This podcast addresses soteriology and specifically takes on the Calvinistic interpretation of the scriptures.
In the first episode, I introduce the subject of Soteriology and its significance and then I tell a little of my own story about becoming a staunch five point Calvinist while in College and Seminary only later to leave Calvinism after being influenced by authors such as AW Tozer and CS Lewis. I unpack the biblical, logical, and theological reasons for leaving behind a soteriological system I very much loved. While I still have a HUGE respect for Calvinistic scholars such as John Piper, John MacArthur, RC Sproul and others who helped to shape me in my formative years, I’ve come to seriously question their interpretive methods of the scripture on this particular subject. I agree with 90% of what they teach and appreciate the needed emphasis on the Glory of God and the call back to in depth theological study.
In the second episode, I discuss the distinction between depravity and the Calvinistic concept of “Total Inability.” It is one thing to teach lost mankind cannot save himself, its another to suggest he can’t even respond to God’s appeal to be saved.
Does responding to God’s appeal to be reconciled EARN or MERIT your salvation? Did the Prodigal son merit the reception of his father on the basis that he chose to return home for help? Does asking someone for forgiveness merit being forgiven?
Calvinists have equated the choice to respond to God’s gospel appeal with a meritorious work that somehow earns salvation. This idea is not supported biblically. A meritorious work of the law is man’s effort to earn his own righteousness, while repentance is admitting you cannot earn it and need help. God, because He is gracious (and for that reason alone), chooses to impute Christ’s righteousness to whosoever repents in faith. Repentance merits nothing.
In short, I believe Calvinists have mistakenly presumed that man’s inability to attain righteousness by law through works supports their premise that man is equally unable to attain righteousness by grace through faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ.
In the third episode, I answer some accusations about Pelagianism, the belief that man is not born tainted by original sin and is able to earn salvation by good works. I also explain why I don’t like the term “Prevenient Grace,” since it seems redundant to make up a new theological word when the biblical word “gospel” is more than sufficient. We then dive into to some texts which speak of God’s desire to see all come to repentance (2 Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9, Ez. 18:30-32). We briefly address a few more anticipated Calvinistic rebuttals.
I answer the accusation that we hold too high a view of man. Which is worse? The man who rebels who was born hated by God and unable to do otherwise, or the man who rebels who is born loved by God and provided all that he needed? Clearly, the latter is far worse than the former, thus Calvinists actually hold to a “higher” view of man than we do.
In the fourth episode, we discuss the most referenced Calvinistic proof texts used to support the concept of Total Inability.
Romans 8:6-8: Calvinists use passages talking about the law of righteousness (i.e. no one can be righteous by the law) and apply it to Righteousness by faith (i.e. no one can have faith because that would make them righteous according to the law). It doesn’t follow. Proving that men are born unable to become righteous by law is NOT proof that men are born unable to become righteous by faith.
1 Corinthians 2:14: Paul is addressing carnal believers in 1 Cor. 2 and 3. These believers were so fleshly they were unable to accept the “deep things of God” (vs 10). He is not addressing the inability of the unsaved to believe the gospel truth when it’s discerned for us by someone being inspired by the Spirit, as Paul himself is doing while writing this letter to this carnal church.
Ability is implied in the appeal to repent. Ability is implied in the expectation to believe. Ability is implied in the fact that we’re punished for not believing or repenting. Thus, it’s incumbent upon Calvinists to show this implied ability is not present. And before someone points to man’s inability to obey the law, keep in mind that we aren’t held to account for our inability to obey the law, were held to account for our unbelief. Lawbreakers are in both heaven and hell, the difference is UNBELIEF. Plus, the law wasn’t given for the purpose for us to be able to fully obey it. It was given for the purpose of revealing the very truth that Calvinists believe we can’t see, hear or really understand. The law is the tutor sent to help us see our need for a savior (something Calvinists teach cannot happen unless one is first born again, thus man has to be reborn before he can even learn the lesson the law was sent to teach regarding our need for savior. We have to essentially be saved in order to even recognize our need for the savior? Really?) Suggesting that our inability to fully obey the law somehow proves we are equally unable to admit we can’t obey the law is unfounded.
Beyond the implications of the scriptures, I provide several passages that explicitly indicate our natural abilities to see, hear, understand and repent:
Acts 28:24-28: Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: 26 ” ‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” 27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
This passage, which is quoted from the OT several times in the NT, explains that the Jews hearts had GROWN calloused. THEY WEREN’T BORN CALLOUSED. It also clearly explains their abilities had they not become hardened. “OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE.” He even goes on to contrast the Gentiles who “WILL LISTEN.”
So, not only do Calvinists need to deal with the implications of the passages such as John 3:16 that calls whosoever to come/believe, but they must deal with the explicit passages such as this that clearly reveal man’s ability from birth to see, hear, understand and turn to God for healing.
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