Are You Better Than Your Friend Who Refused to Believe?

“WHY DID YOU BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, BUT YOUR FRIEND DID NOT? ARE YOU WISER OR SMARTER OR MORE SPIRITUAL OR BETTER TRAINED OR MORE HUMBLE?”

This is typically one of the first questions a Calvinist will ask a non-Calvinist when attempting to convince them of their doctrine.[1] In fact, when I was a Calvinist, I used this argument more often than any other, and it was quite effective. However, I have come to believe there are at least five significant problems with this line of argumentation:

1) CALVINISM IS ACTUALLY THE ONLY SYSTEM THAT TEACHES THE BELIEVER IS “BETTER” OR “MORE CAPABLE” THAN THE ONE WHO REFUSED TO BELIEVE:

On Calvinism God makes some people (the elect) “smarter” (or insightful, or able to understand truth), more humble and privileged by a work of irresistible regenerative grace. So, on Calvinism those who believe really are “better” or “more capable,” which is why they can believe the gospel and the rest cannot believe it (for reasons beyond their control). Granted, on Calvinism, this regenerative grace is given unconditionally and it is not in anyway merited by the elect, but that does not change the fact that upon being regenerated the elect are made “better” (more capable, with a new and better nature/heart) than their unbelieving counterpart.

On Provisionism (Traditionalism), all people have the necessary insight and moral capacity to respond willingly to God’s appeal. Thus, all are truly “without excuse” because everyone has everything they need to believe in God. This is due to the fact that everyone is created as His image bearers in a world where His truth is made abundantly clear and believable (Rom 1). On Provisionism, no one can fall back on the excuse that God did not make them morally capable to respond positively to His own appeals or insightful enough to understand and accept plainly spoken truth, like they can on Calvinism. On Provisionism, the Fall doesn’t cause humanity to become morally incapable of accepting God’s appeals to be reconciled from that Fall. We do not believe that has ever been established biblically.

This Calvinistic argument may sound pious because it’s attempting to give all credit to God for all the good things, but in so doing it also inadvertently gives God all the blame for the bad and removes any real semblance of human responsibility for unbelief.

Unbelievers cannot rightly say, “I could not believe because God withheld His provision, love and grace from me. It was beyond my control because I was born rejected by my maker and in a condition whereby I could only hate and reject God’s own appeals.” No! Unbelievers stand without excuse as blameworthy sinners because they are freely rejecting the loving and gracious appeal of God for reconciliation. They perish because they refused to love the truth so as to be saved (2 Thess. 2:10) and they could have done otherwise.

Provisionism gives God all the credit for His provision while maintaining the human responsibility to accept or reject that provision. After all, since when must a gift be effectually given for the giver to get full credit for giving it?

2) A DECISION TO PUT TRUST IN THE MERIT OF ANOTHER FOR SALVATION DOES NOT ITSELF MERIT SALVATION:

What is the underlying motivation for asking the question, “Why you and not another?” The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting (or more deserving of) salvation? As if the decision to repent somehow earns or merits one’s forgiveness.

Think of it this way.  Did the prodigal son earn, merit or in any way deserve the reception of his father on the basis that he humbly returned home? Of course not. He deserved to be punished, not rewarded. The acceptance of his father was a choice of the father alone and it was ALL OF GRACE. The father did not have to forgive, restore and throw a party for his son on the basis that he chose to come home. That was the father’s choice alone.

It must also be noted that humiliation and brokenness is not considered “better” or “praiseworthy” and it certainly is not inherently valuable.  In fact, one could argue that it was weak and pitiful of the son to return home and beg his daddy for a job instead of working his own way out of that pig sty.  The only thing that makes this quality “desirable” is that God has chosen to grace those who humble themselves, something He is in no way obligated to do (Is. 66:2).  God gives grace to the humble not because a humble response deserves salvation, but because He is gracious.

Calvinists often conflate man’s choice to confess with God’s choice to forgive while labeling it all “salvation.”  They go on to convincingly argue that God is “sovereign over salvation” which actually means “God is as much in control over His own choice to forgive as He is over man’s choice to confess in faith.”  It’s difficult to argue with someone who is making the case that God is “in control of salvation” and is “the One who gets all credit for salvation,” but that difficulty only exists due to the conflating of man’s responsibility to believe/confess with God’s gracious choice to save whosoever does so. Of course Salvation is all of God, but that is distinct from man’s responsibility to humbly trust in Him for salvation. 

WE ALL AFFIRM THAT SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN SIN AND THE RESPONSIBILITY TO REPENT FROM SIN DOES NOT BELONG TO THE SINNER.

3) QUESTION BEGGING FALLACY:

The question above is tantamount to asking, “What determined the response of you and your friend,” as if something or someone other than the responsible agents themselves made the determination. The question presumes determinism is true and that libertarian free will (self-determination) is not possible, which is a text-book question begging fallacy. [2]

I believe that the cause of a choice is the chooser (or the cause of a determination is the determiner) and accept the mystery associated with the functioning of that free will in making its own determinations.[3] Now, Calvinists will often challenge my appeal to mystery at this point as if it is a weakness unique to my libertarian worldview. This is a very shortsighted argument, however, which will be made abundantly clear in the next point.

4) CALVINISTS ULTIMATELY APPEAL TO THE SAME MYSTERY:

While the Calvinist may feel he has the “upper hand” when asking about the “decisive factor” in man’s choice to reject God’s words, the role reverses quite dramatically when the conversation shifts to man’s first choice to reject God’s words. Whether discussing Satan’s first act of rebellion or Adam’s first choice to sin, it becomes quite evident that the Calvinist has painted himself into a corner by denying libertarian free will.

While on the one hand arguing that mankind will always act in accordance with his nature (assuming the nature could not be libertarianly free, mind you), the Calvinist has no rational answer as to why Adam (or Lucifer) chose to rebel. [4] For instance, John Piper openly admits:

How God freely hardens and yet preserves human accountability we are not explicitly told. It is the same mystery as how the first sin entered the universe. How does a sinful disposition arise in a good heart? The Bible does not tell us.”[5]

And RC Sproul similarly teaches,

“But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.”[6]

As you can clearly see, the Calvinist has just “kicked the can down the road,” so to speak, when it comes to appealing to the mystery of free moral will.[7] They eventually appeal to the same mystery that we do, all the while thinking they are taking the higher moral ground by giving God all the credit for the Christian’s choice to repent and trust in Christ. In reality, however, by not accepting the mystery of man’s free will, the Calvinist has created a new mystery that is simply not afforded by the text of scripture.

This problem is made evident by turning the question around and asking this of the Calvinist:

WHY HAS YOUR LOST FRIEND CONTINUED TO HATE AND REJECT GOD?

Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them. Calvinists would rather focus on the elect who are saved by deterministic means while ignoring the inevitable conclusions about the non-elect who remain damned for the same deterministic reason. In my opinion, this is a dilemma unique to their worldview, not a tension created by the teachings of scripture.

So, the Calvinist rejects the mystery of libertarian freedom only to adopt another even more difficult mystery. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God — namely the suggestion that God is implicit in the determination of moral evil, as evidenced by John Calvin’s own teachings:

 “…how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…Who does not tremble at these judgments with which God works in the hearts of even the wicked whatever He will, rewarding them nonetheless according to desert? Again it is quite clear from the evidence of Scripture that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as he will, whether to good for His mercy’s sake, or to evil according to their merits.”[8]

Which mystery is more difficult to swallow? One that seemingly suggests mankind might have some part to play in reconciliation (the bringing together of two parties) or the one that suggests a perfectly Holy God is the author of evil (that which divided to two parties to begin with)? More importantly, which of these mysteries does the Bible actually afford?

5) BETTER BY A DIVINELY PERMITTED CHOICE OR A DETERMINATIVE DIVINE DECREE IS STILL BETTER:

I think we can all agree that it is better to believe the gospel than it is to “trade the truth of God in for lies.” Whether one believes because they were sovereignly made to do so by a work of irresistible grace, or graciously given the ability to do so freely does not change the fact that believers are doing something “better.” But, as we will discover in the next point, better does not mean worthy of salvation. So, even if the non-Calvinist were to say, “Yes, I’m more humble or smarter,” he would ultimately be saying the exact same thing a Calvinist has to say. The only difference would be that an unbeliever could rightly say to the Calvinist, “How arrogant of you to think that God made you more humble or smarter,” whereas if they said that to the non-Calvinist, we could rightly answer, “No he didn’t, you have no such excuse. You have just as much ability to humble yourself and understand the gospel as I have.”

We (non-Calvinist) are too often accused that we could/would boast in our salvation because we affirm that it is our responsibility to freely respond in faith to the gracious Holy Spirit wrought gospel appeal.

Is this really boast worthy?

We are the ones who teach that anyone can believe the gospel. Why would we boast in doing something anyone is able to do? It’s the Calvinists who believe this ability is uniquely given to them and not most people. It makes much more sense for a Calvinist to boast in an ability granted to him that has been withheld from most others.

A great singer, for example, is a given a rare gift from birth and can often become proud or boastful due to that unique gift. But if everyone was born able sing that well whenever they wanted, then boasting in that ability would not make any sense. Thus, Calvinism leaves more room for boasting than does our soteriological perspective. (Though I don’t believe true Christians from either soteriological system would boast in such things: SEE HERE)

HUMBLE YOURSELF

Clearly scripture calls us to humility and there is nothing which suggests we cannot respond in humility when confronted by the powerful clear revelation of God’s convicting life-giving truth through the law and the gospel.  Consider what our Lord taught us in Luke 18:10-14

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Did the tax collector deserve to go home justified because of his humble admission of guilt? Of course not. If that were so, then his confession would have merited his salvation and there would be no reason for Christ’s death to atone for his sin. He went home justified because of God’s grace and provision alone! Maintaining man’s libertarianly free responsibility to repent and believe does not negate the truth that salvation is completely and totally of God alone.

Throughout the scriptures we see examples of God “finding favor” in believing individuals (Job, Enoch, Noah, Abram, etc), but these men, like all of humanity, still fell short of God’s glory and were unrighteous according to the demands of God’s law. They needed a savior. They needed redemption and reconciliation. Even those who believe the truth of God’s revelation deserve eternal punishment for their sin.

What must be understood is that no one was righteous according to the demands of the law. However, that does NOT mean that all people are unable to believe God’s revealed truth so as to be credited as righteous by God’s grace. Paul taught that no one was righteous in Romans 3, yet he turns around and declares in the very next chapter that, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (4:3).

How can that be? Has Paul contradicted himself? First he declares that no one is righteous and then he tells us that Abraham was righteous? Which is it?

Paul is drawing the distinction between righteousness by works (Rm. 3:10-11) and righteousness by grace through faith (Rm. 3:21-24). The former is unattainable but the latter has always been very much attainable by anyone, which again, is why ALL ARE “WITHOUT EXCUSE!” (Rm. 1:20)

God can show mercy on whom ever he wants to show mercy!  We happen to know, based on Biblical revelation, that God wants to show mercy to those who humbly repent in faith, which is man’s responsibility not God’s!

If you wait on God to effectually humble you, it will be too late.

1 Peter 5:5-6:  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Isaiah 66:2: “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

 2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

 2 Chronicles 12:7: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak.

 2 Chronicles 12:12: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.

 Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

 Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

 Psalm 147:6: The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

 Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

 Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

 Matthew 18:4: Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 Matthew 5:3:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

 Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”




[1] John Piper said, “More specifically, I rarely meet Christians who want to take credit for their conversion. There is something about true grace in the believer’s heart that makes us want to give all the glory to God. So, for example, if I ask a believer how he will answer Jesus’s question at the last judgment, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard it?” very few believers answer that question by saying: “Because I was wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble.” Most of us feel instinctively that we should glorify God’s grace by saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, we know intuitively that God’s grace was decisive in our conversion. That is what we mean by irresistible grace.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism#Grace)

[2] Libertarian Free Will is “the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.” See: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/philosophical-reflections-on-free-will/

[3] Question begging is the logical fallacy of presuming true the very argument up for debate. By asking what determined a man’s choice, the questioner is presuming someone or something other than that man made the determination, thus presuming true the foundation for deterministic logic (i.e. “a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws [or Divine decree].” Merriam-Webster Dictionary). While a determiner may state reasons or influential factors for his or her own determination (i.e. I chose to overeat because it tastes so good) that does not mean the factors listed effectually caused the determination (i.e. the taste of food determined the agent’s choice to overeat).  The agent alone made the determination based on the factors taken into consideration and deliberated upon. To presume without proof that something or someone outside the agent himself made the determination (i.e. was the “decisive factor”) is question begging.

[4] On the one hand, Calvinists argue that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination which is ultimately determined by their God given nature, yet on the other hand they affirm that Adam “was perfectly free from any corruptions or sinful inclinations,” and that he “had no sinful inclinations to hurry him on to sin; he did it of his own free and mere choice” Jonathan Edwards, ‘All God’s Methods Are Most Reasonable’, in Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, ed. by Kenneth P. Minkema, Works 14 (1997): 168.)

How does the affirmation of Adam’s freedom to sin or refrain from sin not violate the Calvinists own definition of human will and choice? For Adam to choose to sin he must violate the law of his own nature, as defined by the Calvinistic systematic.

[5]John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-hardening-of-pharaoh-and-the-hope-of-the-world))

[6] RC Sproul, Chosen By God, p.31

[8] John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11

 

53 thoughts on “Are You Better Than Your Friend Who Refused to Believe?

  1. Excellent post, Leighton! It honors God so much to see how He has made salvation available to all as a gift to humbly receive.

    “I saved myself” – Red Herring/Straw Man

    God doesn’t give the same grace… but He does give sufficient grace to enable each to freely seek and to trust His mercy. Therefore none have an excuse, and salvation is all of God, who paid for it, and offered it, and gave it to each one who trusted Him for it.

    It is a red herring that suggests the one who was saved after trusting their savior and after trusting the means of their salvation would then turn around and say or believe – “I saved myself.” The one grabbing the rope and letting the rescuer pull them to safety does not turn around and say – “Boy, didn’t I do a good job in saving myself.”

    It is a red herring/straw man argument in an attempt to legitimize determinism which has the bigger problem of denying that determinism logically makes God the author of sin and that it also makes Him the unjust and everlasting tormentor of those He supposedly decreed guilty and to be hardened by Him for someone else’s sin, before anyone was ever created by Him.

    The typical “so it all hinges on man” argument is silly. A “hinge” is no good if there is no door or someone to open that door. So also is the argument “so man is the ultimate decisive factor in his salvation.” I can decide to trust Jesus, but unless He decides to give me forgiveness and everlasting life, what good, how “decisive”, is my decision compared to His? If Christ had not died and rose again and offered me salvation and granted it to me… all my “decisions” in the world would make no difference.

    1. A ministry once made a statement concerning faith.

      When you enter a room and see a chair you would like to sit in, the chair offers you the gift of comfort and supporting your weight.

      We generally assume chairs will hold our weight and not collapse – thus we exercise faith when we sit in them.

      So when we sit in the chair – we accept the gift the chair offers.
      Does it then logically follow – just because we accept what the chair offers – we are holding ourselves up instead of the chair?

      Somehow I don’t think so. :-]

    2. Leighton and Brian, I made a resolution that I wouldn’t post on here again regarding Calvinism, but it’s kind of like driving past and accident on the highway…. You just can’t resist!

      I’m truly surprised that, as I reread above, I saw this quote:

      “So, on Calvinism those who believe really are “better” or “more capable,” which is why they can believe the gospel and the rest cannot believe it (for reasons beyond their control).”

      I was taking Soteriology 101 seriously, but I just realized it’s nowhere close to where I thought it was. That quote (please tell me it was a mistake) not only demonstrates a lack of understanding of what Calvinism teaches, it also shows a kind of drunken desperation that comes up with things that simply make no sense.

      What you stated there is kind of like seeing a scenario (don’t press the details of this analogy very far!) where a doctor has 20 patients dying of a deadly disease and he only has 10 doses of the antibodies. He administers the doses to the first 10 people he can reach ….. and then you look at the whole group after the ten were healed and you say, “The 10 that are healed are better than the 10 who didn’t get healed!”

      I know, it sounds wacky, but what you said above, to any thoughtful student, sounded just as strange. OF COURSE those who are regenerated are better and more capable than those who are not regenerated, but only AFTER God did his wondrous, sovereign work! IT IS IN THE ARMINIAN scenario where those who get saved are better and more capable beforehand, because THEY were willing to repent and to believe and follow Jesus!

      Please recant on that statement and clarify how you made either grammatical errors or theological and logical errors, or how can you be taken seriously? I trust you see what I’m saying here.
      God bless.

      1. You need to read more carefully Scott. Leighton said exactly what you described in your illustration… the Calvinist is “better” and “more capable” after getting his “dose” of Calvinistic “regeneration” from God.

        Too often the Calvinist glories in that fact that he sees himself as “better” and “more capable” than those who didn’t get that same “dose”… but it’s no fault of their own that those others didn’t get that “dose”, right?

        Maybe the “better” and “more capable” Calvinist might need to rethink how much better and more capable he really is!

      2. I don’t claim to speak for Dr. Flowers, but since he rarely responds to the many comments left here, I will take a stab at your question.

        I believe what is being implied here is the ‘false humility’ of Calvinists, who take great pride in having a superior theology that is God-centered and provides no credit to the vile worms that they claim to be. But a funny thing happens to the vilest of worms, when he finds himself arbitrarily chosen for undeserved acceptance and ‘glory’. It is the exact opposite of what happens to the ‘chief of sinners’ who comes to understand that he is loved utterly, as are all men.

        Belief in being a peculiar – okay, I might grant them that 😉 – and uniquely loved set of people, set apart for special treatment cannot help but taint one’s perspective. Make all the ‘To God be the glory’ disclaimers you want, any worms who believe themselves ‘uniquely chosen’ will eventually have a higher opinion of themselves than they have of those who they perceive as ‘not chosen’. This can be readily demonstrated by the proud Judaisers Paul addresses in Romans.

        These teachers of The Law knew full well that Israel was an undeserving, helpless bunch of worms, chosen by God, rescued from slavery and made – by God’s sole choice and supernatural doing – into a strong, powerful and prosperous nation. Their error, and damnable pride, arose from falsely believing themselves uniquely chosen, not for a specific task – that of revealing to all men that they were loved by God – but chosen to be the sole, undeserving recipients of all of that love, and the eternal blessings which it entails.

        Jesus, on the other hand, knew that he was uniquely chosen for a task – the most glorious task ever undertaken. But he did not view this as grounds for demanding preferential treatment, fine robes and the best seat in the house, as did the so-called leaders of the ‘chosen people’. The very same leaders who protested that did not presume themselves more ‘worthy’, simply ‘chosen’. If God had ‘chosen’ them and granted them the unique status of ‘elect’ (being loved), who were they to argue with God? If he had arbitrarily chosen them to dote upon, and chosen the rest of the nations to reveal his wrath for sin, who were they to argue? How foolish they would be to demand that God must ‘love’ those whom he had chosen to ‘hate’, even their human brothers and sisters. How foolish they would be to waste their tears over the countless people who God had determined, in his inestimable wisdom, to destroy from the very moment they were conceived in his mind. So they didn’t. They ‘humbly’ staked all of their claims on being ‘chosen’.

        This is the same ‘false humility’ that plagues Calvinism. It is similar to a haughty, arrogant firstborn viewing his younger siblings as ‘inferior’ to him. What might happen when a firstborn completely mistakes the purpose of the rank of firstborn, which is to oversee the protection and just provision of all of the children of his father? What would possibly lead him, who was granted nothing but kindness and love, to lord it over others as if he was more valuable and loved than them?

        Israel, the nation, was just such a firstborn son, given the responsibility, along with the privileges, of revealing and distributing the vast wealth of the Father to all children, including those not yet born. Instead of understanding that his was a precious responsibility, one that required humility, wisdom and justice in distributing the bounty of his Father to all of his precious children, he was seduced into believing it was all intended for him alone. He was right in the belief that he was ‘chosen’ but utterly mistaken as to what that meant. He hoarded the wealth that was intended to be shared with his countless brothers and sisters and their descendants, and insisted that it was his ‘right’ and privilege to distribute as he thought best. He was convinced – wrongly – that God loved him, arbitrarily born first, more than all those who came later, and always would. He was convinced that life was all about him.

        Oh, he didn’t foolishly claim that he, by his own wisdom and power made himself firstborn; but he did, oh so humbly, reminded those beneath him just who held that position. He declared, in his mistaken perception, that being the firstborn and beloved, made him ‘chosen by his father’ to be the sole heir of all the family riches, and that the other descendants were essentially unimportant. Oh, he knew his Father ‘loved’ them – in some manner – and didn’t want to see them starve, per se. But the real honors, privileges and wealth of the Father had been preserved – so he thought – for him, the chosen one.

        I know a lovely woman who received a double lung transplant, which saved her life. She is duly grateful to God and to the gift of prolonged life that was made possible by another person’s ‘lost life’. How might her humility be tempered were she randomly chosen to receive a new set of lungs that were readily available to any and all who had impaired lungs, but was arbitrarily limited to 10? For the ‘just’ reason that they would understand the enormity of their ‘gift’ and be forever grateful? I needn’t walk you through the entire scenario to reveal the vastly different sense of being ‘chosen’ that exists when that choice is arbitrary and needlessly limited. Such limited ‘chosenness’ has led to much hatred and needless violence, as rightly jealous siblings are denied the love and privileges that another is generously given – just so the chosen one sees how ‘special’ is the undeserved love they have been ‘chosen’ to receive.

        Sadly, I know of a case in which this scenario is painfully true. One of multiple children is condemned and ostracized by parent and siblings alike. Indeed, that one, the prettiest, brightest and most capable, was once the parent’s ‘favorite’, and reaped all of the adoration and praise, while the others dealt with the grief of being found wanting in comparison. Alas, that arbitrarily chosen favorite – not the firstborn – made the mistake of resisting the will of the adoring parent, and of asserting that her sisters were equally worthy of love – and was forever cast from favor. She fell from grace, and her sin was never forgiven. In spite of many attempts to reconcile, the child wisely rejected the condition of ‘unquestioning submission’ to a controlling, authoritarian and destructive parent. This once most-loved child, and her own children – including the once adored firstborn grandson – have since been ostracized, treated as if they do not exist, for over a decade.

        This arbitrary, controlling ‘love’ and ‘acceptance’ had the desired effect upon the other children. Now recipients of the ‘love’ they once coveted, they dare not risk being cast from favor as the now unloved child was. They sing the rapturous praises of their parent, and respond to her bidding, lest they too run the risk of losing their most-favored status. As long as they submit, unquestioningly, and proclaim the goodness and rightness of the parent, they can be assured of their coveted status of ‘acceptance’.

        No one mentions the condemned child, whom they grew up with, and banded together with to survive all that a selfish, immature, chemically addicted parent inflicted upon their young lives. I know this painful story well, as I watched it unveil from my young, helpless position. Agonized by the unhealthiness and pain we saw, my siblings and I could only offer, as a small balm, our own boundless affection to those tiny people we loved. We made them a part of our lives, and told them of a God who loved them without partiality, without limit, without threat of being cruelly punished and rejected for every wrong move.

        Only one of these children has put her trust in the God who promises genuine, boundless love, in spite of the loss of a cruel, controlling inferior love that was conditioned on unquestioning submission to blatant cruelty and injustice. Humble, unquestioning submission had once granted her ‘chosen’ status; but in her wisdom she refused it, because it required viewing her beloved sisters as ‘not chosen’.

        Oh, she was ‘humble’ all right. She, and the others, had been left with no doubts as to their unworthiness. She knew the ‘doctrines’ well, and the day came when she walked away, saying ‘This is not right. This is not love.’ I dare any clever Calvinist to try and convince that uneducated young woman that God loves only a chosen few, and rejects all others justly to reveal his own ‘glory’.

      3. Oh my I’m really shocked by your angry words when I look at Scripture a man after God’s heart like David doesn’t respond like this… read Psalm 36 and ask Him to speak to you! Someone once said it is hard to see pride in a mirror? don’t get me wrong we all need to examine our actions, but such harsh words toward this article🤔 we often get angry over idols I pray that calvinism isn’t becoming an idol! His glory does matter, but He doesn’t force us to seek Him & Leighton isn’t implying you think your better, but from a non calvinist perspective it certainly comes across as such. Please understand how I’m only responding to you whether you care or not I actually do so please reread your tone. In Him is the only place I can stand..

        Galatians 2:6 NKJV — But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

      4. Reggie, thanks for responding. I’m not angry, but I apologize if I was inappropriately harsh. I hold teachers to a higher standard when it comes to handling the word of God. I felt like the statement I quoted did an injustice, not only to Calvinism but to those opposing Calvinism and to those who expound scripture. We are always to speak the truth in love, and since you’re quoting Galatians….. if you look at Paul in the first chapter he twice pronounces a curse on anyone who teaches a gospel contrary to the one he taught. It would never justify being unloving, nor is being wrong about Calvinism and assault on the essentials of the Gospel, but there are times when something has to be said!

        And…. I’ve yet to see anyone recant that statement or explain how in the world it makes sense. This is the word of God we’re talking about, not a debate event.
        God bless.

      5. Hi Scott thank you for your apology I really do appreciate it as well as your desire to honor God’s Word it really does matter!!, & I agree speaking truth in love is absolutley important. I’m concerned about a comment that the man you respect John Piper said below,  could you please explain the comment in view of the verses also below. Especially the two words instinctively and intuitively… It concerns me & though I’m nobody, and I know I DONT in anyway deserve what Jesus did for me!!  I was blind, but now I see & I’m grateful & undeserved, but it’s not by instinct it’s by His supernatural power that my eyes have been unveiled Wow Praise God who alone deserves my worship NO human being! Scripture i’s healing and absolutely piercing to show us who we can be.. I know through His living and breathing Word I have everything I need to grow, but I’m not expecting any new revelation to convince me that a theological systematic is to be dogmatically held to please remember we are followers of Jesus alone.

        (Here is where I’m concerned in view of verses below ie. instinctively and intuitively);
        So, for example, if I ask a believer how he will answer Jesus’s question at the last judgment, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard it?” very few believers answer that question by saying: “Because I was wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble.” Most of us feel instinctively that we should glorify God’s grace by saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, we know intuitively that God’s grace was decisive in our conversion. 

        2 Peter 2:12 NASB — But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,

        Jude 1:10 NASB — But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

        Acts 18:4 NASB — And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

         

        Thank you for listening and again for your apology

        Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  2. I have never, ever heard a repentant sinner bragging about how awesome he was to choose to accept God’s freely offered grace, how much better and smarter he was than those who reject God’s undeserved mercy. Instead, what one usually hears is thankfulness, praise and a desire to share the good news that, ‘If God can redeem me, the chief of sinners, he can meet your needs too!’

    Indeed, the arrogance of the Calvinist is so renown, it is likely the first characteristic to be noticed. The humble, penitent sinner, who responds to the amazing knowledge that God loves him so much that he sent another to die in his place, and knows that he is no more or no less loved or worthy of grace than any other, has absolutely no reason for arrogance or pride. He is overwhelmed by a love so great, and longs to find ways to convince others that it is meant for them as well. Unfortunately, the Calvinist does not have that assurance. He must look at the sinner who is as he once was, and pity him for likely not being chosen of God.

  3. It also seems to me that arrogance and pride are the result of believing one a lucky or chosen recipient of something limited and valuable. The inherent value of a collectible, say ‘Beanie Babies’ in their heyday, was due to the wisdom or luck of the few individuals who snapped up every new Beanie Baby and kept it in pristine condition – particularly the limited editions which were never widely available. If every singe person in the world had, or could readily obtain, a full set of pristine Beanie Babies, they would never have risen in value.

    The truth is, the ready availability of God’s freely offered grace to any and every individual offers one little chance to proudly explain how he so wisely snapped up this rare offering. Every individual is in the exact same state of need and is given the exact same opportunity to receive grace – the very stumblingstone upon which the proud Judaisers fell, as they did not want a salvation that put them on the same level as other men. They had long considered themselves ‘special’ and uniquely loved by God. Calvinists are merely modern Judaisers.

  4. Thanks Leighton.

    That straw man “You will run around saying you merit this!” is just invented by Calvinism. No one does it.

    The Israelites had to apply the blood on the door in faith. Imagine them on their way our of Egypt…. “We sure merited that! We showed those Egyptians! We are sooo good!”

    Nah. As TS00 has already said…. we never hear believers doing this.

    Well, let’s be honest. David did several times in the Psalms and elsewhere.

    Hezekiah says this in 2 Kings 20:3.

    “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.”

    But…. well these guys are actually rewarded for telling God how good they were. So, even if it were true (what Calvinists say) —- and it isn’t— there are plenty of times when God’s people remind him of what they have done.

  5. Bible reading in Matt 9

    The hits just keep on coming…

    28 They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?”

    “Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”

    29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
    ———

    Christ could have easily (ONCE in the whole Bible) said “Because of the faith I gave you, it will happen.”

    Nah…. He didn’t.

    Woah…. Calvinist friends…. did these men go out and say it was because of “their merit” “their worth” “their works”?

    Nope.

    30 Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” 31 But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.
    ——-

    They went out and spread HIS fame all over the land.

    I think I will re-post this on the new “Are you better than your friend” thread since it applies directly.

  6. Another awesome article!

    Firstly:
    There are, I believe more subtleties with Calvinists using the word “better” within this question. I believe many Calvinists when asking this question – when they get to the word “better” – have loaded its meaning with inferences of anti-God superiority.

    When postured this way, the Calvinist’s strategy is to manipulate. Horses are driven from behind into corrals. Here the Calvinist hopes to corral his recipient into a corner from which he will want to escape. He will then agree with anything the Calvinist proposes in order to get out of the corner he’s been maneuvered into.

    These types of questions are also used by the evangelist working for a religious cult.

    Secondly
    John Piper:
    -quote:
    “How does a sinful disposition (i.e. Adam’s) arise in a good heart? – the Bible does not tell us”.

    Isn’t that interesting! The Bible doesn’t tell them – but John Calvin does!

    Calvin’s god (at the foundation of the world) RENDERS-CERTAIN every neurological impulse that will ever occur within Adam’s brain. That – in Calvin’s doctrine is the SOURCE of the “sinful disposition” to which John Piper refers.

    In Calvinism Adam is free *ONLY* to be/do what Calvin’s god RENDERS-CERTAIN he be/do – nothing more – nothing less.

    The “disposition” which existed within Adam was simply that which Calvin’s god programmed to exist within Adam.

    And John Piper doesn’t know this? Yeh-RIGHT! He simply knows if he acknowledges it – Calvinism will go the way of the dinosaur.
    Calvinism’s strategy here is to obfuscate it using a library of double-speak talking-points.

    R.C. Sproul:
    -quote:
    “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen………. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know”

    Sure you do R.C! John Calvin tells you! – (see answer above) you simply choose to pretend he doesn’t.

    Thirdly:
    “Calvinists argue that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination”

    Yes and this is an example of Calvinism’s intellectual dishonesty.

    The difference between “Natural” determinism and “Theological” determinism is who/what is the determiner.
    In “Natural” determinism, nature determines what man is/does.
    In Theological Determinism the THEOS determines what man is/does.

    Theological Determinism – is by its very existence a rejection of “Natural” determinism.

    For a Calvinist to say that salvation is DETERMINED by “natural inclinations” would be an obvious compromise of Theological Determinism. Therefore to claim anything – (including sin or evil) are DETERMINED by anything other than the THEOS is the exact same compromise. Calvinists deflect to “Natural” determinism on the issue of sins and evils – in order to obfuscate a dark aspect of the belief system.

    Four:
    “How does the affirmation of Adam’s freedom to sin or refrain from sin not violate the Calvinists own definition of human will and choice? For Adam to choose to sin he must violate the law of his own nature, as defined by the Calvinistic systematic.”

    This illustrates how Calvinism leads its followers into a very deep ditch of double-mindedness.
    Either Calvin’s god (at the foundation of the world) RENDERS-CERTAIN everything (including every neurological impulse every person will ever have) – or he doesn’t.

    John Calvin’s doctrine tells them he does. But the general narrative of scripture paints a different picture. Thus the Calvinist is forced to embrace a Frankenstein belief system – cobbled together by double-speak talking points.

  7. Leighton, I am still eagerly awaiting the day when you reasoning skills and exegetical skills to the notion that our heavenly Father damns people to “hell”…”forever”.

    Everything resolves into sanity when you see that God is truly a God of love, mercy and grace, and that all is of grace, all is of mercy and all is of love.

    You can battle is out with this vain philosophy of Calvinism and their God of the eternal torture chamber vs your God of the eternal chamber who allows free choice for the rest of your life to no profit. It may be rollicking fun for Christians involved in the debate, but in the meantime, the world is turning away from ALL of us, because being made in the image of God, and possessing the power of reason, even they, the pagans, know the whole Hell thing is contra all reason, and contra ALL the things that we tell them God is.

    Until you come to grips with the REAL issue here, everyone involved is this Calvinism/No Calvinism debate is just chasing their tail.
    ITS NOT THE ISSUE.

    Enough with the philosophizing. What we need is a vigorous exegetical examination of this horrid philosophy of man – that God is the God of damnation.

    Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of ALL, and that the day is coming when God will be ALL in ALL.

    Its time to shake of this demonic lie bequeathed to us by Augustine and the Catholic Church.

    There are many places one could start, many good places…one would be Robin Parry’s book The Evangelical Universalist.

    Take care my friend. You and all your readers.

    Peace in Christ, the Saviour of All.

  8. Great Article – well explained. Thankyou for this ministry, Leighton 🙂

    I think a “kissing cousin” of this fallacy is this: Did you give God permission to save you? -or- Does God need mans permission to save man?

    In short, it’s not that God cannot save man without belief… is that God *WON’T* save man without belief. He has the right to demand repentance as a prerequisite to forgiveness. That’s sovereignty at it’s finest.

    Isaiah 55:7 KJVS
    Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord , and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

    1. Leighton, I must be unworthy to read this last post, because I don’t understand why you would not be embarrassed to have the first point you make here represent what you guys are all about. I’ve always thought it is blatantly obvious that Calvinism says, when it comes to meriting salvation, everyone is in the exact same boat. That is so clear. But if I understand you correctly, you were saying that since God chose to awaken some and give them eternal life, they are better than those he didn’t choose! If you are really saying that, then you have not done your homework. What calvinists say is that for reasons UNKNOWN to us, God chose some to be vessels of honor and others to be vessels of dishonor. It had nothing to do with our goodness or merit. Anything they have after the point of Salvation is utterly a gift from God and always will be.

      It seems that so often you take passages in Scripture that were never intended to discuss certain aspects of theology, and you use them to do that anyway. It does not serve your cause well at all, and may be the reason that there are few readers on this site.

      But I really may be missing something about your first point, so if you can correct me and clarify in a concise way, I would appreciate it.

      Thanks, brother.

      1. I hesitate to point out that those who do not idolize Mr. Piper are not only unimpressed by his teachings, but can hardly resist groaning at the mention of his name. I realize that, to many, he is the new Calvin, the Pied Piper of Calvinism; but to the rest of us he is just another less than intellectually honest presenter of a less than palatable theology. He has been assigned the role of presenting a kinder, gentler Calvinism, but in the end, the lipstick can’t disguise the pig he’s stuck with.

        Piper has spoken and written much that agree with scripture, but he fails to reconcile them with the foundational doctrines of the theology for which he is senior spokesman. In his day, Calvin also wrote enough true and insightful commentary to drown out his more troubling assertions; Spurgeon, even more so. And yet all of the impressive things they say cannot hide the cruel, controlling, unjust nature of the god they worship. By the way, anyone who wants to win a following will say a great deal of what they know people desire to hear, keeping the inconvenient or unpalatable truths behind closed doors, or ‘in the closet’ as Sproul once put it. I’m not looking for perfection, just consistency.

        If your theology asserts a God who preordained before anyone was ever born every sin, crime, rape, murder and abuse that would ever take place, then you have no business hiding such important facts from your fan club. If you believe that all things have been irresistibly determined, and are not open to uncertainty or change, then you have no business telling people to think and act as if what they do makes any difference in the completely settled future.

        Any perceptive teacher quickly realizes that if people fully grasped the assertions of Calvinistic Determinism, and lived as if they believed them, there would be no purpose, meaning or hope in anyone’s lives. Thus, like Calvin before them, most Calvinist teachers urge their followers to live ‘as if’ determinism does not exist, while insisting they submit, intellectually, to its reality.

        Were all things determined by God, there would be no need to hope or pray for the end of oppression, injustice and war, as all arise from the inescapable decree of God. Actually, there would be no point in praying at all, other than being commanded to. There would be no cause to condemn the most heinous of crimes, as they arise from the inescapable decree of God. There would be no incentive to overcome bad habits, or avoid poor choices, as all can be attributed to the inescapable decree of God. Early Calvinists acknowledged that their theology seemed, without fail, to induce a rash of concupiscence and immorality, although they claimed to not understand why this was so. Ol’ Luther could declare ‘Sin boldly!’ one moment, then appear perplexed when his followers promptly proceeded to do so!

        So, as I understand all too well, modern Calvinism came up with the theory of Compatibilism to solve their difficulty. Many are persuaded, as I was for a time, that thanks to handy dandy Compatibilism, 2 and 2 no longer need make 4, but can equal 2 when necessary. Makes no sense? That’s okay, if it was good enough for Calvin, Spurgeon and the Great Divines, no need to worry your little head about it. Otherwise thoughtful, intelligent people are persuaded to check their brains at the door, taking on faith whatever their dear leaders tell them is so. All of the logical impossibilities, troubling inconsistencies and niggling doubts are chalked up to ‘Mystery’. Take two Piper pills, and you’ll feel better in the morning.

    2. Thanks Bill…. and welcome if you are new.

      You notice that the #1 comparison to the cross is Passover. God saved Israel (His chosen) with the blood from the lamb on the wooden cross beams (how fantastic!).

      But —as you said— there was a condition. They had to apply the blood in faith and stay in the house.

      Later He gives them Jericho…. of course with the condition of marching 7 times etc.

      The original requests from God were of course “foolishness” to them….. but they were not “too-dead” to hear and obey.

      Like the serpent in the desert. What a “foolish” request to make a bronze snake, but they’re not “too-dead” to go find it in the camp and then “look and live.” Conditions.

      Noah. Saved by God….. in the ark (also a pre-type of the cross)…. but what a condition he had!!

      Calvinism outruns the “foolishness” verse …. then ignores the hundreds (thousands?) of examples of conditions God gives us in His Word.

  9. “WE ALL AFFIRM THAT SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN SIN AND THE RESPONSIBILITY TO REPENT FROM SIN DOES NOT BELONG TO THE SINNER.” 

    Oh, my! With all respect, Leighton, the way some of your logic turns corners and goes down alleys that were never intended is amazing  to be coming from someone like you. If I am understanding you, you just stated above that Calvinists believe that “sin and the responsibility to repent from sin does not belong to the sinner!” Did I misunderstand that? We totally believe sinners are responsible for their sin and  responsible before God to repent. That is why they will be judged at the last Day.

    BUT, repentance is a gift from God to people who are, according to Romans 8 and elsewhere, hostile toward him and cannot repent:

    “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles GOD has GRANTED repentance that leads to life.”-Acts 11:18

    “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that GOD will GRANT them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” – 2Tim 2:25

    1. Scott,
      If you have been around these parts for long, you will know that Dr. Flowers, and many of the frequent commenters, are fairly familiar with Calvinism, having either adhered to it, or at least given it a thorough trial, at some point. Not that we are never surprised at a proposition made by some defender of The Doctrines of Grace, but, for the most part, ‘we’ve heard it all’. We know the verses and phrases that will be plucked out, and how they will be cleverly woven with others, out of context, to suggest a meaning that is never actually stated anywhere in scripture, and which, minus Calvinist presuppositions, would likely not be derived from the written Word. Many here could provide better ammunition than is sometimes presented for the loyal Calvinist positions from our own days in camp.

      It is these novel Calvinist interpretations, most of which are presented to the naïve, new-to-Calvinism hearer as ‘the only possible meaning’ of scripture, but which we view as in contradiction to the many clearly stated revelations of scripture, that are here discussed.

      Perhaps your ignorance of such things is real, and you genuinely think intelligent non-Calvinists simply don’t understand what you believe you know. Or perhaps your tactic is to appear to guilelessly suggest that non-Calvinists simply don’t understand Calvinism. May I drily suggest that tactic has been used before? I might even be bold enough to suggest that it is the ‘oldest one in the book’. (A playbook with which most here are very familiar, having memorized and followed it at one time.)

      If sincere, what you reveal is your own basic lack of knowledge of commonly held viewpoints which are contrary to your own, and the grounds upon which they are based – the very accusation you attempt to paint Dr. Flowers with. Rarely, if ever, is anything presented here – no offense to Leighton Flowers – ‘new under the sun’, but merely attempts to examine or clarify arguments that have been presented by countless thoughtful, well-read, informed persons for centuries. With all due respect, I suggest you do your homework, or drop the false ‘surprise’ at arguments here made. Too many documented statements exist, and have been often provided on these pages, to pretend that ‘no Calvinist believes ‘X,Y,Z”!

      What is dealt with here are genuine claims and beliefs, documented by the writings and statements of well-respected proponents of Calvinism and counter arguments by those who disagree, not misunderstandings based on rumor. The old ‘Calvinism doesn’t mean that’ tactic only works on people who are uninformed. You could begin by going back and reading everything that has been written on these blog pages – a daunting task, but one which some of us have undertaken.

      1. TS00, yes, I do understand that you guys have been around the block a few times and are basically preaching to the choir. And I’m free. Reluctantly realizing that due to your tradition and perhaps Pride, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to embrace the doctrines of Grace, regardless of how many wirkd changers, living and dead, have embraced and taught them for centuries. You would no doubt say the same thing about me. I try to stay really open and teachable. But my friend, when I read some of the recent statements by Dr Flowers like this one just posted…..

        “So, on Calvinism those who believe really are “better” or “more capable,” which is why they can believe the gospel and the rest cannot believe it (for reasons beyond their control).”

        ….. well, it pretty much destroys all credibility. I would need to see an immediate recant based on either massive personal grammatical challenges or a huge brain fart, otherwise they simply won’t be able to stop and stare at this traffic accident again. It’s not legit if that is the case.

        Blessings

      2. You need to read more carefully Scott. Leighton said exactly what you described in your illustration… the Calvinist is “better” and “more capable” after getting his “dose” of Calvinistic “regeneration” from God.

        Too often he glories in that fact that he sees himself as “better” and “more capable” than those who didn’t get that “dose”… but it’s not fault of their own that those others didn’t get that “dose”, right?

        Maybe the “better” and “more capable” Calvinist might need to rethink how much better and more capable he really is!

      3. TS00,

        Well said as usual.

        In addition to the “surprise” position, and the “you guys are just missing it” and the “you guys just dont get Calvinism,” I will add that Scott adds a new level of condescension. In just two posts….. some quotes:

        “I don’t understand why you would not be embarrassed ….”

        “It seems that so often you take passages in Scripture that were never intended to discuss certain aspects of theology, and you use them to do that anyway.” [that one kills me since Piper goes for miles on the Proverb of rolling dice in the lap!!!— never intended to be the solid foundation for determinism!]

        “It does not serve your cause well at all…” [ a regular condescending remark]

        “…may be the reason that there are few readers on this site.” [wow! he has access to how many read it?] [really Scott, you cannot even hear how this sounds a little arrogant?]

        “…that due to your tradition and perhaps Pride, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to embrace…” [anyone not agreeing with him must have “Pride” as a motivation.]

        “regardless of how many wirkd changers, living and dead, have embraced and taught them for centuries.” [all the “good guys” are Calvinists …. a regular claim.]

        “… it pretty much destroys all credibility.” [like when some Calvinists say things like “we need to teach that the Bible teaches that God clearly does not love all people,” “unborn are under Adam’s curse and will be condemned,” “the Holocaust was determined and decreed by God for His glory and good pleasure.” These are all easily find-able on Calvinist sites —even desiringgod— and one could be tempted to say that they “destroy their credibility.”

        “I would need to see an immediate recant….”

        It is likely that I come across equally condescending and arrogant at times, for which I apologize.

  10. We hear a lot (from Scott) about the modern hero Calvinists… who are great guys by the way! They are at their greatest when they act like non-Calvinists.

    In my in-box today I received a link to a video that summarized the recent Cross 19 Conference. All the speakers I recognized in the video were Calvinists. A few quotes:

    1. Piper says: “Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering.”

    2. Another speaker was quoted: “If you took every Christian currently alive in the world, and every single Christian on the planet shared the gospel with every non-Christian they personally know there would still be 3 billion or more lost people. They do not know any Christians to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.”

    3. Piper closes the video: “We didn’t urge you to come to this conference to make life easier we urged you to come to make your life count.”
    ———

    1. I see no significance for a Calvinist caring about eternal suffering. That presupposes the idea that IF he cares, and IF he goes and does something about it, then someone’s eternal suffering will be affected. Nope. It is out of your hands Piper…. unless you want to start acting like what you do, think, say can make a difference in people’s eternal suffering!

    2. And? Oh…. they do not know Christians, so we must go and tell them….. or what? They’ll never come to Christ?

    3. They urged people to go to a missions conference to make their “lives count.” Count in what way? They count if they support or go into missions? Because, the more they do…. the better the results?

    The conference appears to have the theme: an emotional appeal to urge people to share with the unreached —- because we care about eternal suffering. And your actions make a difference!

    Like I said…. they are at their best when the teach like we can affect the eternal suffering of others. However, they theologize that no man can affect God’s decision. Their theology teaches that what you do/or don’t do in no way affects the decision that God has made.

    As long as they live and talk like non-Calvinists it sounds great to me!

    1. FOH writes:
      “They urged people to go to a missions conference to make their “lives count.” Count in what way? They count if they support or go into missions? Because, the more they do…. the better the results?

      The conference appears to have the theme: an emotional appeal to urge people to share with the unreached —- because we care about eternal suffering. And your actions make a difference!”

      So give us more money. Many who have become disillusioned by celebrity pastors suspect that all of the preaching about supporting missions has more to do with increasing the number of almighty dollars given than any hope of increasing the number of the saved. Lots and lots of talk in churches about how much ‘your money’ is needed to accomplish God’s ‘work’ . . .

  11. More about the Piper, and the Calvinist-driven Cross 19 Conference:

    Just when you thought they were teaching that Christians can affect a person’s eternal suffering…..nope….. they theologize in their “what we believe” part:

    “We believe that the atonement of Christ for sin warrants and impels a universal offering of the gospel to all persons……. Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way.”

    So… we go to all the world to tell them the Good News that “Christ died for you. Likely not in the same way that He died for me…. but in some ineffectual way.”

    I do not see how that is Good News (or in any way explained or referenced in the Bible).

    It certainly is not Good News to the lone person in a whole family who comes to Christ and is then taught Calvinism. As his unsaved family members die off one at a time, he can tell himself that “Christ did not die for them in the effectual way…. but at least He did for me! Good News! Now I can spend eternity with a God who did not die for my family.”

    1. Scott,

      TS00 and I are not acting in tandem and have never met each other, so please show any inappropriate comments separately.

      Can I quote you from earlier today? My changes in brackets….

      (Scott says) “I hold teachers to a higher standard when it comes to handling the word of God. I felt like the statement I quoted did an injustice, not only to Calvinism [non-Calvinism] …. if you look at Paul in the first chapter he twice pronounces a curse on anyone who teaches a gospel contrary to the one he taught. …..but there are times when something has to be said! ….. This is the word of God we’re talking about, not a debate event.” (end Scott)

      Just today you posted that about something needs to be said! Ironic now you are taking issue with me saying something about what I see as biblical inconsistencies in Piper.

      A video came in my box today. I quoted Piper (and others), CALLED HIM A GREAT GUY, and interacted with what he said. He says “Christians care about people’s eternal suffering” in such a way as to imply that there is something we can do about that. I applauded him for that….. but noted that it contradicts Calvinism.

      I said this very positive statement….

      The conference appears to have the theme: an emotional appeal to urge people to share with the unreached —- because we care about eternal suffering. And your actions make a difference!

      Because our actions do make a difference!

      Perhaps you are referring to the other two posts and the idea that I discuss the proposition that “Christ died for everyone….but not in the same way.” Since that is a theological opinion, it should be discussed and applied.

      I see inconsistencies in Piper’s teachings. He wants to appeal to us “to make your life count” by going to the unreached because “Christians care especially about people’s eternal suffering.”

      Scott, if you cannot in any way see even a tinge of inconsistency between us working hard cuz we care about their eternal suffering —-and the teaching that no one can do a thing about people’s eternal suffering… then of course you are going to find cynicism in the voice of opposition.

  12. One last thought about Piper’s take on “Christ died for all” idea. Here is the wording from Banner:

    “The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him. The full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared. The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people. Whosoever will – whoever believes – will be covered by the blood of Christ. And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ. Thus Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way.”
    —————

    This is conjecture of course. Most of these ideas and statements are not found in the Word.

    This convoluted idea is believed by those who choose to believe it, but makes not sense to others: “The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people…. but not for all in the same way” That is the word-smithing, mind-numbing way they get around the idea that they can say “Christ died for you” to everyone.

    Let’s apply this to Passover.

    Lambs have been slaughtered and there is plenty in the bucket to wipe on the door.

    The first born son talks to his father about the blood in the bucket:

    Son: “Perfect lamb is slain. Blood is in the bucket.”

    Dad: “Yes, that blood is sufficient for you.”

    Son: “Let’s put it on the doorpost!”

    Dad: “Yes, it is available for you.”

    Son: “Let’s put it on the doorpost!”

    Dad: “Nope it was not prepared for you. It is not effective for you.”

    Son: “Why not?”

    Dad: “Some unknown reason.”

    ……. alternative response—-

    Dad: “You are ‘too-dead’ and besides you will just say ‘I’m better than everyone else!'”

    ——alternative response——

    Dad: “It is available and sufficient for you, but not in the same way.”

    1. “The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him. The full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared. The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people. Whosoever will – whoever believes – will be covered by the blood of Christ. And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ. Thus Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way.”

      It’s also a bunch of hooey, if I may be so frank. Let’s see if we can parse out any meaning from all of the deliberate obfuscations and needlessly confusing verbiage, as is all too common for Calvinists. They refuse to speak clearly and simply, because they do not wish to be clearly and simply understood.

      “The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him.”
      That sounds scriptural, and had the statement ended there, it would have remained consistent with scripture. Most bible-believers grant that scripture teaches that the atonement was provided for the sin of all, but applied only to those who believe in it. In other words, forgiveness of sin and removal of the curse of death was offered to all humans, conditioned on belief in God and these promised gifts.

      “The full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared.”
      This statement is unnecessarily complicated by using odd, unscriptural wording. It would be much clearer to simply say:
      “The atonement for sin that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom salvation was prepared.”
      Of course, scripture never teaches that atonement is limited to some undefined ‘whom’ for which salvation was specifically prepared, but freely offered to ‘whosoever will believe’. It is an entirely man-made claim. Scripture always, always, always states that salvation (saving effectiveness of the atonement) is conditioned upon the response of believing, that is, faith, defined in Hebrews as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Hebrews also teaches, “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” The only scriptural condition or ‘limit’ placed on atonement is that the individual must believe and respond to its promised gift of life.This appears to be the change in scriptural teaching that the odd wording is intended to mask.

      “The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people.”
      Again, lets simplify to avoid confusion:
      ‘Atonement was provided for all people.’
      This is not only more clear, but scripturally supportable.

      “Whosoever will – whoever believes – will be covered by the blood of Christ.”
      This is a somewhat odd statement. Neither scripture, nor any doctrine that I know of, asserts that people will be covered by Jesus’ blood. It actually sounds kind of creepy, and makes little sense. What scripture does assert is that the blood of Jesus will cover, or atone for, the guilt of sin of whosoever believes, as illustrated by the sin sacrifices commanded by God for Israel to perform. Jesus further illustrated the only condition of this atonement by comparing it to those whose lives were spared when they trusted God’s promise of healing and looked to the serpent raised on a pole in the wilderness, as instructed. There was no limit upon who could receive the proffered remedy; had all believed in it, and looked as directed, all would have lived. Those who did not believe, and did not gaze upon the serpent as instructed, did not receive the benefit of this offered ‘healing’ and died. In other words, it was limited only by the response of those to whom it was offered.

      “And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ.”
      Here we get some confusing mumbo jumbo, that appears to be an attempt to state as opaquely as possible the Calvinist claim that Jesus only died for a limited, preordained few, for whom it was effective, and for no others. A common tactic of Calvinists is to revert to past tense to make their claims less offensive. If restated in present tense it would appear to be saying:
      “The purpose of God, in the death of Jesus, is to save only a chosen set of people, referred to as the ‘elect’ bride of Christ.”
      Once again, the statement wanders far from scripture’s plain statement that the death of Jesus was intended to provide forgiveness of sin and everlasting life for all sinners, and will be ‘effective’ toward all who, as in the wilderness, look to the proffered remedy, without exception.

      “Thus Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way.”
      Here we have the most clearly stated false statement, which they generally seek to avoid with their verbosity. This statement is never made in scripture, and is purely an addition, or distortion of scripture’s actual assertions that Jesus came to take away the sin of the world, and that Jesus died for all men, effectually for all those who believe – whosoever will choose to do so. One might reasonably ask what it might mean to die in different ways for different people, but it is clearly in opposition to the scriptural claim that Christ died ‘once for all’, with no suggestion that it was different for different people. Likely what is intended is the assertion – essential to Calvinism – that Jesus did not die to take away the sin of all men, but only a preordained, limited few. One might reasonably ask why this is not clearly stated, as it might be, and as it is essential doctrine to the Calvinist system.

  13. Scott, please don’t hold FOH accountable for my table manners! I appreciate much that he shares, and he politely tolerates me. 😉

    I think perhaps you may be unaware of the wide, wide world of believers that exist, with far different beliefs and mindsets than yours. I have often heard of those who idolize Piper and other Reformed celebrities, but haven’t run into them before now. To be honest, in the circles I am more familiar with, these names provoke more dismay or smirks than reverie. Godly men and women, who don’t have much love for the Neo-Cal movement or its movers and shakers – most with war wounds on which to base their disenchantment. No personal insult intended, we just inhabit vastly different worlds. Truth be told, I’ve never been one to idolize men, and I do not hold up any as out of bounds for challenging when seen as inconsistent. I do apologize if I offended. I try to remember to stick to the ideas, but gosh, golly, Piper has a habit of making himself an irresistible target! Dare I say it was ordained? 😉

    1. Thanks, Reggie. Hopefully my response gets too what you are concerned about. I believe that when John Piper speaks there of instinctiveness and intuitiveness, he is not referring to mankind as a whole but he’s referring to those who have been born again who instinctively and intuitively know that it is just the grace of God that we were saved.

      Also, those passages you referenced in 2nd Peter and Jude are, I believe, referring to false teachers that had slipped into the midst of the flock.

      By the way, I know John Piper gets it really bad rap on this site, but I’m wondering if you have ever heard him speak. I listen to his short little audio answers to questions sent in three times a week and they are astounding. Here’s just a sample of one from his ask Pastor John podcast that has zero to do with Calvinism! Maybe take a quick listen and see what you think about him.

      The Secret to Fighting Anxiety (Episode 1203) #AskPastorJohn https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/the-secret-to-fighting-anxiety

      God bless

  14. Hi Scott I appreciate this I will listen to it since you sent it to me I appreciate that you care.. Though I don’t see this position within what the Holy Spirit has guided me into! One of my first recollections as a believer with someone I knew & leaned on probably way to much at the beginning of my walk with the Lord (my sister, because I should have been leaning on Jesus alone) anyway I was new to faith so I was just excited to know Jesus & so infantile in my thinking that I could just go tell everyone what He’d done for me and the love & forgiveness I experienced in Him reaching into my messy life!. One of the first things she tells me is at some point I’d need to pick between calvinism or arminianism, because that’s where the biblically sound fall I’m assuming she meant well. In the same visit her husband tries to teach me about gnosticism needless to say neither stuck at the time thankfully just the remembrance of it🤔 Fast forward to now & like others there’re many things I’ve gone through since, but I can tell you I’m neither & not because I haven’t done my own researching, but honestly I don’t believe God is calling me to a specific title He is the only one I pray I always cling to above men. And I’ve seen a lot of things that don’t line up with His Word not because I’m brilliant nor trained.. I never want to think I’ve got it all figured out;

    1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB — Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

    Titus 3:8 NASB — This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

    I appreciate your sending this I will listen later today, and I’ve read before that you are also keeping open to His leading that’s good

    1. 👍 👍 Reggie, on that one site I think you will find a treasure-trove of passionate and amazing teachings related to all aspects of the Christian life, and only a small percentage of them are about reformed theology. Never seen someone who can be so thorough, concise, and helpful within 7 to 12 minutes!

  15. Hello Scott, not sure if you had wanted a response, but I did indeed listen & actually more than once to the anxiety podcast you sent. Yes what pastor John says is definitely encouraging & we need to trust God with the outcome even when we can’t see the good in a situation, because not all that happens in our lives in this fallen world will ever be all good… and I’ve always loved Romans 8:28-32. I think the big picture of his podcast is great, but the smaller picture of his message caused me to ask questions. First because the secret of his calmness and enjoyment of his vacation was that he didn’t know he had even lost the credit card🤔 a lot of verses spring up to me about my anxiety and shouldn’t I seek Him first? even if He doesn’t answer me the way I want or hope does this mean He’s not for me no!! I hope I can always say/sign it’s well with my soul no matter my outward circumstances. So the fact that he wasn’t ugly(for a lack of a better word) to the ones he loves & are a gift from God. The reason seems odd to me even though his story about the credit card worked out for him why not ponder the reaction he knew he would have if indeed he had lost the credit card ie. anxiety, anger, depression etc… I couldn’t help but wonder why not think of how he would have responded🤔 Don’t get me wrong I know we can all get angry or irritable with the ones we love?? But doesn’t this come from a selfish position & a lack of trust rather than a selfless position and one of compassion.. I wonder if the Holy Spirit was speaking to his heart about how he would have responded? He still works in our lives today maybe He was teaching him that when we treat others who also bear the image of God like that it’s simply wrong. Trust me I’m talking to myself too!

    Acts 5:32 NASB — “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

    Romans 15:13 NASB — Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 7:51 NASB — “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.

    Romans 5:5 NASB — and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    It’s true… If God is for us who is against us? Praise Him alone! May God bless you

    1. Hi, Reggie, just listen to a few more of his podcasts there, especially search for the word Joy, and you will find he is the polar opposite of what you were just thinking about! He is rocking the whole world with his message that Jesus is the only one who satisfies and gives us deep joy that cannot be stolen away from us. God used him to change my life 10 years ago. God bless

  16. Wow cool Scott I’ve only been saved for 10 years too! April 13 2008 Praise Jesus and let’s both keep studying His Word and trusting His leading above men, I may check out other podcasts especially the one on joy! Two of my favorite passages are;
    Jude 1:24 NASB — Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
    Romans 15:13 NASB — Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    & I absolutely believe Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul👍 God bless you too

    1. Amen, Reggie. I was actually saved about 50 years ago, but it was only in the last 10 years that I’ve really learned how to enjoy Christ for who he is rather than for what he gives. John Piper’s book, Desiring God, is an astounding description of what the Bible says about that. God bless!

  17. 1. All human beings whether Jews or Gentiles are all sinners and are worthy to be thrown to hell.
    2. Human beings owes nothing from God for him to be rewarded of any goodness in order to earn any merits for Salvation.
    3. It is God who decides and choose as to whom He will offer His provision of Salvation.

    There is no such better person than the other because all are sin infected in the eyes of God.

    Romans 9:24 Even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles

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

    John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I choose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He may give you.”

    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men (including non-Calvinists) because all have sinned (including non-Calvinist who deny Total Depravity of Man and Original Sin)

    Romans 3:9 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

    Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offense death reigned through the one much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

    1. If God calls it “good news” to be proclaimed to every creature… how can it be designated as designed by God to be “bad news” to any. Their rejection of that good news is what invites the warning and proclaiming of the bad news of coming judgment for their rejection of His mercy offered to them freely, imo.

      Romans 11:32 NKJV — For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
      Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV — The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.
      Romans 10:21 NKJV — But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”
      Matthew 5:7 NKJV — Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

      Prevenient Grace to every person is –
      God using dreams, sickness, and messengers with each man 2 or 3 times to draw him (Job 33:14-30)…

      God giving light to each man before regeneration (John 1:4-13)…

      God ordering the circumstances of nations so that each man should seek and possibly find Him (Acts 17:26-27)…

      God using creation and conscience to make plain in each one He exists and to feel conviction of sin to lead to repentance (Rom 1:29-30, 2:4, 14-16)…

      These are all evidence of sufficient enabling grace before regeneration and proof all do hear and receive mercy that they can freely and humbly accept or reject (Rom 10:18, 11:32).

  18. Today’s reading leads me to

    Matt 25:1 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

    6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

    7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

    9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

    10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

    12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

    13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
    —————-

    Are you one of the 5 to whom “special grace” was given so they could take extra oil….or one of the “foolish” ones to whom this special grace was withheld?

    Oh well, once again a parable where Calvinism does not fit and where Christ Himself warns people to “keep watch” and be prepared.

    1. You need a smiley face FOH when you are being facetious… 😉 The Calvinist will think you have converted to their side, for certainly those virgins didn’t freely choose to make sure they had enough oil in their lamps! 😉

      1. Brian,
        No kidding!

        But seriously…. in all of the stories and parables….. there is never ANY given-faith (that is all just added to the text). Any simple reader of any of these stories would naturally assume that there is some responsibility on the part of the hearer. It is not just all done for him —-and he “irresistibly chooses” (there’s an oxymoron!!!) to follow in faith. That renders meaningless so much of the Bible.

  19. Hey everyone,
    I am trying to understand the idea of infant baptism that is so strongly held by Calvin.

    Of course Sproul was a baby-baptizer. He defends it on his site here https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/infant-baptism/

    …and finishes that article with this.

    “Whether or not we baptize infants, 1 Corinthians 7:12–14 reveals that children of believers have a relationship to the Lord that the offspring of non-believers do not share. They are in the visible church where they enjoy hearing the preached Word of God. But while the church does play a part in teaching children about Christ, the church is not to do all the work. We as parents, family, and friends must impress the teachings of Jesus upon the children we know.”

    ————

    Maybe our friends who appreciate Calvin can explain to us how children of believers “have a relationship to the Lord that the offspring of non-believers do not share.”

    Also I would like to know what difference it makes if, “We as parents, family, and friends must impress the teachings….” if the baptized children are not part of the chosen-before-time.

    1. FOH – That passage in 1Cor is about a child of a believer with an unbelieving spouse. The unbelieving spouse is even called “sanctified” by the believing spouse. Would Sproul have been prepared to say the unbelieving spouse like the unbelieving child has “a relationship with the Lord” and is “also in the visible church”? Of course not!

      What if the unbelieving spouse came with the believer to church services? Would it be the same then as they infant in Sproul’s view? No.

      What if the unbeliever asked to be baptized out of a move to show solidarity with the believing spouse, but while staying an unbeliever? Would Sproul baptize them? No way!

      But baptizing an unbelieving infant and saying they now have a special “relationship with the Lord” and are now “in the visible church”… yea right! That’s a great example of a man – made tradition with no biblical support.

      1. Brian,
        This is an important issue.

        Not only does it show that Sproul is willing to follow man-made traditions with no biblical support, but it shows that Calvinism’s namesake is was a huge proponent of a biblically-unsupported idea.

        Not only did Calvin continue to baptize infants, he forbade all in his jurisdiction to be baptized again (“ana-baptists”) after understanding the gospel. Even he himself, Calvin, refused to have any baptism other than the Catholic baptism he received as an infant.

        The Sproul article is very accommodating to those who baptize infants (of course, because he was a proponent!!) but what we dont see (unless we do the math) is that his position “necessarily” downplays, minimizes, even mocks believer baptism.

        Imagine….. someone coming to Sproul who has just received the Lord at 40 years old.

        Newbie: “I am so happy to be born again and to be a follower of Christ! Dr Sproul would you do the honor of baptizing me?”

        Sproul: “Have you been baptized?”

        NB: “No. I just received Christ 6 months ago and I’ve just finished the new believer class and I’m ready to be baptized! ”

        Sproul: “Great!”

        NB: “Well, I was baptized at one week old by my Catholic parents.”

        Sproul: “Oh no brother, that counts! I will not baptized you again. In fact, I forbid you to be baptized!”

        Can we see Sproul doing that?

        That is exactly how Calvin ruled.

      2. Sproul really shows his direction in this article about infant baptism (https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/infant-baptism/) when he says, “Yet many Christians follow the majority practice of church history and administer the ordinance to adults and their infant children.”

        For him it is important stay with the “majority practice of church history.”

        Of course we can say that if the Reformers had followed the “majority practice” there would have been no Reformation!!

        Secondly we can ask ourselves if moving “back” to the Catholic position and the just-left-Catholicism position is the right direction.

        Naturally he wants to hold up the “history of the church” and the “best of times” Reformation (as if they got it the “right-est” at that moment in time). I prefer to think that the church is regularly reforming moving toward a clearer understanding of God’s truth.

      3. One last comment on Sproul’s defense of infant baptism.

        He says, “But baptism does mark the child as part of the visible church and liable to stricter judgment if the recipient never trusts God.”

        Really? Wow. If that person is not “chosen (before time began)” but is baptized…. and (according to Sproul) headed toward a “stricter judgement” ….. then it would have been better for his parents not to infant baptize him!

        Reformed, infant-baptizing parent: “You know you have not professed faith in Christ yet.”

        Son: “I know Dad, but I need to be persuaded.”

        Parent: “You know that since you have been baptized into the covenant, you will be under even stricter judgement than others if you do not choose to believe.”

        Son: “Aw c’mon Dad… really? I get a harder judgement cuz you guys sprinkled me at birth? What did you do that for!?”

        Parent: “We wanted to make you part of the covenant, and a part of the visible church. But…. uh ….. don’t forget the stricter judgement!”

        Son: “Okay, okay…. I accept. I have been persuaded!”

        Parent: “Good! I knew you were chosen!”

      4. FOH – May I borrow that as from anonymous for a FB discussion on the Sot101 page? 😊 Great stuff!

  20. Daily reading brings me to Exodus 32 (in Calvinist ESV)

    7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

    11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

    —————-

    To relent: synonyms: change one’s mind, do a U-turn, backpedal, back down, give way, give in, capitulate, yield, accede, come around, acquiesce;

    Exactly what happened here and what are we to learn about God?

    Does this sound deterministic?

    Is this passage (and many like it) teaching us that God already planned everything from before time?

  21. Hi
    I’m looking for a non-Calvinist church in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis). Can you recommend one? I don’t want to go church-hopping. I haven’t gone to church for 2 years.

    Thank you so much

    Gail

    Gail.gunderson@aol.com

    1. You could try Woodland Hills Church. Boyd literally wrote the book on not blaming God for evil (which reformed theology—- for all intents and purposes does).

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