God Does Not Show Favoritism

Written by Billy Wendeln and Matt Chisholm of The Bible Brodown

Knowing and understanding the character of God is important and critical in understanding scripture. It is foundational to sound doctrine. This study will look at God’s revealed justness — specifically His impartiality with His judgement and giving His offering of forgiveness and salvation to all.

What is favoritism or partiality?

Partiality

• Unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another; favoritism.

Favoritism

• the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.

God is not partial, but what does that mean?

Many people understand through the plain statements in Scripture that God is not supposed to be partial or show favoritism. But these plain statements seem to be redefined or ignored in ones soteriology. I have even heard people say that God is partial and shows favoritism, clearly ignoring and contradicting Scripture.

What does it mean that God is not partial? Does it mean God can’t love one person over another? Does it mean God can’t select certain individuals for a certain purpose?

Remember these components of partiality and favoritism:

• Unfair bias

• Unfair preferential treatment at the expense of another

Is God fair and just?

Psalm 9:8: He judges the world fairly; He makes just legal decisions for the nations.

Psalm 98:9: For God comes to judge the earth! He judges the world fairly, and the nations in a just manner.

Jeremiah 17:10: I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts. I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.

Jeremiah 11:20: So I said to the Lord, “O Lord who rules over all, you are a just judge! You examine people’s hearts and minds. I want to see you pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause.”

Genesis 18:25: Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?”

Job 8:1-6: Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state.

God is 100% fair and impartial in judgment

God does not show partiality with people regarding judgment and instruction in regards to salvation and condemnation (Deut.10:17; 2 Chr.19:7; Job 33:12-30; Job 34:17-27; Matt.22:16; Mar.12:14; Luk.20:21; Acts 10:34-35; Rom.1:16-21; Rom.2:8-11; Gal.2:6; Eph.6:9; 1 Pet.1:17).

Deuteronomy 10:17: For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.

The word here for partiality is nasa’, and has a variety of meanings, but all with the same implication. It means to lift up, or to carry, or to support, or even to take away or forgive. The Lord does not unfairly or show favor to lift one person over another.

2 Chronicles 19:7: Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”

This is the same word (nasa’), and notice it is put right in line with unrighteousness. To be partial, or show favoritism, is to be unrighteous.

Job 34:17-27: Will you condemn the righteous mighty One, who says to a king, ‘Worthless one,’ to nobles, ‘Wicked ones’; who shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands? “In a moment they die, and at midnight; people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away without a hand. “For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. “There is no darkness or deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. “For He does not need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in judgment. “He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, and sets others in their place. “Therefore He knows their works, and He overthrows them in the night, and they are crushed. “He strikes them like the wicked in a public place, because they turned aside from following Him, and had no regard for any of His ways.

Here we have a long description of what it means for God to not be partial. He judges all fairly, and with equality.

Matthew 22:16: And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.

Christ teaches the way of God in truth. Notice what it says; He teaches truth, and does not defer to anyone (in teaching the truth), for He is not partial to any.

Mark 12:14: When they came they said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone’s favor, because you show no partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth (see also Luke 20:21)

Acts 10:34-35: Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

God doesn’t select and choose (i.e. accept) certain people or certain nations, but accepts any and all who fear Him and does what is right.

Romans 2:8-11: But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

God’s wrath (or trouble and distress) comes upon those who are self-seeking AND reject the truth AND follow evil.

Anyone, without partiality, who is self-seeking, rejects the truth, and follows evil, will be judged and receive wrath and anger. Compare, “self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” with “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer.17:5).

God gives glory and honor and peace to any who does good (Heb.11:6)

Anyone, without partiality, who is does what is right (which can only come by having faith in the Lord, and walking by His Spirit, (Gen.4:7; Gen.18:19; Deut. 6:18; Heb.11:6), will be judged and receive glory, honor, and peace.

Galatians 2:6: But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.

Ephesians 6:9: Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.

1 Peter 1:17: And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here  in reverence.

If ones understanding or interpretation of a passage (such as Romans 9) makes God out to be partial, or showing favoritism in salvific judgment (judging in wrath vs. giving mercy or grace), then your understanding or interpretation is wrong.

Despite any arguments contrary, God unconditionally electing a particular person of people group for eternal salvation is favoritism.

Paul spend 8 chapters explaining that salvation comes by faith, and not of works, even citing Abraham being credited with righteousness before he was circumcised. Paul didn’t spend 8 chapters (as well as Scripture speaking of this over and over again) to then negate it all by saying God just predestined certain people for no apparent reason.

Salvation is offered to all (completely impartial), and promised that those who trust in Him will be saved.

Commands to be impartial

God has also commanded all to be like Him, impartial, not showing favoritism in judgment and instruction (Ex.23:2-4; Lev.19:15; Deut.1:17; 16:9; 2 Chr.19:7; Job 13:8-10; 32:21-22; Prov.28:21; Macl.2:9; Eph.6:9; 1 Tim.5:21; Jam.2:21, 4, 8-9; 3:21).

Exodus 23:2-4: You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.

Leviticus 19:15: ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.

Deuteronomy 1:17: You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s.

Deuteronomy 16:9: You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.

2 Chronicles 19:7: Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”

Job 13:8-10: Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? “Will it be well when He examines you? Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man? “He will surely reprove you if you secretly show partiality.

Job 32:21-22: Let me now be partial to no one, nor flatter any man. “For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.

Proverbs 28:21: To show partiality is terrible, for a person will transgress over the smallest piece of bread

Malachi 2:9: “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.

Israel as a kingdom of priests, were showing partiality in teaching God’s word, and thus God judged them. God does not show partiality in judgment or instruction.

Ephesians 6:9: Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.

1 Timothy 5:21: I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

James 2:1: My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

James 2:4: have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

James 2:8-9: But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.

James 3:21: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.

118 thoughts on “God Does Not Show Favoritism

  1. The premise of a pre-creation decree that stories an eternally immutable future with some who will be saved and others who will be lost, even before their individual wills are ever created to exercise themselves in any part of that destiny… is the height of partiality, injustice, and the display of little mercy (since most are storied to be damned, it appears). That is not the God of Scripture, or my God!

  2. The authors write, “Despite any arguments contrary, God unconditionally electing a particular person of people group for eternal salvation is favoritism.”

    Why is it that people will make a statement like this, as if the elephant in the room did not exist. Many verses are marshaled in support of this claim but it is the verses ignored that could betray them.

    Romans 9
    14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
    15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    16 So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.

    Romans 11
    4 But what is the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
    5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…
    7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

    Romans 8
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
    31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

    1 Thessalonians 1
    2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;…
    4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

    1. Always the same few passages from Calvinists over and over. And they ignore the fact that alternate interpretations to these “key Calvinist” passages exist. It doesn’t matter that ten times more clear passages are offered which say otherwise.

      1. Exactly. I would respect Calvinists more if they would honestly grant that there are other explanations for their ‘gotcha’ verses, even if they personally disagree with them. The one Calvinist pastor I heard who actually did this was a ‘newbie’ and former Arminian, so he understood, explained and even respected differing opinions. He was the most honest, straight-forward so-called Calvinist preacher I have ever come across. He also explained where translations of passages were questionable, at best, rather than using faulty translations to beat down his opponents. I have high hopes that he will someday escape the system he has been seduced into.

      2. The lack of this is a main reason why we often cannot have constructive and productive dialogue in the soteriological controversies.

      3. EK writes, “…(ts00 said) that there are other explanations for their ‘gotcha’ verses…” so “The lack of this is a main reason why we often cannot have constructive and productive dialogue in the soteriological controversies.”

        No, the reason we can’t have good dialogues is because the non-Calvinist cannot offer alternative explanations for Scripture (and this because, such explanations can have major problems). ts00 still is unable to provide a coherent definition of “free will.” The best that Pastor Flowers comes up with is “the ability to choose otherwise” and this is not different than the Calvinist “the mind choosing according to its strongest desire.” Even Billy and Matt can’t seem to make a coherent argument for their position (whatever that position is) (even though their methodology is great – letting the Scriptures explain itself).

      4. Hutch, I have a strong suspicion that many others have gone down this road with you, but I’ll bite cause I’m a sucker like that.

        Free Will: “The best that Pastor Flowers comes up with is “the ability to choose otherwise” and this is not different than the Calvinist “the mind choosing according to its strongest desire.”

        Let’s be honest now, Hutch, is it not the man’s nature, as ordained by God, which determines his greatest desire? Is that not quite different from our position, which is that man can choose which desire to follow?

      5. EK writes, “is it not the man’s nature, as ordained by God, which determines his greatest desire? Is that not quite different from our position, which is that man can choose which desire to follow? ”

        At what point is a difference enunciated. On the one hand you point to man’s nature ase source of his desires and that God ordained that nature. Then, you point to your position where a person can choose which desire to follow – mentioning neither man’s nature or God’s ordaining. If you are taking a position counter to Calvinism, you don’t explain that position. As it stands, your statement is consistent with Calvinism with the Calvinist adding that a person chooses to satisfy the strongest desire at the time a choice is made. So, where are you disagreeing with the Calvinist? Are you saying that man’s nature plays no role in the formulation of his desires or in choosing among competing desires?? Are you saying that God does not ordain our nature’s? Are you saying that a person does not choose to satisfy his strongest desire at the time he makes a choice? Can you explain your position is a substantive way vis-a-vis Calvinism.

      6. Hutch says, “Then, you point to your position where a person can choose which desire to follow – mentioning neither man’s nature or God’s ordaining. If you are taking a position counter to Calvinism, you don’t explain that position.”

        It was the part where I said you can choose which desire you will act upon. This next quote of yours should illustrate the issue in communication we’re having.

        “As it stands, your statement is consistent with Calvinism with the Calvinist adding that a person chooses to satisfy the strongest desire at the time a choice is made.”

        In other words, not like Calvinism at all then. This is instructive. You say “your statement is consistent with Calvinism…” and then go on to add a caveat to that consistency that destroys the consistency. It is unlike Calvinism to claim that man is able to choose which desire to follow and is, unlike Calvinism, not bound by nature (aka God’s decree) to follow whatever desire is greatest at the time.

        “Are you saying that man’s nature plays no role in the formulation of his desires or in choosing among competing desires??”

        No

        ” Are you saying that God does not ordain our nature’s?”

        Yes. God may have made the substance of our natures, but He did not create our evil desire nor does he fashion each man in such a way that he will desire a particular set of evils.

        ” Are you saying that a person does not choose to satisfy his strongest desire at the time he makes a choice?”

        Not every time. Man is not bound to following his greatest desire like the animals are. Man is made in the Image of God and able to choose to follow a lesser desire.

        “Can you explain your position is a substantive way vis-a-vis Calvinism.”

        I have a sneaking suspicion that you will not find my answer substantive because if you did you might actually have to wrestle with it.

      7. EK writes, “It was the part where I said you can choose which desire you will act upon….Man is not bound to following his greatest desire like the animals are. Man is made in the Image of God and able to choose to follow a lesser desire.”

        Can you provide an example where a person deviates from his strongest desire at the moment of choice and chooses according to a lesser desire. I think there is the presumption, logically, that the choice a person makes always reflects his strongest desire at the time he makes the choice. To choose according to a normally lesser desire only says that the lesser desire became dominant for some reason at the time the choice was made. Thus, a good example for you to provide would be of a lesser desire determining one’s choice as a spontaneous action for no reason.

        Then, “God may have made the substance of our natures, but He did not create our evil desire nor does he fashion each man in such a way that he will desire a particular set of evils.”

        Your position, then, seems to be that we do not inherit a corrupt nature from Adam. So, is it your view that people are born innocent as blank slates whose natures are developed over time as the person grows and interacts with his environment (people, places, events, etc.)? By innocent, is meant that a person is not born a sinner and does not sin until an age of accountability (which negates the argument for infant baptism).

      8. We freely choose between the stimuli that make our stronger desires into weaker ones and our weaker ones into stronger ones! At least I know that I do! 😉 So even if every decision is based on our strongest desire at that moment… a number of our free will decisions led to that moment. For Adam, especially, God’s grace was sufficient for him not to decide to reject a once stronger desire to obey for a replacement desire to disobey. But Adam rejected God’s grace to obey freely chose to disobey.

        God gives sufficient light to each person a few times in their lives to make the same kind of free choice, but in the opposite direction of Adam’s choice… We become freed to seek a new desire for mercy that is being offered and to reject the pull of the flesh. Praise His Name!

      9. brianwagner writes, “We freely choose between the stimuli that make our stronger desires into weaker ones and our weaker ones into stronger ones! At least I know that I do!”

        Do you mean as in deciding what TV show to watch or to watch TV at all. Or what people to associate with? If so, sure, we all do that. You don’t seem to disagree with the point that people choose consistent with their strongest desire at the moment the choice is made.

        Then, “So even if every decision is based on our strongest desire at that moment… a number of our free will decisions led to that moment.”

        Yes, and each one of those prior free will decisions was based on the strongest desire at the moment. Given the fickleness of the human will, we can see how this could easily result in extreme actions. The sexual act of a US President in the White House was not the result of one unique decision at the time but of a series of smaller decisions that led to a compromising position and a bad decision reflecting corrupt desires ruling over the will.

        Then, “For Adam, especially, God’s grace was sufficient for him not to decide to reject a once stronger desire to obey for a replacement desire to disobey. But Adam rejected God’s grace to obey freely chose to disobey.”

        I agree. The mystery is, Why? I like Gill’s explanation – Adam loved Eve and seeing what she had done, he chose to join her and incur death rather than watch her die. He chose Eve over God.

        Then, “God gives sufficient light to each person a few times in their lives to make the same kind of free choice, but in the opposite direction of Adam’s choice… We become freed to seek a new desire for mercy that is being offered and to reject the pull of the flesh. Praise His Name!”

        I guess that explains why everyone is eventually saved. God is not willing that any perish, so he keeps trying until He gets the outcome He wants.

      10. He does get the outcome He ultimately wants, but also experiences grief over the outcomes He also wanted but allowed to be unrealized to provide for true covenant love to exist.

        Adam did choose the voice of His wife over the voice of God… freely choosing to reject God and God’s command to join His wife who was deceived, but willingly disobey, exchanging what was once a greater desire for what was a lessor one.

        The “why” is unnecessary. The proof of freewill changing oneself to hold a definite desire for one’s own reasons it evident. Noone but Adam was to blame for Adam’s sin. It wasn’t predetermined by an outside decree or cause. And no-one is to blame for the rejection of sufficient light to seek God’s mercy but those who reject it.

      11. Hutch, ” I think there is the presumption, logically, that the choice a person makes always reflects his strongest desire at the time he makes the choice.”

        Yes. That is an a priori assumption on your part that you bring to the Scriptures and any philosophical discussion about free will.

        “To choose according to a normally lesser desire only says that the lesser desire became dominant for some reason at the time the choice was made.”

        Yes, this is your assumption. It is an incredibly simple way of looking at the will of man that decreases it to a mechanical process determined by factors out of the control of the person. It reduces the Image of God to have the same moral capacity as the animals.

        “Thus, a good example for you to provide would be of a lesser desire determining one’s choice as a spontaneous action for no reason.”

        The desire does not determine the choice, the wielder of the will does. The one who has the will, he determines his choice. That is not to say there are no influencing factors. Of course, there are. But the choice is not determined by the desire.

        I would ask you for evidence for your assumption that the desire determines the choice but since it is a philosophical prior commitment there can be none. All we can do is take your presupposition and compare it to the Scriptures, reason, and human experience and see if it adds up. If those measures are taken into account, I think your assumption is shown to be patently absurd.

        “Your position, then, seems to be that we do not inherit a corrupt nature from Adam.”

        Nope. We do. You assume this corruption disables the will of man to be only able to do what his greatest desire determines him to do. I do not find this biblical nor rational.

        “So, is it your view that people are born innocent as blank slates whose natures are developed over time as the person grows and interacts with his environment (people, places, events, etc.)?”

        Nope. I do not have to see people “born innocent as blank slates” to also see people as, of course, growing as they interact with their environment. Your own characterization of our position doesn’t follow rationally. People are born under the corruption of Adam and their parent’s sins and then suffer the consequences of those continued sins and the sins of those around them and the corruption of nature around them.

        ” By innocent, is meant that a person is not born a sinner and does not sin until an age of accountability (which negates the argument for infant baptism).”

        Someone can be born both a sinner, someone whose flesh is bent towards sin, while also not yet guilty since they have yet to commit a sin. Adam’s corruption assures they will sin but one cannot be guilty of someone one has not yet done.

      12. EK writes, “That is an a priori assumption on your part that you bring to the Scriptures and any philosophical discussion about free will.”

        So, do we agree on two positions? I say that man chooses necessarily consistent with his strongest desire. You say man does not choose necessarily consistent with his strongest desire.

        Then, “It is an incredibly simple way of looking at the will of man that decreases it to a mechanical process determined by factors out of the control of the person.”

        No. My position says that a person chooses according to factors under his control – knowledge, experience, etc. – and does so consistently. Thus, a person chooses, logically, that which provides him the greatest perceived benefit (within the constraints of knowledge, experience, etc.) The person’s greatest desire is to achieve the greatest benefit to himself. Your position must be that unknown factors work against the known factors to create the result that a person can choose counter to the known factors, so that he may choose counter to the greatest perceived benefit to himself.

        Then, “The desire does not determine the choice, the wielder of the will does. The one who has the will, he determines his choice.”

        We are not saying that the desire determines the choice (it need only have an influence) – but that the choice made is consistent with one’s greatest desire. Where one’s greatest desire has the greatest influence and the choice made is consistent with that desire/influence, we are allowed to conclude that desire determined the choice. This leaves open the prospect of the will choosing counter to the greatest desire/benefit. We have plenty of examples where a greatest desire determines choice – a thirsty man chooses water, a hungry man chooses food, etc. Even you cannot think of an example where a person chooses counter to his greatest desire. Without such an example, I don’t see where you can call anything “patently absurd.”

        Then, “You assume this corruption disables the will of man to be only able to do what his greatest desire determines him to do. I do not find this biblical nor rational.”

        You argue against Paul here in Romans 8, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” You seem to argue contrary to this – that those who are in the flesh can please God.

        Then, “People are born under the corruption of Adam and their parent’s sins and then suffer the consequences of those continued sins and the sins of those around them and the corruption of nature around them.”

        This also has you arguing against Paul’s point above.

        Then, “Someone can be born both a sinner, someone whose flesh is bent towards sin, while also not yet guilty since they have yet to commit a sin.”

        How can a person be born a sinner but not guilty. As a sinner, the person is guilty of unrighteousness even if he never physically sins. In addition, he is guilty of the sin he commits. That is why Jesus had to accomplish two things – (1) by His death and (2) by His resurrection. Thus, Romans 4, “Christ was delivered up (crucified) because of our transgressions (to deal with our sin), and was raised because of our justification (to make us righteous).

      13. Hutch, “So, do we agree on two positions? I say that man chooses necessarily consistent with his strongest desire. You say man does not choose necessarily consistent with his strongest desire.”

        Close. I would say that a man can choose which desire to act on. Even if men can only act on their strongest desire, men are able to choose which desire is strongest. Man is able to select from truly available options. If he chooses one option, he could have truly and in reality, have chosen another.

        “No. My position says that a person chooses according to factors under his control – knowledge, experience, etc. – and does so consistently.”

        This is incoherent. What, exactly, is under his control on Calvinism? Not his nature. Not his parents. Not his upbringing. Not what he learns. Everything in his life is ordained by God to happen exactly as it does happen which leads to the choices that a man makes. His nature is determined by God’s creation and God’s ordination over his life, his nature determines his desires, his desires determine his choices. It’s a chain. Exactly which link of the chain is man in control over? Be specific now.

        “The person’s greatest desire is to achieve the greatest benefit to himself.”

        Fine but what he perceives is the greatest benefit to himself is determined by God (through the chain).

        “We are not saying that the desire determines the choice (it need only have an influence) – but that the choice made is consistent with one’s greatest desire.”

        You just said the same thing in a different way. “Desire determines the choice” = “the choice made is consistent with one’s greatest desire”. That’s like…exactly the same.

        “Even you cannot think of an example where a person chooses counter to his greatest desire. Without such an example, I don’t see where you can call anything “patently absurd.”

        I choose opposed to my greatest desire every single day of my life. Every time I go back to work when I would rather argue on the internet. Every time I get up off my bed to discipline one of my children when I would rather stay there watching basketball. Every time I run an errand for my wife that I honestly think is stupid. I have desires in many directions at any given time, and I choose which one to follow. Sometimes I go with my strongest desire, often I choose a lesser desire.

        “You argue against Paul here in Romans 8, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” You seem to argue contrary to this – that those who are in the flesh can please God.”

        It’s honestly like you’ve never listened to a single broadcast by Dr. Flowers. You may still disagree but you wouldn’t be completely surprised by our positions on these passages. When you’re discussing with a Christian, it is probably a reasonable assumption that no matter what position they hold, they do not think they are arguing against the Apostle Paul. So no, I do not think I’m arguing against the Apostle Paul. That’s the crux of the discussion, right? Which of us is right about what the Bible says?

        I think you have Paul wrong here. Even your own quote of Rom 8: ““the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God…” does not say what you think it says. Paul says that the mind set on the flesh cannot subject itself to the law of God. Amen. But it doesn’t say that the mind set on the flesh cannot ADMIT it cannot fulfill the law of God and so throw himself on the mercy of the One who fulfilled the law for him.

        Curious. What do you do with Cornelius? For years, maybe decades, before he heard the Gospel he followed the law and his prayers and alms were pleasing to God. How is that possible under your system?

      14. EK writes, “…men are able to choose which desire is strongest….”

        The strength of the desire is determined by the influence it exerts on the will. A stronger desire exerts a stronger influence than a weaker desire. People do not choose which desire will be the strongest; people work within the constraints of the desires they have, some being stronger than others. Some free will people, I think including Dr. Flowers, say that the will can override a strong desire/influence in favor of a weak desire/influence (how this works, they never really explain). I think your position sees the futility in that, so you have the will changing the relative strengths/weaknesses of desires to order them from strongest to weakest as it pleases and then chooses accordingly.

        Then, “What, exactly, is under his control on Calvinism? Not his nature. Not his parents. Not his upbringing. Not what he learns. Everything in his life is ordained by God to happen exactly as it does happen”

        It is true that God opens/closes the womb and thereby determines the time and place of a person’s birth, his parents, and the culture into which he is born, etc. However, man is still made in the image of God and this means, at the least, that people can learn, experience things, and discern that which provides benefit or loss. It is also true that people can be more gifted or have a worldly wisdom allowing some to do things or understand work better than others, so that some become rich or powerful while others do not. Within the constraints imposed by all these variables, the person has some control – as in seeking education or experience to enhance his skills and ability to make decisions. As Romans says that God loved Jacob and hated Esau, we see that God can favor one person but not another – this we see in Romans 8 where God is working all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. Sorting all this out and identifying the control that people have can be difficult for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. However, all people can recognize rules and have sufficient control to decide to obey the rules or disobey them.

        Then, “…what he perceives is the greatest benefit to himself is determined by God (through the chain).”

        Appealing to Scripture, it seems that pride, selfishness, love of money, etc. are the determining factors.

        Then, “I choose opposed to my greatest desire every single day of my life. Every time I go back to work when I would rather argue on the internet. Every time I get up off my bed to discipline one of my children when I would rather stay there watching basketball.”

        It could be that you go to work because you desire to earn money to satisfy your wants whereas arguing on the internet would eventually put you in the poorhouse. Your strongest desire would be avoiding the poorhouse. Why you would want to discipline your children is beyond me but whatever it is that causes you to forfeit basketball (and March madness in particular) must be a pretty strong influence. I suspect that you don’t really know much about your desires and which are stronger than others. So, I think you just made up the part about “I choose opposed to my greatest desire every single day of my life.” Maybe you are lazy and it was convenient to make something up without having to think things through.

        Then, “Paul says that the mind set on the flesh cannot subject itself to the law of God. Amen. But it doesn’t say that the mind set on the flesh cannot ADMIT it cannot fulfill the law of God and so throw himself on the mercy of the One who fulfilled the law for him. ”

        OK Alice. Welcome to Wonderland and the world of Pelagius.

        Then, “What do you do with Cornelius? For years, maybe decades, before he heard the Gospel he followed the law and his prayers and alms were pleasing to God. How is that possible under your system?”

        I’ll appeal to Philippians – “God who has begun a good work in you…” When we see a person like Cornelius, we should expect to see that God has been working in the background even if He does not reveal Himself to us.

      15. Choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the flesh. It is what we, as children of God, are called to leave behind. We are to strive to put self interests aside – like Christ – and live for God and others. If Calvinists want to admit that they choose to remain in the flesh, that’s up to them. The rest of us continue to seek the strength and assistance from the indwelling Holy Spirit to choose God’s will rather than our sinful, proud, pleasure-seeking flesh, i.e. our ‘greatest desires’.

        This, perhaps, explains Luther’s and Calvinism’s problem with inspiring spiritual maturity while offering believers a free pass to commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Their jumbled theology misses the entire meaning of scripture, and almost seems to serve Satan’s purposes of encouraging men to ‘sin boldly’. My former Calvinist pastor could not understand why his congregation seemed to have no interest in sanctification; he ended up pushing ‘piety’ in the same manner as holiness denominations that promote personal holiness as the entire purpose of life. Faulty theology always leads to unfortunate consequences.

      16. ts00 writes, “Choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the flesh.”

        Choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the flesh for the unsaved and choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the spirit for the saved.

      17. Rhutchin writes:
        “Choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the flesh for the unsaved and choosing according to your ‘greatest desire’ is living according to the spirit for the saved.”

        Were this so, the born again believer would never sin, as that is most definitely not the desire of the Spirit of God with whom they are now infilled, and whom they most desire to obey.

        In reality, our fleshly desires never go away, but when we are reconciled to God, we receive a new power to resist them. The unfortunate fact that the born again believer can – and sometimes does – still succumb to his flesh and pursue his own desires demonstrates that it is not ‘desires’ that willy-nilly direct men, but a will that chooses whether or not to be ruled by those desires. Whereas once he was enslaved to his fleshly desires, he has been set free, having been given the power to resist the clamorous, destructive demands of the flesh. This will (which I have often been often accused of not defining) is that awesome, God-given freedom/responsibility to choose one’s actions, whatever the raging, conflicting desires of the flesh may be. Calvinism would have (however euphemistically disguised) God forcing his Spirit upon those who do not seek it, then ______ (I’ll let the Calvinist fill in the blank with his preferred euphemism) them to do what is right. And yet Calvinists freely admit that they continue to sin in thought, word and deed every day. How can this be for those who now live according to the spirit, rather than to the flesh? Inconsistency presents, as the regenerated now ‘alive’ man should be ‘dead’ to the fleshly desires that once controlled him – and still control the unregenerate – and yet he frequently performs the exact same sins. The only logical, scripturally supported explanation for sinful saints is that man ever retains his free will – yep, the very one Calvinists deny exists – even when he receives the Spirit of God to dwell within him. Just as he once ‘chose’ to sin, he must now choose to not sin, which the gracious, merciful promises of God inspire him to do.

        No one suggests that God does not have the power to compel men to do whatever he desires. The Non-Calvinist merely rejects the notion that sin exists because God desires it and irresistibly ordains men to perform it. Sin itself is the ultimate proof that God does not deterministically, irresistibly demand that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Calvinism chooses – I would say blasphemously – to assert that God originated, ordained and irresistibly brings to pass sin and evil for some ‘greater good’, which Calvinists claim is God’s glory. This, ultimately, is what this blog seeks to demonstrate is utterly false.

        God offers to the born again the power that they long lacked, from the very Spirit of God, allowing them to NOT pursue their ‘greatest desires’ but to instead do what is right rather than what is self-serving. Righteousness always entails putting aside one’s own fleshly desires for the sake of others. This is why our ‘works’ (and it is work to constantly resist the flesh and put others ahead of self) prove that we indeed love God. Scripture and common experience demonstrate that this power to resist the flesh is never compulsive – it can always be resisted. It is always the individual’s choice as to whether at any moment he will pursue self-driven desires or follow the sacrificial set forth by Jesus and brought ever to mind by the Spirit.

      18. ts00 writes, “Were this so, the born again believer would never sin, as that is most definitely not the desire of the Spirit of God with whom they are now infilled, and whom they most desire to obey.”

        Let’s let Paul respond–

        Galatians 5
        13 you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
        14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
        15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.
        16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
        17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
        18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
        19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
        20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
        21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
        22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
        23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
        24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
        25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

      19. Hutch, “People do not choose which desire will be the strongest”

        You have this habit of making statements as if saying that makes them true. You have to make arguments to defend truth claims.

        “Some free will people, I think including Dr. Flowers, say that the will can override a strong desire/influence in favor of a weak desire/influence (how this works, they never really explain)”

        The expectation that there must be a mechanistic explanation for this to be true betrays your presupposition. As Brian Wagner has tried to point out to you, by this presupposition you are made blind to other possibilities. You do not understand, really, Hutch, truly blind to, the philosophical arguments surrounding agency. Agency is an ability of the will to choose. There is no “how it works”. Asking how agency works is like asking how love works. Human beings have the ability to love, it doesn’t work mechanistically. There is no cause and effect to love. There is no cause and effect to agency. There are reasons we love, reasons we make certain choices, but it does not work mechanistically.

        On Calvinism: “Within the constraints imposed by all these variables, the person has some control – as in seeking education or experience to enhance his skills and ability to make decisions.”

        This is doublespeak. You say one thing but you actually mean another. You do not think that someone is in control of the decisions they make. You do not think someone is truly able to choose A or B, but that they will always choose A (their greatest desire). You believe each person is locked into one decision. When you say “within the constraints” this is a soft, confusing way of saying “their choice is determined by X factors”.

        ” Sorting all this out and identifying the control that people have can be difficult for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. ”

        It’s only difficult for Calvinists because of the doublespeak Calvinists employ in order to avoid the hard truths of their system. Identifying the control people have is not difficult at all for non-Calvinists.

        ” I suspect that you don’t really know much about your desires and which are stronger than others.”

        Exactly. You have to suspect that. You have to deny my experience of my will because it does not align with your mechanistic paradigm. You have to claim that my experience of my choices is illusory. This is why Calvinism is an untenable system in the real world; it denies the common human experience of choice. This is actually one of the main reasons I am motivated to spend time responding to Calvinism; because it forces people into unlivable ways of thinking and relating to the world.

        “Maybe you are lazy and it was convenient to make something up without having to think things through.”

        Right, this is perfect. I’m so glad that you said this. I now know that engaging with you in any depth is pointless. You asked me to give me a time when I have chosen against my greatest desire. I told you about my experience of free will. In response, instead of discussing what this means within your paradigm, asking yourself why your paradigm doesn’t align with human experience, you have to dismiss it and assign nefarious motives and negative characteristics to me.

        “OK Alice. Welcome to Wonderland and the world of Pelagius.”

        As a rule of debate, when someone debases themselves by turning to ridicule and ad hominem then you’ve made a good argument. When your opponent has a rational response they give it. When they don’t…

        Cornelius: “I’ll appeal to Philippians – “God who has begun a good work in you…” When we see a person like Cornelius, we should expect to see that God has been working in the background even if He does not reveal Himself to us.”

        Oh, so now we’ve created a doctrine of pre-regeneration regeneration. Got it.

    2. Rutchin writes “Why is it that people will make a statement like this, as if the elephant in the room did not exist. Many verses are marshaled in support of this claim but it is the verses ignored that could betray them”

      Rutchin’s so called “elephant in the room” is that he believes God is an elephant that betrays his own statements with opposing statements. What he is saying is that God’s word is contradictory and partial to contradiction that “could” betray each other. You are then left with a book of betrayal with the possibility that it “could” or might not be. Hmmmmmmmmm, I’ll go with the book and understanding of scripture that doesn’t oppose each other. Easy choice!

      1. DG writes, “Rutchin’s so called “elephant in the room” is that he believes God is an elephant that betrays his own statements with opposing statements.”

        No. The elephant consists of well known verses that do not support the author’s claim. What is accomplished in making claims of the Scriptures while ignoring the Scriptures?

        Then, “What he is saying is that God’s word is contradictory and partial to contradiction that “could” betray each other.”

        No. The Bible is not contradictory. If claims that people make about the Scriptures cause those Scriptures to be contradictory, then the claims are erroneous.

        Then, “I’ll go with the book and understanding of scripture that doesn’t oppose each other. ”

        As all – even the authors – should do.

    3. Rhutchin Write’s – “No. The Bible is not contradictory. If claims that people make about the Scriptures cause those Scriptures to be contradictory, then the claims are erroneous”

      Rhutchin previously wrote – “Many verses are marshaled in support of this claim but it is the verses ignored that could betray them”

      If that’s not contradiction then I’ll eat my hat.

      At least Rhutchin has condemned John MacArthur’s Calvinism in his response throwing one of his own under the bus –
      “That’s one of the reasons I know the Bible is written by God, because men would fix it. If I wrote a book that had those contradictions, Phil would edit them all out.” – John MacArthur, GTY Website.

      1. Damon, I agree Hutch is advocating for the acceptance of full-blown contradiction. However, I think in his mind it is a step less nefarious than that. He knows, with absolute certainty, that the two dozen or so passages he has studied in depth support Calvinism. It isn’t that he has studied other, seemingly contradictory, passages on their own merits with as much depth as he has with the Calvinistic passages, sees that they are in contradiction, and holds to both. It’s that he sees every other passage in Scripture through the goggles of the theological system informed by those two dozen passages. He’s not quite sure what the passages these durn Arminians keep referring to mean in their own contexts, but he knows they don’t change the two dozen passages he’s sure of, and that’s enough.

      2. And those 2 dozen texts, Eric, all have reasonable interpretations according to normal rules of context and grammar that help them fit with the very clear other passages for which Calvinists cannot find reasonable interpretations to help overturn their clear contradiction to Calvinism… so they rely on words like anthropomorphism, or analogy, uncommon rules of grammar and context, or on calling it God “lisping” in His revelation of Scripture because mankind back in Bible times weren’t as smart as Calvinists are since the Enlightenment period in Europe began. 😉

      3. Eric – “For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in measure to ‘lisp’ in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accomodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness” (Calvin, Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 1).

        Of course Calvin thought he had dogmatically figured out what God really meant to say about Himself… that God is locked in to one eternally immutable future forever, that He doesn’t really make choices anymore or have changes in feelings, and He only really shows sufficient mercy that can lead to salvation to a few.

      4. I may have read this before but I’ve never “read” it. What a convenient argument. It allows Calvin to dismiss any revelation that does not fit with his preconceived framework. Amazing. I can see many of the ways Calvinists have followed in his footsteps.

      5. When you add to Calvin’s cunning dogmatism his chilling willingness to punish or kill any who dared disagree with him . . . I cannot help but view him as more a deceiver than merely deceived. He essentially wrote the handbook for the drastic distortion of the gospel that yet ‘lisps’ along, ever seeking to seduce unwary believers into its net.

      6. Eric Kemp writes, ” It allows Calvin to dismiss any revelation that does not fit with his preconceived framework.”

        No. Calvin is trying to address a difficult issue. Rather than complain, try developing an alternative. Brian Wagner does this, but then, he’s a smart guy.

      7. brianwagner writes, “Of course Calvin thought he had dogmatically figured out what God really meant to say about Himself…”

        Calvin recognized that finite human minds cannot understand an infinite God thus God has to describe Himself in finite terms – that Calvin describes as “lisping.” Even you can’t figure out how God can be infinite – explaining why you seem always to be forcing God into a finite mold. Could you have a personal relationship with a bacteria under a microscope? So, how can one explain how God relates to humans without having to dumb things down. At least Calvin recognized that difficulties exist even if his explanations do not meet your approval. Maybe when you write your Institutes, mankind will be enlightened greatly. – you have an additional 40 years on Calvin, so I suspect your Institutes would blow Calvin’s out of the water.

      8. Hutch says, “Calvin recognized that finite human minds cannot understand an infinite God thus God has to describe Himself in finite terms”

        But that’s not what you believe. You believe you know for sure how God relates to humanity in all times and in all of Scripture. If we cannot understand the infinite in any way (as you seem to suggest) then any claim you make about God is suspect. How do you know God is dumbing it down? Isn’t that you claiming to understand the infinite? “Finite human minds cannot understand and infinite God” is self-defeating, it proves itself wrong by just by being uttered because you are claiming to understand God. When C.S. Lewis critiqued your argument he rightly concluded that if what you say is true then we might as well say we worship We-Know-Not-What.

        “Maybe when you write your Institutes, mankind will be enlightened greatly. – you have an additional 40 years on Calvin, so I suspect your Institutes would blow Calvin’s out of the water.”

        Your attempt at sarcasm (a rhetorical tool I love) is noted, but it’s also rude and condescending. That’s beneath you, brother.

      9. EK writes, “Your attempt at sarcasm (a rhetorical tool I love) is noted, but it’s also rude and condescending. That’s beneath you, brother.”

        A little sarcasm can go a long way. If someone objects to the Institutes that Calvin wrote in his early twenties, he should at least have accomplished the same and consider himself Calvin’s equal. Absent that, he can devote his life to analyzing some portion of the Institutes and suggest, humbly, how it might be improved. Many people who criticize Calvin aren’t his equal and haven’t spent much time on the issues that Calvin addresses in his Institutes. I don’t know where Brian thinks he fits in, but some of his comments suggest that more work is needed on his part. I sought neither to be rude nor condescending but instructive.

      10. Calvin describes God’s revelation as “lisping” in comparison to Calvin’s own “revelation” of what God really meant! And you see no problem with that, Roger? Very sad.

      11. brianwagner writes, “…you see no problem with that,…”

        I understand it’s one man’s opinion. Just like those you espouse. I appreciate anyone tackling difficult issues.

      12. EK writes, ” I agree Hutch is advocating for the acceptance of full-blown contradiction.”

        Let’s put a knife into the heart of that conclusion. The Scriptures are inerrant and without contradiction and any theology that purports to explain the Scriptures has to deal with that. There are times when people claim that Calvinism creates contradictions, but I don’t recall anyone ever explaining the contradiction they allegedly see. If you see a contradiction, bring it up and explain why you see a contradiction – either in the Scriptures or in Calvinist theology.

      13. DG writes, “If that’s not contradiction then I’ll eat my hat.”

        How about explaining the contradiction you see. In one case, we have people making claims about the Scriptures and in the other, there are problems created when people ignore certain Scriptures. I don’t see a contradiction there. Can you explain why you should not eat your hat??

      14. Sorry, I thought I showed it clearly by displaying your contradictory statements. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.
        The focus was on what you said about the scriptures, implying that certain passages of scriptures contradict other passages. But then you said that they don’t……… which in itself is another contradiction. So I have no answer.🙃

      15. EK writes, “Damon, you did show it clearly. He’s using a debate tactic.”

        Evidently, DG and I are not on the same wavelength. Since you understand what he was saying, how about explaining it to me.

      16. DG writes, “A bit of salt might make the hat more tasty”

        In other words, you claim a contradiction but cannot support your claim.

      17. Roger – you asked – “Could you have a personal relationship with a bacteria under a microscope?” I think this demonstrates the underlying faulty views you have of God’s abilities, His desires, and His the value and capabilities He has given to man created in His image. The Scripture speaks much differently, that it is surprising to me that you hold on to these views. Perhaps you have read too much Calvin and not enough Scripture! 😉

      18. brianwagner writes, ” I think this demonstrates the underlying faulty views you have of God’s abilities, His desires, and His the value and capabilities He has given to man created in His image.”

        I think it demonstrates the difference between humans who are finite (and cannot have a relationship with a bacteria) and God who is infinite for whom size is irrelevant (and who can easily interact with His creation). Can you even imagine a finite human creating anything comparable to what an infinite God has created. Speaking of faulty views of God’s abilities, how about God’s knowledge of future events. despite the “the value and capabilities He has given to man created in His image,” man is still finite. Man can only comprehend God on a finite level requiring God to describe Himself in terms finite humans should be able to understand.

        Then, “The Scripture speaks much differently, that it is surprising to me that you hold on to these views. Perhaps you have read too much Calvin and not enough Scripture!”

        Or too much Scripture.

      19. Hutch, “I think it demonstrates the difference between humans who are finite (and cannot have a relationship with a bacteria) and God who is infinite for whom size is irrelevant (and who can easily interact with His creation). ”

        If God can easily interact with His creation, and He created us in His Image, why does He have to dumb it down? How do you know that God hasn’t in some ways fully, and deeply, revealed Himself to us?

      20. EK asks, “If God can easily interact with His creation, and He created us in His Image, why does He have to dumb it down?”

        Because God is interacting with finite creatures who cannot grasp the infinite. Thus, we see God describing Himself in finite terms e.g., as having hands or displaying anger.

        Then, “How do you know that God hasn’t in some ways fully, and deeply, revealed Himself to us? ”

        Because we are still arguing about certain attributes of God – e.g., sovereignty and omniscience. In addition, a lot of people seem unable to figure out how “free will” for God’s creation works while God maintains His sovereignty and omniscience.

      21. You’re not a bacteria to God. And He has communicated clearly to you and me, and truthfully about Himself and His knowledge. And His knowledge is not locked up and limited to knowing only one set future forever, as if that was perfect… It’s not, and makes the idea of a convenant love relationship impossible.

      22. brianwagner writes, “He has communicated clearly to you and me, and truthfully about Himself and His knowledge.”

        Yes, His understanding of all things is infinite leaving no room for God to gain new knowledge in the future that He did not possess in eternity past.

        Then, “And His knowledge is not locked up and limited to knowing only one set future forever, as if that was perfect…”

        We read, “Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth?” (Lamentations 3) and then James 4, “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” Thus, God determines all things as Ephesians 1, “God works all things after the counsel of His will,…” Now, everyone recognizes that God knows all future possibilities and then that God is the final arbiter of all that actually happens. The only question is whether God determines all that happens in eternity past or waits to make decisions in the course of time. Either way, God’s decision is the same under either scenario and surely God does not keep secrets from Himself – there is nothing that limits God knowing all He will do in the future and knowing it in eternity past.

        Then, ” It’s not, and makes the idea of a convenant love relationship impossible.”

        Why that must be so, I don’t understand.

      23. Notice the present tense in the verses you chose, Roger. God is still exercising His will in decision making and is not locked in to one choice for every circumstance to agree with the human concept of perfection. The multifaceted aspects of good and His freedom to create logically prove also that freewill is still being exercised by Him and mankind created in His image. Determinism has God locked away and limited in its philosophical prison built by pagans, by Christians, and used to reject clear Scriptures.

      24. brianwagner writes, “Notice the present tense in the verses…God is still exercising His will in decision making and is not locked in to one choice for every circumstance to agree with the human concept of perfection. ”

        The present tense, “If the Lord wills…” and “God works…” recognize God’s absolute control over all things. They do not imply anything about the timing of God’s decisions. In the James citation, it is the Lord who wills all things in the year anticipated. You seemed to gloss over the past tense in the Lamentations citation. So, we have God’s control over all things expressed in both present and past terms but nothing tied to the timing of God’s decision-making. Have you already written a paper incorporating all such verses to make your argument or are we still looking forward to it?

        Then, “Determinism has God locked away and limited in its philosophical prison built by pagans, by Christians, and used to reject clear Scriptures.”

        Even granting your position that God is still making decisions, there is still not difference in the decisions God makes whether “locked away” or ‘freewill is still being exercised.”

      25. So you say, Roger, because determinism limits you to believing any free choice for God would limit Him to only one choice for each situation. The term “good” in Scripture confirms God is not so limited in His perfect use of free choice. Sorry you can’t see it.

      26. brianwagner writes, “determinism limits you to believing any free choice for God would limit Him to only one choice for each situation.”

        Generally speaking, you can have multiple options (none of which necessarily have to be “bad”) but there is only one choice that is made for each situation. Are we to think that God second-guesses Himself? Is it like Alice in Wonderland seeking advice from the cat on which way to go – if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take to get there.

        Then, “The term “good” in Scripture confirms God is not so limited in His perfect use of free choice. Sorry you can’t see it.”

        Not only do I not see it, I can’t even figure out what you are trying to say (including about “multifaceted aspects of good”).

      27. It may take more thought for you Roger… but it’s actually quite simple and logical. Maybe if you do a study of the word “good” in Scripture.

      28. brianwagner writes, “Maybe if you do a study of the word “good” in Scripture.”

        Yeah. Right after the study on faith. Still sorting through and categorizing the 200 or so occurrences of that work in the NT. Guess the “good” will have to wait.

      29. Somewhere back a ways Rhutchin asked:
        “Could you have a personal relationship with a bacteria under a microscope?”

        The answer is ‘yes’ we can, and we do. Man has an ongoing relationship with all sorts of bacteria that reside within him. He even controls the shape and activity said bacteria take by the choices he makes, as in what he eats, what toxins he introduces into his body and so on. He can potentially even ‘kill’ this bacteria by taking toxic antibiotics. This, like all of life, reflects the true nature of man’s God-given ability and responsibility to make and abide by the consequences of choices.

        No one here is claiming that man, like God, can create life or enforce his will without fail. Man might, in his attempt to kill certain bacteria, end up killing himself instead by the toxic drugs he imbibes. Again, no one is arguing that God did not create all matter, or that he did not design it to function in particular ways, or even that he manages his creation. The debate always goes right back to whether or not man, who was made in the image of God, has been created, designed and gifted with freedom to think, reason, choose, create, destroy and – most importantly – respond freely to God and his creation.

        The Calvinist must believe that God desired and ordained man to create toxic chemicals that do so much damage to living matter. I do not. He must believe that God planned all along for men to suffer from chronic health issues and ‘diseases’. I do not. He must believe that God intended the creation of weapons of mass destruction, along with the horrible carnage that has accompanied them. I do not. He must believe that God desired divorce, rape, oppression and murder. I do not. God gave mankind dominion over his creation, and man made terrible choices to serve his own fleshly desires at the cost of suffering and destruction of the entire creation. The marvelous gifts and powers given to mankind were perverted and abused to wreak endless havoc, and we all suffer the effects of these ‘sins’ of our fathers.

        Rhutchin asserts that man is always and irresistibly driven by his desires, however, an a priori assumption that whatever man does is what he most desired to do. In reality, men often resist their greatest desires if they are empowered by the Spirit of God to love others as much as self.

        A husband may desire his wife more than anything else at a particular moment, but may graciously resist that desire in respect for her physical or emotional needs. A soldier may desperately desire to live, to meet his yet unseen baby, yet sacrifice that desire in order to save another man’s life. A young girl may desperately desire pizza and chocolate cake, yet settle for chicken broth because she knows it is better for her health. A desperately unhappy woman may desire nothing more than to escape her miserable marriage, but remains because she believes that God’s desire is for her to be faithful to her commitment. A young dad may desire to watch the big game, but seeing the beguiling eyes of his little girl, he may sacrifice his personal desire, turn off the tube and go to the park. These individuals, like Christ, put aside their genuine greatest fleshly desires to serve another’s interest instead. That is what makes the difference between an instinct driven beast or plant and a conscious, decision-making human being.

        Of course one can attempt to philosophize reality away and assert that whatever action one chooses must by definition have been his greatest desire, but that devalues the concepts of sacrifice and love that frequently lead men and women to suppress their own desires for the sake of another. Indeed, it devalues the sacrifice that Jesus made in putting aside his own comfort and glory to suffer and die for the sins of rebellious men. Who really believes that Jesus deeply desired to hang on a cross, or that the grieving Father of the prodigal really desired to give his son his inheritance and allow him to suffer the inevitable painful consequences when he chose to honor his request? And what child of God (apart from those who perhaps believe in sinless perfection) does not agonize over the sad reality that he does not consistently perform his chief desire, which is to do God’s perfect will, but all too often chooses his own fleshly desires instead?

        We are not mere animals – or at least, we need not be – pushed and pulled by our most urgent fleshly desires. That, by the way, is what ‘living in the flesh’ is, and it is that sort of animal-like living that God has called us out of. One of the errors of Calvinism is in improperly defining ‘the flesh’ and the ‘sin nature’, or at least in misunderstanding that the power to overcome these and their sinful desires is what the new life and the gift of the Spirit is all about. The call of Jesus is to put aside our fleshly desires, take up our crosses and follow him in putting aside his own (fleshly) will and doing that of his Father (‘not my will but thine’). Most believers acknowledge that we have the power via the Holy Spirit, and even so, at times fail to resist the desires of the flesh.

        Calvinism makes man, and all of creation, mere resistless matter in the hands of an all-controlling puppetmaster. I am thankful that God has offered us another, more meaningful, purposeful and redeemable existence in which our free choice to trust in him will result in the restoration of creation to the unimaginable glory for which it was designed – including me!

    4. Roger… look up the subjunctives again in Rom 9:15 – Even though most modern translations give an unconditional nuance to the subjunctives in this verse, God is clearly declaring Rom 9:15 – For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I [SHOULD BE HAVING] mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I [SHOULD BE HAVING] compassion.”

      And Paul clarifies clearly on whom God has sovereignly chosen to be having mercy – that is on each and every Jew and each and every Gentile, giving them sufficient opportunity and ability to seek His grace! Rom 11:32 NKJV – 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

      1. brianwagner writes, “Look up the subjunctives again in Rom 9:15 – Even though most modern translations give an unconditional nuance to the subjunctives in this verse, God is clearly declaring Rom 9:15 – For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I [SHOULD BE HAVING] mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I [SHOULD BE HAVING] compassion.”

        I disagree (not that I know Greek but based on what I read). The subjunctive emphasizes the main point – “I will have mercy on whomever I want.” Consequently, ‘So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

        So, what purpose do you see the subjunctive having in v15?

        Then, “And Paul clarifies clearly on whom God has sovereignly chosen to be having mercy – that is on each and every Jew and each and every Gentile, giving them sufficient opportunity and ability to seek His grace! Rom 11:32 NKJV – 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.”

        I agree that “all” refers to the Jew and gentile but generically; not individually. Otherwise, why is there “a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” in v5. Then, in v7, “That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it,…” Or do you mean to apply v32 to some future time, perhaps after the fullness of the gentiles is completed?

      2. Roger… thanks for confirming you understand God has mercy on whom He “wants” (present tense). It’s just that it also says that He wants more to be saved than you choose to believe that He does because of your loyalty to your theology over Scripture. 1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV — who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

        Rom 11 is about mercy to all because God wants all to believe and be grafted in. Paul’s point is that national hardening in Israel because personal rejection (broken off, not born broken off from opportunities of mercy) is not permanent and God wants to use blessings upon Gentile nations to incite Israelites to seek.

        Verse 32 is clear unless you want your loyalty to your theology to blind you from it. Each and every Jew and Gentile is committed to disobedience, unless you want to deny total depravity. So mercy does not mean salvation in this context, but sufficient grace to seek salvation.

        Disobedience is pre-damnation… mercy is pre-salvation.

      3. Brian writes:
        “Rom 11 is about mercy to all because God wants all to believe and be grafted in. Paul’s point is that national hardening in Israel because personal rejection (broken off, not born broken off from opportunities of mercy) is not permanent and God wants to use blessings upon Gentile nations to incite Israelites to seek.”

        Amen. Was it not God’s desire to offer mercy to all men, the entire scriptural enterprise becomes a chilling description of our unavoidable fate, rather than the ‘good news’ which shall be to all people that sin has been dealt with and the fear of death need not keep men from God.

        This incomparable good news is that all may seek repentance, restoration and life everlasting with the merciful God who genuinely loves all men and desires that none choose to remain under the condemnation of sin and perish. Calvinism is a subtle distortion of the gospel, appearing as ‘good news’ to those who respond to its siren call of exclusivism, whereas Jesus walked freely among the lost sinners who so needed the good news he came to proclaim to all men.

      4. brianwagner writes, “thanks for confirming you understand Ge has mercy on whom He “wants” (present tense).”

        This does not argue that God did not make His decisions in eternity past. At least, we seem to agree that God can intervene anytime He wants in the affairs of people to accomplish (execute) His purpose.

        Then, “It’s just said [sad?] that He wants more to be saved than you choose to believe because of your loyalty to your theology over Scripture.”

        I am perfectly willing that God save everyone.

        Then, “1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV — who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

        Based on Ephesians 3, I think Paul has in mind Jew and gentile when he writes, “all” (not each and every individual person). I see Paul dealing with the false notion that God only cares about the Jews, i.e., that a person had to become a Jew in order to be saved as the Law seemed to require. Is it true that Caleb was not born a Jew, but became a Jew later in life (my pastor said this on Sunday).

      5. And don’t you see, Roger, the eisegesis of bringing something from Ephesians 3 into 1Timothy 2, when nothing in 1Timothy 2 points to Jews and Gentiles? But all the “alls” in 1Timothy 2:1-6 are inclusive and not the lesser idea of distributive.

        1Ti 2:1-6 NKJV – 1 Therefore I exhort first of ALL that supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks be made for ALL men, 2 for kings and ALL who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in ALL godliness and reverence. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For [there is] one God and one Mediator between God and men, [the] Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time,

      6. brianwagner writes, “…the eisegesis of bringing something from Ephesians 3 into 1Timothy 2, when nothing in 1Timothy 2 points to Jews and Gentiles?”

        Let’s look at the attitude that comes out on this–

        “…all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.” (Acts 10:45)

        “Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them…they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”” (Acts 11:1-3;18)

        “…when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord;…” (Acts 13:48)

        “…they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27)

        This runs throughout Acts, particularly the big conference in Acts 15. The inclusion of the gentiles in God’s plan was a big deal. So, Paul is writing with this in the background. So, paul writes:

        “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,…” (Romans 3:29) Then, Romans 11; 15.

        “…we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,…” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

        “(for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),” (Galatians 2:8) Galatians is all about the Acts 15 council.

        Ephesians 3 speaks of the mystery now revealed, “…the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,…”

        “…the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints,
        27* to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Colossians 1:26-27)

        “[The Jews] are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved;…” (1 Thessalonians 2:16)

        There is ample evidence of the significant change that has come about after the death of Christ allowing for the gentiles to be saved. We even see Paul redefining what it means to be a Jew in Romans and Galatians. Consequently, when Paul speaks of “all men” in his letters, we are on solid ground to conclude that he has Jews and gentiles in mind. So, I guess the issue here is to define when exegesis stops and eisegesis begins

      7. Diversion, Roger! Yes, Jews and Gentiles are discussed in other passages and so is every person, whether Jew or Gentile. But in 1Tim 2, Paul is not talking to Timothy about Jews and Gentiles, but about every person. The charge of eisegesis stands firm!

      8. Just a side note. Your message did not appear in the email I received. I had to go looking for it. Better than not getting anything at all, which seems to happen every now and then.

  3. Excellent post. All who claim that God randomly, arbitrarily or in any other manner shows favoritism/partiality to one person or group over another neither understands justice nor scripture. And, much to the dismay of nearly all Protestant Christianity, scripture is very clear that, while our ‘works’ cannot save us, they are most certainly viewed by God and judged accordingly. Any one who claims to love God, but hates his brother does not know what love is; faith without works is dead, and so on go the teachings of scripture that what we ‘do’ is very important to God. He did not just randomly declare some select few as the unworthy recipients of his limited grace; He declares all unworthy, yet offers to all who truly believe and repent of evil the same forgiveness and everlasting life.

  4. Another great article!!

    I think its wisdom to remember, that all such “Adverb Qualifiers” when applied to the deity of Calvinism – have a certain degree of ambiguity, because they cannot be referenced (i.e., anchored to a known human standard) such as a standard declared in scripture.

    In Calvinism, standards declared in scripture are standards the deity sets for humans.
    And this deity does not conform himself to, or is not subject to, any proclaimed standard that he sets for anyone else.

    All intents and purposes are in accordance to his -quote “good pleasure”.
    Calvinism thus displays a form of MORAL RELATIVISM.

    If a “holy” (another Adverb Qualifier) deity – casts a baby into the lake of fire, then that action is a “holy” by virtue of the being who did it. In other words the action’s morality is RELATIVE to the being who did the action.

    So in Calvinism – “Adverb Qualifiers” such as “partial” or “impartial” are effectively meaningless.
    Because these terms are likewise RELATIVE to whatever the deity’s “good pleasure” is at any given moment.
    In other words, in Calvinism, these terms are also not anchored to any known human standard – whether biblical or not.

    Bottom line, Calvin’s god does whatever he pleases.
    And the Calvinist is obligated to ascribe “positive” Adverb Qualifiers to his actions only for the sake of appearance.
    Since these Adverb Qualifiers are not anchored to any standard known to man – they are effectively meaningless.

  5. The authors write, “God doesn’t select and choose (i.e. accept) certain people or certain nations, but accepts any and all who fear Him and does what is right.”

    First they say, “God doesn’t select and choose (i.e. accept) certain people or certain nations,…” Then they say the opposite; that God does accept certain people and nations – those who fear Him and do what is right. What about those who don’t fear Him and do right – does God accept these? No.

      1. EK writes, “please provide an argument for why grace and mercy are not gracious and merciful if they are conditional. ”

        A common definition of “conditional, is “…subject to one or more conditions or requirements being met; made or granted on certain terms:” A common definition of “grace” is “…unmerited divine assistance given to humans…” If grace is subject to a condition as the basis for grace to be offered, then, that makes grace a merited action granted consequent to the fulfillment of the required conditions (i.e., the merit). Same for mercy.

      2. Hutch says, “If grace is subject to a condition as the basis for grace to be offered, then, that makes grace a merited action granted consequent to the fulfillment of the required conditions”

        What if I told you that fulfilling the requirement is necessary but insufficient to merit the grace/mercy?

      3. Eric Kemp writes, “What if I told you that fulfilling the requirement is necessary but insufficient to merit the grace/mercy? ”

        Making it “necessary,” means that the grace/mercy cannot be extended without the condition being met – you define a contract. As a rough example, God tells you to bring hydrogen at which point, he will supply oxygen thus providing water for you to drink. If you don’t bring hydrogen, you don’t get water; if you do bring hydrogen, then God fulfills his part of the bargain. That’s not mercy or grace. Mercy says that God supplies the hydrogen if you don’t bring any, and you still get water to drink. grace says that God supplies the hydrogen when you say, “Hydrogen? What hydrogen?”

      4. Hutch says, ” If you don’t bring hydrogen, you don’t get water; if you do bring hydrogen, then God fulfills his part of the bargain. That’s not mercy or grace.”

        The part you’re not seeing is that you are assuming that bringing hydrogen is meritorious of receiving water. I make no such assumption. Even when I bring the hydrogen, I am powerless to put God under obligation to give me water. I am powerless to merit or earn God giving me water even if I bring hydrogen. Man, even by having faith, does not obligate God to save. God obligates HIMSELF by His own promises. His own word, his promise to do so, his self-obligation, is what causes God to respond in grace to my faith, not the meritorious nature of faith. It is not the production of faith that causes or controls God to respond with grace, but only His promise to save the faithful does so.

        Perhaps more importantly, God is gracious to offer water in response to hydrogen in the first place. God’s offer of salvation in response to faith IS gracious IN ITSELF. And then, God keeping His promise and providing grace is gracious even when the condition He created is met. Do you see my point?

      5. Well put Eric! It is God who alone has the power to save man, God who promises to do so, and God who sets forth his own conditions for who shall and who shall not receive mercy. Calvinism states that God deterministically ordained in etrnity past who would be given mercy.
        Non-Calvinists state that God deterministically ordained that all who showed faith would be given mercy.

        Note the enormous difference, the one that many Calvinists attempt to disguise by not clearly stating their views or acknowledging the necessary conclusions of their assertions: Is mercy (grace, salvation) offered partially, with unmerited favoritism to a select few, as Calvinism claims? Or is mercy exactly as it appears to be in scripture, with no lisping involved: a genuine offer presented to all men on one condition, not of works, that they might boast, but that they believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him, i.e., faith.

        Of course Romans 3 tells us clearly (almost as if God knew such a thing as Calvinism would someday arise to assert that faith on the part of men should be viewed as a ‘work’ that merits reward) that faith is NOT a work, nor does trusting in God make the believer meritoriously earn his own salvation – as if such a thing were even possible.

        Calvinism likes to hide behind scripture, claiming to hold to its teachings, all the while redefining terms or adding secret ‘caveats’ that completely contradict the teaching they are claiming to uphold. May all who have been confused or seduced by this insidious teaching that has been secretively seeping back into the modern church for the last three decades read and see for themselves that the narratives of scripture always negate the twisted prooftext teachings of Calvinism.

      6. ts00 writes, “and God who sets forth his own conditions for who shall and who shall not receive mercy. Calvinism states that God deterministically ordained in etrnity past who would be given mercy.”

        And that is why we have two opposing theologies – one that espouses unconditional election (Calvinists) and one that espouses conditional election (non-Calvinists).

        Then, “Is mercy (grace, salvation) offered partially, with unmerited favoritism to a select few, as Calvinism claims? Or is mercy…a genuine offer presented to all men on one condition,…”

        So the Calvinist explains why all are not saved as resulting from God’s selective mercying (God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. – Romans 9). The non-Calvinist explains why all are not saved as resulting from human effort – one believes while another does not. They don’t seem to know why one will believe and one will not – it’s a mystery, but it can’t have anything to do with God.

        Then, “Calvinism likes to hide behind scripture, claiming to hold to its teachings, all the while redefining terms or adding secret ‘caveats’ that completely contradict the teaching they are claiming to uphold.”

        Lacking any real argument, fall back on the ad hominem.

      7. Hutch, “The non-Calvinist explains why all are not saved as resulting from human effort – one believes while another does not. They don’t seem to know why one will believe and one will not”

        That’s interesting. I’m not sure where you get the idea what this is a difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I think we would both acknowledge there is a myriad of reasons why people reject Christ. The crux of our disagreement is WHO is ultimately choosing for that individual to reject Christ. Your disagreement with us is not that people reject Christ, or why, but if people can CHOOSE to do so.

      8. EK writes, “The part you’re not seeing is that you are assuming that bringing hydrogen is meritorious of receiving water….God obligates HIMSELF by His own promises.”

        In this example, your bringing hydrogen is a necessary action without which nothing more can happen. It is God’s promise, therefore a guaranteed result, that you get water to drink if you do your part – bring hydrogen.

        Then, “It is not the production of faith that causes or controls God to respond with grace, but only His promise to save the faithful does so.”

        It sounds like you are saying that God can give a person faith but the person must exercise that faith in believing in order to receive salvation. This is like the hydrogen example. Your exercise of faith is a necessary action without which you cannot be saved. Everything that God does by grace cannot effect salvation for you until you give your OK (by believing). Essentially, you are in control of your salvation. Key to this is the definition of faith – do you define “faith” as that given in Hebrews 11:1?

        Then, “God’s offer of salvation in response to faith IS gracious IN ITSELF.”

        I think you have to mean “…in response to the person’s exercise of faith (believing)…” If not, then I am not following your argument.

      9. Hutch, “In this example, your bringing hydrogen is a necessary action without which nothing more can happen. It is God’s promise, therefore a guaranteed result, that you get water to drink if you do your part – bring hydrogen.”

        I’ll return to my original statement: The bringing of hydrogen is necessary but not sufficient. God’s promise is guaranteed because He promised it, not because you controlled Him, or earned water by bringing hydrogen. Bringing hydrogen does not merit receiving water. Bringing hydrogen only gets you water because of God’s promise, not because of your action.

        “It sounds like you are saying that God can give a person faith but the person must exercise that faith in believing in order to receive salvation.”

        Faith is a gift all of humanity possesses. People can have faith in all kinds of things. But God has promised that only those who exercise their faith to be in response to Jesus will receive His grace.

        “Your exercise of faith is a necessary action without which you cannot be saved.”

        Yes. You keep equating this to earning salvation and it’s not the same thing.

        “Everything that God does by grace cannot effect salvation for you until you give your OK (by believing). Essentially, you are in control of your salvation.”

        But now you’re just being disingenuous. How does this follow rationally? How is possessing a required factor in salvation the same as controlling it? I mean, unless you’re simply trying to paint my view in the worst light possible in order to dismiss it. If that’s your goal then, mission accomplished. But I’m saying the opposite. Responding in faith to Jesus does not obligate God to save you. Feel free to disagree with my view but if you want to discuss in good faith you’re obligated to rightly understand my view. No one could possibly force or control God to offer the gift of salvation nor fulfill His promise to give it even if He set a condition that is the responsibility of another person.

        “I think you have to mean “…in response to the person’s exercise of faith (believing)…” If not, then I am not following your argument.”

        Offering someone a gift is gracious, in itself. No one forced you to offer the gift. It is still gracious if the person has the ability to refuse that gift. If they accept the gift, it is also gracious to keep your promise and give them the gift. Someone saying “Yes I want that gift” does not force you to give it to them, you have to decide to follow through on your promise to give the gift. The choice of the givee to say “yes I want it” is not the same thing as the choice of the giver to say “here you go”.

      10. EK writes, “I’ll return to my original statement: The bringing of hydrogen is necessary but not sufficient…Bringing hydrogen only gets you water because of God’s promise, not because of your action.”

        Sufficiency is not the issue; necessity is. Take away, the hydrogen (man’s role in salvation) and there can be no salvation. Man is able to negate all that God has done or has promised to do. God has done all that He need do for a person to be saved and His promises are certain. Despite this the non-Calvinist says that a person cannot be saved without the person meeting a specific condition (believing) giving man the deciding vote in his salvation. It is not “Bringing hydrogen only gets you…” but “Bringing hydrogen assuredly gets you…’ because God says it does under the non-Calvinist scenario.

        Then, “Faith is a gift all of humanity possesses. People can have faith in all kinds of things.”

        This is wrong. Faith comes by hearing of the gospel. Not all have the gospel preached to them. Paul said this in 2 Thessalonians 2, “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.”

        Then, “But God has promised that only those who exercise their faith to be in response to Jesus will receive His grace.”

        Yep, that’s what I understood you to mean rather than what you wrote, “God’s offer of salvation in response to faith…” although I guess this is just a clarification.

        Then, “exercise of faith is a necessary action without which you cannot be saved.”

        Yes. You keep equating this (the exercise of faith) to earning salvation and it’s not the same thing.”

        We read in John 6, “They said therefore to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” Thus, believing in Christ is a work as it is obedience to God’s command. In contrast, Where the Calvinist says that God’s grace quickens a person so that the person is God’s workmanship resulting in the person believing in Christ, you seem to be saying that believing in Christ leads to God quickening the person and then to the person becoming God’s workmanship.

      11. Hutch

        Re: “Produced faith is necessary but insufficient”, you say, “Sufficiency is not the issue; necessity is. Take away, the hydrogen (man’s role in salvation) and there can be no salvation.”

        This is such a weird answer. Your critique of my position is that on “man must produce faith” this makes man in control of his own salvation. My rebuttal is “No because while faith is necessary it is not ENOUGH to save you. You still need God’s grace”. Responding with “sufficient is not the issue” is just a red herring. I’m not saying sufficiency is “the issue”, I’m making an argument. My argument is that man is not in control of his own salvation because his own faith is not enough. That’s my argument. Your response is like saying “No”. Fine. You don’t agree. But you didn’t make a rebuttal to my argument. You just said “no” and then restated your position.

        Your position is that if produced faith is necessary for salvation then man is in control of salvation. My rebuttal to you is that your position does not rationally follow because if there is another necessary component to fulfill salvation, ie. God’s grace, then God is just as much in control of salvation as man. You have yet to respond to that argument. And no, repeating your argument again is not a rebuttal.

        “Despite this the non-Calvinist says that a person cannot be saved without the person meeting a specific condition (believing) giving man the deciding vote in his salvation.”

        And God is still gracious and sovereign because He set the condition, made the promise, did the work of providing salvation in Christ, and gave man the ability to meet it. It’s not on Him whether they do or not. His fully completed His responsibility in salvation.

        “This is wrong. Faith comes by hearing of the gospel.”

        Wait. Are you saying that Muslims do not have faith in Allah? Obviously, it is faith in a being that does not exist and woe is them. But how can you say they don’t have faith at all?

        I said: “You keep equating this (the exercise of faith) to earning salvation and it’s not the same thing.”

        You respond by referencing John 6 “‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” and concluding “Thus, believing in Christ is a work as it is obedience to God’s command.

        Your response did not rebut my argument again. I said, “exercising faith is not the same as earning your salvation”. You never responded to that argument. You went in some other direction about the ordo salutis. No matter the ordo salutis, exercising faith is not earning salvation. That’s the point. On your system, you’re already saved before you exercise faith and on my paradigm, you have to exercise faith in order for God to give you salvation. Either way, the faith does not earn your salvation. Jesus did that on the cross.

        Your conclusion does not follow from your own quote from John 6. Honestly, you’re twisting those words, and the entire context of His teaching in John 6, so hard I don’t know where to begin to untangle it. For our conversation, I’ll say just this: No Christian ever would disagree that salvation is a work of God. In fact, I affirmed it a dozen times.

        The disconnect is this: Nowhere does Scripture make the connection that you are trying to draw here. You have to go deep down the logical inference (a practice you previously rejected) rabbit hole to go from “Salvation is a work of God,” to “man cannot do anything pleasing to God” to “believing in Christ is pleasing to God because it is obedience” to “therefore God must first work in the person so the person can believe”. It’s exhausting just thinking about all the jumps you have to make. Scripture does no such thing so *shrug*.

      12. Eric, as always your comments are logical, scriptural and cogent. You do a very good job of patiently pointing out Rhuthin’s inconsistencies and leaps of logic. He tries so hard to hide them behind his scripture-twisting methods, but the truth shines through the simple, reasonable application of logic to the revelation God has given us in his creation and Word. Thanks for hanging in there, and for demonstrating patience and grace as you refute the unreasonable arguments that are repeatedly paraded as if saying it makes it so.

      13. EK writes, “My argument is that man is not in control of his own salvation because his own faith is not enough.”

        That’s wrong. Man is not in control of God’s part in his salvation; man is in control of his part. However, God’s part is a given as it is already accomplished because it is grace. Recall the non-Cal illustration of the drowning man in the ocean. God throws the life preserver out and the only thing lacking is for the man to grab hold and be saved. Or the man lying near death on his bed. God puts the life-saving medicine to his lips and all that remains is for the man to take it and be cured. In the non-Cal scenario, man is in control because he has the final action. God has done all He can; salvation is sitting there waiting to be grasped. The final piece of the puzzle (God has done all He needs to do) is for man to do his part and his faith is both necessary and sufficient for him to do his part. If you want to back away from the above scenario’s that have been popularized by the non-Cals, that’s fine with me. Give us a different illustration and we can run with it. You don’t seem to be arguing the true non-Cal position. If so, what position are you arguing?

        You seem to be placing God’s grace after man’s exercise of faith, but no non-Cal adherent does this from what I read. To the non-Cal, God’s grace is up front – Jesus died on the cross, was raised the third day, common or prevenient grace has been extended and man now has everything he needs to be saved – he need only grab hold by faith and believe. You seem to agree with this when you say, “God is still gracious and sovereign because He set the condition, made the promise, did the work of providing salvation in Christ, and gave man the ability to meet it. It’s not on [God] whether [people] do or not. His fully completed His responsibility in salvation.”

      14. I had said, ““This is wrong. Faith comes by hearing of the gospel.”
        EK responded, “Wait. Are you saying that Muslims do not have faith in Allah? Obviously, it is faith in a being that does not exist and woe is them. But how can you say they don’t have faith at all?”

        You are getting a very unique faith gained from hearing the gospel confused with a faith that people have in their false idols. Muslims have faith is idols (or Allah) but such faith has nothing to do with that faith in Christ of which Paul speaks of in his letters.

      15. EK writes, “On your system, you’re already saved before you exercise faith and on my paradigm, you have to exercise faith in order for God to give you salvation. Either way, the faith does not earn your salvation. Jesus did that on the cross.”

        I don’t think that is exactly right. The Calvinist system has God choosing His elect before the foundation of the world. God then creates the world and begins to draw His elect to salvation. In Colossians 2, Paul explains part of this when he writes, “when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” God nailed the sins of His elect to the cross (effectively redeaming them) and then gives spiritual life to His elect. By these actions and others (e.g., Romans 8), God brings the salvation of His elect to completion (glorification). God conveys “faith” to His elect through the gospel and this faith manifests itself naturally as belief in Christ thereby providing assurance to the person that God has begun the work of salvation in him and will complete to the end – none will be lost.

        In the non-Cal system, Christ’s death on the cross does not earn anyone salvation but only provides the means by which people can be saved on the condition that they believe. This has been illustrated by non-Cals as a person grabbing the life preserver, taking the medicine, or putting the final piece in the puzzle. To meet the final condition, a person must exercise faith or as you say, “you have to exercise faith in order for God to [actually] give you salvation.” This is an act of free will by the person that God is not allowed to influence in any way other than through the persuasive influence of the gospel (but then some throw in prevenient grace, the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, and maybe other things that escape me just now). Regardless, the final act (grabbing the life preserver or taking the medicine) is entirely up to the person. In effect, the person does only what God has commanded – choose to believe in Christ. Obedience to God’s commands is identified clearly in the Scriptures as a work.

      16. The truth is, there is no ‘earning’ of salvation – it is a free gift, totally thought up, worked out and offered to undeserving men by God. It is not ‘earned’ by Jesus on the cross or by man’s faith in Jesus, though both are necessary. A gift is not earned, by definition. Thus, the Calvinist assertion – contrary to Romans 3 – that if man’s faith came from within it would be a ‘work’ that ‘earned’ reward, is a non sequitur. Paul asserts that salvation can never be earned, or granted on the basis of merit. That leads to the common fallacy that Jesus’ ‘work’ of keeping the law in our place ‘earned’ salvation, but, as suggested above, this is not possible. Jesus’ death paid our debt, but forgiveness and life everlasting is God’s precious and gracious gift, never earned.

        At risk of beating a dead horse, the fact that God attaches conditions to his free gift is his sovereign prerogative; sorry, Charlie, er, Calvin, you cannot forbid it. I would go so far as to suggest that God’s condition of faith is not only his ‘right’, but also demonstates his justice: salvation is not gifted to all alike, as Universalism demands, or to a select, random few, as Calvinism demands; but to any and all who trust in God and look to him in faith for the unmerited but promised gift of forgiveness and life. This is beautifully good and just, just as one would expect from a perfectly good and just God.

      17. ts00 writes, “Thus, the Calvinist assertion – contrary to Romans 3 – that if man’s faith came from within it would be a ‘work’ that ‘earned’ reward, is a non sequitur. Paul asserts that salvation can never be earned, or granted on the basis of merit.”

        That is because Paul rejected the notion that a person contributed anything to his salvation. Even the faith with which a person believes in Christ is given to him by God and that faith always manifests as belief in Christ.

      18. Hutch, “This is an act of free will by the person that God is not allowed to influence in any way other than through the persuasive influence of the gospel”

        It’s amazing how little you think of the persuasive influence of the Gospel. On your view, it is literally powerless to do anything.

        But I love how you put this; “God is not allowed to influence in any way besides trying to persuade them with the Gospel”. So, in other words, God is allowed to influence the person’s choice greatly. Even in your own words, my view is that God uses the Holy Spirit wrought power of the Gospel to persuade.

        “Regardless, the final act (grabbing the life preserver or taking the medicine) is entirely up to the person.”

        And? This is no way supports your assertion that this makes the person “in control” of salvation. Salvation depending on the choice of the person and the person being in control of salvation are worlds apart. I suspect you know that because you’ve stopped defending that assertion.

      19. EK writes, “It’s amazing how little you think of the persuasive influence of the Gospel. On your view, it is literally powerless to do anything.”

        I think we can allow that God uses the gospel to do the actions attributed to Him in bringing His elect to salvation. God begins a good work in a person using the gospel. God uses the gospel to convey spiritual life to a person dead in sin. God conveys faith to a person using the gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to convict of sin. The gospel has no power of itself – it is powerful when wielded by God for His purposes. Your concern for the gospel seems misplaced. After all that God is able to do to bring a person to belief in Christ, it is all meaningless without the person choosing to believe. In your theology, God can only put the spoonful of medicine to the lips – nothing God can do can make the person take it. Is that not so??

        Then, “But I love how you put this; “God is not allowed to influence in any way besides trying to persuade them with the Gospel”. …my view is that God uses the Holy Spirit wrought power of the Gospel to persuade.”

        Isn’t that your view?? God provides the opportunity to a person to choose salvation, but God does not actually seal the deal – Have I misunderstood your position?

        Then, “This is no way supports your assertion that this makes the person “in control” of salvation.”

        Does not the evangelist of your theology declare the person “saved” when he grabs the life preserver. Isn’t it a done deal at that point. You put man in control – he grabs the life preserver; he takes the medicine – and by that action you declare him saved. From that point God ensures his salvation – once saved; always saved.

        Then, “Salvation depending on the choice of the person and the person being in control of salvation are worlds apart.”

        Maybe,you could explain how you think this works. Isn’t the control the person has over his salvation no more than his ability to choose whether he wants to be saved?? What is your issue here??

      20. Rhutchin writes:
        “I think we can allow that God uses the gospel to do the actions attributed to Him in bringing His elect to salvation. God begins a good work in a person using the gospel. God uses the gospel to convey spiritual life to a person dead in sin. God conveys faith to a person using the gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to convict of sin. The gospel has no power of itself – it is powerful when wielded by God for His purposes. Your concern for the gospel seems misplaced. After all that God is able to do to bring a person to belief in Christ, it is all meaningless without the person choosing to believe. In your theology, God can only put the spoonful of medicine to the lips – nothing God can do can make the person take it. Is that not so??

        Then, “But I love how you put this; “God is not allowed to influence in any way besides trying to persuade them with the Gospel”. …my view is that God uses the Holy Spirit wrought power of the Gospel to persuade.””

        Here we have demonstrated the Calvinist interpretion of salvation being a mystical, magic trick that God performs upon unwitting ‘victims’, if you will. Under Calvinism, it is all about power, what God can do, and how none can oppose him. Heaven forbid the ‘victim’ have an actual say in the matter of his eternal destiny, or anything else.

        What is missing in Calvinism’s view of the world is the real power of God to change men’s hearts through a mere demonstration of love.

        While being the most powerful ‘force’ in the world, love is not an irresistible force. It is not God having his way with less powerful beings who haven’t the slightest chance of resisting his will. I hate to have to say it, but under Calvinism, salvation is merely a form of cosmic rape. Those are strong words, but Divine Determinism – predestination – is an atrocious doctrine being hidden under euphemistic words, and needs to be exposed for what it really is.

        Understandably, one finds the patriarchy model reigning in this authoritarian, power-heavy model. Under patriarchy, a man does not need to bother to woo his wife, he does not need to learn how to be a thoughtful, gracious, effective lover. He can compel his wife to ‘do as he says’ – in the bedroom as well as anywhere else. If this sounds a little ‘strong’ try perusing the many spiritual abuse blogs that have arisen in the last decade; most detail the authoritarian, spiritual, emotional and sometimes physical (sexual) abuse that is hiding under the veil of patriarchy in many (frequently Calvinistic) churches.

        What is sorely missing in the Calvinistic mindset is a genuine understanding of love.

        Genuine love never forces. Genuine love never plays the ‘I’m the boss’ card. Genuine love never insists on ‘having its way’ however the other party feels. Genuine love covers a multitude of sins. Genuine love is patient, kind and giving. And wonderfully, genuine love ‘never fails’.

        ‘But that cannot be true’, insists the Calvinist. ‘If man has the ability to refuse, God’s love might ‘fail’ to save him.’ Hence, the need for a deterministic, compelling power that ensures all who God desires actually succumb to his entreaties; in other words, the TULIP. Divine Determinism is, essentially, spiritual rape. God wants, God forces, God gets. Man attempts to resists God (a clever little tactic devised and secretly controlled by God), so God slips the date-rape drug of ‘Faith’ into his heart, and, voila, he becomes powerless to resist God’s entreaties. Softer Calvinism tries to euphemistically portray this ‘event’ in a less forceful light, to imagine some sort of illusive, compatibilist ‘choice’ that allows God to get his way without chains and rods, but it simply replaces the necessity of brute force with secret, irresistible, ‘magic’ manipulation. Supposedly, using the unchosen Faith mickey is not grounds for accusing God of using force.

        In spite of the very real possibility of being rejected, genuine love never fails, because its goal is not to ‘have its way’ but to be clearly demonstrated and revealed. Genuine love is always offered with the desire that it will be fully trusted and freely returned.

        God’s love for man was clearly demonstrated in his Son suffering and dying a cruel death for the sake of, and at the hands of the guilty. Love succeeded in revealing itself in all of its undeserved beauty, in spite of its vulnerability.

        Now, all are without excuse. None can say ‘But I didn’t know you loved me that much’. All are loved; all now know they are loved, but not all will believe, receive and return that love.

        This is the way of God with his creation, just as it is the way of man with a woman. Genuine love never forces, never controls via secretive, powerful manipulation. Genuine love woos. Genuine love demonstrates kindness, patience, gentleness and self sacrifice – all of which are desirable to wounded, abused and sin-oppressed men. And yet, genuine love can always be rejected. Love must always allow the intended recipient to say ‘No’. Any relationship that entails force, power or manipulation cannot be called love. Undeniably, it frequently get its way – as rape does – but it is not ‘love’. It might be called government. Or military. Or religion. Or marriage. Or science. Or education. But any time the parties involved cannot freely reject the ‘authority’ and walk away, it is NOT love.

        Imagine – as Calvinists cannot – the almighty, sovereign Creator of the universe making himself vulnerable to the decision of the sinful, dependent creation. And unlike Geppetto, God knew beforehand that these creatures he was about to breathe life into would take all that he was gifting them with and use it in pursuit of selfish, destructive desires. He knew that something monumental, unthinkable, incomparable would have to be orchestrated in order to save them – from their own foolish, selfish pursuits and the destructive enslavement it produced.

        His plan was not a cleverly devised date-rape that would ensure a chosen few would be irresistibly won over in the end. Rather, just as Moses set forth the serpent in the wilderness, God set forth the depiction of his love and powerful grace, that all who chose to believe in it could become its willing recipients.

        Rhutchin, and all who continue to assert the necessity of an authoritarian, hierarchical control structure to enforce ‘truth’ and control the weak masses, simply do not understand the nature and the power of genuine love. God does not slip a select few a ‘Faith’ mickey while refusing to pursue the rest, just to demonstrate that he is in charge of this world. God never seeks to impose his perfect will upon the resistless, but offers his undeserved mercy to the rebellious. All of them.

        Many marvel at the glories of God. At the vastness of the heavens, or the mighty power of the oceans, which nonetheless are confined by unseen boundaries. We gaze in awe upon the intricacy of a spider web, the beauty of a sunset, and the perfect form of the human body. All of these wonders, and countless others, amaze and inspire men to praise the power and wonder of God. Yet none of these compare to the glory that was revealed in the suffering servant who lay down his life, even for his very murderers, that all may see the sacrificial love of an all-powerful God. That is glory to write home about. It is of this incomparable, but resistible, love that we will sing forever. To think that the God who COULD have forces his good and perfect will upon all of his creation chose instead to suffer unthinkable agony in order to offer them a ‘choice’. That is the definition of love. That is the height of glory. That is what is missing in Calvinism.

      21. ts00 writes, “Here we have demonstrated the Calvinist interpretion of salvation being a mystical, magic trick that God performs upon unwitting ‘victims’, if you will.”

        If you can explain the new birth that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in God’s elect or how it is that a person hears the gospel preached and inexplicably discovers a new found faith, then have at it. When God saves a person, the means He uses may seem magical simply because the changes cannot really be explained. You are free to try.

        Then, “What is missing in Calvinism’s view of the world is the real power of God to change men’s hearts through a mere demonstration of love.”

        That is magical to some. It is inexplicable. Again, you can take a stab at explaining it.

        Then, “What is sorely missing in the Calvinistic mindset is a genuine understanding of love.”

        Even you cannot explain God’s love as demonstrated by your commentary. You did get one piece correct – “…genuine love never fails…”

      22. Hutch, “The gospel has no power of itself – it is powerful when wielded by God for His purposes. ”

        Right, except that Rom 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” You have to mess with the grammar of the Holy Spirit inspired text. You have to pretend like the grammar of this passage separates God’s power from the Gospel and take this passage to mean something like “God uses the gospel to display His power”. But it doesn’t. The passage equates the gospel with God’s power. The gospel IS God’s power unto salvation.

        “Your concern for the gospel seems misplaced. After all that God is able to do to bring a person to belief in Christ, it is all meaningless without the person choosing to believe. In your theology, God can only put the spoonful of medicine to the lips – nothing God can do can make the person take it. Is that not so??”

        The misunderstanding we’re having is more fundamental. At every turn, you take what I say and paraphrase it in the worst possible way to make it sound as absurd as possible and then go “isn’t that what you’re saying?”. No, it’s not what I’m saying. And from our several dialogues, I do not have any evidence that you’re actually trying to understand what I’m saying, whether you end up agreeing or not. If I could venture a guess, I suspect for some reason you have, in your mind, equated understanding and rightly summarizing my view has somehow agreeing with or condoning my view and so you can’t let yourself go there. But that’s just a guess. Only you could know why you feel the need to make my view absurd instead of seeking to actually understand.

        But I’ll answer in good faith. You and I see the purpose of the gospel differently. You assume, I would argue from your system and not from Scripture, that the purpose of the gospel is to effectually save some individuals. I assume, from biblical evidence, that the purpose of the gospel is to make an appeal to all men to be saved. As Dr. Flowers puts it “the Gospel IS THE MEANS by which the Spirit is revealing otherwise mysterious and unknown truths for the first time in human history through divinely appointed apostles.” The gospel reveals the truth about Christ, it does not “make” (your word) people believe that same truth.

        So, given your assumption, I can see how you would see the gospel appeal as “meaningless”. But I don’t think the purpose of the gospel fails when someone doesn’t believe it because the purpose of the gospel is not effectual salvation. The purpose is to make an appeal, to enable belief, not make it happen. You used the analogy of a doctor with medicine. I actually think this analogy speaks well to my understanding. Simplistically, the doctor spends years in training, tens of thousands of dollars in training, gains the knowledge, expertise, and does the work to make the medicine and the effort to go to where the patient is. The doctor does everything that the patient is unable to do. It is not rational to call all of that “meaningless”. God’s appeal to be reconciled through the gospel is the power of God in the same way the doctor’s training and bringing the medicine is his power. God’s work of bringing the medicine is gracious, in itself. It is not less gracious or powerful because the patient refuses to take the medicine. The doctor’s training and expertise does not disappear because someone won’t take the medicine. I’m not asking you to agree. I’m asking you if you can see how I view the gospel appeal as powerful, meaningful, and gracious.

        “You put man in control – he grabs the life preserver; he takes the medicine – and by that action you declare him saved.”

        Again, the problem is that you put it in the most absurd terminology possible. If the patient says “yes” to the medicine, he is therefore in control of the doctor? In control of what the medicine does? No one would say that. You know this but you choose to use the phrase “you put man in control” for rhetorical effect. That hinders understanding and discussion. Man is only in control of 10% of the salvation process, the only part he has any power over which is what he chooses to do, but you want to make it sound like he’s fully in control.

        As for “by that action you declared him saved”. No, I don’t, God does. God is the only one who could do such a thing. “Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness”. The faith man produces has zero power to save him. It only does so because God declared it would and then fulfills that promise.

      23. EK writes, “Right, except that Rom 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation…”

        The key phrase here is “…power of God…” Does this imply that the gospel is being wielded by God. We also read–

        “…the word of the cross is…the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1)
        “…God…is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge…But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;” (2 Corinthians 4)
        “…I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” (Ephesians 3)
        “…our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;” (1 Thessalonians 1)
        “…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2)
        “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1)
        “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,” (Ephesians 2)

        I left out several verses that refer to the gospel, or the word, as having power but not specifically indicating that God is using the word for His purposes. However, if we add those verses to the above, we should still conclude that God is using the gospel to accomplish His purposes. The gospel is being wielded by God to accomplish specific actions in Hid elect – the spirit uses the gospel to convict of sin; God delivered us [by the gospel] from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, and other things.

        I don’t think we have to mess with the grammar of Romans 1, but need only seek the counsel of the entire Scriptures on this matter. Are we not to be exhaustive in our exegesis of the Scriptures on matters such as this and not limit ourselves to one verse and assume it says all that there is to be said on an issue?

      24. Hutch, “The key phrase here is “…power of God…” Does this imply that the gospel is being wielded by God. ”

        Nope, it doesn’t, when the text itself equates the gospel with the power of God. The gospel is synonymous with the power of God. Yet in your system it is completely powerless.

        “I don’t think we have to mess with the grammar of Romans 1, but need only seek the counsel of the entire Scriptures on this matter. Are we not to be exhaustive in our exegesis of the Scriptures on matters such as this and not limit ourselves to one verse and assume it says all that there is to be said on an issue?”

        Exactly, when the exegesis of a single passage doesn’t support your system you run to the system to relieve the tension.

      25. EK writes, “The gospel is synonymous with the power of God. Yet in your system it is completely powerless.”

        In 1 Corinthians 3. we have, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”

        The gospel is the power of God and cannot be divorced from God. We can say either that the preaching of the gospel causes growth or that God causes growth, and it is saying the same thing. The preaching of the gospel is the means that God uses to accomplish His purposes. Not all who hear the gospel preached will be saved; All whom God is saving will be saved through the preaching of the gospel. Separated from God, the gospel is powerless.

        Then, “Exactly, when the exegesis of a single passage doesn’t support your system you run to the system to relieve the tension. ”

        No. We run to the Scriptures and and conduct a thorough exegesis.

      26. EK writes, “…the purpose of the gospel is to make an appeal to all men to be saved. As Dr. Flowers puts it “the Gospel IS THE MEANS by which the Spirit is revealing otherwise mysterious and unknown truths for the first time in human history through divinely appointed apostles.” The gospel reveals the truth about Christ, it does not “make” (your word) people believe that same truth.”

        Here is another point of misunderstanding between us. Both Calvinists and non-Cals believe what you say here. Look what you write, “…it does not “make” (your word) people believe that same truth.” You just got exercised over my claim that the gospel has no power in itself. You claimed it did on the basis of Romans 1. Now, you ratchet down whatever power you attribute to the gospel – it only reveals truth; it cannot make a person believe. That’s fine – everyone believes that.

        So what is the issue between Cals and non-Cals??? The issue is the extent to which God must be involved in bringing a person to salvation in addition to the preaching of the gospel. The Calvinist says that the gospel is “necessary” in God’s plan to save people but is not “sufficient” – God must be involved. The non-Calvinist seems to say the same thing – it provides enough information for a person to freely decide to accept salvation but does not force that outcome.

        Then, “I can see how you would see the gospel appeal as “meaningless”.”

        Neither one of us says that the “gospel appeal” is meaningless. Both of us (I think) might say “meaningless” in the sense that the gospel is “necessary” but not “sufficient” to save. “Meaningless” in the non-Calvinist system because a person is still required to freely choose salvation. In the Calvinist system because God must take additional action for the person to be saved. To avoid confusion, let’s drop the term, “meaningless.”

        Then, “But I don’t think the purpose of the gospel fails when someone doesn’t believe it because the purpose of the gospel is not effectual salvation.”

        I agree to not effectual or not sufficient by itself. Something else is required.

        Then “The purpose is to make an appeal, to enable belief, not make it happen.”

        Again, we agree that it makes an appeal. More difficult is whether it “enables” belief. If a person is truly “enabled” to believe, the outcome should not be in doubt – the person should believe. For the Calvinist, “enabled” means that God has done His part. For the non-Calvinist, “enabled” doesn’t seem to mean “enabled” but just that a person has enough information to make a decision. So, I guess this depends on the non-Calvinist definition of “enable.”

        Then, “You used the analogy of a doctor with medicine. I actually think this analogy speaks well to my understanding.”

        This distinguishes Calvinism from non-Calvinism. Calvinism says that the patient is dead and cannot respond; the non-Calvinist says that the person is clinging to life and can respond.

        Then, “God’s appeal to be reconciled through the gospel is the power of God in the same way the doctor’s training and bringing the medicine is his power. God’s work of bringing the medicine is gracious, in itself…I’m asking you if you can see how I view the gospel appeal as powerful, meaningful, and gracious.”

        Powerful meaning necessary but still not sufficient. If you want to say, “powerful, meaningful, and gracious.,” but still not sufficient, that is fine. That is not the issue – the issue is to define what else is needed for a person to be saved. Does this require that God do something more (Calvinist) or that the person do something more (non-Calvinist)?

      27. EK writes, “If the patient says “yes” to the medicine, he is therefore in control of the doctor? In control of what the medicine does? No one would say that. You know this but you choose to use the phrase “you put man in control” for rhetorical effect. That hinders understanding and discussion.”

        Not in control of the doctor or the medicine, nor necessary, but as you state, ” Man is only in control of 10% of the salvation process, the only part he has any power over which is what he chooses to do, but you want to make it sound like he’s fully in control.” Not “fully control” but control of a critical part without which all that God does can accomplish nothing. Thus, the “power” of the gospel you note in Romans 1 – and all God’s power – is checked by the “power” of the person “over which is what he chooses to do.” That which you describe here is that which Calvinism understands to be the non-Cal position.

        Then, “As for “by that action you declared him saved”. No, I don’t, God does. God is the only one who could do such a thing. “Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness”.”

        A distinction without a difference. The evangelist declares the person saved because God declares the person saved. So does every non-Cal pastor that I have ever listened to.

        Then, “The faith man produces has zero power to save him. It only does so because God declared it would and then fulfills that promise.”

        There is a disagreement between you and the Calvinist – you say, “The faith man produces,” whereas the Calvinist says, “faith comes by hearing.”

        Otherwise, the power of faith comes from that which God does – “declare and fulfill His promise.” The difference here must be in a difference in the definition of faith between you and the Calvinist or as noted above between that faith man produces and that faith the gospel produces in man. It is the faith that the gospel produces in a person that justifies – not any faith man produces in himself.

      28. Hutch, in one comment you say, “Powerful meaning necessary but still not sufficient.” and “Neither one of us says that the “gospel appeal” is meaningless.” but then in this comment you say, ” Not “fully control” but control of a critical part without which all that God does can accomplish nothing.”

        So which is it? Does the Gospel accomplish nothing or is it powerful, necessary, and meaningful?

      29. EK asks, “Does the Gospel accomplish nothing or is it powerful, necessary, and meaningful? ”

        As I wrote earlier, “If you want to say, ‘powerful, meaningful, and gracious.,’ but still not sufficient, that is fine…” By not sufficient, I’ll refer to your explanation, “Man is…in control of 10% of the salvation process, the…part he has any power over…is what he chooses to do,…” So, under your system, the gospel can accomplish nothing because a person “has…power over [the gospel because of] what he chooses to do,…” Let’s grant that, in your system, the gospel is “powerful, necessary, and meaningful” – it is still true that the gospel’s power can be neutralized by man’s ability to choose – thus, the gospel is necessary but not sufficient to achieve salvation. So, in the face of man’s ability to choose, the gospel does accomplish nothing other than to present a person with a choice – a person’s salvation is in his hands; that is his 10%. Of course, Calvinism rejects all this.

      30. Hutch, ” So, under your system, the gospel can accomplish nothing…”

        Being powerful, meaningful, necessary, and gracious to provide a way for all men to be reconciled to God is accomplishing nothing? Only someone trying to win an argument on the internet would say that.

        ” So, in the face of man’s ability to choose, the gospel does accomplish nothing other than to present a person with a choice…”

        Oh, so, in other words, it does something. “Does nothing other than…” means it does something. In fact, you acknowledge that it is my view that God does 90% of what is required for the salvation of an individuals soul. Also, considering that my view of the gospel is that it is a well-meant appeal to reconciliation (and do not equate it with effectual salvation as you do) then I am also accurate to my view in saying that God does ALL of the gospel unilaterally. That the gospel appeal is monergistic. I just don’t conflate God’s choice to save the repentant with each individuals choice to repent as you do. You use double speak and systematic theology to muddle it all together, make up new categories and unbiblical words, and call it all “the gospel”.

      31. EK writes, “Being powerful, meaningful, necessary, and gracious to provide a way for all men to be reconciled to God is accomplishing nothing?”

        We know that it does this for God’s elect. Does it do this for the reprobate?? Apparently not or else they would also be elect – assuming that the gospel is actually “powerful, meaningful, necessary, and gracious to provide a way for [a person] to be reconciled to God.”

        Then, “I just don’t conflate God’s choice to save the repentant with each individuals choice to repent as you do. You use double speak and systematic theology to muddle it all together, make up new categories and unbiblical words, and call it all “the gospel”.”

        There is no conflation. The Calvinist system has God using the gospel to give life (i.e., the new birth) to His elect, deliver His elect from darkness, draw His elect to Christ, open their hearts, or otherwise prepare them, to receive the gospel, convey faith to them, and seal them with His spirit. It is God who begins the work of salvation in His elect and ensures its completion to the end. No double speak here as it is explained this way in the Scriptures. Nothing in the Scriptures about God only doing 90% of the work necessary for a person to be saved or of anyone whom God begins the good work of salvation to be left behind.

  6. Reading innocently along in my daily through-the-Bible and I come to Numbers 14

    10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? 12 I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”

    A. This is the glorious presence of the (all caps) LORD (Yaweh).
    B. Is verse 12 a hollow threat? If so….that seems kind of “small” of God.

    Moses intercedes and God says….

    20 Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. 21 But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice.

    C. Either God changed His mind or He was bluffing (saber-rattling).
    D. God pardons people because a man requested it. That is extremely “man-centered.”

    24 But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored.

    E. But! Caleb met the conditions so he will reap a reward.

    No wonder it is so hard to find determinist-Calvinism in the Bible! The opposite of it is everywhere!

    1. And just as in Exodus 33, when God announces that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, he is not suggesting that he is reserving the right to just randomly select people for no reason. Quite the opposite – he is warning Moses that he is asking too much, when he begs God to spare all of Israel in spite of their evil and unfaithfulness. What God is explaining to Moses is that he reserves his mercy for those who actually trust him and walk with him – as Moses did, rather than just granting it en mass. God does indeed distinguish between people, but not randomly or purposely. He views and judges men’s hearts, and responds to them accordingly.

      1. ts00 writes, “What God is explaining to Moses is that he reserves his mercy for those who actually trust him and walk with him..”

        That makes mercy conditional and if mercy is conditional, it is not mercy. Unless you mean that God can have mercy on those who actually trust him and walk with him but not necessarily so that all do not receive mercy – only some.

      2. ts00 writes, “What God is explaining to Moses is that he reserves his mercy for those who actually trust him and walk with him..”

        Rhutchin writes: “That makes mercy conditional and if mercy is conditional, it is not mercy. Unless you mean that God can have mercy on those who actually trust him and walk with him but not necessarily so that all do not receive mercy – only some.”

        Rhutchin offers no evidence that making mercy conditional is ‘forbidden’. Making mercy, grace, salvation etc. conditional does not equate to making them ‘earned’ or merited, nor does it change the fact that they are all of God and granted generously to the undeserving. God saved those Israelites who put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts – his mercy obviously was conditional, but in no way did putting the blood on the doorposts ‘earn’ salvation. God promises to give good gifts to those who ask for them – why does he not just unilaterally throw them down from heaven? He promises to answer prayer, and heal those who have faith and so on. Conditional does not mean ‘earned’; it merely means that something is asked of the recipient, whether it is to prove he is really listening or, as seems to be the case, that he truly trusts in the promises and power of God. God can – and does – make any conditions he desires to the gifts he bestows upon men. There is no justification for claiming otherwise.

      3. ts00 writes, “Rhutchin offers no evidence that making mercy conditional is ‘forbidden’. ”

        What I meant was that mercy that is conditional is no longer mercy. The idea behind mercy is that a person deserves judgment for his actions but receives mercy (a lesser punishment, perhaps) instead of judgment.

        Then, “Conditional does not mean ‘earned’ it merely means that something is asked of the recipient, whether it is to prove he is really listening or, as seems to be the case, that he truly trusts in the promises and power of God. God can – and does – make any conditions he desires to the gifts he bestows upon men.”

        Conditional means that someone must qualify themselves by doing certain prescribed acts in order to receive a benefit. The benefit is earned – it is automatic – when the conditions are met. If God asks something of the recipient as a condition for receiving the benefit, then the benefit is a reward for meeting the condition. A reward is not a merciful act although the presence of a system whereby rewards may be received by meeting certain conditions can be a merciful act.

      4. Rhutchin writes:
        “Conditional means that someone must qualify themselves by doing certain prescribed acts in order to receive a benefit. The benefit is earned – it is automatic – when the conditions are met. If God asks something of the recipient as a condition for receiving the benefit, then the benefit is a reward for meeting the condition. A reward is not a merciful act although the presence of a system whereby rewards may be received by meeting certain conditions can be a merciful act.”

        A lot of faulty assumptions made here, to prop up equally faulty theology. There is no logical or moral necessity that makes setting conditions turn an undeserved, unearned gift into a ‘reward’ or earned benefit. If God chooses to set conditions – as all admit he does – that is his prerogative. Calvinists believe that salvation is conditional, demanding that one be ‘elect’ and regenerated from death unto life so that one can meet the condition of ‘belief’ in order to receive it. The fact that they insist that faith is a gift is their issue – scripture makes it perfectly clear that salvation is conditioned upon faith, which God accounts as righteousness.

        Calvinists are left on an ever spinning merry-go-round as they try to explain away the obvious conditions scripture sets forth for men to receive the promises of God. In this futile effort they make God a disingenuous deceiver, pretending to set conditions and hold men accountable for their choices, while Calvinism’s system asserts this is actually a charade, as God himself selected only a chosen few for whom Jesus died and upon whom salvation is irresistibly foisted. Thus, in their ‘game’ God sets conditions which he himself meets, yet presents them as if they are real and meaningful, and as if any man could actually meet said conditions if they ‘chose’ to. Except, unfortunately, that ‘choice’ is a mere illusion. God is just toying with men, cruelly urging them to do that which he could – but refuses to – enable them to do. In the end, Calvinism’s God always comes across as not only unloving and unjust, but cruel and deceitful.

  7. Just reading through the Bible plan. After Numbers 14 there is the Psalm passage

    53:1 Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!

    2 God looks down from heaven
    on the entire human race;
    he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
    if anyone seeks God.
    3 But no, all have turned away;
    all have become corrupt.
    No one does good,
    not a single one!

    4 Will those who do evil never learn?
    They eat up my people like bread
    and wouldn’t think of praying to God.

    This is where the Romans 3 quote comes from (there we have all have viper venom on their tongues and their feet shed blood).

    Here we have the Psalmist saying only a fool says there is no God (not everyone!).

    Using poetic language the Psalmist says that people in general are not God-seeking. But he does not mean that all people literally do no good….any more than he literally means that they “eat up my people like bread.”

    It is just bad hermeneutics to use this poetic verse as a foundation for a determinsit philosophy.

    1. FOH writes, “Here we have the Psalmist saying only a fool says there is no God (not everyone!).”

      The term, “fool,” refers to the unbeliever. Everyone starts out as unbelievers.

      Then, “…he does not mean that all people literally do no good….any more than he literally means that they “eat up my people like bread.”

      Only fools do no good. If all people are fools, then “all people literally do no good.”

  8. Just posted on the daily reading Numbers 14, Ps 53….now Proverbs 11.

    4 Riches won’t help on the day of judgment,
    but right living can save you from death.

    So much for the entire house of cards built on one faulty interpretation forcing a “no one does any good ever” idea!!

    Triple smack-down on determinist-Calvinism in today’s simple readings!

  9. Another great post. Good to have back and forth discussion. When I sat down with a someone at a friends event and he said a few things that I had not heard in my years at the church I had attended in California (Ev Free church). 1. Since he was one of the elect he was never one the path to hell (at least in Gods eyes). 2. And that God does not desire all…any verse that mentions ‘all’…its not. Both much different than the teachers that I heard growing up.

    1. dadinvalley writes, ” 2. And that God does not desire all…any verse that mentions ‘all’…its not.”

      The definition of “all” is the issue. The two contested definitions are that all means (1) each and every individual, or that it means (2) the gentiles as well as the Jew. Depending on the definition one uses, you get Calvinism or non-Calvinism. So, let’s recognize that distinction.

      1. Rhutchin writes:
        “The definition of “all” is the issue. The two contested definitions are that all means (1) each and every individual, or that it means (2) the gentiles as well as the Jew. Depending on the definition one uses, you get Calvinism or non-Calvinism. So, let’s recognize that distinction.”

        This common attempt by Calvinists to rewrite scripture is very transparent. God most certainly could have expressed ‘all sorts’, ‘men from all nations’ or ‘gentiles as well as Jews’ had that been what he intended to say. Calvin’s arrogant claim that God was just ‘lisping’ here, and needs someone as smart as Calvin to explain to us what he really meant is absurd. Indeed, had this been the sense that translators felt was intended, they could have ‘clarified’ for us what God really ‘meant’, as they frequently did, and perhaps, as translation at times demands. There is really only one reason to challenge the meaning of ‘all’ in scripture – because it blasts a whole through your preferred beliefs.

        Scripture is consistent, even if the idiosyncrasies of the original languages may vary from our own. There are indeed times when something is stated as true – then the exceptions are immediately delineated, a linguistic tactic frequently on display in Proverbs. However, as no exceptions to the ‘alls’ in question are stated, none can reasonably be asserted.

      2. ts00 writes, “However, as no exceptions to the ‘alls’ in question are stated, none can reasonably be asserted.”

        That is why we go with context and define “all” to mean “Jew and gentile.”

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