The 5 points that led me to leave Calvinism

Many have asked what specific points led me away from Calvinism.  Being a Professor of Theology that once affirmed TULIP gives me a unique perspective on this subject.  However, I do not claim to be an expert in the field nor do I begrudge those who disagree with my perspective.  I simply desire to interpret rightly the Word of God.  Hopefully this podcast and article can help you understand why I could not continue to support the Calvinistic interpretation of the text.

3dbookpotterspromiseI believe there are many who are hoping to convince someone they care about to leave behind their Calvinistic beliefs.  I hate to tell them, but it is doubtful a blog post or a podcast will accomplish that feat. It is very difficult to convince YOURSELF to leave a long held theological perspective and next to impossible to convince another.  For me it was a painstaking three year journey after I engaged in an in-depth study of the subject.  I had no desire to leave Calvinism and I fought tooth and nail to defend my beloved “Doctrines of Grace” against the truths my studies led me to see.  There was no single book, article, or discussion that led me to recant my adherence to the TULIP systematic.

In fact, I’m quite certain I could never have been “debated out of Calvinism.”  I was much too competitive to objectively evaluate my systematic in the heat of a contentious type discussion.  Even if I were to come against an argument I could not answer, I would have never admitted that to my opponent.  Few individuals would be able to get around the intense emotion and pride inducing adrenaline brought on by debating theology.  Our innate desire to be esteemed by others and seen as “smarter” than we really are often overwhelms any potential for learning and profitable dialogue.

If someone disagreed with me, my presumption was that they must not really understand my perspective.  So, instead of attempting to listen and objectively evaluate their arguments I focused on restating my case more clearly, confidently and dogmatically.  If I did not fully understand what they were saying I would often label them and dismiss them instead of taking the time to fully evaluate their point of view.  I am not attempting to suggest every Calvinist makes these errors — I am only reflecting on what I now view as my mistakes.

I competed on the state level in CX Debate in High School and College. Our debate coach drilled into us the SKILL of taking on both the affirmative and negative side of every issue. And believe me, that is a learned skill. It is very difficult to put down one view in the defense of another opposing view, especially if you are emotionally and intellectually attached to a given perspective.  It is rare to find real objectivity in a discussion among theologically minded individuals over a doctrine as emotionally charged and intimately personal as that of our salvation.  This is ESPECIALLY true of those who have made a living and developed their identity around a particular set of beliefs.  Imagine RC Sproul, for example, coming to believe he was mistaken on these points of doctrine.  Think how much it would cost him and his reputation as a scholar to recant those views. This is never an easy or painless transition.

I say all this to tell any Calvinistic readers who may have clicked on this link in order to refute my claims:  I am NOT so naive as to think this article or podcast is going to convince you to leave Calvinism, thus that is NOT my goal in creating it.  My goal however, is that you simply understand the reasons I left Calvinism.  That most likely cannot happen if you begin with an axe to grind or a point to defend.  Can we put down the weapons and first seek to hear and fully understand each other before launching into a debate?  If you finish this article or listen to my podcast and walk away still as Calvinistic as you are right now, but you understand why I felt I had to leave Calvinism then I will consider this a great success.

1aristotleI adopted all five points of the the Calvinistic TULIP when I was a freshman in college after digesting books from John MacArthur, RC Sproul, JI Packer and later John Piper.  Louie Giglio, the man who brought John Piper into the mainstream through events like Passion, was one of my father’s close friends.  My first ministry position was with GRACE at Hardin-Simmons University modeled after Louie’s ministry at Baylor University in the 80s.  Here is where I worked along side Matt Chandler, being discipled by the same mentor.  I grew very convinced in my Calvinism over the next decade of life even helping to start a new “Reformed” Baptist Church that split off from my home church.  (This is where my parents and all their friends were attending.  I only see now how much this must have hurt them.)  Later I served on staff at this church and then began working for the state convention.  We hired John Piper along with various other notable Calvinistic communicators to speak at many of the events I coordinate.  I very much loved being apart of this “brotherhood” of ministers who proudly affirmed the doctrine of Spurgeon and the forefathers of our Southern Baptist faith.  I was a card carrying member of the “Founders” of the SBC and would never have dreamed that one day I would be writing this article.

One morning I was reading a book by AW Tozer, a man I knew was respected in the Calvinistic community.  John Piper often quoted him and people referenced his works regularly in my Reformed circles.  Some of what he wrote simple did not fit into my paradigm.  “Isn’t Tozer a Calvinist,” I remember thinking out loud?  I distinctly remember how I felt when I learned that AW Tozer and CS Lewis, two men I greatly respected, did not affirm TULIP.  At that point I remembered what my debate training taught me and I realized I had never really objectively and thoroughly vetted the scholarly views that oppose Calvinism.  This started my journey.

Six months to a year into this sporadic study of doctrines I was not the least bit convinced that Calvinism was wrong. Even after being presented with several convincing arguments against my long held beliefs, I subconsciously felt I had too much too lose to leave my Calvinism.  My reputation, my friends, my ministry connections…all gone if I recant my views on this!  I had converted way too many people and hurt way too many relationships in defense of these views for me to go back on what I was certain to be true.  However, my years of training in debate helped me to recognize this bias and proceed with my studies nonetheless.  As I was trained, I forced myself to drop my preconceived ideas, my biases, and anything that might hinder me from fully understanding the other perspective.

5pointsoutIn that process there were five key truths that came to light which eventually lead me out of my Calvinism.  Below is a short summary of those views, but on the podcast titled “5 Points OUT of Calvinism I expound on each of these more thoroughly:

 POINT #1: I came to realize that the “foresight faith view” (classical Wesleyan Arminianism) was not the only scholarly alternative to the Calvinistic interpretation.  

I had so saturated myself with Calvinistic preachers and authors that the only thing I knew of the opposing views was what they told me. Thus, I had been lead to believe the only real alternative to Calvinism was this strange concept of God “looking through the corridors of time to elect those He foresees would choose Him.” Notable Calvinistic teachers almost always paint all non-Calvinistic scholars as holding to this perspective. Once I realized I had been misled on this point, I was more open to consider other interpretations objectively.

I found a much more robust and theologically sound systematic in what is called “The Corporate View of Election,” which so happened to be the most popular view among the biblical scholars of my own denomination (Southern Baptists). Much more can be said about this view that I will not take the liberty to expound upon in this article. However, I must warn readers that the all too common phrase, “nations are made up of individuals too,” does not even begin to rebut the claims of this perspective. Individuals are just as much involved in the Corporate perspective as they are the Calvinistic perspective (maybe even more so). Anyone who believes the Corporate view is easily dismissed with that simple one-liner has not yet come to understand it rightly. In my experience, very few Calvinists give this view the attention it deserves because it requires a shift in perspective that, if recognized, would undermine their entire premise.

Do you understand “The Corporate View of Election”…I mean really understand it? Could you defend it in a debate if you had to? Could you explain it objectively to a classroom of students? Are you willing to study it and evaluate its claims?

 “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

Point #2: I came to understand the distinction between the doctrine of Original Sin (depravity) and the Calvinistic concept of “Total Inability.”  

 Calvinists teach that “the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel,”[2] but I learned that is the condition of a judicially hardened man, not a natural condition from birth (Acts 28:27-28; John 12:39-41; Mark 4:11-12; Rom. 11).  Instead, God’s gracious revelation and powerful gospel appeal is the means He has chosen to draw, or enable, whosoever hears it to come.  Thus, anyone who does hear or see His truth may respond to that truth, which is why they are held response-able (able-to-respond).

Listen to my sermon at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on this subject HERE.

At the time while Christ was on earth, the Israelites (in John 6 for example), were being hardened or blinded from hearing the truth.  Only a select few Israelites (a remnant) were given by the Father to the Son in order for God’s purpose in the election of Israel to be fulfilled.  That purpose was not referring to God’s plan to individually and effectually save some Jews, but His plan to bring the LIGHT or REVELATION to the rest of the world by way of the MESSIAH and HIS MESSAGE so that all may believe (John 17:21b).

The vine the Jews are being cut off of in Romans 11 is not the vine of effectual salvation, otherwise how could individuals be cut off or grafted back into it?  The vine is the LIGHT of REVELATION, the means through which one may be saved that was first sent to the Jews and then the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16).  The Gentiles are being granted repentance or “grafted into the vine” so as to be enabled to repent. The Jews, if provoked to envy and leave their unbelief, may be grafted back into that same vine (Rom. 11:14, 23).

KEY POINT: God DOES use determinative means to ensure His sovereign purposes in electing Israel, which includes:

  • (1) the setting apart of certain individual Israelites to be the lineage of the Messiah, and
  • (2) the setting apart of certain individual Israelities to carry His divinely inspired message to the world (using convincing means like big fish and blinding lights to persuade their wills) and
  • (3) temporarily blinding the rest of Israel to accomplish redemption through their rebellion.

However, there is no indication in scripture that:

  • (1) all those who DO believe the appointed messenger’s teachings were likewise set a part by such persuasive means (especially not inward effectual means).
  • (2) all those who DO NOT believe the appointed messenger’s teachings were likewise hardened from the time they were born to the time they died.

As a Calvinist I did not understand the historical context of the scriptures as it relates to the national election of Israel followed by their judicial hardening. When the scriptures spoke of Jesus hiding the truth in parables, or only revealing Himself to a select few, or cutting off large numbers of people from seeing, hearing and understanding the truth; I immediately presumed that those were passages supporting the “T” of my T.U.L.I.P. when in reality they are supporting the doctrine of Israel’s judicial hardening.


 Point #3: I realized that the decision to humble yourself and repent in faith is not meritorious. Even repentant believers deserve eternal punishment.

Calvinists are notorious for asking the unsuspecting believer, “Why did you believe in Christ and someone else does not; are you smarter, or more praiseworthy in some way?” I asked this question more times than I can remember as a young Calvinist. What I (and likely the target of my inquiry) did not understand is that the question itself is a fallacy known as “Question Begging.” (or more specifically “plurium interrogationum” or “Complex Question”)

Begging the question is a debate tactic where your opponent presumes true the very point up for debate.  For instance, if the issue being disputed was whether or not you cheat on your taxes and I began the discussion by asking you, “Have you stopped cheating on your taxes yet?” I would be begging the question.

Likewise, in the case of the Calvinist asking “Why did you made this choice,” he is presuming a deterministic response is necessary thus beginning the discussion with a circular and often confounding game of question begging. The inquiry as to what determines the choice of a free will presumes something other than the free function of the agent’s will makes the determination, thus denying the very mystery of what makes the will free and not determined.

The cause of a choice is the chooser.  The cause of a determination is the determiner. It is not an undetermined determination, or an unchosen choice, as some attempt to frame it. If someone has an issue with this simply apply the same principle to the question, “Why did God choose to create mankind?”  He is obviously all self-sustaining and self-sufficient. He does not need us to exist. Therefore, certainly no one would suggest God was not free to refrain from creating humanity. So, what determined God’s choice to create if not the mysterious function of His free will?

In short, whether one appeals to mystery regarding the function of man’s will or the function of the Divine will, we all eventually appeal to mystery.  Why not appeal to mystery BEFORE drawing conclusions that could in any way impugn the holiness of God by suggesting He had something to do with determining the nature, desire and thus evil choices of His creatures?

What also must be noted is that the decision to trust in Christ for our salvation is not a meritorious work.  Asking for forgiveness does not merit being forgiven.  Think of it this way.  Did the prodigal son earn, merit or in any way deserve the reception of his father on the basis that he humbly returned home?  Of course not. He deserved to be punished, not rewarded.  The acceptance of his father was a choice of the father alone and it was ALL OF GRACE.  The father did not have to forgive, restore and throw a party for his son on the basis that he chose to come home. That was the father’s doing.

Humiliation and brokenness is not considered “better” or “praiseworthy” and it certainly is not inherently valuable.  The only thing that makes this quality “desirable” is that God has chosen to grace those who humble themselves, something He is in no way obligated to do.  God gives grace to the humble not because a humble response deserves salvation, but because He is gracious.

Point #4: I accepted the fact that a gift doesn’t have to be irresistibly applied in order for the giver to get full credit for giving it.

According to Calvinism, God does not merely enable people to believe (as the scriptures say), but He has to actually change their very nature so as to certainly make them believe. As a Calvinist I remember shaming other Christians for “stealing God’s glory” by suggesting they played any role in their salvation. I insisted they would be “boasting” to believe that they chose to come to Christ unless they first admitted that God irresistibly changed their nature to make them want to come. I recall a wise elder from my home church challenging me on this point by asking, “Why do you believe God’s choice of you for no apparent reason is less boast worthy than his choice of me for being a weak beggar?” I honestly did not know what he meant at the time, but I do now.

At the time of that encounter I had not reached the pigsty of my life. I was young and arrogant. I had never really been broken by my sin and brought face to face with my depravity. I thought I understood forgiveness and grace but truthfully it was not until much later in my life that I would be brought to the end of my self. I used to think the idea that God chose to save me before I was born and done anything good or bad was humbling, but it is not near as humbling as the reality that God would choose to save me in the middle of my worst sin, my brokenness, my humiliation and my shame. Like the prodigal who returned home from the pigsty of his life, broken and humiliated, seeking to beg for handouts, deserving nothing but punishment, receives instead the gracious love of a father, I too felt the choice of a Father to forgive me right then and there in the middle of my filth. It was not some theological concept of God picking me for no apparent reason out of the mass of humanity at some distant inexplicable time before time was. It was my Daddy choosing to love me in the middle of my deepest sin and pride crushing shame. No one…no Arminian, no Calvinist or any one in between…I mean NO ONE boasts about being forgiven like that. If they do, or they think others would, I cannot imagine they have ever been there.

“But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:24)

Why can’t we give God all the glory for enabling mankind to respond to His gracious truth?  Why must he irresistibly cause our acceptance of that truth in order for Him to get full glory for giving it?

It in no way robs God of glory by suggesting He does not irresistibly determine men’s choice to accept or reject the gospel appeal. In fact, it seems to lesson His glory by making Him appear disingenuous in that appeal sent to all people.  Should not God get the glory even for the provision of those who reject Him?

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

Point #5: I came to understand that sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God that would be compromised  by the existence of free moral creatures.

Some seem to believe that for God to be considered “sovereign” then men cannot have a free or autonomous will.  Should sovereignty be interpreted and understood as the necessity of God to “play both sides of the chess board” in order to ensure His victory?  Or should it be understood as God’s infinite and mysterious ways of accomplishing His purposes and ensuring His victory in, through, and despite the free choices of creation?

I’m not pretending that we can really understand His infinite ways or the means by which He accomplishes all things in conjunction with man’s will.  We cannot even understand our own ways, much less His.  But, I’m saying that the revelation of God’s holiness, His unwillingness to even tempt men to sin (James 1:13), His absolute perfect nature and separateness from sin (Is. 48:17), certainly appears to suggest that our finite, linear, logical constructs should not be used to contain Him (Is. 55:9).

One point that really helped me to understand the apparent contradiction of this debate was realizing the divine attribute of sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God. Calvinists always argue that God cannot deny Himself or His eternal nature, which is true. God cannot stop being God. Based on this Calvinists conclude that because God is eternally sovereign that He cannot deny that sovereignty, an attribute of His very nature, by allowing for others to have any measure of control or authority.

What the Calvinist fails to see is that sovereignty is not an eternal attribute of God. Sovereignty means “complete rule or dominion over creation.” For God to be in control over creation there has to be something created in which to control.  He cannot display His power over creatures unless the creatures exist.  Therefore, before creation the concept of sovereignty was not an attribute that could be used to describe God. An eternal attribute is something God possesses that is not contingent upon something else.

The eternal attribute of God is His omnipotence, which refers to His eternally limitless power. Sovereignty is a temporal characteristic, not an eternal one, thus we can say God is all powerful, not because He is sovereign, but He is sovereign because He is all powerful, or at least He is as sovereign as He so chooses to be in relation to this temporal world.

If our all-powerful God chose to refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence by presuming the all-powerful God cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation (i.e. sovereignty). In short, the Calvinist denies God’s eternal attribute of omnipotence in his effort to protect the temporal attribute of sovereignty.  Additionally, an argument could be made that the eternal attributes of God’s love and His holiness are likewise compromised by the well meaning efforts of our Calvinistic brethren to protect their theory of deterministic sovereignty over the temporal world.

Please understand, sovereignty is most certainly an attribute of God, but it is a temporal attribute. The Omnipotent God has not yet taken full sovereign control over everything on earth as it is in heaven. Is not that His prerogative? Passages throughout the bible teach that there are “authorities” and “powers” which are yet to be destroyed, and that have been given dominion over God’s creation.

Isaiah 24:21
A time is coming when the Lord will punish the powers above and the rulers of the earth.

Ephesians 6:12 
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Colossians 2:20
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world.

1 Corinthians 15:24

Then the end will come; Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father.

Don’t misunderstand my point. I affirm that God is greater than these powers and authorities. He created them after all.

Colossians 1:16
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

And one day God will strip them of that authority:

Colossians 2:15 
God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.

Much more could be said, but in short we must refrain from bringing unbiblical conclusions based upon our finite perceptions of God’s nature.  We must accept the revelation of scripture. He is Holy (Is. 6:3).  He does not take pleasure in sin (Ps. 5:4). Some moral evil does not even enter His Holy mind (Jer. 7:31). He genuinely desires every individual to come to Him and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4). No man will stand before the Father and be able to give the excuse, “I was born unloved by my Creator.  I was born unchosen and without the hope of salvation.  I was born unable to see, hear or understand God’s revelation of Himself.”  No! They will stand without excuse (Rm. 1:20). God loves all people (Jn. 3:16), calls them to salvation (2 Cor. 5:20), reveals Himself to them (Titus 2:11) and provides the means by which their sins would be forgiven (1 Jn. 2:2).

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.




Here are some helpful quotes regarding how we should approach this discussion:

“Paul did not mean, that this (being puffed up, i.e. arrogant) is to be reckoned as a fault attributable to learning—that those who are learned are often self-complacent, and have admiration of themselves, accompanied with contempt of others. Nor did he understand this to be the natural tendency of learning—to produce arrogance, but simply meant to show what effect knowledge has in an individual, that has not the fear of God, and love of the brethren; for the wicked abuse all the gifts of God, so as to exalt themselves.” -John Calvin

“We got into an argument over the color of love. I said it was pink, and he said it was red.  So you see, I had no other choice but to stab him.”  ― Jarod Kintz

“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance.”
Robert Quillen

“The most important tactic in an argument next to being right is to leave an escape hatch for your opponent so that he can gracefully swing over to your side without an embarrassing loss of face.”  ― Stephen Jay Gould

“I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.”  ― Michael Palin

234 thoughts on “The 5 points that led me to leave Calvinism

  1. So I am going to attempt to explain why Acts 28:27-28 isn’t the slam dunk case you think it is. “Total Depravity” does not mean being as evil as we possibly can be. “Total Depravity” means that everything the natural man does is sinful. We get the doctrine from Genesis 6:5 where every imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man is only evil continually. We can also derive this from the fact that without faith it is impossible to please God. So since the natural man does not have faith neither can he at any moment of his life please God.

    Psalm 76:10 says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” So what we learn from Psalm 76:10 is that the natural man could be more evil than he actually is, but it is the power of God that restrains the natural man from being as evil as he could be. When God hardens the heart it is a passive act. All God has to do is stop restraining, and the natural man’s nature will do the rest of the work. This is why the Bible says that Pharoh hardened his own heart, while simultaneously saying that Pharoh hardened his own heart. God just let go, and Pharoh’s nature that he was born with took care of the rest.

    Acts 28:27-28 is speaking of what happens in Romans 1 where people suppress the truth in unrighteousness, and God gives them over to their sinful nature. God stops restraining man’s sin nature, and as a result the natural man behaves like the devil, who is his father, just as Jesus said in John 8.

    1. What about Cornelius? Was everything he did before he heard the gospel and believed, sinful?

      Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

      2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

      3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

      4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

      5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

      6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

      He’s heard of the God of Israel, and is convicted by Him, attracted to the God of the Jews, therefore is doing these alms for the people in honor of Him, and God sends a messenger to tell him that his alms have come up for a remembrance before God! But he needs more. He knows nothing about Jesus. He is not yet saved. The angelic messenger tells him to send for Peter to get more information.

      Acts 10:29 (Peter:)Therefore I came unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

      30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

      31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

      32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

      33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

      34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

      35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

      Everything that Cornelius did before he heard the gospel was not sinful and rejected by God. But God didn’t save him as some kind of payment for works well done, yet Cornelius was responding to the drawing of the Holy Spirit, even before he heard of Jesus. Cornelius’s alms were not only not sinful, but they came up for remembrance by God! What an incredible thing to say. No works salvation here, but Cornelius is responding to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit convicts, He empowers us to believe, by his very convicting truth. And the gospel is the power of God unto salvation–theres no need for the pre-faith regeneration or irresistible grace. That’s why we’re told, Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart. If responding to His voice was impossible, why urge people who might otherwise harden their hearts, not to?

      John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

      25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear _shall_ live.

      1. Cornelius was converted he just needed to learn that he could be graft in and be a full partaker of the Promise of the Father.

    2. Man’s idea of ‘total depravity’ doesn’t appear to line up with what Jesus says is true…. “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)

      1. Since it is the case with Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) that Calvin’s god has designed man to function as a robot – operating in accordance to programmed algorithms (in Calvinist vernacular divine decrees), – if it is the case that man is “totally depraved” – then it logically follows that “totally depraved” is simply the way Calvin’s god programmed man to be.

        Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin, in his work: “The Doctrine of The Divine Decree” states it this way:
        “The Omniscience of God merely PROGRAMMED into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which
        include our sins and failures as well as our successes”.

        Every neurological impulse is occurs inevitably and unavoidably – being determined at the foundation of the world.

        Peter Van Inwagen’s “Consequence Argument” would state it this way:
        If Theological Determinism is true
        What was determined at the foundation of the world is not “up to us”.
        And the laws of nature that exist at the time each neurological impulse occurs is not “up to us”.
        Therefore the consequences of these things are not “up to us”.

  2. One more thing. The gist behind corporate election seems to be that God conditions election on the basis of a characteristic, specifically belief. So in other words, to use your analogy, a person is not on the ship or a member of the flock of Christ’s sheep because they do not believe. I used to think that way when I was an Arminian. I was steeped in that way of thinking until I read John 10:26, which is a slam dunk contradiction to all Arminian thought which says that belief or unbelief is the first cause, which determines election. John 10:26 says the opposite: election is the first cause that determines whether someone will live a life of belief or unbelief.

    1. Hi McLeod! I had answered this same example that you also posted on the “Walking Dead” post. You did not answer it there yet. I will repost it here, in case you wish to answer it here also.

      For John 10:26, Jesus is not discussing how to become a sheep, He is exposing the truth that they were showing how they were not one of His sheep by the evidence that they were not having a continuing faith (present tense) that He was the Christ (cf. vss. 24-25). If Jesus wanted to emphasize how to become a sheep, one would expect the Greek Aorist tense, to emphasize the start of faith or act of commitment to Jesus Himself.

      Many in that crowd had rejected the invitation of John the Baptist and were now being judicially hardened to aid in the divine redemption plan. They would receive another opportunity to accept salvation by faith after Christ’s resurrection, especially at Pentecost.

      1. I think you are looking at John 10:26 through Calvin-colored glasses. There are plenty of other interpretations consistent with the text. For example, the people do not believe Jesus because they are not his sheep. They are not his sheep because they refuse to open their minds to the possibility that Jesus is right about what he says. Had they come with an open mind, things might have been different.

      2. quote:Many in that crowd had rejected the invitation of John the Baptist and were now being judicially hardened to aid in the divine redemption plan. They would receive another opportunity to accept salvation by faith after Christ’s resurrection, especially at Pentecost.

        Where is the scripture to come up with such a quote?

        How do you know that some being judicially hardened and giving over to a reprobate mind will bet a second chance? Is there scripture for that also?

    2. I don’t see first cause in this text. I may be wrong, but, my Bible says “you DO not believe because you are not of My sheep.” It does not say “you DID not believe {once in a point of time} because you are not of my sheep {by the eternal decree of God}.” The thought in both curly braces have to be read into the text to come up with the believe that election is the first cause. That does not preclude three facts. First, a person gets everlasting life which cannot be lost the first time they believe in Jesus for everlasting life at a point in time, as stated many, many times in the Gospel of John, including John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47, 11:25,27 and 20:31. Second, people, like the Jews who were arguing with Him, can decide ahead of time to not look at the evidence, in this case “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe {now} because you {made your minds up ahead of time that I am not the Messiah} are not my sheep. His sheep are those who believed in me as Messiah at a point in time, and have eternal life, and who are tracking with me now, although believers may stop following Him and never thirst again, never hunger again, and never lose everlasting life because the text says believe in Jesus for everlasting life, not believe and follow to get everlasting life. Third, a person is not saved by their belief or because of their belief. They are saved THROUGH faith (Eph 2:8). When I turn on a light switch, I am not turning on the light. The electricity turns on the light. I choose to turn the switch on, so the light is coming on through me turning on the switch. I must determine to turn on the switch. I must choose to turn on the switch. However, that does not mean I make the light come on. Belief does not save. Belief in the promise of everlasting life to everyone who believes in Him (as the object of the one who will give them that life), at a point in time, gives a person that life. Then, afterwards, as Jesus was talking about, a person can choose to continue believing in and following Jesus, or follow and believe in Him for a time and then stop following and believing in Him. It is not necessary to read into John 10:26 that Jesus’ followers believed at a point in time, because of a secret decree of God to force them to do so apart from their contracausal “Response” “Ability” to do so. It just says they believed in Him, and they continued believing and following Him. The Jews did not believe in Him and did not follow Him. It does not speak of first cause.

      1. Hi Donald! I agree with your assessment that Calvinists try to make this verse say what it doesn’t, that is, that believing only happens after one is a chosen sheep. But I think you might want to rethink your inference that this passage is also saying that believing may not continue, even if you are a sheep. This passage is only emphasizing that sheep do continually {Present tense in Greek} believe. And the ones that Jesus was rebuking showed that they were not His sheep, because they did not have that abiding faith.

        I do not know if you were hinting at the view, that some have, that says that a saved person can stop believing and still be saved.. but I believe there is too much clear Scripture to the contrary. Continual belief in those saved is the clear evidence of their salvation, and without it, they should surely doubt they have ever been saved, no matter what they may have professed or felt about their faith before.

    3. The idea that God gave no one the personal freedom to choose heaven or hell (the condition being belief or unbelief in Jesus in John 3:16-18) is unthinkable to a person that understands the justice of God. Probably blasphemy is a better word. I’m a firm believer that Jesus is a just judge, not an unjust tyrant (John 5:30).

    4. Hi
      Only coming across this post. But I’d thought I’d contribute an observation from the same chapter. If you carry on reading, Jesus in speaking to the same crowd, says in verse37-38

      37If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
      38But if I do, though ye believe not me, BELIEVE THE WORKS: THAT YE MAY KNOW, AND BELIEVE, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

      So does this not indicate that Jesus didn’t think they were unable to believe… before election…. since He is giving them yet another opportunity/ angle to consider, so that they could believe?

      1. Excellent point Clare!

        Why does Calvin’s god believe one thing and yet communicate its contradiction?

        How does a Christian come to view the God of scripture as a god of double-think?

        In the event someone (say Augustine) interpreted scripture through the lens of NeoPlatonism – Stoicism and certain constituents of Gnosticism – then such a view of god would be quite understandable.

    5. There are huge holes and hoops to jump through from a Free Will perspective. Why does one believe and another does not? Every free will answer is a humanistic pointer to the clay recognizing, humbling, being needy etc etc. and how do these people that do believe break through the active blinding veil of Satan, much more powerful than man, to see God? Prevenient grace? And why when speaking of John 6:44, Acts 13:48, Romans 8, Romans 9, John 17, Lazarus’ raising from the dead, are there such long winded work arounds of God’s choice to maintain a free will humanistic stance?

      How do Free will people pray for the lost? What do you want God to do? Help but don’t infringe on choice? Why do you get less choice in the more-free redemption? Pre-salvation menu: yes Jesus or no Jesus. Post-salvation menu – Yes Jesus. And if sealed doesn’t mean sealed (eg you think the menu is the same with choice and you can lose salvation), then you have to deal with “sealed.”

      I was a Free Will Christian for a long time. I looked at my conversion and read the Bible to define what happened. We simply don’t choose God in our own. It’s not Biblical and not logical. Humanists have made a point to hold this last stand of autonomy in free will. They say that all men have a choice, but that means that perhaps none might be saved. No one chooses God. That’s not reality as there are Christians, but this salvific system God made He guarantees salvation, not maybe for Pete and Sarah. Guaranteed.

      Like the jumping through hoops on sovereignty, I find the same with omniscience. Does God know who will choose Him? Yes? And He still creates the “nopes?” No? Then He’s kind of omniscient and like his sovereignty has neutered the term for Himself? Doesn’t give me tons of confidence praying to an impotent God.

      Humanism is sad. They may still be Christians, but this grip to the freedom of clay at the Potter’s great cost is a travesty.

  3. I have a question for Dr. Flowers. Do you believe that the hardening of Pharoh’s heart was a passive or an active action?

    I ask because the doctrine of total depravity is what vindicates God of from the accusation that he authored Pharoh’s sin. If God just stopped restraining Pharoh’s heart and that was a passive act, then Pharoh’s sin is his own. If God actually did something active to harden Pharoh’s heart, then we have God actively creating sin in one of his created beings. Just food for thought.

    1. God actively hardening Pharaoh is justified and not creating sin only if previous grace that Pharaoh was able to accept had been rejected. For Pharaoh, his rejection of God’s mercy to lead him to salvation could have happened before he even became Pharaoh. This would be the same with Judas, before he became a disciple.

      1. Brian,
        This is absolutely DEAD WRONG. I know where this thinking and theological thought of your comes from and you know I do. The scripture absolutely says without mercy, but with God’s total vengeance and justice about Pharaoh and Judas. Judas first:

        John 12:12 – While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

        God kept all the disciple safe except one, that one being Judas. For what purpose: “except the one DOOMED to DESTRUCTION so that SCRIPTUREs might be FULFILLED.

        I cannot it explain any better than the Divine Holy Scriptures do in John 12:12. You cannot make comments like you did above and leave out what God’s Divine Revelation days on the matter. And by the way, your philosophy of open theism will not work here and has no place in competing with the scripture. It’s was predicted in the future that Judas would be the son of perdition, even after he said I have chosn you twelve, Christ said emphatically,that one of you was was a devil, that he would betray Christ and that he would be doomed to destruction so that the scriptures might be fulfilled. The God of heaven and glory and of my Savior and Lord Jesus predicted this future prophecy with all the variables and that entails and he was perfectly right. The diminished humanistic god of open theism is just that, diminished and humanistic.

        Pharoah you claim could have come to know the Christ as His savior. You need to read Romans 9 again Brain.

        Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

        It was God’s very purpose to raise up Pharoah up and show his powerful judgements in Pharaoh, that God’s name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

        Brain you know I could multiply the verses where nobody thwarts or defeats God’s purpose and he does all things according to the council of his will.

        FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE SCRIPTURE SAYS TO PHARAOH. Once again all the variables involved in that and the God with exhaustive knowledge, infinite understanding brought the future to pass just as he said he would.

        There was no chance of Pharaoh or Judas knowing Christ as Savior. And Brian, I have done all I can in explaining to you, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Because for us to continue it will be your beliefs and traditions arguing against Holy Divine Scripture of God.

        May Christ continue to add to the Church daily those who are being saved.

        Acts 4:24: praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

    2. If one stipulates, as Calvinism embraces, that theological determinism is UNIVERSAL (i.e., without exception) in scope, then it follows that Total Depravity in Calvinism, plays the same role that regeneration does. It is a MEANS to an END.

      Calvinist are rational, when they recognize evangelism as a MEANS to an END in their system, because in Theological Determinism almost EVERYTHING, including sin and evil, are simply MEANS to an END. As such Total Depravity. simply functions as a MEANS to god’s END the same way regeneration does, yet they are in antithesis.

      Remember Calvinism’s Gnostic/NeoPlatonic roots are what give it its dualistic cosmology, in which good and evil are opposite-yet-equal.

      In Augustine’s words concerning good and evil: “In this way, the beauty of all things is in a manner configured, as it were, from antitheses, that is, from opposites: this is pleasing to us even in discourse”. (ord 1.7.19)”.

      So we see a system of determinism, framed within a dualistic cosmology. And as such Total Depravity and regeneration both function as a MEANS to an END, yet antithetical to each other.

      As Calvin would say:
      “The sum of the whole is this,—since the will of God is said to be the **CAUSE** of **ALL** things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence; so that he not only exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, but also **FORCES** the reprobate to do him SERVICE. ” (Institutes – book I.2)

    1. Good morning QM. This is a little delayed response. But you may want to discuss what you mean by prescience and corporate salvation. If you mean God knows before all the possible situations that would provide a true opportunity for each who could possibly be born to enter that body of believers that receives salvation, than I’m on the same page with you! 🙂

      1. Brian said and I quote – If you mean God knows before all the possible situations that would provide a true opportunity for each who could possibly be born to enter that body of believers that receives salvation, than I’m on the same page with you!

        God knows who exactly will be born and be saved.

        John 17:2New International Version (NIV)

        2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

        John 6: 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

        38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

        39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

        40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

        Ephesians 1:4New International Version (NIV)

        4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

        Brian we have come to a passe, a complete disagreement on this issue, I cannot explain it any better. Especially the fact that the Apostle Paul wrote under the Divine Inspiration that certain sinners were elected or chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in Him. It was not talking about the blessing being before the foundation of the world. That is terrible grammar and nothing but a scapegoat of what the scriptures are clearly and plainly saying when you read out of them what they are saying. But I also but other verses showing that “God does not know before all the possible situations that would provide a true opportunity for each who could possibly be born to enter that body of believers that receives salvation.” As you said He knows all things absolutely, exhaustively and infinitely. Praise to His glorious grace who works all things according to his glorious will.

        So let it be on earth as it is in heaven

  4. Leighton, I will show you the error of your ways on #2 that led you out of Calvinism. I don’t think you have looked closely enough to the context. First I will just use one text of scripture that should get you headed back in the right direction. Mark 4:11-12

    10. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for THOSE OUTSIDE EVERYTHING IS IN PARABLES.

    11. SO THAT, they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, otherwise they should turn and be forgiven.

    I will just speak in layman’s language here as that is all I am. Verse 10 speaks of those “outside everything”. So to this implies there are those who are on the “inside”. I think that answer is given in the first part of verse 10 when Jesus tells his disciples, who are Christians indwelt by the Spirit of God who gives understanding of the Kingdom of God. They had been given spiritual understanding that those “outside of everything” did not. Notice, it was not something natural or innate to the disciples. Jesus explicitly says, “TO YOU HAS BEEN GIVEN”

    Now concerning “THOSE OUTSIDE EVERYTHING IS IN PARABLES” You see those “outside everything are not given the ability to understand the parables and the mysteries of the kingdom. They think this is foolishness and nonsense.

    English Standard Version
    1 Corinthians 2:14 – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    You see Professor Flowers, those “outside everything”, who have not been given the “ability to know” will never turn and be forgiven just by hearing a parable or the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Because they are spiritually dead, they hate God, they do not have the Spirit of God residing in them to teach them.

    English Standard Version
    I John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

    Once again, it takes more than just the word of God, it takes the Sword of the Spirit to give one knowledge. Ephesians 6:17

    Without the Word and the Spirit Professor, the sinner according to Mark 4:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 2:15 will just think the message of the Gospel is silly, foolish and nonsense, He will not be able to understand or discern because he is on the “OUTSIDE EVERYTHING” OR OTHERWISE HE WOULD TURN AND BE FORGIVEN BECAUSE HE WOULD BE ON THE INSIDE, AND GIVEN BY THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND GRACE SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING TO KNOW SPIRITUAL PARABLES AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

    I think that just about sums it up. Looking forward to your reply. Let’s please don’t try to win a debate. Let’s strive not just to know the word of God but the God of His Holy Word.

    I also refuted your understanding of Romans 9:1 on you tube on your refutation of Rich pierce (Hijacking the Scriptures) and I believe I brought some understanding to you concerning why the lump of clay in Romans 9 is not just hardened Israel. If it is so hardened, be kinda hard to make something with it. That thought just came to me. But I show how the Gentiles are also apart of the lump of Clay and are called out as the Jews to be Vessels of mercy. It is an analogy. Just like the olive tree which I believe could be speaking of the same thing. Now I could be wrong on that assertion. Just a though but I am going to look into it. I am going to keep refuting you. Mainly I think here on your own website. To God be the Glory alone through our Savior Jesus God Bless

    Kevin Klosski

      1. Yes Professor Leighton, I read the article and replied to it by referring you to another article that someone had already replied to you first, They did a better job than I could have and I agreed with them and the article seemed to go along with what I wrote to you earlier. Re-read your article, my article and the one I recommended to you, See if that changes anything, Thanks and God bless

  5. Leighton, I read your article on “The Messianic Secret” I still stand unconvinced and seen a lot I disagreed with. I was going to refute it but seen someone who is much more equipped than I am has already done it. We both see it the same way,

    Jesus’ Parables as Judgements: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ view of the purpose of the Parables
    Reformed Baptist Daily https//

    I really don’t see how you can just point others to your article, “The Messianic Secret” when it has been soundly refuted here. You absolutely need to reread your own article a couple of times and then read what I wrote and especially what the article at Reformed Baptist Daily about 4 times. There is no way, unless you have been judicially hardened and blind by God 🙂 that you can not see that what you wrote does is a leaky bucket of water with many holes. One thing you are doing Leighton I believe, you are making the reformed movement take a closer look at their system of belief (although I am sure we are not wrong) and causing us to shore up our beliefs. Thanks and God Bless.

    1. Hi Kevin – (I’m guessing you are the same as ReformedSoter…). I have you considered the “leak” in your “bucket” caused by the normal meaning of Jesus’/Isaiah’s words in the parallel Matthew 13 context of Mark 4 that you are pointing to? He said – “their eyes they have closed” (13:15). You also may need to consider another “hole” made by the truth found in Mark 7:14.

      I think you would do well to read the comment section under the “Messianic Secret” post, as Leighton advised, to get the bigger picture of this context in light of what you are trying to prove from it. The context of 1Cor 2:14 has also been discussed by Leighton and others to demonstrate that the Calvinist has once again tried to prove too much from such contexts to prop up their faulty theology of determinism and individual election before creation.

      1. Brian said: The context of 1Cor 2:14 has also been discussed by Leighton and others to demonstrate that the Calvinist has once again tried to prove too much from such contexts to prop up their faulty theology of determinism and individual election before creation.

        I say: and that makes them right? Because they discussed it and decided it is what they said it is above.

        You know me to well Brian to accept any assertions that make accusations (see above in what Brian said) without any scriptural evidence’ The calvinist could take any verse of the non-calvinist and say that there humanist free will man-centered doctrine proves to much to prop up this innate power that praises God and man for their salvation I will throw in a passage of scripture that the non-calvinist butcher.

        John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

        I have heard it all, probably every version from the non-calvinist on and about this verse and it just won’t do!!!!!!

        This is an ad hominem at the comment and not any person,

        It is hog wash and dung in the nostrils of The God of Heaven. The comment not the verse.

        Blessings in Christ

  6. Refutation of Professor Flowers on Romans 9:1

    Professor Flowers, I got to thinking about what I said about agreeing with concerning Paul’s sorrow and grieve and wanting to be cut off from Christ for his fellow Jews. I thought to myself Paul could not really love his kinsmen, who were still under the wrath of God and eternal damnation more than God. What is the first and Great commandment.

    “To love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and might, and the second is like it,

    love your neighbor as you already naturally love yourself.

    ” For the Apostle Paul called from His mother’s womb to love his own people (nationally speaking) more than Christ who saved him would be sinful and idol worship. He is to do the second commandment and to love them as he already and naturally loves himself.

    So I went to the big gun, so get ready, He is ready to send a cruise missile your way. Douglas Moo Commentary on the Book of Romans…..I know makes me tremble too……but with excitement. Moo states, “Paul is speaking positively, I am telling the truth,—-and negatively—-I am not lying. The truth he speaks is in Christ, as one united with Christ. Moreover , his assertion that he does not lie is confirmed to him by the witness of his conscience. “Conscience” in Paul is an inborn faculty that monitors a person’s conformity to a moral standard. ………. Hence Paul reminds the Romans that, as a believer with a renewed mind (12:1-2) his conscience testifies “by means of ” the Holy Spirit. The one thing you and I both missed here for a reason I mentioned above about the first and great commandment is that Douglas Moo recognizes the Apostle Paul speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is speaking rhetorically. Moo continues, “The rhetorically effective doubled expressions of verse 1 (“I am speaking the truth”/”I am not lying; in Christ” //in the Holy Spirit) continue in verse 2: “great pain: / ceaseless anguish. Moo continues, “Paul now gives the reason for his (Paul’s) sorrow” the condemnation under which so many of his fellow Jews stand by reason of their refusal to embrace the gospel. Moo continues “But that no less than eternal condemnation is the issue is plain from his expressed “wish” ti be accursed and “cut off from Christ. You see Leighton, Paul’s anguish and sorrow was sincere, but not to actually and really to “be cut off from Christ” Christ is Paul’s first love’ Paul stated, “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me and gave himself for me” Do you not hear and feel the great and strong love Paul has for Christ. He would never truly want to be cut off from Christ. Like Moo said, Paul was sorrowful and in great anguish because of his fellow Jews who were under the condemnation and wrath of God and sincerely desired to save some Romans 11. Here is the kicker, In verse 3 which you missed or did not understand (first you have to understand Paul always loved Christ more than his fellow Jews) the Apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God said, “(FOR I COULD WISH) THAT I MYSELF WERE CURSED AND CUT OFF. Paul knew that many of his fellow Jews were accursed and cut off from Christ and their lot was eternal damnation. Yes, Paul had a great concern for their souls, but in no way actually wanted to be cut off from Christ, “only that he could wish” Paul only said speaking the truth in Christ and that he is not lying in the Holy Spirit “that he could wish”. Not something he would ever do and betray the loving-kindness and tender mercies shown to Him in Christ. Calvinist have answered this Flowers. You just do not want to accept the truth because of your man-centered theology and irrational reasoning of Romans 9. The world (COULD) not contain the books. John 21 You know that would have to be a whole lot of books to fill the whole world. I think a little rhetoric maybe. You see Leighton Flowers, “Paul could wish” if it were lawful and possible” but it is not. Get Douglas Moo’s commentary on Romans if you do not already have it. I think it will help you a lot. God bless.

  7. His Brian, I would like to comment to your short comments to me above, I am ReformedSoteriollogy101. Imitation is the highest form of flattery so Professor Flowers should be smiling. I still thank the both of you for your Christlike characters in discussing this. It has had an effect on me and caused me want to do the same in discussing the issues which I have not always been.

    So Brian I will put your comments first and then respond underneath ok.

    Brian said, ” Hi Kevin – (I’m guessing you are the same as ReformedSoter…). I have you considered the “leak” in your “bucket” caused by the normal meaning of Jesus’/Isaiah’s words in the parallel Matthew 13 context of Mark 4 that you are pointing to? He said – “their eyes they have closed” (13:15). You also may need to consider another “hole” made by the truth found in Mark 7:14.”)

    Hey Brian, I will interact with what you have written here without just making assertions and ask that you do the same please. I believe I already have with the Article above awaiting moderation about the “Messianic Secret Motif of 1901”, my own short response above and what I call the article from “The Reformed Daily” I think interacts in a biblical manner and devastates Leighton Flowers’ own article on the “Messianic Secret Motif Theory of 1901” There has been no interaction with my own short response and DEFINITELY WITH “THE REFORMED DAILY POST” HIS CHALLENGE IS THERE AND WAITING. Also no response to the background historical context of the “Messianic Secret Motif of 1901” that for the most part has been rejected by the majority of scholars according to the articles I have read.

    OK Brian, you mentioned Matthew 13 context of Mark 4. I am going to look at that first and respond. I wish you would have spoken with a little more clarity of the context of Matthew 13 of Mark 4 than just asserting it. In the future could explain what you are talking about so I can more clearly understand your position and respond and interact accordingly.

    I can only pick and choose certain verses in Matthew 13 Brain at this time. You can refer me to others later. The first one being

    English Standard Version
    Matthew 13:11 – And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

    Pulpit Commentary: in the counsel of God, though now given in possession, so far as regards this parable, by the explanation that I will add. To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The secrets about the establishment and development of God’s realm, WHICH CANNOT BE DISCOVERED BY HUMAN REASON, but which are made known to the initiated.


    1 CORINTHIANS 2:14 – New International Version
    The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

    The verse plainly says “the person” “the natural person” “the unsaved person”, “the wicked sinner” CANNOT (IS NOT ABLE) TO UNDERSTAND) BECAUSE THEY ARE DISCERNED ONLY THROUGH THE SPIRIT. THIS IS THE PERSON WITHOUT THE SPIRIT.

    I know Brian you said that the context of Leighton and others have been discussed and it proves to much about determinism and such. Can you show me this information or explain it yourself in context. I am going to go back and read it in context myself to be sure I am understanding it correctly.

    Let’s clear up on thing quickly that I am sure you will agree with me about, “by the kingdom of heaven” is meant the “gospel of Christ”

    To know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven is a gift of God’s grace something that was “given (an internal supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit) and not given to those “outside everything” Mark 11:11-12.

    There was a “blessing of the Lord on the eyes and the ears of the disciples” to see and ear ultimately resulting in their understanding the kingdom.

    Now for another verse,

    English Standard Version
    Matthew13:13 – This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

    The parables did not keep the identity of the Messiah secret from those being spoken of here. They already could not see or here because of the rebellion of their hearts and stiff necks. THEIR EYES AND EARS HAD NOT BEEN BLESSED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO SEE THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. IT WAS NOT “GIVEN TO THEM TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST AS THE DISCIPLES THROUGH THE REGENERATING SPIRIT WHO ALONE CAN GIVE THE EYES OF FAITH.

    The verses plain speech says to some it was giving “TO KNOW” implying to others ‘IT WAS NOT GIVEN TO THEM BY GOD TO KNOW”

    Brian I won’t even dignify attempting a response to Mark 7:14 until you put some context with it.

    I have already asked for more information as to why the reformed understanding of 1 Corinthians 14 is incorrect.

    Please interact and respond accordingly and I will reply. Hope you both are taking the time to read, interact, and respond to the information in the above post.

    Thanks and God bless

    1. Hi Kevin – Thank you for your kind comments. Dialoging on this site has helped me be better at – Col 4:6 – “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” I am glad my example has encouraged you! I hope I can improve further, though I still like sarcasm too much, I think! 🙂

      You asked for “more clarity of the context of Matthew 13 of Mark 4 than just asserting it.” Matthew 13 is a parallel passage recording the same event as Mark 4, when Jesus explained why He was speaking in parables to the crowds. I wanted to point out that in that same message Jesus pointed out from Isaiah, that there were those in His crowd, as in Isaiah’s, that were hardened to the truth because “their eyes they have closed.” Jesus was using parables to separate from the crowd those who wanted to understand truth, who hadn’t yet closed their eyes, from those who were there perhaps out of curiosity, but who had closed their eyes already.

      The main point in Jesus’ words – “their eyes they have closed” is that He is affirming that for these hardened ones in the crowd, their eyes were once open, and that they are responsible for their hardness resulting from closing their own eyes. Jesus’ appeal to the crowds in Mark 7:14 shows that from Jesus’ perspective those in that crowd, each one was able to hear and understand what He was about to say about the conviction of sin. The verse reads – “And he [Jesus] called the people to him again and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand.'” I hope, Kevin, that is enough context for you to now “dignify” a response to it! 🙂

      As for 1Cor 2:14 – the context is how carnal the Corinthians were acting by following men, and exalting the wisdom of men, even dividing into sects based on following men! Sounds like today it is still going on – (Calvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, Mennonites – all named after men). Any way, Paul is telling the Corinthians in chapter 2 that the wisdom of God comes from the Spirit of God (special revelation) through apostles like him, and not through unsaved philosophers who deem the crucifixion foolishness based on general revelation alone.

      Those whose worldview is only what can be comprehended by the senses (the natural/soulish man) reject the idea of the supernatural and they call it foolish. From that worldview alone one is unable to recognize what must be spiritually discerned. You and I actually agree that God must enlighten man by His Spirit for man to be able to receive the gospel. Where we differ is, you, for now, believe God only does that for a pre-selected group of individuals (no verse) and I believe that He does it for everyone (John 1:9).

      1. Brian you said, “You asked for “more clarity of the context of Matthew 13 of Mark 4 than just asserting it.” Matthew 13 is a parallel passage recording the same event as Mark 4, when Jesus explained why He was speaking in parables to the crowds. I wanted to point out that in that same message Jesus pointed out from Isaiah, that there were those in His crowd, as in Isaiah’s, that were hardened to the truth because “their eyes they have closed.” Jesus was using parables to separate from the crowd those who wanted to understand truth, who hadn’t yet closed their eyes, from those who were there perhaps out of curiosity, but who had closed their eyes already.

        The main point in Jesus’ words – “their eyes they have closed” is that He is affirming that for these hardened ones in the crowd, their eyes were once open, and that they are responsible for their hardness resulting from closing their own eyes. Jesus’ appeal to the crowds in Mark 7:14 shows that from Jesus’ perspective those in that crowd, each one was able to hear and understand what He was about to say about the conviction of sin. The verse reads – “And he [Jesus] called the people to him again and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand.’” I hope, Kevin, that is enough context for you to now “dignify” a response to it!”

        Brian God bless and I hope you are doing fine. Let’s just say I do not find enough reason or context to still “dignify” another response to what I have already written. I have tried to post on here my article of the “Messianic Secret Motif of 1901” three times and Leighton Flowers or someone (whoever is moderating will not allow it. Within that article is referenced another article by the Reformed Daily Post on WordPress that completely refutes Leighton Flowers article on the “Messianic Secret” So I See no real interest by you or Leighton Flowers in responding or interacting with the article “The Messianic Secret Motif of 1901” or the article link within that post by “The Reformed Daily Post” that does interact and responds to Flowers and your small comments above on this issue.



        You named some denominations above Brain, I guess that, of course you put Calvinism first, I guess that is what is what you meant by still liking your sarcasm. That is ok. I am dool with that. 🙂 But you forgot Traditional Baptist and whatever denomination you belong to.

        Now for your second paragraph Brain:.” As for 1Cor 2:14 – the context is how carnal the Corinthians were acting by following men, and exalting the wisdom of men, even dividing into sects based on following men! Sounds like today it is still going on – (Calvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, Mennonites – all named after men). Any way, Paul is telling the Corinthians in chapter 2 that the wisdom of God comes from the Spirit of God (special revelation) through apostles like him, and not through unsaved philosophers who deem the crucifixion foolishness based on general revelation alone.

        Those whose worldview is only what can be comprehended by the senses (the natural/soulish man) reject the idea of the supernatural and they call it foolish. From that worldview alone one is unable to recognize what must be spiritually discerned. You and I actually agree that God must enlighten man by His Spirit for man to be able to receive the gospel. Where we differ is, you, for now, believe God only does that for a pre-selected group of individuals (no verse) and I believe that He does it for everyone (John 1:9)”

        As far as 1 Cor 2:14 goes Brian, Jesus does it for a pre-selected group also called the Elect in Christ before the foundation of the predestined for salvation in time. I will do some proof-texting as you do to proof this. First let me say of your proof text of 1 John which I am not really understanding why you posted it. It is true of any Christian (it is speaking of Christians in the context there) who confesses there sin, but for arguments sake, whosoever repents of their sins and believes on Christ will be saved. I believe that with all my heart soul and might. Now for proof texting.

        First let me go to personal experience of people I have known all through my life and now they dead. They always thought the gospel was silly, nonsense and foolish and were hostile to it. The were God haters and were not subject to the law of God and were not able to be so. Those in the flesh cannot please Gdo. Repenting and having faith in Christ is pleasing to God.

        John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed

        No wicked sinner comes to light of the gospel that they hate, they love the darkness of sin. Look at the scripture above it plainly says they do not come. That is unless this happens:

        .John 6: 37 – All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

        John 6: 45 – It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’d Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him
        comes to me.

        Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

        Brain I could keep going on and on with the “pre-selected or Elect in Christ ” you mentioned above

        Here in Matthew 11:27 it clearly without anything ambiguous says “no one knows the Father .EXCEPT THE SON AND ANYONE TO WHOM THE SON (CHOSES) TO REVEAL HIM.

        Well maybe just one more proof text concerning what you call the “pre-seleted” and I call the Elect in Christ before the foundation of the world.

        John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.


        This will take more than two paragraphs Brian, Two Paragraphs is why calvinists do not take the other side seriously because they seem to take for granted they are “just right: and don’t really need to interact with any substance. Let God be glorified through this conversation and His truth go forward in lighting speed saving sinners from sin. “For they shall call His name Jesus (savior) for he shall save His people from their sins>”

      2. You do know Kevin that all caps is SHOUTING, and not really appropriate for a cordial conversation? Also, this is Leighton’s posting site. He has only invited two others to post their own contributions that fit the purpose of this site, which is to aid others to leave Calvinism. But anyone is free to interact cordially in the comments sections of each post.

        I answered the two passages you mentioned that clearly point to God’s activity before creation. Your unwillingness to interact with what I wrote is suspect! But I will take your challenge and respond to your articles… which I presumably can do on your blog page.

        None of the other verses you listed above mention before creation for the divine activities they involve. You must force that onto those contexts to support your presupposition of closed individual election before creation. You mentioned John 17:2. How do you factor in that Judas is also called one that was given to Christ (17:12)? There must be human responsibility in there somewhere for him to be “given” but still lost in the end.

        The proof text from me that you said that you did not understand was John 1:9, not in 1John. No one does come to know the Father except the Son chooses (not “has chosen before creation”) to reveal Him to them (Matt 11:27). But Praise His Name – Jesus chooses to enlighten everyone that is in the world (cf. Rom 1, 2)!

      3. Brian I have been using the internet for a long time now and I know many think caps mean shouting when i only mean it to emphasize. So please don’t try and make it sound as if I am doing something I am not. You are bound to know everyone thinks caps is (oh boy) “shouting” but I promise that is not what I am doing. Let’s not go in that direction ok. There is nothing in my conversation that is not cordial. You should ask yourself why you even brought that up???? Brian, now you make me say things I do not want to say about you. You are not being truthful. I have interacted with you. Are you reading what I wrote. On my site there is a an article called “The Messianic Secret Motif of 1901” that interacts with you and within that article (which I have mentioned several times) The Reformed Daily Post has an article that I link to that debunks Flowers article “Messianic Secret” completely that you have refused to interact and respond to. So do not project here Brian. Why you have begun to act in a different manner other than generous I can only guess. I have challenged you and cannot or will not answer. You accuse me of not being cordial and it is you not being cordial and making a big deal about capital letters. I read the rest of what you said above and for the time being I will consider it irrelevant until interact responsibly and fully with what I have mentioned on in this comment section. I can answer your proof texting directly, not by going to my own favorite pet verses to answer them. So sorry you caused me to be firm on this one Brian but I think it was necessary. Only God knows the heart Brian, remember that.

      4. Hi Kevin, I think you might benefit from reading what I wrote in my last response. I did not accuse you of “shouting” with your all caps or of not being “cordial”. I asked you a question for clarification about these things and I also clarified how this blog site works.

        You affirmed that you “know many think caps mean shouting.” So you should not be surprised to be asked about it. Capitalizing a word or phrase for emphasis here or there, would be more easily recognized as for emphasis, but you gave all caps to larger sections of what you wrote.

        One of those sections started with – “FLOWERS IS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST WHAT I POST ON HERE BIG TIME.” One should certainly be free to question if that is “shouting” or not. And you have not been hindered from making any arguments in this comment section. But no one should assume they specifically are being discriminated against if they cannot post a whole article. That’s silly! You gave the link to it. That is a normal limitation for any site.

        You also need to be a little patient. I promised you that I would interact with your article on your site. But I have three lectures to give first today! 🙂 And I forgive you, Kevin, for falsely accusing me of falsely accusing you! 🙂

      5. Brian if you had read been reading earlier post you would have known that I specifically said , that I was not shouting using caps, I was only emphasizing” So you stand refuted once again. So if you had been reading you would have known I was NOT shouting JUST emphasizing. Using a little sacarasm. So once again Brian is trying to peer into my heart as if he knows me and only God does. I had to give the link to it because NO ONE WOULD POST IT BECAUSE IT WAS SO DAMAGING TO THE “MESSIANIC SECRET MOTIF OF 1901” Leighton says calvinism is since Augustine. Not true, it is since the revelation of God’s word. But the Messianic Secret article of Leighton Flowers is fairly recent and and has been rejected by the majority. It originated in 1901. So you half- way being honest with me in refuting me “is nonsense” I don’t want to get into a war of words because I see how you try and twist, forget, and get offended when you are called out on the carpet. You have falsely accused me once again Brain. I still forgive you in Christ. I will refrain from the war of words because that you can never win with me and I do not want to allow myself to go down this road of pride you are trying to lead me. I WILL NOT ARGUE WITH BRIAN. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? JUST LET IT GO. YOUR SPEECH IS NO LONGER SEASONED WITH SALT AND GRACE TO THE DISGRACE AND DISHONOR OF CHRIST.

  8. I am here Brian to contend for the truth and God’s glory and protect people from Leighton’s false teachings. If I am not suppose to post and interact just let me know and i will go elsewhere. Just don’t project on me that I am being unkind in my responses when that is not within my heart. God bless brother and I forgive you in Christ.

  9. No need Brian for any longer interaction, you use your speeches as excuses and I have been trying to get interaction for some time now. I am done now. Let it go. I am done, Not angry, just know when something is going to be unprofitable and not worth my time. I have more pressing and more important matters at hand. Blessings thanks

    1. I wish for you God’s best, Kevin! And I hope you will think about the difference between being questioned and being accused. I was asking you questions, not accusing you. We can let others and our Lord be the judge of how gracious our speech has been with each other.

      I just finished my last lecture for today, so I still hope to read your post on your home page and respond there. I do think, Kevin, that you may be rejecting the views being given by Leighton and myself based on what you think has the most ecclesiastical or scholarly support through the centuries, instead of testing all things based on context and grammar in Scripture itself. Something to think about.

      1. You are really well at phrasing your words Brian but accusing me of shouting is what you did. PLease be honest. As far as your speech be seasoned with grace. Out of the abundance of the mouth the hearts speaks and you shall know them by their fruits. You speak a lot of half truths that I am able to see through clearly. You were not questioning me, that is what you made up hoping I would believe. As I stated earlier in earlier post (if you will do some research) I stated with caps I am not shouting only emphasizing. The rest of what you said is irrelevant. I could turn the same argument back on you and you know it is true. Let’s don’t do the interaction thing. I am pleading with you now. I think Dr. James White summed it all up very well when he debated Leighton flowers on Romans 9 and Flowers preached and danced all over half of the bible importing other text of scripture (without giving their context first to see if they illuminate Romans 9) I wish Flowers would have debated insteaded of preached. I heard him say the other day that Dr. White started off in Romans 8 which was not the agreement of the debate. I started laughing and saying you have got to be kidding me. Don’t know why Leighton and you have made this the crusade of your life, because the gospel is preached by reformed preachers. You are not going to solve anything. I only you bringing more brighter and more intelligent calvinist out of the wood work refuting you at every turn. As you know just about every Calvinist website I go to Leighton has been there and left his mark. I no longer want to interact with you Brian. Let us depart in the peace of Christ. Ok This will be my last response Goodbye, remember to preach the whole counsel of God and not just to prove the reformed faith wrong. Blessings to you both

      2. Thank you, Kevin, for giving me the last word! As I have suspected, you do put too much weight on ecclesiastical (reformed) authority. And that is not a question, but an accusation, 🙂 based on your statement – “bringing more brighter and more intelligent calvinist out of the wood work refuting you at every turn.” I say again, that I wish you God’s best, and I hope you will test all things contextually and grammatically for yourself in Scripture and not just based on another human authority.

      3. Brian just to let you know i have started a facebook site to expose Leighton Flowers false teachings of God’s word and also many other words. I am a nobody so I am sure i will not be read by to many people. If it keeps 1 person from straying into falsehood all be to the glory of God. I know we have our differences. Like your last post so many things I was tempted to interact with but resisted the temptation and have decided to go with this way of doing things God bless

      4. Kevin, I am praying that what you have considered “false teachings” the Lord will reveal to you as sound doctrine!

        Since you rely so much on scholarship that you choose as important, and see yourself as “a nobody”, it is a wonder that you haven’t questioned whether you have the scholarly, critical judgment to know if the scholars you chose are wrong! 🙂 I am being facetious!

        For you know that I believe every Christian, with the Holy Spirit and Scriptures, can discern right from wrong doctrine, if they will take the time to have their senses exercised through meditation on God’s Word itself, and not primarily on “scholars”!

      5. Brian, not sure how you know I depend on so much scholarship. You don’t really know me and I have not given you any reason to believe really that I take so much stock in scholarship. It is something you are assuming, but do not really know. But you know what. There are those with giftings of God in understanding the Word far greater than the two of us put together. So yes I have learned as you have learned from the gifts God has given us. I have notebooks upon notebooks of doctrine, devotional ect. of original material I have written myself. Also on my computer. I know this may sound braggadocious, but my pastor has said I have a good aptitude for understanding the Word of God. I actually attend a non-calvinist church. My pastor quotes from a lot of calvinist from time to time as he does non calvinist. I say nothing of my calvinist beliefs there. I refuse to make it an issue. We have a common belief and hope that strengthens us in the unity of the Spirit, our faith in Jesus. I hope I can say that with humility. But you know what Brian, I can truthfully say with the Holy Spirit bearing witness to conscience that I am not lying. If calvinism is a false teaching I will repent immediately and start allowing the Holy Spirit to start renew my mind. But to this date. Flowers or no non-calvinist scholars, or layman have been able to convince me and i have honestly prayed to God that if am wrong to show the truth. He seems to show me otherwise at this time or I am being deceived. But I do feel blessed and built up in the Lord Jesus Christ trusting in the Calvinist Doctrine of God in the Sovereignty of Salvation. Remember Calvinism is just a nick-name for what we believe is divine revelation, the Word of the Living God. Be blessed and I am praying God will show both of us the truth.

      6. Brian it seems all or many of the podcast Leighton Flowers I listened to, (the latest being the one with Sean Cole on Romans 9) Leighton is constantly saying, most scholars, many scholars, most commentaries, hmmmmm, I wonder if you have slapped his wrist for relying on all these scholars and commentaries. I guess i am just being what you said, I think the word is being felicitous. But I do think the point is made is very firm and clear. Hold his feet to the fire like you did mine, all though I refused to take your advice seeing it more of a debate tactic, not that you were using the “the scholarship debate tactic” on purpose, but I think you felt it was a good defense for your position but faulty. But the leader of your “purpose in destroying calvinism” uses the same tactics and you don’t advise him as you did me. I have to wonder Brian. Listen to Leighton Podcast and read his writings see how much he depends on scholars such as N. T. Wright. Blessings.

      7. Hi Kevin, Good to hear from you again! I think Leighton will confirm that I am an “equal opportunity offender”! 🙂

        If you check out Leighton’s post – “Is Wright Right?” You will see that I said the following –

        >>Though there may be some polemic benefit to pointing to a theologian “respected” by a large number of professing Christians, who has gotten one biblical issue right, there may also result a possible infection in the less discerning caused from his unbiblical views, from this promotion of him as a supposed biblical “authority”.

        >>By professing the true gospel, Wright is on the same team! But it seems unwise to promote someone as an authority for a correct biblical position when they consistently bat less than .200 in a number of important sound doctrines. If a person can not read the NT and come away understanding believer’s baptism as a necessary sound doctrine, they may be a brother and have the gift of teaching, but they are not yet qualified to be recognized as an overseer in the body (Titus 1:9). The focus on brilliance and popularity in Christianity have been the cause for much harm to the gospel and sound doctrine through the centuries. I will side with the biblically sound pastor as an authority who never made the history books, then I would with Luther or Calvin any day!

        >>You don’t need Wright, Brother Leighton, to bolster the contextual reasonableness of your view of Romans 9, except perhaps as a side note – “For what it is worth to some, even Wright sees this view of Romans 9.” It would be better, in my view, to point to fundamental, baptistic theologians that have also recognized your view’s contextual, exegetical support.

        SO- you see Kevin, it was not a debate tactic! Our authority is the normal contextual, grammatical understanding of Scripture. Scholars, like Wright, twist often the Scripture away from its normal understanding, in my opinion.

        And I think you meant to say “facetious” and “felicitous”. 🙂

      8. I knew you would wiggle out of this one, for you know Leighton constantly is saying scholars, ok for him but not for me….It’s not just NT Wright, singular, but Leighton says scholars, plural Brian. hmmmmmm…….Sounds like a boogieman in the closet Brian. Well I could once again my friend you know, I could take “your words, insert your name, remove calvin and Luther, (because you seem to be the only scholar you truly trust mostly it seems) and send this argument right back to you my friend. I would go with Calvin and Luther any day above you (or NT Wright Paul and the the New Perspective? Really?) So we just have a matter of two opinions here, the right one and the wrong one, but as for me and my house Brian, we will serve the Lord and the God of the Scriptures. Not letting the fleshly knowledge of knowing the scriptures become our idols. Calvin and Luther were intimately acquainted with the God of the scriptures.. (My Opinion, your to prove otherwise 🙂 Also I try not to purposely allow myself to be speaking eloquently which to me is an an idol,I am striving to have faith in the power of God that can save ungodly wicked sinner. Oh I am not sure you are qualified to determine whether someone is a scholar or not (such as Luther or Calvin, the burden of prove is on you if you say they are not) as one who is blessed of God as one to see who is real teaching pastor or Biblical Scholar. Thank you for the correction on the word “Facetious” but if that is all you got in this post I would say I did pretty well and my argument about Leighton Flowers and his constant commenting of scholars and commentaries stands solid and unrefuted. Just being “facetious: 😛

      9. Hi Kevin! I do “wiggle” pretty good when it comes to Scripture! 🙂 And I don’t trust myself, you, Leighton, Luther, Calvin, Wright, or any scholars over the normal grammatical, contextual meaning of Scripture that anyone can see for themselves.

        When it comes to things the Scripture is not clear about, let each be fully persuaded in their own mind (Rom 14:1, 5)! But do you think the Scripture clearly teaches infant baptism or believer’s baptism?

        Why would you trust the “scholarship” of someone who sees infant baptism as essential to Christian faith and practice? You know that they are just leaning on their chosen “authority” of tradition, and not clear Scriptures, to do so!

        Tradition is just the “scholarship” of others who have twisted the Scriptures and infused their views with the philosophy of men to form their dogmas! Then they find some proof texts in Scriptures that sound as if they are in support of these man-made dogmas! That is what your Luther and Calvin have done. You are free to trust them, but I would warn against it (Jer 17:5).

      10. You know what Brian I think maybe I am coming to understand you better now, and you are ok…. 🙂 Your very right on what you say above and that is why I said earlier I can tell you know the scriptures better than me and I can learn from you, even though we disagree on the doctrines of grace. God bless. Your points above are taken and I understand and agree. Remember I said I am just a layman and a amatuer, who might suprise you from time to time though 🙂

      11. Good morning Kevin! Your words and spirit are very encouraging! Your graciousness and willingness to test all things, including your own responses will be rewarded by the Lord! I count you as a friend!

      12. I don’t want to sound to unfriendly Brian, I did and do see things you said above that are were beneficial to me. You are more acquainted overall within the scriptures than me that I can see, but I do not think so when it comes to the Doctrines of Grace. I can learn from you and I sincerely mean that. Have to watch my pride in trying to out-debate you. I don’t think I can anyway. 🙂 I know that is not what we are trying to do here, but my spirit is willing but my flesh is many times weak. God bless my friend.

      13. Thank you Kevin, for your kind thoughts! Anytime you wish to discuss a specific verse, I would be more than happy to! I know your heart is fixed on wanting God’s glory!

  10. I am just curious, what is it about Calvinism that makes people angry or even claim that it can not be God’s way of saving? Clearly Predestination and Election is taught in the BIble and it does seem God chooses.. So what is so wrong with Calvinism?

    1. Hey Joe, I noticed that no one answered your question! My own opinion is that a strong mental belief in Calvinism lessens one’s confidence is how effective personal fervent prayer and aggressive evangelistic endeavor can really be. God’s way of saving is based on His redemptive payment for the sins of the whole world and His universal enlightenment to draw everyone to an individual opportunity to freely repent or reject His saving mercy. This way of saving is consistent with how the Scripture also speaks about predestination and election. Those two divine activities were not for a complete list of individuals before creation, but for an open book of Life with a place for another name to be added when a person humbly, actively, freely, receives God’s grace by faith when its offered.

    2. Hi Joe,
      I hope you don’t mind if I respond to your request also.
      I see Calvinism as essential Augustinian-ism, which, if you research materials from historical scholarship, you will discover, the influences of Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism affect his theology throughout his life. From my perspective, the system incorporates Universal Divine Determinism, framed within a dualistic cosmology, in which good and evil are opposite yet equal.

      Debates on determinism vs in-determinism have raged throughout the centuries. And yet, even people who believe that all things are pre-determined, interact in their daily lives with autonomy as an operative default. All law and justice (actus reus, and mens rea) is reliant upon a presupposition of libertarian culpability.

      This is why Calvin instructs his followers to “go about your office AS THOUGHT nothing were determined in any part”.
      This allows the Calvinist to retain a sense of normalcy, and functions to reduce internal anxieties over questions about what god has designed as one’s eternal fate. Calvin even teaches that god quote holds out salvation to some believers, temporarily, in order to magnify their torment in hell.

      Even though libertarian freewill has its philosophical problems, there is a general acknowledgement that determinism, offers an amorphous form of personal free will and culpability that tends to be based upon illusions.

      The 2nd aspect of Calvinism that concerns people is the implications of God’s character. When you examine it, you see that Calvinism asserts God as speaking with forked tongue. He speaks to Adam and Eve, AS IF he wants them to obey his command, and yet he has already predestined them to disobey it. He does this, per the SECRET council of his will. Is it humanly possible to trust something that is SECRET? God is to be trusted, but trusted for what? Can I trust him for salvation, if he has designed me for a lake of fire? I am human. I can’t trust what I cannot know. With Calvinism, the only thing about god that I can trust, is that if he throws me in a lake of fire, he does it for his good pleasure or his glory etc.

      The 3rd aspect of Calvinism that concerns people is its equivocal and misleading language. Ex-Calvinist – Daniel Gracely describes it as a rocking-horse, first, emphasizing deterministic language to the extreme, only to observe doing so makes god the author of evil. So the Calvinist then recoils in the opposite direction using DISTANCING language designed to distance god’s causal role in evil implied within his deterministic language. The result is asserting [A] and [NOT A] simultaneously, resulting in doublespeak.

      “This is what I used to do as a Calvinist. I liken these non-sense statements, or propositions, to the riding of a rocking-horse. As a Calvinist rider, I would throw my weight forward toward my belief in the absolute sovereignty of God until I could go no further, whereupon I would recoil backwards toward my belief in human freedom. Thus I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin. All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. At length I would allow the springs of dialectical tension to rest the rocking horse in the center, and then I would declare as harmonious propositions which, in fact, were totally contradictory to each other. Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario.”

      The result is that Calvinist language has evolved to be reliant upon misleading subtleties, and truth-omissions, and does not model the language of Jesus Christ.

      Hope that helps!
      Blessings :-]

  11. Brian,
    I look back at my past history and how arrogant and prideful I was talking with you. This is not a false humility. I am amazed you did not give up on me. You even have me thinking and digging more than before. But the thing I learned the most and I will never forget is that a “Man of God” (or should I say exposed me thought his humility and patience) taught me through patience, private email, gentleness and love how to discuss matters in a mature manner that is worthy of Christ. Or more worthy of Christ than before, I realize I have a long way to go, but I feel drawn to you as a brother in Christ, just amazed at the work of the Holy Spirit within you. Yes your favorite verse you told me and God cultivated it through you to me as you endured with “much” but never gave up. “With gentleness and humility you corrected me as I was in opposition to the Lord. You showed me you knew more than just the word of God, you know the “God of His word” You have a gift Brian, I think you can help in the sanctifying process of young men who “think they know more than they ought” God bless you Brian and thanks again.

    1. Your words of encouragement, Kevin, are overwhelming! You have made me feel such happiness this evening, and in the midst of current burdens, you have refreshed my spirit more than you may ever know this side of heaven! I believe the Lord is going to guide your studies and ministry to others in a powerful way!

  12. Is there a place where I can download an MP3 of this presentation. I would like to listen to it while I travel.

  13. Calvinism in the Early Church
    By the Early Church Fathers

    This is shocking, astounding, but very comforting and edifying at the same time. We can trace the Doctrines of Grace from present day to Calvin, Augustine, The early Church Fathers right to our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Apostles. The Link below. But a verse to wet your appetite:

    Ignatius: “To the predestined ones before all ages, that is, before the world began, united and elect in a true passion, by the eternal will of the Father…”

    I am not sure but was it Leighton Flowers who said the early Church Fathers did not teach the “Doctrines of Grace” until Augustine. I am just guessing Leighton Sorry if I am wrong. But you will find these early “Church Fathers” teaching

    1Total Depravity
    2.Unconditional Election
    3.Limited Atonement
    4.Irresistible Grace
    5.Perseverance of the Saints

    Irenaeus………. Jesus is the Savior of them that believe; but the Lord of them that believe not……

    Yes, but then I know u can find verses from the Early Church Fathers that seem to say different, but we cannot deny the ones that are in the article link above and brush them aside as if they don’t exist.

    This quote down below, so needs to be remembered when we are reading or quoting the Early Church Fathers:

    “If anyone has read through the apostolic fathers, for example, they’ll know that they simply weren’t concerned with expounding the doctrines of sovereign grace, or nearly any other doctrine for that matter! They wrote letters, not systematic theologies. They wrote letters, not systematic theologies. They were dealing with false teachers and persecution. They were trying to survive. And since the early false teachers weren’t distant cousins of a guy by the name of Pelagius, the issue wasn’t a matter of great concern. So no, the apostolic fathers weren’t running around with tulips for bookmarks. ”

    Clement: 27.4-5, “By his majestic word he established the universe, and by a word he can destroy it. “Who will say to him, ‘What have you done?’ Or who will resist the might of his strength?” He will do all things when he will and as he wills, and none of those things decreed by him will fail.”

    The Didache

    3.10, “Accept as good the things that happen to you, knowing that nothing transpires apart from God.”

    Link to more quotes below:

    Praise to His glorious Grace

  14. these words destroy any belief in ‘total depravity’ for me:
    “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . ”

    the power of the Incarnation is not recognized fully by Calvinists, nor could it be . . . which is why Calvinism is alien to orthodox Christianity

    1. High Christiane!

      Great post! Yes, I’m not in the orthodox camp myself, but I do enjoy David Bentley Hart, and I enjoy articles on Ancient Faith Ministries web-site. And yes, I do see that the Orthodox recognize where Calvin’s theology must compromise aspects of Christ’s nature. However, I couldn’t enunciate that if I were asked. :-]

      Blessings and thank you for your post!!

      1. Christiane,

        Please explain, how do those words destroy belief in Total Depravity? Is it not because of Total Depravity that those words are so beautiful and necessary?


        I am not so sure Christiane is referencing the Eastern Orthodox Church, since she did not capitalize the “O” in orthodox. Rather, it would seem that she may be implying that Calvinism is simply “unorthodox” (i.e., heterodoxy or heresy). By the way, both Arminianism and Traditionalism are also “alien to the [Eastern] Orthodox Church,” so I am not sure there is much comfort for any of us if your interpretation of her comment is correct.

        On that note, can we at least agree that, regardless of our strong disagreements on soteriology, Calvinism, Arminianism and Traditionalism are all within the pale of Biblical-Evangelical “orthodoxy”?

        In Christ,
        Derek Ashton

  15. I, too, am a former (perhaps I should say recovering) “Calvinist”. I think I could say it a better way – I am a recovering Pharisee. Although I would like to think I avoided some of the more hideous displays of spiritual pride I’ve seen in the comment section here (looking at you, Kevin ReformedSoteriology101), what began to lead me out of Calvinism was actually less of the doctrine and more of the practice. Jesus said “By their fruits you shall know them.” When I began to wake up to the fact that most of the people I was aligning myself with theologically (former pastor and church people as much as well-known authors and teachers), all Calvinists, and all (myself included) 100% convinced of their own theological correctness… all spiritually ego-bloated and all (again myself included) looking down on others who did not share our educated, informed (should I say REFORMED) views and Calvinistic interpretations of Scripture… when I began to sense not just in my peers and my pastor but in my own soul the level of spiritual pride and the complete lack of grace — despite all our talk of its doctrine — *that* is when I started to really question the foundation of the spiritual house I had been building. If grace — REAL grace (demonstrated by the fruit of the spirit… you know: love, peace, joy, patience/longsuffering/forbearance, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS… SELF-CONTROL) was not filling that house and spilling over to others, then something was seriously wrong with MY foundation. I know enough to know that the “fruit” depends on the “root”, and it became increasingly and painfully clear to me that while I may have been desperately trying to plant TULIPs in the hearts of other people, I was far removed from planting GRACE (that is to say, JESUS) in their hearts by all my argumentative words and prideful displays. I know all too well how truly humbling it is to take that kind of good hard look at your “self”, your “soul”, and your “theology” — *especially AFTER you have become a so-called Christian…

    and REPENT. It is one thing to come to Christ, knowing you are a sinner… seeing the more obvious and glaring sins prior to the point of recognizing your need for grace. Maybe alcohol or addiction… maybe anger or abusive tendencies. Maybe selfishness or sexual promiscuity. But then you meet Jesus and you “repent” of those things. Your obvious sins… well, they kind of start clearing up like the acne on the face of a teen, and so you start thinking perhaps that you’re a little better than you are. You study your Bible, you get involved at church. You try to make sense of Scripture… you have good intentions. At least, in the beginning. But then… you begin to become convinced, that your eyes have been opened to theological truths that were hidden, that your mind has become enlightened, and that all these other people who *think* they know Scripture are just dwelling in the dark, stumbling around, unaware of how much they cannot see. But YOU, now… YOU have seen the light. Not the light of Jesus, mind you. But the light of a consistent interpretation of all of Scripture… a systematic theology that is indefensible of all attacks. Slowly and under the radar of your own perception, you begin sizing up people based on their beliefs. If their understanding of Scripture does not align with yours, then they are either wolves or goats, but not sheep. You are convinced that YOU are a sheep of course. It would never occur to you that YOU might be a wolf or a goat. You see, for all your arguments founded on the principles of presuppositional apologetics (learned from the very best and most recognized arguers around of course), the one presupposition that never seems to occur to YOU is this: everything you are arguing for is 100% true and correct. The thing that never seems to occur to you is that YOU might just be wrong.

    As your “faith” slips beyond your perception from something that depends solely on the grace of God supplied through the person of Jesus and applied by the Holy Spirit to a theological system that must be defended against all who you perceive oppose or threaten it in some way, the real fruit that should come from following Jesus withers and dies. You begin to look more like the “brood of vipers” — the religious authorities that Jesus so firmly opposed — than the true disciples, whom He loved. And why did Jesus have such strong words for those *deeply* religious “leaders” (the ones who studied the Scriptures the most and who lived according to the strictest religious standards)? It wasn’t because they loved the Scriptures. It was because they had chosen to worship them in such a way as it turned them into an idol, and in the process it hardened their hearts, causing them to shut the door of grace in the face of the people who needed it the most. This was the most obvious and telling distinction between Jesus and the religious leaders who opposed Him. Jesus ate with sinners. He welcomed prostitutes and tax collectors, profaners, and simpletons. He touched the unclean. Theologically, he was actually pretty darn close to those same religious leaders. But look at the fruit of His ministry in direct contrast to theirs. He welcomed people into the Kingdom that THEY sought to keep out. It really is that simple. THEY withheld mercy, love, and grace from people that didn’t approve of. JESUS gave it to them willingly, despite the cost to Himself. THEY busied themselves trying to WIN theological arguments. HE busied Himself winning souls. Jesus understood the heart of the Scriptures and the God who inspired them better than anyone (He was, in fact, the exact representation of the invisible God, right?) and yet He spoke in plain and simple terms about His Kingdom, and invited the desperate and the disenfranchised in to join Him in it. He didn’t busy Himself with apologetics, theological terminology, and didn’t spend his time trying to point out all the errors of all the so-called religious authorities around him. Surely if he had, we would still be talking about Him and why He is so important to us today.

    Thinking about those things… taking a close look at the people I was surrounding myself with and the person I myself was becoming, reading the gospels again and again and looking at the people Jesus surrounded Himself with, as well as those who opposed Him… allowing myself room to question my “rightness” and to be honest about my fruit… as Professor Flowers can himself attest (and the cost to me was far, far less than it was for him)… it was a LONG process that led me out of the Calvinistic belief system I had been a part of for so long. And while it is true, that I find I am LESS certain about many things (theologically speaking) than I was a few years ago, I think that is absolutely 100% okay. I am able to actually HEAR other people better when I talk to them about their beliefs because I’m not preparing arguments to either win them over or sink their ship when they share them. I’m not so concerned with “being right”, judging whether or not someone else “is right” (or “saved”, “converted”, or “whatever”)… which frees me up for a lot more productive things. There is much more room in my heart and my life now for grace now that I am no longer consumed with the so-called doctrines of it. And that, I think, is a good thing.


  16. I wish I would re-read things BEFORE I post sometimes. Two things to point out:

    1) End of third long paragraph: I meant to say”:
    Surely if he had, we would _NOT_ still be talking about Him and why He is so important to us today.

    2) Second paragraph – although I am using the words YOU and YOUR all throughout that paragraph, I hope it is clear that I’m more focused on the three fingers that are pointing back to myself than the one suggested is pointing at “you”. This was my experience I’m describing.

    Thanks for allowing me to share my own personal experience here. I hope it resonates with someone else. My intent is definitely NOT to attack someone else’s theological position. I have wasted way too much time doing that with my life already. And there was absolutely no value in it. That was the main point I was trying to make with my long, rambling run-on sentences. 🙂

    1. Noone of Importance, thank you for your wonderful post!

      I hope you will visit here again soon. I see Calvinism, sociologically, as a closed system, where Calvinists are very careful about not allowing outsiders see inner weaknesses. As such, discovering “insider information” is difficult. So if you were inclined, I would feel fortunate to ask you an occasional question.

      Sincere thanks!
      br.d :-]

    2. Your personal experience resonates with me. Thank you for words, all of them, as they reflect my own experience.

  17. God closes eyes, but we forget that He also opens them, and He doesn’t just give up convicting people as easily as we may sometimes think.

    Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

    But look at this:

    Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Could it be that those who are wise and prudent in their own eyes, can humble themselves and become willing to believe, like a child, and God will show them mercy, and in fact is showing mercy to the wise and prudent who happen upon that verse? That is what’s happening, isn’t it? God hides it from them, and at times, in His mercy, is kind enough to let them know that the truth is hidden from them, and how to get it un-hidden.

    “He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich hath he sent empty away.”

  18. I usually like and agree with your writing and read it when I get the chance, but there was one thing I was disappointed with in this paper. You mentioned “this strange concept of God ‘looking through the corridors of time to elect those He foresees would choose Him.'”. I can’t see why this is strange. You see God as limited in some way by time, and looking through some kind of time tunnel as though this is impossible. I believe that God is far greater than we in our understanding can imagine and that He is in no way hindered, handicapped, or impeded by time which He Himself is outside of. Impossible? I don’t agree. Time is somehow a part of the warp and weft, along with space and matter of the universe which God Himself made. He is in no way governed by His creation, is in control of all and is outside of it all and able to do with that creation as He wishes. Therefore the idea of God “looking through the corridors of time” and trying to fit Him within the confines of our understanding, limits Him and also our understanding of Him and His amazing greatness.
    Your paper on The Corporate View of Election, seems to say that God could not and can’t see the specific or particular persons that would believe and enter the body of Christ because He is limited by time – that He simply has to wait and see who will believe and who won’t. If this is a correct understanding of your teaching, then I believe that you, like the Calvinists, worship a limited God. I hope that this is not so.

  19. The Paul that Calvinism Doesn’t Know: Acts 17 gives us 3-4 thoughts that directly deny Reform-Calvinist Theology.

    1) Spiritually, we are all brand new “offspring” of God (17:28-29) — just like Adam. Like Adam, we are innocent by birth, our parents only contributing to the form of our bodies, not forming our soul nor our spirit. Therefore, like Adam, we are free moral agents capable of making our own moral decisions — and total depravity, original sin, born dead in sin, etc. really amount to simple total ignorance of God.

    2) God made us all of one blood “That we might seek the Lord if haply we might feel after Him and find Him though He be not far from EVERY one of us.” (17:26-27) It is “in” the spirit of man to seek God, not to hate or run from Him.

    3) Indeed, Paul was showing them that they, too (the Athenians), wanted to make sure that they worshipped the real God, even the God “unknown” to them (like those in Ro 1:18-20). And Paul confirms that while they yet worshipped this “unknown god,” the God of heaven “winked” at their sin (“without the law, sin is dead,” Ro 7:8) “but…

    4) “… [and this is the main point] now God COMMANDS all men every where to REPENT.” (cf. Acts 2:38) Calvinists would not “repent unto life” on a dare! That would be, for them, “works” or “adding something to faith” or “cooperating with God in salvation.”

    I feel like if Calvinists could just know the Paul who preached the gospel in Acts, they would realize that the Paul of the epistles wasn’t teaching people how to be saved but instructing the already-saved in holiness and sanctification

    1. All are children of God by crestion, Bob, but not all are children of God by new birth, no matter how much you might feel that they are, or trust someone’s teaching that told you so. I recommend reading 1John which helps learn discernment as to recognizing who are born of God.

    2. Good post! I think we will discover Calvin’s ideas of human sin are derived from Augustine, who conceived of sin as being transmitted by the process of reproduction. This is why JWitnesses believe that sin is transmitted through blood, and thus don’t allow blood transfusions.

      English historian, Theodore Maynard, in The story of American Catholicism writes: “It has often be charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

      Professor Paul Rigby, in The Theology of Augustine’s Confessions writes:

      “What then are the abiding truths contained in Manichaeism that can account for dualism’s perennial appeal?….. In his maturity, when he no longer thought Manichaeism more reasonable than Christianity, Augustine did not abandon the enduring truths contained in the dualistic worldview. This view holds that man’s positing of evil discloses another side of evil, a non-posited factor, mingled with man’s positing of evil. Manichaeism’s enduring truths add to moral accusation and guilt, to the recognition of physical suffering, to spiritual knowledge, an awareness of corporeal ignorance, and to ethical reflection of pride, and belief in primordial evil.”

      In the tradition of Catholicism, Augustine baptized Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism, just as the church before him baptized the great god Pan.

  20. A question about “Point #2” “Instead, God’s gracious revelation and powerful gospel appeal is the means He has chosen to draw, or enable, whosoever hears it to come.”

    Are you suggesting the the appeal in and of itself has the power to draw hearers to come to Christ?
    If so, does it fail to accomplish what it was made to do if a person is not drawn?

  21. Hello. I have enjoyed reading your column and all of the responses. Though I don’t know you, I feel as though I have encountered your earlier Calvinistic self. When I became aware that a young man (I had come to know somewhat) was a Calvinist, we began to discuss why he believed what he believed and why I believe what I believe. Quickly, it became apparent that I was being “talked down to” though I am double his age. I even made a kind retort that brought up that point to my fellow Christian but it seemed to go right over his head as though he dismissed the possibility or was not interested in discussing it during his race to give me the rote scriptures Calvinists know so well. I was interested in his “take” on the scriptures though and began to study them for myself because, above all, I do want to know the Truth. However, as I read the scriptures, prayed for God’s leading, read commentaries and even watched Youtube videos of Calvinists and non-Calvinists, I came to believe that arrogance truly does seem to play a part in some of the Calvinist’s lives (moreso than what I encounter in the non-Calvinist Christian world.) I wondered if my conjecture was accurate or if my perception was tainted by the fact that the more I learned about Calvinism, the less I agreed. As I pondered these things, I began to believe that it takes a certain arrogance to believe that you are one of the “elect,” specially chosen by a loving, forgiving God who is actually in the business of tricking some people–dangling eternity before their eyes when they were only created to make Him look good. I began to believe that it takes a certain arrogance to deny the true character of God–a God who gave His only Son because He loved the world so much–a God who does not need puny man to bring Him glory no more than He needed us to make the boundaries of the ocean. (ie…Where were you, Job?) We need to give God glory simply because He deserves it and it is good for us to know it. It is good for us to acknowledge His greatness. When we can get that much right, we’re off to a good start. We do not need to twist scriptures to fit our beliefs.(I’m almost reminded sometimes during some of the comments I have witnessed concerning the meaning of certain scriptures, of the infamous statement by a certain president alluding to the need to define what “is” is.) We need scripture to fit who God said He is! He is not willing that any perish but that all come to Him. I don’t have to use the word “exegesis” constantly or “hermeneutical” to show my understanding of the scriptures. Long before I ran across a Calvinist, I was taught to interpret the scripture by the scripture, yet when I spoke with this young man he kept using what we used to call “ten dollar words,” to explain to me why my interpretation of the scripture was wrong and his was correct. I finally told him (tongue in cheek) that I always forgot what hermeneutical meant anyway and without missing a beat, he began to explain it to me. He truly could not “get” what I was trying to tell him. I believe his own intellectuality had blinded him from seeing the simple truth and I have come to believe that is a fault with SOME Calvinists. (I do realize that arrogance is not a quality of only Calvinists and that all Calvinists are not arrogant but I have come to believe that the Calvinist way of seeing things does tend to promote that kind of personality characteristic.) However, I am glad that you have come to the conclusion that you have and I appreciate you starting this post. I hope my comments have not been hurtful to anyone. I’m sure I have suffered from being arrogant at times during my life also. Yours in Christ,

  22. Thank you for this article and Podcast. I recently left a reformed church because the theology of Calvinism simply was not adding up. Unfortunately all of my friends accepted Calvinism very deeply. I have spent two years studying this theology motivated by my burden for my friends. I have been reaching some of the same conclusions that you have addressed in this article, especially corporate election vs. individual. The difficulty of this debate however lies not only in ability to articulate the argument well but in making the opponent become open minded first. It is a battle of pride, Thank you so much for writing this article. You put into words the same conclusions that I have been arriving to slowly. And, I look forward to reading more of your work. Thank you.

  23. Hi! Absolutely loved your article! Agree whole-heartedly. I converted from Calvinism to “Corporate Arminianism” years ago. I studied to find the Bible’s definition of sovereignty, and discovered it simply means kingdom, and the sovereign is the one with the authority to make the rules, and with the power to judge, reward, and/or punish our free-will response to his rules. Period! He does not “control” our responses; he judges them. Jesus defines God’s sovereignty (kingdom) in Matthew 22:1-14. That passage turns Calvinism out to pasture!
    Blessings to you, sir!
    – Arnie

  24. I want to ask some simple questions: How important is this debate (Calvinist vs. Armenian) anyway? Seriously, what difference does it make? John Calvin was born in 15something. What did a vast multitude of folks do from 33 AD to 15something when John Calvin began teaching his Reformed doctrines? Were all these folks “lost” because John Calvin hadn’t come along to provide the “correct view” of the doctrines related to salvation? Most of my Christian friends wouldn’t have a clue if I mentioned Calvin or TULIP or the Sovereignty of God or the Doctrines of Grace. And to be fair to both sides, they wouldn’t know anything about the Armenian doctrines either. I sense the passion and the zeal in all of your comments– but does it really matter. And if it does matter, then why does it matter?

    1. Hi Susan. Thanks for your question.

      First, John Calvin wasn’t the first to teach this Soteriological perspective. He is just the namesake of it due to his detractors. Augustine is the first known advocate of these theological views (but even he held to widely different perspectives than Calvinists do today).

      What does it matter? What does the doctrine of salvation matter? What does our belief about God’s love and grace matter? What difference does it make if we believe God loves and provides atonement for everyone or only for a preselected few?

      I believe this makes much more difference than politics, sports or other pastimes that many spend countless hours discussing. But all doctrines should be kept in check and not consume us or keep us from other important matters.

      1. My point is this: a great number of my Christian friends are living their faith without being aware of these doctrines, without knowing who John Calvin is and without realizing that such conversations and debates are even taking place. I do not know the extent of the lack of awareness and lack of knowledge generally. It is possible that my circle of friends are atypical in their doctrinal and theological illiteracy.

        None of my friends know the five solas of the Protestant reformation. They have little, if any, understanding of the differences between Catholic and Protestant and even less understanding about what led up to the Reformation and what happened afterward. A theological framework of salvation, grace, atonement, election and predestination are not part of any discussion my friends would have.

        Instead, my friends would ask: are you born again? Did you say the “sinner’s prayer” and ask Jesus into your life and into your heart? Did you mean that prayer? Do you doubt God would honor his word or be true to his character (if you asked, then he answered)? Then why are you worrying about it? You said the prayer, you sincerely meant it, you are a Christian and you cannot lose your salvation!

        Consequently, my conclusions are: (1) my friends may or may not be actual Christians and/or (2) these issues (TULIP or not!) aren’t all that important to salvation and to living the Christian faith and/or (3) the pastors at the various Churches that my friends attend are doing a miserable job at explaining theology and doctrinal points and/ or (4) all or the above, some of the above, or none of the above.

        I suspect that the folks who are writing and commenting on this blog are, for the most part, learned scholars in theology, philosophy, scripture, apologetics, etc. Such topics as TULIP are likely of great interest and debate. But the churches in my community are Christian rock bands and book of the month clubs with a few scripture verses as window dressing. That’s modern-day Christianity!

      2. Hi Susan! Welcome to Soteriology101! You have asked some very important questions that I am sure Leighton will want to answer. But I am jumping in to let you know many others read what you are saying! And you have observed some very important things in Christianity.

        If you don’t mind, one question that came to my mind from what you wrote… do you think that in your circle there may be some who go away thinking they are saved because they trusted the person who told them to pray the sinners’ prayer and then told them they were immediately saved because they did so… but who may not yet truly be saved because they still haven’t understood and committed to trusting only in Jesus to save them from their sins? In other words… they are trusting the prayer they prayed instead of trusting Jesus?

        Also, I think you will discover that most pastors get training in the Scriptures and so have had to think about the subject of election and predestination that is taught in the Scriptures. And they will teach either God has already planned before creation for the chosen ones who will eventually get saved, and no one else, or God does not have a set plan of who will eventually get saved, but has planned to give everyone an opportunity. Which view those pastors have chosen to believe will affect how they pray and reach out to lost souls and how they will lead their congregations to pray and reach out to lost souls.

      3. Brian, The person who stated what I wrote about salvation and the sinner’s prayer was the pastor at one of the churches in my own community. It is a relatively large church, it is seeker-friendly, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. The church’s goal for 2016 was to plant four new churches. What I wrote was a near “word for word” quote and I heard the pastor say this with my own ears. In fact, he went on to say that if you doubted your salvation then you were being attacked by Satan — rebuke those thoughts and rebuke the devil.
        Apparently, the book of I John along with the tests for assurance contained therein was not part of his seminary curriculum and training.

        Yes, they trust the prayer and not the one to whom the prayer is being addressed. For the record, I no longer attend that church. That particular church and pastor taught me how to dream my dreams, how to unclutter my life, how to be optimistic and how to improve my relationships. Can we spell “shallow and superficial”? Can we spell “growth movement” and “purpose driven”? By the time I left it was long past time to actually learn about the God of scripture and to answer the question “how then shall I live in relation the gospel.” As for seminary formation and training — God only knows. I am serious: several pastors have none, nada, zip! seminary education. Susan

      4. Again… great observations! Keep testing all things… hold fast to that which is good. I teach on the grad level and we have the facility for you to get a MMin degree with either a Christian Ministry, Counseling, Missions or Theology concentration. Our Pastoral concentration we reserve for only men. We even have a one year certificate. Check us out – We also have a MBS degree and will soon be adding a MDiv program.

      5. Wouldn’t John Calvin, himself, be surprised and grieved at what “Calvinism” has become in this generation? And in truth, isn’t the new Calvinism actually a means to divide Christians and distort our faith for a political agenda? An agenda that tries to make Christianity irrelevant, prayer unnecessary, and action inadequate? It seems to me, repentance and the cross become almost forgotten and secondary to the conversation within Calvinistic circles.

      6. Hi JanC and welcome! :-]

        A lot of people over the years have asked the question – is Calvinism in its current state (at any point in history) a true reflection of Calvin himself. For the most part the answer continues to come back affirmative.

        From my perspective, I believe Calvin popularized Augustine’s synchronizations of Christian Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism (prevalent in his day) – and baptized these into the Catholic doctrine of his day.

        Calvin in complete adoration of all things Augustine carried those synchronizations forward.

        Those doctrines became popular on the wave of powerful political interests – in the protestants pursuit of freeing themselves from the death-grip of despotic Catholicism which ruled over the population with an iron fist.

        John Calvin was primarily a trained lawyer – and secondly a doctrinal theorist.
        As a trained lawyer – he learned the lawyer’s language of sophistic dissimulation.
        Calvin’s arguments – under scrutiny can be recognized as double-speak.
        And his double-speak IMHO created the blue-print for any manifestation of Calvinism we see today.

        Thanks for your post! :-]

  25. Dr. Flowers,

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I had listened to the podcast version of this when it was originally published.

    I would like to take issue with the definition of sovereignty offered in this article. When I searched for “complete rule or dominion over creation” on Google, I discovered that this article is the only place that definition has ever been used! (at least as far as Google knows). Considering the sheer number of dictionaries and theological works that have been published on the internet, your definition seems rather novel and suspect.

    On the other hand, an example of a standard dictionary definition (once again, according to Google) is “supreme power or authority.” If we take this as an accepted definition, it becomes manifestly clear that God has been sovereign from all eternity and can never cease to be sovereign. There does not have to be a creation in order for God to be sovereign, any more than there needs to be a creature in order for him to be love, or a law in order for Him to be just, or a universe in order for Him to be omnipresent, or time in order for Him to be everlasting, or a common thing in order for Him to be holy, or sin in order for Him to be gracious. Just about any attribute of God could be discounted as “temporal” if you view it only in relation to creation. Thus, it would seem logical to differentiate the intrinsic nature of divine attributes from the opportunity to express those attributes in divine acts.

    So, we can now lay that one to rest.

    We just need to dismantle the other four points, and then we can bring you safely into the fold of historic, orthodox Calvinism! 🙂

    I’ll get to work on that . . .

    Derek Ashton

    1. I have no problem with the definition you’ve offered. But what is he the supreme power of?

      The distinction must be drawn between God providence and His omnipotence regardless of which term you land upon. Calvinist don’t seem to draw any real distinction bw those terms thus making Gods only option to be omnideterministic (i.e. “Sovereign”) over creation.

      We believe it’s God choice to either control or not control his creation (providentially) while remaining eternally all powerful (omnipotent).

  26. bravo on your recent podcast revealing james white’s lack of charity. i have been aware of this since long long ago when white came to my church on long island to preach against dave hunts book, and in the process of bashing dave (the most godly man i ever had the pleasure of meeting) he bashed 4 or 5 other brothers who had written books from the “traditional” perspective. it went a long way in affirming to me that calvinism is not about God’s grace at all, much as they like to say it is. i thank God for the work you do brother. i dont have facebook or twitter so i hope its ok i left you a small note here.

  27. I left Calvinism a couple of years ago. I still have friends who are Calvinists and that’s fine. I love them. I left for the same reasons you did, and it was the predestination doctrine that bothered me the most. After a couple years of studying and much, much prayer, I just did not believe their predestination doctrine anymore. The one thing that angers me is how Calvinists treat those who do not agree with them. I never could get that nasty…lol….and now that I am no longer one, they will come after me on social media. Usually 9 or 10 men trying to “reason” with me and then 4 or more start to get a bit intimidating, pressuring me. I don’t give in and then it’s all out bullying me, telling me I’m going to hell, etc., seriously. I don’t ever remember anywhere in the Bible that Jesus, Paul or any of the Apostles ever doing this to anyone! It’s not fun being ganged up on and losing friends, but it often comes to that when they can’t win someone back over their “side”. Thank you for writing this. It is appreciated. I know how hard it was for you to do this. Take care!

    1. Thank you very much for your wonderful testimony karenb52,

      I totally agree with you. Stay strong!!!

      Its been my observation that Calvinists operate quite frequently as magicians wearing one of two masks:
      (1) The presumption of philosophical superiority
      (2) The presumption of biblical superiority

      If they can’t dominate using one of those two pretenses, they either get nasty or go find easier prey, to play the game.
      Its truly sad that this should be a testimony for Christianity….but it is our unfortunate reality.
      br.d :-]

    2. Welcome Karen… why try hard not to be nasty here. We don’t always succeed. 😉 But I hope you hang around and benefit from the reasoning and discussion that goes on… especially around specific evidence from Scripture.

  28. In this post you said that God’s sovereignty is a temporal characteristic of God. Do you have any scriptural references to support this claim? You may email me your response.

  29. God’s sovereignty is a concept that needs to be seen in gods eyes to better understand. As the alpha and omega (KJV), God is standing before creation, at the flood, on the cross, and at the wedding feast at the same time. The start, middle and end are the same for him. All at the same time. Being at the completion of his plan while standing at the start of the plan allows God a rather unique viewpoint. His sovereignty is easily seen when I remove my temporal timeframe and ponder standing at the end of time. God sees the outcome of creation and nothing is outside of His will. When God said it was very good in the book of Genesis, He was also seeing its completion. Beware of translations incorrectly stating He is the alpha and the omega. No, these aren’t two separate events. They are one event at one time, for Him. His ways are higher than ours. Much higher. God can allow man his free will and know what the outcome is since He sees both at the same time. This viewpoint eliminates temporal sovereignty, as far as my opinion and understanding see it.

  30. I’m not a Calvinist, but I do find some of their doctrines to be true. I would like to get a alternate view from non Calvinist on a few scriptures. I’ll list the verses below:
    Thanks in advance

  31. John 3:16;
    When things get complicated things can get
    Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9
    Keep it Simple
    Christ came to die to pay the price for the sins we are not worthy to pay for, the sins each one of us have committed while in this world; if you live in this world, you are a sinner, we all are sinners;
    God’s perfect gift of love to you is Christ’s life and death, He was born into this world to save you, He lived a sinless life for you to save you, He was tortured and (Crucified) on a cross and shed His Blood to cover your sins to save you, Christ died and was buried to save you, Christ Rose From the dead on the third day to save you, Christ appeared to many who knew him so you could know that He lives today to save you, Christ ascended to Heaven and is seated at the Right Hand of God The Father to save you!
    God The Father invites you to come and live with Him!!!
    All you have to do is believe and receive in your heart this Gift of Eternal Life with God in Heaven, that God The Father wants to give you freely!!!
    He will never leave you or forsake you. God will send His Holy Spirit to live within in your heart
    as a seal that you are His.
    Do you believe this and receive this invitation from God The Father of Eternal Life with Him?
    “If you say yes I believe and recive Christ Jesus as my Savior and Lord” please contact another Christian (a Believer in Christ as their Savior and Lord) ask them to help.

    1. I enjoyed this post Dave – thanks :-]

      I think in every social cluster there will always be someone who has the inclination to promote himself as a *SPECIAL* “know-er” of sacred/divine things.

      Men like this will often have a following of little people who all want to get in on being one of the *SPECIAL* ones. People like to perceive themselves members of the winning team.

      Of course, this can evolve into a special priest class.
      Paul had to deal with this in his ministry – calling certain “personas” – quote “Super Apostles”.

      If I am a follower of a “Super Apostle” then that makes me a “Super Christian”.

      Philip J. Lee, in his book; Against the Protestant Gnostics – has a chapter devoted to the phenomena of Gnostic elitism where he observes how Gnosticism appeared as a “private” form of Christianity, which he writes: “of necessity correlates to religious elitism”.

      Philip writes: “There is little doubt that Calvin, among other reformers, was strongly inclined towards Augustinian elitism in his suspicion that the great majority of humanity would suffer damnation……..With such a determined view of the fate of the damned, it is difficult to see how followers of Calvin could be other than elitist. New England Calvinists, almost from the beginning, saw themselves as a spiritual aristocracy.”

      I think your post is an echo of both Paul’s and Lee’s concern.
      Well said! :-]

      1. There are only a few people who recognize the inherent elitism of Calvinism. Aren’t you glad to be a part of that small, special, elite band of knowers who are “in the know”?

      2. theoparadox
        There are only a few people who recognize the inherent elitism of Calvinism. Aren’t you glad to be a part of that small, special, elite band of knowers who are “in the know”?

        On that logic – it follows
        There are only a few people who recognize those – who recognize the inherent elitism of Calvinism. Aren’t you glad to be a part of that small, special, elite band of knowers who are “in the know”?

        Welcome to infinite regress. :-]

  32. It’s clear that God has used both Arminians and Calvinists in the spread of Christianity through the history of Christianity….Wesley and Whitefiled serve as the ultimate examples….Edwards and Finney are also powerful examples. My problem with 5-point Calvinism is the “L”. The only way one can get around all the verses espousing universal atonement is by way of a fore-gone presupposition. Wasn’t the synod of Dort in the 1600’s the time this doctrine was really “implemented”?

    1. Hi Glen – and welcome!
      Isn’t it the case that many through the years since Calvinism began have questioned whether or not all of what is considered traditional Calvinism was in fact authored/intended by Calvin himself.
      Double-predestination…and .how much did theodore beza alter Calvinism…etc

      There are people who seem to take different positions on this. But it appears to me the predominant position is that all of it was in fact – authored/intended by Calvin – even if he didn’t enunciate it the way it is traditionally offered.

      I guess the jury is still out on that question.

  33. I’m going to keep this simple. As a Christian and prayer warrior I and my husband have witnessed numerous times to friends and family members. We planted and we watered until all that was left was for God to “bring the growth.” He didn’t and no amount of pleading and no numerical number of prayers convinced him to. We prayed for 10 years for one of the ladies’ sons in my prayer group and he ended up marrying a Muslim girl from Morrocco. Does God need 10 years of prayers to save someone? Of course not. I don’t even know why he chose to save me, but it’s obvious that he made events happen in my life to lead me to that point. I have read the bible from cover to cover 3x and the New Testament an additional time. To me there are many more scriptures that speak to predestination and God doing the choosing than not. When someone comes to Christ it’s a miracle and the bible says that God has to do the final part. Lastly, lest you say it’s me that’s part of the unanswered prayer problem, God DOES answer on average 9/10 of my other prayers.

    1. Toni, I guess you have to conclude that just as much as God predestined you to come to Christ, he predestined your friend’s son to marry a Muslim.

      1. Honestly, I don’t know. He is a Rhode Scholar who studied Arabic languages. He taught the languages to FBI and CIA agents, He was living abroad and met his wife in Morroco. When they get married there, they have to sign a document that says that they promise to be “a good Muslim husband.” I don’t think he cares about either religion.

      2. Yes – an excellent point!
        If one is going to think logically – that would be an unavoidable conclusion.

        Calvin’s god scowls at Adam: “How dare you do the very thing I decreed you infallibly do” :-]

    2. Toni makes a good post – thanks Toni.

      Just a couple of points – not to be adversarial – but to hopefully add an additional level of understanding.

      Firstly Jesus, asks the Lawyer in Luke 16 two questions:
      (1) What does the scripture say.
      (2) How do you read it.
      This is a clear indication that Jesus understands how the human mind functions. The brain interprets data (from any source) in accordance to what it already holds to be unquestionable truth. If the human mind has embraced Universal Divine Determinism as unquestionable truth – that human mind will (in accordance to mental associations) interpret scripture as emphasizing determinism and call it predestination.

      When a person says he/she doesn’t know why God saved him/her, they are describing their perception (or lack thereof) of God’s intentions. It would be totally understandable to say one doesn’t know why God made the earth round instead of square – because the N.T. authors don’t bother to ponder that question. But don’t the N.T. authors indicate why God saves people? Having a certain perception of God’s intentions (or lack thereof) again, would logically be attributed the teachings a person has been exposed to.

      So the way we read it (and our perceptions of it) has everything to do with the teachings we’ve been exposed to.

      But mostly, I want to thank Toni for the Christ-likeness of his post!.
      Always appreciated. :-]

  34. P.S. I was raised by an Athiest mother. She’s still an Athiest. I always believed in God. I am the only one in my original family that got saved. Why? Who can understand these things? They sre and always will be a mystery.

  35. TULIP is an acronym representing the five points of Calvinism, but God’s Word indicates a different view:

    1. Total Depravity
    —– This belief points to our depravity and sin nature, believing that we cannot choose where we spend eternity. However, although we have a sin nature (Romans 3:23), we can choose to come to Christ.

    2. Unconditional Election
    —-This belief teaches that God chooses who will go to heaven or hell, but God’s Word tells us that He does not want any of us to perish (Matthew 24:14; John 1:29).

    3. Limited Atonement
    —–This belief means that Jesus only died for certain individuals, yet Scripture shows us that Christ died for all (Hebrews 7:27, 9:12).

    4. Irresistible Grace
    —–This belief states that elect individuals cannot resist the grace of God, but there are many instances in His Word where we are told that we must choose whether to receive or reject God’s invitation (Acts 7:51; Matthew 10:32–33).

    5. Perseverance of the Saints
    —–This belief asserts that no matter what happens, the saints will persevere. However, the key word should be preserve, because it is when we are faithful that He preserves us (Psalm 31:23, 37:38, 97:10)

    1. Great post Samuel!!

      I’ve always said – the tulip is simply window dressing on the face of the house of Theological Determinism.
      Theological Determinism is the foundation and corner stone and the template-frame and structure of the house.
      Remove the structure of (Theological Determinism) and the tulip falls to the ground not having anything to hold it up .


  36. What is so hard to understand? If you accept a gift from a person, it does not follow that you in any way earned that gift. God tells us…choose this day whom you’ll serve. Nothing could be plainer and easier to understand. Psa_19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

  37. Christians seem to be so willing to sit under the teachings of men rather than follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all Truth. This is the real problem with Calvinism: it is a doctrine of men, having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Many Christians believe that the test of doctrinal truth is works: Do you practice baptism? Do you practice tithing? Do you practice evangelism? Do you submit to your church leaders? Do you properly fulfill your role as a husband, wife, child or servant?… and so on. But the test of doctrinal truth is the Holy Spirit. We should be constantly testing the spirits to see whether they are from God. It seems to me that if one immersed oneself in the Johannine scriptures, the tenets of Calvinism would blow away like so much chaff, leaving nothing but Truth.

    To think that God is not sovereign enough to allow human free will is absurd and limits His power and makes Him not God at all. To believe that Jesus did not die for all sinners, but only for the “chosen” ones, is to completely negate the work of the cross, and makes Him no longer Savior. To say that God’s grace is irresistible makes it no longer grace at all and renders the Holy Spirit impotent. Calvinism seeks to pervert the very nature of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a doctrine of demons designed to establish a hierarchy within the church and to keep Christians in bondage. My heart breaks for those who will never know the infinite Love of God because they have chosen to believe in this teaching.

  38. Thanks for the post. However, a couple things:

    1) Can you define free will, you never did (unless I missed it). I find the A vs C camps have greatly different definitions, with Arminians embracing being more a libertarian free will as borrowed from the Roman Catholics, and Calvinists (mainstream biblical Calvinists) having a more compatiblist view point that the will is freely able to act consistent with our nature. Hence, you could go to a McDonalds, but you could never order a whopper off the menu, though your will has always been free to order any menu item available. Similarly, we “could” walk in the middle of a raging bonfire, but we wouldn’t do it because it’s against our nature, and we ultimately choose based off our highest desire at the moment, though it’s not necessarily the best decision that could be made. To assume a libertarian free will is like assuming you could breath under water if you wanted to, or you could lay in the grass and relax. The point of contention is salvation, so “choosing” something that is hostile and foolish to us would simply be against our nature, and though we “could” choose (just like we “could” sit in the middle of a bonfire, or eat glass), we never would.

    2) Short of the philosophical implications, scripture says no one seeks God, and that God must grant those who come to the Son. To borrow prevenient grace, again from the Roman Catholics, creates the same net result since the “acceptance of the gift” is still between two alternatives and the grace extended isn’t effectual at all; and in fact, I’d argue it’s not in scripture to the extent it is depended upon. If this grace is to “woo” people to accept, then regardless of the beauty of what the grace could be, it 100% depends on man to do 100% of his duty or part in salvation. Hence, if it wasn’t for man, he wouldn’t be saved. The Calvinist still believes in choice, except for the fact that if it wasn’t for God’s irresistible initiative, man would never freely choose him. Maybe the notion of man needing to do 100% of his part is acceptable, but we also know that salvation isn’t based on the will of man, but on God (Jn 1:13). To say God is so powerful that he could make it within his sovereignty to give man a measure of sovereignty to be able to choose his own salvation, could be and sometimes is the ultimate argument. But again, we defer to a philosophical basis, which could end up with God being so sovereign that he could use and defer power to the Catholic Magisterium to bring about his promises, or ______ (fill in the blank with anything else anyone believes).

    1. Hi Derek… I like LFW defined as a will that can make a decision “without necessity” by one who “has power over his own will” (1Cor 7:37).

      God’s light is sufficient to each man to enable him to seek and find God’s mercy.

      Prevenient Grace to every person is –
      God using dreams, sickness, and messengers with each man 2 or 3 times to draw him (Job 33:14-30)…

      God giving light to each man before regeneration (John 1:4-13)…

      God ordering the circumstances of nations so that each man should seek and possibly find Him (Acts 17:26-27)…

      God using creation and conscience to make plain in each one He exists and to feel conviction of sin to lead to repentance (Rom 1:29-30, 2:4, 14-16)…

      These are all evidence of sufficient enabling grace before regeneration and proof all do hear and receive mercy that they can freely and humbly accept or reject (Rom 10:18, 11:32).

    2. Hi Derek,
      I think your post was addressed to Dr. Flowers – and he is often too busy to interact here on an ongoing basis.
      So don’t take it personally if he isn’t able to respond to your post.

      I can’t speak for Dr. Flowers – but on the question concerning a definition for “free will” I don’t think anyone has a concrete definition.
      I believe you are correct to point out that many theologies have their own version of what “free will” is.

      And yes – I would agree that the Arminian understanding of it is more “libertarian” in nature – due to their rejection of Theological Determinism – while the Calvinist version is “Compatibilism” due to their embrace of Theological Determinism.

      Christian Philosophers such as Peter Van Inwagen don’t even like using the term because of how much baggage it carries.
      When someone uses the term “free will” they don’t qualify what they mean by it – and that is a recipe for misleading people.

      Personally, I differentiate between the Calvinist and Non-Calvinist understanding by the terms “Determinism” vs. “IN-determinism”.

      In Theological Determinism the creature is “free” to be/do *ONLY* what the THEOS determines – nothing more – nothing less.
      In this scheme the creature CANNOT DO OTHERWISE than what is RENDERED-CERTAIN.

      Determinism comes in a number of flavors – for example Natural Determinism.
      The difference between Natural Determinism and Theological Determinism is – WHO/WHAT is the “determiner”.
      In Natural Determinism – nature determines what the creature will be/do
      In Theological Determinism – the THEOS determines what the creature will be/do

      So for a Calvinist to define compatibilistic “free will” as doing what one does according to “nature” or “inclination” they are not speaking the truth. This is – not Theological Determinism – it is Natural Determinism – which (as a label) they would normally reject.

      They would never say that man comes to salvation through natural inclinations because that would compromise Theological Determinism. Likewise, saying man comes to sin and evil through natural inclinations is just as much of a compromise.

      Calvinists punt to Natural determinism when it comes to sin and evil because they want to hide the THEOS’ role in these events.
      But doing so is simply intellectual dishonesty.


  39. Sir, I watched your debate with James White. He claims you did not present full exegesis.
    Do you have a published exegesis of Romans 9 on your site?

    Could you please provide with a Greek to English translation complete with sentence flow and discourse analysis or arcing as some call it.

    1. Here is a quick overview of Rom 9 of my own that might help – But if you are interested in a specific verse, I have more.
      Overview of Romans 9
      It would help if the context of Christ-like love for all the lost, demonstrated in Paul from verses 1-3 were recognized before reading the rest. It would also help to note that no verse mentions election before creation in this chapter, but that there is a “seed” that is currently being reckoned (present tense) in verse 6.

      It also would help if it wouldn’t be skipped over so easily that God’s purpose in hardening Pharoah was so that God’s Name would spread over ALL the earth in verse 17. And it would be helpful to read each time the phrases “will have mercy” and “will harden” more fully and literally as He will have mercy/harden with whom He “should” and “wants to” have mercy and harden.

      That should lead the reader to wonder on whom then “should” God have mercy or on whom does God “want” to have mercy. It is easy to discover that He wants His mercy to be on a people who were not His “people” or “beloved” before. This excludes the idea of a loved elect individual person before creation (besides Christ) being read into verses 25-26. But God will have mercy on those on whom He grants His righteousness which they pursued and came to possess through faith (vs 32). In fact He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all a sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).

      The biggest confusion a Calvinist has is in not seeing that God’s sovereign choice of individuals according to Romans 9 was to help fulfill His promise of salvation in Christ, but it did not guarantee their personal salvation or damnation. The prophecy – Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – did not guarantee the salvation of Jacob or of everyone in Israel, nor did it guarantee the damnation of Esau and of everyone in Edom.
      Here is evidence that Esau later became a believer and that any Edomites were welcome to become believers also.

      Gen 33:4, 10 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept…. “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”

      Deut 23:7-8 Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

      Who does Esau remind you of in 33:4? Hint Luke 15:20.

      1. Thanks for this Brian,
        Your insight is always such a blessing and eye opener.

        And I see/ agree about individuals not necessary shown mercy or wrath, but with Esau then, what do you make of this verse

        Heb12:15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
        16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
        17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.


      2. Thank you Clare for your kind remarks. Yes, Esau before his conversion was an example of a profane person… David probably can still be used as an example of an adulterer as a warning to Christian leaders. And that was even after his conversion, imo.

        The blessing Esau wished to inherit, however, was not salvation, but the blessing of the first born. And he was rejected by Isaac, his father, from receiving it. Esau found no place/ no way to change his father Isaac’s mind. Isaac would not “repent” of his decision, since he perceived it was from the Lord that Jacob had been allowed to steal the blessing, which also included the birth right to be in the lineage of the coming Messiah.

        Though the passage is not talking about Esau seeking salvation with tears (which would be a strange thing, imo, for a Calvinist to concede that Esau was doing during his life), the writer of Hebrews, who I think was Barnabas, is using this story as a warning to those who are professing salvation as Jewish Christians but have not yet been saved, imo, and are being tempted to go back to Judaism. They will not inherit the blessing of salvation if they take their stand with those who rejected Jesus.

      3. I see, okay thanks for insight and clearing that up. Interestingly I have taken that Hebrews scripture as one that indicates that a Christian can cast off the Faith….. (sssh but don’t tell anyone LOL). I know this site believes in OSAS.

        Oooh Bwoy, am in trouble now!

        (imo) I think God doesn’t take away His salvation, but that the same faith that one placed in Christ can be cast off, if we don’t take the warnings in the scriptures to guard our faith seriously. I think if you do cast off faith, then you miss out on the reward of Faith, “the saving of your soul”‘

        Ps I do see why some believe in OSAS. I just think that the scriptures overall point to the warning that Christians can cast off faith and fall into unbelief, if not careful.

        Hoping I won’t be counted as a heretic 🙂
        Rgds In Christ

      4. There are other brothers and sisters here that agree with you. No fires are planned! ;-p

  40. I am a newbie. Can you explain Romans 11:6 and 7 to me please? “The elect obtained it (who are they) the rest were hardened (and who are they?)

    1. Welcome Nicole. Rom 11:7 is an interesting verse. The whole thing is – Romans 11:7 NKJV — What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

      Notice Israel as a nation is seeking something… but did not obtain it. The elect in Israel obtained it but the rest of Israel were hardened. According to Paul later in this context, those hardened are now cut off but can be grafted in again.

      So what’s the “it”? I don’t think it’s personal salvation as much as it is the blessings of the new covenant that come to those after they are joined to the new covenant through Christ.

      One becomes one of the elect by being joined to Christ, the Elect One, through faith. No-one is one of His people or beloved before being in Christ.

      Romans 9:25 NKJV — As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.”

    2. Hi Nicole,
      If you are asking this of Dr. Flowers – I should let you know – due to his many responsibilities he is not here directly to interact with people on a very frequent basis.

      But if you don’t mind – there may be others here who would.


  41. I am a Calvinist.. and I am not making this declaration as though it is a badge of honour to brag about. I enjoyed listening to and appreciate what Dr Flowers shared. We have to admit one clear thing … on this side of eternity … we do not all the answers and on the other side of eternity it will perhaps take eternity to understand the answers… hence both sides .. Arminian or Calvinist there must be humility to admit our theological constructs are limited and MOST importantly WHILE SCRIPTURES ARE INSPIRED… OUR THEOLOGY ARE NOT. God bless… all glory to our Lord.

    1. Thank you Edlic!

      This is a wonderful post!
      You stand head and shoulders above many!
      Because he who humbles himself – God himself shall exalt.


  42. Hi Dr. Flowers. I’ve enjoyed your videos and podcast, thank you for sharing your story. I grew up in a Pentecostal home, dove right into Neo-Puritanism upon my graduation from Bible College. It was while studying for my MA in Theology at Regent College (Vancouver, BC) where my Calvinist unraveling began. Today I’m a pastor and professor in Christian Spirituality based in Montreal QC (Canada). I share a bit of my story here:

    Thanks again for what you do, I think it’s very important and valuable.

    1. Thank you very much Mirror for your very kind post – and for your wonderful testimony!!

      br.d :-]

      1. Dear Dr. Flowers,

        Is there a way for me to communicate with you directly through e-mail? My name is Edlic, I am an associate professor in a public university in Malaysia. I am a Malaysian and was a Buddhist. I came to faith in 1984 at the age of 12.
        I preach and teach regularly in my local Presbyterian church. I am a Calvinist who essentially hold to the LBCF 1689. However, I always bear in my mind this concept.. Scriptures are inspired but my theology is not. Hence, I am aware of the limits of my theological view and also any theology… as theological contructs are attempts of man with our limitations to systematize as faithful as possible on what God revealed on this side of eternity. To a certain degree, my training as a research scientist, helped me to stay objective.
        I watched one of your YouTube video and you mentioned several times about what is happening in Malaysia. I am seeing such a interest in Calvinism in Malaysia and it seems that the target are young adults. There are regular seminars by teachers from the United States. Some churches are facing problems with their young people who were exposed to this.
        My worries are… Do these people realize that there is a limit to theological constructs? Aware of the danger of interpreting Scriptures through the lenses of our theology and end up doing eisgesis and deceiving oneself that we are correct? Is there a willingness to be humble enough to accept other views [Arminian] as part of diversity?
        I even though a Calvinist, is disturbed by a sense of ‘narrow-mindedness’ and even to a level arrogance amng some of the young people I ministered to as a bible teacher.
        Could we communicate about this matter? I have questions to ask you concerning what is happening in my country.
        God bless you brother.

      2. Hi Edlic! I let Leighton know about your comment. He has me and others monitor this site’s comments for him. He should get back to you soon. I teach also, for Veritas Baptist College. If you think I can be of some help, feel free to ask.

        My website with various papers that might interest you is

  43. Dr Wagner, thank you for replying me. I browsed through your web page.. I could see that you have a paper addressing Richard Dawkin’s book.
    I must confess though I preach and teach regularly… I am no theologian. I am just someone who is
    trying to get young adults and church members to engage the Scriptures, equipping oneself to serve Him. May be you can help me with some of my questions but before that I think it is only proper if I introduce myself further.
    I am a researcher in the field of hydrology and paleo environment. As an earth scientist, I am a old earth creationist. I hold to a pre-millennial view, and to a certain extent agree with dispensational teachings [having grew up in a Plymouth Brethren church] and hold to historical-grammatical -literal approach to interpreting the bible.
    It seems that the driver of Calvinism or new Calvinism in Malaysia, as far as I am aware, has to do with TGC from the United States. It seems that through the link that some Malaysian reformed churches have with TGC, Calvinist teachers are coming very often to Malaysia to teach in bible conferences.
    What do you know about TGC?
    It seems the main targets are young adults, usually university students. It seems that once they got influenced, they either would leave their home churches for a reformed church or they would attempt to spread Calvinism in their churches or among their Christian circles. I also feel they are anti-dispentionalism and somehow against a grammatical-historical approach to bible study and I also felt more often the Scriptures were approached with a theological grid instead of true exegesis.
    I find difficulties reaching to these young adults… they seemed ‘indoctrinated’ to think in certain ways only.
    As a Christian, and a scientist, I believe in objectivity and the importance of viewing things from multiple angles. Hence, as for me, although I hold to Calvinistic views, I do not hold them to a level I think this theological view is without problem.. honestly an Arminian also can state his case as well as a Calvinist.
    I also get very disturbed when people start to equate Calvinism = True Gospel. That is actually imposing a theological construct on Scriptures.
    What is your view, I assume you are of the Arminian position.

    Major things unity; minor things liberty; all things charity…. I preached that last Friday.

    1. Hi Edlic, I’m Evangelical Fundamental Baptistic Dispensational Provisionalist Compassionate Christian. You’ll find alot of answers for your questions and your young reformed friends questions on this Web page in it’s articles and pod casts. If you have another specific question… fire away. Thanks for introducing yourself.

  44. Dr Wagner,
    I have several very specific questions for you and Dr Flowers:
    1- Dr. Flowers mentioned about Malaysia in his YouTube video regarding Calvinism in Malaysia without giving any further elaborations. What do you and Dr Flowers know concerning this? I already share what I observed but it will be very helpful if I get your perspective about it.
    2- What is TGC’s real agenda… are they trying to systematically undermine churches who do hold the same view as theirs?
    3- Allow me to put it frankly, is it their modus operandi to target young adults [converting them to their theology] with the aim either these young people go back and convert their non-Calvinistic churches from within [sometimes subtly] or just into sheep stealing?

    Sorry for my frankness, I sincerely need some answers because I seeing things happening and iut worries me… I am seeing some of these Calvinists who are in contact with TGC… are undermining other churches by disregarding the leadership of those churches because they felt justified in doing so because to them these churches are not theologically sound.

    I hope both of you can shed some light. This wave of Calvinism is becoming a real problem.

    God bless

    1. Edlic
      is it their modus operandi to target young adults [converting them to their theology] with the aim either these young people go back and convert their non-Calvinistic churches from within [sometimes subtly] or just into sheep stealing?

      Hello Edlic,
      I hope you don’t mind if I respond to this question.
      I think the answer – for many years – has and continues to be – yes.

      One can find various articles on the internet concerning this.

      Paste the following search strings into google to see what you get

      -Calvinism on the sly
      -Dishonest Calvinists
      -Victims of Soteriological Dishonesty
      -Covert Calvinists
      -Church Takeover Success Using Strategies from the Calvinista Playbook
      -How to smoke out a Calvinistic pastor in your church
      -Calvinists and their tactics
      -Beware of stealth Calvinism

      It is not uncommon to hear about a church board accepting a new applicant pastor – who withholds from the board that he is reformed and that his intentions are to deceptively reform their church. I know “deception” here is a strong word – but congregants devastated by this practice do consider it deceptive.

      I believe you will find Churches who have been hurt by this practice are now starting to consider hiring policies that allow them to terminate without financial consequence – a pastor who deceives them.

      I personally knew of a man who split a congregation in a nearby city – and even after doing this he still was not honest enough to inform his congregants he was teaching Calvinism. He was afraid they would leave. So he taught it on the sly. And I remember one of his ardent followers boasting that his church was the only biblical church in the whole city.

      The end justifies the means.

    2. Hi Edlic, I’ve reminded Leighton again to join in to this conversation. His weekends are very busy. So I’m sure you should hear from him soon.
      1. He would be familiar with the Malaysian situation, not me.
      2. He would also be more familiar with the TGC agenda. I wouldn’t think they would see themselves as called to “undermine churches”, though that is what their harmful theology is doing, imo. Doctinal sound leadership should make attempts to expose the harmful results for Calvinstic teaching being made essential for congregational membership or leadership.
      3. Sheep stealing has happened since the first century and will continue to happen… and sheep will wander off to where they think they are going to be fed the truth. Paul told the pastors in Ephesus – Act 20:28-30 NKJV – “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”

      Calvinism’s harm

      The issue isn’t Calvinism as much as it is the false underlying teaching in it of
      the eternal immutable predestination of all things before creation to work out only one way.

      That harmful teaching affects one’s motivation for evangelism and one’s confidence in prayer and one’s trust in the clarity of God’s self revelation in the Scriptures.

      2Co 5:14 NKJV – For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; [the clear motivation should be love for all the lost when witnessing, but for the Calvinist it is only duty]

      Mat 24:20 NKJV – “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” [the clear indication that their prayers would be used in determining when the fall of Jerusalem would happen, but the Calvinist denies prayer changes or influences divine choices not yet made]

      Gen 6:6 NKJV – And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. [the clear indication that God was sorry that He made man, and was grieved in His heart, but the Calvinist denies that God can experience such grief].

      ******* Questions to ask Calvinists

      Do you have the motivation of longsuffering love for all, especially those that are hardened against the gospel and aggressive towards you?

      Or does your motivation of duty in evangelism get too quickly satisfied and the thought of their probable reprobation make you move away from them too soon?

      Or does the thought that if they are elect they’ll get saved anyway ever enter your mind, and also make you move away from them too soon?

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