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Calvinism and the Sovereignty of God

Posted by truthtalklive on January 4, 2008

 Today’s show is a “best of” so please do not call in but feel free to leave comments here.

Dr. Steve Lawson www.newreformationministries.org Dr. Lawson is senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile Alabama

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80 Responses to “Calvinism and the Sovereignty of God”

  1. Paulinian said

    I’ll say this one thing. You don’t have to be a Calvinist to believe in and understand the Sovereignty of God. And if we deny Calvinism, that doesn’t mean we adhere to Arminianism either. Both are “theology” constructed by men, fallible men with limited understanding.

    As far as Calvinism goes, I can’t get past the “T”. I understand death differently than a Calvinist would – which is foundational to the “T”. :0

    I had a pelagianist call me a Calvinist simply because I believe in original sin and eternal security 🙂

    – the Paulinian 😉

  2. ADB said

    Paulinian, I agree that the labels we toss around aren’t particularly helpful. We do well to remember that the little “TULIP” acronym does not come from Calvin himself, but from his followers roughly a century later if memory serves me correctly, and that it does not come close to representing all of his thought. For all the talk about Calvinists vs. Wesleyans, though they of course differed in predestination, their conception of the church and view of the sacraments were remarkably similar. Though he wrote nearly 500 years ago, his Bibical commentaries can still be helpful and his Institutes were the main systematic theology text in the seminary I attended.

  3. Jeff said

    “As far as Calvinism goes, I can’t get past the “T”. I understand death differently than a Calvinist would – which is foundational to the “T”. :0” – Paulinian

    That is very interesting. It is usually the “L” that gives people the most trouble. Explain further please.

  4. Jeff said

    Yes, the “TULIP” was developed (at the Synod of Dort, 1618-19) in response to the Arminain challenge of official church doctrine. Calvin had nothing to do with it personally, but it does accurately reflect his soteriology. The Remonstrants (followers of Jacob Arminius, who was also dead by then) had protested against certain aspects of official church teaching – total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption (a term I prefer over the classic “limited atonement”), and irresistable grace. They were split on perseverance of the saints.

  5. ADB said

    Jeff, Thanks for clarifying when the TULIP was developed. I can’t believe I did not remember the Synod of Dort. You of course are correct that as far as it goes, the TULIP correctly represents Calvin’s thought. It just isn’t sufficient for a total understanding of Calvinism, which is why many today who would claim to be Calvinists would choke on other parts of his thought- his steadfast defense of infant baptism, view of the Lord’s Supper, eschatology, etc. Anyway, best wishes.

  6. jAsOn said

    Good thoughts guys…one thing that may add to this discussion is that at the core of the Reformed/”Calvinistic” view of soteriology is that regeneration preceeds faith; this is inseperably tied to the doctrine of total depravity. When I was first exposed to Calvinistic soteriology I thought of the “5 points” as five different stars in a constellation, but after 5-6 years of contemplation, I believe it would be more accurate to describe the “5 points” as 5 points of doctrine on the same star–one five pointed star. Note also that these 5 doctrines were never historically seen as a system of soteriology that theologians had to fit scripture into but rather, they came out of a systematic view of the doctrine of soteriology whose source is the bible.

  7. the Paulinian said

    Jeff,

    I would need to agree with “T” and “U” before I could get to “L”. Seeing that each one is interweaved into the next, I can’t see how one can be 1 point, 2 point, 3 point, or even 4 point Calvinist. Seems to me it is an all or nothing type acronym.

    As for the “T” total depravity – I understand death to mean separation, not annihilation or as we term death in nonChristian concepts. I believe death is as Gen 2:17 states “ye shall die” literally meaning “dying you shall die”. Physical death = my spirit separated from my body & Spiritual death = my spirit separated from God who is Spirit. The 1st death is physical, the 2nd death is spiritual. Or as one church sign stated “born once, die twice; born twice, die once” 🙂

    I believe we are depraved, that is crystal clear in the Scriptures. Yet, I find it hard to comprehend the Calvinist teaching of God regenerating a believer first and then the believer believes. As if the believer is completely incapable of responding to God without God making him alive first. Even in Genesis 3 after the fall, Adam and Eve were still able to respond to God’s calling. Even Cain in his wickedness in Gen 4 responded to God’s call, though in a negative light.

    Maybe I am misunderstaning the “T”?
    – the Paulinian

  8. Jeff said

    “Yet, I find it hard to comprehend the Calvinist teaching of God regenerating a believer first and then the believer believes. As if the believer is completely incapable of responding to God without God making him alive first.” – Paulinian

    Just because we find something “hard to comprehend” doesn’t mean that it is not true. The Trinity is certainly hard to comprehend, yet it is the clear teaching of Scripture. I sympathize with you though. I used to be where you are and the Doctrines of Grace seemed ridiculous to me too. But, in the end, I simply had to submit to the plain teaching of Scripture. God used Acts 13:48 (“as were appointed to eternal life believed”) to bring me to submission, and once I was willing to receive it, I saw the truth of Calvinistic soteriology everywhere in Scripture.

    Yes, we do respond to God, but is only because he has worked in us first. Apart from the grace of regeneration, we are “dead” in sin – dead, not sick/weakened. We are dead and God makes us alive. This is the plain teaching of Ephesians 2:1-10. Any thoughts on Eph. 2?

  9. Jeff said

    Here is a helpful definition of total depravity from the book The Five Points of Calvinism, by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas:

    “When Calvinists speak of man as being totally depraved, they mean that man’s nature is corrupt, perverse, and sinful throughout. The adjective “total” does not mean that each sinner is as totally or completely corrupt in his actions and thoughts as it is possible for him to be. Instead, the word “total” is used to indicate that the whole of man’s being has been affected by sin. The corruption extends to every part of man, his body and soul; sin has affected all (the totality) of man’s faculties-his mind, his will, etc.

    As a result of this inborn corruption, the natural man is totally unable to do anything spiritually good; thus Calvinists speak of man’s “total inability.” The inability intended by this terminology is spiritual inability; it means that the sinner is so spiritually bankrupt that he can do nothing pertaining to his salvation. It is quite evident that many unsaved people , when judged by man’s standards, do possess admirable qualities and virtuous acts. But in the spiritual realm, when judged by God’s standards, the unsaved sinner is incapable of good. The natural man is enslaved to sin; he is a child of Satan, rebellious toward God, blind to truth, corrupt, and unable to save himself or to prepare himself for salvation. In short, the unregenerate man is DEAD IN SIN, and his WILL IS ENSLAVED to his evil nature.”

    Sorry for the long quote, but I thought it would be helpful to get a proper definition of total depravity.

  10. Jeff42 said

    Since there is another Jeff who posts on Truth Talk, I am adding numbers to my name so that the two of us will not be confused. I am responsible for the posts labeled “Jeff” above.

  11. jAsOn said

    Paul,

    Rom. 3:10 as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

    I believe that you would say that it is posible for one to have faith in God before God has regenerated him; “born him again”, raised him to new life in Christ. If so, then what separates one man from another, the one who has believed and the one who hasn’t; why does one believe and another not believe? Do you believe in the Westleyan doctrine of “prevenient grace”, that Christ died to provide an opportunity for persons to respond positively to the gospel; that everyone receives this prevenient grace and some decide to accept Christ while others do not? If so, what ultimately makes one decide to receive Christ while another doesn’t? I don’t think you would say that it was anything good in the one who accepted Christ, so why does one ultimately find himself with affections for Christ?

    Sorry for the long string of questions, but I too know exactly where you are comming from and the best thing you can do is to listen to what Calvinists say Calvinism is, and do not rely too heavily on secondary sources.

  12. JT said

    To Jeff:
    A clarification. When the Paulinian says “I find it hard to comprehend” in post #7 I think he is being diplomatic in saying he doesn’t believe this particular doctrine is true, not that he doesn’t believe it’s true because he finds it confusing. This is confirmed by the fact that he gives several instances in Scripture where unsaved people “respond” to God.

    But your quote is accurate in that the unsaved do not contribute to their salvation, however, I think it is a mistake when Calvinists envision faith as a work.

    Paul clearly says in Romans four that faith is contrary to works (which means faith itself is not considered a work). Both here and in Ephesians 2 Paul is contrasting a salvation that is by works (the OT Law) and one that is by faith, trust in Christ’s work.

    Further, I would argue that our trust of Christ is a passive activity. It is a mistake to think that all things we “do” are active and therefore when we say we cannot do anything leading to salvation we might mean we cannot do any activity that leads to our salvation (which is true). But in fact there are things we do that are passive. We are not acting but we are allowing ourselves to be acted upon by another. Listening, for example, is a “passive activity” where we allow another to speak to us. Faith at conversion is like this. No one understands the Gospel as it applies to them without the activity of the Spirit. He makes it real and relevant to the individual, but the individual has to allow the Spirit to act upon him. It is not as if the individual reaches out and grabs the Spiritual truths being offered him, it is more that he ceases resisting them and is then changed.

    With these things in mind we can see how trusting Christ really is an activity (passively) of the individual, and that the individual does nothing to save themselves.

  13. ADB said

    For Calvin, regeneration always precedes faith and must. The human heart is too dark to come to God without God first acting to change the heart. I would hazard to say that even if we are not aware of it, God has already changed the heart of the person when he/she believes.

  14. Jeff42 said

    Paul’s teaching in Eph. 2 clearly shows that we are not saved by works, but by faith alone. I totally agree with this. But there is more than this in Eph. 2. Paul says that we were (prior to salvation) “dead” in sin(vs. 1), and that we were “made alive” (vs. 5). What does this mean? What does it mean that we were dead and made alive? Check out Jason’s questions in post #11. God is the one who made us alive. In this we are truly passive.

    But our faith is not passive. The verbs used for belief/faith in Romans 4 are active, not passive. It is the same in John 3, and we could go on but this is enough. When we trust in Christ we are actively trusting, not being passive. Sure, our faith is a gift of God. He is the one who granted us repentance. He is the one who chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1), and He is the one who regenerates us, apart from anything in us. It is all of His grace. And sure, once we are “alive” we trust in Christ and are justified.

    JT said:
    “No one understands the Gospel as it applies to them without the activity of the Spirit. He makes it real and relevant to the individual, but the individual has to allow the Spirit to act upon him. It is not as if the individual reaches out and grabs the Spiritual truths being offered him, it is more that he ceases resisting them and is then changed.”

    What accounts for this change? Why does the sinner cease to resist the truth of the gospel and trust Christ? It is because he has passed from death to life by God’s grace. In other words, he has been regenerated. Left to himself he will continue to choose evil instead of the good (the gospel, Christ). I would reverse your last sentence and say that he is changed (regeneration) and then he ceases resistance to the truth. I think that this is exactly what Ephesians 2 (along with John 3 …) is teaching.

  15. jAsOn said

    JT,

    It is wrong to equate “trusting Christ” with doing nothing. Passive active is still activity.

    Also, Calvinists do not see faith as a “work” as you put it.

    Eph. 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    The “it” in “it is the gift of God” is neuter and refers to both grace and faith.

  16. the Paulinian said

    This is a good discussion.

    Jeff,
    Thanks for your input. I was discussing this very issue “regneration before faith” with a guy at chruch yesterday. He is Calvinist and uses the reformation study Bible.

    J.T.,
    On the contrary, I am asking questions to start discussion and also to get a greater understanding of Calvinism. There are some Christians who truly desire to know more about, more of the Scripture. Who are not bound by certain denominational creeds and traditions, who are seeking to understand the Scriptures in context.

    Jason,
    I do listen to Calvinists, listening to R.C. right now. Why do people assume if you’re not Calvinist, then you’re Arminianist? I have never read any of Wesley’s writings, so I really can’t comment on your questions regarding his teachings.

    One issue with this regeneration before faith, or total depravity is this: you are made alive before you believe, which seems to contradict John chapter 3 among other Scripture references. I do not disagree with an unbeliever being spiritually dead before being made alive in Christ.

    Does God cause us to have faith? Is this just in relationship to salvation? How do we understand Noah’s faith, Enoch’s faith(walked with God) or even Abraham’s faith? Did God cause them to have faith or was their faith a response to His working?

    To the Calvinists on here: Is there a book that you would recommend that will give an unbiased examination of Calvinism, one that will give the pro’s and con’s of Calvinism?

    – the Paulinian 🙂

  17. jAsOn said

    Paul,

    I was trying my best not to assume that you officially affirmed what Westley believed, it was just an example of someone who has actually considered what it means to reject what Calvinism says about that issue, develop a contrary doctrine, and write on it. Not that one has to affirm what Westley said about it if they reject the Calvinistic thoughts, but I would be interested in hearlng what you do believe in that regard.

    One one sense, all theists must affirm that God “causes” faith, but that is not the only cause. What we are very certain on is that faith is a gracious, merciful gift from God. Our desires for God (or for anything else) are born from the affections of our hearts. Desires for God cannot be born out of the affections of a spiritually dead heart.

    James White has a book called, “The Potter’s Freedom”. While it is not “unbiased”, it does expose many issues that would be helpful to your research. “Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God” by JI Packer is a classic.

    What portion of John 3 specifically, “you must be born again”, “whosoever will…”?

  18. Jeff42 said

    Paulinian,

    I would also recommend the following books:

    1) Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul
    2) The Five Points of Calvinism, David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas
    3) Mission Accomplished, Michael Scott Horton (This is one of my favorites. Not only does it spell out the doctrine, but it also has an appendix with sciptural and historical support.)

    Hope this helps!

  19. jAsOn said

    All excellent suggestions Jeff42!

  20. Paulinian said

    Thanks guys for the book recommendations 🙂

    Jason,
    As for John 3, believing would be it – as in believing = eternal life; not believing = eternal damnation. Seems that Christ is stating a persons response to the gospel as an either/or, but not necessarily a “you are born-again then you believe” type teaching.

    I understand the battle between the Calvinist and the Arminianist. Two extremes, yet I see it as a middle ground. One that proclaims God as completely Sovereign, choosing whom He wants. But at the same time He dictates that those chosen respond to His gospel by faith, and then comes regeneration. In the mind of God those who “will be saved” are already seated with Christ in heavenly places.

    I will look into this further and see about acquiring some of the books recommended.

    Take care and God bless,
    the Paulinian 🙂

  21. jAsOn said

    The Calvinist would not disagree with you that “God as completely Sovereign, choosing whom He wants. But at the same time He dictates that those chosen respond to His gospel by faith”, but I would claim that the faith exhibited is a result of being born again; being born again is the action that God the Holy Spirit takes to rescue someone from sin and death, and then the necessary response is faith in Christ, a gift given at that time–albeit an imperfect faith, but faith none the less. I think it is helpful to remember that there are several dimensions of salvation (justification being a one time event and not a process) and faith is the instrument that God has ordained to apply the grounds of justification, which is the merit of Christ. So, foolish as it seems, preaching is necessary because God ordained that process (Rom. 10).

    I will examine your statement on “believeing” in John 3 later…too late tonight 🙂

  22. Jeff42 said

    Total Depravity

    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    John Piper & Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff

    1998 | MINNEAPOLIS, MN–

    When we speak of man’s depravity we mean man’s natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.

    There is no doubt that man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does. But if he is restrained from performing more evil acts by motives that are not owing to his glad submission to God, then even his “virtue” is evil in the sight of God.

    Romans 14:23 says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This is a radical indictment of all natural “virtue” that does not flow from a heart humbly relying on God’s grace.

    The terrible condition of man’s heart will never be recognized by people who assess it only in relation to other men. Romans 14:23 makes plain that depravity is our condition in relation to God primarily, and only secondarily in relation to man. Unless we start here we will never grasp the totality of our natural depravity.

    Man’s depravity is total in at least four senses.

    (1) Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.

    Of course totally depraved men can be very religious and very philanthropic. They can pray and give alms and fast, as Jesus said (Matthew 6:1-18). But their very religion is rebellion against the rights of their Creator, if it does not come from a childlike heart of trust in the free grace of God. Religion is one of the chief ways that man conceals his unwillingness to forsake self-reliance and bank all his hopes on the unmerited mercy of God (Luke 18:9-14; Colossians 2:20-23).

    The totality of our rebellion is seen in Romans 3:9-10 and 18. “I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no not one; no one seeks for God….There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do seek God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments. Apart from conversion, no one comes to the light of God.

    Some do come to the light. But listen to what John 3:20-21 says about them. “Every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”

    Yes there are those who come to the light — namely those whose deeds are the work of God. “Wrought in God” means worked by God. Apart from this gracious work of God all men hate the light of God and will not come to him lest their evil be exposed — this is total rebellion. “No one seeks for God…There is no fear of God before their eyes!”

    (2) In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.

    In Romans 14:23 Paul says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” Therefore, if all men are in total rebellion, everything they do is the product of rebellion and cannot be an honor to God, but only part of their sinful rebellion. If a king teaches his subjects how to fight well and then those subjects rebel against their king and use the very skill he taught them to resist him, then even those skills become evil.

    Thus man does many things which he can only do because he is created in the image of God and which in the service of God could be praised. But in the service of man’s self-justifying rebellion, these very things are sinful.

    In Romans 7:18 Paul says, “I know that no good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” This is a radical confession of the truth that in our rebellion nothing we think or feel is good. It is all part of our rebellion. The fact that Paul qualifies his depravity with the words, “that is, in my flesh,” shows that he is willing to affirm the good of anything that the Spirit of God produces in him (Romans 15:18). “Flesh” refers to man in his natural state apart from the work of God’s Spirit. So what Paul is saying in Romans 7:18 is that apart from the work of God’s Spirit all we think and feel and do is not good.

    NOTE: We recognize that the word “good” has a broad range of meanings. We will have to use it in a restricted sense to refer to many actions of fallen people which in relation are in fact not good.

    For example we will have to say that it is good that most unbelievers do not kill and that some unbelievers perform acts of benevolence. What we mean when we call such actions good is that they more or less conform to the external pattern of life that God has commanded in Scripture.

    However, such outward conformity to the revealed will of God is not righteousness in relation to God. It is not done out of reliance on him or for his glory. He is not trusted for the resources, though he gives them all. Nor is his honor exalted, even though that’s his will in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore even these “good” acts are part of our rebellion and are not “good” in the sense that really counts in the end — in relation to God.

    (3) Man’s inability to submit to God and do good is total.

    Picking up on the term “flesh” above (man apart from the grace of God) we find Paul declaring it to be totally enslaved to rebellion. Romans 8:7-8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

    The “mind of the flesh” is the mind of man apart from the indwelling Spirit of God (“You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you,” Romans 8:9). So natural man has a mindset that does not and cannot submit to God. Man cannot reform himself.

    Ephesians 2:1 says that we Christians were all once “dead in trespasses and sins.” The point of deadness is that we were incapable of any life with God. Our hearts were like a stone toward God (Ephesians 4:18; Ezekiel 36:26). Our hearts were blind and incapable of seeing the glory of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). We were totally unable to reform ourselves.

    (4) Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

    Ephesians 2:3 goes on to say that in our deadness we were “children of wrath.” That is, we were under God’s wrath because of the corruption of our hearts that made us as good as dead before God.

    The reality of hell is God’s clear indictment of the infiniteness of our guilt. If our corruption were not deserving of an eternal punishment God would be unjust to threaten us with a punishment so severe as eternal torment. But the Scriptures teach that God is just in condemning unbelievers to eternal hell (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Matthew 5:29f; 10:28; 13:49f; 18:8f; 25:46; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10). Therefore, to the extent that hell is a total sentence of condemnation, to that extent must we think of ourselves as totally blameworthy apart from the saving grace of God.

    In summary, total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.

    It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective. But if we humble ourselves under this terrible truth of our total depravity, we will be in a position to see and appreciate the glory and wonder of the work of God discussed in the next four points.

    To read Piper on the other four points:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1985/1487_What_We_Believe_About_the_Five_Points_of_Calvinism/

  23. jAsOn said

    HI Paul,

    Sorry it took so long for me to respond.

    Regarding the way belief is spoken of in John 3, note that the chapter is filled with what are called indicatives/descriptions. The passages describing belief are not imperatives/commands instead, they are being used by the author to indicate what belief and believers look like; what those who believe do.

    One interesting point is the Greek that is used in these verses, “15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God So Loved the World 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    There is no one to one word comparison from Greek to English for the word, “whosoever”. The Greek phrase translated by the English word whosoever is this: “”hina pas ho pisteo” – which is literally, “so that everyone that is persuaded”, or “all the believing ones”, or “everyone who believes”, or “everyone believing”. I think this is one item that helps to support the premise that these are indicative statements.

  24. jAsOn said

    Correction:

    In my previous post I failed to remove a section title when I pasted the scripture, it should have be quoted, ““15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

  25. the Paulinian said

    How would a Calvinist address John 3:3 & 16 in regard to 1 Peter 1:23 “being born-again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, by the word of God” and James 1:18 “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth.”

    Just seems to me that we are born-again after hearing the word of God. Of course I understand that no man comes to the Father unless the Holy Spirit draws him. Yet, I just don’t see the Scriptures teaching God regenerating a person and then they believe. I agree that humanity is desparately wicked, depraved, and loving darkness. I agree that even our faith and “free-will” come from God. Yet, regeneration before belief I don’t see in the Scriptures. Even if it is God that causes us to believe, the issue is “when” does becoming a new creation occur?

    thanks guys,
    – the Paulinian

  26. Jeff42 said

    Paulinian,

    Notice what those verses don’t say. They don’t say that we are born again through faith. James says that He [God] brought us forth by the Word of God. Peter says that we have been born again … through the living and enduring Word of God. God’s Word is the instrument that He uses to give us new life, the new birth, regeneration. Then, having new life, we believe the Word that we have heard and we are justified. When we say that regeneration precedes faith, we don’t mean to totally separate the two. We distinguish between them, seeking to show which one comes first according to the Word. None of these verses teaches that faith precedes regeneration. John 3:3 says that you cannot even see the kingdom of God unless you are born again. And John 3:16 simply gives the general call of the gospel – whosoever believes in Christ will be saved. Look at John 1:11, 12 and notice the cause of the new birth – not … the will of man, but the will of God. God is the one that gives the birth from above, and the natural (or should I say, the supernatural) outflow is faith and salvation.

    “Just seems to me that we are born-again after hearing the word of God.”

    That’s because you are reading your current understanding into these verses and not letting them speak for themselves. I’m not trying to be harsh here; I used to do the same thing.

    “I agree that humanity is desperately wicked, depraved, and loving darkness.”

    Yes, and the lost man (or woman) is DEAD in sin (Eph. 2:1), and dead men do nothing (including believing) until they are given life. Left to themselves, they will never come to the light (Christ).

    John 3:19-21 (NAS)
    “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light. for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

    I applaud you for being open to these things and asking really good questions. I fought very hard against the Doctrines of Grace, but I eventually came to see the truth of them.

    Acts 13:48
    “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing; and AS MANY AS HAD BEEN APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.” (emphasis mine)

  27. ADB said

    This is an interesting discussion going on here that hits at what I think is something that is unclear in scripture. There are certainly passages as some have pointed out that do indicate a real predestinarian position, but at the same time we have other places as some have mentioned that seem to indicate a “whosoever will” position. Myself, I’m a Wesleyan by nature who went to a Calvinist seminary so I feel very strongly both ways;)

    Anyway, I’m enjoying this, best wishes!

  28. Jeff42 said

    ADB,

    Good to hear from you!

    The “whosoever will” passages in no way contradict the teaching of the Doctrines of Grace. Anyone who is willing to believe in Christ will be saved. Christ will not turn away the one who comes to Him in true faith (John 6:37). The question is why do they change from suppressing the truth to embracing Christ? How do they go from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ? It is a sovereign work of the Spirit of God. They are born from above, and thus they go from rejecting Christ to embracing Him by faith. There is both a general call of the gospel, where the offer of salvation is given to all who hear, and the effectual call (regeneration), where the elect are quickened and trust Christ. I really don’t see a contradiction between the “whosoever will” passages and the sovereign election passages.

    Really, both sides believe in an election of some sort. The question is what is the basis of God’s electing grace? Did God simply elect those he knew would trust Christ. If that is the case then God’s choice would be based on man’s choice. This would seem to violate John 1:13 and Romans 9:11. Or, is the basis of His choice His own sovereign pleasure, to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1)? I think the Scripture teaches the latter.

    But we must not simply focus on God’s electing grace and forget about His wisdom, goodness, love, omniscience, etc. Everything He does lines up with all that He is! We may not understand, but we can rejoice that the judge of the whole earth will always do right (Gen. 18:25)! If we knew all that God knows, we would completely agree with all that God does. But since we don’t, we must take the teaching of the Scriptures at face value.

    Also, we can agree to disagree and still be friends, like John Wesley and George Whitfield. They came down on opposite side of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate and were still very good friends.

  29. jAsOn said

    PAul,

    I agree with Jeff42’s response.

  30. the Paulinian said

    Jeff42,

    Thanks for your comments, but I do not believe reading into the verses what I want them to say. I am truly taking them as said and trying to read it in context.

    When I read the book of John, I see the sovereignty of God throughout it all, yet I do not see Him regenerating us before faith.

    Even in Ephesians 1, a chapter used by all Calvinists to prove total depravity, in verse 13 it says “In whom you trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,”

    This seems to reflect the thought proposed throughout the New Testament. One of “hearing the word, believing the word, new birth occuring.” I understand that all of this takes place according to His good pleasure and by the working of the Holy Spirit – yet just seems that the “T” has regeneration and faith reversed.

    thanks, Paulinian

    ADB,
    Wow 🙂 Weslyan and Calvinist. 😉

  31. Jeff42 said

    Paulinian,

    So, do you equate “you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” with regeneration?

    Also, what about the verses you mentioned earlier and my response in post #26. Could you give a more detailed response and possibly some exegesis of those passages so that we have something more concrete to discuss.

  32. Paulinian said

    Jeff42,

    Your last post to ADB concerning agree to disagree would be appropriate at this time.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the concept of Calvinism. I just don’t agree with the interpretation of the Scripture supplied in reference to the 5 points of Calvinism.

    T- total depravity: I agree we are totally depraved, yet I do not agree with the regeneration before belief concept.

    U – unconditional election: from what I understand on this, I don’t have a problem

    L – limited atonement: I can see the point of this.

    I – irresistable grace: I can also see this in the Scripture.

    P – perserverance of the saints: I agree with the concept but disagree with the emphasis on the law and lack of emphasis on the abiding Spirit.

    But that is better than Arminianism, of which I pretty much disagree with all of it. That is why I believe there is a middle ground somewhere, for I am neither Calvinist nor Arminianist.

    But who knows, I’m still studying…

    -the Paulinian 🙂

  33. jAsOn said

    Paul,

    Dort conveined to answer the five points of the Remonstrant, who upheld the teachings of Jacob Arminus after the Reformation.

    1. man could before the special work of the Spirit on the individual, exhibit faith in God.

    2. God elected men based on His knowledge of their future faith.

    3. Christ propitiated on the cross, the sins of every person who would ever exist.

    4. man could finally and ultimately resist the special regenerative work of the Spirit, thus frustrating God’s desire to raise them to spiritual life.

    5. They were unresolved regarding eternal security because they felt that if one has the natural abil;ity to accept Christ, then perhaps one also has the natural ability to reject Him again.

    Note that the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverence is not just eternal security, but also states that regenerated men will necessarily bear the fruit of the spirit.

  34. jAsOn said

    Total depravity – that man is corrupt in all of his being, which includes his will, and incapable of responding positively to God before being regenerated, that is the historical meaning of the term.

    UE – God didn’t elect persons based on His knowledge of their response in the future, but they will necessarily respond because of His election.

    LA – If Christ propitiates the sins of someone on the cross, then God can never hold them personally accountable for them. John Owen has a fantastic argument regarding this in his work, “The Death of Death”.

    IG – when the Spirit comes to regenerate the soul of a man, that man cannot finally resist – the quintessential metaphor is that of Lazarus.

  35. ADB said

    Jeff42

    Your point about Whitefield and Wesley is right on. I’m still a Wesleyan at heart, but learned a real appreciation for the emphasis on sound exegesis and systematic theology that the reformed tradition emphasizes. I do disagree with Calvinists about limited atonement, which I find very difficult to support scripturally; and with double predestination which logically must go with limited atonement. Where we all agree is that humanity is totally lost without God’s grace. Just in the Wesleyan view grace is offered to all and people have the freedom to reject it, where in the Calvinist perspective grace is given only to the elect. Either way we are depraved without God’s action. I also find that once you get beyond the predestination issue, there is wide agreement between Wesley and Calvin. As you probably know, Wesley at one point said he was “a hairsbreadth away from being a Calvinist.”

    I’m curious Paulinian, what aspects of Arminianism you disagree with most strongly. Not trying to argue at all, just curious.

    A curmudgeonly pastor 🙂

  36. Jeff42 said

    OK. If you don’t want to discuss the details of the verses you brought up, we will just agree to disagree. I am puzzled that you claim to agree that the lost man is totally depraved (dead in sin), and at the same time must believe in order to be regenerated (pass from death to life)???

    Anyway, I enjoyed discussing these things with you!

  37. jAsOn said

    ADB,

    You said,
    “and with double predestination which logically must go with limited atonement.”

    Calvinists do not affirm what you would probably call double predestination. Yes, God does positively predestin individuals to eternal salvation, but He doesn’t positively predestine persons to Hell; everyone is deserving of Hell, and God changes individuals to be saved, but those who go to Hell He decided not to change, there isn’t anyone who desires to go to heaven but God doesn’t allow him to belief because He hasn’t predestined him to Heaven. What Calvinism professes is called an assymetrical view of predestination; GOd doesn’t have to change someone so that they won’t believe…that is their default position, as it is for all of us–that is the “logical” conclusion.

    You said,

    “where in the Calvinist perspective grace is given only to the elect.”

    This isn’t the Calvinistic position either. Calvinist say that there is grace that is common to every one of God’s creatues (the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked”. The specific grace of regeneration that causes faith, belief and repentance is give only to those God has elected to bestow his grace and mercy upon. We are all capable of rejecting the grace of God, and it is only those on whom God has bestowed His saving grace who stop rejecting Him.

  38. Jeff42 said

    Sorry, but the moderation is throwing the order off somewhat. My reply in #36 was to Paulinian.

    ADB,

    It is not necessary to believe in double predestination to hold to limited atonement. Many who hold to the “L” do not believe in double predestination.

    Jason,

    Good posts!

  39. Jeff42 said

    Moderator,

    Do you have to run moderation on everyone, or is there a way to mark and moderate only the offenders, or only certain threads? It sure slows things down and throws off the order of responses.

  40. Moderator (not Stu) said

    I’ll give it a temporary shot and see if it helps. Sorry for the delay in comments getting posted. I’ve been forced to block several IP addresses. Let’s see if it helps.

    Thanks and kudos to everyone here. Very interesting debate.

  41. jAsOn said

    I understand your caution somewhat, but I agree moderator, it is difficult to have a discussion this way.

  42. Jeff42 said

    I have a question for those of you who do not hold to the five points of Calvinism. What does the Apostle Paul mean when he says in Ephesians 1:1 that the natural (lost) man is “dead” in sins and trespasses? Does a dead person have any spiritual ability at all – which would include trusting in Christ? This is a serious question; I truly want to know what you think.

  43. Jeff42 said

    Sorry, the reference above should have been Ephesians 2:1.

  44. Paulinian said

    Hey Jeff42,

    I’ve already stated my views on death – I don’t believe it means corpse or inable to respond to stimulation.

    Dead in trespasses and sins – Separated spiritually from God because of sin(whether original from Adam or personal would still have the same effect)- Lazarus has been referenced to reflect a Calvinistic understanding of our spiritual inability to respond to God. Yet, I’ve referenced Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve did indeed respond to God’s call. Here our ancestors respond to God’s call to them. They were spiritually dead at that moment because of sin(Gen 2:17). It seems to me that Adam and Eve became “born-again” based on Genesis 4:1 which is in relation to Genesis 3:15. And again, this would seem to reveal that Adam & Eve were born-again, so to speak, after they heard the word of God, ie faith before new birth.

    I truly am not fighting against anything. I just don’t see it the same as a Calvinist would, and judging by Jason’s list of the 5 points of Arminianism – I’m not seeing it the same as an Arminianist either 🙂

    Maybe that would be another thread “Arminianism and the free will of man vs the sovereignty of God” 😉

    Maybe a person can be a 1-point, 2-point, 3-point or 4-point Calvinist after all? Hum, gonna have to look into that.

    the Paulinian 🙂

  45. jAsOn said

    Paul,

    You said,
    “I’ve referenced Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve did indeed respond to God’s call. Here our ancestors respond to God’s call to them. They were spiritually dead at that moment because of sin(Gen 2:17). It seems to me that Adam and Eve became “born-again” based on Genesis 4:1 which is in relation to Genesis 3:15. And again, this would seem to reveal that Adam & Eve were born-again, so to speak, after they heard the word of God, ie faith before new birth.”

    Calvinists believe that persons indeed do respond to God’s call…the question is why? Why does one respond positively and another does not? From the tests you listed in Genesis alone, you cannot say whether Adam was spiritually dead when He responded. We also believe that one is “born again” after they hear the word of God, that is the means God has chosen, but the question is, why do some have ears to hear and others do not?

    What’s more is that there is no sense in which deadness, spiritual or otherwise, can be considered in degrees as some do. In the Biblical categories, physical deadness means one is incapable of responding physically likewise, being spiritual dead to righteousness means that that one is incapable of doing any spiritually good thing like believing, this is what Paul has in mind in Rom. 3.

    Paul, I am guessing that you would say that having faith, or believing is a good thing and not neutral, and with that in mind, how does one who Paul says can do no good able to believe or have faith without being changed first?

  46. Jeff42 said

    Would any others like to respond to post #42?

  47. ADB said

    Jason,

    With all due respect, Calvin does very clearly say that God of his own will predestine some to life and others to destruction. Check out Book 3, ch. 21 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. By saying that grace was given only to the elect, I meant grace that can lead to salvation. Sure, you can refer to common grace, but it is of no benefit to the lost because they are already predestined to destruction. With regard to the limited atonement, Chrit died only for the elect. According to Calvin, Christ’s atonement is effective only for the elect. The non-elect are reprobate from before the beginning of time, so the atonement was of no use for them. I don’t understand your statement about people having the freedom to reject God’s grace. That is the whole point of “irresistable grace.” The elect are chosen by God before time and they have no role in that at all according to Calvin. This is moot for me anyway because I don’t agree with some of it 🙂

  48. jAsOn said

    I know Calvin said that some were predestine to eternal life and some to destruction, but Calvin never asserted that those two forms of predestination were symetrical on God’s part…you’re not as familiar with Calvin as you may think; the symetry vs asymetry is the important distinction there.

    You are also wrong in your assertion that common grace has “no benefit” for the reprobate because it is the application of common grace that stays the hand of God’s wrath against the elect who have not yet had the salvific grace of God applied, because we were all children of wrath until the blood of Christ was applied to us in justification. The atonement was of use to use before justification and tothe reprobate or else they would be destroyed by the wrath of God immediately.

    As for rejecting God’s grace…we all obviously reject the grace of God every moment of our lives until we are born again. The “whole point of irresistable grace” is that when the Holy Spirit comes to regenerate the soul of one of the elect, He cannot be finally resisted.

    You are right in one thing, the elect are “chosen by God before time”, and we don’t have any role in the establishment of our being chosen.

  49. jAsOn said

    My post #48 should have been addressed to ADB.

  50. ADB said

    Jason,

    I didn’t particularly appreciate you attitude with your last remarks. Neither one of us know what the other has read, what courses the other has taken, etc. So a certain agree of humility is in order. I surely don’t know everything about Calvin, or about Christian doctrine overall, but I have thought seriously about it, so perhaps you are not in a position to give me a grade in Systematic Theology. About the individual points you made. It sounds like you’re advocating what some have called “single predestination,” which Calvin never taught. That is sort of a silly term to begin with. If we are all deserving of wrath and God elects to save the elect, whether or not there is an election to destruction for the non-elect they are still doomed because they are not elect and have no possibility of salvation. Whether you call it symetrical or not, it is entirely God’s choice who is elect and who is saved. That is the point for Calvin of a passage like Romans 9, creating some vessels for honor and some for dishonor, etc. In saying that common grace has no benefit for the reprobate, it cannot because if the election takes place before time the moment of justification as we see it is immaterial from God’s perspective. The decision is made- so the common grace has no possibility of salvific benefit. If common grace has salvific benefit for the reprobate then you don’t have predestination, you have what Wesley would have termed “preventing” or “prevenient” grace. I agree that common grace could have the benefit of forstaying God’s wrath against them while on earth, but that has no bearing on salvation. I don’t think we disagree on irresistable grace. The grace is irresistable for the TULIP precisely because it does not depend at all on human activity. This is what distinguishes Calvin’s conception of grace from Wesley’s. For Wesley grace could be spurned resulting in damnation. For Calvin, the election has already taken place so there is no possibility that someone who has been elected would ultimately not be saved. Of course, even the elect would have the possibility of rebellion and sin against God, which one may call resisting God’s grace. I sure have read huge chunks of the Institutes in school, but as I said before it’s sort of moot for me being a reprobate Wesleyan:)

    Best Wishes- A curmudgeonly pastor

    Best Wishes

  51. Jeff42 said

    Dr. Morton H. Smith, in his Systematic Theology, addresses some of the misrepresentations of the doctrine of election (p. 173):

    “A. It is suggested that the doctrine of reprobation teaches that God created some only for the purpose of damning them.

    In answer to this misrepresentation, let it be said, first of all, that God created all of His creatures in holiness. He gave them the opportunity to stand, and warned them to do so. Second, once they had fallen into sin, He offered salvation to all who would receive it. Third, He has not made the case of any of the non-elect worse. He sincerely warns them by conscience and the Word. Fourth, it is a monstrous dream to fancy one of the reprobate as penitent. They remain in their sins because this is their own preference. God simply passes them by, and leaves them to demonstrate the true nature of their character.

    B. It is suggested that the decree of reprobation is the ground of the condemnation of the reprobate.

    In answer to this argument it should be observed that the decree is the decision to pass some by. In the execution of the decree God’s action toward them is purely passive. They are left to the full and free exercise of their own wills. Since their natures are sinful the will is always inclined toward sin. As a consequence of their sin, they are condemned. Thus, the ground of the condemnation is the sin of the reprobate.

    C. It is suggested that God does not treat all men fairly or justly in electing some and passing by others.

    This objection fails to recognize that all men, if treated in justice or fairness, would be cast into hell forever. For all are sinners, and every sin deserves His wrath and curse. But God in His sovereign good pleasure elected some unto everlasting life. This election was based entirely on grace, and in no way conditioned by our works.”

    Hope this helps.

  52. Jeff42 said

    ADB,

    What’s your interpretation of Ephesians 2:1 – “dead” in sin?

  53. jAsOn said

    ADB,

    My comments in the last post were terse and posted in haste (not that I would recant of the content) they were not made in love, please forgive me for that.

    You said,

    “About the individual points you made. It sounds like you’re advocating what some have called “single predestination,” which Calvin never taught.”

    I do believe that Calvin taught that the reprobate were predestined to their eternity as were the elect, but I cannot think af a place where he stated that they were predestined in the same manner–meaning that God never has to change someones heart so they will not accept Him.

    You said,

    “If we are all deserving of wrath and God elects to save the elect, whether or not there is an election to destruction for the non-elect they are still doomed because they are not elect and have no possibility of salvation. Whether you call it symetrical or not, it is entirely God’s choice who is elect and who is saved. That is the point for Calvin of a passage like Romans 9, creating some vessels for honor and some for dishonor, etc.”

    I agree that there is no possibility that the reprobate will be saved and that the elect will not.

    You said,

    “The decision is made- so the common grace has no possibility of salvific benefit. If common grace has salvific benefit for the reprobate then you don’t have predestination, you have what Wesley would have termed ”

    I agree that common grace has no salvific effectiveness, that is the distinction between the two types: common and salvific.

    I agree with the rest of what you said, with the exception of you being reprobate 🙂

  54. Jeff42 said

    Would any others like to comment on what Paul means by “dead” in sin (Eph. 2:1)?

  55. ADB said

    I would say that “dead” in sin refers to being slave to sin, and also unable on your own to turn toward God. Of course we know the ultimate result of remaining “dead” in sin. What say you?

  56. Jeff42 said

    Yes, to be dead in sin is to be subject to the evil rule of Satan (the prince of the power of the air), and totally unable to change from a state of rebellion against God. It is to be without God and without hope in the world (apart from God’s grace of course).

    But, as we know, people do actually repent and trust Christ. What accounts for this change? In my mind it is the fact that the Holy Spirit, through the instrument of His Word, brings the dead to life (regeneration). Now being alive instead of dead (spiritually speaking), the sinner trusts the Christ presented in the Word of God. So, the sinner hears the Word, is given life, believes the Word, and is justified. Regeneration precedes faith. Dead men do not repent. They are unable to initiate any movement toward God (the true God), nor do they desire to do so. This seems to line up with Scripture, not only in Ephesians 2, but also John 1:12, 13; John 3:3; John 3:19-21; 1 Peter 1:23, …

    New Geneva Study Bible (note on regeneration at John 3):
    “Regeneration is the gift of God’s grace. It is the immediate, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit wrought in us. Its effect is to quicken us to spiritual life from spiritual death. It changes the disposition of our souls, inclining our hearts to God. The fruit of regeneration is faith. Regeneration precedes faith.”

  57. ADB said

    I would agree entirely with that. Nobody comes to Christ on his/her own. Of course folks with a Pelagianist viewpoint would disagree. Being more of a Wesleyan I might differ a little with the Geneva footnotes about actual regeneration preceding faith, but that is where the “ordo salutis” for Calvin and Wesley differed. In either event, it is the grace of God that enables a person to come to know Christ.

  58. the Paulinian said

    Hey,

    What was Martin Luther’s thoughts on “regeneration before faith”?
    Just curious. Also, got any quotes from any church fathers, before Calvin, that address this issue?

    I don’t have any, that’s why I’m asking. The reformed tradition upholds Calvin as the end all/be all, so to speak, on theology. At least concerning total depravity.

    Thanks,
    the Paulinian 🙂

  59. Jeff42 said

    ADB,

    When you speak of the “grace of God that enables a person to come to know Christ,” you are speaking of prevenient grace, right? Wesley did not really believe in total depravity, but he belived that God gives prevenient grace to everyone so that everyone might repent and trust Christ. In that case the unbeliver would have the “ability” to trust Christ. This does not seem to line up with Scripture (see above) to me.

  60. Jeff42 said

    Paulinian,

    R.C. Sproul
    “When I began to wrestle with the Professor’s argument [that regeneration precedes faith], I was surprised to learn that his strange-sounding teaching was not novel. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield – even the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas taught this doctrine.”

    Martin Luther
    “A man without the Spirit of God does not do evil against his will, under pressure, as though he were taken by the scruff of the neck and dragged into it; no, he does it spontaneously and voluntarily … On the other hand, when God works in us, the will is changed under the sweet influence of the Spirit of God … With regard to God and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, man has not ‘free will,’ but is captive, prisoner, and bondslave …”

    Many of the early church fathers defended baptismal regeneration.

  61. Jeff42 said

    But even baptismal regeneration would precede faith. I do not hold to baptismal regeneration.

  62. Jeff42 said

    I was referring to infant baptism above. It was late and I was tired. 🙂

  63. ADB said

    I would differ with you regarding Wesley’s view of human nature. He at times described it in terms nearly as blackly as Calvin. For Wesley, however, God does indeed call everyone. This grace does enable them to respond. Of course, many do not respond. The issue of infant baptism is interesting. I would say that baptism really is about two things- first it is the prescribed method in the NT of joining the body of Christ, and secondly it is a sign of the new birth. But it is only a sign of the New Birth, the water of baptism symbolizes the inner washing from sin, but doesn’t necessarily coincide with the inner washing. In reality I think this would be true for any baptism. Many earlier defenders of infant baptism also linked it to cleansing original sin, but many denominatins today don’t emphasize that. Because the inner washing is a gift of God, it isn’t really something that we can schedule to occur at 11:30 on Sunday mornings. I take it you are Calvinist, are you of the reformed persuasion or a Calvinist leaning Baptist?

    Best Wishes

  64. jAsOn said

    I think that the way Calvin and Wesley differ on their view of the nature of man is contained in this statement that you made ADB, “This grace does enable them (all persons) to respond.” Calvinism states that everyone enabled to respond, does respond (irresistable grace)…that is why it is so difficult to seperate the discussion of Calvinistic v/s Non-Calvinistic soteriology into segregated discussions of the individual 5 points. I think that it takes all 5 points to accurately describe how the reformers as a whole and present day Calvinists understand what the bible says about the nature of man. TD is an expression of the condition that man remains in until regenerated…as far as I understand him, I don’t think Wesley would have affirmed that.

  65. Jeff42 said

    I gues I am what you called a “Calvinist leaning Baptist.”

    You said:
    “For Wesley, however, God does indeed call everyone. This grace does enable them to respond. Of course, many do not respond.”

    I would agree that God does call everyone to repentance though the preaching of the gospel. In fact, He commands everyone to repent (Acts 17:30). You say that grace enables everyone to repond and that some do not. Why not if they are enabled by grace? What makes the difference between those who respond and those who do not? If God has done all that he can, then it is up to man to choose. Thus, it would seem that, in this system, the new birth is the result of a human decision (contra John 1:13).

    Do you believe that God chose the ones that He knew would choose Him? What is your understanding of election?

  66. Jeff42 said

    And for the most part I agree with Jason. It is hard to discuss these points in isolation.

    The most important thing is that each of us should be sure that our doctrines are derived from Scipture and not men (Calvin, Wesley, …), although those who have gone before are helpful as long as what they teach lines up with the Word.

  67. ADB said

    Personally, I don’t interpret election to mean that God chose the individuals that would respond. It is the will of God that all should come to faith and repentance I believe, and that some people by their own hardness do not. So I don’t interpret John 1:13 to mean that God chose who would believe. I agree that we all must remember that the root of our beliefs must come from scripture. They of course are shaped by our upbringing, traditions, etc., but ultimately they must come from scripture. That makes this a friendly discussion, where we recognize that our differences come from differing interpretations. Without the common understanding that scripture underlies everything we’re just talking past each other. There are parts of the NT that do seem to point to a predestinarian view just as there are parts that seem to say “whosoever will.” We, and interpreters before us are diligently trying to rightly interpret and apply the written Word, and as long as we are honest, faithful readers and hearers of the word ultimately we are on the same side.

    If I recall correctly you are in seminary right now so I know your plate is full, but if get a chance read Wesley’s treatise on Original Sin.

    A curmudgeonly pastor 🙂

    A curmudgeonly

  68. Jeff42 said

    Yes, you are right. My plate will be very full starting again next week – Spring semester begins. After that, you will probably see fewer posts here by me. 🙂

    I pray that the discussion has been benificial. I know it has for me.

    “There are parts of the NT that do seem to point to a predestinarian view just as there are parts that seem to say ‘whosoever will.'”

    (see post #28 for a response to this)

  69. jAsOn said

    ADB,

    You said, “It is the will of God that all should come to faith and repentance I believe.”

    Calvinists believe, as the bible states, that God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. But statements like that don’t necesitate a theology that says that in eternity, God will not be surrounded by all of those that He wished would be there, because they had ultimately and finally resisted the Spirit’s attempts to apply the blood of Christ to them.

    Nor would a passage like 1 Peter 3, “8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

    Maybe you wouldn’t use this verse for your position, but the passage is about the parusia of Christ (His Second Coming) and as an answer to the scoffers who say He will not return because it’s been so long, Peter says that God is not willing that any of “you” (beloved) to perish.—your thoughts…

    You said, “There are parts of the NT that do seem to point to a predestinarian view just as there are parts that seem to say “whosoever will.””

    I think that it isn’t entirely acurate to pit “a predestinarian view” against a “whosoever will” view, because Calvinists (predestinarians) do believe that whosoever will, will come, but it is God who actually wills. Also, I am sure that you would affirm some form of predestination yourself, since it is imposible to overlook in scripture. One more thing regarding the “whosoevers”, that is many times taken from John 3, but it isn’t John’s intention to say that, “whoever wills out of their natural desire…” In the greek, the phrase translated in to “whosoever” is hina pas ho pistueo, which literally means, “all the believeing ones”

  70. Jeff42 said

    I checked it out and Jason is right about John 3:16:

    “that all the ones (or everyone) believing may not perish but may have eternal life.”

    hina = that, in order that – signals the purpose of God giving His Son

    pas ho = all the ones, or everyone – also loosly “whoever” as many translations do.

    piteuon = present active participle = believing (continually)

    This verse says nothing about who will actually believe, therefore it does not contradict the doctrine of election. The ones who are willing to believe are the ones who have been regenerated by God. As we preach the gospel we are to genuinely offer salvation to all as the Scripture does. But we also know that not all will experience the “effectual call” (regeneration) and come to faith. Only the elect will actually come to savingly trust Christ.

    1 Thessalonians. 1:2-5
    We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, [3] remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [4] For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, [5] because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…

  71. Jeff42 said

    Here is a short summary of the “Five Points of Calvinism” in case anyone is interested:

    Total Depravity:
    Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.
    The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick (Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”
    Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).

    Unconditional Election:
    God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

    Limited Atonement:
    Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

    Irresistible Grace:
    When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy”; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.

    Perseverance of the Saints:
    You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.

  72. Wow this thread is life changing…

  73. CalvinismsFoe said

    I ran across a book that has really opened my understanding of Calvinism. It is titled ‘Limiting Omnipotence’ by David Dunlab.

    It goes through the historical origins of Calvinism. It has many quotes from well-known calvinists. It explains the staple verses used by calvinists.

    What an eye opener! Did you know R.C. Sproul was unsure whether his mentor Dr. Greshner would enter into the presence of God? The quote is in the book. Did you know Spurgeon took issue with limited atonement? The quotes are in the book. Did you know that Covenant theology teaches that all the “elects” children are also elect and are regenerated? The quotes are in the book. Did you know that Calvinism defeats the purpose of preaching the Gospel since the elect are regenerated before faith? The quotes are in the book.

    When I say quotes, I mean quotes from people like Spurgeon, Gill, Sproul and other top Calvinist teachers and leaders.

    You have got to get a copy of ‘Limiting Omnipotence’ by David Dunlap! Calvinism is not Biblical 😦

  74. jAsOn said

    Calfoe (Kosher)

    David Dunlap, Dave Hunt, David Cloud…I pray you wouldn’t place much faith in the accuracy of the quotes made by these men. I am a Calvinist and I know that your criticisms (to the degree to which they echo Dunlap’s) are fallacious. Read the quoted material from the source and in its original context and you will find that they have been misquoted in a spurious manner. The criticisms of such men have been answered quite sufficiently by proponents of Calvinism and I suggest that you read those answers if you genuinely desire to uphold the truth.

    I would love for you to reproduce those quotes here so we can discuss this issue further.

    1. Spurgeon rightly upheld the doctrine of limited atonement.
    2. Cov Theologians DO NOT believe that all their children are elect, nor do they teach that!
    3. Calvinism inspires evangelism…note that the great missionary movements were largely due to the efforts of Calvinistic preachers and missionaries!

  75. CalvinismsFoe said

    As you have stated these criticism have been answered by promient Calvinists, so too has the criticism of Calvinists been answered by the prominent Dispensationalists.

    How does a Calvinist address John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”

    Seems the Calvinist will have a problem with the whosoever believing and the “have” eternal life based on belief not perserverence. I know there are different varieties of Calvinism, but one would be hardpressed to justify limited atonement using this verse. One would be hardpressed to justify perserverence of the saints using this verse. Heck, it would be hard to use this verse to back up any of the 5 points of Calvinism.

    The book is at home and I am not there so the quotes will have to wait. It is funny that you say the quotes are out of context, when at the end of each chapter, Mr. Dunlap documents the books and quotes so one can go back and check up on Dunlap.

    And no one has questioned the missionary work of great men, whether Calvinist, Arminianist or just plain Christian. We all take the great commission to heart, but our reasoning for presenting the gospel may be different.

  76. jAsOn said

    1. John 3:16 is as close to the heart of Calvinists as it is any Christian…it just doesn’t mean what you think it does. This verse is not addressing the extent or efficacy of the atonement…it is a simple statement that ANYONE who believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved…no Calvinist would disagree with that, the issue is, who would believe before being touched bey the grace of God…no one would, the NT could hardly be clearer about that. The phrase, “whosoever believes in Him”, is henna pas ho pistueo in the Greek, and it literally means “all of the believing ones”, or “all those who do believe”. It has nothing whatever to do with one’s capacity for belief. So you are wrong when you say that “Calvinist will have a problem with the whosoever believing”.

    2. There really aren’t varieties of Calvinism (if we are speaking specifically of soteriology of Calvin and the canons of Dort) certainly there are differences among Calvinists regarding baptism, communion, etc.

    3. The fact that Dunlap cites his sources is no indicator that the authors cited have been quoted in a way that preserves the quote’s contextual integrity, it is just his academic and scholastic duty to document his sources. Dave Hunt documented his sources in “What Love is This” and his usage of those quotes in general is embarrassing and indefensible.

    4. The Calvinist’s first reason for presenting the gospel is because Christ commands us to do so (Matt 28:16-20), and because God has ordained it as the means by which He determines to save individuals (Rom. 10:14-15.

  77. Jeff42 said

    Before you say that Spurgeon rejected Limited Atonement, you might want to actually read Spurgeon. Check this out:

    For Whom Did Christ Die?
    by C. H. Spurgeon

    Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, “It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,” they say, “to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty. I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood.

    There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins.

    Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood that seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished he sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!”

  78. jAsOn said

    Thx Jeff,

    That was the quote I was looking for.

  79. pparab said

    pparab…

    […]Calvinism and the Sovereignty of God « Welcome to TruthTalkLive.com![…]…

  80. ordinarily said

    luść jaskini wyróżniała się z ordinarily otoczenia smolistą czernią.
    Jak również dochodzącym spośród niej straszliwym
    smrodem. Czołgając się rycerz wyczuwał przyjemne drżenie ziemi, wzbudzone smoczym
    chrapaniem. St.

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