John MacArthur wrote,
“How we address the misconception of the present age is crucial. We must not respond to an overemphasis on divine love by denying that God is love. Our generation’s imbalanced view of God cannot be corrected by an equal imbalance in the opposite direction, a very real danger in some circles. I’m deeply concerned about a growing trend I’ve noticed — particularly among people committed to the biblical truth of God’s sovereignty and divine election. Some of them flatly deny that God in any sense loves those whom He has not chosen for salvation.
I am troubled by the tendency of some — often young people newly infatuated with Reformed doctrine — who insist that God cannot possibly love those who never repent and believe. I encounter that view, it seems, with increasing frequency.
The argument inevitably goes like this: Psalm 7:11 tells us “God is angry with the wicked every day.” It seems reasonable to assume that if God loved everyone, He would have chosen everyone unto salvation. Therefore, God does not love the non-elect. Those who hold this view often go to great lengths to argue that John 3:16 cannot reallymean God loves the whole world. …
The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God’s attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that those mercies flow out of God’s boundless love? It is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners.”
Many Calvinistic brethren, like MacArthur in the quote above, when discussing the sincerity of God’s love for all people, seem to distance themselves from the inevitable conclusions drawn by the implications of their own systematic. While attempting to maintain some semblance of divine love for those unconditionally rejected by God in eternity past, they appeal to God’s common provisions such as rain and sunshine. But can such provisions be deemed as genuinely loving given the Scripture’s own definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13?
Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly explains what love is not when he writes,
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
So we can conclude love is not:
▪ Having the power and ability to do all things (vs. 1)
▪ Having knowledge of all things (vs. 2)
▪ Giving gifts and showing kindness to the weak and poor (vs. 3)
Omnipotence without love is impotent. Omniscience apart from love is worthless. And even benevolent gifts, like the provisions of rain and sunlight, apart from love are nothing. We know that God is omnipotent, omniscient and graciously benevolent to all humanity, but we also know that these characteristics do not necessarily reflect the true nature of love. God, through his servant, tells us what true love is:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
No Bible believing Christian questions the truth that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” (Ps. 145:9). This biblical truth is simply undeniable, which is why many Calvinists attempt to offer these types of rebuttals in defense of God’s love for all people from their Calvinistic worldview. But, can one objectively conclude that God’s treatment of the reprobate within the Calvinistic system is truly “loving” according to God’s own definition above?
▪ Is God patient with the reprobate who he “hated” and rejected for salvation “before he was born or had done anything good or bad.”
▪ Is God kind to those he destines to torment for all eternity without any regard to their own choices, intentions, or actions?
▪ Does God honor the non-elect by allowing them to enjoy a little rain and sunlight before they spend an eternity suffering for something with which they had absolutely no control over?
▪ Is God not easily angered by those who are born under His wrath and without hope of reconciliation?
▪ Does God keep the record of wrongs committed by reprobates?
▪ Does the so-called “love” of God for the non-elect fail or does it persevere?
I must ask, as Dave Hunt so succinctly inquired, “What love is this,” and by what measure can it ever be deemed “great!?”
Lest someone accuse me of being uncharitable, it should be noted that some “higher” forms of Calvinism do not even attempt to defend the idea that God sincerely loves everyone. In a work titled, The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink, he wrote, “God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody.” He further argued that the word “world” in John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world…“) “refers to the world of believers (God’s elect), in contradistinction from ‘the world of the ungodly.’”
The issue comes down to how one defines the characteristic of love. According to Paul, “love does not seek its own,” and thus it is best described as “self-sacrificial” rather than “self-serving” (1 Cor. 13:5). As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It seems safe to say that love at its very root is self-sacrificial. Anything less than that should not be called “love.” One may refer to “kindness” or “care” in reflection of some common provisions for humanity, but unless it reaches the level of self-sacrifice it does not seem to meet the biblical definition of true love.
Given that biblical definition of love as “self-sacrifice,” let us consider Christ’s command to love our enemies. Is this an expectation Christ himself is unwilling to fulfill? In other words, is He being hypocritical in this command? Of course not. The very reason He told His followers to love their enemies is “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…” (Matt. 5:45).
The meaning is undeniable. We are to love our enemies because God loves His enemies. He loves both “the righteous and the unrighteous” in exactly the same way we are told to love our enemies. The greatest commandment instructs us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:37-38). “And who is our neighbor?” (Lk. 10:29). The pagan Samaritans, who were detested as enemies of God.
In short, Jesus is teaching us to self-sacrificially love everyone, even our worst enemies, because that reflects the very nature of God Himself.
Now, we know that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law in every way (Matt. 5:17-18), which would have to include the greatest commandment. Christ’s self-sacrificial love for His enemies was certainly as encompassing as what He demanded from His followers in Luke 10. Without a doubt, Jesus loved everyone, even His greatest, most undeserving enemies; otherwise, He would have failed to fulfill the demands of the law.
Paul taught, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” And again in Romans 13:8: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Thus, to deny Jesus’ self-sacrificial love for everyone is to deny that He fulfilled the demands of the law. This would disqualify Him as the perfect atoning sacrifice.
If we accept that Jesus fulfilled the demands of the law by self-sacrificially loving all people, then how can we conclude that God’s love is any less far-reaching than that which is reflected in the Son? Would God expect our love to be more encompassing and self-sacrificial than His own?
When God invites His enemies to be reconciled (Isa. 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:20; Mt. 11:28-30), He is making an appeal from a sincere heart of self-sacrificial love. “‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11). “The Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” (Hosea 3:1). Obviously, God does sincerely love even those who turn from His provision and grace.
85 thoughts on “Does God REALLY Love Everyone?”
Get ready for a few to trot out the worn out “You are a universalist!” card.
Let’s see in these comments if anyone can answer the simple question….. (I wish AW Pink were here!), “God tells us to love our neighbor and our enemy, yet you tell me that God only loves the elect —small, small number. How are we to do that? By the power He gives us?”
Universal love is the basis behind a universal atonement, which is the basis for asserting a universal salvific will, which is the basis behind a universal offer of the gospel, but before a Calvinist then connects the dots to Universalism, Traditionalists do not say that salvation is universal, but only the offer of the gospel is universal, based upon the universal principles which undergird it, and therefore there is a perfectly logical distinction from Universalism if we say that only those who meet the conditions of the well-meant offer of the gospel will be saved.
Additionally, I would not say that God loves everyone the same. This is clearly untrue based upon John 16:27. It is perfectly reasonable to conclude that God loves Christians more than the lost, though while nonetheless maintaining a genuine love of the lost. For instance, we can say that we love our own family more than our neighbor, while still legitimately loving our neighbor. However, can Calvinism say that God genuinely loves the elect and non-elect? If God never intended for the non-elect to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, then how would any form of double predestination (including R.C. Sproul’s softer version) amount to a legitimate sense of love? In fact, R.C. Sproul acknowledged that God is not all that loving of the non-elect.
In terms of whether God loves everyone the same, I would say no. God does not love everyone *equally*, rather God loves everyone *uniquely*. In the former case, if God loved all of us the same, then it would render any single person superfluous, while in the latter case, each person is special to God, for Him to love uniquely from others.
Great points Richard! I would say, God loves all of the lost “uniquely” and sufficiently to enable them to seek to trust His mercy, whereupon, if they do, He becomes able through giving them the new birth to start loving them as His own forever.
Here is a web site dedicated to it full living color. :-]
– A.W.Pink – God does not love everybody!
Just received my copy of “God so Loved the Word”…….Traditional Baptist and Calvinism. Very interested and curious to start reading it. It is by Fisher Humphreys and Paul E. Robertson. This will help to understand the other side better and also I hope Traditional Baptist better.
The one thing I find curious though even before I start the book, so this is just an opinion and not an assertion. It seems they are basing their foundation verse on John 3:16.
I have seen and have also done to the best that I can, a biblical exegesis on this verse. It is no way affects the Calvinist (just a nickname for some Holy Truths found in the Bible like the Word Trinity) position or impacts it negatively. I have seen it Biblical Exegesis done with this verse in its surrounding context and its immediate context and Greek explanations, nuances and all. So I am anticipating to see how they use this verse against Calvinism or the Reformed Faith.
On the back cover it Reads like this:
“Taking their stand on John 3:16 they argue that the traditional Baptist view is that God loves all people and desires the welfare of all. They say that the fall of human beings into sin and the judgments that follow are things that have been chosen by human beings rather than decreed by God.
I am sure I will understand the other side better nonetheless and that is always a good thing. Not to misunderstand means not misrepresenting.
I am reading the book above with much interest, comparing its stand with God’s word. The book entitled, “God So Loved The World, Traditional Baptist, and Calvinism.”
I want to note what it says on the back cover again and then have it responded to by someone else who actually does not mention the book by name. But it cannot be denied the response it clear and precise nonetheless and hits the target of what I am reading thus far, Especially the Traditional Baptist Foundation Verse for this Book, John 3:16, is talked about and is emphatically shown how it is watered down and read into it as if it speaks of some ability of the mystical fictitious idol of exercising the man-made idol of free-will to believe and faith in Christ through innate faith which is passed naturally and not a gift of grace given by God the Holy Spirit.
Remember I am reading a book that is counteracting my beliefs completely. I am not being biased and just going to Calvinist Websites or listening to Reformed Sermons and reading Calvinist Books. I am reading a book that is refuting what I believe. I think it is of the utmost importance to do so. One, because I might be wrong and if I am, I sincerely want God the Holy Spirit to show me the Holy Truth of God’s Word so that I will no longer be Self-Deceived. Number Two, as I mentioned of, I want to be rightly informed what the Traditional Baptist believe so that I understand them and I can rightly represent them in discussing and making comments.
I know this individual is not a fan favorite of this site and probably not of Dr. Flowers. But I know Dr. Flowers is a man of Forgiveness and does not hold a grudge. He fears the living God because there is forgiveness with Him. We are to forgive one another as Christ Jesus has forgiven Us.
So as I am not being biased and looking at another source that completely contradicts what I believe and is refuting it, I ask that this short video of Dr. James White on John 3:16 be posted. I believe it will be profitable and add to the discussion. It will be both sides not being biased and showing favoritism. Not sinfully judging. Because he who is without sin let him cast the first stone. This is the closing of a Debate that Dr. James White had and it is just a little over 9 mins. Thanks for agreeing in advance and God’s grace in Christ be with my Non-Calvinist brothers who are believing ones in Christ also, who will not perish but have everlasting life. The video down below.: The Biblical Gospel: Not a Suggestion, But a Command of God By Dr, James White.
I find it incredible that scholars like AW Pink (whose books I had and read) can find themselves so wound up in their worldview that they finally have to come out and state what is an obvious result of their philosophy!
Own it Calvinists! Say it loud and clear! Cry out the ‘Good News’! God does not love everyone!
In fact…. He hardly loves anyone!
He only loves .015% of humanity —though all are created in His image (and we are to love them).
MacArthur wants to rectify this…… he wants to make sure that everyone knows that God does love the non-elect (while passing over them and creating them for destruction)….. because after all “He gives them sunshine.”
What John does not realize is that not all people live in big houses with pools in So California. Some of them live in Asia in the sex-slave trade from the age of 5 and die at 14 from disease and abuse. The “sunshine” these millions of non-elect have somehow does not sound much like the love that MacArthur wants to remind young YRR bucks about.
Probably one of the best blogs you have done in Soteriology101 yet, Leighton! Your exposition of the nature of God from the beginning verses of 1Corinthians 13, and its obvious application to His love being for all the lost, is indisputable in my view! There must be a hierarchy recognized in the attributes of God with love defining (limiting if you will) how omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence are understood.
God’s love for the lost must include His willingness and ability to be rejected. He must be able to suffer grief because the intention from an offer of that love might not be realized. For to have a true covenant love relationship by the Godhead with creatures in His image there must be a free-will response as possible. And until divine righteousness is a part of one’s nature, rejection of love being offered is a divinely known possibility.
You keep referring to an “offer” of salvation when in fact it is a gift of God to the elect not an offer. I think A.W. Pink says it best:
“For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33).
Now mark it well, Christ did not say, “offereth life unto the world”, but “giveth”. What is the difference between the two terms? This: a thing which is “offered” may be refused, but a thing “given”, necessarily implies its acceptance. If it is not accepted, it is not “given”, it is simply proffered. Here, then, is a scripture that positively states Christ giveth life (spiritual, eternal life) “unto the world.” Now He does not give eternal life to the “world of the ungodly” for they will not have it, they do not want it. Hence, we are obliged to understand the reference in John 6:33 as being to “the world of the godly”, i.e., God’s own people.
Hello Eric and welcome.
A.W. Pink of course is a Calvinist – so he is going to be speaking from the Calvinist perspective.
And yes – in the Calvinist system many terms are used in a misleading manner.
Because for the Calvinist those words don’t have their NORMATIVE meanings.
But they frame those words in sentences inferring the NORMATIVE meaning which is a misleading use of language.
For example – you might hear a Calvinist declare that a “Well meant offer” of salvation exists in their belief system.
But the NORMATIVE inference which comes with the use of the term “offer” entails a choice where two possible options (acceptance or rejection) are granted to the one to whom something is “offered”.
And in Calvinism humans are not ever granted any choice whatsoever that follows that model.
In Calvinism all choices are made *FOR* the human – in all cases.
100% of whatsoever comes to pass is UP TO a THEOS
Who leaves ZERO% Undetermined
And thus ZERO% left over that is UP TO any creature.
Hi Eric. Thank you for your question. If you do a thorough word study you’ll see that διδωμι also includes the meaning – “offer”. Even your referral to the manna from heaven confirms this idea. Manna was offered. The Israelites had to go get it! Right?
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it . . . This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God . . . 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! . . . 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should [c]not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” . . . 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven . . . 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him . . . 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water . . . 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life . . . 41 And many more believed because of His own word.42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
(from John 1-5)
Your faulty understanding stems from reading individual verses of scripture, while ignoring the fuller context. As you can see above, if you read John chapter 6 in light of chapters 1-5, you discover that there is an enormous amount of ‘giving’, ‘receiving’ and, sadly, much ‘not receiving’ going on.
God gave his Son (sent him to earth) not to condemn, ‘but that the world through Him might be saved’. God sent (gave) ‘the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world’. ‘And this is the condemnation, that the light has come (been given) into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’.
‘John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven . . . He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony’.
God has given to the world the light which – if received – gives true light to every man coming into the world. Jesus gives his testimony of all that he has seen and heard (in heaven), yet no one receives his testimony. It is made very clear, throughout the text, that this ‘not receiving’ was the result of men’s REFUSAL to believe, in Jesus, and God who sent (gave) Him. John acknowledges that ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven’. No one denies that all of salvation was provided (given) to man by God, but the point is repeatedly made that the only reason many did not receive this gift, which God gave to save the world, was because they refused to believe (put their trust in) the giver and that which was given (offered).
Read all of John and it will become very clear that God gave (offered) the gift of salvation to the world, but many – not who were not ‘elect’, but who loved darkness – refused to receive or come into the light, because they wished to cling to and hide their sin and evil.
People do not have light and life, not because they were not ‘given’ to them, but because they refused to believe and receive them. Repeatedly John states that light and life were sent, given and came from God to ‘the world’. Those who believe, receive. Those who refuse to believe, reject that which was given. This is the message of scripture throughout.
A typical Calvinist response will be, “Of course they refused to believe…Of course they reject Christ….. they are “too dead” or spiritually dead and it is foolishness to them.”
That’s just silly. Of course “dead people” (if they are dead like Calvinists say) don’t reject anything. They dont refuse anything. Dead men cant reject like the Scripture says.
They are the ones who use the silly phrase “dead men dont make choices.” That is not even a biblical idea since the Scripture clearly states that they are choosing (by refusing/ rejecting).
Also….it begs the question: How can you reject something that is not offered? Calvinism makes it clear from the start that the atonement is LIMITED so therefore never even offered. Again, another unbiblical tenet of Calvinism.
They say what is not even offered is rejected by dead men who cannot make choices. Phew! Makes your head swim!
“As Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It seems safe to say that love at its very root is self-sacrificial. Anything less than that should not be called “love.” One may refer to “kindness” or “care” in reflection of some common provisions for humanity, but unless it reaches the level of self-sacrifice it does not seem to meet the biblical definition of true love.”
This is, with little doubt, the crux of the issue. Any teacher who attempts to paint God’s provision for the needs of mankind in the design of the universe as the sole token of his love for all men, has not heard and understood the gospel.
Indeed, God’s goodness is revealed in his abundant provision of air, sun, water and food, along with all of the natural elements with which we can construct clothing, shelter and even less necessary conveniences. But all of these are mere ‘clanging cymbals’ without love. Were a parent to provide food, clothing and shelter while entering their children into perpetual slavery, few would describe such ‘generosity’ as ‘love’. Nor does it matter, for our perception of love must come from He who is love; this indeed we have in Jesus’ recorded words:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
The Calvinist theologians must persuade themselves, and their followers, that God exhibits a ‘lesser’ form of love to the so-called reprobate, while reserving his ‘greater’ love for his so-calld elect. This they do not derive from the express teachings of scripture, but deduce in order to concoct and defend their system of belief.
I, for one, will not discard the words of Jesus in order to revere the teachings of men like Augustine, Calvin, Luther or MacArthur. Jesus showed us that he was not mouthing empty words, but demonstrated the ultimate love that he set before us as a standard. It is to this standard that we must ever strive to fashion our hearts and lives. Jesus does not teach that ‘greater love has no one than to keep the Ten Commandments, be baptized, memorize scripture or live piously.’ That is not to suggest that all such things are meaningless, but that they are not the standard to which we are called when we are commanded to love God and others.
This is the deeply understood reality which has separated the ‘heretics’ from the rulers in every age, as one asserts the authority to dictate the thoughts, beliefs and actions of others, while the other attempts to love as did Jesus, even to the point of self sacrifice. One projects authority and dogmatism, while the other serves and gives. It requires little skill to determine which Jesus was seeking in those who would be his followers.
That verse – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” indirectly calls upon believers to make a conscious choice about the premise called – limited atonement as it relates to God’s love. Either He only loves and only died for His “friends”, or since this verse does not have the word “only” in it, He died for and had a sacrificial love for all for whom He died, which is the whole world.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. – Jhn 3:17 NKJV
“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” … “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” – Jhn 6:33, 51 NKJV
“…and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” … “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” – 2Co 5:15, 19 NKJV
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1Jo 2:2 NKJV
As you well know there are dozens, scores more of the “all” “the world” “the whole world” type verses out there.
Just watch……any response to this from Calvinists will be to say what these verses do NOT mean. If you go to monergism.com and look these verses up….the whole explication of the verses is what they do NOT mean.
Christ said when He is lifted up He will draw all men…… does NOT mean all men (It can’t!!! cuz if He drew they would come—says us) and on and on. Therefore Christ outside Jerusalem saying “I would have called you like a mother hen ….but you would not,” does NOT mean He tried and they wouldn’t come (It can’t!! —-says us). And on and on and on.
That was what was so tiring for me as a Calvinist reading huge chunks every day…..and telling myself with verse after verse, passage after passage, parable after parable what the section does NOT mean.
It gets tiring telling the Bible what it has to mean because of the presuppositions that I am bringing to the Bible.
Good observation FOH. If someone feels when explaining the meaning of a verse that the first thing they have to say is “It does not mean”… They should wonder why they are led to say that.
And if the context in no way clearly supports what they think it means, they should doubly wonder what led them to say that it doesn’t mean what is seems to say. It should help them realize that they are bringing something to the passage from their theology to interpret the passage, instead of trying to be faithful to the meaning that is found there according to normal rules of context and grammar.
The Cavlinist answer to your post would be that if God really loved He would make His grace “effectual” not just possible. They bring out the old “universalist” canard. So….. Calvinism or Universalism…. but no other possibilities.
But of course those are just man made definitions and parameters.
Anyone who has kids (after all we call Him “Father”) loves his kids and would die for them….but cannot make them love him.
So to simplify:
—-Calvinism: God loves a small-small-small percentage of His creation (all of whom are created in His image) and effectually (irresistibly) “makes” them love Him. No rejection possible for the elect. No choosing possible for the non-elect. Micromanagement or else He might not get His will.
—-Universalism: God loves all and by one way or another effectually “makes” them love Him (saving them all out of love).
—-Free Will (Arminian, Traditional, other descriptions): God loves all, equips/enables all to hear and accept, Christ died for all (yes…. His blood making salvation possible— see the Passover for an example), but after the counsel of His will, He created in such a way that the love needs to be reciprocal. That is why we call Him Father and call it a “personal relationship.” He created creative, personal, free agents, in His own image, not robots.
Excellent article Leighton! I almost have more respect for the high Calvinist that just deal with the implications of their systematic and say ‘God doesn’t love everybody’ rather than the MacArthur type that use good words and fair speeches (Romans16:18 KJV) to “carefully” dance around the issue.
FOH – What is interesting is that when the Calvinist uses the ‘if God was really loving to all people then he would just save everybody’ claim. Is the same argument that a non-believer uses as well to justify not believing.
It’s not until they are pointed out the seriousness of their sin and need for salvation through the gospel that they then realise God does love them through the gospel………….that is until Calvinism comes along and changes their mind into thinking that God only loved them through another “secret gospel”.
Another great article!
Austin Farrer (1904) an Anglican theologian and philosopher, in “Faith and Speculation” warns that every time man attempts to frame God’s providential activity into causal terms, placing God into a chain of sequential causalities, he risks degrading God to the creaturely level, ultimately creating a monstrosity and confusion.
This highlights the observation that Calvinists are forced to jump back and forth between two opinions, and thus we observe the duplicity and double-speak which predominates their language.
When the delineating line between good and evil is breached, and one morphs into the other, making good and evil almost indistinguishable within the nature and character of God, the expounder is forced to forward his assertions while reflecting benevolence—and confusion is guaranteed.
When a Hellenized dualistic cosmology and a NeoPlatonic deity, are synchronized with the monotheistic God of Christianity, what will appear is an immutable God whose relationship to good and evil are utilitarian.
CALVINISM – SELLING THE PRODUCT THROUGH WORD TRICKERY
Lynne Rudder Baker – A Christian Determinist/compatiblist in her publication: “Why Christians Should Not Be Libertarians: An Augustinian
“I do not believe that we can make sense of libertarian free will in any detail in a way that allows us to be the *ULTIMATE SOURCE OR ORIGINATOR* – *IN THE INTENDED SENSE* of our actions”.
As a Theological Determinist, Baker believes that neurological impulses which occur in our brains do not originate from ourselves.
But have their origin and source, in the mind of God who first-conceived each thought at the foundation of the world millennia before humans existed. He then arranges the exact time each thought he has conceived will be actualized as a neurological impulse within our brain.
On this view, we simply *PERCIEVE* a thought which occurs in our brain the same way we *PERCIEVE* a snowflake which lands on our nose.
If we are responsible for causing the snowflake to land on our nose, then we are likewise responsible for causing each thought Calvin’s god actualizes in our brain.
These are the logical implications of Theological Determinism.
Unfortunately for the Calvinist, these implications *WHEN MADE CLEAR* are extremely hard to sell in the general Christian marketplace.
This makes SELLING THE PRODUCT of Calvinism quite a challenge.
Calvinists have readily accepted this challenge, because what is the alternative – except extinction!
The way Calvinists meet this challenge, for the most part, is by formulating deceptive talking-points.
This is why Calvinist language has become highly evolved over the years as a form of religio-subterfuge-speak.
Carefully crafting sentences to make them *APPEAR* as libertarian as possible through word trickery.
Buyer be ware.
Excellent summation, br.d. It is indeed true that when Calvinism’s implications are expressly spelled out the majority of godly men and women recoil in horror. Thus, modern Calvinism engages in endless euphemism, doublespeak and word trickery in order to conceal that which would be, to most people, unacceptable. Very few believers would accept the assertion that God imagines, ordains and brings to pass the evil actions of sinners, or that God deliberately predetermined countless individuals to irresistible condemnation. So, Calvinism hides these untidy details and instead harks on ‘sovereignty’, ‘glory’ and the like. Buyer beware is accurate.
Thank you truthseeker!
And yes I agree – isn’t it sad that Calvinist’s resort to so much rhetorical dishonesty and yet profess to be Christians?
As it is written: “God’s name is dishonored among the heathens by his own people.”
A STOIC MEETS A CALVINIST
A certain Stoic bumped into a Calvinist at a predestination convention.
The conversation went as follows:
Stoic: Are you enjoying the convention on predestination my friend?
Calvinist: Yes! – Its totally awesome!
Stoic: I’ve learned so many new and wonderful things about how my god Zeus, blessed be his name, predestines every man’s eternal fate!
Calvinist: Wait! – You believe that the Greek god Zeus predestines every man’s eternal fate?
Stoic: Why yes of course – everyone knows that Zeus is the god of all gods.
Calvinist: That is wrong! The god of the Christian bible is the god who predestines every man’s fate!
Stoic: I don’t know about the god of the Christian bible – but I do know that Zeus, blessed be his name, at the foundation of the world, decrees all things, which come to pass.
Calvinist: I could never allow myself to believe that the god Zeus predestined my fate! What value system does Zeus use to determine who will be saved and who will be thrown into the eternal lake of fire?
Stoic: No man knows who Zeus has predestined for eternal bliss – and who he has ordained for eternal damnation.
That is according to the secret council of god!
As the confession says:
“By the decree of god, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others ordained to everlasting death.”
If I am predestined for the eternal lake of fire, at least I will be comforted in knowing my god predestined me there for good reasons.
Stoic: I’m sure Zeus will be happy to hear that. 😀
You are hilarious . . .
I agree with a comment made earlier; this is a great article, one of the best I’ve read on this site. Thank you.
Reading through the Bible….Lev 4
4:1.Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.
A. Here is the Lord saying that people will do things that violate His commands. But I thought everything people did was what He ordained?
B. They do these sins “unintentionally”….so not really being “passed over” and “allowed” to do their “natural course” of evil…..like we are told they always do.
3:5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
A. Why is Jesus angry and deeply distressed? Did He not plan their stubbornness from the foundations of the world? He seems genuinely disappointed that they are being stubborn. Of course He couldn’t be if He planned it all.
B. Stretch out your hand. It’s not much…..but once again He put a condition on His miracle. Do you hear any phony cries all around “Impotence!….. He could not have healed him without his help!!!” That’s ridiculous! No one would claim that the man healed himself!!! Nor do we claim that we save ourselves. But God’s condition is that we exhibit faith and act on it.
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.
…………so be wise!!!! (or not) choice is yours!!!
A theoretical conversation with my Calvinist pastor …
Pastor: Andy, I didn’t realize you have three other children in addition to the three I know. How could thos be?
Andy: Well, those three we don’t require to go to church with us. We’ve not spent the time with them teaching them scripture and raising them up to know the Lord like we have our other three kids and they don’t want to go to church with us so we just don’t make them.
Pastor: What do you mean you haven’t raised them up to know the Lord? Don’t you love them and care about their eternal souls?
Andy: Of course we love them. We provide a house for them and feed them and we educate them and provide for their every physical need and well being.
Pastor: But I’m not talking about their physical well being. As a Christian parent, we’re told to do everything in our power to raise our children to know the Lord. If we really love our children as a Christian parent our ultimate and highest concern is the eternal well being of their soul.
Andy: Well, we love our first three that way, and we love our other three too we just have a different kind of love for them. As I said, we show that love in how we provide for them.
Pastor: You’re just not getting what I’m saying to you. If you don’t love all your children with a love that cares and makes provision for their eternal soul then you aren’t loving your children with a real, Biblical love, Christ honoring love!
Andy: But Pastor, I’m loving my children just like you taught us in your sermon last week that God loves the ones He created. You said God loves the elect with a “salvific” love but he loves the non-elect with a “general, or Common” love that shows itself in how God provides sun and rain and food for them, and and that this is how you can say God loves all people. You counted this provisional type love as God’s love for all people. I’m just saying that I love some of my children in the same way you said God loves all people. Are you saying that if I love some of my children that way it doesn’t qualify as true, biblical love and I shouldn’t call it real love but When God does the same thing you can say God sincerely loves all people with a Biblical love?
Excellent!! I love it!
Well done!! :-]
Thus we observe – the Calvinist god is a-moral.
AndyB – Exactly. If any human being ‘loved’ others like Calvinism is forced to assert God ‘loves’ the regenerate, they would not only be condemned, but probably jailed. Imagine having some children whom you love, nurture, and lavish all that you possess upon, and others who were merely produced to do the work around the place. You still ‘love’ them, by making sure they have at least enough to eat, shelter, etc. but there is absolutely no intention of educating, training and preparing them for a full, capable existence as free, functioning humans having the tools to make good, productive choices in life.
No one would honestly accept such a proposition. And few, if any, Calvinists in the pew would accept such a definition of how God deals with men. It is the logical extension of the faulty, perverse claims of their doctrines, yet most have never been taught such, and most of their pastors/teachers will deny the necessity of such – yet it cannot be denied. The immoral, unloving, unmerciful, unkind, unjust implications of Calvinism cannot reasonably be denied – but many Calvinists will die trying! They do not recognize the selfish narcissism required to put your faith in a system in which you celebrate God randomly ‘choosing’ you to love while callously condemning others of equal rank to eternal punishment. Oh, and this same God tells men to ‘love their enemies’. Of course, this is the kind of ‘love’ and ‘justice’ despots have dished out to their populace since Augustine and Calvin provided justification for it.
With ‘love’ like that, there is no need for ‘hate’.
Ping back on Dr. Flower’s article “Satan is redundant in Calvinism”
Very good! I wish every Calvinist pastor would read this.
Daily reading through….. OT, Mark 3, Ps, Prov
Mark 3:9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.
A. Could we say that those people were “seeking” him? For whatever reason they were seeking him and certainly not too-dead to see what He could do.
B. Notice that the impure spirits are not too-dead to be able to see that He is the Son of God. The Calvinist idea that “dead men don’t make choices” cannot be true since these impure spirits (“dead, right?) are calling out the truth that He is the Son of God.
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
V3. Why does the Lord call anyone righteous? or wicked? If He is totally controlling who is righteous and wicked this seems an odd (immoral) way to act.
V4. So be diligent! That’s the point of the Proverb. You have a choice…. what you do matters. It is not all determined outside of you!
Dr. Michael Kruger, President and Professor of NT at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Matthews, NC (Charlotte) Women’s Bible Study Class on Romans. Check it out online. Please.
why do you want us to listen to a Reformed-determinist?
TIMES WHEN CALVINISTS CLAIM THINGS ARE FREE IS BASED UPON RHETORIC
Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) has a few unique logical entailment’s, which Calvinists have been instructed to obfuscate, because they have repeatedly found when these characteristics are discovered; they make Calvinism quite unpalatable, especially for the recruitment of unwary ethically minded Christians.
Calvinists seeking to draw people into their system have therefore relied heavily upon dubious rhetorical tactics, in an attempt to hide the unpalatable aspects of their belief system. First lets review a few facts.
1) Predestination eradicates “Alternate Possibilities” from what is predestined.
– Where [X] is predestined, there is no alternative to [X] that can obtain in lieu of [X].
2) Predestination eradicates “Do Otherwise” than what is predestined.
– Where Person [P] is predestined to think/say/do [X], the power to “Do Otherwise” than [X] does not exist for [P].
3) Calvinism’s preeminent assertion is that *ALL* things UNIVERSALLY (i.e., without exception) are predestined. Therefore everything that happens, including every sin and every evil, in minute detail, are predestined, and have the logical entailments of (1) and (2).
4) How do we know what is predestined? According to Calvin, such things are the –quote “secret will of god”. Therefore no man has “A-Priory” knowledge (i.e., knowledge prior to the event) of what is predestined. Man can however have “A-Posteriori” knowledge (i.e., knowledge after the fact by empirical evidence) of what was predestined.
Calvinist rhetorical tactics essentially boil-down to attempts to deny or camouflage one or all of the above facts.
Let us analyze one rhetorical tactic Calvinists take – that of claiming things are free.
Take for example the following two statements
A) My car is predestined to be free to turn to the right.
B) My car is predestined to always turn to the left.
It should be clear to us that in the case where (A) and (B) are both true – (A) is of no obtainable consequence, because it is overruled by (B). (A) is essentially superfluous. What it facilitates is plausible-deniability.
In light of facts (1-4) above, let us say it is empirically evident, that my car, without fail, throughout its lifetime, always turned to the left.
Using “A-Posteriori” knowledge, the Predestinarian concludes that statement (B) is true – god must have predestined my car to always turn to the left because that is in fact what obtained. The Calvinist may state this as: “God ‘necessarily’ predestined my car to always turn to the left”.
What logical value then does statement (A) provide in this context? None whatsoever. The value it provides is rhetorical. To assert that god predestined my car free to turn to the right only serves as an emotional camouflage which the Calvinist psyche can use to make the whole predestination scheme appear more emotionally and ethically palatable. In other words, statement (A) can be asserted for the purpose of providing plausible-deniability.
Replacing statements (A) and (B) using the context of sins and evils highlights why the Calvinist relies so heavily upon this rhetorical trick.
A) A man was predestined to be free to rape or not rape an 8-year-old girl
B) A man was predestined to rape an 8-year-old girl
Again, where both statements are true – we can see the moral (or rather immoral) implications. Statement (A) again is of no obtainable consequence, being overruled by statement (B). Therefore, the claim that things are predestined free to obtain or not obtain, often serves as an emotional anesthetic, which facilitates advertising the predestination scheme as Biblically ethical.
It is the equivalent of a magician holding up a glittering object (A). Which serves to divert your attention, in order to keep your focus off object (B). In other words, its plausibility, serves as a strategical distraction to prevent you from resolving a judgment concerning statement (B) under the spotlight of Biblical ethics.
Lastly, a Calvinist may try to escape the corner he’s painted himself into, by denying statement (B) altogether. He might argue: “Just because it is it is empirically evident that the man raped an 8-year-old girl, does not mean that Calvin’s god predestined that man to do that”. Unfortunately for the Calvinist, this tactic only serves to deny facts (3 and 4) above, which are foundational tenets and supportive pillars holding up the structure of Calvin’s doctrine of Theological Determinism.
What one will generally observe then, is the Calvinist proudly asserting facts (3 or 4) when he’s confident doing so will complement the advertising of his system. Give the poor double-minded fellow a few minutes however, because it won’t be long before he’ll be relying on some rhetorical trick in order to deny the very tenets he minutes earlier proudly asserted.
Great post! Thanks Brd.
Very well explained, and is exactly what I have encountered speaking and dealing with Calvinists. It affirms with me my thoughts and is refreshing to read others that have come to the same conclusions. Thanks again.
Ps 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight :thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Can someone explain this verse?
Here’s old “Grace” again…. gonna make sure that everyone knows that God is not gracious.
Grace, you didn’t ever take my suggestion to change your posting name to “Retribution.”
As far as explicating a poetic passage, I will leave that to Brian.
“Grace” – No-one is born foolish or a worker of iniquity. God’s hatred (confirmed by word studies in Hebrew and Greek) is an apathy and rejection, not with any eternal immutable predetermination, and not irreversible if they humbly repent of their foolishness or works of iniquity when God offers them sufficient gracious light to lead them to that opportunity of repentance.
I hope this is the explanation you were hoping for and willing to believe! I’m praying you will.
And Grace-Retribution, note also that Christ said we must “hate” our mother and father ….and “Esau have I hated” (all the people of Edom were the intent there, not the man….and certainly some of those people have come to Christ). So, one must not “build” a theology (I like to use the word “scaffold” a theology —-since it could be nothing but a bunch of loose poles tied together) on random word choices.
I hope that helps.
For me……”exegeting-away” the “difficult” verses that you bring to this discussion is so much easier than dealing with the thousands (yes, not dozens, scores, or hundreds) of verses that point towards God’s intention to let man have a choice in a reciprocal relationship.
Having been a Calvinist, I am willing now to take the time to caution people away from a Greek-philosophy-led idea that God created 99% of His creation in His image, only to exact His retribution on them for doing exactly what He created them for. That is a frightening philosophy you may follow …..and certainly should not be summarized in the word “Grace”.
Brianwagner-You start wrong with man as your foundation answers 1)no one is born foolish? Answer Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child,but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
2)You said neither a born workers of iniquity?Answer Ps 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb :they go astray AS SOON AS THEY BE BORN,speaking lies.
How many lies (or any other words) did you speak the day you were born? My kids were pretty amazing, I must say, but none of them spoke for many months after exiting the womb. Nor do I believe that if one of them had died on the day he was born that he would have been considered ‘estranged’, ‘Totally Depraved’ or a ‘sinner’ and been condemned by God.
Ya think maybe there is a little poetic license going on here? It is just this sort of taking every word of scripture in a literal sense that leads to egregious error.
That is a scholar’s answer!
The Psalms in particular were not authored as treaties on systematic theology.
They are considered by the leading scholars as in the genre of poetic texts.
Take for example – “he stretches the heavens out as a scroll”
People generations ago interpreted verses like this to affirm the flat-earth theory.
Its a very unstable use of scripture.
What’s more br.d and TS00….
Imagine the sheer joy of spending your day finding the few verses in Scripture that appear to imply that God hates people!
Good News!! Shout it loud and clear Grace-Retribution!!! God hates ….some….no, MOST people!!!
Created in His image to be hated! Offered (insincerely) salvation never intended for them! God hates them! Shout it! Own it!
What’s more….. even those who claim redemption (even in Calvinist churches) might actually be part of the “very large number of hypocrites who have nothing of Christ but the name and appearance” so that God can “savor their greater condemnation” and “strike them with even greater blindness.”
Yum! That IS good news!
Hmmmm this got me to thinking.
Bible reading Christians understand God as a “perfect” being – who is infallible.
And human beings are obviously not born as “perfect” beings – who are infallible.
Now, it is possible that this state of “imperfection” or “fallibility” in which humans are born, is what the verses you’ve quoted refer to.
Assuming that is true, lets add to that Calvin’s teaching – that in the Calvinist church there is a
-quote “very large number of hypocrites who have nothing of Christ but the name and appearance”.
Calvin continues – asserting that Calvin’s god holds out salvation to these large number of believers as a
– quote “savor of greater condemnation”
Calvin continues – asserting that Calvin’s god temporarily deceives this large number of Calvinists into believing they are saved when they are not and that he will
-quote “strike them with even greater blindness”
So according to Calvin – his god gives Calvinists a temporary taste of a false salvation in order to magnify their torments in the lake of fire.
Assuming that all of this is true, then it logically follows that you, or your pastor, or John Piper, or John Calvin himself might be one of these Calvinists whom Calvin’s god deceived into believing they were saved.
Then it logically follows that for humans (i.e., Calvinists) there is no way to discern whether their brethren in their churches are still in a state of wickedness in which they were born.
Since it is the case that Calvinists have no way of discerning whether or not their fellow Calvinist still remains in the wicked state, in which he/she was born, then whether they are wicked or not is only discernible to Calvin’s god.
Since all Christians believe that humans are born in a state that is discernible by God as requiring salvation – what difference does it make to us humans whether or not that state is described as wicked or not?
I cannot speak for God, but I also find myself using such strong words as ‘hate’ when it comes to evil, abuse, oppression and all forms of suffering. I hate the workers of iniquity, and the destruction and perversion they have wrought upon God’s good and perfect creation. And yet, I would like nothing better than to see every worker of iniquity recognize the futility and error of his ways, and repent from all evildoing. I have no doubt that God’s love and desire to rescue men from such unnecessary destruction is far purer, nobler and greater than mine.
And, as FOH suggests, we must keep in mind the distinctives of the language of scripture. When translated into English, scripture at times loses much of its original meaning, as in when our love for our parents becomes ‘hatred’ in comparison to our love for God. Many cults, and religious errors use the very words of scripture to arrive at meanings, beliefs and doctrines that do not hold up to the smell test when compared to all that God reveals about himself and his works in scripture.
For me to accept Calvinism’s conception of ‘Grace’, scripture would have to state it outright, as it appears to me to contradict, as FOH loves to point out, the thousands of verses that reveal God’s heart of love for all mankind, his desire to save all men from sinful, destructive choices and patient desire that men will see the futility of their willful rebellion and come to him in sorrowful repentance.
The very word ‘desire’ (and the original terms from which it descends) would be meaningless if God originated whatsoever comes to pass, thought, word and deed. There could be nothing in all of creation except what God desired if Calvinism/Determinism were true. Sin could not be viewed as any less God’s will or desire than righteousness, if both are equally brought to pass by his determinitive power. Few Calvinists are willing to say that God ‘desires’ sin, murder, abuse and oppression to exist, thus brought them all to pass. Most resort to blurring doublespeak in an attempt to present God at war with himself, ‘allowing’ but not ‘desiring’ what he actually ordained, desiring that men not do that which he ordained them to do (even though they can do nothing but what he irresistibly determines), and eventually ‘saving’ some from the sin he ordained them to be enslaved to from birth. Makes perfect sense, right? [Don’t be deceived – Adam was a mere man, with no ‘power’ to cast a curse upon all of mankind. If all men are born Totally Depraved (and I deny that they are) it would have to be because God desired, ordained and caused them to be so. Then he chose to same ‘some’, Calvinism asserts, from the power under which he chose to put them.]
Truthseeker – These verses in Psalms teach the literal truth of natural and total depravity which lines right up with the epistles Romans,Ephesians,ect.
How come a baby sometimes throws a temper tandem,lack of patients?Do you know everything that baby is saying?No but God does.How do you know what they are speaking at all times in their heart when they cry,is it not the attitude of a child as they think they are to be first and self centered,self demanding,self serving,which is a lie as only God deserves to be served first and foremost and as soon as they are old enough to verbally communicate do we have to teach them to lie?
If we interpret scripture away from literacy we can deny truth as you just have,some parts of scripture are figurative and spiritual language But it will always teaches a literal truth.
Man is nothing and God is everything in the matter of salvation,the underlying problem here isn’t interpretation of this truth but believing this truth.
But remember Grace-Retribution. The important thing in your finding of proof-text verses is to find the ones that prove that God hates people!
God hates those who do iniquity….so that’s everyone right? But fortunately for you and a (very) few others He is “gracious”. But not even really to all of those very few actually, since some of them “have nothing of Christ but the name and appearance”. and will have “greater condemnation.”
So the Good News (!) message of the Bible is that God hates almost everyone, and saves a handful from His creation —- “making sure” the damnation of the rest.
Oh….. by the way Grace-Retribution,
You said this….
“Man is nothing and God is everything in the matter of salvation, the underlying problem here isn’t interpretation of this truth but believing this truth.”
Ironically you say the problem is “believing this truth.”
So if “God is everything” then even man’s disbelieving is His doing…. and not only that it, is for His good pleasure!
Why are you even trying to “get people to believe” or confronting people —like Troy—- who are “refusing to believe” when that refusing is part of God’s good pleasure? These unbelieving ones are the ones God hates and created “for greater condemnation.”
“If we interpret scripture away from literacy we can deny truth as you just have,some parts of scripture are figurative and spiritual language But it will always teaches a literal truth.
Man is nothing and God is everything in the matter of salvation,the underlying problem here isn’t interpretation of this truth but believing this truth.”
Yeah, I know a lot of your ilk; humble, gracious ‘elect’ who understand the ‘true’ and ‘literal’ meaning of scripture. And all who interpret anything differently than you just ‘reject the truth of scripture’. Couldn’t possibly be that they might be right – or that maybe you are both wrong, now could it? I have to tell ya, I listened to that nonsense for many years; sadly, I probably thought that way myself for a time. I am now willing to acknowledge that neither I, Calvin, Piper or the whole Westminster gang have a corner on truth. I can say with a good deal of certainty that many things I ‘think’ I understand properly now, I will someday view differently. That is a ‘luxury’ that dogmatists never have, certain in their absolute perfect knowledge and interpretation of scripture. And so ‘gracious’ in their condemnation of all who don’t see it their way.
Alas, I have crossed over to the dark side, of those who are willing to listen to and entertain the opinions and insights of others; even and most importantly, those who think very differently from me. Try it some time – you might learn something. The only people I don’t have much room for are the prim and proper fundamentalists who are so certain of their understanding of all things. I guess they do not have the great need for the wisdom and teaching of the Holy Spirit that I do. But I am enjoying the process of growing, not only in insight, but in grace towards and concern for others who may not think just like me. And even grace for myself, my ignorance, weakness and need for God’s patient assistance.
C’mon down off your high horse and stop viewing every poor, immature child, wide-hearted liberal or even hopeful universalist as a God-hating, scripture-rejecting heathen. Heck, you might even find that homosexuals aren’t such monsters, but people who need your love and mercy. Most people really aren’t half as bad as Calvinists think they are. Y’all would be among those who condemned Jesus for running around and schmoozing with sinners; but he happened to know where the need was, and was not afraid of soiling himself by hanging out with ‘sinners’. I am so glad to be free of that judgmental, condemning little circle of Pharisees who think they are better than others, who so confidently reject all other opinions as ‘a rejection of the truth’. Not my style of ‘Grace’.
“Grace”… sorry you didn’t accept my explanation, that you asked for.
I do agree that we are born with a sin nature (not guilt), and that God permits that nature to become committed to disobedience (lies and wickedness) when the conscience is mature enough to be confronted by God’s law (Rom 7:9).
Both yours and my sin nature went that way! And we became guilty. But Praise His Name He has mercy sufficient for all liars and all wicked ones like us, to give everyone an opportunity for repentance.
It’s sad you don’t wish that for everyone like God does, and it’s sad you don’t believe He has provided for it for everyone. I hope you let the truth of God’s Word change your mind.
Also if Grace-Retribution is correct then that means that all babies, born, unborn, underage, are totally depraved and will go to hell. Since they are totally depraved, and cannot be quickened (regenerated) to be “given faith” then they all must be counted in the zillions of creatures that God hates.
Which is of course what Sproul eventually came to. MacArthur says no…… but totally depravity taken to the degree that the T in TULIP requires would insist that the totally depraved, God-haters, would be among the hated-by-God.
Own it Calvinists.
If they inherit a going-to-hell nature even before birth and never “get given faith that believes” then they are, well, just God-haters who are condemned for God’s good pleasure.
What a swell bunch to hang out with, huh? Now you know why I decided I needed a new circle of friends. 🙂
I posted some quotes on this site from Calvinist Hero Augustine about baptism and participation at the table (for salvation). I went to the Calvinist site monergism.com and saw that they hold him up as a hero. None of the articles I read allowed for comments (like this site).
It’s possible (could it be!?) that those who read/ swallow/ memorize that site only get one side of the situation? Sproul thought Augustine a hero even though we can easily show that he believed in the saints, worshiped Mary, felt baptism (and the Lord’s table!) necessary for salvation.
I did not see one article title about such things in page after page of articles about him. No….just “He’s our guy!”
FOH Unless one begins to grasp the truth that Jesus was mainly building His church outside of RC since the 4th century, they will feel compelled to see Augustine as the founder of Christian orthodoxy. Going back to writers before him helps some… but unfortunately their writings were mostly chosen for preservation (emendations and sometimes forgery) because they agreed with the theology Augustine had established as authoritative.
Following the individuals and groups that held the Scriptures as the highest authority and that rejected sacramental infant baptism is where Christ was mainly building His church.
Although that may be true – it is also noted within historical writings on Augustine – that his peers in the RC accused him of creating new inventions which had never been deliberated by the RC theologians prior to the Pelagian controversy.
William Houghton in his book: “An examination of Calvinism; and especially of its present modified forms” writes:
The new theory of Augustine’s was opposed even by those who agreed in his condemnation of Pelagius, and expressly on the ground of its contraity to the apostolic doctrine which had been received in the church. A clear proof of this is contained in a letter of Proser, a layman of the Gallican church, and afterwards Bishop of Riez, in Province, who was one of the patrons of Ausgustine’s newly-invented dogma; in which he confesses that even they who condemned Pelagius, rejected the doctrine of the absolute decree of salvation. The
Proser wrote to Augustine saying: “Many of the servants of Christ in the city of Marseilles, think that what you have taught concerning the calling of the elect according to purpose, is contrary to the opinions of the Fathers and the sense of the church.” – page 157
BrD. Was there a footnote for the origin of Proser’s quote? It’s a good one. Thanks.
Brian, you wrote: “Following the individuals and groups that held the Scriptures as the highest authority and that rejected sacramental infant baptism is where Christ was mainly building His church.” I am so happy to see someone of your stature say that. So often, I feel lonely questioning the authority of Augustine and the historical ‘Protestant’ church. I tend to consider the building of the Institutional (Augustinian/Roman Catholic/Calvinist) Church as completely distinct from the building of the Body of Christ, which was more genuinely represented by those declared ‘heretics’ by the official Church, usually for dissenting from infant baptism and other ‘official’ Church positions.
TS00 …I would recommend Verduin’s Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Broadbent’s The Pilgrim Church, and Christian’s Baptist History vol 1.
Of course we had brothers and sisters in RC and renegade “priests” from time to time who left and truly became qualified to pastor. But the leaders Jesus was using to build His church had to be qualified in sound doctrine. Scriptural aithority and believer’s baptism are clear sound doctrines.
Jesus would call it “straining at a Pelagian gnat while swallowing Augustine’s Gnostic/NeoPlatonist camel.” 😀
Let’s imagine that these quotes from Calvinist legend Augustine are accurate…..
“In three ways then sins are remitted in the Church; by Baptism, by prayer, by the greater humility of penance; yet God doth not remit sins but to the baptized.” Augustine, Sermons to Catechumens on the Creed 7:16, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series 1, 3:375
“[According to] apostolic tradition, . . . the Churches of Christ hold inherently that without Baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal[.] This is the witness of Scripture too.” Augustine, Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1.24.34, in The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 3, trans. William A. Jurgens (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1979), 91.
This of course would explain their great hurry to baptize infants! But participate at the table takes it up a notch!
With heroes like that……….
Why anyone reads that guys just amazes me.
FOH, many Reformed pastors believe that, only they teach with high-sounding euphemisms so the basic guy in the pew doesn’t really understand what he is positing. I cannot think of a single person in my former church who would have agreed that Baptism, The Lord’s Supper and – another frequently unmentioned historical requirement – church membership – are ‘necessary’ to enter the ‘kingdom of God’. Yet that is exactly what this pastor believed, most likely the denomination, and certainly a vast number of teachers of Reformed Theology.
When one looks at a verse in scripture – a misunderstanding can occur if we don’t take that verse in its full context.
Verses are like sentences functioning as building blocks designed to be representations of a complete thought.
We don’t come to an understanding of a brick house by focusing on one single brick.
Start with verse 4
O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness – you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
Therefore, the foolish (sometimes rendered proud, or boastful) may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil.
As you can see, the context of the complete thought has to do with a person’s rebellious nature against God.
I would like to point out that this narrative is very consistent throughout scripture.
The author of the text frames the sentence presenting the notion that God has endowed persons with the ability to “DO OTHERWISE” than what they in fact do.
That concept is logically incoherent within the scheme of Universal Divine Causal Determinism (aka Calvinism).
In which every thought, desire, choice, action, is predestined to occur as one’s unavoidable fate.
The way Calvinist teachers get around this is by using subtle misleading word tricks and teaching double-think.
Hope this helps, :-]
I hasten to remind everyone that Calvin believed any baptism was a proper baptism. He forbade ANY of those around him to be re-baptized (Anabaptist) when they were adults and felt they understood the gospel and wanted a believer’s baptism.
And Calvin, himself baptized as a Catholic infant, always held that this was indeed the only baptism he needed.
No Reformed adults— baptized as Reformed children — could be baptized later (and indeed were punished by him if they did so).
No Reformed adults —baptized as Catholic children —coming to Calvin’s Reformed faith, were allowed to be baptized.
Calvin was absolutely against —-adamantly against—- adult believer’s baptism.
This is a fact that all who proudly bear the name of Calvinist need to own.
I googled “does God love every one” R C Sproul I heard him talking about three kinds of God’s love . He spoke of the love God has for the elect who are in Christ and if someone believes God has that kind of love for every person, it is ” BLASPHEMY !” When I heard that I said WOW!!!!! Now where I have heard a “wow” like that? Oh I remember, at a debate in Houston. Well, now I thinking how many Calvinist believe we who teach from God’s word that God truly desires all to repent and believe in Christ so to be saved are “blasphemers “? Maybe someone can help me with this? Will the real Gospel stand up? When I hear such things I feel sick in my soul. May the good news from God for all people be preached loud and clear. Thanks to who are commenting for the truth of the Gospel. Brent Beauford
Thank you very much Brent for this comment!
Many Christians are not prepared to understand a radical sociological characteristic of Calvinism.
Calvinists like R.C. Sproul make brash statements like you described – basically that consumers who buy any product other than their double-think product – are heretics, semi-heretics, blasphemers, etc.
But what Christians don’t understand is that Calvinism is 90% rhetoric and 10% real.
These brash statements by primary voices in Calvinism function more as “political-messaging” or “preaching to the choir” than anything else. If some easily manipulated unwitting Christian youth can be seduced into Calvinism by arrogant rhetoric – then so much the better for Calvinism.
But bottom line is that most of Calvinism’s boasting is simply one fraction of a language which is more masquerade than real.
Reading through the Bible…
1. The Lord also said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the entire community of Israel. You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3 “Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest. I am the Lord your God.
4 “Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.
……these instructions go on and on. All of it the responsibility of the hearer.
Did God want them to put their trust in idols? No.
Did they do it sometimes? Yes.
Does God always get what He wants? No.
Except in determinism-Calvinism where God tells them not to trust idols but (wink, wink) really wants them to (since apparently He always gets what He wants).
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?[e] 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
A. Now wait a minute….. Calvinists say no one WANTS to be His follower…so why would Christ say it this way?
B. If you want to, you have to do something: give up, take up, follow. This call sounds doable but pretty resistible to me.
C. If you….you will… but if you …. you will save your life. Christ Himself saying ….you, you, you. Very “man-centered this message.” Why don’t Calvinists cry “man-centered!” when they hear Christ say this?
D. If anyone is ashamed of me….. I will do the same. It sounds very much like Christ will respond to what man does.
I’m not cherry-picking 40-50 key verses…..this stuff just jumps out at ya every day.
Dear Dr. Flowers, This is a very timely post for me. I first watched your youtube video and was planning to transcribe what you said in it. Finding this post saved me the effort. You make things easy for a layperson to understand. I appreciate your gentle approach. Thank you for the work you are doing.
Calvinism is wedded to Theological Determinism – and a compatibilist definition of free will. In that scheme a THEOS’s sovereignty extends meticulously to every aspect of the world down to controlling the movement of ever atomic particle.
The problem with theological determinism is that it severely short-sheets human freedom, (in comparison to libertarian free will) because it entails that every human function is determined by supernatural factors wholly independent of our own volition.
In this scheme “Alternate Possibilities” from what the THEOS determines exist only as human illusions.
And the human power to “Do Otherwise” from what the THEOS determines exists only as human illusions.
This of-course is ethically and morally problematic for Calvinists in light of scripture.
Calvinists, unfortunately, for the most part, have resolved the use of deceptive double-speak as their way of dealing the problem.
The double-speak is designed to craft semantic counterfeits of libertarian free will – “Alternate Possibilities” and “Do Otherwise”.
So the Calvinist consistently can be found speaking out of two sides of the mouth.
Out of one side he “explicitly” libertarian free will and its characteristics (Alternate Possibilities, and Do Otherwise) exist only as illusions.
But then, in order to evade the THEOS as the author of evil – out of the other side of his mouth he “implicitly” asserts the opposite.
By crafting semantic counterfeits of libertarian free will. Statements that masquerade characteristics of Libertarian free will – while the Calvinist rejects the label.
Dr. Leigh C. Vicens in her published work “Divine Determinism: A Critical Consideration” writes it this way.
Divine determinists who attempt to construct a positive theodicy as well as those who appeal to skeptical theism in attempt to morally justify God’s causing of human sin are forced to adopt an unacceptable sort of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS about the status of human sin.
Unlike the divine determinist [aka Calvinist], the divine indeterminist is not forced into a sort of “DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS” about the purposiveness of human sin by making such a response; for he does not maintain that God positively intends and causes human sin.
Since this DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS seems to be an unacceptable implication of both the attempt to construct a positive theodicy and the appeal to skeptical theism, I conclude that the divine determinist should not make either move.
Therefore, given the lack of reasons in favor of adopting the thesis of divine determinism, as well as the serious problematic implications of the view and the lack of such problematic implications of its alternative, I conclude that divine determinism ought to be rejected.”
In the end Leighton, does any doctrine or interpretation of doctrine other than Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alter anyones eternal state?
Tim, why is that the only criteria? What if it alters their present experience of God’s grace, joy, and peace?
Tim – Doctrine doesn’t by itself alter an eternal state. Interpretation doesn’t by itself alter an eternal state. Trust in the mercy/grace of God is necessary before God alter’s one’s state through the new birth and makes their state everlasting in the forgiveness of God and as a child of God.
But logically, an “eternal state” cannot be altered. 😉 So I’m thinking you didn’t mean to use that word “eternal” to form your question which seems to be about losing salvation after it is received.
I’m a first timer to your website.
I have just read your article on the subject of whether God really loves everyone (John 3:16, et al.) and was so enthralled with your treatment of 1 Cor. 13. It resulted in an explosion of excitement. My mind raced in so many directions and with so many applications, etc. I appreciate teachers and preachers that put work into their biblical study, so as to present texts in fresh and unique ways… You have won me over. Not to mention that you drive the point of “context, context, context” home with so many difficult passages. Those reminders have been helpful as I read through the various articles.
The question “does God really love everyone?” has been a question that I have wrestled with for the past 6 months while listening to Matt Slick’s podcast. I myself am not a Calvinist, but I like hearing the arguments of others… After weighing both sides I cannot shake the question: why must these two truths be mutually exclusive for God? If various texts clearly state that God loves everyone, while other texts state that God hates other people and there is an absence of qualifiers such as “only” or some “duration”, etc.; then can’t we assume that both are in fact simultaneously true of God?
Similarly, if I consider the content of God’s revelation; specifically how God has so masterfully woven both his wrath (hate) and mercy (love) hand-in-hand from Genesis 1 on through to Revelation 22, doesn’t that in itself also instruct us about God’s ability to simultaneously love and hate a given person, when the context allows it?
Thank you so much for your teaching!
Hello Don and welcome
Dr. Flowers, due to his schedule is not here at this blog often enough to respond or read posts.
You may however readily find him, if you are a Facebook user.
On the question of divine love in Reformed thinking – if you don’t mind me making a comment…
You may or may not know that Calvinism evolved through Augustine – who evolved through different stages of intellectual pursuit. Some of which involved Gnostic forms of Christianity – which existed in his day.
You may or may not know – that Gnosticism is a DUALISTIC belief system – where many things appear in the form of “Good-Evil” pairs.
So when the mind applies this concept to the god of scripture – what you end up with is – many divine characteristics appearing in “good-evil” pairs.
So the Calvinist mind will thus lean towards seeing attributes of god this way.
One of those attributes – in this case – being the attribute of “love”.
So we will naturally see divine “love” as appearing in the form of “good-evil” pairs.
The divine potter creates people according to the model of “good-evil” pair.
He creates some as vessels of honor
He creates others as vessels of wrath.
He specifically designs the MANY of his creatures – for eternal torment in the lake of fire.
He specifically designs the FEW for eternal security.
So there you have another example of something appearing in its “Good-Evil” pair.
Love is going to be seen the same way.
There is a “love” which designs you for eternal torment in the lake of fire
There is a “love” which designs you for eternal security
That is why – when young Calvinist pastors asked D.A. Carson – “Can we tell people that god loves them”?
Yes – you can tell them that god loves them
You just can’t tell them what “Kind” of love god has for them.
I keep reading in arguments against calvinism that if it’s true then God only chose a tiny percent to be saved. I really don’t want calvinism to be true but even if it’s not how does one feel much joy knowing only a tiny handful make it in the end? 😢
Calvinism – from its roots – contains elements of DUALISM.
That is why you will observe so many things within Calvinism – appear in the form of DUALISTIC pairs.
He creates/designs a few for good – and the many for eternal torment in a lake of fire
There is a salvific/effectual ministry of the gospel – and a NON-salvific NON-effectual ministry of the gospel
Calvin’s god has DUAL wills
And as you learn more things about it – you find more things that appear in DUALISTIC pairs.
Because that is the case – and because many things come in the form of “Good-Evil” pairs – you are going to find Calvinists who have a kind of love-hate relationship with the doctrine.
They want the doctrine to APPEAR benevolent
So they will LABEL ministries like “Grace to You”
When the doctrine actually stipulates – both “Grace” and Damnation” to you
They will LABEL it Doctrines of “Grace”
When it is actually Doctrines of “Good-Evil”
So you will find – many Calvinists can be quite sensitive about the “Evil” part of their doctrine.
Yes, I think if I was an ardent calvinist I’d find it hard to tell anyone what I really believed. I certainly don’t think I’d see the point in arguing much for my beliefs because a. It’d just upset the non elect and b. my persuasion is futile under a dertemenistic system. But it still bothers me that whether they’re elected to hell or go there through a lack of belief, the percentages quoted for people saved seem depressingly low. 😳
the percentages quoted for people saved seem depressingly low
Yes- that is correct!
For the Calvinist – Calvin’s god is a divine potter of Roman’s 9 – who first conceives of each individual person – and that conception includes whether that person will be specifically created/designed for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.
For the vast majority of his created creatures – that is what he creates/designs them for.
The part of that which really bothers Calvinists – is the part where the major percentage of Calvinists are created/designed specifically to be CHAFF rather than wheat.
These are Calvinists – whom Calvin’s god deceives with a FALSE SENSE of salvation
They go through their whole lives – having thousands of infallibly decreed FALSE PERCEPTIONS of being chosen for salvation – and are not permitted to know the truth – until they wind up in the lake of fire.
But the Lord instill into them a *SENSE* such as can be felt……*WITHOUT* the spirit of adoption
He *ILLUMINES THEM ONLY FOR A TIME* to partake of it – and then he……strikes them with greater blindness.
I like to look at the small number this way.
Calvinists are really Universalists. Of course Calvinists disagree with (even despise) universalism (the idea that God is so loving that He will save everyone, i.e. His “chosen” is everyone).
But Calvinists are Universalists too! The difference in their version is that the “chosen” number is teeny weeny, and somehow that is pleasing to God.