Calvinism and Catching Clouds

Suppose someone said, “I can lift cars over my head.” Well, there is an easy way to falsify that claim. “There is a car, go pick it up.” If they can’t lift the car over their head, you know the original claim was false.

What if, when faced with the counterevidence they cannot lift the car if they simply readjust, “I did not say I could lift a car over my head with my hands. There are different ways to lift a car, you know,” and then they proceed to press a button as a hydraulic lift whirs and the car rises. The original claim is still false even with the readjustment.

Similarly, Calvinism makes claims that cannot hold the weight of biblical evidence and so must make readjustments to the claim. That would be fine, we all must adjust our claims based upon the evidence, except that the Calvinist insists the original claim is still true even after the radical alteration.

Worldview Tests

I would like to apply two worldview tests to Calvinism from Christian Philosopher and Apologist Dr. Douglas Groothuis:

10. Radical ad hoc readjustment: “When a worldview is faced with potentially defeating counterevidence, an adherent may readjust its core claims to accommodate the evidence against it. Various theories and worldviews can legitimately refine their beliefs over time, but radical ad hoc readjustment reveals a deep problem…”

and

5. Falsifiability: “Worldviews which cannot be found to be false cannot be found to be true either.”

I put #10 before #5 above because I will argue the proponents of Calvinism use radical ad hoc readjustments to render Calvinism unfalsifiable. That is, to protect Calvinism from any possible counterevidence.

I will argue that when faced with evidence against their claims, Calvinism simply re-adjusts off the fly, and this is evidence their original claim is false. I’m going to confine my evaluation to the Reformed doctrines of the two wills of God and the two meanings of dead.

Two Kinds of Wills

The following is from this article, written by John Piper, on Desiring God

1. God does all things according to his will (sovereign will).

“He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35).

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalms 115:3).

2. Some things happen that are not God’s will (moral will).

“Whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)—implying some don’t.

“The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—yet some do perish.

For this article, I’m putting aside my arguments on how we should properly understand the sovereignty of God such that “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” does not necessitate “God wills all things.” Instead, I’m focused on the question of what methods Calvinists use to shield their view from falsification.

To that end, I am going to do my best to state Piper’s argument as a truth claim in such a way that Piper would agree with it. According to Piper, Calvinism’s truth claim is (my paraphrase):

The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass. 

In order for this truth claim to be considered true, it must be able to be falsified according to Groothuis’ Worldview Test #5. In other words, I should be able to find counterevidence to this claim.

As counterevidence to the claim, a non-Calvinist such as myself might quote exactly that kind of passage that John Piper does. For example, as Piper puts it: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—yet some do perish.” Exactly. If Calvinism is claiming that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass and I can find Biblical evidence saying “The Lord is not willing that X should come to pass” and yet we know X comes to pass, that would falsify the truth claim.

So, does Piper acknowledge the counterevidence he just quoted? Does he re-orient his understanding of God’s sovereignty such that some things do come to pass that God does not will? No. He just asks us to accept a direct contradiction as true. Don’t take my word for it, Piper explains:

One of the clearest evidences of the difference between God’s sovereign will and his moral will is the fact that God morally forbids murder:

“Do not kill the innocent” (Exodus 23:7).

And yet he willed the murder of his Son:

“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28).

Piper admits there exists direct counterevidence of “God willed murder” yet claims both are true. Instead of re-working the original truth claim to fit the Biblical evidence, Calvinists simply make a radical ad hoc readjustment (#10 from Groothuis’ worldview test) to relieve the tension. The readjustment is asserting a different kind of will.

But the counterevidence does not go away just because the Calvinist asserts a different kind of will. Nevermind, for now, the biblical validity of the category. My point is: If direct counterevidence is not evidence enough to disprove a truth claim, then what is? The answer: Nothing. If ad hoc category-creation is able to push aside direct contradictions that the Calvinist admits are contradictions then there is no possible biblical evidence that could be mounted to falsify the truth claim.

So when attempting to nail down exactly what the Calvinist believes about God’s will, you will get answers that are direct contradictions.
“Do you believe God wills all things that come to pass?”
“Yes”
“Yet the Bible says there are things that happen God does not will”
“Yes”

This can leave you feeling like you’re trying to pin a cloud to a wall.

Even if I come up a dozen pieces of counterevidence to the Reformed worldview, all the Reformed folks have to do is come up with a dozen new categories and the worldview can truck along. This isn’t an exaggeration. Ad hoc category creation is not a bug in the Reformed worldview, it’s a feature.

Two Meanings of “Dead”

In a sermon entitled “The Doctrine of Absolute Inability”, MacArthur is speaking of Lazuras when he says:

Now what interests me here is that Jesus gave a command to a dead man. . . Dead men can’t hear.  Dead men can’t think. Dead men can’t respond cause they’re dead and dead means the absolute inability to do anything in response to any stimulus.  There’s no will.  There’s no power to think or act.

A few paragraphs later, still referencing this description of Lazarus as dead:

Now, from there I want you to go to Ephesians chapter 2 and here we see the depth of this problem. Ephesians chapter 2.  This is not a description of Lazarus.  This is a description of everybody. Ephesians 2:1.  “And you were dead.”  “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.  In that condition you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air – ” Satan “ – the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.” 

. . .We were all dead.  Dead to what?  Dead to God, dead to spiritual reality, dead to the truth.

Man’s basic problem is not. . . that he needs to make a few adjustments to sort of get God on his wavelength.  Man’s problem is he is absolutely dead, and he is incapable of relating to God at all – God’s person, God’s truth, or God’s commands. 

As MacArthur makes abundantly clear, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” means total, absolute, corpse-like inability to relate to God at all. Dead men can do nothing spiritual.

So how could a non-Calvinist refute such an idea? Biblical evidence of dead men doing something spiritual would do. Enter Romans 6:

How can we who died to sin still live in it?

and

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Christians have died to sin and yet can and do still sin.

In a transcript from a sermon, you can listen to here, regarding the Rom 6 phrase “died to sin” John MacArthur says:

You have died to sin.  That is fundamental to his whole argument.  And the question immediately is going to come, how, in what way, what does that mean to me?  Does that mean that I’m dead to sin?  No, it didn’t say that. Didn’t say you’re in a state of death, which would mean that you’re utterly unresponsive to sin, sin can’t move you, sin can’t motivate you, sin can’t awaken you, sin can’t stimulate you.  It doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say you are dead to sin.  

He goes on to explain several paragraphs later:

It means basically [sin is] deprived of its strength. In fact you could translate it this way: Deprived of its controlling influence.  But then he defines exactly what he means in the next phrase, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. That’s the issue.  It is rendered inoperative only as the sovereign of our lives. It loses not its influence altogether but its controlling influence, its sovereign influence, its mastery, its dominion.  You remember how he says in 7 that sin will no longer have dominion over us.  He’s not saying there won’t be sin; he’s saying sin isn’t in charge any more.  The tyranny of sin is broken.

So, for MacArthur:

Dead = a corpse.

Dead also = not a corpse.

Dead = cannot do the thing you’re dead to (Eph 2)

Dead = can totally do the thing you’re dead to but it has less strength (Rom 6)

A = not A.

The crazy part is that I agree with MacArthur’s explanation of “dead” in Rom 6. In fact, that entire sermon is great, I recommend you listen to the whole thing for your own edification. What I cannot fathom is how he cannot see that is exactly how Paul means it in Eph 2 as well. But that’s an article for another time.

Dead means you cannot do anything spiritual. Dead also means you can absolutely do something spiritual. MacArthur is comfortable using a radical ad hoc readjustment of what “dead” means that renders Calvinism unfalsifiable. Instead of adjusting the original truth claim “Dead means corpse-like inability in Eph 2” when faced with counterevidence from elsewhere in Scripture (Rom 6), they just claim “dead” means the opposite.

A Feature of the System

Once you see this Game of Adjustments that Calvinists play you will see it everywhere. I have listened to lengthy conversations, and read lengthy dialogues, that are almost completely an exercise in the Calvinist effortlessly and expertly switching from category to category without ever dealing with a single piece of counterevidence. It is like trying to catch a cloud.

There are many other examples of these invented categories. In order to get around the “For God so loved the world…”-type passages so that they can say God hates an individual, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated”, the Calvinist has invented two kinds of love; general love and salvific love. There are also two kinds of calling; a general call to salvation to all men even though they cannot answer, and a specific call to specific men which they will irresistibly-every-time answer. Because the Calvinist has backed himself into a corner which says that ontologically, universally there is not a single man who is righteous nor seeks God, they must make for themselves two ways to receive regeneration. Namely, one way the saints/prophets in the Old Testament received it and one way we receive it in the New Testament. Of course, there are also two kinds of grace. One type of grace that is extended to all men which will never-any-time-ever lead them to faith in God and another type of grace which will every-time-always-irresistibly lead them to faith in God. Have you come into contact with any more of these invented categories that I missed?

And the Calvinist isn’t being malicious. This is not purposeful. It is a feature of the system. Throwing every piece of evidence into unfalsifiable categories is as easy as inhaling to the learned Calvinist, of which there are many. The only way I can see to get away from chasing them from category to category is to call out this practice for what it is; irrational, radical ad hoc readjustments that render evaluating the truth of Calvinism impossible.

 

155 thoughts on “Calvinism and Catching Clouds

  1. Interesting post. The length that Reformed folks will go in order to defend their points is simply outrageous. I wish that they just knew when to stop and listen. May God open the hearts of our Calvinist brothers to the truth of Scripture. May God allow them to see the reality that He lovingly provided a means of atonement for the entirety of mankind. It is ironic how they oftentimes criticize us for resorting to allegedly “humanistic” reasoning, while at the same time they use unbiblical philosophy to substantiate their TULIP theology. I’m tired of their word games.

    1. The Calvinist God is one who is unable to be sovereign unless he is able to micromanage every event in history.
      The Calvinist God is one who shows partiality by choosing random people for salvation.
      The Calvinist Christ did not love enough to die for the whole world, but only died for the elect.
      The Calvinist Christ was unable to or unwilling to atone for the sins of the whole world.
      The Calvinist God is insecure enough to cause irresistible drawing.

      1. Thanks floor,

        comment more often.

        The Calvinist God created man in His own image only to determine/plan before time that most of these imago dei were to be tortured in Hell, for His glory.

        The Calvinist God says (countless times!) “If only you had….” knowing full well that He planned the contrary.

        The Calvinist Christ says “O Jerusalem….I would have…” and “come unto me all who labor….” and “seek first the kingdom of God” all the while (wink- wink) knowing that He planned the opposite.

      2. FOH writes, “The Calvinist God says (countless times!) “If only you had….” knowing full well that He planned the contrary.”

        That is planned to give people freedom to say, No.

      3. floor writes, “The Calvinist God is one who is unable to be sovereign unless he is able to micromanage every event in history.”

        God does not chose to be sovereign; that is a characteristic of God. As sovereign God necessarily is able to micromanage every event in history and does manage every event for God sustains all things and does so for His purposes.

        Then, “The Calvinist God is one who shows partiality by choosing random people for salvation.”

        But if God choose to save each and every people, no one is going to object.

        Then, ‘The Calvinist Christ did not love enough to die for the whole world, but only died for the elect.”

        Christ certainly died for the elect; if the elect turn out to be the whole world, GREAT!!!

        Then, “The Calvinist Christ was unable to or unwilling to atone for the sins of the whole world.”

        The atonement can be applied to anyone God chooses to apply it. If God chooses to apply the atonement to each and every person, He can do so.

        Then, ‘The Calvinist God is insecure enough to cause irresistible drawing.”

        Or secure enough to save people from making a bad mistake.

      4. To Rhutchin
        I was merely describing the characteristics of the God of the Calvinists. I’m merely describing how Calvinists define their God’s unlimited sovereignty, arbitrary election, limited love, insufficient atonement (unless you’re an amyraldian type Calvinist), and whose foreknowledge is so imperfect that he’s unsure who will get saved unless he drags them into salvation.

      5. Floor writes, ‘I was merely describing the characteristics of the God of the Calvinists.”

        Was your distortion in using the words, “unable,” “shows partiality,” “insecure,” on purpose? Were you describing or advertising your biases?

      6. I would encourage you to respond to the descriptions of God that Calvinists have made for themselves. I’m sure they try to make it sound more palatable and spiritual. However at the end of the day, what I’ve mentioned is basically what their view is.

        All your responses to my description of the Calvinist God were subjunctive. None of your points refuted my description of the Calvinist God.

  2. This is so true, and why it nearly impossible to debate Calvinists on an even playing field. The whole doctrine defies scripture, reason, and logic. The system has developed so many “work-arounds” to its’ contradictions, that it is mind-boggling. Black is black, except when its’ white, then and only then it is white.

  3. Great article Eric!

    I have posted this 80-min video where MacArthur says over and over that the Prodigal son is “dead” (Christ said it two times) and that the father even had a funeral for him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxSgB28v3M

    Then the son comes to his senses and comes home from far away country. The father stayed at home.

    And yet, and yet…… MacArthur says it is the father who is “the seeking one” since he meets him in the road close to home!!!

    Then he throws in a gratuitous quote from go-to Romans 3:10-11…. saying that of course it is not the dead son who is doing anything because we all know that “there are none who seek that.”

    What? It is is mind-boggling.

    Of course MacArthur is so articulate and looooooong when he tells a story that the listener is lost by that time. But it aint rocket science if you listen to it. The dead son (and he makes sure we know he is dead) who had a funeral, and qualifies for “no one can seek” is the one who comes to his senses and returns from a far away land.

    Dead cannot possibly mean incapable since the son is the only one who does anything!

  4. Thank you Eric. Excellent article. The multitude of contradictions in Calvinism when one really goes deep into it is one of the three or four major reasons I rejected Calvinism. One of my favorite quotes is this one from Edwin Palmer, who incredibly admits the illogical and nonsensical nature of the Calvinism when you drill down into so many of it’s claims. “He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.” -Edwin Palmer, leading Calvinist apologist and author of The Five Points of Calvinism, when explaining how God reprobates people “unconditionally” (because He himself foreordained sin and rendered it certain) and yet the reprobate are solely responsible and deserve their eternal punishment (because their reprobation is “conditional”).

    1. AndyB,

      Exactly!

      A = not-A, but that is “mystery”.

      So that gets you what? I used to say to them, “Don’t you see that you are telling the world that the God of the Bible, the God who ‘is love’ is the same being that purposely created most of humanity in His image only to torture them in Hell?”

      But them they would answer basically, “Who cares what the world thinks. God is gonna save His elect and we dont care what the others think of Him!”

      That’s Good News all right!

      There have been plenty that have left this blog in disgust asking, “Who would even want to spend eternity with a god that purposely —with no hope—- created my brother (sister, father, son, wife) for torture. If you said that about someone in the human world we would consider that person a monster!”

    2. Excellent point Andy B.

      Another issue facing the Calvinists is that many of them on their death beds are unsure of whether they are elect. There’s an excellent video on this on YouTube.

      Their being unsure had led them to ironically turn to a teaching of works salvation among their congregants as proof of being one of the elect so that they could baptize their congregants

      1. Floor writes, ‘Another issue facing the Calvinists is that many of them on their death beds are unsure of whether they are elect.”

        This because of the sin that still plagued them in life causing them great anguish. It is easily resolved through a faith in God’s promise, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The momentary lapse of assurance gives way to confidence also in God’s promise, “God who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” God’s providence is to give some people a deathbed; but not all.

  5. Wonderful article!!
    Focusing no the argumentation strategies that Calvinists use is very instructive!!
    Under scrutiny it becomes obvious there is a library of language and word-game strategies which Jesus would definitely never approve of.

    He who becomes astute at looking for equivocations, obfuscations, and shape-shifting definitions – will find them in plentiful supply within the language of Calvinism.

    Blessings! :-]

  6. Excellent Article Eric

    The big weakness one can drive a semi-through is the shape-shifting nature of Calvinist language.

    As Dr. Jerry Walls says “If it weren’t for their expertise in misleading rhetoric – Calvinism would loose credibility in two years”.

  7. Agreed FOH!
    I was just recently reading through MacArthur’s Book “The God Who Loves (He will do whatever it takes to draw us to Him)”

    He basically wrote an entire book in which he goes in circles trying to explain how God truly and sincerely loves all people yet He has only a “salvific” love that irresistibly draws a very small number of those to Him and “passes over the rest” (and somehow this is the biblical love of God we are to emulate), and how God’s offer of salvation is “sincere,” even though He knows those whom he is making the offer can’t respond to it. In any human context we would label this kind of thinking utter madness, a cosmic tease or bully, or worse.

    True to the Calvinist form of inventing catagories and double speak, He says “His decrees do not always reflect His desires; His purposes are not necessarily accomplished in accord with His preferences”.

    And of course, as “moderate” Calvinists always do, he ends in mystery saying “We do not know why He does not turn the heart of every sinner to Himself. Nor should we speculate in this area. It remains a mystery the answer to which God has not seen fit to reveal. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God”; only “the things revealed belong to us” (Deut. 29:29). At some point, we must say with the psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Ps. 139:6).
    The Calvinist ends up in mystery because the dual catagories that he creates and the contradictions inherent in their systematic can not be supported by scripture. If there was scriptural support I guarantee they would be quoting it. But because there isn’t they must resort to mystery and this is where it ends. After all, how do you argue against or prove false a “mystery” (as someone recently said, it’s like catching clouds).

    1. AndyB,
      Please comment more often!

      We are trying to build a data base of material so when the young Troy’s and Jose’s of this world come to Christ and then the YRR enthusiasts descend on them…. they have some material to work with with avoid the wave!

      The wave sucked me in cuz I had no help pushing back. Then I found help when I put down the books (put aside the 40 verses) and picked up the Bible.

      1. FOH, thanks and I will try to comment more often. The database sounds exciting and a much needed resource. This website helped me a great deal as I I picked up the Bible and began working thru this issue in much the same way you did. The articles of course are excellent but I’ve gained much from the comments and discussions here as well.

    2. AndyB,

      On a previous thread I quoted Piper’s book “Dont Waste Your Life” to demonstrate how most of it could have easily been written by an Arminian. He just goes on and one encouraging readers to get up and get going to make a difference for the Gospel.

      Of course that is all so much silliness within the frame of reformed theology! It has already all been decided.

      1. FOH,
        When my eyes were opened and I understand what the Calvinist systematic teaches, i see this illogical silliness all the time. Not but a couple weeks ago I heard a Calvinist pastor give an invitation saying “for you who have not believed, I plead with you to repent and turn to Christ.” But not two minutes later he was preaching from Romans 8 on how only some are deterministically called and predestined, essentially and sadly rendering his previous invitation meaningless – if they are deterministically and irresisitbly called, then what good does your pleading with them to repent do? God determined before they were born that they will repent, your pleading didnt change that, only God’s irresistible and effectyual calling did that. And if they were a retrobate, then God determined that they won’t repent because He would “pass over them” with His “sovereign grace” and no amount of pleading with them to repent is going to change that.

      2. andyb2015 writes, “I heard a Calvinist pastor give an invitation saying “for you who have not believed, I plead with you to repent and turn to Christ.”

        At that point, everyone listening to the pastor should have repented and turned to Christ – that decision is a no-brainer. Yet, that did not happen. To explain why people behave so irrationally, you note, “he was preaching from Romans 8 on how only some are deterministically called and predestined,…” That was his explanation for people refusing to turn to Christ. It’s OK that you don’t find that explanation satisfying – so, how do you explain it?

    3. AndyB,

      Here is another quote from that book.

      There is “a sincere desire on God’s part to see every sinner turn to Christ.”

      So…. we can see that MacArthur is saying that God has created a world where He does not always get what He wants…

      If NOTHING else….. these kind of quotes should put to rest the question:

      Does God always get what He wants?

      Calvinist MacArthur would give a resounding NO!

      If He has a “sincere desire to see every sinner turn” …. then that sincere desire (want) is not happening.

      Let all Calvinists go and disagree with Johnny Mac. MacArthur is in full agreement that God does NOT always get what he wants.

    4. AndyB,
      Even the Subtitle of the book shows that MacArthur is living in a world with opposing ideas.

      He want the book to show God’s love (good idea), but he says in the subtitle….

      “The God Who Loves (He will do whatever it takes to draw us to Him)”

      What does that mean….. whatever it takes. It sounds like it is an effort. But in the book and elsewhere he states clearly that this was all decided unilaterally by God before time. So what can that mean…. “He will do whatever it takes”?

      The Title could easily be (and should be):

      “The God Who Loves Some People (He will do whatever it takes to draw a small elect to Himself and make sure —before time began — the rest of humanity is tortured in Hell)”

  8. The two wills thing with the Calvinist is ridiculous to say the least.

    “we know that God in some sense wills what he does not will in another sense” John Piper.

    See, there is the two “senses” now as well. Everything is double with the Calvinist!

    Could we have multiple wills that could contradict each other? Would this stand up in a court of God’s law? If I said that I had a will that didn’t want to commit adultery with my neighbor, but then what comes to pass is that I commit adultery with my neighbor; Can I then say to God that I had “two wills” – my “will of want” and my “will of decree”. Can I say to God that in one of my wills I never wanted that to happen? but then another will that decreed it to happen? Would he believe me? Of course, not! I would be judged harshly for even insinuating that I had two wills that would contradict each other.

  9. For me, it all seems to come back to a lack of understanding what Jesus said was the prime imperative. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:7. It’s the preamble to John 3:16. It was spoken to someone Piper and MacAurthur would call a corpse.

    Then Jesus said something I find striking. “If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

    Again, spoken to a supposed corpse.

    “Say” “Told” “Tell” all remind me that my own faith came by “hearing.” Romans 10:17. My living, conscious, alert, earthly body provided the earthly means for my dead spirit to be born again. For that miracle of grace to happen, God took the living part to speak life to the dead part. It took the breath of heaven. Take it from the oldest book in the Bible, it has ALWAYS been that way: “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” Job 32:8 NKJV. In another place we are reminded: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, lighting the inward parts of the belly.” Proverbs 20:27 KJV. God wants me to see me. The inward me. That part of me we call the soul. That part of me He desires to save. He will use His breath to light my dead spirit so that I may appreciate the tragic state of my sin-cursed soul. He wants me to see me. Because all scripture is given by inspiration (literally God breathed) the source of the breath is universally available. And now Romans 10:17 makes perfect sense. God’s word is not just what the sinner needs to hear, it is also how he will be able (though spiritually dead) to hear it. God lights the candle. John 1:9 makes perfect sense.

    I have often remarked that our basic disagreement with our Calvinist friends isn’t over the means of salvation. It’s over the scope of the call. I have concluded, however, that many of our reformed friends do not really understand the means. If they truly did, John 12:32 and 2 Peter 3:9-10 would put to rest any question about the scope of the call.

    1. Rick Patton writes, ‘If they truly did, John 12:32 and 2 Peter 3:9-10 would put to rest any question about the scope of the call.”

      This is somewhat duplicitous because it implies that all agree on the understanding of these verses when they are highly contested.

      John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

      The NET Bible has this comment: “Grk “all.” The word “people” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for stylistic reasons and for clarity (cf. KJV “all men”). So, most versions insert “men” or “people” or something similar. Calvinists say that Christ had said in John 6, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing,…” They conclude that “a;;” refers back to those whom God has given Him.

      2 Peter 3:9-10: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

      The Universalist says that “any” and “all” refer to each and every individual so God will save all each and every person. The Calvinist says that “any” and “all” refer to the previous “you” and “you” refers to those to whom Peter writes the epistle; i.e., to believers.

      The point here is that the verses are not as cut and dried as Patton seems to suggest.

  10. EK writes, “According to Piper, Calvinism’s truth claim is (my paraphrase):
    The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass. ”

    Not exactly. God determines all things because He is sovereign. The statement, “God’s will is to determine,” says that “God’s will is to be sovereign.” Obviously, God does not will to be sovereign as God is sovereign. So, let’s correct the above to make it reflect Calvinist Theology.

    The Bible teaches that God sovereignly determines all things that come to pass and that which God determines necessarily expresses His will.

    That which must be falsified is the claim that a sovereign God necessarily expresses His will in that which He determines (i.e., all things). That can lead us into a discussion of God’s will.

    1. Hutch, this is you proving exactly the point of the article. You hoc create a new category such that sovereignty = determinism then stick my statement into your new category and then argue against your newly fashioned statement. It renders discussion impossible which was the point of my article and proven yet again here. I understand you cannot dialogue without doing it, it’s a feature of your system.

      1. EK writes, “You hoc create a new category such that sovereignty = determinism”

        You read it wrong. If God is sovereign, then He rules over His creation and His rule as sovereign results in a deterministic creation – one where all things are necessarily determined by Him.

        Notwithstanding this, the way you originally framed your statement, “The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass,” is off. God’s will is expressed in Revelation 5, ‘“Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” In the process of bringing about His will, God determines all things, but His will is not to determine all things. His will is, in part, to work all things together for good for His elect and this requires that He determine events such that good accrues to His elect. You misrepresent the Calvinist position in your statement.

        The problem you face is that you cannot avoid a deterministic outcome if you hold that God is sovereign. We if allow that God is sovereign, then there is nothing that God doesn’t determine. That’s true for any system where God is sovereign; not just Calvinism.

      2. “If God is sovereign, then He rules over His creation and His rule as sovereign results in a deterministic creation – one where all things are necessarily determined by Him.”

        Sovereignty means “rule” and in no way implies that God, or any other ruler who has ever existed, is in deterministic control of his subjects. It is simply an irrational non-sequitor you’ve attached on to the concept of Divine Rule and read the Scriptures through this presupposition. I know this irrationality has been shown to you time and again but for reasons outside of rational consideration you continue to hold tightly on to the presupposition.

        “In the process of bringing about His will, God determines all things, but His will is not to determine all things.”

        In other words, God’s will is to determine all things. Got it.

        “The problem you face is that you cannot avoid a deterministic outcome if you hold that God is sovereign.”

        Yes I can, you just don’t agree. And that’s fine. Rule does not equal control and not only would you have to provide an argument for how rule = control but you would have to show how my position of “rule does not = control” is irrational. Good luck.

        “We if allow that God is sovereign, then there is nothing that God doesn’t determine.”

        Except that that’s exactly what the Bible says happens even as quoted by Piper. I’m sorry you don’t like that.

        “That’s true for any system where God is sovereign; not just Calvinism.”

        It is amazing how you cannot see how irrational this is. It’s the same as saying “I’m the only one who sees X rightly and since I have it right, everyone agrees with me even if they say they do not”.

        This will be my final interaction as anything passed this just runs in circles of you doing exactly what this article describes.

      3. Eric,

        You are right to cease interaction with him at this point.

        As for new commentators on this blog, take heed. The main Calvinist that comments on these pages will just move the goal posts ever time you try to discuss anything. Two wills? Sure! One will? Sure! Determinist? Sure! Free will? Sure! Man can choose? Sure! God chooses everything? Sure? Christ wants all to be save? Sure? Christ only died for a few? Sure! What we do makes a difference? Sure! Has God already planned ever dust-particle and event? Sure! Does God love everyone? Sure! Does God love only the elect? Sure. Is God the author of sin? No! Is God —from before time — the author of every act for every person? Yes!

        And on and on..

      4. EK writes, “Sovereignty means “rule” and in no way implies that God, or any other ruler who has ever existed, is in deterministic control of his subjects….I know this irrationality has been shown to you time and again but for reasons outside of rational consideration you continue to hold tightly on to the presupposition.”

        People have expressed opinions as you do. No “reasons of rational consideration” have been ventured that I remember. God has perfect knowledge of present events and is omnipotent. Thus, God is both aware of everything that is happening and able to affect whatever change He wants in anything that is happening. Consequently, God either supernaturally intervenes to prevent the natural outcome of events or God does nothing so that natural events play out naturally. That decision makes God the determiner of all outcomes.

        Then, “In other words, God’s will is to determine all things. Got it. ”

        OK. However, that is different than saying that sovereignty = determinism. To address your original statement of the Calvinist position. God’s will is to accomplish His purposes. In that process, God willfully determines all things. Take away purpose and it is not necessary for God to determine anything. Add purpose and God wills the determination of all things to accomplish His purpose. Your statement makes no mention of purpose, so you provide no context for God to determine anything – so, “God’s will is to determine all things” is not necessarily a true statement. God determines all things to gain His purpose; take away purpose and God does not determine anything. The real issue from the Calvinist point of view is whether, and what, God purposes (His will), because that which God purposes necessitates that which He determines. So, we have: God is sovereign; God’s will is to accomplish His purposes; God wills (determines) all things to accomplish His purposes; that which God determines expresses willful decisions He has made to accomplish His purpose. To reflect the Calvinist position, we can reformulate your original statement as:

        – The Bible teaches that God’s will is to accomplish His purposes and to accomplish His purposes, God determine all things that come to pass.

        Then, “Rule does not equal control and not only would you have to provide an argument for how rule = control but you would have to show how my position of “rule does not = control” is irrational.”

        You leave out important factors. An omniscient and omnipotent sovereign necessarily exercises absolute control over all things in ruling His kingdom. Through omniscience and omnipotence, the sovereign God is necessarily the final arbiter of anything that happens. There is no event over which God is not the final arbiter. Therefore, “rule does not = control” is an irrational conclusion from the premises of omniscience and omnipotence. Can you provide an exception to the conclusion that “rule = control” in the case of an omniscient and omnipotent sovereign?

        Then, “Except that that’s exactly what the Bible says happens even as quoted by Piper. I’m sorry you don’t like that.”

        We seem to agree that God determines all things (or we agree that this is the Calvinist position). The issue is whether (1) God’s will is to determine all things, or (2) God’s will is to accomplish His purpose and He accomplishes His purpose by willfully determining all things.

  11. Rhutchin writes,

    “The Bible teaches that God sovereignly determines all things that come to pass”

    Do you have a verse you can reference to prove this Rhutchin?

  12. This is my first post here, but I am a long-time reader. I am a 0-point Calvinist. I reject it 100%. I believe in libertarian human free will. But I do question rejecting the idea that God has two wills. I would like to be corrected in my thoughts in this area if they are wrong.

    I use an analogy of a super-rich man desiring to buy a new car. He desires his new car to be a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof and rear air conditioning. He goes to the dealer who informs him that Escalades do not come with BOTH a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C. The man chooses to buy a blue Escalade with a panoramic roof with no rear A/C. The exact thing he wanted was not available to him so he bought the car that was closest to what he wanted.

    Could the rich man’s friend, knowing that he is very rich and so could afford whichever options he wanted, rightly conclude that the rich man did not want rear A/C (for if he had, he would surely have it)?

    Well, in a sense the friend is correct and in a sense he is not. The rich man did NOT desire rear A/C GIVEN THAT that would entail not having a sunroof. On the other hand, not considering the limitations of what combinations of optional features Cadillac can/will combine in one car, the rich man DID want rear A/C. Yet his car does not have rear A/C.

    So I find it reasonable to say that the rich man had two wills regarding rear A/C—he wanted it and he didn’t want it.

    The parallels to soteriology are obvious. God is the rich man who wants everyone to be saved. But, because of human libertarian free will, not everyone WILL be saved (this is akin to Cadillac not making Escalades with every conceivable combinatin of options). Yet, God still chose this world to make actual (from among all feasible worlds available to Him—and not every conceivable world is feasible—see Molinism).

    So we can say, IN A SENSE, that God did NOT will for Person A to be saved because God chose which feasible world to make actual (and He knew that Person A was not saved in this world). But He chose this world nonetheless because OVERALL it was the best feasible world He could make.

    But this concept of “two wills” (one conceived of in isolation of feasible options vs. the other being conceived in light of feasible options) still does not help Calvinism. Calvinism’s concept of absolute sovereignty means that God controls absolutely everything and can force any combination of options to exist. Calvinists do not believe there is a difference between conceivable and feasible combinations of options. So I do not see how Calvinism can hold to the idea of two wills in God.

    But I think it is a valuable construct for the libertarian free will and Molinist perspectives.

    1. Bill Matthews writes, ” God…wants everyone to be saved. But, because of human libertarian free will, not everyone WILL be saved…”

      By Libertarian Free Will, you basically refer to the ability to say. No, to God. It is God who creates man with Libertarian Free Will and the ability to say, No, to Him. However God is still sovereign, and omnipotent, and can easily override any decision a person makes. Within the church, we express this by saying that God opens doors and God closes doors. People get their way when that which they want to do concurs, or agrees, with that which God wants to do. Not everyone is saved because God chooses not to save everyone, when He can, and God actions not to save express His will not to save.

      Then, “Yet, God still chose this world to make actual (from among all feasible worlds available to Him—and not every conceivable world is feasible—see Molinism).”

      Obviously, under the Molinist system, that world God chooses to create is one in which God has determined everything that happens – if God wanted different outcomes, He would have created a different world. It was God’s will to create this world and therefore His will that all things happen as they do.

      Then, ‘So we can say, IN A SENSE, that God did NOT will for Person A to be saved because God chose which feasible world to make actual (and He knew that Person A was not saved in this world). But He chose this world nonetheless because OVERALL it was the best feasible world He could make.”

      If God wanted Person A to be saved, He would have chosen to create that world in which Person A was saved. The best feasible world, from a human perspective, is that world in which everyone is saved. That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost – this described by Paul in Romans 9, “does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,…”

      Then, “Calvinism’s concept of absolute sovereignty means that God controls absolutely everything and can force any combination of options to exist.”

      Of course, “absolute sovereignty” is redundant. For God to be sovereign is for God to be an absolute sovereign. As you describe above, under Molinism, God can force any combination of options He wants by virtue of the world He chooses to create. Thus, the world God choose to create expresses His will and does so perfectly.

      Then, “Calvinists do not believe there is a difference between conceivable and feasible combinations of options.”

      That is because all feasible options are conceivable and all conceivable options are feasible. There is not a world in which any combination of feasible options is not conceivable. If there is, can you explain with an example.

      Then, “So I do not see how Calvinism can hold to the idea of two wills in God.”

      Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people. For example, in Deuteronomy, God tells Israel that obedience brings a certain result and disobedience brings a different result. God commands people to repent and believe the gospel (an expression of His will for people) and then gives people the freedom to reject His command (also an expression of His will). However, ultimately, the final outcome of all things is the expression of God’s will as He could have determined a different outcome had He wanted (i.e., created a different world).

      1. RHUTCHINS writes “Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people.” Presumably, then, the “second will” is unconditional.

        But both of these wills collapse into one IF God controls how a person responds to His condition. So if God expresses His conditional will to a person or group of people (if you do A, I will do X, but if you do B (=not A), I will do Y)–as in your example from Deuteronomy–, but then He determines whether they do A or B, then he also determines if He does X or Y. The apparent two wills collapse into one. Surely you can see this!

        And with all due respect, I do not think you considered my Escalade analogy closely enough.

        Perhaps the confusion stems from me not explaining what I mean by conceivable vs. feasible worlds. (This discussion relies on some concepts from Molinism.) A conceivable world is any world that can be thought about rationally without internal contradictions. So a world with square circles is NOT a conceivable world (even for God). All worlds with square circles cannot be created because they are not conceivable.

        Now say that God knows that Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M. (Now some say this is impossible. But that is a separate discussion.) All conceivable worlds where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M are not FEASIBLE. They are conceivable, but not feasible. Given that God wants a world with libertarianly free creatures in it, the world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M is NOT feasible, and so cannot be made actual. It was not in the set of world God could choose from because it was contrary to His knowledge. It is not this world.

        (In my Escalade analogy, buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable, but not feasible. That explains why the actual car that the rich man ends up buying does not have rear A/C in it even though he can afford all options and desired rear A/C. That combination of options was not open to him in the same way that a world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in Situation M is not possible for God to make actual.)

        You wrote, “That is because all feasible options are conceivable and all conceivable options are feasible. There is not a world in which any combination of feasible options is not conceivable. If there is, can you explain with an example.”

        Of course all feasible worlds are conceivable. I never claimed the opposite, so why demand an example from me?

        So I agree that all feasible worlds are conceivable. But I disagree that all conceivable worlds are feasible. (Just like buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable but not feasible.) And THIS, I think, is the crux of the matter.

        I think this analogy allows us understand passages that teach that God determines all things that come to pass (like the rich man determined the fact that he owns a blue Cadillac Escalade with panoramic sunroof but without rear A/C) but also that humans are free moral agents and are therefore responsible. It allows us to agree when scripture asserts that God desires all people to be saved (akin to the rich man desiring a blue Cadillac Escalade with panoramic sunroof and rear A/C), but that many go through the wide gate to destruction (akin to the actual car that the rich man owns NOT having rear A/C). In this way of thinking, the libertarian free will of man is akin to the limited combination of options that Cadillac offers. The libertarian free will of man determines if Person A does X or Y in situation M. God works with all the foreknown combinations (which also reflect His non-coercive and limited coercive interactions) and selects the best feasible world to make actual.

        So He ordained all things (including libertarianly free will decisions) that come to pass, but He did not do so relative to every single micro-event. (In a world where every micro-event influences every other micro-event, determinations about each event and state cannot be made in isolation from all other events and states. In my analogy, this is reflected in the fact that you can’t decide to have rear A/C independently of your decision to have a panoramic sunroof.)

        He decided which world to make actual by weighing in totality every feasible world against all others and selecting the best.

      2. BillM,

        I think you are new here.

        Of course your examples are logical and biblical! (And I am glad you provide them for future readers to see!!)

        It is when you said “Surely you can see this!” that you err.

        That shuffling sound in the background is the Calvinist moving the goal posts. Prepare for some logic-bending, non-answer.

      3. Bill Matthews writes, ‘“Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people.” Presumably, then, the “second will” is unconditional.”

        Unconditional and independent of the actions of people.

        God’s ‘first will’ is the freedom God gives to people to obey or disobey Him.The ‘second will’ reflects God’s free will and this is what ultimately happens – God’s will (the second will) always prevails. People prevail in what they want to do under the first will only as it is concurrent with God’s free will (the second will). In Isaiah 10, the Assyrians desire to invade Israel (to disobey God), but they are prevented from doing so until God removes His restraints whereupon they invade Israel; otherwise they are free to invade other countries (the concurrence of first and second will).

        Then, “…both of these wills collapse into one IF God controls how a person responds to His condition….but then He determines whether they do A or B, then he also determines if He does X or Y. The apparent two wills collapse into one. Surely you can see this!”

        Big “IF.” God does not dictate how a person responds, so no collapse. God can, but does not have to, affect the response a person makes. God is said to determine what a person does because God is necessarily the final arbiter of what a person does. God can do nothing to influence whether a person does A or B so that the initiative to act and choose A or B rests with the person (under God’s first will). Again, in the example of the Assyrians. The Assyrians are free to invade any of the countries except Israel (first will). God does nothing to restrain them from invading those countries (making it God’s will for them to do so – the second will). The Assyrians can only invade Israel when God removes His protection and when God does this, we know that it is the will of God (second will) for them to fulfill their desires (first will) and invade Israel.

      4. More power to you Bill Matthews if you can keep track of all that determinism-now-not-determinism.

        Personally I got dizzy with all the first will/ second will business. And of course all that is mere speculation as none of it resembles any teachings in Scripture (and no doubt the formula changes from one Calvinist to another as they describe God’s one, two, three, four wills). But hey, you gotta make pretzels out logic to make this thing fit!

      5. FOH, happy to know I am not alone, as my eyes glaze over from the nonsense talk. Do they really think that the meaningless webs of illogical speculation they weave will persuade thinking people that they are so ‘smart’ they must know what they are talking about? I just find myself yawning, and skipping the silliness. Go ahead, make up definitions, concepts, contradictory claims and grossly illogical speculations. That is not going to persuade me to shrink back from studying the word of God and looking for genuine, meaningful, consistent patterns that reveal who God is and what he is telling us.

      6. Bill Matthews writes,, “So a world with square circles is NOT a conceivable world (even for God). All worlds with square circles cannot be created because they are not conceivable.”

        I take your point to be that any world with things that you, or anyone else, imagine that cannot exist and cannot be created by God is not a conceivable world. Fine, but who cares?? Aren’t we dealing with worlds containing things created by God.

        Conceivable worlds incorporate things that exist. A feasible world is one that comprises things that can exist (God can speak them into existence), so any feasible world is a conceivable world. For purposes of our discussion, we are dealing with worlds that are both feasible and conceivable. Given that our focus is salvation, this means that, under Molinism, God can choose to create a world in which all people are saved or no person is saved and any combination in between.

        In your Escalade example, I expectrd you to use an Escalade with a square circle (or such non-existent items) as not feasible. Everything else is feasible and conceivable. You created confusion for me by arbitrarily declaring something that exists to be not feasible. However, your argument is that non-existent items are not feasible (“A conceivable world is any world that can be thought about rationally without internal contradictions.”). So, your Escalade argument doesn’t help explain anything for me.

        Then, “Now say that God knows that Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M….All conceivable worlds where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M are not FEASIBLE. They are conceivable, but not feasible.”

        So what?? That’s the whole point of Molinism. You have one world where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M. Situation M is unique to that world. There are many other unique worlds where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation N, O, P… There are also many other unique worlds where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do ~X in situation C, D, E, F… All these worlds are both feasible and conceivable for God to create. Under Molinism, God has the ability to see all possible worlds and choose that unique world that accomplishes His purpose. The world God chose to create is described beginning with Genesis 1.

        God created one unique world and God knew the X number of people would be saved and the rest not saved in that world. Molinism concerns the manner in which that would was chosen; Calvinism describes that world as created.

        Then, “Given that God wants a world with libertarianly free creatures in it, the world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M is NOT feasible, and so cannot be made actual. It was not in the set of worlds God could choose from because it was contrary to His knowledge. It is not this world.”

        Why is that an issue? It seems like you are complaining that, under situation M, a person will only choose X. However, that is the point of Molinism. God knows up front that he can create a world with situation M where a person certainly chooses X. God can also create a world with situation B where a person certainly chooses ~X. In this manner, Molinism defines the choices that God has so that God can choose to create that unique world that accomplishes His purposes and does so perfectly. I don’t see the problem you have with this.

        Then, “I disagree that all conceivable worlds are feasible. (Just like buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable but not feasible.) And THIS, I think, is the crux of the matter. “

        To me, a conceivable world is one in which all things can exist – we don’t have the square circle problem as worlds with square circles are not conceivable. So long as there are no square circles, the world is also feasible. I don’t understand the “crux of the matter.”

        Then, “God works with all the foreknown combinations (which also reflect His non-coercive and limited coercive interactions) and selects the best feasible world to make actual.”

        Bottom line, we agree. God has the ability to create that one, unique world that accomplishes His purpose.

        Then, “So He ordained all things (including libertarianly free will decisions) that come to pass, but He did not do so relative to every single micro-event. (In a world where every micro-event influences every other micro-event, determinations about each event and state cannot be made in isolation from all other events and states. In my analogy, this is reflected in the fact that you can’t decide to have rear A/C independently of your decision to have a panoramic sunroof.)”

        This statement makes no sense to me probably because I find your Escalade example confusing and I cannot tie that to your argument.

        Then, “He decided which world to make actual by weighing in totality every feasible world against all others and selecting the best.”

        Again, we agree.

      7. Rhutchin writes:
        “That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost . . .”

        This is, of course, mere speculation. That God creates a world in which some are lost could be explained by many possibilities, some of which are:
        A) It was God’s will that some be lost.
        B) It was not God’s will that some be lost, but there are other powers in the world greater than him.
        C) It was not God’s will that some be lost, but he has schizophrenia, and forgot to save all.
        D) It was not God’s will that some be lost, and in the end, none will be lost.
        E)It was not God’s will that some be lost, but because it was also not his will to coerce people to do his will, man has the ability to choose to ‘be lost’.

        It is likely that one could add many other possible reasons for why God created a world in which (discounting Universalism) some are lost. It is simply absurd to assert that because something exists, God desired it to exist. Bill Matthews was much more logical in asserting that God is indeed limited by logical possibility.

        It is not possible to have genuine love without freedom of choice. It is not possible to have freedom of choice without having the possibility of choosing contrary to God’s will. Thus, as God judges that love is the greatest of all goods, he creates men with freedom of choice to reject his will. This would explain the existence of evil, and does not require a deterministic God who ordains all things, good and evil.

        It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist. Quite simply, in a genuine world, in which people have volition of action, the possibility of evil MUST exist. This does not, in and of itself, suggest whether or not God desires men to do evil. It is God’s own many statements that he does not desire anyone to do evil, that he did not ordain wickedness, nor did certain wicked deeds even enter his mind that informs us that God did indeed NOT desire for evil to exist.

      8. TS00
        Said like only TS00 can say it! Bravo!

        Yes, for true love to exist, for a personal relationship to exist, choice must exist.

        Will your good summary and the thousands of verses to back that up, we can easily, in good conscience, find alternative interpretations to the 40 verses that reformers use to blame all sin, torture, rape on God.

        Their whole premise is that God (“is love”) hated a huge part of humanity before they even existed. That’s not Good News by any stretch of the imagination.

      9. Much error has been promoted in so-called Christianity by relying on the admirable sounding words: ‘Scripture says’. What most need to be reminded is that what ‘scripture says’ did not arrive on a rock carved by the finger of God with a spokesman to explain it.

        We have words that were written in an entirely different language, translated by men with a particular world view, then interpreted by a man or men, also loyal to a particular worldview. From this multi-step process we arrive at the preposterous conclusion that we can know not only exactly what scripture ‘says’ but exactly what it means. My father’s favorite exclamation for such nonsense was ‘Baloney!’

        We must start with ‘This is a, hopefully, sincere attempt to accurately translate what is hopefully a relatively accurate representation of what the original author wrote.’ From that less than rock solid certainty we move to even less stable ground, as we must acknowledge that the real work begins when we attempt to grasp the meaning of the now multi-filtered words. Do the chosen words even give us a glimpse of what was trying to be expressed? At times, scholars suggest, ‘Not so well’. The rest of the time, honest men must admit that words can be taken in many ways, and we must honestly, open-mindedly grapple with the many possible meanings that can, have and might arise in the minds of men.

        What I am suggesting, for those who have perhaps dwelt within an institutional church setting in which a man or men assert that they have ‘done the work’ and arrived at all of the answers, which it is now their solemn duty to pass on to other, less capable men and women: This simply is not so. There are a very few sentences in scripture which can be asserted to have one and only one possible meaning. Nearly all, if not all, require the study of the rest of scripture to better assure oneself of their most likely intended meaning. This is not relativism, it is the simple truth that arriving at some measure of understanding of spiritual things much higher than our own minds, written in another language by men from another era living in an entirely different culture requires much diligence and, most of all, the continual instruction of the Spirit of God, provided to us for just such a purpose.

        Please do not discount your own ability to study and learn. Do not accept the pronouncements of any man or men, but take them into account and hold them up to other, often dissimilar pronouncements of other men. An honest teacher will acknowledge that different opinions exist, that temperate, humble, God-fearing men have believed vastly different things than what he personally believes about a particular verse or doctrine.

        It is this humility that is most lacking in the Institutional Church, in which, from its start, arrogant, cruel men have literally killed in order to have their preferred interpretations prevail. This should not be so.

      10. TS)) writes, “We must start with ‘This is a, hopefully, sincere attempt to accurately translate what is hopefully a relatively accurate representation of what the original author wrote.’”

        Most scholars who deal with the ancient manuscripts of the OT and NT would say that we have pretty much an accurate representation of what the original manuscripts said. No one says that major doctrine would be affected by any improvements to what we have. The translations of the OT and NT pretty much agree although there are disputed passages but even here. major doctrines are not impacted. Where people differ is in the understanding of the Scriptures and these differences result from how different people view context

      11. rhutchinwrote, ““That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost . . .”
        ts00 responded, “This is, of course, mere speculation.”

        But it is a Calvinist conclusion. If John dies of cancer when God could have healed him of cancer, then the conclusion is that it was God’s will – God’s decision – that John die of cancer. If it were not God’s will that John die of cancer, then God would have saved John. The Calvinist says that God’s will is reflected in God’s actions.

        Then, “That God creates a world in which some are lost could be explained by many possibilities, some of which are:
        A) It was God’s will that some be lost….”

        People don’t choose to be lost, people are born lost. People choose not to remedy their situation through the means provided by God.

        Then, “It is simply absurd to assert that because something exists, God desired it to exist.”

        Why is that absurd. Do not your actions express your will? Why should not God’s actions express His will.

        Then, “as God judges that love is the greatest of all goods, he creates men with freedom of choice to reject his will. This would explain the existence of evil,…

        This is what the Calvinists say.

        Then, “…and does not require a deterministic God who ordains all things, good and evil.”

        No, but where you have a God who is sovereign, then you have a God who ordains all things, good and evil. This is because God has the power to prevent any evil and when God does not prevent evil, God ordains evil.

        Then, “It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist.”

        You complain but do not argue against this. God has the power to prevent evil; if God does not prevent evil, then He desired it. If you could stop evil and you do not stop evil, then I can conclude that you desire that evil – and you can’t say, No. Actions speak louder than words.

      12. Rhutchin writes:

        “No, but where you have a God who is sovereign, then you have a God who ordains all things, good and evil. This is because God has the power to prevent any evil and when God does not prevent evil, God ordains evil.

        Then, “It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist.”

        You complain but do not argue against this. God has the power to prevent evil; if God does not prevent evil, then He desired it. If you could stop evil and you do not stop evil, then I can conclude that you desire that evil – and you can’t say, No. Actions speak louder than words.”

        Note what was ignored, and what by Calvinism is always ignored:

        Meaningful existence, in which men genuinely think, choose and act freely, requires the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise – which is the essence of evil. What blasphemy to say, instead, that God ‘ordained’ that rejection of his will which produced wickedness. Nay, that the very rejection of his will was his will!

        Ignore it all they will; assert, with absolutely no valid basis, that a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control must ordain and predetermine all that occurs in his created universe. Insisting that this is true does not make it true.

        As for the rest, who desire to know and understand who God is, what he has done and what he desires for us, we can rest assured that God neither ordains nor desires any wickedness, period. Indeed, his ultimate desire is, as Jesus prayed, that we will all seek his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – and as it is not currently done on earth. Don’t let the Calvinist confuse you with his word games.

        God created free creatures, thus allowing them the possibility of what he would NEVER will or desire them to do, which is to reject, disobey and walk without him. This, my friends, is NOT his will, he did not predestine it for any creature, and he desires that all repent of this insurrection, be forgiven, restored and dwell with him as he most certainly desires and wills. Please don’t fall for the ‘If it exists, it must be God’s will’ ploy, for it is without merit, and only leads to hopelessness and despair. God’s will for you, and every person he has given the breath of life, is good and only good, and the ‘good news’ is that he has made this possible, if you will only believe it.

      13. TS00
        I am as pleased by your response as I am puzzled that you bothered.

        I thought you said you would no longer respond to his circular, illogical, unbiblical reasoning??

        Anyway, well done. True love/ relationship cannot exist without freedom. Freedom (love, personal relationship) means rejection/ sin is possible. It is God’s will that it be possible, but not His will that it happen.

        It is my will and strongest desire that my sons love me, obey me, and follow me. If I could, and did, make them love me, it would be neither love nor personal.

        One of the many reasons that God refers to Himself as our Father.

      14. Yeah, I guess I can’t resist poking a hole once in a while when I see a balloon full of hot air masquerading as the sun.

      15. ts00 writes, ‘Meaningful existence, in which men genuinely think, choose and act freely, requires the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise – which is the essence of evil. What blasphemy to say, instead, that God ‘ordained’ that rejection of his will which produced wickedness. Nay, that the very rejection of his will was his will!”

        God made man in His image to genuinely think, choose and act freely, with the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise. However, God is still able to overrule any evil that people may do. God could easily prevent any person from rejecting His will; when God does not prevent a person doing evil, then God has ordained that the person do the evil. What do you call it when God does not prevent evil that He is able to prevent?

        Then, “…a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control must ordain and predetermine all that occurs…”

        The argument is that ‘…a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control necessarily ordains and predetermine all that occurs…”

  13. DG asks, “Do you have a verse you can reference to prove this..”

    Just the standard argument and the verses cited. EK references two of those verses in the article. We also add Ephesians 1:11 and Romans 8:28.

    However, the argument can also be made on the meaning of “sovereign” and its application to God.

    1. DG,
      As you can see these are hardly the kind of verses you would be expecting.

      If one is to make the claim that before time God determined all things that will happen (without any chance of altering the course of even “the slightest dust particle” as they say)…. including, all sin, torture, rape etc…. you would think there would be a clearer verse.

      “…who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”

      This phrases could just as easily mean that it was His will to allow men to interact with Him, make choices, refuse Him, follow Him, etc.

      But no….. somehow that verse and their presupposed Greek-philosophy definition of “sovereignty” allow them to set up a position that the God who “is love” determined before time to tease and torment people.

      This concept…. that He determined all outcomes, sins, tortures, etc while pretending to invite all (MacArthur and Piper say the invitation really is to all, but He just does not allow some to make it) would be considered barbaric in any human setting. Yet the God who is love, who created man in His image, who tells us to love our enemies…. determined it this way.

      Good News!

      1. FOH,

        Yes, it’s the old Calvinist “all things” when it suits them trick.

        “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples” Mark 4:34.
        Because Jesus expounded “all things”, does that mean that he told them absolutely everything there is to know? Like how to perform an open heart bi-pass surgery and thing like that? No.

        “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” Mark 9:23.
        Because Jesus said “all things” are possible to him that believes, does that mean a believer can do absolutely everything? Like grow wings and fly? No! Not even Calvinists would say that.

        “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12.
        Because Paul said that “all things” are lawful for him, does that include absolutely everything? Like Satan worship or eating children and that sort of thing? No! Not even Calvinists would say that.

        It is clear when “all things” is written in the bible it pertains to the context and subject being discussed. All things” doesn’t always mean all things, as in everything.

        “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
        ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:11‬.
        Because Paul says God worketh “all things” after the counsel of his own will, does that include rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and sort of thing? No………but for same strange reason YES! If you are a Calvinist!

      2. DG,
        Great example.

        That would also take care of young Jose’s go-to verse that we can do “nothing apart from Christ.”

        The same that is true for “all things” is true for “no thing.”

        The same can be said for his “Jacob have I loved and Esau hated” —- since Christ tells us we have to “hate” our parents.

        ((Besides Romans is talking about the difference between Israel and others there)).

        It is stunning….. and I mean mind-blowing to think of how much Calvinists want us to be literal (“all things” “nothing” “hate”) when it suits them (and matches their other 37 verses), but not when it matches the rest of the tenor of the Bible.

      3. FOH writes, “mind-blowing to think of how much Calvinists want us to be literal (“all things” “nothing” “hate”) when it suits them (and matches their other 37 verses), but not when it matches the rest of the tenor of the Bible.”

        So, is this distortion purposeful?

      4. DG writes, “It is clear when “all things” is written in the bible it pertains to the context and subject being discussed. ”

        That is the point consistently made by Calvinists and often rejected by non-Calvinists.

        Then, ‘Because Paul says God worketh “all things” after the counsel of his own will, does that include rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and sort of thing? No………but for same strange reason YES! If you are a Calvinist! ”

        We also have Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Believers are raped and murdered, so are these included in the “all things” God is working for good? Again the Calvinist says, Yes. DG says, no.

        So we ask, Can God prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and every sort of thing? The Calvinist says, yes. DG appears to be saying, No.

      5. Rhutchin writes,

        “So we ask, Can God prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and every sort of thing? The Calvinist says, yes. DG appears to be saying, No.”

        Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began? Is God preventing the very things He ordained to unchangeably come to pass?

        Calvinists such as Rhutchin say Yes & No……..depending on which side of the mouth they wants to speak out of. You know…..I want my cake and eat it type of thing.

      6. DG asks “Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began?”

        I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.

        So, we still seem to have DG saying that God cannot prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing. DG takes a position against God.

      7. Rhutchin writes,

        “I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.”

        Notice Rhutchin’s self defeating argument –
        “He predetermines these things by not stopping them”

        He then tries to sneak in a little escape and says –
        “The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue”

        Well, it actually does according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism God predetermined everything that comes to pass, to come to pass before the world began for unknown reasons, and rendered it unchangeable.

        So God doesn’t use His power to stop the evil He predetermined to meticulously come to pass; that same evil that he predetermined to the finest detail for His own glory that cannot be changed.

        I mean, why would He? That’d be just silly wouldn’t it?

      8. Great comment! Rhutchin’s constant escape hatch of ‘God chose not to prevent’ certain things is a mere nonsensical impossibility. If God has already ordained ‘whatsoever’ has and ever will come to pass, there is nothing further to ’cause’ or ‘prevent’. Only an illusory, ineffectual ‘will’ of man, which obviously cannot resist the predetermined will of the Sovereign Creator and ordainer of all things. Why would Calvinism invent such a nonsensical, illusory will that has no logical meaning or purpose? Because they have to have some reason for God punishing men, who, otherwise, are merely doing what God irresistibly ordained. They are desperately trying to create a plausible excuse for the cruel injustice of their manufactured deity.

        Thus, they make up a nonsensical world in which God irresistibly determines ALL things, yet man has an illusory, ineffectual (and apparently irresistibly determined) will to do otherwise. God has ordained all things in eternity past, yet each man is supposedly responsible for doing the very evil God determined before he came into existence. It is both preposterous and logically impossible, like an emaciated fat cat or a loud mute. It is both! Cue up ‘The Candy Man’ so our minds become open to a made-up world of sugary clouds and candy flowers!

        If indeed God predetermines (and not merely foreknows) all things, then there is NOTHING EVER to prevent! His will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven. The evil that Jesus instructs us to pray for deliverance from, comes from God’s own hand. It is all a scam! God pretends to offer us deliverance from things he irresistibly determined to occur eons ago! Yet, somehow the Calvinist mind controls the pliant believer into turning off his or her power of logic and reason, allowing him to accept whatever the theology asserts to be true. For you see, when you turn off your mind, and do not apply your God-given power of logic and reason, you are no longer fully human, and you can be persuaded that literally anything is possible. The person is persuaded to take the word of the Calvinist ‘on faith’ – to believe what is literally, logically impossible because they have put their faith in a set of traditions crafted by men. This is how deluded cult members are persuaded to think, believe and do what anyone with a sound, functioning mind would consider to be unreasonable, or even unthinkable.

      9. TS00
        You of course are right about your ’emaciated fat cat’ idea. But you are just a ‘loud mute’ shouting it to them. The rest of us can hear you, but they cannot.

        It is a comfortable world (not biblical—-but you can turn a few half-verses to get by) where they get to have their cake and eat it too: God (they get to stay “really Sovereign”) calls all the shots from before time (literally robots to any person who thinks about it), yet man is responsible for all his choices and even encouraged to make right / wrong ones (help those kids with their homework to improve their future!!).

        It makes no sense. It has been illustrated many times the disconnect between theology and they way they live their lives (what we do matters(!) and we can improve/ change our future).

        But worse, it does not in any way resemble the story of the Bible —- or myriad books that are written by them (“Don’t Waste Your Life!”). It just simply is not a way of living or Good News!

      10. Rhutchin writes:

        “Howe discussed the July 4, 1995 incident where Tom Chantry punched 12-year-old Victim 5 in the face, knocking him to the ground. Chantry had only been at the church for a short time and was still in “interim” status. Rich Howe testified that he did not witness the actual punch to the face.

        Susan Eazer asked Howe if there were concerns or discussions about Chantry’s behavior. Howe said there was, and they had talked to Tom, but at the end of the day, they decided to forgive Tom and move on.”

        Same ol’ error – God CANNOT meticulously control the actions of men he granted the gift of a free will and the right to use it. Just as God CANNOT do evil. Of course, as far as power and ability, he COULD do either, but God is good, honest, faithful, true, just, etc., and will never break the ‘covenant’ he made with created beings when he created them in his image with the power of thought, reason and autonomous choice. Unless they ask him to, grant him permission to, pray for his supernatural interference in their lives to make them new persons, give them new hearts and instill his very Spirit within them.

        It is as if Calvinists read an entirely different bible and live entirely different lives in an entirely different world than the rest of mankind. Were I to live in their world, I would curse God and die – believing, of course, that it was foreordained for me to do so.

        In the real world – and this is part of the good news – men always have a second chance, unless and until they have so long resisted the voice of God that they can no longer even hear it. Yes, men can become so dead in sin that they cannot hear or see God, but it is the result of their own choices, not the lack of God’s love for them. But back to the rest, who sincerely desire a better world, a life worth living, peace on earth, or however the desire for goodness manifests itself in their minds, there exists a Way out, and that Way is Jesus.

        Even a condemned murderer, hanging on a cross, has hope of forgiveness. And every desperate man, hopeless woman or frightened child has that very same hope. By believing that God is good, that the evil in the world is not his doing, and that he offers them a Way out, they can indeed find forgiveness, new life and hope.

        This does not exist in Calvinism. Hope is for a select few. Forgiveness is for only the limited number Jesus chose to die for, when he could just as easily have atoned for all. Life everlasting, with no more sin, sorrow or death is the hope of only a predetermined few, while to the rest, God, the Creator or all things, says to all others ‘Go to hell, for which I made you’. Ya wanna live in that world – it’s all yours.

      11. Oops, my quoted text was from another document. Sorry for the confusion. It should have read:

        “DG asks “Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began?”

        I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.

        So, we still seem to have DG saying that God cannot prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing. DG takes a position against God.”

        (And don’t know why my page was not refreshing and showing my comments?)

  14. Here’s an interesting fact.

    The phrase “will of God” is found in the KJV bible in 23 verses. Every single one of these verses speak about the will of God in a singular sense.
    This alone should settle the matter!

    For example, Mark 3:35 Jesus says, “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

    If God has “two wills” or more as the Calvinists assume, and nothing can go against the “will of decree” as the Calvinists’ say; then the liar, the thief, the murderer, the adulterer, the same then is God’s brother, and his sister, and his mother; because as according to John Piper the fact that these things happen, is then assumed that God has a separate ‘will of decree’ that wanted these things to come to pass.

    Not once in the bible is the “will of God” spoken about in the plural, and especially a plural sense that would contradict itself.

    1. What can be more heinous than to assign the blame for man’s wickedness upon the ‘will of God’ rather than to it’s genuine cause – man’s rebellion against the will of God? In exchange for the freedom to sin without fear, or ‘sin boldly’ as Luther would put it, the Reformed folk sacrifice the unchallengable goodness and trustworthiness of God. They assign to him the blame for the very evil he so hates and has sacrificed to overcome.

      1. TS00,
        If you come to the Bible with the presupposition that “sovereignty” means what the Greek philosophers say it means…. and not what the Bible says (the way God portrays Himself: “I the Sovereign Lord say…..”) then you can blame anything on God.

      2. ts)) writes, “What can be more heinous than to assign the blame for man’s wickedness upon the ‘will of God’ rather than to it’s genuine cause – man’s rebellion ”

        Just because God willed the death of Christ does not make God the cause of Christ’s death or absolve man of the blame for His death. No one else is confused on this point, so why should you be confused.

    2. Actually Damon, a closer look will reveal that there are at least two or more “divine wills” only because of the different meanings that the word “will” has in English and how that one word is used for translating two or more different Greek words. In English we can use the word “will” to mean desire, purpose, plan, injunction (command), and promise. Greek has different words for each of these, and usually it is only the words meaning to desire (thelo) and to plan (boulomai) that are translated “will”. But God has both kinds!

    3. DG writes, “Not once in the bible is the “will of God” spoken about in the plural, and especially a plural sense that would contradict itself.”

      So, was it the will of God that Stephen be stoned to death or that Christ be crucified or that Adam eat the fruit?

      1. Rhutchin asks,

        “So, was it the will of God that Stephen be stoned to death or that Christ be crucified or that Adam eat the fruit?”

        Why would this be hard to answer?

        No it wasn’t God’s will that Stephen be stoned to death.

        Christ willingly went to the cross. He laid down his own life for the sins of the whole world.

        No it wasn’t God’s will that Adam ate the fruit. God actually warned him not to.

        Easy to answer if you are not a Calvinist.

      2. DG,
        Agreed that those are easy to answer. Why overthink it?

        God told Adam not to. It was not His will.

        A better one is Cain in Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

        God wanted him to bring the right sacrifice.

        God wanted him to rule over sin. Only Calvinists can tell you that God determined/ willed him to sin when telling him you must rule over.

      3. FOH,

        Yes it’s the old Calvinist double speak.

        God had “two wills” for Cain. One that he would obey and another that determined that he wouldn’t obey.

        God had one of his “two loves” for Cain. The one that gave him sunshine and rain, but not the other love that ever wanted him to repent and be saved.

        God had “two truths” for Cain. One that he will be punished and be held responsible for not obeying. The other that God determined that he never would obey from before he was born for unknown reasons.

        God used one of his “two calls” to salvation for Cain, being the general call that doesn’t really call anybody because it is not the “effectual call”.

        Cain would have looked at the Calvinist archway that says on the front “whosever ever believes shall be saved” but on the back would have be written “you were never chosen to be saved from before you were born for secret reasons”

      4. DG writes, “God had “two wills” for Cain. One that he would obey and another that determined that he wouldn’t obey.”

        Why must non-Calvinists continually distort the Calvinist position?? God willed that Cain have the freedom to do as he wanted and God willed to let Cain do what he wanted without interference from Him. Cain determined that he would not obey; God determined that Cain be free to disobey – given that God could have prevented Cain from killing Abel (which even DG does not deny), we can conclude that God determined Cain’s disobedience by failing to prevent it.

      5. Rhutchin writes,

        “God willed to let Cain do what he wanted without interference from Him”

        Not according to Calvinism. God didn’t “let” Cain do anything. According to Calvinism it was predetermined that Cain would do this evil for God’s own glory, right down to the finest detail. Cain just meticulously did the secret will of God and couldn’t have done otherwise according to Calvinism. It was determined unchangeable before the the work began for unknown reasons.

        Oh! but you just don’t understand Calvinism!

      6. DG writes, “According to Calvinism it was predetermined that Cain would do this evil for God’s own glory, right down to the finest detail.”

        God had predetermined – decided – to give Cain freedom to do as he wanted without God restraining him. God would not have done this if it were not for His glory. Remember Joseph and his brothers, “…as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50)

        Then, “Cain just meticulously did the secret will of God and couldn’t have done otherwise according to Calvinism.’

        Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires. As you note, God had perfect knowledge of all future events and knew exactly what Cain would do. It was God’s plan – God gave Cain life; sustained Cain; God gave Cain freedom to kill Able.

      7. DG,
        Nice try but there is no way to get them to hear logic or biblical sense here.

        We are told “Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires,” (so therefore he sinned— could “only sin”). Never mind that he no doubt did some good acts in his life. Never mind that Abel was in the same situation and yet “by faith” ” brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.”

        Could “only sin” my eye!

        It goes on that… “by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Which in my understanding means he speaks to all of us — Have faith!!! dont do like Cain.

        But no. In the Calvinist system, he doesn’t speak at all. Cuz you get faith or your dont…. so no lesson to learn from Abel.

      8. Rhutchin writes,

        “Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires.”

        Notice Rhutchin say “his desires” as if they were Cain’s desires.
        Cain was only fulfilling God’s desire according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism Cain’s thoughts and actions were meticulously predetermined by God before he was born by the secret decree.
        What He did was the desire of God because what He did brings Glory to God according to Calvinism.

        Rhutchin even says –
        ” God gave Cain freedom to kill Able” as if Cain was free to do otherwise; when Calvinism says all things that come to pass, come to pass by God’s secret decree that decreed it unchangeable before the world began.

        The Calvinist will always try and blame the sinner for the sin God meticulously desired and predetermined them to do. Even “as if” it was the sinners desire.

        When a Calvinist such as this uses words like “free”. He doesn’t actually mean free like anyone else would.

        Cain free to kill able? – No God determined to kill able using Cains…… ‘wink wink’ 😉 “freedom”

      9. DG writes, “Cain was only fulfilling God’s desire according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism Cain’s thoughts and actions were meticulously predetermined by God before he was born by the secret decree.”

        Cain was responsible for his own personal desires. Cain, because of Adam’s sin, was born with a corrupted nature and without faith. He was a self-determining person who chose freely to kill his brother. God knew hat was going through Cain’s mind and God could have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts (God’s decisions were made in eternity past). God predetermined that people would be free to sin and then God would use that sin to His glory. We see this in the sin of Joseph’s brothers to sell Joseph to the slave traders and in the crucifixion of Christ by the Romans. That God has predetermined all things results from His sovereignty over His creation together with His omnipotence and omniscience. DG never tries to argue against God – How could he? – preferring instead to complain about the Calvinist but never able to argue against them either.

        Then, “The Calvinist will always try and blame the sinner for the sin God meticulously desired and predetermined them to do.”

        What is the issue here? God does not force people to sin; God is still sovereign over people. People are rightly blamed for their sin because they choose freely to sin. DG’s complaint is that God knows that people want to sin and determined the final outcome by not stopping people as they sinned. Forget the Calvinists; DG has a lot of issues in the way God is ruling His creation.

        Then, “When a Calvinist such as this uses words like “free”. He doesn’t actually mean free like anyone else would. ”

        So, explain the difference – if there really is one.

        Then, “Cain free to kill able? – No God determined to kill able using Cains”

        DG doesn’t like what God has done.

      10. You said – “DG doesn’t like what God has done.” Careful Roger not to dogmatically or sarcastically attribute false or wrong motives or feelings to others that you cannot prove! You might express a question about motives and feelings, but sometimes even that can be seen as fleshly. I know… I have done it! 😉

      11. brianwagner writes, “Careful Roger not to dogmatically or sarcastically attribute false or wrong motives or feelings…”

        Like many commenters, DG makes comments about Calvinism’s interpretation the Scriptures regarding God. However, he can silent on his personal position leaving the reader to read his mind. If I have misread DG’s mind, he can correct the record. So far, he has not, so I think I am on the right track. I don’t use sarcasm.

      12. Roger – Then you should have said – “DG doesn’t like what Calvinists teach what God has done.” Do you see the difference? How would you interpret – “Roger doesn’t like what God has done”? Would you see that as a prejudiced judgment on your motives and feelings?

      13. Brian,
        You are so kind to figure this out for us!

        Now that RH tells us that he does not use sarcasm I realize all those times that he said I was “sleeping in class” or only “pretending to be (lying about being) a former Calvinist” it is because he was in the back of the room watching me sleep! This just in….. it must have been someone else he saw!

      14. brianwagner writes, ‘Would you see that as a prejudiced judgment on your motives and feelings?”

        It’s called reading the person’s mind. Personalize to incite a response. People do that to me all the time, don’t they?

      15. Well… if they do, Roger, my evaluation is the same, which I hope you will eventually agree with… it’s a “prejudiced judgment” and not welcome here on this site. I’m going to try to do better at deleting such comments that denigrate a person’s feelings or motives. Asking questions about feelings or motives, of course is ok.

      16. brianwagner writes, “t’s a “prejudiced judgment” and not welcome here on this site.”

        If a person puts forth is a “prejudicial judgement,” then does that not expose the shallowness of someone’s argument? If one person is not able to argue his point but only offers personal opinion, has he not opened himself up to “prejudicial judgment” of those opinions. One may easily respond to “prejudicial judgments” by just being open about what he believes. You easily state your open future philosophy. Why are others seemingly afraid to be as open with regard to their philosophies?

      17. We all make prejudiced judgments Roger. 😊 The ones against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation are the ones banned.

        Graciously edifying explanation is welcome. But if someone does not respond after awhile, I recommend just praying for them and posting comments you deem helpful but not directed at them or addressing them in the comment.

      18. Rhutchin writes,

        “God knew what was going through Cain’s mind and God could have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts”

        What Rhutchin fails to tell is that according to Calvinism it was God who implanted the very thoughts of Cains mind in such a way that he couldn’t have thought any differently.

        So, of course God “could” have have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts……….but then again that would just be silly wouldn’t it? Because implanted the very thoughts that would have redirected. Very silly Rhutchin.

      19. Getting late, 😴 sorry about missing words at the end of my last statement. I meant to say-
        …but then again that would just be silly wouldn’t it? Because God implanted the very thoughts that He would have been redirecting. Very silly Rhutchin.

      20. The funny thing is, Rhutchin actually comes close to the way God actually works. His error is in asserting an extra-biblical assumption that is not only logically impossibly but which renders God cruel, hateful, deceitful, disingenuous, untrustworthy, and so on.

        God has created men with a feww will, who have the power of reason and the freedom to choose their own actions, or follow their own desires, ven when they are opposed o God’s will. And, truly, God foreknows that these things will happen. This is the world as most people undersand it. We know that an all-powerful deity created us with an amazing ability to be like him, to think, reason and create. The serpent suggested, for the first time, that not only could man resist God’s will, but that he would be better off for doing so. That was the lie, and it is one men continue to embrace.

        Satan is always selling the ‘You can have your cake and eat it too’ myth. This myth appealed to Adam, who chose to believe he could disobey, which God warned would result in death, and yet live. Augustine, with a long history of sexual promiscuity, bought into a myth that would let him have his sex and be a man of God too – blame it on God!

        Calvin and friends polished this myth into its current finesse. Sin boldly! God doesn’t see the sin of his ‘elect’, so nothing you ever do can separate you from God! (That’s called a distortion of scripture’s assurance of God’s faithfulness.) If God is the sole mover, planning, designing, ordaining and bringing to pass whatsoever comes to pass, then even our sin brings him glory! (Paul addresses this license to sin as well, but Calvinists appear to ignore it.)

        It reminds me of the outlaw in Silverado, who somehow managed to get himself appointed sheriff. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that – a license to sin, and no one to stop you. That is Calvinism in a nutshell. If God is meticulously arranging and controlling all things, we have no need to concern ourselves with the sin and evil we do. God obviously planned it to bring himself glory, and we sure wouldn’t want to rob him of any glory, now would we?

        So, by taking a few pieces of verses, and distorting their meaning, Augustine’s protege concocted an entire systematic theology, complete with proof texts, that makes God the author of evil. That worked out when the people were mostly uneducated, and did not have scriptures that they could study on their own. It also helped that Calvin could expunge or murder anyone who dared disagree with him. But lo and behold, Godly men even then questioned, and even dared to laugh at, his ridiculous, inconsistent doctrines that made God responsible for the very evil he promised to punish and destroy! Such men had to run for their lives, and many of them ended up on the wrong side of the flames, or other torture devices.

        Now, as then, rational men laugh at the obvious inconsistencies and logical fallacies still inherent to Calvin’s systematic. Much as we all might like to, you simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either God chooses evil to exist by controlling men via his deterministic will, or men cause it to exist by freely resisting his expressed will. It simply cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be both. And yet the loyal Calvinist blathers on, blithely insisting that both are true, and, like Servetus, thinking men and women laugh at the absurdity of it all. We can be thankful we do not, so far, end up tied to a stake with smoking green wood at our feet.

      21. ts00 writes, “Either God chooses evil to exist by controlling men via his deterministic will, or men cause it to exist by freely resisting his expressed will. It simply cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be both. And yet the loyal Calvinist blathers on, blithely insisting that both are true,…”

        If ts00 could not distort Calvinism, what would he do? Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. God has given people the freedom of will to do as God commands or go off and do their own thing. Such is what Calvinism teaches – the Westminster confession says it this way, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” What the Confession states is that God uses the actions of sinful people to accomplish His plan. We see this in the account of Joseph and his brothers, the Assyrians in Isaiah 10, and the crucifixion of Christ.

      22. Everyone,

        Hutch said: “Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. ”

        Can we all just, finally, stop taking him seriously now?

      23. Eric,
        Thanks. We dont take him too seriously. Sometimes I think he is just here to rile people up, saying one thing one day and the exact opposite the next.

        We have learned from him that man is “free to choose” —and he will always choose sin. That leaves us no way to interpret most of the Bible.

        Heb. 11:4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

        Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
        ————-
        Automatically the Calvinist has to read-into and superimpose strong presuppositions. God (irresistibly gave faith to and) made Abel do well, and God warned, even instructed, Cain—- but never intended to give him any ability to overcome sin (mocking him).

        Calvinism renders any message of the Word impossible to understand (how does Abel still speak to us?). The only time it sounds like they are making sense is when they wander over into talking like non-Calvinists…. which they do all the time!

      24. FOH writes, “We have learned from him that man is “free to choose” —and he will always choose sin. That leaves us no way to interpret most of the Bible.”

        This from the man who “claims” to have been a Calvinist. How is it possible that he makes statements like this? The Calvinist points to Elijah’s experience and God’s response to him, ““I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” From this Paul, says, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” So, are we left with no way to interpret the Bible as FOH claims? Perhaps, we can follow the lead of the Scriptures and attribute faith to God’s grace and that God has reserved to Himself those whom He chooses – many identified in Hebrews 11.

        Then, ’”…he Calvinist has to read-into and superimpose strong presuppositions.”

        Those suppositions being that Adam’s sin resulted in a corrupted nature then inherited by his progeny together with the loss of faith. Paul tells us plainly in 2 Thessalonians 3, “not all have faith.”

        Then, “God (irresistibly gave faith to and) made Abel do well,…”

        If God is not the source of faith, then who is?

        Then, “and God warned, even instructed, Cain—- but never intended to give him any ability to overcome sin (mocking him).”

        The warning was sufficient was it not?

      25. EK writes, “Hutch said: “Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. ”
        Can we all just, finally, stop taking him seriously now? ”

        Now, that is sarcasm. But not very effective. That people are self-determining beings is clearly expressed in the Westminster Confession – I even quoted it to show such to be the case. Then, one can read Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of free will and see it there. Edwards, of course, is viewed by many as a Calvinist.

      26. TS00,
        You said that many are seeing through this new, inconsistent Calvinism, but many are also joining the wave. Of course they are all (ALL!) claiming to have found it in the Scriptures all by themselves, but the truth is in them using the same 40 verses and words like “necessarily” “thwart” “effectual grace” … and “semi-pelagian”. Yes…. they are taught in this….. but like to think they found it themselves.

        But I have also made the point that many are joining because they feel that it is either Calvinism or X Y Z. They (rightly or wrongly) feel the need to stand against ideas such as Pentecostalism, the Faith movement, Open Theology, Conditional immortality, Universalism, the Emerging church, etc.

        The only “safe” place for them is in the traditions of the reformers. You can hear this when they talk. Within minutes they will accuse any person that does not follow them as one or more of the above. Straw-man, brow-beating tactics. They win over the young (mostly) guys who want to honor God and give Him glory and “not get sucked into some tangent.”

      27. DG writes, ‘…according to Calvinism it was God who implanted the very thoughts of Cains mind in such a way that he couldn’t have thought any differently.”

        This is not true. Why do non-Calvinists have to distort the Calvinist position?? Is it because, they cannot argue against Calvinism and have to create something that they can malign more easily?

      28. DG,
        You are correct. The Reformed/ Calvinist/ Determinist position is that “every dust particle” since before time has been planned by God. But when we remind them of this fact and try to see how it does/ does not fit the biblical narrative, we are told that we are distorting their position.

        It just never ends.

      29. FOH writes, ‘The Reformed/ Calvinist/ Determinist position is that “every dust particle” since before time has been planned by God.”

        If God has not planned it, then who has planned it? Who is sovereign if not God? Where does this fail to fit the Biblical narrative?

      30. Really Rhutchin? Well let’s just Calvin to spell it out for you –

        “We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

        “thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which he has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

        Oh! But you just don’t understand Calvinism!

      31. DG,
        Let’s hear Spurgeon on the matter..

        “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He who believes in God must believe this truth. There is no standing point between this and Atheism. There is no halfway between an Almighty God, who works all things according to the good pleasure of his will, and no God at all!” Charles Spurgeon
        ———-

        I mean, doesn’t everyone want to elevate our Glorious King?

        But of course the bottom line of this means that we are robots and God ordained/planned/willed/ decreed all sin. Notice also, that Spurgeon has no room for any other position. His way or Atheism. Period. Is this how Calvin strong armed the masses in Geneva? (methinks)

        I would rather stick with what it appears the Bible teaches. God worked “all things according to the good pleasure of His will” and created the world with the possibility of sin, possibility of resisting sin, and the possibility of personal relationship (robots are not personal).

        No matter….. Spurgeon did not live or preach like he thought this was true. But it does sound good!!

      32. FOH,

        Good point. I have never come across a Calvinist that preaches exactly what he believes or believes exactly what he preaches, which ever way you want to look at it.

        If it’s all fixed. What’s the point of preaching? If it’s all fixed what is there to believe in? If it’s all fixed – it’s all fixed. And if anyone thinks otherwise, it’s because that decision was fixed. So why does the Calvinist try to convince? What is there to convince? It’s all fixed!

        Words in the bible like “persuade” “come” “let” “turn” “foresake” “trust” “believe” “judgement” “rebuke” ……..all loose any legitimacy, and the list could go on an on.

      33. DG,

        That list of words does go on and on!

        Their answer would be they do things “because we are commanded to do it.” For prayer they say, “We pray for what God has promised.”

        Well that works if you are praying, “Lord give me patience.” But not so much if you pray for safety on the road or that your child does X Y Z. Those things are just not “promised” things.

        And as for the “because we are commanded to” that is baloney too. We are commanded to love and train our children. But every man (even a Calvinist) lives his life with the idea that the more time spent with our kids, the more time helping them with their homework, etc increases the possibility of their good future. Even Calvinist counselors and authors drive that home again and again.

        So… relax everyone. People may call themselves Calvinist-Determinists, but they still live like what they do matters. And it does!

      34. FOH,

        Even that statement “because we are commanded to” becomes void. The very word “commanded” loses all of its meaning and legitimacy in a fixed world.
        There is nothing to “command” if it’s all fixed.
        A “commandment” becomes absolutely hollow.

      35. Dg,
        True the word command loses all meaning….especially since we can do or not do it???

        The dead-to-sin sinning Christian can choose to obey a command or not. Not easy to squeeze all those variables into a determinist philosophy. But who wants to anyway?!

      36. FOH,

        Yes, it would be a lot easier to blame our sin on fixed dust particles (as the atheist is trying to do mind you) but somehow I don’t think God is going to buy that!

        Obviously it’s not as fixed as the Calvinist would like and even they cannot escape that fact.

      37. DG writes, “The very word “commanded” loses all of its meaning and legitimacy in a fixed world.”

        God’s commandments separate the elect from the reprobate. Everyone knows exactly where they stand with God and no one will have any basis to stand before God and complain – if a person has a complaint, now is the time to complain.

      38. DG,
        We are told God’s commandments, “separate the elect from the reprobate,” meaning that when God says “be patient” He is talking to His people. Of course (we are told) of course the reprobate cannot be patient, be kind, love his neighbor, live sacrificially, etc. He can only do evil. And if he does good, it is only out of selfish desires.

        Not only do Calvinists have a “problem with evil” (claiming that God has ordained/ decreed/ desired all our evil acts), but they have “problem with good.”

        Surely any good act by “the reprobate” (who were created only to be destroyed and to contrast God’s grace show to the elect) is impossible to explain. “Mystery” will be the first word and then….. “they do it out of selfish intent” will be the next.

        But all of us know some who have passed away without Christ (“the reprobate”) who were also very kind, good people.

      39. Prayer is a huge problem for Calvinists. I once heard a young, newly Calvinist pastor preach the most confused, contradictory sermon, as he struggled to somehow make sense of prayer. You could literally see the angst, and the confusion, as he sought to impress on his small group of followers that not ‘everything’ was totally determined, and that prayer really mattered, then rushed to assure them that he was not abandoning Calvinism. He was just performing the contradictions necessary to clinging to the theology of Calvinism while trying to convince oneself that life actually had genuine purposefulness and meaning.

        A woman posting on another site mentioned that she had lost an adult son to alcoholism. One can only imagine the agony, and the many tearful prayers. What I cannot imagine is believing that the alcoholism, suffering and early death of one’s beloved child had all been predetermined and irresistibly decreed by God, rather than tragic choices made against God’s loving will.

        If you have lived through such real tragedies you realize that there is a vast distinction between a God who respects the freedom he created mankind to have and use, and a tyrannical dictator who concocts evil to destroy people who are helpless to do other than as he dictates. The former desires, as he expressed to Cain, that we choose wisely, but respects his own decision to give us a power of choice. The latter, under Calvinism, came up with a plan to create evil in order to ‘glorify’ himself by overcoming it. Without the slightest concern for the helpless souls who are hurt and destroyed by his evil plans ordained for men to pursue.

        Ol’ Rhutchin and his comrades can rock back and forth inconsistently between God determining all things and man choosing his own desires all they want, but the thinking person sees the implausibility of both being true. It is only if you turn off that thinking mind God gave you, and bow to the ‘authority’ of the traditions of men and those who teach them, that you can come to hold irreconcilable beliefs, without ever facing their contradictions. I know many, many people who refuse to face that cognitive dissonance, and unblushingly hold to illogical, contradictory beliefs, without grasping how silly they seem to people who reason and think.

        Refusing to do the hard thinking (some are unable), such persons chalk the logical fallacies all up to ‘mystery’. It is indeed a mystery how two irreconcilable, contradictory truths can coexist, how God can both meticulously predetermine every thought, word and action and yet man can freely choose to follow his own ‘desires’. (Hint: God uses sneaky, secretive ‘secondary means’ to make us think we freely choose, when in reality, we are simply doing what he has ‘ordained’ us to do!) Were they able, and God had a different ‘logic’ than he granted to men, we would be helpless to understand or make sense of either God or our world.

        The very research that demonstrates how men can compartmentalize and hold many illogical, contradictory beliefs, sadly, also provides the blueprint for cultish leaders to pursue such an agenda. We see it at work in the political realm, as well as the religious.

      40. FOH writes, “People may call themselves Calvinist-Determinists, but they still live like what they do matters.”

        Calvinists live like what they do matters because God has said that obedience to Him matters.

      41. DG asks, “What’s the point of preaching? ”

        Preaching is the means God uses to draw His elect out of the world. It solidifies the judgment of the reprobate.

        Then, “So why does the Calvinist try to convince? What is there to convince? It’s all fixed!”

        It is God “who works all things after the counsel of His will…” and “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It’s the system that God set up. It is God who fixed all things and that which God does reflects His perfect wisdom.

        Then, “Words in the bible like “persuade” “come” “let” “turn” “foresake” “trust” “believe” “judgement” “rebuke” ……..all loose any legitimacy, and the list could go on an on.”

        If one could be persuaded, he would be persuaded; if he could come, he would come; if he could believe, he would believe. That all people are not persuaded, nor come, nor believe in the face of the power of the word tells us that something is going on – it is “God who began a good work in [His elect] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

      42. FOH writes, “But of course the bottom line of this means that we are robots….”

        A non sequitur if there ever was one. FOH sees robots because that is what he wants to see.

      43. DG writes, “Well let’s just Calvin to spell it out for you…Oh! But you just don’t understand Calvinism!”

        So, what is your point? Calvin says that God is sovereign and people are subordinate to Him. God determines all things some through the free actions of sinful people. Let’s use the example in Isaiah 10, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation, I send it against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder, And to trample them down like mud in the streets. Yet it does not so intend Nor does it plan so in its heart, But rather it is its purpose to destroy, And to cut off many nations. For it says, “Are not my princes all kings? “Is not Calno like Carchemish, Or Hamath like Arpad, Or Samaria like Damascus? “As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, Whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images Just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?” So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.” For he has said, “By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, For I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples, And plundered their treasures, And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants,…”

        What clever insight did you think you got from Calvin that supports whatever point you are trying to make?

      44. DG,

        No matter what you say, Calvinists will pull out Isaiah 10 and the Joseph phrase, and the Acts 4 verse….. each one turned on its head to make a Determinist point. Oh…. Let’s not forget Proverb 16 about throwing dice.

        So… you just put aside the natural reading of the Bible. In fact, don’t even translate 98% of the Bible if you are going to go and do a translation for people. Just give them a couple of passages and tell them…. “We know what these mean and you must filter all the rest of the Bible through them.”

        So… DG, you may read through the Bible and journal (or post) ideas about the amazing ability of God to created a free world where He intervenes, fulfilling His purpose, even while allowing men to freely disobey or obey Him. He is not so small that He has to micro-manage everything out of insecurity that if He doesnt something might not work. He is not so small that He has even scripted the praise that we give Him. Truly His greatness is seen in His ability to “work all things according to His purpose” even though man has the ability to join in or not.

        But…. just expect that despite seeing this in hundreds of verses and hundreds of ways and all books of the Bible…. you will receive as a response one of their 40-50 filter verses.

      45. DG quotes:

        “We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

        As I suggested earlier, when Calvin invented his monstrous, tyrannical God, the vast majority of people had no formal education, and few, if any, had a copy of scripture they could read for themselves. No Google, if you can imagine! Add to that the immense political power Calvin had amassed, so that he could, literally, have anyone who challenged him ostracized or condemned to death. Scholars suggest that his power reached well beyond Geneva, and dissenters found it very difficult to obtain protection even from those who were sympathetic to their cause. All were afraid of Calvin’s reach.

        Thus, Calvin could say whatever Calvin wanted, and none but the bravest could challenge him openly. Besides, unless they were actually paying attention through all of Calvin’s long-winded (required) sermons, few knew what it was he taught anyway. The pew, much like today, simply heard that God was ‘sovereign’ and most were okay with that. Sadly, apart from sites like this one, most self-claimed Calvinists know little more about what they claim to believe than yesterday’s Genevans did. They too are told that God is Sovereign, to which all say a hearty ‘Amen’ and that is that. God saw fit to end the tyranny empowered by limited information, increasing the ability of the powerless to acquire knowledge, education and countless copies of the written word. The printing press not only gives us access to the scriptures, but to the words of men like Calvin, which were once accessible by only a few privileged scholars.

        All that to say, once people began to have access to the written words of Calvin, they were well repudiated. There are countless books and articles, dating back hundreds of years, discounting his teachings with excellent logic and scriptural support. Even most modern Calvinists prefer to distance themselves somewhat from Calvin and his teachings, but, in reality, one cannot dispense of any of Calvin’s less palatable doctrines without destroying the whole flower.

        In order to maintain Calvinism’s meticulous determinism, one must have the theories of Original Sin, Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace, etc. Yet today’s Calvinist, having learned from history that even the simplest, least educated of men refuse to believe in their monstrous God, seek to reinvent him. Whereas Calvin could, with little danger, write for a well-controlled class of scholars that “. . . we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined” today’s Calvinists must be more subtle.

        It is pitifully simple, as few actually read for themselves, or grapple with the meaning of Calvin’s words, those of the Westminster Confession or their particular church’s ‘statement of belief’. Those who do, and seek to inform others of statements like “the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined” will be repeatedly faced with denials that Calvinism actually asserts that God meticulously controls EVERYTHING, including the counsels and wills of men. ‘You just don’t understand Calvinism’ is the official mantra. They will falsely assert a kinder, gentler Calvinism that allows for men to retain some measure of free will, or at least the ability to make some so-called choices based on so-called personal desires along with a God who predetermined the movement of every atom in the universe.

        In truth, this cannot be so. It was the negation of this common belief that made Calvin’s Institutes the transformative ideas they were. All of history documents this well-recorded dispute, and yet today’s Compatabilist Calvinist pretends as if it were not so. They insist that one can have their cake and eat it too; affirm a sole mover in the universe and the freedom of man’s actions, which is its antithesis.

        It is only the so-called ‘hyper-Calvinist’ who honestly confronts the ugly truths of Reformed Theology, yet they are more reviled by the New Calvinist than the non-Calvinist. The New Calvinists, like ol’ Rhutchin here, try to see-saw back and forth, first claiming to affirm one assertion, then quoting scripture that affirms its exact opposite. After a while, one can’t tell what they really believe, and I suppose that is the goal. Like a clever politician, they can pull up a statement or policy in favor of any special interest, so all are satisfied, despite having vastly disparate agendas.

        Just as the above post describes.

      46. Rhutchin writes,

        “God determines all things some through the free actions of sinful people.”

        What he fails to tell in this instance is that it is all fixed. Every “free” action that came to pass wasn’t actually free at all. It was a fixed action and couldn’t have been any freer than being fixed. That’s what he means by “free”.

        Then as a typical Calvinist he uses actions in the bible of sinful men to prove this point “as if” they had true freedom, when in reality it is all fixed by the secret counsel of God before the world began according to Calvinism.

        It’s just a “clever” but not so clever play on words and juggling.
        All to try and prove that only a select few are picked out to be believers before they are born for no given reason, leaving the rest not picked before they were born for the same mysterious reason.

      47. DG writes, “It was a fixed action and couldn’t have been any freer than being fixed. That’s what he means by “free”.”

        Just because an action is fixed — God knows that it will happen – does not mean that it is not free. God “fixes” outcomes consistent with the desires of a person. To be free, a person need only be able to act on his desires and not be coerced to act against his desires.

        DG writes, “he uses actions in the bible of sinful men to prove this point “as if” they had true freedom, when in reality it is all fixed by the secret counsel of God before the world began according to Calvinism.”

        There is no conflict or contradiction between an event being fixed by the secret counsel of God and that event resulting from the free actions of people. Within the church, people speak of God opening doors and closing doors. People know that they act freely to pursue their desires but that God can close doors to prevent them going in certain directions and opening doors so that they can go in other directions. Where God closes doors, the presumption is that God knows better and is preventing a person making a mistake.

      48. Rhutchin writes,

        “Just because an action is fixed — God knows that it will happen – does not mean that it is not free”

        Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie 😉

        Or like this – just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t leave whenever he wants 😉

        I think I get it 😜

      49. You see, since God determined that the man should be locked in prison with no way out, he also gave the man the desire to be locked in prison, so he can ‘honestly’ shrug it off with: ‘The man simply chose what he desired’. He points to these ‘desires’ (which he made sure the man had) and blame them for the man’s ‘choices. God determines whatsoever will happen, instills the necessary desires so that men will do as he has determined and God gets whatever he wants – while man gets the blame. What a clever, cruel, controlling, dishonest monster Calvinists would have us trust in.

      50. TS00 writes, “You see, since God determined that the man should be locked in prison with no way out, he also gave the man the desire to be locked in prison,…”

        No. That God determined a person to be in jail says nothing about the person’s desire to be in jail.

        Then, “The man simply chose what he desired’”

        Those desires – reflecting a depraved nature – resulted in criminal behavior that led to his being incarcerated.

        Then, “What a clever, cruel, controlling, dishonest monster Calvinists would have us trust in.”

        Except that your preceding your opinions have nothing to do with Calvinism.

      51. DG writes, “Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.

        Then, ‘Or like this – just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t leave whenever he wants ”

        Again, No. It would be, “just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t freely do whatever he wants within the jail cell.” God may close the door on certain outcomes (leaving the jail cell) but that does not mean that the person is no longer free within the constraints of the closed door.

      52. Rhutchin writes, ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.

        No, I don’t follow the argument because as you have stated elsewhere that God only knows what He has determined to happen.

        Or as Calvinism says whatever comes to pass is whatever God determined to come to pass by His unchangeable decree.

        So God determined that I would eat a cookie and it will come to pass whether I like it or not.
        In fact according to Calvinism I cannot desire to “like it or not” either. My desire to like it was also determined.

        So no, I don’t follow.

      53. Rhutchin writes:

        “DG writes, “Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.”

        Now here is a grand example of a Calvinist borrowing the theology of his arch-rivals and pretending as if it is not the antithesis of everything his theology asserts. The non-Calvinist most correctly grants that God foreknows all events without determining them. For a Calvinist to claim what is such ‘heresy’ (to Calvinism) is the height of deception.

        When my former Calvinist pastor played that game, I was outta there. If you want to proclaim an offensive and difficult doctrine, at least be honest and consistent. Present what the doctrines assert, and don’t hide behind doublespeak and gobbledygook talk. Calvinism does NOT for a second allow God to merely foreknow man’s actions, but insists that God ordained, determined and irresistibly caused them. It is sheer BS (pardon my french) for the Calvinist to pretend their definition of sovereignty is the same as the definition most non-Calvinists apply to foreknowledge. If Calvinism actually asserted such, they would be on the same page as non-Calvinist believers. There would be no divide, no debates, no difference of opinions. This is cloud catching – doubletalking deception, just as the post explains.

      54. FOH writes, “God told Adam not to. It was not His will.”

        Yet, God then gives Adam the freedom to eat the fruit and then God does not step in to keep Adam from making a bad decision. Don’t God’s actions mean anything to you? Or do you find it best to turn and look the other way?

      55. Rhutchin writes:

        “FOH writes, “God told Adam not to. It was not His will.”

        Yet, God then gives Adam the freedom to eat the fruit and then God does not step in to keep Adam from making a bad decision. Don’t God’s actions mean anything to you? Or do you find it best to turn and look the other way?”

        As if on cue, Rhutchin again provides material evidence of the cloud catching tactics the post describes!

        Agree that God commands man not to sin, implying man actually has the genuine ability to perform either action – obey or disobey. (Scripture forces him into this admission.) So, now we are working within the scriptural framework of God’s will being proscriptive, but not determinitive. That’s easy to understand. But not so fast; a sleight of hand occurs, and Rhutchin’s God, the magician, swiftly replaces that genuine scriptural framework with a faulty one. Without ‘force’ He ‘allows’ Adam to make the bad decision (you know, he one he predetermined him to make in eternity past and which he could never have resisted), but disingenuously makes it ‘appear’ to be his own freely made decision! Ol’ Adam never saw the switcheroo, and actually thought he had the choice to obey or disobey; in reality, God had scripted the entire event, and secretly given Adam the irresistible desire – which he could not choose to not choose – to disobey.

        Ah, did you see the sleight of hand involved? Magicians are oh so clever! All God had to do was insert a tiny little ‘as if’ and the unobservant Adam never even saw what happened! God pretends ‘as if’ Adam actually has the freedom to pursue his ‘own desires’ whatever they be; what he omits is telling Adam (or us) that he has actually predetermined those desires, so that, in reality, Adam’s ‘choice’ is inevitable. Voila! God gets his way, and man, thinking he made a naughty, self-determined choice, pays the consequences. Poor ol’ Adam goes to his grave thinking he’s a dirty, rotten, little sinner (sorry, it’s an old Hybels’ phrase I picked up years ago) when, in reality, he is just performing what God determined, scripted and irresistibly brought to pass.

        ‘That is impossible! How can this be?’ cry the amazed onlookers, but alas, the magician must not reveal the ‘mystery’ or the magic will disappear. Calvinists firmly believe in the magic. The rest of us think someone is being duped. Or maybe Calvinists really are closet Universalists, and at the last day, when God reveals that he was indeed the author, ordainer and bringer-to-pass of all things, all will be forgiven for only doing what they had to do.

      56. TS00,
        Well now there you go….. calling them Universalists when that is their moniker to pin on us!

        But hey….wait….. if the whole thing is scripted you might be right. You know… kind of like at the end of a scripted play when all the actors (good guys and bad guys) come out for a bow. In fact in some plays, the biggest bouquet of flowers goes to the bad guy, so you might have a point there.

      57. FOH writes:

        “But hey….wait….. if the whole thing is scripted you might be right. You know… kind of like at the end of a scripted play when all the actors (good guys and bad guys) come out for a bow. In fact in some plays, the biggest bouquet of flowers goes to the bad guy, so you might have a point there.”

        That’s kinda how I’m seeing it; if the ‘bad guys’ followed their script just as did the ‘good guys’, why wouldn’t God say ‘Well done, thou bad and faithful servant’ and give them an equal reward?

      58. DG writes, “No it wasn’t God’s will that Stephen be stoned to death.,,,No it wasn’t God’s will that Adam ate the fruit. God actually warned him not to.”

        God was present when Stephan was killed and when Adam ate the fruit. God had the ability and power to stop both outcomes. God had made a conscious decision that He would not stop either event. DG says that God’s actions have nothing to do with what God wanted. Jesus said that people are known by their fruit (or actions). Do we not also come to know God by His actions? DG apparently does not think so.

        Then, “Christ willingly went to the cross. He laid down his own life for the sins of the whole world.”

        And we know that this was according to God’s will as Peter explains in Acts 2, “this Man (Jesus), delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”

      59. Rhutchin writes,

        God was present when Stephan was killed and when Adam ate the fruit. God had the ability and power to stop both outcomes.”

        What? To stop the very thing that He meticulously determined to unchangeably come to pass?

        That’s just silly.

      60. DG writes, “What? To stop the very thing that He meticulously determined to unchangeably come to pass?”

        Yes. God could have determined a different future, but He didn’t. God has a plan and He is sticking to it.

  15. Thanks Brian,

    When these words used whether Greek or English they don’t contradict themselves or have a “double meaning”. Or intentionally have two meanings up for debate as the Calvinist would like.

    I think that’s what I’m trying to get across.

  16. I have written a little bit about the disconnect between Calvinist theology and Calvinist life.

    Take prayer. RH says that we pray for what God promises and He gives it. Well…. not so much.

    I can easily hear my Calvinist friends praying prayers such as:

    Lord, grant us favor with the authorities …

    Lord, bend the hearts of the leaders….

    Lord, bring our children to faith in you…

    Lord give me X, Y, Z etc……….

    Lord keep my children safe on the road…..

    For a non-determinist these would be real cries from the heart. Real pleadings with a good God who can respond to our desires and needs.

    For a determinist this is ….just….. well what is it? I mean they are not praying for precise promises of God. In fact, it might clearly be God’s intention to do the opposite (so therefore NOT a promise to do it). In fact….. in all cases….. in every case…. for a determinist, the decision for that request was already made before eternity began. And so was your asking for it …. so He could refuse you.

    Phew! It’s enough to make you dizzy all that man-makes-no-different philosophy!

    1. FOH writes, “For a non-determinist these would be real cries from the heart.”

      Why would a non-determinist ask God for such things if he doesn’t believe God determines such things.

  17. Andyb,

    Of course the Calvinist will quickly say “we don’t know who God has chosen so we invite all.”

    But that is not much of an “invitation”.

    That renders Christ very insincere when He says “come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

    There should be (but isnt) a footnote saying, “I dont mean all who labor… just the ones we already picked, but I wanna make it sound like anyone can.”

    1. FOH writes, ‘That renders Christ very insincere when He says “come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

      What is insincere about this invitation?? Are not all people who come to Christ given rest?? What is wrong with God then stepping in and drawing some of those who refused Chrit’s invitation and saving them from making the worst decision of their lives??

  18. DG,
    All those double “wills” and things (works for double speak!!).

    Did you ever see that Apollo 13 film where the engineer says “We have to make this, fit in the place designed for this…. using only this.”?

    They have to get real creative. Just like Calvinists with God’s “two wills” “two loves” “two truths” “two calls”. I mean, they cannot even hear themselves making up all these terms “general call” and “effectual call” (not to mention all their Latin).

    Of course you can (like the creative engineers in the movie) make a square peg fit a round hole, finding a verse here and a half-verse there, but that does not at all mean God designed His world that way. Those engineers make that makeshift gear work, but they would never have sent the rocket up with that gear!!

  19. Daily reading. Prov 21:1-3

    One of the Calvinist 40, go-to verses is found in my reading today.

    21:1 The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.
    —–
    We dont really get doctrine from the Proverbs, but Piper does when needed. This verse is used as a prop-up verse saying that all acts by all men at all times have already been decided by God. If it is yanked out of context, and a good amount of bloviating is applied, one can turn it to mean that (if that is the pre-arranged goal). But the simple reader will not see that at all.

    Besides the world doesnt even have kings anymore, and you and I are certainly not kings! Let’s look at the two following verses….

    21:2 People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.
    ——————
    What? People make their own choices that the Lord does not dictate to them?

    Why does it say the “Lord examines their heart,” if it was the Lord who gave them their every desire?

    Why does He even need to examine? It sounds very much like it is taking place in real time…. and certainly, certainly would contradict the Calvinist interpretation of the previous verse (but remember they only quote one verse, or half-verse at a time. Calvinist rule: avoid context).

    21:3 The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
    ————
    What? The Lord can be pleased? Yes! But that contradicts the impassible doctrine taught by Calvinists.

    People can do what is right? Yes! But that contradicts the idea that “man can do no good” taught by Calvinists.

    I’m not cherry-picking these verses…… Daily reading will rinse Calvinism away.

    1. FOH writes, “We dont really get doctrine from the Proverbs,…”

      What does Paul tell us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” All Scripture, even the Proverbs, is truth and truth is doctrine. FOH, for some reason, insists on denigrating the Scriptures. For what purpose???

  20. Daily reading in Ezra 10

    10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel.”
    ———–

    A. The Calvinist concept of God micro-controlling all action would have Ezra respond, “Don’t worry about it; that was God’s hidden, secret will.”

    B. Shecaniah obviously disagrees with Calvinists since he says we can do things that God does not want.

    C. Then he says that in spite of this there is still hope. The following verses show that the “hope” he is referring to is in their “man-centered” obedience. No outside intervention from God, no special giving of faith (they are, remember, already the “chosen” people)…. they just need to turn from sin and be obedient.

    This is the message in a thousand place and a thousand ways in the Bible. God has given you what you need (“chosen people,” non-believers, believers) to repent and turn.

    1. FOH writes, “A. The Calvinist concept of God micro-controlling all action would have Ezra respond, “Don’t worry about it; that was God’s hidden, secret will.”

      The Calvinist follows the lead of Christ who said to peter, ““Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

      Then, ‘B. Shecaniah obviously disagrees with Calvinists since he says we can do things that God does not want.”

      Calvinists say that people are always doing things that God does not want. Remember Genesis 6, so often quoted by Calvinists, “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

      Then, “C. Then he says that in spite of this there is still hope. ”

      God tells us in Hebrews 1, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” That in which a person has hope is God.

      What precedes the verse you cite (a purposeful omission on your part??), “while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women, and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.”

      Then, “This is the message in a thousand place and a thousand ways in the Bible. God has given you what you need (“chosen people,” non-believers, believers) to repent and turn.”

      Thus, we see that the decision to submit to God is a no-brainer.

  21. brianwagner writes, “We all make prejudiced judgments Roger. 😊 The ones against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation are the ones banned.”

    Dr. Flowers opens “Does Calvary Prove Divine Determinism” with this: “…are you saying that God is sovereignly working so as to redeem the very sins He sovereignly worked to bring about? Is Calvary just about God cleaning up His own mess — redeeming His own determinations?”

    Would you classify this as a prejudiced judgment? Or is framing such things as questions the workaround?

    1. Roger – What part of “against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation” don’t you understand? Your example of Leighton’s words don’t fit that description.

      1. brianwagner writes, “What part of “against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation” don’t you understand? You example of Leighton’s words don’t fit that description.”

        There is the inference to Calvinism about “God cleaning up His own mess.” A somewhat loaded statement to be applied to Calvinist thinking is it not? Could it be that you are just sensitive to comments made about non-Calvinists and not those made against Calvinists? (Notice the use of a question to impugn your reputation.) Insults are often in the eye oft he beholder, whether intended or not.

        Then, there is the claim at the end, “These are questions many Calvinists seem unwilling to entertain at any depth.” Really????

      2. Keep reading more closely… see the phrase “a person’s”…. like “Brian believes God causes sin and then cleans up His mess later to cover His tracks”…. that’s banned (unless of course Brian said those words). But “Calvinism makes God the author of all sin and then proposes that He cleans up His mess for some.” That is not banned. Are you following now?

      3. brianwagner writes, “like “Brian believes God causes sin and then cleans up His mess later to cover His tracks”…. that’s banned (unless of course Brian said those words). But “Calvinism makes God the author of all sin and then proposes that He cleans up His mess for some.” That is not banned.”

        So, I can say Brian is an open futurist as often as I want. Then separately, I can say that open futurists are dumb, stupid, slobs as often as I want and that is OK.

      4. You might want to add, Roger, “… slobs in my opinion”. 😉 The idea is to try to edify each other, no matter their position, as much as possible. Many have not not caught on to that purpose on this site, at least not always for everyone!

  22. Romans 6 clearly teaches we are to live without sin. If your life doesn’t align with this, then it’s not a problem of the “actual” meaning (how Gnostic is that?!) but of you not living up to the Biblical standard.

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