Why 1 Cor. 2:14 doesn’t teach “Total Inability.”

It is next to impossible to fully understand Paul’s intention of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 without first having a firm grasp on the concept of “wisdom” in the Greek culture. Paul uses a form of the word “wisdom” twenty six times in just the first three chapters. Needless to say, the apostle’s theme is overwhelming.

The mistake of many Calvinists is to presume this passage is a contrast between the abilities of the “regenerate” and the “unregenerate,” or the “natural man” versus the “spiritual man.” In actuality, the contrast is between “human wisdom” and “divine revelation.”[1]

Obviously Paul felt the inspired scriptures were sufficient to grant mankind the understanding for salvation, as he wrote to Timothy:

“…from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16)

The Calvinist begins on the wrong footing when he reads the phrase, “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” and assumes that man’s “unregenerate” nature determined his assessment in such a way that he could not have deemed it otherwise. God does not determine or decree all of mankind to deem His own word as foolish. That is the free choice* of those depending on “human wisdom” versus those depending on the spiritually wrought truth of “divine revelation.” It is mankind’s responsibility to decide on which to place their trust.

Besides Calvinists beginning with an unfounded assumption, their interpretation places the culpability back onto their Maker. Consider the claims of Calvinism — God decreed for fallen man to be born morally incapable of assessing His own word as anything other than “foolish” and then are made to “perish” as a result. This is NOT the intention of Paul in this or any passage. His intention is to say that those who rely on human wisdom instead of the spiritual truths brought by the inspired apostles will see the cross as foolish and perish as a result.

Paul’s overarching concern in this passage is to make a case for true wisdom as held in contrast with the “wisdom of the wise” (1:19), the “wisdom of this world,” (1:20; 3:19), or the carnal “wisdom of men” (2:5). The Greeks boasted in their wisdom and Paul is providing them a spiritually inspired warning by teaching them what true divine wisdom looks like. That wisdom is contained in the gospel revelation (1:24, 30; 2:7). And there is nothing about that revelation that is insufficient in enabling a willing response (Rm. 1:16). Those who ignore the apostle’s warning are not to be thought of as victims of God’s unchangeable decree, as we must conclude if the claims of Calvinism are true. No, anyone who chooses to trade the clearly revealed truth in for lies stands as a fool “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 14:1).

Once a clear distinction is drawn between the wisdom of the world and heaven’s wisdom, Paul moves on to speak of “the deep things of God” (vs. 10). Just as you cannot know what is in my mind unless I reveal it, so too, no one can access the “deep things of God” unless these mysteries are made known by His Spirit. Clearly, there are some deep mysteries kept hidden in the mind of God for a time. As the Apostle Paul noted in verses 8 and 9:

“We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8-9).

It is only now that the mystery of Christ is being fully made known to all people. By what means? Some inner spiritual enlightenment? An irresistible regenerative working?

What does the scripture tell us is the means God employed to help the world understand the depth of God’s spiritual mysteries?

Paul expounds in Ephesians 3:1-10:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—  if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,  which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;  to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,  of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,  and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (emphasis added) 

Clearly, the means by which God assists mankind to understand the deep mysteries of spiritual truth is by inspiration of chosen messengers. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 2:13, “…we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

The Holy Spirit revealed mysteries to “His holy apostles and prophets” and in turn they write down “insight into the mystery of Christ” and “preach to the nations” so that the “wisdom of God might now be made known.” There is absolutely nothing in all of scripture that even remotely suggests that humanity is unable to willingly respond to this gracious Holy Spirit wrought truth of divine revelation!

With this in mind, let’s focus on the key passage of this debate: 1 Corinthians 2:14 reads as follows:

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Simply put, this can be taken in one of two ways:

Calvinistic Meaning: “Fallen humanity, if not irresistibly regenerated by the Spirit, cannot want to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for God has unchangeably decreed that revealed truth (the apostle’s teaching, scripture) will only be seen as foolish to them.” (God is ultimately responsible for man’s unbelief)

Traditionalist Meaning: “The man who freely chooses not to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (apostles teaching, scripture, etc), but freely deem them as foolish, cannot understand spiritual truth, because those are the means of spiritual revelation.” (Man is responsible for his own unbelief)

The understanding of 1 Cor. 2:14 becomes very simple when we answer the first question posed by this verse, “Why won’t the natural man accept the things that come from the Spirit of God?”

Possible Answer #1: Because God so determined it by divine decree as a punishment for the sin of Adam.

OR

Possible Answer #2: Because the man freely chose the wisdom of the world over the wisdom being revealed by spiritually wrought means (apostles, scriptures, etc).

We believe Paul is saying that the “natural man” is one who will not accept the wisdom from the Spirit of God, because he himself considers these things to be foolish by HIS OWN FREE CHOICE, NOT GOD’S DETERMINATION. Therefore, he is incapable of ever understanding spiritual things unless and until he turns from human wisdom and accepts the wisdom being revealed by the Spirit through His chosen means (apostles, scriptures, etc).

How can any man really understand something he has already deemed foolish in his heart? He cannot. Those who rely upon the wisdom of this age over and above the clear revelation of the Spirit cannot begin to understand the deep truths of God. This message seems to be the clear intention of the apostle.

The following verses support this line of reasoning as Paul goes on to confront the carnal brethren in Corinth as likewise being unable to receive these same “deep things of God” due to their carnality (3:1-3). The clear implication is that these believer’s choices to live carnally, just like the unbelievers choices to deem God’s word as foolish, is the root cause of their inability to accept and understand spiritual truth (the apostle’s teaching). The believer’s carnality, like the unbeliever’s rejection of God’s word, is a result of their own choosing, not of God’s determination. It is the responsibility of the believer to turn from carnality so as to receive spiritual meat of God’s word, just as it is the unbeliever’s responsibility to turn from fleshly wisdom when confronted by the Holy Spirit wrought truth of the gospel, “the power of God unto salvation” (Rm. 1:16).

—————————————-

[1]https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/643-who-is-the-natural-man-in-1-corinthians-2-14

*When the term “freely” is used we mean: Contra-causal free will, which is the ability of a morally accountable agent to refrain or not refrain from any given moral action. We DO NOT means what the Calvinistic compatibilists means when they say “freely.” <read this for more>

37 thoughts on “Why 1 Cor. 2:14 doesn’t teach “Total Inability.”

  1. Leighton:

    I appreciate the time on this article.

    One thing that Calvinists often struggle is what you stated below.

    (God is ultimately responsible for man’s unbelief)

    Of course this is the logical choice if one follows their line of philosophy.

    This troubles many people and they pull out the compatibility card and feel better. However more and more are taking this to its logical end and just saying “That’s right! Rock on! Of course does that……For His glory!”

    Of course one of the many questions this begs is:

    …..Why and how does God command us to love our neighbor and our enemy ……with this kind of example?

    He is responsible for their unbelief and eternal death (which can in no way be called love) …but we are to love them.

  2. Leighton,

    Soon you will get opposing emails saying “Dead men dont make choices,” (or have they finally realized that canard is not applicable?

    Funny, we had some baptisms at church today (not infants, sorry Calvin) and the person leading read several verses just before. They all said we are dead and buried in Christ….and dead to sin, etc.

    But we still manage to get past that “deadness”.

    So, I hope we dont have people posting that unbiblical statement.

  3. Dr. Flowers writes, “Simply put, this can be taken in one of two ways:
    Calvinistic Meaning: “The reprobate, who has not be irresistibly regenerated by the Spirit, cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for God has unchangeably decreed that revealed truth (apostles teaching, scripture) will only be seen as foolish to him.” (God is ultimately responsible for man’s unbelief)
    Non-Calvinistic Meaning: “The man who freely chooses not to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (apostles teaching, scripture, etc), but freely deem them as foolish, cannot understand spiritual truth, because those are the means of spiritual revelation.” (Man is responsible for his own unbelief)”

    Have you so soon forgotten what Calvinism teaches? You have messed things up here. That which you label – Non-Calvinistic Meaning – is exactly what Calvinism accepts. What you label – Calvinistic Meaning – explains why people freely reject the things that come from the Spirit of God. You have not expressed two distinct positions.

    This is how you might distinguish better the two positions (you can massage them to make it clearer but the essential element is there):

    Calvinistic Meaning: “The reprobate willfully choose not to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (apostles teaching, scripture, etc), but freely deem them as foolish, cannot understand spiritual truth, because those are the means of spiritual revelation.” (Man is responsible for his own unbelief).” This happens because people are spiritually dead (as a consequence of Adam’s sin) and have not been irresistibly regenerated by the Spirit (i.e., reborn giving life to their spirit). Thus, they are ruled by a sin nature and cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for God has unchangeably decreed (i.e., original sin) that revealed truth (apostles teaching, scripture) will only be seen as foolish to him.” (God, through Adam’s sin, confined man to spiritual death and unbelief).

    Non-Calvinistic Meaning: “Man is not spiritually dead as a consequence of Adam’s sin and is born with a will to do the things of God but with a nature that desires sin. The man who gives in to his sin nature and freely chooses not to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (apostles teaching, scripture, etc), but freely deem them as foolish, cannot understand spiritual truth, because those are the means of spiritual revelation.” (Man is responsible for his own unbelief)”

    1. RHUTCHIN wrote: ‘This happens because people are spiritually dead (as a consequence of Adam’s sin) and have not been irresistibly regenerated by the Spirit (i.e., reborn giving life to their spirit).’ I’m not sure I totally follow, as not all Calvinists agree, hence 1-5 pointers, hypers, etc…. But if I have it right, where fallen man simply hasn’t been irresistibly regenerated, then it seems to follow that the Lord God irresistibly regenerates them before confessing Christ as Lord, when they hear the gospel??? Which to me implies that God has regenerated them to salvation to believe & confess a gospel that was preached from the beginning; to Abraham (Gal 3:8); that the gospel they believe unto confession is a gospel that some are ashamed of (Rom 1:16) but Paul wasn’t; the same gospel that is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18); that the power isn’t in the gospel (Rom 1:16), but in the Lord God alone. And if I have this right, its unconditional election, being regenerated to faith, with no will or conscious of man, because God chooses in His Sovereignty (Rom 9:13 ‘Esau I have hated.’) & (Rom 9:15 ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy…’), but this faith that we the saved live in, as mentioned in the ‘hall of faith’ in Hebrews 11 (v20) ‘By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.’??? Hmm, if God ‘hates’ or ‘hated’ Esau, as Reformed Theology dictates….then why did Esau name is children Eliphaz: means God of gold, or God is fine gold or My Elohim is strength; and Jeush: means He will gather together…hasty; and Jaalam: means He will be hid… Korah: means Baldness, or icy…, and especially Reuel: means Friend of God, or God is friend’…if the Lord God ‘hated’ Esau??? And if Esau was dead in trespasses and sins, why was Esau trying to ‘repent’, Heb 12:16-17, but found no place for repentance??? Hmm, the gospel is ‘the just shall live by faith’…. from Adam & Eve, Abel, down through the annuls of history to our present time…. I’m a bit confused, please get me cleared up…

      1. Hello Thomas and welcome.
        I would suggest you consider the possibility that Calvinists don’t for the most part think logically.
        When you ask them a question – allow yourself to be prepared for a DOUBLE-SPEAK answer.
        Calvin’s doctrines – derived from Augustine – incorporate a “Good-Evil” Dualism.
        Calvinists struggle with the evil component of that Dualism -and can’t allow themselves to acknowledge it.
        They are in a perpetual tap-dance between two worlds
        One world in which the THEOS is benevolent and one in which he is malevolent.
        The doctrine forces them to embrace both worlds.
        But their internal sense of ethics drives a sort of thought-blocking process in their minds.
        They need to escape its malevolent face – and/or paint a benevolent mask over it.
        Hence the DOUBLE-SPEAK.
        What you are observing with rhutchin’s posts are exactly that phenomenon.

        br.d

  4. Such an important passage that Calvinists try to lean upon for a meaning of total depravity that the context does not support as you have pointed out Leighton. I think your best point was the one you borrowed – In actuality, the contrast is between “human wisdom” and “divine revelation.” We could say between the authority of Greek Philosophy and the authority of the Gospel of Christ, or between the teachings from the minds of men like Plato and the teachings of the revelation given by the Spirit to Paul.

    The natural man, Plato, who judges everything through general revelation alone, does not receive special revelation from God to give to others… He has to be saved first and called by God to be a prophet or apostle. Paul was such a person able to receive things from the Spirit of God.

    But even if “natural man” is about all unregenerate individuals and not just about receiving special revelation from God to give to others… the verse does not teach that God must give regeneration first, and cannot instead first give sufficient enabling light to their spirits to afford them the opportunity to seek, which if they will not harden themselves, will lead to God granting them the new birth after they humble themselves in repentance and trust of His mercy.

  5. I think one portion that sheds light on this subject is Pauls Defence of God in Romans 1.
    Romans 1:The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    Here Paul is arguing that gods Qualities are plain and obvious to everyone because “God has made it Plain to them”. yet, due to wicked rebellion and not honoring Gods revelation, people are made fools, the truth is supressed. i,e they suffer from Spiritual blindness.Here Paul argues clearly, that spiritual blindness is a result of Man’s continuous rebellion/rejection of God as opposed to God not revealing his truths..

    In fact “God has made it plain to them”….

    Nice post on 1 Cor 2. Causes people to think.

  6. This exegesis can be expanded to be even more devastating to the Calvinist reading. From 1:2-9 & 1:30, we know that Paul is addressing people that are saved. In 1:18-31, he contrasts the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of the Spirit, as you have said, then in 2:6-16 he speaks of the need to have the Spirit to understand spiritually discerned things. But then in 3:1-3, Paul says that the Corinthians are “still in the flesh” and not “ready for solid food.” He is contrasting them with people who “have the mind of Christ” (2:16). So if the Corinthians were saved but not able to understand the spiritual things that Paul was speaking of in 2:14, then Paul clearly was not speaking of salvific wisdom. The Corinthians were still able to understand “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2) even though they could not understand things that are spiritually discerned.

    1. Ross writes, “The Corinthians were still able to understand “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2) even though they could not understand things that are spiritually discerned.”

      Earlier Paul wrote, “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (v18). He divides the world into two groups, those perishing and those being saved.

      Then, “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

      Now Paul divides people into two more groups, those not called (i.e., those perishing) and those called (i.e., those being saved).

      You are correct to conclude that spiritual discernment is given only to God’s elect and this is tied to their sanctification as “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (12:3) However, the Corinthians could not understand “Jesus Christ and him crucified” unless God had called them and they were being saved. To these, God gives faith and this by grace (Ephesians 2), and it is this faith that manifests belief in Christ. Whether people “understand fully” Jesus Christ and him crucified at the point where they perceive that God is saving them seems unlikely to me.

      I don’t see that you have presented anything devastating to the Calvinist reading. However, I think you have clarified the work of the spirit being focused on the elect to whom He gives spiritual discernment to promote their sanctification

  7. Interesting article that has very much misunderstanding in it leading to even more misrepresentation of the Reformed Faith view and understanding of this verse. I will be very interested in giving what I believe is the view of God’s understanding when it comes to this verse. What really strikes me as being very odd is that the person who wrote the article said he was once a 5 point Calvinist and then he really seems to misrepresent what he should know they believe about this verse. For example, when he gives the Reformed view notice how he throws the word “irresistible” in there. This is done I believe possibly to mislead the reader to make them think immediately the Reformed believer thinks God “drags violently against their will to the Christ to receive Christ as their Savior.” This is shameful as any Reformed believer or anyone who calls himself an ex-Calvinist knows better and that those who come to Christ in faith do so willingly in the day of His power love and mercy on their sinful souls. More to come soon. Looking forward to some Christ-like back and forth conversation letting iron sharpen iron. God bless to all

    1. Ralph, thanks for the comment brother.

      “This is shameful as any Reformed believer or anyone who calls himself an ex-Calvinist knows better and that those who come to Christ in faith do so willingly in the day of His power love and mercy on their sinful souls.”

      Just as you find “irresistible” to be a misrepresentation of Calvinistic soteriology, we find your use of “willingly” to be as well. By “willingly” you mean that they would never make any different choice, ever. We don’t think that is “willingly”

      Also, please check out this article Dr. Flowers wrote on your exact topic of interest. https://soteriology101.com/2015/04/11/5-reasons-for-the-accusation-of-misrepresentation-when-debating-calvinism/

    2. Ralph,
      You must be new to this. “Irresistible” is the I in TULIP….and it as clear as any Calvinist has ever taught it. If it can be resisted, there is a choice. If it cannot…..there is no choice and it is irresistible. Just own it bro! If you are a Calvinist, embrace that —dont try fancy-talk around it. It means just that—–God made all the decisions and man was forced/ dragged/ ordained/ willed/ conscripted/ irresistibly-drawn in.

      Dont run from it brother. Just embrace it! Apparently that is the beauty of Calvinism. If you say it was resistible….then your fellow Calvinists will eat you alive with accusations that you have a “man-centered Gospel.”

      1. “Irresistible” means that when Jesus calls Lazarus from death in the grave, to come forth, Lazarus comes forth.

      2. It would also mean – when it is infallibly decreed for you to have a FALSE belief – you will have a FALSE belief
        And any alternative of that FALSE belief is infallibly excluded by the decree.
        Therefore that FALSE belief will come to pass “irresistibly” within your brain.

      3. Thanks Gary.

        Luke 19 show a resistible side:

        “….come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving….”

      4. Gary:

        Let’s let Christ speak for Himself:

        “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

        He wanted them to come, but they didn’t.

        That sounds pretty resistible!

      5. Thanks Gary,
        Yes Matthew 19. It is Luke 18 (typo). It is also in Mark 10.

        Notice also in Mark 10…”Jesus looked at him and loved him…. Then come, follow me.”

        Jesus love him, and directly called him to follow Him…. yet he resisted. Boy, the Scripture can be so clear sometimes!! The call of Christ is clearly resistible!

  8. Leighton,

    The following section quotes incorrect verses:

    ‘As the Apostle Paul noted in verses 8 and 9:

    “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8-9).’

    Correction:
    ‘As the Apostle Paul noted in verses 7 and 8:

    “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:7-8)”

  9. admin quote….”It is mankind’s responsibility to decide on which to place their trust.” Josh 24:15 ….choose this day whom you will serve,…
    Psa 119:130  The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. No convoluted TULIP algorithms to navigate.

  10. First. Please read the passage: 1 Corinthians 2

    Paul came speaking the testimony of God which is “wisdom from God”, revealed in Jesus. The rulers did not understand this predestined mystery because the revealed mystery of God’s wisdom did not enter their heart. Why? Because the “wisdom” from God was revealed to Paul through the Spirit, and proclaimed >through the Spirit<. So then. Who receives and understands this wisdom from God? vs 10-13 Those who, like the apostle, have received “the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God”. No reception of the Spirit, no understanding. Period.

    Quite simply: Why does the “natural man” (i.e. the unregenerate “natural” / Holy Spirit-less man) not accept the things of the Spirit of God, and regard them as “foolishness to him; and CANNOT understand them”? Because they are spiritually discerned and the unregenerate do NOT (naturally, or by their own human nature) have the Spirit of God to GIVE them the understanding or discover to them the wisdom from God. viz. “the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God.” Therefore anyone who does not have the Spirit of God cannot understand the true spiritual aspect of the wisdom from God.

    It’s that simple. That is exactly what the text is saying. Without the Spirit of God —“the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.”— there is no ability to understand God’s wisdom, as revealed in Christ. UNLESS someone is born-again, he/she CANNOT see (understand) the kingdom of God. Being born-again is not “natural”. It is supernatural “from above”, by the Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 2:14, as well as many other texts of scripture, clearly teaches that the unregenerate has no “ability” to understand the things of God UNLESS the Holy Spirit GIVES that ability. Thankfully, for many multitudes upon multitudes, the Holy Spirit HAS given to sinners that very ability through the new birth.

    1. Hello Gary and welcome

      Gary:
      Quite simply: Why does the “natural man” (i.e. the unregenerate “natural” / Holy Spirit-less man) not accept the things of the Spirit of God,

      br.d
      On Calvinism – the answer is – an infallible decree

      On Calvinism – the state of nature – including the state of man’s nature – at any instance in time – is 100% meticulously determined before man exists. And the decree is NOT predicated on anything having to do with the creature or the condition thereof. It is solely and exclusively determined “Within himself”.

      As John Calvin puts it
      -quote
      Look to no other CAUSE than the will of god.

      -quote
      For it did not come by reason of NATURE…….

      1. HOW it is that sin exists anywhere, in light of a Holy God, is a mystery no one, including you and I, will ever understand.

      2. Gary,
        I ask myself that about my kids all the time! Why do they make choices that I dont want them to make?

        Apparently in the counsel of His own will, God decided that He did not want robots, but a true relationship with His creation. He gave man the ability to choose (please see the garden account; and Cain just after). With free ability to choose come the possibility of sin.

        In the counsel of His own will, He chose to let His holiness and sin exist at the same time.

      3. Your “kids” analogy is not the same as a sinner repenting of sin in the heart–as well as the resulting practice in life– and changing from hating God to loving God from the heart.
        Eve was deceived, sin came through Adam and He “died”. Cain’s sin was from a sinful nature. Sin is a choice only because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, etc. and because Gen.6:5. etc. cf. Rom 3:9-19

      4. Gary,
        My kids analogy was simply to show that where there is choice, there is the potential for sin and doing things that are not God’s will (not what God wants).

        Adam’s “dying” does not mean that he could no longer make choices (even good ones). Scripture never says that…. and it often refers to unbelievers as “sick” or “lost” not literally dead.

        If you look around on the dozens and dozens of articles and (and hundreds of ensuing comments) you will see several answer given to the questions you raise (including Romans 3).

        Interesting that you give Genesis 6:5 as a reference. Calvinists use that to say that all men are evil all the time (They are “haters of God” even though many times Scripture calls them just, honest, holy, faithful, and “God-fearing”).

        What is particularly interesting with that reference (6:5) is that Calvinists insist on taking that literally, but the very next phrase they REFUSE to take literally: The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

      5. 1. Your “kids” analogy is not the same as a sinner repenting of sin in the heart–as well as the resulting practice in life– and changing from hating God to loving God from the heart.
        2. Adam’s “dying” was spiritual. “good choices” is a relative term. Whatever “good choices” means, those [human] choices are not perfectly righteous before God, such that there was no need for Jesus to die for those “choices”, including the heart motive FOR the choice.
        3. No offense, but I am not going to: “look around on the dozens and dozens of articles and (and hundreds of ensuing comments)”. However you interpret my “choice” to refrain from doing so.
        4. re: 6:5 “God saw…”. I believe what God revealed that HE saw is a truthful assessment and indictment of the hearts of mankind. Mankind (all inclusive) cf. 6:12 was corrupt.
        5. I take 6:6 literally. (i.e. “taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory”)
        6. I also believe that the Hebrew for “repented” is anthropopathic.

        -> God is free to alter His announced judgments when we repent (Jer. 18:1–10). Despite His knowing whether we will trust Him before we do so, He still condescends to respond to our trust, and thus our actions are significant. Though we must not take this truth for granted, our Father will always freely forgive those who turn to Him. His lordship does not abolish the real impact of our choices; instead, it establishes them as part of His overall decree (WCF 3.1).

        Coram Deo
        The window of forty days in Jonah 3:4 is the first indication the announced judgment on Nineveh may not be absolute. God is free to hide His secret will from us and warn of judgments He knows will never come to pass. The warnings in Scripture must not make us inactive; rather, we should be moved to change our ways by our knowledge that God is merciful. <-

        7. re: 6:6 – Do you believe that God is free to hide His secret will from us and warn of judgments He knows will never come to pass?

      6. Hiding a secret will from us and warning of judgments He knows will never come to pass….is that not deception?

        What kind of “warning” is it if he has programmed both the impossibility of judgement and our decision? A false “warning”…also know as deception.

      7. Do you believe that God is free to hide His secret will from us and warn of judgments He knows will never come to pass?
        Yes or No? Can you answer this?

        Do you think a warning from Yahweh, (i.e. “yet 40 days…”) which, mercifully, is meant to provoke repentance and turning from sin is a “deception”?

        When God told Abraham “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”; knowing full well that GOD was going to provide a substitute for Isaac, was God being “deceitful”???? I know Abraham believed God could raise the dead.

        Jesus says: “I am coming quickly”? Is HE being deceitful if “quickly” is a few thousand years, or more?

        Was God being deceitful with Job, planning events in Jobs life, even using Satan, “behind the scenes”?

        Just because we do not have insight into the “secret things” of God—how DARE we think we have a “need-to-know!— does not mean God is deceitful.

        I am just trying to help you see the potential for your theological perspective as it relates to how you represent the Living God to others. Satan is a deceiver. God is not.
        ________________________________________
        re: “What kind of “warning” is it if he has programmed both the impossibility of judgement and our decision?”

        This statement makes no sense.

      8. Do you believe that God is free in the counsel of His own will to create a world where man has free choice and those choices affect God choice (as it appears to be saying hundreds and hundreds of times in the Scripture)?   Yes or no?  

        Is everything that happens exactly as God planned/ willed/ ordained/ wants, including sin, rape, torture, murder, etc (as the WCF claims)?  Yes or no?

        Funny, it’s not me bringing up these Scriptures (like Gen 22), it is you.  It is only you saying “God knowing full well” what He would do….not God….not the passage.   

        Genesis 22:12 says, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

        God tells mankind for all time, “now I know…”  He could have said, “I knew you would do that…” but, nah, He says “now I know.”  Why?  It’s a simple question.  Why did he say it that way? Why is He declaring for all mankind to see that He knew it when He saw Abraham do it?

        Why does He say throughout Scripture things like “I expected good fruit but you gave me bitter grapes…”(Isaiah 5)  ” I would have made you king forever but you….. ” (to King Saul)?  ((And hundreds and hundreds of other passages like this.))

        All throughout Scripture He interacts with man… and yes man “thwarts” His plans so He does something greater…as He says hundreds of times!

        Reformed determinists who teach that God ordained all things robotically (even sin), cannot accept that God chose (in the counsel of HIs own will) to limit Himself. They have decided in their minds that this idea “makes Him small” and makes things “man-centered.”  Others just take Him at His word from Scripture and find that all of this makes Him great, loving, and personal.

      9. Gary,

        You said:
        re: “What kind of “warning” is it if he has programmed both the impossibility of judgement and our decision?”

        This statement makes no sense.
        ——————-

        The statement means: The Calvinist, Reformed position states that not only does God know the choice that a man will make when he is “warned” but God ordains/ plans/ wills the choice man will make.

        So, God ordains our actions (even sin)
        He then warns against these actions.
        He then plans the disobedience (or obedience) that man will have.

        So, what kind of “warning” is it really if God has even ordained/ planned/ willed man’s response (negative or positive) to the warning?

        It is humorous to see Calvinists/ Reformed say “how DARE we think …..”

        We “dare” ask these questions because God planned/willed/ ordained in His “secret will” before time that we ask them!!

      10. This is typical eisegesis.

        Verse 6:5 is taken literally (not poetically, or as hyperbole) … but….noooo…… verse 6:6 all of a sudden is ….wait for it….. wait….. an anthropomorphism (anthropopathic). And the average, common Bible reader is supposed to know this how?

        Oh…. yes… you give the reference in the Westminster Catechism. That should do it. Give everyone a copy of that to go along with their Bible.

        Imagine what we would think of the noisy nation that continues its saber-rattling, “We’re gonna attack you…..” (wink wink), knowing full well they will not attack. At BEST we would call that bluffing and certainly many would call it outright deception.

        It certainly seems petty and unnecessary (in this WCF interpretation of Scripture) for God to send countless prophets to warn of countless judgements that He had no intention of bringing!

        Maybe in His “secret will” He has no intention of judging the world in the end! How is one to ever know what He means and what He is only pretending to mean?

      11. I believe you are mistaken “fromoverhere”. I did not say 6:6 wasn’t “literal”.

        Anthropopathism is the attribution of human emotions, or the ascription of human feelings or passions to a non-human being, generally to a deity. This is merely a way of describing the use of a word.

        It is not “eisegesis. I was talking to you. It is not a word in common use, nor is it found in the bible, so your concern for the “common Bible reader” can be alleviated. I was giving you some credit in understanding the concept.

        When you threaten your “Kids” with some punishment for some supposed wrong, [hoping the threat itself will curb the negative attitude or behavior], but you do not have any intention to carry out that threat {a common fault in parenting!} are you being deceitful? I doubt you think so.

        Your {whatever it is} in the 5th paragraph down, is (sad to say fromoverhere), a misrepresentation of the WCF**. (i.e. “yet so…”)

        ** I have found that, for some reason, the second part of WCF 3:1 is not being addressed. I have not seen (at least to date) that aspect of the statement even referred to in online people discussions.

        • 1. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: ** yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
        • YET SO…

        The last paragraph re: “secret will” is absurd, and borders on, if not actually is, mocking God.

        I perceive an increasing smug, and condescending tone in your communications. Are we going downhill from here? Why does it seem like “discussions” like this have to go sour? I’m not interested in sour.

        Blessings!

      12. Sorry for my smugness and sourness. I appreciate your good intentions toward me.

        My testimony is scattered on all the pages here that you dont want to read (fine). I get tired of telling all over again how I was a Bible School trained Calvinist (35 years sent out missionary by a Calvinist church)….but then put down Pink, Boettner, and vanTil to read and listen to Scripture (all of it, not just the list of 40ish reformed-looking verses).

        It is my fault for bringing into this conversation the frustration of 30 years of explaining my exit from Calvinism. Sorry.

        So much dependence on Catechisms, Canons, and Synods (largely by people who persecuted/tortured those who disagreed) and so little listening to the literally(!) hundreds and hundreds of passages where God says “I did not send them to tell you that. They were not doing my will..” (etc). Yet, men continue to foist these things on God as His “secret will,” even though He says He had nothing to do with it!

        What is He saying if not the exact opposite of what the WCF is claiming?! And so clearly. And in so many books (poetic, historical, prophetic). There would be no difficulty in understanding this if man did not approach the Bible with a predisposed idea of “what God MUST be like.”

        We impose on our definition of God what the medieval doctors of the law insist that “he must be like.” Nah, I just got tired of doing that and “explaining away” hundreds of passages ((Notice how many times Calvinists, monergism.com, Gospel Coalition etc start with the phrase, “This passage appears to say…. but we know it cant mean that.”)). That just gets so tiring to constantly say “It does not mean what is says…”

        Again…sorry for my tone.

      13. I lost track. Please cite the part that makes you think I am mocking God.

        I cringe at the idea of mocking God! That is because I am not a determinist. If I were a determinist/ Calvinist/ WCF-er, I would have to believe that any mocking of God was intended/ planned/ ordained/ willed/ desired by Him (in His secret will) so as to somehow bring Him greater glory.

        But since I dont think that that Scriptures teach that idea, I cringe at the idea of mocking God! Please show me so I can correct it if I did so.

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