Regressive Calvinism

By Eric Kemp

Disagreement is the spice of life. When the goals are shared, people who disagree with one another on how to accomplish the goals can act as a necessary opposing force from going too far off in one direction. Politically, our two-party system is supposed to do just that. Ecclesiastically, the different parts of Christ’s body make us whole.

However, there are many within our political system who do not see those whom they disagree with as sharing common goals. Instead, the person across the aisle is morally deficient, a bad person. There is no common cause with a bad person. These forces seek to drag our politics down, to regress us back, into a power struggle for who is the better person and therefore gets to force the other bad person to sit down and be quiet. We see this every time there is a national conversation on the issues that plague our nation. Unfortunately, I think we are seeing the same thing in the Body of Christ.

The term “Regressive Left” is used to describe those on the far left of the political spectrum who seek to set America back on issues such as human rights and free speech. The term used for those people on the right is the “alt-right” but they are every bit as regressive.

There is a growing “Regressive Calvinism” which seeks to set the Church back in terms of character, scholarship, and rhetoric. This regressive rot within Calvinism was on full display in the recent free will debate between Dr. Leighton Flowers/Dr. Johnathan Pritchett and Dr. Sonny Hernandez/Dr. Theodore Zachariades. The previously agreed upon question of the debate was supposed to be “What is the Biblical View of Free Will?” but it quickly became clear that Hernandez/Zachariades team was instead hard determinists who did not believe in free will of any kind.

In this article, I will not be discussing the differing points of theology in the debate. I will leave that endeavor to more qualified men. I will, instead, be looking at the style, structure, and depth of the argumentation. I will argue that not only were Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Zacharadius unprepared for the debate, but they were wholly uninterested in understanding their opponent’s position. During opening statements, the Calvinists stated their position as true without explanation or argumentation. It seems that the only defense of their truth claims was how loudly they stated them. Further, as I will hopefully be able to show, while the reaction of many Calvinists was one of disapproval of the tone of the debate, there is at least one popular Calvinist resource that celebrated it.

Dr. Hernandez’s Opening

“I believe my opponent’s position, tonight, stands on Tradition and not truth. And I will explain to you why…”

But he does not. Several minutes later in his opening statement, Dr. Hernandez rightly quotes Dr. Flowers’ definition of libertarian free will, “The ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action“. I felt buoyed by the accuracy of the quote and thought that we were going to get down to the meat of the disagreement. Unfortunately, Dr. Hernandez goes a different direction: “Now let me explain something to you that is very important OK? Flowers position has more in common with Catholicism than it does with Christ“. Then he goes on to quote Roman Catholic catechism and concludes, “This is not language from heaven, but lies from hell“.

My Calvinist brethren, hear me, even if you factually agree with Dr. Hernandez, his argument is synonymous with every internet argument that ends with an accusation of being like Hitler. It’s a bogeyman fallacy followed up by impassioned polemics and elevated volume. Dr. Hernandez had ten minutes to explain how his position differed from those who affirm free will and he had no more depth than an internet crusader.

In the rest of his opening, he goes on to quote the Bible as if his opponents have never read it. Dr. Hernandez is unaware of Dr. Flowers and Dr. Pritchett’s position on Romans 3. He is also seemingly unaware if they have an explanation for why one person believes in Christ and another does not. Could you imagine going to a debate thinking “All I have to do is quote this one biblical passage and my opponents, who have never read this super obvious passage, will have no answer to it” and then not doing any research on your opponents leading up to the debate to see if that is true? The shallowness is baffling.

Dr. Hernandez does not fulfill his promise to show how his opponent’s position, which he never explains, is separate from truth. He merely states what he thinks the truth is and if he can create a false choice (“free grace vs. free will,” again, which he never explains), if he can associate his opponents with the known bogeymen of Rome, and if he shouts loud enough, the audience will be convinced of his position. Is this the level of scholarship and reason Calvinists want from those representing them at debates?

Dr. Zachariades’ Opening

This is as close to describing the free will position as Dr. Zachariades came:

“Man can thwart God’s plans. He has the ability to keep God from doing that He wants?! WOW!!”

No one could mistake the look of dripping sarcasm on his face as he said this. I put wow in all caps above but it does not do the volume justice. It must be seen (and heard) to be believed. Dr. Zachariades felt the need to apologize for the ringing ears in the audience; he quite literally screamed into the microphone. After the apology, he moved the microphone away a bit, leaned away from it a bit, and then continued to shout at the same volume for much of his opening. If I could have a shot at sarcasm as well I would say it seems like Dr. Zachariades believes that shouting is his strongest argument and that shouting, itself, is capable of convincing people.

I felt embarrassment for Dr. Zachariades not only for the demeanor of his opening but also for the depth of his scholarship. His main argument, that the free will position believes that man can thwart God’s power, is sophomoric at best. I have a hard time imagining that a man with published works, endorsed by well-known and influential Calvinists, with a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has not read A.W. Tozer or C.S. Lewis.

If Dr. Zachariades put every Soteriology 101 podcast, Youtube video and article in front of him and randomly picked one, there is about a fifty percent chance Dr. Flowers would quote Tozer; that’s how often Dr. Flowers quotes Tozer. This is the never-gets-old A.W. Tozer quote Dr. Zachariades would hear (or read):

“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. – The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

Indeed, in anticipation of the debate, Dr. Flowers posted an article with this quote in it. The point Tozer makes and the position Dr. Flowers holds is that free will is a part of God’s eternal sovereign decree. Free will does not thwart God’s plans but it is a part of them. Dr. Zachariades is free to disagree with this position, it was a debate after all, but to be willfully ignorant of your opponents position is to disrespect both your opponent and the audience which came to learn from you. Everything in Dr. Zachariades’ opening is based upon this specific willful ignorance of Dr. Flowers and Dr. Pritchett’s position on free will.

I say willful ignorance because Dr. Zachariades published a book entitled “God’s Glorious Gospel: The Potter’s Prerogative – A Response to Leighton Flowers” but does not know how Dr. Flowers sees free will.

In referencing both Eph 1 and Gen 20, Dr. Zachariades says:

“God works all things according to the council of His will. Even keeping the kings who want to commit adultery from committing so. AND WHEN WE WANTS TO HE ORDERS THOSE TO COMMIT ADULTERY WHEN HE WANTS TO!”

I put the second sentence in all caps because Dr. Zachariades shouted it at the top of his lungs. Clearly, in his mind, the volume at which you state something is equal to how true it is. Especially when making God into the being that orders you to commit the sin He then punishes you for.

This is a call for the majority of Calvinists that I know would vehemently disagree with this to do so publicly. Perhaps the first place you could voice your disagreement would be with Dr. Thomas Ascol, the Executive Director or the Founders Ministries who endorsed Zachariades’ book.

The Purpose of Debate

There is much more that can, and already has been said about the debate. However, there is a looming question I would like to address: If neither education nor persuasion was the purpose of the debate for Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Zachariades, then what was? If rightly understanding their opponents position, and providing arguments that we can all understand and learn from as to why their opponents are wrong, was not their purpose, then what was? I suggest that the disrespect, itself, was the purpose.

I chose the term “Regressive Calvinism” carefully. The regressive forces on both the right and the left of the political spectrum exist in a constant state of outrage where the only rightful response to someone you disagree with is to ridicule and shout them down. In their mind, your opponent does not have bad arguments, they are a bad person. These are the same tactics used by the two representatives of Reforming America Ministries. The political left uses “bigot” and the right “snowflake” while Dr. Hernandez used “heretic” and Dr. Zacharaides “man-centered”. “Man-centered” is a fancy word for an arrogant idolator. Arrogant heretics are bad people, and bad people’s arguments should not be understood nor taken seriously. And man-centered heretics should not, of course, be shown any kind of respect. Disrespect is the purpose and idolatrous heretics deserve it. This is how far back the Regressive Calvinists want to take us.

The Extent

I am open to the idea that this wound within Calvinism may not be as big as I am making it sound. Dr. Flowers has received dozens of messages from Calvinists who did not think Dr.’s Hernandez and Zachariades represented them well. On the last viewing, both the Soteriology 101 and Bible Brodown (Matt and Billy were at the debate) Facebook pages have several, perhaps dozens, of comments from Calvinists expressing concern for the tone of their fellow Calvinists. I’m confident that most Calvinists I know would share this sentiment.

However, consider this article by Pulpit and Pen, which has twenty thousand Facebook followers. The article was written by the News Division but since P&P’s “About” page says “All published content is ultimately the responsibility of Pastor Hall” I’m going to refer to the article as written by JD Hall. The article is entitled “Top Five Reasons to Watch…” the debate. I will not be going through every reason, my purpose will be to show the absolute glee Hall displays at Dr. Hernandez’s and Dr. Zachariades’ disrespect.

“The debate over the weekend with Sonny Hernandez and Theodore Zachariades versus Leighton Flowers and Johnathan Pritchet is the most interesting debate in recent years. It is…cathartic, to watch.”

According to Hall, debates are worth watching for the emotions they give you. Not for rational discussion, not for education, but for emotions.

“Let’s be clear: Leighton Flowers hates the gospel, hates the God of Scripture, hates free grace, and seeks to place man upon the glory throne of Christ.”

In other words, Leighton Flowers is a despicable person who deserved the treatment he received at the hands of the Reforming America Ministry boys.

“Flowers has gone on a one-man crusade to defend the virtuous nature of man, attack the doctrines of depravity, and twist the Holy Scriptures to make Jesus into a worthless potential Savior. ”

Not a single quote to show how Dr. Flowers is doing this nor a single argument as to how. That’s not the point. Shouting down and demonizing the heretic is the point.

“While namby-pampy, Interfaith-dialogue-having, bow-tied Calvinists might be horrified at the straightforwardness of Hernandez and Zachariades, the rest of us actually rejoice that God’s name and power might be defended and Arminians might be rightly handed over as unworthy of theological respect.”

Hall not only considers disgusting heretics unworthy of respect but also anyone who engages them in thoughtful dialogue. This means his fellow Calvinists as well.

“Presuppositionalism oozed out of Hernandez and Zachariades as they repeatedly refused to give excuses for God, and they seemed altogether uninterested in making their position seem rational or respectable.”

When I say that being rational and convincing people of your position is not the purpose for Regressive Calvinists, I was not being unfair. Hall celebrates Hernandez-Zachariades’ irrationality and disrespect.

“It was very clear that Zachariades had little patience for people he feels are heretics, and that reality bubbled to the surface of his discourse on multiple occasions.”

Losing patience and being belligerent due to that lack of patience is virtuous as long as it is done to someone you think is a heretic, ie. a bad person. That is JD Hall’s standard.

“While they will be criticized for not having the right demeanor for debate, I would suggest that is only because we have been inundated with the soft-bellied, lily-livered, limp-wristed creampuffs who make up the children of our age. These men were all fire and lightning, and the respect given to Flowers and Pritchard was commensurate with the respect due.”

JD Hall suggests that if you’re offended by Dr. Hernandez’s and Dr. Zachariades’ demeanor it’s not because their demeanor was offensive but because you’re too much of a sissy to handle it. These are the tactics of an intellectual bully.

“For Calvinists who are sick and tired of seeing Leighton Flowers treated as a well-meaning brother and not an enemy of God, watching the repeated anathemas during the debate was a breath of fresh air”

Let us walk a few steps down Thought Experiment Lane. Hall believes that Dr. Flowers and Dr. Pritchett “hate the God of Scripture,” “hate the gospel” and are “enemies of God.” On what grounds does Hall have to object to the behavior of his hero John Calvin who advocated for dissenters to be burned alive? As Dr. Zachariades tweeted on Thursday:

Theodore tweet 2

I wonder if these men held political power how far they would go to impose their views on others?

The infection of the Regressives within Calvinism must be exposed and condemned by the majority of Calvinists I know object to it. JD Hall and Reforming America Ministries are attempting to drag the Church down into screaming names at one another with our fingers firmly planted in our own ears. I do not think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

If we are going to reach the world for Jesus Christ, and change it, the face we present to the world cannot be one of eye-rolling sarcasm, gleeful ridicule, or red-faced shouting. Join with me, brothers.

48 thoughts on “Regressive Calvinism

  1. Post retry.

    It eerily occurred to me that John Calvin likely sounded much like Zachariades when he shouted down Servetus and called for his execution as a heretic and blasphemer, which he deliberately sought to conflate. A heretic is essentially anyone who dissents from the ‘official’ proclamation of ‘truth’, which Calvin asserted he alone had the right to make. He was well aware that Servetus was no blasphemer, however right or wrong any of his doctrinal positions may have been. Zachariades appeared to be the scary sort of Calvinist who would imitate Calvin in eradicating the dissidents, were he only able. These types seem eager to turn back the gains of the Enlightenment and recreate a world in which self-claimed authorities (themselves) could dictate what all men must believe with threat of torture and murder.

    There was little pretense of legitimate debate or informed discussion of the issues on the side of the Calvinists, but mostly disrespectful name-calling and thuggish screaming, again reminding one of Calvin’s renowned refusal to countenance even the slightest disagreement with him on any issue. It was deeply troubling to listen to, and I would hope that any decent person would call for the rebuke of those who engaged in conduct unbecoming of any gentleman, let alone a so-called representative of Christ.

    1. Part of me wants them to keep it up so they keep driving people away from Calvinism. But then part of me wants this kind of discourse to die so that we can actually discuss our differences.

    2. Post Retry 2
      Many of the reformers kept a great deal of the theological and practical baggage of the medieval Catholic Church, including infant baptism, union of church and state, persecution of dissent (Luther approved of the execution of heretics, and Calvin not only sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus, while also acquiescing in the drowning of dozens of Anabaptist parents for refusing to baptize their infants;), an ecclesiastical hierarchy, an Augustinian view of predestination, and amillennialism. Yuck, yuck, yuck – who wants to be “reformed”?
      The name “Anabaptist” — literally re- baptizer — was an accusatory term pinned on those scattered and diverse people who concluded, based on a close examination of the Bible, that true Christian — Biblical —baptism can only occur after an individual personally exercises faith in Christ, and that therefore no infant baptism was valid. You want to go with the Reformers? Well then listen closely to Cardinal Hosius, who in 1553 was the Chairman of the Council of Trent and the most powerful person in the Catholic Church outside the pope himself, said “If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and boldness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer, than those of the Anabaptists; since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more generally punished or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and even offered themselves to the most cruel sorts of punishment than these people.”
      How? Why – take anything including 5 flowery (no offense Dr. Flowers) points (not in the Bible) from a guy like Calvin? So you can get to where Dr. Zach Attack is? Good grief.

      1. Would that more people knew the true history of the ‘Reformation’. The authentic protesters were silenced – and mostly killed – by the so-called Magisterial Reformers, who were less interested in genuine reform than total control of the people.

      2. And I think we cannot fathom what it is like to live in a culture where religion and politics are synonymous. What you believed conferred upon you power/protection or put you at risk for violence or fleeing your home.

      3. We do see a template in this.
        It is well known throughout the human empires of power in history the two dominators over people have been the ruler and the priest.
        In the Egyptian empires there was consistent competition between the Pharaoh and the priests for domination of the people.

        That is why I believe Jesus is declared both King and Priest.
        But the kingship and Priesthood of Jesus are characterized by Holiness and Self Sacrifice.
        While his earthly counterfeits are characterized by debauchery and tyranny.

        Calvin’s empire was obviously that of the priest dominating and controlling government.
        His reign is characteristic of the dominating Egyptian priest – and not the Holy and self-sacrificing Christ.

      4. An excellent post Tom – thanks!

        Yes – Calvinists often defend Calvin’s behavioral “fruits” by using the “everyone was doing it” argument.
        Thus, Calvin’s behavior wasn’t any more demonic than anyone else in those days.
        By that argument – they should not judge a Christian girl today for getting an abortion because “everyone is doing it”
        But of course – they won’t – so the hypocrisy is obvious.

        At minimum, Calvin’s behavior proves he was more influenced by the god of this world than by the god of scripture.
        The Apostle Paul would probably call Calvin “carnal”, a “super apostle” and a “mutilator”.

    3. Calvin’s, Luther’s, and Zwingli’s behavior reminds me of Jesus’s warning to His disciples in John 16

      1“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3“

      1. So true, even if the ‘gods of this world’ have managed to whitewash their actions – along with all of history – to paint the desired picture of them as godly men. If one reads the actual writings, and examines the historically documented actions of the so-called Magisterial Reformers, one could easily conclude that they were false teachers all along, pushing this same anti-Christ gospel that we see infiltrating and indoctrinating naive believers today. True believers, who asserted the right to interpret scripture and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than bow to the ‘authority’ of the Official Church were dubbed ‘heretics’ and cruelly dispatched.

        However cleverly disguised by doublethink and redefined terminology, Judaism/Calvinism/Reformed Theology/Doctrines of Grace all assert the same horrid lie – God loves only a select chosen few, and irresistibly ordains the rest for destruction. One can see how a theology like that can lead to a little torture and murder of the damned reprobates who dare to challenge the teaching of the ‘elect’ rulers. The problem is that few Protestants know their true history.

  2. Will be listening to this debate but just after 1/2 of it I only hope people that dont know the absolute beauty of our Savoir his offer of salvation dont listen to it. Dr Flowers and Dr Hernadez did an admirable job. Thanks what you do in your ministry…to help those that do believe find answers.

  3. We really should measure the behavior by God’s standard… and take very seriously what He says. Jesus said, you will know them by their fruits. Why even debate people who do not display the qualities and fruit that would make them spiritually qualified to address this matter? There is no excuse to depart from God’s direction on how to handle ourselves. There are probably lots of reasons… but there is no excuse.

    Galatians 5:19-23 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)

    1 Timothy 3:1-7 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (ESV)

    1. Hey Kent, thanks for the comment. Dr. Flowers was certainly duped into thinking that the debate would be different. I know he would not have willingly entered into this sort of exchange.

    Thank you Eric!

    SEMANTIC REPRESENTATIONS AND POWER – notes from Steven Pinker “The Stuff of Thought”

    Preface by br.d
    Jesus called his disciples and said: “You see how the Gentiles KATAKYRIEU-ousin one another. It shall not be so among you.” Mark 10:42.

    Peter warns the shepherds of the flock not to KATAKYRIEU-ontes those in their charge. 1 Peter 4:3.

    A man controlled by a demon spirit leapt upon them and KATAKRIEU-sas them. Acts 19:16.

    Gaming language is a most potent weapon used by marketers, cunning politicians, unethical lawyers, dictators and aberrant religious groups. Doublespeak then, is a weapon of KATAKYRIEU-ousin. Why did Pilot disparagingly ask Jesus: “what is truth?” Because, his was a world of political intrigue, in which men KATAKYRIEU-ousin one another, using both the weaponry of steel and the weaponry of language.

    Steven Pinker The Stuff of Thought:
    “Within intense and eventful disputes between men, debates are hardly ever about the facts. Most people agree on the facts. Where they differ is in the construal of those facts. How the intricate swirl of matter and space ought to be conceptualized by human minds.

    And the categories in this dispute, permeate the meanings of words in our language, because they permeate the way we represent reality in our heads. Semantics is about the relation of words to thoughts. But it is also about the relation of words to reality. It is the way, which parties commit themselves to a shared understanding of truth, and the way their thoughts are anchored to things and situations in the world. It is about the relation of words to a community.

    Many disputes entail two ways of framing a debate, which are pitted against each other, and the disputants struggle to show that their framing is more apt. Does stem cell research destroy a ball of cells, or a living human being? Does abortion consist of ending a pregnancy, or of murdering a living baby?” -end quote

    Does the mainstream Christian find Calvinism distasteful because he is a carnal-minded, semi-pelagian heretic, who chafes at the bit of God’s rule, or because glorified-evil, and Calvinist tactics are outside his ethical boundaries?

    Are Calvinist assertions motivated by a divinely inspired, and righteous desire to glorify God, or a Diotrephes urgency for preeminence, and the need to KATAKYRIEU-sas all who are deemed competitors?

    Competing disputes, can be likened to the game: “king of the hill”, where power is exercised in the form of semantic representations. The party who can ultimately define and label itself as “holy” and the other as “evil”, wins the game and dominates the hill.

    In this game, words become weapons of mutilation—history is rewritten by the victor—and truth is redefined by the conqueror.

  5. I’m sure you’re right. No doubt there are numerous risks involved when you enter into a debate like this. My “Why even debate” question was more of a hind-sight observation… stating what was obvious to most of us… after it became obvious.

  6. Good observations Eric Kemp. In my opinion, there must be an expected harshness in one who believes in determinism… perhaps because in such a philosophy they feel safe to have their controlling personality which sees no existence of free-will interaction between God and man. Why should they, therefore, offer any freedom of expression for others if it goes contrary to their will?

    I know they label it all “free-will” from God’s perspective, and possibly from a regenerated person’s perspective. But to claim eternal immutability for everything to happen one way forever, makes the existence of free-will only theoretical, for who knows if it will be exercised contra-causally, if it is never demonstrated as being exercised contra-causally. Eternal immutable determinism makes contra-causal freedom, at least for man, impossible, for if all his actions were certain in God’s mind before the creation of man’s will, man was logically unable to choose differently after his will was created.

    1. I think you’re right to tie in their belief in determinism to their behavior. It’s ironic. Calvinists are all about the utter depravity of man, to the point of not having a free will, but are unable to recognize the excuse determinism gives them to behave badly. If everything I do is ultimately determined by God, as you say, immutable, then this is the ultimate, unshakeable excuse for whatever I do. If I behave badly it was because God wanted me to behave badly. The corrupted flesh of these men has taken this excuse and run with it. Their every desire becomes synonymous with the decree of God, so I must follow my desire. After all, who am I to answer back to God?

      1. C.S. Lewis writes:

        “It seems that there is a general rule in the moral universe which may be formulated “The higher, the more in danger”. The “average sensual man” who is sometimes unfaithful to his wife, sometimes tipsy, always a little selfish, now and then (within the law) a trip sharp in his deals, is certainly, by ordinary standards, a “lower” type than the man whose soul is filled with some great Cause, to which he will subordinate his appetites, his fortune, and even his safety. But it is out of the second man that something really fiendish can be made; an Inquisitor. “It is great men, potential saints, not little men, who become those who are readiest to kill for it”. For the supernatural, entering a human soul, opens to it new possibilities both of good and evil. From that point the road branches: one way to sanctity, love, humility, the other to spiritual pride, self-righteousness, persecuting zeal. And no way back to the mere humdrum virtues and vices of the unawakened soul. If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.” (Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Books, 1964), P.146-7.)

        In perusing the well-documented historical records of John Calvin’s rule over Geneva one finds the story of a man who is the ultimate anti-type of our suffering-servant Savior. Presumably to discourage those who might otherwise accuse him of heresy and other crimes, Calvin had concocted the clever law that those who made such accusations must be imprisoned alongside the accused. Rather than suffer this indignity himself, Calvin had one of his underlings officially accuse Servetus of heresy, and endure the required imprisonment. Being terrified of the Plague – and presumably death – Calvin had himself declared too valuable to risk, thus excusing himself from ministering to the sick and dying, as a true minister and shepherd would.

        It appears that Calvin, who was ever ready to threaten, torture and murder any who dared to disagree with him in any manner, was utterly unwilling to suffer the slightest inconvenience or danger for the sake of his ‘flock’. There is a very great difference between those who are willing to die for the sake of the truth and those who will kill to enforce their version of the ‘truth’ on others. I would encourage people to do their own study to see which category John Calvin appears to fall under. The thundering, harsh rhetoric of many Calvinists merely reflects the content of their theology and hearts.

      2. What’s worse, Eric, is that I feel it really diminishes their drive to have persistent love for all the lost. Once they have had their gospel presentation rejected, they can find it easier to default to thinking “that one is probably not elect anyway, so why keep trying” or “if they are elect, God probably has ordained someone else to reach them.”

        It especially surprises me how many Calvinists I run into who still try to point to John 17 as justification for not praying for the lost. “Jesus didn’t pray for the world”, they parrot. But how they can easily read that Jesus mentioned His desire that the world – “might believe that” God sent Him (vs 21) and “might know” that God sent Him and has loved His disciples” (vs 23) and not be convinced as Calvinists that Jesus was indeed purposefully praying for the world to be positively influenced by His disciples is hard to fathom. It is a good example of loyalty to “group think” over clear Scriptures.

    2. I LOVED the wording here Brian!!

      If all man’s thoughts/choices/desires are “certain” (Calvinism’s replacement word for “fated”) in God’s mind BEFORE THE CREATION OF MAN’S WILL, then man was logically unable to choose differently after his will was created.

      In Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) can Adam “do otherwise” than [X] where god had already “rendered certain” Adam do [X]?
      No this is impossible – because BEFORE THE CREATION OF ADAM’S WILL, Calvin’s god had already “rendered” Adam’s will.

      1. The danger arises when naive, unthinking believers merely trust and adopt the beliefs of their ‘authorities’ without carefully examining them for scriptural and logical consistency. Thus, mentally assenting to the proposition that God meticulously predetermines and controls all things – even though the majority of their speech and behavior gives lie to this belief – can lead a believer to not recognize the genuine power and responsibility he has in particular situations, or even all of life. Thus, we can be persuaded that there is no use praying for God to intervene in a situation in which God would most definitely respond to the prayers of his people. Isn’t this exactly what Satan most desires? He cannot overpower God, but he can underpower individuals, robbing them of the very strength and tasks that God desires them to accomplish.

        Always, Satan works by convincing us to believe a lie, thus robbing us of the strength and gifts that truth would bring us. God desires for us to seek, understand and believe all that is true. But this isn’t something he just drops into our laps, tied up with a pretty bow. No, we are required to pray without ceasing, to seek as for lost treasure, to hunger and thirst for righteousness and be vitally invested and involved in this relationship and work of God. Satan would just as soon we watch the latest movie, track our ‘friends’ on the latest social media or seek out whatever pleasures most entice us. Perhaps we have not because we ask not, and we ask not because we believe the lie that God has already predetermined everything, so what, really, is the point?

      2. Yes I agree.

        Did you know, truthseeker00, that statistically speaking, an interesting number of leaders who evolve religious cults start out as evangelical pastors? A common thread includes doctrines focused on ministerial authority, and a persona that can influence people.

        Another thing I find interesting – in the O.T. Davids mighty men, before they were called Davids mighty men, were branded betrayers in the government of King Saul. Interesting how they were branded betrayers under the leadership of Saul – and yet mighty men under the leadership of David. I understand John Calvin had his hand in branding women in Geneva as witches and having them murdered.
        Interesting parallels to king Saul.

  7. Interaction between Calvin and a Christian

    Calvin – quote:
    “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to apply himself to his office, *AS THOUGH* NOTHING WERE DETERMINED ABOUT ANY PART. Or, to speak more properly, he ought so to hope for the success that
    issues from the command of god in all things, as to RECONCILE in himself, the CONTINGENCY of *UNKNOWN THINGS* and the
    *certain* providence of God.”

    Really? I’m to believe that god determines ALL things Universally in EVERY PART, but then go about my office AS THOUGH nothing is determined IN ANY PART? How is that instruction not double-minded and therefore against scripture?

    And secondly, If the *certain* providence of God is unknown, then what is there for me to reconcile?
    Oh I see… want me to reconcile, that my salvation might be a god-given illusion, and that it is *OK* for me to be
    predestined to eternal torment in a lake of fire – if that is the *certain* providence of god.
    And how am I supposed to know what the *certain* providence of god is if he keeps that from me as a secret?

    Mr. Calvin, what you are teaching appears to be what experts call mind-control and thought-blocking techniques.

    1. You are getting very close br.d.. The mind control of Calvin is not merely to persuade men that a loving and just God can and does condemn men to perpetual torture for his mere ‘good pleasure’, but to so traumatize men by this most false and detestable of lies that pretty much nothing else matters. This is how trauma-based mind control works. The individual is so traumatized by hopelessness and fear that they are rendered dysfunctional at best. Eventually, if they continue to believe this lie, there is little to prevent them from committing the vilest of acts, as their is nothing but ugliness, cruelty, injustice and death to look forward to anyway. The only hope for sinners in a sinfilled world is that this is an aberration, and not the determined work of a cruel, evil tyrant. This is the true message of the gospel, which offers hope of all things good, pure, lovely and just. Each man must choose for himself what he will believe about God.

  8. JD Hall and Hernandez go after Jeff Durbin (hipster, protege of Dr James White) and the latter two talk about how unfriendly the “Reforming America Ministries” leaders are. This is James White the mega-Calvinist talking about how extreme the other Calvinists are.

    This is reformed guys trying to out-reform each other.

    So Leighton, realize that these aggressive Calvinist dont just pick on the “wimpy Traditionalists”…..they eat their own too. So sad.

    1. Oh exactly. On his YouTube video responding to James White’s response to the debate, Dr. Flowers opens with a discussion on how these fundamentalist Calvinists tend to eat their own in the search for ideological purity.

  9. I believe some Calvinists are using these tactics (name calling, showing disrespect, etc.) because they work on the simple minded and they don’t want their followers to even consider another point of view and end up losing some of said followers. I don’t know why they do it because in the Calvinist system the outcome of such consideration has already been determined so perhaps they don’t really believe their own system.

    Also I think that the exposure of what Calvinism really is will cause many to reject it and it will not only lose its great uprise but will be sent underground where it belongs until another unsuspecting generation gets it thrust upon them, if the Lord were to tarry, therefore it must be shouted down. Hopefully it will be forced underground allowing for a fresh work of the Spirit of God.

    1. Thank you Q!
      An excellent post!

      Yes, Christians who have the discernment to analyze the dishonest characteristics of Calvinism’s language need to share the knowledge of what to look for – so that the unsuspecting are not ensnared in it.

      In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.
      Cunning craftiness should be exposed.
      Even when its propagated unwittingly – its still dangerous.
      The Gospel of holiness does not need to be transmitted using shifty language.

    2. Q
      Surely you don’t mean we are to “shout them down” and to “force them underground” do you? It is surprising to me to hear you talk about bullying tactics and then turn around and recommed such yourself.

      Or did I misunderstand?

      1. Sorry for the misunderstanding. No, I didn’t mean that. I meant to expose Calvinism for what it really is by shining the light on it like Leighton and others I have read here are doing, etc. I believe the light will allow people to see what the implications of Calvinism are and many will reject it making it less prominent. At least that’s my hope. It’s some Calvinists that apparently believe the exposure must be shouted down.

      2. That is my entire purpose in writing about Calvinism. It is my opinion that if people really knew what Calvinism was and the non-Calvinist alternatives then no one would be a Calvinist.


    Advertisements for cosmetics are likely to read: The 10 best tips for making you look younger.
    Use a foundation that produces a maximum anti-aging effect for that “baby faux” look.
    Natural colors disguise those dark lines around the lips.
    Find those “lush lashes” that work for you.
    When you feel the desire to conquer, let those lips be “savagely red”, “warmly moist”, and “tenderly soft”.

    Cosmetic: “Superficial measures to hide the unattractive while producing a false attractiveness”

    Euphemistic language often performs the same exact function.

    Dr. W.J. Astore, a retired history professor, teaches how euphemistic language performs a cosmetic function, designed to hide dark realities making them appear normalized or attractive.
    I teach a course on the Holocaust, so I’ve had ample opportunity to confront the use of euphemisms by the Nazis to cloak their murders. The most infamous euphemism was “the final solution to the Jewish question”. The language uses “replacement words” to camouflage darkness and produce a false reality. The Nazi language was especially well-seasoned with such euphemisms which functioned as a “coded language” for the German society. The language was intended in part to deceive the Jews, but it was also an exercise in self-deception or self-desensitization.”

    Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) a Jewish writer known as a formidable thinker, narrowly escaped the holocaust atrocities. Arendt remembered numerous speeches given by Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the holocaust. She observed how the cosmetic language also functioned as a safeguard to isolate a person’s mind from reality.

    “What he [Eichmann] said was always the same, and always expressed using the same exact words.
    The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became – his inability to “speak” outside [the group-think] was closely connected to his inability to “think” outside [the group-think]. No communication outside of this was possible for him. Not because he lied – but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards.”

    A multitude of cosmetic euphemisms safeguarded his mind from recognizing the real face of evil. Cosmetic language isolated his mind from reality, when outsiders pointed to the dark lines of evil on the Nazi face, which for them, no amount of cosmetic language could hide.

  11. A well written article, Eric. Thank you. I believe that we are seeing “the love grow cold” in the church, as prophesied in scripture that it would. We are seeing it happen and I see it is taking place largely through Calvinism.

  12. I applaud compassionate dialogue with the hopeful outcome of drawing BOTH closer to their creator. It was clearly missing in the debate. ( no fault of my brothers defending free will.)And i am sorry to say in much of the Reformed culture. I have had a real question in my mind maybe you can help me with. What do Calvinists do about being born again of water and blood? Do they individually have a testimony?


    Dr. James Pennebaker, Professor of Psychology and Language tells us – The words an author strategically uses, often reveal aspects of his psychology and motives he has no intention of revealing and would rather we didn’t have the foresight to see.

    Consider the language style of scripture: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

    Consider the language style of Calvin: “In the beginning God arranged things in such a way that the creation of the heavens and the earth came to pass”.

    There is an apparent difference in these language styles. The language-style of scripture is very “matter of fact”, while the language style of Calvinism is often classified as “distancing language”.

    Distancing language is phrasing strategically used to “distance” someone from a statement, or from its content. Euphemistic in nature, distancing language in written form is often indicative of self-deception, and in oral form indicative of lying.

    And this brings us to recognize the premier activity we see ubiquitous in Calvinism. Namely the consistency with which it seeks to whitewash an image. This is the basic motive behind the unique phraseology we observe in Calvinism’s language.

    There is a supreme and intense focus on the parsing of words in Calvinist language. Calvinist phraseology is hardily ever “matter of fact” as we observe within the language of scripture. Calvinist language, is much more representative of “lawyer-speak”.

    Calvinist language is first and foremost “Exculpatory” language (language designed to make something APPEAR favorable). Secondly, Calvinist language is highly “cosmetic” in nature, often characterizes by two-facedness, full of euphemisms, obfuscations, and omissions.

    When one recognizes this as the premier characteristic of Calvinist language – one eventually asks the question “why”. And the answer should be pretty obvious. Calvin’s philosophy logically entails his conception of God as the author of evil. Rather than reflecting poorly on the God of scripture – it actually reflects poorly on those who embrace that underlying philosophy.

    The Calvinist would like to be perceived as protecting some aspect of God – when in reality he seeks to protect an image – and by extension himself. When God shows us how to discern a person learning to be a whitewash artist – God is giving us tell-tale signs.

  14. I find that most theologies are already “underground.” They are rarely annunciated to the laymen. They continue their existence by virtue of their invisibility. I was attending a Methodist Bible study of Mark recently. The pastor was teaching. He was particularly upset with a small town “Meeting at the Pole” Christian unity event at which the Baptist members were telling his kids that they weren’t saved.

    I had the opportunity at that point to say, “We all preach the same gospel, right? Jesus Christ died for our sin .. was resurrected for our righteousness. Where we differ is what should we do if we believe the gospel. The Scriptures say, “Repent” of our sin to God in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    Boy, this really lit up the pastor! He said, “Yeah, well we all know its not just magic.” At some point in there he asked for a show of hands, “How many of you had your kids baptized?” Almost all raised their hands. I thought to myself, “Which one is more magical?”

    How we act upon our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the real issue. It is the true denominational fault line. Christ IS divided by this alone because without salvation, you can’t understand the scriptures (1Cor 2:14).

    1. Pretty good observations, Bob… up to the last line. Without the Spirit’s help we can not understand Scriptures… but He gives such helpful light to every person before the new birth/salvation. Light then Faith then Life. John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.

      1. Hi Brian!! Hope your well!!
        Hey I saw this quote from Greg Boyd – from “Four Views..” the other day and wanted to let you know I find it highly insightful. He is observing something about Calvinist word games. In this case the phrase “in such a way”.

        “If how God is behind evil events is so unique, so utterly beyond our experiences, then it is difficult to see how we could even be discussing God’s activity by way of analogy. The “IN SUCH A WAY” clause, [characteristic of Calvinist language] then, is meaningless: Take it away from the explanations of theological determinists, and there is no discernible loss of meaning.”

        What Boyd appears to be saying concerning the “IN SUCH A WAY” clause is that it is either an appeal to mystery or an appeal to magic.

        And in what I’ve observed from Calvinists this is consistent. Those who dare appeal to mystery seem to be the more honest ones. Those who try to dream up “so called” explanations for how the puppet strings of immutable decrees function without being strings – always boils down to magical thinking under the scrutiny of logic.

      2. I’m doing fine, Br.D! I remember that observation by Boyd in that book. That does fit in well with your good critique of Calvinist smoke-screen rhetoric when they want to avoid the logical conclusions of eternal immutable determinism.

      3. BRIANWAGNER — Yes, obviously the one thing we CAN understand is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was drilling down on the Calvininist notion that we can’t even understand the gospel until we are regenerated.

    The Inadequacy of Compatibilism

    Online Article:

    At seminary, I wrote a philosophical paper titled, “Theological Determinism’s Problem with the Problem of Evil.” I noted that while Alvin Plantinga’s work on the logical problem of evil and the free will defense has largely eliminated the problem for general Christian theism, I argued that his solutions do not completely work for the theological determinist (most Calvinists), something that Calvinist John Feinberg readily admitted. I discussed why this is so briefly in a previous post. Essentially, I argued in the paper that if one adds in certain beliefs on God’s sovereignty as “all-determining” and “omnicausal” to the general framework Plantinga uses, it would create a new logical problem of evil unique to them. I will reproduce the section on compatibilism below and perhaps add in other sections in the future. I will also try to make the content as accessible as possible to laypersons.

    Theological Determinism Shifts Blame From Creatures to God

    A general definition of theological determinism is in order, or at least, what is generally accepted as theological determinism to describe Calvinists: Theological determinism is the belief that God determines all things to come to pass as they do, either through direct or instrumental causation. It is important to see that this is intentional and unilateral on God’s part. This definition, by the way, encompasses views of “hard” or “soft” determinism.

    Theological determinism suffers from at least two problems with regards to the problem of evil: It implicates God as the main cause of every evil act, and it gives no good reason as to why God, if compatibilism is an adequate enough theory for moral responsibility, could not have created a world with compatibilistic free creatures who never sinned. Therefore, theological determinists have a hard time absolving God of any moral blame, often punting to appeals to mystery,[1] especially when their logic is applied to particularly tricky matters such as the Fall of Man. For example, R.C. Sproul—a theological determinist who argues that if God does not directly control even just one molecule, it could possibly lay waste to creation[2]—struggles mightily with the problem of evil, the Fall, and determinism. He admits that to say that God is the author of sin is “unthinkable,” yet he refuses to let go of his conception of God’s sovereignty as all-causing.[3]

    I will consider the first problem, which is that theological determinism makes it difficult to see how an all-good God and evil can coexist. It is important for theological determinists to affirm some form of free will for created creatures, or else there is no other agent but God to pin moral responsibility on. They turn to an account of free will that is still causally determined yet still, in their estimation, satisfies basic philosophical and intuitive standards for moral responsibility (compatiblism). I will argue two related things within this issue: One, that compatibilism fails to ground moral responsibility in contingent agents, and two, that God’s unilateral and causal determination of evil would make him responsible for that evil.

    Compatibilism is inadequate for moral responsibility

    Compatibilism can take many different forms, but essentially, compatibilists argue that a person is still free and morally responsible for a causally determined action if the determinative causes do not run contrary to his will.[4] In other words, as long as the will is not suppressed, such as a gun to the head, or manipulated in some way, then the action is still free because the person still desired the action through his own will. It is true that he could not do other than he did, but because the action did not run contrary to his will, he had the requisite enough of control over the action to be morally responsible for it.[5] The will is still the cause of the action, albeit a secondary or instrumental cause.

    This formulation of moral responsibility is problematic. First, the “control” spoken of here seems illusory. It may be true that human wills remain secondary causes, but the problem is not causation per se but agency. As William Lane Craig points out, while an “omnicausal” God could use secondary causes for his ends, the problem is not that theological determinism entails “monocausality,” God as the only cause, but rather “monoagency,” God as the only agent.[6] If there is only one true free agent, God, then only he can be ascribed moral responsibility, not any other creature.

    The reason compatibilism reduces to monoagency is because the wills and desires people have are themselves determined by external factors in which they have no control, ultimately all coming from God’s intentions. The compatibilist condition that the causal factors must run through an agent in “the right way” is arbitrary; the will itself, and any changes it undergoes, is causally determined by uncontrolled factors. Making distinctions between willing and acting is unpersuasive, for deliberating and deciding are themselves causally determined by God.[7] Whether or not the control exerted by God is immediate or mediated through secondary causes is also ultimately irrelevant, for the problem is the fact that “the control is there, that it’s intentional, effective and, in particular, that it isn’t within one’s power to alter, affect or otherwise to change.”[8] Therefore, if a person does not have any sense of freedom in his action, he cannot be held morally responsible for it.[9] If this analysis is correct and if theological determinism is true, compatibilists are mistaken in believing that human beings (or angels for that matter) have enough control over their actions to be treated as morally responsible agents. The only being who does is God, and it is only to him that all events, including evil ones, should be credited to.

    Theological Determinism Makes God Morally Responsible for Evil.

    Perhaps the theological determinists can argue from a different angle: While it is true that God ordains and causes all evil events and is therefore responsible for them, he is still blameless in doing so. As Helseth argues, God determines all things, including evil, in “such a way” that he is not the author of evil nor guilty of it.[10] Paul Helm argues similarly, saying that the way God is behind good events is “asymmetric” with how he is behind evil events, for he is praiseworthy for the former but not blameworthy for the latter.[11] Helseth, contrary to many Calvinists, even has the stomach to explicitly state that “evil must be regarded as something that is not contrary to, but an essential component of, God’s will,” yet somehow he is not guilty of evil.[12] How this works is a mystery, but because this is what Scripture clearly teaches, philosophical questions should not lead one to lose sight of what is biblical.

    The problem with this line of argumentation is that there is simply no explanation as to how this might even begin to be intelligible. Helm attempts to make a parallel with natural determinism: Factors outside of one’s control, like genes, may determine actions, but no one argues that the genes are morally responsible, only the person who performed the action. Therefore, God may cause a person to act evilly, but he is not responsible for that act.[13] Not only does the analogy wholly fail in justifying any belief in free will (exhaustive physical determinism is hardly a good place to turn to), the key difference is that genes are not agents with intentions while God is one. As Judisch points out, the fact that an agent is exerting intentional and one-way control over someone else would make that agent responsible for that person’s actions, akin to brainwashing or a mad scientist putting a mind-control device in someone to produce desires as he wills.[14] Of course one does not assign moral responsibility to genes, migraine headaches, sugar, or any other non-persons that may affect a person’s actions. They are not agents. Jerry Walls captures the significant difference between natural and theological determinism:

    Not only is everything determined, everything is intended. The determining cause of our actions that preceded our birth by countless years is not merely impersonal forces of nature, but an intelligent agent who executes his intentions in every detail of what happens as well as every human choice. It is the difference between being determined by blind forces and being determined by the most perspicacious sight possible.[15]

    Helm’s analogy is therefore woefully inadequate.

    Furthermore, this distinction of God being causally behind an evil action “in such a way” that is different than how he causes good events is in danger of being meaningless. Gregory Boyd makes the point well in a footnote: If how God is behind evil events is so unique, so utterly beyond our experiences, then it is difficult to see how we could even be discussing God’s activity by way of analogy. The “such a way” clause, then, is meaningless: Take it away from the explanations of theological determinists, and there is no discernible loss of meaning.[16] The explanation is therefore really no explanation at all; it adds nothing to the idea that God is unilaterally determining evil, and it does not give the slightest hint as to why he would not therefore be responsible for that evil.

    Other than attempts like Helm, the majority of theological determinists resort to appeals to mystery and to their own biblical interpretations. Helseth, for example, scolds critics of his view of divine sovereignty as omnicausal for turning to philosophy when Scripture clearly teaches his view.[17] Carson, less bold than Helseth, nonetheless argues that while the problem of evil for a determinist is certainly perplexing, we must be content with the mystery because the Bible teaches this.[18] Sproul is also forthright about the difficulty of this issue but nonetheless appeals to mystery because this mystery is taught in Scripture.[19]

    I applaud these men in their commitment to the Bible, but this argument presupposes, intentionally or not, either that they are flawlessly correct in their interpretation of Scripture or maybe even that their critics are not even bothering to read the Bible. Of course Christians should look to what the Bible says, but that is precisely the point: Christians differ on how the Bible should be interpreted in this matter, and the use of logic and philosophy to aid in the interpretation of Scripture is not illegitimate (clearly, as Helseth accuses libertarianism of being incoherent, which is strictly a philosophical argument[20]). There is not space here or even in a very large book to overview all the relevant passages in Scripture, but to dodge philosophical questions by appealing to allegedly obvious Scriptural teachings is to beg the question against critics.[21] The underlying assertion, although unintentional, is that theological determinists care more about clear Scriptural teaching than other Christians, which is clearly not true and does not make the philosophical problems go away.

    Furthermore, while appeals to mystery can be understandable and expected, given that human beings have cognitive limitations compared to the matters of God, these appeals are more persuasive when there are explanations as to why we should expect such inscrutable mystery.[22] For instance, with regards to the evidential problem of evil, Alvin Plantinga argues that, perhaps, we do not have the cognitive faculties to assess the complexity of the world and see God’s reasons to allow certain evils,[23] or perhaps God would intentionally not provide an explanation in order to teach faith. That is, however, quite different when an issue is so intuitively problematic as the notion that God unilaterally determines evil events but remains completely blameless. In other mysteries such as the evidential problem of evil, there can be at least attempts to put forth possible explanations, but in this matter, there are simple appeals to mystery to pass over the difficult conclusion that God is guilty of the evil he is causing or, at the least, is morally ambiguous.

    There is one other way theological determinists can try to remove themselves from this problem, and that is to hold that God allows or permits evils, but he does not cause them. I address the problems of going this route in this post.

    Therefore, due to the fact that theological determinism eliminates moral responsibility for created beings and transfers that responsibility to God for all evil actions, it implicates God in evil and is subject to the logical problem of evil.


    [1] J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 282.

    [2] R.C Sproul, Chosen by God (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986), 26-27. Sproul also argues that if a theist gives up the notion of divine sovereignty, defined in deterministic terms, then he should embrace atheism instead.

    [3] Sproul., 31.

    [4] Moreland and Craig, 273. Grudem in his systematic theology avoids using the term “free will” and prefers “willing choice. See, Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 330-331. D.A. Carson makes a similar distinction as he surveys the biblical evidence regarding human responsibility and divine sovereignty, preferring “free agency” over “free will.” See, D.A Carson, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2002), 209.

    [5] Moreland and Craig, 272-273.

    [6] William Lane Craig, “Response to Paul Kjoss Helseth,” in Four Views on Divine Providence, ed. Gundry, Stanely N. and Dennis W. Jowers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 61.

    [7] David Griffin, “Divine Causality, Evil, and Philosophical Theology: A Critique of James Ross,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4 (Fall 1973): 174. Griffin thinks that free will is incompatible with Christian orthodoxy, but only because he assumes that God’s omnipotence entails theological determinism.

    [8] Neal Judisch, “Theological Determinism and the Problem of Evil,” Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 44, no. 2 (June 2008): 177.

    [9] As even Sproul sees, so even though he holds to theological determinism he wants to do so in a way that does not violate human freedom (27).

    [10] Paul Kjoss Helseth, “God Causes All Things,” in Divine Providence: Four Views, ed. Gundry, Stanely, N. and Dennis W. Jowers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 18.

    [11] Paul Helm, “God, Compatibilism, and the Authorship of Sin,” Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 46, no. 1 (March 2010): 119. Carson makes the same appeal to “asymmetry” as well (212).

    [12] Helseth, 51.

    [13] Helm, 120.

    [14] Judisch, 177.

    [15] Jerry L. Walls, “Why No Classical Theist, Let Alone Orthodox Christian, Should Ever Be a Compatibilist,” Philosophia Christi 13, no. 1 (2011): 81-82.

    [16] Gregory A. Boyd, “Response to Paul Kjoss Helseth,” in Divine Providence: Four Views, ed. Gundry, Stanley N. and Dennis W. Jowers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 74-75. Open theists like Boyd have their own problems, but many of their criticisms of theological determinism carry merit.

    [17] Helseth, 44.

    [18] Carson, 212.

    [19] Sproul, 47.

    [20] Helseth, 41-43.

    [21] Craig notes this brazen assumption, “Response…” 56.

    [22] Helm is admirably humble about his process of faith seeking understanding, stating that he is not trying to buy special pleading for “mystery” (123-124), but it seems like that’s what he does regardless.

    [23] Alvin Plantinga, “Epistemic Probability and Evil,” in The Evidential Argument From Evil, ed. Howard-Snyder, Daniel (Bloomington and Indianpolis: Indiana University, 1996), 74-75.

  16. Trads never learn. At least these Calvinists get one thing correct: Trads and Calvinists absolutely do not worship the same deity. Different gospels entail different gods. Trads don’t believe Calvinism is the gospel, and Calvinists do. One is correct, and one is wrong. But they absolutely are not the same gospel. The sooner Trads accept this, the sooner a real honest debate can take place.

    1. Here Mallen is Paul’s synopsis of the gospel… it does not sound like the Calvinist TULIP. I’m going to stick with Paul.

      1Cor 15:1-4 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

      1. “Here Mallen is Paul’s synopsis of the gospel… it does not sound like the Calvinist TULIP. I’m going to stick with Paul”.

        AD Fonte+sources, origins

        This is what we are seeing happening in the true orthodox church today, especially in the SBC. A resurgence of the truth of the Word of God, Holy Scriptures. Calvinism is only a nickname used for some truths found in the Holy Scriptures and that is the resurgences we are seeing. Google and see about the “resurgences of Calvinism. or Reformed Theology It is “AD FONTE”. Returning to its roots in the Holy Scriptures, the very Word of the Living Holy Loving Sovereign God. Returning to its “origins and its original sources are given by Christ and the Prophets and Apostles so we once again have the Holy Teaching and Godly Principles of God’s Word who works all things according to the council of His will. All things are by Him, through Him and for Him and always to the Glory of God.

        Let the truth of your Holy Word Prevail and let it run swiftly and even as your word says it will not return void but will yield fruit. Christ will not be dissatisfied but will see the fruit of his labor.

        Christ will see His seed that he was bruised and crushed for on the Cross, and many will be saved, the number so many that in the book of Revelation, John said the redeemed was a number so great they could not even be counted. Because the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

        Christ will see the labor of His soul and be satisfied, Through all Christ did, from when he said “it is finished on the Cross” his death, burial and resurrection, The Father’s righteous servant shall justify many and bear their iniquities. You see he bears the iniquities of many and justifies many, Jesus sees the labor of His soul and is satisfied. If one is burning in hell that Christ redeemed (purchased or bought out of the slave market of sin on through his atonement on the Cross) then how can he see his seed, the labor of his soul and be satisfied. Let God’s Word prevail over the fictitious idol of free-will and God be true and every man a liar.

        Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the Lord to [q]bruise Him;
        He has put Him to grief.
        When You make His soul an offering for sin,
        He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
        And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

        11 [r]He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
        His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many,
        He shall bear their iniquities.

        12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
        And He shall divide the [s]spoil with the strong,
        Because He poured out His soul unto death,
        And He was numbered with the transgressors,
        And He bore the sin of many,
        And made intercession for the transgressors.

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