JD Greear represents the type of Calvinism that is rising in the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is a point by point cordial critique of JDs teaching from Ephesians 1:
Below is a short exegetical commentary over Ephesians 1:4 submitted by Brian H. Wagner, PhD, Professor of Theology, Church History, and Biblical Languages at Virginia Baptist College:
7 Reasons from Context & Grammar Showing Eph 1:4 Teaches Corporate Future Blessing … not Divine Individual Election
BRIAN H. WAGNER·MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2016
1. The context is a description of spiritual blessings for those in Christ, who Himself is already seated in the heavenlies. The emphasis is therefore forward looking, not backward concerning God’s purpose. Other terms in this context (1:3-14, “inheritance”, “fullness of times”) confirm this future emphasis. The future blessing itemized in 1:4 is to be holy and without blame before God in the heavenlies with Christ in the future.
2. The grammar of the complementary infinitive – εἶναι – “to be” must not be disconnected in thought from the main verb – ἐξελέξατο – “were chosen”. The blessing is not being chosen to be in Christ before the foundation of the world, but the blessing to be chosen in Christ to be holy and without blame in the future.
3. The grammar (semantic meaning) of “in Christ” is crucial to this context and to this passage. The spiritual body of Christ is made up of all believers who were added to it by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12:13). One cannot be in Christ, that is “in Him” before being added to that body by the Holy Spirit. See Rom 9:25 where before being in Christ is clearly called “not My people” and “not beloved”.
4. The context (delimitations) follows the thread – “in Christ” (vs 3), “in him” (vs 4, 9 & 11), “in the beloved one” (vs 6),“in whom” (vs 7, 11, & 13). These point clearly to Paul’s closing description of how one becomes “sealed… until the redemption of the purchased possession” in the body of Christ by the Spirit of promise. One is “sealed” in Christ when one has heard the gospel and has believed it (1:13).
5. The grammar (semantic meaning) of “us” therefore in 1:4 must be anachronistic. No individuals or group of persons existed before the foundation of the world to be chosen between except the members of the Godhead. It is understandable that promises made to one of those members would benefit any who would later be joined to Him spiritually, that is to His spiritual body.
A future member of that body could say anachronistically that they were chosen in Christ before creation to receive that fulfillment of those same promises made to Christ back then. It would be like a Christian Jew saying, “I was chosen in Abraham before Israel was a nation to dwell in Israel in the Millennium with Abraham.” He would be speaking anachronistically, with no thought of his identity as an individual being chosen to be Abraham when Abraham received that original promise.
6. The grammar (semantic delimitation) of “before the foundation of the world” which is a terminus ad quem (limit to which), denotes a finish line of the activity of the main verb/infinitive thought in 1:4, and it should not be confused with the NT use of “from the foundation of the world” which is a terminus a quo (limit from which), that is, a starting line of activity discussed where that phrase is found. The verses stating “before” creation in the NT, like this one, relate only to activities of the individuals within the Godhead (John 17:3, 2Tim 2:9, Titus 1:2, 1Peter 1:20). The verses stating “from” creation in the NT all relate to activities that began after creation, like adding names to the Lamb’s Book of Life (inferred in Rev 13:8, 17:8). The Greek preposition – απο – always means “from” or “since” and never “before.” The Greek preposition – προ – always means “before” either of time or rank.
7. The context (rational concept) of individuals being chosen before creation who do not yet exist in reality requires a definition of how they existed in God’s mind in order to be chosen there in His mind. One option is to be known in His mind as an eternally set group of individual lives (like biographies) which include all God’s interaction also as eternally set. This, however, makes any concept of “choice” an anthropomorphic expression, since no life was previously unchosen and then chosen. And no forethought would have preceded that “choice”, and God could not express free will to make choices into the future forever.
A second option is to be known in His mind and infinite understanding as a possible group of individual lives (like cans of playdoh), which allows God’s free will to be expressed as a potter (cf. Jer 18:1-11) interacting with each according to a plan which includes a destiny for all who responsibly submit to or reject His grace to form them into vessels of mercy. This verse, 1:4, speaks about the destiny of those who have submitted by trusting the Gospel and have then been joined to Christ who was promised before creation a destiny for Himself and those joined to Him, in Him.
The Scripture, with all its subjunctive/conditional statements, all its universal invitations and warnings, and all its verses clearly declaring that God is still making choices and determinations contextually supports the second option. The first option can only be true if all of God’s self-revelation in Scripture is viewed as truly analogical (a comparison with no true connection to reality), whereas the second option views Scripture as truly univocal (giving true meaning in connection to reality).
If Calvinists have as many contextual/grammatical reasons for the idea of divine individual election before creation being taught in this verse, let them show the evidence. They will also need to explain further how individuals existed before creation in God’s mind without affirming that God will never exercise His free will in their lives into the future forever. And they will need to explain how His choice was actually made, without affirming that such an expression is anthropomorphic/analogical for God has not actually made any choices. If they do affirm that God no longer expresses His freedom of will in making choices and that God’s self-revelation in Scripture is mostly anthropomorphic/analogical, they will need to explain why God did not state this more clearly in the Scripture but needed future scholars to reveal this truth about Him after Scriptures were completed.
I do not hold as necessary to show exegetical confirmation by other scholars of what I just presented, but it can be helpful for those who ask, “Did the Holy Spirit lead others to affirm this interpretation based on normal context and grammar?” So on biblehub.com, here are exegetical Commentaries by some who though they hold, by theological bias in my opinion, to individual election as being taught in this verse, they do recognize the grammatical legitimacy of the corporate election view! See comments by Alford, Lange, Meyer, Moule (Cambridge Bible), and Salmond (Expositor’s Greek).
67 thoughts on “Ephesians 1: Critique of Calvinist JD Greear”
Of course some will come after you for any mention of a corporate view…. but they all hold one too as you showed.
We all to a certain degree hold the corporate view as we read letters/ words to “the church” etc.
And of course the entire OT is built on a corporate concept… people coming in and out of the chosen vehicle Israel (by faith or lack of faith).
There is no indication that Rahab and Ruth were chosen when Abraham’s line was established (Abraham, Issac, Jacob, etc) (in fact those pagans were to be kept out of the line) ….but they became “chosen” by faith when joining themselves to the chosen. Many, many others like that are listed in the Word. To teach us what?
To teach us that God has “chosen individuals” and no one can get in, or that God has a “chosen way” a “chosen vehicle” and anyone can get in by faith?
God is constantly showing us in His word that He has a chosen (sovereign, predetermined according to the counsel of His will) plan and people, and that anyone can come into it by faith.
If someone asks, “How did the pagan, prostitute Rahab come to be in the line of Christ in the corporate chosen people?”
The answer is found in God’s word.
Heb 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
To superimpose on her or that passage any sort of individual, predetermined election is to read into the Scriptures.
To superimpose on her or that passage that she was somehow given (irresistibly no less) that faith it to bring to Scriptures one’s own presuppositions.
Good observations FOH! Another interesting example would be the Levites in David’s day who were chosen to carry the ark. David said, as recorded in 1Chr 15:2 – “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”
Any Levite that day could have said to another Levite – “God chose us in Aaron, before Israel entered the promised land, to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.” Of course, he would not have had the ridiculous thought that he had his name written down in a book of Levites during Aaron’s time or that he individually or physically would be ministering before the Lord forever in this special task as a priest. He would be using the “us” as a pronoun of reference with a corporate connection because of the promise made to Aaron and his being in his lineage by physical birth.
We say, with Paul, we have the same privileges granted to the Son of God before creation that go to any in His lineage by spiritual birth through their personal faith.
I replied to this article here:
And Passover provides us with another example.
First we must realize that Passover is the supreme OT example repeated again and again in the OT and NT.
Next we see that God develops the corporate idea of Israel— with clear instructions. He has corporate dealings with Israel….and instructs how one is part of His corporate chosen. He states it clearly.
Each house is to find a perfect animal and spill its blood and apply that blood to the door. The application of the blood on your house is personal. Corporately “all who do it” will be saved and will be “the chosen, Israel.”
It is a great example of how God has a corporate plan (vehicle, vessel) and how one gets into it.
Now….had He chosen with His most spectacular saving event (which was the perfect picture of the coming Christ) to carte-blanche save all Hebrews (with no faith or effort on their part) then I would agree with the Calvinistic model.
But He does just the opposite in this crucial story.
He shows us that we must apply the blood in faith.
And don’t forget the “mixed multitude” that also got into that “vehicle” and left Egypt with Israel (Ex 12:38). Didn’t someone tell them the salvation was only for those with Jewish blood? And how about God’s open invitation to Edomites and Egyptians (Deut 23:7-8) 😉
I can imagine there were some non-chosen that saw what happened in Egypt and believed. It even says that many left with them (as you noted). There is no biblical reason to believe that these non-chosen were in God’s mind or plan when He chose Abraham and his seed. They just became part of the “chosen before the foundations of the world” in faith.
Several places we read ….”And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”
Clearly these types of passage at Passover describe a personal God displaying His mighty acts ….and the people (all kinds, not just Hebrews) following Him in faith.
Some will re-write the story adding all kinds of things that are not mentioned, even using all capital letters to yell at you as a heretic.
Just continue to read the text as He gives it….not bringing Greek philosophy (man’s non-biblical definition of omniscience, omnipotence) to the text. When I was in my zealous Calvinist phase…..I came to every passage telling it what it must mean.
That’s good that you dont do that Brian.
Brian writes, “God could not express free will to make choices into the future forever.”
I can’t understand how a biblical scholar could ever espouse such a notion. It’s a preposterous idea to believe that an omnipotent Deity who knows everything BEFORE He creates, would have to make a choice amongst competing ideas when He already knows what will occur before it occurs. I’m sorry, but this is foolish theology and just will not stand in the light of Scripture, nor is it even logical.
Omniscience means knowing ALL THINGS!! PERIOD!! An all-knowing Deity doesn’t have to choose because:
a) He already knows the outcome
b) He’s orchestrating the outcome
c) He thwarts the efforts of man to ensure His desired outcome
Brian Wagner is simply teaching heresy (false doctrine) and I’ve called him out on it to his face. His theology is untenable and easily refuted.
“Easily refuted” ….. but demonstrably not by you!! lol
Yes I get it, you don’t like it, but “refuted”???? You’re just another example of a Calvinist/Reformed ‘thinker’ who has swallowed the official line and refuses to use their brain any more. Brian uses brain all the time. The clue’s in his name!! 😉
Essentially all you’re doing is re-making God in the image into which you want to fit him. So God cannot now make a choice because he knows what he’s already going to choose! Give me strength! The Godhead being defeated by the Godhead??? Now I’ve seen or at least read it all!
Barker’s Woof writes, “Essentially all you’re doing is re-making God in the image into which you want to fit him. So God cannot now make a choice because he knows what he’s already going to choose! Give me strength! The Godhead being defeated by the Godhead??? Now I’ve seen or at least read it all!”
This comment is non-sensical to me. Please elaborate sir.
Barker’s Woof writes, “So God cannot now make a choice because he knows what he’s already going to choose!”
An all-knowing Deity never has to choose anything because He already knows all possible outcomes. But beyond this fact, He’s orchestrating all outcomes to fulfill His purposes as Ephesians 1:11 states.
Brian writes, “2. The grammar of the complementary infinitive – εἶναι – “to be” must not be disconnected in thought from the main verb – ἐξελέξατο – “were chosen”. The blessing is not being chosen to be in Christ before the foundation of the world, but the blessing to be chosen in Christ to be holy and without blame in the future.”
The fact is that THEY were chosen for SOMETHING and that choice was made BEFORE creation. They were chosen IN Christ because Christ is the source of their salvation. Yes, they were chosen to be holy and blameless, but that choice was made when..BEFORE the foundation of the world. The grammar in the original language does, in fact, comport with the idea that there were people elected to be holy and blameless before creation.
//The fact is that THEY were chosen for SOMETHING and that choice was made BEFORE creation. // Something Calvinists fail to address is – there were no individuals in Christ before the Foundation of the world (their THEY). To appeal to the “elect” is begging the question and insisting on an individal THEY are left with God looking through the corridors of time to select an individual. You just cannot get around verse 13 that defines THEY as In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
And Yes they were chosen for SOMETHING and that SOMETHING was blessings not Salvation which is never mentioned, a strange thing to ignore if Paul intended it.
Ernest writes, “And Yes they were chosen for SOMETHING and that SOMETHING was blessings not Salvation which is never mentioned, a strange thing to ignore if Paul intended it.”
I appreciate your comment brother. However, to be chosen before the foundation of the world “to be holy and blameless” is salvation. Salvation is what God does to make us holy (set apart) and blameless (because our sins are forgiven) before Him. This is simply another way God is expressing that He’s chosen us for salvation before creation. This is not anachronistic as Brian teaches because God decreed this before He created mankind. Brian and many others are attempting to explain away the plain meaning of this text because it destroys his argument against a God who has planned the future before any of us were born. This concept is offensive to our flesh and ego. We want to have some say-so too but God’s plan is already etched in stone (including those whom He planned to saved BEFORE the foundation of the world).
Brian writes, “3. The grammar (semantic meaning) of “in Christ” is crucial to this context and to this passage. The spiritual body of Christ is made up of all believers who were added to it by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12:13). One cannot be in Christ, that is “in Him” before being added to that body by the Holy Spirit. See Rom 9:25 where before being in Christ is clearly called “not My people” and “not beloved”.
Brian yes we become apart of the Body of Christ IN TIME. However, IN PRINCIPLE, we were ALREADY in Christ before creation. There had to come a point IN TIME that we would be born again and be IN CHRIST. But this doesn’t disprove a prior election of individuals before creation.
Now regarding your reference to those called “not my people”, IN TIME before we’re born again, we’re numbered with the non-elect until God makes our salvation a reality IN TIME. But this does not prove that God has not elected a people outside of time before creation.
Also, “not my people” could also refer to the future Gentile believers who were not apart of the Jewish nation who represented God’s people on earth.
I’m admonishing you to please think these things through carefully before you decide to teach them as “thus saith the Lord”.
//IN PRINCIPLE, we were ALREADY in Christ before creation// not according to verse 13. We are not in Christ until we believe. Unbelieving we are condemned according to John.
Ernest writes, “not according to verse 13. We are not in Christ until we believe. Unbelieving we are condemned according to John.”
Ernest, from an omniscient God’s perspective, the elect were already in Christ before creation because He had already planned to save them IN TIME. The fact that we come to believe IN TIME is a fulfillment of what God planned before creation. This is why I said that IN PRINCIPLE the elect are already in Christ. Now God the HS is effectuating God’s plan by saving His elect IN TIME.
You know Brian…I’ve been thinking about something.
Leighton is always so gracious to say he has an opinion and respects the opinion of others (and hopes they do of him).
I have a big place in my heart for Calvinists, being formerly one. Many of of my good friends are Calvinists.
I have a place in my heart also for Pentecostals. They are bringing so many people to Christ who have broken lives and spirits.
I have mentioned that I am an overseas pastor and mission leader and I work with Pentecostals on one end and Reformed baby-baptizers on the other end. I have a hard time with Augustine’s veneration/ adoration of Mary and prayer to the saints….and certainly his encouraging of forced obedience (river dunking), but many love him (like Sproul), so we learn to give them grace.
Anyway, I appreciate the gentle tone of you and Leighton as you discuss ideas in Scripture and how you take care to be Christ-like and kind.
Thank you FOH for the kind words. I have some had some Christian friends in both the reformed and pentecostal camps myself.
FOH writes, “Anyway, I appreciate the gentle tone of you and Leighton as you discuss ideas in Scripture and how you take care to be Christ-like and kind.”
Always remember that piety and having a “gentle tone” don’t determine truth. In fact, oftentimes they mask the truth because we concentrate more on one’s piety instead of testing their doctrines against what all of Scripture teaches. I’ve never been impressed by one’s apparent devotion to God. I always test what they say against Scripture.
A question to determinists.
Was creation/history forever always completed in God’s mind and in His experience or did He know it first as uncompleted and not yet experienced and then more completed and then more experienced?
If the first – pantheism or panentheism seems unavoidable and God deceptively put in Scriptures that He still makes decisions after creation began and is lying about having new experiences such as the incarnation. If the second – God’s eternal reality is sequential which corresponds perfectly with the truth He revealed about Himself and His experiences in Scriptures.
Prepare yourself for some sort of “in time” answer of how God works.
Grudem mentions this in his massive Systematic Theology. Kind of an idea like: “He predetermined it all before, but ‘in time’ He experiences sorrow, joy, sadness, pleasure, disappointment….He reacts, ‘in time’.”
This allows for the very awkward philosophy that everything is settled by God (“God acts, but never reacts to man”) —and He is unchanging, immutable, impassible (no emotions whatsoever since that would require change) —- and yet He gets to experience sorrow and change ‘in time’. He gets to react to man’s decisions and prayers “in time” but He has already determined all those actions and reactions.
Of course this concept is what they must come up with in order to be consistent with their (non-biblical, but imposed) definition of sovereignty and omniscience.
It solves nothing and is impossible to understand (thus relegated to “mystery”) and of course un-explainable to the world (but they care little about that) so they just say “all things are foolishness to the world.”
It is a way of covering their tracks all along the way. Rather than just taking God at His word…..and listening to what the Bible says, not reading into it what it must say (because of our presuppositions).
It is not just mystery… FOH, it is plain contradiction… for it has God determining what He had not determined but was also already eternally immutably determined. It has God experiencing what He had not experienced and cannot experience but is still experiencing, according to Scripture.
More harmfully, beyond asking us to believe in illogical contradictions, determinism asks that we believe God was deceptive in His Word, who called His Word the truth, when it hardly represents the “truth” that determinism asks us to believe.
I have written many times in these posts about how that philosophy (determinism) renders God’s word as deceptive or insincere. ((make no mistake readers….I am not saying it is deceptive/ insincere ….simply pointing out that the Reformed positions does.))
How many invitations in God’s word!!! How about the Wedding Feast parable?! Insincere invitation to all.
Christ calling out “Oh Jerusalem, how I longed to….. but you would not….” Since they did not come they were not intended to come (from eternity)….but He does in real time invite them (must be insincerely?).
It’s all so confusing all this “in time” an “before time” stuff. Mystery!
Brian writes, “More harmfully, beyond asking us to believe in illogical contradictions, determinism asks that we believe God was deceptive in His Word, who called His Word the truth, when it hardly represents the “truth” that determinism asks us to believe.”
This is all conjecture and is based on a limited view of who God truly is. As I’ve always stated, these are concepts that men must struggle with because it mitigates against the flesh/ego.
Brian asks, “Was creation/history forever always completed in God’s mind and in His experience or did He know it first as uncompleted and not yet experienced and then more completed and then more experienced?”
To respond to the first part of your question – “Was creation/history forever completed in God’s mind and in His experience..” – assumes that God doesn’t know the end from the beginning as Isaiah 46:10 clearly teaches. An all-knowing Deity must, by necessity, know ALL OUTCOMES BEFORE they occur or He wouldn’t be omniscient.
Your second point is moot in terms of whether He actually experienced it already. The whole point is that He determined the experience BEFORE it occurs. To intimate that He has to be in the future experience in order to determine it is just ridiculous. He’s arranging all circumstances to achieve His desired purposes.
The simple response to your question is that God knows the end from the beginning, therefore all future events are seen as completed in God’s mind. He will experience it as He brings it to past.
Brian writes, “God’s eternal reality is sequential which corresponds perfectly with the truth He revealed about Himself and His experiences in Scriptures.”
While it is true that God’s eternal reality is sequential, we must accept the fact that He is determining the sequence in which that reality will work. He is determining how the future will play out. The fact that it’s sequential means nothing in trying to disprove His predetermined plan. In fact, it must be sequential because all events in time are sequential.
Troy: I’m not going to waste endless time on your misunderstandings, but you obviously cannot see that you are talking in circles and self defining what you think God ought to be like and then saying confidently that God is …. the way you’ve defined him!!
Ephesians 1:11 is a lovely verse which is misused all the time by ‘the Reformed’. It states that God is ordaining all things according to his purposes, but that does not give you the right to start dictating to God what HIS purpose is. This is where you and ‘the Reformed’ get it so wrong. God’s purpose is to bring in to being a people who have been saved by grace through faith. It is not God’s purpose to preselect those who will respond to his gracious offer and those who will refuse.
The purposes of God are seen to begin when we are ‘in Him’ which is another concept the Reformed have mistaken. All those who put their faith and trust in God are predestined to become ….. adopted sons of the Father. So we are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world I hear you say? Yes, but we are not ‘in Him’ before the foundation of the world are we! That would mean that we were already predestined before we were ‘lost’ and then somehow ‘found’ again.
The truth of all this is that Jesus is the one who was ‘chosen’ before the foundation of the world. When we are saved we are seen to be ‘in Him’ and therefore enjoy all the blessings and privileges that entails. Elect, if you wish. I appreciate that some try and term this as corporate election. Another misnomer in my book. There is no such thing as corporate election!! It is a tautology par excellence!! The whole concept of election involves a figurehead who is the ‘elect’. Others derive their ‘election’ from that one person. They are not ‘elect’ beforehand then put into another ‘elect’. That’s double election!!
Essentially, Jesus is the one who is/was chosen by God. Now if you wish to say that God has ‘chosen’ you separately, then be my guest but you have no scriptural support for such a view. The whole thrust of scriptural teaching is that of ourselves we are not able to be chosen by God but that Jesus was. Everything we have is only through and in Him.
I too appreciate the ‘gentle’ tone adopted by Leighton and Brian. I think they have to be that way because it’s not only blogging they do but they’re at the sharp end as it were, meeting and discussing topics with others who have different viewpoints. They are also in a more academic environment which does not look kindly at people using too strongly worded statements. However, I’m not, so sometimes resort to calling a spade a spade and if it’s stupid, well it’s a stupid spade too. Quite frankly, you admonishing Brian in any shape or form for saying “thus saith the Lord”….. is risible and well worth a lol !
Wow BW….well said.
I have been trying for some time to encourage some on this list to quit bringing definitions TO the Scriptures, but rather let the Scripture define omniscience, sovereignty, God’s purpose, etc.
But I am afraid that some have been bitten by the YRR craze and will not discuss for very long without pulling out the “this is serious” or “you are a heretic” card using all caps to scream at the other person (who in most cases is just presenting a point of view on some verses….many verses). This is our modern version of Calvin’s solution to give people a millstone-dunking in the river.
They feel a very deep need to defend God and His glory. And will shout down any opposition.
Yes….much mileage has been made out of the Eph 1:11 passage (ironically it was in my read-in-a-year reading this morning(!); along with Is 39-41 which I might comment on in a different post). I found it particularly refreshing this morning to read (Eph 1:13) “And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own…”
Of course it is verses like this —-stating that we are identified in Christ at the time of belief —- not in eternity past— that nudged me out of Calvinism.
Perhaps I will share in another post all the things in, say today’s reading Is 39-41 that also nudged me out.
I suggest reading the Bible in huge amounts every day and listening to the tone of it (but not wearing 15-key-verse lenses).
Excellent comments bw… I guess I’m guilty as charged for using the “corporate election” terminology, 😎, because in choosing the Son to become the Christ I felt the intention was always to have a group in Him. And aren’t we called the “elect” once we are in Christ?
“just as He chose US in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love” -Ephesians 1:4
The direct object of the action of choosing is “us”; not Christ. The elect are chosen IN Christ because He is the source of their salvation. The purpose of the choice is to “be holy and blameless before Him” which is synonymous with salvation.
I’m so glad that God placed this verse here because it’s a clear-cut refutation of your position which you do a very poor job of explaining away.
I appreciated your good explanation of how a Levite would say, “God chose us to serve.” A priest saying “us” 400 years after Aaron would still be part of the chosen that happened. All descendants were “chosen” because they were “in Aaron”. Was that particular, average priest in God’s mind or Aaron’s mind 400 years before—-no, but he is still “chosen” simply because he is born into Aaron’s line. Just like we are “born again” into Christ.
God knew there would be a bride for Christ and He chose that bride. All who are in Christ are in the church and in the elect that was chosen.
Very easy to understand the way Scripture explains it. That is why God uses the “born again” concept to show us!
With all due respect FOH, both you and Brian really sound desperate to attempting to prove that God doesn’t specifically elect individuals. The elect is not some nebulous group of faceless and nameless people. God has chosen individuals to be apart of His elect. All those IN Christ were chosen INDIVIDUALLY to be in Christ. Remember “all that the Father gives me, will come to me”. This means all the INDIVIDUALS that the Father gives me, will come to me and these are the elect.
Your arguments will not stand the scrutiny of all of Scripture!
FOH… there… you just saw another good example of trying to make a verse fit determinism, and to say more than it actually does. John 6:37 speaks of the Father’s giving (present tense) to Christ. Therefore it would be calling Jesus a deceiver to suggest all had already been given to Christ, unless, of course, Jesus did not know the determinist doctrine very well. 🙂 If determinism was true, Jesus would have known it and He would have said – “All the Father already gave to me will come to me.”
The context clearly indicates what kind of people the Father was actively giving to the Son… They were those who were looking to the Son and believing in Him (6:40). There is nothing in this chapter about pre-creation degrees or individual election. The determinist forces those ideas into these verses because he wants to see them there.
There you go again…reading the verses in context. Why cant you just be satisfied yanking them out and shooting them across the bow one by one when it looks like it says what you want??!
A bit farther down He clarifies again…
47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. …. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
the ones who believes…
give for the life of the world….
The proof texts (one-verse) that are offered…and always yanked one (only one verse at at time)….when seen in the context…make so much more sense. Just not the sense that some want it to make!
FOH… when I left Florida last week because of Irma I knew the end of my journey from the beginning. I even declared it to my wife. But we were traveling on busy roads with many others who were making up their minds which roads they would take… so we exercised our free will on which roads we would travel to make good time.
We didn’t predetermine one route, nor were we locked in to one route. Guess what…? We got to the end that we had declared and planned to reach from the beginning.
Hmmm… somehow I think God is not locked in to one eternal immutable route of human history either. But what ever ends He has declared we know for sure they will be certainly reached destinations in history.
Love requires freewill decisions of give and receive. It’s a shame determinists have not learned to appreciate God’s love in this way, but chose to believe all God’s choices are locked-in and all their responses have been determined for them. So sad!
Yes Brian, you could even say that you “prophesied” that you would travel home.
Most of the prophesies in the Word are God saying what He is going to do. That does not take predetermination from before time! That simply takes a God who says what He is going to do and does it.
One of the best answer to the prophesy objection is Jeremiah 18.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
If He announces that a kingdom is to be uprooted….is that a prophesy? Is that Him expressing His will? Or is that Him (since He doesn’t carry through sometimes) just blustering and being insincere? Lying? Since He know before time that He will not do it?
What it is….is exactly what it says it is…..
In the cases He is referring to, God will not do what He has announced that He will do —-if man repents. That’s the way God set the world up.
And He will not carry through on His good intentions if they do not obey.
What does it clearly say in Jonah (quoted from the YRR-approved ESV)?
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
He said He WOULD do it….He never made it conditional….He just said He would do it… 3:4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jonah did not preach “turn or burn” he just preached “burn”. Even they knew that because they said, “9 Who knows? God may turn and relent”
And He did…. He relented (or repented in KJV!).
What does determinism do with that?
There are plenty more. That is the whole Bible….all the counsel of God.
FOH writes, “Most of the prophesies in the Word are God saying what He is going to do. That does not take predetermination from before time! That simply takes a God who says what He is going to do and does it.”
Another ridiculous comment! God uses human agency to accomplish what He’s going to do. Human agency includes the free Will choices of men. God must, by necessity, know and orchestrate these free choices in order for Him to perfectly predict the future.
The sad thing is that you and Brian both know this to be true but refuse to accept it.
I bet that young bucks on this site will call us crazy or ridiculous….. but will not have any answer whatsoever for the Jeremiah 18 and Jonah and all the other places (Noah, Saul) where God says He repents of doing what He did.
No answer forthcoming. Plenty more place where God says he repents (this does not cover all the many passages of relents, or regrets) …..Exodus 32:12-14; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chron 21:15; Psalm 106:45; Jeremiah 4:28; 18:8; 26:3, 13, 19; 42:10; Joel 2:13-14; Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:9-10; 4:2.
One can discuss all day what that means, but it depicts some kind of change in attitude, direction. And that means change. And that is a no-no for the reformed definition of immutable and impassible.
There is just no way to fit that into the all-things-predetermined concept.
God reveals that He has emotions. This does NOT however disprove His omniscience. The fact that He says that He “repents” for having created mankind is nothing more than a display of emotion that demonstrates God’s loving character. This does not disprove predetermination my friend.
It still amazes me FOH how determinists want to lock God in the straitjacket of a completely settled future as if it is impossible for Him to leave some things undecided, though known to Him completely as far as all possible choices and outcomes, but left unsettled so that He indeed can be freely responsive in relationship to man in love.
They must know that being a controlling husband who makes all the completely settled plans and allows for no input from the wife in decision making is definitely not a love relationship in the least. My guess is that many of these “young bucks”, as you call them, are very controlling individuals with a superiority complex, many perhaps wondering why they are unmarried or why their wives are so unhappy! 😉
Brian writes, “John 6:37 speaks of the Father’s giving (present tense) to Christ. Therefore it would be calling Jesus a deceiver to suggest all had already been given to Christ, unless, of course, Jesus did not know the determinist doctrine very well. 🙂 If determinism was true, Jesus would have known it and He would have said – “All the Father already gave to me will come to me.”
This is why I say that Brian simply is sloppy in his hermeneutic and exegesis.
We know that Christ is talking about all the elect when He says “All that the Father gives..” because He extends the timeframe to the end of the world when He says, “I will raise him up at the last day”. Also, who says that Christ must say this in past tense in order to prove determinism?? The fact is that Christ is showing us HOW we are saved and the promise that He will complete that salvation at the end of the world. Determinism is proven already with the statement, “All that the Father gives..” It’s the Father’s predetermined choice to give people to the Son and then they believe (come) as a result of the gifting to the Son. Then the Son promises to raise them up or complete their salvation at the end. To suggest that Christ should have spoke in past tense to prove determinism is ludicrous because His purpose was to teach the mechanism of salvation; not prove determinism.
Brian writes, “The context clearly indicates what kind of people the Father was actively giving to the Son… They were those who were looking to the Son and believing in Him (6:40).”
This is simply FALSE! “Those who were looking to the Son and believing in Him” are a reference to all those who have been given by the Father to the Son and according to Jn. 6:37 they believe BECAUSE they were given to the Son and will come (believe).
This is sloppy exegesis on Brian’s part because Christ just explained in the previous two verses HOW “those looking to the Son and believing in Him” actually come to the point of “looking” and “believing”. It’s because the Father gave them to the Son.
Salvation is 100% God’s will and action!!
Also the purpose behind me referencing John 6:37 was simply to prove that God chooses individuals for salvation.
Brian or should I say Brain, you will be well aware that I’m not getting at anybody and certainly not you for using the term corporate election. It’s just that I feel too often we play the game using the opponents terms which then give them some legitimisation. We have to define and use our terms carefully. If you want another example try regeneration for a laugh. Yes, it’s biblical, but only just!! Mentioned twice I do believe and in kone of the passages the word could easily be translated as new creation! (Thessalonians somewhere)
We don’t need regeneration we need new birth and the two are not equivalent. Yet everybody argues about regeneration and when it happens! Hope this explains my point better. Best regards as ever! 🙂
Ahhhh new birth and new creation are synonymous. Being born again is the same as being created again.
All of what you just stated I’ve countless times and it just doesn’t comport with all that Scripture teaches. I’m sorry sir..
I forgot to tell you to expect answers to your question…..like
“God is outside time” (of course that phrase and idea is nowhere in Scripture).
The quoting of the vague verse “He knows the end from the beginning” . Anyone who extrapolates that He has organized all events, sin, thoughts, actions, vile deeds from this one vague verse is demonstrating their ability to read-into the Scripture.
It would have been easy for God to tell us that He has organized every minute detail, but in stead He tells us that no one can stop Him from getting to His purpose. That is not the same.
Saying that God can do whatever He wants is not the same as saying….everything that happens (good, bad, vile, inconsistent, disobedient) is what He wants and plans.
Anyone bringing the determinist definition of omniscience to the Word, has no way to interpret the hundreds of verses where The Almighty (making sure we know who He is) says “Now I know….” “I expected you to ….but you did not…” I thought perhaps you might….”
All of these verses make no sense in the reformed position, and once again make God out to be deceptive.
FOH writes, “The quoting of the vague verse “He knows the end from the beginning” . Anyone who extrapolates that He has organized all events, sin, thoughts, actions, vile deeds from this one vague verse is demonstrating their ability to read-into the Scripture.”
In Isaiah 46:10 God’s makes Himself very clear. He knows the end from the beginning and He’s accomplishing ALL HIS PURPOSES.
Regarding Brian’s question, Isaiah 46:10 denounces any notion that God has to make choices based on an open future. It’s just not tenable when compared with all of the Bible.
Actually FOH you have just seen a good example of how a determinist misquotes a verse to say what they think it means… and of course out of context. Is 46:10 does not say “God knows the end of every decision to be made by man”, nor does it suggest all His decisions are eternally immutably made, which of course would mean that He never really decided anything. 😉
The verse just says that His declaring from the beginning what will happen in the end shows He is the true God… not like the idols who can’t declare anything. Enoch got a revelation of that end and declared it. The verse is not talking about anything decreed before the beginning, nor that everything was eternally decreed. Determinists force those meanings onto the text
Yes, you are looking at the verse in context….what the hearers heard at the time, and what is to be understood by it.
That does not allow for people to grab a verse from here and there to scaffold together a philosophy. Sometimes they use only half a verse!!!
Yes….we see a lot of the one-verse-shot-across-the-bow approach that is allegedly supposed to overrule all the hundreds of verses that show God to be asking questions, saying “if only…” “why did you not…” “I expected you to ….” “I would have if you had….” “I will now do this because you did this…”
Of course this one verse (vague as it is) yanked out of context overrules all those verses (rendering them useless, or worse, deceptive).
Brian writes, “Is 46:10 does not say “God knows the end of every decision to be made by man”, nor does it suggest all His decisions are eternally immutably made, which of course would mean that He never really decided anything.”
So we see here that Brian believes that an all-knowing Deity does not know the end of every decision made by His creation. If this is true, then the perfect fulfillment of prophecy is IMPOSSIBLE!! If God does not know ALL the decisions of His creatures, then He could NEVER predict the future and prophecy is relegated to chance. Brian’s system is just not tenable. As I’ve stated repeatedly, the Bible was written to allow mankind to believe a lie and to seal them in their unbelief. Your doctrine of the nature of God is anti-biblical and contradicts Scripture. Truth is measured by consistency.
I replied to this article here:
I’ve repeatedly admonished both Prof. Flowers and Brian Wagner to please handle the Scriptures with more care because their hermeneutic/exegesis is very sloppy and easily refuted. Also Brian holds to a Deity that’s subject to man’s future determinations since God is not privy to all of man’s future decisions. This is EXTREMELY problematic and a dangerous position as a teacher of God’s Word.
You keep mentioning easily refuting Leighton and Brian almost ad nauseam. Why don’t you then? You haven’t come close so far although you do expose your own sloppy thinking.
I’ll provide you one example of your “sloppy thinking”. One is more than enough!
According to your own quote “As I’ve stated repeatedly, the Bible was written to allow mankind to believe a lie and to seal them in their unbelief.”
On the other hand, I much prefer John’s account of how and why at least his part of the scriptures were written. John chp 20:31 “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
Looking at the two statements, they are in stark contrast to each other and to be honest, I don’t think your position is tenable.
John 20:31 clearly teaches that the Scriptures were written for true believers since only true believers will believe anyway. John 20:31 actually supports my original claims that the Bible was written for the salvation of God’s elect and the rest are blinded. John is teaching that the Scriptures were written for God’s elect!
Not only is John’s version better than the man-made versions supplied to us via modern-day philosophies, but the contrast demonstrates the difference in the understanding of life, God, and His Word.
John’s version is all about …..”That you may believe”
John’s version is all about …highlighting Jesus, the Son of God.
John’s version is all about… “believing…”
John’s version is all about… “having life!!”
John’s version is all about…”being in Christ” (who is indeed the Chosen One before time)
I used this very passage when preaching a few weeks ago (in a reformed church no less) challenging those in the congregation to believe.
BW, FOH, and Brian Wagner, thank you for your words here, they bring clarity in a dark place for us who have been raised as Calvinists and have a hard time reading the Bible in any other context. Please keep sharing! The Light comes hard for we who were brainwashed into Calvinistic thinking from infancy!
Thank you, Deborah, for your encouraging words. If there are specific areas you would like to hear us “rant” about ;-), please feel free to ask. And you can always feel free to contact me directly with questions about things you’re researching in Scripture – email@example.com Blessings!
Thank you Deborah for those kind words.
Even when we get mixed up or misled by theologies and philosophies we can always remember…
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you….
Fix your eyes on Jesus…
These are things you can and should choose to do!
Amen! And thank you Brian, I will make a note of your address!
And please keep ranting! 😉
What Deborah says is so true… If you’ve been bought up Calvinistic it’s a hard pair of glasses to take off. I do have a question and maybe I’ve misunderstood… but about God not choosing anyone before or as seems more accurate, since the foundation of the world. Even if you take election to salvation out of the equation, and trust me I’d love to, I don’t quite understand the argument against it being possible for God to choose for example Paul to be an apostle before he ever existed. I thought omniscience meant he knows everything and everyone so isn’t is reasonable to say he could ordain things for someone’s life thousands of years before they existed? Am I missing the point here… 🤔
Paul was called from his mother’s womb right? He existed (at least we sidewalk-counseling, pro-lifers think so—my wife is out in the rain offering mothers her help even as I write!).
And anyway I have always wondered why Calvinists will bring up Paul, Jeremiah and others where it says “He called be before…” If anything that is a case AGAINST the determinism of Calvinism.
Why? Because determinism says that God determined all destinies, callings, and evil/good acts before hand. But the Scripture makes a point to say that God does it….sometimes….. in a special way. Otherwise, saying that He called Jeremiah wouldn’t mead diddlysquat cuz …hey …He calls everyone to their destiny.
Hi From Over Here…good for your wife… that is such an awesome and brave thing to do!! The town I live has a clinic where people are banned by law from offering people supportive information… even praying in your head outside it can get you fined.😔 Seems you can think or believe virtually anything except Christianity now… scary days! I get what your saying…why would it say specifically that God determined something if that’s a given.? I suppose a Calvinist might argue that it’s stating it to emphasise it’s how God does things? 🤔
Hello Sian and welcome.
Dr. Gordon Fee – in his seminary lectures on Biblical Hermeneutics asks his students the following question:
What *INFORMS* your mind when you are reading the text?
Many years ago – people were taught the sun orbits around the earth.
They accepted that concept of the universe as unquestionable truth.
They also accepted scripture as unquestionable truth.
Consequently – a Geocentric model of the universe *INFORMED* their minds while reading the text.
The mind in such case is guaranteed to interpret scripture according to that which it accepts as unquestionable truth
But what does that have to do with our reading of scripture in regard to election?
Are there concepts within our minds which *INFORM* our reading of the text which the author of the text did not have?
Does the author of the text assume that election applies to people who are NOT YET saved?
If that were the case – why wouldn’t there be at least one verse within the whole N.T. that indicates that?
When you read verses concerning election – who is the author saying is elect?
Does the author indicate – the elect people who are NOT YET saved?
Or does the author indicate the elect are people who are ALREADY saved?
We are a highly WESTERNIZED PLATONIZED society.
Our reading of scripture is going to be bent in the direction of WESTERNIZED PLATONIZED concepts.
Augustine was a disciple of the doctrines of Plotinus (Greek teacher of Neo-Platonism)
Augustine read scripture through the lens of PLATONIC concepts.
That is what *INFORMED* his reading of the text.
John Calvin out of worshipful adoration for all things Augustine swallowed Augustine’s PLATONIC camel.
Hey BR. D…. thank you… I’m literally laughing out loud at the idea of Augustine swallowing a platonic camel. And I’m genuinely thanking you cos I needed to laugh… but thank you also for the rest of your reply. It’s definitely true that what we bring to the text will highly influence our reading of it. I kid you not but many years ago I managed to feel ticked off by God when I read the “Be still and know that I am God” verse. I looked at the notes and apparently the Greek for ‘be still’ is ‘stop it’ . Had I been a person who easily sees God’s love, even the Greek version would more likely have felt like God saying “stop…chill out… I’m in control.” But I often bring an angry, stern God to the table so it felt like he was crossly saying” stop it!” So yeah, I get that our beliefs and agendas can be huge filters. It is very interesting that the term elect is never used of unbelievers. I still wonder though…even if God didn’t determine everything from a billion years ago…surely he still could have if he’d wanted to? He knows everything… he knew all about my son and my daughter before time began. Isn’t it possible to believe He knows all without then assuming He chose to determine all? In fact, isn’t God more mindblowing of He knows it all without making it all happen?
Very nice post Sian!
Years ago I remember a song – the chorus was “Be still and know that I am God”.
Brings back memories! :-]
Hey BR. D… thank you and yes I remember that one too!