1/12/11

Misrepresenting Calvinism

Repeating a Lie Often Enough
By: Jonathan Harris

For the past three years I have not found it necessary to bring the word "Calvinism" into any of the posts here at The Lion's Den. Believing that one can both be a Christian and a "non-Calvinist" per se, I never saw the use in being dogmatic on a "secondary issue". I realize now that this way of doing things just isn't being completely honest and forthright. I have come to understand that in reality all Christians are "Calvinists" in one sense; not that they knowingly follow the man John Calvin, but that they humbly received Christ's work on their behalf. Unless you believe in work's righteousness, you too subscribe in some way to Reformed Theology simply because you agree with God that salvation is His work and not your own. This system of theology however does more than put Christ at the center of our lives- it puts Him on the throne of creation. As believers in God's sovereignty we subscribe to beliefs concerning government, science, medicine, history, etc. which view Him as the centerpiece. Without a view that man is sinful and weak while God is good and powerful we have no true Christian worldview. No one is under obligation to call this theology and accompanying worldview "Calvinism" if they don't want to be associated with a man- but at the same time we should all realize that this is the formal name for the theology we all basically subscribe to believers in God's sovereignty.

Some of you are probably upset at me at this point. You may be saying, "How dare you tell me I'm a Calvinist! I'm nothing of the kind!" or "I can still be a Christian and not a Calvinist!" Well, that may be true in one sense- You can be a Christian and not follow the man John Calvin, but again, as I stated previously, you cannot be a Christian and believe that somehow your own "decision" or "works" have saved you. You must completely cast yourself on the mercy of God. Calvinism is the system that recognizes grace alone apart from any works. The system opposing Calvinism is referred to as Arminianism, emphasizing man's "free will" and "decisional regeneration." I expect that most people reading this will be familiar with both terms. (We will be discussing why it is you shouldn't be afraid of the theology of Calvinism shortly.)

On a side note: It is my belief that Arminianism leads inevitably to humanism simply because it maintains that there is a spark of good in man by which he can obtain God's favor- namely his decision. In our country this has definitely been the case and it has lead to privatization, a phenomena in which the church has neglected the culture in favor of "personal relationships" with God. (More on that in other postings such as Total Truth)

Anyway, it is because Calvinism has been so grossly misrepresented that so many are unwilling to verbally subscribe to it. My aim is to correct three of the biggest misrepresentations I have seen used among friends of mine and believers in general. Just to be clear: I'm not trying to bash anyone over the head at all. My motivation is simply out of fear for my readers that they will be sucked into a theological system (Arminianism) that ultimately leads to ineffectiveness (privatization), lack of satisfaction (no sense of calling), despair (no truly sovereign God in reality), and sometimes heresy (i.e. Pelagianism).

1. Calvinists Believe No One Has Choice

This statement couldn't be more untrue but yet it remains the biggest objection to Reformed Theology. Allan Turner writes, "According to Calvinists, a person may have only one course of action open to him and still be free." Unfortunately for Turner and all the other Arminians leveling this critique, John Calvin disagrees when he says:

This liberty is compatible with our being depraved, the servants of sin, able to do nothing but sin. In this way, then, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion. This is perfectly true: but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title? An admirable freedom! That man is not forced to be the servant of sin, while he is, however, ethelodoulos (a voluntary slave); his will being bound by the fetters of sin.

In other words, man is given a choice as to whether he will receive God's free gift or not. Man however, in his sinful state, will always choose wrong. The elect are chosen by God against their will to be His followers- and we should be grateful for it (the equivalent would be a dying man forced against his will to go to the hospital). I want to emphasize one more time that John Calvin is only right because this is what Scripture already teaches, not because he happened to say it. However, John Calvin is a man God used to systematize the Doctrines of Grace contained in Scripture. All that to say, Calvinists do believe in choice.

2. Calvinists Believe in an Evil God

After telling the congregants at Thomas Road Baptist Church that Hypercalvinists believe only the elect babies are going to heaven, Ergun Caner- professor of theology at Liberty University School of Divinity- went on to say:

A Hypercalvinist believes that everything is predestined and thus God- they have no problem saying- is the author of sin. Hypercalvinsts believe that predestination and foreknowledge are the same thing: What God predestines He divinely decrees and thus they believe in what we call double-predestination. . . a Hypercalvinist believes that invitations are an insult to God- that predestination is the highest of all doctrine.

Unfortunately, Caner erred in two basic ways. He equivocated Hypercalvinism with Calvinism (using the terms interchangeably during the course of his sermon), and he defined the latter term wrongly. Just to set the record straight: Hypercalvinism is a belief system that can also be called "Christian fatalism." A Calvinist who fails to obey the prescriptive will of God (most notably in evangelism) simply because "God will take care of it in His sovereignty," is a Hypercalvinist. What folks like Ergun Caner do (quite frequently I might ad), is take something like Calvinism, misrepresent it, and then create a straw man called "Hypercalvinism" so they can knock it down. To be clear, none of what Caner said is accurate. Calvinists do not believe in a God who is the author of sin, or who necessarily sends babies to hell (it's simply an unknown Biblically speaking), or who "chooses" some for destruction. They believe in a God that is so powerful that He can use even evil to glorify Himself. That's a big difference. The burden of proof lies on folks like Ergun Caner to provide the evidence to justify such destructive accusations. I'm not holding my breath.

3. Calvinism and Arminianism are Both True

I have heard this argument so many times I feel like my head's going to spin. I don't fault friends of mine who have made such a claim for making it- rather I attribute the blame for such poor thinking with the spiritual leaders propagating such post-modern gibberish. Usually the argument goes something like this:

Well we know the secret things belong to the Lord, and Scripture teaches that we have a choice and that God chooses us, so I guess the Bible teaches both systems. It must work out in the mind of God somehow even if it doesn't make sense to us.

The first problem with such thinking is that it assumes misconception 1. Remember, Calvinism teaches that men do have a choice- it's just that they choose wrong in their sinful state. Secondly, This way of thinking twists Scripture to make its case. It maintains that because some things don't make sense, it must logically follow that contradictions are perfectly acceptable. Really? So the God who's nature is logical, who isn't the author of confusion decides to reveal two valid diametrically opposed belief systems? I guess we may as well accept relativism while we're at it! The reality is this: Some things we don't know because we either don't have the capability of understanding it, or we have not been given the necessary information. This does not mean that we can believe logical impossibilities (such as, we solely choose God and He solely chooses us at the same time and in the same sense). We do choose God, when He gives us the ability to do so. And yes, He does choose to give us this ability. This doesn't mean that He overrides our personal will, while we are still saved by an act of our personal will.

In closing, I know for many of you this may be new information. I haven't cited Sciptures or defined all of my terms simply because I expect most people reading this to have a basic understanding of the terms and Scriptures used by both systems. If anyone has questions regarding any of this, or would like information on either theological system feel free to leave a comment with your email address. We need to realize that the ideas being discussed are big ones with far-reaching implications. Your worldview is determined by your theology. I've found over and over again that Calvinism is the brunt of jokes and straw man arguments more than any other "sect" of Christianity in the world of secular academia. This is what has inspired me to make some of the defenses above. Because ultimately, where Calvinism goes, so goes Christianity.

23 comments:

  1. wow...I've never really looked into Calivinism much, but this theology does not sit well with me. I feel it grossly contradicts scripture, as we see over and over again in the OT God wanting His people to turn to Him, to choose Him. (malachi 3:7 for example) so we see from the start, even with Adam & Eve, man has had free will. Yeah, since A&E and the fall, man's nature has changed. Our fallen natures influence us to be drawn to sin, but we can still choose good...if men always choose wrong without any TRUE free will (and no I don't think men having the choice, but only ever choosing wrong is "free" will) then what was God's purpose in creating a creation He already intended to control? That makes little sense in my opinion...

    Futhermore, what about 1 Corinth. 10:13? "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

    We clearly have a choice for good apart from God's hand forcing it...that doesn't diminish His power or glory or the sacrifice on the cross....or the fact that His grace alone saves us, but it gives humans the dignity in which the Lord created them originally. He wanted a creation to choose Him, to freely take pleasure in Him. We see this theme throughout the Bible...otherwise we are just robots, and how could God get angry with a creation He already directs? There is no need for a savior in this case.

    So no I don't think every Christian is a Calvinist. In fact, I think Calvin really missed the mark. I understand his desire to stress God's grace & sovereignty over man, but he went way too far with it.

    Blessings always,
    Nicolette

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  2. "Our fallen natures influence us to be drawn to sin, but we can still choose good..."

    Paul repeatedly compares the nonbeliever to someone "dead in trespasses." Through Christ however we are a "new Creation" the "old things have passed away, behold everything has become new." What do dead men do besides rot? This is the helpless state that God saved us out of.

    "if men always choose wrong without any TRUE free will. . . then what was God's purpose in creating a creation He already intended to control?"

    Whether you're an Arminian or a Calvinist you still have this "problem" (if you consider it that). Arminians believe God knowingly created a universe in which He knew the outcome ahead of time, yet He is helpless to do anything about it. Calvinists believe not only that God knew the outcome, but that he allows it, and will use it to magnify His attributes (i.e. Evil demonstrates his justice and wrath- two attributes which would be unseen without it)

    "We clearly have a choice for good apart from God's hand forcing it"

    Of course we do, but we will never "choose" right in our "dead" state apart from God's gift of grace. Yes, we make the choice, but it is only because He has made us alive. "No man comes to the father except the Father draw him." "Ye must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven."

    "I don't think every Christian is a Calvinist."

    What saves us exactly then, our decision or Christ himself in His abundant mercy?

    Good thoughts Nicolette. Glad to see you're thinking things threw. It's a tough pill to swallow at first but realize I'm not the most gifted communicator, and I have presented perhaps an overly simplistic look at this especially for someone as deep thinking as you are. My main thrust I suppose is simple. God saved me- I didn't save myself. In fact, even my "righteous deeds" are "filthy rags." I "love Him because he first loved" me. God gets the ultimate glory in salvation, not man. A Christian is someone who trusts in Christ, not his decision or works.

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  3. Man you two are at it again lol


    Adam

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  4. God ordained it Adam, God ordained it. lol It's my "irresistible face." pun intended.

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  5. "Free will" is a misnomer for man is not autonomous to make a choice, but rather, since the Fall, has been limited in what he can / will do on his own initiative, out of his own ability. Scriptures are clear that no man even seeks the Lord, much less will repent and believe apart from God's intervention (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-18). The natural man rejects the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), and unless the Father draws, no man will come to Christ (John 6:44).
    It is important that we come to the Scriptures and allow them to speak and then accept what they say instead of trying to force them into either our own feelings or theological system. That is easier said than done, yet it still must be the quest.
    The great problem of man is sin and the foundation of sin is man's pride and selfishness. Man refuses to follow God because he thinks his way is better than God's way. Man does not desire what God desires so he works hard to develop a system to give the illusion of being godly while still pursuing his own selfish quests. Man does not need his dignity preserved, instead he needs to humble himself before the might hand of God (1 Peter 5:5-6). Whatever dignity man does have is only out of his reflection of being made in the image of God however tarnished he has become
    Scott L. Harris

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  6. The nice thing about Calvinism is that it has absolutes, there is very little, if any gray area.

    One thing I find difficult to cope with however, is free will. I read a superb work by John Owen on the issue (entitled the Dilemna), but I'm still not quite certain.

    I base my thoughts on several postulates:

    ------------------------------------------------

    1) God designed us with free will so that we would choose to worship, love, praise, and bring glory to him. If we did not have free will to do so, we would merely be like angels, which would defeat the point of creating humanity.

    2) God distinctly states at multiple times in the Bible that Jesus Christ died for all of the sins of all mankind, and it is their choice, not works that allows them to partake of his gift.

    3) If God merely selects the elect to force to "come to the hospital", this would assume that Christ (the Physician) did not die for the sins of the rest of humanity.

    ------------------------------------------------

    If God did choose individuals that he wanted to save, then he is quite literally dooming the rest to hell.

    At that point you either have to turn to Universalism (and defeat the point of Calvinism altogether), or you must say that God is evil, or you must make some form of exception for God to sentence lost souls to hell by non-selection, in which case it would be necessary to rewrite your moral code, and redefine the very nature of God.

    Furthermore, if God selected the elect, then they would be forced -- with or against their will or what would have otherwise happened had God left it up to free will -- to go to heaven and eternally glorify God, which would come to the same thing as if God had merely created robots or angels; thus effectively destroying free choice as time goes to infinity, in which case, God would have been better of not creating man at all.

    - Carlos

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  7. Jon,

    With all due respect I object to your statement that a Christian has to be a Calvinist of any sort. I object strongly to the Calvinist doctrine, and yet I firmly believe that Christ is the Son of God, died for us, and offers us salvation. I furthermore do my best to walk with him and submit to his will as best I understand it. Am I not a Christian? Are we not saved by faith and not the doctrine? I will not argue with you on Calvinism itself, because neither of us will convince the other, but please don't write those of us who disagree with you out of the Faith itself.

    Your sister in the Faith,

    Chavala

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  8. Carlos- God determines His purpose in creating humanity. I'm not going to presume that I know it fully. I tend to think it is to represent His nature (even wrath and justice which need evil to demonstrate themselves). Saying that we're robots because we are chosen is a bit simplistic. We did in fact undergo a change of heart- but it is still by God's grace, and he gets the credit. If you want to call that being a robot, then that's fine. I'm a robot for Christ then. :) Also, double predestination is not part of traditional Calvinism. God did not choose for the elect to go to hell in his perfect will (He did in His sovereign will). Ultimately, they chose their own destiny- and one last thing- their choice was not "free" it was hampered and limited by sin. Our will is limited by our love for evil in our sinful state.

    Chavala- Do you believe we need to be saved by Christ's atoning work alone and not our works(i.e. solagracia)in order to be saved?

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  9. I'm not following you... They either choose their destiny, or they don't. They either go to hell because of their own sin, or because God opted not to bring them to heaven for whatever indeterminable reason. Which is it? In your article you appear to switch between both as necessary, but I'm sure you're not, and I'm just not comprehending it.

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  10. Jon,

    I don't see a contradiction between believing in sola gracia and not believing in predestination. I believe that Christ alone saves, but I do not believe that asking constitutes either work or merit. If I ask my earthly father for anything, I appeal to his love for me as a daughter, not any merit based on anything I have done for him. Certainly my asking cannot be counted virtue-only proof that I have enough faith in his love that I dare to ask. Likewise, I do not think that asking God to save me constitutes any merit on my part, only faith in his love. Nor does my asking imply righteousness; more often than not it implies that I am hurting and abandoned, and am seeking a comforter. The Bible says that no man seeks righteousness; it does not say that no man seeks healing or rescue, nor does it offer a single instance of Christ refusing to heal anyone who cried out to him from the roadside. I would like to think that that's because there was none; God heals all who cry out to him. But like I said, that crying out is not an act of merit or a work; it is a sign of fundamental weakness that God in his grace answers. Therefore, salvation is both our choice and entirely his work. You are, of course, free to disagree with me, but I think this reasoning does leave me very much a non-Calvinist and very much a Christian.
    Chavala

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  11. Carlos- God has a perfect and a sovereign will. He desires all men to repent (perfect) yet chooses the elect (sovereign). "We love Him because He first loved us." That's Calvinism. We do make a decision at a point in our life- a decision God has ordained and given us the grace to make. He gets the credit. If that helps let me know...If not, I'll try to be more specific.

    Chavala- What can dead men do?

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  12. Jon,

    If by spiritual death we meant a state of oblivion exactly the equivalent of what an atheist means by physical death, then there would be no point in the entire of the Christian doctrine, since dead men can do nothing, including sin. Therefore, we must be alive to something, and if we are alive to anything, we are capable of feeling pain, abandonment, alienation, and even a sensation of not belonging. None of those are virtues, yet they all can lead to us crying out to Him, with or without being entirely sure of where or who he is to hear us. The blind men could not know for sure where Christ was or that he was there at all; they simply took the crowd at its word that he was there and called out to him. Jesus responded by coming and opening their eyes. Likewise, even if God has not yet revealed himself to you, you can take the word of a Christian that he is there, and call out to him. It would not require being spiritually alive.

    Chavala

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  13. That helps, I think. So essentially he chooses some elect, but everyone has the possibility, event those not chosen, to come to Christ?

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  14. I think that what it comes down to is that God calls those he knows will answer, and answers those he knows will call. C.S. Lewis was called (dragged) to the Faith because God knew that as an atheist he would not call, but as a seeker of truth, he would come if confronted with it. A man Spurgeon had heard of called because he had heard the Gospel, wanted to follow the Lord, but was afraid that the Lord would not take him. The only time God refuses either to answer or call, in my opinion, is when he knows either would be useless.

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  15. *Best blog yet, definitely worth the read big brother.

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  16. You got it Carlos. Everyone receives the offer, no one receives the gift apart from Christ's grace.

    Chavala- I should have been more specific. I was asking what a man spiritually and in sin can do?

    2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body [1] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    David- thanks, appreciate it.

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  17. Jon,

    I think I answered your question with my comment on the blind, but we getting a bit off track here. I could argue you forever if I cared to, and defend my own point with the exact same Bible you are using to defend yours. But we would be arguing forever, and that is not my intention. What I wish to defend is my right to disagree with you and still be called a Christian. I have argued my point without resorting to a works-based theology or denying the divinity of Christ, and I have based it on the scriptures. By Protestant standards, it classifies as a Christian argument, and the one making it is a Christian. If the Lord disagrees with that or me, it is his right to say so and refuse to claim me as his own. But it is not your right to do so. I respect your opinions, and you are entitled to them. I am simply asking that you avoid stating them in a manner that excludes all who disagree with you from the Faith.
    Chavala

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  18. Alright. That makes sense. :) Por fin.

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  19. Chavala- If you've noticed, I haven't really argued with you, I've only asked questions. I'm trying to figure out where you're coming from. I don't see how you've answered my question yet. It's simple- What can a man who is spiritually dead in sin do? Is he capable of anything "good." Maybe you have answered it, and I'm failing to understand your answer. You'll have to use simple and succinct language to help me understand your position. So far I haven't seen anything refuting my position that you have to believe God chooses you in order to be His. Enlighten me! :)

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  20. Let me see if this helps:

    1)The issue as to whether or not a man who is spiritually dead can do good is to the issue of salvation irrelevant. Since God answers (saves) all who cry out to him to do so, the issue is whether or not this calling or crying out is in and of itself "good". I say that it is not, that it is morally neutral.

    2) If this calling or crying out is not in and of itself good, and is not a work, as I believe it is not, then we can call or cry even if being spiritually dead renders us capable of doing nothing that is good.

    3) If we are capable, even spiritually dead, of calling or crying out,then we are capable of choosing God. Not, perhaps, in that we can choose his righteousness so on and so forth, he will teach us that afterwards in his mercy, but in that we can choose him even if our motives are more for our own healing than his praise.

    4)God in his mercy will always accept that call, much like a mother consents to comfort her crying child even though she knows her child is using her as an ends to a means. Eventually, she knows the child will grow to love her for her own sake-provided she consents to be used during that time which her child is to immature to love her properly.

    5) Ergo, while God has in one sense chosen us, in that he knew before time began who would come and who would not, and has planned the destinies of those who would accordingly, in another sense, he has done no such thing, because he made us all capable of crying out to him, and did not decide for us which of us would do so. We decided that for ourselves, and could have, without knowing what was good or not.

    6)Furthermore, we are all also capable of ignoring Him if we want to. C.S. Lewis described his own conversion experience as being hounded down by God, but had Lewis wanted to remain an atheist, he could have simply stopped reading Christian authors that knew what they were talking about-Richard Dawkins has clearly done so. And if we can ignore God, it is one more reason to assume the choice is ours, not God's.

    7) Despite the fact that I have declared it irrelevant, out of duty to those of my friends and professors who are not believers, I will state for the record that a man who is spiritually dead is capable of good. Evil is a parasite, a lack; it cannot exists without anything good to feed off of. As CS Lewis said, there is no opposite of God, because take away all good, and you would be left with nothing in the way of intelligence or even existence. Some of the most courageous people I have ever met were atheists. I would have to think a while to give you my definition of spiritually dead; it runs more along the lines of that judge's definition of obscenity (I know it when I see it). But I don't think it means incapable of good.

    Chavala

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  21. I would have to disagree very strongly. You make two foundational assumptions which I think lead to a system of reasoning which deviates very starkly with Scripture. You say, "The issue as to whether or not a man who is spiritually dead can do good is to the issue of salvation irrelevant." This could not be further from the truth. I could bring up all the passages that talk about spiritual deadness and show how in context they ALL are referring to justification. Look at the Ephesians one again I posted above. It's obvious that Salvation is exactly what's being talked about. I don't see how it could even be possibly interpreted any other way? You also say, "I will state for the record that a man who is spiritually dead is capable of good." This is really a humanistic idea and contradicts practically the whole message of the Bible. Just a few verses on the subject (John 15:4-5, Romans 5:7-8, Is. 53:6, Micah 7:2-4, Romans 3:9-12, John 8:34, etc. etc.) The Bible describes us as "slaves" to sin over and over. It is our ONLY master before we are "born again." Jesus said himself that bad tree cannot produce good fruit.

    If I sound like I'm being dogmatic it's because I am. This is what Scripture teaches. If It sounds like I'm being hard on you or unloving please realize this is not my intention at all. I'm really hoping everyone reading this seriously considers if what I'm saying lines up with Scripture. Eternal destinies are on the line; And by the way, there is NOTHING embarrassing about changing an opinion on something or rethinking an issue. I have had to do this MANY times myself even after being challenged by people I may not respect or who I look down on. So, all that to say, not trying to bully anyone- just trying to encourage everyone to think Biblically.

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  22. Jon,

    With all due respect, this is how you interpret scripture, not necessarily what it says. I have read the scripture you posted, several times over, as well as the others, and I see nothing that says the spiritually dead are not capable of doing good. It says they followed the world, lived among their passions, so on and so forth, but it does not say that they are incapable of a single good action or thought. That would be impossible. Even Hitler was capable of compassion-assuming the object of that compassion was a squirrel and not a human being. To say someone is capable of good is not the same thing as calling them good. I read in the Bible that there is not one who does good in general, but I have nowhere read that there is not one who has never done a good thing at all, or has any endearing characteristics at all.

    Second of all, you may be misunderstanding what I meant by labeling the issue irrelevant. I meant that it was irrelevant to whether or not one is capable of calling on the Lord; I did not mean that it was irrelevant of whether or not one needed to be saved. Obviously, if we can be "good' or, better phrased "Godly" (for by worldly standards, one can be good without God) without God, it would pose a problem for the doctrine.

    As for basing things on the Bible, there is no need to encourage me on the subject. If I fail to quote it often, it is because I remember it in arcs and stories better than I do by verse. I reject Calvinism because of the verse somewhere in Ezekiel that says he desires all to be saved, because of the numerous stories of people crying out to Jesus and being answered at a rate of 100%, and because God constantly refers to himself as our Father, and describes himself as waiting eagerly for us to come home. Not to mention the invitations issued in the 50s of Isiah sound to me like a general invitation. I am reading the same Bible you are, and I have come to a different conclusion than you have. I am a protestant; it is my right to do so. We do not have the concept of Magesterium here. I do not ask you to change your opinion; I never expected to do so. I only ask that you leave those of us who do not agree with you (and have based our objections on the scriptures) free to disagree.
    Chavala

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  23. I've never said you're not free to disagree, so I don't know where that's coming from? I'm saying that if you think you had anything to do with your salvation apart from God then you cannot be saved. It's impossible, and that's what Arminianism forces you into believing. Sure, there are many folks who go to Arminian churches that are saved. There are many who call themselves by such a term and are saved. There are many Catholics (basically Arminianism with a pope...and a couple other heretical doctrines) who are saved, BUT, you cannot be saved and actually buy into actual dogma.

    I feel like a repetitious lecturer not getting my point through. I'm not sure whether it's my lack of ability to communicate or your misunderstanding of what it is I'm actually saying. Somehow my message is not getting through. I'll try one more time.

    1) We are saved in totality by God Himself. I encourage you read Ephesians 2 again. There is no way imaginable anyone can get around this passage without realizing that "we are His workmanship" saved by God "even when we were dead in trespasses and sin." We were "made alive" through Christ. No man comes to the father "except the father draw him." "We love Him because He first loved us." "You must be born again" before you can become a child of God. etc. etc.

    2) Man is not capable of any good apart from God. Even the good that man does (filthy rags) is done for wrong motivations and since God looks at the "intentions of the heart" we are guilty for the "good" things we do. Romans 1 addresses the moral unrighteous man who keeps the law but in reality is just as sinful as the immoral unrighteous. A bad tree CANNOT produce good fruit.

    If you concede that you are saved by God's grace, and were "dead" in your sin before the point of justification, then you are not only a Christian but a Calvinist as well. You don't have to call yourself that, you don't have to be proud of it, but the reality is you believe in the supremacy of God in salvation. If you believe in the God of Arminianism you are trusting in a commitment YOU have personally made to a God who's powerful enough to see that people are going to hell and created them anyway with no plan on how to glorify Himself through their evil choice.

    One final note: All the things you brought up. I.E. God "desiring all men to come to repentance" and Christ saving SOME ("not EVERYONE who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven") of those who cry out to Him, fit in perfectly with Calvinism. God does desire in his perfect will, however in His sovereign will He has ordained their final destiny. Jesus does save those who repent, but only after He gives them the desire to do so.

    If I'm not able to make it clear this time, I'll just concede that I may be a poor communicator. I'm not saying anyone personally is unsaved. I'm saying a lot of you are closet Calvinists and don't even realize it. Whether you choose to call yourself that is up to you (of course God does ordain what you will call yourself in the end :)).

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