The Lamb’s Book of Life:
Who’s In and Who’s Out?
By Ronnie Rogers – Part 2 of 4

July 19, 2012

Read Part 1

What does the text not say? Neither (13:8) nor any other references to the book state the deciding factor of how names came to be in the book. Calvinists treat the passage as though it does state the determining factor, which is God’s determination to elect some to salvation, and therefore record their names; however, it does not.

It tells us that names were recorded before the foundation of the world, and none of those names will ever be removed (Revelation 3:5). It does not tell us why some names were placed in the book and others were not. Thus, from the text alone, one can only derive certainty not causality, and security not selective process. To wit, the passage tells us nothing about why a person’s name is in it despite Calvinists’ certainty that it is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes. One must let the passage say what it says and no more, and then look elsewhere to establish the determiner for names being placed in or excluded from the book.

Additionally, these types of verses that mention the eternal past, election, predestination, etc., lend themselves to being reflexively imbued with Calvinism in such a way that the text seems to actually reinforce that belief and there seems to be no other biblically plausible answer. As with all such passages, the simple statement of this verse as well as other relevant verses needs to be considered. Two passages, one from the beginning of the missionary enterprise of the church and one that speaks directly to the time period of the beast, encapsulate the great truth of what determines whether a name is in the book of life or not.

Paul said, “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The “lawless one,” i.e. the beast or antichrist, works false wonders and deceives countless people during the tribulation, and those whom he deceives perish—go to hell. Note that verse 10 says the reason for their succumbing to the deception and therefore perishing is “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” Now by any simple reading of this passage, their demise is not because they were not written in the book, but rather they were not written in the book because they refused to believe the truth of the gospel unto salvation.

An impartial reading of this passage clearly indicates that they could have accepted the love of the truth and been saved, and therefore their rejection is the sole determiner for their name being excluded from salvation and not recorded in the book of life. Thus, names are in the Lamb’s book of life because God knew they would receive the love of the truth by grace-enabled faith. Obviously, I am rejecting the ubiquitous refrain of Calvinism; of course, they did not receive the love of the truth because they were not the elect, and that is the only thing that the non-elect can do. This understanding is derived from Calvinism and not the text.

The second passage is in Acts 13, which describes the first missionary journey where Barnabas and Paul were sent out from the church at Antioch (vs. 1-3) and then went to Perga, and arrived at Pisidian Antioch. There they entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and preached concerning Christ from the promises made to their fathers to the fulfillment made in Christ (vs. 14-41). The message concluded with the following words, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. “Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you’” (Acts 13:38-41, italics added) .

Reading or hearing such a proclamation unfiltered by Calvinism, one clearly sees that Christ lays a real choice before the hearers. First, you (plural) to whom he speaks is the same you (plural) to whom forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and offered, which implies that everyone can believe. This is seen in just the simple words and also the warning, “Therefore take heed.” Based on the offer of forgiveness to you, each of you needs to act so that judgment “may not come upon you.” The predicted judgment is avoided or incurred based upon whether or not they heed the message to receive the forgiveness of sins. It is not that they cannot believe because of the judgment, but rather that they are judged if they do not take heed of the warning and receive salvation of the Messiah.

Thus, in both instances, as well as throughout the Scripture, their judgment was due to their rejection of a genuinely offered forgiveness rather than because of some secret elective recording of their names in the book; furthermore, their names are securely in the book guaranteeing their salvation rather than causing it. Remember, God has always known those who would certainly exercise grace-enabled faith and has therefore recorded their names in the “book of life” in eternity past. God’s offer of salvation is unconditional, but He sovereignly made grace-enabled faith the condition for receiving salvation and therefore having one’s name written in the “book of life” (John 1:12). Unfortunately, Calvinists conflate certitude and causality.

Coming Friday – Part 3

Why the double-talk?

The double-talk is either an unconscious effort to personally avoid the harsh realities of Calvinism or an unwillingness to unguardedly express the true irreducible tenets, logic, corollaries, and austere truths of Calvinism to those who are less enthralled with the explanatory powers of Calvinism.

 

 

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Jeremy Crowder

Good stuf looking forward to Part 3. I’m again in suspense as we are left hanging on Double Talk. Hopefully it will give me phrases to look for in the future.

Shane Dodson

“First, you (plural) to whom he speaks is the same you (plural) to whom forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and offered, which implies that everyone can believe.”

Is God’s moral Law proclaimed to everyone?

Does that imply that everyone CAN obey God perfectly?

    John Wylie

    Actually that’s a bad comparison because NO ONE can obey the law perfectly.

      holdon

      Except our Lord Jesus Christ of course.

      Now, the next question is was He “ordained” to do the Will of God (as I think many Calvinists would say, so that He could do no other) or did He do that freely and willfully?

        Rhology

        was He “ordained” to do the Will of God (as I think many Calvinists would say, so that He could do no other) or did He do that freely and willfully

        Yes.

      Chris Roberts

      John,

      That’s the point. Just because God commands something or offers a choice does not by itself imply our ability to obey. God calls for perfect obedience, yet none will obey his call. Similarly, God calls for us to turn to Christ and be saved, yet on our own, none are able to obey. That God offers the choice, the command, the way of obedience does not imply that we retain the complete ability to obey.

      Non-Calvinists put themselves in a bind when they insist that the free offer of the gospel proves that we are not completely corrupt by sin since the free offer of the gospel shows that we are able to respond. The exact same reasoning could be used to argue that because God demands perfect obedience, we must be capable of perfect obedience.

      Shane Dodson

      “NO ONE can obey the law perfectly.”

      That’s why it’s an apt comparison, John.

      Simply because we cannot (and–frankly–don’t even want to) obey God’s law perfectly doesn’t change the fact that He commands everybody to obey His moral law.

      Nor can we respond in and of ourselves to the Gospel call, yet God commands everybody to repent and believe upon His Son (John 17:3).

      That is why Rogers’ reasoning is simply not consistent.

        John Wylie

        Shane,
        Accepting an invitation in comparison to keeping the law is not apt at all. I personally believe that the general call (invitation) is a legitimate one. Anyone can accept an invitation.

          Shane Dodson

          “Accepting an invitation in comparison to keeping the law is not apt at all. I personally believe that the general call (invitation) is a legitimate one. Anyone can accept an invitation.”

          Except that the Gospel call is not merely described as an “invitation.”

          It is a command to be obeyed (Acts 17:30; 2 Thess 1:8; 1 Pet 4:17).

          T.R.

          Can even spiritually dead people do such a spiritual thing?

            John Wylie

            Yes they can because God has initiated a relationship with them-

Darryl Hill

This guy does not speak as one who was once entirely convinced of the claims of Calvinism. He has admitted he was only a 4-pointer even when he was in agreement. Now he sounds like one who is antagonistic against it.

Speaking for myself, I do not exclude the fact that the rejection of the offer of salvation is a cause for persons names to not be in the Book of Life. Actually, I believe all would agree that people are not written there because they rejected the call of the Gospel, which is a universal call. I simply see that there is a second reason that must be considered, which is that their eyes were never opened to see the truth. I wonder what our former Calvinist friend says about 2 Thessalonians 2:11-13, which says…

11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,
12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

Does that sound like God drew all men equally to anyone here? Perhaps there are 2 causes at work here. One cause is that man willingly rejects God. The other cause is that God gives them over to a depraved mind, similar to Romans 1

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Man rejects God by nature. Still, God works graciously in their lives and gives mercy to all. But at some point, God gives them over to their own devices.

I like this Ronnie Rogers guy. But I don’t think he ever truly embraced Calvinism and he certainly doesn’t sound in any way sympathetic to anyone who would believe these doctrines now. But he’s the star today because he’s the “former Calvinist” who’s come back to smack us all around. Yay! You get ’em Ronnie! :-)

    selahV

    Darryl Hill, which is it…(1) you like this Ronnie Rogers guy or (2) you trash him as if he is out to get you and other Calvinists? What is is about someone simply sharing how they once saw things, and now see things? I was once lost but now am found, blind but now I see. Does the fact that I was once lost say I was never really lost because I always believed there was a God somewhere out there before I came to know Jesus? This is what some folks seem to be saying about Dr. Rogers. He wasn’t “really” a Calvinist at all simply because he now writes about his theological understanding of God and his journey in Christ as a Calvinist. People could barely believe Paul (once Saul) was trustworthy too because he was once a persecutor of Christians.

    I do not see any of what Dr. Rogers has written is a “star” today, “because he’s the “former Calvinist” who’s come back to smack us all around”. He’s never claimed such. We’ve not claimed such here at SBC Today. And I dare say there is no intent on Rogers’ part to “smack” anyone “around”. selahV

      Darryl Hill

      Yeah, you’re right SelahV. My attitude is bad. I do like him from what I’ve read. He seems a great guy. Seems like the kind of guy I’d like to know personally. Perhaps the Lord will allow that- or maybe I’ll just choose it. ;-)

      But I would love to hear your answer to the passages I quoted- specifically the one from 1 Thessalonians if you can overlook my foolish comments.

        selahV

        Darryl, sorry, been busy today…just read your reply. I don’t see how you can put the cart before the horse with this passage. In fact, if you see the first part of the verse you have “For this reason”…and when I read that, I asked myself, what reason? So I backed up a bit and found out why Paul was writing this to the Thessalonians: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. ”

        It’s kinda like the reason all those folks drowned in Noah’s day was because they refused to love the truth and be saved. So God wiped them out. To me, every rejection man has of God and lives is another chance to experience His mercy. I can’t imagine what would have happened to me and my family had I kept rejecting Christ as I did for years before I came to know Him. I continually pray for mercy for those who reject Him and follow after the evil one and listen to the lies of man.

        Don’t know if that answers any of your question but that’s what I get from that passage. selahV

      Mary

      You have to go back to vs 9 in 2 Thess 2 to see the context of those verses you’re quoting there. Being a Calvinist you probably have a different eschalotogy, but what I see in vs 9 is the coming of the lawless one – these verses are speaking of the tribulation.

      As far as the Romasn verses – I don’t know anybody who claims that God will forever reach out to unbelievers – He’ll allow them to say no so many times and then He “gives them over” Why would God have to “give them over” if they weren’t capable of believing without his regneration anyway?

        Darryl Hill

        I have read the context.

        I am not saying that it is not their unbelief that is one of the causes here. I’m saying it’s one of two causes. The other cause is God leaving them to their sin, not directly intervening.

        Look again at that phrase from 2 Thessalonians…

        God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false…

        Now, Paul surrounds this text with other statements that the person’s unbelief is the reason this is done. But it seems clear that…
        A. God sent the delusion. AND
        B. His purpose is that they would believe a lie, rather than the truth.

        Even if they had been given truth before, does this not clearly state that God is sending delusion for the purpose of them believing a lie?

        Now, I agree that they’re without excuse because they had previously been presented with the truth but refused to believe. I’m reminded of Jesus’ response when He was asked why He spoke in parables. His answer: Matthew 13:11-13

        11 “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
        12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
        13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

        He spoke in parables because those people were not “granted” to hear the truth plainly. What should my conclusion be from all this?

        All men have a revelation of God’s truth.
        Some men are given MORE truth.
        Those who receive more truth believe.
        Those who do not receive more truth remain in their unbelief and are judged for it.

        What is the difference between myself and those who have been turned over to their own devices? I’ve rebelled against God. I’ve been an enemy of God at heart. I’ve willfully and knowingly sinned. What is the difference? The difference is that God graciously intervened on my behalf.

        Now, I will admit, I don’t like that God sends them delusion or that in Romans 1 God gives them over. I would prefer a sense of “fairness” in a human sense. But this is what Scripture says. What should we believe?

          Mary

          Why does God have to give anybody a delusion if they are already in a state of not being capable of believing?2 Cor 2:17 seems to say that when one turns to Christ the veil is taken away. I haven’t seen anyone here claim that we do it on our own – God speaks to us through means. There’s power in the Gospel. But there are many verses such as Romans 1 which would seem to indicate that He will stop reaching to us and He will allow us to go into a hardened state. Thus He “gives them over” It wouldn’t be necessary to “give anyone over” if they hadn’t been left with some ability.

          And I think there’s more going in 2nd Thess because it happens to be speaking in the tribulation. I know some use those verses to say that anyone who is alive during the Trib will not be able to accept/reject Christ (contrary to Left Behind) if they’ve already rejected Christ prior to the Trib.

          And duh Darryl should we really believe what the Scriptures say? Cut the attitude. You Calvinists hold yourselves out as High Priests who must teach the peasants what the Bible actually says because we either must completely make stuff up out of thin air without any Bible are need some ESL courses and only Calvinists are capable of knowing “what the Scriptures teach” If you want to understand what others believe, ask, but don’t pretend like you’re dealing with people who aren’t currently sitting with six different Bible versions next to the chair. Some of us do actually seek guidance from the Holy Spirit when we read our Bibles.

            volfan007

            Mary,

            You gave very, very good insight right here. Thanks, Sister.

            David

            Darryl Hill

            Wow Mary, what attitude? Text is a poor medium, for certain, but I did not write that with any kind of attitude. Talk about attitude, that last paragraph you just wrote is filled with attitude. High priests and peasants? That made me chuckle.

            Look Mary, I’m just like you. I’m a sinful person who is struggling along in this life, trying to teach truth according to the spiritual gift God has given to me. I’m trying to fulfill the Kingdom and trying to make disciples and glorify God. That’s my aim.

            When I ask, what should we believe, I am simply saying, “Though I may prefer one thing, I must yield to what Scripture says.” I just said that I don’t particularly “like” that Jesus spoke in parables because some of His hearers were not “granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom” while others are granted to know them. But that is what Jesus said in that text.

            Similarly, I don’t “like” the fact that Paul tells us that God will send a delusion to those people at the end. But I would agree with you that it is not always necessary that God sends a delusion to people who are already deluded by sin.

            But the bottom line point I’ve tried to make is this: the only difference between myself and a lost person is the fact that God has graciously intervened and allowed me to see MORE truth. There was a moment when that veil was removed. That’s the entire point I’m making.

            All people are responsible because God has given a revelation of Himself to us all in many different ways. Romans 1 specifically mentions nature as an unmistakable revelation of God. Romans 2 mentions the conscience as a means of God’s grace. But it’s clear that those who have these things alone are not saved. God must intervene. God must open blinded eyes. God must quicken dead spirits. Otherwise, the knowledge all men have of God only makes them accountable, not believers.

            So, back to the original point. The reason men are NOT written in the Book of Life of the Lamb is because
            1. The refused to believe
            2. God did not intervene to overcome their unbelief.

            And the reason any person’s name is written there is also 2-fold…
            1. God intervened to overcome their unbelief.
            2. They believed.

            Mary

            Darryl here’s the question I ask when I’m reading Calvinists and trying to see if what they say is what I see the Bible teaching.

            According to you, you are on your way to heaven because God chose you, people who will end up in hell are no worse or better than you. God simpy did not choose them. All sinners deserve hell, none of us deserve heaven. The difference between the sinner in hell and the sinner in heaven is God’s choice.

            And then the question I ask myself, the question that I search the scripture to answer – Is that the God of the Bible? Is God Love? Is God Just? Is God Mercy? Is God Sovereign? Is Glory brought to God by God arbitrarily sending sinners to hell? And the answer I believe is no, God is not a God who arbitrarily sends this one to hell and this one to heaven. There’s more involved.

            Do I think I have all the answers? No because God doesn’t give us all the answers. Why does this one believe and that one not? Don’t know, but I keep going back to the question of Who is God? Just because I don’t have the answer to that question doesn’t mean that Calvinism must therefore be true.

            Now do I think Calvinists don’t read their Bibles? Do I think they’re stupid and not believing scripture? No. I understand that we’re all stumbling along doing the best we can.

            I know people who’ve gone through horrible times in their lives and their belief in Calvinism is a comfort to them. I just don’t happen to agree with them. But it doesn’t mean for one second that I’m not believing Scripture – I could be wrong, they could be wrong, we both could be wrong but I would never accuse them of not believing Scripture because they disagree with me.

            And Darryl, you’ve never really answered my original question to you. Why does God have to delude people? Why does God have to “give people over?” If people aren’t left with some ability to respond to God, why the scriptures where God is “giving them over,” that’s completely unnessary according to Calvinists.

            Darryl Hill

            Hey sister Mary… actually, I did answer you above, but it was in the middle of my “sermonette.” Sorry I’m so long winded. But I said this…

            “But I would agree with you that it is not always necessary that God sends a delusion to people who are already deluded by sin. ” But I didn’t get to the heart of what you are really asking. Sorry about that.

            It’s a good question. Why did Jesus speak in parables and why does God send delusion if they have no ability to respond? I’m typing and thinking here…

            It makes me ask the question: “what gives a person the ability to respond?” When God reveals the truth of who He is and who I am, He enables me to see the truth of my own condition. God ordains the means and the ends of how men are saved- and it’s all His grace at work. Jesus speaking the truth plainly (rather than in parables) would have been revealing more truth and amounted to giving more grace and God’s intervention, but this was not God’s plan. God not sending a delusion to those people at the end would force them to see the truth that Scripture has it right and Jesus Christ is Lord, which would definitely be supremely gracious for God to reveal. So, He withholds these gracious provisions for those not granted to receive them. If they would have been given these things, they would have been able to respond.

            I think it’s clear from Scripture that if given enough grace, enough revelation, and enough conviction of the Spirit, man can and will freely choose to repent and believe.

            So, I suppose the short answer is this: Both the inclination and the ability to believe come from God’s gracious working in our lives and are worked out in real time by whatever means of grace He chooses to use.

            Don Johnson

            Mary,

            You need to understand, Paul wrote this long before Augustine and Calvin came on the scene. I’m sure his theology wasn’t quite fully developed. Remember no one had heard of “total inability” in Paul’s day. I’m sure if Paul had been able to read the Institutes, he wouldn’t have written “strong delusion.”

            The other possibility is Paul knew something the Calvinists don’t. What am I thinking, he was only a tentmaker.

            Darryl Hill

            That’s very funny Don Johnson. Made me chuckle. Your name makes me want to put on a blue sport coat and wear a collarless shirt under it. :-)

            I think I’ve provided a satisfactory answer above.

            Mary

            Darryl, I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand you’re answer to my question. We’ll just blame it on me being cooped up in the house with three teenagers during a heat wave.

            I understand that you believe God has to open eyes so we can believe. You seem to be saying sometimes people are a little more deluded than other times? Why would it EVER be necessary for God to delude anyone’s thoughts? If as Calvinists assert that Total Depravity = Total Inability than there is no way we could ever understand anything even if we happen to stumble into a church and hear a clear Gospel message being presented. There’s no way we could ever understand unless God undeludes our minds. Why does the Bible say in several places that God deludes minds – gives them over when it’s completely unnecessary according to the Calvinists? If we’re totally unable to respond no delusion would ever be necessary so why does the Bible speak so often about God giving people over? Is it necessary for God to delude some people more than others?

            Mary

            No Darryl, you’ve only answered with why you think someone responds which doesn’t really have anything to do with the question of Why does God need to delude anyone if Total Depravity =Total Inability.

            Hey David! Almost missed you up thread.

            Don Johnson, :) but seriously what were we thinking back in the 80’s with those styles.

            selahV

            Mary and Darryl, this all makes me think of a time my stepmother wanted me to eat my green beans. I was a stubborn child. Green beans made me gag. Daddy was going to take everyone to the carnival. But we all had to eat our green beans first. I knew that if I refused to eat those beans then in all probability, daddy would relent and let me go to the carnival. However, somewhere in the mix, daddy must have just had it with me and my stubborn ways. So he did not let me go to the carnival and the green beans were there on the table in front of me the rest of the night till everyone came home. Needless to say, Daddy gave me up to my own stubbornness. And I missed out on the blessing of the carnival in town. selahV

            Darryl Hill

            Mary, I don’t think I’m going to be able to give you a satisfactory answer, but here goes anyway…

            I think a person’s ability and inclination to believe is all wrapped up in God’s gracious calling. In other words, a person WOULD be able to believe IF God intervened, granting them repentance.

            So, God sends delusion/speaks in parables because not do so would amount to graciously intervening and enabling them to respond. In other words, if Jesus had spoken in ways other than parables, more people would have been enabled to believe, which was not granted.

            And if God did not send a strong delusion to those people in the end, they would have been enabled to believe by observing the events of those days and realizing the truth, and apparently it’s not been granted that those people would believe.

            Mary

            Hariette, there ya go makin’ sense and everything.

            No Darryl, you did answer the question. You think that God has to send delusions to keep people from believing because they’re not chosen. OK so now how does that line up with Total Depravity = Total Inability? I was assuming that you as a Calvinist believe that man is in a state of such depravity that man is unable to respond even if presented with a Gospel message. But when you say that God needs to delude people otherwise they would respond positively – that’s not lining up with how Calvinists teach TD/TI.

          Bob Hadley

          Darryl,

          You pointed to the following statement…

          Look again at that phrase from 2 Thessalonians…

          God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false…

          Now, Paul surrounds this text with other statements that the person’s unbelief is the reason this is done. But it seems clear that…
          A. God sent the delusion. AND
          B. His purpose is that they would believe a lie, rather than the truth.

          Here is my question…. why the delusion if they are already dead and cannot respond unless God gives them the ability to respond?

          Makes no sense. That is like saying don’t feed the folks in the morgue.

          TD/TI simply does not add up!

          ><>”

            holdon

            “why the delusion if they are already dead and cannot respond unless God gives them the ability to respond?

            Makes no sense. That is like saying don’t feed the folks in the morgue.”

            Good punch!

    John Wylie

    Darryl,
    Actually the verses you used from Thessalonians indicates that God sends them strong delusion to believe a lie because they never believed nor received the love of the truth.

      Darryl Hill

      Yes Wylie, I agree. God sent them a delusion because they refused. But God STILL sent the delusion. In the final analysis, why don’t they believe? They don’t believe because they rejected God’s revelation of Himself and call to repent and believe. But the other reason here is that God sent them a delusion. It’s the same as with Jesus speaking in parables. It was not “granted” for them to hear the mysteries of the Kingdom. Neither was it granted for these at the end to avoid being deluded.

      2 causes:
      1. Man refuses to believe.
      2. God does not overcome their unbelief.

      As I said to Mary above, I have refused to believe as well. I resisted the call of the Gospel for several years of my life, knowingly. I willfully sinned. But God overcame my unbelief in many different ways. I could name at least a dozen people or situations of life that God used to overcome my unbelief, along with Scripture and the working of His Holy Spirit in me.

      And that’s my point, I suppose. The difference between me and those who don’t believe is not found in me, but in the working of God’s grace. I would argue that ANY man, given the same grace, calling, drawing, circumstances, and conviction that God has sent my way, would also come to believe.

        Mary

        Darryl, what you’re saying just isn’t making any sense to me. They refused to believe then God sent the delusion. Wasn’t the reason they refused to believe because they were unable to believe because God hadn’t regenerated them? Weren’t they already deluded when they refused to believe? They needed more delusion? So why was it necessary to further delude them when they were already in a condition of not being able to believe. You seem to be saying they couldn’t believe because they were deluded so after they refused to believe God deluded them some more. Why is the delusion necessary?

rhutchin

“[Rev 13:8] tells us that names were recorded before the foundation of the world, and none of those names will ever be removed (Revelation 3:5). It does not tell us why some names were placed in the book and others were not. Thus, from the text alone, one can only derive certainty not causality, and security not selective process.”

To which both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree. So, what’s the issue here? Rogers doesn’t say but chooses, instead, sets up strawmen (supposedly having something to do with Calvinism) that he then attacks.

What is clear, and that to which all should agree, is that the Book of Life contains the names of the saved (i.e., the elect). As the lamb (Christ) was slain before the foundation of the world, is not the Calvinist correct to think that Christ was slain to save those whose names were written in the Book of Life, the same names who were certainly known to God (and therefore, to Christ) also before the foundation of the world?

Thus, the Calvinist says that Christ died to atone for the sins of those whose names were written in the Book of Life, was raised for their justification, and now sits at the right hand of God interceding for those same people lest any should seek to speak against them. Rather than address the Calvinist position on this, the author goes off tossing straw into the air (as if there was anything else he could really do).

    Donald R. Holmes

    rhutchin,
    I’m missing the “strawmen”. Can you point out where RR misrepresented the Calvinist position?

      rhutchin

      One example, “Calvinists treat the passage as though it does state the determining factor, which is God’s determination to elect some to salvation, and therefore record their names;…” Calvinists don’t do this. A strawman, don’t you agree?

      OR

      “To wit, the passage tells us nothing about why a person’s name is in it despite Calvinists’ certainty that it is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes.” So, what does this verse have to do with the “Calvinists’ certainty that [salvation] is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes.” Why does the author say this? What was his point? A strawman?

    holdon

    “As the lamb (Christ) was slain before the foundation of the world, is not the Calvinist correct to think that Christ was slain to save those whose names were written in the Book of Life, the same names who were certainly known to God (and therefore, to Christ) also before the foundation of the world?”

    That God knows all things all the time. No problem.

    But the lamb (Christ) was NOT slain before the foundation of the world”. How often do I have to repeat myself here? That is not in the text, or throw away any bible version that has that. Please compare with Rev 17:8, where you will see that the names are written from the foundation of the world. That’s when it happened. (I would argue when it started: many names to be added later, but that’s not the point now). Next the text says where these names were written: in the book of the life, that’s the title. Next the text says whose book it was: the slain Lamb; that’s the author.

    If any of you guys would be in my class I would give you a fail if henceforth you would repeat this mistake…..

      Donald R. Holmes

      Holden,
      When I come to discuss my failing grade, I’m going to ask you for a grammatical reason why the natural sense of this verse is not the preferred reading. If you can show me that, then this matter will certainly be put to rest. Otherwise, I’m going to see the Dean about this grade!

        holdon

        Mr. Holmes,

        If you have to ask what the grammatical sense is, I’m afraid you have already failed your grade.

        Time clauses often come separately. And when grammar does not decide as in this case, you need to rely on context. comparable passages and good logic.

        But by all means, try the Dean. He may let you stay another year.

          Donald R. Holmes

          Holden,
          I did not “ask what the grammatical sense is”. Please re-read.

          I would prefer a reading that is more simple and natural – and then wrestle with the text for awhile before punting and applying meaning from another verse on top of this one.

          Darryl Hill

          Actually, the “evil ESV” renders that verse in this way…

          “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”

          So, they apparently got the grammar right, or at least in agreement with you holdon.

          But here is my question: does this difference change the natural reading or meaning of the verse, which clearly implies that those whose names have been placed in that book have been written there by God before the world began?

          And combined with other texts, such as the one I quoted above from 1 Thessalonians (regarding this same period of time) that God sends them (those not written in the book) strong delusion so that they would not believe, would it not be a logical conclusion to say that the cause of those NOT written there is simultaneously their own unbelief and God’s decree?

            holdon

            “So, they apparently got the grammar right, or at least in agreement with you holdon.”

            They got the grammar right, but the translation wrong. It’s not “before” but “from” (that is after).

            When it’s judgment time, books are opened, to make sure everything is done orderly and not by some wild impulse. In that respect 2 Thess (I think you meant the 2nd epistle), it’s the same: they had a chance, but not found in the book of the lamb, they are sent a delusion. Nobody can infer from these text eternal (or “pre-chance”) reprobation. Same as in Rom 1: they had the truth. But held it in unrighteousness.

            Darryl Hill

            Yes, I meant 2 Thessalonians. Thanks for being a student of the Word and catching my mistake.

            But being a student and teacher of Biblical grammar, look again at that phrase from 2 Thessalonians…

            God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false…

            Now, Paul surrounds this text with other statements that the person’s unbelief is the reason this is done. But is it not clear that…
            A. God sent the delusion. AND
            B. His purpose is that they would not believe.

            Even if they had been given truth before, does this not clearly state that God is sending delusion for the purpose of them believing a lie?

            Now, I agree that they’re without excuse because they had previously been presented with the truth but refused to believe. I’m reminded of Jesus’ response when He was asked why He spoke in parables. His answer:

            “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
            12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
            13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

            He spoke in parables because those people were not “granted” to hear the truth plainly. What should my conclusion be from all this?

            All men have a revelation of God’s truth.
            Some men are given MORE truth.
            Those who receive more truth believe.
            Those who do not receive more truth remain in their unbelief and are judged for it.

            Now, I will admit, I don’t like that. I would prefer a sense of “fairness” in a human sense. But this is what Scripture says. What should we believe?

            holdon

            Hey Darryl,

            Texts such as found in Mt 12; Jn 6 (the “cannot”); 2 Thess 2; Rev 13 etc.. deal with people that have already rejected Christ and the truth. That’s why they are rejected. That has nothing to do with reprobation before they had a chance.
            Here was their chance:
            “because they have not received the love of the truth that they might be saved.”
            Then God sends a delusion: that is after their chance.
            And then here is their just judgment:
            “that all might be judged who have not believed the truth, but have found pleasure in unrighteousness.”

            While we’re at that passage, may I draw your attention to this exhortation:
            HOLD (on) to the Traditions!

            Darryl Hill

            Yes holdon, I agree with you. I do not believe less than everything you just said.

            I just believe there is more. They refused to believe AND God sent the delusion. Otherwise, they might have turned and believed.

            My whole argument is this: all men are sinful. Romans 3. There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who seeks for God. There is none who does good… i.e. there is none who has not refused to believe. You see my point?

            Do you think the people who only heard the message of Jesus in parables are worse sinners than you or me? Do you think these people at the end from 2 Thessalonians are worse sinners than me? Scripture says no. If all men are sinners are deserving of death, why did I repent and believe? Why does ANY person repent and believe? God’s intervening grace.

            Why did not God give me over to a reprobate mind? He did my grandfather. That man destroyed himself with pornography, liquor, and women. Why not me? He gave me parents who became Christians less than 2 years before I was born. And He gave them the conviction to raise their 4 kids in the Church. Why?

            My point is- I’m the one who deserves to receive a strong delusion. I’m the one who deserves to hear the message of the Gospel only in parables. I’m the one who should be “ever hearing but never receiving the knowledge of the truth.” But God didn’t do it that way in my case. Praise be to God, Who alone deserves all the glory! Every man deserves the things I mentioned above. But God graciously intervenes in the lives of many. He graciously works in every person’s life, but He gives more grace to His children- His sheep- His elect.

            holdon

            Well Darryl,

            The answer is: “don’t harden your hearts” like Pharaoh did for instance.
            Yes, God is longsuffering. But He speaks 1 time, 2 times, perhaps more, but don’t count on it. That’s how we preach the gospel: TODAY is still a day of grace. If you reject Jesus, it may have everlasting ly bad consequences. Nobody can say people will have another chance.

      rhutchin

      I think a sound argument can be made to read the verse as:

      ?? ?? ?????? ??? ????
      – ??? ??????
      – ??? ??????????
      – ??? ????????? ??????

      where each succeeding phrase modifies the immediately preceding phrase.

      You say we should take the last phrase and do differently based on 17:8. That seems awkward to me. So the question is, Does the author intend to restate 17:8 or does he intend to give us additional information? I think the burden is on you to construct a compelling argument for your position.

      Thus, I’ll take the failing grade on this if you find it warranted.

        rhutchin

        Bummer, the Greek did not come through. Use your imagination; it looked good on my draft.

          holdon

          This is only for the faithful student of God’s Word:
          Here are the texts with respect to this book.
          What is in it: names and people
          When was it written: after the foundation of the world (indicating a beginning but not an end)
          What is it called consistently: book of life
          Who is the author: the Lamb
          Which lamb: the lamb that was slain (cf. Rev 5:6)
          And here are the corroborating texts from Revelation:
          3:5 and I will not blot his name out of the book of life
          13:8 whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb
          17:8 whose names are not written from the founding of the world in the book of life
          20:12 and another book was opened, which is that of life
          20:15 And if any one was not found written in the book of life
          21:27 but those only who are written in the book of life of the Lamb

            rhutchin

            The Greek boys always told me that you can’t make the Greek text say something that a grammatical analysis does not support.

            Can you give us a citation to a good grammatical analysis of the Greek text. Since Net Bible follows your translation, there is probably something on its site, but I could not find it (in the little time I had to look for it).

            Donald

            Well, Holden… if you’ll just open up your copy of BibleWorks and load up the Leedy Greek NT Diagrams, you will see that “slain from the foundation of the world” modifies “the Lamb”.

            Time to fail the teacher…

            holdon

            “you will see that “slain from the foundation of the world” modifies “the Lamb”.

            Well, that’s simply not possible my friend. “Slain” belongs to “Lamb”, no question. But “from the foundation of the world” is not specifically tied to the “Lamb slain”. It’s prepositional (you remember that “apo” is a preposition right?) phrase and those phrases don’t modify anything. Thus you can’t determine that it belongs to “slain” or to “written”. So, you have to look at the other passages and then you will clearly that it belongs to “written”. I don’t know of many modern translations that still have it refer to “slain”.

            One thing is praiseworthy: you researched it, so that may get you extra bonus points. But now that you know, your reference is wrong, please research some more.

Tom Parker

I take a complete week away from this blog and guess what is still being discussed and argued about–Calvinism.

When will this madness end? The CR was supposed to cure all of the theological issues of the SBC (get all of the “liberals” out) and now 33 years later the battle has moved to the Calvinists.

Someone or someones in the higher ups of the SBC better wake up and realize their is a major problem in SB life.

    Chris Roberts

    Through conservative resurgence, young people were handed their Bibles and told to take it seriously. Now that they have done so, some people have grown unhappy with their theological conclusions.

      Donald R. Holmes

      Chris Roberts,
      What was your intention when you typed this? Are you still trying to “reduce some of the tension that currently exists”?

        Chris Roberts

        No, I was wrong to say it in this way and I apologize. But I do think there is something to this notion: why the growth of Calvinism? Because people were handed the Bible and told to believe it. Since I believe Calvinism is thoroughly biblical, it does not surprise me that when a denomination returns to an emphasis on Scripture that there would also be a rise in Calvinists.

        As for unity, I still stress that unity is not found by ignoring differences or by backing away from claims of truth. I believe what I believe which means I think those who disagree are wrong. This in itself does not undermine unity; the question is how we act when we have such disagreements.

          Donald R. Holmes

          Chris Roberts,
          I agree that we need to look at why Calvinism has experienced so much growth in the SBC. Off the top of my head I can think of a number of possibilities, one huge reason being the quality teaching in local churches and the effectiveness of the new media in exposing eager young minds to a system that seems to hold all the answers. I agree that we have a generation who hunger for theology and that Calvinist have met that need much more effectively than others. We need to change that.

      Lydia

      Chris, Was that a “unity” statement?

        Donald R. Holmes

        Lydia,
        I liked what Christ Roberts, had to say about “unity” in a newspaper article earlier this year. Perhaps he was addressing his own weakness and has since slipped. I would love to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he shows no sign of seeing himself in those he targeted with the unity resolution. His witness and credibility is suffering.

        From April 30, 2012 Florida Baptist Witness:

        Roberts told the Witness he is “pained” when he hears “people speaking against one side or the other”…

          Mark

          Donald,

          You liked what “Christ Roberts” had to say about unity?

          Careful…you’re going to give my friend, Chris, a complex. :)

      Dean

      Is the implication that non-Calvinists are not serious Bible students? Is the implication that cr leaders were not really serious Bible students?

        Lydia

        “No, I was wrong to say it in this way and I apologize. But I do think there is something to this notion: why the growth of Calvinism? Because people were handed the Bible and told to believe it. Since I believe Calvinism is thoroughly biblical, it does not surprise me that when a denomination returns to an emphasis on Scripture that there would also be a rise in Calvinists.a’

        Thanks for the apology but you only dug yourself a deeper hole. My take is different, of course. The result of studying scripture with the indwelling Holy Spirit illuminating truth would result in love and humility by those who make their living studying it and in positions to teach. We would see an outpouring of humility, love, putting others first, not wanting authority over people….but only serving others… from the New Calvinist movement that is only \”biblical\”.

        Doctrine is important, don\’t get me wrong. But the NC has made \”their\” interpretation of scripture more important than people and I do not think that pleases God at all.

        The roots of tyranny are always in making a belief or doctrine more important than people …thinking we know best for people what is truth.

        Frankly, I think those not in the NC movement in the SBC have been very tolerant and patient for a long time with the NC even going back before Mohlers words on the GC video and then suggesting his learned brothers/sisters did not know what they were signing and it might be heresy. This is pure arrogance which I know you and many others cannot see for some reason.

        Now they are finally speaking up about different interpretations and I am thrilled.

        There are interesting aspects in the rise and ebb of Calvinism (it’s different forms) historically. It is an interesting subject. But it has little to do with scripture as it is really more of a political/psychological issue using scripture as the vehicle to the ends. It is more about authority and control than love.

    volfan007

    Tom,

    Is anyone holding a gun at your head, making you read this blog? Is there a big, strong, ugly fella dressed in a black suit, twisting your arm, making you come into this blog?

    David

Chris Roberts

A longish response, hope you grabbed a Snickers!

Calvinists treat the passage as though it does state the determining factor, which is God’s determination to elect some to salvation, and therefore record their names; however, it does not.

I would be curious to see where any Calvinists treat the passage this way. From a combination of passages, we believe God elects some, that he does so before the foundation of the world, and that these names are written in the book of life. This idea does not come from any single passage but from a combination of passages throughout Scripture. I think most Calvinists would acknowledge that Rev 13:8 does not, in and of itself, teach unconditional election, but we would note that it demonstrates some form of election which takes place before (or from, either way) the foundation of the world. I believe you would agree with this, though we disagree on the nature of that election.

It tells us that names were recorded before the foundation of the world, and none of those names will ever be removed…

Given comments from holdon in yesterday’s post, I’m glad to see this acknowledged. I’d say between Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 the case is pretty clear: these names were written, at the least, a long time before we existed.

the passage tells us nothing about why a person’s name is in it despite Calvinists’ certainty that it is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes.

Again, I’d agree with this – my certainty of the nature of election comes from other passages, though Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 do contribute to this certainty. These verses don’t teach all that I believe, though they mesh perfectly and support what I believe about election. Even when Piper says that “this represents God’s free and unconditional election before we are ever born or have done anything to merit God’s blessing” he is not saying that unconditional election is proven by this verse, but that the book contains the list of all who have been unconditionally elected. Tie these Revelation passages with other teachings about election and the picture emerges: these are the ones elected by God for salvation through his sovereign choice which was not based on what individuals might one day do.

these types of verses that mention the eternal past, election, predestination, etc., lend themselves to being reflexively imbued with Calvinism in such a way that the text seems to actually reinforce that belief and there seems to be no other biblically plausible answer.

Agreed! While the Revelation passages do not in and of themselves teach unconditional election, they at least hint at it with the clear reference to action God takes before we exist, language which strongly resembles the clearly unconditional election in Romans 9:9-13.

Note that verse 10 says the reason for their succumbing to the deception and therefore perishing is ‘because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.’ Now by any simple reading of this passage, their demise is not because they were not written in the book, but rather they were not written in the book because they refused to believe the truth of the gospel unto salvation.

With this argument, you commit the same error you say Calvinists make with Revelation 13:8: reading into the text more than it actually says. You are right that the passage is clear that those who are perishing will be deceived by the lawless one, and that they are perishing because they refused to love the truth and be saved. In fact, no connection is made between their action and the book of life. You assume there is a connection even though no connection is stated. All we are told in 2 Thess 2:9-10 is that all who are perishing (perishing because they refused to love the truth; ie, because they loved their sin rather than the offer of salvation in Christ) will be deceived by the beast.

I believe the Bible teaches this is the natural condition of all humanity. All of us love sin rather than God’s truth. And yes, all of us are perishing because of sin. The only reason there is hope for any of us is because God has elected us, he has written his name in his book, he has secured us and saved us. Neither Revelation 13:8 or 2 Thess 2:9-10 prove this by themselves, but nor do they disprove this understanding. They mesh perfectly with what I have stated, but the fullness of my belief requires more than one or two verses: it requires the fullness of the Bible (pointing to the necessity for systematic theology).

An impartial reading of this passage clearly indicates that they could have accepted the love of the truth and been saved, and therefore their rejection is the sole determiner for their name being excluded from salvation and not recorded in the book of life.

Again, you claim more than the text supports. No connection is made between their choice and whether or not their name is in the book. I agree with part of what you say: this passage does show that all people are presented with a choice. God has offered salvation to all people, the choice is before them, God has granted them the freedom to accept the truth or reject the truth. The sad reality – again, drawing from the rest of Scripture – is that all people, on their own, will always reject the truth. We are dead in sin. We are rebels. We are transgressors. We are enemies of God who love disobedience. We will never seek God, we will never do good, we will never desire the things of God. This is simple Scripture, echoed again and again throughout the both the Old and New Testaments. Such people will never receive the truth. What is our only hope? For God to take us and change us and fill us with the truth. This is exactly what he does with his elect whose names are written in the book of life.

Thus, names are in the Lamb’s book of life because God knew they would receive the love of the truth by grace-enabled faith. Obviously, I am rejecting the ubiquitous refrain of Calvinism; of course, they did not receive the love of the truth because they were not the elect, and that is the only thing that the non-elect can do. This understanding is derived from Calvinism and not the text.

No, it is derived from other texts. The texts you cited do not support your argument. They do not make your connection.

Reading or hearing such a proclamation unfiltered by Calvinism, one clearly sees that Christ lays a real choice before the hearers.

Why does it need to be unfiltered from Calvinism? I agree completely: Christ lays a real choice before the hearers.

First, you (plural) to whom he speaks is the same you (plural) to whom forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and offered, which implies that everyone can believe.

It depends on in which sense you mean they can believe. Yes, everyone can believe in that God created us capable of belief. Nonetheless, we have sabotaged ourselves so that we will always refuse to believe. As I said yesterday, this is not double speak, it is biblical theology: God created us one way, we sabotaged ourselves. God is not unjust to present us with a choice when he created us with the capacity to make that choice. That he continues to offer us a choice does not mean he has negated the corruption of sin for all people.

One thing I am still waiting to see is a serious non-Calvinist interaction with the texts that deal with human depravity. I will never be convinced that Calvinism is wrong unless someone is able to show me from Scripture why all the passages referring to the depth of human depravity do not mean what they plainly appear to mean. Too often non-Calvinists seem to ignore these passages completely and this is precisely what leads to semi-Pelagian or outright Pelagian conclusions. At least Arminians recognize the biblical truth that we are born totally depraved. One cannot take the Bible with complete seriousness and arrive at any other conclusion. Ignoring total depravity requires ignoring or grossly distorting a significant portion of Scripture. I believe Calvinist theology has done the best job of taking seriously all that the Bible teaches. I realize non-Calvinists will disagree with me, and that’s fine, these are less significant issues when it comes to cooperation, so I remain content to disagree.

It is not that they cannot believe because of the judgment, but rather that they are judged if they do not take heed of the warning and receive salvation of the Messiah.

Absolutely agreed. They are judged because of their sin and their rejection of the Messiah.

their judgment was due to their rejection of a genuinely offered forgiveness rather than because of some secret elective recording of their names in the book

Again, I agree. But on the flip side, salvation only comes to those whose names are in the book, because salvation only comes to those who are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit and thus given hearts able to seek the living God.

(Disclaimer: Today’s going to be pretty busy, so I’ll probably not be able to respond to any replies to me (assuming there are any!), though I will come back later and read them.)

    Dale Pugh

    Hi Chris–
    You wrote–“One thing I am still waiting to see is a serious non-Calvinist interaction with the texts that deal with human depravity.” You go on to say that this one concept is the key to your own Calvinism. I hope that I’ve stated that correctly. If not, please correct me on my understanding.
    My question is where you’ve seen anyone in any of these posts or comments deny the doctrine of depravity. I haven’t seen it unless I missed it somewhere within the hundreds of comments that have been made. If such an assertion has been made, then it clearly needs to be addressed. If such an assertion has not been made, then that would explain why it has not been dealt with, I think. Just wondering.
    Blessings to you and yours!

      Chris Roberts

      Dale,

      “My question is where you’ve seen anyone in any of these posts or comments deny the doctrine of depravity.”

      This has been a recurring point of disagreement. The Statement itself in Article II denies total depravity in its language that we are inclined toward sin, we are sick, but we are not incapacitated. It leaves some room, however small, for human performance, human pursuit of God, human goodness. The Statement is clear that salvation is not possible apart from Christ, but nonetheless claims that we, fallen humanity, without first being changed in any way, are capable of seeking and desiring God and calling out for grace and mercy. This has turned up again and again in discussions.

      The Calvinist position says no fallen human will ever seek or desire or call out to God. The Arminian position says that no natural human will ever do this on his own, but that God has lifted all people(ish) out of their depravity to a sufficient degree to enable a free response. The Statement says no such “lifting” (prevenient grace) is necessary, that natural man retains the ability to seek and desire and call out to God.

        Donald

        Chris Roberts says “The Statement says no such “lifting” (prevenient grace) is necessary, that natural man retains the ability to seek and desire and call out to God.”

        You always seem to miss the “we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel” part of the statement. Who has argued that man is able to seek God first?

          Chris Roberts

          Donald,

          I didn’t say that the Statement says man seeks God before God does anything at all. Rather, the Statement teaches that man is able to respond to God’s invitation, God’s drawing. The Statement teaches that man is able to seek God once God has made himself known. But even this much contradicts Scripture. Man will never seek God, no matter what drawing or inviting God does, unless God first changes us due to the sin in our hearts.

            volfan007

            Chris,

            We are not saying that man seeks God in an unregenerate state. WE are saying that man can respond to God. We are saying that man is able to respond to the working of God in his life. We are saying that total depravity does not mean total inability to respond to the calling and working of the Holy Spirit.

            David

            Chris Roberts

            David,

            But you define the calling and working of the Holy Spirit in terms of wooing rather than changing. The best I’ve been able to understand, those who support the Statement do not believe that God must first change a person before a person can respond to the offer of salvation. He must draw, he must woo, he must call, he must offer, but it is not necessary for him to first change a person. We retain the ability to see that drawing as something desirable, to hear the call as something good, to seek that which God has offered, to desire Christ, to do just enough good to reach out for salvation.

        Dale Pugh

        Article II states:
        “We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.”
        Sounds a lot like total depravity to me. Maybe the issue is in the denial that follows this affirmation, but Donald addresses that below.
        I believe in total depravity. Every Southern Baptist I know believes in total depravity. I preach total depravity. It is an issue that can’t be skirted or ignored in any way. That’s why I asked the question.
        Thanks for the clarification!

          Chris Roberts

          Dale,

          The affirmation alone is clearly not total depravity. It is sin sickness, not sin death. Add the affirmation with the denial, and you are moved even farther from total depravity. Ask the authors whether they uphold total depravity. The answer might surprise you. They have made it clear that they reject the very notion.

            volfan007

            Chirs,

            We do believe in total depravity. We just dont believe that means total inability. WE believe that spiritual death means separation from God.

            We hold to the illustration, which I believe Dr. Patterson gives, if I’m not mistaken, that man is drowning in the ocean, with no way to save himself. He is going under, and he’s gonna die, unless someone saves him. And, the only One, Who can save man, is the Lord Jesus.

            David

            Dale Pugh

            I respectfully disagree. And I would say that the burden of proof is on you and those who make such statements.
            “Every person who is capable of moral action will sin.” Total depravity. Period.
            The only solution to that problem is to “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, [and] you will be saved” (Ro. 10:9). How does this happen? “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Ro. 10:10).
            I agree with God that I am totally depraved. I also agree with God that He has provided the solution to my depravity. I submit myself to His plan and purpose in Christ’s atoning death on the cross, recognizing that “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Ro. 10:13).
            I do not believe that any of that salvation “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8) is of my own doing, but I do believe that “without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (He. 11:6). This faith is that of which Jesus is the “author and perfecter” (He. 12:2).
            Thus, while I am completely unable to do for myself that which God alone can do, I am granted by God the ability, opportunity and choice to believe in Him as the full provision for my depravity.
            I recognize that none of what I just wrote is going to be sufficient for you or any other Calvinist here, but therein lies the ongoing debate and difficulty we face.
            Go to http://sbcvoices.com/universal-issues/ for a brief video that humorously illustrates the problem. Anyone with a sense of humor will appreciate it.

            Chris Roberts

            Then that isn’t total depravity. You can’t just claim any name you want and redefine it (similarly, you cannot insist a name doesn’t fit when it does!). Total depravity has historically meant inability. Not that people are as bad as they could be, but that everything fallen man does is sinful and that fallen man will never seek God, desire God, respond to God, etc. The Statement waters that down to the point that it is a different position altogether. As it happens, there is a label that fits: not total depravity, but semi-Pelagian.

            Dale Pugh

            Chris, has anything I wrote plainly stated to you that I hold to semi-Pelagian heresy?

    SBC Layman

    Chris, You said “At least Arminians recognize the biblical truth that we are born totally depraved. One cannot take the Bible with complete seriousness and arrive at any other conclusion. Ignoring total depravity requires ignoring or grossly distorting a significant portion of Scripture.”

    Scripture affirms universal depravity, not total depravity in the Calvinist sense. I had put some thoughts together (partially addresses one part of total depravity) when the annual meeting was coming up that address the topic here:

    http://thesbclayman.blogspot.com/2012/06/dead-man-walking.html

    In summary, when we realize that Scripture uses “dead” as a metaphor, it changes everything in regard to the doctrine of total depravity. If the Calvinist insists on using the word “dead” in a literal sense to mean total inability, it creates other theological problems (unless you use the word inconsistently which creates hermeneutical problems). In Romans 6:2 Paul tells us we are “dead” to sin, yet we all still feel its effects. Why doesn’t “dead” mean total inability here? Why don’t Christians achieve sinless perfection once we become dead to sin? Consistency with our word usage demands that we treat “dead in sin” the same as “dead to sin” — as either literal or metaphorical, but not both ways to suit our needs. Is “dead” literal or metaphorical in these verses? Unless you are sinless, it is certainly metaphorical in Romans 6:2. Consistency demands we treat “dead” metaphorically in Ephesians 2:1. With this, a major under-pinning of total depravity falls. Even without Romans 6:2, you have to approach Ephesians 2:1 with a pre-definition of what “dead” means not to interpret it metaphorically in that context.

      T.R.

      “At least Arminians recognize the biblical truth that we are born totally depraved.”

      This is my problem with traditionists. Their theology is like hyper-arminianism but without the consistency (since they believe you can’t be saved without your freewill and yet can’t be lost by your freewill)

      Chris Roberts

      If “dead” were the only word used, then one *might* be able to make the case that dead doesn’t really mean dead, but it isn’t the only word used to describe our condition. I’ve written up an argument of my own seeking to pull together many (but by no means all) of the biblical passages speaking of our total depravity: http://www.seektheholy.com/2012/06/08/why-god-must-first-change-the-heart/

        T.R.

        Excellent article, Chris. I wonder if any traditionalist will read or respond to it.

          SBC Layman

          T.R.  I did read it.  It’s well-written and a clear articulation of the Calvinist view.  It’s biblical and thoughtful.  And for me, it is uncompelling.  There’s far too much there to respond to in a comment.  But just to assure other readers who may still be forming their views that there are answers to each point, I will respond to the first regarding Noah.  I say this because I do not expect to change your view T.R. or Chris’ view, and I do not expect you to change mine.  I didn’t form my beliefs overnight, and I suspect you didn’t either. 

          The righteousness of Noah completely destroys the argument Chris is making.  Hebrews 11:7, which he quotes, clearly says that Noah was considered righteous, because he believed God.  There is not one hint here about particular election or monergistic regeneration.   Chris jumps to Ephesians 2:8-9 to prove his point, but certainly he knows that his interpretation will be hotly contested and rejected as a proof text for his order of salvation.  As that great theologian Daffy Duck said, what we have here is ”Pronoun Trouble” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e1hZGDaqIw ).  I’m no Greek scholar, but those who are tell me the Greek of Ephesians 2:8-9 does not demand that faith is the gift of God (rather than salvation).  I don’t believe there are many people who arrive at the Calvinist interpretation without being influenced beforehand to see it.  At best for the Calvinist view, Ephesians 2:8-9 is neutral on the order of salvation.

          Note a following verse regarding  Noah, Genesis 7:1, where God says that he has “found” or “seen” (from the Hebrew ra‘ah – to see)  Noah to be righteous.  Why didn’t he say he made Noah righteous?  Am I saying that Noah was righteous because of his actions?  No.  As the verse Chris referenced (Hebrews 11:7) clearly points out, he was righteous because he believed God.  Ultimately, it is the same for us.  We believe what God tells us about ourselves, that we are sinners.  That we can’t live up to God’s standards.  That we can’t save ourselves.  That only Jesus can.  We turn from our sin, believe in Christ, and God counts us righteous.

          Chris’ strongest proof for Total Depravity in this section is Genesis 6:5 – that every intention and inclination of the heart was evil, yet that verse still leaves us lacking.  For the sake of argument, let’s grant that this expression was intended to be literal and not a figurative statement about the general state of man.  Let’s further grant that if every thought is wrong, every action is wrong.  Where does it follow that because man’s heart is totally depraved it must be this way?  Is not the whole point of the passage to show that though God started man out in perfection, not only did man sin, but he sinned more and more to the point that he was totally consumed by sin.  Every child who reads Genesis gets this.  Even the ESV titles this section of Chapter 6 as “Increasing Corruption on Earth”.  That’s quite a statement from a Reformed-leaning translation.  If man increased in sin, then he wasn’t totally depraved from the fall.  You can’t get more depraved if you already totally depraved.

          If man sinned more and more, there must have been a state in which he sinned less.  The story of Cain and Abel points that out.  Abel made the right choice.   God accepted his offering.  Cain did not.  God showed him his sin and encouraged him to forsake it.  This is one of those spots where a Calvinist view of depravity requires real gymnastics and interpolation to support its position (also later in Chris’ work), because a plain reading of the text just doesn’t do it. 

          No, far from supporting the Calvinistic view of Total Depravity, the Genesis 6 account shows something different.  It shows that there were individuals who, though still sinful, were not totally depraved (in a Calvinistic sense) as shown by the examples of Abel and Noah.  If a Calvinist here rebuts with claims that these individuals were clearly elect as shown by their actions, they have entered into a circular argument for which I have no other response.

          Regarding Chris’ other points, I see more of the same.  Chris strings together many verses which do clearly speak to Universal Depravity from which he infers Total Depravity.  It seems to me Calvinism goes farther than Scripture warrants.  This is why I reject much of the teaching of Calvinism.

      volfan007

      SBC Layman,

      YOu make some great points. Very good insight.

      David

carl peterson

“tells us that names were recorded before the foundation of the world, and none of those names will ever be removed (Revelation 3:5). It does not tell us why some names were placed in the book and others were not. Thus, from the text alone, one can only derive certainty not causality, and security not selective process. To wit, the passage tells us nothing about why a person’s name is in it despite Calvinists’ certainty that it is due to God’s unconditional monergistic elective purposes. One must let the passage say what it says and no more, and then look elsewhere to establish the determiner for names being placed in or excluded from the book.”

But does not scripture interpret scripture? So one can take a passage from another book of the Bible and use it to help interpret this passage. So one can take John 6 for instance to help interpret this text. I think it is bad hermenutics to try to interpret a text in isolation. This negates the fact that the Bible is one book.

“An impartial reading of this passage clearly indicates that they could have accepted the love of the truth and been saved, and therefore their rejection is the sole determiner for their name being excluded from salvation and not recorded in the book of life. Thus, names are in the Lamb’s book of life because God knew they would receive the love of the truth by grace-enabled faith.”

Interesting comment on two levels.
1. a Calvinist can claim that one “could have acccepted the love of the truth and been saved, and therefore their rejection is the sole determiner for their name being excluded from salvation and not recorded in the book of life.” If one means that there is nothing except for oneself that is keeping that person from choosing to place their faith in Christ. That is why I, as a Calvinist do claim that all can have saving faith but that many will not. It is because of this kind of confusion. The reason why some will not have faith is that they choose not to do so. God is not making them not have faith. So they could choose to have faith but they really do not want to place their faith in Christ. The elect do want to place their faith in Christ because God has regenerated them.

Second isn’t “Thus, names are in the Lamb’s book of life because God knew they would receive the love of the truth by grace-enabled faith” textbook Arminianism? God presdestines those who He foreknows will place their faith in Him. That seems like Conditional election to me. But a Traditional stance is that the elect is Christ and we can participate in the election of Christ throguh faith in Him. However I am becoming more and more certain that the latter statement is jsut another way to state the former. In the end the elect are the elect because God knows that they will have faith in Christ. It is not because of a choosing or selction by God.

Matt

I would like to respond to pastor Roger’s claim that we cannot know the cause of names in the Lambs Book of Life from this passage.

The passage clearly states and we are in agreement on the fact that these names were written or known by God from before the foundation of the world. Even if someone were to challenge this, they would have to discard the omnicience of God since it is obvious that an omnicient Being must know who will and who will not be saved from eternity.

The source of disagreement here seems to be over how He knows these people and thier response to God. Calvinists believe that He knows all things because He brings all things to pass. This does not mean that we believe that he directly causes every single effect within His creation throughout time. Non-Calvinists believe that He simply knows what will happen without exerting any causal influence over certain things like the decisions of free people. One of these views is logically necessary and the other is logically impossible. The difference is found in God Himself.

First, we need to consider the agreed fact that God created the universe, and before His act of creation there was nothing except God. If it were not for His act of creation nothing except God would have ever existed.

Second, we need to consider another agreed fact: God is omnicient. This means that He litteraly knows everything. There has never been a time that He was not Omnicient, and His knowledge includes all the reprecussions of His act of creation. This requires that we affirm that before creation God knew all people that would ever exist in time and which of those people would be saved and which of those people would not be saved.

So, back to the question of how God knows who will be saved (or whose name is in the Lambs book of life)… If God had not been the Creator of all things, then it would be perfectly possible that He could simply be an observer who knew the future acts of people. I think this is the point from which many non-calvinists view God’s foreknowledge. They have used several analogies during this ongoing discussion where they claim that, “just because I know something will happen doesn’t mean I caused it.” I totally agree that any human knowing something before it happens doesn’t make them a causal agent in what they know happening. This is because they are not omnicient and did not create the universe in a way that resulted in the existence of the objects of thier knowledge or the specific circumstances that resulted in what they foreknew happening. Any such analogy is entirely unapplicable to the question of how God knows who will and will not be saved.

Consider God in the state of eternity. Nothing exists other than Him. How is it that He could know of anything other than Himself? If He did not create, there would be nothing to know. The only possible answer, given the fact that He is the sole creator of all things, is that He knows what He will create and bring about. If we exclude what He creates and brings about, there is nothing left to know other than Himself. Hopefully we are all on the same page so far, although I doubt it.

Knowing that the only way for God to know anything about us, including who will and will not be saved, is for Him to know what and how He will create; I would now ask everyone to consider what He knows. Ofcourse, the easy answer to this is that He knows everything since He is omnicient, but I would like to name several things that could possibly be thought to have an impact on peoples salvation. He knew each individual persons physical and mental abilities. He knew who each persons parents and other family members would be. He knew what time period each person would be born in. He knew what country each person would be born in. He knew what religion each person would be raised in, and He knew whether or not each person would ever hear the gospel. He knew every factor that could possibly determine a persons disposition and desires; whether factors that they were born with (thier natures) or external stimulus that would play a role in shaping who they were. Which of these factors were determined by the person? It is undeniable that all of these factors were knowingly, and thus intentionally, determined by God. Even a person’s previous decisions in life are ultimately determined themselves by these factors and cannot be considered to be outside the determining will of God.

How does this line up with Reformed Theology? Well, we believe that all things, including the salvation of people are determined by the sovreign decree of Almighty God. We believe that since the fall, our natures are unwilling to respond to God in faith, and that God sovreignly works in the hearts of people bringing them to Him effectually. We affirm that we have free-wills because we are self-determined in the sense that we do what we want to do and act in accordance with our desires, but we are not free in the libertarian sense because God’s actions have ultimately and intentionaly brought about everything that happens. Our self-determination based on sinfull desires is enough to render us guilty before a just God. This goes along perfectly with what I believe to be shown to be a logical necessity above, concerning how God knows who is saved (who is in the Lamb’s Bood of Life).

How does what has been shown concerning God’s knowledge of people’s salvation line up with pastor Roger’s theology? I will go with his views specifically since there have been differing views expressed by some non-calvinists on this site. He seems to belive that God knows who will be saved based on simply knowing future events without exerting any causal influence, but it has been demonstrated that this is impossible if God is truely omnicient and is the creator of all things. He also mentions “faith-enabling grace” as being needed for a possitive response to the gospel, and I commend him for avoiding the semi-pelagian mistake of denying the debilitating effects of the fall on our natures. I would, however, like to consider this faith-enabling grace in case anyone would see it as changing anything that I feel has already been established. First, we need to know if it is given to all men equally. If it is given by God to people unequally, then this gift is easily seen as being given selectively and salvation is based on the selection of God. I do understand that pastor Roger’s believes this grace to be resistible, and I assume that he believes it to be given equally. I only mention the possibility that it is given unequally to show how it would not change the ultimate determination of God in salvation either way. Now, if this grace is given to all equally, then it only enables and does not determine who will or will not be saved. So, we are left with going back to the person to find the determining factors for salvation; but as was shown earlier, there is nothing to be found in any person, thier nature or any external factors that may have shaped thier disposition and desires, that was not ultimately and intentionaly decided by God from eternity and brought about through His act of creation and subsequent actions within His creation.

So, what can be known about the names in the Lamb’s book of Life from the passage that says that they have been written there from before the foundation of the world? We can know a lot, including that the Calvinist view is logically necessary and that the non-calvinist view is logically impossible.

God bless

    John Wylie

    No nonCalvinist I know would characterize God as a simple observer in the affairs of man. We believe that God knows our choices and makes provision for them in His plan. He knows who will believe and He makes provision for them in His eternal plan. God also knows who will reject the gospel and He makes provision for that in His plan. Otherwise if God is the causal agent of all things you make Him the author of evil.

      Matt

      John,

      You say, “No nonCalvinist I know would characterize God as a simple observer in the affairs of man.” I think it is obvious, from what I wrote, that I am not saying that non-calvinists believe that God never intervenes in the affairs of men. Ofcourse all Christians believe that God has acted in ways that change the natural course of things. If someone doesn’t believe this they would have to deny the incarnation of the Son and His atonement on the cross and would not be a Christian at all.

      The point I am making is that for God to simply foreknow the decisions of people in general and thier response to the gospel in particular, He would have to be a passive observer of a universe already in motion. We all agree that He is not a passive observer though. He created all that is, and knew all the results of His act of creation from eternity. This is why I state two points of agreement early in my post: 1. God created all 2. God is omnicient. It is from these two points of agreement that I argue for the necessity of God being the only possible determiner of all things, including salvation and damnation.

      I refer to non-calvinists starting to reason from the point of God knowing future events and decisions by looking at a universe already in motion, because if you consider that God knew these things before He created then you would have to acknowledge that He knowingly and intentionally brought about everything that happens through His act of creation and His subsequent actions within His creation. A good example of reasoning from a post-creation point of view is seen in Donald’s post directly below. He says, ” knowledge does not equal determinism.” I would agree that our knowledge doesn’t equal determinism, and if God were viewing a universe already in motion, His knowledge wouldn’t equal determinism either. However, I must disagree with him because the knowledge of an omnicient creator is knowledge of what He will bring about and is necessarily the primary determining cause of all that happens.

      God could not simply know human decisions and make provision for them in His plan since, as I demonstrated in my first post, He determined every possible factor that could play into human decisions.

      You seem to think that this makes God the author of evil, but I do not believe this makes God guilty of anything wrong. Yes, I believe that God has intended for every specific sin that happens to happen. He is the primary cause of these sins happening, but He is not the immediate cause of these sins. Humans with sinfull desires are the immediate causes of these sins. We act in accordance with our prevailing desires doing exactly what we want to do. This is what makes us free moral agents. I think this is about the plainest definition of freedom there is: being able to act according to our desires and do exactly what we want. This makes us self-determining, but in no way negates the fact that God is ultimately the primary determiner of all that happens. God has intended the sinful acts of humans from eternity, and humans also intend the same actions for different reasons. Joseph tells his brothers in Gen. 50:20 “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. As Calvinists, we believe that there is no such thing as gratuitous sin. All sins are intended from eternity and work toward the accomplishment of God’s good purposes. God is not wrong for intending actions for good, but as self-determining moral agents, we are condemned as guilty because we intend the same actions for evil. We believe that God is never the immediate cause of evil. He never works evil in anyones heart. He created Adam and Eve good, but they were mutably good and God knew that they would fall. He didn’t work in thier hearts causing them to eat the fruit. Since the fall people are full of evil intentions and commit pleanty of sins that God knew of and intended from eternity. He doesn’t cause these people to sin in the sense that He works evil in thier hearts, He simply allows them to do so. At other times, I believe that God prevents all sins that do not work toward His purposes.

      As I have shown in my original post, it is logically necessary that God intended for sins to happen. If this goes against what we believe is the right way for God to create and rule His creation, then maybe we need to reconsider who we view as the determiner of moral values and who we consider to be the one worthy to judge moral values. We are required to believe and teach the truth about God, not what we want to be true about God.

      God bless

    Donald

    knowledge does not equal determinism.

      Lydia

      “knowledge does not equal determinism.”

      Amen!

      Matt

      Donald,

      For you or myself knowledge does not equal determinism, but for the omnicient Creator knowledge does equal a form of determinism. Please re-read my original post and also look at the third paragraph of my response to John directly above this.

      God bless

    Donald

    Matt says “Even a person’s previous decisions in life are ultimately determined themselves by these factors and cannot be considered to be outside the determining will of God.”

    I really have to wonder if you are comfortable with all the implications of this statement (e.g. evil, sin, etc..)

      Matt

      Donald,

      I am very comfortable with the implications of this statement. I would have to write a lot more than I am prepared to type out right now to explain in detail everything I believe about the “problem of evil”. I have touched on this in my response to John though if you care to read it. I would also like to point out that you have to answer the same question. You believe that God created a world in which sin is prevalent also. As I see it, there are more problems with blaming this on human free-will alone than any Calvinist view.

      God bless

    Dale Pugh

    “We can know a lot, including that the Calvinist view is logically necessary and that the non-calvinist view is logically impossible.”
    That is quite a statement, Matt.
    So from such a viewpoint can we extrapolate that any non-Calvinist view is not only wrong, since it is in it’s very nature illogical, but, as far as biblical theology is concerned, heretical? That seems like the next logical step in your scheme.

      Matt

      Dale,

      I agree. I have made a pretty bold claim here. I have given my reasons for this claim though and welcome any legitimate reasoned argument to the contrary.

      I would certainly not claim that non-calvinists are heretical. I disagree with many Calvinists on other theological issues, but I don’t consider them heretics. Anyone who has faith in God and believes in the basics of the gospel and those doctrines that directly affect the essence of these basics is my Christian brother or sister, Calvinist or not. I reserve the word heretic for those affirming doctrines that are non-Christian and go against the essence of the gospel.

      God bless

T.R.

Ok. So their names are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life because they don’t believe. But why don’t they believe? Doesn’t Jesus answer this question: Jesus said,

“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep” (John 10:26)

Now the Arminian\Traditionalist would turn this around and say, “If you believe, you will be His sheep.” But that is not what Jesus said, He proclaimed that the reason they don’t believe is because they are not His sheep.

    Donald

    They had already “not believed” prior to this conversation despite Jesus having already told them and them being witness of His works that are done in the name of the Father.

    volfan007

    TR,

    Whats your name?

    David

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