The Doctrine of Free Will

The Doctrine of Free Will

by Dr. Leighton Flowers

After defending the Traditionalist view of free will I was accused of “worshipping the idol of human autonomy” in a recent conversation with a Calvinistic believer. He went on to assert that there is absolutely no support for the concept of free will in the Bible. This particular Calvinist is an admirer of Matt Slick, of CARM ministries, who defines the point of our contention on his web site.  I will go through each of Matt’s points here:

Free will is the ability to make choices without external coersion.  There are debates as to what extent this free will is to be understood as it relates to people.  There are two main views:  compatibilism and libertarianism.

The compatibilist view is the position that a person’s freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture.  In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose.  Therefore, such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will since they say that the unbeliever cannot receive spiritual things, does no good, and is a slave to sin. …

The biblical position is compatibilism.  Since the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20), then we must conclude that anyone who believes in God (John 3:16; 3:36) does so because God has granted that he believe (Phil. 1:29), has caused him to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), and chosen him for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13).

Let’s look at Matt’s errors point by point in light of the scriptures:

  • Matt wrote, “a person’s freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture.  In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose.”

While we would agree that mankind’s freedom to choose is restricted to confines of his nature, we disagree as to what those confines are in relation to sinful humanity. For instance, a man is not free to flap his arms and fly around the world no matter how much he may will to do so. He is confined by his physical abilities. So too, there are moral confines on the abilities of sinful man’s will.

We would agree that mankind is born incapable of willingly keeping the demands of the law so as to merit salvation. And we would also agree that mankind is in bondage to sin. We would NOT AGREE that a man is born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation — by means of the law (a tutor) and the gospel (a powerful appeal to be reconciled).

Suppose a man were born in a prison cell and never told that he was in a cell.  He was simply unaware of any thing outside the walls of his world.  We would all agree that the man is born in bondage and incapable of even recognizing his position. But, suppose someone came into his cell and told him of the world outside the walls.  Is the fact that he was born in bondage prove that he is incapable of hearing the messenger and believing his message? Of course not.  You can acknowledge the bondage of the man from birth without assuming he is also born incapable of believing the testimony of the messengers sent for the purpose of helping him to be set free.

Belief that a man is born in a prison cell is distinct from the belief that the man is incapable of acknowledging that he is in a prison cell and accepting help to escape when it is clearly offered. Calvinists have pointed to passages that prove mankind is born in the cell while assuming mankind is incapable of humbly admitting they are in a cell and trusting in Christ to set them free.

No passage in all of scripture ever suggests that fallen men are incapable of willingly responding to God’s own appeal to be reconciled from their fallen condition.

  • Matt wrote, “such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will since they say that the unbeliever cannot receive spiritual things, does no good, and is a slave to sin. … the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20)

The passages cited simply do not say what Matt asserts. Let’s look at each one and see exactly what they teach:

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.”

So, the lost man needs someone to spiritually discern the “deep things of God” (vs. 10), right? What are the means God uses to discern spiritual truths to mankind?  Is not the very epistle that Paul is writing to the carnal believers in Corinth a means of “spiritual discernment?”  And since the “brethren” in the Corinthian church are “not able to receive” these same “deep things of God” (1 Cor. 3:1-3) one would be hard pressed to suggest that Paul was intending to teach that no one is able to understand the simple gospel appeal to be reconciled unless they are first reconciled.

Again, this text never suggests that mankind is born unable to respond to God’s clearly discerned gospel appeal.  It only affirms that the mystery of the gospel must be discerned for us, which it has been.  As Paul states, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Eph. 3:4

Neither side is suggesting that lost men can understand the deep spiritual truths of God apart from the means God has chosen to discern these mysteries. So, the question is whether God’s means of discernment through the apostles is a sufficient work of discernment that enables those who hear it to respond? More HERE.

Romans 3:10-18 — “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

No one is righteous according to the works of the law.  No one is able to attain righteousness by law through works.  But how does that prove no one is able to attain righteousness by grace through faith?  In verse 21 of this same chapter Paul introduces the means for man to attain righteousness, which is separate from the law.  Calvinists seem to think that proof of our inability to earn righteousness through our own works likewise proves our inability to trust in the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Proving that the lost cannot seek God does not prove that they are unable to respond to a God who is actively seeking to save the lost. Proving that I cannot call the President on the phone does not prove I cannot answer the phone if the President chose to call me.

Romans 6:14-20 – “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.”

While Paul certainly affirms that “you used to be slaves to sin,” he never remotely suggests that you used to be incapable of admitting that fact in light of God’s revelation through the law (a tutor sent to reveal our need) and the powerful gospel appeal (God’s offer to meet that need through faith). How does Paul describe the way in which one comes out of his enslavement in the passage above? He writes, “you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  He speaks of your obedience to the teaching that he and the other apostles had brought to you. Moreover, Paul speaks of your choice to “offer yourselves as slaves,” as if you are responsible for that choice.  Nothing is said about some effectual or irresistible internal working presupposed by the Calvinist.

Nothing in the three passages listed even come close to suggesting that mankind is incapable of admitting they need help when God Himself offers it. Matt goes on to describe libertarian free will (LFW) in this manner:

Libertarian free will says that the person’s will is not restricted by his sinful nature, and that he is still able to choose or accept God freely.  Verses used to support this view are John 3:16 and 3:36

This is an over-simplified and very shallow explanation of LFW.  LFW (or contra-causal freedom) is “the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.” So, in relation to soteriology, LFW is mankind’s ability to accept or reject God’s appeal to be reconciled through faith in Christ. Given that mankind is held responsible for how they respond to Christ and His words (John 12:48), there is no biblical or theological reason to suggest that mankind is born unable to respond to His powerful, life-giving words (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:15-16; Rm. 10:17; John 6:63; 20:31*). It makes no practical sense to hold mankind responsible (response-able) to Christ’s words, if indeed they are unable-to-respond to those words, nor is it ever explicitly taught in Scripture.

*HERE is a great resource to support this interpretation of John 20:31 from the original language. (From Thomas “Willie” Adams, PhD)

In fact, many text suggest mankind is able to reason with God and freely respond to His revelation:

 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Is. 1:16-20)

Matt continues:

All the cults and false religious systems teach the libertarian view of free will…

This is factually inaccurate. Islam, naturalistic Atheism, and ancient Gnosticism, to name a few, all held to forms of determinism.

…that salvation and spiritual understanding are completely within the grasp of sinners (in spite of their enslavement to and deadness in sin).  For them, salvation would be totally up to the ability of the individual to make such a choice.

This is a common error made by Calvinistic believers. They wrongly assert that non-Calvinists believe salvation itself is “within the grasp of sinners” because we teach that mankind is responsible to believe and repent of sin.  Being capable of repenting in faith is not equal to saving oneself. Matt is conflating two separate choices as if they are one in the same.

  • Man’s responsibility to believe and repent.
  • God’s gracious choice to save whoever believes and repents.

By conflating these two very distinct actions, the Calvinist causes much unneeded confusion. It would be tantamount to suggesting that because the Prodigal son chose to return home that the father was obligated to accept and restore him BECAUSE of his choice to return. The son alone was responsible for his choice to return. Likewise, the father alone was responsible for his choice to accept and restore him. The only obligation on the father is one he puts on himself on the basis of his own goodness and grace.  Nothing is owed to the son on the basis of his choice to return. When the Calvinist conflates these two choices as if they are one in the same it confounds an otherwise very simple gospel message.

Below are the passages Matt listed in support of his perspective. Let’s go through each of them:

Man Apart from God

  • 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

Does proof that a leopard cannot change his own spots also prove that a leopard cannot recognize that his spots need changing by the help of another? Once again Calvinists have assumed that mankind’s inability to save himself is equal to his supposed inability to admit that fact in light of God’s clear revelation.

For instance, a doctor may clearly reveal your need for a heart transplant. Your ability to submit to his recommendation and allow him to perform the transplant is not equal to performing the transplant all by yourself, which is exactly what the Calvinist is presuming onto our perspective when they say things like, “you believe that you can save yourself”…or “change your own spots.”

  • 5:10, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Matt will have to spell out why he feels this passage specifically supports his position. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, Christ is making his appeal through us to be reconciled to God by faith. The Calvinist seems to think that one must be reconciled in order to willingly respond to Christ’s appeal to be reconciled, which clearly has the cart before the horse.

  • 8:7, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”

Does proof that mankind cannot fulfill the laws demands also prove that mankind cannot humbly admit this fact in light of God’s gracious appeals? Just because mankind cannot merit his own salvation by works of the law does not mean he cannot trust in the One who did fulfill the law.

Verses related to free will choices of sinners

  • John 1:13, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Clearly John is referencing the natural born Israelites who wrongly believe that their Israelite lineage (blood), and works of the law (willing/running) are the means of their salvation. This is made clear by looking at the context of this passage. In verses 11-12, the apostle writes, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Who are “his own” who “did not receive him?” Clearly he is speaking of Israel. Which is contrasted with those who did receive him and believed in his name.  One is not even given the right to become a child until they “believe and receive” according to this passage. Yet, the Calvinist seem to suggest that one must be born as a child in order to believe and receive. Again, the Calvinists have the cart before the horse.

  • 9:16, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” — “the man” is singular
  • 9:18, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

For the sake of time and space, I’ll refer you to my own commentary over Romans 9 to respond to this point of contention.

  • 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

God does grant us the ability to believe and suffer for His sake. But “granting” or “enabling” faith is not the same as effectually causing it. Faith comes by hearing the powerful gospel appeal (Rom. 10:11-14), which is granted first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). In other words, God is enabling faith through revelation, which is sent first to the Jew and then the Gentiles. During the time of Paul, the Jews had grown calloused to God’s revelation, otherwise they might have seen, heard, understood and turned to God, so the apostles took the message of repentance to the Gentiles, who listened (Acts 28:27-28).

Free Will as “Human Autonomy” (the “separateness” of God)

Websters defines “autonomous” simply as “undertaken or carried on without outside control.” Autonomous describes things that function separately or independently. For instance, once you move out of your parents’ house, and get your own job, you will be an autonomous member of the family. This adjective autonomous is often used of countries, regions, or groups that have the right to govern themselves. Autonomous is from Greek autonomos “independent,” from autos “self” plus nomos “law.”

Some wrongly assume that the Traditionalist’s use of this term is meant to suggest that mankind’s existence, sustenance and natural abilities are independent of God altogether. This is absurd, of course. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a gracious God.

We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.”  This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human autonomy.  As A.W. Tozer rightly explains:

“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

Some Calvinists have wrongly concluded that the Traditionalist seeks to downplay the sovereignty of God and highlight the autonomy of man, when in reality we seek to maintain the right biblical understanding of man’s autonomy so as to better highlight the Sovereignty, Love and Holiness of God.

I have already unpacked the attribute of God’s Sovereignty HERE and God’s Love HERE, so I would now like to turn our attention to the attribute of God’s Holiness. If you notice that the Tozer quote above is from his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”  Tozer’s intentions, like that of the Traditionalist, is in defense of God’s Holiness, not an attempt to undermine other equally important attributes of our good God.

I suspect that Tozer, like myself, would wholeheartedly agree with John Piper’s teaching on God’s Holiness here:

“Every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. Let me illustrate. The root meaning of holy is probably to cut or separate. A holy thing is cut off from and separated from common (we would say secular) use. Earthly things and persons are holy as they are distinct from the world and devoted to God. So the Bible speaks of holy ground (Exodus 3:5), holy assemblies (Exodus 12:16), holy sabbaths (Exodus 16:23), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6); holy garments (Exodus 28:2), a holy city (Nehemiah 11:1), holy promises (Psalm 105:42), holy men (2 Peter 1:21) and women (1 Peter 3:5), holy scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8), a holy kiss (Romans 16:16), and a holy faith (Jude 20). Almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.

But notice what happens when this definition is applied to God himself. From what can you separate God to make him holy? The very god-ness of God means that he is separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between Creator and creature. God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy. But then you have said no more than that he is God.” – John Piper (emphasis added)

Notice the common term used to describe God’s Holiness and man’s autonomy? The word “separate” is referenced in both definitions. This is significant.

Some Calvinists fail to see that the Traditionalists defense of man’s separateness (autonomy) is actually in defense of God’s Holiness, or as Piper put it, God’s separateness “from all that is not God.” But, in a world of divine meticulous control of all things, what is left to be considered “separate” in any meaningful sense of the word?

One would think that sinful intentions would be included in “all that is not God,” yet many Calvinistic scholars affirm that man’s sinful intentions are unchangeably predetermined or brought about by God so as to glorify Himself (see HERE).

We must understand that John Piper, while holding to the same definition of Holiness as Tozer (or Traditionalists), comes to a very different conclusion about the nature of our thrice Holy God.

Continuing with the quote above, Piper concludes:

“If the holiness of a man derives from being separated from the world and devoted to God, to whom is God devoted so as to derive his holiness? To no one but himself.”

Piper fails to relate his understanding of God’s Holiness (separateness) to the nature of morally accountable creatures (as autonomously separate), but instead uses this attribute to emphasize his Calvinistic view of God’s self-seeking nature. Piper is arguing that God is all about Himself because there is no “higher reality than God to which He must conform in order to be holy.” In other words, God is all about God because there is nothing more Holy than God. But, what does this even mean unless you establish that which God has separated Himself from in the meticulously determined world of Piper’s Calvinism? How can one celebrate God being about God unless you separate that which is not about God from that which is about God? What exactly can be deemed as “separated” in a worldview where absolutely everything is brought about by God for God? Holiness loses its meaning in a deterministic worldview because nothing can be described in any significant way as being “separate” from God and His will.

It is senseless to speak of God’s Holiness (as separateness) unless there is something outside of God from which to separate. God cannot be separated from Himself or His own choices. And if you insist on the one hand that God is unchangeably determining all creature’s sinful inclinations so as to glorify Himself, then how can you on the other hand claim that God is wholly separate from those same sinful, yet self-glorifying means?  You might as well be claiming A is not A (God is separate but not separate).

Listen, either God is implicated in moral evil or He is not. He is either Holy or He is not. He is either separate (an affirmation of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy) or He is not (a denial of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy). Do not allow the Calvinists to have their cake and eat it too on this point.

John Piper takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that “God is all about Himself.” Whereas, Tozer takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that while God would be perfectly just to be all about Himself and His own glorification, He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices.

Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.

 

 

 

135 thoughts on “The Doctrine of Free Will

  1. I love this illustration: “a doctor may clearly reveal your need for a heart transplant. Your ability to submit to his recommendation and allow him to perform the transplant is not equal to performing the transplant all by yourself”. This struck a chord very close to my heart. My dad, an atheist, passed away a few years ago. I saw God reach out to him many times. He never carried health insurance, but two months before he died, he turned 65 and had access to Medicare. He had always had blood pressure problems, and had begun to have clear symptoms of heart attack. He did not have the ability to prescribe himself medication, or perform surgery to remove his own clots, but he had access to care… access that he foolishly refused, which resulted in him dropping dead from a major heart attack. His choice to refuse medical help was exactly like his choice to refuse salvation from a loving God. Calvinists would say my dad went to Hell because God wanted him to go there, and never gave him a genuine opportunity to receive forgiveness. I think that ideology is as ridiculous as claiming the doctors “wanted” my dad to die because they didn’t come to the house and drag him in for routine exams and surgery against his stubborn will.

      1. EK writes to DOT, “Dot, yes, God made the wicked for the day of evil, that doesn’t mean He determined who would be evil. ”

        Actually, God did as God is sovereign and could have intervened to prevent anyone from being evil. All were determined to be evil directly by Adam’s sin. God could have overridden the corruption of Adam’s sin and it’s impact on his progeny but God choose not to do so. As God is sovereign, God is also said to have determined who would be evil – in this case all people are evil some for the day of evil.

      2. Hutch

        “…could have intervened to prevent anyone from being evil. ”

        Also not the same thing as determining who would be evil.

        “All were determined to be evil directly by Adam’s sin.”

        Nice wordplay. Adam’s sin doesn’t determine who would choose to do which evil nor how much.

        “God could have overridden the corruption of Adam’s sin and it’s impact on his progeny but God choose not to do so.”

        Also has nothing to do with which human beings would live their lives for evil, die in their sins, and face God on judgment day to account for that evil.

      3. EK writes, “Adam’s sin doesn’t determine who would choose to do which evil nor how much.”

        We seem to agree that Adam’s sin determined that people would do evil. Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree. At this point, the verse cited by DOT is valid, “God made the wicked for the day of evil,” so that God actually determined who would be wicked/evil and this because God did not intervene to counteract the effects of Adam’s sin. All people are born corrupt; they are wicked and will do evil – this is according to God’s plan so it is proper to conclude, as the proverb does, that “God made the wicked for the day of evil.”

        Then, “Also has nothing to do with which human beings would live their lives for evil, die in their sins, and face God on judgment day to account for that evil.”

        It has everything to do with this. It is because God does not override the corruption of Adam’s sin that each and every human being will live their lives for evil, die in their sins and face God on judgment day to account for their evil.” The exception to this is where God actually does intervene in a person’s life to override the corruption caused by Adam’s sin.

        Your objections here are petty and do not change the big picture – Adam’s sin and its effects on humanity. You seem to be operating with certain presuppositions that relate to the effect of Adam’s sin on his posterity. Are you?

      4. “Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree.”

        No, you don’t you disingenuous charlatan. I wish I saw another way of engaging with you besides using harsh language to try to jar you out of your insincere, dishonest tactics. I have no doubt it will not, but I want to make it clear I use such language with a heavy heart. You are lying, Hutch, to yourself most of all, but lying none-the-less. You go all over this page and tell people you don’t believe free will exists and then you say you agree with me when I claim free will exists.

        “At this point, the verse cited by DOT is valid, “God made the wicked for the day of evil,” so that God actually determined who would be wicked/evil and this because God did not intervene to counteract the effects of Adam’s sin.”

        It has been explained to you countless times that allowing and ordaining are not the same thing. But you continue the error because you must. Carry on.

        “Your objections here are petty and do not change the big picture – Adam’s sin and its effects on humanity. You seem to be operating with certain presuppositions…”

        Of course, I am. My presupposition is that God can, in no way, be involved in the evil choices of man. That’s my starting assumption and everything flows from that. See, being honest about our presuppositions is not that hard. Now you should try it, it won’t hurt as much as you think it will.

      5. I wrote, ““Your objection is that Adam’s sin does not determine precisely what particular evil a person will do nor how much. That’s fair, and I agree.”
        EK responded, “No, you don’t…”

        Actually, I do. Adam’s sin determines that people are corrupted (i.e., depraved and in slavery to sin). Adam’s sin does not determine the particular evils that people will do nor how much. That is more related to God’s restraint of sin or hardening of a person (as with Pharaoh). You are over reacting here. Your extreme language deserves support – Can you support your claim against me???

  2. Pastor Flowers writes, “We would NOT AGREE that a man is born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation — by means of the law (a tutor) and the gospel (a powerful appeal to be reconciled).”

    Note the condition — especially in light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation. Without that revelation, the lost are Totally Depraved encompassing inability – this because the lost have not faith and do not seek God. The ability to believe requires faith and faith is conveyed by the preaching of the gospel for faith comes by hearing. So, even Pastor Flowers seems to understand that a man is “born incapable of willingly admitting that he is in bondage and in need of help” and that this condition can only changed by the “light of God’s gracious, Holy Spirit inspired, clear revelation.”

    The real issue concerns those who do hear the Scriptures preached. Here, the question is, Why is it that, of those who hear the gospel preached, only some come to salvation and some do not? The Calvinists pondered this and came to the conclusion that God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden. Even Pastor Flowers has somewhat agreed by writing elsewhere that those who do not believe have been hardened by God. No matter how one slices the Scriptures, the unavoidable conclusion is that God is intimately involved in the salvation a one person and the perishing of another.

      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “Read my view more carefully please.”

        These words that you wrote stood out for me.

        “According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, Christ is making his appeal through us to be reconciled to God by faith….God does grant us the ability to believe…But “granting” or “enabling” faith is not the same as effectually causing it. Faith comes by hearing the powerful gospel appeal (Rom. 10:11-14), which is granted first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). In other words, God is enabling faith through revelation,..Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a gracious God.”

      2. Hello Pastor Leighton.

        I’m not a calvinist, but this doctrine of calvinism has troubled me a lot. I have been seeking the Lord for my salvation and I feel very much what Spurgeon says is right as I’m able to relate with it:

        [

        “Oh!” saith the Arminian, “men may be saved if they will.” We reply, “My dear sir, we all believe that; but it is just the ‘if they will’ that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it–“Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;’ and as long as that “ye will not come’ stands on record in Holy Scripture, we shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will.” It is strange how people, when talking about free-will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. “Now,” says one, “I believe men can be saved if they will.” My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ. You reply, that men sometimes are willing, without the help of the Holy Spirit. I answer–Did you ever meet with any person who was? Scores and hundreds, nay, thousands of Christians have I conversed with, of different opinions, young and old, but it has never been my lot to meet with one who could affirm that he came to Christ of himself, without being drawn. The universal confession of all true believers is this–“I know that unless Jesus Christ had sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, I would to this very hour have been wandering far from him, at a distance from him, and loving that distance well.” With common consent, all believers affirm the truth, that men will not come to Christ till the Father who hath sent Christ doth draw them.”

        ]

        I personally feel an inability / rebellion in my heart to submit to God and lack of faith. The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit opened the mind of people to Believe.

        what are your thoughts about it ?

      3. That is the problem, Arminians cling to their surf boards desperately. In fact, they road their boards against the breaking waves of God’s will with all their might and are proud of their work. But God, who is rich in mercy chooses to overcome some of the surfers, knock them off their boards, and plunge them to the bottom of the sea, helpless and dead. But, for some unknown reason, He grabs their lifeless bodies from the sea floor, lifts them onto the boards, breathes life into their lifeless bodies, and carries them safely back to shore on the same boards He gave them, with the very waves they fought so hard against.

      4. Greetings Mark. I hope you enjoy your involvement here. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Here is my response.

        Light then Faith then Life!

        Jhn 1:9, 12 NKJV – 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world…. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
        Jhn 12:36 NKJV – “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
        Jhn 20:31 NKJV – but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
        Gal 3:26 NKJV – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
        1Pe 1:23, 25 NKJV – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, … Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

        Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life! What kind of birth does not make one a child or give life? Very silly… besides being a clear rejection and twisting of clear Scripture teaching.

        For the Calvinist regeneration is kinda like a drug that had been before willfully refused by the woman that a man offered it to, along with his proposal of marriage to her… but then he slips it into her drink without her knowing and she immediately accepts his next proposal of marriage.

        Now does that sound like true love? And you can call a drugged woman’s “yes” her “personal responsibility” even though she was unable to do other because of a change the “drug” made in her, when it was given during the time she was still firmly rejecting the one making the proposal who was slipping her the drug without her understanding.

        I see no personal willing acceptance of that woman… nor do I see love in the one who caused the change in her instantly using that drug.

      5. brianwagner writes, “Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life!”

        Reformed theology posits a regeneration (being born again) that then provides the good soil for the word to grow leading to faith in Christ and everlasting life.

        Why would regeneration make one a child of God or convey everlasting life? “…you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

        Then, “For the Calvinist regeneration is kinda like …”

        Only in your imagination.

      6. Brian, I understand your fixation on the romance of God wooing but never forcing Himself on a rebellious sinner, but that assumes lots of ridiculous stuff. First, God is not sovereign, the sinner is sovereign in your construct. Second, you see good sinners wanting God to wisk them away if he’ll just woo them enough and respect their space, glorius free will, and give them all the time they need to come to the altar. Third, you are basically teaching sinners that they can born themselves again anytime they decide they are ready to do so. Fourth, If the wicked sinner is sovereign over his spiritual birth, why do Christians pray for the lost. If God helps those who help themselves to spiritual birth, we would need to pray to the sinner, pleading with them to make the decision to open the doors of their tender hearts, which will enable God to born them again. Think about your goofy teachings on this subject, please. Fifth, you assume Reformed folks like me are either stupid, evil, deluded or all three. At the same time, you assume you and your camp have tender hearts toward God and are protecting innocent people from false teaching and you constantly speak for us painting charactures of our actual beliefs. Sixth, you post Scriptures that do not prove your theory, and then pretend they do. Seventh, you have to explain away plain simple teaching in Scripture to make the Scripture fit your construct. Here is a simple example of point seven. Jesus answered Nicodemus, “you must be born again” If Jesus meant, you need to pray a prayer and ask me to come into your heart, I will come or even, Nicodemus, I’ve done my part, now it’s up to you and the decision you make? No, He said, you must be born again. You know how Nicodemus responded, he clearly didn’t get Jesus’ answer or couldn’t comprehend it or disagreed with Jesus’ answer. You tell me. Interestingly, Jesus went on to say John 3:8 esv The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Here we are again, Jesus teaches Nicodemus he has the ability to move the wind of his free will wherever he wants to so, he just needs to humble himself and make that important decision today right? Wrong. Jesus affirms the sovereignty of the the Wind of the Holy Spirit. Yet, you’ll wiggle around and imply the wind blows where and when we command it to. You know this is nonsense, but you’ll continue to teach this delusion. I’m asking you to stop. I’m asking the moderator to stop, and I’m asking Andy Stanley to stop.

      7. Thank you Mark for your thoughful reply. Your accusations are amazing about what I said and how you think I think. I would much rather discuss some of the specific Scriptures I listed.

        As for Nicodemus, you have the basic context problem of Jesus explaining to an unregenerate mind the importance of his responsibility to look to Jesus and believe.

        But let me comment on your underlying theme in many of your accusations that I think we save ourselves.

        “I saved myself” – Red Herring/Straw Man

        God doesn’t give the same grace to everyone… but He does give sufficient grace to enable each to freely seek and to trust His mercy. Therefore none have an excuse, and salvation is all of God, who paid for it, and offered it, and gave it to each one who trusted Him for it.

        It is a red herring that suggests the one who was saved after trusting their savior and after trusting the means of their salvation would then turn around and say or believe – “I saved myself.” The one grabbing the rope and letting the rescuer pull them to safety does not turn around and say – “Boy, didn’t I do a good job in saving myself.”

        It is a red herring/straw man argument in an attempt to legitimize determinism which has the bigger problem of denying that determinism logically makes God the author of sin and that it also makes Him the unjust and everlasting tormentor of those He supposedly decreed guilty and to be hardened by Him for someone else’s sin, before anyone was ever created by Him.

        The typical “so it all hinges on man” argument is silly. A “hinge” is no good if there is no door or someone to open that door. So also is the argument “so man is the ultimate decisive factor in his salvation.” I can decide to trust Jesus, but unless He decides to give me forgiveness and everlasting life, what good, how “decisive”, is my decision compared to His? If Christ had not died and rose again and offered me salvation and granted it to me… all my “decisions” in the world would make no difference.

        Mark… you do have the problem of defining sovereignty biblically. God is able to and has delegated aspects of His sovereignty so that covenant love from humble trust freely offered can exist.

        Now if you’d like to discuss a specific verse or passage, I’m game. 😊

      8. I thought this was interesting. It was written by a poster named Ron Miamon on Stackexchange.com:

        The idea of superdeterminism is not really about free will. Free will is a concept that is very hard to define in a logical-positivistic way. If you don’t believe me, try to define it! If you can’t say exactly what you mean by a notion, in terms of “If I do this and that, what happens?” then it is not clear that the notion is well-defined. There are many questions which are just your brain fooling you into seeing sense where there is none.

        First, I want to say that ‘t Hooft’s original ideas were profoundly nonlocal and would not resemble the local cellular automata ideas of, say, Wolfram. In recent years, ‘t Hooft has considered the idea that there is a deterministic theory that is local in space-time which reproduces quantum mechanics. This idea is clearly wrong, and ‘t Hooft is talking nonsense.

        ‘t Hooft’s old ideas of an underlying realistic theory were not so silly, since they came on the heels of the holographic principle. Once you realize that gravity is defined far away on a holographic screen, the idea of hidden variables becomes more plausible, because the physics of gravity is nonlocal in a way that suggests it might fix quantum mechanics. There is no real proposal for doing this, however, just vague speculations.

        Holographic hidden variables could conceivably even be holographically local, meaning that they are local on a holographic screen. There is very little that can be said without a precise proposal for what these variables are.

        But if you want hidden variables without holographic non-locality, then you are in trouble. You are trying to get out of the problem using “superdeterminism”, the idea that the polarization settings are determined in advance, and so that Bell’s inequality violations do not necessarily mean that local hidden variables are logically impossible.
        Superdeterminism is silly

        The proof of Bell’s theorem tells you that measurements of different polarizations of far-away particles have statistics that are not reproducible in advance by the electrons alone, making crib-sheets when they are close about what the answer is going to be for the different experiments.

        If you want to use the superdeterminism loophole, you need to assume that there are electron crib sheets which tell the electrons how to behave, and further, there is some mechanism which links the electron crib sheet to the choice of the experimental apparatus of which direction to measure, so that the direction one chooses to measure is somehow determined by these crib sheets.

        To understand how ridiculous this is—- I could program a computer to run a random number generator, and set the polarizers according to the outcome. Then whichever random number generator I choose to use, the result must be correlated in the exact same way with the crib sheets.

        If I use a thermal random number generator (a heated chip which reads out random 0s and 1s), the result will have to be correlated with the crib sheets. This correlation cannot change even if I change the temperature, altering all the Avogadro’s number of particle positions and velocities. It doesn’t change if I touch the chip to a hot liquid, introducing new atoms. The correlation doesn’t care if I flip a coin and switch out the random number generator for another one, or if I rewire the experiment to make different outcomes correspond to different polarization settings. The nature of the conspiracy is so implausible, that it requires an intelligent agency which knows exactly what I am doing, and rearranges all the crib sheets and correlations to make everything come out right.

        It is just plain impossible to imagine such a mechanism. It defies common sense that for any randomization procedure one can dream up, the results are correlated with the electron crib sheets. Further, if you have a beam of different correlated electron pairs, you might measure this electron pair or that. The mechanism has to be correlated with all the electron crib sheets. I think that this is sufficiently ridiculous that to call superdeterminism a loophole is just an abuse of language— it is a loophole in the same way that we could all be dreaming in the matrix and the aliens have set up the outcome to look like quantum mechanics is true. It’s no more plausible than this sort of nonsense.
        Free Will

        You brought up the issue of free will, and this is an old saw from philosophy. The actual history of the idea is important— it comes from a religious paradox:

        If God knows what is going to happen, and made it all happen outside of space and time, how can God punish people for doing evil by sending them to hell?

        This is the essential question that bothered people about Christian theology, and led to free will debates. The notions in this question are very hard to define in a logical-positivistic way, and when you do define them this way, the problem evaporates. There is no problem here, and there never was, independent of the fact that the notion of God has not been properly defined, nor its properties in any way deduced from a framework which is capable of persuading anyone in any way except by force of social convention.

        To make a logical-positivistic description, you have to define all properties in terms of sense experience. So one can take a definition of free will as follows:

        Free will (version 1): If I have a ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich, and I place them in front of me, and I am told to “take one and eat it”, then I end up holding one of the sandwiches and eating it.

        This is clearly no good. The idea we have of free will is not that we do things, but that we could have done something else. So try this:

        Free will (version 2): If I have a ham sandwich and a cheese sandwich, and I am told “If you disobey this prediction, you will get $1000. I predict that you will take the ham sandwich and eat it”, then I will take the cheese sandwich and eat it. Likewise, if I am told “you will eat the cheese”, I will eat the ham.

        This definition is not so great either. It is saying that I am capable of spiting any prediction about my behavior, if I am motivated to do so. This is independent of determinism: if the universe is deterministic, like a being in a computer simulation, you can still have this type of spiting behavior. All it says is that if you predict the outcome, and then tell the person the outcome you predicted, you change the outcome, so that it cannot be predicted anymore.

        But this is the closest I can see to making sense of the concept of free will. So free will for me means the following:

        Free will (version 3): Given access to the predictions any algorithm that purports to predict your behavior, and gives you incentives to spite the prediction, an agent has free will to the extent that the predictions will not come true.

        This is true of people: if you tell a heavy smoker “Do not smoke for a year, and you will get a million dollars”, then it is likely that the person will not smoke for a year. But this is clearly nothing to do with what people’s intuition about the thing is. The intuition is that the prediction can be spited even if it is behind a curtain, hidden from the agent.

        But if you don’t tell the agent the prediction, there is no sense in saying the agent is somehow behaving non-freely in doing what you predict. I predict that you will get out of bed tomorrow, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t get out of your own free will. It only means that if I tell you that I predict this, and give you a big incentive to stay in bed, like a million dollars, and you still get out of bed.

        The God business at the beginning is really resolved by defining God properly, but even supposing you believe that God is an external agent that knows the future and punishes sinners in the afterlife (something which I can’t make logical positive sense out of), the fact that God knows the future in this metaphysics does not mean that you didn’t choose it, since God didn’t tell you the prediction and ask you to spite it!

        In a certain sense, actually, in many religious traditions, God does tell you some predictions about human nature and ask you to spite them— the prediction that human beings will be cruel and capricious, for example. This type of thing is asking human beings to spite predictions about the general nasty character of human relations in a Darwinian world, and the insistent demand that one spite these predictions, despite there being no incentive to do so, is the major purpose of religious belief.

        Anyway, this is a major digression. The point of this is that the concept of free will is not well defined, and any way of defining it positivistically, it is either obviously true that human beings have free will, obviously false, or obviously meaningless to ask the question. The fact that free will has no definition, or at least, no consistent agreed-upon definition, should make one pause whenever someone discusses the concept, since this person can impose whatever definition he or she likes on it, and argue from this metaphysical position.

        The position that superdeterminism means we have no free will is only true in a sense that it is determinism. This is not conflicting with free will in the definition I gave above, since determinism doesn’t tell you what your choice is going to be and ask you to spite it, less does it give you incentive for doing so.

        One way to try to violate the definition of free will above is to send correlated electrons to distant experimentalists, Alice and Bob, and try to predict Alice’s polarization settings by capturing the electrons along the way and measuring their crib sheets (imperfectly, by measuring their spins). The issue of course is that in the superdeterministic view, the person capturing and measuring the electrons is not predicting anything about Alice and Bob, because the electron’s crib sheets are now correlated with this person’s polarization settings, and not Alice’s or Bob’s anymore. This sort of nonsense makes all experimental thinking and scientific hypothesis testing impossible, and it is really a form of magical-universe hypothesis. One must reject it a priori.

        So, unlike the concepts of even God and religion, I can’t see any way to make sense of the concept of superdeterminism in a logical-positivist framework. I personally consider the answer to the question as a resounding “no”. No, it is not true that there is a superdeterminism loophole, and local hidden variables are just plain ruled out by Bell’s inequality violations.

        I think he’s right, nobody seems to agree on the definition of “free will.”

      9. Hello Scott and welcome
        You wrote a book there!!!!

        Peter Van Inwagen agrees with you that the phrase “Free Will” is problematic because of every human mind is going to have their own unique conception of it.

        In the Christian worlds – the debate predominates around terms such as “Contra-Causal”, “Do Otherwise”, “PAP Principle of Alternative Possibilities”.

        The Determinist Christian (aka Calvinism) for the most part – adopts what philosophy calls “COMPATIBILISM”

        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
        -quote
        Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

        Therefore it follows:
        1) You are FREE to be/do what was Determined (by infallible decree)
        2) You are NOT FREE to be/do what was NOT Determined (by infallible decree)

        The irony of the debate between the two positions can be found in the fact that every Determinist fully ASSUMES Libertarian human functionality for themselves – while claiming it doesn’t exist – or is irrational etc.

        So the Determinist believes in Determinism – but lives as an IN-Determinist.

        Professor Sean Carroll – American theoretical physicist – and devout Determinist for example will tell you that trying to live *AS-IF* Determinism is TRUE – is simply not practical.

        John Calvin came to the same conclusion – instructing his disciples to -quote “Go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

        So whether or not we humans take a position one way or the other – we all live *AS-IF* one position is true.

        Blessings!
        br.d

      10. brdmod writes, “The irony of the debate between the two positions can be found in the fact that every Determinist fully ASSUMES Libertarian human functionality for themselves – while claiming it doesn’t exist – or is irrational etc.”

        Under Calvinism, a person without faith is Totally Depraved. Free will does not change this. A person with free will and without faith is still Totally Depraved. A person with faith is not Totally Depraved. A person with free will and with faith is not Totally Depraved.

        A person without faith is hostile to God and will always reject salvation. A person with faith is not hostile to God and will always accept salvation.

      11. rhutchin
        So who decides what’s for dinner? Who decides soup or salad?

        br.d
        Let’s hope Calvin’s god doesn’t decree you to eat something that will cause massive explosions and keep you up all night! 😀

      12. Good one Chap!
        I still think Calvinism was given to mankind as a form of entertainment! 😀

        The devil meant it to neutralize the church’s ability to war against principalities and powers.

        But the Lord meant it for our good!

      13. 10 easy steps in how to miss the point of a conversation by a mile! :-]

        Since in Calvinism – man has absolutely NO CHOICE in the matter of anything – whether that man is Totally Depraved or not is irrelevant.

      14. And additionally – no Calvinist during his life-time is ever granted CERTAINTY of whether or not he is TOTALLY DEPRAVED or not.

        So Total Depravity is about as relevant to the subject of humans NOT having the function of CHOICE in Calvinism – as NO square apples is to the subject of buying groceries. :-]

      15. rhutchin
        A person without faith is hostile to God

        br.d
        Only if hostility to Calvin’s god is what Calvin’s god specifically decrees come to pass.

        Otherwise you end up denying Calvin’s god divine omnipotence – by resolving him UNABLE to decree hostility and decree faith – both exist at the same time.

        This serves as a good example of why blindly reciting Calvinist talking points makes Calvinists appear like – the lights are on upstairs – but no one is home! :-]

      16. Your view as written here only showed me that by God through Christ sacrifice the Holy Spirit changes a man’s heart. You proved that God gives his Spirit to be saved. No one chooses on his own. Also you lacked verses on free will.

      17. Hello Melanie and welcome.

        Calvinism has its own version of “Free will”
        The Westminster Confession – for example states – the elect -quote “Come *MOST FREELY*”

        Since the foundational core of Calvinism is EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM (EDD) – creaturely “freedom” is classified as being “Compatible” with Determinism.

        Standord Encyclopedia of Philosophy
        -quote
        Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

        Thus in Calvinism – with Adam in the garden
        1) Adam was “Free” to eat the fruit – because that “Freedom” is COMPATIBLE with what was determined (i.e. decreed that Adam would infallibly do)
        2) Adam was NOT “Free” to NOT eat the fruit – because that “Freedom” would NOT be COMPATIBLE with what was determined – in that it was NOT what was decreed as what Adam would infallibly do – and thus would falsify the decree.

        The kind of freedom that does not exist in Calvinism – is classified as “Libertarian” freedom
        That would be the freedom to BE OTHERWISE than that which was decreed.

        Since that is the case – there is no such thing as CONTRARY “Choice” in Calvinism.
        The human brain is not granted “Freedom” to have an impulse that is CONTRARY to that impulse that was decreed to infallibly come to pass.

        Since that is the case – there is no such thing as the Calvinist mind having the function of “Choosing” between TRUE and FALSE on any matter – because that would constitute a CONTRARY choice.

        Therefore – since Libertarian Choice does not exist for the Calvinist – it follows – the ability to discern between TRUE and FALSE on any matter does not exist for the Calvinist brain.

        Blessings!
        br.d

      18. In re: the sovereignty of God. Calvinists view on the sovereignty of God: absolutely nothing happens that isn’t decreed of God. If you stub your toe in the middle of the night…God made you do it. If you can’t find your keys…God made you do it. If you wake up late for work…God made you do it. If you sin….God made you do it.

        Biblical sovereignty of God: There is nothing that happens in life that is outside of God’s control. In other words, God knows everything that is going to happen and is able to orchestrate His will in the midst of our free will.

        Sovereign means “to possess supreme authority.” Monarchs of the past were sovereign. They held supreme authority over their realms. The made the rules. They enforced the rules. Does that mean that everyone obeyed the king? Nope. If they did, then the American Revolution couldn’t have happened. Sovereignty means nothing more than ruling over people, which includes punishing those who refuse to submit to the sovereignty out of their own free will. That is God’s sovereignty.

        Calvinist “sovereignty” says that man is nothing more than a robot following a pre-ordained program. If this is the case, then love is an illusion. Jesus didn’t come to earth and die for us because He loved the world. And we don’t love Him back. We are programmed to respond a certain way. On top of that, if God controls all we do, then He makes us sin…which, again, is anti-biblical.

        The Bible says “For God so loved the world, that WHOEVER believes will be saved.”
        Calvinism says “For God so loved His elect that they will be saved.”

        The Bible says “[God] is patient toward you, not willing for ANY to perish, but for ALL to come to repentance.”
        Calvinism says “God is patient towards His elect that only they will come to repentance.”

        As for calvinist teaching that man is completely dead and cannot make the decision for salvation on his own is a circular reasoning fallacy. If this premise is true, then none can be saved. Using this line of reasoning, an unsaved person is dead and must be made alive in order to be saved. But in order to be made alive, one must be saved. But to be saved, one must be made alive. But to be made alive, one must be saved. If one can be made alive without salvation, then the Gospel is garbage. Calvinism circumvents salvation.

      19. Rob
        In other words, God knows everything that is going to happen and is able to orchestrate His will in the midst of our *FREE WILL*.

        br.d
        I would just add to this – that “Free will” in Calvinism is not what NORMAL people understand.

        1) Creation is “Free” to be/do *ONLY* that which has been decreed
        2) Creation is “NOT Free” to be or do OTHERWISE than that which has been decreed.

        This form of “Freedom” is academically classified as COMPATIBILISM

        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
        -quote
        Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism

        Thus in Calvinism it follows
        1) The impulse within Adam’s brain to eat the fruit was granted “Freedom” to come to pass – because that impulse was what was determined to infallibly come to pass – and thus COMPATIBLE with Determinism.

        2) The impulse within Adam’s brain to NOT eat the fruit – was NOT granted “Freedom” to come to pass – because that impulse was NOT COMPATIBLE with what was determined – and thus NOT COMPATIBLE with Determinism.

      20. “Your view as written here only showed me that by God through Christ sacrifice the Holy Spirit changes a man’s heart.”

        Translation: “Your belief in free will proves that you are wrong.”

        Hmmm. I’m not sure I can argue against such “reasoning”

      21. Rob
        Translation: “Your belief in free will proves that you are wrong.”
        Hmmm. I’m not sure I can argue against such “reasoning”

        br.d
        That one is easy Rob!

        1) The “Free-Will” Melanie is referring too is called “Libertarian” freedom.
        2) In Calvinist vernacular – it is classified as CONTRARY choice
        3) CONTRARY choice does not exist in Calvinism because it is excluded by Determinism
        4) CONTRARY choice entails the ability to choose between 2 possible options
        5) This means – the Calvinist brain – is not granted the function of choosing between TRUE and FALSE because that would constitute a CONTRARY choice.
        6) The ability to discern TRUE from FALSE necessitates making a choice between TRUE and FALSE

        CONCLUSION
        Melanie’s argument against “Libertarian” freedom is self-defeating

        If Melanie’s brain does not have “Libertarian” choice – then her brain cannot choose between TRUE and FALSE on any matter.

        Dr. William Lane Craig
        -quote
        All Determinists have to act *AS-IF* they have options which they can weight – and make a choice between those options – even though the ability to do so does not exist in their belief system. (From Determinism is un-livable)

        So you see – every time Melanie assumes to be able to choose between TRUE and FALSE – she is in fact assuming a “Libertarian” choice. In doing so – Melanie destroys her own position on free-will

  3. Pastor Flowers writes, “Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.”

    OK. So what does Tozer write – “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.” Everyone agrees with Tozer on this. What is the testimony of Scripture – There is none that does good (at least, that moral good to which Tozer refers). Don’t we all agree to this?

    What does Piper write – “God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy.” Don’t we all agree to that?

    The problem here is that the citations from Tozer and Piper have nothing to do with the argument that Pastor Flowers advances. They seem (to me) to be thrown in for window dressing.

      1. Mark wrote, “John 3:16 teaches nothing about man’s ability to believe the gospel Leighton.”
        Pastor Flowers responded, “The implication is there, of course,…”

        Only because the verse states the reality that there are those who will believe the gospel – the participle can be understood as, “the ones believing.” So, those who believe would seem to have some ability to believe. Of course, that is not the issue in debate.

      2. I would say the “implication of ability” is in John 3:16 because of Dr Flowers Tradition and not because of Biblical Exegesis,

        John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

        But respectfullly Dr Flowers, the is no implication of power of the so-called free will of man to repent and believe in John 3:16. You are pulling this out of the text because it says “Whosoever believes” If you will search deeper in the Interlinear Bible you will see it actually says “everyone believing or believing ones” already in a present state of believing. There is no implication of ability here, it is only stating what the the gift of God will be to “believing ones” We both know faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, so wicked sinner’s do not have faith until, yes the SPIRIT and the Word invade their heart and create that faith and repentance. Other scriptues tell us

        2 Thess, 3:2 -and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

        Without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God
        Those in the flesh can do nothing (does not mean a little something) pleasing to God.
        It has been granted unto us to believe and suffer for Christ sake
        We have been saved by grace through faith, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, AND NOT OF OURSELVES.

      3. kEVIN kLOSSKI writes, “the is no implication of power of the so-called free will of man to repent and believe in John 3:16.”

        A rule of Biblical exegesis says that explicit statements take precedence over implicit statements. Even granting that a power of free will is implied in 3:16, we have explicit statements explaining how this comes to pass. John 6:65, ““For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” The ability to come to Christ (and believe as John 3) is conditional on God granting such ability. In addition, God must also draw the person to Christ (6:44). Thus, before a person can come to/believe in Christ, God must grant and draw. Presumably, one must also hear the gospel to receive that faith that can then manifest itself in the personal decision to believe. John 3:16 is a statement of fact. Those believing, and only those believing, gain eternal life. The verse does not tell the whole story nor does it try to.

    1. “John 3:16 teaches nothing about man’s ability to believe the gospel Leighton.”

      So…according to Calvinist interpretation, John 3:16 should read “For God so loved His elect that those He picked to believe will be saved.”

      Notice the phrase “For God so loved THE WORLD.” The phrase “the world” means “everyone.” So what you’re saying is that God loved the world so much that He picked who would be saved. So much for “God is no respecter of persons”

  4. Good job distinguishing between our inability to fix ourselves and our ability to allow God to fix us.

    Grace provides the wave but our faith brings the surfboard.

    1. Dizerner writes, “Grace provides the wave but our faith brings the surfboard.”

      Don’t you mean that God provides the wave, the surfboard, and the ability to climb onto the board and then encourages the lost person to actually climb onto the board and those who resist God are lost. The non-Calvinist view is that God does all He can to save a person but it is just not enough – the lost person has to make the final critical effort that seals the deal.

      1. “The non-Calvinist view is that God does all He can to save a person but it is just not enough”

        Wrong. It is enough. Jesus’ death and resurrection are definitely enough to save everyone. As it is said, His sacrifice is sufficient for all, but efficient for only those who choose to believe. God’s love is demonstrated through giving us free will. Having robots created to perform act through no thought of their own is as much “love” as a computer programmer’s “love” of the program he created. And our love back to Him is nothing more than a pre-programmed response dictated by God. So then love is an illusion.

        The Word of God states that it is His will that all be saved. So then why is God contradicting His own will? God is not a man that He should lie.

  5. Dear RHUTCHIN, …Whaaaooo…i am impressed with your better & clearer LOGICAL ANSWERS! May God Bless your generation. More Grease to your elbow.

  6. Soteriological Traditionalism is nothing more than the pagan philosophy of pelagianism. When the Southern Baptist adopted this doctrine they ceased to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ

    1. Hello Laurence and welcome to SOT101

      Before you point the finger of accusation – perhaps you will take the time to watch the video presentation on this site – interview with Dr. Ken Wilson – on the evolution of Augustinian doctrine.

      Link here: https://soteriology101.com/2019/08/05/did-the-early-church-fathers-teach-calvinism/

      In specific – Augustine’s synchronization of Gnostic and NeoPlatonit concepts into Catholic doctrine – later carried forward by John Calvin in his un-checked adoration for all things Augustine.

      One might find himself straining at the gnat of Pelagianism – while swallowing a whole camel – of gnostic NeoPlatonism.

      Your choice. :-]

  7. ERIC KEMP, Deuteronomy 7:6
    King James Version
    6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. what about 1 Peter 2:9
    King James Version
    9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

  8. John 6:70
    Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? John 15:16
    King James Version
    16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. John 15:19

    1. Hello dot.

      It should be understood that since Calvinism is founded on EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM (EDD) – Calvinists are going to read EDD into the text of scripture – whenever they can find a verse that can give them something that APPEARS to fit.

      The interesting phenomenon occurs when reading EDD into a verse of scripture backfires on them.

      Take fore example: “My ways are not your ways says the Lord”

      In Calvinism – per the doctrine of decrees – that statement is FALSE

      John Calvin explains:
      -quote
      The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly
      decreed. (Institutes, 1, Chp 16, Par. 3)

      So in Calvinism – there is no such thing as man having his own way.
      Whatever “way” man goes – was actually Calvin’s god’s way – which he imposed upon man by infallible decree.

      In Calvinism – man cannot have an impulse in his brain that he can call his own – let alone have a “way” he can call is own.

      Blessings
      br.d

      1. That’s one of the many issues I have with Calvinism. According to them “NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed.” So if I sin, that is decreed by God. But James 1:13-14 says otherwise: “No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust”

      2. br.d
        Yes!
        You are absolutely correct!

        And this is where Calvinists are forced into a state DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS
        And the outward expression of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS is DOUBLE-SPEAK.

        Calvinist language – long ago evolved into a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK because Calvinists intuitively understood there logical consequences to the doctrine which all Calvinists find unpalatable.

        The foundational core of Calvinism – is EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM
        So that which separates Calvinism from all of its alternatives is its embrace of Determinism.

        The problem however with Determinism – which all Atheist Determinists understand and acknowledge – is that it is impossible to be logically consistent with the belief – and still retain any sense of human normalcy.

        One of the thesis of Determinism – is that all events which come to pass – are determined by antecedent factors outside of human control.

        In the case of Atheist Determinism – those antecedent factors are the arrangement and movement of cosmic materials through space – which eventually determine everything that will come to pass – including every impulse that will come to pass within every human brain.

        In the case of Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) those antecedent factors are infallible decrees.
        Thus per the doctrine – every impulse that comes to pass within the Calvinist brain – is determined and comes to pass – by antecedent factors outside of the brain’s control.

        Which means- the Calvinist has no control over any impulse that comes to pass within his brain.

        No-one can possibly live logical coherent with such a belief and retain any sense of human normalcy.

        Atheist Sean Carrol – nationally recognized theoretical physicist – affirms this:
        -quote
        Every person in the world, no matter how anti-free-will they are, talks about people *AS-IF* they make decisions.

        William Lane Craig – non-Determinist agrees
        -quote
        Nobody can live *AS-IF* all that he thinks and does is determined by causes outside of himself.
        Determinists recognize that they have to act *AS-IF* they have option(S) to weigh, and can decide on what course of action to take….. (Determinism is unlivable)

        The attempt to embrace Determinism is what makes Calvinist language a DOUBLE-SPEAK language

      1. Rob,

        Those 12 were already God followers under the law of Moses.

        In other words, do not use John references to prove predestination theories of salvation for gentiles.

        My references:

        Romans 11:8 as opposed to:
        Romans 15:21

        Jesus was the minister to the Jews, whereas Paul is our minister.

        Romans 9-11 is about the Jews.

        Jesus has to give Jews eyes to see (heal the blind).

        Gentiles are not blind.

      2. Yes, they were God followers…so were the pharisees…so was the rest of Israel. But not all believed He was the messiah. He chose the ones that He knew would believe.

      3. Rob,

        I completely disagree that Jesus chose the 12 based on his knowledge that they would believe.

        The Jews are blind… see Romans 11:8, which corresponds to Deu 29:4.

        That tells me that Jesus had to first give them eyes to see.

        Then, when you read when Jesus told them…three times… that he was going to be crucified, they still didn’t fully understand, because that knowledge of Hebrew scripture was hidden from them.

        Lastly, regarding Pharisees:

        John 9:39-41
        39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

        40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

        41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

        So, Pharisees claim to see…

        If they were blind… what’s the rest of that?

        Again, distinction of Romans 11:8 as opposed to Romans 15:21

        Ed Chapman

  9. Hi All

    I hope you all don’t mind a neophyte like me asking a few honest questions to help progress my general understanding of Free Will from a Provisionist perspective (which I find very reassuring and compelling). So, as I understand it, one has the unobstructed free will to positively respond to (or reject) God’s call (by Faith, through Grace) to accept the Gospel and be saved (thus gaining Jesus’ Elect status). Once genuinely and effectually saved (not speaking of an un-regenerate self-deceived individual), can this saved person exercise that same free will to subsequently reject Christ and walk away from their salvation? I understand the Bible is clear that no external power can separate one from God, but will God stand in the way of this individual from exercising their free will to now fully reject Christ and walk away? This is similar to the “once saved, always saved” question, with the addition of having the free will to become “unsaved”. If the answer is that one cannot ever become “unsaved”, then what happens if a person who is genuinely saved during the tribulation accepts the sign of the antichrist?

    Please know I am not trying to be cheeky with these questions, I just really want to understand. Also, I am trying to avoid a reply stating “well that person was never really saved” or ” a genuinely saved person would never do that”.

    Blessings,

    TR

    1. Welcome TR. That’s an important question. I believe when God gives regeneration through faith it changes that faith, and the will linked to it, into an everlasting faith. So though the will remains free for many future choices, it is now limited by its new nature.

    2. Hello TR and welcome.

      There are essentially 2 versions of creaturely freedom within Christian theologies.

      The foundational core of Calvinism is EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM – as enunciated within Calvinism’s doctrine of decrees.
      EVERYTHING without exception – is determined – at the foundation of the world – solely and exclusively by Calvin’s god.

      So we have a THEOS who determines 100% of WHATSOEVER comes to pass – leaving ZERO% left over for anyone else to determine.

      This is going to affect the Calvinist’s version of FREEDOM granted to the creature.

      1) You are FREE to be/do ONLY that what was decreed for you to infallibly be and infallibly do.
      2) You are NOT FREE to be/do OTHERWISE than that which was decreed for you to infallibly be and infallibly do.

      Therefore – with Adam in the garden:
      1) Adam was FREE to eat the fruit – because Adam eating the fruit was decreed to be what Adam would infallibly do
      2) Adam was NOT FREE to NOT eat the fruit – because NOT eating the fruit was NOT what was decreed Adam infallibly do.

      In the NON-Calvinist view of Creaturely Freedom
      1) The creature is granted multiple options – which are OPEN and thus available for the creature to select
      2) The creature is granted the function of CHOICE – such that he can selection one option vs another.
      3) That selection is UP TO (i.e. determined by) the creature.

  10. I agree with the free-will doctrine, but how do you address Ephesians 1 and the idea of predestination?

    1. Welcome Rob. Here are some thoughts about Eph 1 predestination.

      Eph 1, 4&5 Individual Election was not before creation!

      Determinists have always tried to read too much into these verses that Paul wrote in a context about blessings we now have, now that we are in Christ. Some of those blessings were given to Him (the only Elect one) before creation, to be shared with all who would later be joined to Him and become one of the elect in Him. The ones in verses 4 and 5 are such blessings… Verse four is not about being chosen in Christ, but chosen in Christ “to be” holy and blameless.

      The pronoun “us” is being used in both verses, 4&5, in a general reference, anachronistic sense, like me saying – “The Native Americans were chased by us before the Revolution so that they would live west of the Appalachian Mtn range.”

      Another similar example would be the Levites in David’s day who were chosen to carry the ark. David said, as recorded in 1Chr 15:2 – “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”

      Any Levite that day could have said to another Levite – “God chose us in Aaron, before Israel entered the promised land, that we should carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.” Of course, he would not have had the ridiculous thought that God had his name written down in a book during Aaron’s time, along with the names of all future Levites. He would not think that he individually or physically would be ministering before the Lord forever in this special task as a priest. He would just be using the “us” as a pronoun of reference with a corporate connection because of the promise made to Aaron, and because of his being added into Aaron’s lineage by physical birth.

      We say, with Paul, we have the same privileges/blessings granted to the Son of God before creation that would go to any in His lineage. This is just like a written will grants privileges to children not yet conceived or even thought about, the privileges granted to Jesus before creation were made available then to all who would be born again through personal faith. Those inheritance privileges are now ours individually, since we are now individually joined to Him by spiritual birth through our personal faith. We now have the blessing to stand holy and blameless before God as one of God’s chosen in the Chosen One – Christ, and we are now predestined for the inheritance that all sons receive.

      ********
      Questions to ask a determinist:
      When God supposedly “chose” you before creation, were you unchosen at some point and then chosen, according to the normal meaning of that word? What did God see when He supposedly chose you… just your name, your life up to some point where He decided He wanted to get involved noticeably to you, or your whole life forever and all His involvement in it already? In other words, what does “you” mean when He chose “you” back then before you even existed? Trying to answer these questions will hopefully help a determinist see they are being dogmatic about a premise – determinism – that Paul wasn’t even trying to teach about in this passage, and which is illogical when using the words “chose… before the foundation of the world”, if no actual choice of any individuals, who didn’t even exist back then, was made.

      Here’s a good 10min video discussion in support of this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FxHfnqLBmg

      Ephesians 1:11 NKJV — In Him also we have obtained [when we were placed in Him through faith] an inheritance, being predestined [for that inheritance at that same moment we were placed in Him through faith] according to the purpose [with its conditional and unconditional parts] of Him who works [right now in the present] all things [that is, works with all things, not causing all things personally, because He doesn’t cause sin] according to the counsel [His plan with its conditional and unconditional parts] of His will [His desire… which includes wanting all to be saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth but not irresistibly caused].

      Think of it as being “in” the will. The inheritance is yours once you’re “in” the will. Even before you receive it personally, you are predestined for it once you are made a legitimate heir.

      A will/purpose can be written before any specific children are even born or adopted into the family, prescribing that all children born or adopted will be predestined for the inheritance in their future “after” they are born or adopted into the family but before the benefits are distributed. Once born or adopted, then they are “in” the will. That’s what corporate election means and being predestined to receive the inheritance.

      So the child can say once they are “in” the family – “I have obtained an inheritance that was predestined for me (generally speaking but now individually applied) in a will/purpose decided long ago for all those added to this family after they are added.

      The words “counsel of His will” mean God is not locked in and limited to a predestined plan with no conditions or possibilities, but that He can now still freely choose between possibilities, and permit man to choose between possibilities, as He “works” it all to demonstrate His love, truth, and righteousness.

      1. That makes sense…to a certain point. But then Paul says in verse 5 “He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself…”

        To me, that says we were predestined to be saved.

      2. br.d
        The reason you think that way – is because of man’s tradition.
        There is a portion of theological tradition which – unfortunately – presupposes a position which scripture does not support.

        First you need to carefully read all of the statements by the authors of scripture concerning election and predestination (applicable to the believer).

        Within the Biblical use of these terms – they can apply to an individual or a group elected for a “Service”

        You will never find a N.T. author within scripture who will state that election or predestination is applicable to a non-believer or to a person who is not-yet a believer.

        Correct handling of scripture dictates that man does not ADD to scripture – what scripture does not state.
        If scripture does not state that election and predestination are applicable to non-believers or to individuals not yet saved – then it does not state that for a reason.

        Some people might want to argue that the Holy Spirit simply left that information out of scripture – perhaps by human imperfection. And they want to fill in the blanks – where scripture is silent.

        But that is an abuse of scripture.

        Man’s tradition – does not care whether he abuses the text or not.
        He simply wants the text to conform to his tradition.

      3. “The reason you think that way – is because of man’s tradition.”

        No. I think that way because that’s what it says. I grew up under the free-will belief and never really was exposed to Calvinism until I started listening to other preachers over the past few years.

      4. Rob
        I grew up under the free-will belief and never really was exposed to Calvinism until I started listening to other preachers over the past few years.

        br.d
        We need to understand the pervasiveness of Calvinist influence within Christian materials.
        Calvinist thinking has been a force within Christian materials – dating back centuries.

        There are many general dictionaries for example – which will define predestination Calvinistically.

        You are exposed to Calvinist thinking just by coming into contact with any number of Bibles having foot-notes and/or commentaries.

        It is humanly impossible for anyone in the world today – to NOT be influenced by Calvinist thinking.
        You were exposed to it as soon as you became a Christian.
        You just didn’t realize how pervasive it is.

      5. Rob
        I think that way because that’s what it says.

        br.d
        Go back and look again.

        1) Do you find any N.T. author – who has a conception of election or predestination applicable to unbelievers?

        2) Do you find any N.T. author – who has a conception of election or predestination applicable to individuals who are not yet saved?

        The reason you won’t find that conception expressed by the N.T. authors – is because the N.T. authors did not have that conception concerning election or predestination.

        That conception came into Christianity through Augustine.
        And Augustine is known in academia as the greatest influence of Neo-Platonism within Christian doctrine.
        Neo-Platonism entails a belief in DETERMINISM.

        It makes perfect sense then – if we canonize DETERMINISM – and make it equal to scripture – when we read verses concerning election and predestination – our minds are going to automatically interpret the text accordingly.

      6. “It is humanly impossible for anyone in the world today – to NOT be influenced by Calvinist thinking.”

        Except that I was not influenced by Calvinist thinking. As I said, I’ve always believed in the free-will doctrine, as per the Scriptures. All the churches I attended taught the same doctrine.

      7. br.d
        For a Christian to assert they were not influenced by Calvinist thinking – is to assert they were not influenced by the thinking of Plato or the thinking of Aristotle.

        Its a logical impossibility!

        Every church is influenced by Calvinist thinking in ways they have no awareness of.

        Why do you think John MacArthur publishes Christian materials – without divulging the authors of those materials?
        Why do you think Calvinists have forever published Christian materials – without divulging they are Calvinist materials?

        The reason is simple.
        They understand – a percentage of Christians are not going to want those materials – as soon as they find out those materials are Calvinist materials.

        But the Calvinist wants to influence *ALL* Christians.
        So he justifies dishonesty – by telling himself he is spreading divine truth
        If Christians are going to reject Calvinist materials and Calvinist thinking – then the Calvinist simply distributes his materials in a subversive manner.

        That process has been a “DE-FACTO” mode of operation for Calvinists – centuries before you became a Christian.
        No church is exempt from Calvinism’s subversive influence.

      8. We’re not talking about the whole of Calvinism. We are talking about the particular point of Calvinism – election. Calvinism teaches that Jesus is the only way to God. Since that is something that all true Christians believe, then you are partly correct. But it’s not that Calvinism influences all churches, but that some churches believe some points that calvinism teaches. If Calvinism in its entirety influenced all churches, we would not be having this debate about election vs. free will. When it comes to election, no, Calvinism doesn’t influence all churches. I know churches that don’t believe in unconditional election, but believe in eternal security.

      9. Rob,
        You’re not addressing the point of this topic.

        I asked you if you would be willing to go back and look at what the authors of scripture say about election and predestination.

        1) You are not going to find within the N.T. authors – a conception of election or predestination – applicable to unbelievers – or applicable to individuals not yet saved.

        2) That conception of election and predestination came into the church through Augustine.

        3) Augustine is noted within academia to be *THE* major influence of mixing NEO-PLATONISM into Christian doctrine.

        4) NEO-PLATONISM is founded on the philosophy of DETERMINISM

        5) Protestantism evolved out of Catholicism

        6) Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli – and then eventually John Calvin – were all *HEAVILY* influenced by Augustine.

        7) Calvinism was heavily influential during John Calvin’s life-time – because it represented a departure from Catholicism

        8) After John Calvin’s death – it did not take Calvinists long to realize Calvinism was being rejected by the Bible reading population – because Calvinism is predicated on the NEO-PLATONIC DETERMINISM – and also because Calvinism is a DUALISTIC system of “Good-Evil” – and puts an emphasis on divine malevolence.

        9) Calvinists realized – in order to keep Calvinism from going the way of the dinosaur – they would have to resort to subtle strategies of marketing the product.

        10) For 400 years – Calvinists have been working to influence Christianity – by producing materials designed to influence

        CONCLUSION:
        Scripture says: In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird
        A Christian who refuses to open his eyes in order to see the net spread by Calvinism is going to get captured by it.

        Anyone who reads verses on election and predestination and comes away with a conception of them being applicable to non-believers or individuals not yet saved – is not getting that conception from the authors of scripture

        They are getting that conception from 400 years of Calvinism’s influence on the church.

        Please go back and re-read the verses on election and predestination – so that you can see for yourself.

      10. Actually, how I came across Calvinism is by reading Ephesians 1:5. Upon reading it as it was written, in context, I began to do a search on what it meant. It was at that point, a few years ago, that I came across the Calvinist view on the matter. Until then, my only belief was that of free-will. And it still is. What I got from the Scripture had nothing to do with Calvinist teachings in the church. Like I said, i grew up in churches that taught the Areminian doctrine of salvation.
        It had nothing to do with Plato. It had nothing to do with Augustine. It had 100% to do with me reading the Scripture and wondering how that compliments free-will. But I see no way. The word “predestined” as used in verse 5 means “To determine ahead of time.” So verse 5 would read “He determined ahead of time for us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself.” And of course, we know that “adoption as sons and daughters” means salvation.

        You can go on and on about Plato, Calvin, and Augustine, but all you’re doing is avoiding how a verse says that we were chosen ahead of time to be saved could mean anything else. But, on the flip side, I struggle how to reconcile that with the scripture that says that God wants all to be saved. And if God ordains and directs everything we do, then that conflicts with the scripture that says that God does not tempt us to sin. But if God directs everything we do, then He is the one who makes us sin.

        All in all, I still believe we have free will. But reconciling it with Ephesians 1:5 is difficult. But if I were to believe Calvinism, I would have a hard time reconciling my beliefs with other Scriptures that contradict it.

      11. Rob
        What I got from the Scripture had nothing to do with Calvinist teachings in the church.

        br.d
        A person reads verses having to do with election and/or predestination
        The conception that person has of election and predestination is that they are applicable to un-believers and to individuals not-yet saved.

        Where did that conception from?

      12. “A person reads verses having to do with election and/or predestination
        The conception that person has of election and predestination is that they are applicable to un-believers and to individuals not-yet saved.

        Where did that conception from?”

        I’m not sure what you mean? All I read in Ephesians 1:5 is that people are predestined to be saved. Where did that conception come from? The Scriptures. I was never taught what that said or meant by anyone.

      13. Rob,
        Where did that conception come from? The Scriptures.

        br.d
        Please show me!

        Provide a verse which states that election or predestination is applicable to unbelievers and/or individuals who are not yet saved.

      14. Rob,

        You had said:
        “Ephesians 1:5 states that God chose who will be saved.”

        You say that you believe in FREE WILL? Your interpretation of Ephesians 1:5 opposes Free Will. What say you about that?

        Ed Chapman

      15. Rob
        What I am saying is that Ephesians 1:5 states that God chose who will be saved.

        br.d
        Here is the exact statement by Paul

        Having predestinated us unto the *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

        So it is your conception of this verse – that *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* is Paul’s conception is salvation?

      16. “So it is your conception of this verse – that *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* is Paul’s conception is salvation?” Well, that’s because it does. Just as everywhere else he speaks of it.

      17. br.d
        So it is your conception of this verse – that *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* is Paul’s conception is salvation?”

        rob
        Well, that’s because it does. Just as everywhere else he speaks of it.

        br.d
        Let’s deal with this statement from Paul.

        Where did you get the conception – when Paul says *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* he is talking about salvation?

        Paul gives writes his conception of *ADOPTION* in Romans 8:23

        And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for *THE ADOPTION – TO WITH – THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY*

        So Paul’s conception of predestination which he writes to the Ephesians – is predestination to *ADOPTION* which is the redemption of the body.

        CONCLUSION:
        1) In Ephesians 1:5 Paul is NOT writing about salvation
        2) In Ephesians 1:5 Paul is not saying unbelievers or individuals who are not yet saved are predestined.

        So the concept of predestination to salvation is NOT in Ephesians 1:5

        Since those conceptions do not come from Ephesians 1:5 – where do they come from?

      18. br.d
        I show you how your mind automatically drew a conception of something which is no where stated in a verse of scripture – and then ask you where that conception came from.

        I suspect you don’t have an answer to that question – because you know that conception came from Calvinism.

        What this reveals:
        1) Calvinism *ADDS* conceptions *INTO* scripture which are not there.
        2) For 400 years Calvinism has worked overtime to *INFLUENCE* the minds of Bible readers – to get them to AUTOMATICALLY read conceptions *INTO* scripture which are not there.

        This is one example of how pervasive Calvinism’s influence on the church is.

      19. “I show you how your mind automatically drew a conception of something which is no where stated in a verse of scripture – and then ask you where that conception came from.

        I suspect you don’t have an answer to that question – because you know that conception came from Calvinism.”

        Unfortunately for you, you’re still wrong. I drew a conception of something that was stated in a verse. You, however, added to the scripture to make it work for your liking…something that someone told me was something that Calvinists did.

      20. Rob
        I drew a conception of something that was stated in a verse.

        br.d
        You’ll have to show
        1) Paul’s conception of *ADOPTION* equals salvation
        You are not going to find that in scripture

        2) Paul’s is speaking about people who are unbelievers and are not yet saved
        You are not going to find that in scripture

        But you will find both of those conceptions within Calvinism!
        BINGO!

      21. “You’ll have to show
        1) Paul’s conception of *ADOPTION* equals salvation”

        Already did…and duly ignored by you.

      22. br.d
        You have to show Paul’s conception of *ADOPTION* equals salvation”

        Rob
        Already did…and duly ignored by you.

        br.d
        Cmon Rob!
        You have to show *WITH SCRIPTURE*

        This thread is all about how Calvinism *ADDS* concepts to verses within scripture which are not there.
        If you can’t show *WITH SCRIPTURE* then what you are showing is what we find with Calvinism

        So far – you’ve proved my point concerning the *SUBTLE* influence of Calvinism within the church! :-]

      23. “Cmon Rob!
        You have to show *WITH SCRIPTURE*”

        I have…in as much as you have. C’mon br.d.

        “So far – you’ve proved my point concerning the *SUBTLE* influence of Calvinism within the church!” And so far you continue to be wrong.

        I’m guessing you’re a troll of some kind. You have offered nothing but to run in circles. I think I’ll wait until someone who understands the Scriptures can explain it.

      24. “Paul’s is speaking about people who are unbelievers and are not yet saved
        You are not going to find that in scripture”

        Your semantics won’t help you any. Ephesians (as well as the rest of the Epistles) were written to Christians. Paul often talks to Christians about pre-salvation topics. In this case, he was talking to Christians about how they had been predestined to be saved.

      25. Rob
        Paul often talks to Christians about pre-salvation topics. In this case

        br.d
        That’s Calvinism talking

        Show me *WITH SCRIPTURE* where Paul’s concept of adoption is to salvation – rather than the redemption of the body .

        Also – take note – Paul’s conception of adoption follows the pattern of adoption that existed within Paul’s culture
        A young man lived within a Roman house-hold
        And the adoption takes place when he comes of age
        The son is called an “Heir”

        Romans 8:23
        -quote
        “Even we within ourselves – groan ****WAITING**** for the adoption.

        Romans 8:17
        *ONLY* the believer has the “Spirit of Adoption where by he cries Aba Father”
        *ONLY* the believer is a “Joint *HEIR* with Christ”

        And here is a key verse
        Galatians 4
        *BECAUSE YOU ARE SONS* you have the Spirit whereby you cry Aba Father

        CONCLUSION
        The predestination Paul is writing about is the future adoption of the body for believers.

        That is what Paul writes without *ADDING* anything to it.

      26. Rob,

        br.d is not a troll. He’s the MODERATOR of this blog.

        In addition, you are isolating Ephesians 1:5 instead of reading the complete chapter beginning with verse 1.

        In Ephesians 1:4, most CALVINISTS read, “God chose us”, PERIOD. And so, you say that you have no influence with Calvin?

        Your conclusion of verse 5 states otherwise.

        Verse 4
        4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

        When you read verse 4 properly, the words to the RIGHT of the word “world,” is what was chosen.

        The word US is the Christians he was speaking to, not to be confused that God chose them for salvation. No one is CHOSEN for salvation. Not even in verse 5.

        Ed Chapman

      27. “that *ADOPTION OF CHILDREN* is Paul’s conception is salvation?”

        No. “adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself,” is Paul’s conception of salvation

      28. Rob
        adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself,” is Paul’s conception of salvation

        br.d
        Please provide the verse where Paul states that as his conception

      29. “Please provide the verse where Paul states that as his conception”

        Already answered and duly ignored by you.

      30. “because you know that conception came from Calvinism.”

        You’ll have to explain how it came from Calvinism when I’ve never come across any teachings even remotely close to Calvinism in my life until recently? You mentioned that every church is influenced by Calvinism, which we both know is a lie. And now you claim that I am influenced by Calvinism, even though I had never heard its teachings until recently?

      31. Rob
        You’ll have to explain how it came from Calvinism when I’ve never come across any teachings even *REMOTELY CLOSE* to Calvinism in my life until recently?

        br.d
        The conception that election and predestination apply to unbelievers and to individuals not-yet saved- is not *REMOTELY CLOSE* to Calvinism???

        I think we can both see through that! :-]

      32. “I think we can both see through that! ”

        Yes, you can’t. Because I didn’t say it had nothing to do with Calvinism, troll. I did, however, say that I’ve never come across any teaching on Calvinism, and that my only source for my belief on the subject was the verse itself. Your conclusion that just because I read something a certain way that it is influenced by a certain sect is as flawed as your other arguments. One can read something on their own and draw the same conclusion as someone else. I’ve let you troll me long enough

      33. Rob
        One can read something on their own and draw the same conclusion as someone else. I’ve let you troll me long enough

        br.d
        Have it your way! :-]
        Calvinist conceptions have had NO INFLUENCE on the conceptions in your mind when you read scripture – even though the conceptions you have – are NOT in the verse – and they have been pushed on the church by Calvinism for 400 years! :-]

        Good enough!

      34. br.d,

        I had began to respond to an earlier comment you made regarding Calvinism influence in church’s, but I got interrupted by an inconvenience called, “Time to get back to work”.

        I’m surprised that Rob can’t see that influence, while at the same time, can’t see that what he is saying is indeed that influence.

        If he is stating that Ephesians 1:5 states that God chose who is going to be saved, BOOM! That’s Calvinism. But yet, he believes in free will? That is contradictory.

        Ed Chapman

      35. br.d
        Exactly!

        I don’t want to alienate Rob
        I think he is sincere.

        Perhaps your dialog with him will be more fruitful than mine! :-]

      36. “I’m surprised that Rob can’t see that influence,” Not as surprised as I am that you can’t figure out that one does not need to be influenced by anything, anyone, or any teaching in order to come to a conclusion.

        “If he is stating that Ephesians 1:5 states that God chose who is going to be saved, BOOM! That’s Calvinism.” I never said it wasn’t.

        “But yet, he believes in free will? That is contradictory.” Yes it is. And that’s the struggle I’m facing, as I clearly pointed out a number of times, but yet people choose to ignore.

        1. My interpretation of Ephesians 1:5 was not influenced by anything other than me reading what it said.

        2. Because I believe in free will, doesn’t mean I’m going to paint everything I read from that perspective. What that is, is creating a conclusion from a presupposition. I don’t want the Word of God to fit into my beliefs. I want my beliefs to submit to Gods Word. I want to know the truth. And being told “you’re just reading into it what those who teach Calvinism want you to hear,” when in fact they’re not, doesn’t help me understand at all. If that’s the case, then does that mean that you believe in free-will because that’s what those who believe the same have shoved down your throat, and you’re just regurgitating their own doctrine? You never had an original thought on the matter?

        I believe in free-will not because anyone told me to. To be honest, in all my decades of being a Christian, I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon on free will. I believe in it because of the Scriptures that I read led me to that conclusion. Then I come across Ephesians 1:5. Granted, I have come across that Scripture many times before, but have always just glossed over it, like social Christians often do, as I peruse my way on to things that I do understand. But over the past couple years, God has brought me through a really tough time spiritually. And once I got through it, I made a covenant with God that there is nothing….absolutely NOTHING…as important as being like Jesus. So now I’m on a journey from playing Christianity to LIVING it. And along with that, I’ve been constantly praying that the Holy Spirit would lead me into all truth, even if it means having my presuppositions challenged, or even destroyed. So now when I study the Word of God, I hunger to know the truth. So then this scripture pops up again, and along the way coming across to the likes of Paul Washer, MacArthur, and Baucham (all Calvinists) because aside from Calvinism, they have really good messages on holiness. Over the past year or so, they have been the ones who really opened my eyes to Calvinism. Before you all get on your “See? Calvinism did influence your beliefs!” ignorance, I had already had my views of Ephesians 1:5 before I discovered them. So, no, they did not influence anything.

        Having said that, I am just trying to, as a free-will doctrine believer, figure out how certain Scriptures that seemingly contradict it fit into that belief, or if they do at all and I’m misled. In order to understand, I need to hear all sides of the argument. That includes learning why Calvinists believe what thy believe and how they interpret scriptures that both support it and oppose it. And it includes learning why free-will believers believe what they believe and how they interpret Scriptures that support it and oppose it. So when I asked how I can harmonize Ephesians 1:5 with free will, all I get is nothing more than being repeatedly told “You were influenced by Calvinism” and “Show me Scripture!!” and “that’s not what it means!” and going around in a circle without ever getting my questioned answered. At least Calvinists are willing to explain why they believe the way they do, rather than just spouting off about how the other group is wrong.

        How about you all show me Scripture to prove that Ephesians 1:5 is not about predestined salvation? How about you explaining what it actually means? But I am not getting it. I want to understand, but I am not finding that here. So should probably find a site where I can actually learn something. And yes, learning means I may bring up points that Calvinists do so that I can be sure that all the points are addressed. Because I want to know the truth.

      37. Rob,

        OK, I get it.

        A little history on myself. I had NEVER heard of Calvinism before about 13 years ago. I’m 58 now. I began as an ignorant Christian several years before that. We’ve all heard about, or have been visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses. But we were also told that they were a cult. But why? Because they don’t believe in the Trinity, or, simply put, that Jesus is God.

        They point out that scripture does not IMPLICITLY state that Jesus is God, and they have re-worded any hint of scripture that would prove that Jesus is indeed God. It takes time, but yes, you can prove that Jesus is God.

        My next step, was their sister cult, the 7th Day Adventists. Now, most people don’t realize this, but both JW’s and 7th Day Adventists originated with the Millerites of the Baptist faith. That’s why I call them sister cults.

        But I wanted to know why they insisted on going to church on Saturday. And it all centers around Matthew 5:17-18, but they only quote part of it, saying, “Think not that I have come to destroy [THE TEN COMMANDMENTS]…but that is not what it states at all.

        It states “the law or the prophets”, and when you put both of those together, you get the Jewish “Tanach”, or all of the Hebrew Scriptures (TNK) from Genesis to Malachia. For some reason, many Christians think that when “THE LAW” is mentioned, that it means all of the do’s and don’ts. It doesn’t. You have to see the context to figure out that it means TORAH, which Jews say means “INSTRUCTION”. The do’s and don’ts begin in Exodus 20.

        But prophesy begins in Genesis. So, when TNK is put together, Matthew 5:17-18 is discussing prophesy, not the do’s and don’ts.

        But the 7th Day adventists add another twist, by citing Romans 6:1-the first half of verse 2, neglecting to read the rest. If you are under grace, it is impossible to sin because the law does not exist for you. You can’t break a law that doesn’t exist. And I can back that up with 1 John 3:9, as well as the rest of Romans 6.

        Do we still sin after being saved? Of course, but, just like Romans 5:13, sin is not imputed where there is no law.

        My whole point in all of this is RESEARCH is necessary to dissect certain verses. There is absolutely no IMPLICITE verses to prove free will. You must seek it.

        I believe as you do about free will. But in order to PROVE IT, you must DISSECT all of the “predestination”, CHOSE, election verses to where all makes sense for free will.

        YOU came up with the conclusion that Ephesians 1:5 states that God chooses those who will be saved. But that’s NOT what it states, when dissected properly.

        The other day, I made an example with someone here, in that I live near Seattle, and I work at the Seattle Seahawks games sometimes.

        Now, imagine that NO ONE is even on the team yet, but someone in heirarchy has made plans for a team that no one is on to play the New York Giants on Sunday.

        The conclusion: The Seahawks are PREDESTINED TO play a game, but there is no one on the team yet.

        Now, liken that to Ephesians 1:4, in that no one is CHOSEN, but your BEHAVIOR is what was chosen. That does not mean that you will behave in the manner that was chosen, because you can grieve the Holy Spirit.

        When you read Ephesians 1:4, the words to the RIGHT of world, which is “THAT WE” is what was chosen, and the word US is the people being spoken to, with the subject being HOLY AND BLAMELESS.

        In short, it’s about SENTENCE STRUCTURE, or, how words are put together to make a statement. Just saying that GOD CHOSE US PERIOD is an incorrect sentence structure. What happened to the rest of the sentence?

        So, Ephesians 1:5:

        5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

        Change the word, “US” to the word “Christians”, and it should make more sense, and then you will see that it has nothing to do with the topic of free will, or no free will at all. It has to do with WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE ALREADY SAVED, and NOT about God predestinating individuals for salvation.

        Ed Chapman

      38. Rob,

        Oh, and one more thing…about the word ELECTION…

        My research, which differs from the research of the blog OWNER and others on this blog, is that the elect are JEWS ONLY.

        Saved Gentiles are NOT “the elect”. What am I getting at? The word saved, or will be saved, is NOT synonomous with the word ELECT.

        Isaiah 45:4
        For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

        We are NOT Israel, no matter how badly people want to assert that we are. Elect is also NOT associated with “MY PEOPLE”, either.

        In other words, whatever you have been taught that the word ELECT is, or means, go back to the drawing board and research and try again.

        Ed Chapman

      39. Rob,

        That’s exactly what I’m saying. But only in the sense of Jesus. They have the scriptures, but don’t understand the spiritual aspects of it.

        Moses, he had eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind to understand.

        But as to the children of Israel…Deuteronomy 29:4, which is again repeated in Romans 11:8, when Paul is talking about the difference between Jews and gentiles.

        Romans 15:21 is about the gentiles, and is in stark contrast to the Jews.

        Many Christians get the wrong idea about the Jews.

        The Jews can’t see Jesus as their messiah until Jesus wants them to see Jesus as their messiah. And that time is not yet.

        Think about this… what would have happened if the Jews did not crucify Jesus?

        No one would be saved.

        The Jews did us a favor by crucifying Jesus.

        We should be thanking them. But instead, the Jews get a bad rap.

        God still has things to do with the Jews, until that slumber is finally taken away from them.

        It’s not their fault that they are blind.

        But we gentiles are not blind, according to Romans 15:21.

        Ed Chapman

      40. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Oh..so as br.d said…that is the influence of Calvinism. He said it was subtle, and now I know what he means.

        I know all the “we” and “you” doctrine that people use to justify this stance, but it has zero credibility and is easily debunked. There has to be another way.

      41. Easily debunked, huh? I’d love to see that. Care to give me your debunking, since I gave you references that you never even bothered to check out, read, or study?

      42. br.d
        I’m not sure Rob is disagreeing with you.
        They way I understood his statement – I think he was agreeing with you.

      43. The Scriptures and your explanation make sense. Thank you. But it brings even more questions to my mind. If predestination pertains to the Jews, can’t it also pertain to gentiles? Isn’t predestination in regards to the Jews, part of Calvinism? And what about God being no respecter of people? To me, this seems like a contradiction. Now, I know it is a little different from Calvinism. Calvinism says that God ordains and controls everyone and no one makes a decision to accept Christ unless He directs them to…like little robots. With your explanation, God doesn’t do that, but He does blind the eyes of the Jews that He doesn’t want to know the truth and opens the eyes of those who He wants to know the truth. The first is direct influence and the second is more of an indirect influence but both with the same goal in mind – to choose who is saved and who isn’t. But so far, this is the best explanation I’ve come across. I think I can run with this one. Much better than being told over and over again that “That’s Calvinism talking!” and “You’re influenced by Calvinism!”

        I am truly seeking, and even though I’ve been a Christian my whole life, I’ve only recently decided to dig into this doctrine to find the truth. For most of my life I’ve glossed over this topic and swept it under the rug hoping that I could get by. But I’ve been very adamant and passionate in my plea to God lately to know the truth in His Word. Sometimes that means facing things in the Bible that I try to hide from, or facing truths I may not like.

      44. Rob,

        Please re-read my comments again. I never said “PREDESTINATION” pertains to the Jews. I said “ELECT” pertains to the Jews.

        I gave my explanation of PREDESTINTION regarding Ephesians 1:5, regarding “Team Christians”, in that CHRISTIANS were predestined for something, and not PEOPLE predestined to be Christians.

        Also, the NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS pertains to not favoring one person over another.

        This isn’t about favoring.

        The Jews are under a HARSH treatment by God, under the law of Moses. Gentiles never were under the law. Now, is that being a respecter of persons? No, it isn’t, so there is no contradictions.

        God USES the Jews, and sometimes a Gentile, such as the Pharaoh, to tell a story about HIMSELF and Satan, where Moses is playing Jesus…aka the REDEEMER…

        God isn’t done telling the story about himself yet, because he USES the Jews to do that. The law of Moses is an EVERLASTING Covenant, meaning, there will never be a time that the Law of Moses does not pertain to the Jews, unless God unblinds the Jews to see Jesus.

        He will unblind them, at some point at the end of time. And they will be given MERCY for what God put them thru. That’s what Romans 11 talks about. Many can’t see that.

        And they think that I’m silly by equating Joseph to Jesus, in that the brothers of Joseph had NO CLUE that the guy who gave them sustanance was their own BROTHER. Joseph hid his identity from his BRETHREN, just like Jesus is hiding his identity from the Jews. And in the end, he revealed himself, and forgave every one of his brothers.

        His brothers threw Joseph into a PIT, and Joseph became the 2nd higest in command of Egypt. AKA, THE SON OF GOD IS JESUS who was crucified and sits on his fathers throne in heaven.

        If you can see the connection of this prophesy, then you will see clearly that what Calvinism teaches is what was meant for the Jews only, meaning, BLIND, and in need of regeneration.

        They only, are the elect, because they have a job to do…for us Gentiles to come to God, and that is their existance. Right now, they are cursed…but in the future, they will be HUGELY blessed for what God put them through.

        Many Christians already know this…but many also don’t, and refuse to see it. They can’t stand the Jews for killing Jesus…aka Catholics especially. And some major protestant organizational church’s, too!

        Ed Chapman

      45. Well…now you just shot everything down. lol. The elect are those who are predestined (pre-chosen, chosen beforehand). And yes, Ephesians 1:5 is talking about salvation. That’s what adoptions as His children mean. That’s one of the pillar teachings of salvation and the Gospel. We were once alienated from God, and through salvation, we are adopted as His children.

        “Also, the NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS pertains to not favoring one person over another.

        This isn’t about favoring.”

        Yeah…..it is. “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” Acts 10:34-35. Peter said this after he was discriminating against gentiles, and then God gave him the vision.

        “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of mankind who does evil, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:9-11. Again, Paul is saying that God does not show partiality.

        “Gentiles never were under the law.” If they converted to Judaism, they were.

      46. Rob,

        You had said:
        “The elect are those who are predestined (pre-chosen, chosen beforehand).”

        My response:

        No, I stand by what I said, and that is that the Jews only are the elect, and they are NOT PREDESTINED or PRECHOSEN for salvation.

        I gave you all of the references already.

        First one:

        Isaiah 45:4
        For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

        Now, if you think that YOU are elect, then you must think that YOU are Israel. I don’t think that way. We are NOT Israel.

        And NO, Ephesians 1:5 is NOT about salvation.

        I already explained all of this. Ephesians 1:5 is WHAT will take place to the already saved. Not about HOW TO BE SAVED, or WHO will be saved.

        Ughhhh….

        You are right back at square one before our conversation began.

        Ed Chapman

      47. “No, I stand by what I said, and that is that the Jews only are the elect”

        But Matthew 24:24 isn’t talking about Jews. Matthew 24:31 isn’t talking about Jews. Luke 18:7 is not talking about Jews. Romans 8:33 isn’t talking about Jews. Colossians 3:12 isn’t talking about Jews.

        “I already explained all of this. Ephesians 1:5 is WHAT will take place to the already saved.” Yes, we are adopted as children. All who are save are His children. You cannot separate salvation from being adopted as His children. They are one and the same. If you are saved, then you are His child. If you are His child, you are saved. Paul uses many analogical statements in reference to being saved: “In Christ,” “Of God,” “in the faith,” “Christ Jesus in you,” “fellowship with Him,” etc.

        I think I’ll go back to my original understanding of what you said. Ephesians 1:5 is talking about Jews. There were Jews who were predestined to be saved. The doctrine of election/predestination refers to them alone. When Paul speaks in this passage, he uses “we” and “us” in reference to “we Jews” and “us Jews.” Because he makes that distinction further on in verse 12, when he says “…to the end that we [elected Jews] who were the first to hope in the Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Because immediately after that, in the next verse he changes from “we” and “us” to “you” when he says ” In Him, you [gentiles] also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise…”

      48. Rob,

        All of your references that you state that are not discussing Jews…I beg to differ.

        Matthew 24, for example, is all about the Jews. The book of Revelation… written by an apostle to the Jews, is for th free Jews, not gentiles… altho gentiles will be left behind… but it’s not about the gentiles. It’s for the Jews.

        I could go on, but right now I’m working, not expected to be home till late. I’ll get back when I can of you respond.

        Again, I stand by my statement that the elect are Jews only, not gentiles. A saved gentile is not the elect.

      49. “ The book of Revelation… written by an apostle to the Jews, is for th free Jews, not gentiles…”

        Nope

        On that note, I’m going to move on to find a website that is more scripturally correct for answers.

      50. br.d
        Rob – before you move on – would you consider chatting with Brian here?
        Brian is a teacher of the Greek N.T. at a Seminary
        I can ask him to chat with you here – about Ephesians 1:5 if you like?

        br.d

      51. Rob,

        OK, so I’m home now, and I am going try to go through each of your references that you indicate that the word ELECT is NOT discussing the Jews.

        First, let’s look at Matthew 24, both 24 and 31.

        But let’s back up for a moment to verse 15

        15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

        Ask a couple of questions from that one verse, such as:
        1. That is THE HOLY PLACE?
        2. What is THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION?
        3. Where in Daniel can you find this?
        4. WHERE IS THE HOLY PLACE?

        Who is LOOKING for a Christ? The Jews are.

        2 Thessalonians 2:4
        Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

        That is what verse 15 of Matthew 24 is discussing.

        2 Thessalonians 2:11
        And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

        And the JEWS will FOLLOW that Abomination of Desolation.

        No other religion on the planet is LOOKING for a Messiah, except for the Jews. But, this ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION will be REVEALED before WE are raptured WITH the Saved Elect. But Matthew 24 isn’t about Gentiles, it’s about the Jews only.

        2 Thessalonians 2:3
        Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

        And that ain’t happening in Rome, or New York, or Washington DC, or the European Union. It’s all about the Jews.

        Romans 15:8
        8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

        However, Paul is OUR minister, for the UNCIRCUMCISED, aka Gentiles:

        Romans 15:16
        16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

        Rememeber what I said earlier?

        Isaiah 45:4
        For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

        You are not Israel.

        So, that covers Matthew…when I have some more time tonight, I will cover the remaining references that you mentioned.

      52. Rob,

        Did you miss the following of what Peter said?

        Acts 10:28
        And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

        UNLAWFUL.

        So, was Peter REALLY discriminating against the Gentiles…or was he still clinging to the LAW that forbids such practices, whereas God had to give him a vision in order for him to CHANGE HIS MIND?

        You began with verse 34, but I went back a few to verse 28.

        Have you ever read the bible as a novel before? When you do, it becomes quite easy to put the pieces of the puzzle together. You gave a PARTIAL story, but didn’t tell the REST of the story. Paul Harvey…good day!

        Ed Chapman

      53. Rob,

        There really isn’t much difference between calvinism and arminianism.

        They both have doctrines of grace.

        Arminian has preveniant grace, while calvinism has irresistible grace.

        Both are dependent on augustine doctrine of original sin.

        And in both, you really don’t have the free will that you think you do.

        In arminian, God must enable you to believe before you can believe.

        I don’t see free will in that at all.

        Original sin can be debunked. It’s easy.

        Get rid of original sin, both doctrines of grace fall apart. And free will exists for gentiles.

        Otherwise, there is no such thing as free will.

        Christianity existed outside of arminian and Calvin and Catholics.

        Those were not the only options.

        But, those in charge thought those others were heresy, or, unorthodox.

        Augustine is the main source of strange Christian doctrines in churches.

        You say that your church has no Calvin influence… but his influence is augustine, and both arminian and Calvin came from that camp.

      54. Yes, I believe we have free will. We choose to believe or not. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. We choose to give in to that conviction or continue on our way as we already have. And yet I’m still stuck trying to figure out Ephesians 1:5.

      55. Rob,

        Just to clarify, yes, I believe in free will. For gentiles. But not for Jews. Jews are blind, and bound by the law of Moses, yet follow God. All they are missing is Jesus to save them from the law of sin and death. Pretty simple if you ask your average Joe. But they can’t freely come to Jesus.

        Gentiles can.

        But for those who never knew God, or a Jesus, or sin…I believe that ignorance excuses them.

        Acts 17:30, Romans 15:21, Romans 2:14-16.

        Jews so not have free will to come to Jesus, and that’s where calvinism screwed it all up, thinking that everyone is in the same category that Jews are.

        I need to ask you… do you believe in the doctrine of ORIGINAL SIN?

        Those who do not believe in free will also believe in original sin.

        Last, you indicate that you believe in eternal security.

        I have to know what you mean by that, because that world negate our free will, would it not?

        I am on your side, believe it or not, but clarifications are needed, as the rabbit trail can expand, based on two words… Jews vs. Gentiles.

        I see regeneration only pertains to Jews, not Gentiles as well.

        Ed Chapman

      56. I never said I believed in eternal security. If I recall, I said that I know churches that don’t believe in unconditional election, but believe in eternal security. I personally believe that we can choose ourselves (free-will again) to remove ourselves from fellowship and lose our salvation. Like infant baptism, eternal security is forced salvation. Neither of which I agree with.

        As for “original sin,” I believe we are born with a sinful nature, as opposed to being born sinners. In order to be a sinner, you must sin. Infants can’t sin. As Paul says ” I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin came to life, and I died…” If we are born as sinners, when were we alive apart from the law?

      57. Rob,

        Thank you for clarifying on the eternal security issue. No problem.

        Insofaras original sin, you referenced Romans 7! YES! No problem. Except, if I may, Romans 7 elaborates a lot more, in that KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil is necessary to be a sinner.

        I’ll give you an example of:

        Romans 5:13
        13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

        What did Adam get AFTER he ate of the tree of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil?

        Answer: Sin was IMPUTED to Adam.

        Without that knowledge, you are a sinner, but an INNOCENT sinner, meaning, Adam had already sinned before getting knowledge of it.

        Another example…this one, from the law of Moses itself:

        Leviticus 18:6
        None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.

        Leviticus 18:9
        The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy
        mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their
        nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

        Leviticus 18:11
        The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

        Leviticus 20:17
        And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s
        daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a
        wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he
        hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

        Deuteronomy 27:22
        Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the
        daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
        —————————–
        And now, ABRAHAM, who obeyed God’s commandments, statutes, ordinances, and “TORAH”?

        Genesis 26:5
        Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

        Now, because you have read Genesis 26:5 above, you might get the idea that Abraham was “sinless”? How can that be, with the statement, “for all have sinned”?

        Genesis 20:12
        And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
        __________________
        And yet, God never informed Abraham of this grievous sin, but blessed brother and sister with a promised inbred son. According to the codified law, Abraham is cursed, because he did a wicked thing, and should be cut off from the sight of his people, and shall bear his iniquity…yet, he was NOT cursed at all, but BLESSED. God never told him about this sin, but gave brother/sister an inbred child instead.

        For all have sinned. But Abraham did not have that knowledge. The law of Moses did not get in the way of faith.

        But for the Jews, the Jews can’t seek God by faith, because faith is not of the law. The law is about MERIT.

        Deuteronomy 6:25
        And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

        In short, we call that “self righteous”, but the bible calls it WORKS, works of the law, deeds of the law, and WAGE.

        These are hints that Jews are NOT in the same category as Gentiles. They have eggshells to walk on, we don’t.

        KNOWLEDGE VS. NO KNOWLEDGE

      58. Rob,

        In my last, I had said:
        “Jews so not have free will to come to Jesus, and that’s where calvinism screwed it all up, thinking that everyone is in the same category that Jews are.”

        I’d like to also add that the opposite is also a mistake, thinking that Jews have free will just like the rest of us, making it sound as tho they can freely acknowledge Jesus as messiah. They can’t. Not until Jesus gives them eyes to see.

      59. Hi Rob! Sorry for the delay in answering. I just saw this today. I’m not sure why I didn’t get a notification about it.

        Anyway, the “us” in vs 5 is the same as verse 4. It is not a group of named individuals locked in God’s mind eternally and immutably that He knew He had to create and to let all the other individuals He would have to create to perish without them ever being able to seek Him or His mercy, and He would have to torment them forever for rejecting Him, even though they were never able to accept Him. God did not write that story, nor was He locked in and limited to carrying it out!

    2. Rob,

      Simply put, the words to the right of “TO BE”, or whatever is in your version:

      Just remember, 2B, or Not 2B, that is the question!

      Using the KJV (should be):
      “…should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

      That is what was “CHOSEN” of the ALREADY saved. Not that any individual was chosen, but what Christians SHOULD BE was holy and blameless before him in love.

      In addition, the already saved:

      the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will…

      Not that any individual was predestined to be saved, but that the already saved are children of God.

      In short, Once you become a Christian, these things are EXPECTED, or, part of the deal!

      Ed Chapman

    3. Hello Rob and welcome

      Step 1:
      Forget what any theological reference or philosophical argument says about predestination – because all of those insert theological bias and presuppositions which are designed to prejudice your mind while reading the text – in order to ensure your mind will read concepts into text of scripture which the author never wrote. Theologies and philosophical arguments will almost always go beyond what scripture actually says – and take the bold move of reading presuppositions into the text. They are not physically altering the text. They are mentally altering and adding concepts which are not in the text.

      Step 2:
      Go to the scripture and ask 2 questions
      1) Does the scripture indicate a requirement in order to qualify someone to be predestined?
      2) What specifically does scripture state people are predestined for?
      3) Is there any text within scripture which specifically and explicitly states that salvation is predestined?

      1. And that’s where I get stuck. I’ve always been of the Arminian belief system when it comes to free will vs election. Mostly for the fact that predestination/election is the antithesis of love. The Bible says that God is no respecter of person. Predestination is opposed to that because God is respecting one person above another in whom He chooses. Free will is a requirement of love on both God’s part and our part. His love means we have free will. “God demonstrated His love for us that while we were sinner, Christ died for us.” A choice. He chose to send His son. Jesus chose to come and be crucified. And our love to Him is of our own choice/free will. If we are predestined to love Him, then it’s not love. It is merely a part of our programming. The doctrine of election reduces us to nothing more than pawns moved at His will; a computer simulation to entertain a bored God.

        But what I can’t get past, and your question hits on it, is “What specifically does scripture state people are predestined for?” According to Ephesians 1:5, He predestined us to be adopted as sons and daughters (salvation). That is the simplest understanding of that Scripture. So the way I’ve always looked at it is this:

        Every human is predestined to be saved. As it says in II Peter 2:9 that God is “not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” But it is up to us on whether we follow that destiny. Maybe that’s a bit too simplistic. I don’t know. But that’s what I’ve used up until now to quell the doubts and questioning that come my way when I approach this subject. But now that I’ve gotten more serious in my studies, and I continually pray that the Holy Spirit would lead me into truth (John 16:13), I need to know the truth. And because I have become more serious in my pursuit of Him, this question cannot be ignored by me any longer. Because if I am programmed to do what I do, what do I do with that knowledge? How will it affect me? How do I respond knowing that I really don’t love God…I’m just programmed to seek Him? Is love real then? If we are programmed to do God’s will, then why do we need the Bible to tell us how to be holy? Shouldn’t it just come naturally with our programming?

        Lots of questions that it brings up.

        As for your question #1: “Does the scripture indicate a requirement in order to qualify someone to be predestined?” Does there really need to be one? There’s a saying I hear all the time: “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” The same could be said in response to your question: “God doesn’t predestine the qualified. He qualifies the predestined.” As one Calvinist I talked to some time ago said: “The way God determined who is save and who is not is by the end-goal that He has set. He knows who needs to be saved, and what they need to do, in order to get the desired outcome.”

        Thank you so much for taking time to help me navigate this mystery.

      2. Yes – the freedom you are referring too – is technically called “Libertarian” freedom.
        And Libertarian freedom is logically excluded by Determinism – and is thus non-existent within Calvinism.

        However!
        Again – this brings up the problem with Determinism as a belief system.
        It is not a belief system that people can live coherently with – and retain any sense of human normalcy.

        This is why the Calvinist is forced into a state of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

        In Calvinism – Libertarian Choice – is also known as “CONTRARY” choice.

        Take for example – the human mind deliberating over a TRUE/FALSE question.
        1) If the mind chooses TRUE as the answer – then it has chosen CONTRARY to FALSE
        2) If the mind chooses FALSE as the answer – then it has chosen CONTRARY to TRUE.

        According to the standard definition of the term “CHOICE” it requires a NECESSARY CONDITION of more than one option from which to select – in order to constitute what people understand by a “Choice”.

        In Calvinism – per the doctrine of decrees – there the NECESSARY CONDITION of more than one option – is never granted to the creature.

        1) If it is infallibly decreed that TRUE will be the answer that will come to pass within the mind – then TRUE is the only option available to that mind for that answer. The act or event of FALSE being the answer – has been rejected at the foundation of the world – when it was decreed that TRUE would be the answer that would come to pass within that mind.

        Conversely – the same consequences exist – if it were infallibly decreed that FALSE be the answer that will come to pass within the human mind – for that question.

        Consequently – in Calvinism – per the doctrine of decrees – for every human event – and every human impulse – there is never granted more than ONE SINGLE PREDESTINED RENDERED-CERTAIN option.

        Thus in Calvinism – concerning Adam in the garden – it follows:
        1) The impulse to eat the fruit – was chosen as that impulse which would infallibly come to pass within Adam’s brain.
        2) The impulse to NOT eat the fruit – was rejected at that point – and was not granted existence.
        3) The existence of the impulse to NOT eat the fruit – would falsify the infallible decree – which is not possible.

        Therefore – in Calvinism – Adam did not have a “Choice” between eating the fruit and NOT eating the fruit.
        That would have been a CONTRARY choice – which by definition would be a Libertarian Choice
        And Libertarian choice does not exist for the creature in Calvinism.

        But the consequences get even more radical when it comes to the Calvinist having a choice between TRUE and FALSE on any matter.

        That again – would constitutes a CONTRARY choice – which by definition is a Libertarian Choice.

        So – it logically follows – if the Calvinist is logically consistent with his doctrine – he has to acknowledge his brain is not granted to function of choosing between TRUE and FALSE on any matter.

        Now you can see – no one can live that way.
        And the Calvinist cannot possibly live that way.
        So part of what it means to be a Calvinist – is to live in denial of one’s own doctrine.
        And the Bible calls that DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

      3. Hi Rob, I think you might have missed my answers to your questions about Eph 1. Let me know what you think when you find them.

  11. Another big issue I have with Calvinism is this. I’ve heard a number of Calvinist preachers/teachers state that man is dead in his sin, and a dead man cannot make a decision on his own. But the problem with that, is that the only way for a man to become “alive” is to be saved/born again. And the only way to become saved is to accept Christ. So then Calvinism is thrown into a circular conundrum: One cannot be saved unless he is made alive, but he is not made alive until he is saved. The only way for God to do this is to circumvent salvation and Jesus’ death and resurrection. And if that’s the case, then Jesus’ death and resurrection are now moot and worthless.

    1. Rob,

      There is a prerequisite to being “dead you your sins”. Knowledge of Good and Evil.

      We aren’t born dead. We die a spiritual death. We are not born with Adam’s sin, either. They will tell you that David was conceived in sin. But what they fail to do is to give the backstory of that statement. They blame it on Adam, instead of mom and dad, tho.

      They call that, Original Sin.

      We are no diffedrent than Adam and Eve. Innocence until…knowledge! Knowledge of what? Good and Evil.

      How do we obtain that knowledge?

      The first time that you had “GUILT”, that you KNEW that you did something that goes against Romans 2:14-16.

      We all die a natural death, but we all don’t die a spiritual death! Meaning, babies, and children, who do NOT know good and evil, they are not lost, they are not spiritually dead, they are not in need of a savior, because the savior never left them to begin with. They are all born of God. Hence, the need for the rest of us to be Born “AGAIN” of God…to bring him back into our lives.

      Even nature tells you that life comes before death. So none of us are born dead.

      Ed Chapman

    2. br.d
      It is critical to understand – the Calvinist has to hide a great deal of his belief system – in order to make it palatable to himself – and in order to sell it to anyone else.

      The Calvinist argument or assertion that man is dead – is simply a red-herring designed to obfuscate the underlying doctrine.

      Per the doctrine – we have a THEOS – who is a divine potter – who at the foundation of the world – conceives of each individual he is going to create. And at the point of conceiving each individual – makes the decision of creating/designing that individual specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

      These – for the Calvinist are THE MANY

      Thus Calvin’s god creates/designs the vast majority of his creatures specifically for eternal torment.

      The decree determines EVERYTHING without exception.
      It determines what an individuals’ eternal destiny will be.
      It determines every impulse that will come to pass within each human brain
      It determines the state of each individuals nature – at every nano-second in time.

      All of those things are FIXED at the foundation of the world – and cannot be otherwise than what they were decreed to be.

      Therefore – man’s nature does not determine his eternal destiny.
      Nor does his nature determined what he will think say or do.
      The decree determines EVERYTHING
      Man’s role in the process – is to simply function as a passive recipient of that which has been infallibly decreed.

      The Calvinist does not want to tell people the TRUTH about the doctrine – because he knows people will reject it.
      So he tries to attributes evil events to creation or to creatures – in order to OBFUSCATE the evil decree.

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