A Reply to Brian Abasciano and the Society of Evangelical Arminians

by Leighton Flowers

Are “Modern Arminians” and Provisionists Semi-Pelagians for denying the need for a Partial Regeneration?  

As many of our regular listeners are aware, we as “Provisionists” (or “Traditional Southern Baptists”), are sometimes accused of holding to heretical (or “semi” heretical) views due to our denial of the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Inability, the belief that all men are born in a corpse-like dead condition spiritually and thus must be given new life (“regeneration” on Calvinism) or partial life (“partial regeneration” on Classical Arminianism) in order to believe the clearly taught, graciously inspired gospel truth brought by the Holy Spirit through His chosen messengers.  

I have produced much to debunk the concept of Total Inability in my books, blog posts and broadcasts, but in short, we deny that being “spiritually dead” entails a moral incapacity to believe so as to be given new life. What does the Bible say one must do BEFORE getting new life? 

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”  

John 20:31

“…you refuse to come to me to have life” 

John 5:40

The scriptures seem to teach that “believing in” or “coming to” Christ is the solution for those who remain dead in their trespasses rather than some pre-regenerating or pre-partial regenerating work.  

Interestingly, some modern day Arminians, like Dr. Brian Abasciano of the Society of Evangelical Arminians, agree with me in regard to my objections against the need for a “partial regeneration.” Abasciano wrote: 

“…the classical Arminian view is neither the only nor the typical Arminian view of prevenient grace. The classical view regards prevenient grace as a partial regeneration…the more typical Arminian view today does not view prevenient grace as partial regeneration, but as God’s work of helping sinners to believe the gospel in various ways such as enlightening, convicting, drawing, opening the heart, etc…. It does not involve a split in regeneration”  <link>

Both Olson and Abasciano maintain, however, that God must supply an extra supernatural grace to the lost, above and beyond the supernaturally gracious work in bringing us the gospel, in order for the lost to believe it. In my experience, the modern Arminian, like Abasciano, have been hard-pressed to explain what exactly that supernatural grace is accomplishing that is not adequately accomplished by the gospel itself. After all, if the condition of man from birth is not, as the Calvinist explains it, “corpse-like-dead and thus needing spiritual life in order to believe the gospel,” then what must the Holy Spirit do to the lost man in order to make the gospel revelation sufficiently believable? On Abasciano’s view, what specifically is the Spirit DOING above and beyond what the Spirit does by bringing the light of the gospel? 

Provisionist/Traditionalists, like myself, maintain that the gospel is a sufficient work of supernatural grace by the Holy Spirit to enable whosoever hears it to believe (Rom 10:14; Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:15). And that the only reason someone might be in a condition by which they are “ever hearing but not understanding, ever seeing but not perceiving” is due to an individual’s libertarianly free choice to continually reject God’s clearly revealed truth and remain in rebellion (the word “libertarian” simply means they had the moral capacity to choose otherwise). Over time, despite God’s patience and gracious provisions, a sinner’s heart may “grow calloused” or their “consciences become seared” and they may be “given over by God to their defiled minds.” But, despite what both Arminians and Calvinists teach, this is not an innate moral incapacity from birth inherited from Adam due to the Fall (Acts 28:23-28; Jn 12:39-41; Heb 3:15; Rom 1:28; 2:15; 1 Tim 4:2). 

In a recent Twitter exchange, Abasciano explained what he sees as the difference between my view and that of the modern day Arminian. He wrote,  

“We believe that sinners need God’s help to believe, that sinners need the Holy Spirit to work directly in their hearts alongside the gospel” 

And I would say that sinners need God’s help to believe, so the Holy Spirit inspired the gospel to be written and proclaimed through His chosen messengers and spread by His Bride throughout the world so as to work directly in their hearts.  

Abasciano seems to assume the gospel (God’s word) itself cannot be considered a “supernatural work of the Holy Spirit,” which has the ability to sufficiently “penetrate the heart,” but the Bible seems to indicate otherwise: 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”

Heb. 4:12  

This penetrating work into the “soul and spirit” sounds like the work of “prevenient grace” described by my Arminian brethren, yet the author of Hebrews simply refers to “the word of God” as accomplishing this work, not some extra working of grace that aids the otherwise incapacitated nature of fallen man. Do God’s gracious means really need more grace to work? 

Here are other passages that seem to teach that the scriptures, God’s inspired words, are sufficient even for the lost: 

“…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 

2 Timothy 3:15-16

“Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ”

Rom. 10:17

Abasciano continues: 

“Leighton believes there is nothing wrong with sinners that would mean they cannot believe the gospel on their own once it is presented. (He says they are not on their own because they have the gospel, but that is torturing the language; the point is having the gospel, they can believe it without additional grace/help from God.)”  

I would characterize the gospel as a gracious “help of God” and see no reason to assume it’s insufficient to do what the scriptures say it is meant to do. The Holy Spirit brings us the gospel so why would anyone attempt to separate the two, as if the gospel may be “a dead letter” (as Calvin put it) if the Holy Spirit does not work alongside it? You cannot separate the author from his writings, especially if that author is supernaturally preserving and carrying those writings through those in which He Himself inspires and embodies.  

Abasciano continues:  

“This is Semi-Pelagian, which does not mean unsaved. On the classical teachings, it depends on what you mean by them. We affirm original sin, but there are varying orthodox views of original sin. We believe in total depravity, which includes inability to believe apart from God’s gracious enabling.” 

How does Abasciano think he is going to escape the boogie-man label of  “Semi-Pelagianism” brought by his fellow Arminians of the “Classical Arminian” variety (like Olson) who, in affirming the “corpse-like deadness” of the lost and thus the necessity of partial regeneration, can thus hurl a similar objection against modern Arminians. In other words, how would Abasciano reply if Olson falsely labeled him as he has falsely labeled me?1  

Maybe then Abasciano would borrow from the works of Drs. David Allen and Adam Harwood, who clearly establish the historical definitions of the term “semi-Pelagianism” and demonstrate how we differ? Maybe then he would realize the error of his ways?  

Abasciano also wrote regarding my views: 

“I have shared with [Leighton] the non-partial-regeneration view, but he still insists that sinners don’t need the Holy Spirit to personally and actively minister to them to be able to believe the gospel.” 

I know what Abasciano means, but to be clear, I would say that we DO need the Holy Spirit to personally and actively minister to us by means of the gospel so that we may believe. Our difference is not with regard to the personal nature of the Holy Spirit’s work, nor the activity of the Holy Spirit. The point of our contention is solely about the means by which the Holy Spirit works, which I maintain is both personal and active. Abasciano may not believe such means are personal and active but it would be question-begging to presume true the very point up for debate. 

The root of the problem is that Dr. Abasciano, knowingly or unknowingly, separates the personal working of the Holy Spirit from the means of the word of God, particularly in a way which I do not do, and hence since I make no such separation, I can easily affirm both (a) the necessity of the personal and active work of the Holy Spirit AND (b) the efficacy of the word of God. He must establish biblically that the Holy Spirit’s work in bringing the gospel is not personal or active enough to be believed by lost people unless another additional MORE personal and MORE active working precedes or accompanies it. 

Abasciano continues: 

“He [Leighton] is very concerned to insist that there is nothing wrong with human nature such that we need the Holy Spirit to believe the gospel besides that the Holy Spirit revealed the gospel and inspires evangelists. Stating that man does not have ability to believe in the gospel until we hear its message is completely irrelevant.” 

To be clear, I do believe there is something wrong with human nature, but I maintain that the gospel provides a sufficient solution to remedy that which is wrong. I also question those who insist the gospel is an insufficient solution, given the many passages that speak of its power2 and the absence of any passage which denies it.3  

The fact that we cannot believe something we do not know is only irrelevant to those, like Abasciano, who are seeking to establish the need for something more than the gospel, which once again is the very point up for debate. The principle itself was not irrelevant to Paul in Romans 10:14 apparently: 

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  

This strongly implies that those who do hear the preacher proclaim the gospel might believe and thus call upon Christ for salvation. What verse explicitly or implicitly suggests otherwise? 

Abasciano continues: 

“The disagreement is over what we need. [Leighton] says we only need the information of the gospel to believe it without any additional working of the Holy Spirit.” 

Allow me to better represent my view: I believe we need the light of the gospel, which is a sufficient work of the Holy Spirit. Abasciano says the gospel is not a sufficient light apart from another work (of which has no clear definition from what I can tell). 

Abasciano continues: 

“That is the problem. That is what makes him Semi-Pelagian. But the Arminian position is that man is so sinful that he will not believe the gospel unless the Holy Spirit helps him. Man and the gospel = rejection by man. Man + the gospel + the Holy Spirit working alongside the gospel = man able to believe.”  

That does not comport with the definition of Semi-Pelagianism, as provided by Allen and Harwood referenced above (which has yet to be refuted by either Olson or Abasciano to my knowledge). And, if Provisionists were to make an equation to contrast those presented above it would look like this:  

Man + the Holy Spirit working by means of the gospel = man able to believe 

When Abasciano was asked to clarify what is meant by the “additional work of the Holy Spirit” if it is not “partial regeneration,” Abasciano replied in part saying: 

“…we are talking about the [personal] presence of the Holy Spirit. Leighton denies he must be personally present working.” 

Both Abasciano and I affirm the omnipresence of God (i.e. He is at all places at all times), so, this is another mischaracterization. Our disagreement IS NOT about the presence of the Spirit, but is instead about the means by which the Spirit (who is always present) is working and the sufficiency of that work.  

Abasciano needs to answer this question: What is it that the Holy Spirit is doing that is above and beyond that which the Holy Spirit accomplishes by the means of the gospel?  

Abasciano continues: 

“I have characterized Leighton’s view before as a form of deism with respect to conversion. We might call it conversional deism. The Holy Spirit did the personal work upfront of creating the gospel. It’s now loose in the world and people can interact with it on their own with the power to believe it or not without God/the Holy Spirit doing anything else.” 

This accusation assumes, without any basis, that my view maintains the Holy Spirit is only “creating the gospel,” and then “letting it loose in the world,” when I have explicitly stated to Abasciano (and others from the SEA) that is not my position. Additionally, this characterization seems a bit ironic given that it presumes that the gospel being proclaimed can somehow come about absent a direct, active work of the Holy Spirit, which is closer to Abasciano’s view than mine. 

Did not the Holy Spirit inspire the authors to write the gospel? Did not God work within His Bride, of Holy Spirit indwelled believers, to canonize and preserve the scriptures? Does not the Holy Spirit still today embody and influence believers to spread the good news to others? Does not the Holy Spirit still today work through all sorts of circumstances, dreams, visions, good deeds of His Bride and other various means to ensure that others hear His inspired message? And, finally, is not the Holy Spirit omnipresent? I cannot imagine one of us would answer any of these questions in the negative. 

I do believe Dr. Abasciano means well, but it appears to me that he is using a tactic called “closing the ranks,” in which he is trying establish his more modern version of Arminianism as “orthodox,” while excluding Provisionists/Traditionalists, and yet, one could make the argument that the “modern Arminians” are closer neighbors to the Provisionists side of the “Prevenient Grace” discussion, since they are with us in denying partial regeneration. Provisionists, therefore, can act as a scapegoat of sorts for the modern Arminian by saying to their classical Arminian friends, “Ok, we disagree on this one point but we are not as bad as those semi-heretical Provisionists are because they think God created us with a capacity that we never lost and we think God permitted us to lose it only to give it back again. See, they are the real heretics, not us!”  

There is no need for such boogie-man tactics and there is no reason modern Arminians should be any more scared of Provisionists than they are of those classical Arminians who side with the Calvinists on this relatively obscure doctrine. And, Provisionists certainly should not be treated as more dangerous (“less orthodox”) than the Calvinist, as some surprisingly do. We should deal with the actual claims of our opponents without trying to attach them to heretical views which have little or nothing to do with our actual points of contention.  

From my study of the scriptures, I find nothing which clearly teaches that fallen humanity has lost the innate moral capacity to respond positively to God’s own gracious appeals and provisions to be reconciled from that Fall.4 If you have, please show me. I’ll do my best to objectively and honestly evaluate it with much prayer and an open mind. 

With all due respect to my Arminian friends, I believe their concession to the unfounded Calvinistic doctrine of “Total Inability” has muddled the waters and made an otherwise clear distinction rather difficult to untangle. 

I understand that both Calvinists and Arminians desire to be true to the biblical account, but my challenge to them both is to engage with us over the relevant biblical data (without punting to the boogie man fallacy of Pelagianism or some new made up form of Deism). 

In my experience, the scholars on both sides tend to cite the other as validation for their otherwise unfounded views (i.e. even Arminians agree with us on this point so no need to debate it biblically) and anyone who falls outside the 16th century parameters are piously dismissed by man-made labels also introduced in the 16th century (i.e. semi-Pelagianism). 

11 thoughts on “A Reply to Brian Abasciano and the Society of Evangelical Arminians

  1. Does anyone really believe that Brian Abasciano, and his Arminian associates, are willingly going to forsake what they have embraced, endorsed, taught, and preached for years?

    Does anyone really believe that at some point someone could click on the link to the Society of Evangelical Arminians only to find it reads “Out of Business”? Or “Never mind”?

    Ain’t gonna happen.

    In their minds, they are convinced that Arminianism is the only biblical alternative to Calvinism. Either we are wrong, or they have been duped. The latter is not an option.

    In regards to prevenient grace, you won’t get a straight answer on exactly how, or even when, prevenient grace works, because they can’t decide within their own ranks. They agree that prevenient grace is necessary, but can’t agree on exactly how and when it transpires. Or for how long. Is prevenient grace a “one time shot”? Or are folks constantly going back and forth from total depravity to partial depravity? Again, good luck getting a straight answer. Cause they don’t know. They are making it up as they go along (hence “modern” Arminianism compared with “classical” Arminianism).

    In my encounters with my Arminian brothers in the past, I ran into the same interference. When I asked them for scriptural proof, or biblical examples, to support their notion of prevenient grace, they quickly labeled me a Semi-Pelagian, simply because I questioned it. Just like their Calvinist counterparts, they immediately run to labels in a desperate attempt to shame you into accepting their doctrine. By labeling those who reject prevenient grace as Semi-Pelagian, or worse, they say about us exactly what the Calvinist says about them. “They are saved, but just barely”. When you push them on the details they are forced to raise up their hands in frustration and shout “shut up, you Semi-Pelagian!”

    The Calvinist and the Arminian are battling for the top spot, but both agree they are more biblically astute than the rest of us. Calling someone a Semi-Pelagian, or whatever, is just a bully tactic they use not only to get you to shut up, but also to give themselves a feeling of superiority. And it serves anther purpose. It is also intended to keep their own troops in line.

    1. The reason I suspect you’re labeled as “semi-Pelagian” is because you failed, as you do here, to provide a pessimistic anthropology, and harmartiology. You’re very good at leveling charges of what Arminians can and are unable to provide, but serving up alleged misses without a meticulous delineation of the both its noetic and deleterious effects is what—and accurately so—makes you a card-carrying Pelagian.

      We have no data of your construal of original sin, or its effects from both the gospel and the Pauline corpus. Until you provide a theology proper of these deafening issues, your miles away from a dermabraison of your optimistic-Pelagian-anthropology.

      1. May I offer a different observation? It seems to me you’re agreeing without recognizing your agreement. Both of you acknowledge that the gospel is not a dead letter. Both of you agree that the sword is only ever wielded by the hand of the Holy Spirit. It does not wield itself. Brian thinks you believe there is no hand. Clearly, you recognize there is. You seem to think Brian believes there is some other empty hand at work. A special hand that works independently of the sword. I’m not sure he’s saying that.

        My apologies for the metaphors. They help me to better understand nuances such as these. I think The two of you are simply talking past one another, accusing one another of things you don’t really believe. Some of the comments here perpetuate an uncharitable spirit that only serves to widen the division. There’s no call for that. I see common ground among brothers who are just hampered by misapplied labels.

  2. “…card carrying Pelagian.”

    Thanks for validating my point.

    As opposed to being a “card carrying Augustinian”.

    The condition of fallen man is he is a sinner. He has inherited that old Adam that gives him that sin nature. When a person sins (and eventually he will), he dies before God (Romans 6:23, Romans 7:8-10, James 1:5).

    Is man depraved? You bet. Rotten to the core.

    Can fallen, lost, depraved sinners still believe God? Absolutely. Is the word of God sufficient to save? Yes. All scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Just go thru the gospel of John and you will read gobs of examples of people believing in Jesus simply because of something He said or did. Here’s just one example….

    John 4:39-42 (NKJV)….
    And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

    In the example above, we are told some of the Samaritans believed because of the woman’s testimony. Many more believed because they heard it for themselves. Where’s the hocus pocus of supernatural grace? Where does it say their belief was a direct result of their depravity being dealt with first? God’s word says they believed simply because of a conversation. Nothing more.

    Some believed when Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:11). For some it took the rising of Lazarus (John 11:45).

    Jesus said to His Jewish audience “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (John 4:48)

    The people needed proof or evidence that He was the promised Messiah, or King. However, this proof and evidence didn’t change their fallen condition.

    Jesus didn’t say “unless you people are born again, you will by no means believe” (Calvinism) or “unless you people are released from the bondage of sin, you will by no means believe.” (Arminianism). In fact, He taught the exact opposite….

    John 6:53 (NKJV)….
    Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man (and the Word became flesh) and drink His blood (put faith in His blood sacrifice), you have no life in you.”

    “No life in you”. None. Zero. Zilch. There goes the Calvinist and classical Arminian theory.

    John 8:31-32 (NKJV)…..
    Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    Free from what? Free from the bondage of sin. And He said this to those Jews who “believed in Him”. The apostle Paul confirms this to his Jewish audience…

    Romans 6:17 NKJV)….
    But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

    Being a slave of sin did not prohibit them from believing Him. Another rebuke of Arminianism.

    Just one more example….

    John 8:2-9 (NKJV)….
    Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

    Strange response for a bunch of “totally depraved” and “slaves to sin” men. They should have stoned her, but they didn’t. Why? Because they knew Jesus was right. He spoke the truth. His words injured them. They felt shame and guilt. This only confirms the following…..

    Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)….
    For the word of God (either spoken or written) is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    Prevenient grace is just an Arminian attempt to solve a Calvinist problem. I wish my Arminian brothers would examine their own beliefs with the same tenacity they do with their Calvinist counterparts.

    Grace

  3. While I respect Dr. Abasciano’s scholarship, now I guess I’ll have to treat him as what he accused Leighton Flowers of, treat Dr. Abasciano as one who holds to “semi-Pelagianism” and a sort of “deism” in salvation. Dr. Abasciano’s a Christian and a smart guy, I just have to take more care if I still read his writings.

    “ 16If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. 18The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evilc from your midst. 20And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
    (Deuteronomy 19)

  4. First time responder on this site but long time reader. A.B. What a confusing response to a very good debate!

    1. Jimmy, I totally agree! My first thought reading A.B.s response was “Speak English, Dude!” And my second was “Someone is trying too hard to sound smart and impressive! What are they making up for?!” It doesn’t come across as smart or helpful, though. It just comes across as confusing, vain, condescending, and self-inflating. Makes me not want to hear a word A.B. has to say (even if I could understand it).

  5. Phillip: As opposed to being a “card carrying Augustinian”.

    Your inverted cynicism cannot be derogatory, at least historically. Recall that it is your Pelagian presuppositions that was condemned by the Western church. Once at the Council of Carthage (418), and at the Council of Ephesus (431). Hence, why “Augustinianism” does not have the “boogey-man” quality as does your Pelagianism.

    All the perfunctory proof-texting can be theologically swallowed-up with a Wesleyan-Arminian framework, and is consistent with it. In fact, much of it was the fallacy of irrelevant contexts. You take back with your left hand, what you give with your right (i.e., man is “rotten to the core”). Aside from the utter misfires, you also managed to ignite a bundle of strawman. Therefore, your attempt to demonstrate a naturalistic soteriology by glorifying the natural powers of fallen humanity fails.

    Phillip: Where’s the hocus pocus of supernatural grace?

    Before I go through this critique, I’ll demonstrate that we are in fact dealing with an unashamed Pelagian. Here’s canon 7 from the Council of Orange (529): “If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the apostle, “Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).”

    Only a hard-core Pelagain would glorify man’s corrupt natural powers to assent to the truth of the gospel, and ridicule the divine activity as “hocus pocos of supernatural grace.” This is exactly what a Provisionist’s anthropology entails, and we have Pelagian Phillip ridiculing “supernatural grace.”

    No wonder 💭 Phillip can glorify the natural sinful corruption of man and yet suggest: “Can fallen, lost, depraved sinners still believe God? Absolutely.”

    There are two universal scriptural truisms that implode’s Phillip’s Pelagianism from the inside-out. The first is the necessity (“hocus pocus”, if you like) of the Spirit’s universal convicting ministry which he achieves either unmediated or mediated (see John 16:8; the text does not allude to the notion that the Spirit’s out-working is straightjacketed through human preaching).

    The second is Paul’s anthropological diagnoses of the wracking corruption that is a result of Adam’s transgression: “no one understands;” and “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). One crucial reason for the Spirit’s global independent convicting enterprise is because the propositional content of the gospel—on its own unaided by his own efficacious activity—is insufficient to overcome the deleterious effects of sin. Hence, the apostle’s affirmation of total inability – “no one seeks after God”.

    However, Phillip, contradicting the apostle, would have us believe that the gospel is no different than your typical new age incantation, or the self-help empowerment seminars the likes of Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, or Depak Chopra—who all have shown great success in demonstrating that unbelieving sinful pagans, apart from “hocus pocus supernatural grace”, can repent and do good things.

    As Phillip reminds us, even though man is corrupt “to the core” he has not lost the *natural* ability to seek and love God. This is demonstrated when, as Philip’s Pelagianism construes it, man can believe merely upon coming in contact with the propositional content of the gospel. No need for “hocus pocus supernatural grace”, as he ridicules.

    Phillip: Where does it say their belief was a direct result of their depravity being dealt with first? God’s word says they believed simply because of a conversation. Nothing more.

    Pelagians are comfortable proof-texting a naturalistic soteriology. It’s their goal to glorify that man’s sinful autonomy is still capable to seek God. The naturalistic assumptions couched in such neophyte questions can only be arrived by suppressing relevant passages such as the universal ubiquity of the “hocus pocus” ministry of the Holy Spirit” (John 16:8). The Spirit’s convicting “hocus pocus” activity is thoroughly at work at every instance to overcome the corrupt predisposition, inclining man to love sin, not seek after God but seeks after his own sinful desires (see Acts 10:38; more on this later). Phillip either out of ignorance or willfully, has suppressed these relevant text along with others:

    “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” – Genesis 6:5.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

    According to Phillip, even though our heart is “evil continually”, “deceitful” and “desperately sick”, there is no need for the Spirit’s “hocus pocus supernatural grace.” The natural powers of man’s faculties, though distorted, remain intact in such a way that the propositional content of the gospel is sufficient for an to assent to the truth claims of the gospel.

    Since man is by nature “evil” (Matt. 7:11), inclined always towards sin and self, this explains the apostle’s truism of Romans 3:11, only “hocus pocus supernatural grace” can bring about a godward inclination—desire towards God—which prepares the sinner to assent to the claims of the gospel. The activity of the Spirit, as mentioned above can be mediated or unmediated. When mediated, it is important to know that it is done through human preaching, which in turn presupposes that it logically precedes (i.e., pre-venes) the sinner’s will to assent to the gospel.

    The Pelagian impulse, like Phillip, is to adamantly suggest that man’s corruption does not run so deep that it necessitates “hocus pocus supernatural grace”. Neither does Phillip speak for all Provisionists because I am aware that some are careful to INCLUDE the Spirit’s convicting ministry. As Leighton points out, the difference seems hard to detect between Provisionists and Classical Arminians.

    Phillip: Jesus didn’t say “unless you people are born again, you will by no means believe” (Calvinism) or “unless you people are released from the bondage of sin, you will by no means believe.” (Arminianism). In fact, He taught the exact opposite….

    Did he? I already established that the Spirit’s convicting ministry of “sin, judgment, and righteousness” is universal in scope at every instance (John 16:8, cf. Acts 10:38) and Jesus’ ministry is suffused and imbued at every moment of his ministry. The burden of proof is on Pelagian Phillip to show otherwise, and to argue that there are exceptions in the apostle’s universal truism in Romans 3:11—which you have ignorantly or willfully suppressed in order to prejudice your case. These texts provide the theological context and grounding of all instances where sinners believe; that is to say, they couldn’t have done so without “hocus pocus supernatural grace”.

    Pelagian’s Phillip’s argumentation amounts to the fallacy of arguing from silence. For instance, where in the gospels does Jesus condemn same-sex marriage?? Where in the gospels does Jesus condemn abortion?? Where in the gospels does Jesus condemn pedophilia??… etc.

    Here’s what Jesus taught: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sen me draws him” (John 6:44). The phrase “no one can come” speaks to inability. Jesus here destroys the Pelagian tendency for evil sinners to seek God apart from the “hocus pocus supernatural grace” of the Father.

    What part of “NO ONE CAN COME” is difficult to understand? And why would you omit this? Answer: It doesn’t fit your Pelagian framework.

    Phillip: Being a slave of sin did not prohibit them from believing Him. Another rebuke of Arminianism.

    By this time we are now able to see the fallaciousness of this line of inquiry. It’s yet another strawman. It also assumes that, left to his own corruption, man STILL has the natural autonomous power to “seek God” and to “come to the father” – all completely on his own, unaided by “hocus pocus supernatural grace” merely by coming in contact with human preaching. Your premise continues to beg the question, and enough has been said so far demonstrating your omission of relevant theological premises that are incompatible, if not outright contradictory, to your naturalistic position.

    Phillip: Strange response for a bunch of “totally depraved” and “slaves to sin” men. They should have stoned her, but they didn’t. Why? Because they knew Jesus was right. He spoke the truth. His words injured them. They felt shame and guilt. This only confirms the following…..

    This is assumes that the unregenerate is unable to feel guilt and shame. This is another whopper of a strawman, and misunderstands the deleterious effects of sin. Total inability does not teach that the image of God is destroyed in man in such a way that they are unable to introspect their own conscious. So it is consistent within an Arminian framework for the Pharisees to feel “shame and guilt” because it was a “shame and guilt” as it “injured” their religious popularity, and their political expediencies.

    The point that Pelagian Phillip misses is that the Pharisees are unable to see that the scriptures testify about Jesus (John 5:39). They did not repent of their sins and received their Messiah. Rather they felt remorse for reasons that were self-serving. For, Jesus characterizes the Pharisees error by publicly denouncing that they “do not know the scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29).

    As it stands, it’s not “strange” at all the Pharisees felt “shame and guilt”. What is indeed “strange” is Phillip equivocating worldly sorrow (from below) and righteous sorrow (from above): “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Theologically, Phillip over and over commits this categorical fallacy.

    Does Philip see the Pharisees whom he praises for right action that their “shame and guilt” was “godly grief” and yet reject Jesus as their Messiah! Again, he must protrude his Pelagian agenda and myopically focus on the Pharisees hypocrisy and paint it in a good like. Sort of like saying: “Athesits are capable of believing in God without hocus pocus supernatural grace because atheists too are capable of doing virtuous acts.”

    And even, if the Pharisees would have repented of their sins, and believed in Jesus at that moment, it would demonstrate that, once again, such recognition could not have been done without the Spirit’s convicting ministry since Peter clearly taught that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). Another illustration, contradicted by Pelagian Phillip, is Luke’s narrating Jesus opening the “scroll of the prophet of Isaiah” to proclaim “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor” (4:16, 18).

    Though John says clearly, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63). Phillip would object and suggest the converse: “It is the flesh who has the natural power to believe, hocus pocus supernatural grace is no help at all!” (Pel. Phillip 1:22).

    Contrary to the litany of Johnanine examples that Phillip cited, none are without the “hocu pocus supernatural grace” that he despises:

    – God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with “hocus pocus supernatural grace” (Acts 10:38)
    – The “hocus pocus supernatural grace is upon me” because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor (Luke 4:16)
    – It is hocus pocus supernatural grace that gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).

    “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” – Acts 16:14

    Here’s one, among many, examples where “hocus pocus supernatural grace” clearly demonstrates the prevenient work of divine activity followed by human activity of gospel preaching. “The Lord opened her heart” needn’t refer to regeneration nor partial regeneration”; we have a clear demonstration of God’s sovereign activity – the “hocus pocus” side of the equation, as it were. This is exactly what Arminians expect to find in the text, contradicted by Phillip’s Pelagianism. God “opening her heart” was necessary because the apostle’s preaching alone is insufficient without the prevenient work of the Holy Spirit either mediated or unmediated. Even if it can be argued that “the Lord” opened her heart” THROUGH Paul’s preaching, the Arminian framework is vindicated: The logical order is God’s “hocus pocus supernatural grace” acting *logically prior* to “what was said by Paul”. Hence, pre-venient grace! Even if Paul’s preaching is the instrumental means, what cannot be denied is that God’s “opening her heart” is logically prior to Paul’s preaching because the text says that “The Lord open her heart TO PAY attention to what was said by Paul.” The divine action was necessary because pagans self-seeking understand of God is never legitimate apart from the Spirit’s convicting calling.

    Pelagian Phillip, and all staunch anti-prevenient Leightonian-provisionsts would have to rule out the divine activity logically preceding human preaching in the particular case. The grammar of the text fixes the construction in such a way where the likes of Phillip would have to re-structure and re-define the text to make it fit his Pelagian optimistic anthropology.

    Question: What explains what prompted God to “open” Lydias heart? Why wasn’t Paul’s human preaching alone sufficient? Like Phillip argued, is it not true that Lydia’s enslavement to sin shouldn’t have prohibited her from believing! Perhaps Phillip’s allegiance to Pelagianism is such that he would counsel God that his move was superfluous – God did a “hocus pocus” move that was unnecessary.

    To anticipate another objection – it serves no explanatory advantages to emphasize that Lydia was already a “worshipper of God”. Recall the universal truism that “no one seeks God (Rom. 3:11). Surely Lydia sought after God, but it is no more legitimate, any more than when Seihks, Jaines, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and Muslims seek after God. The Greek word “theos” is a generic title that can be applied to all sorts of deities. In Luke’s overarching narrative it can be argued that Lydia was “religious”, part of the pantheon of pagans who worshipped an “unknown God” (17:22-23). Either way, it is still legitimate to ask the series of questions above. Note Luke’s construction of the passage:

    – “The Lord opened her heart (“hocus pocus [prevenient] supernatural grace) v. 14a
    – “To pay attention to what was said by Paul (human preaching) v. 14b

    To summarize: Phillip will be aghast recognizing that not once did he ensure to cite references of the Spirit’s role in salvation. But he couldn’t either way, since his goal was to ridicule the “hocus pocus” aspect of orthodox soteriology. By selective editing, cherry picking passages out of their canonical and theological contexts, he managed to show that man still has intact natural powers to believe and assent to the gospel without “hocus pocus supernatural grace”.

    Phillip and atheists are both kissin’ cousins: They emphasize the naturalistic powers of man’s autonomy to achieve nirvana. Not all provisionists, however, will argue like Phillip does. I’ve heard Leighton Flowers enough to know that “hocus pocus supernatural grace” is necessary. But like, Phillip, Flowers also believes that man has the natural capacity from birth to believe, but man “BECOMES” hardened by sinful choices. That is to say, man—not the corruption itself—makes himself hardened to the claims of the gospel. The “corruption” is the fruit of man’s choice, not that man’s choices are the fruit of either an inherited corruption. Thus man “looses” the natural capacity to “believe” God—not a birth—but through our own choices. Although Pelagian Phillip says we are “rotten to the core”, he didn’t loose an opportunity to contradict this premise every step of the way.

    All in all, seems that, “Prevenient grace is just a [Johanine & Lukan] attempt to solve a Calvinist problem.”

  6. Brothers and sisters,

    We have a doozy here. What a blessing.

    Please take the time to read the above. Notice carefully the full blown bully tactics. This is precisely what I have encountered before when discussing TD/TI with my Arminian brothers.

    If you reject their notions of TD/TI you are essentially “kissing cousins” with atheists. What a hoot!

    Regarding the story of Lydia, here it is in context….

    Acts 16:13-14 (NKJV)….
    And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

    This is just one of the verses Calvinists quote to support their version of prevenient grace. Notice Paul found Lydia in a place of prayer. She was already a “worshipper of God”. Yes, the Lord opened her heart, just as a farmer must open the ground to plant the seed (Luke 8:4-15, James 1:21), but nowhere does this imply that the noetic effects of the fall were being dealt with or that Lydia had been restored to a pre-fall condition. That has to be forced upon the text.

    Later on in Acts we read….

    Acts 13:7 (KJV)…..
    And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

    “Desired” to hear the word of God? A fallen, totally depraved sinner? An impossibility within the ranks of Calvinism, but there you have it.

    I will repeat Leighton’s words with one slight modification…..

    “From my study of the scriptures, I find nothing which *even remotely* teaches that fallen humanity has lost the innate moral capacity to respond positively to God’s own gracious appeals and provisions to be reconciled from that Fall.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. Show me scriptural evidence, or proof, of a person’s depravity being overcomed or diminished, and man being restored to a pre-fall condition before believing the word of God and I will strongly consider it with much prayer.

    Merry Christmas to all my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

  7. [This is a selection of things I’ve written about before, which fits as a response to a lot of what’s said in this Soteriology 101 post. It will be long, so bear with me. You’re not the only one, A.B., who’s got a lot to say. And I have just got to say to A.B.: “I think you’re very rude, judgmental, and condescending in your responses. (My husband had other more “colorful” words to describe you which can’t be repeated here.) If I were you, I’d ask God to examine my heart and reveal to me if there’s anything I need to work on. When someone has to attack a person the way you do, adding all sorts of insults and accusations, instead of just dealing with the topic at hand, something’s wrong.”]

    My Calvi-pastor loves to use Lydia as an example to “prove” Calvinism, saying “See, it says God opened her heart to believe.” But the text does not say God opened her heart to believe. It just says that she was already a worshipper of God and that God opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. “To believe” is an assumption, added by Calvinists, based on their flawed belief of total depravity. The Bible does not say what Paul’s message was or that it was the gospel’s message of salvation, as Calvinists assume it must be.

    When we sent a letter to our elders about the pastor’s Calvinism, I pointed out that Lydia was already a believer and so the pastor couldn’t use it to try to prove that God opened her heart to believe. She already believed before her heart was opened by God. But then when the pastor would preach on it after that, he would add something like “Yes, it says she was a worshipper of God, but she was not saved yet. She was not a true believer until God opened her heart.” Where does it say this in the text? Nowhere. He didn’t even have a verse to back him up. He just proclaimed it like it was truth. But he’s adding something that isn’t there, even though the Bible itself said she was a “worshipper of God.”

    The best part is that the Calvinist pastor’s response itself (saying Lydia was not a believer yet) actually contradicts and defeats Calvinism, when you consider what Calvinists believe. Because if she was a God-worshipper but not a believer yet – if she was, as my pastor calls all unregenerated people, “totally depraved, desperately wicked, rebellious sinners who can’t do good or seek God” – then she was worshipping God before she was “regenerated.” She was still in her “depraved” state, yet she was worshipping God (the highest “good” we can do) all on her own.

    This totally destroys the “total depravity/inability” because here is a person worshipping God before her heart was opened … which means we are not so fallen that we can’t think about God unless He makes us do it … which means that we can think about and want and seek God on our own … which means regeneration isn’t necessary first … which means there are no elect people that God has to irresistibly call to Him and to regenerate … which means Jesus didn’t die just for the elect but He died for all people. Which means Calvinism is completely, totally wrong!

    And on the flip side, if Calvinists admit that she really was a believer … then God didn’t open her heart to believe through Paul’s message. Because she believed before her heart was “opened.” And this means they can’t use this as a proof-text that God opens our hearts (of the elect only) to believe. (The passage about Lydia is actually a gift to anti-Calvinists.)

    So then what was Paul’s message? What did God open her heart about? I believe it’s about the importance of believers getting baptized, because that’s the next thing she does.

    And where in the Bible is there support for what I think? Well, just a few chapters over. What happened to Lydia is probably similar to what happened in Acts 19 when Paul met believers who did not yet have the Holy Spirit because they hadn’t been baptized in the name of the Lord but only in John the Baptist’s “baptism of repentance.” Paul convinced them to be baptized in the name of the Lord to receive the Holy Spirit. Being a message about the need to be baptized seems the most likely, not about the need to believe.

    Calvinists wrongly – using flawed human logic – equate spiritual death with physical dead bodies. They insist that if physical “dead” means you can’t do anything on your own, like a dead body that just lays there all dead, then spiritual death must also mean you can’t do anything on your own. And that’s why God has to cause you (well, the “elect” only) to seek Him, to want Him, to believe in Him. Because you are dead like a dead body. But they are basing their theology on their own flawed analogy! Find me one verse that says “spiritually dead” means that we are as lifeless and incapable of doing anything as a dead body, that we can’t think or reason or analyze or decide. Find me one verse that says a consequence of the Fall was that God took away mankind’s right to make decisions, to reason, to think. There are no verses like that.

    But do you know what we do find? Someone else who was considered “dead,” according to the Bible. The prodigal son. And yet he “came to his senses” and went back to his father. His father did not drag him back or put some sort of spell over him to draw him back. He simply waited for the son to “come to his senses” on his own after looking around at his life and the condition he was in, and he decided to return to the father.

    Spiritual death does not mean “like a lifeless dead body.” That is a bad, wrong, misleading analogy! It simply means that we are dead in our sins, separated from God, headed to hell. (If Calvinists can get you to agree to their bad analogies, then they’ve got you hooked!)

    But guess what? Our brains still work. Our minds are still alive. And God expects us to use our living brains to want Him, seek Him, and find Him! In fact, look at Amos 5:4: “Seek me and live …” God is saying, “Seek me and you will find life,” which means that if they have to seek Him to find life then they are dead right now because they haven’t yet found life in Him. This means God is talking to “dead people.” He is telling “dead people” to seek Him, to find life in Him. And God can expect “dead people” to seek Him because He knows that our brains still work.

    Calvinism says “dead people can’t seek God.” But God Himself commanded “dead” people to seek Him. And so I ask, who’s wrong?

    Personally, I believe that the Holy Spirit works on people NOT by regenerating or partially-regenerating certain hearts to make them believe, but by giving us all the ability to think, to reason, to make decisions, to see Him through His creation and to feel the desire for Him in our hearts, that God-shaped hole, and to understand Scripture and respond to it. He gave us the Word and the knowledge of Him, passed down through the generations. So no non-Calvinist says that people come to God in a vacuum, in a void, but that God’s fingerprints and truth are everywhere to make sure we know He is real. But He gave us the responsibility to decide how to respond to Him and His truth. We decide if we want to accept the truth or reject it, to accept God or reject Him.

    Also, regarding Calvinists using Romans 3:11: “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God,” to say that men are “so dead” inside that no one can seek God unless God pre-chose them to be saved and causes them to want Him, seek Him, and believe in Him.
    My response is “Really!?! Because Psalm 14:2 says ‘The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.’ If it’s impossible for anyone to seek God, why would God look to see if there are any of us who do it?”
    Romans 3:11 is just about general human nature, how we are self-centered, self-focused. (Actually, it’s about how we – the Jews specifically – can’t earn our way to heaven through our good works or bloodlines. That’s what this passage is about.) It’s not about it being “impossible” to seek God. Nowhere does it say we can’t seek God … just that mankind, left to ourselves, generally doesn’t desire to seek Him.

    This is why He has to reach out to us, to draw us to Him. And He draws all men, according to John 12:32, through nature, the Word, the sense He gives mankind in our hearts that there’s more out there than just what we see, etc. But we have to choose to respond or resist. And it’s because He draws us all, because He makes Himself real to all and available to all, that no one has an excuse for why they didn’t seek Him and believe in Him.

    Acts 17:27: “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

    Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    You sure would have an excuse for not believing in Him if He created you to be an unbeliever and made it impossible for you to want Him, seek Him, or believe in Him!

    So which is true? We don’t have an excuse or we do? We can seek or we can’t?

    And let me ask this: If there is truly a question between the two about which is right – that we can seek or can’t seek – which one fits best with the rest of the Bible and God’s character?

    Which one fits with the idea of God loving the world (John 3:16)? Would it be love to predestine most people to hell, giving them no chance to be saved? Is it love to create most people just so that He can send them to eternal torment in hell because it brings Him some sort of sick glory (according to the Calvinist)? If that’s love, what does hate look like? (And if we’re supposed to reflect God to others and try to be like Him, what’s that gonna look like – if He hated most people before He even made them just so He could send them to hell for His glory, never giving them a chance to be saved?)

    What about God’s justice? Can He really be considered a just God if He commands all people to believe in Him but then prevents most people from believing in Him and then holds them accountable for not believing, punishing them eternally for the unbelief He predestined and caused? Is it justice to predestine/cause people to sin, never giving them the chance to do anything different, but then to punish them for what they had no choice over, what He made them do? If that’s justice, I’d hate to see injustice! And once again, what does that mean for us as Christians, if we are called to be like Him?

    How about Jesus’s death on the cross for the sins of all men? If God predestined most people to never repent, if He sent Jesus to die only for the elect, as the Calvinists say, how can He then say in the Bible that Jesus died for all sins, for all men? And then if God really does love only the elect and really did send Jesus to die only for the elect but says in His Word that He loves all men and that Jesus died for all men … then how in the world can you trust anything God says, if He says one thing but means another? How can you trust a God who gets glory, as Calvinists say, for causing evil, sin, and putting people in hell? How is Calvi-god any different from Satan then? How is evil any different from good?

    Calvinism destroys the Gospel.

    And there is no question … Men can seek God. In fact, God says so. God expects us to seek Him. Because that’s how we find Him. And He wants to be found!

    Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”

    Deuteronomy 4:29: “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him, if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

    Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart…”

    Hebrews 11:6: “… anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

    1 Chronicles 22:19: “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.”

    Amos 5:4, 14: “Seek me and live … Seek good, not evil.”

    Proverbs 8:17: “… those who seek me find me.”

    Joshua 24:15: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …”

    And yet the Calvinist uses Romans 3:11 to say that we can’t seek God, that it’s impossible unless God causes us to do it, that He decides who believes in Him and who doesn’t, that Jesus died only for the few “chosen” people because He wouldn’t waste His blood on those He predestined to reject Him, that the non-elected were created just so God could hate them and send them to hell because He gets some sort of glory for showing off His justice and His wrath against sin (never mind that Calvinism’s god first predestined and caused those sins), and that the non-elect never had a chance to be saved because God made sure they had no ability to seek Him, to believe in Him, to choose Him. All of which is in total opposition to what the rest of the Bible teaches! (If a theology replaces what God clearly said with their ideas of what God supposedly meant to say – a secret level of knowledge which contradicts what God clearly said – then you can be 100% certain that it’s WRONG!)

    John 3:16-17 (emphasis added in all verses): “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save THE WORLD through him.”

    John 12:32: “But I, when I am lifted up, will draw ALL MEN to myself.”

    Acts 17:30: “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands ALL PEOPLE everywhere to repent.” (Can we trust a God who commands all men to repent while making it impossible for most men to repent? How can we trust any command He gives us if He might have preplanned us to do the opposite of what He said? What a great excuse we would have for disobeying any command He gave us!)

    Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN.”

    1 Timothy 2:3-6: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants ALL MEN to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL MEN …”

    1 Timothy 4:10: “… that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN, and especially of those who believe.” (He’s made salvation available for all men, by dying for all men, but only those who willingly choose to believe in Him will acquire that salvation. The choice is ours!)

    Romans 5:18: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for ALL MEN.”

    Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    How could Calvinists have gotten it so wrong, replacing what God clearly said with their own rambling, contradictory ideas of what God must have meant to say, directly opposing what God clearly said!?!

    God says “Seek Me!” But Calvinists say we cannot seek Him.

    God says “Believe in Me! Choose Me!” But Calvinists say we cannot believe in Him or choose Him unless we were predestined to, unless He causes us to.

    God says it’s our choice. Calvinists say it’s God choice, and we can’t do anything about it.

    And so I ask: Who are you gonna believe?

    How very wicked it is of Calvinists to teach people that we can’t do the very things God commands us to do to be saved: To seek Him, believe in Him, choose Him!

    If God says that we must seek and believe to be saved, but Calvinists say “You can’t seek or believe on your own, but God has to do it for you,” then how can anyone truly be saved the Calvinist way!?!

    How very brilliant of Satan to use God’s Word against God and to use well-meaning Christians (or maybe I should say “Christians,” in quotes) to spread a theology that teaches the opposite of what God says!

    2 Corinthians 11:14-15: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

    [Extra note: Speaking of God’s love and justice … Calvinists use the pathetic example of 100 men on death row to demonstrate God’s love and justice (their version of it). They say that God shows His gracious love by choosing to set free 10 men who deserve death, while showing His justice (His wrath against sin) by choosing to let the other 90 guilty men stay on death row to pay the penalty for their sins. This, they say, demonstrates both His love and justice.

    BUT … the glaring problem here (which they will never acknowledge or admit to) is that, in Calvinism, God caused those men to be on death row in the first place. He predestined the crimes they did and caused them to do it. They had no choice about it.
    That’s not love or justice!

    Is it grace or love to first cause men to be on death row and then to set them free? Is that really what love, grace, or mercy looks like – causing people to sin and then “forgiving” them for “their” sin, never giving them a choice about anything they do in this big cosmic play? Ridiculous! Do love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc., have any meaning at all if we have no choice about anything we do, if He causes the sin He then has to “forgive,” if He causes the problems He then has to “fix”?

    And those 90 men left on death row are paying the penalty for the sins God (Calvinism’s god) caused them to commit. They’re guilty because of what He created them to be and caused them to do. But then He punishes them for it, as if they had a choice. They’re not paying the price for sins they chose to do, but for sins He caused them to do and predestined them to never repent of. Where is the justice in that!?!

    And how tiny, tiny, tiny Calvi-god’s love must be if he created the vast majority of people to go to hell and choose to save only a tiny few out of love!

    “Oh,” the Calvinist says, “but God chose to show His wrath against sin, His justice, by putting people in hell for their sins. He needed people to sin so that He could do this. So He predestined people to be unbelievers so that He could put them in hell so that He could get worship for (and worship Himself for) how just He is. He gets glory by showing off His justice this way, by first ‘ordaining’ and then punishing sin. So it’s a good thing. A God-glorifying thing.” (Yes, they really do say this garbage! Talk about calling evil good!)
    And I say, “Really!?! Because God Himself tells us how He chose to show off His justice … and it’s not by putting people in hell but by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins.”

    “God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it [sent Jesus to the cross for our sins] to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)

    And furthermore, to incorporate the idea that God loves the world, all men, Calvinists will say that God has two different kinds of love: a “save your soul” kind for the elect and a “give you food and sunshine for 80 years until you die and go to hell for eternity” kind for the non-elect.

    Once again, “Really!?! Which verse says that? Because my Bible says that God shows His love this way: ‘God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8) So unless only the elect are ‘sinners,’ Jesus died for all of us, just like He confirmed in verse after verse.”

    So the Bible says that God demonstrated His justice by sending Jesus to the die for our sins. And it says that He demonstrated His love by sending Jesus to die for our sins. But Calvinists say He demonstrates His justice by predestining most people to hell and demonstrates His love by predestining a tiny few people to heaven, sending Jesus to die only for them.

    And so I wonder, who’s right? The Calvinist or God?

    An if Calvinism is wrong, if it’s full of lies that contradict the Bible, then who do you think is behind it?

    “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”]

    1. And when I say “no non-Calvinist says we come to God in a vacuum” I am talking about the non/anti-Calvinists here at Soteriology 101. We here are not claiming we come to God all on our own, without any help from God or the Holy Spirit.

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