2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14
“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is commonly quoted text by Calvinistic scholars seeking to prove that certain individuals were chosen for salvation to the neglect of all others. I believe this is very Western individualized interpretation of the scripture, however. We tend to read texts from an individualized (me, I, my) perspective in our egocentric society. This was not the common way of understanding such texts in the first century’s collectivist society where people were seen as under the headship of their cultural heritage, not merely as individuals.
We must understand that the predominately Gentile congregations of Paul’s day were constantly being told they were not the elect of God, but instead barbarian rejects. The Judaizes of the first century insisted that only Jews were chosen by God and Paul spent much time attempting to debunk this commonly held false belief (see the book of Galatians).
In the “Jew versus Gentile” context of Paul’s ministry he often references himself and the Jewish apostles as “us” and “our” in contrast to the Gentile believers as “you” and “your.” For instance, in verse 14 Paul seems to indicate that “you” (the Gentile believers) were called “through our” (the Jewish Apostles’) gospel. Therefore, it makes perfect sense, in Paul’s context, to thank God for his Gentile audience being chosen, or engrafted (Rom. 11:13-24), to salvation through faith. This, after all, is the mystery which had been hidden for generations which is just now being made known through men like Paul (Eph. 3:1-11).
In short, the “Apostle to the Gentiles” is likely combating the false view that the Gentiles were not the elect of God by writing this affirmation of God’s choice to include them from the very beginning.
57 thoughts on “2 Thessalonians 2:13-14: Chosen from the beginning for salvation”
When one extracts the dualistic, ying-yang, divine-evil, Zoroastrian constituents out of Manichaeanism, and the immutable-fatalism constituents out of Neoplatonism, and synchronizes those into conceptions of God common in pre-medieval Catholicism, the eventual doctrinal outcome can’t help but be a hybrid form of Christianity.
Pastor Flowers, First of all I wonder why you don’t apply this major New Testament theme of the inclusion of the Gentiles through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph.3:1-6) to verses like 1Tm.2:4 when the context demands it. There are instructions for prayer for the pagan Gentile rulers in v.2, and Paul’s emphatic claim of being appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher to the Gentiles in v.7 is a total non-sequitur if he didn’t have the Jew/Gentile distinction and inclusion of the Gentiles in mind.
Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Gentiles in Thessalonica were being persecuted by the Jews. In Paul’s first letter to them, he commended them for their suffering, but they were being persecuted by their own countrymen and likened their suffering to the suffering of the churches in Judea who were being persecuted by their own countrymen, the Jews (1Th.2:14). When you consider that there is absolutely no mention of Jew or Gentile whatsoever in Paul’s second letter to them, your explanation that God chose for Gentiles to be saved in a very general sense seems very unlikely. In his first letter Paul also makes the claim, “For we know brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1Th.1:4-5). Does that simply mean that Paul was convinced that God had chosen to save Gentiles, like he hadn’t already seen many Gentiles come to faith in Christ, or was he using the word “you” in a normal sense where it was in reference to the specific people he had just addressed his letter to (“the church of the Thessalonians”)?
pastor Flowers writes, “This was not the common way of understanding such texts in the first century’s collectivist society where people were seen as under the headship of their cultural heritage, not merely as individuals.”
What is the basis for this conclusion? Is there a Scriptural basis for it or must a person appeal to sources outside the Scriptures for support? As we take the Scriptures to be sufficient within itself to explain everything that is necessary to salvation, we do not need to go to extra-Biblical sources to help us understand the Scriptures. I don’t think Pastor Flowers can support this conclusion from the Scriptures and should drop it.
Let’s focus on the verse in question.
To whom does Paul write: it is “…brethren beloved by the Lord…” It is these that he then says, “…God has chosen you…” It seems clear that Paul is writing to believers and whether in total or as individuals, they are the ones chosen by God. Paul does not have all Gentiles in mind but only believing Gentiles. So, there is nothing particularly wrong with the conclusion that Pastor Flowers draws, “[Paul] is likely combating the false view that the Gentiles were not the elect of God by writing this affirmation of God’s choice to include them from the very beginning.”
What is the issue here? Pastor Flowers begins, “This is commonly quoted text by Calvinistic scholars seeking to prove that certain individuals were chosen for salvation to the neglect of all others.” He ends up not denying this. His argument is that God has always intended to save Gentiles to which Calvinists agree. The Calvinist will also say that God knows His elect as individuals even if He identifies them as a group. If God knows the group of Gentile believers that He has chosen, then God knows the individuals within that group and each individual should be encouraged that God has chosen him/her.
Reading the remained of the verse, we can ask whether God has chosen a group or individuals “…for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” This is obvious. God chooses individuals to be sanctified and to come to faith. Pastor Flowers understands this and does not argue against it.
Finally, Paul writes, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In context, Paul refers to the Gentile believers, but this is a statement that can be preached to all Gentiles. God has called all people, groups and individuals, through the gospel that each and every person may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, not all, gain that glory.
How is it possible that any person would reject the gospel given all that God promises? It seems both illogical and impossible that any person should reject the gospel. Yet, it happens, as attested by the Scriptures. To best understand Calvinism, one should approach Calvinism as explaining why people reject salvation. If we understand why people reject salvation, we can then understand what God must do to bring a person to salvation.
To best understand Calvinism, one should approach Calvinism as explaining why people reject salvation. If we understand why people reject salvation, we can then understand what God must do to bring a person to salvation.
Easy to see the model in Calvinism:
God, uses divine supernatural strings to control the man to either reject or accept salvation, in the similar way that a puppeteer controls a puppet. Except in this case, the strings take the form of invisible, supernatural, immutable decrees which are initiated millennia before the man is born. And the man, acting at the time in which his divine programming is designated to occur, simply functions as a puppet, or robot, coerced by divine necessity and supernatural forces beyond his control, acts out those actions he was programmed to act out……how-be-it with a pretense of alternate possibilities sufficient to produce a pretense of culpability. And all that is miraculously based on scripture.
Of course the enunciation of that doctrinal camel is ingeniously twisted into a labyrinth of double-think in order to make it go down easy. But that is how camels are always swallowed. Now let the double-think flow!! :-]
All that to say that you don’t buy into Total Depravity. Why didn’t you just say so? It was imaginative even though it had nothing to do with Calvinism..
Some double-think fun. When sin is conceived it brings forth death. The [Death] in this case is the byproduct of the [sin conceived]. To assert that the death caused the sin to be conceived, is to have the cause-effect relationship backwards. The sin conceived causes the death. So we can see that to assert that [the death] causally determines (causes or is the reason for) [the sin], is to put the cart before the horse.
Calvinism’s divine coercion (i.e. puppet/robot) model is what it is. In the Calvinist system, the divine decree which occurs millennia ago, is the only thing which causally determines (i.e. causes or is the reason for) total depravity, not the other way around. So we can see that the total depravity is nothing more than the byproduct of the divine decree. And with that we can readily see that to appeal to total depravity as a causally determining factor, in a world in which everything is the byproduct of divine decrees is a non sequitur, just like asserting that [the death] is the reason for [the sin conceived] would be.
Now it can be readily observed that total depravity does play a significant role within Calvinist apologetics. But it often functions as a red herring designed to draw attention away from the (obfuscated) Calvinist conception of God being the originator/initiator/author of sin.
An interesting question in that regard is “within the Calvinist system, where is sin first conceived?”
br.d. writes, “An interesting question in that regard is “within the Calvinist system, where is sin first conceived?””
Those who hold that God is omniscient have sin being conceived in the mind of God in eternity past – “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4) Even the Open Theist who denies that God is omniscient admits that God was well aware of sin and that the humans He would create would eventually sin even if He did not know when.
Then, “In the Calvinist system, the divine decree which occurs millennia ago, is the only thing which causally determines (i.e. causes or is the reason for) total depravity, not the other way around.”
As God is sovereign over His creation, determining what and when to create, then sustaining that which He creates until such time as it pleases Him to withdraw life or existence from that created, it is necessarily true that God determines everything that happens in His creation. As all people become depraved consequent to Adam’s sin, and it is God who removes the restraints on Satan that had prevented Satan entering the garden with the results certain, we can say that God brought about the depravity of all people. However, the divine decree to which you refer encompasses all that happened in God’s creation from beginning to end does not allow for the working of the individual events within that decree. Looking at the individual events we see a sequential order of events that lead to Adam’s sin and the condemnation of mankind. Your objection is confused – how could there be any “other way around.”?
Then, “…we can readily see that to appeal to total depravity as a causally determining factor, in a world in which everything is the byproduct of divine decrees is a non sequitur,…”
Yet, all agree that Adam’s sin led to the depravity of all people with the resulting situation that people born from Adam could not “not sin.” Of course, a sovereign God brought this situation about by creating Adam, giving the command not to eat the fruit, and then removing His restraint on Satan leading to the deception of Eve and sin of Adam. How else could this have come about except by God’s decree unless God were not sovereign?
More double-think fun. Those who hold that God is omniscient have sin being conceived in the mind of God
This statement would presume to speak for all Christianity’s definition of the word “omniscient”. A very common debate strategy is to first and foremost seek to rule over the definitions of words and terms within the dialog, because doing so gives one the ability to change the rules of the game while it is being played. So we don’t want to go there, as that is simply dishonest. For one representative of one unique theology to presume to represent all of Christianity’s definition of a theological concept is just too dangerous and presumptuous.
But in that response does serve to answer the question…that Calvinism asserts all sin is conceived first in the mind of God. So we can readily see how that conception fits right in with the puppet/robot model, in which man is not given alternative possibilities to sin or not to sin, but is forced by the mechanism of supernatural decrees to sin. And we can see where the fatalism element appears in this model also.
God determines everything that happens in His creation.
This is euphemistic language designed to obfuscate the underlying thesis that God controls people like puppets through the mechanism of divine immutable decrees. Hence the unfortunate and coercive (i.e. puppet/robot) model inherent within the system.
As all people become depraved consequent to Adam’s sin. ………….Yet, all agree that Adam’s sin led to the depravity of all people with the resulting situation
This is of course scriptures representation. However double-think is the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, while accepting both as true. With double-think, a person can believe that sin brings forth death, and simultaneously, believe its contraction, that death brings forth sin. And with double-think a person can believe that God manipulated mankind into a sinful state, in order to to bring forth total depravity, while simultaneously believing its contradiction, that total depravity is what brings forth mankind’s sinful state.
It is so unfortunate here that we have this double-think condition in otherwise sincere and wonderful Christians. The Lord help us to be delivered from its unrelenting grip. But in order for that to happen we must seek the Lord Jesus above all else, and resolve to set aside any love affairs with socio-religious entanglements and the doctrinal systems they craft to control us……or any other entanglements. None of us are immune to their grip. But the Lord is wonderfully faithful to deliver those who reach out to him for deliverance.
br.d. writes, “This is euphemistic language designed to obfuscate the underlying thesis that God controls people like puppets through the mechanism of divine immutable decrees.”
Not a thesis in Calvinism. People are controlled by their sin nature with God only having to restrain the evil that people otherwise would do. By God’s decree, Adam was free to eat the fruit and did so, not because he was tempted as Eve, but because that was his desire. God could have restrained Adam’s desires but did not. Thus, all are corrupted so that unrestrained by God, we read that, in the days of Noah, “how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Or later, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” God knew the thoughts of people even before those thoughts would enter their mind and did not restrain them so that people freely did that which was their desire yet nothing was done, or could be done, without God’s consent for it is God “who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Then, “…with double-think a person can believe that God manipulated mankind into a sinful state, in order to to bring forth total depravity, while simultaneously believing its contradiction, that total depravity is what brings forth mankind’s sinful state.”
Yet, you cannot deny it because you cannot deny that God is sovereign over His creation. By “God manipulated mankind,” you mean that God loosed Satan to roam the garden and deceive Eve who then offered Adam the fruit that he then ate. So it is and so you cannot deny.
What you call “double-think” is no more than your imagination that God is not sovereign, yet, still, you cannot devise a way for God not to be sovereign, so you complain about the Calvinists when your complaint is against God.
It appears to me, if I may jump in uninvited, that the problem may lie in the extra-biblical definition of Total Depravity. Calvin’s definition of Original Sin and Total Depravity has infected even non-Calvinist theology, but there have always been biblical students who did not accept this definition. Scripture never states that God curses mankind with a sinful nature, but that, through Adam, sin entered into the world, and, due to sin, death.
If I may use my yard as an example, due to the fact that the original weed was introduced, and spread its noxious seed over all of the earth, into neighbors yards and mine, I do indeed find the struggle with weeds an unwelcome inevitability. Sin, or the refusal to do what is right, leads to death, just as incorrect care of one’s yard leads to a profusion of weeds and the eventual choking out of all other life. Likewise, since the first weed of sin came into existence with Adam, we are all destined to deal with its progeny and end result, which is a sin-filled earth and death.
This, however, is a far cry from suggesting that 1) God planned the introduction of sin, 2) cursed all men with an inability to resist it, then intends to punish those whose unchosen inability led them to helplessly sin. Weeds do, unfortunately exist upon the earth, and there is not a grassy yard that will not eventually be confronted with them. However, with proper care, they can be resisted, and their spread and takeover of the entire yard can be prevented. Satan’s ploy is to entice us to sacrifice the health of ourselves, our families and the biodiversity of the earth by attacking weeds with toxic chemicals that (temporarily appear to) kill the weeds, but also cause unavoidable harm to all other living species. Satan insists that toxic weed killer is not only necessary, but completely safe, and we would be foolish to toil endlessly in the hot sun nourishing our soil and digging up invasive weeds at first sight when we can merely spray and play.
I recently purchased a new home, and the former homeowner did not wish to harm her pets with toxic chemicals, but apparently did not have the time or desire to address the weeds that inevitably flourished. They have so taken over parts of the yard that no less than completely digging up and replanting the grass will address the problem. I ‘inherited’ this problem, and will be dealing with it for as long as I remain in this home. Likewise, we were born into a world into which the seed of sin has unfortunately been sown, and all men will struggle with its progeny until God digs it out by the roots and renews his good earth.
It is the mere reading into scripture the concepts of men’s minds to assert that God cursed men with a sinful nature, or that all men are born sinful due to another man’s trespass of God’s commands. This is not only completely absurd, it is utterly unjust and is repudiated in Ezekiel, where God proclaims that he would never punish the son for the father’s sin, or hold any man guilty on account of another man’s trespass. The faulty concept of Calvinistic Total Depravity is, in my opinion, the erroneous cornerstone upon which the whole hideous facade of Calvinism is built. False notions of inherited sin, and a God-cursed sin nature are belied by those biblical narratives that recount the many stories of men and women who trusted in God and, while unable to avoid the taint of a sin-filled upbringing in a sin-filled world, were nonetheless able to do reasonably well and be approved as God assured Cain was in his power to do. This interaction would have been impossible had Cain been born with an inherited sin nature that could do nothing but sin; or else God’s injunctions and warnings to Cain were disingenuous and misleading.
The same is true for every individual who scripture declares as approved by God, from Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he was perfect in his generations (talk about something being lost in the translation!) to David, who was a man after God’s own heart, to Abraham, who believed in God’s promise and proceeded to live accordingly, albeit imperfectly. None of these individuals were free from the deficiencies that resulted from less than perfect parenting in less than perfect cultures, saturated with the soil deficiencies of satan’s deceptions. We err in misunderstanding how sin has come to all men through Adam, and that it spreads, unavoidably like all weeds, from father to son, or yard to yard, generation after generation, as it blossoms and takes root in unhealthy, poorly kept soil.
Sin, like clover or cancer, spreads with invisible runners, quietly taking root before sprouting with the tell-tale signs of infestation. By the time it becomes apparent, it is often too late to merely lop it off, as it is already well on its way to choking out all healthy grass. The bible gives us the answer to the challenging question of ‘Why are there weeds?’ or ‘Where did the first weed come from?’ Often it is joked that a weed is merely an unwelcome flower, but it is more accurate to say that it is a plant that takes root out of its natural environment; from thence it spreads unnaturally, misplacing and doing harm to the native species, and having few natural checks to keep it in bound.
Satan took all of the beauty and gifts bestowed on him by God and attempted to plant them where they did not belong – he attempted to take over the garden of God by secretly sowing his seed where it had no business being. Rather than uproot his entire creation, God has allowed Satan to spread his noxious seed, which was only possible when Adam chose to remove himself from the protective care of the Master Gardener and was left to toil on his own as he so foolishly desired.
It is only when men recognize that all of their toil will not avail the results they long for, that even the most diligent, careful upkeep and maintenance stands no chance against the noxious, treacherous weeds of sin that Satan successfully introduced into this world by deception and lies, which Adam chose to believe, inexcusably doubting the goodness and trustworthiness of his Creator.
God did not dream up, nor introduce the noxious weed of sin – it only came into existence when man, with no excuse, began to doubt God’s perfect goodness and perfect intentions toward his creatures. This is the noxious weed that was uprooted by the demonstration of God’s perfect love through Jesus. All men are utterly without excuse, for God’s inherent goodness, mercy and love were demonstrated in such a manner as to never again allow question. And yet many refuse to believe it. In the face of love incarnate, men still choose to believe that God is not love. In spite of unthinkable mercy, men still choose to believe God is unjust. It is this refusal to believe in Jesus – in his perfect demonstration of all of the splendors of God’s goodness, love and mercy – that alone keeps men in darkness and enslaved to sin and death. When confronted with irrefutable evidence, men who love their sin refuse to believe what cannot be denied. Or choose to debate meaningless, man-made doctrines instead.
The story of scripture is the message of God’s love to men that is called ‘good news’. All of the silly, endless debating over the minutiae of doctrine, of the trinity, the incarnation, the deity of Jesus and on and on, is a mere distraction, mind games Satan plays to keep people from getting the simple, irrepressible message of the gospel. I pity all who fall into his traps, who waste endless hours attempting to diagnose how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, or what is the proper definition of ‘sin’, ‘salvation’, ‘heaven’, ‘hell’ or many other biblical concepts.
Nowhere does scripture say ‘Get your doctrine right and you will be saved.’ All that is required is to believe the message of God’s love that was demonstrated through the incomparable sacrifice of Jesus, lifted up so that all could see and be without excuse. I urge all to cease wasting endless hours focusing on doctrine, spewing hatred and anger at others who disagree with them, and fashioning external facades of piety that fool none. Believe in the limitless love of God as demonstrated in his Son, rejoice in his mercy, and attempt to reflect it, however imperfectly, to others and you too will ‘do well’ as Cain could have.
I do applaud those who challenge Calvinism, which is the most pernicious form of legalistic, self-righteous Phariseeism ever seen on earth. The belief in deterministic ‘election’ is no different than the belief of those who rejected Jesus due to their false assurance that they were the ‘chosen’ people, the ‘elect’ of Jesus’ day. They were convinced that they alone were chosen and loved by God, while all heathen nations were despised and would perish. They shared the exact same belief that God ‘promised’ them salvation in spite of the state of their heart or lives as Calvinists assert, in a supposed irrevocable covenant that never existed, as Paul so ably proved in Romans. Nor did Calvin’s pernicious eternal decree ever exist, equally demonstrated by the very same scriptures that assert that God always has loved all men, always has desired to save all men, and has never limited his love to a chosen few.
Ah, but why focus on the eternal glory of so great a salvation offered to man, when one can puff oneself up with self-professed knowledge and debate endless, worthless philosophies of men? I rediscovered the joy of my salvation when I escaped the mind games of Calvinism, and returned to the genuine gospel of scripture that proclaims God’s limitless love and mercy to all who will believe in it. I encourage others to do the same, and to share this genuine good news to the many who need to hear it.
truthseeker00 writes, “This, however, is a far cry from suggesting that 1) God planned the introduction of sin,…”
Are you saying that God is not omniscient and could not know when He created the earth that Adam would sin?
Then, “2) cursed all men with an inability to resist [sin],…”
Paul writes to the Ephesian believers, “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
The above describes the “nature ” of the unsaved and whether one calls this a “sinful nature” really does not matter – the “nature” is what it is regardless what the label given it.
Paul adds in Romans 8, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;…The mind of sinful man is death,…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
So, despite language such as, “…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so,” you maintain that a has the ability to resist sin – that it can submit to God’s law. That’s fine if you can get the Scriptures to negate what Paul writes to the Ephesians and Romans and allow for your conclusion. Have you found Scriptures that allow for your conclusion?
truthseeker writes, “This is not only completely absurd, it is utterly unjust and is repudiated in Ezekiel, where God proclaims that he would never punish the son for the father’s sin, or hold any man guilty on account of another man’s trespass.”
Even though God does not punish a person for another’s sin, God does allow that innocent people suffer from other people’s sin. Adam sinned and was expelled from the garden with the entrance blocked so that he could not re-enter. Adam’s children were then born into the corrupted world that arose because of Adam’s sin and could not re-enter the garden either. Adam sinned and his children suffered, did they not? By his sin, Adam saw his relationship to God immediately severed – he died spiritually – and eventually his fleshly body would also die. Adam’s children also suffered in the same way – they did not have the relationship with God that Adam enjoyed before he sinned and they would find that their bodies would also die. They had not sinned but still died – thus Paul tells us in Romans, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”
When Adam sinned, he then needed a savior to re-enter the paradise he had lost because of that sin. His children were also counted as sinners. and they also need a savior to enter God’s presence (heaven) at the judgment. Thus, the need not just to have our sins forgiven but also to be justified – to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us if we are to enter ehaven.
truthseeker00 writes, “God always has loved all men, always has desired to save all men, and has never limited his love to a chosen few.”
Then why doesn’t God save all men? Does God love some more than others?
Just a little double-think fun this time, punctuated by a harsh ending accusation:
“Not a thesis in Calvinism. People are controlled by their sin nature with God only having to restrain the evil that people otherwise would do. ”
So here we have just a little more double-think: In this example of double-think we have God controlling people as a puppeteer controls a puppet or a programmer controls a robot to act out his every will, while simultaneously believing its contradiction, that God restrains those very people from evil that they would otherwise do. In this conception the puppeteer is both making and restraining the puppet from doing……as if the puppeteer is divided against himself.
“Yet, you cannot deny that God is sovereign over His creation.”
Here again we have euphemistic language designed to obfuscate the underlying thesis that God controls people like puppets on supernatural strings. We must understand that the Calvinist has his own unique definitions for biblical words and terms. And those definitions are of course, designed to support the system’s underlying presuppositions. The Calvinist definition for the word “sovereignty” is totally unique to Calvinism. In the book of Revelation, the deceived people of the world worship the beast because no one can overcome him. This is basically the Calvinist conception of “Sovereignty”……that of naked power…. or in the Greek κατακυριεύσας. That is a definition for “Sovereignty” that is unique to Calvinism alone.
“You cannot devise a way for God not to be sovereign, so you complain about the Calvinists when your complaint is against God.”
Devising a way for God to be Sovereign or not, would be akin to making a graven image. So God forbid I go there. But the statement provides an example of that being a consistent and historical urgency which surfaces within Calvinist enunciations, just as it has here. I have my struggles, but thank the Lord I’m not afflicted with that particular urgency. :-]
Since the image of god crafted within Calvinism is unique to Calvinism, one must understand that the concern mainstream Christianity has, is not about God at all, but the concern is about its *image* of God. And also there is a concern for the worshiper of such an image. For scripture warns the believer that we become “like unto” what we worship. If we worship a deity who deceives man into believing he want’s man to obey his command. But then supernaturally forces man to disobey……if that is the image of the deity we worship, then we will become like unto that image. If we worship a deity who tells his people “Choose Life that you may live”, but then supernaturally forces them like puppets to choose the opposite, we have a deity that speaks with forked tongue…..and we will become like unto that. If we worship a κατακυριεύσας deity….then κατακυριεύσας we become. Its a sobering thought that puts the fear of a loving God into me!
br.d. writes, “…In this example of double-think we have God controlling people as a puppeteer controls a puppet or a programmer controls a robot to act out his every will,…”
An accurate example would be a dog chained to a stake in in a fenced yard. The yard represents the common grace of God to restrain the sin a person wants to commit using peer pressure, public laws with police enforcement, etc. The leash represents God’s restraint beyond that. Within the restraints of the fence and the chain the dog is free to do as he pleases. Your use of the puppet example demonstrates your ignorance of the Calvinist system – providing more evidence that your complaint is not against Calvinism but against God.
Then, “This is basically the Calvinist conception of “Sovereignty”……that of naked power…. or in the Greek κατακυριεύσας. That is a definition for “Sovereignty” that is unique to Calvinism alone. ”
Yet, you are not able to provide another definition that you claim accords with the Scriptures. Your bad!
Double-think is unrelenting!! All double-think is designed to ensure the believer conforms to the Party’s doctrinal narrative. In order to retain its power-base, the Party must enforce double-think so that the mind becomes sufficiently conditioned. Believers are conditioned to speak contradictions quite spontaneously, without perceiving the least contradiction. William Lutz – DoubleSpeak
“The yard represents the common grace of God to restrain the sin a person wants to commit using peer pressure, public laws with police enforcement, etc. ”
Here again we have a tiny example of double-think: In this conception, we have a universe in which God permits no alternative possibilities apart from what he establishes via supernatural all-powerful immutable decrees. Otherwise known as theological fatalism. But remember that double-think allows a believer to hold to two contradictory propositions as both true. In this case, the belief in a world in which alternative possibilities DO NOT exist for the creature. While simultaneously believing its direct contradiction… a world in which alternative possibilities DO exist for the creature. Here the language creates the term “common grace” which *appears* to presuppose a world in which alternative possibilities DO exist for the creature, while the believer simultaneously believes they DO NOT.
In most instances, two opposing and contradictory propositions of double-think are carefully enunciated in separate conversations so as to now allow recipients to detect the contradictions. In this conversation, the topic of God’s role in human activities is at the fore, and with a focus on sinful activities. So in this conversation, the Calvinistic obsession of a God who meticulously controls the creature like a puppet needs to be obfuscated, while its contradiction (that God allows alternative possibilities) can be asserted, with the hopes the contradiction won’t be detected.
“you are not able to provide another definition that you claim accords with the Scriptures.”
I really don’t need to provide another definition. To simply point out the utter contradictions and the distorted image they produce, which are so obvious to outsiders looking in…..and allow the recipient to find his own way, is a gentle approach, which facilitates a much more Christ-honoring outcome. I suspect this conversation is guaranteed to continue on in this vain. With the double-speak carefully obfuscating the underlying proposition that God controls people, following the model of a puppet or a robot. And with the added benefit of unkind attacks.
The Lord Jesus may actually be allowed to break through the fog of double-think yet!! Perhaps how long it takes, depends upon how deep the indoctrination goes. In any case, I take comfort……..Love hopes all things. And God is Love.
br.d. writes, “Here the language creates the term “common grace” which *appears* to presuppose a world in which alternative possibilities DO exist for the creature, while the believer simultaneously believes they DO NOT.”
That common grace exists in the form of societal actions to limit the sin that people commit is not uniquely Calvinist. That which you object to is the further restraint that God imposes on people or society. However, even this is not uniquely Calvinistic. Examples abound: (1) Christ could not be killed until the appointed time; (2) Joseph’s brothers could not kill Joseph but were free to sell him; (3) The Assyrians were God’s agent to punish Israel and held in restraint until that time God ordained; (4) Abimelech was prevented from touching Sarah through a dream; (5) Joseph was prevented form putting Mary away through a dream. That God restrains sin in the world is not doubted by anyone – except, perhaps you, even though your comment above is confused.
Then, “I really don’t need to provide another definition.”
Another way of saying that you don’t have an alternative tot he Calvinist definition but you are working feverishly to develop one.
working feverishly to develop one?
No sense in beating at thin air my friend. I know….. I know….The Party’s doctrine must be defended, no matter how illogical. Not an easy task. I don’t envy anyone assigned to it. Perhaps you’re exhausted and need some rest. To the other readers, I hope your able to follow the threads and see the continued examples of how double-think refuses to give way to simple logic for the sake of a sacred doctrine.
br.d. writes, “working feverishly to develop one?”
Well, maybe at a more leisurely pace. Regardless, you have not yet come up with a definition of sovereignty that differs from that used by Calvinism. If you did, you would have provided that definition rather than deflecting.
Then, “I hope your able to follow the threads and see the continued examples of how double-think refuses to give way to simple logic for the sake of a sacred doctrine.”
From what you have written, the only way you can illustrate double-think is to assume positions that are false – like the puppet example. Thus, your simple logic always fails because it is based on premises that are not true.
“your simple logic always fails because it is based on premises that are not true.”
Its at this point in dialog with a Calvinist, we start to get the feeling we’re simply chasing a greased pig around in circles. And he’s dodging, in and out of the camouflage of conceptions that are not at all distinct to Calvinism. It is behind the camouflage of Mainstream Christian conceptions the greased pig takes cover. :-]
You see, Calvinists take a lot of pride in perceiving themselves as having a superior theology, in contrast to Mainstream Christianity. But in order for something to be superior, there has to be some distinct characteristic about it that makes it superior. And for the Calvinist, that superior component is a highly unique conception of God meticulously controlling the creature….which ironically fits the model of a puppet or a robot. And that image of God, is in-fact, the element within Calvinism which is totally unique, and which gives Calvinism is distinctiveness, and which separates it from all other theological systems.
You’ve heard the old saying “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, flies like a duck and swims like a duck….then guess what….. its a duck”. We identify the characteristics of the object, and then we apply the correct LABEL. But of course there are times when people refuse to accept a things LABEL. For example, a person who steals for a living is not inclined to accept the LABEL “thief”. He might deploy euphemistic language and LABEL himself as: “One who makes acquisitions for a living”. :-]
And this is what the Calvinist does when outsiders examine the system’s conception of divine meticulous control over the creature. Like the duck, they examine its characteristics as the Calvinist describes them…often in the form of gloating. And the observer looks for a fitting LABEL with which to best understand what the Calvinist is describing. And the LABEL which quite naturally surfaces is either “PUPPET” or “ROBOT”, because that is the model of control the Calvinist describes. However, we can certainly understand why he rejects that LABEL. Its quite natural and human to do so. But it does require double-think.
So in that situation, the Calvinist finds himself in sticky business. On the one hand, he wants to freely boast that he sits in the chief-seat. He wants to proudly display his wide phylacteries. But in order to do that he has to describe that component within his system that makes it superior (i.e. what makes his dog better than all the other dogs on the school playground). And it is here that he gets into trouble. For when he starts to describe the characteristics of his conception of divine control over the creature, we hear him saying things like “sin is first conceived in the mind of God and later brings forth death when acted out by the creature”. So he is thereby describing a cause-effect conception of God in which nothing happens unless God forces it to happen, by the mechanisms and supernatural forces of decrees. And that characterization of divine meticulous control logically entails God being the originator, initiator and author of every sinful evil thought and act divinely programmed to be acted out by the creature.
So when the outsider says: OH! that’s a puppet or a robot! In order to avoid the LABEL, the Calvinist retreats behind the camouflage of mainstream Christian conceptions of God’s control over the creature, while carefully obfuscating that distinct component of meticulous control, he would otherwise boast as making Calvinism superior. And this is where dialog with him resembles chasing a greased pig. And he dodges behind the camouflage of Mainstream conceptions of divine control, or biblical language. There comes a point in time where one realizes the futility of chasing the little wily creature! That pig just ain’t about to get caught! But it does make for excellent examples, helping observers understand those controversial components within Calvinist conceptions, and the tactical maneuvers used to avoid distinctly Calvinistic conceptions, being accurately identified for what they are. We understand the dyed in the wool Calvinist is not inclined to budge out of the double-think. But the observant outsider gets to see all those dynamics get played out.
br.d. writes, “Its at this point in dialog with a Calvinist, we start to get the feeling we’re simply chasing a greased pig around in circles.”
No. This is the non-Calvinist deflecting because he got caught. Your insistence that people are puppets under Calvinism is wrong. However, you need to do things like that to argue against Calvinism. You then say, “for the Calvinist, that superior component is a highly unique conception of God meticulously controlling the creature….which ironically fits the model of a puppet or a robot.” Meticulous control does not require that people be puppets. Even you must know that.
Then, “You see, Calvinists take a lot of pride in perceiving themselves as having a superior theology, in contrast to Mainstream Christianity.”
Calvinism says that its theology is consistent with the Scriptures. If consistency with the Scriptures is the measure of superiority, then Calvinism is a superior theology. The superior component of Calvinism is its characterization of God as omniscient and sovereign. It is these points that mainstream Christianity agrees with the Calvinists. To oppose Calvinism, one must reject mainstream Christianity and deny that God is omniscient or sovereign. So, which do you deny – that God is omniscient or sovereign or both?
Then, “So he is thereby describing a cause-effect conception of God in which nothing happens unless God forces it to happen,…”
Another false premise. It is not necessary that God “force” a particular outcome. God may do so as in choosing Abraham or impregnating Mary. However, God need not force Cain to kill Abel or Joseph’s brothers to sell him – such were their desires and God needed only to let them pursue their desires without interference from Him. Surely, you know this.
Otherwise, you have the knack for writing much without saying anything.
Sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond directly to your post. But I thank you for it! All good thoughts. I agree with you on many points.
I especially liked your statement: “The belief in deterministic ‘election’ is no different than the belief of those who rejected Jesus due to their false assurance that they were the ‘chosen’ people, the ‘elect’ of Jesus’ day.”
Very insightful. I’ll have to ponder that and digest it a little, but I think you’ve identified something I hadn’t seen before. We do know that history repeats itself, which really means human behavior repeats itself, which would tend to offer support for your insightful thought. I also see the correlation of the people of Israel’s mindset at that time paralleling the Calvinist mindset, where the people told Jesus “We are the sons of Abraham and we are slaves to no man”. What a non-sense thing to assert!! There they were surrounded by Roman solders claiming they were not slaves to any man. Now that is an excellent example of double-think!! The same kind of unrelenting insistence that I find in the double-think of Calvinism.
For me one of the saddest things about Calvinism, and I think it is also on of its most un-Christ-like characteristics, is its subtle use of strategically misleading language. Genesis introduces the serpent by stating that he is the most subtle beast in the field. And when we observe the serpent’s subtlety we find it manifested within language. For many years, I’ve said that Calvinism always wins the prize for being the most subtle beast in the field of protestant Christianity because of its consistent use of duplicitous language. And it makes perfect sense, as double-speak is the outward manifestation of double-think.
Jerry Wall states this characteristic of Calvinism as: “Calvinism would lose all credibility in two years if it weren’t for its ingenious use of misleading rhetoric”. And William Lane Craig makes the same observation where he states: “Sadly but consistently, Calvinists always fail to enunciate the radical distinctions that are inherent in their doctrinal system”. I know I’ve been banging on the double-think theme here. But I really do see Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four instantiated, (i.e. appearing in real life) within Calvinism. And I’m praying that the Lord will be able to break through the fog. If the Calvinist can just stop, get alone with the Lord somewhere, and actually dare to critically examine the system, instead of mindlessly reinforcing the indoctrination…..I sincerely believe the Lord will lovingly lead them out of it. Thanks again for your post! :-]
“For me one of the saddest things about Calvinism, and I think it is also on of its most un-Christ-like characteristics, is its subtle use of strategically misleading language. Genesis introduces the serpent by stating that he is the most subtle beast in the field. And when we observe the serpent’s subtlety we find it manifested within language. For many years, I’ve said that Calvinism always wins the prize for being the most subtle beast in the field of protestant Christianity because of its consistent use of duplicitous language. And it makes perfect sense, as double-speak is the outward manifestation of double-think.
Jerry Wall states this characteristic of Calvinism as: “Calvinism would lose all credibility in two years if it weren’t for its ingenious use of misleading rhetoric”. And William Lane Craig makes the same observation where he states: “Sadly but consistently, Calvinists always fail to enunciate the radical distinctions that are inherent in their doctrinal system”. I know I’ve been banging on the double-think theme here. But I really do see Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four instantiated, (i.e. appearing in real life) within Calvinism. And I’m praying that the Lord will be able to break through the fog. If the Calvinist can just stop, get alone with the Lord somewhere, and actually dare to critically examine the system, instead of mindlessly reinforcing the indoctrination…..I sincerely believe the Lord will lovingly lead them out of it.”
That is, in a nutshell, exactly what I discovered about Calvinism after 15 years or so of trying to make it conform to sense and scripture – it just cannot be done. Yet try and convince a brainnwashed Calvinist of the logical fallacies and inconsistencies of his adopted theology and you will hear much more squealing than from the above mentioned greased pig being chased around the barnyard. The diehard Calvinist will deny, deflect, distract, distort and dance all over reason; in the end, he must always always appealsto ‘mystery’ – anything rather than honestly and critically think through and apply the logical ramifications of his theology.
Taking advantage of the less than sufficient critical thinking ability of the average person, Calvinism bombards them with deliberate, mind-numbing doublespeak, leaving them too perplexed to do anything but submit to the so-called theological authorities. If grasping the doctrines of Calvinism were essential to salvation, few, if any, would benefit from this most precious of God’s gifts to man. Those who throw off the confusing, confining and illegitimate boundaries of redefined terms, misinterpreted scripture and philosophical assumptions quickly discover the doctrines cannot stand up to basic logic, let alone scripture. That is, while internally consistent, the five points of Calvinism are based upon faulty suppositions and unproven assumptions. Not to mention disproven repeatedly by God’s genuine, recorded interactions with men throughout the scriptures.
As long as the poor, confused Calvinist is kept pondering the so-called prooftexts they can be kept from asking the simple, revealing question, ‘Does this theological system represent how scripture portrays God in any of his workings with man?’ It cannot begin to explain God’s commands, warnings, judgments or proclamations of love and life to all men. A god who meticulously determines ‘whatsoever comes to pass’ has no need to make commands, issue warnings, express regret, promise rewards to the faithful or condemn the unfaithful. All are utterly inexplicable under the meticulous control of a deterministic deity, unless he is also disingenuous and deceptive and wishes to appear as if he actually has a just reason for punishing the preordained sins of men.
I had always known that Calvinism did not hold up under critical examination, but it was the recognition of deliberate dishonesty and misrepresentation even of their own genuine beliefs that left me nearly shattered in dismay and horror. One can forgive the many who have been legitimately deceived – which may be the majority – but the ‘scholars’ and theologians have no excuse. Those who lay claim to critical thinking as a profession cannot expect to be excused for not exercising their so-called skills in a genuine pursuit of truth, but merely to defend their preferred theses.
truthseeker00 writes, “I had always known that Calvinism did not hold up under critical examination,…”
This was basically an opinion piece. You write like an Open Theist. Are you?
Thank you Leighton! Things are finally starting to make sense!
In response to truthseeker00:
“I had always known that Calvinism did not hold up under critical examination, but it was the recognition of deliberate dishonesty and misrepresentation even of their own genuine beliefs that left me nearly shattered in dismay and horror. One can forgive the many who have been legitimately deceived – which may be the majority – but the ‘scholars’ and theologians have no excuse.”
With my dialog here and watching others dialog here, I’m starting to get a glimmer of something I’d like to share with the group. I’m not sure how viable it is…just some musing at this point….but here it is for the groups good consideration.
Every Christian theology or belief system, is to some degree imperfect. Those imperfect components, of course do not have their origins in God but in the conceptions of man. And two of those are always going to surface as: 1) components which are unethical or immoral, and 2) components which are illogical or irrational. Now how does an institutionalized society, orbiting around that theology deal with those components? In many cases, they have to rationalize them away in order to live with them.
In such a situation, we can expect there to be persons, who, having no sensitive conscience, don’t experience any cognitive dissonance over the unethical or the irrational. This individual can go on blithely accepting all aspects of the belief system without the hardship of a guilty conscience. But then there are going to be personalities who do have a sensitive conscience. Those are the ones we will find going to their elders asking for advise on how to cope with internal struggles.
Jerry Walls details such a situation within Calvinism where junior members approach a senior member requesting advice on how they can, *with a clean conscience*, tell people with any degree of sincerity, that God loves them, without feeling guilty they are lying. Walls goes on to describe the advice given, and it turns out to be a well refined piece of duplicitous language. Walls doesn’t say how the junior members respond to this. But perhaps we can assume that most of them had their guilty conscience satisfied with thee rationalizations provided.
What is the possibility that highly devout Calvinists are those who have fully embraced all of those systematic, refined, rationalizations, strategically designed to sear one’s conscience and effectively make all the unethical and irrational components disappear? That Calvinist would be highly insulted if you identified one, because for him they don’t exist. Those rationalizations have made it possible for him to see no evil, hear no evil. To him It’s all perfectly ethical and perfectly rational. And who are you to accuse otherwise!
So perhaps the greatest degree of conflict experienced between participants here, is the very fact that the outsider has not been exposed to the Calvinist’s handbook of rationalizations and scripted answers. And his/her consciences is therefore active in contemplation of its unethical/irrational components. That individual will post things to that affect, which the Calvinist will automatically find intensely insulting. We outsiders have not been subject to the systematic rationalizations and scripted answers used to neutralize a Calvinist’s sensitive conscience. Perhaps understanding that will help us to be more gentle and Christ-like with them, and understand they experience an intense sense of insult and accusation which they have no ability to conceive as legitimate.
Now I’m pretty sure I’ll be attacked for posting this. But perhaps that just affirms the musing?
br.d. writes, “Jerry Walls details such a situation within Calvinism where junior members approach a senior member requesting advice on how they can, *with a clean conscience*, tell people with any degree of sincerity, that God loves them, …”
As the Universlists argue, no one should tell any individual that God loves them unless it is true that God will save that person. Does God love those people that He will exclude from heaven when He could have saved them and decided not to do so? Ask the person so excluded.
One can say that God loves the world. God loves those who love Christ. God loves those who obey Him. God loves a cheerful giver. God loves sinners. God loves His elect. However, to tell any particular person that God loves them says that God will save them – only the Universalist can make that claim with a straight face.
Rhutchin cannot grasp the fact, as both the Calvinist and the Universalist agree on God’s determinitive coercion in all things, that the very simple answer, as has been espoused by believers since Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, is that each individual has a choice to make.
God never has, and never will ‘force’ anyone to do anything, other than bear the consequences of their own choices. Which is the only just option to his having given man the ability and responsibility to think, reason and choose their own actions. God indeed loves ‘the world’, has indeed offered a solution for ‘the problem’ of sin, and anyone, indeed, can be saved if only they believe in who God is and what he has done.
This is what ‘believing in Jesus’ genuinely means, not believing that he exists and is the Son of God who died on the cross for sin – which even the demons believe. Rather, it is believing that he is the manifestation of a good God’s perfect love, the gracious, free offer of pardon for all of our past sins and the opportunity for eternal true fellowship with him (life) to all who will accept it as such.
It is true – and tragic – that the Calvinist cannot honestly tell anyone that God loves them. This is why I am no longer a Calvinist. If I had to be a determinist, I would choose to be a Universalist. (I’ll leave you to ponder that impossibility.)
However, the biblical christian can indeed, with utter honesty and complete accuracy tell ANYONE that God loves them, for it is clearly revealed throughout the creation, stated in scripture, and demonstrated by Jesus Christ – the ‘cure’ to sin and death. I pity the Calvinist more than the lost unbeliever, for one still has a chance of hearing and believing the true gospel, while the other has succumbed to a false, anti-Christ gospel of exclusionary love, the very (false) theology for which Israel was condemned.
truthseeker00 writes, “God never has, and never will ‘force’ anyone to do anything, other than bear the consequences of their own choices…..”
This comment reflects your former Calvinist training. You know that, under Calvinism, God does not “force” anyone to do anything. All people reject Christ because of their sinful nature. God intervenes in the lives of His elect: “…God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
Then, “…anyone, indeed, can be saved if only they believe in who God is and what he has done.”
Unless you have been drawn into Open Theism, you know that God has known who will be saved and who will be lost since He created the world. From our vantage point, it appears that anyone can be saved, but we know that God is only drawing His elect to salvation. Do you disagree?
We also know that it is not just “believing” that saves a person. Even Satan and his demons know that “[Christ] is the manifestation of a good God’s perfect love, the gracious, free offer of pardon for all of our past sins and the opportunity for eternal true fellowship with him (life) to all who will accept it as such.” It is the confession of Christ as Lord that springs from belief that differentiates Satan and his followers from Christ followers.
Then, “It is true – and tragic – that the Calvinist cannot honestly tell anyone that God loves them.”
Calvinists don’t do this because, in today’s world, it implies that God will save everyone. Even you know that God will not save every person. Is it right to tell people that God loves him/her if it turns out that God will not save him/her?
Your comments are insightful, and, I believe, very much on target. As a former ‘insider’ I would concur with much of what you describe. I genuinely appreciate your thoughtful consideration; it is helpful to remember how the process works, in order to be more gentle and patient with those who are still under the sway of Calvinism. Doug Wilson, years ago, in describing his introduction to Calvinism, described the necessity of new converts to Calvinism being ‘locked up’ for a few years until they get over the crazy stage due to their passion for their newly discovered doctrines (sorry, I couldn’t come up with the exact quote.) I have found that something of the same nature takes place on the other side as well. Upon exiting Calvinism, one tends to feels a great need to warn everyone in sight of its dangers and deceptions, but it is mostly pointless.
As you have described frequently, there is a lot of subconscious, cult-like mind control involved with accepting any illogical, contradictory and ultimately unsatisfactory ideology, and that takes place among those who espouse Calvinism. No die-hard Republican, bleeding heart liberal or committed Calvinist is willing to admit that, just maybe, their ideology is not all that they think it is. Rather, they remain unthinkingly loyal, investing so much psychological and emotional energy that it becomes nearly impossible to even consider any other way of thinking. When your friends, family, community and sometimes livelihood revolve around the cult – as it often does – there is little incentive to rethink the approved narrative, and people remain rabidly ideological and resistant to any suggestion that their idols might have feet of clay.
I find myself mostly praying for those who are well-meaning, but perhaps have undergone the sort of unknowing brainwashing, for want of a better word, that occurs when one commits to some ‘orthodoxy’. If you believe that ‘truth’ belongs to one group, that it has been completely fleshed out and all others are its ‘enemies’ you will be very resistant to seeing error in your adopted ideology. (I’m not a relativist, but a realist – I don’t believe anyone has a corner on truth, and that the Holy Spirit alone can lead one in the right direction.) Satan constantly uses this sort of dialectic to keep people at odds with one another and from moving closer to genuine truth, as we see in Republican vs. Democrat, Calvinist vs. Arminian, capitalist vs. socialist. There is a human tendency to jump on a bandwagon with its triumphant music, cheering crowds and welcoming community, and one quickly learns that challenging the groupthink does not make you popular.
I have seen this so often, and have also learned the futility of reaching out with logic or clear reason to someone who is committed to an ideology. Their orthodoxy is unimpeachable, and, as was shown in the days when ‘the church’ had influence over the sword, heretics are to be burned at the stake rather than reasoned with. I have seen the same mindset in all ideologues, be it politics, science or religion. It requires something deeply personal to reach such a person, to open their eyes to realities they prefer to deny or ignore. God had to use some extreme methods to break through my blindness, but he is faithful to answer our prayers. I have a deep passion for truth, and eventually, this compelled me to admit what was extremely difficult to admit, even at the risk of losing my marriage, family and all I loved. I could not keep running from the cognitive dissonance, as so many around me seem able to do. It was only after God opened my eyes to how deception works in other areas that I began to see how Satan uses endless mind control processes – often seen as unimpeachable institutions like ‘the government’, ‘science’ or ‘the church’ – to confuse, deceive and control our thinking.
I am not sure yet what God wants me to do with the knowledge and experience my own painful journey has given me, but I pray for his hand to continue the difficult processes of renewing my mind and conforming me to the image of his Son. May that ever be my goal, rather than proving how ‘right’ I am in anything.
WOW!!!! That was powerful!!!
I think God is using you already my friend. I am persuaded that God uses us as lights for others, by taking us through the very fiery furnace of affliction, He lovingly leads us through. The process can be extremely painful…as I think you have experienced. I’m reminded of that song “He makes streams in the desert – a way in the wilderness”. If your not familiar with it, it wonderfully says what you so eloquently stated.
In this life, we find kindred spirits who have gone through some of the same fiery furnaces we’ve gone through, and have come out tightly holding onto the hand of a loving Jesus. As see you very much a friend in that regard! When I read your post I had to fight back my own painful memories. You are sensitive and thoughtful, and Christ pleasing! Already acquiring some of your future crown! Honored to be your friend, br. d :-]
Signs, when a religious group has a closed system of logic: Notes from lectures by Dr. Margaret Singer.
When we say a religious group maintains a closed system of logic, what we see is an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval.
This group will often exhibit a top-down, pyramid structure of authority.
Leaders within the group develop and bring to bear, semantic ways of never losing.
Apologists for the group often maintain the same semantic ways of never losing in public forums.
Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain, especially in regard to sacred doctrine.
When a person does question or disagree, the person or concern, are alleged defective, not the group or its sacred doctrine.
Those who critique or disagree are treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its beliefs are always automatically, and by default, absolutely just.
Mental conditioning or remolding (i.e. thought reform) of the individual member happens in a closed system such as this.
As a group member learns to modify his thinking under the pressures of conformity, the group’s scripted narratives become his reality.
In order to be accepted in this closed system, one learns to think group-think, and speak group-speak.
The individual’s conscience, which would before react against semantic dishonesties, is now dormant, subordinated by polished rationalizations which defend and promote the group’s grand narratives.
And this serves to further alienate the group member from prior belief systems and the people they once bonded with in those systems.
I disagree, Rutchin, that “Even Satan and his demons know that “[Christ] is the manifestation of a good God’s perfect love, the gracious, free offer of pardon for all of our past sins and the opportunity for eternal true fellowship with him (life) to all who will accept it as such.”
Satan and his demons do not believe that God is ‘good’. Nor do they believe, or trust in, his ‘perfect love’. They have exchanged the truth for a lie and chosen to believe, as the serpent sought to persuade Eve, that God is less than ‘good’, keeping back good things so that no created being will able to be ‘like him’.
In truth, God most definitely desires for men to be like him, and the decree that scripture actually proclaims is that all who trust in Christ will be conformed to his image, even made like him. God is not afraid of us becoming ‘like him’ but has provided The Way for us to do just that. Satan and his demons believe that God is narcissistic, jealous, arrogant and cruel, like they have become in their pursuit of ‘glory’ and power. This might serve as a warning to those who believe that God is all about seeking ‘glory’ for himself, rather than exhibiting love and grace to those unworthy of such. I agree that all will fall to their faces in awe of the unsurpassed glory of God. However, I believe this is the inevitable result, not the motive, of God’s marvelous works.
God will without question receive all glory due him, not by proving he can force his will on all – as if anyone doubts he COULD do whatsoever he desires to and with his creation – but by demonstrating that he can accomplish his perfect will in spite of free men and demonic spirits opposed to and in complete rebellion to his will. God did not predetermine sin in order to get glory, as consistent Calvinism asserts. God will get glory by defeating sin; not by force, but by the demonstration of his love, and the power it has to change hearts and lives.
Btw, I do not suggest, as some philosophers do, that we created beings will become part of or equal to the one and only eternal God. My limited understanding suggests that we will become ‘like him’ in our love for all that is good and true. We will become the creatures he intended us to be, ‘one with him’ in spirit, children properly reflecting the image of their Father, but we will not become God.
truthseeker00 writes, “Satan and his demons do not believe that God is ‘good’. Nor do they believe, or trust in, his ‘perfect love’.”
I agree. They “know” these things to be true even if they deny it; they willfully refuse to believe. Of course, Satan is a liar and maybe he believes his own lies.
Then, “God did not predetermine sin in order to get glory, as consistent Calvinism asserts.”
In saying this, you have to side with the Open Theists in saying that God does not know the future and then deny that God is sovereign. Is that what you are doing?
Then, “God will get glory by defeating sin; not by force, but by the demonstration of his love, and the power it has to change hearts and lives.”
A good Calvinist statement. And I thought you didn’t like Calvinism.
Rutchin, I am unfortunately very familiar with the ‘you must believe this or else you believe that’ tactic, which is false and misleading. It is the tactic Calvinism (dare I say Satan?) has always used to lead people to accept error. Hold up an anti-type with obvious errors, then insist you must accept the proposed alternative in order to avoid the same error. I no longer buy into the dialectic, and will continue to seek to better understand truth as I am able and as it is revealed by the Spirit of God in and through his inspired Word.
The real world is not as black and white as determinists would like to make it. It is not ‘either-or’. There are many statements by Calvinists to which I could heartily concur, and many which I consider utterly untrue. One does not have to become a Calvinist in order to avoid being labelled a so-called Pelagian, Arminian, or – apparently the new whipping boy – Open Theist. This was the error, initially resisted, that eventually wore me down and convinced me I must be a Calvinist by default. I no longer choose to embrace any of these labels, nor do I find them either necessary or helpful. What I do believe, rather than any chosen set of assertions strung together by another man or men, is constantly changing and growing with my maturity, experience and willingness to renew my mind as led by the Spirit of God. I am my second greatest enemy in the search for truth, as I often prefer to cling to my beloved idols rather than allow God to topple them; idols which my first, and greatest, enemy has tirelessly provided throughout the centuries.
One does not ‘have’ to believe that God is not omniscient to believe he is not determinist. This is just faulty logic: God is ‘not A’, therefore God must be ‘not B’; there is no soundness whatsoever to this type of assertion.
God’s omniscience is not a matter of brute power, but exists, at least in part, due to his not being limited by the constructs of time and place, as we humans by necessity are. (There is obviously more to it than that, as other created beings, such as angels, also not limited to time and place, are nonetheless not omniscient.) Scripture seems to suggest that God, and God alone is omniscient, and it has nothing to do with his ‘power’ to do or not do anything, but is descriptive of his knowledge. Most who reject determinism nonetheless hold to God’s sovereignty. Just as a sovereign ruler in any land has the ‘final’ say, he rarely plans every menu in the kingdom. It is merely the Calvinist definition of sovereignty – total, meticulous deterministic control of every aspect of existence – that I reject, not the properly defined concept of God being the sole reigning authority over all creation. An authority which grants him the right to delegate power and authority to whomever he chooses, as he did in creating man in his image (able to think, reason and choose) and giving him dominion over the rest of creation.
I have no doubt that God, having complete and ultimate authority over his entire created universe, could, can and does step in whensoever and wheresoever he chooses. He ‘could’ have chosen to meticulously predetermine and script ‘whatsoever comes to pass’, but scripture, and reality, in my opinion, proves he did not. He has predetermined a particular outcome, which is the unmasking and defeat of all deception and evil, and endures with much patience all rebellion and resistance, even laughing at our futile attempts to thwart his ultimate, triumphant victory. I tend to think most Calvinists agree with much of this, but have been persuaded (falsely) that it requires some behind the scenes, disingenuous, secret, irresistible manipulation of all man’s actions by God, rather than his true ability to achieve his will even in and through active resistance by his creatures. Men do not have the capacity of omniscience, omnipotence or any other ‘omnis’ of which we may yet be unaware, but we have been granted, by the one who does, the ability to resist his good and, perfect will. This makes judgment and condemnation justifiable; as we have been granted genuine freedom to choose our own actions, we can therefore be expected to suffer the consequences thereof.
Few would deny that God does determinitively control many aspects of his creation, for man has no say in many things, including his very existence. We can only seek to understand, as best we can, what has been revealed to us, in God’s created and revealed works. Repeatedly it has been demonstrated that while we are weak, mortal, fallible creatures, we are nonetheless capable of choosing to work with or against God. Hence the pleas, warnings and judgments of scripture, which would make no sense apart from a genuine ability to respond to them. Unless, again, God is disingenuous, which I assert he is not.
I believe that God is entirely genuine, as are his many calls to turn from wickedness, his offer of atonement and pardon of sin, accomplished through his Son, and his warnings of future judgment to those who continue in their unbelief/rebellion. The alternative, apart from denying his existence, is to believe that God is in some way toying with us, as Calvinism, despite frequent denials, suggests. For Calvinism has God irresistibly ordaining sin, then calling us to resist it; ordaining whatsoever comes to pass, then punishing us for doing just as he irresistibly ordained, unjustly insisting that men are responsible for actions they were unavoidably compelled to do. Supposedly this is necessary to prove that God alone is incapable of sin, to demonstrate how ‘wicked’ man is. Unfortunately, under Calvinism, God had to produce sin in man in order to prove his own sinlessness. Such illogical inconsistency is inherent to Calvinism, requiring the suppression of all God-given logic in a masterful appeal to ‘mystery’. Suddenly, God can be declared illogical and inconsistent, as it is all just chalked up to his ‘higher ways’. This requires that the trusting convert not understand the meaning or essentials of logic, but our public education has made that virtually a given.
God did not have to dream up, ordain or cause sin, because imperfect, created, rational beings are inherently capable of corruption. This is not the result of God desiring corruption, but the inherent necessity of free creatures being able to, you guessed it, choose freely. As Paul demonstrates in Romans, man does not start out ‘Totally Depraved’ and dead to God, but upon being tempted to indulge his fleshly desires, and finding such rather pleasurable, he chooses to ignore, reject and eventually become totally deaf to spiritual implications. For example, most believers understand that sex is not inherently sinful. (Augustine and friends were a little confused on that issue.) It was created by God for completely good, and pleasurable, purposes. It is the corruption of that good thing, the selfish indulgence of every ‘natural’ desire, making personal pleasure the sole determiner of choices, that leads men to ignore the harm to self and others that uncontrolled indulging of the flesh creates.
This process has been deeply distorted, by the likes of Augustine and Calvin, turning ‘nature’ into something scripture does not confirm. The ‘natural’ man is merely a man whose impulses are controlled only by his ‘nature’ or flesh. He does not listen to the spirit of God, who urges him to consider others, to practice self-control, restraint, even self-denial, for the good of others. He only heeds the pressing desires of his own flesh, desires which, when properly (spiritually) controlled, produce pleasure and healthy relationships. God did not ‘curse’ man with a ‘sinful nature’; instead, Satan corrupts the ‘natural’ impulses that God indued mankind with in order to produce sin and depravity.
Scripture tells this story, demonstrates it through repeated narratives, and offers the ultimate solution to the corruption that comes from believing the lie that self-indulgence has no bad consequences. Cavinism would have us believe God ‘cursed’ us, ordained and causes our sin and, if we are ‘lucky’, just might have chosen us as one of the few to be arbitrarily relieved of that curse, ‘loved’, ‘redeemed’ and ‘saved’. It is a terribly perverse caricature of the gospel of God’s genuine love for man and his genuine offer of a ‘cure’ for the disease we have inflicted on ourselves by our own deliberate choices. Our own personal choices, not Adam’s, although Adam’s choice brought an end to the age of innocence and introduced sin and death into the formerly uncorrupted creation.
In Romans, Paul tells us that man is ‘without excuse’. In other words, no Calvinist claim that ‘my sin was ordained by God’ will stand in the day of judgment, nor will their ‘Get out of hell free’ card be honored. All who trust solely in the doctrinal integrity of their ‘election’ and attempt to hold God to his ‘irrevocable covenant’ will be waved away with the simple ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’ Thankfully. and all praise be to God, few Calvinists truly understand and embrace their claimed theology, with most having received the true spirit of sonship long before they were ever exposed to faulty doctrine. Faulty doctrine will lead to loss of fruitful lives only to the extent that it is genuinely lived out, and few can consistently live with the futility of thinking their lives are irresistibly controlled by outside forces, that no thought or action of theirs has any real meaning, that faithfulness cannot be practiced but only received.
Paul describes man as being completely aware of what God desires, and it is only upon making the choice to ignore this knowledge that sin arises. This deliberate choice to disobey what God has revealed to him as proper – which is sin – is what initiates the tragic descent into depravity. The good news is that this depravity is neither inevitable nor inescapable, for many, upon being convicted, repent of their selfish past, trust in God’s goodness and forgiveness and learn to walk with him again. It is this desire to please God, and care about others as well as self, that is the true mark of a child of God.
Augustine, Calvin and others preferred to consider their personal inability to resist ‘the flesh’ as a curse from God, a complete ‘inability’ for which they could not be blamed. Hence, their novel doctrine of ‘Total Depravity’. The genuine ‘cure’ for this ‘inability’ was, is and always will be the Spirit of God, and a heart that is tuned to hear. They also preferred to believe, as per Luther, that one could ‘sin boldly’ and not fear eternal punishment, as, once one gets that eternal security punch on their card it can never be revoked. This calls to mind Jesus’ rebuke of Satan’s suggestion that he ‘test’ God’s faithfulness by casting himself to what would be sure death. One may not deliberately embrace sin, then call out for God to forgive it, with a twisted view of God’s faithfulness that insists ‘You promised sin could not keep me from death!’
The Calvinist (meaning the philosophers, not the garden variety, who have merely adopted other men’s reasoning for their own) rejects personal responsibility for his sin, insisting that he is actually unable to hear and obey God, for God has so cursed him with this ‘inability’, thus he cannot help but sin. This is the allure, and soul-damning error of Calvinism, and it is the exact same error that brought about the destruction of the Jews. They, too, believed they could ‘Sin boldly’, trusting not in Jesus, but in their ceremonial rituals, for atonement. They believed the same set of lies from Satan – ‘It’s not your fault. God doesn’t expect perfection. Don’t worry, buy this elixer, (election); one drink is guaranteed to cure anything.’
Like modern man,who buys Satan’s lies that disorders and disease are cause by ‘genetics’ or ‘germs’ and can only be cured by the medicine man, the Jew and the Calvinist are persuaded that sin is a ‘disease’ for which they are not responsible, completely unavoidable, caused by ‘outside’ forces. It is in their Adamic genetic code. As long as men continue to deny that disease, and depravity, is the self-inflicted consequence of personal choices, they clamor for a ‘cure’; when all the while the cure has been provided, revealed and made readily available. It cannot be affected personally until the individual hears of it, believes in it and embraces it. Nor can it be affected universally, as in heaven, until all of the naysayers who continue to spread the toxins they believe to be ‘safe and effective’ are removed from the face of the earth.
For example, even if I make the personal choice to avoid spraying toxic pesticides on my garden, I cannot prevent my neighbor from doing so on his, and those pesticides will spread through the air and water. Or I may attempt to avoid unhealthy and addictive chemicals in my food, but may be unaware of how deceptive labels can be, of how toxic substances in minute quantities can be slipped in even in that which is claimed to be ‘organic’ or ‘all natural’. Nor can I completely eliminate the toxic residue from former behavior, when I did not know any better, and its consequences on my health. Hence, disease (toxemia) and sin, will continue to reign on earth, affecting even those who desire and attempt to remain ‘pure’, until all sin – any less than ‘perfect’ behavior – is universally turned from by all men.
It is without doubt true that God could have avoided all of this by not making man in his image, with the actual ability to think, reason and make independent choices. The determinists’ beef is with God’s choice to create genuine reasonable creatures with a freedom of choice. They reject the biblical answer, which explains Gods beautiful, gracious loving solution that freely calls all men to choose life, which he made possible through the incomparable sacrifice of his own Son. This is why I reject, and resist Calvinism, because it withholds the only hope lost men have, restricting it to some precious few.
And in the deep of the night, when the real despair of sin and its hold upon you and your precious loved ones breaks your heart, Calvinism has no answer. To believe that such was ordained, that no action, no prayer, nothing can possibly make a difference leads to utter hopelessness. And that is when the true God, who loves us deeply, ministers to our hearts and says ‘It isn’t so. I love you, I gave my all for you. I will lead you in the way you should go. Just follow me.’
That is my story, and God restored to me the joy of my salvation, my hope for loved ones still trapped in sin, and a concern for the lost that I could not have when I considered them rejected by God. It is no mere intellectual debate for me; Calvinism turned my genuine relationship with God into a rote religion, and a cold, hard one at that. It is the same oppressive, lifeless religion that the Pharisees had, while believing themselves to be oh so righteous. I apologize for the length of this, it is merely my desire to spare others what I went through that leads me to warn them against what I believe to be a corrupted gospel that strips from one love, joy, hope and a concern for the lost.
truthseeker00 writes, “I am unfortunately very familiar with the ‘you must believe this or else you believe that’ tactic, which is false and misleading.”
When people argue against Calvinism, they often will not advance an alternative position, so much discussion entails trying to figure out what a person believes if not the Calvinist position. It is not “believe this or else” but “what do people believe.” So, I am trying to figure out what you believe.
Then, “One does not have to become a Calvinist in order to avoid being labelled a so-called Pelagian, Arminian, or – apparently the new whipping boy – Open Theist.”
Is that true? If so, let’s see if you can distinguish a position unique to these. You know that the Calvinist-Pelagian controversy concerns free will. The Calvinist – Open Theist discussion concerns God’s omniscience. These discussions are not new. Nonetheless, maybe you can construct a new argument for free will or omniscience that has not been argued before.
Then, “One does not ‘have’ to believe that God is not omniscient to believe he is not determinist. This is just faulty logic: God is ‘not A’, therefore God must be ‘not B’; there is no soundness whatsoever to this type of assertion.
God’s omniscience is not a matter of brute power, but exists, at least in part, due to his not being limited by the constructs of time and place,…God alone is omniscient, and it has nothing to do with his ‘power’ to do or not do anything, but is descriptive of his knowledge.”
Here, you add nothing to the argument over omniscience. You basically say nothing. What we have is you stating opinions but being unable to frame an argument counter to Calvinism. Like others, you simply do not like Calvinism but have yet to find a feasible alternative to Calvinism. You can explain that which you don’t want to believe but cannot explain what you do believe. I am justified in limiting your choices to Calvinism or Open theism until you are able to describe a third position. For now, in the omniscience argument, you are either Calvinist or Open Theist – until you are able to frame a third unique position. My sense is that you are Calvinist with respect to omniscience even if you deny it.
RHUTCHIN writes “You basically say nothing.”
When we see’s posts that drop to the level of demagoguery and belligerence like this…..ITS TIME TO STOP FEEDING THE TROLL!!
br.d writes, “When we see’s posts that drop to the level of demagoguery and belligerence like this”
Or you can advance substantive arguments. Use brianwagner as an example – his comments are short, to the point, and substantive.
truthseeker00 writes, “Most who reject determinism nonetheless hold to God’s sovereignty. Just as a sovereign ruler in any land has the ‘final’ say, he rarely plans every menu in the kingdom. It is merely the Calvinist definition of sovereignty – total, meticulous deterministic control of every aspect of existence – that I reject, not the properly defined concept of God being the sole reigning authority over all creation. An authority which grants him the right to delegate power and authority to whomever he chooses, as he did in creating man in his image (able to think, reason and choose) and giving him dominion over the rest of creation.”
You say nothing above that argues against Calvinism. To define sovereignty as “total, meticulous deterministic control of every aspect of existence” does not differ from “God being the sole reigning authority over all creation.” Calvinists agree that God has ‘the right to delegate power and authority to whomever he chooses, as he did in creating man in his image (able to think, reason and choose) and giving him dominion over the rest of creation.”
So, where is your disagreement with Calvinists on sovereignty? You seem to agree with the Calvinists that God gave Adam and Eve freedom to decide to eat the fruit. Do you also agree that it was God who decreed that Satan be given the freedom to enter the garden and tempt Eve? Do you agree that God was present during the temptation of Eve and purposely did not intervene to help Eve? On what point do you disagree with the Calvinists?
Then, “I have no doubt that God, having complete and ultimate authority over his entire created universe, could, can and does step in whensoever and wheresoever he chooses. He ‘could’ have chosen to meticulously predetermine and script ‘whatsoever comes to pass’, but scripture, and reality, in my opinion, proves he did not…we have been granted, by the one who does, the ability to resist his good and, perfect will. This makes judgment and condemnation justifiable; as we have been granted genuine freedom to choose our own actions, we can therefore be expected to suffer the consequences thereof.”
No difference here from the Calvinist. God has given people freedom to choose with the caveat that God can restrain them to accomplish His purposes. For example, God restrained Joseph’s brothers so that they could not kill him, but allowed them freedom to sell Joseph to the Midianite traders. Of course, whether people have “genuine” freedom is the issue and the discussion here is whether a person’s sin nature affects their freedom to choose. However, you do not get into the real argument.
Then, “Few would deny that God does determinitively control many aspects of his creation, for man has no say in many things, including his very existence. We can only seek to understand, as best we can, what has been revealed to us, in God’s created and revealed works…Repeatedly it has been demonstrated that while we are weak, mortal, fallible creatures, we are nonetheless capable of choosing to work with or against God.”
You express a Pelagian concept – “we are nonetheless capable of choosing to work with or against God.” The Calvinist view is that we are capable of choosing to work against God but cannot choose to work with God until enabled to do so. These views are wrapped up in views on the “sin nature” a subject you do not delve into. Yo say, “Repeatedly it has been demonstrated,” is not accurate. You should provide examples to show that it has been demonstrated. (as opposed to only being implied).
Then, “I believe that God is entirely genuine, as are his many calls to turn from wickedness, his offer of atonement and pardon of sin, accomplished through his Son, and his warnings of future judgment to those who continue in their unbelief/rebellion. The alternative, apart from denying his existence, is to believe that God is in some way toying with us, as Calvinism, despite frequent denials, suggests. For Calvinism has God irresistibly ordaining sin, then calling us to resist it; ordaining whatsoever comes to pass, then punishing us for doing just as he irresistibly ordained, unjustly insisting that men are responsible for actions they were unavoidably compelled to do. Supposedly this is necessary to prove that God alone is incapable of sin, to demonstrate how ‘wicked’ man is. Unfortunately, under Calvinism, God had to produce sin in man in order to prove his own sinlessness. Such illogical inconsistency is inherent to Calvinism, requiring the suppression of all God-given logic in a masterful appeal to ‘mystery’. Suddenly, God can be declared illogical and inconsistent, as it is all just chalked up to his ‘higher ways’. ”
Much in this paragraph is nonsense – “God is in some way toying with us,” and “Calvinism has God irresistibly ordaining sin,” and “God had to produce sin in man in order to prove his own sinlessness,” and “a masterful appeal to ‘mystery’.” Much could be cleared up if you would address the issue of the “sin nature.” I get the sense that you agree with the Pelagians that the sin nature does not prevent a person choosing to obey God while the Calvinists say that a person cannot obey God because of their sin nature. Granting that you believe such still does not support the nonsense statements that you made.
“So, where is your disagreement with Calvinists on sovereignty? You seem to agree with the Calvinists that God gave Adam and Eve freedom to decide to eat the fruit. Do you also agree that it was God who decreed that Satan be given the freedom to enter the garden and tempt Eve? Do you agree that God was present during the temptation of Eve and purposely did not intervene to help Eve? On what point do you disagree with the Calvinists?”
Are you truly so ignorant of Calvinism or do you merely seek to deceive?
No, I do not ‘agree with the Calvinists’, for Calvinists can NOT assert that “God gave Adam and Eve freedom to decide to eat the fruit”. That is the exact assertion that Calvinism denies, and for which they denigrate all non-Calvinists. There is no ‘freedom to decide’ in Calvinism, and to pretend otherwise is shamefully dishonest. An honest and consistent Calvinist must admit that God desired, ordained and irresistibly compelled Adam and Eve to eat the fruit; they had no other ‘choice’, if one can possibly call doing what one must a choice. They could no more have not eaten that fruit than they could have sprouted wings and flown to another universe to escape. God, and God alone, determined and ordained, long before they were ever created, that Adam and Eve should eat the fruit that he had expressly forbidden them to eat. One can understand why the Calvinist prefers to defect to the language of ‘permission’, for it is not only absurd but utterly immoral for God to ordain, forbid, and then irresistibly bring to pass the very same act. And yet, any other assertion is not consistent Calvinism.
You exhibit the same dishonesty when you suggest that “it was God who decreed that Satan be given the freedom to enter the garden and tempt Eve”. Calvinism’s God does not ‘allow’ people to do things, he compels them, no matter what secondary causes he employs in so doing. Satan was not ‘given the freedom’ to enter the garden, he was ordained by God, from all eternity, to enter that garden and he had to do only and exactly what God decided beforehand he would do. There was no ‘freedom’ involved, nor can Satan – or man – be justly condemned by God for doing exactly what God ordained him to do.
There cannot exist, under Calvinism, any such thing as sin, for who does anything other than what God has ordained? To sin is to do other than what God desires and commands, which is impossible under Calvinism. Oh, I know, God supposedly has two different wills, which are at war with one another, as he desires and commands one thing while secretly ordaining another. Such a God would be either cruel or schizophrenic. The true God is neither. What he commands, all are capable of doing, should they choose to do so. Any ‘power’ man lacks, God has promised to provide at his request. Nor do I quake in my boots that I might be called a Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian or merely a heretic by Calvinists. I could not care less what others call me, nor for the ‘orthodox’ claims of mere men.
Man does not ‘sin’ because God secretly compels him to, but because he loves the pleasures that fleshly indulgence brings more than the pleasure of obedience. Hence the justice of God punishing man, which would be utterly unjust if man did not have the genuine freedom and ability to do well, as God assured Cain he surely did possess. Why did Cain sin? Because God ‘ordained’ it, while disingenuously pretending like he desired Cain to do well? No, Cain sinned because he chose to disregard the clear warning of God, which was given because he was capable of understanding and heeding it. Calvinism makes utter nonsense of every narrative in scripture, and can only rest on twisted, perverted interpretations of words.
“Do you agree that God was present during the temptation of Eve and purposely did not intervene to help Eve?” Where is God not present? What does he not see, or know? Ah, but that is far different from causing, which is the very point at which Calvinists and non-Calvinists divide. Which is why your dissembling is so abominable.
If you are a consistent Calvinist, you do not believe God ‘allows’ or ‘permits’ sin. You must, in order to preserve your theological system, assert that God deterministically ‘ordains’ and ’causes’ all things, including sin. The language of ‘allow’ or ‘permit’ can never enter into a Calvinist’s description of God, for it is the exact opposite of deterministically ordaining and bringing to pass. Or would you suggest that God ‘permits’ that which he ‘ordained’ to unavoidably come to pass? You could say ‘God permitted Adam to do what he irresistibly ordained Adam to do’, but that would be truly ‘saying nothing’, as you accuse me of. The absurdity of such language, the obvious deceit behind a Calvinist borrowing the language of ‘permission’, is clear to anyone who is not hindered by blind loyalty to a ‘system’.
Please stop playing games, with yourself and with others. State honestly what you believe or don’t say anything. Either God ‘ordains’ evil or he ‘permits’ it – it cannot be both. That is the very crux of the disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, and if you don’t know that, you better go back to the start and relearn your theology.
If you truly want to ‘know what I believe’ I will tell you. I have no need to play word games, or hide behind false perceptions created by faulty and dishonest representations. I do NOT believe that God ’caused’ Satan, Adam, Eve, you, me or anyone else to sin. I DO believe that he gave us the ‘freedom’ to choose our own actions, to disregard his ONE AND ONLY will, and to disobey his commands – at our own risk – which he genuinely desires us to obey and which we most certainly can. What is not ‘possible’ is for us to ‘earn’ God’s favor, for even our obedience is his due. Most likely, this is what Pelagian asserted, only to be falsely accused of suggesting that man could earn his own salvation.
You, and other Calvinists, continue to mislead, confuse and deceive those who are incapable of thinking for themselves, or seeing past the script they have obediently memorized. Fortunately, unlike Calvin, you do not possess the authority to lop off the head or burn at the stake anyone who dares dissent with your warped perceptions of God. Instead you can only figuratively immolate all who disagree, while speaking misleading words like ‘grace’, ‘mercy’ and ‘love’ which your cruel, tormenting, disingenuous God does not display.
Calvinist Vincent Cheung asserts his position as the true representation of Calvin’s doctrine concerning Adam and Eve:
On the Calvinist appeal to human free will is as unbiblical:
“Popular Calvinism fails to make a clean break with the unbiblical thinking of our opponents when it comes to human freedom. For this reason, it is unable to clearly demonstrate the difference and to avoid confusion. It teaches that divine sovereignty and human freedom are “compatible” because man always acts according to his strongest desire, that he is never forced, by God or anyone else, to think or act against his will. However, if as Scripture teaches, God’s control over man is so immediate and exhaustive such that he directly controls man’s will and desire, then man is not free from God even though his will is never forced against his desire. He is never forced not because he is free, but because he is so not free, so completely controlled by God, that even his will and desire are controlled by God, so that there is nothing left for God to force. Thus God is sovereign and man is not free.”
On the Calvinist appeal to infralapsarianism as blasphemous:
“The nature of purpose and design necessitates a supralapsarian scheme of the eternal decrees, in which the decree of election and reprobation appears before the decree for the fall of humanity, and in which the decree for the fall of humanity appears before the decree for the creation of humanity…the supralapsarian would say that God decrees the fall of humanity so that he would accomplish the decree of reprobation.”
“Supralapsarianism is the biblical and rational order …Thus infralapsarianism is blasphemous by implication, since it insults God’s intelligence and denies his rationality.”
“Infralapsarians retort that supralapsarianism undermines God’s justice, but to assert this they smuggle in a private and unbiblical standard of justice, one that rejects God’s absolute sovereignty and violates strict logical inference, and then evaluate the eternal decrees by it.”
“Their attempt to defend God’s subservience to a human standard of justice turns out to be a subversion against his sovereign and
divine justice, and a denial of even a simple ability for logical planning and arrangement in the mind of God. Hence their objection commits another act of blasphemy.”
br.d quotes Vincent Cheung as saying, “[Man] is never forced not because he is free, but because he is so not free, so completely controlled by God, that even his will and desire are controlled by God, so that there is nothing left for God to force.”
Let’s provide context for this. Unsaved man lacks faith and is unable to please God. Absent hearing the gospel, unsaved man is siad to be Totally Depraved and Totally unable (Total inability) to make any move toward God. Unsaved man is enslaved to sin and is always self-motivated to sin. It is necessary that God restrain the sin that the unsaved person pursues else people would soon destroy themselves. Man is not forced by God to sin but is compelled by his sin nature to do so. God so restrains (controls) man’s will and desire that man does as God decrees. The unsaved person is never free because he cannot choose otherwise than to sin and man can sin only to the extent that God decrees.
truthseeker00 writes, “Are you truly so ignorant of Calvinism or do you merely seek to deceive?…Calvinists can NOT assert that “God gave Adam and Eve freedom to decide to eat the fruit”. That is the exact assertion that Calvinism denies, and for which they denigrate all non-Calvinists.”
Calvinists say that God is omnipresent and was present in the garden watching as Satan tempted Eve. Calvinists assert that God is sovereign and had the final say on whether to intervene to prevent Eve eating the fruit or do nothing with the result that Eve eats the fruit. I am not sure that you understand the Calvinist system.
Then, “There is no ‘freedom to decide’ in Calvinism, and to pretend otherwise is shamefully dishonest.”
That is wrong – read Jonathan Edwards’ paper on free will. Calvinists assert the freedom of the will to do as one desires (unless specifically restrained by God.). You do not know the Calvinist system. Calvinist “free will” (to do as one desires) is opposed by those who advocate “libertarian” free will (to choose to do other than one desires.).
truthseeker00 writes, “An honest and consistent Calvinist must admit that God desired, ordained and irresistibly compelled Adam and Eve to eat the fruit; they had no other ‘choice’, if one can possibly call doing what one must a choice.”
Calvinist assert that God works though secondary causes – in this case, through the freedom given to Satan, to work His will (as with the David’s numbering of Israel). Adam and Eve had the unique ability to not sin and chose to do otherwise.
Then, “They could no more have not eaten that fruit than they could have sprouted wings and flown to another universe to escape.”
This because of deficiencies in their nature (lack of omniscience, lack of understanding, lack of perfect wisdom) that Satan exploited to great effect.
Then, “God, and God alone, determined and ordained, long before they were ever created, that Adam and Eve should eat the fruit that he had expressly forbidden them to eat.”
This is because no other outcome was possible absent God’s intervention to gain a different outcome, and God had ordained that He would not intervene.
“Then, “One can understand why the Calvinist prefers to defect to the language of ‘permission’, for it is not only absurd but utterly immoral for God to ordain, forbid, and then irresistibly bring to pass the very same act. And yet, any other assertion is not consistent Calvinism.”
By “permission,” Calvinists mean that people are free to pursue their desires without restraint by Him. There is nothing immoral about God leaving people to their own devices.
Then, ‘You exhibit the same dishonesty when you suggest that “it was God who decreed that Satan be given the freedom to enter the garden and tempt Eve”. Calvinism’s God does not ‘allow’ people to do things, he compels them, no matter what secondary causes he employs in so doing. Satan was not ‘given the freedom’ to enter the garden,…”
This points to your ignorance of the Calvinist system. It was God who “allowed” Satan to persecute Job even as it was God who “allowed” Satan to enter the garden.
Then, “There was no ‘freedom’ involved, nor can Satan – or man – be justly condemned by God for doing exactly what God ordained him to do.”
They can be condemned for doing that which they desire to do regardless the circumstances under which they find themselves able to do such.
You make one claim after another that point to a great ignorance of the Calvinist system.
This post is not specific to any participant here, but to directed to all readers.
Calvinist Vincent Cheung writes concerning the Calvinist appeal to secondary causes:
But does God directly cause and control these “secondary” causes or not?
And compatibilism….but this is irrelevant, since if God controls all things, then the fact that men make choices and what choices they make are also controlled by God, so that this means only that God is compatible with himself; thus the idea is a red herring that does not address the question. When you refuse to accept nonsense and press the issue, they throw up their hands and call it a mystery, and call you a heretic if you insist that the biblical doctrine is clear. But if this is permitted, then anyone can hold any position on any issue, and just call it a mystery.”
Vincent Cheung also writes, “So-called “second causes” are considered the means by which God executes his immutable decrees; however, these second causes are not themselves self-existent, self-determined, self-caused, or self-powered. Rather, all so-called “secondary causes” are themselves immediately caused and controlled by God, and the objects on which these secondary causes supposedly act upon react in ways that are also immediately caused and controlled by God. In other words, the term is misleading, and in fact nonsense.”
Is Cheung correct in saying that secondary causes are not “self-powered.” This is a critical point. We are told that Satan incited David to number Israel. Satan did this under God’s control for we are also told that God incited David to number Israel. Thus, Satan was God’s agent to incite David. Calvinists differ from Cheung on this point in saying that Satan was self-powered – Satan had a will and desired to incite David to evil but could only do so if God removed His restraint on Satan. In the same way it was the desire of the Assyrians to invade Israel but they could not do so until God removed His protection over Israel providing them the ability to fulfill their desires.
By saying that secondary causes are not self-powered, Cheung is saying that people (whom God uses as His agents as secondary causes) are not motivated by their sinful natures to sin. Calvinists say that people are self-powered – motivated to sin by their natures which natures desire only to sin. I have not seen where Cheung explains how he came to the conclusion that secondary causes are not self-powered, so it is not possible to go further in examining what Cheung means.
Do I display my ‘great ignorance of the Calvinist system’, or is it, rather, my refusal to allow Calvinists to get away with distinctions without a difference? Wave the magic semantic wand, throw in an adjective, and voila, we are all supposed to gape in amazement as the impossible is made mysteriously possible – by changing the common meaning of words. Word it how ever you will, the question always boils down to whether or not man has the ability to resist God’s known and declared will – as non-Calvinists assert scripture teaches – or must irresistibly do whatsoever has been ordained from all eternity for him to do.
Call it what you will, throw out however many scary accusations you can invent, cite as many clever defenders as you can – Calvinism can never legitimately grant that man has the ‘freedom’ to ‘choose’ anything, but must, without fail, do what has been predetermined by God. That is Calvinism in a nutshell, and all the euphemisms invented by clever Calvinists to disguise it cannot change its true face. Of course one can change the meaning of words, like ‘freedom’, ‘choice’, ‘will’ or any other word, but words without commonly understood meaning become, well, meaningless. ‘Popular Calvinists’ are aptly portrayed by the comic strip Calvin, who changes the rules and meanings of words upon a whim, so that anything he wishes to defend becomes ‘true’, albeit meaningless.
It is easy to claim that Calvinists believe that ‘people are free to pursue their desires without restraint’ – but it proves meaningless when you admit the necessary Calvinist assertion that it was God who ordained and made irresistible those very desires in the first place. In other words, were you honest, you would have to admit that what you claim ‘people are free to pursue’ is in reality what they are utterly unable to resist. You may as well say the pirate’s helpless victim is ‘free to pursue his desire’ to walk the plank. And he at least actually has a choice of sorts, for he can refuse to walk, and suffer a more violent death instead. It’s not much, but at least it is a genuine choice, which Calvinism does not truly grant to mankind.
Calvinism’s ‘freedom to pursue . . . desires’ has no rational meaning, for God ‘cooked the books’. He secretly compels (ordains, controls or ‘fill in the blank’) men to ‘desire’ whatever he wishes. Thus ‘freedom to pursue their desires without restraint’ becomes meaningless, a mere obfuscation to hide the reality of Calvinism’s assertion that God is the sole actor in the universe. In other words, men are only ‘free to pursue their desires without restraint’ because those ‘desires’ are limited to one and only one controlled and preordained option. It is like offering a starving man one and only one piece of rotten fruit as his only possible nourishment, and saying magnanimously, ‘you are free to choose anything you desire to eat’. Wow, with such overwhelming ‘freedom’ I wonder what he will ‘choose’. And in reality, it is much worse than that, for God, under consistent Calvinism, stuffs the rotten fruit down the man’s throat without giving him any ‘choice’ to starve instead.
“There is nothing immoral about God leaving people to their own devices.” Unless God unilaterally ordains, controls and enforces those ‘devices’, as Calvinism asserts. For what exactly are these so-called ‘devices’ men are supposedly left to? Why, none other than the irresistible decrees of God. I dare any Calvinist to deny it. Calvinism absolutely cannot ‘leave people to their own devices, for it has them helplessly at the mercy of a tyrannical, pitiless despot who not only unilaterally controls everything they ‘desire’ and do, but then – if they are one of the unlucky ones – punishes them for ‘desiring’ and doing it. That, my friend, is not only ‘immoral’, it is a hideous, unjust and blasphemous accusation to make against a truly just, loving and merciful God who freely offers abundant life to all men – if only they choose to believe it and order their actions accordingly.
At least Mr. Cheung honestly presents Calvinism in all of its genuine hideousness, without resorting to word games and deceptive, meaningless misrepresentations of its unpalatable doctrines. ‘Popular Calvinism’, as Cheung calls it, is true Calvinism hiding behind a mask, so as to not frighten away the masses by hideous doctrines which portray a tyrannical, unjust and disingenuous God. Calvinism’s unjust God has proven to be a hard sell through the ages, and has been exposed by genuine biblical scholars for what it is – a demonic caricature that undermines the genuine gospel offer of forgiveness of sin and life everlasting to all who will believe and put their trust in the God of grace and mercy. ‘Popular Calvinism’ is the attempt to soft sell a theological system that would gain few converts if presented honestly.
That which remains to be done, and this site goes a long way toward doing so, is to expose the genuine teachings of Calvinism to the naive and trusting believers who have fallen victim to charismatic teachers who cleverly distort and twist the meaning of words and scripture. Word games, false assumptions, unsupportable logic and nonsensical euphemisms are here exposed, and repeating them endlessly will not rescue them from their obvious absurdity. If one is going to defend this monstrous theology, the least he can do is present it honestly and unambiguously, rather than keeping ‘the scary stuff’ (thanks for the heads up, R.C.) hidden on a high shelf in the back of Calvinism’s closet while presenting a kinder, gentler face to the world.
truthseeker00 asks, “Do I display my ‘great ignorance of the Calvinist system’,…”
Then, ‘Calvinism can never legitimately grant that man has the ‘freedom’ to ‘choose’ anything, but must, without fail, do what has been predetermined by God. That is Calvinism in a nutshell,…”
And here is an example of such ignorance. Calvinists say that the unsaved cannot have faith until hearing the gospel and are enslaved to sin through their sin nature such that they are self-determined always to sin. It is only the gospel that can “free” the unsaved from the domination of sin. So, Calvinism, in a nutshell, is that the unsaved are Totally Depraved having no ability to save themselves and God must save a person if that person is to be saved so that salvation is entirely by God’s grace.
truthseeker00 writes, “It is easy to claim that Calvinists believe that ‘people are free to pursue their desires without restraint’ – but it proves meaningless when you admit the necessary Calvinist assertion that it was God who ordained and made irresistible those very desires in the first place.”
This was accomplished through Adam’s sin which condemned all humanity to a corrupt, sinful nature without any hint of faith toward God – Calvin called this the horrible decree.
Then, “…this site goes a long way…to expose the genuine teachings of Calvinism…”
Yes, by constantly correcting the great ignorance that exists concerning Calvinism and what it teaches as displayed in the comments that are made.
“This was accomplished through Adam’s sin which condemned all humanity to a corrupt, sinful nature without any hint of faith toward God – Calvin called this the horrible decree.”
More gobbledygook talk. Adam’s sin did not ‘accomplish’ anything, nor had it power to ‘condemn’ anyone. Adam ‘s sin was just that – Adam’s sin. For which God had already laid out the consequence, which was death. Yes, death, which nearly all men understand as the cessation of physical existence, which is universally known as ‘life’, or its equivalent in all languages. This cessation of life – death – was indeed a curse that would affect all of Adam’s posterity, as the very nature of man’s existence on earth became henceforth limited to a temporary span of time. Death came to all men through the sin of one. But not without a promise. The promise was of a second chance, the hope of a future immortality without the taint of sin. Eternal life was the hope of all men who waited breathlessly for the arrival of ‘the promise’.
Calvinism’s nonsense words attempt to give Adam, via his act of rebellion, the power to corrupt and condemn all of God’s creatures. In other words, Adam, in his rebellion, accomplished exactly what Satan sought – the total ruin of God’s creation. What abstract, meaningless words attempts to hide is that, under Calvinism’s system, it is God – not Adam or Adam’s sin, which is no ‘being’ and has no ‘power’ – condemns all men, before they are ever born, to be enslaved to sin. Talk about a horrible decree! Thank God it is merely the false conjecture of a wicked little man. According to Calvin, supposedly one man, without the knowledge or consent of all future men, sinned as a federal ‘representative’ of all mankind. No such thing is taught anywhere in scripture, but it has been repeated through the centuries until most christians assume it must be somewhere in the pages of that bible they rarely read. You can believe such unscriptural nonsense if you wish, but Jeremiah and Ezekiel, prophets sent by God, both clearly pronounce it to be untrue.
Jeremiah reports the prophet as declaring God’s words (that’s what prophets did) that “In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ (Calvinism’s false doctrine of inherited sin) But every one shall die for his own sin; each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jer 31:29-30) Ezekiel deals with the very same false proverb, still circulating, which God obviously detested: “The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die . . . Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ (As Calvinism falsely asserts with their doctrines of Total Depravity and forensic, representative guilt) When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ez 18:1-4, 19-20) That pretty much leaves the false concept of an inherited sinful nature where all lies belong – in the dustbin, where God’s light of revelation casts all demonic deception. Until men reject the clear words of scripture for the ‘orthodox’ teachings of other men – under threat of character assassination, job loss, and being burnt alive on green wood.
It is impossible to square man’s (Augustine, Calvin, etc.) definition of Total Depravity or an inherited sinful nature with the actual words of God as revealed in inspired scripture. Such faulty claims are built upon a subtle distortion of Paul’s actual teaching, which clearly states that death was the result of Adam’s sin, and that death has indeed passed to all mankind. Note that despite the corrupted interpretation that has commonly been passed down by the institutional church, it was physical death, not an enslavement to sin (that is, spiritual death), that was the warned and received curse for Adam’s sin. Total Depravity, Original Sin and Calvin’s horrible decree are not found in scripture, but only in the potentially faulty interpretations and philosophizing of men.
In believing and acting on the lie that God was untrustworthy, Adam introduced and modeled a wicked rejection of all that God had so graciously given him. The concept of Original Sin was incorporated by the original institutional church, and strengthened by the introduction of Calvinism, teaching as dogma invented theories that blaspheme the perfect nature of God. False claims that, by the way, genuine believers were not particularly willing to adopt, leading to the oft-ignored institutional ‘church’ history of inquisitions, persecution, torture and unthinkable methods of murder to oppress dissent. The horror of such practices led civilized men to insist that the institutional ‘church’, be forced to surrender the stake and sword and seek other means to force their resistant flocks to bow to official ‘orthodoxy’. This is what we now call the separation of church and state, and if any thanks are owed to Calvin it is for demonstrating the dangers of unrestrained theocratic tyranny.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned…Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:12, 18 and 19). An accurate interpretation of this passage might suggest that just as Adam’s rebellion against God’s rightful authority was adopted and imitated by those who came after him, so too will Christ’s righteousness be imitated by many who will come after him. Neither illustration suggests irresistible coercion or necessity, but the tendency and power of persuasion. Jesus’ true righteousness, which was his utter selfless submission to God, will be admired, adored and, with the help of God’s very indwelling presence, increasingly imitated by those who accept it for what it is – God’s long awaited promise of a second chance to abide with him forever.
Nowhere does scripture teach that God cursed man with a nature that is enslaved to sin, or that every man is born already enslaved to and guilty of sin, before they are even capable of committing a single errant act. God’s very own words, revealed through his prophets, tell us that it us utterly unjust to punish the son for the sins of the father, and that he denies assertions of such injustice on his part.
To extrapolate doctrines from hyperbole and poetic language can lead to all sorts of absurd claims, such as newborn babes spewing lies, which few, if any, truly believe scripture teaches, despite David’s poetic hyperbole. Anyone who has ever exaggerated for effect understands the point of poetic statements concerning man’s guilt. Left-brained, literal men often are confused by such poetic expressions, or use them to establish faulty, legalistic doctrines.
When Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), was he saying that the kingdom of heaven belongs to totally depraved little sinners rather than totally depraved big sinners? Or perhaps the Calvinist would suggest that these were all ‘elect’ little children, as Calvinists like to consider their own progeny despite their defense of God’s reprobation of whosoever he chooses. Jesus also taught: “[U]nless you are converted and become as little children, (no possibility of asserting election here!) you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) What else could ‘becom[ing] as little children’ mean other than becoming once more innocent of the guilt of sin, or was Jesus just enamored by beings small in stature?
All men freely imitate Adam in his lack of trust in God, tarnishing their original, childlike innocence. We sin because we believe Satan’s false charges that God is untrustworthy, cruel, unjust, jealous for his own glory – all of the claims that Calvinism makes. It is only when we trust in God’s goodness and trustworthiness that sin is revealed as the perverse, harmful and self-inflicted destruction that it is. We are not inflicted with ‘sin’ by God’s curse, but afflicted with the increasing depravity that our own stubborn rejection of God (sin) inevitably results in.
How can any make the horrible claim that God cursed men with an inability to understand, desire or seek righteousness, when in reality we have been offered the only possible respite from our self-inflicted misery by a loving and gracious Father? Nor is ‘sin’ a mere breach of the law, as if God is concerned about people following rules; the lack of trust in God is the ‘sin’, the fruit of which is selfishness and lawlessness. Since the fruit of the sin is lawlessness, the lawlessness itself is often referred to as ‘sin’, although technically its fruit. This is a common Hebraism, but is rarely understood by English readers of scripture. Just as God’s ‘grace’ is demonstrated by his offering of Jesus as a sin sacrifice, thus the sacrifice is often referred to as the ‘grace’ of which it is technically the fruit. Likewise, our obedience is the fruit of our ‘righteousness’, or right state of trust in God, but is often referred to as if it was the ‘righteousness’ itself. The Hebrew reader would easily grasp that God’s confronting stubborn men with truth leads them to harden their hearts more and more, and would not be confused at it being referred to as God ‘hardening’ a man’s heart. God’s call to men to do what is right leads the pure in heart to repentance, but the stubborn sinner to greater resistance. Explaining simple linguistic practices would eliminate many common misunderstandings, but it is upon these very misunderstandings that false doctrines are built. The institutional church, rather than clarify what language scholars surely grasped long ago, has chosen to argue instead over its debatable doctrines and insist on the right to declare the correct interpretation of scripture.
We are ‘saved’ from ‘sin’ by believing fully in God’s love and utter trustworthiness, as demonstrated in his willingness to sacrifice his own Son for our sake. This trust in God will gradually eliminate the habits of lawlessness that our former ‘sin’ of distrust fomented. This essential, nonperishable trust in God, our very ‘salvation’ is unlikely to be inspired by the cruel, manipulative and unjust caricature of God painted by Calvinism.
The entire manufactured forensic justification of Calvinism darkens the light that was shed by Jesus on a sin-darkened world. The effects of generations of men having passed on false beliefs and destructive habits to their children is to nearly obliterate truth from sight. To believe in Jesus is not to chant some magic words (“I Believe in Jesus”) and, as with ‘Abracadabra’, the gates of heaven will fly open. This comical distortion of the genuine gospel has been perpetrated by nearly every denomination of the institutional church for centuries, with a little help from Hollywood.
To believe in Jesus is to believe in the goodness, love, mercy and faithfulness of God. No matter what. Jesus is the manifestation of all of the characteristics of God, which are completely perfect and good. There are no secretive wills of God, no commanding one thing and ordaining another, no secondary means used to induce evil in order to show how ‘good’ he can be. To be ‘saved’ from sin and darkness requires no legal, forensic formula, no complex theological system, no dogmatic doctrines, no magic words, but a simple, childlike belief in the goodness and trustworthiness of God. This is the message, and the power of the gospel, which breaks through all of the confusing darkness of Satan’s lies and all doctrinal distortions by false institutions calling themselves ‘the church’ of God, of which no one can deny there are many. The true ekklesia, the true Israel, is not some organized, hierarchical institution, which holds the complete ‘orthodox’ truth of scripture inerrantly and performs God’s commands flawlessly. It is every man, woman and child who believes in the genuine love, goodness and trustworthiness of God, as demonstrated most perfectly in its very incarnation into flesh, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
I know of no greater distortion, no greater hindrance to faith in a genuinely loving God, than the false, demonic teachings of Calvinism, which perpetuate the same lies that Satan whispered to Eve: “God is all about himself, he doesn’t care about you. All he cares about is his own glory, and he wants to keep you under his self-absorbed thumb. He is cruel, despotic, controlling, arbitrary, unjust and cannot be trusted with his pretty words, which falsely suggest that he loves you. What he doesn’t want you to know is that you don’t really have to do what he says, you can do whatever you want, once you have the same ‘knowledge’ that he has, which is yours for the taking.” All men, like Eve, succumb to the same essential set of lies Satan has been whispering from the beginning.
Then came Jesus, proving all such lies to be utterly untrue. All charges of God’s selfish tyranny vanished in the face of his selfless sacrifice. Satan had to adapt, to figure out how to incorporate God’s undeniable demonstration of love and mercy that all his vain efforts could not prevent, into his deceptive plot to dethrone God. But how?
“It is no use trying to convince these mindless mongrels now that God doesn’t love them. It’s done, and there’s no taking it back. But wait, what I cannot prevent, I can distort. Let God have his little demonstration of love and grace; I will spin it into a partial, despotic tyranny. I will suggest that this ‘marvelous grace’, though undeniable, is not for ‘all men’, but limited to an arbitrary, select few. Then, foolish, unthinking men will proclaim with glee that God loves and died for them, but no one else. That’s it! Twist God’s pointless little demonstration of love into a partial, vile, unjust system of winners and losers, and I’ve got him! His very ‘disciples’, shouting this distorted ‘love’ from the rooftops, will be my instruments to spread his character assassination. God may think he will triumph in the end, but when I draw him into a standoff and force him to take off his gloves to annihilate me, I will prove that I was right all along. Freedom of choice coupled with unlimited love can never overcome the clever power of evil; brute strength must be used to rule over corrupted creatures. I cannot lose. My very destruction will be my triumph! Bwahahahaha!”
The very same false theology held by the Jews, is held by Calvinists, both of which consider themselves the sole, beloved and chosen heirs of God. Generations of christians who have been raised on faulty interpretations of scripture, from Genesis to Revelations might just be surprised when the final chapter of history looks nothing like a LaHaye/Jenkins novel or any other man-made depiction. When God appears in all of his true glory, he will be utterly unlike the distorted caricature presented by Calvinism, and for that I say Amen.
truthseeker writes, “It is impossible to square man’s (Augustine, Calvin, etc.) definition of Total Depravity or an inherited sinful nature with the actual words of God as revealed in inspired scripture….Total Depravity, Original Sin and Calvin’s horrible decree are not found in scripture, but only in the potentially faulty interpretations and philosophizing of men. ”
What does the Scripture say on this subject?
– “..without faith it is impossible to please God,…” Hebrews 11
– “…not everyone has faith….” 1 Thessalonians 3
– “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God….” Romans 10
The unsaved do not have faith and cannot receive faith outside hearing the gospel.
Paul describes the unsaved in Romans 8.
– Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (That is, they have no faith.)
– Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;…
– The mind of sinful man is death,…
– the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
In Romans 3, Paul adds this:
– There is no-one righteous, not even one;
– No one understands,
– No one seeks God.
– All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one.
– There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Then, Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?”
Thus, Total Depravity is laid out and it is the condition of all people.
Wow, that’s how Calvinism makes its case – by stringing together parts of verses, reading in assumptions, and tying together unrelated thoughts. With that method, one could concoct any religion one desired – as many have. Mostly the tenuous theory of Total Depravity (as defined by Calvinism) rests upon taking Paul’s meaning in Romans 3 out of context. He does indeed describe an awful state of mankind, which has succumbed to sin, but absolutely nowhere does he state that it is due to a curse from God, or even inevitable. As Paul also explains in Romans, the genuine depraved state at which mankind tends to arrive is due to deliberate choices to reject what has been revealed, and understood, about God. Romans deadness due to God’s curse, no taking away their ability to understand, just sheer love of self-serving pleasure and darkness. Scripture is best interpreted by not picking out little pieces of verses that serve one’s purposes, but by reading entire passages in context. In Romans 1 Paul had already explained, giving context to Romans 3, that:
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.” (Rom 1:18-32)
Does Paul depict the depraved state of men? Absolutely. Does he account it to a curse from God, that makes them unable to understand, seek or do as God wills? Absolutely not. Calvinism can only claim such a lie by ignoring these verses that clearly teach otherwise, and cherrypicking and twisting a few into appearing to mean what they claim. A full reading of Romans – not the cherrypicked verses and parts of verses Calvinism rests on – clearly leads to truth.
The same condition existed when God destroyed nearly all created things in the days of Noah, and yet, somehow Noah, if Rhutchin interprets Paul correctly, supposedly is not righteous, does not understand, does not seek God, has turned away, become worthless and done no good, finds grace due to his righteousness. Perhaps Paul neveer read Genesis 6, which says that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.” Or perhaps his meaning is being misunderstood?
As in all of scripture, any mention of Total Depravity, as defined by Calvinism, is missing; there is not the slightest suggestion that Noah – alone – escaped it (Total Depravity and ‘deadness to God’) by God’s work of regeneration that made him – alone – righteous on the earth. To arrive at such an understanding requires sheer imagination, for it is not even hinted at. All of the determined distorting of scripture the most clever Calvinist can attempt cannot turn scripture’s genuine description of Noah into one of Calvinism’s ‘elect’, who was ‘chosen’ for nothing he had ever said or done, while the entire rest of the creation (apart from his family) is rejected, reprobate, not regenerated, for no reason other than God’s good pleasure.The entire narrative becomes absurd under Calvinism, putting God in the ridiculous state of regretting what he had irresistibly ordained, and being grieved at his own carefully controlled creation, as if he had not quite thought it through, and had to start over.
Anyone can weave together words, take their meaning out of context, read new meaning into them, and arrive at any doctrine desired. The proof is always in the pudding. That is the true beauty, the utter astonishing glory of God’s word. If one’s interpretation of scripture is discounted repeatedly by the actual narratives recounted in scripture – as Calvinism is – one needs to seek God’s help in finding a more accurate interpretation. Total Depravity cannot stand under a single scriptural narrative, be it of Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses or any other scriptural figure. All were demonstrated to be men who made choices, who, while not free from sin, trusted in God and attempted to walk with him and to do his revealed will.
The call of God to men throughout scripture is to turn from their wickedness – which requires understanding and ability, unless God is a disingenuous tease. And what is demonstrated, without fail, are the results of men’s choices to either turn from that wickedness or not. Our heroes of the faith were men who, however falteringly, sought to obey God, and were declared ‘righteous’ for their weak attempts due to their faith in who and what God was. Paul was telling the Jews that even their best attempts at ‘keeping the law’ were filthy rags, that they, like all men, needed the sacrificial work of Jesus to grant them the ability to claim genuine ‘righteousness’. What he was not suggesting was that no man heard or understood God because he had removed their ability to do so, which, make no mistake, is what Calvinistic Total Depravity teaches.
truthseeker00 writes, “Wow, that’s how Calvinism makes its case – by stringing together parts of verses, reading in assumptions, and tying together unrelated thoughts.”
The Scriptures provide “truth” and stringing parts of verses is only wrong if that truth is violated. So, you do not dispute the truths identified in those parts of verses, you do not identifying the assumptions supposedly read into those verses, and you do not explain how it is wrong to build one truth on another (an activity on which the filed of philosophy is built) You do not know how to frame an objection – this because there is none. The only refutation you attempt is a personal opinion about Romans 3.
Then, “Perhaps Paul neveer read Genesis 6, which says that “Noah was a righteous man, …”
Or, perhaps, Paul understands that righteousness comes from God. Thus, it is God who conveys faith to Noah by application of which which Noah is then righteous.
Then, “As in all of scripture, any mention of Total Depravity, as defined by Calvinism, is missing;…”
Neither is there mention of the trinity or or the rapture but we understand the scriptures to speak of such things.
In the end, truthseeker00 has only personal opinion to offer and nothing from the Scriptures to support his opinions and this because even he would have to string the truth of Scriptures together, if such could be found to support his opinions, and this is anathema to him.
Sorry for some bad editing of above. Should read “Romans reveals no deadness . . .”
Actually, I would agree that any reasoned out assumptions, beyond what scripture actually reveals, be it concerning the trinity, the rapture or any other sacred man-derived tradition, are just that – assumptions. Any time we go beyond what scripture says, we are wading into the territory of philosophy. And weaving together parts of scripture, ignoring both the immediate and greater context, to arrive at ‘truth’ is the most dangerous and misleading practice that attempts to be called bible interpretation. It is necessary to all false, man-made philosophies, such as Calvinism.
truthseeker00 writes, “I would agree that any reasoned out assumptions, beyond what scripture actually reveals, be it concerning the trinity, the rapture or any other sacred man-derived tradition, are just that – assumptions.”
Everyone takes that position. All the term, “trinity,” does is provide a shorthand term for expressing truth found in Scriptures. It is not an assumption – it is used instead of repeating the 20 verses or so from which people have concluded that God is identified as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
The issue you have objected to is the use of the truth found in Scripture to draw out additional truth not found in the Scripture. For example, if Scripture tells us that A = B and B = C, are we justified in concluding that A = C if the Scriptures do no specifically tell us that A = C. Your position seems to be that we are not justified in doing so – basically, it seems, because that is how Calvinism reasons.