Whose Soteriology Is Really “Man-Centered” and “Humanistic?”

July 27, 2015

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.  Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

Learn more about Leighton, HERE.
Follow @soteriology101 on Twitter HERE.
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These are some recent comments sent to me via social media:

  • “Your theology is man-centered…”
  • “You are a humanistic Pelagian…”
  • “You start with man and build your view of God around humanistic reasoning.”
  • “Making God in your own image is not theology, Mr. Flowers!!!”

And those were the nice ones.  (Listen to the Podcast on this subject HERE. Also, the next podcast titled “Is Peter a Calvinist” also covers this topic.)

First, I would like us to try and objectively consider which soteriological perspective is actually more “humanistic.” To do so we need a good working definition. The American Heritage Dictionary defines humanistic as “one who is concerned with the interests and welfare of humans.”

I’ll objectively concede this point: When compared to the claims of Calvinism related to God’s ultimate desire for self-glorification it does appear that our soteriological perspective does put more emphasis on God’s concern with humanity over and above His concern for self-glorification. Notable Calvinists are known to argue that God’s primary concern is not the welfare of man, but for Himself and His own glory. 

In my journey to becoming a Calvinist I was very drawn to the teachings about God’s desire for His own glory. This was especially attractive to me coming out of the more “seeker sensitive” movement that seemed to put way too much focus on pleasing man rather than on glorifying God. And quite honestly, Calvinistic authors introduced me to many texts within scripture which so clearly supported the doctrine of God’s self-glorification that I could not begin to understand how any Bible believing Christian could deny such truth. They would have to be selfish and humanistic to do so, right?

Regardless of what some of my Calvinistic friends may think; in my journey out of Calvinism I did not abandon the truth that God seeks His own Glory. Instead, I realized that God’s Glory is best revealed in His self-sacrificial love for all.  I came to understand that God does not sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all.

By putting the welfare of man above His own self-glorification, God reveals Himself to be so much more abundantly glorious than anything we could imagine.  The Calvinist seems to think that God’s glory is best manifest by putting His own exaltation first, whereas the example of Christ reveals just the opposite.  It is through giving up His glory, by putting the needs of lowly undeserving humans first, that He is most abundantly glorified.

In the flesh I always care more about my own glory than the needs or wants of others.  Don’t you?  Yet, would Calvinists have us believe that God has this same “humanistic” characteristic?  Does God care more about His own glory than the welfare of humanity? Or, does God’s care for all humanity reveal just how glorious He really is?  How can the Calvinist rightly accuse our view of God as being “humanistic” when their view of God looks and sounds just like self-seeking humans who desire all the glory for themselves even if it means the sacrifice and suffering of others?

John Piper is quoted as saying, “God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimate loving act. For him self-exaltation is the highest virtue.”  And I would re-word that by saying, “God is the one Being in all the universe who actually deserves to seek His own glory, praise and self-exaltation, but instead chooses to empty Himself for the sake of worthless humanity in the ultimate act of love on Calvary. This act, once accepted by faith, leads us to freely praise, exalt and glorify Him for the self-sacrificial God He is.”

Is God’s genuine care and loving provision for all humanity the true reflection of His glory? Or, is God seeking His own glory at the expense of most humanity?  And which of those views is really more “humanistic?”

It’s only fair to consider the argument directly from a Calvinist. In John Piper’s sermon titled “Is God for us or for Himself?” he lays out the dilemma quite well:

God’s aim and effort to glorify himself is wholly good and without fault of any kind and is very different from human self-exaltation because it is an expression of love… This observation leads us to the biblical reason why it seems offensive for God to seek his own glory. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love seeks not its own.” Now this, indeed, seems to create a crisis, for if, as I think the Scriptures plainly teach, God makes it his ultimate goal to be glorified and praised, how then can he be loving? For “love seeks not its own.” For three weeks we have seen Scriptures that teach that God is for himself. “For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, my glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11). But if God is a God of love, he must be for us. Is, then, God for himself or is he for us?

If you go on to read or listen to the rest of this message you will learn that Piper teaches God is for Himself because that is what is best for us. As Piper explains, “To be supremely loving, God must give us what will be best for us and delight us most; he must give us himself.”

Of course I agree with that statement, but you must keep in mind that in the Calvinistic worldview God only “gives himself” to a select few while leaving the rest to perish in their innate depraved corpse-like condition (an unchangeable condition from birth as decreed by God).  Many of those “passed over” are people we dearly love and would sacrifice ourselves for if we were able.

Did Christ not teach us to stop and help our enemies rather than “pass them by on the other side?” (Luke 10:25-37) Yet, are we to believe God passes over most of his own enemies from the time they are born until the time they die? How can one reconcile this with the God revealed in Christ?

Dr. James White called my soteriology “man-centered,” and I have to agree. I have centered my soteriology on the man Jesus Christ. In Christ we find someone who emptied Himself of glory so as to serve the needs of His enemies and then He called us to do the same. God, as revealed in Christ, is not a hypocrite. He practices what He preaches.

Philippians 2:1-9 states:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature Goddid not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.

Jesus, being the very nature God, is said to have “emptied Himself,” which is not His way of ceasing to be divine, but rather His way of revealing what it really means to be divine.  To be like God we mustn’t seek our own glory, but we must humble ourselves and seek to love even our greatest enemies. In doing so, we will find true glory because we find what it really means to be in the image of our Maker.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Several years ago I was riding in the car with a friend when the Michael W. Smith song, “Above All,” came on the radio.  Smitty sang, with his typical rasp, the well known lyrics, “Like a rose, trampled on the ground, You thought of me, Above All.”

My friend let out an annoyed grunt, prompting me to ask, “What’s wrong?”

“That song is just so theologically inept,” my John Piper loving friend exclaimed in disgust.

“How so?” I naively inquired.

“He thought of me, above all?  Really, Leighton? You think Jesus thought of us above all?  He thought of Himself!  He thought of HIS OWN GLORY,” he passionately proclaimed like only a fellow preacher could.  “God does what he does for his own glory, not for us. It is all about Him and His glory. That song was probably written by Joel Osteen or something!”

“What do you really think about it,” I quipped?  About that time we arrived at our destination (a very good mexican restaurant) and the topic quickly changed to chips and salsa…also created for God’s glory, no doubt!

Since then I have thought about that conversation every time I hear those emotionally charged lyrics of the Smitster on the radio.  And I get the point my friend was making.  I’ve read the book Desiring God by John Piper and I know the reasoning behind such comments, but is that the right approach?  Did God really think of Himself above all?  Was it really about God getting all the glory and man getting none of it?

Sometimes I wonder if in our desire to express a truth about God we tend toward overstating a point to the neglect of another valid point.  In other words, does this have to be an ‘either/or’ premise?  Could it be that God’s glory is best made known through his sharing of glory with those He chose to create in His own image?  Is His Glory diminished in any way by giving us some of it?  After all, Jesus himself said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22)

This appears to be a ‘both/and’ principle.  God is BOTH loving us above all AND being glorified above all.  In fact, one might say he humbled himself so as to be most glorified. And then he tells us to go and do likewise (Matt. 5:43-48).

We are being crowned with glory (Ps. 8:5), but we in turn lay our crowns at His feet.  There is not a contradiction here, not when we accept the upside down reality of God’s Kingdom, where the last really are the first and those putting others above themselves are the ones ultimately exalted above the rest…an eternal truth best reflected in the nature of our God Himself.

Listen, I get just as disgusted with the doctrinal illiteracy of our modern society as the next self-righteous blogger, but we must be careful not the ride the pendulum to the other extreme by downplaying the biblical teachings of God’s incarnational humility and genuine love lavished on the world.  Those expressions do not in any way diminish His glory, in fact they demonstrate it.  Moreover, these expressions of divine humility and love teach us the narrow path that leads to our own exaltation (1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10; Matt. 23:12).

What do you think? Is God really all about Himself? Do some people go overboard on this subject?  What is the right balance?

Which of these approaches is really more like humanity? The one where God, like sinful humanity, seeks His own glory at the expense of others?  Or, the approach where God sacrifices Himself for the sake of others and reveals Himself as truly glorious?

Listen to the Podcast on this subject HERE.

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Bill Mac

This is quite a good article and I agree with much of it. I agree that God seeks His own glory but I’m not convinced that is His greatest driving force. And I disagree that sending large numbers of people to hell is particularly glorifying.

What I’d like to see a discussion of, is the idea that God does, or must, treat everyone equally in regard to salvation. Let’s say He does desire all to be saved, and all are capable of being saved. They may be equal in that sense, but they are far from equal in others. Many live and die without ever hearing the Gospel, while others are born and live in Gospel saturated areas. Many are born into false religious without ever hearing that there is an alternative.

It seems to me that non-Calvinists object to God not giving some people a chance for salvation (in the Calvinist scheme) but don’t seem to have a problem of God allowing people to be born and live in circumstances where they will never hear the Gospel. They seem to be satisfied that they can acquire from nature and self-witness just enough knowledge to justly damn them. I don’t mean satisfied in the sense that they are happy some people are lost, but satisfied that it is a just arrangement.

One of the authors here wrote a piece saying “God has done all He can”, in regard to salvation. I think it is silly to call that blasphemy, but I also think it is demonstrably untrue. It may be that God has done all He is willing to do, but He has certainly not done all He can, even if He doesn’t go so far as Calvinists claim that He does.

I don’t consider myself a Calvinist anymore, but I think an honest assessment of non-Calvinist doctrine should raise some of the same issues (or at least similar) to what Calvinists have.

    Robert

    Bill Mac,

    I am hesitant to reply because in the past when I have replied, you have ignored my responses.

    You are constantly defending Calvinists although you claim that you are not one.

    But I consider an issue that you raise here to be significant to merit a response.

    “What I’d like to see a discussion of, is the idea that God does, or must, treat everyone equally in regard to salvation. Let’s say He does desire all to be saved, and all are capable of being saved. They may be equal in that sense, but they are far from equal in others. Many live and die without ever hearing the Gospel, while others are born and live in Gospel saturated areas. Many are born into false religious without ever hearing that there is an alternative.
    It seems to me that non-Calvinists object to God not giving some people a chance for salvation (in the Calvinist scheme) but don’t seem to have a problem of God allowing people to be born and live in circumstances where they will never hear the Gospel.”

    Non-Calvinists believe that God desires the salvation of all and that Jesus died for the whole world (because God says this explicitly in his Word, despite the misinterpretations and reinterpretations of these verses by Calvinists). We are also quite aware that people grow up, or live, or find themselves in differing life circumstances.

    Two things must be carefully distinguished.

    One is that, if God desires for all to be saved, then it would seem reasonable to conclude that everyone receives at least one opportunity for this to happen.

    Second, there is this thing called **providence**. Providence or how God acts in history (cf. Acts 17:26-28 = note how God sets up things so that every nation should seek God”, important passage when thinking of how different people are born in different circumstances and the question of whether or not they will ever receive an opportunity to be saved), is dependent upon His sovereignty (biblically defined as He has the right and authority to do as He pleases in any and all circumstances).

    If God is sovereign, then He does not (nor is He obligated to) treat everyone exactly the same way in all of their life circumstances. We see this with regard to people coming to faith (one seems to receive all sorts of witnessing towards the, another seems to receive much less). We see this with regard to when people are believers (one seems to have more trials, and one seems to have less). If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you will come to expect this. We see this in any area of life that you care to look at. We clearly and repeatedly see this in the Bible.

    I always find it both amusing and sad when Calvinists bring up this issue of not everyone being treated the same way, as if this is against what a non-Calvinist believes. It is not against what a non-Calvinist believes **if** that non-Calvinist truly believes in both God’s sovereignty and God’s providence.

    Bill Mac you write almost as if the non-Calvinist cannot believe in both God’s sovereignty and providence, as if only the theological determinist can believe in these two things. But if one is a Biblicist of any sort, you have to believe BOTH that God **is** sovereign and that He is acting providentially in history.

    Now as to exactly how His providence works out, we do not know and cannot understand (cf. that is what Job found out when he demanded to see God and get an “explanation” of why God’s providence had gone a certain way in his life).

    A big factor is that God has this thing about trust, He wants us to trust Him no matter what. Well going through differing life experiences than others, and wondering about His providence really forces you to trust Him: exactly the place where he wants us to be.

      Bill Mac

      Robert: I don’t disagree with what you are saying (except perhaps that everyone is given at least one opportunity to be saved). It just seems to me that your view is not necessarily a majority view among non-Calvinists. Let’s take God’s desire for all to be saved as a given. Do you think that desire is uniform across every person? Calvinists would say no. It would seem to me that non-Calvinists would have to say no also, although I’m not certain they do.

      Calvinists have problems with their view, which is why I am no longer one. But I don’t think non-Calvinists are free of problems with their view either. In terms of God’s desire for all to be saved, the non-Calvinist view is, I think, closer to the Calvinist view that some would admit.

        Robert

        Bill Mac,

        You engage in your typical “Yes, but . . .” kind of response here.

        I said clearly that the non-Calvinists if they are biblical hold to both the sovereignty of God and that God providentially deals with history.

        “Robert: I don’t disagree with what you are saying (except perhaps that everyone is given at least one opportunity to be saved). It just seems to me that your view is not necessarily a majority view among non-Calvinists. Let’s take God’s desire for all to be saved as a given. Do you think that desire is uniform across every person?”

        The desire for all to be saved, is uniform across every person, if He truly wants everyone to be saved (that is why it is reasonable to suppose that everyone gets at least one chance, especially in light of that Acts 17 passage that I cited previously which you completely ignored and made no effort to interact with). That being said, this does not mean at the same time that he treats everybody exactly the same in their life circumstances. For example, Paul was knocked off a horse and temporarily blinded by an intense light, he also heard God directly speak to him before his conversion. THAT does not happen to every person, nor does it have to, nor is God obligated to do that kind of thing for every individual.

        “Calvinists would say no. It would seem to me that non-Calvinists would have to say no also, although I’m not certain they do.”

        I know quite a few pastors and other church leaders who are not Calvinists, and all of them affirm both the sovereignty of God and this thing we call providence.

        “Calvinists have problems with their view, which is why I am no longer one. But I don’t think non-Calvinists are free of problems with their view either.”

        No one’s view is completely free of all problems (though the arrogant person may think so). And very few people would claim that. You can learn from good scientists on this one: they are very aware of the problems in their views and theories and it is adjustments or improvements or even rejection of problematic theories that leads to progress in science. The good ones are much more into verification and falsification of their theories than most religious folks are.

        At the same time, when evaluating competing theories you have to seriously consider which view has the more severe problems. The non-Calvinists’ problems are much less severe than those of the Calvinists (which is why it is more reasonable to be a non-Calvinist than a Calvinist, of course they would say likewise).

        “In terms of God’s desire for all to be saved, the non-Calvinist view is, I think, closer to the Calvinist view that some would admit.”

        And no one said there were no similarities, no overlap in beliefs.

        The problem is not where they are similar or where they overlap, the problem is where they contradict each other and where one of the other has the interpretation of scripture correct.

        To take one example, either Jesus died for the whole world (and non-Calvinists have correctly interpreted the scriptures on this and Calvinists have erred) or He did not die for the whole world (and Calvinists have correctly interpreted the scriptures on this and non-Calvinists have erred). Another is the issue of election, is it unconditional (Calvinist) or corporate (non-Calvinist). Or yet another, grace that comes before a person is saved is either resistible (non-Calvinist) or it is not (Calvinist). These are where the key issues are, say between Calvinists and SBC traditionalists, where they contradict each other and one has to be right and the other has to be wrong (and there is no third alternative between Calvinist or non-Calvinist on the key issues).

          Bill Mac

          It’s great that you believe in God’s providence and sovereignty. Who doesn’t? Although your definition of providence seems to be simply “whatever God does”. Typically providence means God’s provision of care or fulfillment of a need. That may be what you mean but I didn’t see it in your comment.

          Your position seems to be that God equally desires the salvation of all people but does not treat them all equally with regard to opportunities to hear the Gospel and be saved. So far so good. To back this up you appeal to God’s providence and sovereignty. I see your point about sovereignty (God does what He wants), although I don’t think that tracks with God equally desiring all to be saved. He is certainly, as you point out, not obligated to treat everyone equally, it would seem that equal desire would produce equal treatment. Although I too believe in God’s providence I don’t see how it advances your position. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just not making the connection. (God provides opportunity?)

          The passage in Acts 17 is compelling in regard to God’s desire for the nations to be saved, but it doesn’t speak to means. It may be that the Great Commission is the answer to that, which doesn’t help us.

          I’ve heard it posited that if a pagan really is seeking God, then God will provide some means for them to hear the Gospel even if no human Gospel preacher is available (or willing). That might happen (I hope it does) but I don’t think there is a strong biblical case to be made for it.

          I think you have made the case that God desires all to be saved; I don’t think you’ve made the case that the desire is uniform across all people. I don’t think the Acts passage does it, since it basically reinforces what I’ve already conceded: That God desires all to be saved.

          I don’t think we can resolve that, so let me ask another question. Do you think God’s equal desire for all to be saved is a non-Calvinist essential?

            Robert

            Bill Mac,

            “Your position seems to be that God equally desires the salvation of all people but does not treat them all equally with regard to opportunities to hear the Gospel and be saved.”

            Yes, He says that he desires the salvation of all and at the same time both scripture and experience teach that everyone does not receive the same life circumstances.

            “So far so good. To back this up you appeal to God’s providence and sovereignty. I see your point about sovereignty (God does what He wants), although I don’t think that tracks with God equally desiring all to be saved.”

            Actually it does ‘track” with His desire that all be saved because if He can do whatever He wants then He can in fact save people through Christ but in different ways (cf. the way an able minded person is saved is not identical to a person with mental disabilities, the way a person who hears the gospel is saved is not identical to a person who never ever hears the gospel, the way a baby is saved is not identical to a person who is mentally able and hears the gospel). The fact that He says that He desires that all be saved sets up a presumption that He knows that not all are in the same life circumstances (cf. a baby and a person who never hears the gospel) and He will act accordingly. To claim that He cannot save these people in a way that He wants to, questions and challenges His sovereignty.

            “Although I too believe in God’s providence I don’t see how it advances your position. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just not making the connection. (God provides opportunity?)”

            Could God in His providence provide a gospel witness to a person in a place who had never heard the gospel but seeks after the one true God?

            Could God in His providence provide a dream or vision to a person in a closed Muslim country?

            If God truly desires the salvation of all and can act in different ways in different people’s life circumstances, then His providence becomes important regarding the issue of people being saved: or do you disagree?

            “The passage in Acts 17 is compelling in regard to God’s desire for the nations to be saved, but it doesn’t speak to means. It may be that the Great Commission is the answer to that, which doesn’t help us.”

            It does not have to speak of the means, it says clearly that he sets things up so that all will seek after Him (that is a direct reference to His providence leading all of these people to seek after Him at some point).

            “I’ve heard it posited that if a pagan really is seeking God, then God will provide some means for them to hear the Gospel even if no human Gospel preacher is available (or willing). That might happen (I hope it does) but I don’t think there is a strong biblical case to be made for it.”

            Again, if you take seriously the scripture that God desires the salvation of all, then that sets up a presumption that He is aware that people are in different life circumstances and so His providence will come into play.

            “since it basically reinforces what I’ve already conceded: That God desires all to be saved.”

            If you concede that He desires all to be saved, doesn’t it make sense that since that is **His stated desire** that His providence will act in connection with that desire?

            “I don’t think we can resolve that, so let me ask another question. Do you think God’s equal desire for all to be saved is a non-Calvinist essential?”

            Not sure what you mean by “a non-Calvinist essential”. Essential in what way? To become a church member? To be recognized as an orthodox Christian?

            As you surely know there is disagreement regarding the fate of the unevangelized among non-Calvinists with some taking the exclusive position and some taking the inclusive position. It seems that all non-Calvinists agree that God desires the salvation of all, but how that works out with His providence does not involve unanimous agreement among non-Calvinists. Example, a Molinist (and they are non-Calvinists) may have a different view of how God’s providence works itself out then say a Classical Arminian.

          rhutchin

          Robert writes, “The desire for all to be saved, is uniform across every person, if He truly wants everyone to be saved (that is why it is reasonable to suppose that everyone gets at least one chance, especially in light of that Acts 17 passage that I cited previously which you completely ignored and made no effort to interact with).”

          Acts 17:24-28
          “24* “The God who made the world and everything in it…gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

          This speaks to God’s sovereignty. It is God who opens and closes the womb; it is God who brought forth the nations and set them in their assigned places where they live. God has always intended that all people seek Him and and find Him. What happened? Adam rejected God and sinned thereby plunging all of us into depravity. All, like Adam, choose not to seek out God so that we might find Him. God will save any and all who seek Him. The problem is that people have become slaves to sin and not even one person – nobody – seeks God. It is God who now seeks out whom He will save. Jesus said, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Then “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

          God sent Christ to gather His sheep. He cannot fail in doing this because because He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. As Acts 17 tells us, His sheep are spread throughout the nations. Thus, it is that God sends evangelists and pastors throughout the world to call His sheep to come to Him and when they hear His voice in the Scriptures proclaimed, they come to Him for they know His voice.

          Acts 17 neither says that which Robert claims nor supports that which he claims.

            Don Johnson

            rhutchin,

            Just curious, how long have you been one of Christ’s sheep?

              rhutchin

              Ever since God called me through the preaching of the gospel. I can confidently say, “he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

                Scott Shaver

                Would have expected since God purposes me as one of the elect from the foundation of the world

              rhutchin

              Actually, I was always one of His sheep. I only became aware of it when He hit me with the two-by-four.

                Don Johnson

                rhutchin,

                No, you were not always one of Christ’s sheep. You wrote “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” Unless you knew Christ the moment you were born, you could not have “always” been one of Christ’s sheep. Jesus did not say or infer His sheep will eventually know or follow Him. He said they “do” know Him, not “will” know Him.

                  rhutchin

                  Jesus said, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

                  Whether I am one of Christ’s sheep depends not on me or what I know; it depends on Christ and what He knows. Jesus knows His sheep just as “the Father knows me and I know the Father.” As Christ knows the Father and the Father knows Christ perfectly and they have always known each other, so Christ knows His sheep and has always known His sheep.

                  The use of “do” or “will” to describe the sheep only indicates that the sheep come to know Christ in the course of time as they are born and come to salvation. Such words describing the sheep impose no restriction on Christ and what He knows or when He knows it. Can you demonstrate otherwise rather than just opine?

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    Can I demonstrate otherwise, probably not. Since you don’t a problem with changing the obvious meaning of Jesus words, I doubt other texts would be of any help. Do you have a text that states you have “always” been one of Christ’s sheep, “rather than just opine”? There are several that state otherwise. But I’ll let you go first.

                    rhutchin

                    What do you see as the obvious meaning of Jesus’ words?

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    Jesus said “But ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:26-27

                    The first group did not believe because they were not His sheep (at this time, though later many did believe and became His sheep). The second group were Christ’s sheep. Christ’s sheep hear His voice and follow Him. So, if there was ever a time in life when you did not believe or follow Christ, you were not one of Christ’s sheep. Not because I said so, but because Christ said so. In fact you were not His sheep, elect, chosen or people until the time you got saved. You like everyone else were children of wrath, until the time we were saved.

                    rhutchin

                    That’s fine so long as we understand that you have extrapolated from the text to add your personal beliefs and thereby attribute to the text that which it does not say.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    It is not I who has extrapolated from the text which is not there, but thee. Which I suspect is why you will not deal with the actual words of the text.

                    rhutchin

                    Here are your extrapolations:

                    – “(at this time, though later many did believe and became His sheep)”
                    – “if there was ever a time in life when you did not believe or follow Christ, you were not one of Christ’s sheep.”
                    – In fact you were not His sheep, elect, chosen or people until the time you got saved.

                    Ephesians 1 says, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world.” God chose those He would save before He created the world and they thereby became His sheep. Even before God’s elect come to Christ in the course of time, they are already known to God and God identifies them as His elect and His sheep. Thus, Christ says, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Christ knows His sheep and knew them before they believed, even before they were born. Christ calls to His sheep through the preaching of His word, and His sheep follow Him.

                Scott Shaver

                Bingo….and there it is. Predictable as clock.

        Les Prouty

        Bill Mac,

        This: “I don’t disagree with what you are saying (except perhaps that everyone is given at least one opportunity to be saved)” Yes, this idea, or reasonable supposition” has no biblical witness. So the non Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving. In the NC scheme man’s deciding factor in his salvation, free will, never gets an opportunity to be exercised for some who never encounter a gospel presentation. So then in the NC scheme, God really wants to save all people, sends Jesus to shed His blood for all people but fails to get that good news to all people. It is as rhutchin said below, “God failed if His purpose was to save each and every person” in the NC system.

          Robert

          Les Prouty writes:

          “This: “I don’t disagree with what you are saying (except perhaps that everyone is given at least one opportunity to be saved)” Yes, this idea, or reasonable supposition” has no biblical witness.”

          When it comes to the eternal fate of certain individuals (babies, small children before the age of accountability, the mentally disabled, those who never hear the gospel during their lifetime) it must be granted that we do not have a single verse that says for example: “all babies go to heaven” or “no mentally disabled persons go to heaven” or “all who never hear the gospel in their lifetime automatically go to hell” etc. So if “no biblical witness” means no single direct Bible verse that tells us exactly what will happen to these individuals, then Yes we don’t have that.

          But “biblical witness” includes more than just such a specific bible verse regarding those people: it also includes express statements about salvation and God’s nature. We are explicitly told for example that God has mercy on all people (cf. Romans 11:32). We are told that He is good, forgiving, loving. We are told that HE DESIRES FOR ALL TO BE SAVED. Concerning his providence in Acts 17:26-27 we are told that he literally sets up things so that all will seek after Him (combine this with explicit verses that say he will reveal Himself to those who seek after Him). We are told that Jesus died for the whole world. When we combine these things it results in a case that gives us hope concerning babies, small children, the mentally disabled and those who never hear the gospel.

          If “Joe” was revealed to be all-powerful, all knowing, capable of doing miracles, capable of operating in any person’s circumstances if He desired to, and it were revealed that “Joe” wants everyone to attend his daughters’ wedding. Considering WHO HE IS and what his abilities are, that sets up a presumption that if he is that smart and powerful, then He can do whatever it takes to get people to that wedding. And “Joe” is just a hypothetical person with imagined abilities.

          With God we have a real person with these abilities and an awesome character. And He reveals it in His own revelation to us, scripture, that he desires for all to be saved. As with “Joe” this sets up a presumption that God will do what He needs to do to have His will accomplished.

          Something left out by Calvinists is that they will speak only of his desire that all be saved and argue that if that does not happen then God and his purposes have somehow failed. What they conveniently and intentionally leave out is that not only does scripture reveal God’s desire/will that all be saved, it also reveals that in the case of able minded persons who hear the gospel God’s will is that they must trust God to save them and repent of their sin. If a person does not choose to do this then they will not be saved. If they choose not to do this, then it is not that God has failed it is the person’s responsibility to believe and repent. So God’s will is not just that everyone be saved, but also that everyone who is able minded and hears the gospel must believe it and repent of their sins.

            Robert

            Les Prouty also wrote:

            “So the non Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving.”

            Prouty has heard non-Calvinists discuss this point in the past (including myself) so for him to make this statement is extremely misleading.

            In Calvinist thinking regarding the “reprobates” it is true “that God creates people that He has no intention of saving.” God chooses the elect according to them, and plans to only give the elect irresistible grace, and so God has absolutely no intention whatsoever of saving the non-elect. They were chosen for damnation, God hated them from eternity, during their brief life on earth and then He sends them to hell for eternal punishment for being and doing exactly what they are and do (because He ordains their every thought and action, they are and do, always and only what He predetermined for them to be and do). BUT THAT IS CALVINISM NOT NON-CALVINISM.

            In non-Calvinism, God does not decide people’s fate in eternity before He creates the world. In non-Calvinism there is no irresistible grace that is selectively given only to the preselected elect. In non-Calvinism the lost were not chosen for damnation (until the final judgment). In non-Calvinism since God loves the world (and the world includes both those who eventually become believers and those who never do), God truly loves the lost even those who end up in hell. In non-Calvinism since God desires for all to be saved, if a person is a non-believer they are not the person that God wants them to be (they are separated from Him by their sin) nor are they doing what God wants them to be doing (they are living a lifestyle of sin and rebellion against God and His Word). In non-Calvinism God does not predetermine all of our actions and thoughts, non-Calvinists deny the exhaustive determinism of Calvinists.

            In all these things calvinists and non-Calvinists hold opposite positions.

            To claim they end up at essentially the same place is completely false and flies in the face of these opposite positions.

            Note Prouty is claiming that the non-calvinist ends up with essentially the same position as the Calvinist: “So the non Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving.”

            In non-Calvinism which again is opposite Prouty’s calvinism, we don’t believe in reprobation, so we don’t believe “that God creates people He has no intention of saving.” We believe that God desires to save them, but God also set up the plan of salvation in regard to able minded persons in such a way that they have to freely choose to trust Him alone to save them and they also have to repent of their sins. Prouty denies the reality of free will as understood by the non-Calvinist, but this is again a major difference: in the non-Calvinist’s thinking a person ends up in hell not because God all along desired to damn them (i.e. the reprobation concept in calvinism) nor did God have no intention to save them. God intended to save them (His way, which is faith in Christ justifies a person). But that faith has to be freely chosen, if it is not, then that person will not be saved.

            Now Prouty may hate this way of thinking, he may completely disagree with, and that is to be expected as he is a Calvinist determinist. However, it is not right, nor accurate for him to claim we have essentially the same position regarding the lost and God’s intentions towards them.

            In his Calvinism God really does not want the reprobates to be saved so it is impossible for them to be saved.
            In non-Calvinistic thinking God really does want all people saved, through faith, but if they freely choose not to have faith, not to repent of their sin, they will not be saved. And their being lost is not due to God having no intention in saving them as is true with calvinists, but in their freely choosing to reject God and His grace towards them. Prouty knows all of this already and yet he keeps making this false claim that we essentially arrive at the same position.

              rhutchin

              Robert writes, “In non-Calvinism, God does not decide people’s fate in eternity before He creates the world.”

              This advances the position that God is not omniscient. When God created the world, He necessarily decided each person’s fate, as all of history was known to Him (omniscience) and would not change once God created the world.

              rhutchin

              Robert writes, “their (the reprobate) being lost is not due to God having no intention in saving them as is true with calvinists, but in their freely choosing to reject God and His grace towards them. Prouty knows all of this already and yet he keeps making this false claim that we essentially arrive at the same position.”

              I don’t think Robert understands Les Prouty’s position. The reprobate are lost because they sin just like everyone else.

              I think Les will agree that they are also lost because they freely choose to reject God and His grace toward them – the issue would be to define how “free” a person who is slave to sin can be. Everyone seems to agree that God must enable a person in some way to choose salvation – to negate slavery to sin – and thereby come to be saved – the issue is over the extent to which God must do this and the effectiveness of God’s actions.

              I did not understand Robert’s complaint against Les in this comment.

                Don Johnson

                rhutchin,

                “I think Les will agree that they are also lost because they freely choose to reject God and His grace toward them. . .” Are they rejecting the fact that Christ died for them and they are unwilling to receive the salvation He has provided for them? If not, what are they rejecting?

                  rhutchin

                  They reject the gospel – “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin – Les,

                    “They reject the Gospel – the message of the cross.”

                    Does that mean they reject the fact that Christ loved them enough to die for their sins, was buried and three days later was raised for their justification? If so we agree.

                    rhutchin

                    This seems to be a reference to Romans 4, “The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Here, Paul speaks to the that situation describing believers. You extrapolate this to apply to unbelievers as well which is not what the text allows. We can conclude that Christ loves God’s elect or that God loves both Jew and gentile but you cannot argue from Romans 4 that God loved each and every person, including the reprobate.

                    Paul N

                    You cannot reject what you cannot accept. If people are saved before they were born, then it is simple, God has rejected the reprobate before they were born. Sure we know what the bible says but it really makes no sense in a calvinistic view.
                    Again, leave the onus on God. The idea that it is mans fault makes no sense to me. I cannot see it any other way in your pov.

                    rhutchin

                    God is the one who placed the sins of people on Christ and then punished Christ for those sins. If God punished Christ for the sins of all people -each and every person – then God should not punish those people a second time for those same sins. So, leaving the onus on God, we let God place the sins of His elect on Christ, punish Christ for those sins in the place of His elect, and then call His elect to salvation through the preaching of the gospel.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    Where do you get the idea people are punished for their sins?

                    rhutchin

                    “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction;” Galatians 6

                    “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5

                    If we identify punishment for sin as the “destruction” and “not inheriting eternal life” of these verses, then people will be punished for their sins. Rather than punish His elect for their sins, God punished Christ instead by placing Him on the cross so that it can be said that Christ died for the sins of God’s elect.

                    Paul N

                    I know what the Bible says. I am dealing with your view. If God overlooked the reprobate before they were even born, sin cannot be the issue, God overlooking them is. God choose Jacob over Esau for neither good or evil. We ought to be consistent, no?

                Les Prouty

                Don,

                “Are they rejecting the fact that Christ died for them and they are unwilling to receive the salvation He has provided for them? If not, what are they rejecting?”

                “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

                Now no more layups for us, ok? :)

              Andrew Barker

              “So the non Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving.”

              Ignorance is to be pitied. But willful ignorance is much to be despised. If God’s stated position is that He is not willing that any should perish, it takes some strange thinking to arrive at the conclusion that he creates people who he has no intention of saving.

                rhutchin

                Andrew Barker writes, “If God’s stated position is that He is not willing that any should perish, it takes some strange thinking to arrive at the conclusion that he creates people who he has no intention of saving.”

                This is the argument of the Universalists. The negative “not willing” requires this conclusion, Thus, if one defines “any,” to extend to each and every person, then it must be certain that God will save each and every person. The Calvinist defines “any” to be limited to God’s elect, so that it must be certain that God will save His elect. One must ignore the use of the negative in any other interpretation.

                  Andrew Barker

                  No, it’s a straight statement from scripture which you appear to wish to ignore!

                    Lydia

                    “No, it’s a straight statement from scripture which you appear to wish to ignore!”

                    They leave human ability to respond out of the salvation equation which they think glorifies God but in fact, it does the opposite when thought through. Their only options are determinism and universalism. Both leave human ability to respond out of the salvation equation. Then they claim you think you can “save yourself”. Does the Cross/resurrection require a human response? Could a human respond or not freely?

                    The whole exercise is in “arguing”– not seeking truth. Without human ability to respond to the Triune God, the whole exercise is a moot point. They have fancy terminology such as irresistible grace which is a rather nice and benign sounding phrase for force. Or compatablism which is a cognitive dissonant way to explain the free will to sin. And to their credit, they totally ignore explaining how the damned come to be damned since they were not chosen for some of that forced grace. I don’t blame them for talking around that point at all.

                    I am not sure how there can be any spiritual “relationship” within that paradigm. But some are convinced it works that way.

              Les Prouty

              Andrew,

              ““Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
              who have eyes, but see not,
              who have ears, but hear not.”

              It takes some really strange hiding from the truth to know that God never **intended** to save all and not be able to admit it. Refusal I think.

              But if you admit it, well then you are admitting that God created people He never **intended** to save. But as it stands, you avoid a direct answer and talk about His desire to save all (a point that many Calvinists agree with BTW).

                Robert

                Les Prouty quotes from Jer. 5:21 [note to Prouty if you are going to quote a Bible verse always give the reference]

                [[ ““Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
                who have eyes, but see not,
                who have ears, but hear not.”
                It takes some really strange hiding from the truth to know that God never **intended** to save all and not be able to admit it. Refusal I think. ]]

                No one needs to hide from the truth.

                Certainly not those non-Calvinists who love the Lord and love His Word and affirm it.

                God makes himself very clear, and says some things explicitly, such as that Jesus died for the WHOLE WORLD, that Jesus was given because “God so loved the World . . .”. The fact that some professing Christians deny these things via their false calvinistic theology makes not one whit of difference in regards to the truth of God’s Word nor what He has clearly presented. The Calvinists may hate it and hem and haw over it, and try to reinterpret it so that it is forced to fit their false system of theology. Does not matter, it will stand regardless of what they do to it.

                And Prouty’s citation of Jer. 5: 21 is “proof texting” at its worst.

                The text has nothing to do with what we are discussing in this thread nor does it support Prouty’s false claim that God does not intend to save all whatsoever.

                The quotation from Jeremiah says nothing about what we are discussing in this thread, it is ****one of the worst examples**** of wrongly citing a scripture that I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot as I worked in counter cult ministry).

                Prouty just lifts it out of its context completely ignoring what is said before and after in Jer. 5. For example in verses 14-15 God tells them He is bringing “a nation whose language you do not know” as a judgment upon the Israelites for their disobedience. Anyone who knows the OT knows that they were told in the “blessings and cursings” section that if they obey they would be blessed and if they disobey they would be cursed (and one of the manifestations they were being judged for disobedience is that a nation speaking a language they do not know would come against them, cf. Deut. 28:49). Later in Jer. 5 we are told some of the problems of these people “who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not” in v. 31: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so!”

                So the verse in Jer. 5:21 is not in reference to humanity in general, but SPECIFICALLY AND CONTEXTUALLY to the disobedient Israelites during Jeremiah’s time.

                To IGNORE this context in order to make a point that God does not intend to save all, as Prouty does with Jer. 5:21, is reprehensible.

                It is playing fast and loose with the scripture.

                I hope everybody sees this. If this kind of completely unacceptable proof texting is what Prouty has to resort to, to make his claims and support his Calvinism, it shows just how desperate he is. And I have seen this kind of desperation from others before: the worse the case they are making, the worse and more ridiculous the proof texting they engage in.

                  Les

                  Ok just arrived in Haiti and am in a bus heading to our location. Had no plans to respond to all the essays Robert writes trying to be the one man refuter of all things I write.

                  However, how can he miss the Jeremiah citation so badly. News flash Bob. I quoted it only as a response to what Andrew wrote. I did not have the topic of this thread in mind.
                  He had written “Ignorance is to be pitied. But willful ignorance is much to be despised.

                  So chill out Bob. No need for another essay.

                  Andrew Barker

                  As I mentioned, it takes some strange thinking to suggest that God created people He had no intention of saving. But then Les is no stranger to strange thinking. Or for that matter misusing the text. He is matched only by the efforts of rhutchin who is constantly trying to put words in peoples’ mouths to the extent that he is now suggesting Leighton is still slightly Calvinistic. LOL.

                    rhutchin

                    Andrew Barker writes, “…it takes some strange thinking to suggest that God created people He had no intention of saving.”

                    This is Andrew’s personal opinion and lacks substance. It is god who opens and closes the womb; thus, it is God who necessarily determines who will be born. Psalm 139 tells us that God even knits the baby together in the womb. It is God who sustains a person’s life and no person dies until God calls the person to stand before Him. God knows the destiny of each person that is created in the womb – people that God has decreed to be created. He knows whether that person will be save or not. It is God who determines that a person will not be saved if all He does is bring the person’s life to an end before the person accepts salvation.

                    Unless Andrew means to deny God’s involvement in our lives, there is no “strange thinking to suggest that God created people He had no intention of saving.” Andrew does not even offer an explanation as how this might be strange, and I suspect he cannot (unless his argument is to beg the question).

                  rhutchin

                  Robert writes, “God makes himself very clear, and says some things explicitly, such as that Jesus died for the WHOLE WORLD, that Jesus was given because “God so loved the World . . .”

                  Scripture does not say that Christ died for the WHOLE WORLD. It does say that Christ died for the sins of the whole world. Unless Robert has some Scripture in mind regarding Christ dying for the whole world, we should maintain correct context and say that Christ died for the sins of the whole world.

                  John 3:16 says that God gave His son so that whosoever believes would be saved. There is no provision for those not believing to be saved. Because of God’s intimate involvement in the salvation of those who do come to believe, we have ample support for concluding that God effectively brings a person to salvation. If nothing else, it is God who restores “libertarian free will” to unsaved people and a person with libertarian free will necessarily accepts salvation – the actual decision is a no-brainer. There is no disputing the facts unless one does not know the facts and just makes up his own. I think Robert is doing this especially as he uses the term “free will.” As he uses it, a person is free to choose but then can make decisions that would be made only if he did not have free will – but Robert still calls it a free will decision. I find Robert’s use of the term, “free will,” inconsistent and confusing.

                    Paul N

                    What does world mean?

                    John 3:16 says for God so loved the world. So world must be taken into account when dealing with the whole verse. John 3:17 says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world. Again, what is world refereeing to? And who does world leave out?

                    If Christ died for the sins of the whole world, whose sin is left out?

                    One cannot freely choose if they cannot freely reject, in any circumstance in life. Unless you change the definition of choice… Then it would not be a choice. You cannot change meanings of words simply to support your belief system. You said you were always saved before you were even born and it is all Gods doing. If this is the case, how could your freely choose Christ? Just say God chose you and be done with it. This notion that you choose after God regenerates you is folly, you are already born again.

                    Choose – pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

                    Don Johnson

                    Paul,

                    I’ve heard Calvinist’s give an explanation of John 3:16, but never in it’s context. One thing I’ve never heard is a Calvinist explain John 3:17, though I’ve asked a number of times.

                    Good point about regeneration. Though Calvinist’s teach regeneration precedes faith (even though they can’t find it taught in the Bible), I don’t personally know any that act as if it were true.

          Les

          The key thing still not addressed is contained in rhutchin quite above. Intention. Was it God’s intention or purpose to save all people?

          Can a non Calvinist simply answer this: Did God intend or purpose to save all people before the first man was ever created? Yes or no.

          If you’d rather start at the fall, Did God intend or purpose to save all people when the fall had occurred?

            Don Johnson

            Les,

            God’s desire is to save all people and God provided the means where all might be saved. That being, He died for the sins of the whole world. Thereby making salvation available to every single person.

              rhutchin

              Is it true that God provided the means for all people to be saved or is Don supplying his own personal opinion? We know from Ephesians that salvation involves faith but Paul tells us that all people do not have faith. Is it Don’s conclusion that God gives faith to all people? Is it sufficient that Christ die for sins and God impart faith to people for a person to be saved. Elsewhere, we read of the Holy Spirit convicting a person of sin. It would appear, contrary to what Don would have one believe, that much more is required than just Christ’s death on the cross.

              We see that God is intimately involved in many ways in a person’s life to bring the person to salvation. If God truly desires and intends that all be saved, then we have to ask how it is that God could not accomplish that which He desired and that which He sought so vehemently to bring about in the person. Who could have frustrated God’s efforts and how could they do so? How incredible to conclude that God desired the salvation of all people, involved Himself so intimately in the lives of people, yet miscalculated what it would take to bring a person to salvation and thereby failed in His efforts. Are we to think God incompetent to gain that which he desired? Should we not conclude that God is competent and achieved exactly that which He desired so some are saved because God desired their salvation and some are not saved because God did not desire their salvation?

            Les

            Don,

            Would you mind answering what I asked? Was it God’s purpose/intent to save all people?

              Don Johnson

              Les,

              I don’t know for sure. I can’t think of a Scripture that exactly states that. I do however how He desires all to be saved. All can be saved. Because He died for all.

              Les Prouty

              Thanks Don. It seems to me that God has purpose in all He does. Here are just 3 places that say this:

              “The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
              even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

              “Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
              but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

              “declaring the end from the beginning
              and from ancient times things not yet done,
              saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
              and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”

              I think I can see why no non Calvinist will answer this straight up. You all will talk about the desire of the Lord and so on. But desire and purpose are two different things. I can desire to climb Mt. Everest some day. But I never will unless and until I take action to make it happen.

              We can talk about God’s desire for all to be saved. This obviously demonstrates His compassion for all people. But did He purpose to save them all? Did He intend to save all people when He sent His Son to the cross to shed His blood?

              I think not. He says, “I will accomplish all my purpose.” So look around. Is He accomplishing the salvation of all people? Obviously not. We can easily conclude that it was never His intention or purpose to save all people.

              So why did He send His Son if not intending to save all people? Surely it was to save some people, because that is what He accomplished and the Isaiah passage says “I will accomplish all my purpose.”

              More…

                Doug Sayers

                Les, I think the tension/confusion can be solved here by adding one word to your statement: We can easily conclude that it was never His intention or purpose to save all people… *irresistibly*.

                We see again, how true Calvinism actually emasculates justification by faith. In your system the just shall live by unconditional election and irresistible grace. The means of repentance and faith would be reduced to a divine puppet string attached to the will of the elect. The glory of a contrite faith that works by love is lost in the Reformed over-correction.

                Les Prouty

                Doug, with all sincerity, nice try. Reformed theologians are the reason we’re even having this discussion outside the RC church. Luther, justification by faith. The very idea that Reformed theology emasculates justification by faith is, with all due respect, laughable.

                No puppets. No force. Just the beauty of Jesus. Irresistible.

                Now, did God ever intend to save all people. Can any one of you answer that without qualifications and nuance and skating?

                Robert

                Prouty says that God has purpose in all that He does. That is true.

                It is not true however that God has purposes all that occurs.

                God has purposes a plan of salvation in which he leaves it to the individual to choose to trust Him or to choose to reject Him. God does not purpose each of these decisions to trust or to reject, they are freely made choices by the individuals.

                God has certain things that He makes sure happen. But God does not make sure that one is saved and another is lost, again he works with all but He purposes that they freely choose to trust Him.

                Determinists like Prouty want us to believe that God purposes all events. That is not true, if it were so then God purposes every sin that is committed, every evil thought, every unbelieving thought. In scripture God holds people responsible for their sins, their evil choices, and the choices they make.

                The Bible and our own experience confirms that God purposes some things to happen, but not all things that happen are purposed by Him.

                  Lydia

                  “Determinists like Prouty want us to believe that God purposes all events. That is not true, if it were so then God purposes every sin that is committed, every evil thought, every unbelieving thought. In scripture God holds people responsible for their sins, their evil choices, and the choices they make.”

                  Some of my daughters friends who stayed in the YRR youth group at my old church are starting to ask questions OUTSIDE of church on social media. Such as, did God really decide that ___ would be born to a heroin addict and suffer so many health problems as a result? Did God really decide that our friend would be hit by a car and die? These are 14-16 year olds asking questions based upon what they are interpreting from what they are taught. They are logical questions to have for that age.

                  What I have told some of them that want to talk is that the word “love” means responsibility, justice, mercy, compassion and even duty. We are to “be” new creations in Christ BECAUSE we are saved and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit. There are consequences to sin here and now that affect everyone around us in horrible ways. His grace is not so arbitrary and cruel as is being taught. His grace is not a license which is how it is often interpreted when told you remain wicked.

                  We have work to do, folks. I see some serious problems coming with young people immersed in this teaching. Especially for ones who come from bad situations that “God determined”. The last thing we want is for them to totally abandon God because He is so arbitrary and cruel. He isn’t. This is why compromised unity is not an option for me.

                    rhutchin

                    Lydia writes, “I see some serious problems coming with young people immersed in this teaching. Especially for ones who come from bad situations that “God determined”.”

                    What exactly are the serious problems you are seeing? If a person is taught that God determines all things, the natural response would be for the person to initiate constant communication with God for guidance, wisdom, protection, etc. The “problem” must be that young people are being told that God determines all things and then completely ignoring God. Let’s face it, we have parents who never think to ask God to protect their children when they know the dangers children face in the world. Even though people are told that Satan prowls the world looking for people to destroy, they act as if it is nothing – never asking, or thinking to ask, God for help. We see serious problems with people ignoring God – the rationale for people to ignore God when they know He can, and does, determine all things is incomprehensible.

                    Lydia

                    “If a person is taught that God determines all things, the natural response would be for the person to initiate constant communication with God for guidance, wisdom, protection, etc. The “problem” must be that young people are being told that God determines all things and then completely ignoring God. Let’s face it, we have parents who never think to ask God to protect their children when they know the dangers children face in the world”

                    So God changes His mind from what he predetermined?

                    I am not clear on what you would be praying for unless you are rethinking the determinism. Do you pray for guidance to prepare for predetermined events? Why pray for protection from Gods predetermined events? I don’t get it. Would that not really be asking for protection from what God has determined? So asking for protection from God Himself! The event/situations have already been decided by God. Prayer in this scenario sounds more like a ritual since He is deterministic. Sounds Islamic. They don’t ignore their determinatist god but pray in devotion to him as a ritual.

                    Scott Shaver

                    “Determinists like Prouty want us to believe that God purposes all events”

                    Exactly, both good and evil, which certainly may have been the impression left by many of the writers of Deuteronomic history……a perspective which, due to an undeveloped theology of the afterlife, was bettered by the revelation of God in the flesh….namely, the person, teachings and examples of Jesus Christ.

                    For us to adopt Prouty’s view, along with that of the deuteronomic historians would mean we have to ignore the person, work and claims of Christ and present the mind, heart and operational intent of God as more closely resembling those of man.

                    Hence the need for Calvin’s “system” in toto.

                    rhutchin

                    To adopt Prouty’s view, we need attribute to God the wisdom that is rightfully His, the infinite understanding and perfect knowledge of all things that His wisdom entails, and the ability to make decisions that account fully for the means to bring about that which He has decided and thereby make them certain. Prouty is just saying that we should let God be God and everything naturally falls into place. Rather than “ignore the person, work and claims of Christ” Prouty accounts fully for this as the means God uses to bring about that which He has decided. Prouty does not “present the mind, heart and operational intent of God as more closely resembling those of man” but as resembling a God of perfect wisdom who makes decision with a wisdom that incorporates, and makes provision for, the means to accomplish those things He intends to accomplish. Prouty says that God intends to save people; you say that God intends to let people decide if they want to be saved.

                    Lydia

                    “. The “problem” must be that young people are being told that God determines all things and then completely ignoring God. Let’s face it, we have parents who never think to ask God to protect their children when they know the dangers children face in the world. Even though people are told that Satan prowls the world looking for people to destroy, they act as if it is nothing – never asking, or thinking to ask, God for help. We see serious problems with people ignoring God – the rationale for people to ignore God when they know He can, and does, determine all things is incomprehensible.”

                    I will admit this makes no sense to me within the determinist paradigm. If God has determined all events then are they to pray and ask God to protect them from Him?

                    Isn’t God controlling Satan, too? Perhaps prayer is a sort of ritual in that paradigm like Islamic prayers. God has already determined everything for you but in your devotion to this determinist god, you pray because He said to pray even though He is controlling every molecule 24/7. Are you suggesting He will change His mind from what He has already determined?

                    This is the cognitive dissonance that totally perplexes me. Calvinism is easy to argue as an ST but impossible to “practice” without total cognitive dissonance ruling your life..

                    rhutchin

                    If all things are known to God and accounted by Him in His plans, and He then tells us to pray, then we can have confidence that God will answer our prayers. If God tells us that He determines all things and that He has taken our prayers into account in determining all things, then we ought always to pray – exactly that which Paul tells us to do. You seem to have bought into the fatalistic nonsense thrown out by atheists who have no conception of God and think that the very idea of God is foolishness and then go about confusing weak-minded people. Has God lied to us when He said, Ask and you will receive. By prayer, we do not ask God to change His mind, we ask God to give us that which He has already decreed to give us. This can be somewhat mind-boggling for the human mind to comprehend, so we should just believe God when He tells us pray for those things He has already determined. If we laze around and do nothing, we get nothing; if we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then we get our physical needs met. If we do not ask God for anything, He gives us what we ask for – nothing. We should not be teaching our children fatalistic nonsense (or the cognitive dissonance of which you seem to be an advocate) and should teach them confidence in God.

                Andrew Barker

                Les: “I think not. He says, “I will accomplish all my purpose.” So look around. Is He accomplishing the salvation of all people? Obviously not. We can easily conclude that it was never His intention or purpose to save all people”

                This type of reasoning (if I can call it reasoning) is so inadequate it beggars belief. It is deterministic circularity par excellence! God determines all things. Some people are not saved, therefore it must be that God has not determined it! You’re constantly quoting this passage(s) from Isaiah but you’ve obviously never given it much thought. It says that God will accomplish all that he purposes to do. It does not say that God will do everything YOU think he has said he will do! It is true that God has never said that he will save everyone regardless. God does not simply give salvation out to all and sundry or indeed to a chosen few. That is not part and has never been part of God’s plan. God’s purpose is clearly set out in scripture and that is to save ALL who come to him through faith. I don’t think I can put it more clearly than that.

                Les, it’s about time you stopped blaming God for not doing what he never said he was going to do in the first place. If God is not accomplishing the salvation of all, maybe instead of questioning God you should start to examine your own theology. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve got it wrong and The Almighty is just doing exactly what he said he would accomplish!?

              Les Prouty

              Don,

              Continuing… I left off at “So why did He send His Son if not intending to save all people? Surely it was to save some people, because that is what He accomplished and the Isaiah passage says “I will accomplish all my purpose.”

              More…”

              So which is it Don? Did God intend to save all people by ending His Son? We agree He desired all to be saved. But what was the intent of sending His son? Save all? Or save some?

              If you will answer the exact question, and answer that He intended NOT to save all (though He desired to do so), then my overall point stands. You non Calvinists are as I said earlier “So the non Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving.”

                Don Johnson

                Les,

                God intended for all to saved.

                You wrote “we agree He desired all to be saved.” If Christ did not die for them, does God have some other means of saving people?

                Let’s say tonight you go out and cheat on your wife. Do you say to your wife I cheated on you but don’t be angry or upset, because I was just fulfilling God’s purpose. God intended that I commit adultery, in fact He ordained it. So let’s rejoice in God accomplishing all His purpose. Just wondering what your wife might say.

                Lydia

                “So which is it Don? Did God intend to save all people by ending His Son? We agree He desired all to be saved. But what was the intent of sending His son? Save all? Or save some?”

                He gave us the “ability” to think and respond. And for those who do not have that functioning ability because of sin entering the world and corrupting it, I believe he is especially merciful.

                I think His “intent” is obvious with His great sacrifice and what He modeled while he was among us..

                  Bill Mac

                  Lydia: I think you are saying that God’s intent was to make salvation available to any who would freely respond to the offer. That seems reasonable and biblical.

                  I don’t think we can say that God’s intent was to save all people, since intent means purpose and I don’t think God can fail to accomplish His purpose. The difference between Cal and NonCal in this is not whether God accomplishes his purpose but what His purpose is.

                    Lydia

                    “I don’t think we can say that God’s intent was to save all people, since intent means purpose and I don’t think God can fail to accomplish His purpose. The difference between Cal and NonCal in this is not whether God accomplishes his purpose but what His purpose is.”

                    Intent does not always mean purpose. Think of intent and purpose when it comes to raising your kids. You won’t force them as adults into that intent and purpose. You want them to freely choose the right things by that time.

                    I realize that human illustrations are lacking but I see semantics concerning God (intent/purpose/determinism) getting in the way here. By omitting human ability and responsibility from the picture it HAS to result with God “failing”. And that is unacceptable to ALL of us. It is humans who are failing. Not God. When we start with a faulty premise about God’s attributes/plan and how they play out, we have disastrous results. Where is OUR responsibility if we have no volition in this matter?

                    Robert

                    Bill Mac,

                    To take an example. Say a father is planning for a wedding reception for his daughter and her new husband. He INTENDS for all of the family and friends to be present at the happy occasion: so that is what he WANTS, what he DESIRES. He then plans or PURPOSES certain things including the location, what kind of food will be there, etc. He then plans with His desires in mind. One of the things he will plan to do, purpose, is that all that he wants to be present at the celebration are sent invitations so they are aware of it (they can’t come if they are not aware of the location, the date, the time).

                    Now most fathers are also realistic, they know that while they intend for all family and friends to be there, things come up, circumstances may change things (e.g. if someone has a serious car accident and is hospitalized they will not come, now is it the case that the father did not want them to come? Or is it the case that circumstances precluded their coming? They’re not coming does that change the father’s purposes in connection with the event? Probably not unless it is a key person for example his own daughter or the groom, he may then even postpone the event.).

                    My point is that persons can have desires, intentions, and purposes and they are connected and they are also impacted by the actual circumstances that are present.

                    God desires for all to be saved (He says that). In order for this to occur he also purposes other things such as Jesus coming in the flesh, dying on the cross, raising from the dead, the Spirit convicting the world of sin, righteousness, judgment, sending out missionaries, leading believers to witness to others, etc. etc. The actual circumstances also include how individuals respond when they hear the gospel message and the Spirit gives them understanding of it. Some will choose to trust, some will choose to reject, these are choices that the non-Calvinist believes are left to the individuals, their choices are not purposed by God (if God controlled their choices then that would be determinism and non-Calvinists reject determinism).

                    Just as the father desires, intends and plans/purposes for all of the family members and friends to be at the celebration, similarly God desires, intends and plans/purposes for all to be present at his eternal banquet feast (check out Jesus on the parables about God’s banquet where all are invited, but some give excuses, some don’t want to be there, etc.). Bill Mac you should go study the parables and see how inclusive God is about people coming to His banquet (that banquest is a symbol for being in the presence with God for eternity). All are invited and he really desires for all to come, he sets things up/purposes so that all can come, but then there’s this thing called human intentions which includes people’s choices (people can choose to say No, choose to give excuses which in the parables are all really lame excuses). Bill Mac put Calvinism and non-Calvinism aside and just look at those parables, what do they tell you about God’s desires, intentions and purposes? What do they tell you about what prevents God’s desires, intentions and purposes from all being fulfilled?

                    “I don’t think we can say that God’s intent was to save all people, since intent means purpose and I don’t think God can fail to accomplish His purpose.”

                    No, intent and purpose are not synonyms. I have an intention but then how it is expressed may involve different purposes or plans. In scripture when God purposes something He plans for it to occur. And those purposes are based in His desires.

                    I work with inmates and one of the big things we want them to know and practice is that you may have an intention, or desire, but how are you going to bring it about? How will you plan or purpose to bring that about? There are right ways to realize your desires, to see your intentions happen and wrong ways. Your intention may be to get some money, and how are you going to plan/purpose to bring about your intention? By robbing a bank, selling some crack? Or by getting a legal job?

                    Purposes the ways a person tries to fulfill their desires are always connected with their desires. God does not purpose things separate from His desires. And if He says that he desires the salvation of all, that desire is going to direct Him and what He purposes and does not purpose.

                    Bill Mac

                    Lydia: Doesn’t it confuse the issue if we start making intent = desire?

                    What if we say God desires the salvation of all, and has made salvation available to all, but only purposes to save those who freely come to him in faith?

                    If intent means purpose in some contexts, and desire in others, perhaps we should just use purpose and desire to avoid confusion.

                    Bill Mac

                    Robert: See my response to Lydia. We need to agree on definitions to see the points we are making. Since we are using the word intent to mean different things, we should discard it for terms less ambiguous. I think we can agree that God desires to save all people. I think we can also agree that God is not going to save everyone, because he has placed a condition on salvation, viz. that people place their faith in Jesus Christ (excluding exceptions such as diminished capacity).

                    Bill Mac

                    I’ve been thinking about this a little more. You say desire, intent, and purpose are related and I agree. But in the example you use (the wedding), intent is basically a contingency you desire and plan for, but it is also mixed with hope. You want all the kids to be there. You hope they all come, and you make accommodation for all of them even though you realize not all may come. Your purpose is to make accommodation for them all, but not to make them all come. It’s a good analogy but like all analogies if falls a little bit short. Hope is an emotion directly tied to future uncertainty.

                    God desires the salvation of all, and he has purposed to make accommodation for all (the atonement) but he is only willing to save those who come in faith, and he knows that not all will. We know God accomplishes his purpose.

                    Scott Shaver

                    I’ll say it. No problem at all with that one.

                    According to the claims of Jesus Christ himself along with those of the apostles, God’s plan includes the possibility of and a certain propitiation FOR the sins of the ENTIRE world!

                    Faith is the key….to “hear the diesels hummin” Don’t need no ticket….you just get on board.

                    Whether or not God is/was/will be “frustrated” in his “plan” is a question we can all ask him when we’re in a better condition to understand and comprehend the infinite…..shortly sometime after the “consummation of all things”?

                    Lydia

                    “Lydia: Doesn’t it confuse the issue if we start making intent = desire?”

                    Yes. I was not at all happy with my earlier comment as I thought about it. I have a very hard time articulating this. I find using the words purpose or intent a problem. As I read the OT, I see a theme of God patiently working with, around, over, under, etc the Israelites. At times He determined events but mostly He was patiently trying to get the Israelites to be the light of the world they were intended to be. IOW, what was His “intent” there? To have a people who reflected His goodness to the world so others would want to know Him? Not sure “intent” is the right word because it is not black and white how God operated. In the Calvinist world, this makes God out to be wishy washy and powerless. I totally disagree because I view God through the “relationship” paradigm and not just the power paradigm. Often, not using the power we have turns out to be VERY powerful in the long run. The difference is in giving people choices or forcing them and what that communicates to the world.

                    “What if we say God desires the salvation of all, and has made salvation available to all, but only purposes to save those who freely come to him in faith?”

                    Again, with the “articulation” problem but I will try. Jesus Christ did what He did with the Cross/Resurrection. That is a done deal. How we (all people) respond to that is another issue and not sure using words like intent or purpose work well here. . Calvinists are saying we cannot “respond” because we do not have the “ability” to respond. God has to force Grace upon us to respond.

                    My view is that able thinking adults (even children) can respond to truth. (But I also believe the Holy Spirit convicts us and God can use all sorts of things like dreams to draw people. I know, I have seen it with some Muslims). But because I have the “relationship” paradigm of God, I cannot buy into Him “failing” because all are not saved. That is the failing of us humans. I cannot divorce human responsibility or volition from the equation.

                    “If intent means purpose in some contexts, and desire in others, perhaps we should just use purpose and desire to avoid confusion.”

                    I do believe God desires for us to choose His ways, His wisdom, etc. I think that is what He wanted in the Garden. Jesus Christ was proof He wants us reconciled to Him. I will dare to say I think His purpose is wanting us in relationship with Him so we can grow and mature in Him with His ways. But He gives us that choice and does not force us.

                    Is that as clear as mud? :o)

                Robert

                Les Prouty wrote:

                [[“So which is it Don? Did God intend to save all people by ending His Son? We agree He desired all to be saved. But what was the intent of sending His son? Save all? Or save some?
                If you will answer the exact question, and answer that He intended NOT to save all (though He desired to do so), then my overall point stands. You non Calvinists are as I said earlier “So the non-Calvinist finds himself in the same essential position they accuse Calvinists of, namely that God creates people He has no intention of saving.”]]

                Les leaves some things out.

                He argues that if God desires for all to be saved, if God intends for all to be saved, then all would be saved, since we look around and see that not all are saved, therefore, God must not intend to save all.

                As I said about Owen, Calvinists like Prouty intentionally leave out that God does desire for all to be saved ON HIS TERMS!!

                And what are HIS TERMS?

                Look at what the Bible actually says about those who come to faith. For those who hear the gospel, they must choose to trust Him (so it has to be through faith) and they must repent of their sinful lifestyle ( John the Baptist and Jesus and the apostles when giving evangelistic messages always said “believe and repent”).

                Does God desire for all to be saved? Yes, that is what He says.

                Can they be saved any old way, through their religious works for example?

                Can they be saved by being “religious”? No, ask the Pharisees about that.

                Can they be saved by being a “good person”? No, because one sin is enough to damn you for eternity as God’s standard is perfection.

                Can they be saved by knowing the right things? No, the demons know that it is all true, they know who Jesus is, but they are not saved.

                No, He says it is through faith and the person must also repent of their sins. Jesus also said that a disciple or follower of Him must deny himself, which means they must follow Jesus as Lord and Master according to his terms.

                So if you come according to His terms, you will trust Him alone to save you, repent of your sins, and begin to follow Jesus as Lord.

                Why do many not come to faith?

                Is it because Jesus did not die for them? No.

                Is it because Jesus and the Father do not love them? No, God himself says that He so loved the world that He gave . . . .

                Is it because God’s purposes failed? No, God set up salvation to be exactly the way that He wants it to be.

                In my evangelistic experience most people reject Christ because they do not want anyone to be Lord over them, master over them. So for most it is a “Lordship issue”. As I have heard more than once: “no one tells ME what to do, say, or think! Well if that is how you think, then you are in effect “playing God”. Because the attitude of the true believer is the opposite, Jesus tells me what to do, say or think and I joyfully and willfully obey Him as He is my Lord and I am His servant. Or as Bob Dylan so famously put it: “you gotta serve somebody, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.” The reason “decisionism” (i.e. we are saved simply by making a onetime decision to accept Jesus) fails is because Jesus did not desire mere decisions he desired genuine disciples who would be His servants and follow Him unreservedly.

                Scott Shaver

                Let’s not speak of God’s “intent” since outside of his intent for us “in Christ” we cannot possibly know.

                Let’s say that God certainly provided the possibility and certain propitiation for the salvation of ALL.

                If the sacrifice of Christ were not sufficient for ALL, it would not be sufficient for ONE.

                  rhutchin

                  Then, you should never say to a person, “Christ died for you,” but that “Christ died for sin to make salvation possible for you.” Thus, you write, “Let’s say that God certainly provided the possibility…” or “If the sacrifice of Christ were not sufficient for ALL, it would not be sufficient for ONE.” Now, you can tell people to use their free will and decide what they want to do with this. You should not tell a person that Christ died to save them, only that Christ died so they can decide if they want to be saved. At least be consistent. The Calvinist has no problem with this. Your problem is that the Calvinist says that everybody exercises their free will to reject the salvation provided through Christ’s death and you don’t like that. But then, you object strenuously when the Calvinist says that God has every right to choose to save some of those who freely reject salvation under your system.

                    Andrew Barker

                    rhutchin: Your problem is that you continually try to give non-Calvinists problems which they have. The majority of non-Calvinists would be happy to preach that God has provided for ALL to be saved, but that salvation is not automatic but conditional on faith. Choose you this day ….. yes I think plenty of non-Calvinists would be quite happy with that approach.

                    The problems are all on your side of the fence. You’re left with God choosing to irresistibly save some of those who freely reject his plan of salvation. In honour of Tim Keller, that really is pig-sty theology!

                    rhutchin

                    “…God has provided for ALL to be saved…”

                    That voids any issue here. If the phrase, “Christ died for you,” means no more than “…God has provided for ALL to be saved…” then it means no more than God provides rain for crops or air to breathe.

                    The Scriptures say much more than that:
                    Paul writing to believers says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
                    Again, “…if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many (i.e., believers)!”
                    Again, “Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (i.e., believers)”
                    Again, “Do not by your eating destroy your brother (your brother in Christ) for whom Christ died.”
                    Again, “if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother (brother in Christ), for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.”
                    To the Corinthian believers., “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,…” where our refers to the believers
                    To the Thessalonian believers, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
                    “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” where “you” is the believer, God’s elect chosen from the beginning.

                    Scott Shaver

                    On the contrary Rhutchin:

                    Regardless of what you say I “must” or “must not” do….I can declare with glee and confidence before any human being that CHRIST DIED FOR THE SINS OF THE ENTIRE WORLD. More specifically, CHRIST DIED FOR YOU (whosoever).

                    Twas a PERFECT Sacrifice (from our finite perspective). Twas a PERFECT PROPITIATION for Sin.

                    Take your “consistency” and place it somewhere as dark as tomb of Calvin would be my suggestion.

                    rhutchin

                    Then the term, “Christ died for you,” lacks any meaning because you apply it to both to those that will be saved and those that will not be saved. What gain is there to tell a person that, “Christ died for you”?

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    Paul wrote to the Corinthians and stated “Christ died for our sins”. You were correct to say he was addressing Christians. However, Paul was restating exactly what he had said to them when they were all unbelievers. He was redelivering what he had received. So if Paul thought it was ok to tell unbelievers that Christ died for their sins, that’s good enough for me.

                    rhutchin

                    In 1 Corinthians 15Paul writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,…”

                    Is this what Paul had preached to them earlier in a large crowd from which they had come to believe? Paul really doesn’t tell us. Here he has personalized it by saying, “our,” meaning “yours and mine.” Earlier Paul might have preached, “Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the world,” wherein Paul, a Jew, speaking to a gentile audience, would have meant “not just we Jews, but you gentiles, also.” If it is true that Christ died for the sins of each and every person, then for what sin could God condemn a person to hell – all sins would be future as well as past sins? If Christ died for the sins of those who reject salvation then the term has no real meaning as His death accomplished nothing other than to make salvation available. If that is the case, why not just say that. Paul uses direct language in writing to believers – Christ died for your sins when you did not even know Christ – so that God has no basis to judge a believer for his sins – God has already judged Christ for them. The sins of believers were imputed to Christ whom God then punished for their sins.

                    The need then is to explain what the term “Christ died for your sins,” actually means. Calvinists conclude it means exactly what it says, limiting its application to believers only.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    “For what I received I pass on to you as first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” You tell me if this is what Paul actually said. He said it was, you seem to thing it wasn’t. Paul said it was of first importance. Now do you think Paul forgot what he delivered unto them. Or do you think he was lying. If we can’t trust Paul to honestly repeat what he said, when do we know when to believe anything else he wrote?

                    rhutchin

                    You are correct. You correctly point out that Paul said, “Christ died for our sins.” This accords with 1 John 2. I was still in Scott Shaver mode who was arguing, “Christ died for you.” Christ died for the sins of the world and then Christ died for God’s elect. Paul can preach to unbelievers that Christ died for their sins (your point); he cannot preach that Christ died for them (Shaver’s belief).

                  Andrew Barker

                  Scott: I really like that comment regarding sufficiency. It helps to lay the lie of limited atonement too. For Christ’s death to be sufficient for one he had to be perfect. Perfection cannot be measured in degrees. It either is, or it isn’t. Hence by being perfect, Christ’s sacrifice must be sufficient for ALL also! Thanks.

                    Scott Shaver

                    And Andrew:

                    I particularly like the way you surgically nail the bulls-eye with your assessment of the “Rhutchin” syndrome.

                    “They like to give non-calvinists problems.” IS THAT NOT THE SINGULAR FOCUS OF NEO-REFORM?

                    rhutchin

                    All agree on sufficiency. The issue is efficiency.

                Lydia

                ” You seem to have bought into the fatalistic nonsense thrown out by atheists who have no conception of God and think that the very idea of God is foolishness and then go about confusing weak-minded people.”

                No, I am speaking of the fatalism (determinism) of Calvinism. I don’t think you understand it. You seem to have bought into the notion of cognitive dissonance in order to shore up this systematic theology.

                ” Has God lied to us when He said, Ask and you will receive. By prayer, we do not ask God to change His mind, we ask God to give us that which He has already decreed to give us. This can be somewhat mind-boggling for the human mind to comprehend, so we should just believe God when He tells us pray for those things He has already determined.”

                Yes, I am familiar with this. You know how this works out, right? An old friend, big time Calvinist missionary, lost a child in a freak accident in a foreign country while serving God there. They prayed the same way, taught the same things as young couple missionaries . Now they are agnostics. Left it all behind and are now trying to make sense of what they believed and why.. God determined that horror since He controls every molecule 24/7 and they are to rejoice in this deterministic “suffering”. They can’t. So they are forced to now rethink everything.

                ” If we laze around and do nothing, we get nothing; if we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then we get our physical needs met. If we do not ask God for anything, He gives us what we ask for – nothing. We should not be teaching our children fatalistic nonsense (or the cognitive dissonance of which you seem to be an advocate) and should teach them confidence in God.”

                You believe in fatalistic nonsense which looks a lot like Islam….but cannot see it.

              Les Prouty

              Don and Doug,

              I am packing tonight for Haiti early tomorrow. If I am unable to comment much more it’s not because I don’t want to engage the conversation. I almost always benefit from these exchanges.

              Blessings brothers.

rhutchin

Pastor flowers writes, “Notable Calvinists are known to argue that God’s primary concern is not the welfare of man, but for Himself and His own glory. ”

Hopefully, not so. God’s primary purpose is His glory – ” In him we were also chosen…in order that we…might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1) But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” so we can say that people are God’s primary concern. Notable Calvinists, if being properly quoted, are usually more careful with their words.

Pastor Flowers writes, “I came to understand that God does not sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all.”

I think your previous Calvinist influence is still coming through. You have not abandoned Calvinism completely.

But then Pastor Flowers writes, “By putting the welfare of man above His own self-glorification,…”

But didn’t he just say that “He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all.” God’s purpose is to glorify Himself and toward that end He is concerned for the welfare of people. By saving people, God glorifies Himself.

Finally Pastor Flowers writes, “Which of these approaches is really more like humanity? The one where God, like sinful humanity, seeks His own glory at the expense of others? Or, the approach where God sacrifices Himself for the sake of others and reveals Himself as truly glorious?”

People write of God’s glory, but I suspect that most don’t consider what that means. If God seeks His own glory, does He really do so at the expense of others? In seeking to glorify himself, God exalts His creation – Thus, He created man. I think Pastor Flowers needs to write an introduction to the above where he explains what “glory” is and what of means for people to glorify God and for God to glorify Himself. I don’t think Pastor Flowers’ complaint above is against Calvinism so much as reflecting a misunderstanding of the notion of God glorifying Himself (which Piper was not able to articulate to his satisfaction suggesting, once again, that a person should read the Scriptures before he reads the Calvinists).

From the Psalms
“Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.”
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.”
“Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.”

doug sayers

Very well said, Leighton. We must not allow ourselves to be impaled on the horns of this ‘either/or’ premise.

If we were truly man centered and humanistic (in the bad sense) then we would not adhere to the biblical doctrine of hell. We would be Universalists, at best, or some kind of Pantheists, who really worship and serve the creation over the Creator.

True Calvinists could not agree that all mankind is made to “glorify God AND enjoy Him forever.” (WCF)

Thanks.  

    rhutchin

    My understanding is that true Calvinists actually do agree, “that all mankind is made to “glorify God AND enjoy Him forever.” (WCF) That was certainly what Adam was supposed to do – glorify God through obedience. Instead Adam chose to disobey God and the rest is history playing out as God, in His omniscience, knew it would – with all mankind also choosing sin over glorifying God.

      doug sayers

      Rh, Adam is not all mankind. His sin did not irresistibly seal the fate of any of his posterity.

      If God alone is responsible for any sinner’s salvation then we must conclude that He failed to achieve His great purpose in the lives of those born reprobate.

        rhutchin

        Doug Sayers writes, “Adam is not all mankind. His sin did not irresistibly seal the fate of any of his posterity.”

        That is a key point of disagreement. Calvinists say that Adam’s sin did seal the fate of his posterity. Had God done nothing to remedy the situation, all would be consigned to hell without hope of escape. It is the reason Christ had to take the form of a man and go to the cross.

        Doug Sayers writes, “If God alone is responsible for any sinner’s salvation then we must conclude that He failed to achieve His great purpose in the lives of those born reprobate.”

        This, is of course, the issue that John Owen addresses in his “Death of Death…” God’s purpose was not to save all as Owen argues from the Scriptures. Owen then turns your statement around – God failed if His purpose was to save each and every person.

        Les Prouty

        rhutchin,

        This…”Owen then turns your statement around – God failed if His purpose was to save each and every person.”

        Brave my friend!

          Robert

          Les Prouty wrote:

          “This…”Owen then turns your statement around – God failed if His purpose was to save each and every person.”
          Brave my friend!”

          This is not “brave” this is stupid. The reason we should not take Owen seriously (as well as those who parrot his arguments for limited atonement) is that he ignores explicit scripture and instead presents supposedly logical arguments against what the Bible explicitly presents.

          One of his “arguments” is that “God failed if His purpose was to save each and every person”. The “logic” goes like this: if God desires the salvation of all, then since whatever God purposes occurs, and since obviously not all people are becoming believers, then GOD FAILED.

          The thing that Owen intentionally leaves out (as do his modern parrots) is that it is true that God desires the salvation of all, it is also true that whatever God purposes occurs: but God not only purposes to save all, he purposes to save all able minded persons who hear the gospel THROUGH A FREELY CHOSEN FAITH.

          If “Joe” then hears the gospel and the Holy Spirit reveals things to “Joe” so he is enabled to make a faith response. “Joe” must then freely (freely because one of God’s purposes is that people freely choose to trust Him) choose to trust. As “Joe” has the genuine freedom to choose to trust, he also has the genuine freedom to choose NOT to trust. If He freely chooses not to trust, has God failed?

          No, because everything has gone according to God’s plan. He purposed that people who hear the gospel are saved through a freely chosen faith. “Joe” does not freely choose to trust, so “Joe” not God is responsible for his choice not to trust. God purposed the plan of salvation, that it would be through Christ and through a freely chosen faith. God purposed to create people with genuine free will. God does not purpose the individual person’s choice to trust or choice to reject, God leaves that to the individual. All of these purposes have been accomplished.

          If a person chooses not to trust, that is not purposed by God, that person is the one who is responsible for their rejection of the gospel. Owen intentionally neglected these things and tried to build arguments based on taking one facet of the atonement without considering other facets such as that God purposed salvation would be through faith. And that faith would be a freely chosen faith, not coerced, not forced, not manipulated, but freely chosen by the individual.

            rhutchin

            Robert writes, “…but God not only purposes to save all, he purposes to save all able minded persons who hear the gospel THROUGH A FREELY CHOSEN FAITH.”

            To be consistent, you should say that “God purposes to make salvation available to all…” and then that God saves, “all able minded persons who hear the gospel THROUGH A FREELY CHOSEN FAITH.” If God purposes to save all, then God would save all as Owen rightly, and consistently, argued. You say that Owen was wrong, but you then have to argue inconsistently to prove your point – God either “purposes to save all” or God “purposes to save all able minded persons who hear the gospel THROUGH A FREELY CHOSEN FAITH.” He does not do both – it is either/or and not both/and. As you have it, God purposes to save all and then God purposes not to save those don’t hear the gospel through faith. You are not being consistent in what you say.

      Andrew Barker

      LOL – now you’re twisting the WCF to say what you want! Force of habit?

norm

“Was it really about God getting all the glory and man getting none of it?”

The Calvinists with whom I have exchanged thoughts do use this kind of reasoning. If Hutch wants to cite the writings of Calvinists who are “more careful with their words,” then please do.

Also, to say that anyone has not completely abandoned his Calvinism because he says something deemed by a Calvinist to sound like a Calvinist means that the Calvinist is myopic. I have often said that, if I say something biblical that happens also to agree with Calvin, then that does not make me a Calvinist — it just makes Calvin, in that instance, a biblicist like me. Regarding the whole of soteriology, the words Calvinist and biblicist are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, when a brother articulates a point that is biblical, then that brother ought not be congratulated for his Calvinism, for would that not be stealing glory from the God of the Bible, who wrote the book from which the brother articulated the biblical point? Personally, I find it exceedingly repugnant when some of our brethren want to say that biblical soteriology is really Calvinism. If Calvinists want God to get all the glory, then stop saying things like that.

BTW: Spurgeon was wrong. Calvinism is not the gospel. The gospel has no man-centered or man-authored equal.

    norm

    Additionally, Calvinists often say that God will not share his glory with any man. Really? Even Calvin?

    rhutchin

    The issue regarding words was whether Calvinists argue that “God’s primary concern is not the welfare of man.” I am not aware that they do. You deflected writing, ““Was it really about God getting all the glory and man getting none of it?” Calvinists always say that God gets all the glory. That is not in dispute.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Amen. Excellent observation, precisely, “the”absolute Truth!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Norm,

      What I hear you saying is when God speaks scripture speaks and when scripture speaks God speaks and not Calvin. My position is this, I’ll stand on Calvin’s shoulders or any of the other reformers to exalt Christ Jesus our Lord when it is scriptural. However I refuse to stand upon Christ to exalt any of the reformers or those whom the reformers opposed.

David R. Brumbelow

Leighton Flowers,

Very good article bringing some balance to this issue.

David R. Brumbelow

Jim P

Prof. Flowers,
From what I’ve gleaned from you is that you are grappling and not simply taking an opportunity to voice hostility.

I’d like to play off this from your article, “Dr. James White called my soteriology “man-centered,” and I have to agree. I have centered my soteriology on the man Jesus Christ.” That is a proper response and a good response. Truth is though it really needs to be rooted in things that are foundational that that thought can connect in peoples understanding and then built on.

With all the hostility I’ve witnessed in the articles particularly regarding Calvinism and non-calvinism I suspect that neither side, Calvinists or Traditionalists, are unable to articulate (and that means know what it is) the “Gospel” in a way that both sides could agree. I know I could but won’t here. Those who write so authoritatively on these subjects (as you are here) should be the ones to raise that flag on the foundation of “what is the ‘Gospel.'” Doing that may division or unity but, at the least, it will be a Biblical unity or Biblical Division.

I think that Calvinism with all its flaws shows more consistency for sincere people trying to understand God and what He is doing than the ‘traditionalists’ very lack of consistency. And, the non-Calvist are left simply with their love of ‘againstness’ toward calvinism without every submitting any alternative. Truth is, they don’t have one. That they don’t probably shows they themselves have nothing to build on personally except that hostility. And how they can resolve that relentless hostility with God and His work is a contradiction that, I believe, has no resolution. Much like to the Jews hostility toward Christ. It is much more a personal problem than a theological one.

For your thoughts and anyone else who cares to think.

Thank you,
Jim Poulos

    Robert

    Jim P,

    Your post has some real problems/errors.

    “With all the hostility I’ve witnessed in the articles particularly regarding Calvinism and non-calvinism I suspect that neither side, Calvinists or Traditionalists, are unable to articulate (and that means know what it is) the “Gospel” in a way that both sides could agree.”

    Disagree with you on this, the gospel is pretty simple and referred to in 1 Cor. 15. Most of the Calvinists and non-Calvinists that I know understand and agree on what the gospel is. Yes there are some that will mistakenly equate Calvinism or something else with the gospel, when they are not, but most Calvinists don’t do this.

    “I think that Calvinism with all its flaws shows more consistency for sincere people trying to understand God and what He is doing than the ‘traditionalists’ very lack of consistency.”

    Disagree with you on this as well. I and other non-Calvinists are very consistent in our beliefs. When people disagree with me for example, I never hear them claim that my beliefs are inconsistent. Rather, they hold different beliefs and think that I am mistaken.

    “And, the non-Calvist are left simply with their love of ‘againstness’ toward calvinism without every submitting any alternative. Truth is, they don’t have one.”

    This is false, to use one example, years ago when I worked with Walter Martin doing counter cult ministry, we were not calvinists and our theology was very consistent. It had to be or the cultists would have jumped all over us. When you challenge the cultists and their inconsistencies you have to be consistent yourself when doing so. So I know your statement that “they don’t have one” is just outright false. And as I said to Bill Mac, the non-Calvinist who is Biblicist will hold biblical doctrines such as the sovereignty of God and that God works providentially in the world. No, our beliefs are consistent it is just that you and others don’t accept those beliefs. And that is fine, not accepting them and disagreeing with them is very different than showing our beliefs to be inconsistent.

    “That they don’t probably shows they themselves have nothing to build on personally except that hostility.”

    This comment is also false, again using Walter Martin and the rest of us, we never would have gotten anywhere with the cultists if we had “nothing to build on personally except that hostility.” What we had to build on then, and what non-Calvinists have to build on today remains the same: ***the Bible properly interpreted***. And when this is done one arrives at non-Calvinist beliefs that are consistent and biblical.

    “And how they can resolve that relentless hostility with God and His work is a contradiction that, I believe, has no resolution.”

    Jim you spoke much about our supposed inconsistencies: care to share some of them? Presently you are merely making completely unsupported claims with no evidence backing them up whatsoever.

      JIm P

      Robert,

      Thanks for addressing my note without that hostilitiy I suggested. I do think that the ‘gospel’ is embedded in 1 Cor. 15 but only you stating the chapter and saying this is the ‘gospel’ only adds to the problem. If you know it you aught to be able to state it. That is my challenge. It is this I think you are going to find a problem if not the problem and the inconsistency you asking of me for.

      One more point, stating the ‘Gospel’ correctly brings one of three responses and each of those responses the Scripture recognizes. But if it is not the Gospel those responses are forfeited because, well, it was not the ‘gospel.’ If it is not the ‘gospel’ than the foundation to build on is also forfeited. Now that would be painful to work so hard and the building will not stand.

        Robert

        Jim P,
        In my previous post to you I wrote and you responded:
        [[“With all the hostility I’ve witnessed in the articles particularly regarding Calvinism and non-calvinism I suspect that neither side, Calvinists or Traditionalists, are unable to articulate (and that means know what it is) the “Gospel” in a way that both sides could agree.”
        Disagree with you on this, the gospel is pretty simple and referred to in 1 Cor. 15. Most of the Calvinists and non-Calvinists that I know understand and agree on what the gospel is. Yes there are some that will mistakenly equate Calvinism or something else with the gospel, when they are not, but most Calvinists don’t do this.]]
        Jim P. the article titled “What is the Gospel?” just posted today proves what I said to be true. Note especially the responses where you have in fact non-Calvinists and Calvinists agreeing with the article and appreciating the article. Again, the disagreement is not about the gospel, it is other things including unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, exhaustive determinism, covenant theology, etc.

    Scott Shaver

    These guys rail against “attitudes of superiority”….then turn right around and show their true colors via the words of Jim P with statements that fully encapsulate that attitude.

    “they are left simply with their love of “againstness” without ever submitting an alternative. Truth is they don’t have one. This shows they themselves have noting to build on personally except hostility”.

    Why would anybody want to do church or hang with these bums? Theology notwithstanding.

Clif Springer

I have a question. I was taught that a basic premise of Humanism (not the silly dictionary definition, but philosophical Humanism) is this: Contradictory assertions are equally valid. So . . . is not the Calvinist’s claim that God’s deterministic sovereignty is compatible with human free will not an excursion into Humanism? I know, they say that it is a “Mystery”. But it looks for all the world to me that they are claiming that contradictory assertions are equally valid. My question: Am I off base on this or are Calvinists using Humanism to defend themselves?

    rhutchin

    Cliff writes, “I was taught that a basic premise of Humanism…is this: Contradictory assertions are equally valid. So . . . is not the Calvinist’s claim that God’s deterministic sovereignty is compatible with human free will not an excursion into Humanism?”

    No. The reason is that Calvinists identify two types of free will. There is the Libertarian Free Will that Adam possessed until he sinned. Once Adam sinned, he became a slave to sin and his libertarian free will became corrupted. Now, Adam only had a freedom from coercion. The issue people argue is between God’s sovereignty and compatibility with free will where free will is Libertarian Free Will. Everyone agrees that God must restore free will to the sinner in order for him to choose salvation (and as a side issue, disagreeing on whether this can be called regeneration as the Calvinists maintain).. There is no issue between God’s sovereignty and non-Libertarian free will. Calvinists also maintain that a person who has had his Libertarian Free Will restored then naturally chooses salvation – it’s a no-brainer.

      Clif Springer

      OK I should have been more specific. My bad. My question should have been: Is not Calvinistic determinism contradictory to real free will? Libertarian free will and non-Libertarian free will? Is not non-Libertarian free will just a way of using the term “free will” while vacating its meaning?

        rhutchin

        The issue is whether there is a difference between that free will that Adam enjoyed before he sinned and that free will that Adam enjoyed after he sinned. Adam could not be described as a “slave to sin” before he sinned. Now Paul tells us that the unsaved are slaves to sin. If we call that free will that Adam enjoyed before he sinned “libertarian” free will, can we call that free will Adam had after he sinned “non-libertarian” free will. Does that mean that the term free will has been vacated of any meaning? Not necessarily. We should easily recognize that we do not possess that “libertarian” free will enjoyed by Adam before he sinned. Yet, none of us would say that we do not have free will of some sort. Thus, free will has not been vacated of meaning – it has been vacated of its “libertarian” nature.

        Is Calvinistic determinism contradictory to real (Libertarian) free will? Not necessarily. A person with Libertarian free will necessarily chooses to accept salvation – a person who is given libertarian free will has his decision on salvation determined by that libertarian free will. Thought the outcome is determined, the will freely chooses that determined outcome.

    Lydia

    “But it looks for all the world to me that they are claiming that contradictory assertions are equally valid.”

    They do. They have clever explanations for the validity of said assertions that work if you don’t think them through.

    “My question: Am I off base on this or are Calvinists using Humanism to defend themselves?,”

    Yes. Dualism and determinism don’t work without it. How can a totally unable wicked person really know much about themselves.

      Scott Shaver

      i would use the word “autistic” rather than “clever” Lydia.

      Just my take.

Leslie Puryear

Leighton,

Magnificent post! To me, the best part of it is your re-wording of Piper’s statement in paragraph 8. That is truly biblical and God-centered.

Paul N

This is an excellent post. It has blessed me, big time!

Lydia

” By prayer, we do not ask God to change His mind, we ask God to give us that which He has already decreed to give us. ”

So what do you pray if He decreed you cancer? After all, in your construct He “determines” and all is controlled by His Sovereign power. To say otherwise is to make Him out to be weak and powerless.

Would it be wrong to seek treatment if cancer was determined for you? After all, He is controlling everything that happens to you. Your answers are really repeats of what you previously say. The reason is because in determinism you cannot apply your beliefs in a practical every day manner so you have to simply repeat over and over the same things as your responses.

Your response really reminds of why Muslims pray.

    rhutchin

    I think we both agree that the christian life abounds in prayer for God to give us good health, protection against Satan’s attacks, and regarding all things, including evil, that might happen. The Christian life is one of proactively seeking God and His will and not one of reacting with doubt when things don’t go our way.

    If God does test a believer in any way, for instance with cancer, and cancer and all such things result from Adam’s sin and the corruption of all things, even the human body, then we continue to place our lives in God’s hands. Our desire is always to be with God in heaven but we live here as is His will to carry out His purposes and plans rejoicing that He is using us in whatever way He desires.

    We have confidence in God in two ways when bad things happen:
    “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly,..for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1

      Andrew Barker

      rhutchin: “If God does test a believer in any way, for instance with cancer, and cancer and all such things result from Adam’s sin and the corruption of all things, even the human body, then we continue to place our lives in God’s hands. Our desire is always to be with God in heaven but we live here as is His will to carry out His purposes and plans rejoicing that He is using us in whatever way He desires.”

      Why would God test a believer with cancer? What right have you to assume this at all? Especially when the Lord’s prayer specifically says “do not lead us into temptation” which in some translations is phrased as “time of testing”. These hypothetical questions really are not worth answering as such, but they sure need pointing out for the misconceived notions about the character of God which they seek to propagate.

        rhutchin

        James tells us that, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” and the context is that God does not tempt people to sin. When Christ told us to pray, “do not lead us into temptation,” He did so knowing as James explains, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Christ was telling us that God exercises absolute control over that which happens to us and God will allow our evil desires to rule over us unless we ask Him for help to prevent that from happening. As Paul explains in Romans 7, even though God has saved us, we still inhabit bodies, and have desires, that are flesh and still corrupted. Thus, believers are continually asking God for help to deal with our desires and keep us from being dragged away and enticed to sin. Even when tempted, God says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” Given that God has provided a way to escape temptation and not sin, believers naturally ask God to show them the way out when they encounter temptation. That is the issue with sin.

        There is also the issue of sickness associated with our bodies because of that corruption caused by Adam’s sin. Even as believers, we are still subject to sickness just as unbelievers. We can bring this on by our lifestyles. Thus, believers who smoke or drink or eat to excess will reap the consequences of those actions. It may be that stress is a primary cause of many sicknesses. Believers who have not learned to trust God will often seek their own remedy to problems and incur much stress in doing so. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” These trials may involve temptations to son or reliance on our own efforts and not God. However, God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” God comforts us in our troubles thus teaching us that we can trust Him and having learned to trust God, we encourage others to trust God also. We see that God allow bad things (as the world sees them) to happen to believers and in His wisdom, such things are for good toward believers. So, even things like cancer are good tests from God as they cause us to seek comfort from God and to encourage others to seek comfort from god.

        Still, Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble.” This trouble comes because we believe in Him. Such things are unavoidable as Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of me.” Christ has no called us to an easy life – even though, in this country, it would be hard to argue that believers endure real hardship. yet, more and more we find ourselves to be like Lot, “a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).”

        We live in an imperfect world and endure hardships because of that imperfection and because people are evil and take out on believers their hatred for Christ. In His wisdom, God has appointed believers to hardships to strengthen them even as Paul wrote, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly,..for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

          Lydia

          rhutchin, You keep doing the same thing over and over but never address the real questions. None of your explanations work because of your determinism. You cannot escape that because you insist upon it then give explanations that are free will in foundation. You see, God has total control over cancer, right, because HE takes control of EVERYTHING. Even evil. So it must mean He does not want there to be a cure for all cancers since He has not allowed one to come forward. It has nothing to do with research grants, medical industry decisions, etc, because there is no free will except to sin which God also determines. Which means, in your world, that God determines suffering. And Piper teaches it is a very good thing. Which means we really should not seek to alleviate it.

          I honestly do not think Calvinists understand Calvinism.

            Scott Shaver

            If their fetish is neo-calvinistic autism, they don’t have to fully understand “Calvin” huh Lydia?

            rhutchin

            Lydia writes, “You…never address the real questions.”

            What are the real questions here?

            Lydia writes, “God has total control over cancer, right, because HE takes control of EVERYTHING.”

            God has total control over His creation because He is sovereign. God exercise total control over His creation because He is sovereign.

            Perhaps there is no cure for cancer because people don’t ask Him for a cure. How about getting Obama to turn away from the evil he is doing (Planned Parenthood) and call the country to repentance and ask God for a cure to cancer.

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