my migration from Calvinism, but that is not the case. It was only my love for Calvinism that changed—see the introduction to my book. If we can listen and examine honestly our beliefs in light of Scripture, and graciously respond in agreement or disagreement, I think our reflections about God will be more honoring in five years. If we cannot discuss these important and difficult issues christianly, then the future does not seem so rich. To remove contrary opinions is to remove one of God’s greatest teaching tools. To eliminate contrary opinions is to create a monarchy.
              I hold no ill will for anything said to me or about me and pray the same can be said of you, and that is what I assume. Thank You!”

              Doesn’t sound like “Calvinist bashing” to me. — Norm

            volfan007

            Luther,

            You seem to be saying that any challenge to the beliefs of Calvinists is slander and name calling. In other words, you seem to be accusing anyone, who disagrees with Calvinism, or who tries to make a point of disagreement with Calvinism, or who even questions some of the beliefs of Calvinists, is somehow being mean to Calvinist.

            Brother, just because someone doesnt agree with you, doesnt mean that they are slandering you, or accusing you. And, just because someone tries to point out the logical conclusions of your belief, doesnt mean that someone is trying to be ugly, nasty, and mean to you.

            David

            Luther Jones

            Not at all 007. You have misunderstood me. Go right ahead and disagree, but how about doing it agreeably.

            But you guys accuse us of having no genuine love for the lost. It is a wicked thing to say about fellow Christians, honestly. Shameful.

            volfan007

            Luther,

            Where have I said that Calvinists have no love for the lost?

            David

            volfan007

            Luther,

            I do wonder how a Calvinist, who has truly become a full fledged Calvinist, could possibly say that God loves the non Elect, who are predestined for Hell, and who have no hope of salvation, whatsoever. I have to wonder if you could say that God “loves” those people, when His will for them is to face eternal damnation, because they’re under His wrath, and He hates the wicked.

            Now, you see, Luther, this is what I truly think about Calvinism carried out to its logical conclusion…not that I hate you….not that I’m trying to be mean to you….but, it’s what I see as the logical conclusion of a Calvinist’s beliefs.

            Peace and Love,

            David

Dean

If I say I am going to pay all my bills but really mean I’m going to pay all my bills I pay then I have been deceitful.
If I say all of you can respond to the Gospel today on a radio broadcast when I really mean only the elect can respond I have been deceitful. I have not honestly portrayed what I believe.
I do not have to share my entire system of belief when soul winning but I must be honest. This is why some reformed preachers have stopped giving invitations. Some have said they are not being honest and it’s unfair to pretend to offer to some what God has not truly ordained with an invitation.

    Luther Jones

    Actually, I think many Reformed people have stopped giving invitations because 1. it is a practice that did not appear in the church until very recently and 2. Charles Finney introduced it, and I don’t think there are many Reformed people who are fans of Finney nor fans of extra-biblical practices.

      Norm Miller

      I’ve often observed, Luther, that Calvinists must not think much of God’s sovereignty if they avoid the public invitation. Some Cs have responded to that remark in shock and horror. My response to Calvinists’ disdain for the alleged ‘psychological manipulation’ by some pastors’ and evangelists’ preaching is the same: No evangelist can manipulate the non-elect into heaven any more than he can manipulate the elect into hell. Similarly, if the elect are incontrovertibly bound for heaven, and the non-elect, to hell, then, for the Calvinist, the public invitation is of no consequence either way — thus my ‘tongue-in-cheek’ observation that Calvinists must not think much of God’s sovereignty. Of course, they do. But for those who see the Scriptures replete with God’s inviting others unto himself: I suspect they are in superlative company to also invite all others into fellowship with God. — Norm

        Bill Mac

        Norm:

        If who gets saved and who does not were the only issue, I think you would be right about altar calls, which I distinguish from invitations. But there is the matter of filling the church rolls with unbelievers. Whether this is the fault of misuse of the altar call is debatable, but there can be no doubt, with roughly 11 million Southern Baptists being mostly imaginary, that something has gone wrong, and that filling the church rolls with the unsaved is not a good thing. Calvinists are, perhaps, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but as we saw with the Sinner’s Prayer resolution, it does bring the issue up for discussion.

          Norm Miller

          I agree, Bill. I suspect that those who want to inflate the church rolls thru ‘easy believe-ism’ and for the sake of bragging rights at the local associational meeting have motivations I don’t find in Scripture. However, I think some Cs may overreact to that to the extent that they provide fodder for the kind of observation I made above.
          — Norm

            Bill Mac

            CALVINISTS OVERREACT? HOW DARE YOU!! (INSERT IMPRECATORY PRAYERS HERE)

            ;)

        wingedfooted1

        Norm,

        On a reformed blog, the topic of discussion was….

        “Tell ’em to choose Christ, to turn from sin, to repent, to believe, to come.. knowing only the elect ever will..”

        Ironically, someone responded to that saying…

        “Sometimes I think that we’re too afraid that some of the non-elect might be saved by accident.”

        God forbid!!!

          Norm Miller

          Hi Mercury (wink): I would suspect that the “non-elect might be saved by accident” was intended to be light-heartedly comical. It does bring up another of my comments to those who espouse C-ism. “If you believe there are people out there who cannot say no to the Gospel, then you ought to be out there telling everyone you can about the Gospel so as to more rapidly find those who cannot say no.”
          Now, let me hasten to add that there are Trads and Cs who are avid witnesses. And I would say that virtually no believer anywhere witnesses as often as they should.
          I once said to my former pastor, a C, that I didn’t know of many Cs who were avid personal witnesses. He said, “Well, that depends upon what you mean by ‘avid personal witness.'”
          My conversations with him on this and other matters is why he is my former pastor. — Norm

      Don Johnson

      Luther,

      I think Peter was the first to use an invitation in Acts 2:40 “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

      The “many other words” Peter spoke were after his sermon. Talk about long invitations.

      “Testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves” was Peter really pleading with the people to save themselves? I wonder if this is where Finney got his ideas?

        Luther Jones

        I would think that most Calvinists speak similarly to Peter here. I know that most of my messages in church call for them to repent and believe the Gospel. However, I feel no need to ask them to bow their heads, raise their hand and repeat a prayer after me. Nor that they have to come down to the altar to pray. That is the “extra-biblical” stuff I was talkiing about. I’m not saying doing those things is wrong, but it is not found in Peter’s message, nor in the New Testament. But it is found only in the last 100+ years in the church, and was begun by a man, Finney, of sub-biblical preaching.

Dean

Actually I know what I’m speaking of because this is the testimony of the very pastors of whom I speak. One repented in front of his church saying he could not pretend to offer for all what intended for the elect. He was concerned for his integrity.

JohnS

The underlying presupposition that Dr. Rogers has in mind is that it is possible for us humans to know who is elect and who is not. He asks how I can have a love in my heart for someone God has not elected. How can I know who God has and has not elected? I can’t. Therefore, I go forth loving all humans as best I can and evangelizeing everyone who will listen to me. I let God save whosoever He wills.

    Don Johnson

    John,

    Does God want you to love people whom He does not? Doesn’t God only love those He “elected”? Remember that Jacob – Esau thing Calvinists so enjoy pointing out. Is it possible to love more than God?

carl peterson

Thank pastor Rogers. i think this post is much appreciated because of its information and humility. Let’s go on to some parts of the post though.

“God is the sole determiner that certain lost people cannot be saved and therefore must perish in hell.”

No. You forgot about man’s willful sin. That is the real determiner if man goes to hell or not. It is man’s sin and his will not to believe and accept Jesus as Lord. God might choose not to save all but that is different than God being the sole determiner of one going to hell.

“My brother, according to Calvinism, God loved you with a passionate salvific love, which unalterably resulted in your salvation. However, the other side of that coin is that God withheld that same kind of love opportunity from others—the non-elect. Therefore, Calvinism’s claim that God loves the non-elect different than the elect seems to be the understatement of time and eternity, eternally speaking that is.”

But this is just a problem for Christianity as a whole not just Calvinism. Let me take your position. In your position we have to accept the gift of God’s grace. We can reject it. But the problem is that God created some in a much much better place to want to receive the gift of God’s grace. It is easier (probably) to respond in faith to Christ if one lives in the USA bible belt and has a strong Christian family. But what about the boy who grows up in Afghanastan never hearing about Christ? Does God treat him the same as the boy who is told everyday of God’s love for him and is encouraged to accept Christ? Clearly no. So in your theology it seems that God plays favorites or gives ore grace to some than to others.

    Norm Miller

    Carl: Does your following comment negate election? — Norm
    “No. You forgot about man’s willful sin. That is the real determiner if man goes to hell or not. It is man’s sin and his will not to believe and accept Jesus as Lord. God might choose not to save all but that is different than God being the sole determiner of one going to hell.”

      Dean

      Norm, if man’s will is the determiner of who goes to hell does it negate sovereignty as well? I do not believe this is in harmony with Calvin, Institutes book III chapter 23. “….Not all men are created with similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some , and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestined either to life or to death.”

      Man’s willful rejection of the Gospel has nothing to do with his damnation according to Calvin. He was born predestined to damnation in God’s soveriegnty. Dean

        carl peterson

        Dean,

        Okay Maybe I was caught up with Ronnie’s post which must be equally as wrong in your eyes. Yes in the end God is sovereign and chooses who goes to heaven or hell. But God did not determine men to go to hell. He did force them to go to hell. Mankind chose to reject God. So in the end they receive God’s judgement. But in God’s sovereign will He sends the sheep to heaven and the goats to hell. He is in charge. But unless teh Traditionalist believes God is not sovereign then he is in the same boat in this sense.

        I also believe that not all men created with an equal chance. I think that is just common sense which ever part of theological spectrum one is besides universalism. See my last post.

        However I think you need to read more of Calvin. Also look at the passage you cited. Calvin believes the God has foreknowledge of the fall of Adam and actually decrees it in his soveriegn will. Yes. God could have chosen to make a world in which Adam and thus all of mankind did not sin. However he also states “For the proper and genuine cause of sin is not God’s hidden counsel but the evident will of man,” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God) Calvin also states “See that you make not God the author of sin, by charging his sacred decree with men’s miscarriages, as if that were the cause or occasion of them; which we are sure that it is not, nor can be, any more than the sun can be the cause of darkness.” It seems that God, in Calvin’s and most Reformed theologian’s view(AS Piper has said), ordain sin but is not the cause of it. God is not the author of sin. But he does ordain it in his sovereign decree and will. So in the end man’s disobedience would be the cause of sin or the author of sin while God decrees (sovereingly) that the sin will take place. If God is sovereign and has perfect foreknowledge then again the Traditionalist has the same problem as the Calvinist. For the traditionalist (from what I have seen) would state that God is sovereign and knew from all eternity who would sin and who would not and who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. God in His sovereign will chose to make the world as it is. So God ordained it to be so. The only way around this is to state that God is not sovereign and His foreknowledge is limited. Open theology would be one answer. But I think neither the Calvinist nor the Traditionalist wants to go there.

        And just so you can see how things went along in Reformed historical theology:

        The Westminster Confession also argues for the liberty and will of creatures.

        “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” — Westminister Confession of Faith, 3.1.

        So God ordains in his Sovereign will but is not the author of sin or man’s fall into hell.

          holdon

          “God could have chosen to make a world in which Adam and thus all of mankind did not sin.”

          So, how was He so stupid to not do that? Because, that seems to be the implication here. If He truly had that possibility, He must be a “monstrous” God (god), making a faulty product, and ensuring the faults would come about, then salvaging only some, whereas He would have the possibility to save all…..

          In other words: how do you know that God had that possibility to make a world in which Adam would not sin? On what basis can you say this?

      carl peterson

      No. God elects to choose some to have grace upon. How would that change anything.

        Dean

        Carl, you said that man’s will is the real determiner of who goes to hell. Calvinism teaches some are created to be sent to heaven and some are created to be sent to damnation. In the system man’s will has nothing to do with it. It is God’s sovereign choice. Such are created for the purpose of being sent to hell. They were fashioned with damnation in mind.

          carl peterson

          See my post above. It clears up things.

        Norm Miller

        Carl: As has been demonstrated here repeatedly with quotes from the Institutes, Calvin espouses double-predestination: some elect for heaven, and some, hell. So, if such was an election from the foundation of the world, how is it that man is the “real determiner” of his eternal fate? Seems to me the “real” determination has already been made for those who will reject. — Norm

          carl peterson

          Norm,

          Also see my response above. But double predestination is just that if God chooses some to put his grace upon then he does not choose others. It is not that He chooses some to go to hell. At least not in that way. He does not cause or is not the author of the rejection of some of Christ.

          Look at it this way. Let’s say that I know that someone is going to run a red light and I know I could stop him before he did it. But I do not stop him. Am I causing that person to run the red light? Or am I just not stopping him from doing it? The person could choose not to run the red light but he chooses to run it. I did not cause him to run it. It was the man’s choice.

          The sinner chooses to sin. The sinner chooses to reject Christ. He could chose Christ. That is there is Nothing that stops that person from accepting Christ except that person and his will. Scripture describes man as dead in his sin so mankind without God’s grace WILL choose to sin and reject God. but again this is a choice by man. The man will not choose Christ because he will not will it.

          Now we could talk about nurture and nature or man’s biology and environment. Maybe there are many factors in a man’s environment that will help him not choose Christ. Same for his biology. But again both the TRaditionalist and the Calvinist have to deal with these objection so i will leave them alone.

          The main point is that God does not cause man to sin. He ordains that it will take place in his sovereign will that somehow includes the choice (I believe free choice) of man.

            Don Johnson

            Carl,

            “The sinner chooses to reject Christ.” Can you explain how someone can reject Christ if Jesus did not die for them? If Jesus didn’t die for the sinner there is nothing to reject or believe. What is it people reject about Christ, other than He dying to save them?

            Norm Miller

            Sorry, Carl, but I don’t take your point very well. Calvin apparently doesn’t either. Double-predestination is clear from Calvin’s own writings. — Norm
            “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:21:5)

            Daniel Wilcox

            Carl,

            “Ordain” means to “Order or decree (something) officially.” and
            to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law : enact Mirrian-Webster.

            If God “ordains” sin, then God is the ultimate cause.

            Please, re-read the book of James, etc. God not only doesn’t ordain sin, he does not tempt humans.

            The problem with all of this isn’t our sin, but the concept of Unconditional Election
            where in God ordains us to sin.

            Thanks for the dialog,

            Daniel Wilcox

            Luther Jones

            Daniel: The most wicked sins ever committed on this earth were ordained by God: That being the brutal murder of His Son.

            Eddie

            I might add to your stop light analogy: someone was about to run a red light that he didn’t know existed and is punished for doing it.

            Also, you say, “That is there is Nothing that stops that person from accepting Christ except that person and his will. But, without regeneration, he cannot accept, as per Calvinism. How doesn’t that go back to election? All have sinned and fallen short, but the elect are born again and able to believe, but all others have no chance. Sin is what caused all to need a Savior. Election is what determines who is saved. Thoughts?

        Dale Pugh

        You wrote:
        “You forgot about man’s willful sin. That is the real determiner if man goes to hell or not. It is man’s sin and his will not to believe and accept Jesus as Lord. God might choose not to save all but that is different than God being the sole determiner of one going to hell.”
        If it is true that man’s will to sin determines his eternal condemnation, then how does the logic follow that he has no will when it comes to his justification, sanctification, and glorification in Christ?
        If God has chosen not to save him, then that man has no “will” to sin; he is chosen to death. That is the logical and Scriptural conundrum in which you place yourself. If God chooses some and doesn’t choose others, He is exercising His choice to not choose them. That “non-choice” eliminates willful sin. That person does not sin willfully, he sins with no hope of ever doing any other thing. Thus, the will is not operative in his life. God has already set this man’s destiny.
        If God AND “willful” man are involved in the condemnation to hell, then how is it that God and the “willing” man are not involved in his salvation?
        That does not say that man can save himself, nor does it say that some semi-Pelagian understanding is proposed by my question. God and God alone can save. God and God alone is responsible for the grace to save. Man can only be involved through faith. Such faith is energized and made possible through God’s drawing or prevenient grace. The following verses are not randomly chosen, nor can one argue that they’ve been lifted from their context. They stand as plain examples of the fact that, just as human beings willfully sin (and we all do so), so they can willingly come to God (not something that all of us do).
        “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord”–2 Chronicles 12:14
        “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!'”–Psalm 40:16
        “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!”–Psalm105:3-4
        “After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord…”–James quoting Amos in Acts 15:16-17
        “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him”–Hebrews 11:6

          carl peterson

          Dale,

          “If it is true that man’s will to sin determines his eternal condemnation, then how does the logic follow that he has no will when it comes to his justification, sanctification, and glorification in Christ?”

          Who says that? The Calvinist i know state that God is sovereign but man still has a will and a choice. But I think it is a strawman to state that myself or Calvinists believe that man has no will when it comes to justification and sanctification. That is unless i am misunderstanding your question.

          “If God has chosen not to save him, then that man has no “will” to sin; he is chosen to death. That is the logical and Scriptural conundrum in which you place yourself. If God chooses some and doesn’t choose others, He is exercising His choice to not choose them. That “non-choice” eliminates willful sin. That person does not sin willfully, he sins with no hope of ever doing any other thing. Thus, the will is not operative in his life. God has already set this man’s destiny.”

          No. The man still will fully chooses to sin. Again no one is forcing man to sin except for himself. He wants to sin. He wants to reject Christ and not to believe in God. That is really part of what being dead in sin means. Mankind willfully rejects Christ not because God is stopping him from doing it. No man wants to sin. God just does not stop some from rejecting him. God chooses from all eternity to allow or ordain that some men stay in their own willful desire to sin.

          “If God AND “willful” man are involved in the condemnation to hell, then how is it that God and the “willing” man are not involved in his salvation?
          That does not say that man can save himself, nor does it say that some semi-Pelagian understanding is proposed by my question. God and God alone can save. God and God alone is responsible for the grace to save. Man can only be involved through faith. Such faith is energized and made possible through God’s drawing or prevenient grace. The following verses are not randomly chosen, nor can one argue that they’ve been lifted from their context. They stand as plain examples of the fact that, just as human beings willfully sin (and we all do so), so they can willingly come to God (not something that all of us do).”

          I agree with much of what you stated here except about previent grace. Man’s faith is the instrumental cause (I think that is the right wording) of salvation. ultimately salvation comes from the work of Christ. Christ purchased it on the cross. But man’s willful faith is part of what brings to man salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. I think where we differ is if salvation is a gift of God or is only the opportunity to have faith a gift of God. I say the former. Previent grace would be for the latter.

          And I have no problem with any of the verses you cited. the question is not if man needs to have faith or not but how man can have faith. Is faith a gift of God or is it man’s sole (or pretty much sole) responsibility after God has made the opportunity to have faith available?

            Dale Pugh

            Carl:
            You wrote–“Who says that? The Calvinist i know state that God is sovereign but man still has a will and a choice. But I think it is a strawman to state that myself or Calvinists believe that man has no will when it comes to justification and sanctification. That is unless i am misunderstanding your question.”
            Possibly I misunderstood your original statement. As I quoted you originally, you said “You forgot about man’s willful sin. That is the real determiner if man goes to hell or not. It is man’s sin and his will not to believe and accept Jesus as Lord. God might choose not to save all but that is different than God being the sole determiner of one going to hell.” I’m not setting up a straw man. I’m simply looking at the logic involved. To say that man is willfully sinful and yet unable to willingly respond to God in faith makes no sense to me. For God to “not choose” someone is a choice. I see that as an undeniable fact. God is choosing to reject some while electing others. And yet, as evidenced by the few verses above, the Bible speaks of people “seeking” Him.
            Is faith man’s sole responsibility or a gift of God? “Sole” is the key to your question. I see it synergistically, you, I take it, see it monergistically.

      Luther Jones

      Norm: I think Calvin answers your question:

      “…we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.”
      John Calvin- The Bondage and Liberation of the Will

        Norm Miller

        Luther: For those who appeal to Calvin, I will do the same. However, my final authority on these matters is not a man, living or dead, but the Living Word of God. A Calvinist once told me: “You don’t understand this because you haven’t read ‘The Bondage of the Will.'” I told him I didn’t realize the book was inspired. — Norm

          Luther Jones

          Norm: Of course, Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” is uninspired in that it is not part of Scripture and thus can contain errors. Even so, in that book, Luther presents every case one can imagine for freewill, and he presents them in such a way that seems that the doctrine of freewill is undefeatable. And then, each time, he absolutely demolishes the arguements for freewill. I don’t think there is an arguement left that can stand.

          I would encourage you, as your covenant-brother, to please read bondage of the will with an open mind, And see for yourself if a biblical case for freewill can actually be maintained. Don’t be afraid to read that book, brother. But I would bet that you cannot come away from it still holding the freewill arguments you hold now. None of them can stand. Read Luther’s book and judge his arguments in light of Scripture. I do not believe a single argument for free will can be bibilically maintained. Read his book and prove me wrong. I don’t believe it can bibically be done. Freewill is completely overthrown by Luther- biblically. Please read the book and prove him wrong.

            Daniel Wilcox

            Luther,

            I’ve read The Bondage of the Will by
            Luther, some portions a number of times.

            Consider how unbiblical and unChristlike this statement is:

            “Thus the human will is placed between the two like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills, as the psalm says: “I am become as a beast [before thee] and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f.]. If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it…”
            The Bondage of the Will

            Luther even claims God works evil in us!

            This was the book which made me realize the theological determinism of the Reformers wasn’t only tragic and wrong, but truly not biblical at all.

            Any relationship between John 3:16 and these statements are accidental.

            Besides, that Luther uses a level of vitriolic and personal attack against Erasmus that is very un-Christlike.

            Bondade is of the worst most hateful, books I’ve ever read.

            Thanks for the dialog,

            Daniel Wilcox

            Norm Miller

            How can we be sure Luther hadn’t spent a few hours in the the grog shop before penning certain portions of that book? — Norm

          Debbie Kaufman

          Sorry Norm, but I see the same things coming from you and those who are labeling themselves “Traditionalists”. Just read the posts, they speak for themselves. I can’t hardly sit here and read you talk about Calvin and Luther when you guys have done just as much damage. You haven’t killed anyone physically, just spiritually. And your tolerance level, based on those who have been ostracized and scorned in the SBC since the CR is staggering. You don’t care what methods are used. You just keep swinging your sword. And your boss Emir is among the best of the sword swingers. He’s just doing it using you Norm.

          Luther and Calvin were coming out from a system of Roman Catholicism. Indulgences, punishing ones self, people not having access to the Bible etc. Luther and Calvin began to read scripture for themselves and began to see what they teach.

          They were far from imperfect, they sinned. Alot. They committed sins with their tongues, their tempers, and they thought they were doing the right thing. Just as Paul thought he did the right thing for God by killing Christians.

          They were wrong in those actions, but they were dead on right in a lot of their theology. They were learning. They were wrong in some of their theology. Martin Luther however, began to see the doctrine of Justification. His mistake was wanting to cut the book of James out, but as I said they were learning, they were growing. They died before changing much. But, most of their theology, when compared to the Bible, is right. For the Bible being as rare as it was at that time, I would consider them for the most part, great theologians. I would consider Gill, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Fuller, even better. You can extol all of Calvin and his sins that you want, but I’m sorry, this blog and the people who run it according to actions, past, present and future, are no better.

            Daniel Wilcox

            Debbie,
            You say “You can extol all of Calvin and his sins that you want, but I’m sorry, this blog and the people who run it according to actions, past, present and future, are no better.”
            1. We aren’t to compare others to others but to Jesus Christ! When did Jesus ever burn people at the stake, etc. for not believing in infant baptism? Etc.
            2. How could Calvin positively know that God foreordained most humans to hell before the beginning of the universe, but
            yet not know Jesus doesn’t want us to kill other Christians?

            Please read a few biographies on Calvin. I can send you a list.

            Thanks for the dialog,
            Daniel Wilcox

            Eddie

            Debbie,

            Come on… Do you know Emir, or Norm? You shouldn’t presume to know their motives. Your comments were a great addition to the discussion without all of that… I do have a question though… Are there any non-Calvinist that you might esteem like you have with Gill, Bunyan, etc.? Are you reading to defend your position or are you looking at the whole debate?

        wingedfooted1

        Luther,

        “That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction”. – John Calvin – Institutes – book 1, chapter 18, section 1

        Are God’s eternal decrees limited by man’s choices? Or are man’s choices limited by God’s eternal decrees?

          carl peterson

          Wingfoot,

          Good question. Do you have an answer? It seems a question that both Calvinists and Tradtionalists have to answer. Is the Sovereign God who has all foreknowledge (he knows who will be saved and who will not be saved) limited by man’s choice or is man’s choice limited by God’s eternal decrees and foreknowledge? If you say that God is limited by man’s choices then what about His sovereignty? But if you state that man’s choices are limited then you restrict what man can choose. Or is God not limited by man’s choices and does God not limit what an can choose because of his sovereignty? Again I believe that God does not make it so that man cannot choose to have faith in Him. Non-regenerated man by nature just does not willfully want to choose God.

            Eddie

            Can I say that God limits man’s choices at least by one, his ability to choose whether or not he is one of the elect? And though God did not allow man choice in that matter, He holds man accountable (and its consequences). Giving man the choice to choose hell, and not heaven, may not be a choice but a sentence…

    Eddie

    Carl,

    “God might choose not to save all but that is different than God being the sole determiner of one going to hell.”

    I’m not sure I understand. If the only way one gets to heaven is by God’s pre-determined election, shouldn’t God’s pre-determined decision not to save be the primary reason why one goes to hell? Doesn’t that make sin secondary to God’s election? And, couldn’t that make sin the means by which God condemns?

    Is it really easier to believe in the bible belt? If this were the case then PK’s wouldn’t be so rebellious. Is God’s presence and truth any less in Afghanistan than America? I am not sure that we can confidently equate the “bible belt” with “belt of truth.” Perhaps we profess God more, but as we redefine and compromise God, we too reject God…

Dean

Carl, I believe God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Does He create all humans today as He did Adam and Eve or is birth today a result of procreation? As a non reformed believer the answer is that God loved the entire world enough that Christ died for the entire world. He has then commanded us as believers to go to the entire world and preach. We will be judged for being unfair and disobedient if we fail to do so. We will not judge God as being unloving. Our love is faulty not God’s. In His Name, Dean

    carl peterson

    Dean,

    Okay but the fact still remains that God has created countless many who lived their whole lives and died without knowing or even hearing about Christ. Others he created with opportunities to hear about it everyday. i do not blame God or judge God because of this. I just wanted to point out that God does not treat all the same.

    And God is the creator of ALL of Creation whether he creates out of dust (Adam) or if the rest of us who are created though procreation. It is still God’s creation. He is creator and we are the creation (along with the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees . . . )

      Dean

      Carl, I believe you are wrong. The great commission is God’s plan of sharing His love with the world not where we are born. I am grateful to be an American but I believe that I would have been born to my parents if they lived in a foreign land like New York City. :)))))) Dean

carl peterson

Don,

“The sinner chooses to reject Christ.” Can you explain how someone can reject Christ if Jesus did not die for them? If Jesus didn’t die for the sinner there is nothing to reject or believe. What is it people reject about Christ, other than He dying to save them?”

Well you must know that Reformed theology teaches that God does have a general call for all to repent and be saved. So they reject that call to salvation. They reject that Jesus Christ is Lord and savior. The Lord sacrifice was not for them because they will not or did not believe.

Don Johnson

Carl,

Sinners don’t just reject “repent and be saved.”

2 Thes. 2:10 “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” What TRUTH do people not receive which is able to save them. If Christ did not die for them, is there some other TRUTH people can receive or believe that would save them? I say no. What do Calvinists say?

Daniel Wilcox

Luther Jones says:

“The most wicked sins ever committed on this earth were ordained by God: That being the brutal murder of His Son.”

No, God did not ordain any human to commit any sin, certainly not to murder, certainly not to murder Jesus.

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

See, God doesn’t even tempt anyone to do evil.

God certainly doesn’t ordain (officially order, appoint, (Webster dictionary def. of “ordain”) anyone to do evil.

This blasphemes the name of God. Jesus in contrast emphasized that God loves everyone like a father, like a shepherd.

Thanks for the dialog,

Daniel Wilcox

    Luther

    Daniel-
    In light of your clear denial that God ordained the death of Jesus, can you please explain these Bible texts?:

    Acts 2:23: “Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.”

    Acts 4:27-28: “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

    Luke 22:22: “And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined…”

    Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

    Isaiah 53:10: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.”

      Daniel Wilcox

      Luther,

      God’s will for the atonement was based on his foreknowledge of humans choices to not only reject his love but to choose murder!
      In a similar matter as Joseph said in the Old Testament, his brothers meant his enslavement for evil, but God meant it for good.

      Several verses which emphasize God’s plan of response to human evil don’t make a case that God UNCONDITIONALLY ORDAINED evil.

      God responded to human evil and planned beforehand to turn every eventual human evil to ultimate good–the salvation of each and every human who would accept Jesus’ atonement.

      To argue otherwise, to argue that God originally came up murder and first ordered humans to commit such evil makes God out to be a moral monster.

      The latter also opposes most of the Old Testament and New Testament. All of the Bible emphasizes that God hates evil.

      No way did God unconditionally foreordain evil.

      Thanks for the dialog,

      Daniel Wilcox

Luther Jones

Fortunately, Calvinists and Traditionalists can agree on what the Gospel is, EXACTLY as the Apostle Paul defined the Gospel:
“That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

This statement is consistent with limited and universal atonement.

    Daniel Wilcox

    Hi Luther,

    You say, “Fortunately, Calvinists and Traditionalists can agree on what the Gospel is, EXACTLY as the Apostle Paul defined the Gospel:
    “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
    This statement is consistent with limited and universal atonement.”

    No, I disagree. Because “limited atonement” by definition means Paul’s statement eliminates most “ours”.

    Jesus didn’t die for “our” sins meaning all of those who totally reject such a denial of the Good News. Limited atonement means that only “your” sins were allegedly atoned for.

    L.A. claims God didn’t send Jesus to die for me and millions of other human beings, because we were foreordained to Hell.

    L.A. isn’t compatible with the Good News or with what Paul says.

    As mentioned yesterday: Billy Graham in the new July 2012 issue of Decision Magazine emphasizes “if you were the only person in the whole universe, Christ would have died for you.”

    That is the Good News–that God loves to save everyone and that Jesus died for everyone.

    Thanks for the dialog,

    Daniel Wilcox

      Luther

      Daniel,
      I am just going by Paul’s words in this text, not your spin on them. His words are that “Christ died for OUR sins.” He is writing to the Church and saying that Christ died for us. And that text is the best definition of the Gospel in the Bible.

        Daniel Wilcox

        Luther,

        You say, “He is writing to the Church and saying that Christ died for us. And that text is the best definition of the Gospel in the Bible.”

        Well, obviously that is NOT the Good News, for it leaves millions upon millions not in the church with no hope, (all those Calvinists claim were foreordained to damnation).

        “Christ died for OUR sins” means as John 3:16 says the whole world.

        Thank God.

        Thanks for the dialog,
        Daniel Wilcox

Alan Davis

“The church I pastor is a conservative biblical Baptist church, but does not require one to be a Calvinist or a non-Calvinist to be a member or leader. Further, my migration from Calvinism was over 13 years of reflecting, and I did not seek to push my Calvinism nor do I do so with my present position. For example, I train six-to-12 men a year in an intense training program and have not once sought to make someone agree with me on everything so long as their views are within the scope of biblical orthodoxy. Many Calvinists who have gone through the training will attest to this. I am merely on a quest to know God and help my church to do the same.”

Thank you Brother Ronnie for answer some of the questions. The above answer to my question really shines a light on how your church has worked together with Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike and also with a Calvinist pastor and a non-Calvinist pastor now. It seems it really can be done even in close quarters. Thank you for this insight.

Alan

LC Cook

I want to thank Ronnie R. for encouraging Biblicism (all sincere Christians desire to be “Bereans” & so we must acknowledge all who so-desire as brothers and sisters in Christ & encourage this in the spirit of honesty and respect). Along with Ronnie’s expositions, I have to both agree with him and also challenge the focus of systematic theology (specifically Calvinism) over/against a plain reading of the bible, particularly regarding the character of God. We cannot say we know God and then go on to describe someone entirely different than He is.
Most importantly–If God has a father’s heart (i.e., if God is love, as any of His children understand love), how could he not give to ALL the same loving opportunity to receive his gift of life? Furthermore, I am only compelled to give God glory for the doctine of His grace in the context of His clear intent to offer it freely to all, as his Word tells us he wills (1Tim 2, John 3). By contrast, what glory can be ascribed to a disingenuous “God of Love”, who never really offers life to all (or pretends to offer it, while holding it just out of reach of the non-elect)? This obviates the loving character of God who is merciful and speaks only the truth in love; He is the the author of all the attributes of love (joy, peace, kindness, patience…, greater than prophecy/knowledge….. all that remains when hope and faith are no longer required in His presence)–love is simply who He is and where He abides. ….oh yeah, also not puffed up/noisy–so I quit here.

Stephen Garrett

Good article! Thought provoking. Some of the discussion by those commenting has also been edigying. Makes me want to go and study and write some blog articles.

God wants this discussion to take place.

Blessings,

Stephen

Matt

Pastor Rogers,

I don’t know if I should be flattered or concerned with my ability to comprehend your sentiments or convey my own. Whatever the case may be, I feel that having one of my comments recieve two quotations and responses from you deserves a response of my own.

I guess I will start by addressing the meaning behind your words “passion” and “love” for sinners. I stand behind my original statements that my Calvinistic beliefs enspire me to love and have a passion for all sinners. Because I know that I deserved salvation no more than any other sinner, I can share the gospel with any individual with a sincere desire that God will work graciously within them as He did within me. If I believed that the distinction between others and myself was due to me being smarter than them, at least concerning how to effectuate salvation for myself, then I don’t think I would feel that same passion. Although I can directly attribute this love and passion to knowledge of my own depravity and the knowledge that God elected me unconditionally, based on nothing I ever did or any decision I ever made; you explain this as “human love”. You say, “this universal love in the heart of a Calvinist is not emanating from God and for that reason is human love, etc., but not God’s passionate salvific love.”

Since you have made it clear in your response that the “salvific love” you are referring to must “emanate” from God, I would agree with the fact that God does not love every individual sinner with a love that leads to salvation or a love that is shown in an attempt to save them. If God does not love every individual this way, then He does not love them, in this sense, through us. I would like to point out that this is not determined by the differing views on soteriology that we hold as Christians. The way that God loves through us is determined by God. He doesn’t love a sinner with a non-salvific love through a Calvininst and with a salvific love through a non-calvinist. The love that emanates from God, through His children, toward sinners is how it is. You cannot claim that the love that Calvinists feel for sinners is not emanating from God, you can only attempt to show that the way a Calvinist explains this love is not consistent with reality. This is not what I found in your article though.

To even say that the way Calvinists explain thier love is inconsistent with reality, without an accompanying argument disproving unconditional election, requires drasticly begging the question. If God does love all sinners salvificly, then Calvinist’s explanation of the love that emanates from God through them would be inconsistent with reality. If, however, God’s love for the non-elect is not salvific, the non-calvinists “salvific” love for them is merely “human” love and is inconsistent with reality.

To sum it all up, Calvinist theology has enspired a deep love for sinner’s within me. The determining factor of whether or not a Christians love for sinners, that emanates from God, is God’s salvific love or not is not determined by the soteriological views of the Christian; it is determined by God’s love for the sinner. The way in which we have explained the love we feel requires that we cannot both be correct. If you and other non-calvinists have been mistaken about the doctrine of unconditional election, then the love you feel for sinners is not the salvific love of God and the way in which you explain it is inconsistent with reality.

God bless

    Don Johnson

    Matt,

    2 Thes. 2:10 “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” What LOVE of the TRUTH do people not receive which is able to save them. If Christ did not die for them, is there some other TRUTH people can receive or believe that would save them? I say no. Is this not salvific love?

      Matt

      Don,

      The object of love in this verse is truth. This is not saying that the sinner is the object of God’s salvific love. It is saying that the people spoken of in this verse (“those who perish”) did not accept or embrace love for the truth; instead they embraced hatred of the truth. The truth that saves is God’s plan of salvation, the gospel of Christ. These people simply rejected, or did not embrace a love for the gospel. For this verse to say that these people were the recipiants of God’s salvific love, “those who perish” would have to be the object of the word love, which is not the case.

      God bless

        Matt

        Truth may also be understood to be a reference to Jesus Himself; in this case “those who perish” did not recieve a love for Jesus.

          Don Johnson

          Matt,

          How can that truth save them if Christ did not die for them. The verse doesn’t just say they didn’t receive the love of the truth. It also states that the truth would have saved them, had they received it. Again I ask, how could they be saved if Christ did not die for them? The text clearly states that they could have been saved.

            Matt

            Don,

            You use the word “could” in your comment referring to a contingency. If they had recieved a love for the truth then they could have been saved. There are, however, no contingencies in the mind of God. He knows what will happen, and everything else must simply be known as what will not happen. The atonement of Christ, to be sure, is of unlimited worth, and is able to save all for whom it was intended. The fact that these people perished is only proof that an omnicient God could never have intended it to save them. The text does not say that the atonement was intended to save them. It simply says that they did not recieve love of the truth, meaning love of the gospel or of Jesus Himself, which would result in salvation for those that did recieve it. They didn’t recieve it because they were morally incapable of recieving it. You can’t make this verse say more than it does.

            God bless

            Don Johnson

            Matt,

            No, the text says nothing of them being morally incapable of receiving the truth. In fact if anything it points out they are quite capable. Which is why God sends strong delusion. Doesn’t God know they are already in a state of “total inability”? Maybe He wanted to make sure no one slipped through the cracks.

            Verse 11 again points out the same truth “who believed not the truth.” It’s the TRUTH that is not believed. Please tell me what TRUTH is being rejected. That TRUTH must be Christ died for their sins. Because there is no other TRUTH whereby they might be saved.

            Matt

            Don,

            Sorry if I was unclear. The sentance where I mentioned moral incapability was not meant as part of my summary of what the text says that was in the preceding sentance. I was not trying to ascribe more to the verse than is there. I surely can’t find anything about them being morally capable of recieving it there either though.

            Verse 11 says, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie”. I hope we can both agree that this is not God actively working unbelief in thier hearts. This is obviously referring to verse 9, where it says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish”. Verse 12 seems to say that God’s reason for providentially sending this deceiver thier way is to further condemn those who do not believe the truth and have pleasure in unrighteousness. Now, I don’t want to add anything to this text that isn’t there, but does the fact that God sends someone to deceive them, for the purpose of condemning them, sound like he is loving them salvificly?

            Don Johnson

            Matt,

            God is longsuffering, but He is not forever suffering. There comes a point when His Spirit will not always strive with man. At which time He gives them over to a reprobate mind. These in 2 Thes. are those who have had their chance(s) to be saved and refused the love of Christ. Because they would not believe the truth, God makes sure they can’t believe by sending strong delusion. This would be the similar to what God did to some of the Jews in John 12:40. They were quite capable of believing, but God blinded them so they could not be converted. Which again brings up the question, if man is incapable of believing, why does God need to blind so they can’t believe?

            Matt

            Don,

            How many chances does a person get? How long did Saul hate Jesus and persecute Christians before God blinded him and called him to become a follower of Christ?

            So, let me get this straight, you believe that if a person doesn’t believe the gospel at first or within a certain amount of time, God makes them unable to believe? You say, “They were quite capable of believing, but God blinded them so they could not be converted.” Wow, I thought us Calvinists were supposed to be the ones who were overstating God’s work in salvation.

            Let’s consider what you are saying for a moment. God must have known that some of these people would have chosen to come to Him at a later time, but since they rejected Him initially, He blinded them to prevent them from coming to Him. If He did not know that some would come to Him, then there would have been no need to blind them to prevent it. This is flat out ridiculous. In an effort to make a verse say something that you want it to say (that all people have the moral ability to respond to God in faith or that God loves all people in a salvific sense) you have actually gone so far as to claim that God blinds people, who would have eventually followed Him, so that they could not follow Him.

            The fact that God sends a deciever thier way is not proof that they needed to be decieved to prevent them from believing the gospel, because as you claim, they were capable of believing. Verse 12 says God’s purpose was to condemn them. He was simply adding to thier condemnation. No true Calvinist will claim that God prevents people from following Him who would have done so, but you have. This really amazes me. Please rethink your exegesis on this verse brother.

            God bless

            Don Johnson

            Matt,

            You gave no response to John 12:40. Actually, I haven’t had any Calvinist respond to it. You say I need to rethink my exegesis of the verse, that may well be true. Please give your exegesis of John 12:40. I’m willing to be corrected.

            Matt

            Don,

            I would have to say that hardening spoken of in this verse was not an inward working of God disabling some ability to have a saving faith that was previously there. It is referring to external circumstances that God providentially brought about. The circumstances are pointed out in verse 42 where it says, “because of the pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” The second part of verse 40 is a hypothetical statement, and we clearly know that there are no hypotheticals in the mind of an omnicient God, so I would have to consider this statement to be anthropomorphic and not a litteral claim of what actually might have been. Also in verses 42 and 43 it says that some did believe, but because they were afraid that the Pharisees would put them out of the synagogue they would not confess Him “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” This sound to me like there was some sort of cognative belief, but it doesn’t sound like there was any saving faith present and I see no need to believe that there was ever an ability to exercise a saving faith there in the first place.

            God bless

            Don Johnson

            Matt,

            I must say that’s an interesting explanation of John 12:40. Who would have thought a prophecy quoted by Jesus was hypothetical.

            Could you also give some exegesis of Acts 28:25-28. I what to make sure I know what parts are hypothetical and which are true.

Robert

Matt wrote:

“I stand behind my original statements that my Calvinistic beliefs enspire me to love and have a passion for all sinners.”

Note that he says here that he loves and has a passion for ***all*** sinners. He also attributes this to his Calvnisitic beliefs. Apparently he just ignores the calvinistic doctrine of reprobation.

David observed earlier in this thread:

“I do wonder how a Calvinist, who has truly become a full fledged Calvinist, could possibly say that God loves the non Elect, who are predestined for Hell, and who have no hope of salvation, whatsoever. I have to wonder if you could say that God “loves” those people, when His will for them is to face eternal damnation, because they’re under His wrath, and He hates the wicked.”

Some determinists will become quite offended and outraged when calvinism and evangelism are discussed by non-calvinists and respond that they do in fact evangelize, they do love the lost, they do want to see everyone saved, etc.

Let me see if I can clearly articulate the problem the non-calvinist has here.

Our problem is not primarily that calvinists do not love the non-believers they are evangelizing (in some cases they do). No, our problem is deeper than that. Our problem is more clearly seen in David’s words concerning the “reprobate” (the determinist doctrine concerning non-believers whom God decided in eternity were not going to be saved and so God predestined them to live a life of sin and nonrepentance culminating in eternal punishment for living out their prescripted roles as “reprobates”).

Our problem is with consistent Calvinist theology which if true, makes God an extremely hateful person towards most of the human race (i.e. the “reprobates”).

A consistent determinist/calvinist recognizes that God decides beforehand who is saved and who is damned.

John Calvin himself provides a perfect example of this determinist belief:

“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation: and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death.” (quoted in Rodgers’ Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, p. 12).

A consistent calvinist also affirms that God takes pleasure in both saving the elect and damning the reprobates, again Calvin provides the perfect example:

“We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction.” (quoted in Rodgers’ Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, p. 13.)

So according to John Calvin, who well represents consistent calvinism, God decided beforehand who would be saved and who would be lost. And not only did he decide everyone’s eternal destiny before they existed, he also takes pleasure in both saving the elect and damning the reprobates.

The problem for the non-determinist, the non-calvinist is that being predecided to be elect may be great, but being predecided for damnation is hateful to the extreme.

What could be more hateful than to reprobate human beings?

No matter what happens to people in this life, it only happens in this life. But the calvinist doctrine of reprobation involves being chosen to be hated in eternity, then in time when the person lives out their life on earth, and then eternally in hell.

If Calvin is correct, then God not only does not love the world (which is in direct contradiction to what God himself explicitly says in His Word, cf. Jn. 3:16), he hates most human persons. His prearranged plan for most of them is that they are born, live a life of sin and nonrepentance, have no possibility to be saved, and then are damned eternally for committing every sin that he predecided they would commit.

Angus Stewart a consistent Calvinist in discussing John Calvin’s response to one of his theological opponents, Pighius, says:

“This is talking about a will of God in reprobation to damn people forever for their sins in hell. That is hatred. There could not be a greater demonstration of hatred than that. Think about it. Any idea this is something less than hatred just will not do.”
I believe Stewart is correct:”there could not be a greater demonstration of hatred than that.”

God’s treatment of them (if the calvinistic doctrine of reprobation is true) **is** the most hateful thing that could be done to a human person.

What could be more hateful than what God allegedly does to nonbelievers according to the consistent calvinist doctrine of reprobation????

Stewart talks about how some less consistent calvinists (perhaps trying to make the bad tasting medicine go down more easily) will speak of reprobation as merely meaning that “God loved them less”:

“If that is supposedly loved less I ask you what more could God do if He really hated them? To destroy people forever. To have indignation eternally. If that’s not hatred, I don’t know what hatred is.”

It should be noted that Stewart is openly and forthrightly expressing the consistent calvinist doctrine of reprobation. Stewart is directly following John Calvin’s thinking on this.

Notice the contrast that Stewart sees between those lucky enough to be preselected for salation versus the unlucky reprobates:

“Regarding the elect God hates our sins and loves us: Regarding the reprobates God hates the sins and He hates them. Because they are outside of Jesus Christ. Outside of Christ God would hate you and me too because there is nothing in us but sin and corruption. That’s original sin that’s the holiness and righteousness of God.”

This is stark and chilling stuff.

And this is what concerns the non-determinist non-calvinist who has carefully thought through consistent calvinism: if the doctrine of reprobation espoused by John Calvin and other consistent calvinists is true, then God hates most of the human race and it gives him pleasure to reprobate most of the human race. That doctrine of reprobation espoused by consistent calvinists such as John Calvin and Angus Stewart contradicts what God reveals about both his character and his plan of salvation in scripture.
If a person were consistent with this (i.e. a consistent calvinist like John Calvin himself) he would not love all of the lost and desire to see them all saved like himself. Instead if he followed God’s own example (assuming his consistent calvinistic theology were true) he would hate the reprobate as God does.

Sadly I have sometimes seen consistent calvinists display this hatred of the reprobates and it is chilling and frankly disgusting. And this hatred is even more remarkable as according to their theology only God really knows which people are the “reprobates” who never were saved and never will be saved.

The calvinist who is consistent with the theology would be as hateful as God is under exhaustive determinism. And some apparently try to be, as I have seen some calvinists talk about “reprobates” (which is all nonbelievers according to consistent calvinism) as the “wicked”, as fully deserving reprobation and God being pleased to reprobate people in this way, and they talked about it with glee!

Thankfully most professing calvinists are ***inconsistent with their professed theology***, they apparently miss the fact that if God predestines everything, ordains everything, then this doctrine of reprobation is true. They appear to not take into account this doctrine of reprobation when they talk about how they do love the world and desire for all to be saved (though God if their theology is true, does not love the world the way they do). We end up with these determinists (inconsistent calvinists) having a greater love for others than God himself has (assuming their theology is true).

It is doctrines like reprobation, what Rodgers throughout his book calls a “disquieting reality of Calvinism” that concerns the non-calvinist. It is true that an inconsistent calvinist may love all others and delight in evangelism of all people, but not the consistent calvinist like John Calvin Himself.

Robert

    Matt

    Robert,

    I guess I will respond to what you wrote, at least in part, since you felt the need to quote me and proclaim that I just ignor the doctrine of reprobation. To start with you may want to go read the original statements I was referring to in the quote you provided of me. They can be found in the comments section of pt.4 of Pastor Rogers’ article. This should give a clear understanding of how the doctrines of Calvinism have inspired a love for all sinners in me.

    I don’t know of any true Calvinist who denies the doctrine of reprobation. If you have read Calvin at any length, you should know that election and reprobation are not carried out in the same way. Election is brought about by the active work of God in the heart of the sinner, while reprobation is a passive allowence of the sinner to determine his own sinfull rejection of God in accordance with his sinfull desires.

    I would also like to point out that you use the word “pleasure” in a different sense than Calvin does. Calvin says it was “God’s pleasure” to doom some people, in the sense that God does what he pleases or that His decision was not influenced by anything outside of Himself. God reprobates some because He chooses to. You say that Calvin says that “God takes pleasure” in the reprobation of sinners. This is absolutely not true. I know of no Calvinist that claims that God enjoys punishing sinners. We do not believe that God is sadistic. Apparently God has brought about a world in which some sinners will actually be punished eternally for thier sins. We know that this is the perfect and just action for our Creator since His decision to create this world and punish sinners is based on His perfect knowledge. In this sense God has predestined some for election and others for reprobation as he pleases, or just because that’s what a Being with perfect knowledge wants to do. He does not take pleasure in sending some to hell in the sadistic sense.

    As for consistent Calvinists hating people, I would like to know how we would be able to pick out which ones to hate. You can’t truely know the elect from the reprobate until they die, and then you could be mistaken. I guess you think Calvinists are supposed to ignor all the commands to love our neighbors along with the places in scripture where God reserves the right to execute punishment and vengence to Himself.

    It appears to be an amazing thing to you that Calvinists have actually said that God hates sinners. Maybe they should have gone with the exact wording of scripture where it says that God “abhors” the wicked. But, then again, it also says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I hated” I guess either word used would be accurate scripturally. There is a sense in which God shows love to all men. He causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on all. Infact, it is an act of love that we have not all already fallen into hell, but this is not the salvific love that Pastor Rogers speaks of.

    God bless

      Robert

      Matt wrote:

      “I don’t know of any true Calvinist who denies the doctrine of reprobation.”

      That is not encouraging because the calvinistic doctrine of reprobation makes God into a person who hates most of the human race and preplanned and ensures that most of them go to hell for sins and unbelief which he predetermined they would engage in.

      “If you have read Calvin at any length, you should know that election and reprobation are not carried out in the same way. Election is brought about by the active work of God in the heart of the sinner, while reprobation is a passive allowence of the sinner to determine his own sinfull rejection of God in accordance with his sinfull desires.”

      Sadly this is an example of doublespeak, and actually quite common coming from determinists. According to theological determinism God **actively** decrees everything that occurs. That being the case, that “everything” (or as the Westminster Confession puts it: He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”) INCLUDES the damnation of people. The damnation of people is **just as** predestined as the election of the elect to salvation. God preplans it all according to the determinist. So to speak of God’s “passive allowance of the sinner to determine his own sinful rejection of God” is both doublespeak and extremely misleading. This is misleading because according to the consistent calvinist God decreed the fall. In decreeing the fall, he made all subsequent human persons spiritually dead and incapable of having a faith response.

      So this sinful conditon which Matt claims that God merely “allowed” is much more active than that on the part of God. God intentionally caused the fall, necessitated the fall. In necessitating the fall according to consistent calvinism, he necessitated that people would sin and rebel against God.

      It is as if a person was standing at the edge of a cliff and you pushed them over the cliff and they fell to the bottom. The result being their legs were paralzyed and so they could no longer walk anymore, they could only crawl. And then the determinist says that this person who is reduced to crawling around is **allowed** to crawl around wherever he wants. His choice of where and how he crawls is left to him (but even this is misleading because if all is decreed then not only does God push the man off the cliff, God also predestines whichever way he crawls when he crawls!). If you merely look at the disabled person crawling around you may claim that he crawls in whichever direction he chooses to do so. But the question intentionally left out, which is why it is misleading, is what caused him to be in this condition in which he is disabled and can only crawl? Answer = he was pushed by another person off the cliff resulting in his being disabled and only being able to crawl.

      The calvininsts will switch back and forth between claiming that God is completely in control of everything and has decreed everything, to man is responsible for his sin, unbelief, actions and choices. But this is contradictory. If God really does directly and completely control people (including their thoughts, actions, desires, choices, etc.), then people are not **allowed** to do anything. They are like puppets being manipulated/controlled via the strings of the puppet master (but then the determinist wants to tell us that the puppet who then sins is being “allowed” to sin or act according to his sinful desire). But again if ALL IS ORDAINED as the consistent calvinist claims, then that includes the desires and actions of people too. But determinists will leave out God’s control and God’s decreeing of everything when they want to switch the focus to man’s responsibility for his sin and unbelief.

      “I would also like to point out that you use the word “pleasure” in a different sense than Calvin does. Calvin says it was “God’s pleasure” to doom some people, in the sense that God does what he pleases or that His decision was not influenced by anything outside of Himself.”

      I disagree, if you look at what Calvin says he says that God elects and saves people according to his pleasure as well. So Calvin is not using the word “pleasure” differently. In the passage that I quoted he says explicitly that God takes pleasure in both saving the elect and reprobating the lost.

      “God reprobates some because He chooses to.”

      Yes according to determinists this is true. And consider what it means, before these people ever existed, before they had done anything (including sin). God decided “I am going to damn this one.” With this one, I will choose never to regenenerate him/her. I will preplan their every thought and action and then ensure they think and do what I preplanned for them. With others he decides ‘I am going to save this one.” With this one I will choose to regenerate him/her. I will preplan their every thought and action and then ensure they think and do what I preplanned for them. Now under this scenario, whether you are chosen for salvation or damnation is a matter of luck, it has nothing to do with you either way. Say in this world that “Joe”is chosen for reprobation. That means it is impossible that ‘Joe” be saved in this world history (it is impossible that he not be a reprobate). And say in this world history “Tom” was chosen for salvation. That means it is impossible that “Tom” be a reprobate in this world history (it is impossible that he is not a believer).

      But what if God had chosen a different fully predetermined world?

      In this other world, “Tom” is the reprobate and “Joe” is the believer. And what determines God’s choice of whether “Tom” or “Joe’ is saved or damned?

      It merely depends upon which particular world history that God is deciding to actualize.

      In one world history you are saved in another you are reprobate. So it is all a matter of luck depending upon whch world history God decides to actualize.

      “You say that Calvin says that “God takes pleasure” in the reprobation of sinners. This is absolutely not true. “

      It is true as he said it himself (I even quoted him on it). And this is typical of determinists, they will redefine words (in this case Calvin’s) to suit what they want to believe.

      “I know of no Calvinist that claims that God enjoys punishing sinners.”

      I have run into calvinists who claim that God delights to actualize his total plan for the world, takes pleasure in carrying out His will. If that is true, and if God wills to reprobate a person, then God does delight in reprobating people and carrying out his will regarding them.

      Have you ever read Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”? Edwards paints pictures of God holding people like somoene holding a spider over a flame ready to drop it to be burned at any moment. He seems to relish the punishment that these sinners will receive. And Edwards is just one example there are many, many others.

      “We do not believe that God is sadistic.”

      Now here is an important distinction. Between (1) what a determinist believes about God and (2) what his theology makes God into. Sure determinists do not believe that God is sadistic. But what God does if Calvinistic reprobation is true, makes God into a person who acts in a sadistic way towards human persons. Again, calvinistic reprobation is the most hateful thing that could be done to a person. Things in this life no matter how bad they are, are temporary. But what God does to reprobates in calvinism is eternal. They are chosen for damnation in eternity, this fate is ensured in time, and then in eternity they are punished for being the very people that predestined them to be. If that is not sadistic, then what is???

      “Apparently God has brought about a world in which some sinners will actually be punished eternally for thier sins.”

      That is not in dispute.

      “We know that this is the perfect and just action for our Creator since His decision to create this world and punish sinners is based on His perfect knowledge.”

      God’s desire to punish sinners is based upon his perfect justice and righteousness.

      “ In this sense God has predestined some for election and others for reprobation as he pleases, or just because that’s what a Being with perfect knowledge wants to do.”

      Predestination does not have to do primarily with God’s perfect knowledge, it has to do with his **planning**. According to consistent calvinism, God preplans every event that will take place in history (with no exceptions, “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”). He preplans who will be saved and who will be lost. Then in history he controls things in such a way as to ensure that his total plan comes to pass.

      “He does not take pleasure in sending some to hell in the sadistic sense.”

      You may not believe that, but that is not what your theology dictates.

      “As for consistent Calvinists hating people,”

      If they were consistent with the theology they would be like God who (according to their theology in which God preplans everything) hates most of the human race because he reprobates most of the human race.

      “I would like to know how we would be able to pick out which ones to hate.”

      That is a good question, which is why I always find it remarkable that the consistent calvinists who speak of reprobation with glee, don’t seem to take this point sufficiently into account.

      “ You can’t truely know the elect from the reprobate until they die, and then you could be mistaken.”

      So then again: why are some of these consistent calvinists already talking about the damnation of sinners with glee???

      “I guess you think Calvinists are supposed to ignor all the commands to love our neighbors along with the places in scripture where God reserves the right to execute punishment and vengence to Himself.”

      No, I never said ignore God’s commands to love. In fact if you obey God’s commands to love you will end up as a more loving person than God is, if determinism is true. Because while you may love people indiscriminately and desire that those you come in contact with are saved, God does not according to calvinism. While you may hope God’s grace goes out to people you encounter (including family and friends), God on the other hand has already decided to restrict his grace so that the reprobates that he has already chosen for reprobation do not receive grace and cannot be saved. I find it fascinating when calvinists are inconsistent with their espoused theology and actually have more love for the world and other people, than God does (assuming their theology is correct and he loves a few but hates most having reprobating most).

      “It appears to be an amazing thing to you that Calvinists have actually said that God hates sinners. Maybe they should have gone with the exact wording of scripture where it says that God “abhors” the wicked.”

      The bible does not teach that “God hates sinners”. It says he hates sin and he hates “the wicked” (big difference).

      The “wicked” are a type of person, just as the fool in Proverbs is a type of person. If you claim that God hates all sinners, then God hates the elect as well as they are sinners at some point in their lives (or at least then you have God hating the elect while they were nonbelievers but switching to love when they became believers). You will also run into problems with various scriptures (incuding Ezekiel 18) that teach that God desires that sinners repent of their sins. Put another way, not all sinners are “the wicked” and God does not hate all nonbelievers (as they are not all “the wicked”). We also have that verse in John 3:16 which says that God loves the world (and world there refers to those who are part of the system in opposition to God, some of whom will be saved and some whom will remain in their unbelief).

      Actually I have encountered some consistent calvinists who do gleefully speak of God hating all nonbelievers whom they view as “the wicked”, abhorring them, etc. etc.

      “But, then again, it also says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I hated””

      This Romans 9 passage has an Old Testament context in which Jacob and Esau represent nations (go check it out when it appears in the OT, in Malachi). The Edomites were hated because of their treatment of Israel. Have you studied the biblical history concerning the Israelites in relation to the Edomites?

      “”There is a sense in which God shows love to all men.”

      Oh, so for the reprobates he predestines they receive some fun times and nice houses in this life, before he eternally punishes them in the next?

      The sixty, seventy, or hundred years here are a blip on the scale compared to the eternity they will face in which God will eternally punish them for being exactly the people they were predestined to be by Him and doing exactly what he preplanned for them to do.

      This brings out one of the key differences between determinists and non-determinists. Non-determinists believe that God loves the world and desires the salvation of all. So he demonstrates His love in that Christ died for sinners (whether they end up becoming believers or never repent and become believers). For the determinist on the other hand, God does not desire the salvation of all, does not desire to save all. Instead he loves a few, the preselected for salvation, and hates the rest, those preselected for damnation.

      “ He causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on all. “

      Right the bible in contrast to theological determinism, does speak of a God who loves the world and so does bless people even indiscriminately with sunshine and rain. Of course this same God says in the bible that he desires the salvation of all men, with salvation being the greatest blessing that a person can experience. Now if they then freely choose to reject Him and His offer of salvation, they are fully responsible for their choice to reject.

      “In fact, it is an act of love that we have not all already fallen into hell, but this is not the salvific love that Pastor Rogers speaks of.”

      The mercy you refer to here, does not mean much when you consider that according to consistent calvinism God pushed Adam off the cliff, intentionally crippling the human race. While that is not shocking to the determinist (cause it is all part of the plan), it is offensive to non-determinists because it makes God into a person who wants people to be sinners, necessitates that they be sinners, wants them in a condition which will damn most of them.

      Robert

        Matt

        Robert,

        It is clear that I have run into another anti-calvinist who will read things to mean what he wants them to mean and build up straw men to attack.

        First of all, I did not say that election and reprobation were not equally sure to happen as intended by God from eternity. I said, “election and reprobation are not carried out in the same way.” There is no double speak here. From some of your statements like, “If God really does directly and completely control people (including their thoughts, actions, desires, choices, etc.), then people are not **allowed** to do anything.” it is clear that you do not have an accurate view of Calvinism.

        Let me explain it clearly for you. From eternity, Our omnicient Creator knew all the results of His act of creation. This is not deniable if you affirm God’s omnicience. These results included all the actions of people; thier sins, thier choices, and ultimately who would end up in heaven and who would end up in hell. I blieve it is common sense and the plain use of language that demands that the known results of any willfull action are intended by that action. God knew the results of His act of creation, and knew all the times that he would intervene in His creation. He knew of the fall and of the response of every individual to Him after the fall. Do you care to deny the logical necessity of any of this so far? Knowing all of this He intentionally created in a way that brought it all about. So, in this way, He is the primary cause of all things. In this way, He has decreed all that comes to pass. This cannot be logically denied. In the garden, God told Adam that he was not to eat of the fruit. Adam was created good and given the right instructions, but it was also sure that he would eat the fruit. Why did he eat it? Well, it surely wasn’t because God was there pushing him over a cliff or pulling on his puppet strings forcing him to do it. It was because Adam chose to believe Eve and the serpent instead of God. Yes God had intended the fall from eternity, and in that way He was the primary cause of it, but he was not the “direct” cause as you have accused Calvinists of teaching.

        Would you say that a fair definition of free-will is: to be self determined and do what you want to in accordance with your own desires? This seems like a perfectly plain and sufficient definition to me, and you may be surprised to find that Calvinists actually affirm that man has free-will according to this definition. We act according to our prevailing desires and determine our actions by these desires. Since the fall, people just don’t naturally desire to follow God. In God’s loving calling of the elect, He actively works within thier hearts regenerating them and giving them spiritual life that results in them having a desire to follow Him. In the reprobate, He passively allows them to continue in thier self determination being free to follow thier sinfull desires. Thier rejection of God is sure, but he is not pushing them off a cliff, pulling thier puppet strings, or working in thier hearts in anyway that would make Him the direct cause of thier sin. The direct cause of thier sin is found within themselves; it is thier sinfull desires. God is the far removed, yet intentional, primary cause only because He created a world, that was good, in which he knew there would be a fall and subsequent sins. There is no difference in the certainty of election and reprobation, but there is a huge difference in the way the two are carried out. No double speak here. God has determined the sin of people from eternity, but the people sin in time because they freely chose to do what they want. This is why they are responsible for thier actions.

        You still refuse to what Calvin actually said and read what you wish he had said because you think it would sound worse for Calvinists. There is an obvious difference between saying that it was according to God’s pleasure that he does something in the sense that he did it because he chose to uninfluenced by anything outside of himself, and saying that God takes pleasure in something meaning He gets enjoyment out of it. Maybe you realized the fallacy of ascribing the use of a word to someone in a sense that he clearly did not use it, and chose to strengthen your argument by beating a straw man also. You say, “if you look at what Calvin says he says that God elects and saves people according to his pleasure as well. So Calvin is not using the word “pleasure” differently.” I would challenge you to show anywhere that I claimed that he did use the word differently. He uses it the same way in both places, neither of which indicates taking pleasure, enjoying, or sadisticly getting off on either act.

        As for all the claims of how Calvinist theology teaches that God is sadistic and that consistent Calvinists should hate most people. It is clear that you do not have a very strong grasp of reformed theology and also make huge leaps of logic to try to get the results you want out of it.

        As for God hating sinners, the Bible is pretty clear about this multiple times. I may look up a few more examples later on for you when I have time and access to a Bible. I actually got a little laugh out of your attempt to claim that the wicked are not the same as sinners, but are a special group.

        Yes, I have read Johnathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. It was part of a book I have that contains all of his sermons and essays on God’s wrath. I also read his book “Freedom of the Will”, which I would highly recommend if you want a good idea of what Calvinists believe, and his book “Charity and it’s Fruits”. You may be surprised to know that the most frequent theme in both his sermons and his writings was love. When Edwards wrote about people dangling over the flames of hell like a spider hanging by a single line of his web, he was trying to paint a picture of us as sinners in rebellion against a holy and just God, who sit in His house arrogantly rejecting Him, when it is nothing but His sheer grace that has prevented us from dropping into the flames of hell already. He emphasizes God’s grace that we do not deserve and are not guaranteed will continue, not God “relishing” getting to dangle people over flames and punish them. This is another example of you getting the meaning you want out of what you read instead of what the author intended.

        I don’t have much more time to respond to what you wrote, but I will quickly mention one more thing. Romans 9 is clearly talking about individuals. Jacob and Esau are not the only examples given, and Paul is very clear that election doesn’t depend on your ancestory but on God’s sovreign choice in election. Even if it were speaking about God electing nations, which it clearly is not, aren’t nations made up of individuals, and which of the individuals got to choose which nation they were born into? I think God decided that for them. Also who are the vessels of wrath who God bore with much long suffering, prepared beforehand for destruction?

        You may also want to quit using John 3:16 as a non-calvinist proof text. God loved the world as opposed to just Israel. This is a huge New Testament theme, that the Jewish Messiah had come to save people from all over the world instead of just Israel.

          Robert

          Matt I will not respond to all that you said to me because in subsequent comments your errors have become more clear. Here I merely want to highlight some contrasts:

          You wrote:

          “It is clear that I have run into another anti-calvinist who will read things to mean what he wants them to mean and build up straw men to attack.”

          This constant claim by you determinists that we just don’t understand your position or are merely building straw men really gets tedious and old after a while. We understand your position just fine which is why we reject it as unbiblical and false.

          “First of all, I did not say that election and reprobation were not equally sure to happen as intended by God from eternity. I said, “election and reprobation are not carried out in the same way.” There is no double speak here. From some of your statements like, “If God really does directly and completely control people (including their thoughts, actions, desires, choices, etc.), then people are not **allowed** to do anything.” it is clear that you do not have an accurate view of Calvinism.”

          I am quite familiar with the supralapsarian view (e.g. John Calvin, Beza) and infralapsarian view (you, Bruce Ware, etc.). Both supra and infra hold that God decrees all things and all of his decrees are active, so in fact God actively decrees “whatsover comes to pass” according to you determinists.

          “Let me explain it clearly for you. From eternity, Our omnicient Creator knew all the results of His act of creation. This is not deniable if you affirm God’s omnicience. These results included all the actions of people; thier sins, thier choices, and ultimately who would end up in heaven and who would end up in hell.”

          Orthodox believers all affirm that God has exhaustive foreknoweldge of all future events. That is not saying anything much. Of course where you will go with it next is one of your errors (i.e. you believe that whatever God foreknows he intends, whatever God foreknows he must desire to occur).

          “I blieve it is common sense and the plain use of language that demands that the known results of any willfull action are intended by that action.”

          So if I for example do some action intentionally, I am responsible for that action. So if I choose to do something good I ought to be praised for it and if I choose to do something bad I ought to be blamed for it. Each personal agent is responsible for their own actions. And if we are acting freely, there is no causal chain of antecedent events that flows through us necessitating our actions. So the inmates I deal with in prison cannot blame a causal chain for what they have done if they acted freely, nor can they blame God since THEY not God did their action. And at the final judgment God is not going to judge people’s environments, genes, parents, sinful nature, brain, causal laws, logical necessity, etc. etc. etc. etc. for doing things (instead God will judge individual persons for their individual actions).

          “ God knew the results of His act of creation, and knew all the times that he would intervene in His creation. He knew of the fall and of the response of every individual to Him after the fall. Do you care to deny the logical necessity of any of this so far? Knowing all of this He intentionally created in a way that brought it all about.”

          Your error here is to suppose that whatever God foreknows God intends and desires to occur.

          Another error you make here is to suppose that God’s creation of the world is the necessitating factor that causes everything to occur as it does. This is wrong because God not only created a universe, he created personal agents capable of their own self-determined actions (i.e. their actions are caused by themselves, not SOME CAUSAL CHAIN RUNNING THROUGH THEM AND NECESSITATING THEIR ACTIONS). Put simply, people are not like rocks that move by necessity based upon a causal chain that forces them to go where they go. People are just that people, they have and make their own choices. And these choices come from THEM, not a causal chain running through them.

          “ So, in this way, He is the primary cause of all things.”

          If you mean by God as the “primary cause” that nothing in the world could possibly happen unless God created the world, then Yes God is the primary cause that makes everything else possible. But God is not the only causal agent operating in the universe. There are in fact billions of them. In each case their freely made choices originate from them, not some causal chain or set of antecedent causes that necessitate their actions. To claim that some causal chain or set of antecedent causes necessitates an agent’s actions is merely to assert determinism. But most of us reject determinism in favor of what is technically called libertarian free will (and ordinarily referred to as we have and make our own choices).

          “ In this way, He has decreed all that comes to pass.”

          But God has not decreed all that comes to pass, that is merely the working assumption of determinists like Matt.

          “ This cannot be logically denied.”

          It has been logically denied by most Christians throughout church history. And for the most part, current Christian philosophers including Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, etc. etc. reject theological determinism and affirm libertarian free will.

          “In the garden, God told Adam that he was not to eat of the fruit. Adam was created good and given the right instructions, but it was also sure that he would eat the fruit. Why did he eat it? Well, it surely wasn’t because God was there pushing him over a cliff or pulling on his puppet strings forcing him to do it.”

          Actually if your determinism is true, then Adam was pushed off the cliff, he had no choice concerning the temptation as God necessitated the fall.

          “It was because Adam chose to believe Eve and the serpent instead of God. Yes God had intended the fall from eternity, and in that way He was the primary cause of it, but he was not the “direct” cause as you have accused Calvinists of teaching.”

          That is like saying to someone (say they are named Paul) who sets off those long and elaborate domino displays (where they set up thousands of them, each one causes the next to fall, and the next and the next until they have all fallen) Paul did not cause domino # 666 to fall, it was caused to fall by domino # 665. Yes Paul is the “primary cause” for all of the dominoes falling, “he was not the ‘direct’ cause”. But this is misleading as it was Paul who set up the whole thing so that all of the dominoes would fall, Paul prearranged all of the dominoes, so they had to fall as he preplanned for them to fall. Unfortunately Matt, we don’t live in “domino world” though you really, really wish we did. In this real world, we have and make our own choices, choices that are not necessitated by prior and antecedent events, factors, whatever.

          “Would you say that a fair definition of free-will is: to be self determined and do what you want to in accordance with your own desires? This seems like a perfectly plain and sufficient definition to me,”

          No that is not a fair definition of free will. That definition which is how Thomas Hobbes first framed it and later Jonathan Edwards framed it, leaves out the heart of genuine free will (i.e. that a person can do otherwise). This definition is a half definition, it includes the fact we are self determined and do what we want, but it leaves out the most important half (the ability to do otherwise). Take away the ability to do otherwise and you end up with domino world where we never ever have a choice (we are necessitated to do what we do by the dominoes in front of us!).

          “ and you may be surprised to find that Calvinists actually affirm that man has free-will according to this definition.”

          Why should I be surprised that determinst calvinists affirm THIS DEFINITION of free will when it intentionally leaves out what most people mean by free will????

          “We act according to our prevailing desires and determine our actions by these desires.”

          Our desires do not determine our freely made choices WE DO. Again at the final judgement God will not be judging our desires, he will be judging us (a subtle distinction I know but an important one). I have heard every excuse in the book: “my genes made me do it”, “our brains make us do it”, “our bad environment made us do it,” “too many twinkies made him do it,” “our sinful desires made us do it”, “our sinful nature made us do it,” etc. etc. etc. None of it is true, when we act freely though these other things may have an influence, the do not necessitate our desires.

          This is merely asserting theological determinism (in this case the necessitatinig factor is regeneration). God preselected some for salvation, then in time he regenerates them and this regeneration necessitates their faith response. It is strictly deterministic. And again I reject determinism.

          “ In the reprobate, He passively allows them to continue in thier self determination being free to follow thier sinfull desires. Thier rejection of God is sure, but he is not pushing them off a cliff, pulling thier puppet strings, or working in thier hearts in anyway that would make Him the direct cause of thier sin. The direct cause of thier sin is found within themselves; it is thier sinfull desires.”

          Again this is merely an assertion of theological determinism. In the case of the “reprobates” God necessitated the fall, which necessitates they be spiritual dead. He then chooses not to regenerate them, so without regeneration they cannot have faith and so are necessitated to be unbelievers.

          “ God is the far removed, yet intentional, primary cause only because He created a world, that was good, in which he knew there would be a fall and subsequent sins.”

          Just like Paul is not the cause of domino # 666 falling, it is domino # 665 as the culprit! So we blame domino #665 for being the cause not Paul. Not Paul though he prearranged the entire arrangement and sequence of the falling dominoes.

          “ There is no difference in the certainty of election and reprobation, but there is a huge difference in the way the two are carried out.”

          Of course they are carried out differently, the necessitating factor for the elect is regeneration. The necessitating factor for the damend is the fall plus their sinful desires. But again I reject all of the determinism involved in this thinking. It is neither true nor biblical.

          “No double speak here. God has determined the sin of people from eternity, but the people sin in time because they freely chose to do what they want.”

          For a consistent calvinist God predecided what the desires would be as well. Why do you determinists always seem to leave out that little fact? So when say some guy is engaging in internet activities that are not appropriate, God preplanned both his thoughts and desires, every one of them. But you never seem to remember that, you keep blaming the sinner when they sin even though they are just doing what they are necessitated to do by God.

          “ This is why they are responsible for thier actions.”

          So each domino is responsible for its fall, though Paul set them all up so they had to fall they way they fell. I get it, I just reject it as false and unbiblical.

          “As for all the claims of how Calvinist theology teaches that God is sadistic and that consistent Calvinists should hate most people. It is clear that you do not have a very strong grasp of reformed theology and also make huge leaps of logic to try to get the results you want out of it.”

          I understand you determinists just fine. You posit Domino world in your theology, but then you want to place the blame for the way the individual dominoes fall on the dominoes themselves not Paul who set it all up and pushed the first domino to get the chain going.

          “As for God hating sinners, the Bible is pretty clear about this multiple times. I may look up a few more examples later on for you when I have time and access to a Bible. I actually got a little laugh out of your attempt to claim that the wicked are not the same as sinners, but are a special group.”

          I will be waiting a long time for bible verses showing that GOD HATES SINNERS as you claim. The bible says instead that God so loved the world (and that ****is**** sinners) that he gave Jesus to die for that world. The bible says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. So the bible (not determinism) says that God loves sinners and sent Jesus to die for them. And no amount of mangling the biblical texts will ever change these facts.

          “Yes, I have read Johnathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. It was part of a book I have that contains all of his sermons and essays on God’s wrath. I also read his book “Freedom of the Will”, which I would highly recommend if you want a good idea of what Calvinists believe, and his book “Charity and it’s Fruits”. “

          I have read everything you mention, and much more from determinists. Edwards’ views on freedom were effectively refuted by Whedon. But I am guessing you never read Whedon did you? Contemporary discussions of free will do not even mention Edwards’ book (it is irrelevant except for determinists who still go around parroting his definitions and views). I have also read Luther on the will and Calvin and their deterministic arguments are just as weak as Edwards’ views are. With these folks it is all a matter of definition (accept this definition and we will make you a determinist!!).

          “I don’t have much more time to respond to what you wrote, but I will quickly mention one more thing. Romans 9 is clearly talking about individuals. Jacob and Esau are not the only examples given, and Paul is very clear that election doesn’t depend on your ancestory but on God’s sovreign choice in election. Even if it were speaking about God electing nations, which it clearly is not, aren’t nations made up of individuals, and which of the individuals got to choose which nation they were born into? I think God decided that for them. Also who are the vessels of wrath who God bore with much long suffering, prepared beforehand for destruction?”

          Romans 9 discusses that God is sovereign that He does as He pleases in any and all situations (but that is not the same as exhaustive determinism). Paul gives examples from the history of Israel to make this point that God is sovereign. Romans 9 must be interpreted with Romans 10 and Romans 11 as they function as a unit. Interpreted properly Romans 9-11 do not teach individual unconditional election but instead teaches that God is sovereign, and that salvation is through faith whether you are Jewish or Gentile.

          “You may also want to quit using John 3:16 as a non-calvinist proof text. God loved the world as opposed to just Israel. This is a huge New Testament theme, that the Jewish Messiah had come to save people from all over the world instead of just Israel.”

          Now that request that I “quit using John 3:16 as a non-calvinist proof text” is laughable and is just not going to happen.

          I will keep preaching and teaching the truth of John 3:16 because it is good news for the world and simultaneously is about as obvious a verse as could you could see that directly contradicts and refutes determinism/calvinism. You determinists must hate that verse when properly interpreted. Jesus was not contrasting Israel versus the rest of the world in John 3:16 as you claim. Instead the term “world” there refers to both nonbelievers who are Jewish and nonbelievers who are Gentiles. Fact is, God does love the world and desires the salvation of them all regardless of what you determinists want to believe. It should also be noted that this fact is so obvious that some determinists are so-called 4-point calvinists!!!!!

          Robert

            David

            I’m not classroom educated nor do I claim to have great insight on this discussion , but I don’t understand why we argue theology so much I believe the Holy Spirit gives us understanding and wisdom not man, to me its sound as nobody truly understands thier believes it all based on what someone else taught you or what you read in someones book my Jesus is alive and he teaches me with the Holy Spirit the same one he promised long ago , your salvation is personal only you and true followers Christ know and that is by our fruit .
            I often think we forget what Jesus told us to do and that is share the Gospel . Maybe you and other may say it not that simple , well what did Jesus share, himself, did the woman at the well get theology or Living water . Most of you have studied the bible and should know all the others that Jesus touched the same way . It seems as though history is repeating itself . I believe the sadducees and pharisees of our generation are really making a mess of things . May God forgive us and our wealth of knowlege , and I pray we become men of Godly wisdom

holdon

“God knew the results of His act of creation, and knew all the times that he would intervene in His creation. He knew of the fall and of the response of every individual to Him after the fall. Do you care to deny the logical necessity of any of this so far?”

No problem so far. However:

“Knowing all of this He intentionally created in a way that brought it all about. So, in this way, He is the primary cause of all things. In this way, He has decreed all that comes to pass. This cannot be logically denied.”

Here is where you jump to an illogical conclusion. Knowing all things is not the same as causing all things. Sorry, you’re not logical and we must logically deny this.

“He is the primary cause” I can somewhat agree with: His Creation. But there is no causal effect of sin back to Him. Man has a choice (was created thus).
But if you say there is a causal effect from sin back to God, then He is clearly the author of sin. Be logical now.

    Matt

    holdon,

    You say, “Here is where you jump to an illogical conclusion. Knowing all things is not the same as causing all things. Sorry, you’re not logical and we must logically deny this.”

    No I’m afraid you have made the illogical jump. You are right that “Knowing all things is not the same as causing all things” if you don’t also create all things, but God does not simply know a universe already in motion. He knew it in eternity before it existed and the only way that He could know all the details of the universe would be to know what He would bring about by His act of creation and subsequent actions in His creation. What determining factors that could possibly have any determining effect on the decisions we make were not determined by God in eternity. Our natures (how we are born) was determined by God. The nurture that shapes us as we grow was also determined by God. Did we chose what our phisycal and mental capabilities would be? Did we choose who are parents would be? Did we choose our county of origin, the time period we are born into, or the religion we are raised in? Did we choose whether or not we would even ever hear the gospel? All of these factors were determined by God in eternity. Our decisions have always been the effects of these causes from the first decision we ever made, and so even our decisions that have resulted in later situations are not outside of the causal influence of God. Which of our decisions did God not know from eternity as the results of His act of creation? Do you think that free-will means that we are able to produce effects without a cause? Our decisions are based on our prevailing desires, and which of your desires was not known and intended by God in His act of creation?

    You say, “But there is no causal effect of sin back to Him. Man has a choice (was created thus).
    But if you say there is a causal effect from sin back to God, then He is clearly the author of sin. Be logical now.”

    C’mon, you be logical now. where does the causal chain go back to from all of our choices? Which links in this chain did God not know would be the result of His act of creation and later acts in creation? In this way God is the primary cause of all things, including our sinfull decisions, but God does not sin. He created a good world, but He knew there would be a fall and necessarily intended the fall to happen. Would you claim that He didn’t know of the fall and all the sin in the world afterward? If He knew of it in eternity and then acted to create a world in which it would happen, it is logically necessary that He intended the fall and all the sins that followed.

    If there is some flaw in my logic, you’re going to have to point it out and explain exactly where my mistake is. Claiming that I am not logical and then making a statement about knowing and causing not being the same thing won’t cut it. Knowing and causing are the same thing if you are the omnipotent, omnicient Creator of all that is.

      holdon

      “If He knew of it in eternity and then acted to create a world in which it would happen, it is logically necessary that He intended the fall and all the sins that followed.”

      No that is not logically necessary at all. Man had a choice, did He not?
      If not, fess up and just say it: God is the author of sin and evil in this world.

      Can we record this as your position?

      “Claiming that I am not logical and then making a statement about knowing and causing not being the same thing won’t cut it. Knowing and causing are the same thing if you are the omnipotent, omnicient Creator of all that is.”

      God simply doesn’t cause all. If He does then He is the author or sin and evil.

        Matt

        holdon,

        You say, “No that is not logically necessary at all. Man had a choice, did He not?
        If not, fess up and just say it: God is the author of sin and evil in this world.”

        here again you have made a claim without explaining yourself. If you claim that what I laid out as logically necessary is not really necessary, then you have the burden of at least explaining another logical possibility.

        I would agree that man had a choice and he makes decisions about the choices he has in accordance with his prevailing desires, but what factors that have shaped his disposition and desires were not knowingly determined by God? God knew that if he created a world where this person would be born with these specific physical and mental capabilities, to these parents, in this country, at this time, the condition of his spirit would be affected this way by the fall, he would be raised in this religion, would encounter these people, have these experiences, and God would intervene in his life in this way; then this person would or would not be saved. God has determined everything from eternity, but at the same time, we do what we desire. There is no contradiction and no doublespeak. The Bible gives us examples of how God and men both intend evil actions to happen but for different purposes. Joseph told his brothers “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. God never directly causes sin, but He does intend for it to happen. You can record that as my position.

        You go on to say, “God simply doesn’t cause all. If He does then He is the author or sin and evil.” Yes God is the primary cause of all , although He is not ever the immediate or direct cause of sin. If God didn’t cause all, then I would like to know who the co-creator is. All causal chains find thier beginning at a God who knew every link from eternity. If you can show me a chain that did not begin with God, then you have overturned all monotheism because there would have to be another self-existant, eternal being who did a little creating of thier own.

          holdon

          “God has determined everything from eternity, but at the same time, we do what we desire.
          All causal chains find thier beginning at a God who knew every link from eternity. If you can show me a chain that did not begin with God, then you have overturned all monotheism because there would have to be another self-existant, eternal being who did a little creating of thier own.”

          Yet, you don’t dare to say that God is the author of evil. I dare you to say it right here.

          If you say that God determines everything we do, that means we do whatever He desires us to do.

          If you maintain that all things including evil proceed from God (and I don’t care how many links are in that chain between God and evil, it doesn’t matter in causal relationships), you are not really a monotheist, but a dualist with a god capable of being and generating good and evil. The origin of evil, in your words: “there would have to be another self-existant, eternal being who did a little creating of thier own”, is then included in God, because you don’t believe there is another possibility other being. You believe that God is capable to, and does indeed, produce evil.

          I really don’t understand the reasoning that because God foreknows something that He then also must be the cause of that something. It is beyond logic. If I don’t put sugar in my coffee, God is certainly not the cause of that: He has nothing to do with my choice of sugar in my coffee, yet He knows it before I do it.

          Robert

          Hello Holdon,

          Holdon note what Matt says here:

          “Yes God is the primary cause of all , although He is not ever the immediate or direct cause of sin. If God didn’t cause all, then I would like to know who the co-creator is. All causal chains find thier beginning at a God who knew every link from eternity. If you can show me a chain that did not begin with God, then you have overturned all monotheism because there would have to be another self-existant, eternal being who did a little creating of thier own.”

          This passage well illustrates Matt’s determinism.

          He first speaks of God as the “primary cause of all” (which means had God not created the world in the first place nothing that occurs in the world would be possible). We can grant that, but we should never forget that while God is the ultimate cause in this sense, there are also proximate causes of events.

          Some of these proximate causes are personal agents exercising self-determinism (i.e. they have a choice and then they make the choice, their choice not being necessitated by antecedent causes). If these proximate causes, these self determined persons exist in the world, then it is true they could not do what they do unless God had created the world in the first place, but it is also true that their choices if they act freely are not predetermined by God. These choices are really up to them and caused by them if they are self-determined choices.

          And note how clearly Matt let’s his determinist cat out of the bag:

          “All causal chains find their beginning at a God who knew every link from eternity. If you can show me a chain that did not begin with God, “

          Notice this assumption that everything that happens must involve a causal chain that began with God according to Matt.

          It is true that no causal chains would be possible unless God had created the world.

          But it is not true that all causal chains begin with God.

          Causal chains may run through physical objects, but they do not run through personal agents who engage in self-determined actions.

          So-called causal chains originating from a freely performed actions originate with the person who makes the choice (that is the nature of a self-determined choice).

          Take God Himself as an example of a self-determined choice. When he created the world he chose to do so freely. He had a choice (between not creating the world and creating the world) and he chose to create the world. But there was no causal chain running through him necessitating his choice. Nor were there antecedent necessitating factors/events/causes, that necessitated that he choose to create the world. No, he had the choice and then he freely made it. We need to remember when determinists try to argue their determinism that God himself is often the best example of what it means to have free will and choose freely. He is the model of what free will choice looks like. And he created us in his image and one of those likenesses is in our capacity for self-determination when we freely choose.

          There is one other itsy bitsy problem with what Matt says here. He asserts that:

          “If you can show me a chain that did not begin with God, then you have overturned all monotheism because there would have to be another self-existant, eternal being who did a little creating of thier own.”

          If God decided to create personal agents that would have the same capacity for self-determined choices that he has (i.e. whose choices originated from them and not from some antecedent causal chain that necessitated their choice), then God himself according to Matt would have “overturned all monotheism because there would have to be another self-existent, eternal being”. Now obviously though can do a lot of things and do some incredible things, he cannot create ANOTHER GOD, another person who is self existent and eternal. So that means that no matter how God creates us to be, there was no possibility that we would be self existent or eternal. No matter how he designed us to be we would not and could not be self existent or eternal. Instead we would be finite and contingent beings. Now what Matt abitrarily rules out as a possibility, by use of the smoke and mirrors (hiding the fact that having free will does not mean you are either self existent or eternal) is the possibiity that God created us with the capacity of self determined choices so that we would be like him in this respect (not in all respects like Him, not eternal, not self existent, not . . .). But God creating us to be capable of self determined choices does not make us into a God, it merely makes us into personal agents that have the capacity for free will.

          This capacity does not overturn monotheism or make us self existent or eternal, because it is God himself who designs us to be this way.

          Now Matt may arbitrarily rule out this possibility (due to his commitment to determinism), but that does not mean that God couldn’t do it or did do it.

          Robert

            Matt

            Robert and holdon,

            It is a fact that you have truely refuted everything I have said (in your own minds). It really isn’t that hard to do if you don’t let little things like the law of causation get in the way. I believe I would be better off discussing this matter with my dogs. They are are a little closer to my epistimological position than you are. In all the years I’ve know them, they have never denied logic and called themselves logical.

            I’ll leave you two here to carry on the discussion. You can continue to pat eachother on the back without me getting in the way with with things like God’s omnicience, the fact that God created the universe the way He intended to, and the law of causation.

            You two have fun.

          John Inglis

          Matt writes: “although He is not ever the immediate or direct cause of sin”

          The above statement and the argument that goes with it entails that being the initial point in a chain of causation does not carry any moral significance. I would contend that this is contrary to what God teaches in scripture.

    Robert

    Hello Holdon,

    You noted:

    “Here is where you jump to an illogical conclusion. Knowing all things is not the same as causing all things. Sorry, you’re not logical and we must logically deny this.”

    Exactly correct.

    God foreknowing all things does not mean that he intends all things that occur or that he desires all things that occur or that he preplanned for all things to occur. Calvinists/determinists also often assume that whatever God knows he causes. But he knows every sin that will occur, but causes none of them, we do.

    Robert

Robert

Matt,

Sad that you feel compelled to speak this way to other believers. This is really not the way that the Lord wants those who profess him to be interacting with each other.

You need to repent of your sinful attitude and words here (i.e. pride, a humble person would not have written what you wrote, only an arrogant person could write with such condescension and sarcasm). God says that he opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

As I read your words I could not help but think of Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13:

13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [b] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Paul in discussing love says that even the greatest things that people can do (or words and arguments), if done without love are useless from a Christian perspective.

If you want to disagree with other believers, that is fine. If you want to make your points seeking to persuade other believers to adopt your views, there is no problem with that as well. But to despise other believers and speak so condescendingly, as you do here, that is unacceptable. You need to repent of your sinful attitude expressed here. You need to seek to make your interactions with other believers something that is more in line with how God expects believers to interact with one another.

Robert

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available