Our Beliefs

What is Provisionism?

Please watch this video to better understand why some of us prefer the label “Provisionism” over “Arminianism” or “Traditionalism.” The focus of this soteriological view is on God’s gracious and loving provision for every individual so that anyone may believe and be saved.

Here is a list of articles, statements and resources to help you better understand the “Provisionist” soteriological perspective:

Why are you sometimes called a “Traditionalist?”

Dr. Eric Hankins wrote a statement (see below) which references the “traditional” beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention over the last 75-100 years. The label “Traditionalist” was used by some to distinguish our view from the more recent resurgence of Calvinistic beliefs within the convention. We recognize the shortcomings of this label which is why some prefer the term “Provisionism.”

We affirm:

A STATEMENT OF THE TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN BAPTIST UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION

(Written by Dr. Eric Hankins. See a list of Southern Baptist professors, pastors and theologians who have signed this statement and the ever growing list of other biblical scholars who affirm the non-Calvinistic interpretation of the scriptures in the comment section below.)

Preamble

Every generation of Southern Baptists has the duty to articulate the truths of its faith with particular attention to the issues that are impacting contemporary mission and ministry. The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.

While Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made very important contributions to our history and theology, the majority of Southern Baptists do not embrace Calvinism. Even the minority of Southern Baptists who have identified themselves as Calvinists generally modify its teachings in order to mitigate certain unacceptable conclusions (e.g., anti-missionism, hyper-Calvinism, double predestination, limited atonement, etc.). The very fact that there is a plurality of views on Calvinism designed to deal with these weaknesses (variously described as “3-point,” “4-point,” “moderate,” etc.) would seem to call for circumspection and humility with respect to the system and to those who disagree with it.

For the most part, Southern Baptists have been glad to relegate disagreements over Calvinism to secondary status along with other important but “non-essential” theological matters. The Southern Baptist majority has fellowshipped happily with its Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself. And, to their credit, most Southern Baptist Calvinists have not demanded the adoption of their view as the standard. We would be fine if this consensus continued, but some New Calvinists seem to be pushing for a radical alteration of this longstanding arrangement.

We propose that what most Southern Baptists believe about salvation can rightly be called “Traditional” Southern Baptist soteriology, which should be understood in distinction to “Calvinist” soteriology. Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is articulated in a general way in the Baptist Faith and Message, “Article IV.” While some earlier Baptist confessions were shaped by Calvinism, the clear trajectory of the BF&M since 1925 is away from Calvinism. For almost a century, Southern Baptists have found that a sound, biblical soteriology can be taught, maintained, and defended without subscribing to Calvinism. Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is grounded in the conviction that every person can and must be saved by a personal and free decision to respond to the Gospel by trusting in Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord. Without ascribing to Calvinism, Southern Baptists have reached around the world with the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Baptists have been well-served by a straightforward soteriology rooted in the fact that Christ is willing and able to save any and every sinner.

New Calvinism presents us with a duty and an opportunity to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation. It is no longer helpful to identify ourselves by how many points of convergence we have with Calvinism. While we are not insisting that every Southern Baptist affirm the soteriological statement below in order to have a place in the Southern Baptist family, we are asserting that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are not Calvinists and that they do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life. We believe it is time to move beyond Calvinism as a reference point for Baptist soteriology.

Below is what we believe to be the essence of a “Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” We believe that most Southern Baptists, regardless of how they have described their personal understanding of the doctrine of salvation, will find the following statement consistent with what the Bible teaches and what Southern Baptists have generally believed about the nature of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

ARTICLES OF AFFIRMATION AND DENIAL

ARTICLE ONE: THE GOSPEL

We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.

We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9

ARTICLE TWO: THE SINFULNESS OF MAN

We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty (?) before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6;Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15

ARTICLE THREE: THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST

We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.

We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved.

Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; John 12:32, 14:6; Acts 10:39-43; Acts 16:30-32; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Col. 1:13-20; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:12-15, 24-28; 10:1-18; I John 1:7; 2:2

ARTICLE FOUR: THE GRACE OF GOD

We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

Ezra 9:8; Proverbs 3:34; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 19:16-30, 23:37; Luke 10:1-12; Acts 15:11; 20:24; Romans 3:24, 27-28; 5:6, 8, 15-21; Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:2-9; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 4:16; 9:28; 1 John 4:19

ARTICLE FIVE: THE REGENERATION OF THE SINNER

We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

Luke 15:24; John 3:3; 7:37-39; 10:10; 16:7-14; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:4-11; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 6:15; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18

ARTICLE SIX: THE ELECTION TO SALVATION

We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God’s eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.

We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.

Genesis 1:26-28; 12:1-3; Exodus 19:6;Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 24:31; 25:34; John 6:70; 15:16; Romans 8:29-30, 33;9:6-8; 11:7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:11-22; 3:1-11; 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 7:9-10

ARTICLE SEVEN: THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

Genesis 1:1; 6:5-8; 18:16-33; 22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; 1 Chronicles 29:10-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:32; Psalm 23; 51:4; 139:1-6; Proverbs 15:3; John 6:44; Romans 11:3; Titus 3:3-7; James 1:13-15; Hebrews 11:6, 12:28; 1 Peter 1:17

ARTICLE EIGHT: THE FREE WILL OF MAN

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

Genesis 1:26-28; Numbers 21:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 2 Samuel 24:13-14; Esther 3:12-14; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:20-24; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 9:23-24; 13:34; 15:17-20; Romans 10:9-10; Titus 2:12; Revelation 22:17

ARTICLE NINE: THE SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

John 10:28-29; 14:1-4; 16:12-14; Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26; 8:29,30; 35-39; 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:19; 3:2; 5:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 13:5; James 1:12; Jude 24-25

ARTICLE TEN: THE GREAT COMMISSION

We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.

We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:13; Proverbs 11:30; Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6; Acts 1:8; 4:12; 10:42-43; Romans 1:16, 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-21; Ephesians 3:7-9; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5

howtohelp

Who supports the Non-Calvinistic interpretation?

Loraine Boettner, a respected Calvinistic Historian and Theologian, wrote “It may occasion some surprise to discover that the doctrine of Predestination was not made a matter of special study until near the end of the fourth century. The earlier church fathers placed chief emphasis on good works such as faith, repentance, almsgiving, prayers, submission to baptism, etc., as the basis of salvation. They of course taught that salvation was through Christ; yet they assumed that man had full power to accept or reject the gospel. Some of their writings contain passages in which the sovereignty of God is recognized; yet along side of those are others which teach the absolute freedom of the human will. Since they could not reconcile the two they would have denied the doctrine of Predestination and perhaps also that of God’s absolute Foreknowledge. They taught a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will. It was hard for man to give up the idea that he could work out his own salvation. But at last, as a result of a long, slow process, he came to the great truth that salvation is a sovereign gift which has been bestowed irrespective of merit; that it was fixed in eternity; and that God is the author in all of its stages. This cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine, the great Spirit-filled theologian of the West. In his doctrines of sin and grace, he went far beyond the earlier theologians, taught an unconditional election of grace, and restricted the purposes of redemption to the definite circle of the elect.”

So, even by Calvinistic scholars own admission the Earliest Church Fathers did not teach the Calvinistic view of election, but in fact taught “the absolute freedom of the human will…a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will.”   These Early Church Fathers include:

-Clement of Rome (AD30-100)
-Ignatius (AD30-107)
-Barnabas (AD100)
-Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
-Irenaeus (AD120-202)
-Tatian (AD110-172)
-Tertullian (AD145-220)
-Clement of Alexandria (AD153-217)
-Origen (AD185-254)
-Hippolytus (AD170-236)
-Novatian (AD210-280)
-Archelaus (AD277)
-Alexander of Alexandria (AD273-326)
-Lactantius (AD260-330)

STUDY BIBLE

Some have asked if I recommend any particular study Bibles. I have not vetted any one fully but I have enjoyed The Peoples New Testament with Explanatory Notes – One Volume Edition (2 volumes in 1) [Hardcover] B.W. Johnson (ISBN-13: 978-0892251414, ISBN-10: 0892251417)

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

I recommend this Systematic Theology by Dr. James Leo Garrett

Also, below is an ever growing list of modern day scholars who do not affirm the Calvinistic interpretation of the scriptures:

AW Tozer
Howard Marshall
Doug Stuart
NT Wright
Gordon Fee
Scott McKnight
David Baker
William W. Klein
Grant Osborne
Robert Shank
David A. DeSilva
Bill T. Arnold
John Oswalt
Brian Abasciano (he helped with this list)
Ben Witherington III
Thomas Oden
C.S. Lewis
Craig Blomberg (not A or C, but probably leans slightly more A)
Craig Keener
Jack Cottrell
Gerald O. McCulloh (edited * “Man’s Faith and Freedom: The Theological
Influence of Jacobus Arminius”)
James Luther Adams (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Russell Henry Stafford (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Geoffrey F. Nuttall (from “Man’s Faith and Freedom”)
Roger Olson
Dale Moody
Paul Copan
James D. G. Dunn
Jerry Walls
Joseph Dongell
Clark Pinnock
Donald M. Lake
William G. Witt
A. Skevington Wood
Vernon C. Grounds
Terry L. Miethe
Richard Rice
John E. Sanders
Fritz Guy
Klyne Snodgrass
Robert Picirilli
F. Leroy Forlines
Matthew Pinson
Stephen Ashby
Chuck Smith
George Bryson
Greg Laurie
William Lane Craig
Billy Graham
Adrian Rogers
Michael Brown
Leonard Ravenhill
David Wilkerson
Bruce Reichenbach
David J. A. Clines
William G. MacDonald
James D. Strauss
C. Stephen Evans
Paul R. Eddy
William J. Abraham
A. Philip Brown II
Derek Prince
Jack Hayford
Gene L. Green
Gareth Lee Cockerill
James Leonard
John Wesley
Chrarles Edward White
Anthony Chadwick Thornhill
Aaron Sherwood
B.J. Oropeza
David Lewis Allen
Steve Lemke
Adam Harwood
Jerry Vines
Paige Patterson
Richard Land
Malcolm Yarnell
Bruce A. Little
Robert W. Wall
G. Walter Hansen
Philip H. Towner
Adam Clarke
Ravi Zacharias (?)
Paul Ellingworth
William G. MacDonald
James Strauss
Philip Towner
John Wenham
Gary Habermas
Nigel Turner
Max Turner
Peter Cotterell (?)
Michael Brown
David Jeremiah
Dave Hunt
J. W. MacGorman
E. Y. Mullins
Herschel Hobbs
W. T. Conner
Frank Stagg
Fisher Humphreys
Bert Dominy
Ken Keathley
Norm Geisler
Alister McGrath
David Bentley Hart
Mike Licona

See also the list of Traditional Statement signers at www.connect316.net

405 thoughts on “Our Beliefs

  1. Are you able to recommend a church in Houston, Tx. that utilizes expository preaching / teaching, that rejects contemporary music and is Gospel centered. Usually, this is a combination that is only found in a Calvinist setting.
    Thanks
    John Trimm

      1. Why do Calvinists/Reformists always use the New American Standard Bible 1995? Are some of the Scriptures worded differently as to help the cause?

      2. Hello Thomas,
        I was not aware they use that Bible.
        But the reason you suggest is quite common and comes part and parcel with human nature.
        When you listen to a person – in this case a Calvinist – quote a scripture -watch carefully to see what words they remove and replace with their own words.
        What you will notice is they have simply reworded the text to make it conform to their doctrinal teachings.
        The fact that they can so easily alter the text to conform to their doctrine doesn’t bother them at all because the practice is part of their doctrinal social structure.

      3. I was not aware of this. I use the NASB extensively but am not a Calvinist. My understanding is that their favorite translation is currently the ESV.

      4. I wish someone would answer John’s question, as I have noticed the same thing. It’s the reason I’ve even considered the Reformed faith, not that I have accepted it.

        Non Calvinists tend to be unserious, shallow, and sometime downright goofy, if you’ll pardon my saying so, and all over the map concerning morality. I saw one guy at VBS chasing a girl with a spray bottle of water saying “You’re a lost sinner, and this is the Holy Spirit”. I halfway expected lightning to strike the man.

        This is but one of the strange, and silly things I’ve seen over the years in SBC churches that I doubt I would ever see at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley.

        I suspect many have been DRIVEN into the arms of Calvin because of these things.

        Please understand that I’m not meaning to insult, but to express real problems I and others like John are having with contemporary pop culture Christianity.

      5. Hello Brian,
        I understand!

        Years ago – Regent College released all of Dr. Gordon Fee’s seminary lectures into audio format and I purchased every one of them I could get my hands on. They were highly insightful and provided a perspective of serious Biblical scholarship.

        They still sell many of those lectures today.
        However, unfortunately, the prices for them have gone up significantly.

      6. In response to John’s question:

        If I understand right about John’s comment he wants to know why non-Calvin tend to be “unserious, shallow, and sometimes down right goofy.” He also states “one guy at VBS chasing a girl with a spray bottle of water saying you’re a loss center, and this is the Holy Spirit.”

        The first thing I noticed about Calvinists and yes my pastor is one (he’s a good guy even though we disagree on many theological issues), is that they believe God is all controlling, they’re not sure why God picked them before creation, and there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, but they always seem to be looking at your works and judging you.

        Christians sometimes called traditionalist and I do consider myself to be a traditionalist, believe the text of the Bible. I do not follow a bunch of old men in the 1500s trying to tell me I need to interpret the Bible like they want me too with their doctrine that goes against scripture.

        Going back to John’s question, Christians should be extremely happy, thankful, and having fun or “goofy” with the children at VBS well illustrating the importance of the Holy Spirit. Christians try to support each other in love, laughter, fellowship, and teaching. Our heavenly father has the same attributes and that is why we are also created with them.

        I don’t know much about Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, but all the attributes I stated above should be Evident in that church. If it’s not, and again I don’t know that church, you need to find a non-Calvinist church so that you can grow properly in the Lord. Don’t let anybody take away the joy that you have in Christ

      7. Hello Thomas and welcome

        I appreciated your comments.
        One thing you stated about Calvinists – I found very insightful – because many people are not insightful enough to identify the psychological consequences of the Calvinist belief system.

        Thomas:
        They [Calvinists] always seem to be looking at your works and judging you.

        The reason for this behavior pattern with Calvinists is 3-fold:

        1) Per the doctrine – the Calvinist has a god who creates/designs the vast majority of the human race – specifically for eternal torment – for his good pleasure. So the Calvinist has a god whose intentions for the beings he creates is for the most part malevolent, and to a very limited part benevolent.

        2) Per the doctrine – Calvin’s god’s intentions for believers follows this same pattern. He gives the MANY within the Calvinist fold a FALSE SENSE of election – while giving the FEW within the Calvinist fold a TRUE SENSE of election. Thus the MANY within the Calvinist fold represent a portion of those who have been created/designed for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

        3) Per the doctrine – the Calvinist is granted NO CERTAINTY of whether or not the divine intent for himself is benevolent or malevolent.

        Based on those 3 aspects of the doctrine – the Calvinist struggles internally with dread and doubt – concerning which is the case for himself.
        The natural human response to that situation – is to look for INDICATORS of the divine intent for every individual.

        So the Calvinist reads the behavior patterns of his fellow Calvinists – looking for INDICATORS of that one’s future destiny – the same way people read tea leafs looking for indicators of one’s future destiny.

        Blessings!

      8. I started responding but I dictate my messages on my iPhone and the wife turned up the volume on the television so I had to go to another room and I might’ve deleted what I dictated, sorry.

        The guy didn’t think Christian should be happy and joyful. They seem to be very controlling. About two weeks ago we had a guest speaker come, and of course he was a reformist. In his public talk he put down Catholics and traditionalist. They’re always looking and judging people to see if the Calvinist thinks that they’re saved. I hope the guy that was on your blog doesn’t lose the joy he has in Christ.

        They have so many holes through the theology. They believe that God picked them for an unknown reason and picked everyone else to go to hell. Then they say he is a loving God. God created all of us with common sense and that reasoning has no common sense at all. all they have to do is look at Ephesians and some of the other scriptures and it tells Christians why God pick them. It’s because they excepted Christ. That is what he foresaw. That’s another thing they constantly say excepting something is works. They always have a funny way of redefining words into definitions that do not make sense (they’re wrong).

        I commented earlier. I think a month ago about my pastor who is a Calvinist (Reformist) well I finally had a meeting with him and basically what he told me is his theology is what helps him to get to the gospel. Basically, it’s not how you get there as long as you get there. Super nice guy, very intelligent, but whenever I brought anything up it just didn’t register. I think there’s like a brainwashing that goes on when you go to a Calvinist school. I don’t know how to explain it because how can you believe in the things that they say when they don’t make any logic.

        I want to thank Dr. flowers for his YouTube channel and his two books God‘s provision of for all and the Potter.

      9. Hello Thomas
        I would ask you to try a simple test.

        As you are observing Calvinists of any stripe – I would ask you to look for indicators of DOUBLE-THINK.
        The outward expression of DOUBLE-THINK is going to be DOUBLE-SPEAK.

        So your primary observation will be statements which are essentially DOUBLE-SPEAK statements

        WHAT IS DOUBLE-SPEAK:

        William Lutz, an American linguist on DoubleSpeak:
        -quote
        “Doublespeak is language designed to make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive, or at least tolerable.

        Doublespeak is not a slip of the tongue or a mistake in use of language. It’s exactly the opposite. It is language used by people who are very intelligent, and very sophisticated in the use of language. And know that you can do an awful lot with language.

        Doublespeak is not a matter of subjects and verbs agreeing; it is a matter of words and facts agreeing.

        Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and what really is.
        It is the incongruity between the word and the referent, between seem and be, between the essential function of language—communication — and what doublespeak does — mislead, distort, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.

        Double-speak works by taking advantage of the inherent implicitness of meaning conveyed through everyday language.

        It takes advantage of the fact that normal everyday language use is fundamentally cooperative.

        Doublespeak exploits these principles to do just the opposite: to appear like honest communication while actually hiding facts which are disturbing to the individual.“

  2. Thank you for responding back. My church was a traditional Baptist Church. Got a new Paster two years ago. Him and His wife are very nice people and the church voted him in. He never said anything about being a Reformist until about 9 months ago. He is attempting to change everything reformed. He gives a sermon that sound good, but I am now catching the Calvinist words in it. The rest of the church does not.

    I will probably end up leaving. I have brought up that when a person adds or takes away from the Gospel it becomes a different gospel and thus a false gospel. If a person believes that they were saved before Jesus Christ died on the cross or a person can not accept salvation. It becomes a false gospel.

    1. I would suggest that you confront the Calvinistic doctrines and demonstrate from your knowledge of Scripture why they cannot be accommodated in a Bible believing Christian congregation. It will be unfair to simply walk away from the church without outlining your well reasoned objection.

      1. I would not suggest that myself.
        The Calvinist pastor will play the role of the spider and you will play the role of the fly.

        Calvinism entails a very long tradition of a well developed expertise in DOUBLE-SPEAK

        If you are not prepared – and keenly discerning of exactly how to identify it within his statements – you are guaranteed to be deceived by it..

        And it takes time to understand the underlying doctrine – and how the Calvinist hides the doctrine behind a mask of word games

        Over the centuries numerous non-Calvinist authors have recognized this.
        And today we have Non-Calvinist pastors in denominations actually begging Calvinist pastors to stop using dishonest language.

        Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely
        -quote
        “Calvinist and Non-Calvinist do not share the same meaning of words….. Remember, Calvinism is merely the invoking of associative meaning, not real meaning. By ‘not real’ I mean that the meaning is destroyed in the overall thought of the clause or sentence.
        For, of course, at one level the Calvinist understands the general meaning of words. But when he strings them together in such a way that it forms an idea that is false”

        In other words – the practice involves using language that is designed to mislead.
        In order to not be misled – you will have to have an intense understanding of the aspects of the doctrine which Calvinist language is designed to hide. And without that familiarity you’ll be a drift in an ocean of highly evolved word games.

        He will twist you around his finger in 50 different ways you didn’t even see.
        And over time – as you start to get glimpses of the misleading language – if you share what you are seeing with others – you will be branded as having a rebellious spirit – and you will end up leaving anyway.

      2. Noted thanks. I think it all depends on the depth of one’s conviction on the errors advanced by the Reformed group and their grasp of Biblical theology. A trained pastor or scholar who is familiar with Calvinism will obviously discern the doctrinal errors no matter how semantics are engaged in concealing the tulip weed. What I meant to say is that walking away quietly wont be helpful. Other innocent and less discerning members of the congregation will suffer under the doctrinal deceptions. I agree with you that some teachers can be brutal if one is ill prepared in contending with them.

      3. Thanks Ezekiel!
        I totally understand

        Personally however, I would’t send a soldier into a battle which guarantees he’s simply going to get slaughtered.

        And yes I agree with you
        A scholar – Jerry Walls for example – who has a keen understanding of Universal Divine Causal Determinism – which is the underlying foundational core of the Calvinist system – would know exactly how to respond to the various language tactics and how they work to paint false pictures.

        As a matter of fact it was Dr. Jerry Walls who said: “If Calvinism didn’t depend so heavily upon misleading rhetoric – it would probably die in two years”

        And Dr. William Lane Craig said: “The Calvinist unfortunately and yet consistently fails to enunciate the radical distinctions of his belief system”

        So yes – the scholars understand the reality of the situation.

      4. BR D – could u provide names of resources that would help us identify the double-speak etc? I really want to be versed in this.

      5. Dr. LEIGHTON Has a lot of resources in his books ( I have purchased a few of them and find them very helpful) that Is sold on Amazon and on his website that can help you. Another one that I liked is called the Darkside of Calvinism by George Bryson.

        Dr. LEIGHTON Again has a lot of resources on his website that also goes into scripture supporting a provisional or traditional Christian view and then his videos talk about and guide you through ways to counteract the Calvinist misunderstanding of the Bible.

      6. Hello Thomas and welcome
        We appreciate your post.
        Very happy to know you were blessed by Dr. Flower’s book and work!

        Blessings
        br.d

      7. Hi Ivy – and sure.

        First lets get a good working definition of DOUBLE-SPEAK

        Dr, William Lutz, an American linguist, in an interview on CSPAN concerning his book DoubleSpeak
        -quote
        “Doublespeak is language designed to evade…..to make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive, or at least tolerable.

        Basically, it’s language that pretends to communicate, but really doesn’t. It is language designed to mislead, while pretending not to.

        Doublespeak is not a slip of the tongue or a mistake in use of language. It’s exactly the opposite. It is language used by people who are very intelligent, and very sophisticated in the use of language. And know that you can do an awful lot with language.

        Doublespeak is not a matter of subjects and verbs agreeing; it is a matter of words and facts agreeing.

        Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and what really is. It is the incongruity between the word and the referent, between seem and be,

        Between the essential function of language, which is trustworthy communication — vs what doublespeak does, which is mislead, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.

        Double-speak works by taking advantage of the inherent implicitness of meaning conveyed through everyday language.

        It takes advantage of the fact that normal everyday language use is fundamentally cooperative.

        Doublespeak exploits these principles to do just the opposite: to appear like honest communication while actually hiding incriminating facts.
        ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

        So first take a look at the “T” in Calvinism’s TULIP

        The current “T” in Calvinism’s TULIP is strategically designed to mislead.
        It is designed to attribute man’s impulses and inclinations to man’s nature.
        This – in linguistic terms – is a lie of omission.

        A lie of omission – is a statement designed to mislead – by the strategy of omitting critical facts – which if not omitted would not mislead.

        The critical fact that is being obfuscated here – is the fact that per Calvinism’s doctrine of decrees – the TRUE “T” in the TULIP would not stand for Total Depravity – it would stand for TOTALLY PREDESTINED NATURE.

        Nature – including man’s nature – is 100% meticulously predestined – at every instance in time.
        And man has NO SAY and NO CHOICE in the matter of anything that is predestined.

        And since EVERYTHING is predestined – it follows – man has NO SAY and NO CHOICE in the matter of anything.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        The creatures…are so governed by the secret counsel of god, that NOTHING HAPPENS but what he has knowingly and willingly
        decreed. (Institutes, 1, 16, Par. 3)

        Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin
        -quote
        “God merely PROGRAMMED into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions”(The Doctrine of Divine Decree pg 4)

        So in Calvinism the TRUE cause of man’s impulses and inclinations are not man’s nature.
        Because NOTHING HAPPENS in nature – that is not knowingly and willingly decreed.

        The “T” in Calvinism’s TULIP is designed to OBFUSCATE the truth.
        And it therefore fits the description of DOUBLE-SPEAK

      8. Here are some book Authors who acknowledge that Calvinist language is a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK

        The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – in its article on Theological Determinism writes this concerning the language used by Calvinist Paul Helm:
        “Paul Helm, another staunch theological determinist of the Calvinist variety, simply says that God’s providence is ‘extended to all that He has created’ (1993, p. 39). The problem with such characterizations is that they are subject to multiple interpretations, some of whom would be affirmed by theological indeterminists.”

        Dr. William Lane Craig, in his interactions with Calvinist Paul Kjoss Helseth, in the authoring of the book Four Views on Divine Providence writes:
        “A A. Hodge’s six-point summary of the classical Reformed view of divine providence, quoted by Paul Kjoss Helseth under ‘The True View of Providence Summarized’ falls short of expressing the radical distinctives of the Reformed position that Helseth defends.”

        Dr. Jerry Walls, in his presentation What’s wrong with Calvinism states:
        “If Calvinists didn’t rely so heavily on misleading rhetoric, their theology would lose all credibility within two years.”

        Norman Geisler in his book Chosen but Free writes:
        “Some Calvinists use smoke-and-mirror tactics to avoid the harsh implications of their view” (pg 104)
        “This is done by redefining terms and Theological Doublespeak” (pg 261)

        Laurence M. Vance in The Other Side of Calvinism writes about:
        “The confusing labyrinth of Calvinist terminology” (pg 556)

        Micah Coate in his book The Cultish side of Calvinism writes:
        “Calvinists arguments are buried in theological and grammatical doublespeak.”

        Ronnie W. Rogers, in his book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist writes:
        As mentioned in several places throughout this book, within Calvinism there is a problem of what I call doubletalk. But I am not implying immoral or clandestine trickery. Nor am I suggesting conspiratorial deceit. I must admit that upon reflection on my time being a Calvinist, I did the same thing. I did not do this out ill motive or intent to deceive, or because of a lack of desire to be faithful to the scripture. Nor do I ascribe this to my Calvinist brothers. As a matter of fact, I did it because I believed Calvinism and the Scripture; and this brought about conflicts, or at least unconscious responses to the conflicts, which I now see as doubletalk. This doubletalk obscured the harsh realities of Calvinism and the inconsistencies between Scripture and Calvinism. ”

        Authors David L. Allen, Eric Hankins, and Adam Harwood in their book Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of “Traditional” Southern Baptist Soteriology write:
        “This is a clear example of what I call Calvinism’s double-talk. By double-talk, I specifically and only mean thinking….speaking in such a way that obscures the disquieting realities of Calvinism. If a person accepts these realities, then he can be a knowledgeable and consistent Calvinist. But if one is unwilling to face them and accept them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist. Additionally, I am not calling anyone a double-talker nor is my use of this term intended in any sense to be a pejorative.”

        Gilbert VanOrder Jr in his book Calvinism’s Conflicts: An Examination of the Problems in Reformed Theology writes:
        “Calvinists then have to resort to double-talk in order to explain how human responsibility is still involved even though it isn’t. If a man can do nothing to change his condition, then he cannot be held responsible for changing his condition”.

        Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely in his book Calvinism a closer look writes:
        “Calvinist and Non-Calvinist do not share the same meaning of words….. Remember, Calvinism is merely the invoking of associative meaning, not real meaning. By ‘not real’ I mean that the meaning is destroyed in the overall thought of the clause or sentence. For, of course, at one level the Calvinist understands the general meaning of words. But when he strings them together in such a way that it forms an idea that is false…
        This is what I used to do as a Calvinist. I liken these non-sense statements, or propositions, to the riding of a rocking horse….. Thus, I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin. All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. At length I would allow the springs of dialectical tension to rest the rocking horse in the center, and then I would declare as harmonious propositions, which in fact, were totally contradictory to each other. Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario.”

        Francis Hodgson in his book The Calvinistic Doctrine of Predestination Examined and Refuted, 1855 writes:
        “The apology for this gross misapplication of language…..is found in their distressing emergency.
        In no other way can they, with any plausibility, meet their opponents.”

    2. Hi, Thomas,
      I would also suggest that if you are going to confront this, that you would first go to your new preacher privately. Go prepared, find out what he actually believes, try to reason with him and convince him of the truth from the scriptures, for his sake. This is probably going to involve more than one visit, but, in the end you might have to spell out what can’t be taught from the pulpit. And if he won’t listen to you in terms of not preaching his doctrines, then bring one or two other trusted witnesses with you, perhaps even one or two of the elders if you have them. If he listens to them, great, but if not, then ye bring it before the church. At least by then ye will have a fuller knowledge of where he is coming from.
      But, one way or the other, ye will still have to ask yourselves, ‘does the church still have a right to know who this man is, and what he represents?’ The approach I have outlined above might be the best way to minimize the possible damage here. It’s still early days, he has not rooted himself too deeply yet. You don’t want to be dealing with this 10 or 15 years down the road when the damage would be much greater. As we say over here, “a stitch in time saves nine.” But all of this is just my suggestion if you decide to confront this.

    3. I am in the midst of a pastoral confrontation myself — not over Calvinism, but over different matters. I agree with Aiden that you should first go privately to your pastor and ask a simple question: “are you theologically reformed?” If he answers affirmatively, then you approach your elders. It is their job to hold him accountable — not yours. You simply first ensure that you are walking on solid ground, not conjecture and assumptions, regarding his foundational theology.

      Once you have confirmed his beliefs, and assuming he confirms he is a Calvinist, leaving quietly without confrontation is not really Biblical in my opinion. It is being a peaceKEEPER instead of a peaceMAKER. You have an obligation to speak the truth in love as a Christian. First, if your church has a published statement of faith, and it is not Reformed, and it is not subject to revision on such a profound level as Reformed vs non-Reformed theology by the pastor, then I would first ask those that interviewed him whether those questions (“are you Reformed in your theology?”) came up during the interview process. If not, lesson learned: ask them in the future. If they did come up, and he answered evasively or opaquely, that too is a problem that must be addressed. Or if they came up, he answered truthfully, and was hired anyway, that too is a problem — not with the pastor but with your board.

      Pastors that quietly creep in unaware to bring Calvinism into churches is becoming more and more of a problem. I encountered it just this past weekend where a friend related a story about leaving an AofG church in the area for a variety of reasons. Among the reasons was that the young pastor described himself as a “Reformed Pentecostal”. And by that he meant theologically Reformed — not just “a cleaned up and redeemed sinner.” I was frankly shocked that he had made it into the pulpit because the AofG statement of faith is emphatically not Reformed. It made me very curious as to their vetting process. I am also concerned about those seeking pastoral jobs who aren’t more up-front about such beliefs in non-reformed churches such as Foursquare, Calvary Chapel, AofG, etc. If you are Reformed you know you are Reformed. Keeping that “under the hood” borders on deception. Not asking during the interview process borders on negligence.

      1. If you approach him with the question however – be personally prepared for him to not tell the truth – and be prepared for the congregation headed for a split.

        It happens

      2. It certainly does happen. But if it has to be dealt with, then the sooner the better seeing that he has not being there that long. Don’t wan’t to give time for the leaven to leaven the whole lump. The question in my mind is why aren’t the Elders dealing with this issue now that he has publicly admitted to being Reformed? Why leave it to this young man? — (he sounds like a young man to me). And, if the elders are not bothered about this preacher’s admission, then that group is already in trouble.

      3. I concur. The sooner this tulip weed menu is removed from the congregation’s stable of spiritual food, the better.

        My view is that a mature and well well instructed Christian congregation is more likely to summon its collective resolve in fighting heresy. The residual haemorrhage will be considerably low. For a congregation that still feeds on milk, false the teachers will easily drown them in heresy, hands down.

        This is where the distinction lies…

      4. Maybe his congregation doesn’t have an eldership yet, mine doesn’t. But I can tell you now that if a preacher came into our congregation and somewhere down the road admitted to being Reformed, the men would have a meeting with him and sort it out quickly. Even before we brought it before the congregation we would have consensus among the men who are the ones who make the final decision in the absence of elders. If we left it on the long finger the collateral damage would be huge.

      5. Thanks, Br.d, let’s hope we can keep it that way. But the hardest ones are when the wolves grow up among you – they are the ones that cause the most collateral damage.

      6. Yes – I remember a split in which two brothers came into a Non-Calvinist church at the same time.
        The church currently had no pastor.

        Those two became hyper zealous over all of the church activities
        And the other people appreciated their zeal and it didn’t take long before they became elders

        They then wanted to search for a pastor – and conveniently enough – had one they highly recommended.
        They then manipulated the pastoral search rules – not allowing any questions to be asked about Calvinism.
        Low and behold – the pastor they recommended just happened to be reformed.

        At first he told the congregation his theology was a secondary issue and should not divide anyone.
        But what he was actually doing was identifying members whom he could pull over to his side.
        After having accomplished that – he began to make life miserable for those who would not accept reformed doctrine
        They left

        And he and the two elders got what they wanted from the beginning.

      7. I suppose the lesson is that we have to be on the watch for wolves, even among elders.

        Matthew 7:15-20
        15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

        Acts 20:29-31
        29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking [h]perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

    4. Has he clearly confirmed he is Reformed or are you surmising?

      Does your church / denomination openly embrace or reject that theology?

      Those two questions should guide you. It is then a matter for the elders to deal with. If he lies or is evasive, that is frankly cause for immediate dismissal. It sounds as though adequate due diligence was not done 2 years ago and now the congregation is paying dearly for it. Yes, a split may ensue but there is always a risk that when you lovingly confront, it will not be received. It doesn’t relieve the elders, however, from their obligations to hold the shepherd accountable.

      1. Mrteebs
        Has he clearly confirmed he is Reformed or are you surmising?

        br.d
        In a casual conversation – tell your pastor that you love Dr. Flower’s youtube videos about Calvinism – and then watch his body language.
        :-]

        BTW: Thomas

        If you are not familiar with Dr. Flower’s Youtube videos on Calvinism – you might find them highly helpful.

        You’ll start to get a taste for what I’ve been describing concerning Calvinism’s strategical use of misleading language.

  3. I concur. The sooner this tulip weed menu is removed from the congregation’s stable of spiritual food, the better.

    My view is that a mature and well well instructed Christian congregation is more likely to summon its collective resolve in fighting heresy. The residual haemorrhage will be considerably low. For a congregation that still feeds on milk, false teachers will easily drown them in heresy, hands down.

    This is where the distinction lies.

    I reckon that Calvinism is one of the stealthiest of Gnostic soteriological constructs in Christian history. They are heavily tinged with confusing but well choreographed philosophical suppositions that easily escape prudence of the ordinary pew Christian.

  4. hallo Dr. Leighton flower, my name is Tommy, i am from indonesia. my english is not good, i wish you can understand what i say. i am a non-calvinist, i dont believe God had predestinate some people to go to the heaven and some to the hell, but how we can understand what John say in John 10:26
    “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
    some calvinist said that a person don’t believe in Christ because he is not Christ sheep not because he have free will, what do you think of that verse? tq Dr Leighton Flower

    1. Hello Tommy and welcome
      Dr. Flowers – due to his busy schedule – is not here regularly to interact with posters.
      You may more readily find him on Facebook if you are an FB user.

      As to your question concerning Calvinism – I hope you don’t mind if I provide a little information that will greatly help you to understand it.

      The underlying foundational core of Calvinism – and what separates Calvinism from its alternatives – is Exhaustive Divine Determinism.

      The idea is of a THEOS who at the foundation of the world – before creatures are created – determines what the state of nature will be – for every instance in time.

      And this includes the state of every human being’s nature at every instance in time
      So every nano-second of man’s nature is 100% meticulously predestined to come to pass infallibly.

      Therefore in Calvinism – if a person’s state of nature is that they believe – it is because that state of nature was meticulously determined.
      And since every human impulse is 100% meticulously predetermined – the human has no say in the matter of anything he will think, say or do.

      Humans in this case – have no say in the matter of anything concerning themselves or concerning anything external to themselves.
      Every impulse and perception which comes to pass within the human brain – does so infallibly
      And thus – all impulses and perceptions which come to pass within the human brain are totally irresistible to the human.

      So whatever the human “will” is – is also 100% meticulously predetermined *FOR* each human and not *BY* that human.
      In this case – man is said to have free will.
      But he is granted no say in the matter of what his will will be.

      That should help explain to you a great deal about how the Calvinist interprets scripture.
      For the Calvinist – all scripture interpretation – must conform to that understanding.

      Once you understand that underlying foundation – you then can understand how the Calvinist interprets any verse in the Bible.

      Blessings!
      br.d

  5. Do you guys know of a simple to use study book/workbook that introduces new believers to the Bible, Christianity, God, Jesus, and salvation. I know the watch tower has for Jehovah’s Witnesses ( I don’t recommend It) or “Foundations of Faith” by John MacArthur, but without the Calvin junk.

    I think this would be a good tool when witnessing to other people.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hello Thomas Farrell and welcome

      I think we’ve had this question before.
      Brian – had a recommendation – lets see if he pipes in here.

      A book that I know of which I believe is very valuable is Gordon Fee’s “Reading the Bible for All its worth”

      Blessings
      br.d

    2. You can also try the study guide and 10-part video series “Foundations of Faith” by Rick Renner. The videos are on YouTube and 30-min each. Guaranteed TULIP-free. 😉

    3. Hi Thomas,
      We have an online Bible Correspondence Course that people can download. But I think you can order them as well if that suits better. It’s called “Know Your Bible.” If you want to have a look just type in churchofchrist.ie and click into “online resources.”

      Here are what the lessons are about:
      Lesson 1 – Distinguishing between the Old and New Testaments
      Lesson 2 – Sin and the blood of Christ
      Lesson 3 – Salvation
      Lesson 4 – The New Testament Church
      Lesson 5 – Denominationalism
      Lesson 6 – Baptism

      1. Hi Cannier,
        Have you tried going into our website http://www.churchofchrist.ie? Then just click into “online resources” at the top, it will bring you into where our Bible correspondence course is. These are Bible lessons in pdf format. All you have to do is download each one onto your home pc and complete each lesson using your bible. I can get the moderator here to give you my email if you are interested in doing these lessons.

        Regards, Aidan

  6. br.d. Do does Eternal Security for All true believers mean “Once Saved Always Saved” or do you believe It’s possible for a Truly Saved Christian to sin so severely that if they don’t repent and Change , ask for forgiveness that they can be lost Forever and doomed to Hell

    1. Hi Jeff
      For the NON-Calvinist Christian this question is typically found to be a personal position for each unique believer. Some believers read the warning verses in the N.T. and they are personally persuaded that those verses require a due-diligence for them to “make their calling and election sure”. Others may be persuaded that the only thing in jeopardy is the type of crown they will wear in heaven.

      Calvinism as you know – is founded on EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM.
      Per the doctrine – Calvin’s god creates the vast majority of human creatures specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

      And in Calvinism – a person does not do anything to deserve eternal torment – because for the Calvinist that would entail Calvin’s god looking down the corridor of time – OBSERVING what each person does – and then decreeing their eternal fate accordingly.

      And in Calvinism – that would entail Calvin’s god LEARNING THROUGH OBSERVATION what each person will be and do. And that for the Calvinist would be considered an insult and compromise to divine sovereignty.

      So in Calvinism – what makes a person “deserve” damnation is that Calvin’s god decides before he creates each person whether or not they will “deserve” damnation – because he determined to create/design them specifically for damnation.

      John Calvin
      -quote
      By the eternal *GOOD PLEASURE* of god though the reason does not appear, they are *NOT FOUND* but *MADE* worthy of destruction. – (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of god)

      Additionally according to the doctrine – a percentage of Calvinists are specifically deceived by Calvin’s god – and given a FALSE SENSE of salvation/election.

      John Calvin
      -quote
      But the Lord…..instills into their minds such a *SENSE* of his goodness as can be felt *WITHOUT* the Spirit of adoption. (Institutes pg 342)

      John Calvin
      -quote
      He also causes those whom he illumines *ONLY FOR A TIME* to partake of it; then he….forsakes them…..and strikes them with even greater blindness (Institutes 3.2.11)

      Calvinists have what they call “Perseverance” of the saints. But you have to understand – there is a “Dark Side” to “Perseverance” in Calvinism.

      In Calvinism – every event that is coming to pass over time – is coming to pass by infallible decree – and while that infallible decree is in effect – that event is “Persevering”

      So it LOGICALLY FOLLOWS in Calvinism – there are Calvinist believers who are given a TRUE faith and TRUE election – and that TRUE faith is “Persevering” by virtue of the decree which established it.

      And there are also Calvinist believers who are given a FALSE faith and FALSE SENSE of election – and that FALSE SENSE is also “Persevering” by virtue of the decree which established it.

      FEW Calvinist believers are designed/created for heaven and are given TRUE election.

      MANY Calvinist believers are designed/created for damnation – and are given a FALSE SENSE of election salvation.

      They one’s given a FALSE SENSE of election salvation – are typically not permitted to discern they have been given a FALSE SENSE of election salvation.

      John Calvin explains
      -quote
      A small and contemptible number are hidden in a *HUGE MULTITUDE* and a few grains of wheat are covered by *A PILE OF CHAFF*, we must leave to God alone the knowledge of his church, whose foundation is his SECRET election. (Institutes 4.1.4)

      So Calvinists believe in once saved always saved – but no Calvinist has any CERTAINTY that he is saved – because he could easily be among the *HUGE MULTITUDE* whom Calvin’s god gave a FALSE SENSE of salvation election – and not permitted to know it.

      According to the doctrine – a *HUGE MULTITUDE* of Calvinists go through their whole lives being divinely deceived by Calvin’s god about their salvation – and then at some point wake up in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure

  7. I can agree with the spirit of your stand but may I disagree with these:

    1. “We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ “: what about Christus Victor and overcoming the powers of evil and darkness (see e.g. Col 2:15)
    2. “We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God”: only if it’s the sin that God is angry at and not the person because if it’s the person it would be internally at odds with itself i.e. the individual has inherited the consequent mess of the fall but God is still angry at this person who has necessarily fallen and is incapable of being sinless.

  8. All soteriological and theological considerations aside, Calvin was a terrible, terrible man. Note the pleasure he took from slowly torturing Servetus to death (and anyone else who disagree with his “christianity”. Are we really sure Calvin was even a Christian?
    Yes, yes, an ad hominem for sure…but a worthwhile and insightful one I say!

    1. Hello Marc and welcome
      And yes – from Calvin’s own statements about the affair – it becomes obvious he was driven by malice and revenge.

      Also many letters he wrote were retained. And some of those include letters to Catholic head-hunters telling them the where-abouts of protestants who openly disagreed with Calvin’s doctrines. Calvin wrote to the head-hunters to tell them where they could find those protestants and he asked them to kill them.

      There was also a type of paranoia about him.
      When a woman in the town would help a sick person and restore that person back to health – Calvin would claim she must have done it through witch-craft and have her killed.

      Calvin’s behavior and writings betray him as a man driven much more by the spirit the god of this world then by a Holy Spirit.

      1. Scripture teaches very clearly that we are to judge a tree based on its fruit. We are naturally inclined as humans to judge based on gifts and talents rather than fruit. There is a tendency to in Calvinist circles particularly (but not exclusively) to judge based on gifts. “Oh, he’s so eloquent!” “Oh, he’s such a gifted teacher!” (here, they even unwittingly admit it is all about gifts). What you rarely hear, however, is “Oh, he bears so much good fruit!”.

        Jesus went out of his way to illustrate the difference in Matthew 7:15-23. I would paraphrase the passage this way:
        – Judge the tree by its fruit
        – Even people operating in spiritual gifts (casting out demons, miracles, prophecy) are not exempt; they could conceivably do these things and yet be disqualified from entering heaven

        I do not assume that because Calvin had a logical mind, could generate volumes of theological treatises, and could rule Zurich with an iron fist that he was bearing good fruit. I consider Luther to have born much better fruit, in fact.

      2. br.d
        I would love to see a Calvinist married couple sitting in the pew just after the sermon was completed.

        And the husband turns to the wife and says “Those were really interesting impulses that Calvin’s made infallibly and irresistibly come to pass within the pastor’s brain today. I’ll be the pastor had no ideal that Calvin’s god was going to make him say all that! ;-D

      3. Also, please understand that I am not singling out Calvinists as being unfruitful or of judging based only on gifts. I am simply saying:
        1) Calvin is almost always held up admiringly based on his gifts – not his fruit (“Institutes” is not fruit)
        2) Calvin’s character is sketchy to say the least; pride got Lucifer kicked out of heaven and I detect more than a small amount of spiritual pride in Calvin. Just sayin’

    2. Hey Marc and BRDMOD. What is your source for saying that Calvin took pleasure in slowly torturing Servetus to death? I read about it at GotQuestions.org, which I halfway expected to deny the story or play it down… (and in a sense, they did play it down somewhat by contrasting the execution with those of the Spanish Inquisition). Their account says that Calvin tried to get the Geneva Council to execute him with the sword, but they refused and burned him at the stake. Would you mind giving your source for your version of the event? Thank y’all!

      1. Hello cannier
        I don’t remember ever stating Calvin took pleasure in slowly torturing Servetus to death.

        What I have stated on numerous occasions – is that it was obvious from Calvin’s statements about Servetus, that Calvin wanted Servetus dead – and had no reservations about letting people know it.

        Servetus took a copy of Calvin’s institutes and wrote critical comments in various places throughout it – and then mailed that copy back to Calvin. Those comments in all probability infuriated a John Calvin – who by that point in time enjoyed magistrates in Geneva who would punish anyone for the slightest offence against Calvin. Obviously he exercised a great deal of influence and authority over them.

        From Wikipedia:
        -quote
        Following his return to Geneva (1541-1564) Calvin introduced new forms of church government……despite opposition from several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority.

        Geneva records – during that time period – translated by Stefan Zewig, Eramus
        Compiled by Jack Moorman

        – During the pestilence of 1545 more than 20 men and women burnt alive for witchcraft.

        – 1542-1546 – 58 judgments of death and 26 decrees of banishment.

        – 1558-1559 – a total of 414 punishments.

        – One citizen smiled while attending a baptism: 3 days in prison.

        – One citizen fell asleep during one of Calvin’s sermons: sentenced to prison.

        – A workmen ate pastry at breakfast: 3 days on bread and water.

        – 2 citizens were caught playing skittles: prison.

        – A citizen was heard complimenting Castellio’s translation of the Bible: expelled from Geneva.

        – A girl was caught skating, a widow threw herself on the grave of her husband, a citizen offered his neighbor a pinch of snuff during Calvin’s church service: these were summoned before the Consistory, exhorted and ordered to do penance.

        – Two citizens talked about business matters while walking out of church: prison.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        If he [Servetus] comes [to Geneva], as far as my authority goes, I would not let him leave alive.
        (A letter from Calvin to Farel dated 1546)

        I think you get the picture.

      2. GotQuestions.org is a Calvinistic forum and I am not surprised by what you have reported concerning their explanation. Calvinists will always brush off legitimate criticism leveled at their founders.

      3. Hello Ezekiel and welcome
        Yes – I agree – and its understandable that they would.
        Within human social groups – we have a phenomenon sometimes called “Vicarious boasting”

        It is not unusual – that an individual person may find that belonging to a group or guild which perceives or touts itself as being superior (which is typical of Calvinism) gives to that individual person a persona he would not otherwise have outside of that group.

        The individual identifies himself with some corporate unit (church, guild, company, lodge, party, team, college, city, nation, etc.) – and by praise offered to that unit, he vicariously compliments himself.

        You may notice – one characteristic trait of Calvinism is the respecting of persons. Those persons may be Calvin, or Augustine, or Jon Edwards, or any other renowned Calvinist.

        By raising those respected persons up on a pedestal – the individual Calvinist vicariously raises himself up as a member of the respected guild.

        So it makes sense that with that as an emotional investment – a Calvinist is not going to want to acknowledge anything that would besmirch the sacred image – because any negative reflection would likewise be reflected back on that Calvinist.

        Blessings!
        br.d

      4. Hi Canny, I don’t know if Calvin was sadistic, but he certainly supported capital punishment for those he deemed heretics, which included those who rejected their infant baptism. Here’s some evidence.

        Calvin – statements pro capital punishment for heresy.

        In his Prefatory Address to the Institutes –
        “For I fear not to declare, that what I have here given may be regarded as a summary of the very doctrine which, they [the heretics] vociferate, ought to be punished with confiscation, exile, imprisonment, and flames, as well as exterminated by land and sea.”

        In Schaff’s Church History, vol VIII, para 157 – from Calvin’s Treatise Against Servetus –
        “Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church.”

        In his commentary on Christ’s command in Matt 13:30, “Let both grow together until the harvest” –
        “This passage has been most improperly abused by the Anabaptists, and by others like them, to take from the Church the power of the sword. But it is easy to refute them; …. I shall satisfy myself with replying, that Christ does not now speak of the office of pastors or of magistrates, but removes the offense which is apt to disturb weak minds, when they perceive that the Church is composed not only of the elect, but of the polluted dregs of society.”

        In his Letter 389 –
        “…papers and books of his Castalion [a heretic], in which an attempt was made to impugn our doctrine touching predestination, have been condemned with a prohibition to publish them on pain of death.”

        Responsio ad Balduini Convicia, Opera, IX. 575: (in Schaff, VIII, 137)
        “Servetus suffered the penalty due to his heresies, but was it by my will? Certainly his arrogance destroyed him not less than his impiety. And what crime was it of mine if our Council, at my exhortation, indeed, but in conformity with the opinion of several Churches, took vengeance on his execrable blasphemies? Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.”

  9. Do the Calvinists believe that everything we do is pre-determined by God? If so what role does Satan and/or Demons have? Are mans actions pre-determined even after he is born again? If so, is the role of the Holy Spirit in conflict with the predetermined sinful actions we do, so that the trinity is a house divided against itself?

    1. Welcome John! Yes they do, though it is very difficult to get them to admit that “pre-determined” means God is therefore the cause of every sin, including the ones believers commit after being born again.

    2. Hi y’all. I would like to add to John’s question, BrianWagner. Are there some “Reformed” who take more of a “SEMI”-determinism view? IOW, do they ALL generally believe that everything that comes to pass is ordained/determined by God? What about a leaf that falls from a tree in my backyard– do they believe that God determined THAT to happen?

      I’m curious as to how far they take God’s “determinism,” or whether it varies among those who call themselves “Reformed.” If ever you can provide a reference for your answer, I would very much appreciate it! Thank you!

      1. cannier
        Hello Hi y’all. I would like to add to John’s question, BrianWagner. Are there some “Reformed” who take more of a “SEMI”-determinism view?

        br.d
        Hello cannier
        I know you addressed your question to Brian – but if you don’t mind – I would give my 2 cents on this question

        One would assume that since Calvinism’s foundational core is founded on Exhaustive Divine Determinism (EDD) – the Calvinist would be logically consistent with it.

        But the truth is – the implications of EDD are such that no Calvinist can actually accept them.
        They are simply too radical to accept.

        Take another belief system as an example – and that is the belief in Solipsism.
        The fundamental doctrine of Solipsism is that the believer is the only living person who really exists – and everyone else he interacts with is a figment of his imagination.

        Now consider the consequences of that doctrine.
        What would a married man’s wife say about her husband treating her as a figment of his imagination?
        It doesn’t take much to understand – she is not going to find that demeaning – and not take kindly to it.
        If he is a recent believer – and he treats his wife according to the dictate of his belief – then the consequence could be a divorce.

        Or lets say he works in a company and has a boss or a supervisor.
        Neither his boss – or his supervisor are going to take kindly to a person under them who treats them *AS-IF* they are a figment of his imagination.

        Long story short – the Solipsist belief is not a belief that be lived without heavy consequences.
        Most Solipsists are careful to treat people *AS-IF* they are real in order to avoid those consequenes.

        What this means is – the Solipsist asserts his doctrine as TRUE – while treating it *AS-IF* it is FALSE.
        This is the consequence of embracing a belief system that is very radical.

        Determinism has the same exact effect for hits adherents.
        Both Atheist Determinists and Theological Determinists face the same consequences.
        And they both go about their office *AS-IF* Determinism is FALSE.

        Nationally recognized Theoretical Physicist – Sean Carrol – is a devout Atheist Determinist
        Sean Carrol
        -quote
        “People tend to say things like, I drink coffee. But I can DO OTHERWISE and not drink coffee.
        But is that TRUE for an Atheist Determinist? The answer is no!
        For an Atheist Determinist, the arrangement of universe determines everything I will do and I CANNOT DO OTHERWISE. But that is not a practical way of talking. So when I talk to people I speak *AS-IF* Determinism is FALSE.”

        Stephen Hawking – a staunch determinist in a presentation given at Lady Michel Hall Oxford
        -quote
        After looking at the matter for many years I believe Determinism is true
        But in order to live a normal life – I have concluded I must live AS-IF determinism is false.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “All future things being uncertain to us, we hold them in suspense, AS THOUGH they might happen either one way or another.” (Institutes Vol. i. p.193)

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to so to apply himself to his office, AS THOUGH nothing were determined about any part.” (Concerning the eternal predestination of god)

        So you can see – Determinism is such a radical belief system – no one can live it coherently.
        And the Calvinist solution is to hold the doctrine of decrees as TRUE – while treating that doctrine *AS-IF* it is FALSE

        And this is the reason – Calvinist language is recognized as a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK.

      2. Welcome Canny! Like most theological groups, reformed theology has a variety of views on the same subject they say they agree on. They say they agree with the wording of the Heidelberg, Westminster, or London (Baptist) confessions, but when asked to explain specific words they will often reveal significant even contradictory sounding differences.

        But basically there are two views of determinism.
        One is called “hard determinism”, including the eternally foreknown movement of every atom and no freewill. The other is “soft determinism” or “compatibilism” which includes the eternally foreknown movement of every atom and of free will (meaning free to do, according to its nature, those foreknown movements).

        You can read about these views and the various nuances of each at monergism.com. But I recommend that you keep in mind there is no verse in Scripture, especially none of the verses the articles on that site may point to, that clearly teach everything was eternally immutably predestined before creation to work out only one way.

        They try to read that into various verses, but none of those verses have the two ideas of everything predestined or before creation. And there are many verses that clearly contradict that premise of the pre-creation pre-determinism of everything.

        Is God Himself really locked in and limited to a future where there are no possibilities still existing for Him to freely choose between? Does He know, can He know, of decisions that have not yet been made by Him?

  10. To BRIANWAGNER, BRDMOD, BR.D: I don’t see any way to reply to your replies to my questions, so I’ll say “Thank you” right here, if that’s OK. I appreciate y’all taking the time to address my questions.

  11. Thank you for this!!! I have spent many frustrating hours looking for non-calvinist commentaries that I can add to my logos software before I found this page. I thought I might be a calvinist until I learned what they believe. It’s popularity is disgusting and depressing.

    Can this list be maintained in alphabetical order? It would make things much easier as the list grows longer.

    1. Hello Maureen – and welcome
      Thank you for your comments.
      And unfortunately, I don’t be believe there is a way to sort topics in alphabetical order.

      I thank the Lord that he gave you discernment to not be ensnared by Calvinist talking points.
      You were delivered from Calvinism’s world of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

      One piece of information that will help you understand what it means to survive as a Calvinist.
      The doctrine works to puff-up the religious ego.

      The consequence however – because the doctrine is so radical – the Calvinist mind becomes conditioned to treat the doctrine *AS-IF* it is FALSE in order to retain any sense of human NORMALCY.

      The Lord giving you wisdom not to get ensnared in it – saved you from its DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS

      1. This is completely off topic ,Leighton made a video discussing the translation issue concerning the Greek word apo & pro in certain scriptures. Ephesians 1 uses the word pro is this correct? Would the text be more accurate using from the foundation of the world? Please clarify this issue when you have the time please & thank you.

      2. Hello Michael,
        Brian teaches the Greek – lets see if we can get him to address this question.

        br.d

      3. Thank you Michael for the question. In Eph 1:4-5 the idea of before creation is clear, just like the idea from creation is clear in those other verses.

        The understanding of Eph 1:4 is focused more on how to understand “us in Him” as it relates to “before” creation. Maybe this will help.

        Eph 1, 4&5 Individual Election was not before creation!

        Determinists have always tried to read too much into these verses that Paul wrote in a context about blessings we now have, now that we are in Christ. Some of those blessings were given to Him (the only Elect one) before creation, to be shared with all who would later be joined to Him and become one of the elect in Him. The ones in verses 4 and 5 are such blessings… Verse four is not about being chosen in Christ, but chosen in Christ “to be” holy and blameless.

        The pronoun “us” is being used in both verses, 4&5, in a general reference, anachronistic sense, like me saying – “The Native Americans were chased by us before the Revolution so that they would live west of the Appalachian Mtn range.”

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

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

        We say, with Paul, we have the same privileges/blessings granted to the Son of God before creation that would go to any in His lineage. This is just like a written will grants privileges to children not yet conceived or even thought about, the privileges granted to Jesus before creation were made available then to all who would be born again through personal faith. Those inheritance privileges are now ours individually, since we are now individually joined to Him by spiritual birth through our personal faith. We now have the blessing to stand holy and blameless before God as one of God’s chosen in the Chosen One – Christ, and we are now predestined for the inheritance that all sons receive.

        ********
        Questions to ask a determinist:
        When God supposedly “chose” you before creation, were you unchosen at some point and then chosen, according to the normal meaning of that word? What did God see when He supposedly chose you… just your name, your life up to some point where He decided He wanted to get involved noticeably to you, or your whole life forever and all His involvement in it already? In other words, what does “you” mean when He chose “you” back then before you even existed? Trying to answer these questions will hopefully help a determinist see they are being dogmatic about a premise – determinism – that Paul wasn’t even trying to teach about in this passage, and which is illogical when using the words “chose… before the foundation of the world”, if no actual choice of any individuals, who didn’t even exist back then, was made.

        Here’s a good 10min video discussion in support of this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FxHfnqLBmg

  12. Hi, just to comment that William G MacDonald, Phillip Towner and Michael Brown are mentioned twice on the list

    1. Hello David, and welcome
      Thank you very much for pointing that out!!

      I’ll pass that on to the content developer.
      We greatly appreciate!

      blessings
      br.d

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