Critique of TGC Article: How Does a Mom Pray as a Calvinist?

The Gospel Coalition recently published an article written by Courtney Reissig titled, How Does a Mom Pray as a Calvinist?  This article was written in direct response to my interview with Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia. In this post I would like to provide a cordial but direct response to several key points raised in this TGC article (represented in blue):

Andy Stanley—senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta—posed several questions as he critiqued Calvinism from several angles. In one particular segment, he talked specifically about women, and from his vantage point women are less vocal about their belief in God’s sovereignty in salvation because of how harsh it sounds (to him). 

I think it should be noted that the unique claims of Calvinists not only sound harsh to Andy and other non-Calvinistic believers, but even many Calvinistic scholars and pastors are on record confessing their feelings of disdain for the doctrine of reprobation, which is defined this way by Calvinistic scholar, RC Sproul, of Ligonier ministries:

If only some people are predestined to be saved, then it logically must follow that other people are not. The doctrine of predestination to salvation is called the doctrine of election, and the doctrine of predestination to damnation is called the doctrine of reprobation. <link>

In the Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin himself declared, “The decree [of reprobation], I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny…” Calvinistic Pastor, John Piper, preached a message confessing that he was tormented and wept for three days when first confronted with these teachings. Calvinistic Pastor JD Hall did a podcast about the “stages of grief” one must go through when first introduced to Calvinism. And Calvinistic Pastor Matt Chandler spoke of TULIP being an “itchy blanket” for a time before it finally became warm and comfortable. <link>

There are testimonials of many notable Calvinists reflecting on this struggle and quite frankly, they would have to be heartless not to somewhat recoil at the thought that God may have chosen to condemn to eternal hell one of their own children before the child was born and had done anything good or bad. It seems to me that this author is not willing to own up to the harsh reality that other Calvinistic scholars have openly confessed, but instead puts it off as something uniquely felt by Andy and other non-Calvinists.

Mothers, he said, would have a hard time reconciling their maternal instinct to protect, care for, and provide for their child with a view of salvation that, as he sees it, provides little assurance that they will be saved.

Again, is this merely “as he [Andy] sees it” or is it a reality given the claims of the Calvinistic worldview? In a rather moving and heartfelt message, John Piper concluded with these words…

“But I am not ignorant that God may not have chosen my sons for his sons.  And though I think I would give my life for their salvation, if they should be lost to me, I would not rail against the almighty.  He is God.  I am but a man.  The potter has absolute rights over the clay.   Mine is to bow before his unimpeachable character and believe that the Judge of all the earth has ever and always will do right.”

Notice that he confesses the lack of assurance that his sons are savingly loved by God. He admits the destiny of his own sons is something he, as their father, really has no influence on and therefore rests on the hope that they are numbered among the relatively few who are arbitrary selected before the foundation of the world.

Stanley rightly appeals to maternal instinct. A mother’s heart pulls at her in powerful ways. Why wouldn’t it? She’s created in God’s image, a God  who cited a nursing mother when he wanted to show Israel how they could trust him (Isa. 49:15). If a nursing mother can’t forget her child, how much more can God whose image she bears? Even if she does, Isaiah says, God won’t forget you.

When Jesus longed for his people to repent and believe, he said this:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:14)

Even the apostle Paul used nursing-mother imagery to talk about his tender care for the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:7).

The maternal instinct is strong. It makes you do things you never thought you would or could do. It’s Godlike.

There are several issues that stand out in this section of the article. First, if God is “sovereignly controlling” their willingness or unwillingness, then what is the point of “Jesus’ longing” recorded for us numerous times throughout the scriptures? Is Jesus just pretending to want people He really doesn’t want, or that He really didn’t die for?

Second, how does this motherly comparison to God apply in a discussion about the likelihood that a particular mother may have an actual child who God has unchangeably elected for reprobation? In this instance the mother would be MORE not less self-sacrificially loving than God.

So I trust God in the care of my children, because he’s good, and he gave me (an image) to my children to tell the world what he is like… The clarity of Jesus’s words is striking and sobering. He’s in utter control, both of the means of salvation and also the sustaining grace that keeps us to the end. Perhaps this would be terrifying, as Stanley asserts, if you don’t know the character of the one telling you how this will all play out. But we know the character of God, who preserved his people through many tribulations and endured the ultimate trial on our behalf. We can trust him with our very lives, and with the lives of our beloved children.

What does it mean to say that God is good? What is it about the character of God that would cause us to trust him with the care of our children? Consider two potential caregivers:

  1. A caregiver that genuinely loves and takes good care of some of the children entrusted to him, but also uses a good portion of the children for his own pleasure at their expense and without regard to their well being.
  2. A caregiver that genuinely loves all the children, provides for them and desires the best for each one of them. And he takes good care of all the children entrusted to him so long as they do what he asks.

What is “terrifying” to Andy (and those of us who are objectively viewing God’s character from the Calvinistic vantage point) is that God, on Calvinism, is glorifying Himself even if it means the sacrifice of most people. He reprobates a good number of children, all of whom have mothers, for His own pleasure without any regard to that child’s choices or his parent’s nurturing care. Can we really call that “good?” If so, by what standard?

A Better Way

God does not sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all. It is the selfless motive of Christ’s sacrifice that brings Him so much glory. To in anyway undermine the selflessness of the Divine motive actually undermines the very thing that makes His grace so glorious.

Dr. Jerry Walls summarized this issue quite well by appealing to the biblical teaching of John Wesley:

John Wesley underscored the fact that our theology will go off the rails if we do not keep squarely in mind that God’s very nature is love.

“It is not written, ‘God is justice,’ or ‘God is truth.’ [Although he is just and true in all his ways.] But it is written, ‘God is love,’ love in the abstract, without bounds; and ‘there is no end of his goodness.’  His love extends even to those who neither love nor fear him.  He is good, even to the evil and the unthankful; yea, without any exception or limitation, to all the children of men.  For ‘the Lord is loving [or good] to every man, and his mercy is over all his works.’”

Now I think we are in position to clearly see the heart of the difference between Wesleyan theology and Calvinist theology.  The fundamental difference lies in how we understand the character and love of God.  For the Wesleyan, the fact that God’s very nature is love means that he truly loves all persons and desires their salvation.  He does everything he can to save all persons, short of overriding their freedom.  For the Calvinist, by contrast, love is a sovereign choice, which means he gives his grace to some but not to others.  He sovereignly chooses to save some among the mass of fallen sinners, but leaves the rest in their fallen condition, thereby consigning them to eternal damnation…

Again, the difference between Wesleyan theology and Calvinist theology could hardly be more profound at this point.  The idea that God might need to damn many people, even if they could be saved with their freedom intact (as Calvinists understand freedom) is utterly at odds with the biblical picture of God, who loved us while we were yet sinners, and gave his Son for our salvation.  As Wesleyans see it, God’s extraordinary love demonstrated most fully in Christ, and offered freely and truly to all persons displays his glory most clearly.  God does not need any to be damned for his glory fully to be displayed.  Those who are lost are lost entirely by their free choice to reject God’s glorious love and grace.

Wesleyans and Calvinists radically disagree, then, about the character of God, and how his glory is displayed.  This is the issue we need to keep squarely in focus as we discuss and debate the vital biblical doctrines of sovereignty, predestination and election. <link>

374 thoughts on “Critique of TGC Article: How Does a Mom Pray as a Calvinist?

  1. Thank you so much Leighton.
    I will have to admit that it was my wife who first pushed me into making a concerted effort into studying this issue in depth to determine what scripture really teaches on this issue. After hearing a very Calvinistic sermon and thinking through all the implications of what that meant, she was in tears, saying things like “what kind of God does this leave us with?” and “I don’t believe God is really like that” and “I don’t believe God loves our children less than I do and could have potentially determined any of them for eternal damnation.” It was at that time that I determined to really, deeply, study this for myself. I didn’t want to make decisions on what I believed on emotions or my felling of what is just or what I think God should be like, but what scripture teaches. If I found that scripture really taught this (Calvinism), I was ready to accept it and even defend it to my wife. But I wasn’t about to accept it without doing a great deal of study from scripture and from materials from both sides (thank you Leighton for this website being one of the main reference points from the non-calvinist viewpoint). It was from this study, first from scripture, that I came to the understanding that Scripture simply doesn’t teach what the Calvinist say it teaches and furthermore stands in opposition to what Calvinism teaches. I then turned to outside sources from both sides and found the same thing to be true. This truth of scripture has been a great comfort to my wife and I am trying to help her defend what she believes about this issue with not just an emotional appeal, but with solid scriptural exegesis.

    1. Andy, It sounds like we went through a similar process, although my ‘study’ lasted for over a decade. Persuaded by a Calvinist pastor that Calvinism didn’t have to mean what supposedly ‘Hyper-Calvinists’ taught, I was willing to give it a try. Besides, there were many things to gain, as we had moved, needed a church home and community, and liked the traditional music and worship style that is increasingly hard to find. But like you, eventually I came to see that, whatever the modern Compatabilist Calvinists claim, one simply cannot have the Westminster Confession minus reprobation, which, IMO, contradicts the revelation of scripture as to who God is, what he has done and what he desires to do for us.

      I am so glad that you saw this too, and that you and your wife are taking the effort to study this and have an answer for the difficult questions. As Candace commented, this is not simply some sort of academic philosophy which we can take or leave. Like her, I deeply regret exposing my children to this theology for over a decade, during their most formative years. I pray every day that they will come to know the genuine goodness, love and mercy of the God of scripture as compared to the very limited, partial love of consistent Calvinism. You have probably discovered that a great many so-called Calvinists to not embrace many of the tenets of their theological system, without realizing that it does not really work without embracing it in its entirety. It is for their sake that I am thankful for this blog, and for the grappling with important issues that takes place here.

      1. Thank you TS00. Yes, sounds like we have gone through a similar process. Glad to hear my now 4 year study isn’t that long! We are struggling now in a similar way as well as we’re still in the Reformed/Calvinist church we have been for the last 10 years because of (originally, the deep, biblical teaching), the community, our friends, the traditional music (I’m in the choir and love it; can’t stand “worship bands”), and worship style. But the frequent Calvinist messages and consistent Calvinism thrown into the preaching is more and more driving us crazy. We are now struggling with what to do (we hate changing churches).
        We don’t have the problem of our children being exposed to it any more as they are all going to other (good, solid) churches and though they did pick up some of the Calvinist thinking they weren’t by it to a great degree (the positive is that it has actually sparked some great conversations with them and they understand it to much greater degree now and should be much less susceptible to being influenced by it in the future). I pray that your kids will come to know the fullness of God’s goodness, love, and mercy.

    2. Just now saw this post, but what will your wife say to God on the day when he has to send one of your children to hell because I never repented and trusted Christ as Savior? Hopefully, all three of your children will be saved, but you know there are so many scenarios where that is not always the case. And that child, now an adult, will go off into Eternal punishment. Are you okay with that kind of God? God could have prevented the birth of that one child through a miscarriage. Or he could have overwhelmed them in a way that powerfully cause them to turn to him for salvation, but he didn’t. Are you and your wife okay with this kind of God?

      I am, because I understand some of the Holiness of God and the horrific sinfulness of every human being and the fact that God should put all of us in hell. Hopefully you understand that as well, but I would be interested to know if the scenario above that I described causes you to realize that there are claims of unfairness against God that can be made in a lot of scenarios that do not involve Calvinism at all.
      God bless.

      1. Scott,

        Curious to me that you wrote this:

        “God could have prevented the birth of that one child through a miscarriage.”

        Does a miscarriage automatically mean the child was an elect?

        If you are going with the “age of accountability” idea, then does that mean that a child who dies at, say birth, or 6 months, or one year, was NOT infected by Adam’s sin—- not “totally depraved”?

  2. Thank you for this ministry! I just discovered Soteriology 101 a few weeks ago. As a mother, I began a desperate search to help my teenager. She made some poor choices which resulted in a near tragic incident. When we dug to the root of her rebellion, we discovered that she didn’t believe she was “chosen” for salvation. So if you believe you’re going to Hell, why not live like it? It was terrifying as a parent.

    We’ve been attending a theologically Reformed church for the last 4 years. At first we didn’t know it was “Calvinistic”. Or to be honest, perhaps we had indications (mainly by the leader’s associations with certain organizations), but we didn’t exactly know the ramifications of it all. Both my husband and I grew up in a church with a traditionalist view of salvation. When you are young, and there are so many insecurities and uncertainties, it was helpful to grow up knowing that one thing was for sure…that God loved us!

    However, over the last few years, our children have heard discussions regarding limited atonement (did Jesus die for all people, or just all “kinds” of people), and unconditional election (does God choose some people for heaven and some people for hell)? My biggest regret is that my children overheard these conversations. Teenagers especially, are prone to insecurities in general. Throw in the possibility that God may not have chosen you…and it’s devastation! No child should ever hear this tragic lie.

    Even though many people left our church over this doctrine, my husband and I took a “neither here nor there” stance. Reformed theology seemed kind of attractive, and the trendy thing to be, and really…if it doesn’t affect you personally, we wondered if it was really as big of a deal as some people were making it out to be. However, it became very personal for us a few weeks ago.

    I wondered how our Pastor would counsel our daughter if we let him? How does one give assurance to someone, when you believe there is a possibility they are reprobate? I searched online for other ways Calvinists have answered this question, and it’s no surprise that as a mother…I hated it! This began my quest to nail down exactly what I believed! I needed to know if I could assure my daughter that God DOES indeed love her, as he does every single human being, and that since she has trusted in Him and accepted His gift of salvation, she indeed is secure…with no worries that she wasn’t “chosen”. ALL those who have faith, become the elect.

    In my research, I was so happy to find Leighton’s Youtube channel. I watched several episodes, with the Andy Stanley one being most memorable when he talked of how mothers would feel about Calvinism. It resonated with me.

    Then this morning, I tuned into Leighton’s Facebook Video in response to TGC’s article. This topic couldn’t have come to me at a better time. I don’t know if you realize what a blessing this ministry is. I feel like it saved my daughter from continuing into a downward spiral. I was able to equip her with the assurance she needed to live as a child of God. Thank you!

    It’s interesting to consider, not only how Calvinism could affect mothers (or fathers)…but in the future, how will it affect our children? This could truly be where the damage will be seen.

    1. Thank you Candace for sharing your story! What a wonderful, merciful God to alert you to what was harming your children’s thinking. I will pray that your encourage to your daughter in the truth sets her free to really trust in her God who does indeed love her, so very much!

    2. Candace,

      Wow…. great post. Dont forget to come back and post some realistic, practical application to the positions proposed in these comments.

      You will of course notice how matter-of-fact, or even in-your-face some of our Calvinist friends sound. Indeed one could even say they sound heartless. They are convinced that the God of the Bible has chosen most of humanity for destruction and “no one can thwart His will” so they feel they can be as blunt and harsh sounding as they like (in a “hey we just tell it like it is baby” sort of way…. or a “the truth hurts; and it’s not our problem” sort of way).

      It is disheartening but expected since their deterministic theological position tends to bring that out in people.

      1. Candace,

        Even though we are are told to be scandalously amazed that God loves anybody at all, it appears that the real message of our Calvinist friends is:

        God may love you (I know He loves me).

        He may love your child, but statistically it is not likely (He only loves a small percentage).

        If He doesn’t you have no right to whine or complain about His choice to not love your children. Still, you are to love and parent them and show “the love of Christ” to them.

        Love your neighbors “with the love of Christ” also…. even though mostly likely God does not love them.

        What does that even mean the love of Christ, since the message of our Calvinist friends is in fact Christ does NOT love most people?

    3. “No child should ever have to hear this tragic lie” is so true. I will be praying for you and your daughter. She is God’s precious daughter and deeply loved by Him!

      1. I hate to be blunt but a true Calvinist response would be:

        “Hey, get over it. God chose some people. If He didn’t choose your daughter that is His right and for His glory. Not your right to complain about it.”

        That response aint pretty (and aint mine!), but it would be a true Calvinistic one.

      2. FOH writes, “I hate to be blunt but a true Calvinist response would be:
        “Hey, get over it. God chose some people. If He didn’t choose your daughter that is His right and for His glory. Not your right to complain about it.”

        A true Calvinist would cite Scripture, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much…My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.” Believing that one is not chosen for salvation is a smokescreen.

    4. I PRAISE PRAISE GOD!! That you found this site.

      This site has been a TREMENDOUS!! BLESSING to me and my husband.

      As a mother of 6 my heart went out to you and your daughter….. what a horror! Especially when it is such a lie! I thank God that, that lie was exposed and now you have the opportunity to.replace it with the TRUTH that Sets Free.

      I’ve always find comfort and direction by this verse
      Rom10:1¶Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

      If Paul the great Holy Spirit, mystery solving apostle, really believed in the doctrine of the pre elect/ pre ordained etc etc with regards salvation. He would never be praying for unbelieving Israel, whom.God Himself has blinded!!

      So!! There’s hope for anyone, I don’t know everything about salvation, but I know this much God wills that no should perish. And If Paul prayed, we can also pray🙏, trusting that God will do all He can barring overriding human will to reach out on a personal level with the salvation message.

  3. Dear Calvin’s god.

    I know that the very thoughts I’m thinking right now you rendered-certain at the foundation of the world – so I don’t have to worry about whether or not what I’m thinking is your will or not.

    Firstly, I want to apologize for thinking those sinful evil thoughts you rendered-certain I think just a few minutes ago. I know I’m not supposed to think sinful evil thoughts like that – even though I also know it couldn’t have been otherwise since you’ve already rendered-certain every neurological impulse I will ever have.

    I want to thank you for not rendering certain that I throw my new borne baby into the fire of Molech. That was very nice of you not to have me do that.

    Now I was reading Calvin’s institutes last night and he was talking about how you hold salvation out to a LARGE MIXTURE of Calvinists as a “savor of greater condemnation”. You design these Calvinists as tares. They look like wheat – walk like wheat – and talk like wheat. And you lead them to believe they are wheat. But you do all of that secretly to magnify their torments in the lake of fire.

    Now since Calvin teaches you make these Calvinists tares believe they are elect – I wanted to ask you if you could possibly give me some kind of little itty-bitty sign – so that I would know whether or not I am one of those Calvinists John Calvin is talking about. I sure would appreciate that!

    I must admit, it kind of scares me to not know what kind of love you have for me. Whether or not your love for me is salvific. Or if perhaps it’s the kind of love that would take pleasure in throwing me into the lake of fire.

    Last Sunday our Calvinist pastor quoted Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I sure wish I could know whether or not you really mean that for me!

    You see because John Calvin teaches that when you speak to people in the Bible, you are speaking your EXPRESSED will and not your SECRET will – and your SECRET will can be the very opposite. So I have no real way of knowing whether or not you are for me or against me. I know I’m getting emotional – but if scripture is declaring your EXPRESSED will for me – and your SECRET will for me is the lake of fire – that would be really bad!

    You know – when it comes right down to it – since scripture may only be your EXPRESSED will and not your SECRET will for my life – I find there is absolutely nothing about you that I can trust.

    Oh…yeh…I know – John Piper says that we Calvinists can trust that you will always do right. But then I don’t really know what “do right” means as it pertains to me! :do right” could mean you’ve designed me for salvation. And “do right” could mean you’ve designed me for the lake of fire.

    I suppose I should praise you either way. But praising you in the lake of fire is not going to be easy.
    Thank you for creating me – I guess.

  4. “Now I think we are in position to clearly see the heart of the difference between Wesleyan theology and Calvinist theology. The fundamental difference lies in how we understand the character and love of God. For the Wesleyan, the fact that God’s very nature is love means that he truly loves all persons and desires their salvation. He does everything he can to save all persons, short of overriding their freedom. For the Calvinist, by contrast, love is a sovereign choice, which means he gives his grace to some but not to others. He sovereignly chooses to save some among the mass of fallen sinners, but leaves the rest in their fallen condition, thereby consigning them to eternal damnation…

    Again, the difference between Wesleyan theology and Calvinist theology could hardly be more profound at this point. The idea that God might need to damn many people, even if they could be saved with their freedom intact (as Calvinists understand freedom) is utterly at odds with the biblical picture of God, who loved us while we were yet sinners, and gave his Son for our salvation. As Wesleyans see it, God’s extraordinary love demonstrated most fully in Christ, and offered freely and truly to all persons displays his glory most clearly. God does not need any to be damned for his glory fully to be displayed. Those who are lost are lost entirely by their free choice to reject God’s glorious love and grace.

    Wesleyans and Calvinists radically disagree, then, about the character of God, and how his glory is displayed.”

    This reveals, indeed, the radically distinct gospels of deterministic Calvinism and pretty much all other christian belief systems, including many which call themselves Reformed. Calvinism, and much of historical christianity is a system of religion based on some set of required doctrinal statements, as if believing the supposedly right things about God is the primary goal. Then again, I suppose that fairly accurately defines Religion.

    In my opinion, God is not interested in establishing an orthodox Religion. He is interested in redeeming his errant children, restoring them and all of creation to a right relationship with him for the rest of time eternal. His gospel, or good news, was sent in the form of a person, rather than mere ‘words’ which can so easily be twisted and distorted. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love, goodness and mercy. The message of his life, not only his words and deeds, but his very existence, proclaims to all men: God loves you, and is willing to go to exorbitant lengths to prove it, that you might know and believe it without a doubt.

    As Brian Zhand put it in his foreward to ‘A More Christlike God’:

    “God is like Jesus. Jesus is the Message of God. Jesus is what God has to say. Jesus is the full and faithful witness to how God is to be understood. Jesus didn’t come to save us from God (as some deplorable theories would lead us to believe) – Jesus came to reveal God as savior. Jesus didn’t come to enable God to love us – Jesus came to reveal God as love. Jesus didn’t come to reconcile God to the world – Jesus came to reconcile the world to God.”

    1. Do you really believe that Jesus didn’t come to save us from the wrath of God? Look at this verse and let me know if you understand what the word propitiation means. Actually, I’ll tell you. It literally means the Turning Away of Wrath through the payment of a price. Guess who paid the price, and guess who has the wrath ? You can philosophize about that all you want, but scripture is very clear that they “who do not believe are already condemned” (John 3:18), and Jesus Christ came to bear the full brunt of God’s Wrath against your sin so that you would not have to be punished by God in eternity. If you don’t understand this you may not be saved at all.

      “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
      Romans 3:23‭-‬25

      God bless

  5. As a mother this is heart-breaking! Such deception these people are professing!

    “My kids know instinctively that there is nothing they can do to make themselves obey. I know it, too. So I continue to tell them about the hope that Jesus can make them obey by taking away their broken hearts and make them new again (Ezek. 36:25-26).”

    If her children believe Calvinism then they also know that even if they did obey they’d end up separated from God forever unless they were elected.

    May the Lord have mercy!

    1. Yvonne have posted this one:

      “As a mother this is heart-breaking! Such deception these people are professing!”

      ———-Here’;s my Response————-

      You are saying here an “argumentum ad hominem” to Calvinists. If there are those who promotes deception, they are the Universalists promising people with a false promise.

      You mean to say Jesus Christ is deceiving you when He declared the legitimate beneficiaries of His death? Look at His declaration found in John 10:11, 15, where He said : “… I lay down My life for the sheep…” — and who are the sheep? The answer is: Israel God’s elect and the Gentile elect believers whose names had been/not written in the book of life before the foundation of the world according to Rev. 17:8 and Rev. 13:8

      1. Jtl… there were sheep already following Jesus that He was talking about in John 10. No need to read into that context a theological view of an elect before creation group of sheep. And no need to say Jesus meant He was laying down His life ONLY for them, since He didn’t say that. Calvinists make passages say more than they do.

        And they also misquote passages to say things they don’t. Rev 13:8 and 17:8 don’t say “before the foundation of the world”. It uses the preposition “from”. The book of life was created empty of names, and then names were added to it “from the foundation of the world” when individuals were given spiritual life through personal faith.

      2. Brian,
        Despite the acceptable answers you offered for these verses (which are counted in the 40 that they need “to prove” their position), they will not be accepted. Calvinists will respond to you some sort of “this must be” answer or “this will stand” answer …. kind of declaring that they are right.

        They start with their answer, then add in the 40 interpreted-by-them-with-no-option verses, and they get the Greek-influenced, deterministic, cold, static, immutable, impassible (no feelings, desires) God.

  6. Yvonne,
    “My kids know instinctively that there is nothing they can do to make themselves obey. I know it, too. So I continue to tell them about the hope that Jesus can make them obey by taking away their broken hearts and make them new again (Ezek. 36:25-26).

    Like so many things Calvinists say that might make sense based what scripture teaches, Calvinism renders meaningless.
    “tell them about the hope” What hope is this she it telling them about? Is this the hope that scripture teaches with the promise that if they repent of their disobedience and turn to Christ and receive the gift of salvation that He will take away their broken heart and make them new? Unfortunately in Calvinism the Calvinist has no such hope since her children have no ability to repent of their disobedience and turn to Christ. The only hope a Calvinist has for his children is that maybe, just maybe, they are one of the few lucky elect that God has chosen to save.

    1. As is suggested here, Calvinism destroys the hope that the true gospel brings, which is that any man, woman or child can be restored to right relationship with their loving and merciful Creator, who desires to know and love them as a Father. The paltry hope left by Calvinism is that you did not get the short straw of reprobation, but won the ‘salvation lottery’.

    2. Offering them hope are to those who are God’s elect. Offering this to the non-elect is a false promise. God has the ultimate choice in the Salvation of sinners. We have to accept that Man has no whatsoever share or part in obtaining it. This will always remain even to the point of man’s unending struggles and protest.

      1. jtl peddles a gospel that will have few takers. Unbelievers are unlikely to be drawn to a God who ‘might’ love them and desire to save them and ‘might’ not. Believers might be converted to the false doctrine via pride, fear or the false promise of unconditional ‘eternal security’, which allows them to live however they choose. Most sincere converts, eventually, come to see how their adopted theology does not hold up under examination, nor offer any real help in every day life. Is there any hope for the hopeless, any lifeline to those drowning under a weight of sin and guilt or enslaved by addiction to destructive habits? No, one must simply look upon the blessed ‘elect’ with sad envy, and accept that you were likely not considered worthy enough to be so chosen.

        I, for one, openly declare such theology as false and demonic, destroying the very hope Jesus came to bring to all men. No one, and I mean no one, need perish in sin and darkness, as Jesus came to make a way, to free any who will put their trust in God from all that entangles and destroys. Come, all who are weary and heavy laden, and he will give you rest.

        “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.”

        ““Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.” God has removed the curse of death, offering peace, hope, joy and life to all who will come; let no one deceive you that this offer is not for you. Choose you this day whom you will serve. Choose life, for God desires that no man, woman or child perish.

      2. TS00 writes… “I, for one, openly declare such theology as false and demonic, destroying the very hope Jesus came to bring to all men.”

        I agree, brother. All we have to ask is “in this spiritual warfare of Good versus Evil, WHO wins if we can convince believers that it was never God’s intent to save most of mankind?” WHO benefits if one can convince believers that Christ only died for a select few?

        I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an “S” and ends with a “n’.

        Merry Christmas to all!

  7. Paul said clearly when witnessing to the lost in Athens – Act 17:28-29 NKJV – “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.”

    As God’s “offspring” by creation, we can expect His plans/desires for all of us is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. If we don’t, it is because He has allowed us to freely reject His plans/desires since ultimately to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever must be based on a convenant love freely offered and freely received… like a parent with their offspring!

    But too many, like determinists, see God as “shaped by art and man’s devising.”

  8. Brian,

    Look at the verses just before the ones you mentioned in Acts 17.

    26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
    ———————-

    He made all the nations….. and He created them “so that they would seek Him” …. and “perhaps” reach out and “find Him”

    None of that every sounds as deterministic as Calvinists say.

    Why does Paul say people can seek (Calvinists say that they cannot)?

    Why does Paul say “perhaps” (when Calvinists say everything is determined)?

    Why does Paul say “find Him” (making it sound like man finds God)?

    Why does Paul say (to a hillside full of pagans) that God is “not far from any one of us”?

    Paul makes it sound —to all who are on that hillside, and all of those who have read it since then(!!!)—- like God is not far, and that He cares, and that He wants men to seek Him and perhaps reach out to find Him.

    Calvinisms says this is not true…. this invitation is only sincere and real to a very few who heard Christ…. but never, ever intended for the rest.

    “Come to me ALL who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

    1. Yes indeed… one of the clearest texts that says God predestined and purposed for men in all nations to be able to seek Him and find Him! It is sad to read reformed commentators who blatantly say those words don’t mean what the say or what the reader would normally think.

      1. Brian,
        There are literally thousands of passages that have to be “explained away” by Calvinists.

        When I was a Calvinist, I learned the “proper” interpretation of 40 verses, and then I learned to filter all the other thousands of verses through those verses. It works. Rinse and repeat.

      2. Yes it’s amazing how they use approx. 40 verses to try to dogmatically teach what they think God did before creation, which undermines the multitude of verses which clearly teach what God did after creation.

        Then they say they understand clearly God’s perspective before creation on some things, but He was not able or chose not to reveal them Scripture, but revealed what seems like the opposite because man wasn’t able to understand… Very strange!

  9. Reminder that I am not a Calvinist, but am a Christian deterministic compatibilist. I do not think God has teleologically micromanaged things but that all events are ontologically “closed.”

    There are a few problems with this article’s arguments.

    First, we cannot use the “mother loves better” reductio ad absurdum. God could have saved the infant dying of malaria as Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant — he didn’t, and the infant’s mother is devastated. All theologies must admit the diversity of divine interests that make him analogous to human parents in some ways, and distressingly foreign to human expectations in other ways.

    Second, Arminians equally struggle with St. Gregory of Nyssa’s simple syllogism: “Being loving, God entertains pity for a fallen man. Being wise, he is not ignorant of the means for his recovery.” Nobody is an unsolvable “Rubik’s Cube” for God. If someone is being stubborn, we are allowed and encouraged to ask God to work on that person’s heart. And God knows how to remedy that person of the mental defect/irrationality, plain ignorance, or spiritual corruption that keeps them stubborn (these are the only 3 things that would keep somebody stubborn to God). We know this because, “If somebody is mentally rational, spiritually purified, and knowledgeable of the truth, they shall freely submit to God,” is a true conditional. The only mysteries are the means and the timeline, including those “expectation-defying” interests of God and how they play in.

    Arminianism does not solve for the incompatibility between God’s stated interests vs. postmortem hopelessness or vs. incorrigible rebellions lasting forever.

    1. Hi Stan… I will stick to the opinion that mental assent to truth is not coerced, and that in spite of any “mental defect/irrationality” or “spiritual corruption” that may exist, the will is made free enough by truth so that it can decide to submit or resist God without being coerced one way or another. God has designed it so that His salvation must be freely received, and the condition of repentance and faith be met by a LFW act of the will, before He is “able” (according to His mercy and justice) to finish the “Rubik’s Cube” and provide salvation.

      I hope you will have a love filled Christmas with those you care about the most!

  10. TSOO have posted this one:

    “jtl peddles a gospel that will have few takers.” — (but are assured also)

    ——–Here’s My Response————-

    TSOO, on the other hand pushes a “Universal Gospel” yet many are dammed carrying with them false promises. Jesus Christ have told us of the “Narrow Gate vs. the Wide Gate, and He said that few finds it within the narrow gate. The majority of people still chooses the wide gate which will take them to damnation.

  11. An equivocal statement must be interpreted in light of a relevant unequivocal statement. This is a statement of unassailable hermeneutical logic. An interpretation or inference which renders and leaves an equivocal statement contradicting a relevant unequivocal statement can and must be rejected, especially if other reasonable possibilities exist. Like the the boundary pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, unequivocal statements are evident, and the remaining pieces, the equivocal statements, must be understood as to fit within and constrained by the boundaries of the unequivocal statements.

    Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, and 2 Peter 3:9 are all consistent and unequivocal statements which leave no doubt as to God’s disposition towards all the lost….He desires their salvation. There is no direct and unequivocal statement which even suggests otherwise in all of Scripture; calvinists can only make arguments from inference that it is otherwise, and in doing so prove God a schizophrenic. While Scripture also uses such terminology as predestination and election, they are not specifically defined by Scripture in the manner calvinists assume; they are actually defined by calvinists. I see it as very logical and in fact quite necessary to interpret equivocal terms like predestination and election within the boundaries set by the three unequivocal verses given above.

    1. Very good reminder, Tandt, that interpreting Scripture in light of Scripture needs further definition. Even interpreting unclear Scriptures in light of clear ones doesn’t say enough, for most people think they chose the clear ones.

      But the clarity has to be able to be objectively tested by the grammar and context of each chosen verse. I would say it this way. Objective meaning in clear verses finds agreement between popular translations and understanding (not acceptance) even in the mind of a unsaved person with a normal literacy.

      Thanks for the reminder of Ezek 33:11. What a merciful God we serve!

      1. Brian and Tandt:

        Ez 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
        ————–

        These kinds of clear statements from God are found throughout the Word.

        Of course if Calvinistic-determinism is true “God takes pleasure” in the “doctrine of reprobation” as much as anything else (directly conflicting with Ezekiel’s words and the many others like it.

        And secondly He is telling them to Turn Turn! —- but so often they dont.

        He even says “Why will you die?” urging them to turn…. but they dont. No one can teach that their disobedience is actually what He wants and decrees …. No one but Calvinists.

  12. Quoting Jerry Walls, “For the Wesleyan, the fact that God’s very nature is love means that he truly loves all persons and desires their salvation. He does everything he can to save all persons, short of overriding their freedom. For the Calvinist, by contrast,…”

    Dr. Walls could not bring himself to illustrate the contrast. He should have written, “He does everything he can to save all persons, including overriding their freedom.” There is the issue of freedom for those enslaved to sin, but the difference between the Arminian (or Wesleyan) and the Calvinist is that the Arminian says that God provides the opportunity for a person to choose salvation, while the Calvinist says that God actually saves the person. However, it is the same person in each case. The real issue is to explain all those who are not saved and why that happens.

    1. Rh writes:
      “. . . the difference between the Arminian (or Wesleyan) and the Calvinist is that the Arminian says that God provides the opportunity for a person to choose salvation, while the Calvinist says that God actually saves the person. However, it is the same person in each case. The real issue is to explain all those who are not saved and why that happens.”

      Actually, a more honest and accurate statement of the Wesleyan view of salvation is that Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection, did away with sin for all who would believe. Whatever ‘saving’, or I prefer redeeming has been done is, and only ever could be, provided by God’s grace and power. God ‘actually saves’ all who are or ever will be saved.

      Indeed, the real issue is to explain all those who are not saved and why that happens.

      Calvinist Explanation:

      God only loved a select few number of men, provided atonement and redemption solely for that limited number, and irresistibly ‘inflicted’ it upon men when they did not even yet desire it. The rest, who are not saved, perish only because God chose to not save them, when he most easily could have in the exact same manner in which he chose and saved the few.

      Non-Calvinist Explanation:

      God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. God loves all men, and desires that no one ever perish – without exception. He offers forgiveness of sin, freely available to all who will avail themselves of it, but does not compel any to believe in and accept it. No irresistible compelling a man to ‘desire God’ – it is always left up to the individual’s choice. There is no pre-determining cause of whether or not a man will choose goodness and light or evil and darkness. Each man must, and does, make that choice, and in doing so must embrace or reject the love, grace, mercy and free offer of life that God has offered to all of his children.

      On this bright Christmas morning, while my house full of young adults is still peacefully slumbering, I encourage all to embrace, without hesitation, the gracious offer of forgiveness and life that Jesus came into our world to make visible. Because God so loved the world that he made, and all in it, that he broke through the heavenly boundaries that he had set, and entered into human existence to tell the good news of a great joy which shall be to all people. Rejoice, O Earth, for your Redeemer has come, yet lives and soon will come again!

      May all have a blessed Christmas, rejoicing in that most glorious good news!

  13. Brian posted this one:

    “Jtl… there were sheep already following Jesus that He was talking about in John 10. No need to read into that context a theological view of an elect before creation group of sheep. And no need to say Jesus meant He was laying down His life ONLY for them, since He didn’t say that. Calvinists make passages say more than they do.”

    “And they also misquote passages to say things they don’t. Rev 13:8 and 17:8 don’t say “before the foundation of the world”. It uses the preposition “from”. The book of life was created empty of names, and then names were added to it “from the foundation of the world” when individuals were given spiritual life through personal faith.”

    ——–Here’s My Response———

    That’s funny. The verse itself says that Jesus lay down His life for the sheep. I stand for that.
    God’s elect before time, had their names written already by God in the book of life. The legal aspect of their salvation occurred by the time Christ went to the cross of Calvary for the atonement of their sins. They respond to the call of the gospel by the time their dead spirit have been made alive by God so they can trust Christ.

  14. Brian Posted this one:

    “And they also misquote passages to say things they don’t. Rev 13:8 and 17:8 don’t say “before the foundation of the world”. It uses the preposition “from”. The book of life was created empty of names, and then names were added to it “from the foundation of the world” when individuals were given spiritual life through personal faith.”

    ——–Here’s My Response————

    The following verses are saying in itself that God’s act of electing has been done BEFORE (not from) the foundation of the world. It supports God’s doing the act of registering/not registering their names in the Book of Life according to Rev. 17:8 and 13:8

    1. Eph. 1:4 Just as He choose us in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

    2. I Peter 1:20 He indeed was foreordained BEFORE the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

    3. I Timothy 1:9 Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus BEFORE time began.

    Those names had been written already in the book of life before the foundation of the world. It does not commence during the history of the creation of Adam and Eve and onwards. There were no more names added to that book of Life at present and in the future to come. It has been dome already by God. God cannot wait for man to cooperate from the preaching of the Universalists, because God is the one-in-charge in the Salvation of man. Man has no whatsoever share in obtaining Salvation.

    1. Jtl… 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.

      ********

      Questions to ask a determinist:

      When God supposedly “chose” you before creation, were you unchosen at some point and then chosen?  What did God see when He supposedly chose you… just your name, your life up to the point where He decided He wanted to get involved noticeably to you, your whole life forever and all His involvement in it already? What did “you” mean when He chose “you” back then before you existed?

      1. Thanks, Brian, for perhaps the clearest explanation of that verse I have seen. ‘We’ are so often somewhat off the mark in our understanding, thanks to sometimes centuries of faulty thinking taught as unquestionable truth. 😉

      2. Brian,
        Agreed. Thanks for those verses.

        My first thought is: Do Calvinists think we dont see those verses? We have seen several young YRR types come on this blog and throw a few verses out there (like silver bullets) maybe thinking, “I will just show these guys some of our 40-main verses (and our must-be-this-way interpretation) and they will just fall into line with us.”

        Then, when we offer alternative interpretations to their 40-main verses, most of them just shrug, call us some disparaging name (heretics, Universalists, Polynesians), and head back over to monergism.com where the company is all nodding in agreement.

        But I feel such comfort in the acceptable, alternative interpretations of their 40-main verses…. because that allows me to accept and understand the hundreds or thousands of verses that make no sense to a Calvinist.

        They dont bother trying to make sense of these thousands of verses that anyone encounters reading through the Bible (in a Bible-in-a-year fashion)…. they just say “mystery” “compatible” or…. even worse.. “those verses do not mean what they say.”

        When you come to the Bible with a presupposed answer (like Mary-worshiping Augustine did), I suppose you can make it say just about anything.

    2. Just a reminder Jtl… posts that I deem as direct ad hominem arguments or with direct pointed sarcastic comments against a person will be deleted.

      Attacking a theology or showing fallacies of form and content are permitted… but I cringe when even then I don’t sense a desire for Christian love and encouragement to be shown with the truth. I see too much of my own flesh in such attacks, and I don’t like it.

      1. “I see too much of my own flesh in such attacks, and I don’t like it.”

        Have taken some psychology courses while in school (though not my major), I understand what you are attempting to do.

        That said, I have never, in my 6 plus years of posting here, witnessed you acting in an unbrotherly manner. In fact, your behavior here has been exemplary.

        Wishing you all the very best in this coming New Year!

        God bless, brother.

      2. Thank you Brother… I have gotten better over the years at keeping my old man nature locked up… but you should hear him… he still shouts pretty loud. 😊 And don’t ask my family… 😉

    3. jtleosala- Finally! Someone with some sense in here. This is what happens when people use these modern day Bible perversions along with not understanding context and basic English.

  15. “We now have the blessing to stand holy and blameless before God as one of God’s chosen in the Chosen One – Christ.”

    Mark 16:16 (NKJV)…
    He who believes and is baptized will be chosen; but he who does not believe will remain unchosen.

    But Mark didn’t say this.

    John 3:17 (NKJV)….
    For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be chosen.

    But John didn’t say this.

    Romans 10:9 (NKJV)….
    …that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be chosen.

    But Paul didn’t say this.

    Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)….
    For by grace you have been chosen through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

    Paul didn’t say this either.

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)….
    For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be chosen and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Paul wrote this? Nope.

    Acts 16:29-31 (NKJV)….
    Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be chosen?” So they said, “Choose to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be chosen, you and your household.”

    Luke didn’t write this.

    And yet many believe that is exactly what they wrote/said.

  16. CALVINISTS WAITING – AND THE LOVE WHICH CUTS THE BABY IN HALF

    The Old Testament contains a narrative of King Solomon receiving Holy Spirit inspired wisdom from God. And the narrative provides a description of what that wisdom looked like, in the story of two women arguing over their right of ownership to a newborn child. Solomon tests the TYPE of love each woman has for the child by commanding the child be chopped in half. Each woman will get her half.

    A question might be asked: is Solomon using this strategy as a means of discerning which woman is the biological mother? Or is it possible, Solomon is using it as a means of discerning which woman more reflects the nature and character of God and his intentions for the child? Since Solomon’s wisdom is Holy Spirit inspired, the latter would seem plausible.

    Does God really care about which woman is the biological mother? Or is the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in this case seeking to discern something about the character and nature of the mother? Since it is Holy Spirit wisdom in this case, doesn’t that clearly infer God is testing the TYPE of love each mother has for the child? Would that then be a reflection of the type of love God has for mankind?

    As the story unfolds, one woman agrees to have the child cut in half, while the other throws herself over the child in a self-sacrificial manner.

    The Calvinist might be asked, which woman more reflects the nature and character of Calvin’s god? The one who sacrifices her own right of sovereignty over the child, so that the child may live, or the one who would cut the child in half for her good pleasure?

    If the Calvinist be consistent with Calvin himself, he could easily answer the later. But we can see how this would put the Calvinist in a difficult position, attempting to remain consistent with Calvin’s concept of utilitarian sovereignty. Some could easily unabashedly say the woman who wanted the child cut in half, more accurately reflects a sovereign, all-powerful God who rules the universe solely for his good pleasure.

    Others, intent on hiding the dark reality revealed here, may look for ways to evade the question, perhaps by asserting they hold God’s intentions as only benevolent. But that assertion contradicts Calvin’s basic premise that God acts only according to His good pleasure, and the secret council of his will, from which evil cannot be withheld, and which man is not given to know.

    Every Calvinist should be consciously aware, at least at some subconscious level, as to the question of Calvin’s god’s intentions for his eternal fate. He in fact exists in the same situation as the infant. Waiting to see how he will be disposed of – by the good pleasure of sovereignty.

    As a believer, he spends his life waiting to see which TYPE of love Calvin’s god has for him.

    1. br.d asks, “The Calvinist might be asked, which woman more reflects the nature and character of Calvin’s god? ”

      As God sent Jesus to die for His elect, we liken God to the woman who seeks the life of her child.

      1. Leaving us to conclude that the other woman also reflects a ‘godly’ love: ‘Go ahead and kill him; as long as I win, what do I care about this child who isn’t even mine [elect]?’

      2. TS00,
        Yes, exactly. And there lies one of the many flaws of Calvinism.

        Some would answer…. “Oh but he does love that baby since He gave it sunshine and rain..”

        Other Calvinists would coldly agree with you, “Yep…. He doesnt love that child and in fact most of His creatures.”

      3. TS00 writes, “Leaving us to conclude that the other woman also reflects a ‘godly’ love: ‘Go ahead and kill him;…”

        Not exactly. For those Jesus said this, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Calvinist and FOH agree on this.

    2. BrD – Paul called all mankind – God’s offspring by creation. Acts 17:28-29 NKJV — “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.”

      So there should be equal love on that basis. But no where are individuals before creation called His children, except the Son, for there were no other individuals in existence before creation except members of the Godhead.

      And only those who were not “His people” or “beloved” as children by spiritual birth are individuals who become His people and beloved when spiritual born into His family. It’s really not that difficult.

      He loves all created in His image and wants them all to have the opportunity to become everlasting children of God. It’s sad that determinists can’t see how merciful God really is!

      1. brianwagner writes, “It’s sad that determinists can’t see how merciful God really is!”

        Determinists see God providing the same opportunity for salvation as the non-determinists do – they differ on the response of people to that opportunity.

      2. Opportunity – “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”

        Roger just said God provides everyone the same “set of circumstances that makes it possible” to be saved. Praise the Lord!

      3. Brian!

        You know he didn’t mean it!!!

        Calvinism is very clear that NO offer is being made to the non-elect. It is just his way of saying both sides.

        They just cannot say man is refusing Christ’s offer to “Come unto me….” since the fundamental truth of Limited Atonement is that salvation is NOT EVER offered by God to the vast majority. Pay no mind to that slip up of his. He will quote some “offered to all” verse. While still insisting on Limited Atonement.

      4. FOH writes, “Calvinism is very clear that NO offer is being made to the non-elect. It is just his way of saying both sides.”

        Oh, FOH!! You know that is not true. Why do you insist on distorting your prior Calvinist training in these discussions. You know that the Calvinist focuses on “desire” to distinguish between the elect and non-elect.

        Then, “They just cannot say man is refusing Christ’s offer to “Come unto me….”

        But FOH, that is exactly what the Calvinist says – isn’t it? Why are you distorting this??

        Then, “…since the fundamental truth of Limited Atonement is that salvation is NOT EVER offered by God to the vast majority.”

        This is wrong. Salvation is offered to both elect and non-elect – it is only the elect who can respond positively – and this by the grace of God – “For by grace you are saved.”

        The fundamental truth of Limited Atonement is that Christ died only for those God had decreed to save. You are misfiring all over the place – is this on purpose??

      5. Whoo Hoo… this is getting fun now!

        You Calvinists better huddle up!

        There are many, many quotables on here from Calvinists saying God is not even offering it to the non-elect. Right JTL?

        And besides that’s just all blah-blah anyway. Anybody know “offering” it to someone and decreeing that they DO NOT have the means to accept is not a real offer. It’s like Chapman with his winning envelope—- if the golden ticket is inside.

      6. FOH writes, ” Anybody know “offering” it to someone and decreeing that they DO NOT have the means to accept is not a real offer.”

        That’s fine. What do you see as elements of a “real” offer?

      7. brianwagner writes, “Roger just said God provides everyone the same “set of circumstances that makes it possible” to be saved.”

        More precisely, I wrote, “…God providing the same opportunity for salvation as the non-determinists do.” The missing ingredient is, of course, desire. Thus, “they differ on the response of people to that opportunity.” I am surprised at your mistake concerning the citation.

      8. So Roger, I see you reject the normal definition of “opportunity” but still want to use the word. I guess then you can understand when I reject the normal definition of “omniscience” but still want to use the word. 😉

        But God does provide the same set of circumstances (opportunity) so each man can freely choose to change his desire to seek God’s mercy or choose not to change his desire. Praise His Name !

      9. brianwagner writes, “But God does provide the same set of circumstances (opportunity) so each man can freely choose to change his desire to seek God’s mercy or choose not to change his desire. ”

        If it is true that “God does provide the same set of circumstances (opportunity)” then there is no room for any distinction in choices – either all accept or all reject. It seems to me that you allow for “free will (freely choose)” to differ among people and that is no different than the exception I carved out – isn’t it? If “free will” does not differ on desire (the exception I carved out), what factor do you see coming into play in a free will decision? You may have explained this earlier, so I forgot.

      10. That’s ok, Roger. I sorta guessed you would reject my clear explanation. I hope you have a blessed new year in the choices you make to serve our merciful God.

      11. brianwagner writes, “I sorta guessed you would reject my clear explanation.”

        I guess clarity is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think I would do well as one of your students.


  17. God does not sacrifice creation for the sake of His own glory, but instead He sacrifices Himself for sake of His creation, which in turn reveals Him as the most glorious of all. It is the selfless motive of Christ’s sacrifice that brings Him so much glory. To in anyway undermine the selflessness of the Divine motive actually undermines the very thing that makes His grace so glorious”

    👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 AMEN AMEN AMEN

    Thank you sooooo much for this article and the wonderful work.you.do and are doing with the vision of this site!

  18. “I think it should be noted that the unique claims of Calvinists not only sound harsh to Andy and other non-Calvinistic believers, but even many Calvinistic scholars and pastors are on record confessing their feelings of disdain for the doctrine of reprobation…. ”

    Of course they sound harsh! All death and judgement is harsh. And Paul anticipated that some would be shocked that God would do what he does. And he anticipated responses like yours when he said…
    “As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”….. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    Romans 9:13‭-‬15‭, ‬19‭-‬20

    Those words were written just for you and those like you, and all of us at the point where we are coming to terms with the sovereignty of God in the face of sinful Humanity that deserves nothing but hell. Your response is millenia old, and Paul says it is understandable for a moment. Let him say what he says. And believe it or not, your solution does not really remove the emotional dilemma at all.

    “Stanley rightly appeals to maternal instinct. A mother’s heart pulls at her in powerful ways.”

    Emotional appeals like this are powerful, but they do not truly address scripture nor the ultimate problem you are wrestling with. That can eventually take you down the path that Rob Bell walked down, which is to say it is atrocious and unacceptable that a God with all power and all love and all knowledge of the future of those he creates would allow them to go to an eternal hell.

    Do you think that you can go with your theology to the Indian mother of six who have never heard the gospel and never will and who will stand and be judged and condemned for all eternity ….. Can you go to that mother and talk to her about your theology and remove this scandal that you are emotionally appealing to? You can alter the nature of it somewhat, but put yourself in her shoes and tell me that you are not indulging offering something that still seems extremely scandalous to this mother who loves her children and who would say, how could God create my children knowing that they would never hear a missionary’s message and they would never hear the gospel and yet because they are without excuse, they will be judged and condemned forever?! She will say that that God could have done something even if it was to cause miscarriage, and he chose not to!!
    She would say, like you are saying, this is inconsistent with a loving God who is all-powerful and knows the end from the beginning. And so I judge him as scandalous.

    And yes, pause response even here would be but he is already said to you…

    “”I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”….. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?”

    You may say, Yes, but at least they had every choice to respond to General revelation. Picture yourself telling that to that Indian mother of six who knows that your God could have prevented her children from being born. They never asked to be born and they could have avoided a world that ended in their eternal punishment.

    Sin and death and judgement are horrible things for man to deal with. Literally millions of mothers will see their children, thenadults, one day go off into eternal punishment as they will. And this is completely unacceptable to a philosophical world that has not been rescued by the truth of God’s sovereignty in the face of man’s sinfulness.

    And so thinking that through is not exegesis on the many passages that teach about God’s election and reprobation, but that thinking will remove the illusion that you have no scandal in what you believe in your resistance to the doctrines of Grace.

    1. Does Calvinism define God’s justice biblically?

      This issue relates clearly to whether what God defined as injustice for man is somehow still just for Him to do.  Man is not allowed to condemn the innocent… Is God?

      Predestination of a human soul – first, to be damned for a sin it never commited (Adam’s), second, to commit every sin it will ever commit with a sin nature it inherited, and third, to be unable to respond to any saving grace that might be offered, does not honor God’s definition of justice… or love. Does it?

      And such predestination to sin and damnation is not clearly taught anywhere in Scripture.

      Yes – Calvinism has God damning multitudes for their father’s (Adam’s) sin, and damned for every sin they were eternally immutably decreed to commit before their own will was even created, and damned for rejecting His offer of salvation which He decreed they should never hear, nor was it really intended for them…

      And yet Calvinist says God is just! Really… not by God’s definition – Eze 18:20 NKJV – 20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

      1. Brian, I don’t see how anything you just said here removes objectionable ideas about God.

        As I have read Romans 5 through the decades, I have never seen the interpretation of it as an issue related to Calvinism. Unless you are less of an Evangelical then I think you are, you have not escaped what to the world looks like a scandal….. That the sin of one man cursed the entire human race and caused everyone of us to be born with a sinful nature that would inevitably bring us under God’s condemnation. You certainly have not removed that truth regardless of what you believe about the doctrines of Grace.

        No one chose to be born into this world, and every one of us inherited sin and death from one man thousands of years ago. Do you disagree with that? Do you disagree that this is a scandalous and even ridiculous notion to the philosophy of man? Do you disagree that Romans 5 teaches that through the sin of one man world and spread to all men?

      2. Scott – Here is some of my view – basically inherited nature, but not guilt and not inability to respond to God’s gracious initiative which He gives to all.

        Effects of Adam’s sin –

        Romans 7:9 NKJV — I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
        Romans 11:32 NKJV — For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
        John 1:9 NKJV — That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
        Romans 2:4 NKJV — Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

        The first two verses in that list. When the conscience is mature enough to be confronted by the law… the sin nature comes to life and the individual becomes guilty/dead/separated from God. God allows that to happen to all who reach that moment of accountability. He then fulfills His plan to give each sufficiently mercy/light to seek Him. They must freely and humbly respond.

        We received a sin nature from Adam, not guilt, and it lies dormant until our conscience is awakened and we sin. Like Adam we need the imputation of the righteousness of God through faith. We have the ability to trust like Adam… but he became prone to sin after he sinned… we were prone to sin from birth.

        Rom 5:12 – sin nature.

        The prepositional phrase in Rom 5:12 ἐφ᾽ ᾧ. is literally “on the basis of which”. The relative pronoun, “which”, points back to the “sin” that entered the world. When Paul uses the word “sin” as the subject of the sentence (the actor doing the action), he means sin nature. (cf. 7:9, 17)

        Therefore in 5:12 Paul is saying “all sinned” because of a sin nature that entered the world… not because they were guilty of Adam’s sin.

        God says clearly the children are not guilty for their father’s sins.
        Ezekiel 18:20 NKJV — “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

      3. Thank you for taking the time to respond, my good brother. I love your diligence on digging into those passages. I don’t think it actually addresses what I was trying to point out about the issue of scandal that we are left with no matter what our position on Calvinism. I would love to get more response from you on that.

        I will say that I do hold the other view about the “all sinned” of Romans 5:12. I believe we were in Adam at that moment. Just as the writer of Hebrews says that Levi actually paid tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of Abraham, so we actually sinned in Adam.

        However, like you, I don’t believe that sin is counted against us until we are able to comprehend the law: “for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”
        Romans 5:13
        But every human being is under the curse of death because they send in an atom. This was Paul’s point in Romans 5 when he began explaining how people could die between the time of Adam and Moses, where there were many many people who never heard a law and so they didn’t break that law and yet they died (like Adam did and the hearers of Moses did). So everyone is under the curse of sinning in Adam and that curse does include growing up to a point of accountability and being condemned under the law of sin and death. But I do believe scripture teaches that God has mercy on children and imbeciles who are not yet at the point of comprehending what it is to sin against God.

        But I would love to get your reaction to my discussion about the fact that even for an arminian, they are left to say scandalous things to the Indian mother of six who says, My children never heard a missionary preach the gospel and they are going to go to hell, and God knew this when he created them and did not cause a miscarriage so they would not have to grow up and go to hell–He could have done this and didn’t–and they never heard the gospel and so they are without excuse under General Revelation and will spend eternity in hell though they never asked to be born. If we want to make an emotional appeal to people by describing the heart of a mother, like Andy Stanley did, then this needs to be addressed. You are still really left looking like a horrible messenger regardless of your view on Calvinism! And I believe this reaction on the part of this hypothetical Indian woman is on the same path, down the path, as Andy’s motherly reaction to the doctrines of Grace.

        What Are your thoughts?

      4. Here are my thoughts to remove the idea of scandal.

        What about those who supposedly “never heard”?

        The premise or question – “What about those who have never heard” is a non-question (except maybe for infants who die before their conscience is mature enough).  Paul says clearly all have heard – Rom 10:18 NKJV – But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

        Since God makes plain “in” a person that He exists (Rom 1:19) and brings conviction of sin by the work of the law written in their heart (Rom 2:15), and also that the true Light gives such light to each person (John 1:9), wouldn’t a person be able to call out to God at some point in humility – “God be merciful to me a sinner”? Jesus said that the man who did just that went home justified (Luke 18:13-14). Elihu also told Job the same thing, that God gives His righteousness to the one who prays in repentance (Job 33:26-27).

        It appears this has always been the minimalist way made by God to approach Him for salvation… expressing simple trust in His mercy. We know perhaps more facts about how that mercy was provided in Christ… but childlike trust is not so much the knowledge of facts but dependence only on the God who can meet the need of forgiveness.

        Ps 19:4 was the verse that Paul was quoting, and it was not in his day, but from 1000 years earlier. It is so sad when people don’t see how gracious God has been and continues to be to everyone fearfully and wonderfully made in His image since the dawn of creation. He makes every person with a plan to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, but not an irresistible plan.

        Here are some other verses that show God has always had all the world in view.

        “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.'” – Rom 9:17 NKJV

        “And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” – 1Ki 4:34 NKJV

        “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – Jhn 17:23 NKJV

        *******

        Romans 1:19 NKJV — because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

        Job 33:29-30 NKJV — “Behold, God works all these things (vs 14-28), Twice, in fact, three times with a man, To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

        John 1:9 NKJV — That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

        Romans 2:4 NKJV — Or do you [O man] despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

        Everyone hears sufficiently, I believe,  and are then able to call out – “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

        Luke 18:13-14 NKJV — “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

      5. Thanks, Brian. A couple of questions…

        Are you saying that that explanation will silence the cries of Scandal! and unfair! on the part of the Indian woman whose six children never hear the gospel and in their sin grow up to never repent and turn to God in faith, and so go to hell, and God, knowing that that would happen, and that he could have prevented their birth so that they wouldn’t have to go to that eternal hell, that God didn’t do that, but let them be born into a remote area where the gospel was never preached and let them grow up in their sin to stay in their rebellion and go off to an eternal hell? God could have prevented that in the lives of these six precious children of this mother, but he didn’t. Will your explanation above stop what to her and to many other people would seem like a legitimate accusation of unrighteousness? Jesus said that few would ever find the way that leads to life and that the many would go the way of death. This woman and her six children are part of the many who will end in Eternal death.

        (My response, like it or not, is that every human being will get one of two things. They will either get Mercy or they will get Justice. I’m just glad I will never get Justice because Christ took my just punishment so that I could have mercy when I repented and trusted in Christ. But of course Paul says in Romans one that those who receive Justice, all of them, are without excuse, because they knew enough about God through General Revelation and their conscience to know that they were in sin. It is comforting to know that missionaries have stories where they went to a tribe and the tribe said basically that they were seeking God because of his General Revelation and when the missionaries proclaimed Jesus, they knew that Jesus was the god to whom they had been turning in.)

        Second question….
        You know that when Jesus was praying in John 17 that he said he was not only praying for his disciples, but for all those who would believe through them. Then he also makes the scandalous statement that he does not pray for the world, but only for those that the father had given him. Do you have any problem with the fact that Jesus only prays for the elect ( dialect, I’m not designating whether it is the calvinist definition or the arminian definition, I’m asking if you are okay with the fact that Jesus said he does not pray for those in the world, but only for Those whom the father has given to him?

      6. Scott… I was at a faculty meeting then on the road for four hours. Sorry for the delay. But if you read carefully my previous response you saw I was saying God enables each and every person … including the Indian woman and her six children (when their conscience reaches accountability to God’s law) so that they can call out – “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

        Also… if you read far enough in John 17… Jesus did pray that the world would come to believe some important truths. John 17:21-23 NKJV — “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

        Did I leave any of your questions unanswered?

      7. Brian, I have to disagree with you on John 17. Jesus is only referring to those the Father gave him–that THEY would be one, and THAT would be a testimony to the world.

        Also, in my illustration about the Indian, my point is that there have been untold hundreds of thousands of homes where because of the choices of individuals, whole families were lost and went to hell and so the hypothetical conversation I was describing with the Indian mother was her sobbing wonder as to why God would create her precious babies knowing that they would never choose him their whole life and would spend eternity in Hell. Couldn’t he have caused at least some of them to be miscarried so that they would not have to be born into a world where their sin kept them from repenting and being saved? Yes according to your theology, he gave them the ability to choose him but they didn’t, and he knew they wouldn’t and yet he created them anyway. And so what I am saying is that there is a scandal in the minds of many many people, even people who call themselves Christians, who say how could God do that. Those children never asked to be born and God knew they would never turn to him and yet he created them anyway. I’m trying to describe the fact that you do not escape a scandalous charge of something that does not seem fair philosophically, even though you’re not a calvinist.

        And again, the reason I belabor this point is that I believe that the greatest thrust of the argument against Calvinism is that philosophically it doesn’t seem fair. Saying what I said about this other scenario doesn’t solve the problem of fairness with Calvinism, it just shows you that you still have a massive fairness problem in the minds of rational thinkers.

      8. Unfortunately, your theology, and that of consistent Calvinists, leads to the necessary conclusion that the vast majority of mankind would have been better off if they had never been born. A few honest Calvinists, like R.C. Sproul, admit this. That’s some theology, world and God y’all have crafted – one which most reasonable, just and good-hearted people would want no part.

        You appear to desire to downgrade the ultimate injustice into a more innocuous ‘not fair’, as you (rightly so) hesitate to cast aspersions on the justice of the almighty God. I have no such qualms, because I reject your god as an ugly caricature that contradicts the true nature and message of God. It is nothing short of anti-christ teaching to declare that God does not love all, does not desire to redeem all, did not send his Son to atone for the sin of all, and does not genuinely offer grace and eternal life to all. This is exactly what Jesus was sent into this world to do and to proclaim, so that salvation would be revealed unto the nations.

        Your false god is utterly unjust, not just kinda, sorta not very fair. He set Adam up, brought sin into the world, cursed all future men to be born enslaved to sin and unable to hear or know God or anything good, then commanded all of these dead, depraved sinners to ‘believe’ or die. Heh, heh, heh.

        Then, in order to bring himself glory, show who’s boss, inflict the ravages of evil on earth, or however you wish to put it, God arbitrarily chose only a select few to receive the ‘gift’ of faith or regeneration – the secret password that makes dead men alive, depraved men righteous and opens the magic door to heaven. All other men, through no fault of their own, by no choice of their own, with no other alternative to call their own, were created intentionally for (in your opinion) eternal hellfire, torture and suffering. No, friend, that is not just a little ‘unfair’ . . .

        I’ve heard all of the word games, distortions and twisting of scripture Calvinists practice to make their tidy little system work and to conceal its ugly underbelly from the masses. I was finally brave enough to open that closet door and take a close look at all of the ‘scary stuff’ Sproul spoke about Calvinism purposely hiding; and I refuse to put it back in and shut the door. I believe all who know the loving, merciful Father as he has revealed himself must denounce any other gospel than that which was given to and taught by the apostles of Jesus Christ; the gospel that Jesus shared with Nicodemus; the gospel that he illustrated with the serpent in the wilderness; the gospel that provides the ‘cure’ and puts an end to the needless death of sinners. Just as God showed mercy on who he would show mercy in the wilderness, so does he to this day, and based upon the same constant condition that he has always used: God looks at the hearts of men, and shows mercy to those who freely believe in and trust him.

        Saying that Calvinism’s god is not fair is like saying that arsenic is not nutritious. It is more than ‘not fair’ to curse men for the sin of their father (something the true God declares through his prophet Ezekiel that he would never do!), causing them to be born utterly unable to not do evil, commanding them to do what he had made them incapable of doing, then ‘punishing’ them for not doing it. Except for a limited lucky few, that is, who he arbitrarily chose to receive ‘grace’ and who were irresistibly given faith, regenerated and made righteous so they could be ‘rewarded’ for ‘choosing’ to believe what they were hitherto unable to believe. Yes, I know you wouldn’t put it like that, but it pretty well sums up the basic facts. You really are much too kind to call that ‘not fair’.

        There are a lot of people, some of them former Calvinists, who consider Reformed Theology not simply ‘not fair’, but cruel, tyrannical, controlling and an affront to all that is good, just, loving, merciful and true. Those are the nicer things I can share. (Granted, most who call themselves ‘Reformed’ do not actually know what it unquestionably entails, thus have been manipulated into submitting to a theology they do not fully understand.)

        I can think of no greater impediment to trusting in God than to hear the gospel according to John Calvin, or as King James I put it:

        “This doctrine is so horrible, that I am persuaded, if there were a council of unclean assembled spirits assembled in hell, and their prince the devil were to put the question either to all of them in general, or to each in particular, to learn their opinion about the most likely means of stirring up the hatred of men against God their Maker; nothing could be invented by them that would be more efficacious for this purpose, or that could put a greater affront upon God’s love for mankind, than that detestable formulary, by which the far greater part of the human race are condemned to hell for no other reason, than the mere will of God, without any regard to sin; the necessity of sinning, as well as that of being damned, being fastened on them by that great nail of the decree before-mentioned.”

        I suspect the King might have used far stronger terms than ‘not fair’, beginning with ‘not true’.

      9. One day you’ll understand, friend. You still didn’t address the scenario I portrayed. I don’t think you can. You just railed against the doctrines of Grace. Nor did you tell me what you think about the fact that Jesus said he doesn’t pray for the world but only for the elect, only for the ones the father gives him.

        By the way, did you know that the word for no is never used in the Bible to refer to knowing THINGS ahead of time? It always refers to knowing or loving PEOPLE ahead of time. Of course, Mary used part of that word (know) when she asked the angel how she could possibly be pregnant because “I don’t know a man!” (I’ve never been intimate with a man.) Peter even says Jesus was foreknown, and I guarantee that he wasn’t saying that the Father knew some facts ahead of time about what Jesus was going to do! This is all about God setting his love on the elect before he ever creates them. 🤔 when you see it from the carnal, human perspective, it doesn’t seem fair. When you see it fully from the Viewpoint of a sovereign God who is everything in creates everything, you understand.

        But please……. Tell me your thoughts on Jesus. Praying for the world but only for the elect, and what you would say to this Indian woman Atwood Baker stop believing God is unfair. Because I think she might slap you after you tell her that, “Well, he gave them a chance because he gave them free will. Yes, he knew they would all reject him and go to hell, but he decided to birth each of your babies anyway.”
        And in case you haven’t figured it out, I would not find fault with God either in that scenario or the other one. It’s just you the struggles with fault-finding.
        Waiting on your two answers……

      10. I have nothing more to share Scott in this thread between us. I did answer your questions. I’m sorry that I couldn’t make my answers more understandable for you.

        Others will benefit from what we have both shared and will have to decide for themselves which of us is explaining the best about God’s justice and mercy and about whether Jesus was praying that the world would come to know and believe certain truths. Blessings.

      11. Brian, that last post was not addressed to you. I think this site tends to confuse what responses go with what posts! I appreciate your insightful and even tempered responses. God bless, and have a great Lord’s Day.

      12. Oh, I understand your viewpoint, all too well, and rejoice to be finally free from its joyless, controlling destructiveness. I continue to receive the good news that, one by one, the friends I left behind have also escaped an emotionally and spiritually unhealthy setting. ‘Why’, my former Calvie pastor once asked, ‘does everyone leave?’ As indeed they do, and always will. He assured himself it was because they just ‘couldn’t take the truth’. In reality, we all refuse to remain in an oppressive, mind controlling place in which life is reduced to a ‘Never question, never think for yourself, but submit to whatever I and the almighty Divines – your God-given authorities – say’. Many who, for a time, embrace Reformed Theology eventually flee its authoritarian spiritual tyranny, and pursue the God-given gifts of thinking and growing in wisdom and knowledge.

        As I mentioned before, your ‘scenario’s’ contain multiple presuppositions which I do not share. Asking someone outside of your belief system to comment on your falsely contrived scenario is like asking a vegan to give an honest opinion of your steak. You are likely to get an earful. 😉 I lived in the midst your style of thinking most of my life, and I do not grant your corruptions of God’s good grace. Grace is not a set of ‘Doctrines’; but the incomparable mercy of a genuinely loving God. I refuse to base my life around a group of faulty, man-made doctrines, not because I have not studied and wrestled with such doctrines, but because I have. For far too long. My closest, lifelong friend, who has patiently tried to reach me for decades, recently said to me, ‘Two years ago, I would never have dreamed you would be where you are today.’ I have lived among people who worship doctrine, and I have lived among people who understand and practice true grace. They are deeply disparate mindsets, with deeply contrasting results, and I believe God seeks the latter.

        One can only guess, when confronted with a person who insists upon shaping the narrative, if they are merely brainwashed or deliberately manipulative. Either way, it is very difficult to have a productive conversation with anyone who believes his position is ‘the right one’ and all of his interpretations inerrant. Most strident Calvinists fall into this category. Calvinism’s ‘Doctrines of Grace’ have so twisted the definition of grace that its followers simply do not understand either its meaning or how to practice it. This, like all controlling, authority-based systems, makes them unable to humbly view their current beliefs and interpretations as works in process that could benefit from honestly considering other, even opposing, views. All conversations with ‘outsiders’ are simply attempts to ‘prove them wrong’ rather than attempts to reach fuller understanding between mutually valuable and insightful people.

        I understand your thinking, because I once practiced it. I no longer find the close-minded, ‘I have all the answers’ approach either healthy or productive. Signing off.

      13. How about it, site admins? Any way you can update your settings so that each reply falls under the post to which it is responding, as many sites do? The stacking here makes it very difficult to follow a thread of conversation, unless you are reading it from your email, which tells you to whom a reply is directed.

      14. TS00 writes, “your theology, and that of consistent Calvinists, leads to the necessary conclusion that the vast majority of mankind would have been better off if they had never been born.”

        It does not matter whether one is Calvinist or non-Calvinist, Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

        No matter your theology, “few” find the way that leads to life, It seems that people need all the help God gives them (even if He favors some over others).

      15. Did you miss, Scott, the purpose clauses in John 17:21, 23? “…that the world may believe that You sent Me….and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” Those are prayer requests for good spiritual benefits to the world! He wants them to seek Him!

        I don’t believe in settled foreknowledge before creation in God’s mind… God did not know back then, and still does not know, only “will bes” concerning future human activity. He’s not locked in and limited that way.

        He knows the “will bes” He has already unconditionally determined to happen as well as all the “might bes” that truly exist as He has even revealed them in His Word to us. So your statement – “knowing that they would never choose him their whole life and would spend eternity in Hell” concerning the children of the Indian woman is wrong. The “choosing him” was/is known as a “might be” as they live their lives.

        Your statement is only true if determinism is true. And it is not. 😊

      16. Brian:
        I appreciate you articulating this.

        “So your statement – “knowing that they would never choose him their whole life and would spend eternity in Hell” concerning the children of the Indian woman is wrong. The “choosing him” was/is known as a “might be” as they live their lives.

        Your statement is only true if determinism is true. And it is not.”

        I have come to the realization that most Calvinists will never budge because they cannot allow themselves to accept/ see the might-be’s in Scripture. To them that is some form of Open Theism …. which they label as heresy. Their only option is moving back to determinism.

        For me, seeing all the might-be’s in Scripture really helps (such as Jeremiah 26:3 “Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. 3 Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways.”).

      17. Yes, FOH… but being called a “heretic” or not, 😊 I’m staying with the premise that God’s knowledge conforms/agrees exactly with what He has revealed in His Word. If He said said something is “might be”, then He knows it as “might be”, until something happens to change it from being contingent.

      18. Brian, are you saying that God hasn’t known from eternity past how every single human will choose in the future?

      19. And Brian, if I understand you correctly you are saying that you are removing the scandal in the eyes of this hypothetical Indian mother and they hands of others who would say Amen to her criticism, you are removing that scandal by saying that God doesn’t know for sure that all of her children will reject him throughout their life. If that were true, it would definitely remove a lot of her objection. But if I understand your position correctly there, this would make you an open theist. Is that what you are? God doesn’t know the end from the beginning? God doesn’t know the words I am going to choose to place on my lips before I ever say them?

        “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord , you know it altogether.”
        Psalms 139:4

        He knows everything, and this includes the outcome of the choices in the lives of every one of those Indian mother’s babies. Yet he chose to bring them in the world without preventing their birth, knowing they would never choose him and spend eternity in hell. You can’t escape this, and I have no problem with it, but I think it creates a problem for you as you seek to banish all “unfairness” in the sovereign God of the Bible.

        I may be missing your point.

        By the way, I totally believe that scripture teaches that there are many varying levels of Hell dependent on the nature and volume of sin in the lives of the Lost. “It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah then for you…”

      20. This is huge Scott!

        You are going to object to Brian’s “levels of openness,” but you are going to suggest “levels of hell.”

        Apparently one is allowed in “orthodoxy” and the other isn’t! anxious to see this!

      21. FOH, I think you got lost in that discussion. The Bible clearly teaches that it is more tolerable in hell for some people than others. I’m sure you know that.

        But what I was asking Brian is whether he was stating that God doesn’t know every tiny detail of all the future choices of men. That’s all. If he believes that, I think he is an Open Theist, and that is another issue altogether.

      22. I did not get lost in that at all. I was just interested to see you say that.

        MacArthur says that “Hell is a place where God’s full wrath and fury will be poured out eternally on sinners” and that doesnt leave much wiggle room for “levels” —I mean if you are getting the “full wrath to all..all the time”.

        And yet I do not want to derail any good conversations (and I still work full time and have a big family) so I can apologize for intervening here.

      23. The statement MacArthur made about God’s wrath being fully poured out is certainly true. But if you do your homework you will see that MacArthur also fully believes that there are varying degrees of punishment in hell.

        There are lots and lots of nuances in Scripture and tensions between things that we only vaguely understand. That’s because God is God and we are not!

      24. Again, my bad for intervening on that.

        I dont want to get derailed from the previous question:

        Calvinism declares that Christ did not die for all men.

        Some Calvinists teach that we are to tell all men “Christ died for you.”

        Is that correct?

      25. Again, FOH, if you read my very last post, you know I can’t keep investing time in this discussion, and the fact is we are all preaching to the choir! We are all responsible for a lot of other work and Ministry.

        But we must be willing to live within the tension of two great truths, that God is fully sovereign, and that man is fully responsible. My mama said decades ago, that when we walk through the gates of Heaven, we will see on the front of that gate, “Whosoever will may come.” And once we walk through and look back, we will see on back side of that gate, “Chosen before the foundation of the world”. Both are gloriously true.

        God bless, my friend.

      26. Guys, I am going to have to reluctantly remove myself from the conversation. Part of me would like to perpetuate the discussion endlessly, but I have tons of other things I have to do, including sell real estate! I trust that each of you are very involved personally in praying and then evangelizing and discipling those around you. I am committed to that, along with challenging leaders to stay real, pursue joy in Christ, appropriate the victory over sin that God has made available, and do whatever it takes to build churches that are healthy and holy and that obey Christ’s command to make disciples in every sense of that command, including healthy church discipline, which is woefully lacking in the American, Laodicean Church. That’s my passion!
        Thank you for being patient with my sometimes fleshly enthusiasm to engage in healthy debate!

        God bless, and may you be fruitful and full of joy.

      27. FOH writes:
        “I have come to the realization that most Calvinists will never budge because they cannot allow themselves to accept/ see the might-be’s in Scripture. To them that is some form of Open Theism …. which they label as heresy. Their only option is moving back to determinism.”

        To be honest, I don’t really care if you call it Open Theism or Padoodlism . . . I rejoice that we are actually living a life that has meaning and purpose. That our choices make a difference, and that God intends to use faithful, obedient servants – however imperfect – to bring about his good will. I honestly think that if I were convinced Calvinism was true I would take my own life. If any of the things that they assert about God were true, and if nothing I do or don’t do truly matters, I could not face another day in a world that, frankly, I can hardly bear as it is. So many nights I pace the floor in tears, weeping at the evil and the suffering that so permeates this world. I find myself begging God to give me the courage and strength to deal with one more day, to believe that my existence is purposeful, and that he intends to use me in some meaningful way, however small, however invisible to my own understanding. No one can endure a purposeless, fate-controlled life.

        How incredible it is that God has actually given us the privilege of taking part in his glorious work, calling us to belief, faith, prayer, and works of service, that others may see and believe that He is real, and that He intends good toward them. How can anyone not privately wonder if Piper is schizophrenic, deluded or deliberately deceptive? Maybe it’s just me, but I have a difficult time believing that people who teach such nonsensical contradictions, and yet appear to be of sound mind, are not wolves in sheep’s clothing, deliberately leading people on a merry chase. Can anyone honestly be that confused?

        And yet, I heard my pastor, and others, utter the same sort of absurdities. I cannot tell you how many times I had to restrain myself from challenging my pastor midsermon. My spouse would glare at me, as I exclaimed under my breath and scribbled furiously in my notebook to vent my frustration. How could any Calvinist honestly assert that he wept ‘literal’ tears over the lost – when he proclaimed a belief system that declares that God alone determines, irrevocably, who will be lost? How could he dare to challenge the congregation to greater faithfulness, greater holiness, greater witnessing or greater anything on the grounds that souls were at stake – when his theology asserts that the destination of all souls was predetermined by God before any of us ever existed? I would look around, stunned, and all around me were serene and undisturbed. I felt as if I was losing my mind, and all of the nice, reasonable people in the room would think I was nuts if I stood up and challenged the beloved, trusted pastor.

        I know I get a little too feisty in your opinion, but I cannot calmly listen to people uttering blatant absurdity and contradiction and just treat them as if they are perfectly reasonable. It reminds me of an old children’s book which read something like, ‘Bad Bart walks up to you and asks you, ‘Would you like me to blow a hole in your head?’, then asks, ‘What do you say, dear?’ And instructs you to respond with ‘No, thank you!’ instead of ‘Are you out of your mind?’ That is the kind of crazy it seems to me when someone calmly suggests I should believe that God creates countless men in order to deliberately destroy them, or that I should spread the ‘good news’ to all men that God doesn’t love most of them – in frank contradiction to the most important truth ever presented in the history of the world! And I am instructed to politely reply, ‘No, thank you, but I’m sure you mean well.’ Maybe it’s just me, but I think Paul, and certainly Peter, would tackle Bad Bart and disarm him before he hurt someone. And I feel the same way about those who misrepresent the character of God, causing many to doubt whether he truly loves them and desires to offer them eternal life free from sin and death. It just doesn’t seem to me the sort of thing a normal person would respond to with a gentle smile and shake of the head. But maybe it’s just me.

      28. Brian, I definitely see that Jesus knows that as a Father answers his prayers for the elect, it will be a glorifying testimony to the world of the reality of Jesus Christ. I was just highlighting the fact that Jesus deliberately says “I do not pray for the world.” If the Auntie calvinist position were true, I think we would see Jesus praying for the world just as fervently as anyone else, and he would not even make that statement that he was not praying for the world. Also, it is difficult for Auntie calvinist to understand that because of the intricacies of God himself it is possible for Jesus to weep over Jerusalem or look at the lost and see them as sheep without a shepherd and have compassion for them, at the same time God is only callingHis elect with an effectual call. (And of course, if there were no effectual call then the phrase in Romans 8:30 that “whom he called he justified”, would be an untrue statement. Did give me your explanation for that phrase in Romans 8:30?

      29. Scott, but in that prayer, He was praying for His disciples because of the impact He wanted to see them have on the world. There oneness and effectiveness as a testimony would be contingent on their obedience. Has Jesus’ prayer been answered? Can it only be answered one way?

        He prayer for the lost world around Him from the cross. Luk 23:34 NKJV – Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

        He continually intercedes for the lost world. Mat 11:28 NKJV – “Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Rom 10:21 NKJV – But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”

      30. Brian, are you saying that the father forgave all of those people there the cross when Jesus prayed that prayer that he forgive them? He very might well have forgiven them right there for what they did. And although it is a non-issue when it comes to election, this in no way implies that they all went to heaven, or that none of them did! 🤔 that may not be your point at all. But when he was praying for the disciples he was also praying for every person who would be saved in that tree that was rooted in those disciples and what they would do. That’s what Jesus said.

      31. For Rom 8:29-30, you can look at the link I gave you to my exegesis for those verses. I would like to hear what you think. Thanks.

      32. Guys, I am going to have to reluctantly remove myself from the conversation. Part of me would like to perpetuate the discussion endlessly, but I have tons of other things I have to do, including sell real estate! I trust that each of you are very involved personally in praying and then evangelizing and discipling those around you. I am committed to that, along with challenging leaders to stay real, pursue joy in Christ, appropriate the victory over sin that God has made available, and do whatever it takes to build churches that are healthy and holy and that obey Christ’s command to make disciples in every sense of that command, including healthy church discipline, which is woefully lacking in the American, Laodicean Church. That’s my passion!
        Thank you for being patient with my sometimes fleshly enthusiasm to engage in healthy debate!

        God bless, and may you be fruitful and full of joy.

      33. brianwagner writes, “…God enables each and every person… including the Indian woman and her six children (when their conscience reaches accountability to God’s law) so that they can call out…”

        If actually, “enabled,” then all should be saved; what rational person would ever choose eternal death – unless, as some argue, they believe death brings annihilation?

      34. Roger you know it’s not about choosing between something empirically tangible… but the choice between believing or disbelieving the promise of future life and warning of future death. Man is able, before regeneration, to see the reasonableness of the promise and freely choose for or against it as he weighs that truth freely against the lies he has been believing are true.

        You make a free choice with the lies of determinism as you weigh them against the reasonable truth I share against determinism… And of course, you think I’m doing the same. I see the reasonableness of determinism as a philosophy, but reject it because of clear revelation in Scripture that I believe reasonably teaches clearly against it.

      35. brianwagner writes, “you know it’s not about choosing between something empirically tangible…”

        That is a lower standard and readily embraced by those seeking salvation by works. At the very least, a person who has been “enabled,” should, at least, seek salvation by works or pursue a high degree of moral purity – think Jews and Mormons here. The choice between life and death is empirically tangible but easily understood. It seems to work given the number of people who seek to live morally good lives (if only from their personal perspective).

        Then, “…but the choice between believing or disbelieving the promise of future life and warning of future death. Man is able, before regeneration, to see the reasonableness of the promise and freely choose for or against it as he weighs that truth freely against the lies he has been believing are true.”

        If truly able to “…see the reasonableness of the promise and freely choose for or against it …” that “reasonableness” standard should result in a high number of people actually believing – as opposed to just choosing an empirically better outcome. Why don’t we see this?

        Then, “You make a free choice with the lies of determinism as you weigh them against the reasonable truth I share against determinism…”

        Determinism is not even a factor here. The “reasonableness” standard you say exists should affect a result consistent with that standard. Why doesn’t it?

        Then, “And of course, you think I’m doing the same. I see the reasonableness of determinism as a philosophy, but reject it because of clear revelation in Scripture that I believe reasonably teaches clearly against it.”

        That is your personal stand – it has nothing to do with people being enabled to believe. Being “enabled” is determinist language. You have people being enabled to believe who should believe based on your reasonableness standard, but who do not believe and do not even seek the empirically tangible outcome.

      36. Roger… your loyalty to determinism is what makes you unable to see that “enabled” does not mean “irresistible to act only one way”. Maybe some day. But it’s you’re choice. For I believe you see the reasonableness of the opposing view I’m presenting.

      37. brianwagner writes, “your loyalty to determinism is what makes you unable to see that “enabled” does not mean “irresistible to act only one way”.”

        That’s not an issue, here. The problem you have is defining “enabled” such that it does not allow eternal life to be the irresistible outcome. The difference between eternal life and eternal death is so great that any form of enablement ensures that eternal life manifests as an irresistible choice. Give a person “the choice between believing or disbelieving the promise of future life and warning of future death,” and the choice of eternal life becomes irresistible. You cannot avoid that outcome without removing “enablement” (as you seem to defien it).

      38. brianwagner writes, “Thanks Roger for illustrating clearly the point I made.”

        Was that the point concerning your inability to define “enabled” in such a manner that you get to the conclusion you seek?

      39. I feel a little like ‘good cop, bad cop’. Thank you for your sound and lovely words that express the love and grace that God intends to reveal to all men. I honestly do not know how any sincere person who had been persuaded that Calvinism was true would not burst into relieved tears upon reading your words and fall on their knees in gratitude that God is not what they had been told. That is exactly what happened to me, when the Spirit opened my eyes to see, once more, the unqualified goodness of God. May all who are bound by ignorance and clever arguments be freed into the knowledge of the boundless, merciful love of God toward them and all men. Truly, he desires that none perish, but that all would turn from wickedness into his loving arms and receive forgiveness and life.

      40. Hi Scott and Brian,

        Would this discussion come under the question
        What happens to those that never hear the gospel?

        And is the answer to the Q mentioned above, related to the examples in scripture that show God visiting pagan nations or individuals with a revelation of Himself, enough for them to know that He is the True God, they should repent and put their Faith in Him Ie Follow Him.

        And is this acceptable\ enough of what He needs, for Him to righetously impute righteouness/ justify a person, since Christ has paid for the sins of all men but/ and it can only be inputed to their account by Faith, ie, the personal Faith they show at the revelation that God reveals to them.

        Finally if in the NT dispensation men need to call on Christ alone, is it possible that God knows how to visit any one that man cannot reach with a revelation of Christ? And is that revealing of Christ to them dependant on if they are already responding to the general light that is available to them
        rom2:7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
        (These God will work with revealing Christ to them, in order that they might eternal life which is by Faith alone) EG Cornelius

        Thank you
        Rgds In Christ
        Clare

      41. Hi Clare. Good questions. I guess one thing to remember in this discussion is that of course we don’t know who turns to Christ and who doesn’t, but we do know that he said that FEW would find the way to eternal life and that MANY would go the way of destruction. So we do know from his very mouth that the majority of people who ever live will never find the way of life but will go the broad way of death and destruction. And we can see in his description of The Last Judgement where he talks about those on the left side of God’s throne are sent off to eternal punishment, as well as references in Revelation and elsewhere, that we cannot escape the sad fact that the majority of the people who ever live will not be in heaven. This has been the Evangelical position throughout the history of the church, though there have been many heretical deviations away from it. I’m not saying that what you are asking relates to heresy, because I wasn’t quite sure of what you were saying. But we cannot deny what scripture says about the eternal destination of the MANY.

      42. Thanks! Scot for your response,

        Yes there will definitely be people in hell. I was pointing to the observations from scripture that anyone in hell will be there because of their choice to disobey truth brought to them. And that God will reveal an acceptable to Him.”gospel” The mum should rest that her children will be giving every opportunity to make heaven their home.

        Even in dying I believe Jesus still can try to meet people. Consider the thief of the cross, from our perspective (not hearing the conversation) we would believe that he is in hell.

        I REALLY just trust in the LIGHT heart of God (that has no shadows) (through revelation of the scriptures) that Jesus really wanted to pay for all sins, out of The Great Love with which God loved us… so that each man could have an opportunity to be saved. I really believe He takes no pleasure in the death of the Wicked and it’s not His will that ANY should perish. His preference is Mercy wherever He legally can squeeze it in…(hence the age/conscience of accountability to underserved sinners)

        And that heart really wants to and therefore reaches out to a tribe hidden somewhere that man cannot or did not reach. Why? because there’s no other way for them.to be saved except by Faith… Faith comes from hearing and He takes on according to the good pleasure of HIS will,6 To the praise of the glory of HIS grace, He has chosen to give every man an opportunity.

        I think the only reason God is not a universalist is because He cannot do so legally, Justice- wise, Law demands Death, Mercy demands Repentance.

        I KNOW the following verses are OUT OF CONTEXT: but they are a reflection (imo) of His heart.
        He is a seeking God, because Eternal Judgment is too serious!

        Ezk34:9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord;

        10 Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

        11 For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

        12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

        13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

      43. Thank you, Clare, for demonstrating not only biblical but reasonable thinking. Mr. Leonard’s challenges are based on so many unjustifiable presuppositions that water applied would shoot out like a fountain! First is the presupposition that ANYTHING we assume as orthodoxy is true. That is not to say that it is or is not, but merely to clarify that we are basing our conceptions of reality based on the traditions of men. Add to that major presupposition all of the contradictory presuppositions that the various theological positions create, and you quickly realize why it must be remembered that we see through a glass darkly.

        I deeply pity the individual who thinks that any person is born into this world bereft of the love, mercy and grace offered through Jesus to all men. Making this grace conditioned upon a very literal interpretation of believing in Jesus is a huge presupposition. One could just as reasonably posit that this ‘belief’ is in the existence, goodness and grace of God, as characterized in the words and deeds of Jesus. Men believed or disbelieved this long before Jesus came into the world, and many continue to do so without ever knowing of the actual person of Jesus.

        I don’t claim any ‘camps’ because I refuse to camp on any one set of interpretations of what scripture means. I continue to study, meditate and allow God to chip off more and more of my faulty presuppositions, most of them gifted me by supposed christian theologians and leaders of religious institutions. I remain firmly convinced of the lack of complete understanding of myself, and any other man or group of men. It tends to render one much more humble and teachable than supposing one has all of the answers. I suppose that puts me close to the camp of the Anabaptists, and others who allow for the individual conscience and the promised leading of the Holy Spirit. IMO, that is a pretty healthy place to be.

  19. In this thread, I listed several place in Scripture where Christ Himself is talking with someone, in love, and calling them and they resist Him.

    This man seeks out Christ, and Christ says “follow me” but that is an “ineffectual call”? (no intention or desire for the man to follow Him, just saying it and acting like it).

    How does man (Calvinism) come up with the idea of “effectual call” if Christ cannot even define it / demonstrate it for us? He did the same for Matthew, and Matthew followed. It appears to me that Scripture is showing Christ doing the same thing for the rich young ruler to show that man can resist God’s clear call of grace. The only alternative is that He was “really” calling Matthew, but only “tauntingly” calling the rich, young ruler (which would be considered a deception to the rest of us).

    Calvinism would teach us that Christ “effectually called” Matthew, but “universally called” the rich young ruler, and somehow we are supposed to know that. I sincerely think that those who watched the event —- and those who read it subsequently — think that Christ was sincerely calling that young man (in love). To take Christ’s sincere, loving call and make it a “non-effectual” (deceptive) call takes a lot of nerve!

  20. One of the ways that Calvinists respond to the challenge of their philosophical “effectual call” idea is to use the verse that the Gospel is foolishness ….and man cannot understand unless regenerated. Also, man cannot seek it in any way unless regenerated.

    The Bible gives us good examples of the opposite.

    If a person comes to seek answers from Christ (as the rich young ruler did) is he “seeking”?

    If Christ Himself (“showing love,” “having compassion for the man”) tells him “follow me” —would that not be considered an “effectual call,” a sincere call, “an actionable call”?

    The seeking man walked away from Christ. He resisted His grace.

    Non-Calvinist answer: Christ sincerely, lovingly calls, but gives man the choice to say no. (When He is lifted up He will call all men).

    Calvinist answer: Christ was not speaking a sincere call. Christ did not desire or ordain that the man follow Him.

    Calvinism cannot say that the man resisted a “real” call (“thwarted God’s will”) because that would be “man-centered” and make him more powerful than God. So, indeed, even though by all appearances (showing love, calling) it looks like Christ is calling him, Christ is really giving an insincere call.

    1. FOH writes, “The seeking man walked away from Christ. He resisted His grace.
      Non-Calvinist answer: Christ sincerely, lovingly calls, but gives man the choice to say no. (When He is lifted up He will call all men).
      Calvinist answer: Christ was not speaking a sincere call. Christ did not desire or ordain that the man follow Him.”

      Oh, FOH!! All your verses (Come unto me…etc.) are extended to sinful humanity and sinful humanity freely and willfully responds to them. The Calvinist says is that sinful humanity is always resisting God’s grace. However, if one should respond favorably, that person would be saved. However, it is from those who willfully resist God’s grace expressed in the many verses you cite, then God is free to exercise His will to save whom He will. This still leaves many people unsaved – first because they willfully resisted God’s grace and second because God did not intervene to save them – they are the reprobate. Such were known to God before he created the world and their status as reprobate will never change.

      1. rh writes:
        “because God did not intervene to save them “, which is the essential blasphemy of his theology. No individual, EVER, will be condemned because God did not intervene to save them. That is a direct denial of the gospel of Jesus, who came to take away the sin of the world, and offer eternal life to all who will believe. Yeah, we all know your twisted little word games that corrupt that message, but it is nothing short of blasphemy. God help you all, who would withhold the good news of his love and grace to any man.

      2. TS00 writes, “No individual, EVER, will be condemned because God did not intervene to save them.”

        TS00 misses context. The intervention by God is after the person has freely chosen to reject the gospel – this leaving God free to save whom He will from among such reprobates. Obviously God did intervene through the impregnation of Mary and then the death of Christ on the Christ to provide the means whereby a person might freely choose to accept His offer of salvation (Come unto me, as FOH often cites). However, once rejected, God still has the prerogative to save whom He will from among those who freely and willfully reject His salvation..

      3. Boom!! That’s exactly correct, but it is for some reason so hard for them to see this. I only hope that on the part of the non calvinist, it is not an issue of pride or party spirit or stubbornness. I do know that for some people in various doctrinal discussions, they will never change their view, not because the other view is compelling, but it is too humbling to make that change. May God keep all of us very teachable and yet willing to embrace what we believe he has shown us through the scriptures.

      4. What is exactly correct? Which part?

        That the young man is resisting Christ’s offer of grace? If so, Christ’s grace is resistible? Kind of a wink-wink “I’m calling you but not regenerating you to respond to that call.”

        Let’s say the “cannot thwart God’s will” idea is true the way Calvinists propose it. That means that it was never Christ’s intention that the man come. He did not want him to come…. indeed purposely ordained that he stayed “unregenerated” so that he would NOT respond to Christ’s call.

        So…. we have a passage in Scripture and clear encounter with Christ where Calvinists say “Yes, I know it ‘looks like’ Christ is calling him…. and He does have compassion on him and love him….. but He doesnt really want him to come…. because ‘when the God Paul is taking about says come, you come!'”

        Is Christ the God that Paul is talking about? He said “come” directly to Matthew and he came. He said “come” directly to the rich, young man and he did not. Why?

      5. Honestly I do not know what you mean. Your “exactly right” comment is directly under TS00’s comments.

        You added….

        “I do know that for some people in various doctrinal discussions, they will never change their view, not because the other view is compelling, but it is too humbling to make that change.”

        This is exactly where I was….and Leighton and Calrk Pinnock were at one time. All of our Calvinists buddies talked like you…. “this is the clear Evangelical positions… but there are some heretical deviations…” Strong stuff. Always right. I was in that camp …. and surely Pinnock was (he and Packer were buddies).

        It was indeed humbling to make the change out of Calvinism…. needing to apologize to some people for my in-you-face aggression of being right.

      6. 👍 👍 let’s not worry about it. One day when we get to heaven will know all the answers! Calvinist are doing an amazing job of sending missionaries around the world. Take a peek at what David Platt and John Piper have been doing this week at the cross conference with 8000 young people being give up their lives for the mission field. Look at what Louie Giglio and Matt Chandler and others did in Atlanta and Washington and Dallas this week with 40,000 people between the ages of 17 and 25, challenging them to be real in their Walk With Jesus and to serve him. The greatest evangelist of all times was probably George Whitefield and he was a calvinist. The greatest Baptist preacher and perhaps proclaimer of the Gospel from the pulpit was Charles Spurgeon, a calvinist. The greatest developer of training material for churches to train their people in evangelism was Calvinist, D James Kennedy. One of the most important missionaries of all time with William Carey, a calvinist. And I challenge you to find a person on the planet who is more passionate about reaching the whole world and more fruitful, then John Piper , a calvinist. By the way, none of these guys spend a lot of time talking about Calvinism! Probably less time than you do. They are about making disciples and growing them up to maturity through solid theological instruction and discipleship. You are convinced, we are convinced….. Fortunately Calvinists have always been massive about reaching the world for Christ and that’s what we all care about, right? So we will press on, and I trust you will do the same. I trust you are sharing your faith wherever you go and you are personally discipling others as well.

        God bless!

      7. FOH writes, “That the young man is resisting Christ’s offer of grace? If so, Christ’s grace is resistible? Kind of a wink-wink “I’m calling you but not regenerating you to respond to that call.”

        There is the non-Calvinist version where a person can resist the grace of God (and to which Calvinists agree). As the non-Calvinist has God refraining from regeneration until after the person accepts His offer of salvation, the Calvinist has God regenerating a person after the person rejects His offer of salvation. So, who is FOH ridiculing – is it not the non-Calvinist?

        Then, “Is Christ the God that Paul is talking about? He said “come” directly to Matthew and he came. He said “come” directly to the rich, young man and he did not. Why?”

        All agree that Christ said, “Come.” To the non-Calvinist, a person is free to accept/reject that offer because the person has not been regenerated. The Calvinist says that God regenerates some among those who freely and willfully reject His offer of salvation and that regeneration makes the outcome certain – the regenerated person always accepts God’s offer of salvation..

      8. At a Bible study with a new believer who has not been taught Calvinism yet.

        Newbie: “Look that rich young ruler is seeking out Christ like Nicodemus, and Zaccheus did!”

        Calvinist teacher (CT): “No he is not seeking…no one can seek, unless regenerated.”

        NB: “Oh, it looks like he is seeking just like those guys. So he must be regenerated in order to do that, since you taught me that all men are God-haters until they are regenerated.”

        CT: “He did not eventually receive Christ so what he did does not count as seeking.”

        NB: “Oh. It kinda looked like it. And look Christ has love and compassion for him and says ‘follow Me’. What an invitation from Christ Himself!! Fantastic! That must be what you have talked about when you said “If Christ sincerely calls you…. you come!”

        CT: “No. The man went away and did not follow, so Christ was not calling him. Isn’t it beautiful!?”

        NB: “What? It says He has love for him and He invites him like Matthew to ‘Follow Me’ so it looks like a clear call from a loving Christ.”

        CT “No. Boom! No…. here is the beautiful thing: This is the kind of call that our teacher Calvin told us about. The kind that mocks the person and reminds him of his sin.”

        NB: “To what end?”

        CT: “To better glorify Christ and contrast this man’s sin and Christ’s righteousness.”

        NB: “But it looks like Christ loves him and wants him to come.”

        CT: “It only looks like Christ wants him to come. Since he did not come, Christ did not ‘really’ want him to come…. cuz man cannot thwart God’s will.”

        NB: “Thwart?”

        CT: “You will catch on…. just keep reading the books.”

        NB: “But again, why does God’s eternal Word tell us this story and show us that a man can resist Christ’s offered grace? I thought it was irresistible?”

        CT: “Oh yeah…. if the God that Paul is talking about calls you, you come!”

        NB: “But Christ is calling him person to person with love and clear language.”

        CT: “But we know better. We know that the passage does not mean what it says. We know that if Christ was really calling him, he would have come.”

        NB: “Oh I see. The Bible is contrasting Christ’s call to Matthew with this one saying that sometimes man will resist His grace.”

        CT: “No. It is showing us that Christ is not sincerely calling him. It only looks like a sincere call.”

        NB: “How are we supposed to know that read this passage and others like it?”

        CT: “Trust us. We learned it from others, and we will teach you which passages mean what they say and which ones don’t. It’s like I told you with ‘whosoever’ ‘world’ ‘all’ they dont mean that —- but we can help you.”

        NB: “So what does the passage teach us? Does it teach us that man can resist Christ’s call and not do God’s will?”

        CT: “No, man is always, always doing God’s divine will. Remember God has 3 (or 4) wills and we will teach you that too. Whatever man does is God’s will since man cannot thwart His will.”

        NB: “Even when he is sinning?”

        CT: “Yes, but that is for another day, Grasshopper. I will refer to you Piper’s many sermons explaining that all sin, even the Holocaust was exactly God’s will.”

        NB: “Okay today I learned ….. Christ is personally offering an insincere call —never desiring that the man follow Him and all sin is from God. I can’t wait till the next Bible study!”

      9. Brother, you should know enough to know that that little scenario does not work at all. That Rich Young Ruler could easily have just heard about Jesus kind of like some hotshot hears about Joel Osteen and the promises he is making the people, and he wants in on that ! A lot of people say they are seeking God but they’re actually seeking the god of their own idolatrous heart. Certainly you know this. Careful!

      10. Who defines “seeking” them? Looks like he is interested in spiritual things. Understands the Law, approaches Christ…. it is not foolishness to him etc.

        It really was a hard one for me as a Calvinist to preach the “no one seek” idea especially when Christ tells people to seek the kingdom, “seek and you will find” and other things…. and because I led so many non-believer Bible studies where people came seeking, and studied for a while but then did not follow. What were they doing? Were they God-haters? Were they “dead”? How could they be concerned about biblical, Christ-centered things if they are TD God-haters?

        Okay, let’s put the seeking part of that story aside…. what about Christ’s clear call to follow? You told me that “when God calls the way that Paul is talking, you come.”

        Christ’s call to the man was sincere or insincere?

      11. C’mon, you know darn well that scripture means whatever we say it means. 😉

        I would grant that in Luke 18 Jesus was not making some sort of irresistible call to the rich young ruler, but then, when did he ever? Sure, Calvinists assert that if men respond positively to God’s call, that proves that they were irresistibly called – but it is mere supposition, like most of their claims. It is just as possible, and more likely, that scripture means exactly what it says. That God so loved ‘the world’ – all of it – that he sent his only Son; that whosoever – meaning whosoever – believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. It makes so much more sense to believe that God meant it when he said that he desires that none perish, but all turn from wickedness and live. In fact, there is no other reasonable explanation. The ol’ God desires one thing and decrees another is about as absurd as it gets. There is absolutely no good reason to not give God the benefit of the doubt that he actually means what he says. It is purely a commitment to man-made doctrines that contradict scripture would lead anyone to reject some pretty simple statements. (I do not dispute that there are many opaque statements in scripture. ‘I desire that none perish, but all turn from wickedness and live’ is not one of them, as there simply is not more than one reasonable interpretation.)

        Were Calvinists correct, this little narrative, like so many others, would be pointless. How silly of Jesus to imply that it was riches that kept this man from following him, if it was purely the fact that God did not desire the man to come, and did not regenerate and enable him to hear ‘the call’. Scripture tends to make this ‘error’ repeatedly, constantly suggesting that men have the ability to choose this day whom they will serve, turn from evil, etc. Ah, but it is so sweet to think ‘I am special, chosen, loved more than others, etc.’. Such exclusive thinking has led to nearly every abuse, war and oppression known to man. Were men to love one another like God loves, purely and without differentiation, there would be no racism, hatred, injustice, murder or war. It is only, and I repeat only, the false teaching that God does not love or intend to redeem some that justifies the evils that are commonplace in this world. Thanks, Augustine and Calvin.

      12. Friend, you simply continue to demonstrate the lack of ability to resolve the matter of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God constantly demonstrates the outward call to all the world, but they simply will not turn to him. Can you explain to me your interpretation of Romans 8:30 where Paul says that everyone God called got Justified? That would be helpful for both of us!

      13. Badoom! TS00,

        Well said!

        If you stack up end to end all the hundreds and hundreds of verses that say God wants/ desires something (and does not get it) it would be taller than Calvin!

        So determinist-fatalists are left with 2 choices:

        1. Agree that the Scriptures appear to be teaching that our Sovereign Lord created the world in such a way that man can do things that God does not want….or

        2. Insist that “sovereignty” means that everything that happens is what God wants (sin too, ask Piper). Man is only doing what indeed was decreed/ ordained/ willed/ desire before the world began, and not one dust particle lands (what man-made confession is that again?) that God did not declare it to be immutably so.

        Of course once you have chosen door number 2 you must then come up with multiple wills and dig around to find places where this idea might be tenable. He wills it but He doesnt want it. He decrees it but it is not His will.

        I remember laughing out loud when I read the Piper message showing one of the two verses that “prove” that God has determined every action and thought from before the world….was the Proverb about rolling dice in the lap! I was stunned (but still chuckled). I had no idea that an all-pervasive, life-changing, earth-shattering doctrine could be based on one proverb. Think of what we could come up with using one proverb!

      14. FOH writes, “2. Insist that “sovereignty” means that everything that happens is what God wants (sin too, ask Piper). ”

        Sovereignty means that God is the final arbiter of all that happens. If God does not want it to happen, it does not happen. God is present at every sin and has the power to stop any sin He wants. Thus, “…everything that happens is what God wants (sin too,…).” It cannot be any other way.

        Sovereignty allows that “our Sovereign Lord created the world in such a way that man can do things that God does not want,” when we consider God’s law. God expresses His will in His law and then does not force people to obey His law.

      15. TS00,

        You said, “Were Calvinists correct, this little narrative, like so many others, would be pointless.”

        Which is what I found to be the case when I was a young Calvinist. “Seek first the kingdom of God…”

        Really? This and hundreds of other general commands given to all were basically meaningless for me since man had no say in it.

        Imagine a funeral for a man from a Christian family whom all are sure died as a unbeliever. Two family members later standing by the grave.

        Niece: Uncle Joe just never gave his life to Christ.

        Consistent Calvinist Nephew: Nope. He was not one of the elect.

        Niece: You mean he would have come to Christ if he had been elect?

        Nephew: Of course! He would have had to! Immutable. Irresistible!

        Niece: So it wasnt cuz he didnt want to come, it’s cuz God did not want him?

        Nephew: Yep! If we say the choice was up to him at all then that would have made him more powerful than God.

        Niece: Huh? I read in God’s word that it says that God desires all men to come to Him.

        Nephew: That’s only one of God’s wills. His other will did not decree that Uncle Joe be elect.

        Niece: So if someone is one of the elect, he must come, and if not, he cannot come?

        Nephew: Yep! Beautiful huh?!

      16. FOH writes, “Christ’s call to the man was sincere or insincere?”

        Those in heaven will see it as sincere; those in hell will see it as insincere.

      17. Fortunately, very few self-claimed ‘Reformed’ actually believe what ol’ rhutchin defends on these pages. In all of my years in camp, most people were decent, loving persons who genuinely believed in God’s love and grace for all men. Yeah, they had been steamrolled and manipulated by clever wordsmiths into accepting and submitting to theological assertions they did not genuinely understand, but that’s called ignorance, not hateful arrogance. I did know a very few who actually understood and affirmed the ‘ugly’ doctrines, but frankly, they were not the sort of people most cared to be around any more than necessary. 😉

  21. Brian, waiting to hear your response, but I had to add one additional question ….. It sounds to me like what you are teaching may take some of the weight away from what Paul says in Romans 10 where he states that no one can believe unless they hear (the gospel), and no one can hear unless a preacher preaches to them and therefore the need for evangelists. He is not talking at all here about General revelation. That seems to present a huge problem for anyone who wants to diminish the necessity of a person hearing the gospel from someone’s proclamation in order to be saved. The fact that Paul structures his argument right here in this way seems to underline the urgency he is declaring for missionaries . Otherwise, he should have thrown in at the end, “But if the missionaries don’t get there, it’s not that big a deal, because God will just bring them into the kingdom anyway”. Paul’s words seem to imply the exact opposite. Is this a problem for what you said above or did I misunderstand it?

    1. Scott writes:
      “It sounds to me like what you are teaching may take some of the weight away from what Paul says in Romans 10 where he states that no one can believe unless they hear (the gospel), and no one can hear unless a preacher preaches to them and therefore the need for evangelists. He is not talking at all here about General revelation. That seems to present a huge problem for anyone who wants to diminish the necessity of a person hearing the gospel from someone’s proclamation in order to be saved. The fact that Paul structures his argument right here in this way seems to underline the urgency he is declaring for missionaries . Otherwise, he should have thrown in at the end, “But if the missionaries don’t get there, it’s not that big a deal, because God will just bring them into the kingdom anyway”. Paul’s words seem to imply the exact opposite. Is this a problem for what you said above or did I misunderstand it?”

      I can’t answer for Brian, but I would suggest that, as always, context is king. First of all, this is the very beginning of this process of the good news being spread throughout the world. There were indeed many who knew little to nothing about Jesus, and needed to hear what had happened and what it meant. The spreading of the gospel to all the world has, for the most part, now taken place. We are in a far different place, after centuries of time, the creation of the printing press, universal growth of Christianity and the global exchange of information brought by social media. That does not imply that we ‘throw out’ scripture, or the urging of Paul, but that we seek to understand when, to whom, and for what purpose, it was written.

      I view Paul’s appeal as similar to the plea for funds an advertising exec would make to corporate: “How is anyone going to know what a great product we have if we don’t tell our story?’ That does not imply that the person is ignorant of the fact that people learn of things though countless avenues, and not simply via the latest ad campaign. Some people will learn of the great ‘Ambrosia’ from their family or friends, some may pick it up at the store, or try it at a hotel or the office. We would be making the error that wooden literalism often brings to suggest that Paul was proclaiming that no one could know God unless they had direct exposure to missionaries, or through any means but the modern conceptions of church, pastor and missionary.’ I have little doubt that those who were reached by the ‘official’ missionaries then spread the word, and so on, until it reached all the world. Remember, this is the same Paul who explained that those who knew nothing of The Law of Moses had the law of righteousness stamped upon their hearts – by God.

      Of course Paul, the first missionary, was calling all men to spread the gospel he was called to begin spreading to all nations. That was his calling, and it required unique works in its unique time. Yet it is a plea that we all should continue to heed. However, it is simplistic to suggest his was a call to some sort of hierarchical, institutional Religion, with authority, power and the right to dictate and judge ‘orthodox’ doctrine via excommunication or murder, rather than a broader ‘spread the good news of God’s love’ to your fellow man.

  22. Scott,

    So nice to hear your softer tone to Brian, calling him brother. Earlier it seemed that you felt that his non-Calvinist position, and certainly his no-exhaustive-foreknowledge (Open) position was allowing you to label him (and others on this site) as non-Evangelical…. not brothers.

    Most of use do not mind being labeled “outside” of whatever and certainly TS00 has a healthy disregard for the “doctors of the law and their traditions and decrees.” But, as far as I can tell, most of the main non-Calvinists posting here are followers of Christ, Christ alone, and His unmerited sacrificial gift to us. Myself, I am still a member of the same reformed church that sent us to the mission field 33+ years ago.

    You have taken great delight in listing some of the big players that are Calvinists (I dont say “reformed” here since that implies all kinds of things that Calvinists are in disagreement about!!!) and we all thank God for them. You insist that we have all learned a great deal from them (which is your perspective in life). The list is long of great teachers who were not reformed too (but we feel no need to post that). A high school friend of mine who is pastor of a charismatic mega-church (really big,10,000?, very missions-minded) likely does not even know who Matt Chandler is. It really is about the circles you run in

    Even within the Calvinist circles there are charismatics, female pastors (“Dallas News” article “Nearly One in Four Presbyterian Pastors is Female”), dispensationalists, covenant, peadobapatists, anti-peadobaptists, etc.

    Often within certain circles the members consider that there is a ‘greater issue’ (Calvinism, gifts, baptismal regeneration, etc) and then “lesser issues”. My Pentecostal friends will start with “…but is he filled with the Spirit?” My Calvinist friends start with “…. but does he believe in the ‘doctrines of grace?'”

    With that said, I would say that most of the Evangelical world puts soteriology on the second level. Some aggressive Calvinists label non-Calvinists as non-believers. It looked like you were going that way…. and I’m happy to see that you are not.

    What’s more….. there are a whole host of Calvinist pastors and teachers that have rejoined the Catholic church. Whole youtube channels are run by these guys. Dr. Ken Howell would be one of the most well known. He holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics and a Ph.D. in the History of Christianity and Science from the University of Lancaster (U.K.), was a Presbyterian minister for eighteen years, and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary for seven years. Catholic apologist now.

    Some will label these scores (hundreds?) of Calvinist pastors as heretics or apostate. I’m sure they are used to hearing that.

    Eugene Peterson and other Calvinists are taking grief over their LGBT stance. Some Calvinist take grief over their position on female pastors, charismatic gifts…

    Obviously even a Calvinistic position on TULIP does not guarantee agreement on a host of other issues.

    Today on the way to church I heard on the Christian radio: “No matter who you are…. God loves you. No matter who you are, know that Christ died for you.” We basically all live and talk this way. But not all theologies teach it. That is where the disconnect it.

    Also in church just today I heard these verses showing some kind of personal responsibility:

    John 15: 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. [prove it!]

    John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples [abide in it!]

    Galatians 5:22-23, self control. [self-control!]

    1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! [dying every day… “dead”?]

    Yes, I know Calvinism teaches God decreed everything from before time, but man still makes choices and is responsible for his actions. It’s just that some of us dont see both those contradictory things being possible, or taught in the Word.

    You ask people on this list to comment on certain (gotcha) verses. As I have mentioned I went looking for alternative interpretations to the 40-or-so gothca verses that held me in Calvinism. I was thrilled to find them!

    There are thousands of non-Calvinist-sounding verses and hundreds and hundreds are listed in posts on this site, including all of the…
    “I would have done X if you had done Y,”
    “If you had only XY, I would have YX,”
    “I did not send those false prophets; it did not even enter my mind.”
    “O Jerusalem…. I would have loved to — but you would not..”
    “Some of the invited guests did not come, so go to all that you can find and invite them…”
    These thousands of verses all make better sense to me with my non-Calvinist understanding. [How could God say something “never entered His mind” if He decreed all things? Why would a determinist God ever, ever say “I would have …if….”?]

    We cite the hundreds of verses where God tells people “choose for yourselves this day…” Only to be told men are too-dead to choose.

    We cite the hundreds of verses in the OT where God tells His chosen people (!!!) I really want you to do this or that…. and they don’t.

    We cite the 3 OT examples of the Cross (Passover, serpent-on-pole, arc) where people had to act in faith (specifically “apply the blood in faith” at Passover), and we are told, “Sure, but man is too-dead to apply the blood of Christ in faith.”

    We cite the many verses about “being dead” and still choosing (Luke 15, twice)…. “being dead” to sin and still sinning, “dying daily” (1 Cor 15:31) but somehow those “dead” verses dont mean the same “dead” as the Calvinist catch phrase “dead men dont make choices.” Why not!?

    We offer dozens of verses where we are told in the OT (“seek the Lord while He may be found”) and by Christ in the NT (“seek the kingdom” “seek and you will find”) only to be told that the one poetic verse in Romans 3:11 trumps them all. [We all have viper poison on our lips too]

    We mention the Potter in Jeremiah 18 re-shaping the clay and the overall plan (because the first idea was “spoiled in his hands”) and we are told the Potter in Romans 9 is different and means individuals for salvation. [only cuz you say so!]

    We cite the many, many verses about “God desiring all men to come to him” ….and when “I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself,” only to be told that (through special teaching we learn that) “all does not mean all.”

    We cite the verses about God “being patient” only to be told they do not mean that since He determined all things ahead of time (so the verses mean what again? Why would He say He is patient if He decreed everything?).

    We are told that only God can make it possible to believe (and if He does, it is rendered-certain), and yet Calvinist pastors write books saying it is very hard to believe because of the Devil.

    We are told that all men before birth are infected with Adam’s sin but (since that sounds so harsh) there is a special clause that allows for abortions, still born, miscarriages, infants, and mentally impaired. What? Why? They weren’t infected before birth too? If God and Calvinists do not have a problem condemning non-elect born persons, why is it so hard to just put the infants in with them (they are equally infected, no?). But they dont, cuz ……? [Some consistent Calvinist do list them as the non-elect since they are infected. Harsh, but consistent!]

    We are told that “when the God that Paul refers to tells you to come, you come,” only to see the rich, young ruler turn away from a loving, calling Christ. “Many disciples who were with Him left at these words.”

    We cite many books and websites where Calvinists say “God loves you” “Christ died for you” to everyone, and we wonder why they would say “Christ died for you” (in such a definitive, precise, personal way) to all people, knowing that some of them are non-elect. Their theology teaches that Christ did NOT die for some people. It seems deceptive to us, but does not seem to bother Calvinists.

    We are told by the Word to love all people, our neighbor and our enemies, yet more and more YRR Calvinist websites are insisting that God does not love all people.

    I could go on and on….

    Is it any wonder why those of us who have come out from “beautiful” Limited-salvation Calvinism feel free!? Is it really any wonder why we do not see the “beauty” in God— before time, before Adam and sin….. before any of us sinned — choosing certain people for condemnation and destruction. Even if it were true….. that idea cannot be called “beautiful”.

    I dont see it in nature, personal examples, logic, or in the Word…. so I disagree with TULIP.

    But, I still need to say forgive me for my cynical-sounding, feisty tone at times.

    1. Wrote this to go here, but ended up way out of sync, so I’m trying again. 😉

      FOH writes:
      “I have come to the realization that most Calvinists will never budge because they cannot allow themselves to accept/ see the might-be’s in Scripture. To them that is some form of Open Theism …. which they label as heresy. Their only option is moving back to determinism.”

      To be honest, I don’t really care if you call it Open Theism or Padoodlism . . . I rejoice that we are actually living a life that has meaning and purpose. That our choices make a difference, and that God intends to use faithful, obedient servants – however imperfect – to bring about his good will. I honestly think that if I were convinced Calvinism was true I would take my own life. If any of the things that they assert about God were true, and if nothing I do or don’t do truly matters, I could not face another day in a world that, frankly, I can hardly bear as it is. So many nights I pace the floor in tears, weeping at the evil and the suffering that so permeates this world. I find myself begging God to give me the courage and strength to deal with one more day, to believe that my existence is purposeful, and that he intends to use me in some meaningful way, however small, however invisible to my own understanding. No one can endure a purposeless, fate-controlled life.

      How incredible it is that God has actually given us the privilege of taking part in his glorious work, calling us to belief, faith, prayer, and works of service, that others may see and believe that He is real, and that He intends good toward them. How can anyone not privately wonder if Piper is schizophrenic, deluded or deliberately deceptive? Maybe it’s just me, but I have a difficult time believing that people who teach such nonsensical contradictions, and yet appear to be of sound mind, are not wolves in sheep’s clothing, deliberately leading people on a merry chase. Can anyone honestly be that confused?

      And yet, I heard my pastor, and others, utter the same sort of absurdities. I cannot tell you how many times I had to restrain myself from challenging my pastor midsermon. My spouse would glare at me, as I exclaimed under my breath and scribbled furiously in my notebook to vent my frustration. How could any Calvinist honestly assert that he wept ‘literal’ tears over the lost – when he proclaimed a belief system that declares that God alone determines, irrevocably, who will be lost? How could he dare to challenge the congregation to greater faithfulness, greater holiness, greater witnessing or greater anything on the grounds that souls were at stake – when his theology asserts that the destination of all souls was predetermined by God before any of us ever existed? I would look around, stunned, and all around me were serene and undisturbed. I felt as if I was losing my mind, and all of the nice, reasonable people in the room would think I was nuts if I stood up and challenged the beloved, trusted pastor.

      I know I get a little too ‘feisty’ in your opinion, but I cannot calmly listen to people uttering blatant absurdity and contradiction and just treat them as if they are perfectly reasonable. It reminds me of an old children’s book which read something like, ‘Bad Bart walks up to you and asks you, ‘Would you like me to blow a hole in your head?’, then asks, ‘What do you say, dear?’ And instructs you to respond with ‘No, thank you!’ instead of ‘Are you out of your mind?’ That is the kind of crazy it seems to me when someone calmly suggests I should believe that God creates countless men in order to deliberately destroy them, or that I should spread the ‘good news’ to all men that God doesn’t love most of them – in frank contradiction to the most important truth ever presented in the history of the world! And I am instructed to politely reply, ‘No, thank you, but I’m sure you mean well.’ Maybe it’s just me, but I think Paul, and certainly Peter, would tackle Bad Bart and disarm him before he hurt someone. And I feel the same way about those who misrepresent the character of God, causing many to doubt whether he truly loves them and desires to offer them eternal life free from sin and death. It just doesn’t seem to me the sort of thing a normal person would respond to with a gentle smile and shake of the head. But maybe it’s just me.

      1. TSO, it’s not about Calvinists “not allowing themselves to see” something! Most Calvinists were opposed to Calvinism until they started seeing scripture and allowing it to say what it says. Because Paul said that “anyone who thinks he knows something doesn’t yet know anything as he ought, I remain teachable and open to God showing me scripture that renders the doctrines of Grace as untrue.

        If you study the massive volume of teaching and writing that guys like John MacArthur and John Piper and Tim Keller and Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon have produced, you will see how incredibly prolific they are in teaching the whole counsel of God and so many important things for a Christian to grow into maturity. Frankly I couldn’t name 5 non calvinists put together who have done what any of these individual guys have done in their lifetime.
        If you just take John Piper’s book, Desiring God, or Tim Keller’s book, Prayer, (alone), these are absolute life-changing comprehensive books talk about so much more than the sovereignty of God. That particular book by Keller doesn’t really talk about Calvinism at all. Desiring God does, and yet the thrust of it is not about election or predestination at all! I am so thankful for men like these, and it’s only accidentally that they also are Calvinists. The massive body of their work is not even talking about that! You need to understand that and realize that regardless of whether or not you’re theology is true, you are missing something huge if you write them off.

        One thing that you may or may not know is that for so many Calvinists, their passion is a lot more about making disciples and teaching people how to have joy in the Lord and pursue Holiness in their lives than they are about debating Calvinism! Most calvinists will tell you that the doctrines of Grace are not part of level 1 essentials, though they are extremely important and liberating and enlightening.

  23. Most Calvinists on this site mention John Piper.

    Piper (and others Calvinists) want to write books about evangelism and missions. That’s fine.

    In Piper’s book, “Let the Nations Be Glad,” he uses words like “salvation is at stake” and the “urgency of our mission” (120, 159, 165). This does not fit well with TULIP and determinism. Really, for a Calvinist, how can “salvation be at stake”? Really? “At stake”?

    He is a determinist, yet he says (p. 62) “God’s ultimate goal will come only through prayer….and he will be engaged to do it through prayer.”

    Man’s prayer engages God? God won’t do it unless we pray? God will do more if we pray more? These are all the accusations that Calvinists make at non-Calvinists telling us that we “make man have a part in man’s salvation.” Couldn’t a person “brag about his part” in praying for someone who comes to Christ (a common accusation that we would “boast later”)? Also, a consistent Calvinist would not make a statement that “God’s ultimate goal” needs ANYTHING……especially something from men.

    Page 63 has a heading “Prayer releases the power of the Gospel.” Woah. No prayer, no power….Piper is putting man in control? Is that “man-centered”? Some we accuse me of snide remarks here but I am serious. He is clearly saying that “prayer releases the power of the Gospel.” So, more prayer is more power? Less prayer less power? The Calvinists determinist TULIP can go up or down by more or less prayer? Men deciding to pray more or less affects the “counsel of His will.”

    Still speaking in the context of human prayer (p.64), he says, “If the proclamation of the word aborts the purposes of God fail.” “That purpose wont happen without prayer.” (66). Honestly I was shocked reading this. He is saying that if X does not happen the purpose of God will (could, might) fail. I dont have a problem with the statement so much…. just coming from a determinist-Calvinist. It simply makes no sense for a man that says that everything that happens is decreed by God to then “put pressure on” or “give glory to” the reader by saying that if he does not X, the purpose of God might fail.

    He makes a hero out of Mueller (page 69) for praying for 19 years for several people to be saved. What if it is not God’s Calvinistic/Sovereign will that those people be saved? You are praying against God’s, eternal, deterministic will. If it was not God’s will for that person to be saved then Mueller is praying 19 years against God’s will.

    He later (93ff) tells many stories of people who preach to random large crowds that “Christ died for you that you might find forgiveness.” How can he appreciate such sermons since the persons preaching don’t know (according to Piper) if Christ DID actually die for them. These lauded messages say “Christ died for YOU,” and in many cases, according to Calvinism this would just not be true.

    On page 188, Piper quotes Jonah 3:10 saying, “God repented of the evil he said he would do to them, And he did not do it.” We know that over 40 times in the OT is says that God changed his mind (the two passages where it says he does not change his mind refer specifically to lying). What does Piper mean in this book about missions, when he tells us that God changes His mind?

    Again, as with so much of Piper’s stuff he thelogizes like a Calvinist, but preaches, writes, and lives like a non-Calvinist. This whole book, like “Don’t Waste Your Life” is trying to motivate Christians to be more involved….. because we make a difference. It is what we all know….. just not what Calvinism teaches.

    1. Actually, when you state that John Piper’s incredible writing about missions and evangelism doesn’t fit TULIP, your statement actually comes from not really understanding the nuances of Calvinism and its aninomy, or you have been tainted by some hyper Calvinists who barely think evangelism is necessary since God has elected. Same reason those that attack Calvinism can’t quite figure out why D James Kennedy produced with urgency, the most massively used evangelism training program for churches ever conceived.

      1. Let the record state that I am not making general statements that Calvinists should not teach about evangelism (in that young, naive way). I am very specifically quoting them saying things that directly conflict with what they teach as certain. Example:

        Christ did NOT die for everyone.

        Tell everyone “Christ died for you.”

    2. Again, FOH, you don’t do your cause well by making these kinds of statements. It simply shows that you don’t understand how we are to live within the tension of God’s sovereignty and yet his commands and ways of human activity to carry out that sovereign plan. That’s a big deal.
      Get this: God has chosen those he set his love on in eternity past, and yet he commands us to go into all the world and make disciples. The hyper calvinist says no need to worry about evangelism all that much because the elect will be saved anyway. That is nonsense. God has ordained that evangelism be the way that people are saved. “How will they believe unless someone preaches…?” But God also sovereignly sees to it that the Evangelist and missionaries will go and do his work such that all of the elect will hear and believe. I know this is hard on your brain, but it is true and most calvinist I completely at ease and free and understanding this.

      1. Scott,
        Apparently I am not saying this clearly.

        You are lumping all of my critique of Piper into one “you are just not getting it FOH.”

        Let’s take it one at a time.

        Can a Calvinist say “We need to do this because salvation is at stake.”?

        Really, Scott…. be honest. Does man have to the right to say something they do or do not do “put someone’s salvation at stake”?

      2. One at a time.

        Piper teaches in this book that we are to tell everyone “Christ died for you.”

        Is that correct?

        I just want to see if you will even see one time that Piper is in error. This should be easy enough. But you always double down and protect as if Calvinists make no errors. Really what I want is you and others to just say, “Humm, hey yeah that does make sense. We shouldn’t say it that way.”

        Your inability to do that looks like devotion to a person or cause more than Scripture.

      3. What the Calvinist fanclub usually misses is how absurd and contradictory are the words they so ‘love’ from their celebrity teachers. As FOH often points out, these men must teach, the vast majority of the time, as if their theology is not what it is. I would even go so far as to say they do so deliberately, for they know full well that the vast majority of men and women who know and love God would reject their teachings if they reflected what Calvinism actually demands.

        They, and you, try and create a strawman called the Hypercalvinist, and distance themselves from him. This tactic deceived me for years. Until I broke through the mind control methods (love bombing, offers of community, claims of having the ‘real’ truth, etc.) and realized that the bogeyman Hypercalvinist was simply a consistent Calvinist; ugly, but honest. My pastor, and all of your faves that make million off of their books and seminars, make absurd, contradictory claims, teaching what they know scripture says and most believers cling to as truth, and only haltingly, in carefully parsed words, acknowledging the genuine assertions and demands of Calvinistic determinism.

        I will never forget the first ‘Calvinist’ missions session we sat through – and the last. It started off well enough, as the head of missions shared his heart for the lost, and said all the right words we had heard from missions folks all of our lives. Alas, when it got down to the nuts and bolts, all the preliminaries were shown to be but clanging cymbals. The real goals and accomplishments set out consisted of getting more Reformed books, seminars, teachers and curriculum moved into non-Calvinist ministries. Little, actually nothing, was shared of taking the gospel to those who needed to hear it, or bringing people to Christ. When they do speak of ‘sharing the gospel’, what they really mean is ‘sharing Calvinism’. This entire denominations ‘missions work’ was all about winning greater acceptance of Reformed Theology around the world. That was in our early days, and we were appalled. Unfortunately, we chose to suppress our dismay and get further enmeshed in a community that soon became too important to easily give up.

        Your, and others’, claims that people simply do not understand Calvinism can be translated into ‘That’s not what we want people to hear; we prefer the sanitized version that is less offensive’. Except that the sanitized version cannot pass the tests of honesty and consistency. When I hear my children and their friends admit that they reject Divine Determinism, or Limited Atonement or Irresistible Grace, yet still consider themselves Reformed, I know that the pied Piper and friends have done their job. They have sold a false version of Calvinism, that simply cannot exist, to a generation of naive, trusting folks who kinda sense some sort of disconnect, but are too busy with their lives to concern themselves with investigating it. Besides, their family, friends, and community take place at this church, and who wants to give that up? So on they go, completely ignorant of the true, essential doctrines of Calvinism, which they are constantly assured are simply the misconceptions of people who ‘don’t understand Calvinism’.

        You are correct that all of the well-known and well-loved Calvinists do not teach or live out consistent Calvinism. FOH graciously gives them the benefit of the doubt, and assumes that they simply do not recognize their inconsistency. I am not so trusting. I suppose one even could be thankful for wide-scale inconsistent Calvinism, if one did not see how subtly, slowly its defenders distort the teaching of scripture until their followers wind up with a confused, mishmash of theological thinking that is too confused to bother straightening out. They become so brainwashed that they can spout the same illogical inconsistencies they have learned without blushing, and take pride that all of the thinking atheists mock their foolishness. It is not without reason that Piper gets ‘picked on’ by atheists and non-Calvinists. He says such asinine, inconsistent things that it is simply impossible to take him seriously – unless you are a mind-numbed member of the cult, or fear bringing discredit to so-called christianity. All such Piperism’s are taken on faith by the unquestioning tribe, or in submission to the authority of their elders or denomination or historical creeds. Just so long as the people are not urged to pursue the logical questions that inevitably arise, or to think independently and critically, they can usually have their initial concerns assuaged by the hazy non answers of inconsistent Calvinism.

        I too once read, and was inspired by many of Spurgeon’s sermons. But anyone who cannot see the utter absurdity of praying ““Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect—and then elect some more.” meaning Calvinistic election, settled in the heavens in eternity past, is simply deluded. How comforting are his inconsistent words to so many questioning Calvinism when he writes “My soul revolts at the idea of a doctrine that lays the blood of man’s soul at God’s door. I cannot conceive how any human mind, at least any Christian mind, can hold any such blasphemy as that.” ‘Aha!’ the confused hearer think, ‘Spurgeon did not believe that God was responsible for deliberately damning those who were not ‘elect’ so I can believe it too!’ Yes, inconsistent celebrity Calvinists are the key to keeping the travesty alive. My former pastor never recommended the writings of honest, consistent Calvinists like Pink, (I had to find them on my own), but preferred to feed the sheep on pleasant-sounding inconsistencies like Spurgeon and Piper so faithfully produce. Sure, send em to Spurgeon and get em nice and comfortable; necause he spoke and wrote like a non-Calvinist, then staunchly asserted he could nonetheless claim to uphold doctrines opposite to all he publicly taught. I know a lot of politicians who have perfected the same art of speaking out of both sides of their mouths, which is how most of them win so many followers. The really accomplished can make such wishy-washy statements that people can take them to mean anything.

      4. TS00,
        I appreciate the Spurgeon quote… ““Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect—and then elect some more.” which shows how kind of untenable the whole thing is. He was rebuked for that and said it many more times. He was not satisfied with God’s number?

        Here are a few more….

        “I further believe, although certain persons deny it, that the ‘influence of fear’ is to be exercised over the minds of men, and that it ought to operate upon the mind of the preacher himself.” (How to Win Souls for Christ,)

        “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” (A Defense of Calvinism)

        “And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer?” (A Defense of Calvinism)

        Sounds like he doesn’t believe it is eternally decided and true one minute….and the next minute it is the same as the Gospel…. and anything else is heresy. No wonder we get branded as heretics so often…. they are just following the prince.

    3. FOH writes, “Man’s prayer engages God? God won’t do it unless we pray? God will do more if we pray more? These are all the accusations that Calvinists make at non-Calvinists telling us that we “make man have a part in man’s salvation.” ”

      The purpose of prayer is to appropriate the promises made by God (or Christ). In this case, “Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Then Mark 16, “[Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

      1. Readers will notice that I mentioned that Piper makes a hero out of Mueller (page 69) for praying for 19 years for several people to be saved. Then I asked: What if it is not God’s Calvinistic/Sovereign will that those people be saved?

        Some people would say that …. “The purpose of prayer is to appropriate the promises made by God (or Christ).”

        So we need to ask if God had promised somewhere that those several acquaintances of Mueller would be saved.

        This leads us to the idea that “all we have to do” is pray for someone and that will “appropriate the promise”?

        I am sure that Mueller prayed for some who did not come to Christ. There was no promise? Yet the same prayer was used.

        I mean what possible lesson could Piper have been getting at but “lifting up” Mueller?

        Man has something to do with another man’s salvation? [nope]

        Man can move God by his prayer? [nope]

        Praying 19 years is good and better than, say, 18? [nah]

        God will tell you who to pray for— and therefore praying will be part of it? [nope] [cuz he prayed a long time for people who did not come]

        Prayer changes God’s intentions? [nah]

        No point. There is no teaching point that a Calvinist can make by this example.

        When he adds statements like this on the web site it only gets more confusing… “Pray….that my neighbors will be open to the gospel as I share it.”

        That appropriates a promise? What promise? One made about each neighbor? Our prayer can change what God decreed immutably before time?

      2. FOH writes, “Some people would say that …. “The purpose of prayer is to appropriate the promises made by God (or Christ).”

        That sounds like something I would say.

        Then, “This leads us to the idea that “all we have to do” is pray for someone and that will “appropriate the promise”? ”

        Within Baptist circles, the belief is that prayer is one’s first recourse in seeking the salvation of anyone. Even if prayer does not guarantee the salvation of a person, the lack of prayer guarantees that a person will not be saved. It is God who emphasizes the value of prayer and encourages prayer on many occasions – particularly for salvation.

        Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;” Should we not do as he asks?

  24. According to him he was a former ex-trained Calvinist, then turned away and goes against the current. Now, he is confused with Piper’s strategies in Missions and Evangelism that sounds like a Non-Calvie.

    1. “FOH asks: “Christ’s call to the man was sincere or insincere?”

    2. “There are many, many quotables on here from Calvinists saying God is not even offering it to the non-elect. Right JTL?”

    ——Here’s My Response——-

    God has the ultimate choice in the Salvation. The fallen man has no whatsoever share in it.

    The legitimate offer for sure comes from God because He is omniscient. Nothing escapes from His knowledge including future responses, decisions and events.

    He cannot offer it to those who are not legitimate beneficiaries of His atoning work at the cross of Calvary.

    Calvinists are not omniscient that is why we preach the gospel to all. The elect has been regenerated and are saved while the Non-Elect perishes.

    The universalist will make present the gospel with attractive coatings like Joel Osteens “Prosperity Gospel”. People who delights to enter the wide gate will surely be lured up and be deceived.

    I believe the gospel is powerful in itself and there is no need to provide additives that will ventilate the desires of the fallen man. This is the reason why the unregenerated man accepts the offer even if it was not legitimately offered to them.

    I believe, the elect will truly accept the gospel offer because he is first regenerated by God. A regenerated Man (spiritually enliven) will surely grasp and accept spiritual things even if the gospel presented to him is not wrapped up with riches and material things which becomes an attraction to the fallen man.

    1. I want to make sure to all readers know what Calvinism teaches:

      1.
      A. Christ did not die for all men.
      B. It is okay (in fact good) to say to all men “Christ died for you.”

      2.
      A. Unregenerated man (the non-elect) cannot see/ hear the call for salvation.
      B. Regnerated man (the elect) will (no exceptions) come to the call.

      In other words….. you cannot come if not elect…. you cannot NOT come if elect.

      I understand this is “beautiful” to Calvinists, but most people would see it as manipulative, and forced, and robotic.

      Only if you start from TD (Total Depravity) do you need to come up with this plan.

      Non-Calvinists teach:
      1.
      A. Christ died for all men.
      B. Anyone who “applies the blood” in faith (like the “chosen people” had to do at Passover), will be covered by His blood.
      C. It is dishonest for Calvinists to say “Christ died for you” to every person, when they teach that He did not.

      2.
      A. All men can see in nature or hear the call directly from preaching.
      B. No one is forced to come, and they can resist the grace, just like the rich young ruler resisted the direct call from Jesus “follow me.”

      1. Yes and amen. These are the honest distinctives that make Calvinism unique from non-Calvinst christianity. And yet, why is it that modern Calvinists seek so hard to mask these honest facts? Why do they dissemble, distort, invent meaningless inconsistencies like ‘compatibilism’ and make strawmen of consistent Calvinists by calling them ‘HyperCalvinists’?

        I would aver that some have been deceived by these very tactics, and go on to mirror them. Yet, eventually, each must be held accountable to ignoring the warnings of conscience, the very Spirit of God which condemns the claims that all men are not equally loved and ‘chosen’ for salvation. I pushed aside these twinges – with assistance from our helpful inconsistent Calvinists spouting ‘Compatibilism’ – for a long time. Until, in the quiet of the night, God cornerered me with a clear ‘Choose you this day’ what you will believe and say about me. I could no longer push aside the questions, but had to seek out clear, consistent answers and make an informed choice. Too many are willing to push off the responsibility to someone else to do the thinking and simply submit to their ‘greater knowledge and authority’. I know lots and lots of people like this.

      2. Instead of honest, unbiased consideration of what informed teachers throughout the centuries have set forth as the doctrines of Calvinism, many people listen to the smarmy, shameless dissembling of Piper, et. al. When I come across followers of Barth, Torrance and others who have attempted to reinvent Reformed Theology, I can only ask ‘Why?’ Why do they cling to faulty creeds which, in essence, they now utterly deny in their newly invented definitions of what such things might be said to mean. It sounds an awful lot like not being willing to admit error and forthrightly defending the truth.

      3. TS00,
        I really appreciate the honestly of Clark Pinnock’s journey. From Packer/Reformed friend to Arminian…to Open….. kind of abandoning tradition for what Scripture appears more to teach.

      4. FOH writes that Calvinism teaches:

        “Christ did not die for all men”.

        That is the most significant, and most hidden assertion of Calvinism. One which very few believers will knowingly affirm. Hence, Calvinists avoid acknowledging it at all costs. They use all of the tactics known to practicers of deception, whether it be distraction, distortion, accusation, change the subject, . . . on and on.

        Likewise, the nearly universal belief of so-called christians – because scripture so often states it – that God loves all men. This has forced modern Calvinists to mask and/or distort the undeniable Calvinist assertion that God does not desire to give all men eternal life and dwell with them forever, but has selected a limited number for this great ‘love’.

        This requires manufacturing a whole new definition of ‘love’, such as giving them sunshine and rain before you send them to hell for eternity.

        I would encourage sincere seekers of truth to not look to authorities, creeds, traditions or charismatic speakers for the authentic definition of love. God provides this himself, in his living Word, Jesus, and his written Word:

        “Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends.”

        I really like sunshine, and I deeply appreciate the rain that brings forth fruit . . . but in all honesty, they don’t hold a candle to scripture’s assurance that true love requires the selfless offering of self for the sake of the beloved.

        I assert that God so loves all men.

      5. TS00,

        I agree.

        Most Calvinists delight in preaching “”God loves YOU. Christ died for YOU!”

        Because that is our message. The only problem is that their theology teaches that it is not true.

        I could not under any circumstance get Scott or RH to say that Piper should pull his statements on line and in his books that say “Christ died for you” in a broad/ universal way. They just will not do it! They just will not call him out.

        Why?

        I think….. like you said….. they WANT to be able to say “Christ died for you” to everyone and still theologize that He did not.

        I have less of a problem with Calvinism than you do. I really understand consistent Calvinists.

        I just cannot believe that so many of them are so willing to say …. ‘Christ died for you” to everyone when they teach that He did not.

        It really, really damages their position.

  25. FOH,

    I won’t mention the brother’s name, but there was a TV preacher who said the following….

    “Here’s the river of humanity. Ever since Adam, the human race has just been flowing like old man river, but all along the banks of the river are these DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY, and what’s on the front part of the door? ‘Whosoever will may come!’ So the ‘whosoever’ goes through that door of opportunity, and when he gets to the other side and looks back, what does he see on the other side of the door? ‘Chosen in Him, before the world was ever created.’ Now, I can’t put it any better, because that is exactly the way it is. We have to decide for ourselves, and yet the moment we decide God says ‘I chose you’.”

    And yet sermons later, this same preacher stated the following….

    “Now, what does that word ‘elect’ mean? Chosen. When you elect someone you designate them to be whatever you intend them to be, and the word ‘election’ in the Greek is exactly that. It is an act of choosing, and that is what God has done with every one of His believers. Now, I think I’ll finish the chapter, and then I want to take you back to some of the statements that Jesus made Himself during His earthly ministry: that He has chosen us, and that no man comes to God on his own prerogative. Sometimes we like to think, ‘Well, I can just decide to go with God anytime I feel like it.’ OH NO YOU CAN’T BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BE BACK AGAIN IN THAT CHOSEN ASPECT….”

    Again, a lot of time had passed between lectures, probably even different folks in the audience, but when both quotes are put together next to one another, you see the glaring inconsistency. “Opportunity” defined means “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” “Opportunity” is synonymous for “chance”. What “chance” do the unchosen have? Zero. They have no chance. No opportunity. None. There are no “doors of opportunity” for the unchosen.

    Now while I know some brothers who would hold these statements as consistent, I would gently suggest they are in need of psychotherapy.

    Some will say that “sometimes we have to harmonize the scriptures” or that “this interpretation helps alleviate some of the tensions we find in the scriptures.”

    If you find yourself having to “harmonize the scriptures” to “alleviate some of the tensions” perhaps, just maybe, you need to jettison some of your beliefs and start anew.

    I, for one, believe God’s word is like a divine Rubik’s cube which fits perfectly together. The problem is not with the Word, but how we interpret the word.

    Blessings, brother.

    1. Phillip,
      Yes. When I see Calvinist stop saying “Christ died for you” to everyone, then I will take them seriously.

      With that said…

      1. Some consistent Calvinist clearly teach “Do not tell people Christ died for them, since you do not know that.” [consistent]

      2. Others try like Piper to make whole messages explaining “In what sense did Christ die for the non-elect?” That’s a gymnastic doozy. Anyone can find it on his site. It just meanders around a for a while…. never answering the question. This is their attempt at saying “He did die for the non-elect….. in a certain way.” Kinda like MacArthur rebuking the God-does-not-love-everyone YRR boys, saying, “He does love everyone…. in a certain way.”

      3. Others say “we cannot know who it is so we tell them all.” Tell them all what? “Christ died for you.” Which of course Calvinism tells us is not true for many people being told that.

      Again, I would have no problem with them being consistent to say “Christ MAY have died for you.” or “repent of yours sins…. if you can.” If they preached that Christ “died for His elect,” they would be consistent.

      But they dont.

      They want their cake and eat it too. They want to say it the good ‘ol Arminian way. They say, “Tell everyone, ‘Christ died for you,'” and they somehow see no disconnect.

      1. FOH,

        Agreed.

        Of course the 4 point Calvinist will say “Christ died for you”, because they see it in scripture. The 5 pointer has to close his eyes to this scriptural truth. So for the 4 pointer, “Christ died for you, but because you are not His elect, He withholds the gift of faith”. That “truth” is concealed from the Lost as well.

        I would just like to hear what a Calvinist believed in ordered to be saved. Exactly what “gospel” did they believe?

        Christ came to save sinners? Scriptural, but not the gospel.

        Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved? Again, scriptural, but not the gospel. Believe “what” about the Lord Jesus Christ?

        The best description of the gospel is found 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. However, the Calvinist (5 pointer) will never preach this to the Lost (though Paul did), but they must leave the lost sinner with that impression. They won’t say “Christ died for you”, but you can bet they will leave them with that impression, because that is what you have to believe (that Christ died for YOUR sins) to be saved.

        What if the Lost sinner were to ask “Did Christ die for Me?” The 5 pointer would be forced to respond “I don’t know yet”.

      2. Phillip,
        You asked what do they believe or teach? Let Spurgeon tell you [see if you can make any sense of this]

        “If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.” (The Warrant of Faith)

      3. Since I just finished watching a godly coach perform an historic beat down on Alabama 😆, I have a few seconds to say…….
        Wow!!! You may not realize the significance of this statement you just shared by perhaps the greatest Pastor, greatest preacher and man of God of all time. I’ve read his biography and a lot of other things of his, and the guy was absolutely full of the Spirit and full of the word of God. If you understand what he is saying there, you understand what he believes was a major key to his incredible fruitfulness: The prior work of God to awaken the sinner so that he can repent instead of rebelling against God.

      4. Sorry…. I did not see a name in your post….

        Were you referring to Billy Graham, or AW Tozer, or CS Lewis?

      5. Sorry no, Spurgeon. And this verse amazingly describes why sinners CANNOT believe until God opens their eyes. They can’t see the glory of Christ in the Gospel! They are blind, even in the presence of the Gospel.

        “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
        2 Corinthians 4:4

      6. Scott:

        Why does the god of this world need to blind the minds of “dead” people? If Calvinism is true they are TD (from Adam) and need no blinding.

        Is it “so they cannot see the light”? So they would see the light (they are not dead) if he was not blinding them? Aha! They are not dead, and would see the light naturally if they were not blinded by satan. Otherwise, why blind “dead” people, right?

        1. Not really “dead” so they need blinding.

        2. Who does the blinding? God? Adam? Themselves? No, the god of this world.

        3. How can this satanic blinding be overcome? Paul seems to be saying that it is “setting forth the truth plainly.” And God tells us to “Let light shine out.”

        Peter did it in Acts 2…. saying, “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs…” Those miracles were used as “setting forth the truth plainly” and “letting light shine” ….. “persuading” (as Paul says) men (who are not dead).

        Paul did it in Acts 17 …. “So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks…” He reasoned with them. You dont reason with “dead” people, but you do “set the truth plainly to them.” He even says this when he is reasoning with them…

        “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us …”

        Because God wants people to seek Him and “perhaps” reach out to Him. And Paul reasons with them and persuades them (Paul’s words).

        I used to love plucking one gotcha verse out of context when I had the Calvinist gotcha verses memorized. Not any more.

      7. FOH, to Scott, writes, “Why does the god of this world need to blind the minds of “dead” people? If Calvinism is true they are TD (from Adam) and need no blinding.”

        “There is one other thing to be observed here (relevant to the blindfold analogy) about sinners’ “minds,” which are said to be blinded by the Devil (see 1 Cor. 3-4). The word in Greek is nousmata, meaning “thoughts,” not “minds,” the latter being that which the Calvinist-influenced KJV translators chose to render. So the question is this: Is there a difference between saying that the god of this world has blinded the mind of the unbeliever, as opposed to his thoughts? In fact, yes, there is. For the Scripture does not say that the god of this world has blinded people in order to produce unbelief. Rather, it implies that unbelief is already present (even as, in the Parable of the Sower, the hardness of the receiving ground is already present when the good seed is cast upon the stony path, making it easier for the Devil to remove the seed). The KJV’s use of the word mind is taken by many readers to mean the will, leaving these readers to conclude that the Devil has disabled man’s ability so that he cannot will good. But the Greek word ‘mind’ (if we assume merely for the moment and sake of argument that the mind is synonymous with the will) is not in the autographa. Rather, the Bible teaches that a man’s unbelief is a result stemming from the will of himself, not the will of the Devil. That the Devil (we anticipate the objection here) is stated in Scripture to capture such men (lit.) “into (at) his desire” speaks only to those opportunities he seizes to remove good seed from those whose heart-soil, by reason of its hardness, have made them a priori susceptible to the Devil’s suggestive thoughts to reject the seed. In other words, the Devil captures them into his desire because they themselves desire to reject the seed. The Devil is simply urging them along the path of desire they are accustomed to tread. In short, thoughts do not a will make. Rather, thoughts not originating from a man (though presented to him) are an influence upon that man’s will, whether they are bad thoughts from the Devil, or good thoughts from God, or thoughts of his own, which in any case are subject to the man’s mind for sole deliberation and sole decision. A final curiosity in all this is why an unbeliever rejects the seed to begin with? For in such a case the man wills himself to unbelief rather than belief, and therefore acts against his own best interest. This, I think, is the least of what the Bible must mean by the phrase, ‘the mystery of iniquity.’”

        Gracely, Daniel. Calvinism: A Closer Look (p. 165). Grandma’s Attic Press. Kindle Edition.

        We note that the book is a diatribe against Calvinism and recommended by Brian Wagner in an earlier message.

      8. Ah, yes, Spurgeon, the great Calvinist preacher who got saved in a Methodist Church (and even credits God for sending him there. What?!? No “reformed” churches in the neighborhood?).

        Spurgeon writes…“If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate.”

        Perhaps it was this that led Loraine Boettner to write…. “A man is not saved because he believes in Christ, he believes in Christ because he is saved.”

        Talk about putting the cart before the horse. But that is Calvinism.

      9. Notice one of the subtleties that TS00 always refers to (in his un-subtle way!).

        They say….

        We preach, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

        Which sometimes comes out as ….

        “Anyone can call on the name of the Lord and be saved!”

        But…even though they say the second one (and it sounds so baseline-Evangelical) it is NOT what they believe.

        It is NOT true by Calvinist standards that “anyone can be saved.”

        But they still say it.

        Again…. I cannot get them to say to me, “Yes, FOH, that is correct, Piper should not say to anyone and everyone ‘Christ died for you.'”

    2. Phillip,

      Thanks for bringing up the old “un-biblical Calvinist door” – is what I like to call it.

      Here’s something I wrote about it some time ago.

      Calvinists when trying to explain their doctrine often use an illustration by Presbyterian Donald Gray Barnhouse. Barnhouse explained Calvinism (or his view of “election”) like a door. Over the door on the front is written the words ‘Whosever will may come’. He says this represents the free universal offer of the gospel, the message of salvation for everyone. When passing through the door and glancing back, to happy surprise you see the words ‘Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world’.
      First and foremost, it should be recognized that this illustration can be found nowhere in the bible, and is pure speculation from a Calvinist’s imagination. Barnhouse may have been a good preacher but in this case he used an unbiblical illustration to try and describe his view of election.
      Now, given that Calvinists feel they have license to use this unbiblical illustration, I would like to demonstrate the implications of this unbiblical view using the same license.
      Firstly, I would like to point out that the message over the back side of the door makes the front message a deceiving one. The fact that you would be “surprised” when passing through the door can only be surprising if the front message wasn’t the whole truth, or not even the truth, otherwise why would it be surprising? We all know what a half truth is, and what to call it. It would only be ‘surprising’ to see that the message on the back of the door surprisingly contradicts the front.
      Secondly, what would this door look like for the unbeliever. Over the front of the door would say ‘Whosever will may come’. Then over the back would say “you were never chosen to come before the foundation of the world so therefore you cannot”. The Calvinist would be quick to say – ‘But the unbeliever would never pass through the door’. But this is an oxymoron to say the least! If the unbeliever wasn’t chosen to pass through the door before the foundation of the world for unrevealed reasons by God’s “secret decree”, well of course they are not going to pass through the door. But that doesn’t change what would be written on the back of the door they’d be looking at from the front. It couldn’t possibly be the same door as the one who passed through is looking at, otherwise the message on the back is a lie. If it is the same door, then the message on the back is a concealed big fat lie to that person, or the message on the front is.
      The illustration under the magnifying glass falls right into the contradictory nature of all the Calvinist arguments.

      1. Actually I think it could be better named “The Calvinist revolving door” 😃

      2. I’d go with the Hotel California door – you might think you’re checking in of your own free will, but you were secretly suckered in, and there’s no escaping.

      3. Damon, I think you should question the strength of the argument you just made. The scripture is full of statements about the outward call of God for Sinners to turn to him. The scriptures are also full of teaching about God’s election and how from the beginning of humanity he chose. He chose Adam, he chose Abraham, he chose Noah, he chose Jacob, he chose Israel, he chose the disciples, he chose Paul, and if you are saved he chose you. So there’s nothing wrong with that illustration.

        Additionally, there will be people in heaven who are surprised by what it says in the back side. But it will be primarily people that were not educated properly after they got saved, to understand that God chose them before the foundation of the world that they should be holy and blameless before him. But even RC Sproul said (I think it was him) that the greatest surprise in heaven “will be that I am there,” remarking on his own sinfulness and that he did not deserve to be there.

        So you might want to check your eagerness to criticize some of these things.

        God bless!

      4. Scott,
        I have appreciated your thoroughness in the past, but this post is truly “surprising” (pun intended!).

        It sounds all-humble-and-all for Sproul to say that…. kind of a “worst of sinners” self-deprecation sort of thing.

        But surely a man that can explain the “doctrines of grace” would not be surprised at that time! Or was he one of the “people that were not educated properly after they got saved”?

        Was he lacking in assurance of his salvation?

        In what way would be surprised? Was he not sure after all that if he was one of the elect?

        If you meant …. “humbled” or “ecstatic” I think we would understand. But surprised? After all those years here on earth teaching how we can be sure of our salvation.

        I would think that Calvinists would find this insulting…. one of their leaders being “surprised” that the doctrines he had held to were correct…. or surprised that he in fact was elect……kind of a “Phew! I made it… I’m surprised!” I dont think that bodes well for those he is trying to assure of their salvation.

        “If even our leader is surprised to be saved after all these years, how can we know?” Was he living in doubt and is now surprised to see it true? In what way would he be surprised?

      5. So selective. Did God ‘choose’ Cain, or was he just lying when he assured him that he too could choose well and be accepted? Does he gets his jollies, like Calvin’s god, in making false offers that can never be received? (Heh, heh, these dupes I created are so easy to fool. Say anything, and they believe you. Then surprise them with the kicker.) Did God Choose King Saul, Solomon or Samson, and did their choices in life genuinely affect the state of their hearts and minds, let alone their final destiny; or had God determined ahead of time all of their wickedness, idolatry and evil – for his ‘glory’? Did God choose all of the people who applied the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and were rescued out of Egypt – and if so, why did most never reach the ‘promised land’ that they were, presumably, promised? Why were some swallowed up by the earth? Why did God threaten to destroy them all and start over with Moses? Ah, how pleasant it is that being selective can lead to whatever one wants to believe.

        Such selectiveness makes this choosing stuff sounds so secure, in hindsight, and when applied with careful distinction. Of course, Paul suggests that the difference between and Abraham and other men of his era was their faith, or lack thereof.

        True, we all have the ability to be selective. I use mine to selectively embrace the interpretations, believed by many, that God is indeed fully good, fully loving and fully gracious. For those who have genuinely been persuaded that there are NO OTHER interpretations to Romans 9 or other gotcha verses of Calvinism, I have good news : there have always been other interpretations. Interpretations that fit so well with the rest of scripture, make better sense and do not contradict God’s own claims to love all men and desire their salvation. When I was giving Calvinism a trial – which was pretty fair, lasting over a decade – I was SO relieved to find really good, reasonable, scripturally consistent alternatives to what my Calvinist pastor insisted was the Only Real Truth.

        The fact is, as long as you cling to the myth that God chooses and predetermines the state of everyone’s heart and faith, you will end up having to excise or ignore many passages of scripture. Not to mention, having to explain, or ignore, why a loving God would ordain people to grievous sin, sin they cannot ‘not choose’ and then ‘reward’ them with eternal suffering. Wait, don’t tell me, you think that God being able to arbitrarily choose who to save and who to curse ‘gives him glory’? Yeah I’ve heard that one. Have you heard the one about the Rabbi, the Priest and the Baptist Minister?

        Let me tell you a little about real glory; and I didn’t even have to make it up:

        God so loved the world that he sent his Only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

        That’s a declaration that Nicodemus would never have taken to mean that if he was to be saved, he must hope to be one of the elite, chosen few. Only a false teacher could twist the most beautiful, hope-filled words ever spoken into such a blatant, despair-inducing lie.

        Jesus, freely laying down his own life that others may attain life – now that’s Glory! Jesus, willingly suffering at the hands of cruel, mocking sinners, to bear their very cruel, mocking sin! God, jumping in, when men have repeatedly rebelled and rejected his love and perfect will, and he could have justly left them to pay the price – the permanent loss of supreme contentment, unvarnished joy and eternal life. Jesus, providing the ultimate sacrifice to offer forgiveness and life to those who did not yet even know they need atonement; many of whom will spit in his face and spurn his priceless gift when they do understand it.

        Tell me you truly see more glory in the cruel, controlling, merciless god of Calvinism who can ‘do whatever he wants’ and chooses to use that power to irresistibly ordain sin, misery and death versus the true God, who certainly can ‘do whatever he wants’ but chooses to use that power to give freedom, reveal love, and offer mercy.

        Were your caricature of god real, even those he ‘chose’ would secretly despise him, whatever they might say. Who could not despise an all-powerful god who overlooked their own beloved mother, child or dearest friend – just because he wanted to? Oh wait, that’s right. They will ‘love’ him, because they have no power to choose otherwise. Some love ya got there. Ask those in forced marriages how satisfying it is. In fact, ask the many who have been told that all divorce is forbidden, and they are consigned to a lifelong, loveless prison because God cares more about principle than people. (Of course, in reality, although God hates divorce as he hates all sin, he provided divorce as a necessary, grace-filled option due to the choices of sinful, hard-hearted people. Just as he offered atonement as an option due to the choices of sinful, hard-hearted people.)

        I’ll go with real love – undetermined, non-coerced, uncontrolled by decree or secret magical incantations. Freely offered, via the most unimaginable demonstration of selfless sacrifice ever known to man. A love that woos and gives and offers blessing and hope to any who will receive and return it. A love that grants life to the vilest offender who repents of his vile offenses – no exceptions. Now that’s a love that will inspire genuine songs of praise and thanksgiving by those who believed in it, and demand mournful acknowledgement even from those who rejected it. Any weeping and wailing will not be the result of a God so cruel that he did not offer many men any chance of salvation, but because they were so foolish to despise and reject what could have been theirs.

      6. Scott and TS00,
        We are still working on TS00’s table manners. He is a bit feisty.

        But the question is valid.

        Cain: God tells him he can and should choose wisely. Had God not chosen Him (acting like He had) or did Cain resist a very sincere offer?

        No Calvinist on this site ever answers us on this issue. Crickets.

      7. Good luck! I’m afraid God has so many more important things to chisel off that my manners might have to await my glorification! Hopefully, he will stick those ears back on, and say, ‘Foolish child . . . now, feed my sheep.’

      8. FOH writes, “Cain: God tells him he can and should choose wisely. Had God not chosen Him (acting like He had) or did Cain resist a very sincere offer?”

        FOH embellishes the Scriptures. We actually read, “for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Later, John exp[lains, “this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

        This is not a picture of a person ‘can and should choose wisely.” It is a picture of a man who was enslaved to sin and hated his brother so much that he could not think or act wisely. Had Cain actually been able to choose wisely (or enabled, as some say), he most certainly would have considered the effect on himself of killing his brother and turned away. Unfortunately, such “enablement'” escaped him – Cain was of the evil one. As Jesus said of the Jews, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”

      9. It takes a lot of gall to rewrite scripture, and deny words attributed to God himself. If the Creator of all things tells his creature that he must master sin, you can bet your darn life he was capable of mastering sin. It is astounding that rhutchin would attempt to negate the very words of God, here and elsewhere. And FOH wonders why I get so feisty!

      10. TS00,

        I get why you are feisty!

        The funny thing is that I was accused of embellishing Scripture. I’m just taking God at His word. He is giving Cain the choice ….”if you do well.” He is alerting Cain “sin is crouching… but you must master it.”

        I dont bring in outside ideas and theologies. I work every day with missionaries in unreached people groups who have no idea what the Confessions and Catechisms are. They read a story like this and they know instinctively that God is alerting Cain and telling him he can master it. Cain had a choice. Calvinism denies that.

        A simple reading would up-end Calvinism-determinism so they must superimpose ideas onto it. They must read into it…. as they do with passages like Jeremiah…

        7:31
        They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.

        19:5
        They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal–something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.

        32:35
        And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin,”

        ——-
        They simply explain these away by saying “they do not mean what they say.”

      11. FOH writes, “The funny thing is that I was accused of embellishing Scripture.”

        I guess I should have said you were putting eisegesis ahead of exegesis.

      12. FOH, I had to ask… What do you think God means there when he says it never entered into his mind? Is he saying he didn’t know they were going to do that?

      13. Scott,

        Let’s take this a bit at a time.

        Do those passages (and hundreds more in that vein) seem to teach that everything that happens is what God wants to happen?

        Do they confirm or contradict the Calvinistic idea that man cannot do something that God did not will and decree?

        Could the people of Israel in fact have done differently than what they did?

      14. FOH, it seems that you are reluctant to answer questions like this. Really would love to hear how you interpret it and how you interpret the other passage I asked about.

      15. Scott,
        I beg to differ….. I am not reluctant at all.

        I beg to differ…. you would not “love to hear how…..” …. any more than you, “would be thrilled if someone could clearly show that this is not at all what part is teaching.”

        I tell ya what….. I will answer my questions below and then again ask you kindly to answer them…..

        Do those passages (and hundreds more in that vein) seem to teach that everything that happens is what God wants to happen? [They do not seems to teach that everything that happens is what God wants.]

        Do they confirm or contradict the Calvinistic idea that man cannot do something that God did not will and decree? [They seem to contradict the the Calvinistic idea that man cannot do something that God did not decree.]

        Could the people of Israel in fact have done differently than what they did? [The people of Israel could have done differently than what they did.]

        Please feel free to tell me what the passage means and/or answer these questions.

      16. FOH, I’m not trying to be picky or difficult. But I asked you a specific question about your interpretation of a very specific and short verse. I will discuss it further once you answer my question. Thanks. I think you know how to exegete or hermeneut, so have at it.

      17. Scott:
        I might be confused.

        I made a post to TS00 which included these three Jeremiah verses….

        7:31
        They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.

        19:5
        They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal–something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.

        32:35
        And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin,”

        ———–

        You asked me immediately what I felt those verses (specifically) meant. I said to feel free to tell me. You said no …..and I continued the discussion by posing —then answering —- the three questions about those texts. Not sure what you mean.

        While you are here….. feel free to begin discussing with me on the three Jeremiah verses above.

      18. FOH, I first asked you to tell me what you believe it means when it says that it never entered into God’s mind. Are you able to do that?

      19. FOH doesn’t need my help, but for what it’s worth . . . Whatever ‘nor did it enter my mind’ means, you can be sure that it does NOT mean:

        ‘I thought that up myself, and ordained you to do it before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye; and now I’m really, really mad that you did it.’

      20. Sarcastic condescension doesn’t look good on you, TSOO. Clearly someone needs help giving a simple answer to the question of what that phrase means to them.

      21. Scott, I will give you my answer about those verses, but first I would like to know if you already have a dogmatic view as to what they mean, or don’t mean, or if you are open to a reasonable meaning based on grammar and context.

        And TS00’s answer was an answer of what it does not mean. It was put in a funny way as an attack on determinism. But you should not jump to the conclusion it was condescending towards you personally. It is ok to be “condescending” on this site to views that are felt to be unreasonable… just not directly to the character of the people holding those views. Thanks.

      22. Thanks, Brian. It was FOH to whom I asked that question. There seems to be some kind of dance around responding. I just don’t quite get that.

      23. Well… if you want an answer you may have to join the “dance” since you did the initial invite. But sometimes dancers want to make sure the other party is willing to dance or may just end up stepping on their toes. 😁

        I thought my question concerning how firm your belief was in your understanding of those verses was a reasonable question.

      24. Brian, I really don’t get that. It’s a pretty straightforward issue. What I don’t believe is that God is saying that the actions of Israel took him by surprise and he didn’t know it was going to happen. There are far too many scriptures that tell us that God knows everything before even happens. He knows the end from the beginning. He certainly knows every thought I will ever have and every word before it comes off my tongue, according to Psalm 139. The passage may mean that he never pondered asking them to do those things.
        Open Theism is a bad advertisement for Arminians, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others.
        I’m sorry if that’s what you or some of the other guys in the very small group of posters on this site believe.

      25. Thank you for answering. I usually answer with my view first if I ask a similar question as yours of someone but they then would like to know my view before they answer.

        7:31 – אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א צִוִּ֔יתִי וְלֹ֥א עָלְתָ֖ה עַל־לִבִּֽי׃ literally – which I did not command and it did not come up upon my heart.
        19:5 has the same but adds וְלֹ֣א דִבַּ֔רְתִּי – and I did not speak
        32:35 has the same as 7:31 but adds – לַעֲשֹׂ֖ות הַתֹּועֵבָ֣ה הַזֹּ֑את לְמַ֖עַן החטי אֶת־יְהוּדָֽה – to do this abomination for- the-purpose to-cause-to-sin, Judah.

        It seems clear to me that God is saying He never previously decreed/commanded or spoke that these events of sin should happen… or that in His heart He desired them.

        He certainly desired something good to come from allowing such evil to come into existence. He certainly understood the possibility for it coming and saw it coming as he watched the plans of man’s hearts develop. It didn’t take Him by surprise when it happened.

        But His knowledge is dynamic, and nowhere in Scripture does it teach His knowledge knows no possibilities (might bes) for the future but only (will bes). In fact He reveals clearly in His Word the “might bes” that He knows that way… as “might be” one way or another.

      26. “But His knowledge is dynamic, and nowhere in Scripture does it teach His knowledge knows no possibilities (might bes) for the future but only (will bes)”
        Brian, what did these words you just wrote mean? If I take it literally, you are simply saying that God knows all possibilities. Is that what you were saying? Do you believe there’s anything in our future that God does not know in absolute detail?

        If I’m not mistaken, open theists believe there is a lot of future human choices that God does not know in advance.

        Please correct me if I’m wrong on this and let me know what you believe.

      27. All Open Theists believe the future is not set to work out only one way… but they differ among themselves as to what God knows or doesn’t know about the future that is in His mind and how He knows it. I am saying He knows all future as it presently is planned with some will bes and some might bes and He is free to change any of the might bes into will bes, if He wants, and events all change in His mind to “has beens” or “could have beens” after they happen.

        But you did not comment on my exegetical remarks on those verses. Did you think I was giving a reasonable contextual, grammatical meaning?

      28. Brian, sorry, I failed to do that. Yes, I agree with you about what he meant when he said it didn’t enter into his heart. It was not his desire or thought to command such a thing.

        I do believe that God knows everything that will ever happen and, in fact, because he lives in eternity, it may be to him as if it’s already happened. “Before Abraham was, I AM!” Because I’m not God and because scripture does not fully explain that mystery, I don’t fully know how that can be!

        I think that some people want to use the label determinism or the label fatalism simply because they cannot wrestle properly with the antinome/apparent contradiction of God’s sovereignty and omniscience, in reference to the eternality of God and the temporal world that we live in.

        The quick and perhaps lazy way to draw a conclusion even about God’s omniscience, is what many have done when they said that if God knows everything that will ever happen then it has already been determined and nobody can escape it. This makes sense to the mind that refuses to accept that there may be aspects of God’s being that we simply cannot begin to comprehend.

        So as you know, many people who don’t believe in Calvinism still charge Christians with fatalism and determinism if they believe that God knows everything that will ever happen.

        But I believe that it actually at the core is pretty much the same nature of struggle and problem of lack of knowledge about God that causes people to charge calvinist with that same fatalism and determinism.

        This is why we have to let scripture say what it says and suspend judgment.

      29. Brian,
        Your comment below is the real sticking point for Calvinists…..

        “It seems clear to me that God is saying He never previously decreed/commanded or spoke that these events of sin should happen… or that in His heart He desired them.”

        These verses —- and hundreds like them —- seem to say that man does some things that God does not will/ command/ decree. This comes in direct opposition to many confessions and creeds.

      30. Yes! We are all about not being dogmatic around here 😉 but the one conclusion I cannot garner from these narratives is that God himself dreamed up, ordained and irresistibly brought to pass any wicked action, sin or hideous injustice done, even by those wearing the most righteous robes. Just can’t figure out a way to pull that out, even after dwelling in the Calvinist caves for so long.

      31. So….. my personality and spiritual gifts are such that I easily get addicted to staying in the back and forth of this and similar blog sites. Can anyone relate? But I need to stay on track with tons of responsibilities the Lord has given me in both work and Ministry. And so, because I can’t go cold turkey, I’m going to give myself three more posts after this one and then I’m cutting off completely from the discussion. I I know you won’t miss me!

        One reason for this decision is that I don’t believe we’re adding anything new to a centuries-old discussion. Far greater theologians than I have profoundly laid down the doctrines of Grace through the centuries, and their opponents have vigorously disputed those doctrines.

        The other, related reason, is that we’re all pretty much preaching to our respective choirs, and I doubt there’s going to be much changing of the mind!!

        So only three more post for me. Please hold me accountable for this! 😅

        I trust that you, like I, are mostly busy using your time and spiritual gifts to pray, disciple other believers, to share your faith with the lost, along with glorifying God in your work, loving your wives like Christ loved the church, being good parents, and reading scripture and great books (not necessarily in that order).

        The good news for those of you who oppose Calvinism is that they are doing a fairly tremendous job of preaching the whole counsel of God, building great churches, bringing people up in the faith, planting new churches, mobilizing young and old for missions, and….. did I leave anything out? That’s what we should all care the most about, while we engage teachable people in good theology so that they can be all God wants them to be.

        John Piper’s teaching on Christian Hedonism and enjoying God as my supreme Treasure changed my life. I could have never read a single thing he wrote or spoke about Calvinism and I would owe him a big chunk of my spiritual life for that and other things he is passionate about. I have also been blessed by the teaching and preaching of quite a few non-calvinists! So overall we must major on the majors and minor on the minors–the essentials versus the nonessentials–and maintain a spirit of love in the midst. When we get to heaven we will all find out where we were wrong in our theology. I look forward to that exercise, after about a million years of gazing on the glory of my Savior!

        God bless

      32. Scott,

        Your new post is a much more pleasant post then some of your early shots across the bow…. “That explains tons! I thought I was talking to Evangelicals. Guess what? EVERYTHING’S up for grabs with you guys! Leighton Flowers, do you ascribe? Bet you guys like Rob Bell, too?”

        I agree we will not settle this…. and that we can learn a lot from Piper (I disagree with his man-made, three levels of “will” and his openly-stated all-things-have-been-decreed-by-God-even-sin approach).

        I have learned a lot from Greg Boyd too and Clark Pinnock…. who are often held as heretical or apostate by some Calvinists.

        I’ve never read Rob Bell, but I would not be surprised that if someone quoted him on a general discipleship idea (without using his name) that many of us would agree.

        My point with the Jeremiah verses is that imo it seems that God is going out of His way to be clear (not a somewhat vague “knows the end from beginning”) that He did not command or decree those things. Piper and the creeds do not leave it to mystery…. they flat out say He did decree all things and call it some “level” of His “will.”

        IMO, that is not necessary…. and as you often say…. does not do their side any favors.

        One difference is that I care how God is presented to the world. Dont really want to declaring Him as a Holocaust-decreeing despot (find that easily on many Calvinist sites). I know a lot of Calvinists who do not really care…. since…. hey…. we dont have to “wimp it down for people since God is controlling it all anyway.”

        I am a little more like Paul’s “seeker friendly” approach….. reasoning with…. persuading…. convincing…. being “all things to all men that we might win some.” Some guys prefer the “in your face” since God’s got the outcome, so we can be as blunt as we like.

        Do Piper and some of your main heroes do this? Not really. They are not rude. The are winsome, articulate, kind, contextualized, audience-specific…. great. Which is exactly my point. Because deep down, they know that it makes a difference.

        Piper and others write whole books on using good cultural anthropology to know your audience and using good missions strategy “for better effect.” They are at their brightest and most effective when they are acting, living, and teaching like non-Calvinists. They pray, act, learn, teach like what we do makes a difference, but the Reformed theology teaches that is all pre-recorded.

        Have you been blessed to pieces by Piper? Sure. Great. Like I say…. tons of people have been blessed by the massive Pentecostal movement in Africa and So America. I would venture that the 50 million strong house church movement in China knows little or nothing of Piper.

        I am often puzzled at your continual referral to Piper and this or that conference. That’s great….. but again, beside the point. Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Leadership network is massive….. really big. Kinda beside the point too, right?

        You want to be in those circles and they are the most helpful for you. That is fine! That does not de facto make it better (except from your perspective).

        Thanks for interacting here. Thanks for encouraging us to use “your time and spiritual gifts to pray, disciple other believers, to share your faith with the lost, along with glorifying God in your work, loving your wives like Christ loved the church, being good parents, and reading scripture and great books (not necessarily in that order).”

        We certainly believe that the better, and more faithfully we do these things….. the better the outcome will be.

      33. FOH writes, “My point with the Jeremiah verses is that imo it seems that God is going out of His way to be clear (not a somewhat vague “knows the end from beginning”) that He did not command or decree those things.”

        On Jeremiah 7:31, NET Bible tells us, “The words “to command such a thing” do not appear in the Hebrew but are added for the sake of clarity.” [A minor point]

        On Jeremiah 19:5, the NET Boble says, “The words “such sacrifices” are not in the text. The text merely says “to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command.” The command obviously refers not to the qualification “to Baal” but to burning the children in the fire as burnt offerings. The words are supplied in the translation to avoid a possible confusion that the reference is to sacrifices to Baal. Likewise the words should not be translated so literally that they leave the impression that God never said anything about sacrificing their children to other gods. The fact is he did. See Lev 18:21; Deut 12:30; 18:10.”

        On Jeremiah 32:35, the NET Bible says, “The god Molech is especially associated with the practice of child sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kgs 23:10). In 1 Kgs 11:7 this god is identified as the god of the Ammonites, who is also called Milcom in 1 Kgs 11:5 and 2 Kgs 23:13. Child sacrifice, however, was not confined to this god; it was also made to the god Baal (Jer 19:5) and to other idols that the Israelites had set up (Ezek 16:20-21). Yet this behavior was strictly prohibited in Israel (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5; Deut 12:31; 18:10). It was this practice, as well as other pagan rites that Manasseh had instituted in Judah, that ultimately led to Judah’s demise (2 Kgs 24:3-4). Though Josiah tried to root these pagan traditions (2 Kgs 23:4-14) out of Judah, he could not do so. The people had only made a pretense of following his reforms; their hearts were still far from God (Jer 3:10; 12:2).”

        Also, “Heb “They built high places to Baal, which are in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, to cause their sons and daughters to pass through [the fire] to Molech, [a thing] which I did not command them and [which] did not go up into my heart [= “mind” in modern psychology], to do this abomination so as to make Judah liable for punishment.” For the use of the Hiphil of חָטָא (khataʾ) to refer to the liability for punishment, see BDB s.v. חָטָא Hiph.3 and compare the usage in Deut 24:8. Coming at the end as this does, this nuance is much more likely than “cause Judah to sin,” which is the normal translation assigned to the verb here. The particle לְמַעַן (lmaʿan) that precedes it is here once again introducing a result and not a purpose (compare other clear examples in 27:10, 15). The sentence has been broken down in conformity to contemporary English style, and an attempt has been made to make clear that what is detestable and not commanded is not merely child sacrifice to Molech but child sacrifice in general.

        The bottom line is that the language of the verse places this sin entirely on the people and illustrates their depravity. God did not command such behavior; He commanded the opposite. God never even thought to command such an abomination. That does not mean that God was ignorant of the practices of the surrounding region or of Judah’s participation in such things. God did nothing to prevent Judah doing these things and would punish them for it.

      34. BDB – לְמַ֖עַן – conjunction for the sake of, on account of, to the intent or in order that…. לְמַעַן is always in order that, never merely so that.

        In Jer 32:35 the connection is to God’s heart… thus purpose is the only logical choice… not result. God is saying it did not arise in His heart to purpose that such a sin to happen.

      35. brianwagner writes, “God is saying it did not arise in His heart to purpose that such a sin to happen.”

        Yes – and it still happened. This points to the depravity of the people. Such sin does not arise in God’s heart to purpose that such a sin should happen. God is not ignorant of the sin as it was common among the pagan nations.

      36. FOH, again, that is a huge overreach. Maybe I misunderstood Bryant, but there is no way that you can say that just because God never intended to command humans to do something as in those Jeremiah passages, it does not mean that he decreed or predestined that it wouldn’t happen and then it happened. You can’t read any more into that verse and what is intended. And what was intended it was simply for God to say that he would never have commanded his people to do that.

        Maybe I missed your point, but if I am correct in perceiving what you are saying, I have to say that God’s statement there in Jeremiah has absolutely no relevance to his sovereignty or his predestination.

      37. Scott, even if you disconnect “command” from “decreed”, your position still struggles, imo, with the last part of these verses, especially as stated in Jer 32:35 NKJV “…nor did it come into My mind [heart] that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

        How would reply to the clear contradiction this poses to the view that all God’s decrees were made before creation in line with His own pleasure and purpose? This verse has God saying He did not previously purpose in His heart that Israel “should do this abomination”.

      38. Brian I think the reason that neither I nor most Calvinists are overwhelmed by what you’re saying is that we know that the eternality and sovereignty of God is so far beyond our capability of comprehension that we are very much at ease with the interplay of both God’s sovereign decrees and the street level view he wants us to also live in, where what we are concerned about is our responsibility to do the right things instead of worrying about what things might have been decreed and what things weren’t. This could especially be important in your own decision-making. You look for God’s wisdom through scripture and through godly people you respect, and you pray and you look for the Spirit’s leading, but you’re not sitting around trying to debate whether or not he decreed this or that in eternity past. That is the amazing interplay of those two worlds, and I don’t believe we will solve it this side of Heaven.
        The secret things belong to and he has given us only a peek, through a not so perfectly clear glass, at how those things all work together.

        Man simply has an incredibly difficult time figuring out how God could be completely Sovereign and yet man being completely responsible and accountable for every choice he makes. We Believe both of these are powerfully declared in scripture and we are content to live with the mysterious antinomy!

      39. Scott… that sounds like… preach that it really is one way, but live like it really is another. That sounds like believing and living by contradiction, which is exactly what “antinomy” means. I don’t believe the God of Truth has revealed His truth in a contradictory way.

      40. Brian, I believe God’s word is perfect and contains only apparent contradictions. But it does contain quite a few apparent contradictions. One contradiction that is not a contradiction is that the Bible says that Christ is in you, and yet it says that Christ is at the right hand of God.

        Another apparent contradiction that is not, is that while the Bible teaches that Christians sin, Paul says twice in Romans 7 that it is no longer him who sins. (I’m writing a whole book related to that in my discussion of our union with Christ.)

        So there are lots of apparent contradictions in scripture but no real ones. And you can live with things like that, just like you have learned to pray as if it is all up to God, but then you go out and minister as if it’s all up to you!

        Hope that is helpful.

      41. Brian,
        One of the more glaring “antinomy” ideas advanced by many Calvinists.

        Insist adamantly, arduously, and aggressively that Christ did NOT die for all men. L in TULIP.

        Tell every person you meet “Christ died for you.”

        Theologize in books and blogs that Christ did NOT die for everyone.

        Look every person in the face and say, “Christ died for you.”

        I just dont get how they defend that.

        I think it is because it is much more pleasant to tell someone, “Christ died for you”

        But it would be more honest and consistent with their beliefs to say “Christ may have died for you.”

        Anyway…. like I always say…. as long as they keep acting like non-Calvinists, acting like we can/cannot “waste our lives,” acting like what we do makes a difference….. then it’s all good!

      42. I cannot claim to see inside Scott’s head, but it sounds a lot like he thinks like most self-claimed Calvinists I know. They fall in love with this or that teacher, and submit to whatever he dictates is the ‘true doctrines’. When the rubber hits the road, and the true doctrines are inconsistent with scripture and every day reality, the Calvinist has been trained to ‘not worry about it’, leave it up to ‘mystery’ and learn to live with ‘the tensions of scripture’ and/or antimony.

        I know you and I have gone back and forth on this a bit, FOH, and I understand where you are coming from when you say ‘it’s all good’ because they don’t really live out what they think they believe. I see this in most of the friends and family who claim to believe in Reformed Theology, then add that they don’t, however believe in reprobation, or limited atonement or some other essential plank of Calvinism. Sure, if after a gentle suggestion that this is inconsistent, I let it go. And yet, I am always concerned for those people. Concerned that they will grow colder without realizing it by half-heartedly proclaiming a God who loves only some, while half-heartedly claiming they don’t ‘really’ believe that God sends some people deliberately, inescapably to hell. I suspect that our subconscious, is forced, as it always is with traumatic discoveries of inconsistencies that threaten our trust and faith, to wall them off behind ever thicker walls of protection. Eventually, unless some event triggers a breakthrough, the walls become insurmountable. We can never be healthy or whole-minded as long as we maintain these walled off inconsistent and irreconcilable beliefs. Our growth stops, and we become stunted, remaining at the point of separation in which we refuse to look questions, confusion and inconsistency full in the face and get to the bottom of them.

        You may disagree, or view it as unnecessary concern, but IMO, this is pretty much what Paul describes in Romans 1 as an ever-growing refusal to embrace truth when the spirit presses it upon us. It does not usually start with an individual outright denying God, or larger truths. It begins by ignoring that still small voice, that prick that urges us to ‘Look more closely’ or search scripture for assurance that we are on he right track. I have seen people I love dearly growing slowly colder to God and others from what I believe to be this very situation. God will never force anything upon us against our will, but refusing repeatedly to take a look at red flags (which I believe are raised by the Spirit) and covering up inconsistency leads to becoming calloused to the pricks of the Spirit of God which are intended to protect us from error and lead us into greater understanding. Just my take on why it matters when we embrace inconsistency (we all do at times) and permanently ignore God’s call to clear things up in our minds.

      43. TS00,
        I feel your pain. I have shared how the new wave of Calvinism has been very disruptive in my wider family as you have shared about your family. I get that.

        There will always be the wild ones (like those two very rude, in-your-face guys that debated Leighton—- who even had Calvinists apologizing for their contempt and rudeness). But, as you know I differ from you in my willingness to call it (“cultish”) ___________ names (I will let you fill those in).

        My point is…. and seems to be clear…. that Calvinists do NOT live like it. All of the praise-worthy behavior that Scott has held up would not in any way be defined as Calvinistic and certainly not exclusively-Calvinistic.

        Case in point is that my daughter is on staff at a church. The young buck youth pastor (she is a volunteer overseer in the youth) told her he was gonna teach on Calvinism at the youth group last night …. “Cuz I’m a Calvinist and not ashamed of it.”

        She told me last night afterward that “He has no idea what he is talking about! He does not agree with the L in TULIP. He doesn’t even know what TD means.”

        He is like a 2.5 point Calvinists ….. but learning….. he will be 5-pointer someday (being brow beat into it by friends… or “being taught”)….. but it wont change how he lives….works, teaches…. evangelizes.

      44. Scott Leonard writes, “Man simply has an incredibly difficult time figuring out how God could be completely Sovereign and yet man being completely responsible and accountable for every choice he makes.”

        Accountability can be based on Romans 2 – “…you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

      45. Everybody get the “man is responsible” part, it’s just the Reformed definition of “sovereignty” that we disagree with.

        Jeremiah 18:5 Then the word of the [Sovereign, when “Lord” is in all caps] Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the [Sovereign] Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
        ————

        The Sovereign Lord will “relent of what He had planned” if man repents….

        He will reconsider what He “had intended to do” if they do evil and do not obey.

        All that while still being Sovereign…. but that is HIS definition of His sovereignty…. not the Reformed one.

        What is always so hard about this?

      46. FOH writes, “it’s just the Reformed definition of “sovereignty” that we disagree with.”

        How about going with Brian Wagner on this in his take on Ephesians 1:11, “…according to the purpose [whether conditional or unconditional] of Him who works [right now in the present] all things [that is, with all things, not causing all things personally, because He doesn’t cause sin] according to the counsel [plan with its conditional and unconditional elements] of His will [desire… which includes wanting all to be saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth but not irresistibly caused].”

      47. Scott,
        You indeed missed my point.

        No one said this….. “it does not mean that he decreed or predestined that it wouldn’t happen and then it happened.”

        Nah…. we are not the ones talking about what He did or did not “decree”. You switched that, albeit, unintentionally.

        The point is…. that Calvinism/ Reformed theology and many of the Creeds insist that all that happens is what He decrees and commands.

        Hummm…. how you switched that I do not know, but the point is simple. These kinds of statements from God….and there are hundreds!…. clearly say that He DOES NOT in ANY way want this to happen (He did not decree it or will it in any way). That makes man capable of doing something that is not His will. That means that all that happens is not His will.

        These many, many verses, imo, fly in the face of classical reformed teaching. Most people dont even know that…. but you are learned and articulate. Surely you must see that it does.

        And consequently it is part of how God defines His own sovereignty.

        Just using the word “sovereign” for most Calvinists means that all that happens is God’s will (thus we get “levels of wills”). These passages (and hundreds like them) show that He is Sovereign, yet man does things He did not command, desire or “even imagine” (His words…. to stress His point).

        This automatically undercuts in a serious way the reformed definition of sovereignty.

        Even Calvinist Matt Slick (CARM) cannot bring himself to be reformed enough about this….. “In other words, their sin did not enter the intention of God’s heart in His plans for Judah.” Categorically stating that men did something that was not God’s plan. Classically inconsistent…. Not really “antinomy” …. just inconsistent.

        This is not just theory. It has implications in pastoral and practical theology…. and real life.

        I have shared before the crushing story of a Calvinist pastor friend with sobbing husband and wife in his office. The husband has been cheating for years on the wife while they have attended church. The pastor is hard on the husband. The somewhat penitent husband says, “I know it was not God’s ‘will of command’ but from what you teach us it was God’s ‘will of decree’ or “divine will,’ right? I mean, since it did happen it fits in the ‘God has decreed all things’ category, right?”

        [below is not part of the real story…. but for our purposes]

        “I’m not trying to excuse myself,” the husband goes on, “but you did tell us that God even decreed/willed the wicked things in Jeremiah that He said not to do, right? He said not to cheat on her…. and I can see the harm in it, but you have been teaching us the Reformed concept that all things are decreed by God….. so in what way could I have done differently?”

        As Andy Stanley said in the video, “It gets hard to do ministry from this perspective.” As my pastor friend found out.

      48. Your scenario of the cheating husband reveals the crux of the matter, even if it rarely is brought out into the light and demanded the recognition it deserves. My assertion is that the great lure of Calvinism, albeit subconsciously, is that it allows individuals to shift responsibility for their bad choices upon God. It may start out small, like assuming it was God’s ‘plan’ that you lose your job, rather than facing the fact that you were not doing all that you could and should to meet the requirements of your employer. Before you know it, this has blossomed into letting yourself have a few more drinks than you really should, or watching movies that you would never allow your kids to view, and on it goes, with the subtle lie that ‘all things are determined by God’ freeing you to do whatever you wish to do.

        I am not just shooting off, I am confessing that this was the lure for me, as subconscious as it all was. I was simply relieved to be free from guilt at first, overjoyed that nothing could take away my peace and assurance. Then began the slow slide into carelessness. Nah, I didn’t fall into any huge sin . . . and yet . . . I guess I wonder what would have happened had I continued to ignore those twinges of conscience that told me I was not being honest with myself, or with God. That I was embracing Calvinism’s insistence that my sin didn’t matter, because God no longer saw it. And yet my conscience, the genuine Spirit of God, was urging me to do better; not beating me over the head with my imperfections, but calling me back to the slow journey of becoming more like Christ, which was what God and I had both once wanted. I like to think that my love for God is too real for me to ever turn away from him (and I know many consider it impossible) and yet, just getting by doesn’t appear to me to be what scripture calls us to. But I had been persuaded, without knowingly, consciously embracing the thought, that where I was at now was ‘good enough’.

        That is my honest confession, and maybe it is just me. Maybe others would be more pure, more consistent, less tempted to become hardened to the pricks of the Spirit. I am concerned, however, that perhaps I am not alone in the danger this theology presents.

      49. When God finally got through to me, when I ‘woke up’ as from a deep sleep, I realized that I had exchanged my personal, growing relationship with a living Spirit for a set of doctrines. It is very difficult to resist the allure of that ‘Get out of hell free’ theology which allows you to indulge ‘just a little’ in a few choice sins. Oh, Satan is far too clever to hit you up with anything obvious. It’s not going to start with adultery, or pornography. Maybe just not being so thoughtful of others on the road. Maybe putting your own interests above your spouse’s a little more frequently. Just a gradual descent into deafness, and I suspect, eventual deadness.

      50. TS00,
        Take heart.

        Just a point. The whole “holiness movement” (stay pure for God) is the wing of the church that is the least Calvinistic: Methodist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Nazarene, etc.

        They feel an enormous sense of responsibility to exercise self-control…. since … indeed it has not all been decreed.

      51. Not sure if I understand what you mean, but that’s the wing I started out in. I have not gone back to embrace what I see as some of its extremes, and yet, I would prefer to err in that direction that the Calvinist ‘Oh, whatever; God doesn’t care if I sin every day in thought, word and deed. It’s all covered.’ I’m still as unlikely as ever to garner any nominations for sainthood, (too feisty!) but I feel alive again. And unlike in my ‘holiness’ days, my ultimate focus in not in increasing my personal piety or holiness, but in learning how to live out my love for God in ways that might have an impact on others.

        I find I have more compassion for the suffering of the abused and oppressed, something that was oddly missing under both extremes. As I continue to free myself from non-essential theology, I find myself less condemning and more concerned. As I once again embrace God as a loving Father, deeply compassionate and understanding of my weakness and confusion, I find it a little easier to love those whose ‘foreignness’ from my own experience might have frightened me in the past.

      52. TS00 writes, “When God finally got through to me, …”

        Such a Calvinistic statement; “…finally…” being your only accommodation to free will.

      53. FOH writes, “These verses —- and hundreds like them —- seem to say that man does some things that God does not will/ command/ decree. This comes in direct opposition to many confessions and creeds.”

        All those confessions and creeds start with the presupposition that God is omniscient and knows the future perfectly. Had God willed to change anything, he could. So, in the big picture, God wills all things that happen. Even allowing that God is not omniscient and does not know the future perfectly, He is still able, in present time, to prevent anything that He does not will to happen – that Gos does not prevent an event means that God wills that event.

        So, what does FOH believe given that he does not want to believe what I wrote above?

      54. Why do I get that vague sense of deja vu, as if we had been here before? As if, somewhere, sometime we may have discussed the difference between ‘allowing’ evil and ‘willing’ evil? As if that is not pretty much the core distinction between Calvinists and non-Calvinists? Must be my imagination.

      55. You will notice that I did not respond and have no intention to. No question is sincere…. no discussion coherent. It just goes ’round and ’round. It’s like a glaze…….

      56. Guys, honestly, you are ignoring a basic principle in Scripture. Yes, I know it’s hard to grasp that we have a God that is this big and mysterious, but with all respect you sound like the atheist who will not believe in our God because he can’t understand him. Not that you are atheists of course, but you are ignoring the fact that God teaches that he is Sovereign and works “ALL things after the counsel of his own will”. Do you understand what that statement in Ephesians is saying? He works ALL the things after the counsel of his own will. Elsewhere he says “I will do ALL my will.” No one thwarts God’s will. It has always been done and always will be done. I’m not making this up! Check your Bible and a lot of other similar scriptures.

        BUT……. God also has set into play a marvelous story and a marvelous cast of characters known as the human race and he allows us to make all kinds of choices. But you are coming along and saying that just can’t be! How can God work everything after the Council of his own will (Again, HIS words, not mine), and YET man be going about choosing what he wants to do? And how could God ever hold him responsible?? “I can’t understand this, and so I won’t believe it!”

        You can live in that kind of confusion and denial for the rest of your life. You can make fun of what the great JI Packer and others called an antinomy if you want to, but all antinomy is, is two facts that seem contradictory but that are both true. Both of these facts are stated in scripture and so they are both true and yet they seem contradictory. If you don’t like it, that is your option, your prerogative, but clearly they are both stated as true.

        Now, it sounds as if you think that every time a man chooses to sin, he has proven that Calvinism is not correct since God does not will for anybody to send but that is a no-brainer for us. Again, you refuse to embrace the fact that God is Sovereign and yet we choose and we are responsible. Because you can’t resolve that in your head or your heart, you choose to criticize it and reject it. Feel free to do that, but you cannot change the scripture and you cannot change the fact that God clearly says he works everything according to the counsel of his own will. (In the Greek, that’s EVERYTHING 🤪🤔)

        But how can he work everything after the counsel of his own will if people are sinning all the time? The only reason that’s a problem for you is that you are not God and you don’t understand God. I barely understand him, but I understand that these things are true and that God is God and I am not! And he has stated them as true and we choose to believe both of them.

        How can every single person that God called the way Romans 8:30 describes the call, how can every one of those people be saved and Justified? Because when God calls in that way, they joyfully choose to repent and receive him. All of them do. The grammar makes it very clear in that verse that those that God called all got Justified. All of them. You will want to jump over that and continue to criticize Calvinists, but there’s so many verses like this that you just cannot accept at face value. God woke me up to the truth of the Gospel and I did the logical thing which was to repent and believe. I would never have done it otherwise. My roommate heard the gospel but it was not at all tasty to him. I did not get saved because I was a better person or had more faith or was more likely to repent. I wasn’t saved because I had better vision of the truth. I was saved because God open my eyes, called me, and I joyfully chose him. You could say that he called my roommate also, and you would be right in the sense that he calls every person who hears the gospel. But none of us would turn to him without him opening our eyes and granting us repentance and faith, and I’m so eternally thankful that he did that for me. “Those whom he called he justified.” You can’t reconcile that verse. Many are called, but few are chosen, chosen before the foundation of the world. I should be on my way to hell. I have no idea why he chose me. I know a lot of people that seem to certainly deserve it more than me. But by Grace I was saved through faith and that not of myself. It was the gift of God, not according to my works.

        Why didn’t God do two more of those Pharisees what he did to Paul when he appeared to him on the Damascus Road and knocked him down. They probably all would have turned to him had he done that to them. But he chose Paul. That’s not fair to the rest of them is it!? It’s not. But God chooses whom he will for his own mysterious reasons. Like it or not, that’s what he does. He existed when there was nothing here at all and so he can do whatever he wants with what he creates. Hallelujah to the King!

      57. Scott… until you dare to consider that God is not locked in and limited to one set future, you will continue to read that false idea into every verse, that He decreed everything that way, even though the verses don’t say that and He even clearly said some things He never desired or purposed to happen.

        As for Eph 1:11… I hope you will begin to see how you are adding things to that verse dogmatically… that are just not there. Let me read some logical things into the text to show you want I mean. 😉

        Ephesians 1:11 NKJV — In Him also we have obtained [when we are placed in Him through faith]  an inheritance, being predestined [for that inheritance at that same moment we were placed in Him through faith] according to the purpose [whether conditional or unconditional]  of Him who works [right now in the present] all things [that is, with all things, not causing all things personally, because He doesn’t cause sin] according to the counsel [plan with its conditional and unconditional elements] of His will [desire… which includes wanting all to be saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth but not irresistibly caused].

      58. Brian, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. I memorized that chapter and the following three about 30 years ago. When I can’t sleep, I meditate through that 1st chapter. Other than Romans 8,its my favorite chapter, and believe me, it’s NOT because they both lay out God’s election. Though you may not care, without looking it up, I’m thinking that the verb in that phrase, “works all things after the counsel of his will” is what you would call a gnomic present. So (and even if it’s not gnomic) I think saying he’s talking just about right now is probably overreaching. God always has, and always will, work ALL things….

        And I don’t think it’s I who is afraid to dare….
        Clearly the reformed position is more daring and open to attack, as Paul proved when in Romans 9 when he anticipated the objections of scandal.
        😎
        “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” [sound like one of you?] But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”–Rom 9:19‭-‬20 (I know the vss about the Potter in Jer., but there are inescapable referenced to individual people in that Romans chapter.)

        So we just dare to let those passages say what they say! And contrary to what one of you said, we aren’t bound up at all! We’re gloriously happy.

        As I said a few posts ago, this has to be my last one because I can’t justify spending this time preaching to the choir and hearing others preach to their choir in a small circle. Many other things calling!

        God bless

      59. Definitely not a gnomic present in Eph 1:11… but determinism has to keep God locked up behind a settled decree… He can’t freely be making choices now, in their view, for that puts their special feeling of being among an eternally immutably selected few in jeopardy. 😉

      60. brianwagner writes, “…but determinism has to keep God locked up behind a settled decree…”

        On Ephesians 1:11, you write, “…Him who works [right now in the present] all things [that is, with all things, not causing all things personally, because He doesn’t cause sin] according to the counsel [plan with its conditional and unconditional elements] of His will [desire…]” Even you have God determining all things – .”…Him who works [right now in the present] all things…” That’s a settled decree regardless when it is accomplished.

      61. Thx for confirming, Roger, that Jer 32:35 confirms somethings happen that God did not purpose in His heart to happen. That confirms that God’s decisions in the present are not locked in to following already made decisions for things to work out only one way.

        But the idea of someone making decisions of things they already decided is a logical contradiction… that you continue to want to believe is true for some reason. A decision not made is only a decision not made until it’s made.

      62. Brian,
        You are right. They cannot have it both ways. Scott would not recognize this, simply whisking it away with a “you guys dont get it…”

        But even Calvinist Matt Slick says it was not in God’s plans for [His chosen] Judah.

        You cannot —- I mean a normal Bible-reading person cannot—- have it both ways.

        You cannot say it “was not in God’s plans for Judah” and say it was “in God’s immutable plans for Judah from before time.” One of them has to go. We do not need to promote God as saying “I commanded/ ordained/ decreed/ willed/ planned/ desired it from before time” AND say “that is something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

        Both cannot be true. If this is the kind of “antinomy” that reformed guys want to promote than anything can be both true and not true. Just pull out the antinomy card. The point is that ONE of these ideas is clearly stated (at least three times in Jeremiah)…. the other one…. about God immutably decreeing all things before time is only conjecture and imposed on Scripture by the creeds.

        RH is gonna hit with all kinds of “He saw it and allowed it” business…. but that idea is irrelevant, and most people can see that. Only those “blindly” (pun intended!) committed to a philosophy will be willing to puts man’s creeds on the same level as God’s clear, repeated statements.

      63. FOH writes, “RH is gonna hit with all kinds of “He saw it and allowed it” business…. but that idea is irrelevant, and most people can see that.”

        Saying it is irrelevant is not saying that it is false. So, thanks for that confirmation.

        Then, “You cannot say it “was not in God’s plans for Judah” and say it was “in God’s immutable plans for Judah from before time.”

        God’s plan was for Judah to obey freely His laws and enjoy His blessings forever. Judah decided otherwise. That action was known to God and, of course, was part of His immutable plan for Judah.

      64. FOH writes:
        “Both cannot be true. If this is the kind of “antinomy” that reformed guys want to promote than anything can be both true and not true.”

        The suspension of logic is required to maintain Calvinistic Theology while claiming adherence to scripture. It is this most powerful, and essential, deception that allows Calvinism to retain its stranglehold over otherwise godly, intelligent men and women. In all other arenas, intelligent people concur that logic does not allow both A and not-A to be true at the same time in the same way. It is the suspension of this indispensable truth that keeps Calvinists in the camp.

        Countless times have I been told by my Calvinist friends, ‘I don’t care about logic’ and similar ‘illogical’statements. Having been equipped with the false belief that one can actually ignore or suspend logic when it comes to God – you know, the Trinity and all that – many Calvinists have been brainwashed into accepting what any reasonable thinking person – including themselves – can clearly see is illogical and inconsistent.
        I once thought such people were simply not well-versed in the art of logic, as is the case. But it goes far beyond ignorance of the basic principles and application of logic. It is the willingness to suspend all need for logical consistency, based on the false claim that God is ‘above’ human logic. Even when compelled to acknowledge the soundness of my logic, the end result was always, ‘But it doesn’t make any difference, because a Holy, omnipotent God cannot be made to answer to mere human logic. This has been so drilled into their brains, and is such a convenient answer to all of the inconvenient truths of scripture that contradict their theology, that, until rejected as deception, it successfully insulates them from the sort of critical thinking and sound reasoning that Paul urges us to practice in seeking Truth.

        I do not claim that logic, in and of itself, will provide all of the answers to our most pressing spiritual questions. What it can do, as an unfailing statement of God’s natural laws, is weed out that which is untrue. For if logic is not a sound science that enables reasonable men to look at the available facts and arrive at reasonably trustworthy conclusions (we must always humbly allow that our logic may be unsound, thus must be constantly tested and verified) then we have no grounds to expect that we can ever derive truth from known facts.

        This puts us at the mercy of either receiving revelations from heaven, or of so-called authorities who proclaim that we must trust their dictated proclamations of truth based, not on sound logic that any reasonable person might apply, but on mere authority. This, by the way, is common not only in the world of Religion, but all who desire unquestionable, authoritarian power over others assort this sort of submission to power, versus an appeal to reason and truth.

        It is only logic that allows us to deduce what little we can hope to understand about God. If scripture asserts that God is wholly good and in him is no evil, and scripture asserts that God is sovereign over all of his creation, and scripture (not to mention reality) also asserts that evil exists, then we must, from these three premises make some sort of logical deductions concerning what, at first glance, appears to be contradiction.

        The first step is always to set forth what is logically impossible. Some would assert that all three of these premises cannot be true, as they are inherently contradictory, thus, the only solution is to determine which premise can most credibly be discarded as ‘false’ or, perhaps, in need of further clarification. For instance, one can question the definition of ‘good’, ‘sovereign’ or ‘evil’. Some, in so doing, create convenient new definitions that preserve their syllogism, but defy all known understanding and usage of the words involved.

        This is not unique to Calvinism, of course, but simply commonly present due to its inherent inconsistencies. The only hope of avoiding the creation of our own ‘truth’ is to apply the basic tenets of logic and allow it to be evaluated by others.

      65. brianwagne rwrites, “Thx for confirming, Roger, that Jer 32:35 confirms somethings happen that God did not purpose in His heart to happen.”

        Yet, God still ordained those events by not taking action to stop them when it was within His power to do so. The timing of God’s decisions is debated as Jeremiah does not tell us when.

        Then, ” That confirms that God’s decisions in the present are not locked in to following already made decisions for things to work out only one way.”

        No, it only confirms that God’s execution of His decisions happens in the course of time. Of course, any decision by God, regardless when it was made, is then locked in. Given that God does not receive new information in the course of time, He could have made His decisions at any time in the past.

      66. Scott,
        I realize that might have been your last post…. so you might not see this.

        Man I am stunned. No offense but that was Calvinism 101 (maybe 95, even) complete down to the use of “Thwart”.

        Really? I honestly fee like you have not even read most of what anyone has written. You just double down with the ‘ol “Counsel of His will” and “thwart.”

        You said ….”Check your Bible and a lot of other similar scriptures.” Well we dont use a lot of other Scriptures….just the Bible. Maybe you were dictating that??

        Not one verse that you quoted was specific….. just generic and vague…. “I will do all my will” type verses. That is so far-reaching of you to take that and say ALL that happens is His will. It just does not make sense.

        Packer likes reformed theology. Sure. Fine. Do you realize that almost every post you list a proponent (rock star)? Do you want us to counter with a post our mega-list of those who are not Calvininsts? No one has played that rock-star game with you. So irrelevant, and not about Scripture.

        And then …. the old “my roommate didnt get saved by I did.” What? That is so irrelevant (not about Scripture).

        You have a desire to honor God and about 40-50 verses that look like determinism-Calvinism when interpreted that way. Fine.

        But please don’t patronize. It sounds so arrogant. We are used to it (Calvinists do it a lot), but honestly we put forward dozens of Scripture (most of the verses even represented hundreds of other verses just like them), and none were addressed. Only a patronizing “you are missing it guys” tone.

        “Do you understand what that statement in Ephesians is saying? He works ALL the things after the counsel of his own will. Elsewhere he says “I will do ALL my will.” No one thwarts God’s will.”

        Scott….. have you been reading our posts?

        What you are saying here is that this one verse plus the “thwart” idea LITERALLY means that everything we do —- obey, disobey, sin, grow, remain stagnant, —- is His will. We cannot thwart His will. Is that what you mean? Everything that happens is His will?

        Of course there is not just one interpretation for Eph 1:11. What if the counsel of His will was to let men decide certain things about the future. Nope! It can’t mean that —- it has to mean what we Calvinists say it means.

        Really….. if it means exactly what you say it means, then we only need ONE verse in the whole Bible. Then we could read this verse every Sunday and the pastor could say “Everything you did last week and will do this week is His will —-no thwarting!—- class dismissed.”

        Again…. shocked at your elementary post. Maybe if it had been your first foray into our group…. but not after all this ink…. after posts in Greek and Hebrew, and endless concepts and whole passages. It was just so basic, and patronizing.

        Is this the procedure you are proposing: “Listen up Calvinists…. people are gonna hit you with
        ‘persuade, convince’
        ‘all things to all men’
        ‘never entered my mind’
        ‘Come to me all you who labor’
        ‘Prodigal son was ‘dead’ but still came’
        ”At Passover they had to apply the blood in faith’
        ‘God told Cain to resist the sin’
        ‘Hebrews 11 is full of personal names and their faith’
        ‘the devil is blinding them or they would see’

        …..and dozens of more ideas to think about….. but just ignore all that ….. just tell them that Packer believes it and tell them ‘they just dont get it’ —- that’ll be what they need!”

      67. TS00 writes “When God finally got through to me, “‘allowing’ evil and ‘willing’ evil? As if that is not pretty much the core distinction between Calvinists and non-Calvinists?”

        If only the non-Calvinist could explain the difference between “allow” and “will” for a sovereign God.

      68. Scott, Brian does have a greater understanding of, and willingness to embrace, Open Theism than many here. Being taught in an early life of its ‘inherent evil’, I find myself holding it at arms’ length. (I don’t see you as evil, Brian.) 😉 However, Open Theism does not seem, to my understanding, to properly account for God’s claims to know the beginning from the end, and everything in between. Nor does it appear to account for his ability to prophesy what will unfailingly take place in the future.

        I tend to take what is, I suppose, a middle ground. I believe (what some philosophers deny possible) that God can foreknow all things without controlling/determining their outcome. I completely reject Calvinistic Determinism, but that does not mean that I reject God’s sovereign knowledge and ability to act in any way at any time that is in line with his nature. (I do not believe that God can, for example, be wicked or unjust – not because he does not have the ‘power’ to do so, but because he will not ever do what is contrary to his nature.)

        Nor do I reject every aspect of God’s determination and ability to accomplish his perfect plan to redeem and bring to perfection his fallen Creation. I merely reject that he has, or ever claims to, negate or nullify the reason and power of choice with which he created man throughout this process. Did this genuine freedom not exist, there would be no justice in holding man accountable for his actions. If his actions are in any way determined, controlled or brought to pass by some power outside of himself, there can be no just condemnation of sin. God’s plan to redeem his Creation will succeed, without fail, in spite of the resistance of sinful creatures and the subversion of rebellious powerful spirits, not because God is playing both sides against one another.

        God will orchestrate his successful plan in spite of sinful men. The first step, he assures us, is by removing the power of sin, which is fear of punishment, which is death. This he has already accomplished, by providing atonement for sin and assuring men that they can come to him expecting forgiveness and acceptance. The rest of the plan is over my head, 😉 having been set forth in much opaqueness in order to avoid detection by those who desire to prevent God’s good plan from succeeding. No doubt many understand much more than I do, but I find myself walking in a good deal of ignorance, requiring much direction and assistance from my patient, loving, and faithful Father.

        I cannot allow that God actually does not know what is ‘not yet’, as I believe he knows fully the not yet existent future as well as the expired past. I do, however, believe that for the sake of the individual autonomy with which he bestowed his creatures, God restricts himself to dealing with us ‘as if’ only knowing the here and now. Note this is not like the ‘as-if’s’ of Calvinism, carefully hidden and unacknowledged. God freely declares that he knows all things, past, present and future, even while allowing the limitations of our mortality to limit his dealings with us ‘as if’ the future was not clearly seen. In other words, since to us the future does not yet exist, God limits himself to dealing with us on the basis of our genuinely not yet made choices. Only he knows that which not yet is; our choices do not exist for us until we confront and make them, and God interacts with us upon that understanding of our limitations, even while not being similarly limited.

        I see this as somewhat like a father limits his expectations of a toddler, directing him to do what which is right, even while knowing the child does not yet have the understanding, will power and maturity to carry this out for long. The toddler has not yet learned what temptation is, and how to resist it. He knows little of the rights of others or the consequences of his own choices. God knows this of us, just as a wise father knows this of his immature child, and patiently seeks to assist us in growing in understanding, wisdom and maturity. As with children, many resist and reject his loving instruction, and proceed instead down unhealthy and rebellious paths to their, and others’ hurt. The father knows, and understands the choices that the child must make, and even foresees that he will have to learn much through experience what he does not yet know. It would be cruel to treat an ignorant, immature child like a fully mature adult, expecting him to make wise, informed choices, so the father patiently, lovingly and wisely makes allowance for the true limitations of his beloved child who is not yet the ‘man’ he will someday become.

        Thus, when Joshua is directed to challenge all people to ‘choose you this day’, God is allowing each individual the opportunity to make an undetermined, uncoerced choice. That does not suggest that he is not free to shower us with knowledge, insights and practical demonstrations of his love and power in order to strengthen our ability to make good choices. We are equally free to resist, ignore or deny all such input, and men often do.

        I believe God fully knows every choice each individual will ever make, but ‘sets aside’, figuratively, that knowledge in his dealings with us, concerning anything that might be defined as coercion, seen or unseen. He provides helps to all, which can be embraced or rejected. But God never nullifies the freedom and ability that he gifted us with to make free choices – good, better or bad – by setting aside his inherent foreknowledge of what those choices will be. When he urges men to obey him, or to turn from wickedness, he offers them a real choice that they must truly make, even while knowing which choice will be made.

        My perspective shares commonalities with both Determinism and Open Theism. It contains Determinism’s foreknowledge minus its predetermination. It contains Open Theism’s theory of God dealing with men in real time, without taking into account choices not yet made, minus the suggestion that he only knows what ‘is’ but not what ‘will be’. Perhaps Open Theists believe the same thing I suggest to be true, but express it in words that hold a different meaning to me than to them. I believe that this is often true as well in the actual ‘thinking’ of many Calvinists, who are unaware that their genuinely held beliefs contradict the rigid demands of their self-claimed theology.

      69. Verses please, TS00, to back up your statement – “God’s claims to know the beginning from the end, and everything in between.” The one usually pointed to is Is 46:10. Here is my take on it.

        I think many have made too much out of Is 46:10. God knows all the ends that He has declared to be ends already… But that says nothing about the inbetween events that He and man can freely interact to establish… He knows all those possibilities perfectly… But God has not yet made choices for all the inbetween possibilities, which to cause or permit.

        Isaiah 46, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times [things] that are not [yet] done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

        Look carefully at Is 46:10 again and realize that it does not prove what I think you think it does… that is, you think God is clearly saying that all things were eternally immutably determined even before creation (or at least known already as set to work out only one way after creation. But it is only teaching that God declares the end from the beginning/from ancient times. It does not say “before” the beginning.

        In fact He has declared the end (Christ’s coming to reign) from the beginning/ancient times (by Enoch).
        Or it may mean something more general. It may mean that if God declares an end from a beginning you can be certain that it will come about. But He has certainly not declared to us every end. And what is in between the beginning and the end of something includes many undetermined, undeclared possibilities.

        ********

        He can rule the universe any way He wants. And He is not locked into one set future forever, for He chose not to be. The phrase “all knowing” has to be interpreted and defined by Scripture and not by pagan philosophy.

        Just like all powerful includes that He is unable to lie, and all present includes that He is not still in the past, and eternal includes that He is not already in the future, and immutable includes that one person of the Godhead became flesh (the God-man) forever, so all knowing includes not knowing something as false as true.

        One set future forever is false.

      70. Brian, I will not deny for a second that I have unanswered questions, or that sometimes I find myself thinking, ‘Hey, am I an Open Theist, and don’t know it yet?’ 😉

        I will grant that God knowing the ‘end’ might allow for not including all of the details in between, but their are skeletons rattling around in my brain, that shout ‘God knows all things! Anyone who says otherwise is . . .’ I’ll leave you to fill in the blank . . . I’m pretty sure you have heard them all before.

        I submit that I have found that so much of my thinking – my proudly held, studious, inquisitive thinking – has often been limited by unrecognized, unexamined presuppositions, authoritatively handed down to me as ‘orthodox’ truth. Sometimes I find myself standing on the doorway to greater understanding, and wondering why I cannot step through. There are often invisible – to me – barricades that have been erected, crafted by false teaching or distortions made of scripture. Such subconscious barricades include mind controlling statements such as ‘Anyone who would says ‘X,Y,Z’ hates God and is in rebellion against the clear teaching of scripture.’ I find that I have to work to uncover these subconscious barricades, before I can walk through and take on the actual subject at hand.

        That is where I find myself today. I am increasingly unafraid to confront God – and myself – with really ‘scary’ ideas or questions, that were once forbidden me. I am convinced that God can handle it. 😉 The much abused ‘Who are you, O man, to question God’ really does not mean that there are some questions, doubt, fears, etc. that we cannot bring to our loving, compassionate Father. I interpret Paul as, instead, suggesting to the Judaisers that they are putting themselves in the place of God, asserting that they can decide if he is just. He is not warning them to not ask hard questions, or to not seek to better discern how their understanding of justice measures up to Truth (God’s understanding).

        There is much I do not understand. And that’s okay. I am unafraid to humbly admit that I am on a journey. I am also no longer willing to bow to any self-claimed authority to dictate ‘orthodox’ Truth, be it the Nicene Creed, the Westminster Confession or The Gospel Coalition. I am willing to listen to all who appear sincere, respectful and honest in their interactions; who are willing to walk alongside me and say, ‘I am on the same journey that you are on. Have you ever considered this?’ I am far less willing to undergo futile debate with those who declare, or imply, ‘This is the full and inerrant understanding of God and scripture – submit or die!’

      71. Me too, TS00, me too! Even James White, in candid moments, has admitted to the logical consistency of open theism and the difficulty he feels from passages like these in Jeremiah concerning God seemingly, not knowing something as settled immutably or His repenting.

      72. TS00,

        Your “submit or die” idea and this idea…. “God knows all things! Anyone who says otherwise is . . .” —as you well know— were the iron-fist way the Catholic church ruled Christendom for many hundreds of years. Our way…. all else is heresy.

        Certainly crowd-rule or bully-rule do not make something right.

        Even Calvin ruled with an iron fist. Most Calvinists do not realize that Calvin believed EXCLUSIVELY in infant baptism. They do not know that he persecuted (yes, physically) those in his area for re-baptizing as adults (Anabaptists and others). Not only did he discourage “believer baptism” —he forbade it and punished it. Those who have made Calvin their hero have to live with this.

        Most Calvinists do not realize that Calvin was perfectly satisfied with his own infant, Catholic baptism. The leader of Calvinism only ever had infant, Catholic baptism and told everyone that this was the preferred method for people in his case. I can just imagine someone (Calvin!) coming to MacArthur’s church, getting saved, and telling John M, “I was baptized as a baby in the Catholic church.” Oh, yeah, enjoy picturing that!

        If you want, you can easily find the youtube debate between Sproul (baby-baptizer) and MacArthur on the issue. Very cordial. Sproul is coming at it with little Scripture and a lot of Covenant Theology. MacArthur takes him to the shed, but ever so nicely.

        John M is not so nice with Piper about the gifts (Piper for, John M is a cessationist).

        Sam Storms, previously head of the ETS, describes himself “I am an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist…” Notice the “I am…” part.

        An ETS member could even list “Open Theist” in his description, because that is allowed in the ETS. So the ETS “family” has to live with some being Calvinistic and some Arminian; some being amillennial and some post- and pre-; some being charismatic and some cessationist; some being complementarian and some egalitarian. And the family must include determinists and open theists.

        I know you TS00 dont give a hoot about the gatekeepers of the institutional Evangelical world (you are not that kinda guy) but I am just putting that out for all to see.

      73. Did I mention that Hezekiah blows all my circuits? Or Abraham bargaining with God, or Moses? Ahhhhh! i’s enough to drive a Calvinist under the covers forever, repeating, ‘whatsoever comes to pass, whatsoever comes to pass . . .’ I sometimes think that is what leads so many to allow others to do the hard thinking for them. I guess I prefer to, once again, run into the throne room unannounced, shouting, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Joey says you aren’t strong enough or you would . . .’ I’ve always been met with open arms.

      74. Scott,
        Does this sentence “The passage may mean that he never pondered asking them to do those things,” mean that you are saying that men can do things that God did not decree?

        Naturally you can see my surprise as a young Calvinist reading countless verses of God absolutely removing Himself from these kinds of actions. He is NO way wanted/ desired/ decreed/ willed them. He makes that clear…. “something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

        Brian is masterfully dealing with the Hebrew (mine is rustier than my Greek)….. but determinists-Calvinist have a serious issue to deal with here.

        Piper and the Confessions state that there is nothing that happens that God did not will and decree. Yes, I am familiar with the linguistically-challenged, logically-challenged, scripturally-challenged, multiple-layered “wills” of John Piper.

        The traditional Calvinist position is that we can look at all things (even looking back now at the horrid things Jeremiah is describing) and say with conviction, “Yes, but they were in fact doing God’s divine will. God wanted that to happen.”

        Is that your position?

      75. TS00 writes, “It takes a lot of gall to rewrite scripture, and deny words attributed to God himself. ”

        This illustrates the difference between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist. The non-Calvinist seeks to understand one Scripture apart from all other Scripture while the Calvinist seeks to understand one Scripture in concert with all other Scripture.

      76. TS00,

        One of the latest ideas in missiology has been chronological Bible story telling. We used to go in and always start with the Gospels, but many missions workers (depending on the local context) are starting with Genesis (sometimes happily greeted by the locals saying “Oh THAT’S where we came from!”).

        So, we start with Genesis with some people who are hearing of the God of the Bible for the first time…. and already in chapter 4 we need to tell them….. “Well, now God did not really mean that Cain could master over sin. He only tells him to…but doesn’t mean it.”

        Local Person: “Abel chose well and Cain was alerted by God but still did not. He should have chosen to obey.”

        Calvinist worker: “Uh…. yeah… about that….. he couldn’t really do otherwise.”

        LP: “Really? What do you mean?”

        CW: “Well you cannot just read these stories.”

        LP: “Why not? It looks like Cain got off to a bad start and his offering was not good, and God told him he does not need to be angry. He told him if he does well he will be accepted. He alerted him that sin was waiting for him and told him to master it.”

        CW: “Well….about that… You are right that it looks like that is what is happening. But let me tell you what it really means…..”

        LP: “Wait… you’re gonna talk about the story or what? Did God really want Cain to master over sin? Cain did not do what God wanted right?”

        CW: “Well…. about that…. everyone always does what God wants. Everything man does is what God wants. But sometimes He doesn’t want them to do it.”

        LP: “I think we are not talking about the same story.”

      77. Damon,

        I believe that scenario is originally credited to Spurgeon, though I can’t confirm it.

        With that in mind, I would suggest the following. As people are assigned their fate to the eternal flames they come to a door with this inscription written above it….

        “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

        But once they pass thru that door, they read on the other side….

        “Reprobated from before the foundation of the world, because the ‘truth’ is God hated you and Christ didn’t die for you.”

      78. Thank you for this Damon – I’ve also been given this illustration of the “whosoever will” and “chosen” door. As it applies to the original blog post, think about child evangelism. If you tell children the gospel for “whosoever”…but they find out from someone that the other side of the door says “chosen”…think of what that does to their mind! Maybe a young child would be gullible enough to believe they are chosen, but a deeper thinking teenager will most definitely question this discrepancy, and wonder if in fact they are. They will see God as a liar. This is not good for the future of the church!

      79. Hi Grow,
        I know exactly what you are saying. The other night while handing out gospel tracts on the street I handed a tract out to man that said he was a Christian. I said praise God when were you saved. He said some years before and gave all the right answers about his conversion.
        We talked back and forth for about 10 minutes and all was good, and then he mentioned the church he was saved at which got my attention. I said are you a Calvinist? He said – Too right I am!! I then said you haven’t told me the whole story; I said you are hiding something from me. He started to look uneasy. I said you actually believe you were in Christ and saved before you were born, chosen by a secret decree. I said which is it? It cannot be both……well you can imagine where the conversation went from there and he even went on and admitted that he believes God created most people for the very purpose of burning in hell, and it came out he was a pastor at a local church.
        He called the gospel “milk” and the election of only some by the secret decree “meat”.
        I rebuked him and said he was deceiving his congregation by introducing his “meat” by ways of subtle deception.
        It took 10 -15 minutes and a bit of know how to pry out what this man really believes. This is what they do, they introduce the milk (Gospel – salvation by the grace of God in Jesus Christ). then later by deception the so called “meat” (Another Gospel – salvation by the secret decree placed in Christ before you are born).

        We have to look out for deception and expose it for what it is.

      80. So true, Damon, your comment on deception! Many in my former Calvinist church say something along the lines of ‘He [the pastor] didn’t used to be like that. Things were so different at the beginning. Something seems to have changed in the teaching’ All of these, and similar statements, point to what these people mostly do not understand, which is that the pastor started out with ‘the milk’ saying what he knew would be accepted and agreed with, and only gradually, subtly morphed into the meat, which was more consistent with honest Calvinism.

        Since my own experience, which I thought was unique, I have come across many individuals who faced very similar situations. Countless people tell stories of a pastor who either did not acknowledge his Calvinism at all, and secretly ‘took over’ a non-Calvinist church, or who professed ‘Compatibilism’ – a Piperesque, double-minded, anything you want it to be sort of Calvinism that could offend no one. Then slowly, subtly, the darker theology he held became increasingly more visible. Oftentimes, this was coupled with a controlling authoritarianism, which saw the recruiting and brainwashing of yes-men elders, and led to those who dared to question or disagree being put on ‘discipline’ or excommunicated. Across the spiritual abuse blogs many of these people have connected, relieved to discover that it was not ‘all in their heads’ but that these traumatic, inexplicable situations are increasingly common. Most often, this takes place under Calvinist or Reformed churches or pastors. I would grant that they probably do not perceive their behavior as deceptive, but that’s sure how it seems to me. The pastor who taught that ‘Thou shalt not lie’ includes not withholding or distorting information, did exactly that!

  26. We should always let the immediate context define the meaning of a story if possible. So often there is a tendency to go find a theological idea and tie it to a given passage. What does a simple reading of this text tell us? The kind of reading that any person can understand if they look. God’s word is not meant to have priests-alone who can point us to their theological preferences.

    Gen 4:
    Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

    —“Why are you angry” God doesn’t know or it is rhetorical? If rhetorical, we understand that God is saying to Cain that he does not have to be angry.

    —“And why has your countenance fallen?” God repeats this idea….. If rhetorical we understand that Cain does not have to have a fallen countenance.

    In both cases, to a simple reader it appears that God is saying that Cain does not have to do evil.

    —“If you do well..”

    What?

    Sovereign God saying “If”? Why? Because two things are possible…. doing poorly, doing well….. and God makes that clear.

    “If you do not do well…. sin is crouching…… but you must master it.”

    The average readers would clearly see that God is telling Cain to master over sin. Do not do it! “you must master it.”

    It is only when we bring theological dogmas to the table that we misread a clear “you must master it.” Simple question to Calvinists: God says “you must master it.” Was that a real option for Cain?

    After the fact we know that Cain did not. Calvinists quote later ideas about Cain as-if “that was his lot in life.” Not so. We can say he was evil because he did his evil actions. But God made it clear that he had a real choice. Cain could have and should have obeyed.

    God did not speak to Cain the way John writes about him after the fact. God did not say… you are of the evil one…. go and do evil. No! He conversed with him and asked why he was angry. He told him “if you do well…” He told him “you must master it.”

    If God never intended for Cain to obey (while commanding him to), then what does that passage teach us?

    1. FOH writes, “We should always let the immediate context define the meaning of a story if possible.”

      This illustrates the difference between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist. The non-Calvinist requires that we understand one Scripture in terms of its immediate context while the Calvinist requires that we understand one Scripture in light of all other Scripture.

      1. “This illustrates the difference between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist. The non-Calvinist requires that we understand one Scripture in terms of its immediate context while the Calvinist requires that we understand one Scripture in light of all other Scripture.”

        Says the Calvinist who rejects the clear teaching of 2 Timothy 2:10, with all the supporting scripture (Romans 8:33, Romans 9:3-4a, Romans 10:1, Romans 11:13-14, Acts 28:20).

        Pot, meet Kettle.

      2. phillip writes, “Says the Calvinist who rejects the clear teaching of 2 Timothy 2:10, with all the supporting scripture (Romans 8:33, Romans 9:3-4a, Romans 10:1, Romans 11:13-14, Acts 28:20).”

        2 Timothy 2:10
        For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

        What is the issue here?? Seems clear and thoroughly Calvinistic to me.

      3. Philip:

        Here is Paul speaking….. hummmm… non-Calvinistically:

        1 Cor 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
        ——–
        “To win as many as possible” [the number is not “set” Paul?]

        “I became like a….. to win the….” [boy is he taking a lot of responsibility here!!!!]

        “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some…” [You get a real sense of participation here…. like what he is doing matters. I mean …. it sounds so “man-centered.” Paul is making it all about himself. It’s all about what Paul does so people can be saved…. but we are told that man has nothing to do with it! Really? That is not at all what Paul is saying here. Yes….. I know, I know….. it doesnt mean what it says.]

      4. FOH,

        Agreed.

        Acts 26:28-29 (NKJV)….
        Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

        Almost persuaded?

        Sadly, some Calvinists don’t share Paul’s desire for the Lost.

      5. Phillip,

        I am not sure I share your thoughts about Calvinists not caring about the lost. When I was a kid the only Calvinists were the “frozen chosen” Christian Reformed types who were not into evangelism. Now, I have lots of Calvinist friends who are very sincere missionaries.

        But more to the point in your and my post was the word “persuaded.”

        Paul uses it. He says he reasons with men….. he convinces men.

        In theory, it does not seem that if God was determined (no pun intended!) to make sure that man got no credit…. that He would use those words.

        If Paul was determined to display all credit to God… he sure did a poor job of it!

        He says he persuades, convinces, reasons with, and goes on about being “all things to all men to win some.”

        Of course Calvinists superimpose on that “God elected them all before time, but we still need to do everything we can to work hard and be “Jews for the Jews” and persuade, convince, and reason with them so we can win as many as possible!” They somehow live with that contradiction. There should be no “working hard” “to win as many as possible” if the number was determined and set by God before time. It’s just nonsensical.

        But the greater question is why did God allow so much of it in His word? Paul going on and on….. certainly that has caused many believers to think that Paul’s effort and words played a part. That they had something to do with the process.

        I mean Paul could have just said. “I just proclaim the truth and let it do its work.” But he didn’t. He said that he takes care to put the words in such a way that appeals to men and their reason.

        What men?

        Dead men? Can’t reason with a dead man. Regenerated, given-faith men? No need to reason with them ….God gave them faith irresistibly. And besides you saying “reason with them” takes away from His glory (and makes them look “not-dead”)

        I mean many Calvinist can’t stand “seeker friendly” churches cuz they say that “We just gotta proclaim the Word and God takes care of it. Our job is not try to make it ‘friendly’ like those churches do.”

        But to a certain degree isn’t Paul being “seeker-friendly”? I mean he is “being all things to all men to win some” … he is convincing, persuading, reasoning with. He is indeed the first seeker-friendly pastor!

      6. FOH,

        I said “some” not “all”.

        Yes, I also have Calvinist friends who care about the Lost. However, I have also met “some” Calvinists who consider many to be “expendable”. No remorse.

      7. phillip writes, “Almost persuaded?
        Sadly, some Calvinists don’t share Paul’s desire for the Lost.”

        But Calvinists know with Paul, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Then, the promise, “…he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.”

  27. phillip writes, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen,”

    To this we add-

    “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…set apart for the gospel of God…concerning His Son,…who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord… through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles,…” (Romans 1)

    “…even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Romans 9)

    “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–…” (Ephesians 3)

    It is easy to identify Paul’s focus on gentiles even in 2 Timothy.

  28. Wow, Philip there is no way you can make a case that Paul is talking about Israel in 2nd Timothy 2:10! The fact that you would argue that is quite revealing. Israel is never mentioned in that chapter. Pause talking about enduring hardship for the sake of all those who it turned to Christ.

    1. “Wow, Phillip there is no way you can make a case that Paul is talking about Israel in 2nd Timothy 2:10!”

      Amazing.

      1. Either the word Israel needs to be in that chapter or else you believe that every time Paul uses the word elect it is referring to the Jews. Do you want to choose one of those options or do you have a third idea?

      2. Isaiah 45:4 (NKJV)….
        For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

        1 Chronicles 16:13 (NKJV)….
        O seed of Israel His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

        Psalms 105:6 (NKJV)….
        O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

        I’ll go with the Israelites.

      3. !!!! I totally get that Israel was elected by God and that he called them his elect. Everyone knows that. But do you understand that you are saying that no Gentile in scripture is part of the elect?
        When Paul talks in Ephesians about us being Chosen and predestined, regardless of whether you are a calvinist or not, you read those verses, speaking to Gentiles as well as Jews, as telling them that they are God’s elect as well as the Jewish nation ! Therefore the context of 2nd Timothy 2 in no way demands that Paul’s use of “elect” There is referring only to Israel.

        Do you seriously want to enter that into your debate about the validity of the doctrines of Grace? Feel free to do that, but you just shot yourself in the foot in the eyes of most legitimate Bible interpreters, whether they are Calvinists or not. You just greatly undermined your credibility. You going to have to work harder than that.

        I’m hoping Leighton Flowers wouldn’t sign off on that.God Bless

      4. Scott… have you ever seen your Calvinist brethren say 1John 2:2 – “our” and “whole world” is talking about Jews and Gentiles even though neither of those terms are in the context or book? 😉

      5. Brian, I’m not sure how that question you asking has anything to do with my objection regarding 2Tim 2 (Maybe you didn’t intend to connect it to that discussion.) But that verse is one that calvinists have always had to deal with.

        I’ll share with you a bit of what John MacArthur said about it. And first I will say that for any of your brethren who like to mock the notion that Jesus came to save us from God, the word “propitiation” means, as I learned in seminary, “the turning away of wrath through the payment of a price.” It refers to the appeasement of someone who is angry. Answer the questions, Whose wrath? Whose payment? Toward whom is the wrath against? and let’s move on from that unfortunate debate which has nothing to do with Calvinism or arminianism.

        So, re 2Jn2….Here is one of many of MacArthur’s expositions. If you just want a sound bite, you’ll have to scroll down a ways. The thing I love about John MacArthur is while not discussing Calvinism probably 95% of the time, he puts more on the table when he teaches the Bible than any three pastors–calvinist or not–I know of! He is a huge lover of the word of God. So here’s a link to the whole article and then the passage that explicitly deals with your question:

        https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/62-10/the-sacrifice-that-satisfied

        Is this universalism? Does this mean that Jesus has literally propitiated God for the whole world? Does the whole world mean the whole world? Has Jesus actually satisfied God’s justice for everybody who has ever lived? If so, then where is hell in that? Where is condemnation? Why are all the warnings and why preach the gospel?

        It’s not universalism. It is not telling us that the atonement was literally made for everyone. What is it saying? I’ll tell you what it’s saying. John was in particular Jewish and primarily wrote to a Jewish audience. In Galatians 2:9 the Apostle Paul describes his first meeting with the other Apostles. He writes, “When James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship that we should go to the heathen and they to the circumcision.” Did you get that? So in Galatians 2:9, James, Peter and John make it clear that their ministry is to the circumcision, to the Jews.

        John was an Apostle to the Jews. The recipients of his epistles would be predominantly, if not completely, Jewish. He is saying to this Jewish audience, who completely understand propitiation because they understand the sacrificial system, they understand the function of the Mercy Seat, they understand Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. And what they understand about it is to be learned from several verses in Leviticus, listen to this, verse 17 of chapter 16, “When the high priest goes in to make atonement, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out that he may make atonement for himself, for his household…listen carefully…and for all the assembly of Israel.” The Day of Atonement had limitations. It applied only to Israel, only to the people of Israel. It was a sacrifice for Israel. It went on for centuries as their unique Day of Atonement. John says here, “Jesus Himself is the propitiation, Jesus Himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Himself is the bloody offering upon the Mercy Seat of God and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” The normal, national, limitation of the Day of Atonement for Israel is no more…no more. In the Jewish context, they understood Day of Atonement, they understood the language of propitiation. John is telling them that the sacrifice that Jesus offered is not just for the nation Israel, it’s now for the world because the Lord is calling out a people for His name from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

        Jesus on the cross offered an atonement for those in Israel who would repent and believe and those throughout the world who would repent and believe. It is not a universal appeasement of God. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Judas because when Judas died, he went to his own place to pay for his own sins. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Herod. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Pilate. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of the mob that screamed for His blood. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of all that mass of humanity that show up at the Great White Throne and are cast into the Lake of Fire forever and ever where they will give their satisfaction to the offended Law of God. But He did pay for the sins of all who will believe in Israel and the world. The point is, it went beyond their normal provincial idea of propitiation. And He didn’t just make salvation an option, He actually purchased salvation for all who repent and believe because they are called by God. It was an actual substitution.

        Just to help you to understand that, one final passage. John 11, this is really an important text in this regard and will seal your understanding of this. John 11:51 and 52, and I have to set the setting but I’ll do it quickly. In John 11:51 and 52 we have an important statement, but let’s back up a little bit.

        The Sanhedrin was meeting to plot Jesus’ murder. And Caiaphas, who obviously was the high priest that year, verse 49, sort of states the reason. “Caiaphas,” verse 49, “who was the high priest that year said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. You know nothing at all.'” And he’s really decrying their stupidity in his mind. Because verse 47, “The chief priests, the Pharisees got the council together, What are we doing, this man is performing many signs? If we let Him go like this, everybody is going to believe in Him and the Romans are going to come and take away our place and our nation.” What’s going to happen is there’s going to be an insurrection, the Romans are going to see Him and the people that follow Him as a threat and the Romans are going to come in, there’s going to be a war, people are going to die, we’re going to lose our power. We’re going to lose the position that we’ve gained under the Roman occupation. This could be a disaster. We could have a horrible situation.

        And Caiaphas essentially says, “You don’t know anything, you’re all stupid.” Don’t you understand? Verse 50, “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish.” They were all concerned about the volatility of the political scene. The Zealots were stirring, you remember, the people against the Romans, messianic expectation was high. It did reach a fever pitch on Palm Sunday, as we remember. They were afraid the Romans would see this as an insurrection and a rebellion and that Jesus would be viewed as a new ruler and a new king and they were all following. And they would come in and there would be this horrible destruction and death. And the Romans would not only kill and slaughter people, they would also literally take away the power of the people who had been in the religious leadership. The Sanhedrin was afraid because they had courted the favor of the Romans and it was to their great benefit. They didn’t care who Jesus was, they didn’t care about His miracles. They didn’t care about His message. They just wanted to maintain their peace with Rome, live their lives and stop any revolt that could be negative to their favorable circumstances.

        So Caiaphas says it’s better, it’s expedient for us if we want to maintain our spot here that one man should die for the people to save the people rather than the whole nation perish. He’s not talking theologically here. He’s talking politically. If we get rid of Jesus, we’ll save our nation and our position.

        And then John gives commentary. Oh I love this, verse 51, “Now this he didn’t say on his own initiative…” He said something so profound he didn’t even know what he was saying. He said, “One man should die for the people and so the nation isn’t going to perish.” He actually declared that Jesus would die for sinners in their place and therefore by His death they would be delivered. He was talking in an earthly political way, he didn’t even know what he was saying. But because he was the high priest, God used him to prophesy that Jesus…listen to this…was going to die for the nation. And listen to this, here’s a direct parallel to 1 John 2:2, “And not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together in one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” It’s the same concept exactly. First John 2:2, that He is the propitiation for our sins as a nation, Israel. But not for ours only but also for all the sins of the world, or the sins of the whole world. Same thing here. Jesus dies not for the nation only, but for the children of God scattered abroad, Gentiles.

        Please notice, He died for the children of God. He died for the children of God. Those God determined to be His children from Israel and from the whole world. So without even knowing it, Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus would die and that His sacrifice would propitiate God for the sins of all His children in the nation Israel and scattered over the face of the earth. And that’s precisely what 1 John 2:2 is saying. The design of the atonement is the end of the atonement. Or to put it another way, the end of the atonement is the design of the atonement because whatever God wants to be the outcome will be the outcome. Whatever God purposes, He accomplishes. It’s never ever thwarted. God designed an actual atonement for all the children upon whom He sets His love, then He affected that atonement in their behalf.

        Listen to Isaiah 46:8, “Remember this and be assured, recall it to mind, you transgressors, I am God, there is no other, I am God, there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” God purposed a propitiation on behalf of His children and He accomplished it whether His children were part of the nation Israel, or the whole world.

      6. Thank you Scott – for confirming my point in your response about 1John 2:2! You shouldn’t have a problem then with seeing how reasonable Philip’s view of the word “elect” meaning “Israel” in 1Tim 2:10. Blessings.

      7. I totally have a problem with it!🤔 the context does not in way demand that Paul is talking exclusively about Israel. Paul clearly tells Gentiles that they are elect of God in Ephesians 1, 2, they’re not using that word, and elsewhere. Help a brother out by making it very clear exactly what verses are stating that the elect in that verse is Israel and no one else.
        Thanks

      8. Scott… Paul ministered to Jews first everywhere he went. Read Acts again.

        How about – 1 Corinthians 9:20 NKJV — and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;

        Now look at 2 Timothy 2:8-10 NKJV — Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        Whose seed is mentioned in verse 8?
        Who caused Paul to be put in chains by the Romans and accused him before the Romans? Verse 9
        Is the nation of Israel, both saved and unsaved called by the term “elect” anywhere else in the OT or NT.

        I actually don’t believe “elect” means Israel in this verse… nor that it means eternally immutably predestined from before creation people who are not yet saved… but the Israel idea is a grammatically possible choice in this context.

      9. Thanks, Brian. So we are in agreement that we don’t believe Paul is referring to Israel in this verse when he refers to the elect. I will give you that “Israel is a grammatically possible choice.”
        This, in the face of Phillip’s seemingly nonnegotiable assertion that it absolutely refers to Israel.

        These, and many other passages make it clear that Paul’s calling and Ministry was to the Gentiles rather than to the Jews. And in fact, God’s heart and election has always been not just for the Jews but for all those he would call to himself through the true Jews, the Believers in Jesus, to all the nations, “chosen before the foundation of the world.”

        Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 47 For the Lord gave us this command when he said,

        ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
        to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’[

        “… I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
        Romans 15:15‭-‬16

        “and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.””
        Romans 15:20‭-‬21

      10. Another thing that I’m thinking your reasoning ignores is the fact that Paul’s entire Ministry and calling is to the Gentiles rather than to the Jews. And so when he talks about laying down his life for the elect he is talking primarily about laying it down for those God called him to reach, that is the Gentiles. Brian, I’m thinking that is a serious error on your part.??

      11. Hi Scott

        Why did John through the Holy Spirit, not just say, The Elect, Isreal.or Nation?

        Also the word World is
        G2889 – kosmos

        Outline of Biblical Usage:
        an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government

        ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:3

        the world, the universe

        the circle of the earth, the earth

        the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family

        the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ

        world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly

        Same word used here by John:
        1John5:19¶And we know that we are of God, and the WHOLE WORLD lieth in wickedness.

        John11:
        50Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole NATION perish not.

        G1484 – ethnos

        Outline of Biblical Usage:
        a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together

        a company, troop, swarm

        a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus

        the human family

        a tribe, nation, people group

        Acts 24:5 KJV — For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the WORLD, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

        Acts 11:28 KJV — And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the WORLD: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

        G3625 – oikoumenē
        Outline of Biblical Usage:
        the inhabited earth

        the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the barbarians

        the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire

        the whole inhabited earth, the world

        the inhabitants of the earth, men

        the universe, the world

        The above verses refer to the Roman Empire… I found this out, ie the difference in the word World. Because the understanding that Jesus only came for The Jews, is used by The Black Israelite /Hebrew/Jew cult. They told me using one of the famine/world scripture to let me know that world, doesn’t mean the whole world but the Jewish Nation. This is because there is historically no famine that struck the WHOLE WORLD. So I go off and do a word study. And becomes clear that there are varying original words for the english word World. The one referred to here means the Roman Empire, which indeed historically faced a famine.

        Being a black Christian I have an interest in this topic seeking to help them with their error, that some might be saved.

        John uses the word World , G2889 – kosmos
        Meaning the Whole World as per definition.
        1 John 2:2 KJV — And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

      12. brianwagner to Scott, asks, “have you ever seen your Calvinist brethren say 1John 2:2 – “our” and “whole world” is talking about Jews and Gentiles even though neither of those terms are in the context or book?”

        1 John 2 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

        The term, “our,” refers back to “my little children.” Earlier, John had written, “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us;” Given that John ministered to the Jews, we can conclude that he has the Jews in mind. His point is that Jesus is their advocate before God should a believer (a jew, in this case) sin. How is Jesus an advocate – “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” In addition, Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the world- here we might read to be Jew and gentile. It does not say, “Christ propitiated the sins of the world,” but “Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the world.” By Christ’s death, “Whosoever will may come,” and then God is also able to save as many as He chooses – made possible by Christ’s death as a propitiation for sin.

      13. There is no NT text that says John ministered to Jews only, or primarily, or that Paul ever stopped witnessing first to Jews after Acts 13. Read the last chapter of Acts… and don’t forget my quote from 1Cor 9:20-22.

      14. brianwagner writes, “There is no NT text that says John ministered to Jews only, or primarily, or that Paul ever stopped witnessing first to Jews after Acts 13. Read the last chapter of Acts… ”

        That’s fine. We need to identify “my little children” in 1 John 2 and that will allow us to identify what John means by “our.” It seems that “my little children” and “our,” are a group less than the whole world. The whole world then seems to encompass all others for whom Christ is the propitiation for sin but not those for whom Christ propitiateed sin.

      15. The phrase “our sins” – is about those who are already in Christ. And the phrase “the sins of the whole world” is about those still of the world, and not in Christ, but the propitiation was sufficient for and offered to them for their sins also. Praise His Name. Pretty clear meaning I would think unless your theology forces you to reject it and to twist into looking like it says something else.

      16. brianwagner writes, “The phrase “our sins” – is about those who are already in Christ. And the phrase “the sins of the whole world” is about those still of the world, and not in Christ, but the propitiation was sufficient for and offered to them for their sins also.”

        I agree. So, if a person wanted salvation, Christ’s propitiation made it possible; if God wanted to save a person, Christ’s propitiation made it possible.

      17. But Christ’s propitiation made salvation possible even if the person didn’t want it… and God certainly did want all to have salvation, which is why the propitiation was made possible to be applied through faith to anyone in the whole world. Praise His Name !

      18. brianwagner writes, “But Christ’s propitiation made salvation possible even if the person didn’t want it… ”

        Yes.

        Then, “…and God certainly did want all to have salvation,…”

        Or, at least, to have the opportunity for salvation but this also required faith without which salvation is not possible.

        Then, “…which is why the propitiation was made possible to be applied through faith to anyone in the whole world.”

        Yes, a faith – with assurance and conviction – given to the person by God.

      19. The bottom line is, regarding particular atonement, when God said whosoever Will May Come, that was a legitimate statement. And, the atonement was and would always be effective for every single sinner who repented and trusted Christ for salvation. That’s all you need to know. But if you think about it, God is very efficient and if he knows the end from the beginning then he never had to make the atonement affected for anyone other than those who would turn to Christ. Even at a philosophical level that makes sense.

      20. Brian,

        Bless you, brother. Sorry if I pulled you into this. I just thought your quote was exceptional.

  29. phillip writes, “The Elect (the Chosen Ones) in 2 Timothy 2:10 is a clear reference to the people of Israel, especially “lost” Israel. The other scriptures I reference prove this.”

    In your references, Paul does not refer to the Jews as “the Chosen Ones.” It remains to make this connection. Elsewhere, we read–

    “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” (Romans 8:33)

    “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Colossians 3:12)

    “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect,…” (Titus 1:1)

    In referring to “God’s elect/chosen” it is in the context of gentiles and not Jews alone.

    There is nothing in the surrounding context of 2 Timothy that points us to Paul referring uniquely to the Jews in 2:10. Paul is not enduring all things uniquely for the Jews – it is for the gentiles also.

    That Paul has a concern for the Jews is not contested – Yet, Paul does not refer to the Jews as “the chosen ones,” thereby allowing us to identify “the Chosen Ones” as the Jews in 2:10.

  30. FOH posted this one:

    “3. How can this satanic blinding be overcome? Paul seems to be saying that it is “setting forth the truth plainly.” And God tells us to “Let light shine out.”

    ——Here’s My Response——

    A former Calvinist has been blinded …..asking how can that satanic blinding be overcome?

    Answer: If that is God’s final decree for him … then, there is no hope to desire for the light to shine out.

    His role will ever be a Villain to the Calvinists and will always spew out easily the authority of the Scriptures presented here by the Calvinists.

    One who claims that:

    1. Salvation is conditional
    2. His claims of Grace has a tricky insertion of man’s self-righteousness/meritorious good works in accessing Salvation
    3. That: the fallen man is morally capable to come back to God on his own

  31. We keep hearing from our Calvinist brothers, Context! Context! Context!

    That is, until context becomes inconvenient.

    Romans 8:33(NKJV)….
    Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?

    Now this is the apostle Paul speaking. The same apostle who wrote 2 Timothy 2:10, in which God’s elect refers to the people of Israel, both saved and lost. Now just 3 verses later (Romans 8:36) Paul says…

    As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

    Paul is quoting from Psalms 44. Here it is in its entirety.

    Psalms 44 (NKJV)…..
    We have heard with our ears, O God, Our fathers have told us, The deeds You did in their days, In days of old: You drove out the (Gentile) nations with Your hand, But them (the children of Israel) You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out. For they did not gain possession of the (promised) land by their own sword, Nor did their own arm save them; But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, Because You favored them. You are my King, O God; Command victories for (who?) JACOB (His chosen ones/the 12 tribes of Israel). Through You we will push down our enemies; Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever. Selah But You have cast us (the Israelites) off and put us to shame, And You do not go out with our armies. You make us turn back from the enemy, And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves. YOU HAVE GIVEN US (ISRAELITES) UP LIKE SHEEP INTENDED FOR FOOD, And have scattered us (the Israelites) among the (Gentile) nations. You sell Your people for next to nothing, And are not enriched by selling them. You make us a reproach to our neighbors, A scorn and a derision to those all around us. You make us a byword among the (Gentile) nations, A shaking of the head among the peoples. My dishonor is continually before me, And the shame of my face has covered me, Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, Because of the enemy and the avenger. All this has come upon us; But we have not forgotten You, Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, Nor have our steps departed from Your way; But You have severely broken us in the place of jackals, And covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God, Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. YET FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER. Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. Why do You hide Your face, And forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; Our body clings to the ground. Arise for our help, And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.

    Paul was quoting from Psalms 44 for a reason. Now the Gentiles in Paul’s audience would have had no clue to whom Paul was referring to. But you can be rest assured the children of Israel knew exactly to whom he was speaking.

    The apostle Paul is addressing his fellow Israelites. He has been ever since Romans 2:7. Now I am willing to concede that in Romans 8:29-30 that Paul is referring to believing Israelites, but they are Israelites nonetheless.

    1. Philip… Just a reminder, I will keep deleting any posts I deem to have ad hominem comments in them.

    2. phillip writes, “The apostle Paul is addressing his fellow Israelites. He has been ever since Romans 2:7. Now I am willing to concede that in Romans 8:29-30 that Paul is referring to believing Israelites, but they are Israelites nonetheless.”

      Let’s begin in Romans 2 and develop context–

      2:3 “do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

      2:9-10 “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek….”

      2:29 “…he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

      3:23 “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”

      3:29-30 “…is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one….”

      4:13-19 “…the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;… For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

      5:6 “…while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….”

      6:1 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?”

      6:15 “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”

      8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

      8:14 “…all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God….”

      8:16-17 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,…”

      8:26-28 “i…n the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

      8:33-35 “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

      So, we come to “us” in v35. Who is “us.” I see context telling us that “us” is all believers. Paul’s quotation of Psalm 44 tells us that God always had the gentiles in mind even when speaking to the Jews and his use of Psalm 44 in Romans 8 identifies the believers of his day (both Jew and gentile) with Psalm 44.

      So, we disagree.

      1. Romans 2:17 (NKJV)….
        Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God

        No Gentiles in that group.

        Romans 3:1-2 (NKJV)….
        What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.

        Gentiles can’t make that claim.

        Romans 4:1 (NKJV)….
        What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?

        Our father Abraham, according to the flesh? Can’t get more Jewish than that.

        Romans 7:1 (NKJV)….
        Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

        Who knew the Law forwards and backwards? Sure wasn’t the Gentiles.

        Romans 7:4 (NKJV)…..
        Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

        Married to another? Gentiles sure can’t say that.

        Now is there “some” application in Paul’s words for the Gentiles standing by? Certainly! But clearly Paul’s language is directed, some of it specifically and only to the children of Israel.

      2. phillip writes, “Now is there “some” application in Paul’s words for the Gentiles standing by? Certainly! But clearly Paul’s language is directed, some of it specifically and only to the children of Israel.”

        Yep.

  32. From the Canons of Dort: Divine Election and Reprobation

    Article 7:
    Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation.

    Article 8:
    There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein.

    Brothers,

    With those articles in mind, follow along here.

    Scott wrote… “Either the word Israel needs to be in that chapter or else you believe that every time Paul uses the word elect it is referring to the Jews. Do you want to choose one of those options or do you have a third idea?

    To which I responded… “I’ll go with the Israelites.”

    To which Rhutchin responded… “That works for the OT.”

    I agree. Actually, it works throughout all scripture. But, for the moment, let’s just focus on the OT. Rhutchin agrees that “the elect” or “the chosen ones” refers to the people of Israel in the OT. Scott confirms “I totally get that Israel was elected by God and that he called them his elect. Everyone knows that.”

    So if we agree that in the OT Israel is God’s elect, wouldn’t that make every non-Israelite (or the Gentiles) the non-elect? Now was every Israelite saved? Unlikely. Does that mean every non-elect was lost? Equally unlikely.

    Again, the word/phrase “elect/chosen ones” didn’t appear in scripture until the 12 tribes of Israel came into existence. God singled out the descendants of Jacob as “His chosen ones”. That’s just a biblical fact. Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the elect one, is both an Israelite and Judean.

    Adam? Abel? Seth? Noah? Abraham? All saved, but not Israelites. And non-elect.

    If the people of Israel are God’s elect in the OT (which both Rhutchin and Scott acknowledge), and if the elect are guaranteed salvation, then what happened? Why weren’t they all saved and no one else? So they were the elect in the OT, but not during Paul’s ministry? Again, why not? What happened? Where and when did God un-elect the nation of Israel?

    1. phillip asks “If the people of Israel are God’s elect in the OT (which both Rhutchin and Scott acknowledge), and if the elect are guaranteed salvation, then what happened?”

      It was not an election unto Salvation. God chose Israel to bless them with an inheritance in the land of Canaan and promised that Israel would prosper if the people obeyed His commandments.

  33. phillip writes, “John 4:22b (NKJV)….
    “….for salvation is of (or from) the Jews.”

    John 4 tells us that salvation if of the Jew coming through the Christ. It is through the Christ that salvation comes to all people so that Paul’s reference to “God’s elect” in Titus refers to all believers – both Jew and gentile.

    But, we disagree.

  34. Brothers and Sisters,

    I feel the topic of this particular thread should be: TULIP – Pick a Petal

    On the topic of election.

    Regarding the nation of Israel in the OT rhutchin writes “It was not an election unto Salvation.”

    Bingo! It never was and still isn’t nor never will be. For anyone.

    I’ve already provided several verses from the beginning of Romans 2:17 showing/proving that Paul was addressing the children of Israel within his audience.

    Romans 8:29 starts with “For whom He foreknew….”

    Well, who did God foreknow?

    Romans 11:1-2 (NKJV)….
    I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew…

    Not enough? Okay.

    Amos 3:1-2 (NKJV)…
    Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

    So there is scriptural support that Paul just might be referring to the people of Israel, or at least that believing element of Israelites.

    Still, we have the Calvinist saying “So, we come to ‘us’ in v35…..‘us’ is all believers.”

    Romans 8:35 (NKJV)….
    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

    In regards to Psalms 44, rhutchin writes… “Paul’s quotation of Psalm 44 tells us that God always had the gentiles in mind even when speaking to the Jews and his use of Psalm 44 in Romans 8 identifies the believers of his day (both Jew and gentile) with Psalm 44.

    No it doesn’t. I ask you all to go back in look at that chapter (provided earlier). That whole chapter is written to Jacob (the 12 tribes) about Jacob (the 12 tribes). Its not about Gentiles, but rather the 12 tribes in stark contrast to Gentiles. Yes, God always had a plan of salvation for the Gentiles, but that chapter is about the history of Israel and her present sufferings at the hands of the Gentiles! It is the people of Israel who are considered as sheep for the slaughter. If Paul meant to include Gentiles he pick an awful verse as an example.

    And isn’t it prophetic that Paul would mention tribulation? Now I know Christians are hated and even put to death in some parts of the world, but no nation throughout man’s depraved history has been hated and despised more than Israel. In fact, some even going by the label of Christian have been deeply involved in the persecution of the Jews (check out Martin Luther’s “On The Jews and Their Lies”). But as bad as history has treated them, it will be nothing like the horrors that await them during the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s troubles.

    However, apparently now, there are two forms of election. One for the nation of Israel and one for those who have been predestined to salvation from the foundations of world.

    So now we have one “elect” who will be in heaven while another “elect” is on earth experiencing the great tribulation. Some see the elect enjoying the glories of heaven, while Israel (Mine Elect) suffers the horrors of the great tribulation. Everyone wants the benefits of being God’ elect, but no one was the dire consequences for being so. Believe me. Satan knows full well who God’s elect are and has been after them ever since God made His covenant with Abraham.

    Let me just ask the following?

    Who gets engrafted into whom?

    Do Gentiles become co-citizens with Israel or do Israelites become co-citizens with Gentiles?

    Is salvation of the Gentiles or the Jews?

    To whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises? The Gentiles or the Jews?

    Was it thru our fall that salvation came to the Israelites or the other way around?

    Whose book is it? Was it written by Jews or Gentiles?

    And we still want to maintain that Gentiles, albeit believing Gentiles, are among God’s elect?

    Now look. Our Calvinist brothers are entrenched. They won’t budge an inch. The elect are those predestined to salvation by God from eternity past. Yank this petal off and the whole flower dies. John 6, Romans 8, Romans 9, and Ephesians 1 all say what they claim it says. No alternative explanation will be tolerated. So just give them grace. But I hope and pray my non-Calvinist brothers will at least ponder the possibility of what I am suggesting and do your own homework.

    I’m a Gentile. Non-elect. Saved by grace thru faith, because of God’s overabundance of love for the people of Israel.

    In brotherly love.

    1. phillip writes, “Romans 8:29 starts with “For whom He foreknew….”
      Well, who did God foreknow?”

      v27 – “…He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Who are the saints? v28 – “…those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Context was not lost in v29.

  35. Philip posted this one:

    “And we still want to maintain that Gentiles, albeit believing Gentiles, are among God’s elect?”

    ——-Here’s My Response———

    Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. —– (The One who appoint and the One who elect is just the same God. Both elect Israel and Gentile believers will reside in heaven. Both elect Israel and Gentile believers will become one flock with One chief Shepherd – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lay down His life for the sheep – both elect Israel and Gentile elect. I see no problem here?)

    The verse above speaks in itself that the Gentiles has been appointed to eternal life. Since when?

    1. According to Paul, he said in 2 Tim. 1:9 “Who has saved us (both Israel and Gentile believers in Christ) and called us (both Israel and Gentile believers in Christ) with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to US BEFORE TIME BEGAN.” (or before the foundation of the world)

    2. According Paul, he said in: Eph. 1:4 Just as He chose US (both Israel and Gentile believers in Christ) in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

    3. According to Paul, he said in 2 Thess. 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you (church of the Thessalonians-mixture of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians) brethren beloved by the Lord. because God from the beginning chose (picked out, elect, foreordained, appointed) you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

    Gentiles are also God’s elect, Can’t be denied.

  36. Brian,

    In the discussion of 2 Timothy 2:10, I noticed earlier in this thread you stated “I actually don’t believe ‘elect’ means Israel in this verse… nor that it means eternally immutably predestined from before creation people who are not yet saved… but the Israel idea is a grammatically possible choice in this context.”

    Now back in April of last year you posted… “We agree Phillip that ‘elect’ in 2 Tim 2:10 means Israel, the saved and lost in her.”

    Did I misunderstand you then or now? Or did something cause you to change your mind? (Which is okay.)

    Just curious because Scott took your response to mean that “the elect” in 2 Timothy 2:10 didn’t mean Israel.

    1. Sorry for the confusion, Philip. I went back to read the whole interaction last April. And I have again looked more closely at 2Tim 2:10, especially the meaning of ‘obtain” this time. I probably should not have said so emphatically – “We agree …” but rather, “I can concede your view is possible”. But at this point I am back to leaning towards what I originally responded with back then-

      >>I can see how Paul might be pointing to Jews as the “elect” in 2Tim 2:10 since he is currently in custody with the Romans because of their false accusations. But I rather think he is talking about his suffering as a sweet savor of Christ to all elect believers – 2Co 4:7-12, 15 NKJV – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 [We are] hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. … For all things [are] for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.< < And we continue to disagree, I believe, on the meaning of the term "elect" in other passages. However, in the long run, this issue is not as important as rejecting the harmful doctrine of determinism... on which I think we are in full agreement.

      1. Brian,

        That’s fine. I know I have posted some things in the past that I now read a little differently.

        Your previous post, back them.

        “2Tim 2:10 – διὰ τοῦτο πάντα ὑπομένω διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ σωτηρίας τύχωσιν τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ μετὰ δόξης αἰωνίου

        My literal translation – ‘on account of this, these [things] I am enduring on account of the elect [ones] in order that even to/for/with/by them salvation/deliverance they should obtain/experience, the [kind that is] in Jesus, with everlasting glory.’

        The και – meaning ‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing another category of people, besides the Gentiles to whom he is an apostle, and whom he is wanting to see saved. This other category he also wants to see saved and is willing to keep enduring all things so that might happen.

        That other category is ‘elect ones’, and so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.”

        Again, I just thought that explanation was exceptional, thorough, and sound. I still do. And believe it aligns perfectly with what Paul was saying….

        2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)….
        Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David (from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Jacob/one of the 12 tribes of Israel), was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains (because for the hope of Israel I am bound with these chains); but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect (my fellow Israelites according to the flesh, for whom I am willing to be accursed from Christ), that they (the Israelites) also (along with the Gentiles) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        That flows so perfectly.

        Acts 9:15 (NKJV)….
        But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

        That said, I appreciate that you have not completely closed the door to this alternative and accept that it is at least both possible and reasonable. I pray that I have at least planted a seed in your heart and it is something that you will consider going forward.

        If you have my email address, please feel free to reach out to me anytime. I love interacting with you.

        Many blessings, dear brother.

  37. All,

    This is how 2 Timothy 2:10 reads….

    “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

    Dear brothers and sister, the word “also” or “too” is pivotal in understanding this verse properly. If you ignore it, like some do, you will come to an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.

    The word “also” or “too” introduces another distinct group. That other group would have to be 180 degrees the opposite of “the elect”. The opposite of “up” is “down”. The opposite of “left” and “right”. The opposite of “good” is “evil”. The opposite of “saved” is “lost”. So the opposite of “elect” is “non-elect”.

    Remember, a lot of folks believe, even teach, that those who have faith become the elect. If you are in Christ, the Elect One, you become elect. Now if the elect refers to believers, or those already in Christ Jesus, then this is how 2 Timothy 2:10 would read. I’m just going to substitute “the elect” with “those in Christ Jesus”, because for some, they are synonymous.

    “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of those in Christ Jesus, that those in Christ Jesus also (along with those outside of Christ Jesus) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

    Haven’t those “in Christ” already obtained salvation? Isn’t there no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?

    So my question is, and please be honest, does that interpretation work?

    I know this website is dedicated to exposing the errors of Calvinism, but we shouldn’t reject one error only to embrace another. If we refuse to question/challenge our own beliefs, then we should be more respectful to, and tolerant of, our Calvinist brothers who do the same.

    God bless.

    1. Hi Philip
      With fear and trembling 🙂 I send this question.

      Is it (at least) possible that the elect are believers and obtain salvation could be a pointer to the belief that salvation or it’s fullness is yet to be attained. So Paul is being example to encourage Christian on how to respond in times of faith trails, so that with Faith they endure, receiving the end of their Faith the salvation of their souls..(for instance).

      1 Peter 1:9 KJV — Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

      Ps I totally see how the Elect here could be The Jews too.

      1. Clare,

        Thanks for engaging.

        I think if we look at that verse objectively, we would have to acknowledge that whoever “the elect” are, Paul considers them to be Lost.

        Though being a different author, John writes…

        1 John 5:13a (NKJV)….
        These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life

        The believer’s salvation is secure. They don’t have to obtain that which is already in their possession. If you belong to Jesus Christ you are saved. If the elect are saved (and those “in Christ” are), then we have….

        Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the saved, that the saved also (along with the Lost) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        Read that way, Paul sees no distinction between the saved and the lost.

        Paul writes…

        Ephesians 3:1 (NKJV)….
        For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles

        However, in 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul is not referring to any “spiritual” chains.

        Romans 11:13-14 (NKJV)….
        For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.

        Paul magnified his ministry to the Gentiles in the very hope that it would provoke his fellow Israelites to salvation.

        Romans 9:3 (NKJV)….
        For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh

        Paul never said he was willing to sacrifice his relation with Christ for the Gentiles. But it was his love for his fellow Israelites that he was willing to be imprisoned.

        Acts 28:20, 28-29 (NKJV)….
        For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.… Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

        It was the Jews who had Paul arrested and imprisoned. And it was these same Jews whom Paul was willing to be accursed from Christ for. If Paul was willing to sacrifice his relationship with Christ for his fellow Israelites, then to “endure all things” for them here on earth would be nothing in comparison! Bless his heart, I can’t explain it any better than my brother previously did.

        “The και – meaning ‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing another category of people, besides the Gentiles to whom he is an apostle, and whom he is wanting to see saved. This other category he also wants to see saved and is willing to keep enduring all things so that might happen. That other category is ‘elect ones’, and so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.”

        Amen!

        The only reason I can think of regarding why some are struggling with the meaning of 2 Timothy 2:10 is because they have already made up their minds who the elect are (and this applies equally to both Calvinists and Arminians). Somehow they have to take that understanding and force it into the text. Now, because of my analysis, it makes them uncomfortable. Even to the point of denial.

      2. phillip writes, ‘The only reason…why some are struggling with the meaning of 2 Timothy 2:10 is because…”

        …the identification with Israel doesn’t fit the immediate context.

      3. Rhutchin writes…. “…the identification with Israel doesn’t fit the immediate context”

        2 Timothy 2:8-9 (NKJV)…..
        Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David (from tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel), was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble (at the hands of the Jews) as an evildoer, even to the point of chains (imprisonment).

        But like I said. Just give them grace.

      4. 2 Timothy 2:8-9 (NKJV)…..
        Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David (from tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel), was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble (at the hands of the Jews) as an evildoer, even to the point of chains (imprisonment)….

        2 Timothy 2:9-10
        …BUT the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [those God has chosen but who have yet to hear the gospel] that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

      5. Guys, I have to say I looked at a bunch of commentaries on the 2nd Timothy 2 passage, and not one of them see the elect there as anything other than the Church or the believers, both present and future.

      6. 2 Timothy 2:8-9 (NKJV)…..
        Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David (from tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel), was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble (at the hands of the Jews) as an evildoer, even to the point of chains (imprisonment).

        2 Timothy 2:9-10
        …BUT the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [those God has chosen, like myself, but who have yet to hear the gospel] that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

      7. Rhutchin offers (in this his 3rd or 4th or 5th attempt)….

        2 Timothy 2:9-10
        …BUT the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [those God has chosen but who have yet to hear the gospel] that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        So we now have…

        Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect (those God has chosen but who have yet to hear the gospel) that they (those God has chosen, but who have yet to hear the gospel) also (along with those God hasn’t chose, but who have yet to hear the gospel) may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

        Remember, it has to be another “category”. NOT the same category, but at another point in time.

        “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

      8. phillip writes, “Remember, it has to be another “category”. NOT the same category, but at another point in time.”

        The text allows for Paul to be speaking of himself with the elect being another category – “I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen…”

        You have raised a controversy over the following statement, “…that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.”

        Then you say, “Sounds to me that Paul is saying salvation is obtainable for both the elect (the chosen) and the non-elect (the unchosen), of which I would agree. However, an impossibility for Calvinism.”

        This is a presupposition on your part.

        Then “you still have the problem of Paul being imprisoned at the hands of the chosen ones. In other words, the elect are the very ones having him arrested and locking him up in chains.”

        Another presupposition on your part.

        You created a theology with one adherent (yourself) that you now claim finds support in 2 Timothy. No one else agrees with you.

      9. phillip writes, ” thanks for conceding that Israel fits the immediate context.”

        Yes, the context before “…but the word of God is not imprisoned.” This brings us to the NT time and the preaching of the gospel to all people whether Jew or gentile. It is good that you recognize that the NT deals with a Jew/gentile dichotomy.

    2. Sorry I should have added the following verses

      10Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

      11¶It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

      12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: IF WE deny him, HE ALSO will deny us:

      1. Clare,

        Bless your heart. There is no need for “fear and trembling”. The topic is not salvific.

        I think this bears repeating. My dear brother, whom I both love and respect, wrote…

        “The και – meaning ‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing another category of people, besides the Gentiles to whom he is an apostle, and whom he is wanting to see saved. This other category he also wants to see saved and is willing to keep enduring all things so that might happen. That other category is ‘elect ones’, and so Phillip has context and other passages on his side pointing to ‘elect ones’ here meaning Jews who are not yet saved, but on account of whom (their forcing Paul’s arrest and trial by Rome) he is enduring his current imprisonment.”

        Here’s what’s disappointing. I could take 2 Timothy 2:10 and show it to an unbelieving English major and they would come to the exact same conclusion. It not only works grammatically, but aligns with other scripture. But take it to a Theologian, or Seminary Student, and they struggle. Why?

      2. “The και – meaning ‘even’, has to do with Paul’s introducing another category of people,…”

        “…they being those God has chosen but who have yet to hear the gospel.