Calvinists Call-in Day

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This is the day for all Calvinists to call in and have a friendly debate and dialogue with Dr. Brown about why they believe Calvinism to be scripturally true. Dr. Brown will also offer some reflections in light of the tragic tornado in Oklahoma. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at  (866) 348 7884  with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: I’m perfectly happy to have a discussion or debate about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but at the end of the day it’s the same; we bow our knees to an all powerful God and go out and do His work!

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: We may have our differences about Calvinism or Arminianism, but I appeal to all of you to have the heart of God.  He desires to have mercy on all!

 

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Other Resources:

The Gospel as a Stumblingblock

Future Punishment Under Attack

The Once Saved Always Saved Debate

84 Comments
  1. (Non-Calvinist Post)

    Hello Mike,

    I was reading in Isaiah this morning, and in chapter 5 we read:

    ——————
    3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

    4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

    Culminating in verse 14 with:

    14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
    ———————-

    So here God is asking “What more could I have done that I did not do?” but we read that they rejected what God did for them and became wild grapes. And because of the rejection, descended into sheol.

    My question is how this is to be understood? Is this reference to sheol/hell Abrahams Bosom indicating that this was just physical judgement or is it a reference to the other side of sheol and this was a spiritual judgement? My belief is that this is spiritual judgement, but thought I’d ask you for your expertise. Thanks Mike.

    You probably wont have time to reply on air since you will be flooded with calls on Calvinism. I’d love to hear how they view this passage as well.

  2. Dr. Brown,
    Doesn’t God call Jews His “foreknown” people [Ro 11:1,2] – doesn’t this mean that “foreknown” does NOT always equal “saved”?

  3. I believe that _BOTH_ Calvinism and Arminianism can be correctly argued from scripture.

    This is not because the Bible contradicts itself but because God exceeds our limited human logic.

    As I read it, some passages of scripture clearly emphasize the overwhelming omnipotence of God. But, there even more passages that affirm human agency. The two are very hard to reconcile logically.

    I believe that we don’t need to reconcile them. I call this faith.

    We worship a God who surpasses all human understanding, so we are going to encounter the irreconcilable.

    I’m comfortable with that.

    Lot’s of people aren’t. So they create two theological camps and argue about it for centuries!

  4. Calvinism and Arminianism are mutually exclusive: one says “the saved cannot be lost” and the other says “the saved can be lost” – it is either one or the other but not both.
    However, that Calvinists are (in my view) slightly erring in doctrine doesn’t mean they cannot be saved.

  5. Daniel,

    I do not propose to speak for Dr. Brown, however, I’d like to respond to your question (Re:#3) from my own understanding.

    The Jewish people are indeed foreknown by G-d, of which He has chosen to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).

    Nothwithstanding, because G-d foreknows a people, He does not unconditionally guarantee the salvation of them, wherein He declares that He keeps covenant with those who love Him and keeps His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9).

    Shalom

  6. >>Calvinism and Arminianism are mutually exclusive: one says “the saved cannot be lost” and the other says “the saved can be lost” – it is either one or the other but not both.

    …according to limited human reasoning.

    What if the Bible teaches both?

  7. Rather than debating which is correct, I think we should debate which is more helpful,

    IMHO, Arminianism is usually more helpful because it puts responsibility on us believers for “working out” our salvation. Lots of people feel they can morally coast, if they are absolutely sure they are going to heaven.

    But, there is a common exception — people who feel insecure in the Lord. They need the assurance of “once saved, always saved” since they don’t feel very saved in the first place.

  8. Brian,
    I’m trying to say that the definition of the ‘foreknown’ of Romans 8 – if we look at the ‘foreknown’ of Romans 11, and how it DID NOT mean ‘definitely saved’ – should NOT be assumed to mean ‘definitely gonna be saved’ (as in a Calvinistic manner).

  9. Wow, you guys are splitting way too many theological hairs. It’s a red flag.

    It is much easier (and more faithful to the Bible) to call this a matter of two perspectives.

    I think that caller who made the parade analogy is a much deeper theologian than he gives himself credit for.

    I had a professor who called this conundrum “theology from above and theology from below.”

    Arminiansim is the human perspective looking up to God. Calvinism is God’s perspective looking down on humans.

    Both are correct.

    Are we in the parade or looking down on the parade?

  10. Ben,

    >> … this was just physical judgement or is it a reference to the other side of sheol and this was a spiritual judgement?

    As many have noted, the Hebrew perspective doesn’t always make a clear distinction between the two.

    That kind of dualism tends to come from Hellenism.

  11. Greg Allen,
    1. If you don’t like how we “rightly divide the Word of Truth”, feel free to leave the conversation.

    2. As to your view: it cannot be true – only one can be correct.
    i. Calvinism says the saved can never be lost
    ii. Arminianism recognizes the saved can be lost
    How can both of these views be true – how can BOTH someone who is saved never be lost AND someone who is saved possibly be lost?

    Now, if you cannot explain how you think BOTH can be true (a logical impossibility), do not presume that you have the right to judge those who see and reject it as nonsensical (and, let me pre-empt: “sky/ground view” is UTTERLY inadequate reply).

    3. If you are not able to answer the question, yourself, how dare you presumptuously judge those who are seeking answers – reading the text and receiving understanding? Who are you to judge others as guilty of “splitting hairs” (unnecessarily) – ridiculously calling it a “red flag” (you, the main person here with all of your inexcusable, disgusting, demonic doctrines)? You find fault with us on account of our examining closely the Scriptures? Your spirit is perverse. We examine the Scriptures closely, because it is NECESSARY – not that I expect you to understand.

    “the darkness did not comprehend the light”
    “blessed are you when you are evil spoken of for My sake”

    You do not, nor will you ever, control me or this forum with your utterly disqualified “rulings” of “red flag – paying too much attention to the Bible!”

    What a joke.

  12. Hey guys, lets keep it civil please…

    I would agree with Daniel that the Bible can’t contradict itself. Maybe there are explanations that we don’t see. But two things that are opposite cannot be both true at the same time.

    For example, when Jesus said that, “No one comes to the Father except through ME.” that means that any religion that does not recognize Jesus as God contradicts Christianity. There is no way that both can be correct. If we act like contradicting statements can be correct then why even believe anything in the Word of God?

    For instance: Is God “not willing that any should perish”, (2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4; Ezek 33:11? Wouldn’t He then have called everyone? Either: 1. He was willing to have some perish (violating the above Scriptures), or 2. He was not willing that any should perish but He is not able to prevent it from happening (then He would no longer be omnipotent and no longer be God), or 3. He was not willing that any should perish and therefore He will save everyone (universalism) or 4. He was not willing that any should perish so He has called everyone but He allowed us to have a choice even if it meant that we might go against His will (This option is the one I believe to be true).

    Is there an additional option to those four? If so, what would it be? If not, which of them is correct?

    If we agree that no one can be saved without the gift of God’s grace (total depravity; a doctrine I believe even most Arminians support) then God’s saving power and grace must either be offered to everyone to be able to choose or reject (what Arminians believe), or God would indeed be willing that some perish.

  13. Daniel,

    (I’ll ignore your mean spirited first point)

    >>How can both of these views be true – how can BOTH someone who is saved never be lost AND someone who is saved possibly be lost?

    It’s called a false dichotomy.

  14. Johathon,

    >>I would agree with Daniel that the Bible can’t contradict itself. Maybe there are explanations that we don’t see. But two things that are opposite cannot be both true at the same time.

    Would you agree that God and God’s Truth can exceed our capacity to understand it?

    And this may _SEEM_ like a contradiction?

    That’s my point.

  15. Jonathan,

    As for your scriptural citations– I feel like they illustrate my point.

    I don’t feel a need to re-write the Bible so that it conforms to my black and white logic.

    As you cited, there are some _seeming_ contradictions in the Bible.

    Have you ever known two people who saw that same event and interpreted it very differently, based on their differing perspectives? Even when they had a shared set of facts? This is how I understand Arminianism vs. Calvinism.

    For me, this indicates that God is above our puny ability to reason everything to resolution.

    IMHO, this is where faith hits the road. Can you accept the Bible, even when it makes you uncomfortable? Even when it _seems_ to contradict itself?

  16. Greg,

    I don’t feel a need to rewrite the Bible either. I feel that Scripture taken in context and comparing Scripture with Scripture does not contradict itself and I don’t feel that God inspired a document that we were not able to understand. So when God says something in the Scripture, I believe we can be able to grasp it and understand it.

    The point is that when the Bible seems to contradict itself in “our puny ability to reason” that is the time when we ask God for wisdom that He would reveal to us what He is saying to us through the Scripture. The Scripture is God’s message to us. He desires us to be able to understand it.

  17. Jonathan,
    AMEN
    I will NOT settle for not understanding if God promises to give me wisdom if I ask [James 1:5] – that is a lie from the devil and his messengers.

  18. Jonathan,

    While I agree with the spirit of your post, I don’t agree that we can fully understand God.

    I think God wants us to be in relationship with him and seek to understand him — but I think we humans have our limits.

    “How can God be omnipotent while still giving humans free will?” is just one mystery that has vexed the faithful for centuries.

    The trinity. “Why do the evil prosper?” The virgin birth. The incarnation. The resurrection. Even the inspiration of the scriptures, themselves.

    I _try_ to understand these mysteries but, ultimately, let my faith win over my logic.

    PS: I apologize if I insinuated that you are re-writing the Bible. I don’t think that of you.

    But I think we all are in danger of re-writing, if we try to square the Bible with human logic at every point.

    But — TO BE CLEAR: I fully support trying to understand God and His scriptures. I just think that there are some mysteries that we have to accept by faith. I believe that the Arminianism vs. Calvinism debate covers one of those.

  19. >> that is a lie from the devil and his messengers.

    Hmmm. I wonder who you might be referring to?

    Seriously, brother.

    You need to search your heart and repent of whatever is making you so hostile towards me.

    PS: As for James 1:5: Wisdom is not always the same as understanding. I would call it folly to vainly believe you can understand every mystery of God.

  20. Well, I gotta go.

    I have carefully researched and considered the biblical basis of both the Arminians and the Calvinists.

    Here is the bottom line for me:

    I think they _both_ have pretty solid scriptural “proof.” I think both camps are good and honest Christians.

    I think this is because the they are looking at a mystery of God in two different ways.

    I’m good with that.

  21. Greg Allen,
    I do not feel ANY obligation to apologize because you play the victim card – you, not myself, are the one who needs to search his heart.

    You act like no one can understand any mystery, and you list mysteries that are BASIC and which are easily understandable.

    Go tell the Apostle Paul that it is folly to understand mysteries.

    This is my last message to you on this thread.

  22. Greg Allen,

    I don’t believe this to be as much a mystery as one may make it to be. The idea that G-d’s omniscience and sovereignty runs in polarization to man’s free will is simply a false dichotomy posited by man. Hence, G-d said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion…” (Genesis 1:26). What we discover from the beginning in the confines of G-d’s sovereignty and dealings with mankind, is a free will to rule the earth. If we honor Him, it will result in blessings and favor; if we reject Him, it will result in judgment and curses.

    The idea that man is dead and cannot respond to G-d is a fallacy that is to be rejected on the basis of Scripture itself. Jesus told a telling parable in what we know as the prodigal son. We find that the boy left the father’s house thus turning to a riotous and sinful lifestyle. When he returned home, Jesus revealed the most insightful point that it would behoove us to grasp. The father declared upon his son’s return, “For this my son was DEAD and is ALIVE AGAIN; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24), and the father repeats the exact same statement to the boy’s brother as well (vs. 32). Thus, Jesus places an important emphasis on the fact that when the son willfully left the father’s house, he was dead in the eyes of the father, and when he returned, he wasn’t considered to be reborn, but he was “alive again.”

    Furthermore, we find that in this dead state, the son came to himself in repentance and said, “I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you…'” (vs. 18). This tells us that he still had a conscience, and though he was spiritually dead, he was able to respond to the grace of God. This insight by our blessed Lord is the appropriate example to use when one is regarded as dead, as opposed to the Lazarus example that Calvinist so often attempt to site. Spiritual death and physical death cannot be used in the same manner.

    Hence, I see the idea that a man cannot seek after G-d to be hyperbole, as opposed to the reality of the gospel message. Hebrews 11:6, tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to G-d must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    As many of the others have posted, you cannot have two opposing views and declare them both to be right. The gospel message is simple, and it has been man who has made it difficult. As Dr. Brown so noted, one has to be trained to think like a Calvinist, and the understanding of a free will within the confines of G-d’s sovereignty makes sense. Paul warned us of being moved away from the simplicity that is in Christ, and Calvinism seems to do just that when I read their exegesis of passages like John 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:1.

  23. Thanks Greg,

    I asked the question more to give Dr. Brown something to ask the Calvinists who called in if the apportunity arose. I have a stance, but rather than just stating my position I figured I’d ask what others thought it meant, whether it was physical death or spiritual death. (I understand it to be spiritual death)

    I asked because I am truly curious how calvinism would exegete this text seeing it seems to go against their ideas of irresistable grace, etc.

    Brian: 2 Peter 2:1 really caught my Calvinistic Systematic Theology Professor off guard and he had no answer. He looked up the footnote in the ESV study Bible where the footnote says “Peter was being sarcastic” really? The Apostle Peter would tell a non-truth just to dig at someone? Or does it mean what it says? My professor said he had not been confronted with that passage before and did not have an answer. He is a wonderful man though and he and I discuss theology all the time, coming from such different schools of understanding, him being a calvinist/covenant theology/amillenialist and partially holding to replacement theology (does nto think Israel being in the land is God’s doing), and myself being non-calvinist/dispensational/pre-millenial and loving Israel. But we love each other and discuss our differences over coffee from time to time.

  24. Brian,

    I don’t believe this to be as much a mystery as one may make it to be. The idea that G-d’s omniscience and sovereignty runs in polarization to man’s free will is simply a false dichotomy posited by man. Hence, G-d said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion…” (Genesis 1:26). What we discover from the beginning in the confines of G-d’s sovereignty and dealings with mankind, is a free will to rule the earth. If we honor Him, it will result in blessings and favor; if we reject Him, it will result in judgment and curses.

    And where do you get this notion that “free will” has anything to do with the image of God? In fact, the more information we get from the Ancient Near East, the more we find that being created in the image of God has to do with us representing his rule here on this earth. Consider the Tell-Fekherye inscription which mentions the terms צלם and דמות as referring to the statue of a king-King Hadad-Yasi. It seems that this statue represented the rule of the king. Hence, far from supporting “free will,” the notion of man as made in the image of God and having dominion puts him more and more and more under the rulership and kingship of God himself!

    The idea that man is dead and cannot respond to G-d is a fallacy that is to be rejected on the basis of Scripture itself. Jesus told a telling parable in what we know as the prodigal son. We find that the boy left the father’s house thus turning to a riotous and sinful lifestyle. When he returned home, Jesus revealed the most insightful point that it would behoove us to grasp. The father declared upon his son’s return, “For this my son was DEAD and is ALIVE AGAIN; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24), and the father repeats the exact same statement to the boy’s brother as well (vs. 32). Thus, Jesus places an important emphasis on the fact that when the son willfully left the father’s house, he was dead in the eyes of the father, and when he returned, he wasn’t considered to be reborn, but he was “alive again.”

    Furthermore, we find that in this dead state, the son came to himself in repentance and said, “I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you…’” (vs. 18). This tells us that he still had a conscience, and though he was spiritually dead, he was able to respond to the grace of God. This insight by our blessed Lord is the appropriate example to use when one is regarded as dead, as opposed to the Lazarus example that Calvinist so often attempt to site. Spiritual death and physical death cannot be used in the same manner.

    What we mean by the fact that man who is dead cannot believe in Christ is that a man cannot believe on Christ apart from the irresistible grace of God. Where does it say in this text that this son did not receive the irresistible grace of God?

    The problem with interpreting parables in this way is that you have to understand the point of the parable. In this parable, Jesus is responding to an objection from the Pharisees:

    Luke 15:1-2 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

    Hence, the point of the parable [especially with the older son] is to show the Pharisees why Jesus is eating with sinners and tax collectors. He is doing so, because they are repenting and turning to faith in him, and being made alive. This also refutes the popular interpretation of this passage that it is somehow against the perseverance of the saints because, if being inside the father’s house is the same as being saved, then the Pharisees were saved, since the older brother clearly represents them, and he was in his father’s house. The point, rather, is to contrast the attitude of the Pharisees with Jesus’ attitude towards repentant sinners. Jesus not only eats with them, he gives them the finest things of his household, because he rejoices in their repentance. The Pharisees, on the other hand, have nothing but scorn upon repentant sinners.

    The parable says nothing about when this son experienced the irresistible grace of God. The text does not address when the son was given that grace in the least bit. The point is to contrast the attitude of Jesus, represented by the Father in the story, and the attitude of the Pharisees, represented by the son in the story toward repentant sinners. To read anything about regeneration into this text and the ordo salutis is eisegesis to the highest degree.

    Hence, I see the idea that a man cannot seek after G-d to be hyperbole, as opposed to the reality of the gospel message. Hebrews 11:6, tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to G-d must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    So, the specific statement that the mind set on the flesh *cannot* please God [Romans 8:7-8], that “the natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 2:14], that the desire of man’s heart is always evil all the time [Genesis 6:5] etc. are all hyperbole, but we can go off to a *parable,* rip it from its context, and suggest that the parable is clearer on an issue it doesn’t address then specific blatant statements?

    As many of the others have posted, you cannot have two opposing views and declare them both to be right. The gospel message is simple, and it has been man who has made it difficult. As Dr. Brown so noted, one has to be trained to think like a Calvinist, and the understanding of a free will within the confines of G-d’s sovereignty makes sense. Paul warned us of being moved away from the simplicity that is in Christ, and Calvinism seems to do just that when I read their exegesis of passages like John 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:1.

    And Arminianism seems to do that when I read their exegesis of Romans 9:1-23, John 6:35-45, Hebrews 10:10-14, and all the passages I mentioned above. In fact, so simple are the five points of Calvinism that we teach them to children in our church. We also teach them about the very passages you bring up. How it that you consider something complicated that a four year old can understand?

    No, the reality is that the “simple” meaning of a text or the “natural” meaning of a text depends upon our background assumptions. Dr. VanGemeren once told us a story one time about these American students who used to come over to Holland to study. When the minister would come by, someone would shout “The minister is coming!” and everyone would take off their hats, and stand in silence. The conclusion of the American students was that the Dutch really respect their ministers. I mean, it was the “natural” and “simple” meaning of this scenario.

    The problem is that it was all wrong. This particular ritual went back to a time when Holland was at war. The minister left the town to go out and serve as a chaplain. There would only be two times he would return. Obviously, one would be to preach the sermon, but the other would be…to tell someone that their loved one had passed away. That is why everyone took their hats off and stood in silence as the minister approached-not out of respect for the minister, but out of respect for the person who was going to hear that their loved one had passed away.

    That is why we need to be *very* careful about using words like “simplest” and “natural.” Yes, I am sure to the early Christians, this was very simple and natural, because they were native readers and speakers, and natives of the culture of the time.

    Take John 3:16 for example. You would take the word “world” here to be referring to “every human being who ever has lived, is living, and will live.” The problem is, as D.A. Carson points out, that is *not* the way John normally uses the word “world.” Consider this passage:

    John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

    It is really only barely conceivable to say that John means “every human being who ever has lived, is living, and will live.” Probably the word “world” here means something like “evil men.” If we read that meaning in John 3:16, it makes perfect sense:

    God so loved evil men [the world] that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    What a difference context makes. Again, as Carson said, it is just going to the normal way in which this particular author uses this term. It is not a matter of how big we are, but how bad we are. How simple it is when we understand the context of the author!

    2 Peter 2:1 is the same thing. Consider the fact that, whenever the term αγοραζω is used of the redemption of the cross of Christ, it always has a price attached to it in the NT. No price is listed here. Also, we must consider the different word for “Lord” used here, δεσποτης, which has the connotation of “potentate” or “controller.” All of these things argue strongly that we are not dealing with soteriology. I would say that God has acquired these men to use them for his own purposes. In other words, they are under his sovereign control, doing whatever God ordains them to do, and yet, they deny him. What an incredible irony! And how incredibly simple, when understood against that background.

    Again, be very careful about words like “simplicity” and “natural.” We all bring our presuppositions to the text. A reading of a text can *seem* perfectly simple and natural, but that is only because you are bringing certain presuppositions to the text. We must take care to always test those presuppositions against the backgrounds of the author himself, the culture, the context, etc. I remember I had a friend of mine who studied under D.A. Carson tell me that he told her once that evangelicals tend to confuse the notion that the Bible was written *for* us, with the notion that the Bible was written *to* us. The former is true; the latter is not. We have to be willing to understand the author in the context which he wrote. That means that things may seem simple and natural to us, like it did to those foreign exchange students in Holland, but may be completely wrong. That is why we have to enter the world of the text, and not read the text as if it were written to 21st century Americans.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  25. Adam, great lengthy post, I do differ with you which I write below. It is a brief response and also done in fellowship.
    ***
    Adam: “The parable says nothing about when this son experienced the irresistible grace of God. The text does not address when the son was given that grace in the least bit.”
    ***
    Continueing to say that it was irresistable in this passage even though the force of your arguement is that it cannot be claimed it was ‘resistable’ since you say the parable doesnt address the issue. So why say it was irresistable?
    ***
    Adam: “So, the specific statement that the mind set on the flesh *cannot* please God [Romans 8:7-8], that “the natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 2:14], that the desire of man’s heart is always evil all the time [Genesis 6:5] etc. are all hyperbole …”
    ***
    Great scriptures which teach that without Messiah we cannot please God. Romans: The mind set on the flesh cannot please God because any work that they do is apart from Christ so it has no sweet savour to God, but once a mind accepts Christ he can then please God with his Christ centered works (for reward, not salvation). 1 Corinthians: The natural man or carnal man does not accept the things of God, look at today and the downward spiral of morality in the world and how rights are now wrongs and wrongs are right. But that world-view changes when you trust Jesus. Genesis: Very very true, before you accept Jesus. All of the above scriptures are contrasting before Christ and after Christ, I do not see them as hyperbole, nor stating anything about irresistability. Specially since Paul in the Corinthians passage is exhorting the Corinthians to mature in their understanding since they are babes and even being as the world/carnal.
    ***
    Adam: “In fact, so simple are the five points of Calvinism that we teach them to children in our church. We also teach them about the very passages you bring up. How it that you consider something complicated that a four year old can understand?”
    ***
    The professors I sat under exampled otherwise. Every refutation I brought up and asked in class was answered with “It’s a mystery.” or “We don’t know” etc. Not to make a blanket statement, just my experience during classes.
    ***
    Adam: “It is really only barely conceivable to say that John means “every human being who ever has lived, is living, and will live.” Probably the word “world” here means something like “evil men.” If we read that meaning in John 3:16, it makes perfect sense:

    God so loved evil men [the world] that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
    ***
    I think this was a perfect refutation of Limited Atonement. You say non-calvinists are in error when they claim the ‘world’ means every person that lived, is alive and will live. Then say that the word more likely meant “evil men”. Amen! Every person who lived, is alive and will live were evil men, before putting faith in Yeshua. As Paul quoted from the OT “There is none righteous, no not one”. So ‘evil men’ is the whole world, everyone that has been, is, or will be, except the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved from this world, hence why the world hates us. But we were once part of this world as well, but we believed and God saved us because he loved us.

    ***
    Adam: “I would say that God has acquired these men to use them for his own purposes. In other words, they are under his sovereign control, doing whatever God ordains them to do, and yet, they deny him. What an incredible irony! And how incredibly simple, when understood against that background.”
    ***

    Can you explain how that is incredibly simple please? You either contradicted yourself, or you put sin in God, thus canceling the atonement of the cross. Here is why I say this, you say these men are under the sovereign control of God (this is usually where non-calvinists bring in the idea of robots) yet they deny Him. Deny His control? Or do you mean that God controls them to deny Him? And denying Him is sin. Whoops, we have a problem here. I wouldn’t call this irony, I’d call this dangerous. But if you mean something different, please explain because your explaination puts sin in God the way I understood you.

    I do ask these questions as a brother trying to understand your view. Thanks.

    Your brother in Christ,
    -Benjamin

  26. Benjamin,

    Continueing to say that it was irresistable in this passage even though the force of your arguement is that it cannot be claimed it was ‘resistable’ since you say the parable doesnt address the issue. So why say it was irresistable?

    The point is that the passage doesn’t address the issue. As far as why I used the term “irresistible grace,” I used it because that is what I believe. I believe that faith and repentance are gifts of God, not something we conjure up in ourselves [Philippians 1:29, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Peter 1:1, Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25]

    Great scriptures which teach that without Messiah we cannot please God. Romans: The mind set on the flesh cannot please God because any work that they do is apart from Christ so it has no sweet savour to God, but once a mind accepts Christ he can then please God with his Christ centered works (for reward, not salvation). 1 Corinthians: The natural man or carnal man does not accept the things of God, look at today and the downward spiral of morality in the world and how rights are now wrongs and wrongs are right. But that world-view changes when you trust Jesus. Genesis: Very very true, before you accept Jesus. All of the above scriptures are contrasting before Christ and after Christ, I do not see them as hyperbole, nor stating anything about irresistability. Specially since Paul in the Corinthians passage is exhorting the Corinthians to mature in their understanding since they are babes and even being as the world/carnal.

    I think the point is, how can anyone ever “accept Jesus” if, apart from Christ, he cannot do anything pleasing to God? That is the point of the passage. To suggest that a man, dead in trespasses and sins, can just trust in God when he is still in his carnal state is blatantly contradicted by the passage. If your mind is set on the flesh, you will never be able to do something pleasing to God, such as “accept Jesus?”

    The professors I sat under exampled otherwise. Every refutation I brought up and asked in class was answered with “It’s a mystery.” or “We don’t know” etc. Not to make a blanket statement, just my experience during classes.

    I don’t know where you studied, but that certainly wasn’t the case with the professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. That certainly isn’t the case with James White and R.C. Sproul. In fact, while I am sure there are some Calvinists who don’t know what they are talking about, most Calvinists I know are able to answer these kinds of questions. That is not to say that there is not mystery. The scriptures themselves say that there is:

    Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

    Still, I think it is rhetorical excess to say “It’s a mystery” or “we don’t know” is even the semi-normal response.

    I think this was a perfect refutation of Limited Atonement. You say non-calvinists are in error when they claim the ‘world’ means every person that lived, is alive and will live. Then say that the word more likely meant “evil men”. Amen! Every person who lived, is alive and will live were evil men, before putting faith in Yeshua. As Paul quoted from the OT “There is none righteous, no not one”. So ‘evil men’ is the whole world, everyone that has been, is, or will be, except the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved from this world, hence why the world hates us. But we were once part of this world as well, but we believed and God saved us because he loved us.

    That is not even a rational interpretation of what *I* said. Consider this:

    2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

    So, that means there will be no converts because all evil men will proceed from bad to worse? That is simply untrue, as, during the time of persecution Paul talks about in this passage, there were many conversions to Christianity from paganism!

    If someone says, “I want good and valiant men as my partners,” do they really mean that they want “all” good and valiant men as their partners? In a business context that would be quite impossible.

    Also, no, I don’t accept that the passage “if the world hates you” is consistent with your understanding. Is Jesus really suggesting that every human being is going to hate the disciples? Such is utter nonsense.

    Can you explain how that is incredibly simple please? You either contradicted yourself, or you put sin in God, thus canceling the atonement of the cross. Here is why I say this, you say these men are under the sovereign control of God (this is usually where non-calvinists bring in the idea of robots) yet they deny Him. Deny His control? Or do you mean that God controls them to deny Him? And denying Him is sin. Whoops, we have a problem here. I wouldn’t call this irony, I’d call this dangerous. But if you mean something different, please explain because your explaination puts sin in God the way I understood you.

    As anyone can see when the read what I wrote, what I meant by “deny him” is to deny his authority in their lives to tell them how they are to live and act, even when he is the one who is ordaining all of their actions for his purposes. It is incredibly ironic, and perfectly intelligible.

    If you think there is a problem with that, then let me ask you, if God knew that these Marathon bombers were going to do what they did, then why did God create them? Your position, with God as creator, still leaves God responsible, in the same way that Frankenstein was responsible for his monster. That is why many people believe that consistent Arminianism is Open Theism. The only other way to free God from this problem is to say that God didn’t know what these free creatures were going to do. Of course, the other option is to say that God ordained it for his own purposes, and that he is working all these things, both evil and good, out to the glory of his name. As the scriptures themselves say:

    Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

    Either purposeless meaningless evil that happens, and God just tries to react to it, or a sovereign God who has purposes even in the evil that occurs, all for his own glory, and for the vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory. To say God knew what these people were going to do, and yet created them anyway, is doesn’t cut it. Your objection is an objection to *theism* in general, not to Calvinism.

    Also, given the nature of evil, what evil do you want happening that is not part of the decree of God under his control? I would be completely scared of any evil that is not under the sovereign control of God. It is scary to think of a world in which God does not ordain whatsoever comes to pass. It is in this, and in the fact that God has a purpose in all evil that he ordains that man can take comfort whenever any tragedy strikes.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  27. Adam,

    I don’t want to interfere with a conversation you are having with someone else, but I did want to note one or two things.

    There is a HUGE difference between God creating someone whom He knows will reject Him but in so doing does actually provide that person every opportunity to repent and allows them to choose to whether or not to do so even if it is not what God would want them to choose. And the belief of Calvinism that God creates people who are totally and completely incapable of making a decision to repent and then eternally damning them because of it.

    I believe Dr. Brown gave the illustration on his program that is similar to forcing a parapelegic to run the Boston Marathon and then sentencing and convicting them to severe punishment when they fail.

    If the person was completely capable and still failed, the punishment is just. If the person was completely incapable of doing anything other than what they did then the punishment is not just.

    So to try to bring open theism into this simply is not relevant. They are not comparable.

    Scripture never says that God ordains and orchestrates every single action that every person ever does. That is not communicated anywhere in Scripture.

    Scripture actually says that people are not tempted by God but are led away by their own desires. That would be a bald faced lie if God were holding marionettes on a string that were incapable of actions without them being directly controlled by God’s hand.

    God works everything according to the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. But it nowhere says that God works everything. He actually tells us to cease from our works and enter into His rest.

    How is that even possible if He has been doing all of the works through us all along? We can’t cease from something we weren’t doing to begin with.

  28. God NEVER ordains wickedness or evil. That is a very serious charge you make against God. God does allow evil to occur. Sometimes He chooses to step in and thwart man’s actions. Sometimes He allows the evil to occur. But He NEVER directs it or ordains it to happen. You may take comfort in that but you take comfort in making God ultimately responsible for evil. That is a very false comfort to have.

  29. One other thing, Adam. You cut Ephesians 1:11 out of its context. It is often bad when we proof text with a single verse of Scripture because often the context of the verse actually voids the point we attempt to make.

    That is the case with this verse.

    Is verse 11 talking generally about God’s will or was it specifically defined what the particular aspect of God’s will is being talked about?

    Let’s start at verse 9 and see if it specifically spells out the particular aspect of God’s will that is being talked about here: “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

    So taken in context we see that His will to gather all who are in Christ is specifically what is being referred to in this passage.

    That’s why it is not good to proof text single verses to create doctrines out of.

  30. Jonathan,

    There is a HUGE difference between God creating someone whom He knows will reject Him but in so doing does actually provide that person every opportunity to repent and allows them to choose to whether or not to do so even if it is not what God would want them to choose. And the belief of Calvinism that God creates people who are totally and completely incapable of making a decision to repent and then eternally damning them because of it.

    Why? First of all, Calvinism doesn’t teach that God does not give people the opportunity to repent. All men, if they so desire, can repent and turn to Christ, as God calls all men everywhere to repent. However, the problem is that they won’t desire to do that. The point is, given your position, if God foreknows their actions, it is still certain that they will not accept Christ from the very beginning, just like it is in my position. So, again, I simply ask you. Why did God create the person if he already knew this?

    I believe Dr. Brown gave the illustration on his program that is similar to forcing a parapelegic to run the Boston Marathon and then sentencing and convicting them to severe punishment when they fail.

    So to try to bring open theism into this simply is not relevant. They are not comparable.

    Of course, this confuses categories. First of all, we are not talking about physical inability. We are talking about *moral* inability. Secondly, we are not talking about “forcing” anyone to do anything. Man does what God ordains freely. That is what we mean by compatibalism. You assume that, if God is going to make the future actions of human beings certain, he must do so by coercion. However, where are you getting that premise?

    Scripture never says that God ordains and orchestrates every single action that every person ever does. That is not communicated anywhere in Scripture.

    Ephesians 1:11 says it, and I will get to your treatment of in a second.

    Scripture actually says that people are not tempted by God but are led away by their own desires. That would be a bald faced lie if God were holding marionettes on a string that were incapable of actions without them being directly controlled by God’s hand.

    Again, the assumption is that, if God were to make human actions certain, he must use coercion. Where in the world are you getting that premise? If God can make future human actions certain without using coercion, then your entire point is moot.

    God works everything according to the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. But it nowhere says that God works everything. He actually tells us to cease from our works and enter into His rest.

    How is that even possible if He has been doing all of the works through us all along? We can’t cease from something we weren’t doing to begin with.

    No, we do it, and we do it precisely because God ordains it. Again, you seem to have this notion that, when God makes our actions certain, he must use coercion. Please, explain why you are assuming that?

  31. Jonathan,

    God NEVER ordains wickedness or evil. That is a very serious charge you make against God. God does allow evil to occur. Sometimes He chooses to step in and thwart man’s actions. Sometimes He allows the evil to occur. But He NEVER directs it or ordains it to happen. You may take comfort in that but you take comfort in making God ultimately responsible for evil. That is a very false comfort to have.

    Job 1:21-22 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

    Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

    Acts 4:27-28 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.

    And, of course, you have God bringing all kinds of foreign armies in the OT to kill people, and God even mentions that he will actually punish them for their arrogance in passages like Isaiah 10.

    So, no, there is more than enough evidence that God ordains evil, and I am glad he does. As I said, I don’t want one evil action outside of the sovereign decree of God.

  32. Jonathan,

    So taken in context we see that His will to gather all who are in Christ is specifically what is being referred to in this passage.

    That’s why it is not good to proof text single verses to create doctrines out of.

    Actually, this is why it is good to consider the verse after as well as the verses before. Here are verses 11-12:

    Ephesians 1:11-12 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

    Us being gathered is actually the *end* of this action of God working all things after the council of his will, not the action of his will itself. The text makes a distinction in the very next line between the “working all things after the council of his will” and the will to gather.

    The message of this text is much like what Romans 9 teaches:

    Romans 9:22-23 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

    Why is it God endures with much patience the evil in the world? He does so to make known the riches of his glory upon the vessels of mercy. Same teaching as what we find in Ephesians 1:11. God ordains all things so that he might show the riches of his mercy upon us, his vessels of mercy.

  33. Adam, sorry for the late response, I couldn’t reply till I got home.

    ***
    Adam: “I think the point is, how can anyone ever “accept Jesus” if, apart from Christ, he cannot do anything pleasing to God? That is the point of the passage. To suggest that a man, dead in trespasses and sins, can just trust in God when he is still in his carnal state is blatantly contradicted by the passage. If your mind is set on the flesh, you will never be able to do something pleasing to God, such as “accept Jesus?””
    ***

    You seem to be equating faith with works, which is also contrary to scripture. Faith is not a work. How can anyone “accept Jesus” apart from Jesus? They can’t, he has to draw them. Who does he draw?

    John 3:14-15

    14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    John 12:32
    32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    ***
    Adam: “So, that means there will be no converts because all evil men will proceed from bad to worse? That is simply untrue, as, during the time of persecution Paul talks about in this passage, there were many conversions to Christianity from paganism!”
    ***

    Amen, though now you seem to be supportive of hyperbole. I am in complete agreement with your statement. Unless you put your faith in Christ and are born again, you will proceed from bad to worse. This is evidenced by the consequence of the Fall in the Garden. Physical death was introduced for Adam’s sake, if he lived forever in sin he would have gone from bad to worse, so in God’s mercy he implemented physical death and placed a cherub to guard the tree of life lest Adam take of the fruit and live forever in sin. So after this physical life we are judged as Paul says.
    ***
    Adam: “Also, no, I don’t accept that the passage “if the world hates you” is consistent with your understanding. Is Jesus really suggesting that every human being is going to hate the disciples? Such is utter nonsense.”
    ***

    I believe it. Jesus says that those who hate him will also hate us. Who hates Jesus?

    ***
    Adam: “As anyone can see when the read what I wrote, what I meant by “deny him” is to deny his authority in their lives to tell them how they are to live and act, even when he is the one who is ordaining all of their actions for his purposes. It is incredibly ironic, and perfectly intelligible.”
    ***

    Again this seems both contradictory and imputing sin to God. Why are these people “deny[ing] his authority in their lives to tell them how they are to live and act”, your answer is “[God] is the one who is ordaining all of their actions…” and that they are under his “sovereign control”.

    Is God sovereignly blinding these people?

    Another contradiction is that your statement imply’s that these people are rejecting God’s will and authority for their lives, as to how they are supposed to live and act. Yet it’s God’s sovereign will that they deny his will. If this is not your position you may need to clarify.

    ***
    Adam: “If you think there is a problem with that, then let me ask you, if God knew that these Marathon bombers were going to do what they did, then why did God create them? Your position, with God as creator, still leaves God responsible…”
    ***

    This train of thought is so foreign to me. But I guess I will turn it around on to you. If God knew He was going to condemn most of His creation, not giving them any chance to be saved, why did He create them? (I don’t even feel comfortable typing that last sentence since it’s so out there, but you brought it up). God creates us because he loves us and wants a relationship with us. He wants us to live with Him forever. That is why he created those bombers, to give them their chance. Yes he knew, but he loved them and gave them their chance. That is God’s love, while we were still yet sinners, He died for us. Think about that analogy and if you want to pursue it we can but it can very easily be turned around against calvinism.

    How would you exegete Jeremiah 32:35

    35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

    ***
    Adam: “Your objection is an objection to *theism* in general, not to Calvinism.”
    ***

    Interesting. Please explain what you mean.

    ***
    Adam: “Also, given the nature of evil, what evil do you want happening that is not part of the decree of God under his control?”
    ***

    Preferably all of it. At least in the sense of God being the source and cause behind it. God wiped out the world in Noah’s day for being evil, but you would have me believe that God ordained/caused them to be evil so he wiped out what he brought about.

    When evil happens, God uses it and works it to bring people to himself. He does not cause the evil. That is where I draw assurance from, not thinking that God bombed people in a marathon (referencing back to Jeremiah 32 where He said this evil never even entered His mind).

    I see that there are a few new posts that I still need to read, so I will read those and try to reply if needed.

    -Benjamin

  34. Benjamin Warkentin,

    You seem to be equating faith with works, which is also contrary to scripture. Faith is not a work. How can anyone “accept Jesus” apart from Jesus? They can’t, he has to draw them.

    Actually, you seem to be *defining* faith *as* a work, with is contrary to scripture. If you are saying that faith is something I must conjure up in myself then you are defining faith as work. Not only is that something that is contrary to scripture [since scripture says that faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 1:29, 2 Peter 1:1)], but it is the very thing that makes your position happily inconsistent.

    Who does he draw?

    John 3:14-15

    14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    John 12:32
    32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    Well, we have already dealt with the normal meaning of “world” in John. However, the context of John 12:32 is Greeks seeking after Jesus [12:20]. Therefore, we are talking about all kinds or classes of men. In other words, when Jesus is lifted up, he will draw Jews and gentiles to himself, not just Jews alone.

    Amen, though now you seem to be supportive of hyperbole. I am in complete agreement with your statement. Unless you put your faith in Christ and are born again, you will proceed from bad to worse. This is evidenced by the consequence of the Fall in the Garden. Physical death was introduced for Adam’s sake, if he lived forever in sin he would have gone from bad to worse, so in God’s mercy he implemented physical death and placed a cherub to guard the tree of life lest Adam take of the fruit and live forever in sin. So after this physical life we are judged as Paul says.

    However, you don’t take the phrase “evil men” here in the same way I was using it in regards to John 3:16. For some reason, you jumped to the conclusion that “evil men” somehow means “all evil men.” You have just admitted that it doesn’t here, and you would have to admit it doesn’t in the other example I gave. So, why assume that “evil men” in regards to John 3:16 means “all evil men?”

    I believe it. Jesus says that those who hate him will also hate us. Who hates Jesus?

    No, he is talking to the disciples, specifically. The whole world did not hate the disciples, and, in fact, many believed.

    Again this seems both contradictory and imputing sin to God. Why are these people “deny[ing] his authority in their lives to tell them how they are to live and act”, your answer is “[God] is the one who is ordaining all of their actions…” and that they are under his “sovereign control”.

    Is God sovereignly blinding these people?

    Yes.

    Another contradiction is that your statement imply’s that these people are rejecting God’s will and authority for their lives, as to how they are supposed to live and act. Yet it’s God’s sovereign will that they deny his will. If this is not your position you may need to clarify.

    I think we need to distinguish between God’s will in the sense of his commandments, and God’s will in the sense of his decree. Yes, people deny God’s *commandments,* and deny that God has every right to bind their conscience with his *commandments.* However, they cannot do other than what God *decrees.* Can God *decree* that a person act contrary to his *commandments?* Yes. They then proceed to do so freely out of their hatred for God.

    This train of thought is so foreign to me. But I guess I will turn it around on to you. If God knew He was going to condemn most of His creation, not giving them any chance to be saved, why did He create them? (I don’t even feel comfortable typing that last sentence since it’s so out there, but you brought it up). God creates us because he loves us and wants a relationship with us. He wants us to live with Him forever. That is why he created those bombers, to give them their chance. Yes he knew, but he loved them and gave them their chance. That is God’s love, while we were still yet sinners, He died for us. Think about that analogy and if you want to pursue it we can but it can very easily be turned around against calvinism.

    Well, in Calvinism, man has all the chance in the world. God commands man everywhere to repent. The problem is, outside of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, no man will ever repent, and no man will ever take that chance, because he is morally incapable of doing so.

    So, why did God create man knowing that he was going to reject the gospel? For his own glory, and that he might show the riches of his glory on us, the vessels of mercy. As Romans 9 says:

    Romans 9:22-23 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

    You see, I have a purpose even in the creation of the non-elect. However, what purpose does God have in creating someone he knows is not going to be saved, and yet has no purpose in them not being saved? Again, it seems like what you are saying is that there is purposeless evil, which I reject.

    How would you exegete Jeremiah 32:35

    35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

    Well, again, I would be interested in knowing your exegesis of this passage. The only time I have ever seen this passage brought up is in the context of open theism. The idea is, since it never entered into God’s mind, God did not know that Judah was going to commit these sins.

    Now, what is my exegesis? I would say that we are dealing with another example of Pragmatic free enrichment. Within cognitive pragmatics, the concept of pragmatic free enrichment would look something like this:

    I haven’t washed my face yet

    would then form, by explicature:

    I haven’t washed my face yet [this morning]

    Other examples would include:

    I pushed the ignition and the rocket went off.

    would then form, by explicature:

    I pushed the ignition, and as a result the rocket went off.

    Another aspect of classical cognitive pragmatics is the notion of relevance. In each of these instances, how the text is pragmatically enriched deals with the relevance of the text to, either the real world, in the case of the first example, or to what has come before, in the case of the second example. Consider an utterance very similar to what we have in Jeremiah 32:35:

    I didn’t disobey you by moving those sticks. It never entered my mind.

    This would seem to have the following explicature:

    I didn’t disobey you by moving those sticks. It never entered my mind [to disobey you by moving those sticks].

    Hence, when we look at Jeremiah 32:35:

    35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

    one can posit the following highly likely explicature:

    35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind [to command them], that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

    Hence, what never entered God’s mind is to command them to do this abomination. It is clearly relevant with what has come before. Namely, not only did God not command it; it never entered is mind to command it!

    Interesting. Please explain what you mean.

    Well, if God creates and is omniscient, then he knows what creatures are going to do before he creates them. Yet, he creates them anyways. Hence, just as Frankenstein has some relationship to his monster, God has some relationship to all evil that happens.

    Preferably all of it. At least in the sense of God being the source and cause behind it. God wiped out the world in Noah’s day for being evil, but you would have me believe that God ordained/caused them to be evil so he wiped out what he brought about.

    Yes, to demonstrate his holiness and his wrath against sin. Do you believe that God has a right to demonstrate his wrath against sin?

    When evil happens, God uses it and works it to bring people to himself. He does not cause the evil. That is where I draw assurance from, not thinking that God bombed people in a marathon (referencing back to Jeremiah 32 where He said this evil never even entered His mind).

    Well, if that evil never entered into God’s mind, then how can God be omniscient? That is why I said that your arguments seem to be an argument against theism not arguments against Calvinism. It leaves you with a “God” who is not omniscient, and who does not even know future events such as the Boston bombings.

    Finally, while that might give you some comfort afterwards, what comfort do you have while all of this evil is going on? What comfort do you have that this evil will be for your own good, God’s glory, and the destruction of the wicked? Unless you believe that God has a purpose in the evil that exists because he ordains it, I don’t see how you can have that comfort.

  35. Adam,(Ref:26)

    I’d like to address a few points towards your response to my post. Regarding the text that I cited in Genesis 1, you have totally missed my point by addressing that we are made in G-d’s image. My point of emphasis it that G-d said, “Let them have dominion…” Again, within the confines of G-d’s sovereignty and dealings with mankind, is a free will given to us to rule the earth. Hence, every covenant that G-d has established with man, has been conditional, being based upon man’s response to His grace that has been given. This speaks to the plea for man to choose life that he may live.

    Regarding the parable of the prodigal son, please answer me these following questions regarding our Lord’s words declaring that “This my son was dead and is alive again”:

    1) When did the son die, and when was he made alive again?
    2) What is the nature of death from the father’s words that Jesus emphasized?

    I find it interesting that you continuously use the word “irresistible” when referring to grace, wherein that is nowhere mentioned in the parable. It is from your preconceived philosophical approach that demands you read the text as such.

    You asked, ” Where does it say in this text that this son did not receive the irresistible grace of God?” The premise of your question is stated from a backwards position. The burden is not on me to demonstrate that the passage declares that the son did not receive such. It is you that must prove that he did. Notwithstanding, the idea that the son was not saved (secure) when he lived in the fathers house is absurd. That is the whole point of the parable, in that he was a recipient of the father’s inheritance.

    You said, ” In fact, so simple are the five points of Calvinism that we teach them to children in our church. . We also teach them about the very passages you bring up. ”

    Wow!!! Again, one has to be taught to think in such a manner. Why not read, John 3:16, to the children and then ask them what it means to them?

    Your exegesis of, John 3:16, in attempting to say that the world does not mean world just doesn’t make sense. In point of fact, your usage violates the context of what Jesus was declaring. He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

    What happened with the serpent in the wilderness? The people spoke against G-d and Moses because they didn’t like what they had to eat, and because of their evil the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people resulting in death. The people repented and Moses interceded on their behalf.

    “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:4-9).

    It was in this context that Jesus then declared, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There is not the slightest hint that Jesus was limiting that invitation to a selected few. “Everyone” who was bitten in the wilderness was invited to look, and since the whole world has the sting of sin, then the invitation for all to look to the cross will be saved – just as those in the wilderness.

    Finally, your stretch to deny the simple reading of 2 Peter 2:1 proves my point that you must work hard to change the plain meaning of the text.

    “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord WHO BOUGHT THEM…”

    Your attempt to change the meaning of the passage does violence to the text. Again, one must be taught to come to your conclusion. The Greek word, despotes, is also used in Revelation 6:10, and Jude 4 to describe the Lord, as well as 60 times in the LXX.

    You said, ” whenever the term αγοραζω is used of the redemption of the cross of Christ, it always has a price attached to it in the NT. No price is listed here.

    Adam, if this is the best argument that can be used to deny the plain meaning of the text, then you only validate why I am not a Calvinist. That takes too much of a leap to actually grasp and believe in concluding that Peter did not really mean what the text clearly states in the most basic manner.

    Shalom

  36. Hello Adam,

    Just wanted to let you know that I will respond possibly later tonight or tomorrow. It seems that a few of my points were misrepresented or misunderstood. I’ll post again soon.

    Have a good night if I don’t post tonight.

  37. Brian,

    Again, within the confines of G-d’s sovereignty and dealings with mankind, is a free will given to us to rule the earth.

    I guess the best thing I can say is that assertions don’t prove anything. Demonstrate that the “image of God” has *anything* to do with “free will.”

    Hence, every covenant that G-d has established with man, has been conditional, being based upon man’s response to His grace that has been given. This speaks to the plea for man to choose life that he may live.

    I agree that covenants are conditional, but, again, what does that have to do with “free will?” You assume that, if man chooses to be obedient to the covenant, that it was due to some libertarian “free will” decision. No, I believe that God even ordains our decisions with regards to the covenant as well to teach us concerning his holiness, the wickedness of sin, and even the patience and mercy of God.

    Regarding the parable of the prodigal son, please answer me these following questions regarding our Lord’s words declaring that “This my son was dead and is alive again”:

    1) When did the son die, and when was he made alive again?
    2) What is the nature of death from the father’s words that Jesus emphasized?

    I think I would question whether we are talking about spiritual death here in the first place. I would say “life and death” here are not meant to refer to spiritual life and death. Louw and Nida in their lexicon under αναζαω provide the following background:

    the figurative hyperbole may reflect the practice of referring to a person as dead and then coming back to life if he has been completely separated for a time from all family relations, but then has later been discovered alive and well. It is possible, of course, that in Lk 15.24 the expression is an idiom, but it is more likely to be simply a figurative usage.

    In other words, the phrase actually comes from a custom, not from anything having to do with spiritual death or spiritual life at all.

    I find it interesting that you continuously use the word “irresistible” when referring to grace, wherein that is nowhere mentioned in the parable. It is from your preconceived philosophical approach that demands you read the text as such.

    I find it interesting that you read this text in the light of a preconceived philosophical notion of “free will,” and then read it out as the meaning, when the text has nothing to do with soteriological issues in the first place! Again, what am I supposed to refer to God’s saving grace as if I believe it is irresistible?

    Wow!!! Again, one has to be taught to think in such a manner. Why not read, John 3:16, to the children and then ask them what it means to them?

    Ask little children, without any training in Biblical interpretation, what this passage means:

    Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

    You see, teaching hermeneutics is necessary. In fact, the very fact that you are saying this shows that you are not taking seriously what I said in my last post. You have certain cultural presuppositions, and you are simply blindly reading them into the text. You don’t care to dig into the culture and background of the text to understand the text from the perspective of the author. All people must seek to do that, otherwise we are bearing false witness against the author himself. To take this approach you have outlined here is exegetically and hermeneutically irresponsible, and is naive with regards to the background assumptions that you bring from your own background and culture.

    My point in raising these the issue of children was that several were complaining that children can’t understand these things. Well, we teach them to our children, and they understand it just fine.

    Your exegesis of, John 3:16, in attempting to say that the world does not mean world just doesn’t make sense. In point of fact, your usage violates the context of what Jesus was declaring. He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

    What happened with the serpent in the wilderness? The people spoke against G-d and Moses because they didn’t like what they had to eat, and because of their evil the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people resulting in death. The people repented and Moses interceded on their behalf.

    “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:4-9).

    It was in this context that Jesus then declared, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There is not the slightest hint that Jesus was limiting that invitation to a selected few. “Everyone” who was bitten in the wilderness was invited to look, and since the whole world has the sting of sin, then the invitation for all to look to the cross will be saved – just as those in the wilderness.

    And, of course, what you have presented is a total caricature of what I said. Here is what I actually said:

    Take John 3:16 for example. You would take the word “world” here to be referring to “every human being who ever has lived, is living, and will live.” The problem is, as D.A. Carson points out, that is *not* the way John normally uses the word “world.” Consider this passage:

    John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

    It is really only barely conceivable to say that John means “every human being who ever has lived, is living, and will live.” Probably the word “world” here means something like “evil men.” If we read that meaning in John 3:16, it makes perfect sense:

    God so loved evil men [the world] that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    What a difference context makes. Again, as Carson said, it is just going to the normal way in which this particular author uses this term. It is not a matter of how big we are, but how bad we are. How simple it is when we understand the context of the author!

    Doesn’t sound much like “the world does not mean world.” No, I actually went through and pointed out the way in which John normally uses the term in his gospel. That is the perspective we are seeking to understand it from; from the perspective of the author. If he normally uses the term in this way, why should we depart from his normal usage, especially when it makes sense in the context? Not only that, I didn’t say anything about a “select few.” In fact, I gave other examples of this usage in John where this particular term has nothing to do with the amount of anything. That is part of the discussion that Benjamin Warkentin and I have been having, but you totally blew over it, and completely caricatured what I said.

    Finally, your stretch to deny the simple reading of 2 Peter 2:1 proves my point that you must work hard to change the plain meaning of the text.

    “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord WHO BOUGHT THEM…”

    Your attempt to change the meaning of the passage does violence to the text. Again, one must be taught to come to your conclusion. The Greek word, despotes, is also used in Revelation 6:10, and Jude 4 to describe the Lord, as well as 60 times in the LXX.

    You said, ” whenever the term αγοραζω is used of the redemption of the cross of Christ, it always has a price attached to it in the NT. No price is listed here.

    Adam, if this is the best argument that can be used to deny the plain meaning of the text, then you only validate why I am not a Calvinist. That takes too much of a leap to actually grasp and believe in concluding that Peter did not really mean what the text clearly states in the most basic manner.

    Wow, again, a gross caricature of what I said. First of all, you misunderstood what I meant with regards to δεσποτης. I did *not* mean that the term does not refer to God. Period. What I pointed out is that it has a particular connotation of power and ruler, something you left untouched. Also, when you read that in the context of αγοραζω without a price attached, it has the sense of “acquired,” namely, that God has acquired these evil teachers to use for his own purposes. Again, something you never touched. None of this requires “changing” the text; it requires understanding the terms as the author of 2 Peter would have, and not from your presuppositions.

    Brian, it is not honoring to God to caricature what the other person says, and then use rhetoric like “Adam, if this is the best argument that can be used to deny the plain meaning of the text, then you only validate why I am not a Calvinist.” 1. You never even bothered to quote my argument in context, badly misrepresented me, and then accuse me of denying the “plain meaning.” If this is what it takes to be an arminian, then you are validating why I am not an arminian.

    2. As I said in my first post [again, something you left untouched], the plain meaning of the phrase “the minister is coming” and the taking off of the hats and the silence to those students was that the Dutch respected their ministers. However, it was totally wrong. Something is “plain” because of the backgrounds and presuppositions you bring to the text. I am the one who is actually trying to go back and understand the author in his context. It would have been plain to his first readers, because they were part of the background and context of the author. You, sir, are not. That is why the scriptures themselves tell us:

    2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

    Do you really think you are honoring this passage when you just go to the “plain meaning” that a young child gives you? Such is a total disobedience of this text. God commands us to give due diligence, because we are called to not bear false witness against our neighbor. When we mishandle the word of God, and read the text in the light of what seems like the “plain meaning” to us rather than what was plain to the author, we are bearing false witness against God himself. That is why I would say that your rhetoric of the “plain meaning” is simply immoral. Because we are sinners, and because we are 2000 years removed from these texts, we must *prove* our interpretations, not just assume them because of what seems “plain” to us. The latter is not only naive, but immoral.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  38. Adam,
    ***
    Adam: “Actually, you seem to be *defining* faith *as* a work, with is contrary to scripture. If you are saying that faith is something I must conjure up in myself then you are defining faith as work.”
    ***

    It’s not me your contesting here, it’s the apostle Paul when he tells us that Faith is not a work. When we are saved by grace ‘through’ faith, you are saying “no no no, because that would be work!” Paul says it isn’t.

    ***
    Adam: “You have just admitted that it doesn’t here, and you would have to admit it doesn’t in the other example I gave. So, why assume that “evil men” in regards to John 3:16 means “all evil men?””
    ***

    Where did I admit that it wasn’t? Are we talking about evil people proceeding from bad to worse? I confirmed that evil men means all evil men. So yes, all evil men will proceed from bad to worse.

    ***
    Myself: “Is God sovereignly blinding these people
    Adam: “Yes.”
    ***

    It is a dangerous thing to equate the works of Satan to the works of God.

    2 Corinthians 2:4
    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    ***
    Adam: “Again, it seems like what you are saying is that there is purposeless evil, which I reject.”
    ***

    What you put forward completely destroys the atonement. Only a perfect sacrifice could atone for the sins of this world, yet you make that atonement sinful. Since Jesus is God and you posit that God is the source of sin, or the cause, or the decree’er of, etc. Which would mean you and I are lost.

    ***
    Adam: “Well, again, I would be interested in knowing your exegesis of this passage. The only time I have ever seen this passage brought up is in the context of open theism. The idea is, since it never entered into God’s mind, God did not know that Judah was going to commit these sins.”
    ***

    That would be if one held to open theism which I do not.

    ***
    Adam: “Hence, what never entered God’s mind is to command them to do this abomination. It is clearly relevant with what has come before. Namely, not only did God not command it; it never entered is mind to command it!”
    ***

    So since God sovereignly controls all things, He can tell the Hebrews that he never commanded such an abomination openly, but commanded it secretly by controlling them to toss their children in fire to another god since they had no choice in the matter?

    Notice that in the passage it’s not only dealing with commandments, but also with ‘causing’ Judah to sin. So God is making it crystal clear that Judah sinned grievously but He didn’t cause it. Saying that it never entered into His mind is a way of saying that He claims no responsibility for the act and distances Himself from this evil.

    When I stated “Interesting. Please explain what you mean.” that was in reference to Theism vs. Calvinism. You seemed to equate it to Frankenstein.

    ***
    Adam: “Yes, to demonstrate his holiness and his wrath against sin. Do you believe that God has a right to demonstrate his wrath against sin?”
    ***

    Yes I do believe God has the right to pour out his wrath against sin. Regarding Genesis 6:

    6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

    Did God grieve over his decrees or over the wickedness of man?

    ***
    Adam: “Well, if that evil never entered into God’s mind, then how can God be omniscient? That is why I said that your arguments seem to be an argument against theism not arguments against Calvinism. It leaves you with a “God” who is not omniscient, and who does not even know future events such as the Boston bombings.”
    ***

    You are arguing against open theism which no one has espoused. God knows all things. That’s even a proof he gives to us in His Word that He is God, that he will tell future events before they happen, so that when they happen we will know He is God.

    ***
    Adam: ” Unless you believe that God has a purpose in the evil that exists because he ordains it, I don’t see how you can have that comfort.”
    ***

    I have extreme comfort knowing God isn’t causing evil throughout the world. That my only hope of salvation is still white as snow, that no crimson has stained that garment rendering it unworthy (speaking of Jesus Christ), that it has no spot or blemish to foul it.

    I also have comfort because of Gods promise in Romans 8:

    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

  39. Adam,(Ref. #39)

    I am going to make this my last post, because it seems that it is becoming a bit fruitless to continue to go around on this.

    I am baffled as to how you can accurate quote my comment, and then turn your argument towards another point that I have not made. I clarified that I have not emphasized my argument on the grounds of the “image of G-d” however you seem to create a straw man argument that proves nothing.

    You well noted that I said,

    “Again, within the confines of G-d’s sovereignty and dealings with mankind, is a free will given to us to rule the earth.”

    You then responded with,

    “I guess the best thing I can say is that assertions don’t prove anything. Demonstrate that the “image of God” has *anything* to do with “free will.”

    Your comment makes no sense at all, especially seeing that I never raised that argument.

    You said,

    “I agree that covenants are conditional, but, again, what does that have to do with “free will?” You assume that, if man chooses to be obedient to the covenant, that it was due to some libertarian “free will” decision. No, I believe that God even ordains our decisions with regards to the covenant as well to teach us concerning his holiness, the wickedness of sin, and even the patience and mercy of God.”

    Each time that you have recently sinned, did G-d make or purpose that you would do it, or did you sin by your own choosing?

    Regarding your response to the prodigal son, I will just leave alone because your scriptural gymnastics only validates my point in your explanation.

    You said,

    “You see, teaching hermeneutics is necessary. In fact, the very fact that you are saying this shows that you are not taking seriously what I said in my last post.”

    Your accusation is unwarranted. I carefully explained John 3:16 in its “context” thus noting the verses before it. Your citation from D.A. Carson is fails to meet the standard of sound exegesis. A chief principle of hermeneutics recognizes that context qualifies the definition of a word. Hence, the usage of “world” in 3:16 falls in harmony with a universal atonement – based upon what Jesus said in verses 14 and 15. All, everyone, and the world are used in like manner. Read Numbers 21 to get the full effect of what Jesus set out to convey to his audience.

    You said regarding 2 Peter 2:1, “What I pointed out is that it has a particular connotation of power and ruler, something you left untouched. Also, when you read that in the context of αγοραζω without a price attached, it has the sense of “acquired,” namely, that God has acquired these evil teachers to use for his own purposes.

    Again, scriptural gymnastics demonstrated. G-d has acquired these evil teachers to use for his own purposes….. hmmm… Ok, Adam, we’ll leave that to the readers to ponder.

    Just to reiterate, I still appeal to the simplicity of the gospel, and any contention with that must be taken up with with Paul, in that he expressed concern with the church in Corinth in not to be moved away from the simplicity that is in Christ – of which I affirm.

    Shalom

  40. The following video is an example of the flip flopping I have seen with many Calvinists I’ve spoken with who make very contradictory statements on the issue of “Once Saved Always Saved” as shown in this debate on YouTube between Dan Corner author of The Believer’s Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted and Calvinist Pastor of a 6,000 member Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, Mark Driscoll. The video is titled
    Mark Driscoll Vs Dan Corner Eternal Security Debate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znlL5ynhIJE

  41. There’s a really inexpensive book I’ve been reading on on my electronic book reader, it may have even been free at Amazon (?), “On Grace and Free Will,” by St. Augustine. It’s helped me to consider the various arguments for and against some elements of Calvinism, which is apparently not new at all as it seems that many of the precepts of it were dealt with by Augustine in the 5th century in his answer to the Pelagians. Seems that way to me (so far) anyway. I’m not at all schooled in Calvinism or anything about the Pelagians though. There’s a whole lot to know and I’m not even one third of the way there yet.

    I think as Greg Allen does that it’s not all that clear as there are verses in the Bible that each camp uses to support their argument. It’s one of the more difficult areas of doctrine in my mind. Perhaps the truth lies in which is true of the whole of Scripture and that’s where a certain spiritual discernment is used that grows over time and much studying by the Grace of God. I think that to fear God and to depart from sin is the answer to either one. You know, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and “if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That would refute Calvinism I think.

    Here’s an excerpt copied from the beginning of the book just to give you an idea of the contents:

    “On Grace and Free Will by St. Augustine of Hippo in A.D. 426 or 427 in whose monastery first arose the controversy on that subject, and that in such a manner that some of them were obliged to consult me thereon. The work begins with these words: “With reference to those persons who so preach the liberty of the human will.” Addressed to Valentinus and the monks of Adrumetum, and completed in one book.

    “Chapter 1 [I.]— The Occasion and Argument of This Work. With reference to those persons who so preach and defend man’s free will, as boldly to deny, and endeavour to do away with, the grace of God which calls us to Him, and delivers us from our evil deserts, and by which we obtain the good deserts which lead to everlasting life: we have already said a good deal in discussion, and committed it to writing, so far as the Lord has vouchsafed to enable us. But since there are some persons who so defend God’s grace as to deny man’s free will, or who suppose that free will is
    denied when grace is defended, I have determined to write somewhat on this point to your Love, my brother Valentinus, and the rest of you, who are serving God together under the impulse of a mutual love. For it has been told me concerning you, brethren, by some members of your brotherhood who have visited us, and are the bearers of this communication of ours to you, that there are dissensions among you on this subject. This, then, being the case, dearly beloved, that you be not disturbed by the obscurity of this question, I counsel you first to thank God for such things as you understand; but as for all which is beyond the reach of your mind, pray for understanding from the Lord, observing, at the same time peace and love among yourselves; and until He Himself lead you to perceive what at present is beyond your comprehension, walk firmly on the ground of which you are sure. This is the advice of the Apostle Paul, who, after saying that he was not yet perfect, Philippians 3:12 a little later adds, “Let us, therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded,” Philippians 3:15 — meaning perfect to a certain extent, but not having attained to a perfection sufficient for us; and then immediately adds, “And if, in any thing, you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule.” Philippians 3:16 For by walking in what we have attained, we shall be able to advance to what we have not yet attained—God revealing it to us if in anything we are otherwise minded—provided we do not give up what He has already revealed.

    Chapter 2 [II.]— He Proves the Existence of Free Will in Man from the Precepts Addressed to Him by God.”

    Chapter 3.— Sinners are Convicted When Attempting to Excuse Themselves by Blaming God, Because They Have Free Will.

    Chapter 4.— The Divine Commands Which are Most Suited to the Will Itself Illustrate Its Freedom.

    Chapter 5.— He Shows that Ignorance Affords No Such Excuse as Shall Free the Offender from Punishment; But that to Sin with Knowledge is a Graver Thing Than to Sin in Ignorance.

    etc., etc..

    St. Augustine (2010-05-11). On Grace and Free Will (Kindle Locations 71-73). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    St. Augustine (2010-05-11). On Grace and Free Will (Kindle Locations 43-44). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    St. Augustine (2010-05-11). On Grace and Free Will (Kindle Locations 33-34). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    St. Augustine (2010-05-11). On Grace and Free Will (Kindle Locations 2-20). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianism

  42. Great show Dr. Brown!

    I find the concept that we cannot make choices when being convicted by the Spirit (Joh 16) and being drawn the gospel to be very strange. We make choices every day… some good and some bad. We cannot save ourselves, but we can cry out to be saved.

    The wind blows where it wishes (Joh 3:8). The Spirit wishes to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached (1 Co 1:21).

    I am not a Greek scholar, but the verse references I am looking at right now have “believing” in the active voice. If I understand that correctly, that means we are involved in the believing, we are not passive.

    On another note…

    I found this to be an interesting blog series on the origin’s of Calvinism by Dr. Jim Gifford:

    http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2013/01/augustine-and-southern-baptists-part-1-by-dr-jim-gifford.html

    The title to this series does not give a good indication of the content.

    The blog entries inlude:

    Post 1: Introduction
    Post 2: Augustine and Divine Omnipotence
    Post 3: Augustine and Human Nature
    Post 4: The Upshot of Augustine’s Assumptions: Divine Determinism
    Post 5: Augustine’s Exegetical and Hermeneutical Method
    Post 6: Augustine’s Critics and Legacy

    After reading this series, I spent a lot of time searching the early church fathers for a hint of the the “Divine Determinism” of strict Calvinism. I have yet to find it.

  43. Thanks for that Peter.

    That’s a lot to digest at once but in reading on St. Augustine’s thoughts I’m finding myself still trying to ferret him out. Sort of like, if it were today, “He’s a Calvinist–no he’s not–yes he is–no he’s not.” Do you see what I mean? He almost gives arguments for and against it. He’s a deep thinker that’s for sure.

    Still trying to digest the discussions on the link you gave.

    btw–I’m not a Calvinist–or a Baptist…although I know some of both. 🙂

  44. Brian R.,

    Again, you completely missed my point. Are we talking about the simplicity of the gospel, or the simplicity of hermeneutics? Human language is a complex phenomenon. Pick up any book on linguistics, and you will find out that it is a broad field with many different areas of study. While we begin to see the simple meaning of the passage when we put the hard work in, it does require hard work to get there. The apostle Paul himself not only said that you are to be diligent to present yourself approved to God, but the apostle Peter likewise said:

    2 Peter 3:15-16 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    The message of the scriptures is so simple we can teach it to our little children. However, we recognize that we must be taught, and put forward due diligence in the interpretation of scripture, just as Paul himself said. Your approach to scripture is not only contrary to Paul himself, as I pointed out above, but it is also naive, and confuses the message of scripture with the hermeneutics we use to get that message. Such confusion is, I believe, the reason why you won’t examine your presuppositions, and can only respond with “This is why I am not a Calvinist,” which is, in reality, no response at all. I care about accurately representing what God has said, and that is why I pray to God that I resist the temptation to treat his word with the kind of lackadaisical and trite attitude with which you have treated it.

  45. Benjamin Warkentin,

    It’s not me your contesting here, it’s the apostle Paul when he tells us that Faith is not a work. When we are saved by grace ‘through’ faith, you are saying “no no no, because that would be work!” Paul says it isn’t.

    No, as I said, I believe faith is a gift of God. I believe that we exercise faith, but we do so because it has been granted to us by God [Philippians 1:29, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Peter 1:1]. Hence, I can get out of the problem precisely because I believe in irresistible grace, and I believe that part of God’s irresistible grace is that he gives us the gifts of faith and repentance. Hence, it is, indeed, not of ourselves, but the gift of God.

    Where did I admit that it wasn’t? Are we talking about evil people proceeding from bad to worse? I confirmed that evil men means all evil men. So yes, all evil men will proceed from bad to worse.

    Actually, I was talking about your interpretation of what I was saying. When I used the phrase “evil men” to refer to “world” in John 3:16, you took me to mean that I was talking about “everyone,” since everyone is evil. The problem is that you simply cannot do that consistently whenever you see the words “evil men.” My point is that I believe that what world means in John 3:16 is the as what it means in John 15:18, and the same as what “evil men” means in 2: Timothy 3:13. In neither of those instances can it be said to mean “everyone,” and that is what I believe it means in John 3:16. Now, maybe I am wrong, but if you believe I am wrong, just simply show that those meanings don’t work in John 3:16. The problem is, not only do they work, they also make sense out of why it is that only those who believe on Christ have eternal life.

    Myself: “Is God sovereignly blinding these people
    Adam: “Yes.”
    ***

    It is a dangerous thing to equate the works of Satan to the works of God.

    2 Corinthians 2:4
    In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    Two things. First of all, this blinding is specifically said to be done by God in the book of Isaiah:

    Isaiah 6:9-10 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.”

    Also, with regards to 2 Corinthians 4:4 [you said 2:4, I think you meant 4:4], Donald Hartley, who got his Phd in New Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary under Daniel B. Wallace, has actually written a paper wherein he argues that the phrase “the God of this age” actually refers to the one true God, and not to Satan. I would be interested in your comments on Hartley’s argumentation:

    http://rdtwot.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/2cor-44.pdf

    What you put forward completely destroys the atonement. Only a perfect sacrifice could atone for the sins of this world, yet you make that atonement sinful. Since Jesus is God and you posit that God is the source of sin, or the cause, or the decree’er of, etc. Which would mean you and I are lost.

    Well, again I think that this is a bit reductionistic. If God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil that he ordains, then you really can’t say that. Especially if God is enduring these evil vessels with much patience for our own salvation, you really can’t say that. That is why my own church’s confession, the Westminster Confession, teaches that there are first and second causes. God ordains evil for his own glory, and man does the evil out of his own evil lust. God has a morally sufficient reason, and man does not, and therefore, man is culpable.

    That would be if one held to open theism which I do not.

    Well, how can you avoid the open theist interpretation of the passage, would be my question. I mean, if it never entered into God’s mind at all, then he couldn’t have known it. Wouldn’t knowing about it mean that it had entered into God’s mind?

    So since God sovereignly controls all things, He can tell the Hebrews that he never commanded such an abomination openly, but commanded it secretly by controlling them to toss their children in fire to another god since they had no choice in the matter?

    Again, you are confusing God’s commandments with his decree. Yes, God never commanded the Israelites to do that, in the sense of giving them a moral command. However, decrees are something totally different. One is dealing with God’s interactions and relationships with us, and what he expects of us, the other is dealing with the way in which he sovereignly runs the world.

    Notice that in the passage it’s not only dealing with commandments, but also with ‘causing’ Judah to sin. So God is making it crystal clear that Judah sinned grievously but He didn’t cause it. Saying that it never entered into His mind is a way of saying that He claims no responsibility for the act and distances Himself from this evil.

    No, actually the context is ethical in character. We are dealing with sin, and violations of God’s law, which are, very clearly, commandments. Again, again, as I said, when you look at what has come before it, and you allow the natural pragmatic free enrichment, the text tells you what did not enter into God’s mind-to do the things that he said he never did.

    In Jeremiah 23:14, the text says that the false prophets have “strengthened the hands of evildoers.” Apparently, the false prophets were telling the people that it was okay that they continue in idolatrous rebellion against God. They were telling the people that they would experience peace in the midst of their idolatry, even though the Torah itself says that they would be taken into exile. I would say that is the background to that statement. God never commanded such idolatry, and it never entered his mind, and hence, they are in violation of the covenant stipulations.

    When I stated “Interesting. Please explain what you mean.” that was in reference to Theism vs. Calvinism. You seemed to equate it to Frankenstein.

    Actually, what I said was that any theistic system must have some way of relating evil to God. The problem with “free will” is that it does not deal with why God created. The reason I brought Frankenstein up is because Victor Frankenstein was responsible for the damage the monster did, because he was its creator. Why is it any different for God, when he was the one who created all of these evil men?

    Yes I do believe God has the right to pour out his wrath against sin. Regarding Genesis 6:

    6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

    Did God grieve over his decrees or over the wickedness of man?

    Again, the problem is that this an objection to theism, not to Calvinism. Arminians believe that God wants to save everyone, and yet, they believe that God also desires to give man free will. They also believe that it grieves God when people go to hell. Hence, God acts in a way that causes him grief. How is that any different from the alleged problem you are bringing up? Again, the only way out of this is to deny that God had any knowledge that, when he gave man free will, they would do this. Again, the logical conclusion of your argument is open theism.

    I think the better explanation can be found in an analogy to the parent. If you are a parent, you know that there are times when you have to spank your children. Parents do not like to do that, and in many cases there have been parents who have cried in so doing. Parents do not like inflicting pain on their children, but they know that it is necessary. Their desire to see their children learn right from wrong is greater than their desire to not inflict pain.

    The point is that there is something that is more important to God than whether or not he is always happy. Remember, we are dealing with a God who, as you have already said, desires to demonstrate his wrath against sin, in order to show the riches of his glory upon the vessels of mercy. God’s holiness in the demonstration of his mercy and his wrath are infinitely more important to God than whether or not he is happy. While I am sure it would make God happy if sin did not exist, his desire to glorify his name through the punishment of evil and the demonstration of his mercy is much greater.

    You are arguing against open theism which no one has espoused. God knows all things. That’s even a proof he gives to us in His Word that He is God, that he will tell future events before they happen, so that when they happen we will know He is God.

    The problem is, open theism is the elephant in the room, given your interpretation of Jeremiah 32, and given they way you are talking about God’s future knowledge of the sinful actions of human beings he himself has created. We can also add to that your objection to God acting in such a way that it brings him grief. All of these things are problems with Arminianism as well. It is only open theism that can sustain the objections you are using.

    I have extreme comfort knowing God isn’t causing evil throughout the world. That my only hope of salvation is still white as snow, that no crimson has stained that garment rendering it unworthy (speaking of Jesus Christ), that it has no spot or blemish to foul it.

    I also have comfort because of Gods promise in Romans 8:

    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    Of course, that wasn’t what I asked. How do you find comfort *during the time evil is taking place.* According to you, God has nothing to do with it. If you are beaten by thugs, when that terrible event happens, there is no purpose in it. It could get totally out of control at any second. It is totally out of God’s hands. How you are supposed to have hope and peace and meaning in that moment, I don’t know.

    For me, if that happens, I can know that there is a purpose for it. It is not some random act of evil that is purposeless. What happens, the severity of it, and all aspects of it have purpose both after they occur and *when* they occur. I can start asking myself what God might be teaching me through this event right away. Again, I don’t see how your position can give anyone comfort when they are going through trials and tribulations, since God has a “hands off” approach to those things.

    Also, it is interesting that you should quote Romans 8, because the grounds for knowing that all things work together for good is actually given in the next verse:

    Romans 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    You have an unbroken chain from predestination through to glorification. It is because God had set his love upon us from the foundation of the world and predestined us that we will be glorified, and thus, all things will work together for good. You can’t have all things working together for good without the predestining work of God.

  46. Peter Pellerin,

    I am not a Greek scholar, but the verse references I am looking at right now have “believing” in the active voice. If I understand that correctly, that means we are involved in the believing, we are not passive.

    Of course, no one is saying that someone else believes for us. Yes, we are the ones who believe, but we do so because God has given us the gift of faith. Consider the testimony of scripture:

    Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

    Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

    2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

    Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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