(Portion taken from The Potter’s Promise)
Do these passages seem to suggest that Jesus was keeping a secret from some people while he was down from heaven?
Mark 9:9: “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
Matt. 16:20: “Then He warned His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ.”
Mark 3:12: “But he gave them strict orders not to tell who He was.”
Mark 8:30: “Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.”
Some scholars refer to Jesus’ use of parabolic language (Matt. 13; Mark 4; John 6:26-71) and His warnings not to tell others that He was the Christ (Matt. 16:20; Mark 1:24-25, 34, 43-45; 3:12; 8:30; 9:9) as the Messianic secret. This addresses Jesus’ expressed desire to keep His “messiah-ness” secret at times while here in the flesh. The Handbook on Biblical Criticism (4th ed.) states,
“Messianic secret refers to a discernible phenomenon in the Gospels, most especially in the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus explicitly conceals His Messianic character and power until the closing period of His ministry.”
The Messianic secret, if rightly understood, is not Jesus’ attempt to permanently keep people from knowing, believing in, and following Him. Instead, it is the temporary strategy Jesus employed to accomplish redemption on Calvary so that all may be saved through faith in Him after His plan was fulfilled. As the apostle Paul noted:
1 Cor. 2:8-9: “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Jesus knew that had they believed in Him before the right time then they would not have crucified Him. Therefore, the Lord graciously taught in parables “to those on the outside… so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:11b-12). As Paul noted, “God’s secret wisdom…has been hidden” but He has done this for “our glory.”
John 6 is one of the most referenced chapters in the discussion over mankind’s God given abilities to respond willingly to the gospel appeal. Unfortunately, the issue of the “Messianic secret” (or what I have referred to as “Judicial hardening” discussed later) has been virtually ignored in many modern theological circles leading to false interpretations of these contested passages.
What is known about the Israelites of this day? Scripture reveals that they have “become calloused…otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Acts 28:27). They were not born calloused, but over time they had grown hardened in their religious self-righteousness, which prevented them from hearing, seeing and responding to the revelation of God.
At this vital time in human history, they are being “judicially hardened” or “cut off” (Rom. 9:1-3) or “sent a spirit of stupor” (Rom. 11:8) so as to seal them in their already calloused condition (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:27). Scripture tells us that God is hardening the calloused Jews in order to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellion. It is God’s ordained plan to bring redemption to the world through the crucifixion of the Messiah by the hands of the rebellious Jews (Acts 2:23).
Jesus is not attempting to persuade everyone to come to faith in great numbers as we see following Pentecost when Peter preaches (Acts 2:41). Quite the opposite seems to be the case, in fact. To accomplish the redemptive plan through Israel’s unbelief, we see Jesus actively instructing His apostles not to tell others who He is yet (Matt. 16:20; Mark 8:30; 9:9).
Moreover, Jesus purposefully speaks in riddles in order to prevent the Jewish leaders coming to faith and repentance (Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-13). When great numbers began to believe Jesus was truly prophetic, notice how Jesus responded: “‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:14-15).
Earlier in the same gospel we learn that “many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them…” (John 2:23b-24a). John later reveals this has been a key part of God’s redemptive plan all along:
John 12:39-40: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason, they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them” (emphasis added).
For what reason could they not believe? Is it because they were rejected by their Maker before the world began? Is it about their being born guilty of Adam’s sin and thus incapable of responding willingly to God’s own appeals for reconciliation? Of course not! They are being temporarily blinded in their already calloused condition so as to accomplish redemption for the world. This is not about God rejecting most of humanity before the world began as the Calvinistic systematic reads into these texts.
Mark 4:11-12; 33-34: “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ …With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything” (emphasis added).
Clearly, Jesus used riddles, or parables, to keep the Jewish leaders in the dark for a time so as to accomplish a greater redemptive good. This completely undermines Calvinism’s doctrine of “Total Inability.” There is no practical or theological reason for God to put a blind fold on those born totally and completely blind from birth. And there is certainly no reason to hide truth from those in the “corpse-like dead” condition of “Total Inability” proposed by the “T” in Calvinism’s TULIP.
The doctrine of God’s Judicial hardening is crucial in rightly understanding much of the biblical teachings regarding election, predestination and salvation. A misunderstanding or lack of clarity regarding this one doctrine will lead to many more serious misapplications of Scripture.
As a former Calvinist, I can think of no greater point of contention in my struggle over these doctrines than rightly defining God’s active role in judicially hardening Israel from recognizing their own Messiah (especially as it relates to understanding the often referenced proof texts of Romans 9 and John 6).
When it comes to God’s sovereign control over moral evil, as reflected in the pages of Scripture, there is no shortage of confusion and controversy within the church. There are typically three main examples presented in this discussion:
1) Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20).
2) Pharaoh hardened by God to accomplish the Passover: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses” (Ex. 9:12).
3) The Crucifixion of Jesus: “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross…They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (Acts 2:23; 4:28).
All Christian scholars can agree that God at least allowed sinful actions to take place for a greater plan and purpose. We can also all agree that God’s involvement was completely sinless. We could simply stop there and appeal to the mystery as to how God works in such instances, but philosophers are going to do what philosophers are going to do: philosophize. And as C.S. Lewis states, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”
Speaking of “bad philosophy,” some have theorized that because God is “meticulously deterministic” (i.e. “sovereign”) in the examples listed above, then He must be “meticulously deterministic” in every instance of all time. For example, John Hendryx, a compatibilistic philosopher from monergism.com, speculates:
“In order to understand this better, theologians have come up with the term ‘compatibilism’ to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is ‘compatible’ with voluntary choice [choosing according to one’s desire]. Our choices are not coerced …i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph. 1:11).
In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices occur through divine determinism. For example, God is said to specifically ordain the crucifixion of His Son, and yet evil men willfully and voluntarily crucify Him (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). This act of evil is not free from God’s decree, but it is voluntary, and these men are thus responsible for the act, according to these texts. Or when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, Joseph later recounted that what his brothers intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen 50:20). God determines and ordains that these events will take place (that Joseph will be sold into slavery), yet the brothers voluntarily make the evil choice that brings (sic) it to pass, which means the sin is imputed to Joseph’s brothers for the wicked act, and God remains blameless. In both of these cases, it could be said that God ordains sin, sinlessly. Nothing occurs apart from His sovereign good pleasure… Our choices are our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures, nor separately from God’s meticulous providence. Furthermore, compatibilism is directly contrary to contra-causal free will [or libertarian free will]. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise…”
In this theory, God is involved at the level of determining men’s evil desires in such a manner that they could not have refrained from the given moral action (see the italicized portions above). In other words, Hendryx supposes that God brings these evil events about by meticulously determining all the circumstances and the evil desires of man. Hendryx denies that people ever have the ability of making libertarianly free choices (the ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action). Instead, Hendryx is arguing that man is acting in accordance with the desires and circumstances that God has meticulously determined.
Calvinistic author and pastor, John Piper, quotes from Mark Talbot in order to explain this same point:
“God … brings about all things in accordance with His will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love Him; it is rather that He Himself brings about these evil aspects for His glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and His people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child…”
Mark Talbot, John Piper, and all those associated with this publication, are teaching that God actually brings about the sexual abuse of children in order to glorify Himself, yet He does so without sinning. In other words, they believe that God does these seemingly horrible things while somehow not being held culpable. How can that be? How can God meticulously and purposefully bring about child molestation for His glory while avoiding culpability? No consistent Calvinist has ever provided an answer to this question. In fact, John Calvin, honestly admits the difficulty of this dilemma:
“How it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance…. I daily so meditate on these mysteries of His judgments that curiosity to know anything more does not attract me.”
Similarly, John MacArthur, a notable Calvinistic pastor, was asked the question, “If God literally brings about everything then how can He blame me for sinning?” He answered, “I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t know of anyone who knows the answer to that.”
Hendryx’s intentions, like that of these other Calvinistic scholars, are noble because they clearly strive to maintain that God remains sinless in all His dealings, but I believe the compatibilist’s theory falls short in accomplishing that goal.
James 1:13 teaches, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.” Yet, would Calvinists have us believe that God refrains from tempting, but somehow determines the very desires of the temper and the tempted so as to necessitate the sinful action in every circumstance? This theory simply cannot be supported from the whole counsel of Scripture. Please allow me to propose another theory.
Traditionalists believe that at times throughout history God does intervene to determine some things. That is what makes these things “of God” and uniquely supernatural (i.e. redemption on Calvary or the inspiration of Scripture). I also believe God may use means similar to what some Calvinists speculate in these instances. I do not believe, however, these unique determinations prove God’s meticulous determination of all things, especially mankind’s evil intentions. In fact, in every one of the instances listed above the purpose of God’s unique intervention is clearly redemptive. I refuse to believe God is merely seeking to redeem the very evil intentions and actions that He Himself brought to pass by “meticulous determinism.” God is not merely determining to clean up His other determinations. He is cleaning up mankind’s libertarianly free choices and actions.
 This purposeful hiding of divine revelation is also referred to as “Judicial hardening” or “blinding” of already calloused and rebellious individuals. Richard N. Soulen and R. Kendall Soulen, ed. The Handbook on Biblical Criticism, 4th ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 124.
 C. S. Lewis, Learning in War-Time, in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Orlando, FL: Macmillan, 1980), 28.
 Quote taken from link sent to the author by Phil Johnson (President of Grace to You Ministries) via Twitter: http://www.moergism.com/the-threshold/articles/onsite /qna/sovereignfree.html; [date accessed 12/14/14] emphasis added.
 Mark R. Talbot, All the Good That Is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do to Us, John Piper and Justin Taylor (eds.), Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 31-77.
 John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (London: James Clarke and Co., 1961), 124.
 John MacArthur, Question and Answer at Grace to You. Quote taken from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Pr9aHEBfRU; [date accessed 12/14/14]
 We believe Calvinists are attempting to maintain a blatant contradiction (A = not A) in claiming that God is responsible for moral evil while not being held responsible for moral evil.
 Notice that I call it a theory and refrain from speaking with dogmatism and authoritative certainty about matters where Scripture is not abundantly clear. Also, notice that Hendryx and I share the same exact goal. We both desire to explain, from Scripture, how God works in relation to moral evil while remaining sinless. Hendryx is not a heretic. I’m not angry with him. He is working with good intentions to best reflect what he believes Scripture is revealing. He should be admired for such effort. I simply believe his speculations go too far and thus do not adequately reflect the revelation of God in Scripture.
89 thoughts on “The Messianic Secret”
Thanks Leighton for dealing with issue and so many go-to verses.
Several of us have been commenting on your previous posts, only to be met over and over with them same quotations. They say they will keep quoting these verse “until we give an alternative interpretation.”
I hope we can get past that over-used excuse. There are plenty of good interpretations for the 40-ish verses on which all their deterministic-fatalism is (precariously) balanced….as you showed here.
I think terms like “compatibilism” and “antinomy” and even “providence” are used to cover for the contradiction that results from imposing the pagan devised premise of eternal immutable determinism upon the Scriptures and upon the character of God’s omniscience. Those believers who use those terms know deep down that they are professing and defending contradiction as dogma, but they don’t want to be cornered into having to say that word – “contradiction” – so these other terms help make them feel better.
Amen, brother Brian! Here is an example of “moderate” Calvinists wrapping themselves around the axle as they try to “explain” the contradictions inherent in their doctrine as antinomies (in this case trying to explain their interpretation of Romans 9 and trying to reconcile what they say vs 6-29 say and what vs 30-33 say) and one of the more humorous Calvinist quotes I have come across that clearly states the ridiculousness of their doctrine.
“Yet up until verse 29, Paul has been attributing that unbelief to God’s sovereign purpose. So when we seek to keep 9:1-29 and 9:30 – 10:21 together, the two sections at first seem contradictory. If unbelief is due to God’s sovereign control, how can any human be held responsible for it? Now we can, of course, assume that this is a contradiction, but that does not give Paul much credit [or we can interpret this chapter in a way that does not result in contradiction (my addition)]. Even if we do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, we must conclude that Paul was a superior intellect. After all, he formulated the Christian faith and strategically spread it in such a way that it conquered the Roman empire and became the single greatest religious movement in history. So it is not likely that a man of that caliber would write an ordered treatise on theology and unwittingly contradict himself within one chapter [Agreed! The problem is not with Paul! -my addition] But if this is not a contradiction or mistake, then what is going on?! [Could it be that what is going on is that the Calvinist has Paul asking the wrong question? -my addition]. Paul is showing us that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility stand in relationship to each other as an “antinomy”— as an apparent contradiction. …. The Bible holds both of these truths together: The complete sovereignty of God over all history. The complete responsibility of every human being for his or her behavior. The following quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones does not explain all of the “antinomy” but it helps us see how God can save people through election, and yet people who disbelieve are still responsible for their behavior.”
“In [Romans 9] verses 6 to 29, [Paul] explains why anybody is saved— it is the sovereign election of God. In these verses [v 30-33] he is showing us why anybody is lost, and the explanation of that is their own responsibility … So this is what the Bible teaches. Election alone accounts for the saved, but non-election does not account for the lost … No [one] would be saved were it not that God in a sovereign manner has chosen him, as we have seen abundantly from verses 6 to 29. It is God’s action alone that saves a man. So why is anybody lost? Is it because they are not elected? No! What accounts for the lost is their rejection of the gospel … We are responsible for our rejection of the gospel, but we are not responsible for our acceptance of it.”
(Romans Chapter 9, page 285) Keller, Timothy (2015-02-03). Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading
(God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2) (p. 63-64). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.
He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.” -Edwin Palmer, leading Calvinist apologist and author of The Five Points of Calvinism, when explaining how God reprobates people “unconditionally” (because He himself foreordained sin and rendered it certain) and yet the reprobate are solely responsible and deserve their eternal punishment (because their reprobation is “conditional”).
I’ve noted that from Calvin to the present, when a Calvinist comes to a dead end contradiction in his doctrine and has no scripture to support what he says, he resorts to “secret” “undisclosed” “unrevealed” matters and “mysteries”.
Exactly! Great example Andy. One rarely finds such candor from Calvinists actually using even the phrase “apparent contradiction.”
Quotes such as these…
“God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz….
Leave us bewildered. Worse. They give us license to sin. Their interpretation means that every sin we can (are able to) commit in any given day is okay. Really. I mean if you “can” do it…it must be because He ordained every action.
Not only does that (1) render every warning in Scripture useless, it (2) de-motivates us from the positive admonitions in the Word: stand firm, walk in the Spirit, forgive, love one another, prefer the other, draw near to God, pray without ceasing, gather together, care for widows, and on and on. Cuz after all….ff we dont “stand firm” that was His will too!!
For any “compatibalist” to say that his position does not do those two above things is kidding himself.
After all…..when they go to bed at night, they can smile at that day’s sin….. knowing that they were fully doing His will.
I think an important aspect of Messianic Secrecy is that the typical Israelite saw no need for repentance and forgiveness, as well as having a very incomplete, selfish, and even erroneous conception of the Messiah’s agenda and mission. Yeshua knew that buyer’s remorse and disappointment was inevitable if He was received on their terms, and He was having none of that.
How can anyone with determinist-fatalist-Calvinist philosophy have remorse for sin?
I admit that I sometimes go to bed confessing to God my sins from that day. In fact, I dont just confess them, I feel remorse.
Remorse? Regret? Sadness? How can that be?
I mean, if I did something that God had “rendered certain” why should I have regret for it? It was—as are all things— “rendered certain,” therefore God’s secret will ordained from before time, right?
I believe it was Dr. Adrian Rogers who taught me that in Mt 12, Jesus realized that Israel was not going to accept Him as Messiah so He turned from teaching that the “kingdom is at hand” to teaching, in the Mt 13 parables, of the kingdom of heaven that was to come next.
As we approach the “day of Christ,” the rapture, there is a hardening of “Christians” away from that event and looking for the 2nd coming by those who are unsaved. It seems almost identical that this event has been hidden from them in the same manner that 1Cor 2:6-14 speaks of. They are, indeed, mockers of the rapture like the late RC Sproul.
From these, the gospel of Jesus Christ has also been hidden. They believe it but don’t obey it. They want to know that they are saved, but like the Galations, they have been “bewitched” into not obeying the gospel. (Gal 3:1)
Dr. Flowers writes, “How can God meticulously and purposefully bring about child molestation for His glory while avoiding culpability? No consistent Calvinist has ever provided an answer to this question.”
The problem is not unique to Calvinism. God is omnipresent – he attends every occasion of child molestation and observe every detail of the molestation. God even knows the thoughts of the perpetrator and the victim as the molestation proceeds to a conclusion. At any point, God could intervene and call a stop to the molestation even preventing it from occurring at all. All the Calvinist adds to this is that the event played out in God’s mind in eternity past and it was then that God decreed what He would do. In the course of time, God executes His decrees that lead to the molestation. The most that Dr. Flowers offers to explain this is, “He is cleaning up mankind’s libertarianly free choices and actions.” So, God observes the molestation as it occurs because He will clean up the mess later on. That surely is comforting to the child that is molested. Let’s face to obvious – this is not an issue unique to Calvinism.
The idea of “played out” in God’s mind must take into account somehow that the future goes on forever. It also must take into account that His playing in the “played out” is not as a third party interjecting determinations at different points, like the rape scenario, but predetermining every sin by every will that is not yet created by Him. And none of those sins will be altered in any way by any of those created wills. The culpability lies squarely on the one predetermining all those sins, with the created “wills” only being a means to carry out all of that completed plan. Means are never culpable if they were eternally unable to do otherwise. It’s illogical to suggest they are anyway.
brianwagner writes, “Means are never culpable if they were eternally unable to do otherwise.”
OK – So what!! Even under your system, God chooses not to help the victim of molestation, so your complaint is about “predetermining every sin by every will that is not yet created by Him.” Your solution is not to have God “predetermine” the molestation – He just cleans up the mess afterwards.
The complaint by the non-Christian is that the omnipotent God, who ought to, at least, empathize with the child, stands by watching the child molestation and does nothing – to the the non-Christian, Christians arguing over words like, “predetermined,” doesn’t mean squat. Gee kid, God is culpable, so suck it up and move on. Nice solution, Brian. You might as well be a Calvinist.
That is a deflection, Roger, and non-answer of God’s culpability for predetermining the necessary sin! You say, “so suck it up and move on.” That is certainly an unexpected response from someone who claims his theology is the most reasonable!
You also made a false evaluation of my view. It is true God chooses not to intervene in the moment of the molestation. But He didn’t predetermine it to happen from before creation. And though He predetermined to permit it to take place some time before it did, He will indeed do something to the non-Christian who is guilty by his own free, non-determined, choice of doing that molestation.
And God will provide the opportunity for the grace necessary for the healing of the victim, even to bring them to a strong position and enjoyment of His presence, the “fellowship of His sufferings”, that could not have been known before.
brianwagner writes, “That is certainly an unexpected response from someone who claims his theology is the most reasonable!”
Do you read for context? Not here. It was my characterization of the non-Calvinist advice to a child who has been molested. IF you actually have another response, you can always provide it – I bet your response ignores God’s involvement..
Then, “non-answer of God’s culpability for predetermining the necessary sin!”
So, how is God more culpable under the Calvinist system than the non-Calvinist system (recognizing that the great majority of non-Calvinist believe that God is omniscient and knew from eternity past that this would happen. You allow that know knew the possibility in eternity past and certainly was not surprised when it happened – He knew the perpetrator and his thoughts before he even ventured out to get the child. God’s alleged culpability results from His failure to intervene to prevent the molestation as James males clear that God does not tempt people to do such things.
Then, “But He didn’t predetermine it to happen from before creation. And though He predetermined to permit it to take place some time before it did,…”
That’s rich. God predetermined it but He predetermined it long ago in one case. However, time does not go by fast for God. One second passes quickly for us, but might as well take an eternity from God’s perspective and ability to act.
Then, “… He will indeed do something to the non-Christian who is guilty by his own free, non-determined, choice of doing that molestation.”
Yeah. tell that to the child who was molested. What is the difference between that and you telling the child to “Suck it up…” Nothing from what I can see.
Then, “And God will provide the opportunity for the grace necessary for the healing of the victim, even to bring them to a strong position and enjoyment of His presence,…”
For the Christian, this makes sense – basically saying that it serves God’s purpose. So, will God save every child who is molested?
The response to the victim is that Jesus did allow it, though we might never understand why in this life. And He did not ordain it, but permitted it to make possible something good to happen that could not have happened any other way.
He also has the grace and love available to bring healing to the victim and wants them to receive that from His people until they are completely healed.
brianwagner writes, “Jesus did allow it, though we might never understand why in this life.”
Both Calvinist and non-Calvinist say this much.
Then, “And He did not ordain it, but permitted it…”
There is no difference between “ordain” and “permit.” You can split hairs here, but splitting those hairs does not distinguish between Calvinist and non-Calvinist positions. The question is always why God would “permit” such things. Most people don’t want to think about that – Calvinists get in trouble for thinking about it.
Good morning Roger. I was praying for you this morning and hope your day is a good one.
There is a big difference in a predetermined sin before creation making God culpable, freewill being impossible for the sinner, and comparing that with God permitting a possibility for sin to unfold after creation by the free will of a creature made in His image that He could have stopped, but didn’t for some good reason.
God saw the molester’s life unfolding, not in a predetermined way but with many freewill rejections of grace that could have freely been accepted, keeping him from becoming a molester.
As a feeble illustration, I observe students that reject the help offered to keep them from failing… but I don’t intervene and pass them anyway… but I let them fail even though it causes hurt to them and others. But I also know that the hurt is not terminal spiritually, but I know that grace will be available to turn that failure into a springboard for future success if they humbly use the grace offered them.
The same is true for the victim… let’s say the parents whose money was seemingly wasted by this student’s failing are the victims. God’s grace will be available to them and they might even become a source of grace for their child who failed to help turn him around.
This is not a suitable comparison with the example of the molestation of a child, but the principles of truth are applied the same.
Thank-you for regularly showing the difference between decreeing /ordaining something (evil, rape, etc) and allowing it.
For some this leads to the difficult question of why God would allow evil. Meaning….if He sees something evil about to happen why not stop it (as we would).
This question is dealt with in detail in such books as “Is God to Blame?” (Greg Boyd) and other. Briefly, if God created man with freedom (as non-Calvinists claim), then He also created in such a way as to limit His involvement. ((Your example of the student helps, but falls short as you mentioned.))
Otherwise —–and if one takes a minute to imagine surveillance cameras every 10 feet—- we can see that He would be saying….stop! stop! stop! stop! stop! stop! every minute of the day to all of us as we begin to commit minor or major infractions.
It does not appear from Scripture (or earthly reality) that He has chosen to create in such a way.
This does not in any way make Him the origin/ decree-er/ ordain-er of the sin. Why would it?
I have several children. I “created” them. I trained them and instructed them. I could stop them many times from making bad decisions, but I dont. They are free to make those and pay the consequences.
Actually let me go further. Let’s say someone has a 10-year-old son that is always picking on other boys at school (or we could say older and say he is hassling girls). The father knows that the boy is going to cause mischief/violence everyday at school because the school has told him so. He “created” that person and is responsible. In theory, he could absolutely assure that the boy does no harm at the school. He could literally lock him in his room. Girl-hassling problem solved. New problem created.
These examples falls short also…. because we would physically stop our kids from murdering someone if we saw it. True.
However, I am not the creator of the universe who —for His own purpose and “counsel of His will” — created in such a way as to let man make bad choices, even when it involves others.
FOH writes, “Thank-you for regularly showing the difference between decreeing /ordaining something (evil, rape, etc) and allowing it. ”
Brian has claimed a difference; he has not shown what that difference is or why it exists.
Then, “However, I am not the creator of the universe who —for His own purpose and “counsel of His will” — created in such a way as to let man make bad choices, even when it involves others.”
This says nothing – the normal way most people address the issue. The Scriptures say so much that is relevant here that people don’t want to deal with.
brianwagner writes, “There is a big difference in a predetermined sin before creation…and comparing that with God permitting a possibility for sin to unfold after creation by the free will of a creature…”
In each case, the outcome is the same. In neither case does God force the person to act against his free will. The “BIG” difference is that God knows the choice the person will make before the person decides on that choice. God’s knowledge of the person’s choice does not influence the ability of the person to choose or bias the choice that is made. So, why should we care about the “BIG” difference.
Then, “God saw the molester’s life unfolding, not in a predetermined way but with many freewill rejections of grace that could have freely been accepted, keeping him from becoming a molester. ”
And at no time did God intervene to affect a change in the direction the person was going – and God knew that the eventual outcome was a possibility with that possibility becoming more and more certain as time passed. However, even in the midst of the act itself, God still did not intervene. What, then, was the purpose of grace? Perhaps, just feeble efforts by an omnipotent God to do right??
Then, “As a feeble illustration, I observe students that reject the help offered to keep them from failing…”
The question being whether God is able to do more than you and if He is, why doesn’t He?
Then, “…the principles of truth are applied the same.”
Hmmmm. What are those principles of truth??
Roger you made a mistake in your evaluation of my response. I wonder if you will agree when I point it out.
You said – “In neither case does God force the person to act against his free will.” If the sin was pre-determined before the creation of any other will, especially the will that commits that predetermined sin, then the sinner was forced necessarily to sin that sin by that predetermination… there was no freedom available for his will to do otherwise. It is not just passive divine knowledge of the future choice. It was created active divine knowledge that demanded that choice be made only one way… God’s way, and He’s culpable for it.
Since the choice for the sin originates in the freewill of the sinner without any predetermination of it, God does know when that choice has been made, and God does then, after that created-by-man choice, make His freewill determination to allow it to be carried out. God is “culpable” for permitting it to be carried out, but He was under no obligation to His righteousness to stop it. That permission is not sinful, even if we might judge it to be for two reasons.
1. As Judge God does not refuse then to meet out justice for that sin. 2. As Love God does not refuse to meet out the opportunity for salvation (spiritual and physical and emotional and mental) for the sinner and the victim.
But that God, we can fully trust that He is true to His nature! He does not predetermine sin, He does judge justly, and He does provide grace greater than the sin or the torment afflicted by the sin! Praise His Name!
I am afraid that no matter how many times you explain that determinism ultimately makes God culpable for sin, they will always try some kind of slight of hand that even though God decreed and determined all things somehow man does all of his bad stuff (no good thing however!!) of his own free will.
I mean some people need that in order to sleep at night I guess. But it’s still a slight of hand, disconnect, illogical and by all appearances does not agree with the Bible.
brianwagner writes, “If the sin was pre-determined before the creation of any other will, especially the will that commits that predetermined sin, then the sinner was forced necessarily to sin that sin by that predetermination…”
We seem to agree that God knows all future possibilities. Among those possibilities are all the possible free will actions of people including sin – both in the Calvinist system and your system. Under the Calvinist system, God knows that the person will sin and that He will not prevent that sin. As God knows it, the sin is certain and, therefore, determined – but not by God’s knowledge. Under your system, God doesn’t know whether the person will choose the sin option. Just because God does not know how the person will choose does not mean that the choice is not determined (God’s knowledge does not determine the sin). So, the issue is whether future possibilities can reflect determining factors. They can. Example – the jealousy of Jospeh’s brothers determined their decision to sell him; Balaam’s love of money determined that he try to take the king’s money; the hostility of the Jews toward Jesus determined that they seek the death of Jesus. As very few choices are spontaneous (done without thinking) – certainly not salvation decisions – we can conclude that most future possibilities reflect determining factors – yet, they are free choices as choices are still free even when heavily biased in one direction or another (unless you want to require free choices only apply when the options available are equally desirable). Unless you can rid your system of bias in future choices, even you have choices being determined by the biasing factors which have the effect of forcing the person to choose the biased option. Under your strict definition – a choice determined by outside factors is not a free choice – then there are probably very, very truly free choices under your system
Then, “It was created active divine knowledge that demanded that choice be made only one way… God’s way, and He’s culpable for it.”
Even under your system, as you note, God is culpable because God can prevent any sin and chooses not to do so. I don’t see where that would relieve the perpetrator of the sin of responsibility or culpabilty. If God is culpable under the Calvinist system and your system, what’s the issue?
Then, “That permission is not sinful, even if we might judge it to be for two reasons.
1. As Judge God does not refuse then to meet out justice for that sin. 2. As Love God does not refuse to meet out the opportunity for salvation (spiritual and physical and emotional and mental) for the sinner and the victim.”
That’s kinda like saying that God can justify permitting the grossest child molestation so long as He throws the perpetrator into hell or makes it up to the child by offering the child something good in return. So, we can teach children not to get upset when some deviant sinner does unspeakable things to them because God will make it up to them.
Sorry that it seems you were not able to see the connection between who creates the foreknowledge in the Calvinist system and culpability for the sin made certain in that foreknowledge, nor able to see how gracious God is to perpetrators He permits to sin and to victims of temporal suffering, making available everlasting benefits of His grace for them to accept through repentance and faith.
We do not teach children “not to get upset”, but how to work through being upset, truly hurt and harmed, with the grace of God available to them, which will even include love for their enemy at some point, if they will receive it! The possible everlasting consequences for good even from such permitted evil are beyond comprehension.
Is breaking the greatest commandment, Roger, a worse sin then the sin of molestation of a child?
I am following this ….well sort of. It is a bit hard since it follows no logical path.
As I said before, I am not sure why you keep trying! Anyone who answers you like this is surely playing both sides of the argument:
“We seem to agree that God knows all future possibilities. Among those possibilities are all the possible free will actions of people including sin.”
What? I can’t believe Roger said that or that you did not take issue. What can that possibly mean for a determinist: “future possibilities”? For them there is only one possibility and God already set it. This clearly shows where Roger is willing to talk like an Open Theist (or at least a Molinist) to muddy up the debate.
For determinists God does not “know all future possibilities” He creates one…and only one.
FOH writes, “What? I can’t believe Roger said that or that you did not take issue. What can that possibly mean for a determinist: “future possibilities”? For them there is only one possibility and God already set it. This clearly shows where Roger is willing to talk like an Open Theist (or at least a Molinist) to muddy up the debate. ”
Everyone agrees – determinist or not – that God knows the future whether as possibilities, partially determined, or determined fully and if determined to any extent, what could have been. That there is only one possibility that God has determined does not prevent God knowing all other future’s that He could have determined. Let’s state the facts of the situation and then work from there.
brianwagner writes, “you were not able to see the connection between who creates the foreknowledge in the Calvinist system and culpability for the sin made certain in that foreknowledge, …”
I have no problem with culpability. I noted that God is just as culpable under your system – and any system. If everyone says that God is culpable, what’s the issue??
The, “…nor able to see how gracious God is to perpetrators He permits to sin and to victims of temporal suffering, making available everlasting benefits of His grace for them to accept through repentance and faith.”
I guess you have God telling perpetrators that they can have their cake and eat it too while God offers to clean up their mess.
Then, “…how to work through being upset, truly hurt and harmed, with the grace of God available to them,…”
I think you mean this after the fact. Since you wrote, “We do not teach children “not to get upset”,…,” I guess you see nothing wrong with a child being upset during the molestation and even being upset with God’s after the fact offer to clean up the mess. However, the child is asking, “Why didn’t you stop him when he was doing it?”
Then, “Is breaking the greatest commandment, Roger, a worse sin then the sin of molestation of a child?”
If you break one commandment, you break them all. I guess Dr. Flowers is just being dramatic by using the molestation of children to make a point.
I guess you tried to understand. But the culpability for predetermined sin is different than what appears as culpability for permitted sin… and trusting a good God is easier and more reasonable for answering the question “why did you let this happen” than “why did you plan this to happen before all creation”. Thanks for the try.
brianwagner writes, “the culpability for predetermined sin is different than what appears as culpability for permitted sin…”
Unfortunately, you don’t seem able to explain the difference. It is God who has control of the situation and it is God who determines that the sin proceed – regardless whether He does it in eternity past or on the scene as it happens. The difference seems to involve timing and not much else.
Then, “trusting a good God is easier and more reasonable for answering the question “why did you let this happen” than “why did you plan this to happen before all creation””
Are you claiming that God lets things happen for no purpose? That would be incredible.
then, “Thanks for the try.”
We needed you to go into teacher mode and explain it all.
You may not understand the “purpose” of permitting the environment to develop for future possibilities, and you might feel all purpose must be set in stone and guaranteed to work out only one way for it to be “perfect” or even “good”… but I don’t believe the Scripture defines “perfect” and “good” that way. Sorry.
brianwagner writes, “…guaranteed to work out only one way for it to be “perfect” or even “good”… but I don’t believe the Scripture defines “perfect” and “good” that way. ”
It is a point on which we disagree.
We all have questions as to why things happen and how God works.
You statement summarizes the difference between you and the fatalist-Qadr position.
“…trusting a good God is easier and more reasonable for answering the question ‘why did you let this happen’ than ‘why did you plan this to happen before all creation’.”
Anyone who can’t see the difference in that is just messing with you.
Even to say that God lets something happen “for a purpose” is still missing the point. There is no doubt that God let’s things happen for a number of possible purposes….
One of which is to maintain the integrity of His creation (the manner in which He created our world).
To state, like James White does, that God designs/ wants/ decrees/ takes pleasure in/ ordains/ plans every capture, torture, rape of young girls is just wrong (and truly makes a monster out of God). The Bible makes it clear that there is evil in the world. And there are things that God does not like or want.
Taking the one statement from Joseph that “you intended it for evil, but God intended it for good…” —-interpreting a certain way—- and applying it to all evil is a very simplistic / naive approach. It just does not cover all the evil and heinous crimes committed. Anyone who claims that it does has no message whatsoever to bring to a hurting world.
And, FOH, I believe there had been the possibility for Joseph’s brothers to have trusted YHWH when they heard Joseph’s dreams, and to have rejoiced when Jacob showed Joseph favoritism, with the coat of many colors. God still could have found a way to get Joseph to Egypt and to be second to Pharoah. God was not locked in to just one way to accomplish the bigger plans He had for Jacob’s family.
brianwagner writes, “I believe there had been the possibility for Joseph’s brothers to have trusted YHWH when they heard Joseph’s dreams, and to have rejoiced when Jacob showed Joseph favoritism,…God was not locked in to just one way to accomplish the bigger plans He had for Jacob’s family.”
Do you think the brothers could have done differently absent some form of intervention by God to move them into a different direction? Given that we know how the brothers actually behaved, it would seem that something would have to change in order for them to do something different. If not, then you would be saying that they were equally disposed between betrayal of Joseph and rejoicing with his and more or less flipped a coin to decide what to do and only needed the random toss of the coin to decide differently.
When you say that “God was not locked in…,” do you mean that God could have affected a different outcome or that God would have to with and hope that people do something different.
Roger, you asked – “Do you think the brothers could have done differently absent some form of intervention by God to move them into a different direction?” They were given the “intervention” as you call it, by the dreams shared from God through their brother. They could have responded positively to that information.
But we won’t know until later how many other opportunities were available to aid in breaking through their hardness. The point is, God didn’t need them to get Joseph into Egypt. Joseph could have been kidnapped by the Midianites on his way to see his brothers.
Or God could have gotten the family down to Egypt another way. God was only obligated to fulfill His promise to Abraham that his people would journey to Egypt and dwell there 400 years, and then return.
God is not locked in to one future, by an all encompassing predetermination, nor has He locked man into one future. Sorry. The Scripture just doesn’t read that way.
You are so right when you say that God did not need the brothers to fulfill his promise to Abraham. He could have done it any number of ways.
Now some may argue back that you are making God sounds small and making God sound like He has to react to what man does. But these people would also be taking issue with many hundreds or thousands of verses in Scripture that say that very same thing. God is constantly saying, “if you do this I will do this …if you don’t do this I won’t do this.”
Someone can say that makes him sound small but it’s Him saying it not us.
The fact that God doesn’t need any one decision by a person to get where He is going proves the Ephesians verse that He works all things according to the counsel of His will. He will get what He wants in the end despite man’s decisions not by micromanaging and forcing every one of man’s decisions.
Amen! FOH… I think it makes God look much bigger… and it agrees better with Scripture as well! 😉
As Tozer says, it is a much bigger God who can let man be free and bring about His sovereign plan despite man’s sin…. than a God who has to dictate, decree, and puppet-master every movement in order to achieve His end.
Just after the brothers of Joseph hatred story is the Judah / Tamar story.
Gen 38:6 In the course of time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. 7 But Er was a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life.
So here the word says that Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight (not “the Lord made Er wicked”)….so He took his life. Is He “that sovereign” that He an just take someone’s life? Yes. Is He “that Calvinist sovereign” that He made Er be so wicked that He would take Er’s life? No. The Scripture never supports this kind of idea.
26 Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again.
Here Judah is calling her “righteous” and of course such talk does not work for Calvinists, but not my point here. The son of this sinful moment is Perez and he is 9 generations from David (dont forget to throw non-chosen, pagans Rahab and Ruth in there also), and in the line of Christ.
All of these very human dramas illustrate that God is going to achieve His plan (the counsel of His will) despite treachery, murder, incest, and adultery. The Calvinist position is that He in fact decreed / ordained/ planned/ delighted in all of the heinous acts.
Earlier I said the Word makes it clear that there is evil in the world that God is not decreeing or wanting…. Christ says that very thing in today’s through-the-Bible Matthew passage….
“Matt 12: 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29 For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.”
Here Christ Himself says that he is entering the house of the strong man and plundering him. How can this possibly be portrayed as a scenario where God is ordaining both sides? He is the evil one and the plunderer of the evil?
30 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
Here He says that He can be opposed (He doesn’t always get what He wants).
33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.
Here He says that the Pharisees are bad but there are “good persons” with “good hearts”—– what can that mean? How does that compare to Troy’s statement that a person can do no good?
41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.
They refused to repent. To any normal reader that sound like they could have…… but not for a Calvinist. Cuz if they didnt repent then they could not have.
2 The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.
She made a human effort to hear….but you refuse to listen. That sounds like they could have also!
Day after day…… Calvinism just does not hold up to Scripture.
It is amazing to note all the Gentiles who heard the truth about God, outside of the Jewish people! I think we will be surprized at how many we meet in heaven from these earlier centuries who cried out that simple prayer of faith – “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
I am particularly moved by Rahab and Ruth, pagans (non-chosen) who were grafted into the chosen people and line of Christ (!!!) how….? By faith. They believed and acted on it.
No mention anywhere of some divine “forcing”. You have to bring that idea to the text.
FOH writes, “Rahab and Ruth, pagans (non-chosen) who were grafted into the chosen people and line of Christ (!!!) how….? By faith. They believed and acted on it. No mention anywhere of some divine “forcing”. You have to bring that idea to the text.”
Rahab is noted in Hebrews 11. She is said to have hope and to believe in things not seen. This was the same faith as Noah, Abraham, Moses and the others also noted. There is no mention of God opening the heart of Rahad as He did for Lydia. To conclude that God’s hand and providence were guiding Rahab – that she was chosen – is not hard to do. Of course, Ruth was unique. Can we not see God’s hand leading to her marriage to Boaz and the opening of her womb to have a son who was named Obed? Is it not easy to see, in Rahab and Ruth, that God “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
brianwagner writes, ” I think we will be surprized at how many we meet in heaven from these earlier centuries who cried out that simple prayer of faith – “God be merciful to me a sinner.””
Of course, the relevant issue being the extent to which God was involved in those outcomes.
Sufficient extent for a free will choice… Praise His Name!
brianwagner writes, “Sufficient extent for a free will choice…”
That’s what the Calvinist says that God does for His elect. So common ground.
Sufficient to everyone to enable the opportunity to join the elect through faith! Praise His Name!
FOH writes, “The fact that God doesn’t need any one decision by a person to get where He is going proves the Ephesians verse that He works all things according to the counsel of His will. He will get what He wants in the end despite man’s decisions not by micromanaging and forcing every one of man’s decisions.”
How can God do so without micromanaging? God does not have to force anything – He need only open doors and close doors to choices.
brianwagner writes, “They were given the “intervention” as you call it, by the dreams shared from God through their brother. They could have responded positively to that information.”
We have a baseline – a decision was made that reflected everything that had preceded that decision. So, the dreams were accounted in that decision. Anything else God had done prior to that decision would also be accounted in that decision. So, cateris paribus, do you think the brothers could have chose differently? Or, could that only happen if God intervened and changed at least one thing in the baseline?
Then, “The point is, God didn’t need them to get Joseph into Egypt. Joseph could have been kidnapped by the Midianites on his way to see his brothers.”
It would appear that God would have to get involved sooner or later to get what He wanted. Otherwise, the decisions of diverse people would be too random to produce one specific outcome – it would be like buying a lottery ticket. God would have been locked into doing something or the outcome He wanted would never occur. – with God’s desired outcome becoming more remote the more people or other factors involved.
Sufficient involvement for freewill choices still to be made in many things! Praise His Name!
brianwagner writes, “Sufficient involvement for freewill choices still to be made in many things!”
Would you not also add “necessary” involvement as the Calvinist maintain?
Only necessary involvement when predetermined unconditional ends need to be met. Praise His Name, not everything is predetermined so love can be exercised between creator and creature and God is not guilty of all man’s sin!
brianwagner writes, “Only necessary involvement when predetermined unconditional ends need to be met.”
So, necessary when God wants to save a particular person; not necessary when God lets the person decide on his own. Sounds good to me.
Great… glad you agree… man decides on his own to trust God’s mercy, and God then of necessity saves that particular person because He promised to do so! Amen!
brianwagner writes, “man decides on his own to trust God’s mercy, and God then of necessity saves that particular person because He promised to do so! Amen!”
Or as the Calvinist adds, God saves some from among those who decide not to trust God.
Do you have an example! Infants don’t decide to trust God, and God saves them, but they don’t decide not to trust God. Who do you have in mind that decides not to trust God and yet God saves them (before they do, or even if they don’t)? I’m curious.
But thanks again for confirming the truth about God saving those who freely choose to trust Him!
brianwagner writes, “Who do you have in mind that decides not to trust God and yet God saves them…”
It would be someone like a hardcore atheist or a Hitler. How about Dan Barker!! Then, how about me?
You’re confusing me, Roger! Are you suggesting there are elect among those who make a choice never to believe, or did choose to believe at one time and then stopped believing, or something else? And what Scripture truth are you leaning on for that idea that God saves someone who does not trust in His mercy? Thanks.
Let me help you understand here.
The position is that every person loathes/ despises/ hates/ spits on God and would stab Him in a heartbeat. No one is seeking God and they are born haters of God (as the blog post says). Now, God takes 00.0015% of these haters and regenerates them irresistibly. It is not forcing since they now chose to believe and love Him. The rest of mankind is left to the evil wickedness that they inherited from Adam…. and they deserve it.
Now all this has been designed/ decreed/ ordained/ planned before time too so whereas sinful man has a choice (sin) and regenerated man has a choice (call out to God) they are decreed choices.
Does that make better sense? You get it now right?
FOH… that is what I understand as the determinist position… but Roger seems to be saying something else, that God saves those who never, ever, demonstrate trust in God, not even after a so-called regeneration, and perhaps without it. I want him to clarify.
But I’m glad 😉 he confirmed that man freely trusts in God and then God of necessity fulfills His promise to save them! (I know he is hiding that he believes regeneration is not salvation, but that salvation comes after this fabricated idea of “regeneration” in unsaved people). Very sad.
Yes…. not to mention the sharp disagreement between Roger and young Troy about when you receive the Holy Spirit! Troy saying at regeneration (for how else could one be regenerated and then choose God) and Roger saying it is at conversion (which… according to them… is a later step).
I am still waiting to hear just when they say one receives the Holy Spirit. So confusing!
But anyway….. all their “everyone loathes God” stuff does not match the many, many Scriptures that says “seek Him while He may be found” “seek first the kingdom” or “he was a devout man” or “God-fearing Gentile” or “righteous in every way”.
The Gospel is simpler than that. God is calling and has equipped every person to hear His voice. Not only does Scripture back that up —– and not only is it the first Gospel that even Calvinists believed (before they were taught fatalism), but it truly demonstrates how God can be just and loving at the same time!
FOH writes, “the sharp disagreement between Roger and young Troy about when you receive the Holy Spirit!”
“…sharp…” seems a little excessive. I think Troy and I could easily and quickly come to agreement on any issues between us.
Then, “Roger saying it is at conversion (which… according to them… is a later step).”
Hmmmm. I think I said that everything is simultaneous and follows a logical order.
Then, “I am still waiting to hear just when they say one receives the Holy Spirit.”
I have already stated the Scripture on this – Ephesians 1, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance,…”
This provides the logical order:
– hear the gospel
– believe the gospel
– sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Is there really a disagreement on this?? Why do you bring this up when you, having claimed to have been a Calvinist, would easily know this? Were you exaggerating when you said you used to be a Calvinist?
brianwagner writes, “I’m glad 😉 he confirmed that man freely trusts in God…”
This is what Calvinists say happens [of course, after regeneration]. That those who come to salvation do so as the result of a specific free will decision is not a point of contention between Cals and non-Cals. The point of contention is how people come to this free will decision.
Then, “…that salvation comes after this fabricated idea of “regeneration” in unsaved people).”
The idea of regeneration is not fabricated – it is the translation in Titus 3. You object to the Calvinist claim that regeneration precedes, and enables, a person’s free will decision to submit to Christ.
FOH writes, “The position [of Calvinists] is that every person loathes/ despises/ hates/ spits on God and would stab Him in a heartbeat.”
That is true for some. I think the common attitude toward God and a need for salvation is indifference. People are born lovers of themselves. They learn to hate God when pressed to give up their desires and serve God. They also object to God judging them by His law when they think they are not bad people and are unjustly condemned because of that law.
brianwagner writes, “Are you suggesting there are elect among those who make a choice never to believe,…”
Yes. Paul is the poster child for this. Look at Paul’s testimony, “…you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me,…” God has free will also and can save whom He wills – having decided on this course of action in eternity past. Paul would be an example of one who did not trust in God’s mercy prior to God taking action to bring him to salvation..
Then, “…or did choose to believe at one time and then stopped believing, or something else?
If a person stops believing in X, then he must have learned something new that caused him to deny his original decision. With regard to salvation, a person who believes in Christ will never learn anything new that would cause him to overturn that decision.
So Roger for not writing what I was thinking. I meant “never make a choice to believe” not “make a choice never to believe”. Of course God saves those who choose to believe after their previous choice not to believe.
Unfortunately you also confirmed you had been hiding again behind the false doctrine of a “regeneration” separate from and before the moment starts of being saved… very sad.
brianwagner writes, “I meant “never make a choice to believe”
Excluding babies and mentally challenged who cannot make a choice to believe, I suspect all whom God saves actually make a choice to believe – that choice could be expressed as a simple, “Lord, forgive me,” and expressed at the moment of death.
Then, ‘you also confirmed you had been hiding again behind the false doctrine of a “regeneration” separate from and before the moment starts of being saved…”
Sad that you appear not to be able to frame an argument otherwise. What should you expect in that case??
We can let others judge if I am able to frame an adequate argument against the contradictory definition of regeneration used by Calvinists, or if your posturing that I can’t form an adequate argument is correct or just useless posturing!
Regeneration before being saved… indeed! And so much for the feigned stand for sola fide made by Calvinists. Their false regeneration is not through faith. The contradictory posturing is so sad, just to remain loyal to the pagan philosophy of determinism above the clarity of Scripture!
People remain loyal to presuppositions!
Luther never spoke of God giving faith in any of his 95 theses. But he mentions people in purgatory in many of them!
There were many presupposed traditions of the Catholic church that he would not give up….even if Scripture did not support them.
You know I get accused of snoozing in class or even lying about having been a Calvinist. Calvinists can’t believe there are seminary educated Calvinists who turn away from that philosophy once they feel that Scripture does not support it. I mean once they have seen/embraced Calvinism, why would they go elsewhere, right?
But there are whole books written and website made by former Calvinists (Leighton being another case).
Speaking of Calvinists leaving….. I discovered today newcalvinist.com today. It is a website (2 sites and several books) endorsed by the pastor of Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon’s former reformed church) where “real Calvinists” lay into “new Calvinists” (Piper, Keller, Driscoll, Mohler, MacArthur) showing how they are too soft.
Ouch! A whole web site therealjohnpiper.com (made not by atheists, but “real Calvinists”) dedicated to show how he is not reformed enough. It’s a tough world out there! You gotta toe the line and not snooze in class!
I praise the Lord for the testimonies like yours FOH and Leighton’s and from other former Calvinists.
When formulating my theological positions when I was younger, I had the privilege of constantly hearing – “But what does the Bible say” – when I was growing up.
I have made it a habit to try to work through all passages that are the most favorite to both sides using the normal rules of grammar and context. But like you, I also let the weight of Scripture evidence color my thinking about isolated passages, that may, on the surface, sound like they support determinism.
I have not found one passage yet that supports clearly the deterministic view, and many that have been woefully twisted to make them sound like they support it. Those that seem to support it, though not clearly, have equally if not better interpretations that fit the context and grammar better and especially fit the tenor of Scripture better.
I have started a project that I hope to return to, Lord willing, where I take the major proof texts of Calvinists, document what the 3 Johns have said about them (Calvin, Piper, and MacArthur), and then show their faulty exegesis against a more normal understanding based on more normal rules of context and grammar, and also against obvious Scriptures that contradict what they are trying to make those proof texts mean.
Brian,That sounds like a great project!
As it happens today I stumbled on Piper’s lengthy response to Gred Boyd. He took the many passages that Boyd listed and basically said, “it appears to say this… but I dont think it does.” Most of it was hard to follow… but of course if you are a Piper fan you will make the effort. Most of it was basically, “The Scripture cant mean that cuz we know it doesn’t” kind of material.
And Piper kept giving an argument where God created a world where He knew (even planned) all things and yet for reasons not given, He spoke and acted like He didn’t know….all for reasons not given, explained, or shown in Scripture.
And they print that stuff!!! Oh for the Piper disciple it will be good enough— and life goes merrily along. But looking at it objectively today…. I could only see the twisting and turning of awkward presuppositions.
Anything you have on Piper that is digital, I would appreciate. I have MacArthur’s commentaries and all of Calvin’s works. But not much of Piper, except for his book, Five Points. Thanks.
FOH writes, “Most of it was hard to follow… but of course if you are a Piper fan you will make the effort.”
I have found Piper difficult to follow, am not a fan, and don’t make the effort. I’d rather read Calvin.
brianwagner writes, “what the 3 Johns have said about them (Calvin, Piper, and MacArthur), ”
Why not Calvin, Sproul, Gill, and Pink?? A little harder to contend with but surely worth the effort.
Great question, Roger! I might throw John Gill in… just to have another John! But I was thinking of dealing mostly with contemporary influential Calvinists. Arthur Pink was a Baptist, I guess, but a very disagreeable man indeed…. someone else can critique him. Sproul had a terrible hermeneutic that led him not to see how clearly believer’s baptism is taught in Scripture. If someone can get infant baptism out of Scripture, they can get almost anything. It is your opinion that Pink and Sproul best represent Calvinism, but my observation is that all Calvinist scholars exegetically twist their favorite proof texts pretty much the same way.
I have posted here somewhere previously on the debate between MacArthur and Sproul on infant baptism. Sproul looks so silly going back and forth with his defense and in several places almost seems to be saying, “I see your point John, I see your point John, I see that it doesn’t say it in scripture John…but… but … but …nah, I’m going to keep my traditon.”
Oh well, I guess we all have free will when it comes to which of the reformed doctrines we’re going to pick. They differed in eschatology also. So like I always say to my reformed friends, use your free will and pick which which ones of the reformed doctrines you’re going to freely believe.
FOH writes, “Oh well, I guess we all have free will when it comes to which of the reformed doctrines we’re going to pick.”
They see eye to eye on soteriology, (the focus of this site) and you understand that very well.
Some on this blog have urged you to bypass the Johns of today (MacArthur and Piper) and get to the real hero. Read Calvin! —they say.
When Calvin got control of Geneva, The Quest for Purity: Dynamics of Puritan Movements, edited by W. E. A. van Beek, tells us (page 49) that he got started by outlawing mixed gender swimming, singing of bawdy songs, and the sale of playing cards.
If historians are correct in Calvin-ruled Geneva…
—In November 1552, the Council Of Geneva declared Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion to be a “holy doctrine which no man might speak against.”
—Dogmatic decrees were issued with results that Jacques Gruet was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547. Crime: placing a letter in Calvin’s pulpit calling him a hypocrite. Later his book and house were burned.
—Calvin heavily penalized citizens of Geneva who did not attend church services.
—Michael Servetus. Condemned, he pleaded to be beheaded, but was burned at the stake with green wood. His own theology books were strapped to his chest. Servetus is condemned (maligned) and Calvin upheld on monergism.com.
—Gentile, Alciati, and Gribaldo and others were forced to sign confessions or be imprisoned, but some were imprisoned or beheaded anyway.
—Some 34 women were burned at the stake for being witches that had caused a plague in Geneva in 1545.
Even if historians are wrong on the above…. we know for true that….
—Calvin taught that his own Roman Catholic infant baptism was adequate and that no person baptized as an infant (even Catholic) should be re-baptized under the strictest penalty. No mention of this is found on monergism.com, nor in the Gospel Coalition’s article “Nine things to know about Calvin” (all good things). Really? No one? Anyone? Come on speak up!! Do you defend Calvin’s adamant proclamation that infant Catholic baptism is sufficient? Why did he punish Anabaptist who practiced believer’s baptism of adults?
Brian, I dont suggest you bother studying or refuting Calvin himself. He is certainly no hero of the faith.
FOH writes, “I dont suggest you bother studying or refuting Calvin himself. He is certainly no hero of the faith.”
When you cannot argue against the doctrine, target the man – whom we know to be imperfect as all men are.
Actually the plan is for all three Johns – Calvin, MacArthur and Piper… and maybe a forth – Gill. Funny how all their first names are John! 😉
Please note that many accusations about Calvin the man have been made and authenticated. But note that the last accusation on my list was doctrinal. Calvin’s adamant insistence of the sufficiency of infant, Catholic baptism undermines his whole theology.
The persecution of believers who (defying his laws) followed in believer’s baptism undermines his understanding of Scriptural authority.
The establishing of laws (civil codes) against baptism of adults who had only been baptized as Catholic infants, is more than an attack on his character. It demonstrates his misunderstanding of the place and importance of baptism.
These are not ad hominem attacks on character. This is merely displaying a blatant, biblical failure in a person held as a spiritual hero.
Why attach his character when his doctrine is such an easy target.
FOH writes, “Calvinists can’t believe there are seminary educated Calvinists who turn away from that philosophy once they feel that Scripture does not support it.”
Of course, they can believe it. What they have a hard time believing are the seemingly purposeful misrepresentations of Calvinism by former Calvinists. If a former Calvinist has a strong argument against Calvinism, why does he misrepresent Calvinism in order to argue against it – as you, for instance, have done that results in a well deserved snoozing in class tag. Even Dr. Flowers has made a couple boners along the way.
Then, ” It’s a tough world out there! You gotta toe the line and not snooze in class!”
That’s the truth!
How interesting that my through-the-Bible today brings me to the very passage you are talking about.
“Gen 37: 8 His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.”
This is the third time in a short passage where it says they hated him… and now “all the more.”
Of course their hate was their choice (even though they are the “chosen people”). Never does it say…. God made them hate him or any such nonsense.
Now…. when Calvinists think they have the unique corner on the market to Eph 1:11 “the counsel of God’s will” they impose on this that “of course God made them hate him—- he made everybody do everything.”
Then we get the 2nd Calvinist version of this —-He knew it and didn’t stop them (so, pssst… that’s our definition of decree)
Then we get the 3rd Calvinist version of this —- God “allows” man to take his natural sinful course (He allows their sin, but imposes any good deed small or large —since they have no good thing in them) (er…..uh….that’s our definition of decree).
They are just all over the place on this kind of thing.
It seems that one verse—– one ——- and it is only half the verse (!!) —-interpreted their way is the trump card to all other scripture, logic, or positions. Just play this card: “who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Calvinist ESV).
What? Of course He does!! And the “working of His counsel and His” will is allowing man to make decisions that He does not like and then needs to respond to.
This is the only 1/2 verses needed for any sermon at a Calvinist church:
“Welcome everyone. Everything you did last week (porn, lust, lying, cheating) and everything you do this week is God ‘working all things according to the counsel of His will.’ Class dismissed.”
FOH writes, “when Calvinists think they have the unique corner on the market to Eph 1:11 “the counsel of God’s will” they impose on this that “of course God made them hate him—- he made everybody do everything.””
Wrong. Their hatred was derived from their depraved nature – it was not necessary that God make them hate Joseph.
Then, “And the “working of His counsel and His” will is allowing man to make decisions that He does not like and then needs to respond to.”
To which Calvinists agree.
Then, ““Welcome everyone. Everything you did last week (porn, lust, lying, cheating) and everything you do this week is God ‘working all things according to the counsel of His will.’”
Are you claiming that this is not true? Doesn’t God have the final say in all that happens?
FOH writes, “To state, like James White does, that God designs/ wants/ decrees/ takes pleasure in/ ordains/ plans every capture, torture, rape of young girls is just wrong …”
Apparently, you don’t really read or listen to James White. White ephasizes that nothing is purposeless, and that God works all things together according to the counsel of His will for His purpose. To say that God does not work all things together according to the counsel of His will denies the Scriptures – in general per Ephesians 1, and specifically regarding believers in Romans 8.
The idea of molestation being “played out” as though it were part of something God could stop but casually chose not to, is not correct. God does know that sin has horrible results but some in His kingdom did not know that and some on the earth today do not know that truth. God also knows that Satan is out to destroy mankind, the creation He loves. But God has a higher purpose. It’s not so much that it has to be “played out” but that the results of sin must be seen by all at the end of time, as something that can never be allowed to enter God’s kingdom again. People who choose to live for God through Jesus, despite never seeing Him, are the ones God chooses to give eternal life. Satan and his angels chose to go against God even though they had seen Him in all of His glory. What’s to stop it from happening again? Scripture tells us that Jesus stated: “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” For eternity, there will never be another excuse to enter into sin because the results of sin will be “played out” as you put it. There will never be an excuse, argument or misunderstanding about the evil of sin. The price of sin, the result of sin will forever be known. This is the higher purpose of God and for that purpose, He allows those He created, time to choose. Then, the punishment that results from sin, will begin. Time will end. Yes, children will have suffered but for the higher purpose of an eternity of no child ever suffering again. That is how sin was defeated by Jesus Christ for all eternity. This is much, much more than a battle being “played out” by a voyeuristic God.
Trough the Bible….. arriving at Matt 13.
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (Calvin’s ESV)
Jesus, the Son of God, God in flesh limits His mighty works (or they are limited) because of the unbelief of the people.
2. Is He hampered by their lack of faith because that is a needed element?
3. Did He decide to do less miracles cuz of their lack of faith?
4. This implies naturally that in other regions He did miracles because they had faith.
What can this passage mean? It certainly must include the idea that Christ’s goal of healing was hampered by their lack of faith. He did not get what He wanted.
Or did He deny them the faith they needed (cuz He has to give it right?), and then withhold His healing because of their lack of faith? That would have to be the position of Calvin and his minions. But why? What does that do? What do we learn with that as the interpretation?
What does the natural reading of the passage teach us? Have faith!
p.s. I checked a few leading Calvinists…and they all sound like Arminians, except the ones who are bold enough to say that God withholds faith so that He can show them they have no faith, so He can judge them. But none of them address the idea (#4) that when He did do miracles it was because the people did have faith.
FOH writes, “What can this passage mean? It certainly must include the idea that Christ’s goal of healing was hampered by their lack of faith.”
Probably no more than the adage – Familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus could not heal because the people did not come to Him to be healed. A faith born of observation is implied here rather than a faith unto salvation- the people did not believe He could heal. As to salvation, it says, “they took offense at Him,” thus, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block,” but here a stumbling block even before His crucifixion.
Through the Bible today Prov. 4:7-10 (Calvin’s ESV)
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
A. Whose job is it to get wisdom? Yours! Can you? Yes!
B. Wisdom will exalt you, honor you, garland-crown you —– “Man-Centered!!!”
C. What? You can change the length of your life by being wise? Yes of course — the Bible says it and we know it (avoiding wild lifestyle, etc).
All of this is so “man-centered”!!!
And it does not sound like our days are predetermined before time—- if we can affect them!
Every day….in every book…. Calvinistic-deteministic-fatalism-Qadr makes no sense…. if we just believe the Bible.
FOH writes, “A. Whose job is it to get wisdom? Yours! Can you? Yes!”
The proverbs begin “A wise man will hear and increase in learning,…The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (also wisdom); Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The proverbs are meant for the “wise” or those who believe – called a remnant by Paul in Romans 11. God always speaks generally to the wise and the fools together but specifically only to the wise.