20 thoughts on “Former Calvinistic Pastor Apologizes to his Congregation

  1. I appreciated how he was helped especially by those who presented exegetical reasoning from passages that he was discussing, instead of just jumping to a passage that seemed contrary to the one he was discussing. He dealt with Eph 1:4 in that sermon, but I would be interested to see how he handles now the other favorite proof texts of Calvinists.

    His explanation of Eph 1:4 would have been strengthened even further by recognizing the general reference meaning of “us”.

    Eph 1, 4

    Determinists have always tried to read too much into that verse that Paul wrote in a context about blessings we now have, now that we are in Christ. Some of those blessings were given to Him before creation, to be shared with all who would later be joined to Him.

    The pronoun “us” is being used in a general reference, anachronistic sense, like me saying – “We chased the Native Americans before the Revolution so that they would live west of the Appalachian Mtn range.”

    Another similar example would be the Levites in David’s day who were chosen to carry the ark. David said, as recorded in 1Chr 15:2 – “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”

    Any Levite that day could have said to another Levite – “God chose us in Aaron, before Israel entered the promised land, to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.” Of course, he would not have had the ridiculous thought that God had his name written down in a book during Aaron’s time of all future Levites. He would not think that he individually or physically would be ministering before the Lord forever in this special task as a priest. He would just be using the “us” as a pronoun of reference with a corporate connection because of the promise made to Aaron, and because of his being added into Aaron’s lineage by physical birth.

    We say, with Paul, we have the same privileges granted to the Son of God before creation that go to any in His lineage, since we are now joined to Him by spiritual birth through our personal faith. We now have the blessing to stand holy and blameless before God as one of God’s chosen in the Chosen One – Christ..

    1. Brian,

      I agree with your explanation, however…

      While you consentrate on the pronoun “us”, I consentrate on the word “to”, or, the task.

      The task of the Levites was TO carry the ark.

      So, in Ephesians, God chose CHRISTIANS…AS A WHOLE (just like the LEVITES are a WHOLE)…TO….be holy and blameless!

      The task of Christians is TO be holy and blameless.

      Christians were chosen for a task of good works, to be holy and blameless. Individuals were not chosen to be Christians.

      1. The “us” is important and the “to” is important, but neither are as important as the words you’ve left out, “in Him.” We, or rather the “us,” was not chosen until they exercised repentance and faith in their depravity and the Holy Spirit baptized them into the “Chosen One,” Isaiah 42:1. Being placed into the Chosen One is the only way for us to be holy and blameless.

      2. Welcome Brent! Yes… one has to be in Christ before they can before they can become one of the “chosen” to be blameless and holy!

      3. Brent,

        I agree with your premise UNTIL you got to the word, Depravity. You had me at hello until that word. I don’t believe in depravity. I don’t believe that faith is a work of man, but I believe that faith is exercised by man willingly, without God’s interference in our free will decision making. All God does is to present his case to us, and let’s us decide. And to me, that’s how God uses his Sovereignty. Delegates.

  2. Great podcast. I am older than Leighton (and he is older than this guy) so there has been the trickle-in trickle-out movements from Calvinism for a while.

    Agree with Brian W that we should spend more time showing a good alternative to the 40 verses Calvinists camp on. I mean they just repeat the same verses over and over. It seems irrelevant to them that there are thousands of verses that refute Calvinism.

  3. One great point came at about minute 13 of the podcast.

    I have remarked for a long time now that any conference with a Calvinist as a leader will ONLY have Calvinists. But conferences with non-Calvinist leaders will bring a wide spectrum in.

    Certainly that is them doing what Leighton says…. elevating that doctrine above all others. Meaning…it’s not an option. Meaning…. You are only a serious X (missionary, Bible teacher, family counselor, musician, etc) IF you hold their 5-points. Sad. But not a bad strategy.

  4. Wonderful session Dr. Flowers!!

    I appreciated how he spoke about honesty – and related how in attempting to evangelize a Calvinistic idea to an audience – he saw himself being less than honest in an attempt to avoid negative reactions from people. I would love to have him drawn out more on that aspect – because I think its much much more common than is realized.

    Also, I would be interested in a list of those exegetical voices of influence that you mentioned in the video. If you don’t have one already, I would be interesting in putting together a matrix of exegetical topics and your recommended exegetical resource.

    Thanks again so very much for everything you do!!


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  6. My first thought was “Gee. This guy is awfully young to be in a pastoral position”.

    Around the 37:33 mark, Leighton talked about “some people are closet Calvinists, because it would costs them their jobs.”

    I immediately thought about John 12:42 (NKJV)….
    “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.”

    Regarding the confusion from Ephesians 1, another possible option would be to pay close attention to the “us” found in verses 1 thru 12. I lean that this “us” is a reference to the Jews, albeit believing Jews.

    Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV)… “…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

    To the House of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, Peter writes…

    1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)….
    But you are a chosen generation (or race), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may (do what?) proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”

    Ephesians 1:5 (NKJV)…
    “…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”

    Paul writes…..

    Romans 9:4 (NKJV)…
    “….who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises…”

    Ephesians 1:12 (NKJV)…
    “…that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

    Who first trusted/believed in Christ? Again, Paul writes…

    Romans 1:16 (NKJV)…
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

    Even our Lord Jesus Christ said….

    John 4:22b (NKJV)….
    “…for salvation is of the Jews.”

    Acts 13:47 (NKJV)…
    For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

    This is what God predestined Israel for.

    Then, notice the change in pronouns. What has been “us” from verses 1 thru 12 now shifts to “you” in verse 13. This “you” is carried forward to Ephesians 2:11-13….

    Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)…
    “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

    Now I am fully aware that there are those who believe that Ephesians 1:1-12 is about blessings predestined for believers, or those “in Him” (and maybe they are right). I think this view is widely accepted by default because, like the video states, non-Calvinists have struggled coming up with a viable alternative. However, I believe it only helps reinforce the Calvinistic teaching of “unconditional election” when we assume that we are in charge of our election. Basically, this view says “I am elect, because I elected to believe” or “I chose to be chosen”.

    The biblical fact is, Israel did not choose God, but God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7, Isaiah 45:4, 1 Chronicles 16:13, John 15:16).

    God bless.

    1. Hi Philip
      I’ve come to see and do agree with the distinction between us (Jewish Believers) and You(gentile believers)

      Especially because that’s what Paul clearly puts forth in Eph2:11,17,19-20.

      Which follows through with Chapter3: 1-13!

      But what I can’t understand you say:

      “However, I believe it only helps reinforce the Calvinistic teaching of “unconditional election” when we assume that we are in charge of our election. Basically, this view says “I am elect, because I elected to believe” or “I chose to be chosen”.

      The biblical fact is, Israel did not choose God, but God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7, Isaiah 45:4, 1 Chronicles 16:13, John 15:16).”

      Is it possible that God choosing Isreal is not Parallel to God choosing individuals.
      But God choosing the “in whom” the salvation for individuals would come through. (BEAR WITH ME, AM NOT SAYING SALVATION IS BY BEING A JEW/ISREAL)

      But am saying that God choose Isreal and in Isreal (via faith in the Passover which really points to Christ) the physical Jew and The foreigner could come individually into salvation . But the individuals that are saved had righteousness inputted personally when they did indeed respond in faith and chose Him back. A bit like we love Him cause He first Loved Us.

      Same with Eph scripture. The “in Him” is the bit God choose, ie Christ (it has always been Christ, but in shadow form via The Chosen Isreal)

      But to be saved personally we do indeed choose to be part of the Chosen, because He first Chose anyone who came to Him by faith in His chosen one. The Elect one. Christ in Isreal (OT time) and now directly in Christ. After He came in bodily form and fulfilled the shadows of Himself in The Chosen Israel. So now post the resurrection you don’t have to be a proselyte Jew eg Cornelius to access salvation, But can go directly to Christ.

      Have I miss understood you? Or the scriptures?

      Hoping what I’ve written is clear

      Rgds In Christ

      1. Hi Clare.

        I think a lot of the confusion comes from allowing Calvinism (and its offspring, Arminianism) to dictate that election and salvation are one in the same. I believe (and this is my current stance; I could easily be wrong) that election is reserved only for the people of Israel, but salvation is available to all mankind. So don’t let/allow others blur the two.

        When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we then become co-citizens of Israel (Ephesians 2:19), but only thru a legal process, the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13). We are now no longer “strangers of the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12), but those covenants and promises were predestined to the people of Israel (Romans 9:4-5), His elect (Isaiah 45:4). However, we are still not, nor never will be, the actual physical descendants of Abraham, the children of Jacob, His chosen ones (1 Chronicles 16:13).

        My point is, everything we (as Gentiles) get is only because of God’s overabundance of love for the people of Israel. Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).

        Hope this helps.


      2. It’s about time that we get a Jew to explain things. I, as a Gentile firmly believe that the Jews are a LIGHT to the Gentiles, and NOT the other way around, like so many other professing Christians do.

        And, I agree with your explanation here, which as been mine from the beginning of learning that Calvinism exists. i was in a bible study at a baptist church, and Ephesians was a HOT topic for the teacher regarding GOD CHOSE US…PERIOD.

        I turned to my brother in law, and said, almost how you explained it, except with the TO BE aspect of the sentence. Individuals are not chosen to be saved, THE SAVED are chosen to do a task or to behave in a certain manner, AND THAT is how I read Ephesians.

      3. I like that phrase “behave in a certain manner” :-]

        I think the fact that God chooses people to behave in a certain manner – is a key to understanding why the religious power-base which existed during Jesus’ earthly ministry wanted to kill him.

        The scribes and the pharisees wanted the preeminence over their brethren – and used their skill of interpreting scripture as the means to do so.

        Later – another group known as the RC would do the same thing. Burning people to the stake who dared read scripture outside of their official control.

        After that – another one in Geneva – would manifest the same prowess.

        And a discerning Christian today can observe various groups exhibiting the same inclinations – even though their methods are more subtle.

        Its all about claiming to be the premier arbiters of the word of God – and using that to maintain an earthly power-base.

        The wonderful thing about all that – is that Jesus teaches by word and deed – how to discern what “behave in a certain manner” should look like – because he himself is the model and golden standard.

        And that is totally liberating and wonderful!! :-]


    Now we know every Calvinist would agree with what the Calvinist never says. But when he says and doesn’t say what he says – he says it so logically – and so Biblically – and so wonderfully – and so perfectly – and exactly as it pertains to Calvinism.

    He says it the very way Calvinists enunciate what they always say. So that any Calvinist who doesn’t agree with at least some of what the Calvinist says – would certainly be in total agreement with all of it.

    Welcome to Calvinism :-]

  8. Hello Br.D
    And thank you!

    Hi Philip

    Thanks! For reply
    What you’ve explained seems to make a lot of sense.
    I had a thought though/ question.

    Based on other verses but in particular :

    10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
    11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
    12¶PUT ON THEREFORE, AS THE ELECT OF GOD, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

    is it possible that there is a Spiritual Israel. The true Isreal/ The True Elect. This comprising of Jews and Gentiles on the basis of Faith in Him/ The plan of God to use ELECTION by Grace through Faith and not Physical descendancy

    Romans 9

    6¶Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: BUT THE CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE ARE COUNTED for the seed.

    Romans 9:23-24, the vessels of mercy. Which include the Gentiles vs 24.

    Since as well only those whom are a Jew from God’s perspective are those whom are one inwardly.and circumcised at heart.

    Col2:10-11 directed to Gentiles.
    10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
    11¶In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

    Just as a side note, I see a possible distinction between believing Jews and Gentiles in the Col1:
    2¶To the SAINTS(Jews) and FAITHFUL BRETHREN(Gentiles) in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I say this in light of vs 24-26

    26Even the mystery (as mentioned in Ephesians that the gentiles had been part of God’s plan but was hidden) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his SAINTS:(believing Jews) like Peter/(Cornelius).

    And again in Ephesians 2:19
    19¶Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the SAINTS, and of the household of God;

    Do you see that too?

    Thanks again
    Rgs In Christ

    1. Clare,

      The word “elect/election” only appears 27 (KJV) or 28 (NKJV) times in the Bible. To be completely honest (and I have stated this before on other threads) the usage in Colossians 3:12 still eludes me. But all the other times (for the most part) the term points to the people of Israel (both Houses of that still divided nation).

      I think terms like “spiritual Israel” and “true Israel” are flirting with replacement theology, that is, that God is finished with His Chosen People, and that all the covenants and promises given to her have now been transferred to the church.

      God forbid!

      Regarding Romans 9, let me start by saying that I believe that Romans 9 thru 11 is about the restoration of the nation of Israel, or restoring the two Houses (Israel and Judah), which is prophesied heavily and the OT and will be completed upon Christ’s return. Without going into too much detail (because it is not the topic of this thread; by the way, neither is elect/election, but it was mentioned in the video), I just want to highlight a couple points…

      Romans 9:6-9 (NKJV)….
      But it is not that the word of God (OT prophecies) has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children (of the covenants and promises) because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh (Abraham’s attempt to fulfill God’s promise via Hagar), these are not the children of God (biblical proof that the descendants of Ishmael are not God’s chosen people); but the children of the promise (the Abrahamic Covenant) are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah (not Hagar) shall have a son.”

      Regarding Romans 9:23-24, Paul continues with 25 thru 29…

      As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” Isaiah also cries out concerning (Gentiles? No, but…) Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

      Now go back to Hosea 1 and 2 and you will find Paul is speaking about the restoration of the nation of Israel (both Houses of Israel and Judah).

      Hosea 1:3-11 (NKJV)…
      So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the LORD said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom only). It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom), But I will utterly take them away (the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction). Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah (the Southern Kingdom; the vessels of mercy), Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen. (not thru military means)” Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God (God divorced the House of Israel, but not her sister Judah). “Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them (the House of Israel/the Northern Kingdom), ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ Then the children of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and the children of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) Shall be gathered together (the reunification of both Houses), And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel (this will all transpire after the tribulation period)!

      So why would Paul say “Gentiles” in verse 24 only to then reference Hosea and Isaiah speaking about the House of Israel (the Northern Kingdom)? Good question. Worth further study. Right now I see only two options, but won’t speculate now.

      Now regarding your final observation about “the Saints” being Jewish believers, I tend to agree, although I am not sure if it works consistently throughout all scripture. I would have to look at that further as well.

      Continue to challenge the status quo!

      Every blessing in Christ Jesus.

      1. Hi Philip

        Thanks for reply.

        Yeah I definitely don’t believe in replacement theology!! God forbid indeed.

        I do think that all God assigned for Israel is for them physically.

        But I was just suggesting, pondering that in terms of harmonizing all the verses, whether there’s a Spiritual (or Faith based) Israel combined of both camps, with regards salvation. So the term applying to both groups with regards salvation. But with regards all that God has for physical Israel it will be for physical descendants.

        You had said that you are stuck on Col scripture, but it seems a Spiritual or a Faith in Christ Israel fits the context.

        By context I mean all the verses implying that Gentiles are “Circumcised” (my take = Jewish/Israel) in Christ. And other Jewish terms
        And all the references to The New man (not ethnic or gender based) though we know for instance God has not done away with (or replaced) male and female roles physically, family nor in the kingdom/church.

        Definitely don’t think the (Faith based Israelites) has to replace ethnic Israel and the promises

        With ref your view on Abraham / Isaac in contrast with none promise child ie Ishmael.

        But I thought Paul.referring to people amongst Isreal, because he says…For they are not all Israel WHO ARE OF ISRAEL.

        Ishmael and his offspring have not been called Israel (if am not mistaken)?

        Also I agree with what you said about Hosea scripture as I found that out when looking into book of 1st Peter chapter 2, which refers to scripture there. So I realised that book of Peter aimed again at Jewish believers book. BUT THEN… when I looked at Romans scripture expecting to find it referencing Jews there, I was amazed to see Paul was using it to refer to Gentiles!

        So it got me re thinking, I sense that God sometimes has double prophetic intent with some of His scriptures. E.g. Israel 1st born and then later find out it applies to Jesus, and Rahab weeping, applies to Herod killing children!

        Even Jesus saying he has other sheep. Realised might be other sheep ie Israel as per Hosea verse (Northern kingdom), but I definitely see and believe it refers also to all Gentiles that get saved. Since he promised to draw all men unto Himself after His death and they become part of the fold

        32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
        33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

        Well this is what I’ve come to so far, just thought I’d share. Would be interested in any other scriptural interpretations you come to


      2. Clare,

        Israel, as far as I can tell, can mean one of three things. Israel the man (or Jacob). Israel the whole nation (the 12 tribes). Or Israel the Northern Kingdom (the House of Israel).

        In context, I think the Israel in Romans 9:6 just might be referring to the House of Israel. In other words, they are not all the House of Israel who are of Israel (the man). Bear with me. Paul’s whole analogy in Romans 9 is comparing brother against brother. For example, Isaac and not Ishmael. Jacob and not Esau. And perhaps Judah and not Israel. Notice each time the younger is chosen over the older. We read in the OT that although Judah was 4th in line, God gave him the certain privileges and blessings (Genesis 49:8-12). However, the birthright went to Ephraim (which tribe would be located in the Northern Kingdom).

        1 Chronicles 5:1-2 (NKJV)….
        Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s.

        And I believe this is what Paul was/is referring to. Ishmael was technically Abraham’s firstborn, but Isaac was God’s firstborn. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn, but Jacob was God’s firstborn. Judah was given the scepter, but Israel (Ephraim) the birthright (Remember even Jacob blessed Ephraim (the younger) over Manasseh (the elder) against Joseph’s wishes)). Brian Wagner, a brother and a contributor here whom I love and respect, probably knows far more about this than me (all this makes my head hurt).

        When Paul writes in Romans 9:14… “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!” he is not speaking about God choosing some for salvation while reprobating others, like our Calvinists brothers insist. No! God just has the right to pick who will be the recipients of those blessings and birthright. In the very next verse, Paul writes…

        Romans 9:15…. “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’”

        Instead of forcing Calvinism (and to a point, Arminianism) into the text, we should let scripture interpret scripture. This is sound exegesis.

        Hosea 1:6-7a (CEB)….
        Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Name her No Compassion (no mercy), because I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have compassion (mercy) on the house of Judah.”

        Romans 9:17 (NKJV)… “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’”

        Ironically, this is precisely what God predestined the nation of Israel to be. Both a light and a blessing to the Gentiles and Paul is reminding his Jewish audience of this. And it will still happen because God’s word will not fail!

        Romans 9:18 (NKJV)… “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills (Judah), and whom He wills He hardens (Israel/Ephraim).”

        Ezekiel means “God will strengthen” or “God will harden” and though a prophet of the House of Judah, he prophesied heavily against the House of Israel. In fact, the phrase “House of Israel” is found 78 times in Ezekiel alone, more than any other book. So there’s an interesting tidbit.

        I could go on and on. This is really fun and interesting stuff, but out of respect of other on-lookers, I will leave it here.

        God bless.

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