For quite sometime Traditionalists have attempted to save the word “sovereignty” from this generation’s consistent misuse of the term (which I’ve been guilty of as well in the past). I was happy to learn that we are not alone in our efforts.
I recently happened upon an article posted by Paul D. Miller, a student at the Reformed Theological Seminary. It was posted by The Gospel Coalition, a Calvinistic organization, in which (to my delight) he properly defines the word “sovereignty.”
I affirm most everything he wrote with the exception of the phrases I have underlined and emboldened. I will address that below. Please read this article carefully to rightly understand the biblical distinction between sovereignty and providence:
Is ‘Sovereign’ the Best Descriptor for God?
by Paul D. Miller of The Gospel Coalition
What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? The refrain has become so common, almost clichéd, in Reformed writing and preaching that it sometimes slips away from the reader or listener without lodging meaning in the mind. Worse, we typically hear the phrase to mean something it doesn’t. When Christians affirm that “God is sovereign,” they often mean “God is in control.” Paul Tripp, for example, wrote in his excellent book Lost in the Middle that “God truly is sovereign . . . there is no situation, relationship, or circumstance that is not controlled by our heavenly Father.”
The problem is that the English word sovereignty does not mean control. The U. S. government is sovereign within American territory, but that doesn’t mean the government controls everything within American borders or causes all that happens. If you look up sovereignty in the dictionary you’ll not find control in the definition—nor even as a synonym in a thesaurus.
Sovereignty means “rightful authority.” A dictionary gives “supreme rank” as one definition, and a thesaurus lists jurisdiction and dominion as synonyms. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty tells us God is the rightful ruler of the universe. He has legitimate claim to lordship. His government is just. In fact, justice is defined as his rule. God’s sovereignty doesn’t tell us whether God does in fact rule—just that he ought to, and that we should acknowledge his rule and obey it.
English Bible translations don’t often employ the word sovereign to describe God. The most frequent place is in the NIV rendering of Ezekiel, which uses the phrase “the Sovereign LORD” more than 200 times. But the Hebrew for that phrase is more accurately translated “LORD Yahweh” or “King Yahweh.” Most English Bibles oddly follow the tradition of translating the personal name of God as “LORD” in all capital letters, which means they have to find another word to translate what would normally be “Lord,” lest they translate it “Lord LORD.” Thus, we get “the Sovereign LORD,” an accurate paraphrase but not an exact translation. (Notably, the ESV renders the phrase “the Lord GOD.”)
The Bible describes God as King and Lord. Though it is accurate to describe God as sovereign, I wonder if using that word rather than King tends to depersonalize his rule. A sovereign can be an institution, like the government. A king is a person. We relate to our contemporary secular sovereign governments as a citizen subject to an impersonal array of bureaucracies. But in premodern times subjects related to their Lord and King in a deeply personal way: with love, fear, reverence, and awe.
I speculate that theologians began describing God as sovereign rather than King or Lord after the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution when monarchy began to fall out of favor and notions of popular sovereignty began to take root. Telling good republicans and social contractarians to worship a divine King might have been unpopular in 18th- and 19th-century Britain and America. I have no research to back that up that assertion except for the observation that the King James and Geneva Bibles don’t use the word at all, and the Wycliffe Bible only sparingly, while 2oth-century versions like the NIV, Good News, and New Living Translations use it hundreds of times.
Once again, it is true God is sovereign. It’s also true he’s in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens. But that is the doctrine of God’s providence, not his sovereignty. The doctrine of divine sovereignty tells us he should rule. The doctrine of divine providence tells us that he does, in fact, rule. The Lord governs and guides all of creation for his people and for his glory. “All things work for the good of those who love God,” Paul writes (Rom. 8:28). God’s providence, then, is a function of his omnipotence: he is able to rule all things because he is all-powerful.
We may be splitting hairs, but the Bible splits these same hairs. Scripture gives us specific words to describe God’s character, and we should be careful to use those words correctly. We may be losing a small nuance when we opt for the impersonal word sovereignty over the more literal and personal words Lord or King. And in either case, we shouldn’t confuse God’s sovereignty (or lordship) with his providence. The two characteristics complement one another, as do all of God’s attributes. God’s providence is just because he is the rightful King, and God’s reign is enacted through his providence.
This is why I have argued that the attribute of God’s Sovereignty, when rightly defined, is not an eternal attribute. Sovereignty understood as God’s right to rule over His creation (or even His “providence,” the way He chooses to rule His creation) are contingent attributes because it involves God’s relationship with others.
A distinction has to be drawn between the limitless power of God and how He chooses to use that power.
Even if you believe, as the author of the article above clearly does, that God is meticulously controlling others, there has to be others in which to control. He cannot display His power over creatures unless the creatures exist. Therefore, before creation the concept of sovereignty (or even providence) was not an attribute that could be used to describe God. An eternal attribute is something God possesses that is not contingent upon something else existing.
The eternal attribute of God is His omnipotence, which refers to His eternally limitless power. Sovereignty and providence are temporal characteristics, not eternal ones, thus we can say God is all powerful, not because He is sovereign, but He is sovereign because He is all powerful, or at least He is as sovereign (or better understood as “providential”) as He so chooses to be in relation to this temporal world. As someone put it, “Sovereignty is the expression of God’s power, not the source of it.”
We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.” This is why the Lord instructed his followers to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10), a prayer that makes little sense if indeed God is already meticulously controlling all that happens on earth.
If the all powerful One chooses to refrain from meticulously controlling every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. After all, can God not do whatever He wishes, even if that wish may be to allow for true creaturely freedom and autonomy?
It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation. In short, many Calvinists deny God’s eternal attribute in his effort to protect the temporal one.
Additionally, an argument could be made that the eternal attributes of God’s love and His holiness are likewise compromised by the well meaning efforts of our Calvinistic brethren to protect their concept of sovereignty (meant as “control”) over the temporal world.
94 thoughts on “Saving “Sovereignty””
Strikes me as the same sort of back pedaling Calvinists always do when their distorted definitions of words become exposed. Note, there is no intention of the author, or Calvinism, of abandoning the faulty definition which for centuries has falsely taught that Sovereignty demands Determinism. Exposed by thinking people, as per this blog, many who were formerly brainwashed are awakening to the numerous errors and contradictions inherent to Calvinist thinking.
As the errors become painfully obvious, and ‘outsiders’ deny the commands to not think logically and to unquestioningly accept ‘orthodox’ teaching on authority (WC and ancient creeds), Calvinism is forced to hem and haw, to ‘clarify’ what they really believe. Clear, critical thinking always leaves it looking silly, which is why independent thinking is anathema to Calvinism and other authoritarian philosophies.
So true TS00…
Many biblical passages (whole passages, not half-a-verse here and there) are studied here as biblical evidence against man-made determinism.
But in stead of exegeting whole passages (such as Jer 18…and many, many others where God relents, repents, or regrets) they just call us “ridiculous” “heretic” “false deceivers” or accuse us of “sloppy hermeneutics”— whereas they offer no heremeneutics at all for whole parts of the Bible!!
As I stated elsewhere, they will often cry out “compatibalism” and say “mystery” (how God can mandate, determine every aspect, and yet not be the origin of sin).
But more and more they are getting bolder (or following their philosophy to its logical end) and saying “Yes…He authors all things, even sin…..for His glory!”
MacArthur is trying to cool off some of these hot heads, but I am afraid that the train has left the station and the young, educated, internet-fed, western (not third world or orient), bearded (?), YRR zealots will not be restrained.
Great post. Clearly the Systematic has taken precedence over correct meaning and usage. I attend a Baptist Reformed church and purposely avoid using this term as they would use it. Sometimes it is used, somewhat unknowingly, to portray that “we have a bigger view of God than those other churches that only talk about God’s Love.”
I am trying to use their words to try to help them understand what parts I do agree with them according to their idea of those terms. For example… – God sovereignly determined to monergistically give everyone sufficient light (John 1:9) to enable their depraved mind and will the opportunity, the choice, to seek more light leading to a moment where they can individually repent and trust God mercy. Or they can choose to reject seeking. But upon meeting the non-meritoriously conditions of repentance and faith, God monergistically causes according to His sovereign plan the new birth in those individuals who expressed repentance and trust (John 1:12-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31).
“Sovereignty” does not mean that God can’t give man free will. If He can’t then He is NOT sovereign. The word “sovereign” is so limited that it fails to describe what God really is. In fact mankind cannot even begin to grasp how incredibly, all-powerful He is, nor can any earthly words describe Him. We will spend the the forever of eternity continually marvelling at the wonderful majesty of the limitless infineness of the Creator of the Heavens and earth – the ONE Who put the intelligence into creation. Eternity will be a continuing education for His Children.
Paul Miller writes, “Sovereignty means “rightful authority.”…The doctrine of God’s sovereignty tells us God is the rightful ruler of the universe…it is true God is sovereign. It’s also true he’s in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens. But that is the doctrine of God’s providence, not his sovereignty. The doctrine of divine sovereignty tells us he should rule. ”
Miller is a little confused. God created the universe – necessarily God is sovereign over His creation – God is the ruler, the rightful ruler, of the universe and God does rule, not should rule, over His creation. God’s rule over His universe is absolute; there is nothing that is outside His control. Miller is correct to state that, “…he’s in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens.” He is wrong to identify this as the doctrine of providence rather than sovereignty.
Sovereignty states that God rules His universe, that He is in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens. The doctrine of providence deals with God’s exercise of His sovereignty to participate in the affairs of His creation. It is God’s providence that He does not participate in the affairs of His creation thereby providing His creation freedom to do whatever it desires – the result, “…the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” It is God’s providence to exercise His sovereign control in the opposite direction – “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky;…” The pagan ruler, Nebuchadnezzar understood God’s sovereignty in saying, “[God’s] dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”
God is sovereign – He is the absolute ruler of His creation; He is in control of everything that happens. Miller may properly object that the doctrine of providence deals with the manner in which God exercises His sovereign rule by causing all that happens.
Dr. Flowers writes, “It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation. In short, many Calvinists deny God’s eternal attribute in his effort to protect the temporal one.”
As a former Calvinist, you know better. God is necessarily sovereign over anything He creates – this by virtue of His omnipotence. God does not, and cannot, refrain from controlling His creation but He can, and does, vary His control as He wills. This is illustrated in Isaiah 10. Assyria is the rod of God’s anger that He sends against Israel. Yet for Assyria, “it does not so intend Nor does it plan so in its heart, But rather it is its purpose to destroy,…” Thus, God restrains Assyria so that it cannot invade Israel and it is not until God loosens His restraint that Assyria can pursue its desires. So, it is with all people. God is continually restraining the evil that people want to do – thus, people are not as evil as they could be. God “works all things after the counsel of His will…” so that the control God exerts differs to accomplish His purposes. Calvinists do not “deny God’s eternal attribute in his effort to protect the temporal one.” You don’t explain how you think this happens, and I wonder if you can.
You proved my point in your opening sentence. “God is necessarily sovereign (wrongly meant has controlling) over anything he creates.”
So God has to control His creation on your view which is a denial of omnipotence. He can’t refrain from controlling on your view which means God isn’t powerful enough to create libertarianly Free creatures. You concluded this because your seek to defend a temporal characteristic (namely “control of others”)
Dr. Flowers writes, “So God has to control His creation on your view which is a denial of omnipotence.”
No, No, No!! God “is in control” of His creation and this because He is omnipotent – this necessarily so (Even you would not deny this.). The extent to which God is involved in controlling the various parts of His creation varies. God must exercise some level of control – God has to control His creation – in order to prevent His creation from devolving into chaos.
Then, “He can’t refrain from controlling on your view which means God isn’t powerful enough to create libertarianly Free creatures.”
Given that no one has come up with a definition of LFW, that distinguishes it from merely being free from coercion, this statement makes no sense. Nonetheless, we have the example of Genesis 5, that says of mankind that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God had freed people to do what they wanted without God controlling them (other than to keep them from wiping themselves out). God was in control and God had determined (in eternity past for brianwagner) to give people freedom to do as they desired. God can certainly vary the level of control He exerts. Nothing is ever out of God’s control and God is never out of control.
Then, “You concluded this because your seek to defend a temporal characteristic (namely “control of others”)”
The temporal characteristic is God’s sovereignty (which reflects His omnipotence and provides his control over His creation). Does that have to be defended??
rhutchin’s version of God is quite schizophrenic. He becomes angry at sin while secretly causing it. rhutchin also seems to think that ruling over something necessarily means controlling it. Apparently if I am the ruler of my household, I control every person’s action, good or bad, that live there. If God is not sovereign over his sovereignty, then he is controlled by his own attributes to the point that he becomes a puppet of his own will. Not only does this view insult God’s goodness, it makes him weak.
Well said WW.
There is something schizophrenic about the determinist philosophy…but only because He MUST be that way because they insist a few vague verses say that.
I dont think that rhutchin (and most others) are writing / thinking/ analyzing from the point of view of husbands and fathers.
Nor are they thinking of any biblical example of sovereign…..kings in the Bible. Never does any example of king in the Bible (even the kings that God set up over His people) show us a person who controls all thoughts and actions of his people. That is just not what “sovereign” means anywhere.
But they use very aggressive words to say “necessarily must” ….. as though they just get to set the rules.
I have stated many times in these strings that in many passages God repeats His name (Eternal, Almighty, King of Israel), using all His names in row (to make sure we know He means ‘the Sovereign Lord’) …and then says things like “I would have ….if you had” “Why did you not….?” “I expected grapes and got ….” ‘if only you would have ….” “Because you have (good thing)…. I will now do (good thing)….”
There is some disconnect with them saying all this means is “God does not restrain people from their natural sin.”
This is not biblical (nor consistent with their position) on 2 levels:
1. As you said, it is schizophrenic in that He causes them to do it, but also “simply does not restrain them from their natural evil.”
2. Many times the thing He will now do is because of a good thing they did (not always evil), so it does not fit the “does-not-restrain” model.
I can now expect an answer to this that will contain the “if they did anything good it was God who not-coercing-coerced them to do it.” Which of course is never in the text either.
Even if God was the not-coercing-coercer of their good act….that makes the Bible be saying (many places!) something like “I, The Almighty, Eternal, King of Israel will now reward you for something that I not-coercing-forced you to do. Good job faithful one!”
“Everyone else please learn from this act-of-faithfulness that I not-coercing-forced on this person….so that you ….can …… hummm…I guess you cannot really learn, cuz you can’t do anything unless I command it (good or bad) anyway…so never mind.”
FOH writes, “they use very aggressive words to say “necessarily must” ….. as though they just get to set the rules.”
The scriptures clearly portray God as omnipotent and sovereign. Necessarily, God is more powerful than anything He has created. Necessarily, God controls His creation – His creation does not control Him. I don’t see what your issue is here.
Then, “1. As you said, it is schizophrenic in that He causes them to do it, but also ‘simply does not restrain them from their natural evil.'”
God “causes” people to sin by not restraining them from sin. God is omnipotent and can, if He wills, prevent people from committing all sin. When God gives people freedom to sin, we know that God takes this action having an infinite understanding of all things and this action accords with His perfect wisdom. No one could sin unless God gave them the freedom to sin. What about God are you complaining about?
Then, “Even if God was the not-coercing-coercer of their good act….that makes the Bible be saying (many places!) something like “I, The Almighty, Eternal, King of Israel will now reward you for something that I not-coercing-forced you to do. Good job faithful one!””
Yet Paul teaches in Ephesians 2, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Isaiah said, “…we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;…” Where does the believer get good works but from God?
wildswanderer writes, “…ruling over something necessarily means controlling it.”
In the case of God, ruling over His creation – being sovereign – means that he has control over His creation. Is God actively involved in controlling His creation? Ephesians 1 tells us that God, “…works all things after the counsel of His will…” Romans 8 says, “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” Can you name anything in God’s creation over which God does not have control or is not controlling?
Then, “If God is not sovereign over his sovereignty, then he is controlled by his own attributes to the point that he becomes a puppet of his own will. Not only does this view insult God’s goodness, it makes him weak.”
This statement is nonsense. I doubt that you can explain what you have said.
I’m not sure why I should have to explain that statement. It is quite clear as is. Perhaps if I re worded it:
If God must express his sovereignty by meticulous control of every thing and everyone, then God himself has no free will. God’s attributes are not ruling over him, to the point where his power means he must conquer and smother every creature’s will with his own. He can if he wishes, but he is not obligated to.
“Can you name anything in God’s creation over which God does not have control or is not controlling?”
Certainly, scripture makes it clear that God does not control our sin. If God taking total control of our thoughts and wills as you claim, then obviously any evil we did would be solely his doing. We could not even conceive of sinning if he didn’t cause sinful thoughts to enter our minds. And I’m sure you have some nonsense about secondary causes prepared, but see, that’s not what it says. Scripture places the blame squarely on us, not on him.
James 1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, “aI am being tempted 1by God”; for God cannot be tempted 2by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Be prepared for nonsense.
wildswanderer writes, “If God must express his sovereignty by meticulous control of every thing and everyone, then God himself has no free will.”
The key word is “express.” God is sovereign and necessarily is able to exert meticulous control over every thing and everyone. The extent to which God “expresses” His sovereignty to control anything varies according to His eternal plan. We know that God “works all things after the counsel of His will,” wherein God may exert more control in some areas than others. God may exert very little control as when He gave people freedom to do as they please before the flood of Noah. God may exert a lot of control as when He impregnated Mary or freed Peter from prison. As even you recognize, “He can if he wishes, but he is not obligated to.” However, God must continuously sustain His creation else it would dissolve into chaos.
Then, “scripture makes it clear that God does not control our sin.”
In Romans 8, Paul tells us that God, “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” “All things” includes the sin that people would do. In Ephesians 1, Paul tells us that, “God works all things after the counsel of His will…” In Philippians, “God who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” It seems obvious to me that God is intimately involved in the lives of His elect even to controlling their sin and even must control the sin of those who impact His elect. God does this through the work of His Spirit who indwells His elect. Nonetheless, as we read in Romans 7, the old nature was not eliminated and continues to cause mischief.
“We know that God “works all things after the counsel of His will,” wherein God may exert more control in some areas than others. God may exert very little control as when He gave people freedom to do as they please before the flood of Noah. God may exert a lot of control as when He impregnated Mary or freed Peter from prison.”
And now the waffling begins. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t have God completely controlling everything and then include notions of free will of any kind. There is no room in determinism for God allowing behaviors, only causing them. You’re just talking out both sides of your mouth and contradicting yourself. That’s as kindly as I know how to say it.
Well said WW,
Get ready for both-sides-of-mouth-talking. Followed by “mystery!” Followed by “The truth hurts, you heretic.”
None of which deal with what is actually in the text that God gave us.
One you could also have mentioned is Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
God is obviously allowing that (in His sovereignty and “counsel of His will”). And he allows “the old nature to stir up mischief” also….but does not decree it.
But the double-mouthed ideas persist “He preordained, and control-micro-manages, and non-coercing-coerces” but the old nature gets to “stir up mischief” without Him being the cause (even though He is the cause of all things).
It even gets convoluted trying to show how convoluted it is!
Indeed, been thinking about that very verse lately. A friend of mine said recently that she used to think everything in the Bible must be good simply because it was in the Bible. And she could never understand the story of the man’s concubine being gang raped and killed, because clearly that was not good. This woman of course has outgrown that childish idea that everything that happens in scripture must be God’s will. But it seems that a large number of adults and reformed theologians still think that way.
wildswanderer writes, “This woman of course has outgrown that childish idea that everything that happens in scripture must be God’s will.”
So, do you deny that God knew what was happening and was standing there watching all the proceedings (figuratively speaking, of course)? Perhaps you deny that God is sovereign and could not have stepped in to prevent the degradation of the concubine. Maybe, you deny that God is sovereign and had to deal with the concubine’s death before it happened. Do you even understand who God is and that He is a living being (i.e., a spirit) and ruling His creation? You write very strange stuff. Of course, not everything that happens in the Scriptures is “good” as much of Scripture describes the evil that people do to each other.
FOH writes, “God is obviously allowing that (in His sovereignty and “counsel of His will”). And he allows “the old nature to stir up mischief” also….but does not decree it.”
God is not passive in “allowing” X. God actively determines that X should occur (having made those determinations in eternity past). Nothing happens but by God’s active decree. This is because God is sovereign and can intervene to prevent anything He wants. God must decree that He will not intervene to prevent X before X can occur.
wildwanderer writes, “You can’t have God completely controlling everything and then include notions of free will of any kind.”
Of course you can. God gave the inhabitants of Sodom freedom to pursue their evil desires – in doing so, God still maintained complete control and protected Lot. God then destroyed Sodom. That God is in control of human affairs does not require that God intervene in human affairs to the same degree all the time. Everything that happens is under God’s control and nothing happens that is not subordinate to God’s will.
Then, “There is no room in determinism for God allowing behaviors, only causing them. You’re just talking out both sides of your mouth and contradicting yourself.”
Because God is sovereign, to allow X is to cause X as the person allowed to do X can only do so because God does not exercise His sovereign power to prevent X – thus, the person doing X is a secondary cause to accomplish God’s purposes.
If you can explain the contradiction that you see, please do so. You state opinions – see if you can frame an argument to support them.
If there is one stray molecule in the universe that God is not directly controlling, then we have something less than determinism. Do you or do you not agree with Sproal on this? You speak of God allowing actions, which according to your Calvinist leaders, is inconsistent with complete control. Either you are a closet Arminian or you are being decietful about what you really believe.
ww, as I’m guessing you have learned, if you have dealt with Calvinists much, they always, like politicians, try to have it both ways. They will never acknowledge the glaring inconsistencies, and will blithely insist errors in logic are ‘mystery’, or that ‘God is not restricted to man’s logic’, as if God created us with an inability to discern truth from error. You will quickly discover if you are dealing with an individual who ‘needs’ his Calvinistic comfort system, for they will utterly refuse to ever reconsider it, in spite of any and all legitimate evidence that they should at least give it a second look.
As I stated earlier, they desperately need this system of theology to give them assurance. Perhaps because they do not have a genuine relationship with the living God. Those who seek to tie God up contractually, like the Pharisees, do so because they do not truly know him. When you know him, it is like the small child’s affection and trust for a loving father: there is no doubt in that child’s mind that his father loves him, would welcome him in his arms in times of fear, would protect him from any danger and would never, ever abandon him. He doesn’t need a contract, or a complex system that ‘proves’ his father’s love to him is binding and irrevocable.
Picture the end of the world: those who knew, trusted and walked with God personally will run to him crying ‘Father!’ Those who were relying on a system will be rehearsing their lines about how they ‘trusted in the righteousness of Christ’ or whatever words they have memorized. It isn’t a game, folks. It isn’t a system that you have to get right, or scripture verses you have to memorize.
God has been my gracious, faithful, loving helper since my earliest days; even the very worst of them. I have called to him in anger, fear, doubt and confusion, and have always been met with the same gracious, comforting acceptance, patience and willingness to teach me what I need to learn. I have never looked to a system of theology to assure me he is real or that he loves me, and I have no doubt that he desires to have the exact sort of relationship with all of his children, if they are willing.
truthseeker00 writes, “God has been my gracious, faithful, loving helper since my earliest days;”
The key word here being “helper,” when God wants to be Lord. “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4)
wildswanderer writes, “If there is one stray molecule in the universe that God is not directly controlling, then we have something less than determinism. Do you or do you not agree with Spro[u]l on this?”
Of course. In Hebrews 1, “[Christ] upholds all things by the word of His power.” Then Colossians 1, “[Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” If there were a stray element in the universe that was not sustained by Christ, it would devolve into chaos. As Sproul says, if chaos rules over God, then chaos can disrupt all God’s plans. However, God controls His universe maintaining order by working all things after the counsel of His will, thereby ensuring that His will is accomplished in all things – and there are no stray elements operating outside God’s control. You clearly don’t like this, but I don’t see any attempt on your part to argue against it.
Then, “You speak of God allowing actions, which according to your Calvinist leaders, is inconsistent with complete control. Either you are a closet Arminian or you are being decietful about what you really believe.”
The distinction you seem unable to grasp is that God is never passive but always active. When Calvinists say that God “allows,” it is in the active sense – God gives (allows) people the freedom to pursue their desires and disobey Him and this is done by God/s decree – God has willed it. God’s decrees ensure God’s complete control over His creation.
Rhutchin showing once again the deliberate deceitfulness of Calvinist doubletalk attempting to hide what they mean:
“The distinction you seem unable to grasp is that God is never passive but always active. When Calvinists say that God “allows,” it is in the active sense – God gives (allows) people the freedom to pursue their desires and disobey Him and this is done by God/s decree – God has willed it. God’s decrees ensure God’s complete control over His creation.”
What exactly does ‘allows’ in the active sense mean? It means compels, of course, but Calvinists refuse to admit that in their belief system God does, and must, compel the actions of others. So they use meaningless semantic games in which words take on the exact opposite meaning than their commonly understood definition. God ‘allows’ people the freedom to do what he has decreed and ‘willed’ – utter, meaningless nonsense that is intended to hide the ugly reality of what is actually being said.
If you wish people to ‘grasp’ ‘the distinction’ you intend to make, you might try using words in their usual, common sense. People understand what ‘allows’ means, and it is not active. If you wish to express the meaning of an active force, there are plenty of words that depict that meaning, such as ‘compels’, ‘ordains’, ‘forces’, ‘controls’, etc. Why not use words that depict what you intend, rather than words that depict what your opposition believes and give them a unique, not understood meaning?
truthseeker00 writes, “What exactly does ‘allows’ in the active sense mean? It means compels, of course,…”
Absolutely not! Man, despite the Calvinist conclusion that he is spiritually dead, still has a soul with a mind, heart (or nature), understanding and a will by which he can make decisions. When God “allows” He gives people the freedom to choose how they will behave absent any restraint from Him. However, man is flesh and Paul tells us in Galatians 5, “…the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Jesus said, “…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man;” The person sins without being compelled to do so by God.
Your claim that, “Calvinists refuse to admit that in their belief system God does, and must, compel the actions of others,” is false and speaks of considerable ignorance of the Scriptures on your part.
You really need to read your own replies. Above you speak of God choosing to stand by passively, now you say he is never passive, same old rhutchin, contradicting himself consistently…I’m glad I stopped by to see that some things never change.
You say I don’t like the idea of God controlling things,
Actually, I sometimes would like to see God actively controlling my mind, no, I take that back, I would like to give him complete control at all times, I would be a much better person. But what I see in this world and in scripture is that God does not choose to operate in that way very often. What God wills is that we all become conformed to Christ’s image. (look it up, it’s in your Bible) I don’t have to have any theological system to know that isn’t happening for most people. And the blame for that is not on the Almighty’s shoulders, but squarely on ours.
wildswanderer writes, “Above you speak of God choosing to stand by passively, now you say he is never passive, same old rhutchin,”
Are you unable to understand context. God chooses to be passive and thereby is passive. God is never passive in the exercise of His sovereignty – in His rule over His creation.
Then, “Actually, I sometimes would like to see God actively controlling my mind, no, I take that back, I would like to give him complete control at all times, I would be a much better person. ”
Yet, you willfully choose to think what you want to think. What does Paul instruct? “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” To do as Paul instructs is to give God control of your mind. You willfully choose not to do this.
Then, “What God wills is that we all become conformed to Christ’s image. (look it up, it’s in your Bible) ”
Again, you willfully choose not to do so.
Lol, it stands to reason that if God is completely controlling my mind I can’t willfully choose anything. But apparently he has given you some kind of secret knowledge as to the extent of my sanctification… And after all this time I still don’t think you know what the word “control” means.
wildswanderer writes, “if God is completely controlling my mind I can’t willfully choose anything.”
Like a dog straining on the leash is under the control of the owner, the dog is still free to act within the limits of the leash. So, God has a leash on your sin nature but you are free to sin within the limits imposed by God. I don’t think you understand how control can be preferentially exercised and is not a one size fits all concept.
Ah, so complete control has gone out the window already? A dog on a leash is not under total control. We have gone from God directly controlling every molecule in my being, and every thought, every inclination, to God only restraining me if I get too far out of line. You need to make up your mind.
wildswanderer writes, “Ah, so complete control has gone out the window already? A dog on a leash is not under total control.”
Examples are not always perfect. In this case, God knows the mind of the person even before the thoughts come to his mind. God has perfect knowledge and infinite understanding, so God restrains knowing that the desire of the person is to sin to the utmost. God’s control is perfect; so is the depravity of man.
Then, “We have gone from God directly controlling every molecule in my being, and every thought, every inclination, to God only restraining me if I get too far out of line. ”
To completely control anything in the universe requires only that God restrain the natural movements of His universe. This restraint keeps inanimate elements from devolving into chaos, the animal kingdom from pursuing natural instincts, and depraved man from devolving into utter depravity.
If this is how Calvinism is taught, I feel sorry for the new Christians having to deal with the confusion of constantly being told two opposite things. No wonder so many leave the church.
wildswanderer writes, “I feel sorry for the new Christians ”
Not many people seem to have the problems understanding God’s control as you do.
Capatibilism fails the logic test. It also makes nonsense of all verses in the Bible that speak of spiritual warfare. You speak of God’s knowledge as if that means anything in a system where God’s knowledge only comes from his predetermining everything. There is nothing for God to restrain in such a system. Is he restraining himself? Complete control for an omnipotent being means that he would have to be moving every muscle in the body of a rapist or murderer, not to mention the inclinations of the rapist or murderers mind. Anything less is not complete control and it’s at least partially passive. Any fairly sharp sixth grader can understand that.
wildswanderer writes, “You speak of God’s knowledge as if that means anything in a system where God’s knowledge only comes from his predetermining everything. There is nothing for God to restrain in such a system.”
By virtue of sovereignty, God has the final say on everything that happens. Thus, God decrees everything.
Then, “Complete control for an omnipotent being means that he would have to be moving every muscle in the body of a rapist or murderer, not to mention the inclinations of the rapist or murderers mind.”
The Scriptures are clear, “…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man;…” (Matthew 15) God does not have to put ideas into the mind of the rapist nor move the rapist to action – he is motivated by a depraved nature (the heart). God has the final say – either He stops it or He gives the rapist freedom to pursue evil; either way, God decrees the outcome.
Then, “Anything less is not complete control and it’s at least partially passive.”
So long as God has the final say and must decide on each event, he cannot be passive and His control is complete.
Then, “Is he restraining himself?”
Apparently so. “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Romans 9) and “…the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark,…” (2 Peter 3)
Silly WW, ‘control’ means whatever Rhutchin needs it to mean at the moment. It can be ‘passive’ or ‘active’, it can be determining every thought, word and deed, or merely keeping a leash on you. Don’t you understand Calvinists reserve the right to not only redefine words, but to never let you know which definition they are intending at the moment? Come now, show a little sympathy – how would you like to have to try and defend that illogical, inconsistent, ascriptural theology? Is it any wonder if end up schizophrenic?
You will never be able to die-hard determinists of their double standard. They take verses about “upholding all things” and make them “necessarily” say micro-managed all things. ….and then still stick in the “allowed” word.
The bottom line for me is to ask myself…or a Calvinist friend, “can you make a difference?” “Does anything you do make a difference?”
If I am faithful to my wife and my kids see that will that help them choose later to be faithful?
If I am unfaithful to my wife will they be bitter and off to a bad start in life?
Can anything I do help/hinder someone from certain choices?
If not (a) all the admonitions (what, 45,000 or so?) are useless, and (b) what’s the point?
If everything that has happened so far (including my sin), has happened because God predetermined it….then God is responsible for all actions including the sin. I would be most free to do whatever I want going forward knowing that it is only possible —because God is “uholding all things.”
Sproul, Piper and others realize how utterly unbiblical and senseless this is so they squeeze in doses of “mystery” “two wills of God” and “compatibalism” (meaning, yes God controls all, but is not the origin/source of sin, man is).
In their attempt to honor God, they make foolishness of the whole thing.
And yet that works for them too…..as they cry out “things of God are foolishness to the world.”
FOH writes: “The bottom line for me is to ask myself…or a Calvinist friend, “can you make a difference?” “Does anything you do make a difference?”
This is why Calvinism nearly always leads to despair and hopelessness. The more the follower begins to understand and internalize its principles, the further away they wander from the genuine hope they had in the true gospel. Thus, it is not only the lost that are prohibited from benefiting from the glorious salvation that Jesus suffered to make available to them. Even former believers, without realizing what is happening, begin to lose hope.
This is exactly what happened to me. When I faced dire, important crises, I realized I no longer had reason for hope, reason to pray, reason to believe that anything I did mattered or could make a difference. This is the logical, necessary result of the doctrine of divine determination. Many, not even understanding it, escape the despair. They are the unthinking, who are Calvinists in name only. Alas, even for them, the doctrine will subtly influence their thinking, and they will never know what happened to their once joyful hope.
truthseeker00 writes, “When I faced dire, important crises, I realized I no longer had reason for hope, reason to pray, reason to believe that anything I did mattered or could make a difference.”
Sounds like you wanted the glory – “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks;” As Paul said, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Rhutchin writes: “Sounds like you wanted the glory . . .”
I will say that you have no idea what you are talking about. You have no idea of the parent’s anguish over a child’s sin, and possible eternal destruction, of the agony of conceiving of both being the ordained, determined, irresistible decree of a God who does not love your child like you do.
You bet your life when God reached out to me in the midst of that agony that I listened to his loving assurance that rejected as false the teaching I had been brainwashed with, that God was the source of evil, the only controlling force in the universe, and that there is no hope for the lost and sinful, because God predetermined their lostness and sin.
Thanks be to God, I had in that moment restored to me my faith in God’s goodness, my source of understanding in an undistorted view of his Word, my hope in he midst of the crushing reality of sin’s destructive power and my joy in the rediscovery of the meaningfulness of life. All these, Calvinism had taken from me, as its fatalistic determinism must.
truthseeker00 writes, “…that God was…the only controlling force in the universe,…”
If God is NOT the only controlling force in the universe, which one of your gods is also controlling the universe instead of God?
FOH writes, “The bottom line for me is to ask myself…or a Calvinist friend, “can you make a difference?” “Does anything you do make a difference?”
The answer, whether Calvinist or not, “…all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Jesus said, ““Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;”
Where God is using us, we make a difference.
God “causes” people to sin by not restraining them from sin. God is omnipotent and can, if He wills, prevent people from committing all sin. ( Genesis 20:6 ‘Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.’). Just thought I’d add a ‘for example’ reference.
Welcome Josiah. Of course God permits people to sin. I wouldn’t call that causing them to sin, even with “cause” in quotes. For He is only the cause of man’s ability to sin, not because it was His intention, but because He created in man the ability to freely choose to have a covenant love relationship with Him. And yes, God can certainly keep individuals from performing outwardly individual sins.
There is a huge difference between keeping an individual from sinning and causing an individual to sin. One can easily make a moral case for God preventing a man from a sin of ignorance, as is suggested in your example. Yet it would be immoral, unloving, unjust and utterly unlike the God of scripture to secretly cause someone to sin, then punish them for it. You will find no such example in scripture, because God would never do such a thing. When man sins, it is his own deliberate choice, his rejection of the good and right for that which is selfish and wrong. This is not something God would ever desire, nor cause, anyone to do.
I notice that you are quoting the Calvinist ESV.
What is the “integrity of his heart” mean? Did Abimelek have some integrity or was he a God-hater, all the time?
If a man is wanting to sin and God stops him, where does the man get the desire to sin in the first place? Calvinist/ Reformed doctrine says even those desires are from God.
So….God gives Abimelek the desire to sin, but then stops him?
Great points FOM! I wonder if any Calvinists say Abimelech was a regenerated Gentile at that point and got “integrity of his heart” irresistibly after that! 😉 Maybe they’ll say God was just using accomodating speech to Abimelech’s perspective that really didn’t mean “integrity of heart” so that He could better convict Abimelech later having used this evanescent grace to make Abimelech’s rejection of God that more stark later! 😉
Hello Josiah and welcome
God “causes” people to sin by not restraining them from sin.
For the NON-Calvinist – that is LOGICALLY possible.
But it is not LOGICALLY possible for Calvin’s god.
John Calvin explains:
The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that *NOTHING* happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed. (Institutes 1, 16, 3)
So if Calvin’s god “restrains” that which he has decreed to infallibly come to pass – he is “restraining” the very thing he decreed to come to pass infallibly – and in such case he is a house divided against himself.
However – since Calvin’s god knows that no event has any existence unless he knowingly and willingly decrees that event into existence – then when Calvin’s god does not want an event to come to pass – he simply “restrains” himself from decreeing that event come to pass.
Take Joseph’s brothers killing Joseph for example
1) Calvin’s god knows that the event of Josephs brothers killing Joseph cannot happen unless he knowingly and willingly decrees it.
2) So if he does not want Joseph’s brothers to kill Joseph – then he simply does not decree that event to come to pass.
3) In such case – he has “restrained’ himself from decreeing Joseph’s brothers kill Joseph.
FOH, you mean ‘more’ nonsense? What can be more nonsensical than Rhutchin’a unsupported and scripturally unsupportable assertion that “It’s also true he’s in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens.” Says who?
It is so silly, and yet he makes this assertion repeatedly. Why? Because for the unthinking, repeated false assertions carry weight. Sadly, there are many, many people who do not know how, or are too lazy to think for themselves, to question the logic and truthfulness of assertions. These persons can be manipulated and controlled merely by appealing to the ‘authority’ of their ‘elders’ be they Augustine, Calvin, Piper or Joe Schmoe the Calvinist pastor.
Just keep saying it – no proof, no true scriptural basis, just keep repeating the lies, and lots of people will believe them. That’s why Trolls are paid to inhabit this universe.
Apparently the more nonsensical they make it sound the more they can play their “the world sees it as foolishness” card.
The more we insist that God is sovereign enough to rule the world and still give His creation freedom, the more they get to play the “this is a placing-man-above-God heresy, sir!”
The more we show the hundreds of passages (not half verses out of context) where God changes His mind, relents, repents, regrets, shows joy, shows sadness, the more they get to play their “yes He does this ‘in time’ but all was predetermined.”
The more we show the hundreds of times when (what appears to be) a real invitation is extended toward man, yet man does not respond in obedience (thus the invitation was insincere since that response was also predetermined), the more they get to play the “man cannot respond since he is following his natural sinful nature” card.
The more we show all the long passages where God repeats His name (Eternal, Almighty, King of Israel), using all His names in row (to make sure we know He means ‘the Sovereign Lord’) …and then says things like “I would have ….if you had” “Why did you not….?” “I expected grapes and got ….” ‘if only you would have ….” “Because you have (good thing)…. I will now do (good thing)….”
……the more they play….. the more they play……. (crickets in background….silence)…… there is no response to that.
If you go on the blogs of the heavy hitters and they deal with these passages…..which is rare….. they will always, always start with “We know these passages cannot mean what it looks like…”
If you come to the Bible with the answer…..you’ll find it.
truthseeker00 writes, “It is so silly, and yet he makes this assertion repeatedly. Why?”
Because I know that you cannot define “sovereignty” as it applies to God and explain what it means that God is sovereign. I can do it, and you have no argument against what I say.
This string is about the idea of sovereign.
I like to let Scripture define that. Let’s let God tell us what that means.
We have plenty of passages where the Lord says, “I the Sovereign LORD….” (all caps LORD is the Heb equivalent as sovereign YHWH).
He does go on to say “No one is greater than I am ….” and things like that. Great.
He never says “I the Sovereign LORD…..define every thought and action.” Which of course would have been easy.
((((get ready for the “He never says the word trinity either” card played here ))))
He does however say “I the Sovereign Lord…..” repeating His name (Eternal, Almighty, King of Israel), using all His names in a row (to make sure we know He means ‘the Sovereign Lord’) …and then says things like “I would have ….if you had” “Why did you not….?” “I expected grapes and got ….” ‘if only you would have ….” “Because you have (good thing)…. I will now do (good thing)….” “if you do bad I will do bad…but if you do…..”
Hundreds of times…..
What does that demonstrate? Why does He allow that in His word if not to teach us something?
He is simply defining what it means to be sovereign in the way He established the world.
Now…..we have, often, men come along and say “He is necessarily controlling all things since that is what it means to be sovereign.” but of course these are man-made descriptions…and ideas that are brought to the Scriptures. And of course when you put them into “Confessions” ….well that makes them “necessarily” right!
Now when people bring in verses like “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”….we see that these verses simply mean what they say. No more.
Or the go-to “God works all things after the counsel of His will…” simply reminds us that He can set the world up however the “counsel of His will designs.” And that would/could include free will if He chooses that as His design.
People who propose these verses to prove (as their ONLY proof) for absolute determinism have little ground to stand on. But then…when they add to that and say that the old nature is still alive and “causes mischief” they do not even see the schizophrenia involved. They are saying that God predetermines all things, but then turning around and saying the old nature “causes mischief”…..not realizing that, in effect, God must, by their definition be the one behind that “mischief” too.
When you start with the answer…..likely you can find a few randomly strung together verses to ‘prove’ it.
FOH writes, “Now when people bring in verses like “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”….we see that these verses simply mean what they say. No more.”
And no less.
Feel free to address the verses that people cite to define “sovereignty.” You seemed to have avoided them – unless you were sleeping in that class and really don’t know.
Something really valuable has to be hiding in there to make someone stick with a stinker of a philosophy like Calvinism. When I was first struggling to escape its bonds, I wrote to a few Calvinist pastors whose teaching seemed, shall we say, a little more healthy than what I was sitting under. One Calvinist pastor, who had been tossed out of my denomination for not crossing his ‘t’s’ properly, encouraged me to throw off Calvinism if it was hindering my faith, which I appreciated. But as for him, he stuck with it because ‘he found it comforting’.
That phrase stuck with me, bothering me, and I have pondered it often over the years. What was it in Calvinism that anyone could possibly find comforting? Then, when reading this passage in Ezekiel, it finally clicked:
“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’”
This, in my opinion is the fly in the ointment that Calvinism seeks to eliminate. Like the Israelites of old, they insist it would be ‘unjust’ of God’s to renig on his promises to his ‘chosen’ people. This, I now believe, is the primary lure that brings people and keeps people in a system of theology that, in modern lingo, plain sucks. (Not a term I normally use, but it seems to fit.)
Lets see: God chooses a random few, and condemns the rest to hell. God curses all men for the sin of their forefather, before they ever had a chance to make a choice for good or evil. God determines every thought, word and deed that comes to pass, which necessarily includes rape, oppression and genocide, then punishes men for those very deeds he, himself, irresistibly determined they perform. All this for his ‘good pleasure’ and no one is supposed to mind that it was God, not wicked, rebellious, free-willed men, who originally determined all the evil that takes place in this cruel, oppressive world.
Who, in their right mind, would choose such an obscene belief system?
When you cut to the chase, Calvinism is all about eliminating personal responsibility for sin. If God ordains all things, then there is no need for guilt or fear of rebuke. It is essentially a lack of faith in God’s genuine provision for sin, and his ability to conform all willing men to the image of his Son as promised. As insurance, they demand a robe to hide all that sin they fear God cannot remove. Then they try to pin all the sin on God, just in case.
In reality, only those who do not enter into a genuine, ongoing, submissive relationship with God have any reason to fear the God who loved them enough to provide the costly payment for their sins. Eternal Security – I know I will step on a lot of toes here – is only important to those who prefer to not cling closely to God and do his will. They seek assurance that they will not be punished for not seeking God with all of their hearts. I would say I believe in a sort of ‘eternal security’, in that no one is going to ‘fall’ accidently out of God’s hands, or be held to a standard of complete perfection. That being said, along with Arminius, scripture does seem to warn that an individual can choose to turn from the God whom they have loved by a continued, unrepentant resistance to the leading of his Spirit and eventually be cut off, as was unrepentant Israel.
This is akin to many believers who pride themselves on their dead and miserable marriages. They self-righteously assure themselves that they are ‘following God’s command’ to honor their lifelong commitment, even though they have allowed their relationship to die. Despite no existence of love, respect, joy or meaningful interaction, these people proudly wear their ‘commitment to their spouse’ like a badge. They are living a lie, falsely priding themselves on something that does not even exist. Living in the same house and sharing finances does not a God-honoring marriage make. Such people are no less guilty of desecrating their marriage vows than those who physically leave their homes and spouses. A marriage becomes annulled when the people in it no longer love one another as they pledged, not merely when they get a signed certificate of divorce.
A relationship demands ongoing interaction, love, respect, and reciprocal sharing of self as well as goods. This is as true with God as it is with a spouse. God does not want a relationship in name only. Eternal Security, in the ‘nothing can ever remove me from God’s book of life’ manner, is like a hypocritical boast of lifetime marriage in name only. I suspect many will be shocked to hear the words ‘Away from me, for I never knew you.’ God is not handing out raffle tickets, with a few lucky winners; he is offering men a genuine relationship that is to be taken seriously.
Calvinists always self-righteously insist that they only desire to preserve God’s ‘glory’. I’ve got news for them: He doesn’t need any help.
God’s glory is undeniable, revealed throughout his glorious creation, and most marvelously in the self-sacrificing, glorious death of his Son for sinners. No greater declaration of God’s glory was ever made than that of John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John Calvin’s claims pale in comparison.
God’s genuine, unconcealable glory does not rest on the monstrous claim that he created countless men inescapably for destruction, with no intention, ever, of offering them redemption and life. Nor does it require a tyrannical, monstrous, meticulous control of every thought word and deed of created man, producing the most heinous of evil. Even atheists have more sense than to believe that God would both cause (ordain) and punish evil. Only brainwashed Calvinists accept such a monstrous lie.
It is God’s true justice – the just holding of men accountable for their freely chosen actions – which Calvinism seeks so desperately to avoid. Calvinism creates a tidy, albeit false scenario, in which they can convince themselves that nothing they have ever done or might do can keep them from the love of God. True, scripture offers the genuine recipe for such a hope, but it demands a genuine faith that leads to a genuine change of heart and life.
No man is ever given a robe under which he can continue sinning to his heart’s content. Paul utterly denounced Luther’s claim that the ‘elect’ could ‘sin boldy’, but somehow that escapes Calvinists’ take on Romans. Such an evil thing would be utterly unjust, as God declared through Ezekiel. Wickedness could certainly be pardoned – when abandoned; but never when continued.
Rather, ‘when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does . . . None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die.’
This is the threat that Calvinist fear the most, and which they desperately try to pretend does not exist. This very real threat is why Paul warns believers against falling from grace – because there is no such thing as a ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card that allows the believer to continue freely sinning, contrary to Luther’s blasphemous claim and the perversion of ‘Eternal Security’.
Of course, Calvinists are admonished to quietly put their ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card in their pocket and deny it’s there, all the while counting on it to grant them pardon for any and all failure to conform to the image of Christ. The only reason a believer fails to be conformed to the image of his Saviour is because he refuses, not because God in unable or unfaithful. This alone will cause him to be cut off from the vine which once succored him, trouncing once for all upon the blood of Jesus which was shed for him. While loudly condemning the ‘Easy Believism’ of Evangelicals, Calvinists cling to a ‘Hotel California’, ‘chosen people’ religion that would make the Pharisees proud.
When I first considered Calvinism, I too appreciated the utter freedom from guilt it appeared to grant. Contrary to the true teaching of scripture, Calvinism asserts that, if elect, your sins are no longer seen; you are given, as a robe, the righteousness of Christ to cover all personal unrighteousness. That’s a pretty good gig, if you can get it, and that’s the ‘hook’ that sells Calvinism and much of Calvinist-derived Christianity. The lure of this horrendous, cruel, merciless theology is its false ‘no accountability for your actions’ premise.
No wonder Calvin could flog, torture and burn innocent men, women and children – even if sinful, none of it would be held against him, because he had the magic robe of righteousness to hide under! No wonder Luther could throw under the bus the peasants he had stirred up, granting the authorities the ‘right’ to genocide – he was ‘covered’, so he could ‘sin boldly’! Calvinism paved the way for tyranny and oppression like no other philosophy.
It is indeed ‘comforting’ to believe that nothing will ever be held against you; that you can not only resist every direction of the Spirit, progressing very little in sanctification – you can even sin the most heinous of sin and still be declared ‘righteous’. Calvinists will pretend that such an extension of their theology SHOULD never occur – yet they cannot deny its logical possibility. Ezekiel banishes the idea as utterly preposterous.
That was a mouthful!
I would say we are on similar trajectories. Escaped Calvinism (me having a Bible, Greek and Hebrew degrees from a Calvinist school)…. seeing the warnings in Scripture about “shipwrecking your faith” as real…. not understanding why mere mortals think they need to devise methods to “defend God’s glory”…..not understanding how it can be a comfort to know that God both ordains and punishes sin.
On the “comfort” note: One of my closest national colleagues (18 of my 30+ years overseas with him) one day “discovered” Calvinism (his words) with the help of his bearded, 20-year-old, internet-fed, YRR son. He told me after all the years of door-to-door and street evangelism we (he) had done he was now more comforted than ever under Calvinism.
Why? Cuz he just realized that it is God’s job completely! He is comforted by the fact that he no longer has to wish he had done more to announce the gospel (and live under a self-imposed guilt). He can relax that God will do it all.
I could not (can not) speak to him what I will now say since he has basically cut me off knowing that I am not a card-carrying Calvinist.
I do not see how the agony of wishing you could do more and weeping over people that you are “being all things to — to win them” could possibly compare to the agony of knowing that you will spend eternity with a god who would pick some (did he really pick you!!??) and not pick the other 99.55% of the world. Depriving them on purpose….creating them on purpose to suffer in hell “for his glory.” Both ordaining and punishing their sin—for his glory.
I do not see the comfort in a god who now changes your 30-year-message from “God loves you” to ….uhhh…. “repent!….if God ordained it.”
I do not see the comfort in a god who now changes your 30-year-message from “Jesus died for you” to ….uhhh…. “Jesus died for a teeeny tiiiny few people, and you might be one of them…..but probably not!” “And for sure your father who just passed away without Christ was never, ever intended to hear the gospel in changing manner—he was created for hell—-but relax, that is for God’s glory. So go and enjoy that creator.”
FOH writes, “…..not understanding how it can be a comfort to know that God both ordains and punishes sin.”
Did you sleep through another class??
truthseeker00 asks, “What was it in Calvinism that anyone could possibly find comforting? ”
The notion that God is in complete control of everything.
Then, “Lets see: God chooses a random few, and condemns the rest to hell.”
Spoken like an universalist. Calvinists have no issue with the universalists; if God does choose to save everyone, the Calvinists will be cheering. Nonetheless, the Scriptures do not seem to point to that conclusion.
Then, “Calvinism is all about eliminating personal responsibility for sin.”
Calvinism is all about God being sovereign and man being depraved – rather than holding all people responsible for his sin; God extends mercy to some.
Then, “scripture does seem to warn that an individual can choose to turn from the God whom they have loved by a continued, unrepentant resistance to the leading of his Spirit and eventually be cut off, as was unrepentant Israel.”
The Scripture says that, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” and “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Then, “having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance,…’
Rhutchin writes: “Calvinism is all about God being sovereign and man being depraved – rather than holding all people responsible for his sin; God extends mercy to some.”
To add what he conveniently omitted: ‘rather than holding all people responsible for [their] sin, God only holds some unlucky blokes responsbile for their sin and extends mercy to some for the exact same sin.’ Which is exactly what God declares through Ezekiel is NOT JUST – to condemn one man for his unrighteous deeds, but overlook the same unrighteous deeds in another because he is in the ‘chosen’ group. No, says God, the man who works unrighteous deeds will die, and the man who turns from his unrighteous deeds will live. The fact that all men commit works of unrighteousness is the reason Jesus came to put an end to the law, for where the law is no longer in effect, there is no condemnation. But Calvinism is false, misleading and dangerous in asserting that God’s purposes have nothing to do with alleviating the wicked actions of mankind. That is EXACTLY what he desires, and intends, to do. And he tarries, longer than most of us wish, because he desires that none perish, but that all turn from their wickedness and live.
Thus all men may receive the declaration of ‘righteousness’ by putting their faith in the love of God through the atonement of Jesus for all sin. If this same righteousness is not freely available to all on the same basis, and based in reality rather than some random whim, it remains in the unjust category described by Ezekiel.
Yes, it takes discernment to contemplate the distinction between not being condemned for unrighteousness that is repented of, as with David, and not having a carte blanche freedom to ‘sin like the devil’ without being held accountable for it. Satan always attempts to cast things in a dualistic, either/or manner, whereas scripture encourages us to seek understanding, meditate upon God’s word, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to learn to walk more and more steadily in the right paths. These are all principles that have been long explained and understood, until they were turned on their head by Augustine, Calvin and comrades. The confusion lies not so much in the scriptures themselves, as in the corrupt understanding that false teachers have introduced to make men stumble, making strawmen out of Pelagius, Arminius, etc., and distorting what they actually believed into some ridiculous caricature.
There is absolutely no suggestion in scripture that some men are now free to live life however they please and never again fear condemnation, because they are a select, chosen people who will not have their wickedness held against them, whereas everyone else will. No one, ever, is given a license to sin, as Peter, Paul and James (sounds like a rock band!) clearly teach. Grace never means freedom to sin. That is the ultimate in abusing the costly grace we have been offered. Then to top it off by forbidding God’s genuine offer of grace to others, by insisting they might not be loved like you, might be condemned for the same sins you will be forgiven. Atrocious.
That’s why I stopped giving Calvinism a ‘pass’ as just another way of looking at the gospel of Jesus, like a mere distinction in exactly how to view the concept of the ‘Trinity’. Calvinism is the worst corruption of the true gospel possible. May all hear and believe the genuinely good news that God loves them – without a doubt – and makes it possible for them to be forgiven, freed from the power of sin and remade – by submitting to the teaching and guidance of his Spirit – in the image of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.
truthseeker00 writes, “Thus all men may receive the declaration of ‘righteousness’ by putting their faith in the love of God through the atonement of Jesus for all sin. If this same righteousness is not freely available to all on the same basis, and based in reality rather than some random whim, it remains in the unjust category described by Ezekiel. ”
Calvinists recognize this. It is those who refuse to put “their faith in the love of God through the atonement of Jesus for all sin,” that Calvinism deals with. It is these who are so depraved that they can be saved only by the mercy of God.
Rhutchin, you continually talk in meaningless circles, and you know it. You speak of ‘those who . . .’ as if the ‘those’ can actually choose to do something, when your system forbids it. Thus, though you continuously deny it, all you are left with is a charade, a sham, a robotically controlled system where each person is a mere fake person, with no more autonomy than a chess piece. They will, of course, do what the one who moves them around his chess board intends, because they can do no other, whether he moves them with his hand, a stick, a voice controlled computer or any other imaginable ‘secondary cause’. You can assert that the pawn ‘chooses’ to move to the left, but all with any intelligence understand that a pawn, or even a king can only move where their mover demands when the game involves a mastermind controller and pieces of clay with no wills of their own.
You can talk in circles all you want, and you can frequently mislead and confuse the uninitiated, but those who invest the time to study scripture and the way false teachers distort and manipulate it must eventually face the fact that most Calvinists cannot be trusted to be honest with even themselves, let alone others concerning what they genuinely believe. Once we see through the semantic games, we seize to be taken in by the tricks of language that attempt to hide what you really assert behind genuine ideas with which your listener is comfortable.
truthseeker00 writes, “You speak of ‘those who . . .’ as if the ‘those’ can actually choose to do something, when your system forbids it.”
Let’s cut to the chase. Calvinism says that people are spiritually dead because of Adam’s sin and non-Calvinists say that people are not spiritually dead (this, of course, brings into question the need to be reborn). It is because of their spiritual death that people see the gospel as foolishness and reject Christ. Otherwise, as a moral decision making ability, people could rationally choose to come to Christ, but they still do not choosing instead to seek salvation by works. The rejection of Christ is an irrational decision under any circumstances. Thus, Romans 1, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” In John 6, Jesus says, “No one can come to me…” and this is because of spiritual deadness. Yet, Jesus still said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes [in me] has eternal life.” It was the inferred [in me] that was the stumbling block. If only Jesus had said they could have eternal life on their terms, everything would have been OK.
So, we disagree. I argue that man is spiritually dead; you argue that he is not. There is no deception here, we take opposite positions on this. However, man is still rational and could make a rational decision to accept Christ but just goes insane at the thought of doing so.
Rhutchin, I certainly agree that we disagree on many things. I disagree that you, and other Calvinists, do not use deception, as my above example, and many others here, demonstrate. You constantly, habitually, misuse and distort the common definitions of words in order to appear to mean one thing while complying with your genuine, opposing, system of theology.
I also completely disagree that responding to God is a mere rational decision that everyone, if rational, would make. This of course, disregards the whole message of the bible concerning sin, man’s desire to seek his own way, in spite of any and all negative ramifications and eventual destruction. Sin is not the result of a lack of logical reasoning, it is the result of choosing the desires of ‘the flesh’ – instant gratification – over the more eternal benefits of self control, self sacrifice and other-centered living. With this I would add that much of what the Institutional Church would call ‘sin’ would not be regarded as such in God’s eyes. He does not judge us on our standard of pietistic, puritanical perfection, but on whether or not we put other’s needs before our own as best we can. This too, my former Calvinist church got completely backwards. There was no interest in meeting the needs of the lost, or the oppressed, but only an absurd, legalistic emphasis on how you dress, what you listen to, what you watch, what you drink, etc. In one word, Pharisees.
truthseeker00 writes, “I also completely disagree that responding to God is a mere rational decision that everyone, if rational, would make.”
Then what, in your mind, is “free will” if not the ability to make rational decisions??
Then, “Sin is not the result of a lack of logical reasoning, it is the result of choosing the desires of ‘the flesh’”
So, are you know arguing as a Calvinist??
Rhutchin, free will is not the freedom to make rational decisons, it is the freedom to make decisons, period. They may be rational, or irrational. They may be selfish, or selfless. They may be based on true premises, or the misleading belief in faulty premises. Freedom of choice is not limited to rational choices. It merely means the locus of control lies within. The believer is called to submit – not destroy – that freedom of choice to the Holy Spirit, who will always lead – but not compel – in the right ways. Yet, the freedom of choice is never eliminated, else believers would not be capable of sinning, which even Calvinists don’t dare assert. It is irrational to sin against the God who gave so much tor redeem you from sin – yet so many do, including so-called elect Calvinists, at their own admittance.
truthseeker00 writes, “Rhutchin, free will is not the freedom to make rational decisons, it is the freedom to make decisions, period.”
So, you include making irrational decisions as free decisions. That’s good because that is what the Calvinists argue – so long as the decision is not coerced, it is free.
Your explanation is Calvinistic. The difference, as noted before, is that you allow for the spirit to be alive and functioning in decision making while the Calvinists say the spirit is dead and the sin nature rules decision making. As far as “freedom” in decision making, you don’t seem to differ from the Calvinists.
cease, not seize . . . need my second cup of coffee 🙂
WW and TS00,
There is some disconnect. We are talking about controlling every thought /action for every person (even the elect, after “regeneration”). Others then begin their rabbit trail talk about “man is dead” or “sinful man cannot choose” etc. There is no connection but thus goes the “conversation”.
When we dont follow the convoluted trail….insults ensue about being dull, stubborn, willfully disobedient, or a heretic.
We are talking about God preordaining every movement and yet …..others (who insist on this) bring in choice, etc. no connection.
We are talking about God actively preordaining and yet others bring in His “passive” actions. You two have asked solid, honest questions only to be insulted and misdirected into non-pertaining ideas.
I personally will not continue a discussion in this fashion. I have kids and friends that I would rather spend time with and read the Scriptures with.
Let the Scriptures speak!
FOH writes, ” We are talking about controlling every thought /action for every person (even the elect, after “regeneration”).”
More than that. You also say that God must compel people to act – this because, under your system, the spirit is still alive. Under the Calvinist system, God need not compel as the spirit is dead and the sin nature rules and compels a person to action.
FOH, you are correct that Rhutchin just leads a merry, contradictory, pointless chase. Just a paid troll – has no apparent purpose other than to distract and mislead. Same script, over and over and over. We all tire of his games eventually. Unfortunately, that appears to be why he attempts to dominate the boards, to keep away any genuine, helpful discussion.
TSOO – In my opinion, you and FOH are having a very helpful conversation using Roger’s replies as a foil. You would be surprised at the number who read these conversations but do not feel the need to get involved. I believe the benefit is seen, especially when inconsistency is pointed out in someone else’s argument or where Scriptures and its authority and its clarity are specifically pointed to.
The biggest issue as I see it in this OP is whether the Scripture teaches that God gets more glory if His sovereignty is seen as controlling everything based on His will being eternally immutably locked-in to one set/completed human history for Him to know that way or that God gets more glory if His sovereignty is seen as overseeing everything based on His will being still freely exercised in decision-making that incorporates responding to man’s free choices meaning that in His knowledge is a future that is partially complete and also filled with undecided possibilities that He fully understands.
I believe Scripture clearly teaches that God gets more glory by the second example of the exercise of His sovereignty.
brianwagner writes, “I believe Scripture clearly teaches that God gets more glory by the second example of the exercise of His sovereignty.”
I think truthseeker00, wildswanderer, and FOH are all on your side given their complaints about Calvinism (if they are not universalist) – presuming that they are consistent in their beliefs.
Thanks. Good thoughts.
I too believe He gets more glory the way you said.
But there is a second level.
1. Glory to God.
2. Does the Scripture impose it?
The Second area is also one where our Calvinist friends also spend time. I think they believe that Scripture teaches that God “must necessarily” control all things….since this is their (or perceived Scriptural) definition of “sovereignty”.
This is supported by the well known few verses “end from the beginning” “if a calamity happens did not God do it?” “roll the dice in the lap”…. and a few more.
But as I have stated several times in these pages:
1. Does the Scripture really say that? So deeply, clearly, so “necessarily”? I believe an objective look at any and all of the passages would show any objective person, that, hey…..I guess they really don’t say that. This is indeed what I had to untangle myself from as I moved out of Calvinism. But changing a worldview —when we are so invested (and we so admire the dogged James Whites of this world) is difficult.
2. Did I (like others) bring this idea TO the Scriptures? I mean, we all do to some extent. Can we shake all those childhood images of a Western-looking Christ with arms outstretched? God as a long white-bearded ancient? The devil and his forked tail, horns and pitchfork. It is the same with presuppositions. We assume that God controls everything since, in some ways, that is the God that we want.
3. This controlling Sovereign: this is a very big doctrine (indeed it is foundational in all other decisions) and should be more clear in the Word. Why just a few verses and half verses here and there? Of course, after saying this, I can’t count to 3 before I hear, “Yeah but the Trinity is not in the Bible either.” The diety of Christ is seen throughout the Bible. Nothing is said about God that is not said about Christ. There is no comparison to the very vague verses that “might” hint at an all-controlling God….if interpreted a certain way.
4. Why must celebrities be right on this, but we allow them to disagree on other issues? MacArthur (not a stated determinist) and Piper disagree vehemently on the gifts (cannot both be right), and MacArthur -Sproul on infant baptism. The list goes on and on, with Augustine bringing the most controversy. He believed in the saints, adoration of Mary and much more……yet we “trust him” on all things deterministic.
This makes no sense (yes, I know it is “foolishness” which apparently is a good thing!).
Let the Scriptures speak!
FOH writes, ” I think [Calvinists] believe that Scripture teaches that God “must necessarily” control all things….since this is their (or perceived Scriptural) definition of “sovereignty”. This is supported by the well known few verses…”
And the definition with Scripture support that you (or other non-Calvinist) offers is……? …non-existent, perhaps??
Excellent observations FOH! So much in Calvinism is wrapped up in bringing to the Scriptures what they already want to see there because of buying into a popular tradition held by popular preachers who claim for themselves “orthodoxy”. They do not realize how much is actually heterodoxy left over from Roman Catholic theology and its early playing of footsy with Greek Philosophy to define God in deterministic terms.
brianwagner writes, “So much in Calvinism is wrapped up in bringing to the Scriptures what they already want to see there because of buying into a popular tradition held by popular preachers who claim for themselves “orthodoxy”. ”
Translation: Calvinism claims that God is omniscient and this colors their interpretation of the Scriptures.
Then, “They do not realize how much is actually heterodoxy left over from Roman Catholic theology and its early playing of footsy with Greek Philosophy to define God in deterministic terms.”
Philosophy regards a love of truth and the pursuit of truth from truth. Greek philosophers defined God based on truth – out of this came a deterministic understanding of God.
Translation… trusting unsaved man’s ability to find truth, and define “omniscience” as orthodoxy, instead of how the apostles and prophets revealed God’s description of His omniscience and foreknowledge… hmmm I thought Calvinists believed that the unregenerate man, like Plato, could not understand any truth about God… and yet Christianity has let his definition of a deterministic God rule as the “truth”! Curious.
brianwagner writes, “…I thought Calvinists believed that the unregenerate man, like Plato, could not understand any truth about God…”
When Adam sinned, his spirit died, with it, faith was destroyed, but not his mind and reasoning skills – thus, the Greeks were great philosophers and understood many truths about God. Unregenerate man can understand the Scriptures – just talk to an atheist (many have religious backgrounds) – but it is all foolishness to them; they are unable to believe. So, Jesus said, “No one can come to me…” (Total Depravity/Inability)
If something is Scriptural and is foolishness to unsaved man… it does not seem logical that the same unsaved man would espouse that something as truth!
brianwagner writes, “If something is Scriptural and is foolishness to unsaved man… it does not seem logical that the same unsaved man would espouse that something as truth!”
I agree. So, we find unsaved man discovers truth outside the Scriptures. In Romans 1, we learn that “…since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,…” Thus, astronomers understand many truths about he universe and all points them to God. Same thing with those who investigate the complexities of DNA and the structure of living things. Philosophers are able to identify simple truths from the observation of God’s creation that they can join together to prove more complicated truths. However, what is the end of all this, “Professing to be wise, they became fools,…” Why is this? Because Adam sinned and the spirit died even though his soul encompassing his mind with its reasoning ability together with his heart or nature were intact though corrupted. Paul’s conclusion on the state of people because of Adam’s sin: “…a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (e.g., the Scriptures); for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
Amazing… unsaved man is led by God and discovers so that he understands the foundational truth of the Calvinistic gospel, which is determinism and which implies deterministic salvation, if such exists. The Calvinist then leans upon this discovery that has only a little support from inference from certain proof texts of Scripture, but which is clearly over-turned by the tenor of Scripture and by many clear texts concerning the undeterministic world with which God interacts. But the Calvinist still feels confident that he can now say that the unsaved man, who gave him that foundational truth, will not be, and cannot be led, by God to discover so that he understands the gospel itself! Interesting… but I’m not buying.
Dears readers of this blog:
Every day I have a one-year Bible program provide passages to me. I do not cherry-pick my passages.
OT/ NT/ Ps/ Prov…..every day. Part of today’s reading (I literally could do this on a blog every day!)
Is 65 The LORD says,
“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.
………….Why does the LORD (all caps for that name means, Sovereign YHWH)….. tell us in His word that He was ready to respond to a nation that could have responded?
He is trying to tell His people that He is there…. do not reject Him.
This is literally in my reading every day.
That—-this constant reminder of (a) His sovereignty (b) His openness to a capable-to-respond man —- was what turned me away from the human-built philosophy of Calvinism.
The cry comes out….”Yes, we see those 100’s of passages FOH, but you are ‘making God be lesser than man!'”
Sorry friends, you will have to take that up with the author.
Part 2 of Isaiah 65’s reading…..
“But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
(and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
For I still have true servants there.
9 I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel
and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
and my servants will live there.
10 The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks
for my people who have searched for me,
—————–God will choose (some of His “chosen” people). How?
The people who have searched Him.
Again… “But we dont believe people can seek God!”
Again…. Take that up with the author.
FOH quotes Isaiah 65:
“But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord….
For I still have true servants there.
9 I will preserve a remnant of the people…
Those I choose will inherit it,…
10 The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks
for my people who have searched for me,…”
Who is it that searches for God? Those who have faith. Who is it that has faith? Those to whom God gives faith.
In John 6, Jesus explained, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”
Part 3 (final) of Is 62-65, today’s reading.
Is 65:22 For my people will live as long as trees,
and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
Why does the Sovereign Lord mix together the idea of “chosen ones” and “hard-won gains”?
This entire passage (and many, many more like it) depict His “chosen ones” to be chosen because of their obedience and faith, not the opposite.
They are not given faith and obedience, then chosen because of it. Everywhere in this passage (and many others like it) they are chosen because of their simple faith.
Is that not the way these passages read?
If you find another way to interpret these passages, is that because you are bringing the answer to the text?
FOH writes, “Is that not the way these passages read?”
Not exactly. Let’s look at the context:
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed.
21 “And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 “They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands.
23 “They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them.
24 “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.”
God’s chosen ones inhabit the new heavens and new earth that God creates. This passage does not tell us how these people became God’s chosen ones – contrary to what FOH claims. Perhaps FOH can explain how he came to the conclusion, “Everywhere in this passage (and many others like it) they are chosen because of their simple faith.”
Naught Rhutchin, you didn’t intentionally leave out the first half of the Psalm because it negates your claims?
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here am I, here am I,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and burning incense upon bricks;
who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am set apart from you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all the day.
Behold, it is written before me:
“I will not keep silent, but I will repay,
yea, I will repay into their bosom
their[a] iniquities and their[b] fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they burned incense upon the mountains
and reviled me upon the hills,
I will measure into their bosom
payment for their former doings.””
Note, God “spread out [his] hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices”. Anyone who was not loyally defending Calvinism would naturally assume this presents the picture of people given a choice, who chose to rebel against God’s will and follow their own will, who provoke him to his face continually.
Sure, you can add in Calvinist, or any other presuppositions and pretend this passage means whatever you wish it to mean, but few would suggest the ordinary sense of the passage suggests a tyrannically deterministic God who is bringing to pass every thought, word and deed of all people. When God threatens to ‘reward’ them ‘payment for their former doings’, most would consider it nonsensical to suggest he is ‘rewarding’ (punishing) people for doing that which he intended them to do all along, and irresistibly brought to pass.
As the passage continues, one reads of God’s ‘servants’, who are also called his ‘chosen’. The term servant is fairly self-explanatory from the passage. All of the people being addressed are of God’s ‘chosen people’, that is, his servant, Israel. It is made clear, however, as Paul also explains in Romans 9, that not all Israel are truly Israel, not all of the ‘chosen people’ will be granted the status of ‘servant’ or ‘chosen’. There are, within the ‘chosen people’ those ‘who have sought me’ and those ‘who forsake the Lord’. This is an early description of the distinction between being a people ‘chosen’ for a task (receive the inspired Word of God and produce the living Word of God) and those ‘chosen’ and granted forgiveness for past transgressions – all sinned – because they sought the Lord .
Those who would be punished, rather than pardoned, were those who did not turn from their wickedness, but “when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in.” Certainly Calvinists prefer to suggest that God is disingenuous, that he pretends as if he himself did not preordain the wicked rebelliousness of the reprobate, even though we all know – thanks to Calvinism – that he secretly did just that.
Most would deem it cruel and petty to ordain people’s rebelliousness, call them to turn from it – even though you know they cannot hear and turn, because you cursed them with an inability to hear and turn – then condemn and punish them for doing that which they were ordained from before all eternity to do. We are to believe that God speaks disingenuously (like Calvinists) when he asserts that he is punishing people as payment for their former doings, when we all know – thanks to Calvinism – that God reprobated them in eternity past before ever they had the chance to choose good or evil, merely for his own good pleasure in having people to destroy. Because God is on a power trip, and desperately needs us to know how ‘in charge’ he is of all things – as if any one doubts it.
No, even though he says it, he would never reward or punish people according to their deeds – he only disingenuously leads us to think that throughout scripture, as some might think his ways ‘not very nice’ instead of deserving of ‘glory’. So, like a wily Calvinist, he says one thing and means another. Naughty, naughty God. Which is it – are your ways embarrassing, or glorifying? If glorifying, and you arranged sin and Total Depravity just so you could get all that glory for yourself, why then pretend as if people willfully rebel and only get what they deserve? How are you supposed to get that ‘glory’ if we don’t really understand that people aren’t punished for their deeds, but that you alone determined they should get, before they were ever born, for no reason than because you wished it that way? Good thing you sent Calvin along to straighten us all out, because most people tend to believe scripture really means what it says.
The way to get around God being disingenuous is to start all explications of these thousands of passages …..with……”We know it doesnt mean what it says…”
Somehow…..a few scattered verses (which can be explained differently than they say if seen in context) seem to trump all of these thousands of passages.
What’s more…. we see these passages (which show God either giving man a choice or being disingenuous) in the Pentateuch, historical books, prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, and the NT narratives and epistles. Everywhere.
It is literally everywhere and you MUST come to any daily reading with lenses that filter all passages through the Calvinist mantra “we know it does not mean that since we know…..X….to be true.” (because we start with what Greek philosophers have giving us).
This all starts so early in the Bible. Gen 4….
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’
That is the Lord God telling one of the first of his creation that he must rule over sin.
(A) He could have ruled over sin giving a different outcome (no determinism) and showing that he had a choice.
(B) He could not have changed anything or ruled over that sin—- leaving God as disingenuous.
No wiggle room or straw man here.
FOH writes, “This all starts so early in the Bible. Gen 4….”
Actually it starts in Genesis 3 with Adam’s sin. However, you agree with ts00 that Adam’s sin did not result in spiritual death, so Cain was able to make a spiritual decision to run away from his sin rather than to be impelled by a sinful nature to sin.
ts00 writes, “Anyone who was not loyally defending Calvinism would naturally assume this presents the picture of people given a choice, who chose to rebel against God’s will and follow their own will, who provoke him to his face continually.”
OK. So what does Paul tell us in Romans 1, “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them… For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
However, we start from different premises. I take the sin of Adam to have resulted in spiritual death making it impossible for a person to believe God or accept His salvation. You believe that Adam’s sin did not result in spiritual death making man inherently able to believe God and accept His salvation. Because of that, I spend time explaining the consequences of spiritual death and you complain instead of explaining the consequences of your beliefs. Does that mean that you are embarrassed by what you believe?
Then, “When God threatens to ‘reward’ them ‘payment for their former doings’, most would consider it nonsensical to suggest he is ‘rewarding’ (punishing) people for doing that which he intended them to do all along, and irresistibly brought to pass.”
Basically, you advance and paraphrase the argument in Romans 9, “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?”
Then, “All of the people being addressed are of God’s ‘chosen people’, that is, his servant, Israel. It is made clear, however, as Paul also explains in Romans 9, that not all Israel are truly Israel, not all of the ‘chosen people’ will be granted the status of ‘servant’ or ‘chosen’. ”
As we see in Romans 9, it is God’s elect who are Israel.
‘Naughty Rutchin’ – don’t know why I miss those typos – small type, maybe? They are easy enough to see in the large letters!