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Doubting Calvinists

No, I did not say “Doubting Calvinism.” Although I am a master of typos, this blog is about something different. First, every reader needs to know that I am a Calvinist. And while the “doctrines of grace” are not the most important issues in theology, I believe in them very deeply and find that they constitute a significant portion of my hope and comfort.

Why all this snuggling up to Calvinism? Because I don’t want to look like one of those disgruntled emerging types, continually complaining about his own family. Having said that, I am going to discuss a “problem” I often (certainly not always) see among my Calvinist brothers and sisters. I am going to state the issue and then attempt to provide a timid yet substantial interpretation of the problem.

Okay, enough of the prologue. Let me get to it.

I grew up a Baptist. As such, I was quite aware of the “Baptist way” of evangelism. First, you get the person saved. Next, you make sure they know that they can never lose their salvation. Assurance of salvation was not some tertiary or auxiliary doctrine. It was something the new believer in Christ must have, now. To be fair, this is not simply a Baptist thing. It is something that can be found in the DNA of pop Evangelicalism as well. And it makes some sense. If a new believer knows that he is secure in Christ, his works and service to the Lord will come because he is saved, not so that he can be saved. This secures his belief and understanding in justification by faith alone.

Assurance of salvation. I suppose this is the subject of this post. The question is Can one be absolutely sure that they are a believer and how important is this assurance in their walk with the Lord? Many Christians don’t believe an individual can be assured of their ultimate salvation. Many believe one can lose their salvation. Catholics believe that “mortal sins” (really nasty sins such as adultery,  rejection of the perpetual virginity of Mary, or missing Mass without a valid excuse) can cause a Cathlic to lose their salvation. Arminians and Wesleyans believe one can cease to believe, thereby forfeiting their seat in heaven. Therefore, from the perspective of those who don’t believe salvation can be lost, these belief systems cannot offer any assurance. The criticism would be that no one could ever be sure, until death, whether or not they are saved. After all, what if I decided to sleep in on Sunday and then immediately died of a heart attack without repenting? How do I know for sure if my faith is going to last until the end? For Catholics, the fact that one cannot be assured of their salvation is dogmatized.

If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, Canon XV of the Decree on Justification

If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end, unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, Canon XVI of the Decree on Justification

Ironically, for the Catholic, to believe that one can be assured of their salvation would be the means by which they lose their salvation!

You: I thought this was about Calvinists!

Me: Patience, my son. Patience

Calvinists believe in a doctrine called “perseverance of the saints.” Normally, we don’t like the phrase “Once saved, always saved” (even though, technically, we believe this). A little better is the designation “eternal security.” But our favorite is “perseverance of the saints.” We believe that the elect will persevere in their faith until the end. Therefore, if one is among the elect, she cannot lose her seat in heaven.

One would think this would bring a great deal of assurance among Calvinists concerning their security. Their faith is a gift of God and he will never take it back. The elect are secure.

Now, as many of you know, I have quite a significant ministry dealing with Christians who are doubting their faith for one reason or another. Jude 22 says “have mercy on those who doubt.” I don’t think we do this enough. We avoid doubters like the plague, not knowing how to minister to them. Unfortunately, many of my fellow Calvinists deal with doubters according to one of two theological clichés. If they leave the faith, they were never saved to begin with. If they are elect, they will not leave faith. End of story.

There are three primary reasons Christians doubt. The first has to do with objective intellectual issues. These doubt the Bible’s truthfulness, Christ’s resurrection, and even God’s existence (among other things).  Another group doubts God’s love and presence in their lives. The last group doubts their salvation and the reality of their faith. These are always wondering if they have true saving faith or a false faith. This last group lacks assurance.

It may surprise you to know that just about every contact I have had with people who are doubting their salvation are Calvinistic in their theology. In other words, they believe in unconditional election. These are the ones who believe in perseverance of the saints. These are the ones that believe that we cannot lose our salvation! Yet these are the ones who are doubting their faith the most.

Their issue has to do with their election. Are they truly among the elect? If they are, they believe their faith will persevere until the end. But if they are not, there is no hope. But how are they to know for sure whether they are elect? Maybe their faith is a stated faith? Maybe it is false. The gentleman I talked to today was so riddled with doubt, he was having thoughts of suicide. “How do I know my faith is an elect faith?” He wanted assurance so badly, but felt that his Calvinistic theology prevented him from ever having such assurance.

Isn’t this ironic? I have never had a call from an Arminian (or any other believer in conditional election) about this. In my experience, it is only Calvinists who doubt their faith in this way, with such traumatic devastation. Why?

I have my theories. Let me share them, but I am interested in your thoughts.

Here we go (close your ears Baptists): I think we make too much of the doctrine of assurance. I don’t know if it is paramount for a believer to always be absolutely assured that he is a believer. John Hannah, one of my favorite profs at Dallas Seminary, said one time in class, “I am ninety percent sure I am saved . . . but I am only ten percent sure of that.” He would say things like this, knowing it would disturb most of his Evangelical students’ foundations, causing them to think more deeply. I thought if John Hannah is not one hundred percent sure he is saved, how can anyone be? I did not know whether to rethink my Baptist upbringing or take John Hannah out into the hall and share the Gospel with him. Eventually, it caused me to rethink my understanding of assurance. I don’t think there is any reason why we have to be absolutely certain we are saved at every moment. When we present the Gospel to someone and they say they have trusted in Christ, we do them a disservice to force assurance upon them. After all, how do we know that their faith is real? We don’t. Instead of assurance, maybe we should give them some of the Hebrews warning passages. Maybe we should speak to them as Christ spoke to the seven churches in Revelation: “to him who overcomes . . .” Maybe we should encourage them to “test their faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Maybe we should warn them that there is a possible disqualification. (1 Cor. 9:27). This may not fit into your thinking, but we all know there is a faith that does not save (James 2:19). Why not bring this up?

You see, people in our tradition often believe it is anathema to test your faith. To even bring up the possibility of our faith not being real scares us. Why? Because if it is not real, in our sometimes distorted thinking, it is God’s fault and there is nothing we can do about it. We are either elect or not and all that can happen if we examine our faith is bring about the terrifying possibility of reprobation.

I think, for so many of us, the issues are as black and white as they can be. We are caught up in this modernistic ideal of absolutes. Either you know with one hundred percent infallible certainty that we are saved – or we have no certainty at all. But I think our certainty is relative to our situation. The question is never Are you elect? That is a question only for God. The question is Do you believe right now? If you do, you can know you have eternal life. Could you be wrong? Could your faith be false? Could your trust in the Lord be like that of the second and third soils of Christ’s parable? Those that sprung up quickly but faded away? Sure. But the solution is not to divine the mind of God to see if you are elect. It is to persevere in your faith. Arminians know this. They live with this every day. Therefore, they don’t call me falling apart about their assurance. They know how to test their faith and they do all they can to keep it. Calvinists often just get paralyzed in fear thinking they are not among the elect and have their hands tied. When, truth be told, we should respond very much like Arminians with regard to the stability of our faith. We do everything to persevere (which I would love to expand on, but I don’t have the space). Our theology demands that when we do persevere, we know that it was God who would not ever let us go, not us who would never let him go. Therefore, we understand our faith was not of ourselves. But this fact does not help much in situations when our faith needs to be tested. We simply do not have a magic decoder ring to determine if we are truly elect.

You ask me: Michael, do you know you are saved? My answer: yes. You ask me: Michael, do you have assurance? My answer: yes. You ask me: Michael, why do you believe you are saved? My answer: because today I am still believing. But I have to test this all the time, as I am not infallible. I could have a false faith, but I don’t believe I do. This ninety percent assurance will have to do. The witness of the Spirit I have today is enough for today. Tomorrow I will examine myself again. But my assurance does not have to be absolute and comprehensive. While the Catholics went way overboard on their “anathemas” (I mean, come on, guys . . .), I do think they are right to warn against any necessity of infallible assurance. Once we learn to test ourselves, the times of doubt will lead to productive action, not paralyzing fear.

865 Responses to “Doubting Calvinists”

  1. 99% if not 100% agreed. Also, I think this is where a more traditional covenantal approach to ministry is helpful, where a congregation is addressed in terms of a visible covenant community which–although ideally a fully regenerate people through pastoral prudence and church discipline–may have false professors in its pale, and has the covenant sanctions regularly put before them: blessing for perseverance in faithfulness, cursing for impenitent unfaithfulness that eventually comes to apostasy. But of course, this doesn’t fully address the individual believer concerning the need for his or her personal, *present* assurance of eternal salvation. And I think your article definitely has a piece of the answer that’s lacking in many evangelical circles: act, don’t just sit there and analyze to the point of paralysis. I also love what Piper said once, when talking about how Edwards had laid him bare, peeling back layer after layer of possible self-deceit: that at the end of the day, it’s only the direct work of the Holy Spirit while gazing at Christ in the gospel that can “fully” (whatever that means) assure us. Enjoyable read, thanks!

  2. There is a distinction to be made here:

    You said toward the top,
    –“Therefore, from the perspective of those who don’t believe that salvation can be lost, these [Catholics, Arminians, Wesleyans] cannot have any assurance. The criticism would be that no one could ever be sure, until death, whether or not they are saved.”–

    Catholics may worry whether the faith they have today will last until death. But they don’t worry whether today’s faith is true or false.

    Calvinists worry whether the faith they have today is real or not. Whether or not it’s a big self-deceptive act.

    Catholics have the assurance that God will receive every single person back time and time again. Hope never dies.

    Calvinists have no assurance that they are among the elect. They are left with the very real possibility that their soul is hopeless, even though they *seem* to be believers today.

    Does it really matter whether you explain Calvinist perseverance of the saints sooner or later? Is hearing it later going to take away the terror that can accompany it?

    –“But the solution is not to divine into the mind of God to see if you are elect. It is to persevere in your faith. Arminians know this. They live with this every day. Therefore, they don’t call me falling apart about their assurance.”–

    I don’t know that much about Arminianism, but I assume that the reason they don’t fall apart is that they know that *true* faith is available to every single person. There is always hope. At least this is the case with Catholicism. There is no despair of not being elect. So for a Calvinist to act like an Arminian, or a Catholic, in this regard, doesn’t even make any sense and is a lie.
    There is a reason Catholics and Arminians don’t fall apart. Calvinists don’t have that same reason.

  3. Just wanted to point out the irony of following up a post on bad doctrine with a post on Calvinism! 🙂

    By the way, did you hear the time when Michael Patton had a conversation with a Roman Catholic Priest? “Father”, said Michael, “Do you believe that good doctrine glorifies God?” “Yes, I believe that is true”, replied the Priest. “Is the converse also true? Does bad doctrine not glorify God?”, asked Michael. “Yes, that also would be true.” “Well then,” said Michael, “forgive me Father for I have sinned.” 😛

  4. And yes, for those not sure, the above was a joke.

  5. “I could have a false faith, but I don’t believe I do.”

    Does this sound like the basis for relationship with God? Is this what He intended?

  6. “If a new believer knows that they are secure in Christ, their works and service to the Lord will come because they are saved, not so that they can be saved. This secures their belief and understanding in justification by faith alone.”

    leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity; and this we will do, if God permits; solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Heb 6: 1a,3; 5: 14
    now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him; make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;. 1 John 2:28-29; 3:7…let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness. Rev 22:11b

  7. The problem, Michael, is that if Calv election is true, God chooses to never save the non-elect from their sins, and nothing can ever possibly be done about that.

    It’s true (assuming Calvinism) that if someone falls away they may still be elect (like St. Peter): God will persevere and get their salvation done eventually.

    But there is no sure evidence of election. Fruits of the Spirit may be counterfeits. The non-elect may do miracles in God’s name (thus by His power) and suffer toil for His name and acknowledge Christ with YHWH’s double “Lord Lord”, and even be called and sent by Christ as an apostle.

    It’s true that if someone is concerned about their salvation from sin, they wouldn’t be unless the Holy Spirit was moving them so. But the Spirit convicts the non-elect of their sins eventually, too, after all!

    This is why Arminians don’t worry quite the same way: they worry that God will be defeated or give up on them eventually; or they may worry that they or someone else hasn’t convinced God to persist yet, but since they believe God loves all (human) sinners with saving love, they believe there’s still some chance for them, up until the loss of that chance (whenever or whyever that is).

    The special strength of Calvinism is that you believe and testify that the Good Shepherd doesn’t have to be convinced to go out after all the flock and is competent to bring the last one home, even if in some other ways that sheep isn’t part of the flock yet.

    The special strength of Arminianism is that Arms believe and testify that both the sheep and the goats are part of the Good Shepherd’s flock. (Even if they don’t notice the goats are baby goats and so are themselves the least of His flock.)

    This is why both Calvs and Arms see each other as undermining an extremely important assurance about God’s salvation of sinners from sin; and why converts either way really do believe they are gaining an important improvement either way.

    (And why a few of us think you’re both right. {g})

  8. Calvinism gets a lot right.

    Calvinism gets some stuff wrong, as well. Important stuff.

    Christ loves and died for all (even though not all will go to Heaven). The good book tells us so.

    I could not imagine going up to someone and say, “Did you know that Jesus may have died for you?”

    Plus, they send people inward for their assurance that they are of the elect.

    No good. We need to look to the external Word and sacraments.

  9. Michael,

    You have hit on one of the things that troubles me most about Calvinism. I personally can not think of any thing more horrifying then struggling with the idea that I may not be one of God’s elect and therefore there is absolutely no hope for me. When some of us have brought this issue up in discussions with Calvinists, it has always been dowplayed. I find it very interesting to know that you are talking to people who are really dealing with this type of horrible uncertainty.

  10. Building on what oldadam just said:

    Yes, I’ve often wondered how a Calvinist parent could share their faith with their children…I mean, how do you look in their eyes and tell them God loves them and wants to bring them to heaven, while inside you’ve got this caveat, that this may not actually be true.

    –Mommy, am I one of the elect?
    –Well, honey, I pray so hard every day that you are, but we must remember that God is sovereign and we do not question his mysterious questions and choices.
    (And perhaps when the child is older)—Just think, sweetie, you exist to glorify God…whether you are elect or not. God will use you to demonstrate his justice or his mercy.

    How do you honestly explain the Calvinistic love of Jesus to a child without lying? Really! Children have a way of asking the most simple, penetrating questions. Can you be honest and not scare them to death? Talk about INsecurity!

  11. Is the Calvinist Gospel Good News?

  12. Yeah, “eternal assurance” rings hollow to me as a non-Calvinist. Since you can’t KNOW you are the elect, you are left having to prove it (to yourself if no one else). What if you turn into one of those people who went to church forever and then went off the deep end? Theoretically, you could end up being one of those people who was “never saved in the first place.” Not very reassuring imo. And though you don’t believe in salvation by works, you’re put in the awkward position of needing to see those works to convince yourself that you’re genuinely elect.

    I know analogies break down at some point, but I find the story of the prodigal appropriate in this context. The son comes back home. He was lost, dead, and is now alive and back in his father’s house. He is welcome there, and his father won’t let anyone come drag him away. He doesn’t worry about his status in his father’s eyes. However, if he decided to leave home again, would his father stop him this time? I tend to think not.

    I see the only credible threat to our salvation being ourselves, and that comes not from committing a mortal sin or whatever, but from living a life of unrepentance that will lead us to a place where we don’t desire that salvation anymore. Consequently, I recognize the theoretical potentiality of me falling away, but I don’t torment myself wondering if I really am saved. I feel about as secure as I think one reasonably can.

    That all said, I may be part of the non-elect and not worth listening to. 😀

  13. Andrew McNeill 2013-05-09 at 9:34 am

    Hey Michael,

    This post made me sad. I think assurance is so important and I think that it dishonours Christ not to have it or to offer it. Here’s why:

    Faith at it’s very core is a belief in the promises of God.

    When we come to Christ we hear him offering us the water of life, we hear him tell us that he will give us rest, we hear him say that he will be the bread of life to us. All those are precious promises.

    So when Christ says, “Whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst”, I receive that promise with delight and say “Yes, Lord!”

    To turn round and say “Maybe, Lord” would be dishonouring. To turn round and say “Well I don’t know if I’m coming; I don’t know if I’m drinking; I don’t know if I’m resting” – that’s terribly introspective. It’s not faith. Faith looks out. Faith takes Christ and his promises as precious. It doesn’t begin the tedious process of looking in because faith is one of those things (like joy) where if you concentrate on it, it goes away. Faith is only there when it isn’t looking at itself.

    In my mind then, to talk about 90% assurance is sad. Christ offers us a promise. He expects us to honour him by embracing the promise. It dishonours him to doubt his promise by looking at ourselves instead of looking to Christ.

    Can I know I’m elect then? Sure. “All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will certainly not cast out.” I came because the Father gave me to Christ. I know that the Father gave me to Christ because I came. So I know that I will never be cast out.

    IMO, keep it simple. Assurance which is no assurance does not honour Christ or his word.

    Blessings on you,
    Andrew

  14. I look to what God has done for me, externally. He Baptized me.

    Is it a free ticket in? Of course not. But Christ commanded it. He is the One who Baptizes.

    Do you trust it? Can you return to it after wandering away from it (from Him)?

    There is real assurance and freedom (from self) in looking to His external Word and baptism and Holy Communion.

    That is why I’m a Lutheran. Freedom…and real assurance.

    Thanks.

  15. “Since you can’t KNOW you are the elect”

    Dear Stuart –this is what the Lord (no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit 1 Cor 12:3b) says: Rom 8: 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

  16. There are many who believe that they are saved…but who are not.

    We don’t put our faith in our faith. But rather, we put our faith in God. and what He has DONE for us.

    That’s why we believe the Lord commanded Baptism…and Holy Communion.

    Tangible acts of God in our personal history, in real time, for us…that we can count on and trust in.

    We don’t have to feel saved…to know that we are saved.

  17. Michael, you have written enough about your life for us regular readers to know some specific ways God has acted in your past.

    Looking back on my life, I can see the fingerprints of God clearly enough to have great confidence that he has been working on me and in me non-stop. I take great confidence in that.

    It seems to me that you see similar fingerprints on your history. Does that not create a certain level of confidence? I guess I see it as evidence of election.

  18. Absolutely. While anyone can have confidence in the reality of their faith, I believe the primary means by which this confidence grows is through perseverance. Trouble, pain, temptation, and the like will eventually kill false faith. If you have been through these and still believe then assurance should be strong.

  19. And obviously my comfort come due to the fact that God is responsible for keeping me, not myself. What a terrifying prospect to me that I am in charge of my own destiny. What a terrifying thought that I have to continually twist the arm of God in order to do more to help someone believe.

    But, again, for some Calvinists it is terrifying to think they may not be elect. I suppose you have to pick your terror here. But I think the terrors of Arminianism are more objective whereas those of Calvinism are subjective. In other words, one can be solved, the other cannot.

  20. Clint Roberts 2013-05-09 at 12:01 pm

    While this may get you another dishonorable mention on James White’s show (which you may or may not be going for), it is definitely a conversation that needs to be had in the evangelical world.

    I have heard evangelists play upon the natural uncertainty of people by saying (and I’m quoting here) that unless you ARE 100% certain of your salvation, you’d better get it right. One even said that if you’re only 99% sure, you’re 100% lost.

    And it’s not unheard of for prominent Calvinists to warn people that perseverance is, ultimately, the only sure sign we have of election. They will quote the passages in which Paul says “You have been” (pointing back to past redemption/conversion) “if you hold fast …” (pointing to future perseverance).

    Our own resident Reformed pastor-theologian on this blog (Stormin’ Sam) has preached to this effect. I even asked him for a clarification once of something he’d preached, and he affirmed his view regarding the famous passage where Paul warns people about God ‘taking them out’.

    He thinks that is teaching that if God didn’t remove certain Christians (i.e., kill them), they WOULD fall away and lose their salvation. In other words, security means not that you could never fall away, but that God will make sure you don’t, by discipline or harsh circumstance, including even the possibility of taking you out of the game in the nick of time in order to preserve you).

  21. My parents usually took me to an Arminian Baptist church several times a week.
    I prayed the sinners prayer when I was 5.
    I wasn’t saved and I knew it.

    My mother recommended that I begin reading the gospel of John. I reached chapter 6, then 10, and I realized: I cannot be saved unless God chose me.

    Just before my 7th birthday, I was riding my bike around the block, wondering to myself…why would God choose me? Did He look out into the future and see me struggling with these things? Hmmm….that would mean God learning something-God already knows everything so that won’t work….
    SO I prayed: Lord, I know that I am a sinner and I know that I deserve to go to hell. I realize that no one deserves to be saved. I don’t know if You chose me or not, but I hope you did. If You didn’t choose me, then I understand.

    Just then, the peace of the Lord filled my heart…I knew I was saved.

  22. During my early teen years, my parents didn’t take us to church anymore. I fell into sin.
    When I was 15, I went to a Billy Graham crusade, went forward to rededicate my life. They gave me a paperback copy of the gospel of John.

    I wanted to make my calling and election sure.
    So I prayed the sinner’s prayer printed inside the front cover. I didn’t feel anything different….so I began reading thru John. I reached the 6th chapter, then the 10th chapter….I went back and read the sinner’s prayer again and I thought to myself: something is wrong here and I know it isn’t the Bible.

  23. Lora,

    I can’t help but wonder how you would of reacted if you hadn’t felt that peace at that time. Would you have been afraid then that you weren’t chosen? Would you have truly been able to keep saying, “I understand,” if you came to think you were not one of the elect?

  24. In tenth grade, I was attending a public school and enrolled in world history. Once we reached the Protestant Reformation, the teacher explained Calvinism and she even provided the five terms represented by TULIP. FIrst time I had ever heard of Calvinism….I was taking notes…I asked her to explain the meaning of the five terms…and I kept writing down everything she said.

    I thought to myself…I grew up in church. This is the first time in my life that I have heard what I believe.

  25. Thank you for your kind question cheryllu 🙂

    How could a child possibly consider predestination and election at the age of 6?
    I believe the only answer would be the Holy Spirit.
    In TULIP, “I” represents Irresistable Grace. It is also referred to as Effectual Calling.
    If God had not chosen me, then the Holy Spirit would not have spoken to me as I was reading thru the Gospel of John.
    Truly- salvation is All of Grace….God’s grace….pure and free of contamination from our efforts….

  26. Amen there Andrew # 13! Btw, it is faith in Christ that is our perseverance, and not perseverance itself! Paul speaks of such perseverance coming from both the faith of our being justified and peace with God, and “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5: 1-5) Indeed sweet is the great Gospel truth of God In Christ!

  27. I thank The Lord Jesus that when I trusted in Him, He saved me. I am justified in The Lord Jesus. My sins and iniquities will be remembered no more. I have His righteousness. He will never leave or forsake me. I am in Christ and in the hand of the Father. I have been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. I am accepted In The Beloved. When you say, you cannot have 100% assurance because you may not persevere, even though you say it is all God, you are saying you are dependent upon your works to keep your salvation and give assurance. He finished the work and we trust in him daily for the victory. When You placed your faith in Him, He forgave You and made You His own. If you failed one day, the Accuser will come, but You do not have to listen to Him because God does not deal with us according to our sins. His full judgment was placed on Christ so I could be set free and give Him full glory. We cannot base our assurance on our works. We base them upon His faithfulness and His word. We will work out of love,and that is good, but our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. He keeps us. He is good. CHM says, “But on the other hand, when we hear the voice of the living God, who cannot lie, proclaiming in our ears the glad tidings that through His own beloved Son, who died on the cross, was buried in the grave, raised from the dead, and seated in the glory—that through Him alone—through Him, without any thing whatever of ours—through His one offering of Himself once and forever, full and everlasting remission of sins is preached, as a present reality, to be enjoyed now by every soul who simply believes the precious record of God, how is it possible for any one to continue in doubt and uncertainty? Is Christ’s work finished? He said it was. What did He do? He put away our sins.” We are forgiven. Rest in that truth and live for Him. When You fail,claim the forgiveness we already have. We have been justified, sanctified and glorified in Him.He is our assurance.

  28. My husband was convinced of his salvation for many years…
    but I wasn’t. There was no fruit bearing evidence of it, and quite a lot of the opposite. After praying and seeking God’s guidance I finally told my husband that I doubted he was a child of God. This got his attention. He admitted that he lacked peace. He did struggle with the ‘how do I know if I’m among the elect?’ question for awhile…he struggled before God. Sometimes doubt is a good thing. Sometimes God’s Spirit brings on the doubt because a person isn’t actually saved! In my husband’s case, he had belief, but he hadn’t responded to the gospel due to Spirit-induced conviction over his own sinfulness. He responded because, as he put it, “I was scared to death to go to hell.”

    He did finally come under the conviction of the Spirit and receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He was ready for Jesus to be the Lord of his life, and knew that he had not been living a life of obedience to Him.

    I think that Michael is quite right that we need to be ever so careful about giving people absolute assurance of their salvation. Some do this when they share the gospel with someone…if they merely ‘go forward’ to an evangelistic call, or raise their hand or pray to ask Jesus into their heart.
    How do we know that that was the moment of salvation for them? We cannot see into their heart.

    We are better off not making absolute statements to someone about their eternal future, or their forgiveness. And this includes our children! We can unwittingly give people false assurance. We are instructed to work out our salvation with fear and trembling…to be careful that we don’t slip away.

    Yes, I am a Calvinist.

  29. After receiving a degree from a hyper-Calvinist college, some years ago I turned my back on Calvinism and I have never looked back. I identify with your friend. If salvation is a lottery, I have never won anything in my life and I see no logical reason why God should choose me over millions of other people.

    However, my assurance of salvation is now based on Romans 10:11 – For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    My salvation is no longer based on some obscure lottery system, but is now based on God’s honor. I know that I believe and I know what I believe (Romans 10:9) and I will never be put to shame and I am deeply grateful to God for His faithfulness even when I stumble.

  30. Strong Calvinists believe that God is the only one with a will and that He is the One who moves you to act the way you do. This is a partial truth which can be seen in verses such as Exodus 10:27. It says,

    “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.”

    If it is the case that only God has a will, this would mean He is directly responsible for every action any man takes. Since no man has any will of his own, anything he does is actually God’s will. Any evil man commits (rape, murder, idolatry, fornication) is actually God’s doing. Though this is in direct contrast to Scripture. God cannot be both evil and wholly good at the same time. He maintains that the two are separate and distinct from one another.

    “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5]

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” [Isaiah 5:20]

    In defense, the strong Calvinist may argue that God may have set creation in motion, but the actions which ensue are not His responsibility. But is a man not responsible for the collapse of the final domino if he were to push the first? It is akin to those who say, “People don’t kill people. Guns kill people.” Of course the gun kills people, but it is only the instrumental medium of the man’s intent. Likewise if God were to will a man to commit an act, it is God’s will to commit that act.

    As a last resort the strong Calvinist may say that God is able to denote responsibility to man because He is the source of meaning. And though this may seem like a solid argument philosophically, it would have to suggest that what we believe to be free will is actually just an illusion.

  31. Wayne Schissler 2013-05-09 at 9:01 pm

    This conversation over Calvinist doubt of assurance reminds me of “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber (1905)

    His thesis (hopefully I’m not butchering it or over simplifying it) was this: Catholicism granted the people assurance by a sort of “magic”. If they partook of the sacraments as prescribed by the church they earned salvation and everything was cool. Protestant Calvinism on the other hand said that God chose His elect and that there was nothing a person could do but believe and have faith that he was saved. What this did was leave the Calvinist to look inward toward his own life to find signs that he was actually saved, for he had no church work or ritual that would give him that assurance. This manifested itself in the believer’s life. It wasn’t that he worked to be saved, he felt compelled to work (working as for the Lord – Colossians 3:23) to prove to himself that he was saved.
    Calvinist doubt was the fuel for our country’s capitalist beginnings.

  32. I forgot to add Irene my #27 was somewhat for you, indeed the Calvinist Gospel is “Good News” because it is God ‘In Christ’…His Death, Resurrection & Ascension! The last is almost nil in the High Church Gospel, i.e. Christ as THE Mediator (the one and only), 1 Tim. 2: 5.

  33. @Alan: What a caricature of the Reformed Gospel, awful and very sad! Btw, if I can ask, but what was this “hyper Calvinist” college? Note my education theologically was more classic Anglican (and yes conservative too), and of course this includes Calvinism historically (note the Irish Articles 1615, Archbishop James Ussher).

  34. @ Fr. Robert: I would rather not say except that the college no longer exists, but I will say it was a very strong advocate of C. I. Scofield and dispensationalism.

    Many of its graduates moved on to get advanced degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and are prominent names in dispensational Calvinism today.

    In rejecting Calvinism, I do not reject Calvinists. I do believe they are going to Heaven (though most of them are rather certain I am not). I am quite fond of Anglican C. S. Lewis (God used his book Mere Christianity as the catalyst for my conversion) and I have an odd attraction for Reformed Pastor Steve Brown with the Key Life Network as I rarely meet anybody in the Reformed or Calvinist paradigm with a genuine sense of good humor. I don’t mean to sound insulting, but I was raised and trained in the American Calvinist tradition from birth until my late 40’s so I know of what I speak.

  35. If free will were just an illusion, it would bring up 2 problems: 1) the fact that we are able to comprehend such a concept and 2) the fact that God would be the One putting the concept in our minds.

    Ever since Old Testament days, people had this concept of self. “Self” is even a main component of the Hebrew word “soul” (נָ֫פֶשׁ). But why should they (in the Old Testament) or we (in the present) take notice of such a concept if it were not real? As C. S. Lewis has said concerning meaning,

    “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

    The same thing goes for “self”. If it were not there, we should be acting as a dog or cat without taking notice of self at all; acting purely on the impulse of whatever stimulates us. Why should we reflect on something that isn’t there? The Deterministic Theologian must answer by saying God put the false idea in man’s mind. But this course of action would make God deceptive, and Scripture states that God cannot lie.

    “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” [Heb 6:18]

  36. 2 Peter vs. Romans 8?

    “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not willing (μὴ βουλόμενός) that any (τινας) perish, but all (πάντας) to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

    This verse is probably used the most when rebutting determinist doctrine because it’s in direct contradiction in two ways: 1) The words “any” and “all” are comprehensive and specific words, so that would seem to indicate that sinners are able to repent as well. 2) The words “not willing” indicates that things are happening that God does not want, but which He allows anyway.

    Now many strong Calvinists have rebutted and said that 2 Peter seems to be a letter targeted specifically to the Church and not to sinners, so “all” would only be comprehensive in the sense that it is talking about believers. Though there’s a problem with this methodology. If you say Peter is just to be taken in context of the Church, then Romans 8 (a chapter many Neo-Calvinists hold essential to their doctrine) is also.

    A widely quoted verse of this regarded chapter states,

    “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29)

    Using the same methodology this verse is targeted solely to believers as well. If that’s the case, then the Bible says nothing about whether non-believers can come to believe. Either they are both meant for the Church (so Romans 8 doesn’t apply to non-believers) or they are both direct to non-believers as well (so Peter really means “all”).

    [This is just one instance in the Bible where God calls on “all” to repent and allows things to happen against His “will”. God may allow actions, give man the power to perform actions, and foresee man’s actions, man’s choices; but nowhere in the Bible does it say that He makes those choices for man. Jesus even states what He would have done if Jerusalem were “willing” to change its…

  37. Calvinism is one more illustration of the futility of systematic theology. God’s truths, particularly relating to soteriology, are too lofty to be put into concise formulae. The Five Points of Calvinism oversimplify the profound truths of God. They derive their force from proof-texts rather than the general tenor of Scripture.

    More than that, the doctrines frequently create a spirit of division, elitism and theological snobbery. The system erects walls between believers. It creates a class of Christians within the church general who are supposedly part of a worthy “inner circle.”

    Many Calvinists read nothing but Reformed titles, hence these brethren seldom learn new perspectives. On the contrary, they are continually reaffirming their own “theological correctness.” Such authors such as A. W. Pink, the Puritans, John Murray and such publishing companies as Banner of Truth become the sole staple for many. I say without intending offense that such exclusiveness differs little from that of Jehovah’s Witnesses or other authoritarian groups.

    Of course, I do not intend to paint all Calvinists with this brush. Many are thinkers who read outside literature, even Arminian literature. But the overarching trend in this tradition – a tradition of which I was once a part – is often one of narrow-mindedness and doctrinal superiority. As we have seen, the Scriptures give no warrant for such bigotry. The average Calvinist may be amazed at just how weak his system is when scrutinized in the light of revealed truth.

    May our brethren see fit to adopt a Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) and honestly rethink their Calvinism. We would urge them to, for a time, lay aside the commentaries of Calvin and Gill, the theology of Warfield and Hodge. With an open Bible and mind, may they take a second look at the so-called “doctrines of grace” to see if they truly are the doctrines of Christ.

  38. For many years, Calvinism was at the heart of my belief system. It was unquestionable that man could not believe the gospel. He had a latent and inborn aversion to all things spiritual, even the gracious gospel that the common people heard gladly in Jesus’ day (Mark 12:37). Man, I held, was totally unable even to cry out for mercy.

    The Fall had rendered him incapable of receiving its remedy. Even his best acts were filthy rags, detestable before God. What was needed was a work of Efficacious Grace – a miracle, in fact – that would remove the heart of stone and bestow saving faith.

    This I deemed “sound doctrine.” I elevated above the rabble of non-Calvinists all writers and theologians who championed it. They were somehow more worthy of respect. They had an inherently greater demand on my attention and belief. Clark Pinnock describes a similar attitude he developed in the course of his faith-journey:

    “Certainly most of the authors I was introduced to in those early days as theologically ‘sound’ were staunchly Calvinistic….Theirs were the books that were sold in the Inter-Varsity bookroom I frequented. They were the ones I was told to listen to; sound theology was what they would teach me.” 1

    Any Christian who dissented from my soteriology was “an Arminian,” regardless of whether that person subscribed to the issues of the Remonstrance (or even heard of them). As with many Calvinists, my spiritual autobiography had two distinct peaks: my conversion to Christ and my subsequent enlightenment into “sovereign grace.”

    This faith was highly attractive because of the men who had held it over the centuries. My spiritual pedigree contained some of the brightest lights the faith has ever known: Bunyan, Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitefield, Brainerd and the Puritans. I was in good company. Years later, however, I seriously re-examined my beloved “five points.”

    The main point at which I first questioned Calvinism was the nature of man in his sinful…

  39. It is evident that the extreme Calvinist must ignore the clear language and obvious sense of many passages and he must force the Scriptures and make them fit into his own theological mold. Limited atonement may seem logical and reasonable, but the real test is this: IS IT BIBLICAL? “What saith the Scriptures?” (Rom. 4:3). In childlike faith we must simply allow the Bible to say what it says.

    Those who promote this erroneous doctrine try to tell us that “world” does not really mean “world” and “all” does not really mean “all” and “every man” does not really mean “every man” and “the whole world” does not really mean “the whole world.” We are told that simple verses such as John 3:16 and Isaiah 53:6 must be understood not as a child would understand them but as a theologian would understand them. That is, we must reinterpret such verses in light of our system of theology.

    The true doctrine of the atonement could be stated as follows:

    The Scriptures teach that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God involved the sin of the world (John 1:29) and that the Savior’s work of redemption (1 Tim. 2:6; 2 Pet. 2:1), reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19) and propitiation (1 John 2:2) was for all men (1 Tim. 4:10), but the cross–work of Christ is efficient, effectual and applicable only for those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10; John 3:16). We could even say it in a simpler way: “Christ’s death was SUFFICIENT FOR ALL but EFFICIENT only for those who believe.” The cross–work of Christ is not limited, but the application of that cross–work through the work of the Holy Spirit is limited to believers only.

    The extreme Calvinist would say that the cross was designed only for the elect and had no purpose for the “non–elect” (persistent unbelievers). But the death of God’s Son had a divine purpose and design for both groups. For the elect, God’s design was salvation according to His purpose and grace in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). For…

  40. If the Reformed preacher were really honest about it, he would need to preach his doctrine along these lines: “Christ may have died for your sins. If you are one of God’s elect, then He died for you, but if not, then you have no Savior. I cannot tell you that Christ died on the cross for you because I don’t know this for sure. If you believe the gospel then this proves that you are one of God’s elect, and then it is proper to speak of Christ dying for you.” What an insult to the God “who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The Apostle Paul was not so handicapped when he preached the gospel to the unsaved Corinthians. He clearly proclaimed that “Christ died for our sins [yours and mine!].” If Paul could preach that message, so should we and so must we!

  41. John Piper:
    But I am not ignorant that God may not have chosen my sons for his sons. And, though I think I would give my life for their salvation, if they should be lost to me I should not rail against the Almighty. He is God. I am but a man. The potter has absolute rights over the clay. Mine is to bow before his unimpeachable character and believe that the Judge of the earth has ever and always will do right. The quote comes in the context of a published dialogue between Piper and Dr Thomas Talbott I was astonished when I read Piper’s comment, which comes after a moving, and clearly heartfelt declaration of his paternal love and care towards his three children. My first thought was one of sadness, desperate sadness that a man who clearly loved his kids was having to live with the idea that one – maybe all – of them might be reprobate, might be predestined by God for hell, and therefore damned for all eternity, with no possibility of redemption. And then gradually, as I contemplated the comment (in the context of the dialogue, and of Reformed theology generally), my sadness turned into anger, and ultimately to outrage. How dare he? How dare Piper say such an appalling thing, and ascribe such appalling unloving behaviour to God? Because you’re a sinner, a son or daughter of Adam, you deserve to die, to be punished eternally, for the wicked crime of being a normal, sinful, god-created human being. But god, in his inscrutable wisdom, chose some people, some of his children, to be rescued from sin by Jesus, with the result that they get to live with him forever. These lucky people are ‘the elect’.

  42. Replying to #34, Alan,

    While it is true that sometimes (like in The Problem of Pain) C. S. Lewis would heavily emphasize God’s original persistence at saving whoever He intends to save from sin (and I agree with the Calvinists that that’s an important part of the gospel — God doesn’t give up, won’t be defeated, and doesn’t have to be convinced to persist), when it came to the question of explaining final hopelessness Lewis directly contradicted this (even a few chapters later in TPoP!) by claiming that even though God intends to save all sinners from sin, and acts accordingly, eventually some sinners defeat His attempts and God just lets them go because He finally sees that nothing more can be done for them.

    Lewis’ total scope of God’s saving love is categorically Arminian (and I agree with the Arminians that that’s an important part of the gospel — everyone can be sure that God intends to save them from their sins), as is his ultimate denial of God’s original persistence, which no Calvinist per se would ever deny (and I agree that they shouldn’t deny it).

  43. @ Jason Pratt: Thank you for the clarification on C. S. Lewis. He admitted that The Problem of Pain was his most problematic book and was called on the carpet for it for many reasons.

    IMHO, A Grief Observed dealt with the issues of theodicy with more heart and sense.

  44. My wife and I struggled with assurance when we were both Arminian. My switch to the Calvinist end of the soteriological spectrum put alot of gas in my assurance tank. My wife still struggles with assurance and sometimes I do too. I find it is when I take my eyes off of Christ and focus on my performance (or lack thereof) that the doubts appear. I think there is a strong personality component to those who tend to doubt and that theological issues can be just a smoke screen.

  45. If they don’t believe the assurance of the Holy Spirit,they aren’t going to believe you.Tell them to join an Arminian Church.They will feel better after they are told they are in charge.

  46. If I may argue with my own previous comment, which said that the fingerprints of God on a believer’s history constitute evidence of that individual’s future salvation. That sounds good, until things like this come along that make me question that idea. http://www.christianpost.com/news/high-profile-christian-leader-falls-from-faith-praying-for-his-return-95557/

  47. If you want to look inward for your assurance, then become a Calvinist, Arminian, Baptist, Catholic…and many others.

    If you want REAL assurance…then look to the places (the real places – as the Jews returned to Shekum, and to Shiloh) where God has acted for you, in real time. He has provided this for your assurance. So you won’t have to look inward, where pride and despair reside.

  48. ‘The Christians Warfare’

    “A believer is to be known not only by his peace and joy; but by his warfare and distress. His peace is peculiar: it flows from Christ, it is heavenly, it is holy peace. His warfare is as peculiar, it is deep-seated, agonizing, and ceases not till death.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

    Btw “theoldadam”, you miss again St. Paul’s doctrine of both Justification-Sanctification, yes always somehow separate but connected (1 Cor.6: 11.. and again see 2 Cor. 13: 5-6).

  49. Greg,

    There are always exceptions. If we weren’t allowed to generalize then we couldn’t discuss anything.

    The vast majority of catholics have NO real assurance. And that is because they are put on a spiritual/religious ladder climbing project where no one is sure that they have done enough…or for the right motives.

  50. Indeed I would have to agree generally with the TOA, but thankfully many Roman Catholics – over the centuries – have experienced the present grace of God In Christ, even with their poor to bad doctrine. Both Christ and His work are one or found together!

  51. Calvinism is incompatible with any assurance of salvation. This explains why: http://evangelicalarminians.org/perseverance-of-the-saints-part-13-salvation-assurance/.

    Portions of that post could give the impression that Arminians don’t have assurance of final salvation either. But I know the author agrees with me on the qualification I give here:

    Arminian theology does give substantial assurance of future final salvation, simply not absolute or unconditional assurance whereas Calvinist theology can give no present assurance and therefore no future assurance whatsoever and be consistent with its own doctrine. In everyday life, people have substantial assurance of future benefit which is nonetheless conditional on their continuing to meet the condition for that future benefit, for example continuing to consent to receive it. So Arminians can have solid assurance of present salvation, and substantial assurance of future final salvation, which is contingent on them continuing to meet the condition, which is faith. Put another way concerning future salvation, we have full assurance of future salvation on the condition of faith. And wonderfully, God promises true believers the ability to persevere in faith and that nothing can tear them away from him. So with present salvation we have the absolute assurance that God will enable us to persevere unto final salvation and that God is for us. He simply does not guarantee that he will *make* us persevere. Arminian theology gives far more assurance than Calvinism: In Arminianism, full assurance of present salvation, and substantial assurance of future final salvation (i.e. full assurance on the condition of faith) vs. in Calvinism no assurance period.

    Now many Calvinists have assurance *despite* their theology. But the important point is that it is despite their theology, which puts their theology at odds with Scripture, which teaches that we can know that we are saved.

  52. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-10 at 12:39 pm

    TheOldAdam: “There are many who believe that they are saved…but who are not.”

    For example, some baptized Lutherans.

  53. Let me let me restate/elaborate one of my points: in everyday life, assurance of a future benefit is almost always conditional on at least the continuing free consent of the receiver of the benefit. Hardly anyone ever thinks of such assurance as minimal or meaningless. It is simply a given that receiving a future promised benefit remains contingent on consenting to it. Here’s an illustration: if one is on a train that the company assures will get you to your destination (and it has never failed a customer), one can have assurance that one will arrive at the destination (and assurance is accordingly greater with the reliability of the one promising the result; in salvation it is God, so assurance is absolutely certain). But that does not mean that one cannot decide to jump off the train. The company’s assurance to take you to the destination does not include forcing you to stay on the train. So saying Arminians don’t have absolute, unconditional assurance for final salvation verges on being a red herring or perhaps irrelevant instead. It is not the type of assurance people ever normally have with respect to future promised benefits. The link I gave shows that Calvinists don’t have such assurance from their theology anyway. But it is good to underscore the very real and profound assurance of future salvation that Arminian theology gives in harmony with biblical teaching from which it is draw and that Calvinistic theology can never deliver.

  54. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-10 at 12:45 pm

    Irene: “Is the Calvinist Gospel Good News?”

    Charles Spurgeon: “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”

    Read the rest.

  55. I have not read thoroughly through the comments, but if a person is thinking “how can I know I am elect, it’s just a lottery”, then that person doesn’t understand Calvinism. I have heard it explained many times by Calvinists like Mark Driscoll and RC Sproul that if you have a real love for the God of the Bible (as opposed to a god made in our image), then you are elect. I find that insight very helpful. God will not cast out anyone who comes to him in faith and Calvinists recognize that the natural man cannot come to God in faith without being regenerated and given faith. At the same time, I completely sympathize with doubting your salvation. It’s just an issue all Christians have to deal with. Thanks for continuing to provoke great discussions Michael!

  56. Is the Calvinist gospel good news? It was for me.

  57. @ Jay who wrote “If they don’t believe the assurance of the Holy Spirit,they aren’t going to believe you. Tell them to join an Arminian Church. They will feel better after they are told they are in charge.”

    Jay, I have served in an Arminian denomination since the mid-80’s and I have never heard that preached or even implied.

    The problem I found with my old alma mater is that they forbade the reading of any literature that did not promote dispensational Calvinism. When I finally graduated and got out into the real world and was free to read the works of Arminians, I found that most of what I was told and taught was complete caricature.

    I humbly posit you have fallen into the same error.

  58. Greg said: –To know that the King of the universe chose you to be His family even before He in the beginning created the heavens and the earth? What, pray tell, could be better news that that?–

    That is indeed good news, but Calvinism certainly has no exclusive claim to that statement. Lutheranism, Catholicism, and I’m confident Arminianism, also teach that.

  59. Jay said: –Is the Calvinist gospel good news? It was for me.–

    Well, sure it is if you believe yourself to be elect. But look beyond yourself. What about those who wonder about the spiritual fate of their fallen away loved ones? Is Calvinism good news to them? Oh, nothing can keep them from God you say? Yes, if they are chosen. But if they are not among God’s chosen, is there hope? Is there any prayer, any sacrifice left for them? Is there any persuasion, any teaching, that can help? Is there any love or mercy to affect their heart? We would cry to God to help them but Calvinism denies us even that hope. It is not good news for everyone.

  60. FACT: “eternal security” was unknown to Christians for 1,500 years after the Church was founded.

    FACT: we are called to have a relationship with God, the Holy Trinity

    FACT: a relationship where 1 of the participants doesn’t think that they have to “actively participate” is called “dysfunctional”.

    The word of the Lord:
    Matthew 24:12-13: And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

    2 Timothy 2:12: If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.

    Matthew 7:21: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

    Matthew 19:17: But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Philippians 2:12-13: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    1 Timothy 2:13-15: For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

    Hebrews 2:1-3: Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

    Hebrews 3:6: but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

    Hebrews 3:14: For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end

    James 1:12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

    1 Peter 1:9: for you are receiving the goal of your…

  61. It is not good news for everyone.

    If you are not one of the elect, it is probably the most terrible news possible.

  62. Greg, I think you are the one not getting it. Should we only be concerned about our own souls? That is not mercy. That is not love. I am not just concerned about what happens to me. I care what happens to the souls of other people. I would be in despair for them if I thought Calvinism were true. Calvinism isn’t just bad news for those not elect. It’s bad news for Christians who love others as themselves. Thank God it’s not true.

  63. “If you are not one of the elect you couldn’t care less.”

    So that somehow keeps it from being bad news? It doesn’t change the news for the non-elect from being, “you’re fated for Hell and there is nothing you can do about it and you never could. You never had a chance.” God making it so you won’t believe the news hardly turns it into good news or makes it much better.

    “God neither forces anyone to be saved . . .”

    According to Calvinism, God irresistibly changes the will of the person *against the person’s will* (i.e., the unbeliever hates God and does not want God to change his will and cause him to become a Christian). That amounts to forcing everyone who gets saved to be saved.

    Plus, let’s remember the point that Calvinism itself offers no cogent assurance of salvation due to unconditional election combined with the fact that according to Calvinism one can only know one is elect if he perseveres until the end. (That’s why Michael hears from Calvinists doubting their salvation rather than Arminians.) Again see http://evangelicalarminians.org/perseverance-of-the-saints-part-13-salvation-assurance/ with the qualification I make above in comment 47 and expand on in comment 49.

  64. Ha Greg, you might be surprised at how much I have read. This is a subject that has been greatly discusssed on many blogs for quite a few years now. Including here.

    You say He doesn’t force anyone to be saved and that one that is not elect could care less. All great and good–until you realize that according to reformed thought, a person that is not elect can not and will not desire God because it is only when God regenerates a person that that becomes reality. And He deliberately refuses these folks that grace.

    So, it follows then that the non elect have no chance whatsoever of desiring Him. And of course, they were non elect before their conception and birth. Before they had any opportunity to do one wrong thing. Created with no hope and no possibility whatsoever of desiring Him or of salvation. They didn’t ask to be born with a sinful nature. They didn’t ask to be born at all. But they were. And before they took their first breath they were doomed to an unending eternity in torment in hell. VERY good news for them indeed!

    Greg, I really wonder if Calvinists always take the time to think through the implications of their doctrines. For the elect, the way you understand predestination is good news. But for the rest of humanity, to be born non elect with absolutely no hope from the first breath taken is bad, bad news indeed. Put yourself in the shoes of such a person for a moment. Think what it will be like to find yourself in that eternal torment. Do you think it is going to be lessened in the least because in this life “they could of cared less?”

    Do you have children Greg? Have you thought about the possibility that you have fathered them with no hope that they will ever be in heaven? That God decided at some point way back in the distant past that your child will spend eternity in hell with no possible way of escape open to them? That idea simply horrifies me.

    To be created/conceived/born as one of the non elect is a…

  65. Greg you are not listening. As C.H. Mackintosh has said, “A disciple of the high school of doctrine [extreme Calvinist] will not hear of a world-wide gospel–of God’s love to the world–of glad tidings to every creature under heaven. He has only gotten a gospel for the elect.” If the reformed preacher were really honest about it, he would need to preach his doctrine along these lines: “Christ may have died for your sins. If you are one of God’s elect, then He died for you, but if not, then you have no Saviour. I cannot tell you that Christ died on the cross for you because I don’t know this for sure. If you believe the gospel then this proves that you are one of God’s elect, and then it is proper to speak of Christ dying for you.” What an insult to the God “who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1st Timothy 2:4). The Apostle Paul was not so handicapped when he preached the gospel to the unsaved Corinthians. He clearly proclaimed that “Christ died for our sins [yours and mine!].”

    If Paul could preach that message, so should we and so must we!

  66. About the original post,

    Michael,

    I know you are intending to help people suffering from anxiety over their salvation, but this approach sounds not so good. I wonder if you have had success with this in the past? Or is this more of a proposal?

    If I were a doubting Calvinist, I don’t think it would help me. I would think: He’s told me
    1) it’s not essential that you dwell on this doctrine, so just don’t think about it.
    2) instead of thinking about it, act like an Arminian.

    How is that a good way to calm the doubting Calvinist? Sounds like it’s more likely to make him paranoid and confuse his identity.

  67. Trouble is, we are at heart ‘unbelievers’…and we are pretty much determined to stay that way.

    “Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief”

    ‘Faith in our faith’ is not the way to go for REAL assurance.

    Our Lord knew (knows) this. So He gave us the external Word and sacraments…tangible, in real time, that we could have assurance outside of anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

    It’s there. But our reason just won’t let many of us take advantage of that gift.

  68. Arminianism never changes. You can read Calvin’s Calvinism and hear the same old arguements. Since they hate election so much,do they believe in election? Absolutely. They elect themselves.God sends Jesus to make it possible for everyone to be saved.The fact that there were multitudes in hell when Jesus came does not penetrate their thinking.So Jesus comes to save all those who have elected themselves and all those who He has eternally known He would never save.The big shock comes after Arminians die. They then find out that if Calvinism were false,they would be burning in hell with the rest of the rebels.They then find out that Amazing Grace,not their Amazings decisions-works- saved them.Clark Pinnock is your normal Arminian. He stated that if Calvinism were true,that God would have a lot to answer for. The arrogance is amusing. Well,Clark is dead now. I can’t wait to find out How God handled his accusations and withering cross examination.

  69. Jay,

    So can you tell me how Calvinism is good news for the reprobate? That one that was born so depraved that he couldn’t turn to God and that God determined to leave just as He was?

  70. @ Jay: Clark Pinnock is your normal Arminian? Wow. Talk about setting up straw man arguments. My church is solidly Arminian and has no truck with open theism.

    Jay, I see that you are a very angry man and incapable of normal discourse, but before I leave this conversation, I would like to thank you for reminding me why I turned my back on Calvinism and have never looked back. The great joy that you find in the eternal damnation of the non-elect (and those that don’t dot their theological i’s and cross their scriptural t’s like you) is in stark contrast to the tears of Jesus Christ who wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).

  71. Not angry at all Allan. Still waiting for an answer to my statements. Quite sure you can’t answer them. Your the angry one. You can,t stand to hear that God won’t play your free-will game. He refuses to be your puppet and you don’t like it. He tells you he will give grace but won’t allow sinners to claim it.You want a god who is your servant rather than your master. Your not content to be clay in the hands of the Potter-a mere creature who is dust in the balance.The apostle Paul has already given God’s answer to the complainers such as yourself. Who art thou O man,who replieth against God?

  72. Jay,

    Alan did answer your statements. He pointed out that they are inaccurate portrayals of Arminianism (straw man arguments). The tone of your response to him tends to confirm his observations.

    BTW, your reference to God’s answer misconstrues that passage from Romans 9. Here’s a better explanation of that passage: http://evangelicalarminians.org/an-apparently-not-so-brief-response-to-c-michael-patton-on-rom-9/.

  73. Jay,

    I haven’t seen any one that is a Calvinist answer (other then Greg’s, “they don’t care,”) how Calvinism is “good news” for the greatest share of humanity. Assuming we believe Jesus when He said that there are “few” on the road to life and many on the road to destruction, we then must assume that the “good news” only applies to a few people if we believe the Calvinist understanding of the Gospel.

    How do you deal with “loving your neighbor as yourself” if you know that the largest percentage of those neighbors are on their way to hell and there is nothing you, they, nor any one else can do about it? And the only one that could, the one that is known as “the Great Physician,” has deliberately chosen to not do anything about it?

    In my opinion, the Calvinist understanding of the good news is an extremely painful theology. The only ones that it is good news for are those that believe they are one of the elect.

    You know, if I had been a Calvinist when I was a young married woman, I am not at all sure that I would of ever wanted to have children. I don’t know why any one would want to bring children into the world knowing that they may very possibly be a person that has been doomed to eternal destruction before they were ever conceived.

  74. Lora. You are exactly right.Arminian churches are filled with sinners who prayed the sinner’s prayer and were never saved.The reason is simple. God saves according to His purpose and timing and not man’s.He also does not take orders from men.I was raised a Catholic. Hard to find a Church more deceptive than that one.An interesting survey of the SBC board was taken in 1993. They surveyed 350,000 baptized in SBC churches in 1993. They found out only 9% joined the Church for spiritual reasons.Over the years,surveys indicate that 90% of those who think they are being saved are being deceived.

  75. I am not a Calvinist nor am I an Arminian. I reject both titles and theological systems. They both are the heretical and cult-like systems of fallible men. I choose to call myself a Biblist, or simply a “Bible believer.” I identify myself with my Savior and His word. I take no pride in the fact that I am saved, yet I am eternally grateful. I am awed by the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross for my sin. I am deeply and eternally grateful to God who loved this blind sinner that much! I totally reject the idea that I received salvation on any merit of my own! I was, as God said, a sinner, dead in trespasses and sin, sold unto sin, a child of sin, and with no righteousness of my own. I was saved by the sovereign act and plan of our loving God, who came to the earth, incarnate in man and totally paid my sin debt. I did not merit salvation and was totally in bondage to my sinful nature. I absolutely had no spark of divinity in me. Yet, God loved me, His created being, and suffered for me while I was yet in my sin. He illuminated my heart and provided the way that I might received His gift of grace and salvation. I did nothing to merit my salvation, but my gracious Creator offered His grace to me and I believed Him. I am not going to try and put Almighty God in a box and systematize God’s act of saving the sinner. I am just going to believe His very Word and thank Him for loving me, the sinner that I am, and forgiving my sin and giving me eternal life.

  76. Btw CMP, Greg says for some reason he cannot post on this particular blog? He wrote me to tell you.

  77. Btw, it seems to me there are some doubting Ariminan’s here too! 😉 And Reformed Theology/Divinity, as Calvinism also and included, is a real study (note Infralapsarian cherylu).

  78. @Don: My greatgram was a PB (really an Irish “Brethren”), so I know this whole history pretty well! I see you quoted CHM. She was among the “Kelly” Brethren, then later she died with the so-called Open Brethren. And oh yes she was a great affect on me (though I was raised R. Catholic), in fact now, (since the mid 90’s, and after Gulf War 1) I am a Historic Pre-Mill and a PD, that’s Progressive Dispensationalist! But still an Evangelical Anglican and certain Reformed. 🙂

    Btw, my last name is Darby (but no relation to JND however). Note I have preached a few times at an Open Brethren Conference (mid 2000’s). But not here.

  79. Patton: “Therefore, from the perspective of those who don’t believe [e.g. the Arminian] that salvation can be lost, these cannot have any assurance.”

    This is not accurate. There is assurance of present salvation. Whether one will be ultimately saved is irrelevant. As long as one is assured of his present position in Christ, there is no need to concern oneself about the future: “Do not worry for tomorrow…”

  80. Fr Robert,

    So you refer to infralasparianism. I honestly don’t see how that solves the bad news problem. So the decree of reprobation was made after man fell into sin rather then before. That does not in any way change the results for any individual man today. He is is still born doomed to hell with nothing he can do to change the situation.

    I suppose now you will say that man made the choice to sin and so he deserves hell, right? That is the way the conversation usually goes. But what also seems to be forgetten in the usual conversation is that you also keep telling us that man was born in total depravity so that everything he does is tainted by sin–indeed he can not do anything that is not and he can’t seek or even desire God.

    So when it comes right down to it, he was born with a fatal spiritual birth defect that insures he sin and therefore deserves death. But the birth defect itself is certainly not the fault of any individual man. It was inherited. Indeed, he didn’t even ask to be born! But besause he was and he is left in that state by the only One that can change it for anyone, he must spend eternity in eternal torment.

    Where is any good news for that man?

  81. Fr Robert,

    I don’t see what difference whatever form of lasparianism you believe ultimately makes to any individual man.

    I suppose you will say that God in infralasparianism reprobated men after the fall. That he was dealing with already fallen mankind when he made his decrees of reprobabion. And that any man goes to hell because he sins and therefore deserves it.

    However, what seems to be ignored in these conversations is the fact that Calvinists are also very fond of reminding us all of the time that man is born with a totally depraved nature. That he sins because he is a sinner–that everything he does is tainted with sin and that he cannot do anything that isn’t. Indeed, he can’t even desire or turn to God in the condition he is born with.

    So, basically he is born with a terminal spiritual “birth defect”–totally doomed to sin and therefore will assuredly
    deserve hell. And there is nothing he can do about it, and nothing anyone else can do about it to help him. And God, the only One that could do something about it, has refused to help him. He didn’t ask for the birth defect, but he inherited it anyway. He didn’t even ask to be born, but he was. And now because of the birth defect that he was born with that rendered him certain to sin, he must spend eternity in horrible torment in hell with no hope of anything else for him from the moment of conception onward. (Sorry to keep repeating myself here, but it seems there are aspects of this that Calvinists never seem to see and implications they never seem to grasp.)

    And this is supposed to be “good news” for this man?? One Calvinist that I was discussing these things with, agreed with me that it would of been better for this man to have never been born. But this is where Calvnist understanding has relegated most of mankind.

  82. This is what I think of when I hear “good news”. It’s paragraph NUMBER ONE in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.”

    The Good News I learn in the Catholic Church is that God calls everyone. Makes a path, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, so that everyone who doesn’t reject his promptings and grace may become his child. And even if we fall away after we have believed, he will forgive! as the father forgave the prodigal son. Not only that! he loves us so much, and is so sovereign, that he can actually make us holy! not just called holy, but actually holy! From his infinite power and love, we receive power to be sons of God.

    Hope for everyone! Joy to the world! What a wise and powerful God we have!

  83. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 7:14 pm

    I pray that Calvinist Christians aka Reform Christians aka simply Biblical Christians have immense patience with those who have a persistent, unrelenting, caricatured, and distorted understanding of the Doctrines of Grace.

    After a large number of good-faith attempts, it’s okay to cease, and to let them maintain their strawman understanding.

  84. So, TUAD, what IS the strawman perception that I am putting forth? I have gleaned what I have said from your own writers and from conversations with many of you on this blog and quite a few other places down through the years. Nothing that I have said is not something that you folks aren’t putting forth yourselves. The only difference as I see it is that I am drawing conclusions from those statements that you (all of you) have made that for whatever reason you aren’t making.

    And for the record, I did read some of the e book that Greg linked to yesterday. Didn’t read a lot, but nothing I have understood to be Calvinist belief was changed in the slightest by what I read there. And this isn’t the first time I have read anything written by this author either.

    And still no one has has answered how this is “good news” for the reprobate. If you agree that it is terrible news for him and only good news for the elect, would someone of you, anyone of you here just speak up and say so?

  85. Truth Unites
    You did not answer Cherlyu question?

  86. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 7:41 pm

    Cherylu,

    I don’t mind going where you seem to be wanting to go, but it will take the direction of this thread away from the original point of CMP’s post. If CMP is okay with that, then I’m okay too.

    Although a number of doctrines are intertwined, almost inseparable really, it seems like your comment is about the Doctrine of Limited Atonement.

    Or do you want to talk about the Doctrine of Total Depravity and the Doctrine of Original Sin?

    Or is it simply the Doctrine of Election and the Doctrine of Predestination, including “Double Predestination”?

    What specifically do you want to focus on? Also, I will also probe you and any other Arminians about your alternative explanation to whatever you object in the Doctrines of Grace; namely your subscription of Libertarian Free Will and how you think it address doctrinal issues.

    Your alternative explanation will be subject to the same biblical and theological scrutiny. It’s merely the same approach in discussions with atheists. If the atheist denies theism, the atheist is obligated to provide his alternative explanation and have it subjected to scrutiny and critique.

    Fair enough?

  87. @Truth Unites,

    Caricatured? What part? Please refute the idea that Calvinism leaves hopeless those who love their fellow man, those who care for and ache for the souls of sinners, fallen away, non-elect, etc. What recourse have we in the world of Calvinism? Can we plead for mercy for the non-elect to Almighty God? To no avail. There is no recourse, no mercy, no acceptance, no home for the non-elect. This would be hard enough for them to bear in this life, but through eternity? Thinking about it now is like a nightmare.

    Yes, there will certainly be people in hell. But those will be there through their own choosing, their own rejection of the grace of God. For any individual, we may yet have hope and recourse to the mercy of Almighty God. Except in Calvinism. In Calvinism, people are made to think that God leaves them helpless and hopeless.

    If a Calvinist is fearful, he gets advice like CMP gave above. Don’t think about it and keep busy. That’s the answer? Really?

  88. It’s even worse than that in Calvinism Irene. For Calvinism teaches that God unconditionally decreed the sin of the reprobate (and the sin of the elect too for that matter) and their rejection of the gospel etc. So not only does God leave them helpless and hopeless in Calvinism; he also was the ultimate and definitive reason they were sinful, helpless, and hopeless in the first place.

  89. TUAD,

    I am not trying to go into the whole issue of Calvinism here in all of it’s points. I am simply asking, and I am not the only one that has, how you can so glibly say that Calvinism is “the good news” when for the greater part of humanity it is not good news at all.

    One more time, how can Calvinism be seen as “good news” for the reprobate? Or can it?

  90. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 8:06 pm

    (Q) Irene: “@Truth Unites,

    Caricatured? What part?”

    (A) Alan Loewen: “The great joy that you [Jay, a Calvinist] find in the eternal damnation of the non-elect (and those that don’t dot their theological i’s and cross their scriptural t’s like you) is in stark contrast to the tears of Jesus Christ who wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).”

  91. And not just is it “good news” for the reprobate, but also is it “good news” for those who love the would-be reprobate?

  92. Is anyone else have a horrible time getting comments to post here today?

    Irene, you have said that very well.

    And TUAD, you are still completely avoiding the question. Just this question. Not a debate about all of Calvinism.

  93. Re: TUAD’s comment (#86),

    How is Alan’s comment a caricature of Calvinism? It seemed to be his perception of one Calvinist’s comments here in this thread, not as representing the stance of Calvinism.

  94. Re:#86,

    So, Truth Unites, (and/or Jay),
    You mean you DO weep for the bad news the non-elect receive in Calvinism?

  95. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 8:21 pm

    Cherylu: “One more time, how can Calvinism be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    Go to comment #50. What do you read? Click on the link and read the entire essay.

    Once you’ve done so, let me know. Thanks.

  96. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 8:27 pm

    Irene: “Re:#86,

    So, Truth Unites, (and/or Jay),
    You mean you DO weep for the bad news the non-elect receive in Calvinism?”

    “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

    Irene (and any other ill-informed non-Reform folks) every Biblical Christian I know echoes the Lord their God in this verse from Ezekiel.

  97. Truth Unites
    Answer the question in your own words if you believe this is what the Bible teaches. Is this God’s truth or this what you have read about Calvinism. Support your beliefs with the Bile rather than outside sources.
    Cheryl’s I have had the same issues with posting.

  98. I sent a quick e mail to Michael Patton letting him know there are problems with comments. At least three of us are having trouble here now that I know of.

  99. Re: #92,

    Truth Unites,

    You said you echo the Lord in Ezekiel. So you are not pleased with the fate of the wicked.
    If you are not pleased with the fate of the wicked, and Calvinism declares their fate sealed, then the declarations of the Calvinistic Gospel must not be good news for them.
    Can you say one way or the other?

  100. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 9:06 pm

    Irene,

    Comment #50 was for you. Read the entire linked sermon. Then let me know that you have done so. Thanks.

  101. TUAD,

    I read the article. It didn’t at all address the question, “is Calvinism good news for the reprobate?”

  102. @cherylu: The whole reality is that the Infralaparian position shows that men or all humanity without God’s grace and decree of election really don’t care about God in reality, even the so-called religious go along in their own errors. They are left to themselves and their own sin, and they like it, and wish it so! We can see this in the examples of men and people like Judas (John 17: 12 / Mark 14: 21), and also Pharaoh (Rom. 9: 17-18). See also Matt. 7: 13 thru 23, etc.

    And the Gospel is only “Good News” to those who respond to it by and in grace, and God’s glory! And this is God’s work and call, making them His people, (2 Thess. 2: 13-14).

    Btw Calvin called the awful theme of reprobation a horrible decree – decretum quidem horribile fateor! “Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others.” (Inst. III. 21) Yes, to my view, this was Calvin’s peculiar contribution to theology, i.e. the decree of God’s terrible reprobation, to leave some, perhaps many in sin! Indeed a hard saying! (Mark 4: 11-12)

  103. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 9:27 pm

    Cherylu: “One more time, how can Calvinism be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    Thanks Cheryl for reading the Charles Spurgeon sermon in which he makes the argument that Calvinism is simply the Gospel. I.e., The Gospel = Calvinism.

    So, let’s take your question with this equivalence, and see if it makes sense:

    How can the Gospel be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?

    Does this make sense to you?

  104. If I am understanding you correctly, TUAD, you are saying that of course Calvinism isn’t good news for the reprobate? Right?

    In other understandings of the Gospel however, Jesus death and resurrection are indeed good news for all of mankind. Not just for a selected few. In Calvinism’s understanding, they are left helpless and hopeless. Doomed even before birth.

  105. For unbelievers, God’s purpose and design is to render the unbeliever without excuse. Men are CONDEMNED because they have rejected the Person and WORK of Jesus Christ and refused God’s only remedy for sin (John 3:18; 5:40). Unbelievers can never say that a provision for their salvation was not made and not offered. They can never stand before God and say, “The reason I am not saved is because Christ did not die for me.” No, the reason they are not saved is because they rejected the One who died for them and who is the Saviour of all men (1st Timothy 4:10). They are without excuse. This issue is not merely academic. It is extremely practical. It affects the very heart of the gospel and its presentation. The gospel which Paul preached to the unsaved people of Corinth was this: “Christ died for our sins” (1st Corinthians 15:3). Do we really have a gospel of good news for all men (compare Luke 2:10-11)? In preaching the gospel, what can we say to an unsaved person? Can we say, “My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you. He paid the penalty for your sins. He died as your Substitute”? Or Jesus only died for the elect?

  106. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-11 at 10:14 pm

    Cherylu: “One more time, how can Calvinism be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    I.e., “How can the Gospel be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    Cherylu, when you use the term “reprobate” what do you mean? It’s helpful to be clear and careful on the terms being used. And I want to make sure that I understand your use of the term “reprobate” and all that it entails.

    Thanks.

  107. Seems like just about all the critics of Calvinism are only critiquing the supralapsarian version which is not only a minority in evangelicalism but one that is akin to just critiquing open theism when talking about Arminianism.

    Folks, if you are going to engage in theological discussion here, go out of your way to be true and fair. If not, there is no reason to keep comments open on blogs at all.

    Besides, this post certainly was not meant to be a Calvinist bashing party! I was actually hoping for more Calvinists to discuss assurance in lifht of what I wrote.

  108. Nelson said:

    “Patton: “Therefore, from the perspective of those who don’t believe [e.g. the Arminian] that salvation can be lost, these cannot have any assurance.”

    This is not accurate. There is assurance of present salvation. Whether one will be ultimately saved is irrelevant. As long as one is assured of his present position in Christ, there is no need to concern oneself about the future: “Do not worry for tomorrow…””

    I agree. I did not say it well but I meant that this was the critique of many Calvinist and Baptists.

    I do agree, however, practically speaking I think I am willing to say that we are all in the same boat in this regard with respect to assurance. However, pragmatically, I still think I would be a slight bit more comfortable believing as Calvinists since God’s power is ultimately protecting those with true faith. Having kept my faith through some difficult times, I really believe my faith is from God. Therefore, I know it will persevere. If it was from me, from what I have discovered about the volatility of the mind, go would be more timid about it.

  109. CMP,

    I don’t see why you would say that “just about all the critics of Calvinism are only critiquing the supralapsarian version”. Both Supra and Infralapsarian Calvinism teach that God unconditionally decreed all things (which would include all sin and evil) and that people cannot do anything other than God has unconditionally decreed for them to do. Neither brand of Calvinism allows for the non-elect to have ever had a chance to be saved. Their sin was decreed by God and their punishment for that sin they were decreed to do was also decreed. As I said earlier, Calvinism teaches that God unconditionally decreed the sin of the reprobate (and the sin of the elect too for that matter) and their rejection of the gospel etc. So not only does God leave them helpless and hopeless in Calvinism; he also was the ultimate and definitive reason they were sinful, helpless, and hopeless in the first place. This is not a Supra vs. Infra issue, but a Calvinism issue.

  110. Hey Greg, good you finally got on!

    But you’re misunderstanding my point. I am by no means claiming that God’s plans should pass my own standards of justice and goodness. I am by no means saying Calvinists don’t care about anyone other than themselves. My point has been to claim, and to try to get someone to admit, that the gospel according to Calvinism is not good news for everyone. And you’re the first one to do it!

    –“Cherylu your answer to how can the gospel be good news for the reprobate is that there is no good news for the reprobate.”–

    Thank you for the straight answer!

    I asked that question way back toward the top of the comments. Why does it matter? It’s relevant to the question of how you deal with a Calvinist suffering from anxiety or terror as to whether he is saved or not. Does he have a right to be worried? What needs to be “fixed”? Does the man need to be retaught because he misunderstands the “good” news, or does he need stress control to deal with his correct understanding? See what I mean?
    A similar but not exactly identical situation would be that of a parent or spouse worried about the souls of their loved ones. Is there any reassurance for them? What hope? Or is it a possibility that their loved ones are some of those for whom Calvinism brings no good news? This would be in contrast to those theologies, such as Catholicism and Arminianism, which would tell the worried parent, “Never give up hope! Keep praying! God wants him in heaven even more than you do!”

    To sum up, whether or not the gospel you’re presenting is good news for EVERYONE, whether or not there is a day of mercy for EVERYONE, determines how you should handle someone doubting their own salvation or the salvation of someone they love.

    See where I’m coming from now?

  111. Whoops. I take back, Greg, that you were the very first to admit it. Fr Robert did talk about a “horrible decree” and a “hard saying”.

  112. TUAD,

    I tried to answer you last night, but my comment wouldn’t go through. I was going to say that I think the answer to your question was given in my comments and questions to you guys.

    Greg,

    You simply leave me speechless. I am not even going to attempt to be a part of this conversation any more. The contrast between God who calls Himself “love, and God creating billions of people for the sheer purpose of eternal torture in hell couldn’t be more severe. You keep speaking of “perfectly holy, righteous, just and good.” I notice you never once mention “love”.

    (PS I also find it interesting that is John Calvin–not the Bible or the Holy Spirit–that convicted you of your sin.)

    Have the last word–I am done.

  113. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-12 at 9:42 am

    Cherylu: “One more time, how can Calvinism be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    I.e., “How can the Gospel be seen as “good news” for the reprobate?”

    Cherylu, when you use the term “reprobate” what do you mean? It’s helpful to be clear and careful on the terms being used. And I want to make sure that I understand your use of the term “reprobate” and all that it entails.

    “TUAD,

    I tried to answer you last night, but my comment wouldn’t go through.”

    Please try again. Thanks.

  114. Oops, correction:

    I said to Greg, (PS I also find it interesting that is John Calvin–not the Bible or the Holy Spirit–that convicted you of your sin.) The word he used was “convinced”, not convicted. There is a difference there. And it does change what I said. If I had read it correctly, I probably wouldn’t of made that comment at all.

    I’m sorry Greg. That was entirely my fault.

  115. Is the gospel good news for the non-elect? No. Is the lake of fire good news for the non-elect? no. Is the very existence of God good news for the non-elect? No.Is the existence of demons good news for the non-elect? No.Do the elect and non-elect exist in Arminian theology?Does not appear to be so on this blog.Does God forsee the future as definite and certain? If so,what makes the future certain? Do the Arminians have an answer? No.If Calvinism is a lie,then why are Arminians here. Why don’t they spend their time crying and praying that God will lead us poor fools to the light?Do any of you feel sorry for the ones in hell right now. Do you pray for God to release them? After all,if God loved them here,He should still love them there.Now Calvinists admit that if it turns out that we were wrong,we will put on our ashes and sackcloth and do our Pennance.And if We turn out to be right what will you Arminians do?Are you going to tell God to his face He is an unfair monster. Are you going to start rebellion number 2 in heaven,and bring Saint Michael back for battle. Just what do you think you could do about it?

  116. @Arminian: Sorry mate, but we must see the true nature, theologically, from the Infralapsarian. And it is from God’s perspective rather a linear view, but first : the theological position that God’s decree to save “follows” logically (not temporarily) the decision to create and permit the fall. God choses from sinful man/humanity, who He will save and thus predestinate & foreordain; and the rest HE simply leaves in the place of sin in the Fall.

    Let me quote from the Irish Articles 1615 (somewhat by the Archbishop James Ussher).

    http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/irish.html See # 3, Of God’s Eternal Decree and Predestination

    11. God from all eternity, did by his unchangeable council, ordain whatever in time should come to pass: yet so as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.

    But, as # 13, this is “to deliver (some) from curse and damnation (looking at the Fall from Adam) those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind..” This is Infralapsarian!

  117. Btw, indeed Jay makes some good points & logic about God’s Sovereignty! And God’s love is not a sloppy agape, mere human love for sure!

    Now back to the question about assurance, and for ALL of US! And surely our assurance is always the love of a Risen, Ascended Christ, who HIMSELF died “once” for sin and sinners! It is to Him that we draw near in faith, hope & love.

  118. BTW Greg,

    Your FB page doesn’t seem to be visible. I reckon you maybe have your privacy settings to “friends only”?

    (I’m still having posting problems, is anyone else? As a matter of fact, the whole site is acting “weird.”)

  119. Fr. Robert (comment #30),

    Infra vs. supra is irrelevant to the issue. it is not that there is not a difference, it is that both ascribe to exhaustive divine determinism in which God unconditionally decreed everything that comes to pass leaving people unable to do anything other than they do. Both Supra and Infralapsarian Calvinism teach that God unconditionally decreed all things (which would include all sin and evil) and that people cannot do anything other than God has unconditionally decreed for them to do. Neither brand of Calvinism allows for the non-elect to have ever had a chance to be saved. Their sin was decreed by God and their punishment for that sin they were decreed to do was also decreed. On this they both agree. So highlighting other differences is irrelevant to the point being made.

  120. Woops, that was supposed to be a response to comment # 130, not 30.

  121. @Arminan: You must take issue and study then with the whole of idea of “the liberty and contingency of the second causes”! Btw, R.C. Sproul has written well here. Certainly a Protestant and Reformed Scholasticism is a central part of Reformed Divinity! And this is hardly irrelevant! And it is also here that we simply must see and read Augustine and the whole of the Augustinian! Our top-tier historical Reformers were all somewhat Augustinian, as Luther and Calvin.

    You are writing and thinking like a classic “fundamentalist”! But the Bible and the revelation of God uses historical sources somewhat, as we see in the Jewish Hellenism and the Greco-Roman of St. Paul and the Pauline, and too the Johannine. Indeed the Bible did not just drop out of heaven literally. We call this “theology”! Note btw, that we can see a kind of Platonic backdrop and ideal in the Book or Letter of N.T. Hebrews.

  122. PS… Richard Muller is also a good historical and Reformed scholar! His book from the series of the Oxford Studies In Historical Theology: The Unaccommodated Calvin, Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition, (Oxford 2000), is one the best Calvin historical studies I have ever read! Every serious pastor-teacher that cares about historical and biblical theology must read this book!

  123. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-12 at 11:23 pm

    CMP: “Seems like just about all the critics of Calvinism are only critiquing the supralapsarian version which is not only a minority in evangelicalism but one that is akin to just critiquing open theism when talking about Arminianism.”

    Arminian: “CMP,

    I don’t see why you would say that “just about all the critics of Calvinism are only critiquing the supralapsarian version”. Both Supra and Infralapsarian Calvinism teach that God unconditionally decreed all things (which would include all sin and evil) and that people cannot do anything other than God has unconditionally decreed for them to do.”

    Let’s give CMP the last word based on what he’s written elsewhere as a caution:

    “Do not call authors out for debate. You must count the cost (Lk. 14:31). You don’t want to get whipped up on anyway.”

    😉

  124. Arminian,

    It may sometime be the same wording that both infra and supra use, but they have very different meanings. And this comes down to the will of desire and will of decree distinction.

    Supras don’t use such a distinction and it makes all the difference in the world.

    For example, supra says that God created evil and created sin in order to facilitate the population of hell. Infras do not. We believe that God loves everyone. Supras do not.

    Okay, have to go.

  125. CMP,

    I believe you are mistaken in your understanding of supralapsarianism. All you have to do is look at a standard systematic theology text. Here are a couple convenient links from reputable internet Calvinist sources:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/superinfra.html

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/sup_infr.htm

    What you are describing as supra is a form of hyper-Calvinism. Supra vs. infra is not about whether God loves everybody or has 2 wills, but about the order of God decrees. Yes, supra is a more extreme position, and so supras can be more likely to hold the things you mentioned, but most of those are not inherently part of supra (it is true though that supra holds that God purposed to glorify his name by unconditionally choosing some individuals for eternal blessing and some individuals for eternal Hell, and that God ordained the Fall and decided to create the world to accomplish this goal).

    But I was not addressing the order of decrees. I was pointing out something that both supra and infra have in common, and that is exhaustive divine determinism, which entails that God unconditionally decreed all things (which would include all sin and evil) and therefore that people cannot do anything other than God has unconditionally decreed for them to do, leaving the non-elect no chance of believing or getting saved.

  126. Yes, but the decrees are defined, as I said, very differently. And the time of the arguments against Calvinism neither take this into perspective, IMO, and they assume all the extremes that often accompany supra

  127. CMP,

    I am not sure why you would say that the decrees are defined differently between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. I believe that is false and would again point you to any standard systematic theology, or if more convenient, the links I mentioned. The difference between the two is the order of the decrees, not really the decrees themselves.

    It may be that some assume the extremes some supras embrace to be true of all Calvinists, but that may be because it seems to many to be a distinction without much difference in terms of logical implications. For example, if God unconditionally decreed all sin and evil and human thought and action, as both infra and supra hold, then it hardly seems to make much difference if God logically first chose people for Heaven and Hell and then ordained the Fall, or vice versa. To many, the logical implication is that God does not really love the reprobate and *despite the great majority of Calvinists claiming they believe God loves the reprobate*. Many also tend to find the Calvinist 2 wills theory to be incoherent.

    Be that all as it may, I don’t think you can assume anyone is attributing supra beliefs to infras. I know when I have posted in this thread, I have not been assuming that. I have been addressing things held in common by infras and supras, exhaustive divine determinism, which entails that God unconditionally decreed all things (which would include all sin and evil) and therefore that people cannot do anything other than God has unconditionally decreed for them to do, leaving the non-elect no chance of believing or getting saved. Logically, that leaves the gospel to be NOT good news for the reprobate despite whether Calvinists might actually believe that it is somehow good news for the reprobate. So I am not claiming Calvinists necessarily hold that the gospel is not good news to the reprobate, but that it is the logical implication of their doctrine, and incoherent for them to think otherwise.

  128. Greg said, Oh yeah. No, I do not believe God loves everyone unless somebody can explain how He loves those upon which He is pouring the full fury of His unrestrained eternal wrath and judgement. That’s some awful strange love there. I’m also with White in that I do not consider supralapsarianism to be “hyper”-Calvinism.

    Greg, there is a huge difference between loving someone and in the end pouring out your horrible wrath on them because they have not accepted the provision made for them at the cost of the horrible death of your own Son and creating billions of people for the express reason of pouring out your wrath upon them eternally. I see no love in the latter at all. In fact, as far as that goes, those people would seem to be simply the “pawns,” for lack of a better word, created for the end of God’s need to glorify Himslef. And the price that those billions pay for all of eternity is horrific indeed.

    Since He declares in the Bible that He is love, that last idea seems to me and many others to be totally incomprehesible and atrocious.

    Notice it doesn’t say he loves some people, namely the elect. It says He IS love.

    And for that matter, those of us that aren’t Calvinists can’t figure out for the life of us either how God can be love and just “pass over” a whole lot of those people that He has created and leave them to die an eternal death of torment in hell with no hope whatsoever and only provide a way of escape for a chosen few. That doesn’t show much of that love that He claims He is to those people either.

    And that is particulary true when you remember that He has decreed sin to happen and that people are therefore born with a depraved nature that they can do absolutely nothing about without His help.

  129. CMP,

    I am still having problems posting here. When I hit “submit” nothing happens–at least not for a long time. The only way I have found to get a comment to post consistently is to close the window and open a new one with P and P in it. For some reason, the comment is always posted then.

    The downside of that though is that you can not use the edit feature as it doesn’t appear in your comment when you open the new window. To say nothing of the fact that it is a quite annoying way to make comments!

  130. I have taken to copying all of my comments before I try to post them. I have had the disappearing act played on me several times too. Not from my PC but from my tablet.

  131. Btw, in this whole argument and debate, we must see the theological subject of Theodicy: That part of theology concerned with defending the goodness and omnipotence of God in the face of the suffering and evil of the world. And it is here btw, that the whole idea of the free-will defense literally goes to hell! The great question is always God’s Sovereignty, it is true or false? And for the Judeo-Christian this can only be answered by God’s revelation and word! GOD’s Word is always “Thematic” and a whole! It is here btw, that we must note too the Salvation History of God, and His Covenant/covenants and His Soteriological Will! (Gen. 3: 14-16 / Rom. 11: 32-36)

    Sorry, but we simply must think biblically & theologically, i.e. the doctrine of GOD!

  132. Fr Robert,

    And that is precisely why the whole issue of “God is love” is so very important in this discussion.

  133. @ Fr. Robert (Anglican)

    Your name does not link to your blog and I would very much like to read it. Would you be so kind as to post the actual link if the comments allow it.

  134. Btw too in these blog debates, we must be careful not to press the whole win / loose idea, for we are dealing with something quite beyond just logic finally, though of course we use logic, but in the end God transcends His own logic, and we are always left with GOD’s Mystery! Though biblically the Greek word mystery (mysterion) really means truth “revealed”, especially by or used by Paul, (Col. 1: 26)… “manifested”, “revealed”! And surely the doctrine of the mystery of divine election is somewhat revealed in St. Paul’s writings! (Rom. 8: 29-33, etc.)

  135. Supralapsarianism or infralapsarianism -what difference does it make to Mr. Doubting Calvinist? (or Mr. Doubting Calvinist’s mother?) His concern is assurance. Does infralapsarianism offer a means of assurance that supralapsarianism doesn’t? The mother’s concern is hope for her child. Does infralapsarianism offer hope that supralapsarianism doesn’t? In either case, they are left with the very real possibility that Mr. Doubting Calvinist is non-elect, with no hope of help from earth or heaven, eternally. And on top of that, there is no really reliable way to tell the difference (but I say this is a minor problem compared to the previous one).

    Catholics (also Lutherans) don’t “fall apart” like Mr. Doubting Calvinist because they receive external assurance, like theoldadam has been saying, and don’t have to try to analyze their own subjective emotions and “warm fuzzies” in their heart. They hear the words of the priest (or pastor) saying “I absolve you of your sins…” They see babies baptized and know for sure that that baby is now a child of God, and they can trust in the fact that they, too, were baptized. They know that baptism and forgiveness apply to anyone who receives them. Please note, I am not here and now trying to argure which system of beliefs is correct! I am just demonstrating that Arminians, Catholics, Lutherans, and others have sources of help and reasons of hope that Calvinists do not have. So I disagree when CMP tells Mr. Doubting Calvinist to do as Arminians do and “test their faith” and “persevere” . That doesn’t really solve anything for Mr. Doubting Calvinist, esp for Mr. Doubting Calvinist’s mother, as long as they hold Calvinism to be true.

  136. Greg. Your wasteing your time Greg. It does not make any difference what you or God says. The bible if full of God’s hatred for the non elect. God hates tthe workers of iniquity;God hates the house of the wicked;God hates Esau;Jesus rejoiced the truth is with-held from the non-elect and revealed to babes;Jesus refuses to pray for the non-elect;Even John 3-16 is limited to the believing ones-whoever is a partciple,not a pronoun.Jesus tells the reprobate:”depart from me I never knew-loved-you”.Basically as G.L Williamson said”One of the clearest doctrines in Scripture is that God determines who will be saved. The refusal to acknowledge this is due to human perversity.”

  137. To both Greg and Fr Robert,

    If your understanding of Scripture is true, all I can say is that for the greatest share of humanity it would of been better indeed if they had never been born. The thought of being born helpless and hopeless and doomed for an eternity in hell without a thing you or anyone else can do about it is beyond appalling.

    Say whatever you like, but I see no way whatsoever that any concept of love can be applied to that situation. At least you were honest about that Greg and said you didn’t believe God loves the reprobate.

    And the thought of creating people to torture them forever in a place that you yourself warn people to avoid at any cost seems downright diabolical.

    I think the only way to have “peace” with such a situation is to just decide that it really doesn’t matter at all that billions are born hopeless and helpless and going to an eternal hell without any hope of escape because that is exactly the way God wants it to be. Just tough luck to all of you guys and I am so glad I’m not one of you! Unfortunately, I have imagined my self in their shoes with that kind of hopelessness being all I have, and I simply can’t do that. It is absolutely horrifying.

  138. Jay,

    I think maybe we should be telling people that God’s defining characteristic towards most is hate instead of love! If the way is narrow and few find it compared to the broad way of destruction that many are on, then for the greatest part of humanity God is effectively hate instead of “God is love.”

    What a fearful God He then becomes. You had better hope that none of you discover that you only thought you were one of the elect and that indeed instead you are one of the helpless, hopeless ones that God has hated since you were conceived and that indeed Jesus didn’t even die for you. Hell is not a nice place.

  139. Dear Cherylu: Relax. Have a nice piece of apple pie and watch reruns of “leave it to beaver.”Your getting too excited.You have plenty of friends. John Wesey and multitudes of others. Roger Olson states that the calvinist God is worse than the devil and if he exists Roger is going to tell him He is a monster.Actually,every heresy,whether moral or spiritual works itself, either first or last,into a frenzy against Calvinism.God warns that His ways are not our ways,and Calvinism proves it. It’s not man’s way and thus hated without measure.But men die and are not heard from again.God’s Unconditional Election continues and will do so till the body of Christ if completed. Then the curtain comes down.You did make an interesting comment about it being better for the non elect not to have been born. Well,God could have prevented them from being born. But He intentionally created then knowing he would burn them in hell.So you have a bit of a problem there. In time,whether in this life or next,you will accept the truth of Calvinism. No pun intended,you will have no choice. Now go have that piece of pie and watch a good movie.Love Ya..

  140. Jay,

    Don’t be patronizing.

  141. Calvinists have their TULIP and Arminians have their daisy: God loves me, God loves me not….

    God does not preserve us based upon our faithfulness but upon His own faithfulness towards us.
    Our perseverance is related to our faithfulness, yet it is only by God’s grace that we are saved in the first place.

    Cause: God’s preservation of the saints.
    Effect: Our perseverance in the faith.

    When I doubt, I have questions in the back of my mind that I cannot put into words. So I can’t ask anyone…but when I am open, then the Lord answers my questions on His timetable.

    Great book titled
    Doubting by Alister McGrath….helpful book for any doubter, regardless of their soteriological leanings.

  142. Lora,

    Arminians have strong and wonderful assurance, the most that can be had biblically (see my comments 54 and 56 above). But you don’t seem to see that your own position is actually incompatible with substantial assurance. For if you believe that perseverance in faith is guaranteed for believers, and argue that the many who forsake their faith that is indistinguishable to themselves or others from true saving faith, then there is no way you could know your own faith is real and that you won’t fall away. Many who have fallen away have had the same conviction you have had, that God won’t let them fall away. So on what do you base your assurance? Whatever you say, there have been many who have fallen away who had the same confidence and the same reasons. So how could you know that you would be any different?

    The better course is to take up the biblical grounds of assurance for final salvation, which is substantial but not unconditional, and to not give yourself or anyone false assurance that can more readily lead to turning from Christ because of lack of concern for the danger of falling away. danger that is real but thought impossible becomes more dangerous because it is not taken seriously.

  143. Wopops, I see that I left out something critical in my reply to Lora.

    One of the sentence should have read like this (I’ll now add a little emphasis to show what was accidentally left out):

    “For if you believe that perseverance in faith is guaranteed for believers, and argue that the many who forsake their faith that is indistinguishable to themselves or others from true saving faith *never really believed*, then there is no way you could know your own faith is real and that you won’t fall away.”

    BTW, I have never heard a Calvinist answer this point without basically having to admit that they cannot have substantial assurance. But usually they just ignore the point. I have also never heard anyone who believes that apostasy is impossible for genuine believers answer this. That’s because it is unanswerable for any who see apostasy from saving faith as impossible and think that perseverance in faith is guaranteed by God or necessary for final salvation.

  144. Arminian,

    What you are saying to Lora is part of the reason I have such a hard time with Calvinism. There is absolutely no guarantee to any of us that we will persevere until the end. Sure, the elect will. But what of those that have thought they were one of the elect and shown every sign of being one of the elect and have then fallen away? I guess that they are just one of those hopeless reprobates that God has hated since conception.

    Maybe I am one of them. Maybe you are one of them Maybe Fr Robert is one of them. Maybe Greg is one of them, or maybe Jay is. Then where does that leave us? An eternity in hell because there was never any hope for us from the beginning and we only thought there was. Perish the thought.

  145. And the thing is Cherylu, this takes away any grounds for assurance from the Calvinist or other believer who sees apostasy from saving faith as impossible and think that perseverance in faith is guaranteed by God or necessary for final salvation.

    So the ironic thing is that it is actually Arminian theology that gives solid grounds for solid assurance, though not unconditional assurance (see my comments 54 and 56 above). I would also add that this leaves Calvinists and other unconditional securists at odds with 1 John 5:13, which indicates that we can know that we are saved.

    Now let me very clearly say that I am not saying that Calvinists and other unconditional securists do not have assurance. Most do. But their assurance is despite what their theology logically can afford them rather than because their theology gives cogent grounds for it. Many of them might think their theology provides good grounds. I am pointing out that deriving such assurance from their theology is illegitimate. But I rejoice that they have assurance and do not want to undercut that. I just want them to have biblical assurance as opposed to false assurance or ill-grounded assurance.

  146. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 1:29 pm

    CMP, #116: “Seems like just about all the critics of Calvinism are only critiquing the supralapsarian version which is not only a minority in evangelicalism but one that is akin to just critiquing open theism when talking about Arminianism.”

    Here’s the first paragraph from the Theopedia entry on “Open Theism”:

    “Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.

    Q: Are the folks who are dismayed by classical Reform theology (classical Calvinism), are you classical Arminians or are you Open Theists?

  147. CMP says we should tell Mr. Doubting Calvinist to 1)test his faith and 2) act on his faith.

    It would seem that the best thing to do would be to tell him, “God loves you.” But in Calvinism, that is not _necessarily_true. ”

    So we commenters have pretty much said that Calvinism is not good news for everybody. In Calvinism”s view of things, when God says, “God IS Love,” what does that mean? Can He be love while hating (not loving) many?

    ————-

    Q: Are the folks who are dismayed by classical Reform theology (classical Calvinism), are you classical Arminians or are you Open Theists?

    Neither.

  148. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 2:16 pm

    Irene, and other non-Reform folks,

    An Either-Or question:

    (A) Do you believe that God knows the future exhaustively and He knows everything that will happen?

    OR

    (B) Do you believe that God does not know the future exhaustively and He does not know everything that will happen?

  149. Whole-heartedly A.

  150. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 2:29 pm

    “(A) Do you believe that God knows the future exhaustively and He knows everything that will happen?”

    Irene: “Whole-heartedly A.”

    Good.

    So God who knows the future exhaustively, and knows everything that will happen, creates a woman who He foreknows will not be in Heaven eternally, but in Hell forever. Let’s say that this woman’s name is Reprobate.

    Question: “How can the Gospel be seen as “good news” for the Reprobate?”

  151. @Alan: my blog is from Word Press… irishanglican.wordpress Btw, I am not all that computer savy myself, but I use it as tool somewhat.

  152. Responding to TUAD (cooment 171):

    Because God’s foreknowledge of what the woman will do is contingent on what she will do. His foreknowledge mirrors her actions. So she can actually believe and be saved. The gospel was good news for, offering her the opportunity to be saved. That she will reject the good news is her own fault and not God’s. Good news was given her, but she cast it aside. TBut she did not have to. And God’s foreknowledge does not change that.

  153. Truth Unites and divides asked:

    —So God who knows the future exhaustively, and knows everything that will happen, creates a woman who He foreknows will not be in Heaven eternally, but in Hell forever. Let’s say that this woman’s name is Reprobate.

    Question: “How can the Gospel be seen as “good news” for the Reprobate?”—

    Reprobate still has choices to make regarding whether or not she will follow God and accept his graces. God’s foreknowledge does not equal God’s taking control.
    Similar cases as examples:
    A mother sees her son climbing a tree and acting goofy. She says, “you are going to fall- stop it!” She foreknows that the boy is going to fall, but it’s the boys own disobedience that causes the fall, not the mother.
    Or
    You have an airplane’s view of the city streets below. You see two vehicles both heading toward an intersection at full speed. You know they are going to crash, but you don’t cause the crash.

    Now, these aren’t perfect or maybe not even good examples, and they are not meant to model justification or anything else, just to show the difference between foreknowledge and control. Hope you can see what I mean.

  154. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 4:15 pm

    Irene, #174: “Reprobate still has choices to make regarding whether or not she will follow God and accept his graces. God’s foreknowledge does not equal God’s taking control. … [These examples are] just to show the difference between foreknowledge and control. Hope you can see what I mean.

    Answering the following question will help me more to see what you mean: So who has “control” – God or Reprobate?

  155. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 4:21 pm

    Arminian: “Responding to TUAD (cooment 171):

    Because God’s foreknowledge of what the woman will do is contingent on what she will do. His foreknowledge mirrors her actions. So she can actually believe and be saved. The gospel was good news for, offering her the opportunity to be saved. That she will reject the good news is her own fault and not God’s. Good news was given her, but she cast it aside. TBut she did not have to. And God’s foreknowledge does not change that.”

    Let’s go with that.

    Question: Did God in His foreknowledge create Reprobate?

  156. Both the Calvinist and the Arminian must approach the same God and the same Bible! But for me anyway, the former approach the Doctrine of God much more truly and fully! In John’s Gospel we can see the biblical reality of “receiving”, and the “will” of God In Christ, (John 1: 12-13). And God the Father alone is both the giver and keeper of all this…”And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John 1: 16)

    Busy today!

  157. Arminian has made some interesting comments.Arminains believe God reads a tape of the future,but has no part in writing or producing that tape. So where does the tape come from? It comes from nowhere. Can’t come from people who do not exist and can’t come from God,since that would be Predestination.This is why Socinians held that God does not know the future. They knew if they admitted that He did,they could not disprove Predestination. And that doctrine is unbearable to sinners.Just as Open theism is the step-child of Socinianism,So Arminianism is the step-child of Pelagianism,a form of self-salvation.Open theism is the new fad and very popular.God knows some of the future,but not the choices of men.Kind of like you can have your cake and eat it to.It is actually a good place for Arminians and I expect multitudes will flood those churches.God and men are pals and co-operate with each other in bringing the future. Of course men always have the final vote.What more could you ask for?You won’t have any problem filling those churches.

  158. Goodness, I’m gone for a few hours and there has surely been a lot of convo since then. Can’t probably find time to join in on all of it. It is late afternoon so not now for sure…..

  159. I am still waiting for an Arminian to explain if they have an elect or non-elect definition. Are there people who are elect and non elect? Who are the non elect in Arminianism,and can any of the Arminian non-elect go to heaven?

  160. I prefer some sort of in between view on this one. I believe that God knew all about our lives before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:16). Thus, in the realm of God’s omniscience, He knew that we would respond in faith for salvation. Thus, we would prove ourselves to be the elect that God knew we were even then. I don’t believe that God elected us so that we would choose salvation against our will, but I believe that our choosing to be saved revealed our election before the foundation of the world. The only limiting factor on the number of those who are elected is the sinful will of man, certainly not the love of God. God foreknew this sinfulness, and this is what kept all from being elected. God loved us enough not to force our love for Him but to give us the capacity to do so, rendering love meaningful rather than meaningless.

  161. We are not victims of blind fate; neither are we able to do anything unless God wills it. We must acknowledge God’s sovereignty and omniscience and the free will of man. We must accept the tensions that such a position creates. May God make us those who rest in His providence and who are adamant about doing all that we can by His strength and grace to make a difference in this world.

  162. Truth Unites, #176, said

    –“So who has “control” – God or Reprobate?”—

    For precision’s sake, I probably should have used the word causality instead of the word control. As in, foreknowledge does not equal causality.

    God always has control in the sense that he has the greater power and the greater wisdom. BUT being all-powerful does not necessitate being the cause of everything that happens. God freely, of His own choosing, and in His goodness and generosity, created humans with their own wills. (He’s sovereign, you know, he can do that.(: ). It’s one of the ways we are made in his image.

    So God ALLOWS us to exercise our own free wills. It’s a great gift and a great dignity he has given us. Since the Fall, though, it’s the cause of much of the evil in the world.

    Also, humans having free wills does not mean that whatever we will can happen. It doesn’t make us all-powerful, of course. God remains “in charge”, yet he is a gentleman. As a good and just man does not force a woman into marriage (he knows that would not be a true marriage), God does not strongman us into loving him (he knows that love not freely given is not true love). We need his grace to have the power to love God, repent, do good works, etc. but if we resist his grace, he will leave us.

    So if you mean who is in control of all of history? God. He is all-powerful and all-wise to bring good out of the evil we have willed.
    If you mean who is in control of our own selves? We are. We have free wills given to us by our sovereign Creator.

    In the end, God respects Reprobate’s refusal of his gracious offers of life.

  163. @Don: Wow your position, and I say this nicely but theologically.. appears to be very confused as an Arminian? Btw, note the PB’s (the Brethren), or at least the early ones like JND and William Kelly, were living and preaching/teaching a High Calvinism with Free Grace! I have a piece on my own blog about how JND simply loved the Anglican Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election. (Would perhaps we could get a few to read that grand Article here? 🙂 ) And of course there was no Free-Will for Darby! Again, just a historical point from Brethrenism.

    Btw, this is the blessing of Classic Anglicanism for me, i.e. the general biblical and theological balance of the Thirty-Nine Articles! Would that I had a case lot of the Evangelical Anglican, W.H. Griffith Thomas’s book: The Principles Of Theology, An Introduction To The Thirty-Nine Articles! (I am not sure if it is now in re-print? But my copy is like an old friend!) And of course the Rev. Griffith Thomas was early part of the making of the DTS…Dallas Theological Seminary. Just a great man and Christian, and btw was only a moderate dispensationalist.

  164. A good example of what I just mentioned is the sacrament of infant baptism. The infant has nothing of his own to bring before God, only his state of original sin. But the infant also, because he is an infant without reason, and without the maturity to will any resistance, is able to receive the generous, amazing grace of baptism. The infant doesn’t bring his own faith or even his own desire, but also has no “roadblocks” to receiving the blessings of baptism.
    We must be like little children before God! (The letting him hold our hand kind, not the kicking and screaming kind! (: )

  165. @Don: #185, again just too “general”, we do have biblical tensions, but an Arminian Free-Will is just not one of them!

    Btw, I have yet to see an Arminian really grapple honestly with the Text of John 17: 12! (And surely this is Judas Iscariot). And again, as Jesus said: “It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” (Matt. 26: 24)…An amazing statement from the lips of our Lord! And note too, Judas was never a believer! (John 6: 70-71).

  166. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-13 at 7:00 pm

    Irene: “In the end, God respects Reprobate’s refusal of his gracious offers of life.”

    You sound just like a Calvinist. Calvinists believe that God foreknew Reprobate’s decision and destiny before even creating Reprobate.

  167. @Irene: Baptism for us Reformed, is always part of the Covenantal blessing, and also seen in the faith of the Covenant-parents! (Acts 2: 39, Note here too St. Paul in 2 Tim. 1: 3-5 ; 3:15).

  168. Greg. Your a very good Calvinist. You sound like like you know the great Westminster Confession very well.My favority theologian is John Frame.His work on preventives resulting from God’s decrees is very good. I like his book on the doctrine of God the best. Of course,Sproul and others are very good.I was raised a Catholic and then became an atheist. I really hated any mention of Jesus or God. Bible thumpers were the true dummies of the earth.Then one day,in 1975 in LA,I walked into an occult bookstore to brouse around and found the only Christian book there called “There” is a new world coming by Hal Lindsey.I was strangely attracted to the book so I brought it. At first,I thought I would have a few laughs at the superstition I expected to find. But this was a book on simple Christian doctrine,no election and no prophecy.Well within 6 hours I was no longer laughing. I was regenerate and enjoying the presence of the Lord as he revealed Himself to me. I was stunned. I had hated him. How could this be true? I think I was going through what John Newman found out about Amazing Grace.I knew that I had passed through a solid wall that cannot be penetrated by men.I knew that God had knocked that wall down.It wasn’t till I had read Strong’s theology book that I learned of Calvinism.Every day I thank the Lord for choosing me. I still find it hard to believe.Sproul has stated that Christians are not awed by Grace. They expect it. They are shocked by judgment,not Grace.They have little regard for God’s holiness and justice and wisdom.They have little knowledge of the hopeless state the lost are in.They don’t really believe men are dead,dead,dead,in their sin.I do. I lived it.Cheap Grace is the mantra of today.They really don’t seem to have any idea who they are dealing with. God is love has been turned into Love is God.I thank the Lord every day for choosing me.My favoritte athlete,the great Michelle Kwan is a Unitarian.The Lord let me know she is one of the elect…

  169. Truth Unites:
    –“You sound just like a Calvinist. Calvinists believe that God foreknew Reprobate’s decision and destiny before even creating Reprobate.”–

    Well, we’ve got omniscience in common, then. But there is a difference between foreknowledge and causing (or allowing to happen without any intervention). In Catholicism, saving grace was offered and available to Reprobate. In Calvinism, it was not. Correct?

  170. Jay writes,

    I am still waiting for an Arminian to explain if they have an elect or non-elect definition. Are there people who are elect and non elect? Who are the non elect in Arminianism,and can any of the Arminian non-elect go to heaven?

    The elect are those who are in Christ. The non-elect are those who are not. I hold to corporate election, so my answer is likely different than a Classical Arminian’s would be (though they are similar).

    Election is in Christ (Eph. 1:4). He is the sphere of election. He is God’s chosen Head of the covenant, and all who are in Him share in His election by becoming a member of God’s chosen covenant people in Christ.

    So one can go from being non-elect to elect (through faith which unites that person to Christ and His elect body). Likewise, one could go from being elect to non-elect (through apostasy, and subsequently being broken/cut off from that elect body, cf. Romans 11:16-24).

    For a good starter on the corporate view, see this post: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/corporate-election-quotes/

  171. @Fr Robert,

    Yes, if I understand you properly, I believe it is too. I know one couple who reject covenental theology just because they don’t believe in infant baptism. But they claim “Reformed” theology, too! I think it’s popular to redefine the word “reformed” just like its been popular to redefine the word “catholic” apart from its historical use. (; Well, I need to hop over to your blog one of these days and see what you’ve said about infant baptism. I’m sure you’ve got some good perspectives. (:

  172. You sound just like a Calvinist. Calvinists believe that God foreknew Reprobate’s decision and destiny before even creating Reprobate.

    But there is a major, major difference. In Calvinism, God foreknew “Reprobate’s” decision and destiny because God irresistibly decreed that decision and destiny. Reprobate could no more resist that decree than create a universe. However, in the Arminian view, God’s foreknowledge is not based on an irresistible decree, but on the decision the person will make and her subsequently freely chosen destiny. “Reprobate” fixes her own destiny in her own free decision in Arminianism. God irresistibly fixes her decision and destiny in Calvinism. Big difference.

  173. Jay wrote,

    My favoritte athlete,the great Michelle Kwan is a Unitarian.The Lord let me know she is one of the elect…

    What???

  174. In my above comment I wrote,

    “Reprobate” fixes her own destiny in her own free decision in Arminianism.

    While that is true in a sense, my wording excludes God’s involvement in that process. So it would have better to say that Reprobate’s decision fixed her destiny in accordance with God’s sovereign decree that unbelievers will perish. Or better yet, that God fixed her destiny conditionally (based on her free decision) rather than unconditionally (based on nothing but God’s irresistible decree, as in Calvinism).

    So there is a sense in which she fixes her own destiny (in that her decision to reject Christ or remain in unbelief is free), but ultimately her destiny (and the destiny of all those who reject Christ and remain in unbelief) is fixed by God, who sovereignly determined that only believers will live and not perish everlastingly.

  175. Fr.Robert
    A. John 17 is divided into 3 parts. In John 17:1-5 Jesus prayed for Himself. John 17:6-19 was meant for His disciples, which is why He said He wasn’t praying for the world in verse 9. In John 17:20-26 He prayed for all believers. In John 17:20 the Lord said He was praying for “those who will believe in Me.” The Greek word translated believe means to place their trust in Him. It comes from a root that means to be persuaded and implies choice not predestination.

  176. @Irene: There are the Reformed Baptists of course, John MacArthur is one somewhat, though he is not part of any so-called Reformed Baptist denomination, though there are generally some MacArthur satellite churches, one is even near me, in So Cal. Of course old A.W. Pink was a Reformed Baptist (called Strict and Particular Baptists (basically historically an English (Brit.) church.

    Btw, I really don’t write in-depth on my blog that much. But I do share theological pieces, and only sometimes add personal issues. And I don’t think I have written strictly on Baptism in-depth on my blog? The time factor for me, and I sometimes blog from the hospital (lap-top), where I am a chaplain, but up and down, on and off, etc. Note, my wife is disabled.. chronic COPD, and she is also my love and responsibility! She is younger too, and still very beautiful inside and out! 🙂

    @Jay, Michelle Kwan an “elect” vessel? Only if she comes to know Christ, by grace & glory!

  177. Not God’s genuine desire to save her.
    God’s genuine desire to have a loving relationship with her (a being with free will). Gods genuine desire for her to participate and share in his divine life. It takes two free persons to share love.
    Salvation is more than us passively receiving a legal declaration.

  178. Btw, indeed the “corporate” aspect is common in the Arminian idea of Election, but it is also part of the Reformed too. But there is always the particular first and foremost, as we can see in St. Paul, who also calls himself “a pattern”.. ‘to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.’ (1 Tim. 1: 16) And see too, 2 Timothy 2: 10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Such a grand verse, profound!

  179. Robert

    John 17 is divided into 3 parts. In John 17:1-5 Jesus prayed for Himself. John 17:6-19 was meant for His disciples, which is why He said He wasn’t praying for the world in verse 9. In John 17:20-26 He prayed for all believers. In John 17:20 the Lord said He was praying for “those who will believe in Me.” The Greek word translated believe means to place their trust in Him. It comes from a root that means to be persuaded and implies choice not predestination.

  180. Irene: Indeed salvation is more than “a legal declaration” alone, but we cannot have salvation without it, either! Btw, Justification is always first, of course with Sanctification! And in reality they are closely connected, but “Justification” is certainly foremost Pauline! (Rom. 4-5)

  181. Ha! That must be what the non-elect reprobate hears when he prays. Who are you and don’t talk to me right now.

  182. Well, now I just tried to post a long comment and it went into moderation. The site glitches here are ridiculous the last few days.

  183. Responding to TUAD (comment 177):

    TUAD asked: Did God in His foreknowledge create Reprobate?

    He knew she would reject him and end up in Hell when he created her if that is what you mean. However, since foreknowledge mirrors what will actually happen, being based on it, God cannot use his foreknowledge of a specific action to prevent the action. It is logically impossible to use foreknowledge to prevent itself. It’s the old grandfather paradox. So God cannot decide not to create someone because he knows they will reject him. If he doesn’t create them, then he would not know that they will reject him.

    There are other Arminian responses to the problem Calvinism has and you are trying to stick Arminianism with. But this is the one I favor. It totally avoids the problem you are building toward raising.

  184. Does anyone know if comments automatically go into moderation if you exceed a specified number of Scripture links? I have tried twice now to post that comment. It has five Scripture links. It has gone into moderation both times. I don’t recall ever having that kind of a problem with those links before. Maybe it is just another glitch.

  185. Well, CMP knows we are having problems. He said he was going to pass the info along. Hope they get it fixed soon. (Wonder why these short comments go through and it is the ones we are putting a lot of effort into that don’t make it?)

  186. PS

    Just saw your e mail offer, Greg. If it doesn’t appear by tomorrow a.m., I may take you up on that.

  187. This post illuminated something that I have personally struggled with for a long time. However it’s usually something relating to my constant failures in sancitification that bring it about. I am terribly far off from having the “holiness without which one won’t see God.” And since there is a faith that can’t save, a whole group of people that call Jesus Lord who won’t enter, and the proof that you do have saving faith being your sanctification; it’s too easy to reverse engineer the whole logic and constantly doubt that one has saving faith because of their sanctification failures. It certainly doesn’t help when all of the verses that would usually make one feel ok in spite of their sanctification failure security ( i.e Paul’s “what I do not want to do i do”, “saved by faith not works”, etc) are shown by a lot of scholarship to mean something entirely different (such as with n.t wright’s views). Thanks for the post

  188. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 9:21 am

    Arminianperspectives, #198: “So there is a sense in which she fixes her own destiny (in that her decision to reject Christ or remain in unbelief is free), but ultimately her [Reprobate’s] destiny (and the destiny of all those who reject Christ and remain in unbelief) is fixed by God, who sovereignly determined that only believers will live and not perish everlastingly.”

    Thanks. Sounds like a Classical Calvinist.

    “But”

    “But ultimately”

    “But ultimately, her destiny (and the destiny of all those who reject Christ and remain in unbelief) is fixed by God.”

  189. Amen @Truth! Out of their own mouths…”fixed by God”! Btw, even the best so-called seekers, only seek a god for their benefit, even socially or any other purpose. Those that are not “regenerate” simply cannot see or know God! (John 3: 3), and without the New Birth, they cannot enter the kingdom of God, (John 3: 5). And surely the New Birth itself is a “gift” of God!

  190. And btw, one thing certain “exegetically”… John 3: 5 is NOT speaking of water baptism, noting verses 6 and 8 of John 3!

  191. Well, welcome to Arminianism and its strong doctrine of God’s sovereignty then TUAD and Fr. Robert! Finally you see the light! God does sovereignly fix our destinies, not unconditionally, but conditionally based on his sovereign decision to save believers and condemn unbelievers, and the free choice of people, enabled by grace, to accept the gospel or reject it.

    Glad to have you on board!

  192. But indeed water baptism is a ‘sign and seal’ of Salvation, but not the essence itself. This is the classic Anglican position anyway, and I believe the biblical one. 🙂

  193. I’ll try this comment one more time!

    From Greg earlier:

    cherylu says: “I think maybe we should be telling people that God’s defining characteristic towards most is hate instead of love!”
    OR, OR, OR… hang on now…. how bout if we tell them to repent and believe the gospel like was done in the NT church and leave who God loves to Him? 😀 See, that’s the biblical view. Please show me where anybody preaching the gospel to unbelievers in the new testament told them “Jesus loves you”.

    Well, you do have a point there. However, the New Testament does talk about God loving people a whole lot. For instance, “God so loved the world,” John 3:16 “we love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19, and, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8 So there is a biblical basis for telling people that God loves them. Unless of course you are going to insist that those verses all refer only to the elect. In which case I am just going to disagree with you on that! 🙂

    And what about “the rich young ruler” in Mark 10:21? “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” You know that this man went away from Jesus without becoming a disciple. There is no indication at all that he was one of the elect. But did you notice?? Jesus loved Him!!

    And one last verse, Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” It doesn’t sound to me like He hates these folks. And of course it gives us another basis for telling folks that God loves them.

  194. Funny @Arminian! But it is YOU who are on-board, and not to Arminian doctrine either, but to the full sovereign grace of God in Salvation – of course if you are elect? And not a real mystery biblically, if you have “regenerate” (real living) faith in Christ! (Eph. 2: 8-9-10)…And btw, Eph. 2: 10 is a real hammer blow here… “created in Christ Jesus”!

  195. I’ve come to the conclusion that the comment I first tried to make yesterday afternoon that went to moderation and that I have tried to post three more times since then must be decreed and predestined to not appear on this blog! 🙁

  196. Ha, and now it went through. And glad it appeared only once and not multiple times.

  197. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 11:18 am

    Arminian, #209: “Responding to TUAD (comment 177): TUAD asked: Did God in His foreknowledge create Reprobate?

    He knew she would reject him and end up in Hell when he created her if that is what you mean.

    Yes, that is what I mean.

    “So God cannot decide not to create someone because he knows they will reject him.”

    So God decided to create someone even though He knows that Reprobate will reject Him.

    This is further affirmed by Arminianperspectives in #209:

    “So there is a sense in which she fixes her own destiny (in that her decision to reject Christ or remain in unbelief is free), but ultimately her [Reprobate’s] destiny (and the destiny of all those who reject Christ and remain in unbelief) is fixed by God, who sovereignly determined that only believers will live and not perish everlastingly.”

    Fixed. By. God. Sovereignly. Determined.

    Let us now return to Cherylu’s prior comments in #70:

    “So, it follows then that the non elect have no chance whatsoever of desiring Him. And of course, they were non elect before their conception and birth. Before they had any opportunity to do one wrong thing. Created with no hope and no possibility whatsoever of desiring Him or of salvation. They didn’t ask to be born with a sinful nature. They didn’t ask to be born at all. But they were. And before they took their first breath they were doomed to an unending eternity in torment in hell.”

    Cherylu: “They didn’t ask to be born at all. But they were.”

    vis-a-vis

    Arminian: “So God cannot decide not to create someone because he knows they will reject him.”

  198. Greg writes,

    So then arminianperspectives is saying that when “God fixed her destiny conditionally”, that she has in her own case personally, essentially thwarted God’s genuine desire to save her? As an individual? Correct?

    Correct.

    This is corporate election? God elected a heaven bound bus and it’s up to us to get on it or not? This is how we maintain God’s fairness? I’m askin.

    I referred you to a good article on corporate election. Did you read it? You obviously do not understand the concept very well, so I would suggest reading that article. Then if you have questions, feel free to ask.

  199. TUAD,

    You still just don’t seem to be getting it at all. The Arminian position is that people can make a choice to accept or reject God. If they don’t accept Him, then they are doomed to hell. God, being omniscient–knowing all things, knew from eternity past who would make the choice to accept Him and who would not.

    He did not create that person without any hope of accepting Him. He died for him and He died for all. Not just for the elect and all of the rest are relegated to hell before they are even born.

    Knowing what someone will choose and decreeing what someone will choose so that they can make no other choice are two totally different animals.

  200. Fr. Robert writes,

    Btw, indeed the “corporate” aspect is common in the Arminian idea of Election, but it is also part of the Reformed too. But there is always the particular first and foremost, as we can see in St. Paul, who also calls himself “a pattern”.. ‘to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.’ (1 Tim. 1: 16) And see too, 2 Timothy 2: 10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Such a grand verse, profound!

    Actually, election is primarily corporate and only secondarily individual. You are right that in Calvinism it is primarily individual and secondarily corporate, but that is not the Biblical perspective on election. I recommend you read the article I referred to above as well.

  201. TUAD writes,

    Thanks. Sounds like a Classical Calvinist.

    Only if you ignore the rest of what I said that shows that the Arminian view is nothing like Calvinism. Not sure why you would do that.

  202. Fr. Robert writes,

    Funny @Arminian! But it is YOU who are on-board, and not to Arminian doctrine either, but to the full sovereign grace of God in Salvation – of course if you are elect? And not a real mystery biblically, if you have “regenerate” (real living) faith in Christ! (Eph. 2: 8-9-10)…And btw, Eph. 2: 10 is a real hammer blow here… “created in Christ Jesus”!

    Yeah, that is a real hammer blow to the Calvinist doctrine that regeneration precedes faith! If regeneration is consequent to union with Christ (“in Christ Jesus”), and surely it is, then it is clear that faith precedes regeneration since faith is what joins us to Christ, the source of spiritual life (Eph. 1:13). Excellent point!

  203. TUAD (comment 225) you seem to be misconstruing what is being said and not getting the point of what is being said. You seem to be extracting words that haven been used and ignoring the explanation of those words given by their authors. For example, I pointed out that God cannot use his foreknowledge of a certain thing to change that same thing. And then you seem conclude from that almost the opposite of what was said. You turn it to:

    “So God decided to create someone even though He knows that Reprobate will reject Him.”

    But the sense of what I said is actually that God’s decision to create the person or not cannot be based on his foreknowledge of what the person will do. While it is true that he knows what they will do when he creates them, his foreknowledge assumes the decision to create them. It is logically “too late” for his foreknowledge of what the person will do to inform his decision concerning their creation.

    On the other hand, it is not true that the person is created without any hope or possibility for salvation, since they are able to accept salvation or not. That they will do one or the other does not mean that someone else will determine which one they do or that one option is the one they have to do and can’t do the the other.

    I see others are observing that you are really missing what some are saying.

  204. @Don: I guess yours was a sort of short-shift answer? As you forgot verse 12! (Tough verse for your Arminianism, and btw, YOU ARE presenting an Arminian form here!) And btw, I read my Greek NT every morning for my A.M. devotion! And perhaps CMP could teach us all, with his mate Mr. or Dr. Wallace about the Greek! Both have theological degrees on the Greek itself! (I also had it fully in seminary, moons ago now, but as an old Anglican rector, I read my Greek NT daily, as noted… at ordination Anglican presbyters are asked to faithfully read their Greek NT’s in their ministry and work!)

    And, Predestination always includes “choice”!

  205. I just want to highlight that while this discussion has gotten off topic, it seems that no Calvinist here can offer any real assurance of salvation when their own doctrines of unconditional election and inevitable perseverance are taken into account. Like someone wisely said earlier, the basic answer seems to be, “Try not to think about it and live like an Arminian.”

  206. Fr. Robert writes,

    @Don: I guess yours was a sort of short-shift answer? As you forgot verse 12!(Tough verse for your Arminianism, and btw, YOU ARE presenting an Arminian form here!)

    How about verse 21? (tough verse for Calvinists though)

  207. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 12:03 pm

    Reprobate has a thought in her brain. She decides whether to write that thought down or not. She ultimately decides to write that thought down.

    Question: When Reprobate decided to write down that thought, did she decree that her thought be written down?

  208. Good reminder AP (comment 233). As I pointed out earlier concerning the point that — if you believe that perseverance in faith is guaranteed for believers, and argue that the many who forsake their faith that is indistinguishable to themselves or others from true saving faith never really believed, then there is no way you could know your own faith is real and that you won’t fall away — I have never heard a Calvinist answer this point without basically having to admit that they cannot have substantial assurance. But usually they just ignore the point. I have also never heard anyone who believes that apostasy is impossible for genuine believers answer this. That’s because it is unanswerable for any who see apostasy from saving faith as impossible and think that perseverance in faith is guaranteed by God or necessary for final salvation.

  209. Fr. Robert writes,

    And, Predestination always includes “choice”!

    In Calvinism it only includes God’s choice.

  210. TUAD,

    Why don’t you cut to the chase? I am sure we can handle it.

  211. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 12:17 pm

    Arminianperspectives (with Classical Calvinism overlap), answering #236 will help you see what you’re chasing.

  212. Arminianperspectives (with Classical Calvinism overlap)

    What is this supposed to mean?

    answering #236 will help you see what you’re chasing.

    I’m not chasing anything.

  213. Greg @ # 234,

    I really don’t know how long I will hang in there with this conversation. God only knows, and I mean that literally, how many hours I have spent in similar discussions over the past 5-6 or so years. Some on this site and some elsewhere. After a while it all starts feeling sort of circular. Been there, done that, I said that, he/she replied, I answered…….

    Unless something changes my mind, I think my “time quota” this time around is pretty well up.

  214. Btw, both the Greek verb “Proginosko” and the noun “Prognosis” are used in the foreknowledge of God’s basis of His foreordaining counsels, and “Prognosis” is used directly for God’s electing grace, as in 1 Peter 1: 2. And HIS Divine counsels will be ever “unthwartable”, i.e. in both His foreordaination and determination and will!

    See btw, the great fullness of this in the death and resurrection of Christ Himself! (Acts 2: 23-24) And also in the life and call of Saul/Paul, (Gal. 1: 15-16). And then to even us ‘In Christ’, (Eph. 5 ; 11).

  215. @Arminianperspectives: Not true, first and yes foremost “God’s choice, but then HE works ours too”! This is the essence of true Calvinism, certainly John Calvin’s! Note btw, I am or consider myself a “Calvin” Calvinist! And Calvin taught both the sufficiency (sufficient for all), but the efficacy or efficaciousness of the Atonement: alone for the Elect!

  216. *On my #243, that is Eph. 1: 5 & 11 (verses)

  217. …first and yes foremost “God’s choice, but then HE works ours too”! This is the essence of true Calvinism…..”

    And there is exactly the sticking point..He works our choice for us. Since He has already worked the choice for us, we will “choose” exactly what He has already decided and decreed. How then it is really “our choice” since He has arranged it there exactly as He wishes it and there is no way we can then “choose” otherwise?

    This is the point that many non Calvinists have tried to make down through the years. And you have finally said it for all of us perfectly!

    And then to top it all off, He then holds us morally accountable for the choice that He worked within us. And billions then end up in hell because of the “choices” they have made that He worked in them.

    I have often heard it said that Calvinism is a very logical theological system. For myself, I find it to be the most illogical system I have ever heard of.

  218. I’m still having posting problems. Was hoping it was all fixed, but I guess not.

  219. cherylu,

    Exactly right. It is nonsense to say that one chooses, when that supposed “choice” was irresistibly made by someone else (God) so that only one course of action was ever possible. It empties choice of any normal meaning. So contrary to Fr. Robert’s assertion, it “is true” that the only real choice involved in Calvinism is God’s choice.

    For myself, I find it to be the most illogical system I have ever heard of.

    That’s why some Calvinists, like Patton (by his own admission), seem to like it.

  220. cherylu,

    I’m still having posting problems. Was hoping it was all fixed, but I guess not.

    My posts come up, but it takes a long time (several minutes). I will say that if you include more than one link, that post will probably be considered spam until it gets moderated (a lot of blogs choose that setting). Not sure if that has been the problem with some of your posts. Other than that, maybe it is solar flares?

  221. @cherylu: I am with CMP some, I am an “eclectic” Calvinist! 😉 After all we are dealing with the doctrine of God!

    Btw, I would surely suggest (if you can do it?) to read John Calvin’s Institutes carefully at least once! Calvin is the reason somewhat I am a “Calvinist”! 🙂 (Note I say somewhat, i.e. he is part of the theological instrument!)

  222. Don: the whole of John chapter 17 focuses around verses 1, 2 & 3…”even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him (the Son of verse 1), He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

  223. @Don: the whole of John chapter 17 focuses around verses 1, 2 & 3…”even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him (the Son of verse 1), He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

  224. Fr. Robert,

    Did you see my comment about verse 21 in John 17? (I’m not Don, just commenting on your interaction).

    Jesus also says Judas was one of those “given” to Him (vs. 12). Are you saying that Judas possessed eternal life? If so, that kills your doctrine of perseverance. So verse 12 and 21 are a major problem for the way you seem to want to use John 17. John 17 really is no difficulty at all for Arminians, but it creates some pretty serious problems for Calvinists.

  225. Wow AP, your not thinking correctly! John 17: 12 teaches that… “I guarded them and not one of them perished (but Judas) “the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” And oh that last clause…”that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” That’s another tough one for Arminian’s!

  226. Btw AP, as I wrote on this blog already, Judas was never saved! (John 6: 70-71)

  227. Re # 254,

    Fr Robert, some manuscripts and translations do say in that verse that the ones He guarded are the ones “given to Him.” And that included Judas.

    Arminian was quoting from one of those versions.

  228. I think AP is right on concerning John 17:12. It is very problematic for the Calvinist position. Notice that Judas was part of “them” protected by the Son. “I have guarded them [which includes Judas], and not one of them [which includes Judas] has been lost except [the “except” here shows that those protected by the Son, “them”, included Judas; not one of them was lost except Judas] . . .” So Judas was protected by Jesus, but still fell because while Jesus will protect us from anything overpowering us and taking us away from him, he does not make us stay with him and will allow us to walk away. This is why Scripture assures us the power of God will protect us by faith but wanrs us not to forsake faith.

    “that the Scripture would be fulfilled” can also be translated “with the result that the Scripture was fulfilled.” Judas did not fall away for the purpose of fulfilling Scripture, but his fall fulfilled Scripture, it brought to pass what Scripture said would happen.

  229. But that can’t be the essence of the Text, as noted with John 6: 70-71! So that manuscript cannot be authentic! Clutching at straws I am afraid! And Arminianism is a “straw” theology, sorry but we simply MUST get down to it!

  230. Fr Robert,

    No follow up comments on the business of God choosing our “choices” for us?

  231. John 6:70-71 does not say that Judas was never saved. At most it indicates that he was not saved when Jesus spoke that word. However, it might not even indicate that much. it could be a proleptic statement, identifying Judas by what he would later become. The text draws attention to thew fact that Judas would later betray Jesus. I am open to the suggestion that Judas was never saved. He might not have been. But John 6:70-71 is not conclusive. And John 17:12 indicates that Judas was in Jesus’ name (as part of “them”) and that Jesus did protect him. So the evidence is stronger that Judas was in fact saved at some point. In any case, John 17:12 is problematic for the Calvinist position.

  232. Btw, looking at the other authority or manuscript, does not change the proper and really only correct interpretation of Judas as lost at all! He was/is the “son of destruction”, as he aligned with Satan himself!

  233. Re 261:

    No, of course not…..:) If he was indeed one of those “given to Him,” that of course doesn’t mean that He was saved! (At least obviously not with Judas. It just means that in John 6 with all of the rest of us right??) 🙂 You know the “all that the Father has given me shall come to me…” verses that are such favorites of you Calvinists?

    If those manuscripts are the correct ones, I think you are missing something here, Fr. Robert

  234. Sorry AP, but to my mind you are making very sloppy exegesis! But hey, you trying to defend Arminianism, rather than honor the Word of God! Sorry mate, but that’s just the way I see it! 🙂

  235. Fr. Robert,

    I would still really like to know how you understand the choices that God has “worked,” can truly be said to be our choices.

    Or does your silence on the subject mean you are conceding our point?

  236. Well, Fr. Robert, I have given actual evidence from the text and grammar for my position, but you simply assert your view. It’s easy to claim something is sloppy exegesis and another to demonstrate that or defend your own position exegetically. I think it quite evident that I have interacted with the text and given reasonable explanation of it while you have not really dealt with the specific points that have been made.

    And it is not helpful to charge others with trying to defend their system rather than honor the word of God. Perhaps that actually applies to what you are doing. I actually think we are both trying to honor the word of God by trying to ascertain and set forth its actual meaning. It seems to me that it is best to give one another the benefit of the doubt on that as brothers in the Lord.

  237. I think we are coming full circle people! CMP has been gracious to allow us all to go off blog subject here. But we are not going to solve this great issue here!

    @cherylu: I never really chose to be a Christian (in the strict sense), I was raised Irish Roman Catholic, and actually brought my Catholic Augustinian doctrine with me somewhat when I became an Anglican. But then later there I came overwhelmingly to the Reformed Faith & Divinity!

  238. Fr Robert,

    That was truly a great non answer, answer! I know no more now then I did before you said that! Except that it would appear you are trying to evade a direct answer (although I may certainly be wrong about that.)

  239. Well “A”, I never saw any real evidence, grammar, text or otherwise, sorry! And I must confess I see you just seeking to find anything to grasp here, to try to make your point. But “exegesis” no! And this is my honest mind!

  240. lol Sorry, but I really feel my “choices” we made by the grace of God within my heart & mind! Remember, I am an old combat vet, so God’s grace and providence have been seen by me in life and death! And that’s not evading anything, dear-heart! 🙂

  241. Fr. Robert,

    Ok, but it is easy to say such things about what you disagree with without giving any support for your stance against what you are disparaging, while I gave specific textual claims that interacted with the text in detail and can be assessed and interacted with.

    Cherylu,

    You have really pegged a major problem with Calvinism in the concept of choice. Here is a great article on the topic that lays out the issue quite compellingly: http://evangelicalarminians.org/the-reality-of-choice-and-the-testimony-of-scripture/.

    Calvinism really is incoherent, providing no valid basis for assurance or genuine free will or human responsibility despite its claims to do so.

  242. @”A”, I gave support, both biblical and somewhat theological, you just rejected it! This is always the MO of must Arminian’s sadly! Calvinism verses Arminianism is like oil and water! YOU really have no Sovereign God! And this will always be the issue! Note as I said, before I was really a Calvinist, I was a Catholic Augustinian… and from here, or that, the theological move was not that far! Of course this was many years ago now. Note I am over 60!

  243. BTW, perhaps I should mention that by God’s providence we just happen to be highlighting a 5 part series critiquing another post by CMP that argues for Calvinism on the basis that it is less rational than Arminianism. The decision to publish the series this week was made independent of knowledge of this post by Michael. So come on over to the Society of Evangelical Arminians and check it out. You can just click on my screen name to get there.

  244. UGH! Use your real name mate! We should have known you we baiting Calvinism, and tolling for people! I really dislike this! I am a hospital chaplain, and I am writing from here today, up and down, etc.

  245. Fr. Robert (comment 271),

    You claim to have given biblical support, but that seems to have been just citing verses. When I challenged your interpretation with specific details of the text, you merely claim that I am grasping or stretching without any substantive points or details offered by you.

    Now I have seen you complaining that I mentioned the 5 part series critiquing a post in favor of Calvinism by CMP and inviting people to come see it. You are becoming increasingly discourteous, calling my motives into question, charging that I’m not seeking to honor the word of God and that I am disingenuous in my motives. Now that is typical internet Calvinist MO. I have not been trolling for people. We have been in this discussion and I thought it worth mentioning that we happen to have that series going this very week. A bit of a “coincidence” there?

    I have not called your motives into question or accused you disingenuousness. I would encourage you to take a more charitable tone and posture toward your fellow believers here who disagree with your Calvinist theology. We are brothers in Christ after all.

    I think we should stop this discussion.

    May the Lord bless you brother.

  246. First, I am at my work as a hospital chaplain, so I am up and down, and can’t always check everything, at least the past few days. (I wrote more at my home later, yesterday) I would have liked to have said more to cherylu. But you are tolling, just as simple as that! And as I said, when we press it down.. the issue is God’s Sovereign Grace! And in reality, the Arminian just does not have a Sovereign God! YES, biblical theology is really about eternal issues!

  247. Sorry, but again you were the one masking behind the title “Arminian”, why not just be up front and say, who and really what you are? This is the thing that most angered me! But yes, lets both move on!

    Yours In Christ,
    Fr. Robert K. Darby (Anglican)
    D. Phil, Th.D.

    PS..I am for the most part retired now, save some guest preaching, and of course my daily chaplain work. I will be 64 this fall.

  248. FR Robert. Thought you might like to knowthat the Dominicans in the Catholic Church are close to the Calvinist position.They believe everyone has sufficient grace to get to heaven but that God does Unconditionally Elect a segment of humanity to eternal life, Father Lagrange has a book on this.I think they are sort of the leftovers of the Augustanian Jansenists eliminated by the Jesuits.

  249. Hey Fr Robert or Jay,

    Maybe one of you can tell me more about something I read somewhere, can’t remember where anymore, it’s been so long ago now. Can’t even remember if it was a reliable source or not. Anyway, back when the Thomists and Molinists (i think it was those two? although Jensenists is what reminded me?) were in heated debates about the nuts and bolts of predestination, and a pope, after a certain synod or something or other, was preparing to promulgate an official doctrine on the subject (can’t even remember which side he was going to support), only the day before the official declaration he died. So you can imagine how popes since then have not dogmatically declared a complete system of predestination. (There are some truths we Catholics must not contradict, such as God willing the salvation of each soul and the giving of grace to each soul, but are free to hold various theories about the specifics. Different schools of thought remain today. But debates within the Church not as heated as they apparently were at one time in history.)

    Anyway, can either one of you fill in the blanks about that story of the pope dying.? Is it “urban legend”? Or history? I haven’t had luck with quick googling, but maybe you know? Or Fr Robert, maybe you know just the book to read about it.

  250. Fr Robert,

    I have never understood why Calvinists say that Arminians do not have a sovereign God. If God has allowed people to make choices, has He not made a “sovereign choice” to do so? Certainly none of us are saying that God lacks the ability to make every choice for us. However, if He is the one that used His sovereignty to decide that when He created the world, He would grant mankind freedom to make at least some choices for Himself, does that really make Him any less sovereign?

    Does He have to decree when and how I will tie my shoe today, precisely what I shall eat for breakfast and how much, what time I sneeze, cough, when I make a phone call, when I go to bed, determine exactly what thoughts will go through my head and every single action that I will pursue arising from those thoughts down to the finest of details, decree exactly each word that I am typing to you–indeed how many and what mistakes I make in that process–decree that I just had to stop right now because the phone rang, decreed the exact words I would say to the person on the phone and exactly how long we would talk, etc, etc, etc……

    Did He truly decree every detail about our lives in such a way and is that the only way He can be “sovereign?” Or did He sovereignly decide to create mankind with the ability to truly make make meaningful decisions for themselves?

    The first definition of sovereignty seems to render man as a very precise wind up toy put in motion by it’s maker, or a robot with very finely programmed details covering every aspect of what it is supposed to do.

  251. Oh, btw Jay, Jimmy Akin has an article you might be interested in called “Tiptoeing through TULIP” or something like that. It’s about the similarities between Tulip and Catholic theories of predestination. They don’t exactly match up of course, but there’s more overlap than you would think between Tulip and one Catholic theory of predestination. Now I’m going to have to go read it again myself, instead of talking about things I only half remember. (:

  252. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 5:46 pm

    Fr. Robert: “Clutching at straws I am afraid! And Arminianism is a “straw” theology, sorry but we simply MUST get down to it!”

    Tally Ho! Tally Ho, old boy!! The game is afoot!

  253. Yes, Cherylu, I understand you completely. I think God issued his sovereign decree at our creation, that we would be creatures with our own wills. When he said, “Let us make man in our image.” I wonder what the Calvinist position is on how we are made in the image of God, if we don’t have free wills. We’re only Adam and Eve in the image of God? And not us now? Seems strange that they shod have a higher state of being, even in their innocence, than we do, who have been redeemed by the Lamb and filled with the Spirit. In the Catholic Church, we say of the Fall. “Oh, happy fault.” Because we ended up better off, as adopted children!, than we were before the fall. Anyway, just some thoughts.

  254. I wonder what the Calvinist position is on how we are made in the image of God, if we don’t have free wills.

    I have wondered that too, Irene.

    I’m tired of wondering, now I am asking! What say ye guys? What does created in the image of God mean to you? Or do you believe Adam and Eve actually had free will? Of course, if every minute decision has to made for us by God in order for Him to be sovereign, I guess I know the answer to that.

    So what did it mean that they were created in the image of God?

  255. cherylu,

    Very good point about sovereignty. In Calvinism God can do whatever He desires, except create free moral agents and hold them accountable for the choices they make. That is one thing God is apparently not allowed to do. So, as you rightly observe, it is Calvinism that limits God’s sovereignty, not Arminianism.

    A.W. Tozer puts the matter very well:

    “God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

  256. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-14 at 6:21 pm

    C. Michael Patton:

    A Calvinist Understanding of Free Will.

    Read. Learn. Enjoy.

  257. BTW Father Robert, your outburst of anger at Arminian a bit earlier rang a little bit hollow with me. All you had to do was click on his name to see his blog site and know exactly who he was. On the other hand, all we get when we click on your name is a dead link. It is obvious to anyone since your names are both highlighted as links that you are both blog owners.

    I have long wondered about your web site and I did finally find it by doing a Google search. But I had to take the time to do it.

  258. Fr. Robert,

    It is too bad you have resort to such unnecessary rhetoric. It seems that when you get challenged on your assertions and someone brings up problems with your interpretation, you quickly resort to insults, questioning other’s motives, and grandstanding. It’s too bad you can’t just interact with the text and the objections to your interpretations without all of that.

    You began by saying that basically you had never heard an Arminain deal with John 17. But then when we do, you get all upset about it. I hate to say it, but in my experience, that is the Calvinist MO.

    Still, I will point out that you didn’t really answer Arminian’s point, nor mine, except to refer to other texts in John that you feel work against our interpretation. But we could easily do the same by appealing to passages like John 3:16, and many, many others. But you would probably get all excited about that if we did it. So why is it OK for you. Oh, and how about John 17:21? Unless I missed it, you never addressed that either. That verse explodes your whole theory about John 17.

    I would love to discuss it further, but if you are just going to go on and on about how you think I don’t have a sovereign God, and all such things, then there really isn’t any point in continuing this conversation. Too bad.

  259. Fr. Robert,

    Let me also point out that you have always seemed to have a real problem understanding what Arminianism believes and teaches. Long ago, you made reference to something called “The 15 Major Tenets of Arminianism” as if this was an official document by Arminian’s stating what they believe, when in actuality, it was a horrible misrepresentation of Arminianism from Nelson’s Dictionary of Christianity. Sadly, it seems you are still content to affirm those misrepresentations rather than deal honestly with what Arminianism really teaches.

  260. Fr. Robert writes,

    UGH! Use your real name mate! We should have known you we baiting Calvinism, and tolling for people!

    A lot of people prefer to remain basically anonymous in such discussions for various reasons. Why don’t you call out TUAD for his screen name?

    He is also not trolling. He simply provided a link to the SEA site when he logged in as Arminian. Patton’s site actually asks you to put a site that your name will link to to when you login. If that bothers you, you should take that up with Mr. Patton.

    You and others have also made reference to other sites, posts or articles, and you have referred people to your blog. So why is none of that trolling? It seems that there is quite a double standard behind much of what you have said in this thread on more than one issue.

  261. I have come to answer your Question Itrene.L ewis Molina,1541,was a Spanish Jesuit. He is the author of Scienta Media.This theory stated that God knows a special class of events future certain by infinite insight as to creatures acting,rather than knowing His purpose to effect them.Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Monk in the order of ST Dominic. He was mostly Augustanian,but with some Arminiansm thrown in.Jansenius was a bishop in the Netherlands and the Jansenists followed him. Pope Innocent,1653,sided with the Jesuits,and the Janesists sort of disappeared. But the conflict still continued between the Thomists,or Dominicans, and the Jesuits.The Church settled down and left the Dominicans alone as long as they claimed God willed the salvation of all men.Then they could move toward Augistine.Kind of like ask but don’t tell.Cheers.

  262. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Calvin’s doctrine of Evanescent Grace Institutes III.2.11

    “I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election;284 and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate.

  263. Fr Robert, some manuscripts and translations do say in that verse that the ones He guarded are the ones “given to Him.” And that included Judas.

    That might be the case, but I think I just meant to reference verse 9 with regard to “given” while the implications of that with regards to Judas are in verse 12. But as Arminian pointed out, the “given” isn’t even needed to make the point,

    Notice that Judas was part of “them” protected by the Son. “I have guarded them [which includes Judas], and not one of them [which includes Judas] has been lost except [the “except” here shows that those protected by the Son, “them”, included Judas; not one of them was lost except Judas] . . .” So Judas was protected by Jesus, but still fell because while Jesus will protect us from anything overpowering us and taking us away from him, he does not make us stay with him and will allow us to walk away.

  264. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that
    479
    the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy.285 In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.”

  265. cherylu,

    I see what you mean. I saw a comment of yours posted at my email (as an alert for responses on this thread), but that comment has still not appeared on this thread. If you like, I can post it for you. It was regarding Fr. Robert’s comments about Arminian being a troll, etc.

  266. Thanks AP. Actually, I decided to request deletion of that particular comment. (In the edit feature.) I didn’t realize it would show up in people’s e mail feeds before that could happen.

    So for any of you that got that comment, realize I thought better of it and asked that it be removed.

    But now that the convo has gone this far on the subject, I will restate some of what I said there:

    Fr. Robert, you could of seen who Arminian was if you had taken a few minutes to go to his blog. It is obvious that he is a blog owner since his name is a link. Just like it is obvious that you are a blog owner. But all we get when we click your name is a dead link. So we can’t “check you out” in the same way.

  267. cherylu,

    Sorry. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have mentioned it. I made the same basic point about his comments above (#289).

  268. Thought I would highlight a comment I made earlier that gets us back to the subject of this post before I turn in for the night:

    I just want to highlight that while this discussion has gotten off topic, it seems that no Calvinist here can offer any real assurance of salvation when their own doctrines of unconditional election and inevitable perseverance are taken into account. Like someone wisely said earlier, the basic answer seems to be, “Try not to think about it and live like an Arminian.”

    And this good comment from Arminian as well:

    if you believe that perseverance in faith is guaranteed for believers, and argue that the many who forsake their faith that is indistinguishable to themselves or others from true saving faith never really believed, then there is no way you could know your own faith is real and that you won’t fall away — I have never heard a Calvinist answer this point without basically having to admit that they cannot have substantial assurance. But usually they just ignore the point. I have also never heard anyone who believes that apostasy is impossible for genuine believers answer this. That’s because it is unanswerable for any who see apostasy from saving faith as impossible and think that perseverance in faith is guaranteed by God or necessary for final salvation.

    God Bless and goodnight.

  269. First, I had a busy day (in and out, up and down), and my blogs were no doubt quick! But, I am not going to apologize for the essence of what I have said, but I perhaps should have waited to express myself more suitably, with better time and thought. But as “Truth” has said, ‘the game is afoot’! And may biblical truth win the day, always! I am sure “Truth” is younger than I am, so Tally Ho mate, give ’em Hell, literally! 😉

    As concerns my blog, one has to work a bit to find it, since I am not really a computer guy at 63! I guess I must ask my youngest son for help. Both my sons were born in my 40’s (now they are young men), not bad for an old Irishman! God is good to me!

    And btw, the exegetical work by I think so-called “Arminian” on John 17: 12, was so bad, I just could not fully then express it! This is just one of the major problems with Arminian theology, i.e. their so-called approach to biblical exegesis. How we approach the Text is surely very important! (And aye, I am a presuppositionalist) And it is hard on the blogs to fully get to all of this! But, if I can, and CMP allows, I will do my own work on this Text. Which is most certainly Reformed and Calvinist!

    Rock on Reformed Divinity!

  270. Oh I see that was AP on # 291, awful exegesis! But I will work up my reply when I can, but be patient with an old man! I will get there, Lord willing. 😉

  271. Um, give ‘em Hell, literally! 😉??

    Think it is time for us all to bow out of this conversation–permanently.

  272. Isn’t it possible that good people disagree about these things because they are not as clear as they could be? And if so, doesn’t that translate into some sort of concession on all sides? In the end, I would think we could hold to our opinions, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and build in some gracious and honest uncertainty.

    Each side has some significant problems. The goal is not to have clever arguments, but to figure out what issues we are willing to live with.

  273. Fr. Robert,

    And btw, the exegetical work by I think so-called “Arminian” on John 17: 12, was so bad, I just could not fully then express it!

    This seems like pure rhetoric to me. To exegete a text means to allow the text to speak for itself, as the writer intended it. Arminian did exactly that. He showed how the consistent language throughout included Judas when he wrote,

    Notice that Judas was part of “them” protected by the Son. “I have guarded them [which includes Judas], and not one of them [which includes Judas] has been lost except [the “except” here shows that those protected by the Son, “them”, included Judas; not one of them was lost except Judas] . . .” So Judas was protected by Jesus, but still fell because while Jesus will protect us from anything overpowering us and taking us away from him, he does not make us stay with him and will allow us to walk away. This is why Scripture assures us the power of God will protect us by faith but wanrs us not to forsake faith.

    That is a very good case of exegesis. To exclude Judas here (as you must do), one has to really make a mess of the specific language being used by Jesus and the obvious implications of that language. In other words, one has to read it in a very unnatural way. That is the opposite of exegesis.

    With regards to vs. 21, Jesus makes it clear that the “world” is indeed a concern for Him, which is contrary to the whole point that Calvinists (like you) wish to make of this text.

    You need to also remember that you basically held this up as an irrefutable prooftext for Calvinism. That carries with it quite the burden of proof, but you haven’t even really interacted with the text yet. You have only made claims that those who have are guilty of really bad exegesis. I understand being busy. We probably all do. I look forward to when you can actually back up your assertions.

    So much for going to bed.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  274. Oh, now I see that you are accusing me of the “awful” exegesis. Can’t wait to see what you say next. I look forward to interacting with this. I think your view is in big trouble in John 17.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  275. @cheerylu: I was speaking somewhat in jest, and theologically! And yes, I am an old RMC, Royal Marine Commando, with the rough edges! Sorry if this upset you!

    Note I did write # 154! Did anyone listen?

  276. Greg writes,

    I would like to point out real quick that while I have rock solid personal assurance as a Calvinist that I could never have as an Arminian, the ability to provide such or not IS NOT the standard by whch a theological system stands or falls.

    But if the Bible gives grounds for assurance and a system cannot, then the system may very well need to fall.

    Now you may feel like you have a “rock solid” grounds for assurance, but it has been argued that your doctrine simply cannot provide that (though you could have it despite your doctrine). If you think that argument is not sound, please explain why. And please explain why an Arminian supposedly can never have such assurance as you seem to have. I think that is fair. (take your time)

    I definitely drank too much Dr. Pepper. Time to go to bed, for real.

  277. Fr Robert,

    Thanks for the apology.

  278. @cherylu: Long day on many levels! This is the least of my poor efforts! Many people are hurting, sick and even dying! And only the Sovereign Gospel of Jesus Christ can meet this need!

  279. Amen dear brother Greg, you have spoken well, and with great insight and wisdom! YOU get the last word tonight in my wee opinion!

    Off to the sheets, and my dearest-heart (Helpmate).

  280. Fr Robert,

    @cherylu: Long day on many levels! This is the least of my poor efforts! Many people are hurting, sick and even dying! And only the Sovereign Gospel of Jesus Christ can meet this need!

    No matter how much we may disagree on these issues we have been discussing, we can certainly agree that what those folks all need is the salvation Jesus offers. May they find Him!

    I would think that your work as hospital chaplain would be very exhausting in many ways. I can imagine you have a lot of long days.

  281. Sigh… And that comment had to come from an advocate of my own position.

    It is hard to believe how many of us swallow the camel of gracelessness while straining out the gnats of non-essential theological distinctions.

    When it comes to the Arminianism/Calvinist debate, I find that I would much rather hang out with those who are less passionate and concerned about the importance of these issues than someone, on either side, who believes dogmatically they are right and that this is a central issue worth dying for. There is brainwashing on both sides that fail to have a balanced epistemology and seem to have skipped prolegomena in favor of soteriology.

  282. This, I suppose, is why I am a Christian first, Protestant second, Evangelical third, and Calvinist fourth or fifth.

  283. Hey CMP,

    I was trying to say similar things to Father Robert and am right with you in seeking to have such discussions with grace and charity toward one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We should try not to call one another’s motives into question. None of us are perfect and we can genuinely be wrong about some doctrine or other even while trying to discern the truth from Scripture and seeking to submit ourselves to Scripture. So we don’t need to accuse each other of not honoring the word of God etc. because the other guy disagrees with our position and offers reasoning we find flawed. There may be a time and place for calling someone out in that way, but that does not seem to be the case here and it should be something we tend away from. We should give one another the benefit of the doubt as brothers in Christ that we are trying to rightly interpret the word and let it rule our beliefs.

    I say all this as someone who staunchly believes Arminian theology is true and biblical and that distinctive Calvinist theology is false and unbiblical. But I can see why Calvinists believe in Calvinism from the Bible and believe that most seek to submit themselves to God’s word even if in my opinion they are wrong about what the Bible teaches on soteriology. And I know that i could be wrong on any number of issues. I hope my Calvinist brothers can take the same stance toward us Arminians.

    May God bless you and lead us all in his truth.

  284. Amen Arminian,

    I have followed your stuff and do know that you are passionate yet charitable and humble.

  285. I will have to say that in general I agree with the nature of what Greg is aiming and seeking to get at, outside of the Wesley brothers, who were very Reformational and in spots were even somewhat Reformed or close to Calvin (Justification & Sanctification), Arminianism has become a glorious failure in my own Communion! It is more now than just a leaky boat, but apostasy itself has come to be almost central. And here I speak surely of the leadership! (Again to make my point here, even the great N.T. Wright is more of a “scientific intellectualist”, than a historical Biblicist. Again my thoughts anyway!) So to my mind anyway, this theological issue has huge ramifications, so if I get a bit over zealous.. it comes from watching my own Anglican Communion self-destruct in my life-time especially! And btw, some Baptist groups are on their way also, with the “emergents! So indeed Biblical and Historical Theology, i.e. the Reformational & Reformed are as Spurgeon said of the “downgrade” in his time, we are being hammered by the downgrade of the postmodernity of our time! But now it is both the church and culture that are aflame here (down in flames!)

    And CMP, para-church structures are also not exempt here, i.e. “postmodernity”!

    Btw, certainly “Calvinists” are also not exempt either, but their problems are generally more pharisaical, than doctrinally soteriological. But then hey, I am a neo-Calvinist, myself. 😉

  286. @cherylu: Yes, yesterday was a rough day as a hospital chaplain! It is not always the amount, but the nature of the suffering I see! But I must always recall my God is the worker, and not really me (I am just dust myself, but somehow HIS dust & spirit!)

    Thank you to give me some understanding and graciousness here, we pastors need it too! 🙂

  287. With my time element, I have brought with me my copy of B.F. Westcott’s Commentary on John…’The Gospel According To St. John, (1881). Of course Westcott was something of an Evangelical Anglican, though the scholar type always. But not really a full-blown Calvinist certainly!

    Btw, if any of my “Arminian” brethren have a copy, check out John 17: 12 here…(noting too verse 11)… this verse would exclude Judas also! From verse 12, “in they name: those that thou gavest me I have kept…] in thy name ‘that thou hast given me; and I guarded them. . . as in v. 11.
    But…} The excepting phrase (in the Greek) does not necessarily imply that Judas is reckoned among those whom the Lord “guarded.” The exception may refer simply to the statement “not one perished.” Comp. Matt. 12: 4 ; Luke 4: 26, 27 ; Gal. 1: 19, 2: 16; Rev. 21: 27. Contrast 17: 9.”

    More later…!

  288. From Strong’s theology:
    “What God does He has eternally purposed to do.Since He bestows special regenerating grace on some,he must have eternally purposed to bestow it-In other words, he must have chosen them to eternal life”.Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern what the non bestowal of regenerating grace does for the rest.

  289. Fr. Robert,

    Arminianism has become a glorious failure in my own Communion! It is more now than just a leaky boat, but apostasy itself has come to be almost central. And here I speak surely of the leadership! (Again to make my point here, even the great N.T. Wright is more of a “scientific intellectualist”, than a historical Biblicist. Again my thoughts anyway!)

    Could you elaborate on this? What is it about Arminianism exactly that has caused such problems specifically in your “Communion”? I ask this, because as I mentioned earlier, you seem to have very inaccurate and unbalanced view of what Arminianism entails. I would also really like to know what it is in Arminianism that leads to apostasy, failure, etc. Suffice it to say that my experience has been much different than yours.

    And if I may be so bold, doesn’t your theology say that God decreed all of this anyway? Why then should you be upset about it? Are you trying to fight against God and His irresistible decree? But then your anger is also decreed. Here is just one post that illustrates the problem, from my perspective, with such indignation from Calvinists.

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/how-can-gods-glory-be-diminished-in-calvinism/

  290. Btw, just looking on-line too, at the NICNT of The Gospel of John, by J. Ramsey Michaels on John 17, especially verses 1 thru 3, and verses 11 and 12. I was very close, if not right on the money! Check it out!

    “The shared responsibility to “dwell” or “remain” in the Father and the Son (see 14: 20 ; 15: 4,7). Jesus concludes that he has done so successfully because “none of them is lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” In short, he announces that the intention stated in 3: 16, 6: 39, and 10: 28 has been realized. That is, none of those who believe in Jesus – his “sheep,” according to 10: 27-28 – are “lost.” As we have seen, there is a grim finality in this Gospel to being “lost” which is not present in other Gospels or the letters of Paul.” (page 869)

    And the footnote on the same page: “Judas too is an Antichrist figure, probably in much the same sense as the heretics in 1 and 2 John (see 1 Jn 2: 18, 22; 4:3 ; 2 Jn 7).”

    Btw, I am not sure what Michael’s ecclesiology is? Though he is the professor emeritus of religious studies at Missouri State University and adjunct professor of NT at Bangor Theological Seminary. And I believe he is older than I am, which is always nice for myself! 😉

  291. @AP: If you knew and understood where the English Reformation came from with the Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – the first Anglican martyr, btw. And (The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles) with the Anglican Articles 1615, unto the so-called Caroline Divines, the first so-called exponents of the High Church principles (during the reigns of Charles 1 (1625-49) and Charles II (1660-85), certainly Arminian! From here we get later mere Deists, rationalists and just latitudinarianism, and then finally the move to the Oxford Movement and the so-called Catholic Revival (Anglo-Catholicism). And in the 19 century, we get the Anglican Broad or Liberal Church. And now we have just a mix of postmodernity, the child of modernity and “deconstruction”! – And btw, Christian theology, especially the academy in places today has quite swallowed lots of both modernity & postmodernity!

    I am not even going to try to answer your ad hoc about Calvinism! As I see that I am on the “moderation” list again!

  292. Fr. Robert,

    No offense, but that didn’t answer my question at all. Here it is again for reference,

    “What is it about Arminianism exactly that has caused such problems specifically in your “Communion”?”

    Thanks.

  293. @AP: Well again, with two posts still hanging, I will let them appear first!

    Off to my lunch…

  294. Fr. Robert (comment 326),

    The Michaels quote simply does not attend to the details of the text I pointed out. He is a Calvinist btw! Quoting him as taking a Calvinist view of the text is not worth very much when he doesn’t really give any evidence that addresses the specifics we are actually talking about (for example, his use of John 10:27-28 assumes a Calvinist interpretation of that passage; Judas as an antichrist figure does not mean he could not have been saved and then lost, becoming an antichrist figure). That is not to criticize Michaels. He was not necessarily purposing to present those things as evidence in this type of debate. It is just that your citation of him as a Calvinist scholar supporting your Calvinist reading is not too compelling. I will reply to your comment 323 in another post.

  295. Fr. Robert (comment 323),

    As for your finally addressing details of John 17:12, the statement you provide (is that yours or Westcott?) that the excepting phrase (in the Greek) does not necessarily imply that Judas is reckoned among those whom the Lord “guarded.” But it in such cases, the sense of the phrase is “but” (see Bauer’s lexicon) and there is actually what is called in grammar an ellipsis, something left out of the sentence that is so obvious as to be assumed. Let’s take one of the cited examples of the Greek phrase that can attach to what follows. Rev 21:27 – “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (NASB). Here as in the other examples (with adjustment to their particulars), it is utterly clear on the face of it that those who are wicked and those who are saved are utterly distinct, and there is an assumed phrase missing at the end: “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life [shall come into it]”. So for John 17:12, you are essentially suggesting we read it this way: “I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost, *but* [rather than “except”] the son of destruction has been lost.” That is possible, but John 17:12 does not have the same character as the cited examples, in which the ellipsis and utter distinction between the 2 groups under consideration are obvious. Indeed, in John, Judas was one of the 12 disciples/apostles and was with them. So the most natural way to read the text is how virtually all translations translate it: “I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction”, implying that Judas was indeed among those guarded. So while possible, your suggestion is not the most natural reading of the Greek. It certainly does not make for a strong Calvinist proof text…

  296. @Arminian: This, was simply a quote from B.F. Westcott’s book on John, and chapter 17: 12! It is interesting watching you try to find a way out or around of this most obvious textual reality here! You will have to take this up with Bishop Westcott, at least from here. Note again from the same Gospel of John 6: 70-71! Surely here John 6: 70, “Did I myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil.” Judas was NEVER regenerate! (spiritually reborn)

  297. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-15 at 5:57 pm

    Fr. Robert: “Judas was NEVER regenerate! (spiritually reborn)”

    Isn’t this common knowledge?

    Do arminians claim that Judas was regenerate? Arminian, arminianperspectives, cherylu, irene, don, do all of you believe Judas was regenerate at one time?

    On a side note, was Judas baptized?

  298. Again, “A”, quickly jumping on the Calvinist mind of Michaels, as to his Book on the Gospel of John (NICNT), is certainly quite unfair! Have you read the whole Commentary? Somehow I bet not! Michaels stands on his own as an scripture scholar and exegete! Btw, his older Word Commentary on 1 Peter is still quite good! And he does not express mere “Calvinism”, ever!

  299. “For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Mk. 14: 21) Just an amazing statement, again “as it is written of Him”! See too Matt. 26: 24.

    Indeed Jesus could never say such for a man that was once “His”, by regeneration and new birth! Note Matt. 7: 23, “I never knew you..”

  300. @”Truth”: A great question! It appears there is no explicit answer! But he perhaps was baptized in John’s Baptism, though we don’t know for sure? (See however, Acts 1: 22) And yet he was “one of the twelve”! (Yet note too, verses 1: 17-18-19-20-25)…yet, “from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” (Verse 25) Indeed Holy Scripture affirms his predetermined “place” (see verses -Acts 1: 16-17-18-19-20-25).

  301. Was Judas regenerate? The Bible simply does not say, but there is plenty of evidence that he was saved, and nothing that says he never was. None of the passages that have been cited here indicate that there was never a time, prior to his defection and betrayal, that he was saved. Indeed, one of the passages you quote says that he “turned aside.” From what? Likewise, Luke 6:16 says that he “became a traitor.”

    However, Judas was not only an apostle but was called a “disciple” of Jesus (Matthew 10:1). Jesus hand picked Judas and the other 11 disciples (designating them apostles, Luke 6:13-16) due to their commitment to Him. So the Bible calls Judas a disciple. That is not a formal title in Scripture, but a description of behavior and commitment. See how the Bible (and Jesus) defines what it means to be a disciple in passages like Luke 14:26, 27; 14:33; Matt. 12:49, 50. According to those definitions of what it means to be a disciple and the Bible’s plain description of Judas as a disciple, it would be very hard to conclude that Judas was not saved at some point.

    Furthermore, in Matt. 10 Judas is included in all Christ says there to his disciples and is given the same authority and power as the others and sent out by Christ to preach His gospel as Christ’s representative. Not only that, but in Matt. 26:50, quoting Psalms 41, Jesus refers to Judas as one who had been His “close friend.”

    So yeah, one can easily make the case that Judas was saved at one point, since he was called a disciple of Christ and no passage says that he was never, at any time, saved. All of that supports the way we have understood vs. 12.

    However, while we have dwelt on this point for awhile now, it was really an aside to the verse I most wanted to highlight in my initial comment about John 17, which is verse 21. Fr. Robert hasn’t even touched that verse yet, even though I said that it explodes his whole theory on the implications of John 17 in support of Calvinism

  302. @AP: Wow, your piece is simply hard to believe! And I am not being mean, but theological and biblical. And “mathetes” Gk. for “disciple” was simply a learner, pupil and follower. See btw, John 6: 60-61 ; 64-65 and 66! Indeed these texts of John 6 just destroy Arminian doctrine!There is really nothing here to indicate that Judas was not in some sense a follower of Christ (as the other so-called disciples in John 6, that turned back and followed no more), but Judas “regenerate” (spiritually reborn)? NEVER! Not with texts like John 6: 70 and John 17: 11 & 12!

    I am not sure of your point of John 17: 21 somehow being anti-Calvinist? WE too believe in the Mystical Body of Christ NOW, and the Oneness of that Body in the Glory!

  303. I am back on “moderation” here it seems, strange? But I have written you AP!

  304. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-15 at 11:23 pm

    Striving for clarity whilst engaging in a disagreement, and achieving some semblance of it is a worthwhile endeavor.

    Hence, I’m both thankful and pleased that one point of stark point of demarcation between Reform Christians and Arminians is Judas.

    Reform Christian: “Judas was never regenerate!”

    Arminian Perspective: “There is plenty of evidence that he was saved, and nothing that says he never was. … So yeah, one can easily make the case that Judas was saved at one point, since he was called a disciple of Christ and no passage says that he was never, at any time, saved.”

  305. Fr. Robert (comment 333),

    It is amazing that when you are given detailed textual/grammatical arguments you simply brush them aside by baselessly asserting that I am trying to find a way out or around obvious reality. You did this earlier until you found the Westcott quote, which gave you something of substance to respond with. But then I analyzed Westcott’s argument and you reply with the same type of non-answer. The fact that Westcott had to address my interpretation shows it is not outlandish as you were trying to paint it. And then look at what Westcott actually says. He says that the text does not *necessarily* need to be taken as I take it. But you treat that as if his interpretation is so obvious when Westcott is trying to explain why he thinks the more natural reading of the grammar (mine) is not necessary. I gave a response to Westcott’s argument and believe it shows his argument to be unsuccessful. As John Wesley commented on the text: “Those whom thou hast given me I have guarded, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition – So one even of them whom God had given him is lost. So far was even that decree from being unchangeable! ”

    You mention John 6: 70 again (“Did I myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil.”), but I already addressed that verse in comment 261 above. Let me add to what I said there: does Jesus calling Peter Satan mean that Peter had not been saved prior to that point (Mark 8:33)?

  306. TUAD (comment 342),

    It is not The Arminian position that Judas was saved and fell away. It happens to be my position (though I hold it loosely and am quiter opne to him not having ever been saved) and apparently those of some others in this thread.

    Now notice I keep speaking of whether he was saved, not regenerate. That’s because regeneration is a New Covenant / post-cross phenomenon. No Old Testament believer was regenerate. They had the Spirit with them but not in them as John’s Gospel reveals. It is a controversial question, and it seems like it would take us even more off topic to get into it. But I figured I should mention it since the idea of Judas as regenerate or not keeps appearing in Calvinist posts in this thread.

    Fr. Robert (comment 336),

    You’re just throwing out Scriptures that do not prove your point. Prophecy does not mean what is prophesied is proactively decreed by God, as if he irresistibly caused Judas to be wicked and commit such heinous acts of betrayal. And mentioning Matthew 7:23 does not support your point about Judas. The fact that some who claim to follow Christ never knew him does not mean that everyone that falls away never knew him. Indeed, the people in Matthew 7:23 never particularly fall away. they appear to go to their grave professing Christ. That’s far different from Judas. And their false profession can be known by their evil deeds.

    Arminians can easily admit various scenarios when it comes to reality of faith and apostasy, which is much more realistic. Calvinists are locked into only one type of view of those who forsake their faith in Jesus, that they were never truly saved (which, as I have pointed out, logically undercuts assurance). Arminians realize that some who leave God’s people never were truly a part, others were, but forsake true faith, while others go on professing Christ but never having known him or been known by him, etc. Mt 7:23 refers to people who never were true believers, something…

  307. Greg (comments 345 and 346),

    The Spirit working in prophets and even kings in the Old Covenant is different than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant.

    Jesus to the apostles: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

    “By this he meant the Spirit,a whom those who believed in him were later to receive.b Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:39)

    As for that sentence that you clarified, it is quite telling. I would say instead that we should let the Bible determine our doctrine of God and our doctrine of man. Let the Bible rule our doctrine not the other way around. We should submit ourselves entirely to the word of God.

  308. Greg,

    The trouble is, the definitions of love and justice have to be rewritten in order for them to have any meaning in the Calvinist understanding of things.

    You maybe do okay with love by stating that God does not love the reprobate. But there is no human understanding or definition of justice at all that would say it is all right to create billions of people for the purpose of sending them to hell. (And remember, you are the one that keeps insisting that all of our knowledge is based in God. So surely then our concepts of love and justice must have some at least some correspondence with reality!)

    The Calvinists like Michael Patton that believes God loves everyone, even the reprobate, have a problem too. I have heard it said by at least some of them that God loves people in different ways. He loves the reprobate in providing for him on this earth. The trouble with that idea is that in the way that it really counts–eternal destiny–God still doesn’t love the reprobate. Strange sense of love that is IMO.

  309. @Arminian: Sorry mate, you have yet to give any “detailed textual/grammatical arguments”! Your just playing games here, but “games” are about all most so-called Arminian’s have when they actually try to give epistemological answers! And I don’t have the time to bite down here! And the great John Wesley was too simply wrong here, as his own Anglican Article XVII ‘Of Predestination and Election’ testifies! (against him) And I love John Wesley btw (as too Charles!)…they were Evangelical Anglicans, even with their Arminian errors!

    Indeed as “Truth” shows, the issue of Judas Iscariot is a fault-line between Calvinism and Arminianism theologically! To put it simply, Judas so-called faith of Jesus as the Messiah always wavered, it was simply never there, or real in saving faith & belief! And btw Judas was the only “Judaean” disciple! (And too btw, that’s why Reformed theology uses the biblical term of “regeneration” – Titus 3: 5 / Matt. 19: 28. There is both individual and creational renewal biblically – as we note in these two Texts)! And in my opinion, Judas always held Zealot tendencies, this appears to be the only natural way to explain his unbelief! Besides too being he was a thief, as the treasurer of the group, (John 12: 6 ; 13: 29).

  310. Btw, was GOD still “love” when He told King David to go down and kill the Philistines…man, woman and child? See too Ezek. 8 and 9, especially chapter 9: 1-11, there God’s seven angels carries out the execution of the unfaithful idolaters in Jerusalem at God’s command! Thankfully one angel is given the job of protecting the faithful! Indeed God always has His chosen people!

  311. Btw, lets read our Bibles, rather than use just our human logic! 🙂

  312. Fr. Robert writes,

    @AP: Wow, your piece is simply hard to believe! And I am not being mean, but theological and biblical.

    I wouldn’t think you are being mean, just using over the top rhetoric to distract form the lack of substance in your responses, which has seemed to become a pattern with you, unfortunately.

    And “mathetes” Gk. for “disciple” was simply a learner, pupil and follower. See btw, John 6: 60-61 ; 64-65 and 66! Indeed these texts of John 6 just destroy Arminian doctrine!

    Speaking of John 6, how about John 6:33, and 6:51? I guess I should just say that those passages “destroy Calvinist Doctrine!”

    The Scriptures you mention in John 6 do nothing to discount the possibility of Judas being saved or his being described as a disciple (and a special one at that, appointed to the apostolate by Christ Himself). The only way that they can be used in such a way is to assume that anyone who falls away or does not continue to follow was never a true believer or true follower. That is something you must do, since your doctrinal system demands it, and that is why you must read these passages this way. But I don’t need to do that since I take seriously the possibility of apostasy from true saving faith in accordance with the numerous warning passages and examples of true believers falling away.

    This is not a hill I need to die on, as Arminian also mentioned. Arminians can just as easily hold that Judas was never saved. But we don’t need to, so we don’t need to filter the evidence that he was saved through a Calvinist matrix. It is only when one reads Calvinism into all these passages that you quote, that one can see these passages as somehow definitive. But since we don’t need to do that, we can simply point out that these passages in no way demand that Judas or any other disciple who eventually fell away, never had any genuine prior commitment to Christ.

  313. Fr. Robert writes,

    There is really nothing here to indicate that Judas was not in some sense a follower of Christ (as the other so-called disciples in John 6, that turned back and followed no more), but Judas “regenerate” (spiritually reborn)? NEVER! Not with texts like John 6: 70 and John 17: 11 & 12!

    Again, this is question begging, especially in your reference of verse 12, which is the main verse in dispute about Judas.

    I am not sure of your point of John 17: 21 somehow being anti-Calvinist? WE too believe in the Mystical Body of Christ NOW, and the Oneness of that Body in the Glory!

    Not sure why you are struggling so much with verse 21. Let me highlight the problem for you:

    “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

    Hope that helps.

    To put it simply, Judas so-called faith of Jesus as the Messiah always wavered, it was simply never there, or real in saving faith & belief!

    And this highlights again the problem with assurance in Calvinism. One can never be sure that his present faith is not just a “so-called faith” in contrast with a “real…saving faith and belief.”

    God Bless,
    Ben

  314. Greg,

    Do you realize that you sound very much like a hyper -Calvinist? You have said that Calvinism is the same thing as the gospel, which would imply that unless one believes in Calvinism, one does not believe the gospel. The obvious implication is that non-Calvinists cannot be saved.

    Further, you call the Arminian God a “myth” and refer to our conception of God with a little “g”. I am honestly quite surprise that Mr. Patton’s moderators have allowed these types of comment here from you.

    It saddens me that so very often, when Calvinists are challenged by Arminians or non-Calvinists about their interpretation of Scripture, those Calvinist can’t seem to stick to the disagreement over interpretation. Instead it degenerates into this sort of stuff that we are seeing from you (especially) and Fr. Robert (to a lesser degree). Such things make for a very frustrating discussion.

    Now I assume that you do not believe that Arminians are unsaved based on your story about your friend, but your rhetoric and choice of words about Arminians do not seem comport with that at all.

  315. Greg writes,

    The definitions of love and justice HAVE been rewritten. By the serpent in the garden when he convinced our parents that they should exercise their freewill and make up their own minds about what tree was good for what.

    Comments like this are completely incompatible with the underlying Calvinist assumptions regarding exhaustive determinism and the basis of foreknowledge (being God’s decree). Even in trying to refute Arminianism, Calvinists can’t help but to talk like Arminians.

  316. Fr Rob (comment 350)

    You continue to brush aside my arguments without actually engaging them. You realize that just denying them without any stated support doesn’t commend your viewpoint, right? Neither does accusing those who hold a different viewpoint of playing games help discussion. And it certainly does not validly substitute for an actual argument or actually engaging with what I said.

    I though that you were reforming your insulting style of discussion after CMP called for some better discussion practice. So I thought we would be discussing without the insulting rhetoric. That sort of rhetoric is what led me to suggest that we stop discussion earlier, but then, as I said, I thought you were trying to be more charitable. So let’s stop our discussion, since the disparaging remarks keep coming from you.

    BTW, it is odd that you say that “the issue of Judas Iscariot is a fault-line between Calvinism and Arminianism theologically”. I already stated that my position is not necessarily representative of the Arminian position. I don’t believe there to be a specific Arminian position on Judas having been saved at one point. Any number of Arminians might think he never was saved. As I said, I am quite open to that in Judas’ case. I just think the balance of the evidence favors him having been saved (the most natural reading of John 17:12 demands this, though the case is left open because the reading you suggest is possible). The notice of his being a thief is one of the stronger points against him ever having been a believer in my mind. But the text does not tell us when he began stealing (perhaps he had been a believer and his stealing came with his turning from his faith) or the full details of how that all went with him.

    I just want to emphasize that the case of Judas is not a big deal at all, since so much discussion has focused on it. It was kind of a rabbit trail. The issue does not change the fact that Scripture teaches apostasy is possible.

  317. Btw, lets read our Bibles, rather than use just our human logic!

    A very good example of that over the top rhetoric I was speaking of above.

  318. YOU have started with YOU and YOUR definitions before a bible was ever known to you and then proceeded to create God in YOUR own image.

    Another good example of way over the top rhetoric and yet another implication that non-Calvinists (like cherylu) are not saved.

  319. Fr Robert,

    No one at all here is “just using our human logic!”

    And to both Greg and Fr Robert:

    Surely God did give us our mind/logic for a reason? Surely when something seems as totally contradictory as Calvinism often does, we ought to be able to ask questions such as, “Why?” and “‘Are you really sure you are understanding all of that correctly?”

    And Greg, very frankly, all of those instances that you gave from the OT are in another category completely then deliberately creating billions of people for the purpose of sending them to hell. Or even loving them enough to provide for them on this earth but not loving them enough to provide them with any eternal hope.

    One must truly wonder why God tells us what a horrible place hell is, tells us He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked who are surely going there if they are not saved/regenerated first, tells us to do everything possible to keep from going there including cutting off our hands and plucking out our eyes, etc, if He has created them for just such a purpose or if He has just decided to “pass over them” in the scheme of salvation. His statements become utter nonsense for the reprobate.

    Surely logic should not be just ignored here when we try to understand what the Scripture says. There is so much contradiction in the Calvinist’s understanding of issues that it simply boggles the mind.

  320. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-16 at 1:11 pm

    ArminianPerspectives: “A very good example of that over the top rhetoric I was speaking of above.”

    Head shaking, eyes rolling. So ridiculous. There’s over the top rhetoric employed by the Calvinist bashers on this thread.

    Calvinists believe in “love covers a multitude of offenses” which is why Calvinists frequently don’t complain about the insulting rhetoric employed by Calvinist bashers.

    FYI, your complaint + the repetitive refrain of a gooey, media-influenced, modern understanding of man-centered “love” conveys the distinctly unpleasant aroma of unthinking emotionalism as being the foundation of arminianism.

    I firmly reject the doctrine of arminianism. But I welcome sovereignly elect Arminans as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  321. Now I’m really curious (honestly)–according to Calvinism, in what way are we made in the image of God? If we don’t exercise free wills, and our reason cannot be made to learn truth….it kind of sounds like we are made to be God’s little pets, instead of his children.
    If not reason, and not free will, then what? I’ve also been taught that we are made in the image of God because we have an innate desire for beauty, truth, and love, but that too would seem to be excluded from Calvinism because us desiring anything good like that would contradict the doctrine of total depravity. Thoughts?

  322. FYI, your complaint + the repetitive refrain of a gooey, media-influenced, modern understanding of man-centered “love” conveys the distinctly unpleasant aroma of unthinking emotionalism as being the foundation of arminianism.

    Good stuff TUAD. You couldn’t have made my point any better.

    I firmly reject the doctrine of arminianism. But I welcome sovereignly elect Arminans as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Well, it’s not like you have any choice in the matter, right?

  323. @cherylu: YOU missed my “just” before logic! And I noted you said nothing to the scripture texts, nor my question about King David?

    Indeed btw, Reformed Divinity is very profound! And much more so than any Arminian theology, which btw I reject, as “Truth” has said so well & importantly!

  324. Greg writes,

    To NOT use it is sin. To use it autonomously on our own without surrendering it to it’s source and master first is also sin.

    Again, wholly incompatible with the fundamental underlying Calvinist assumption of exhaustive
    determinism.

  325. Sir, at the risk of furthering your view that I am an insufferably arrogant and deluded dogmatist, I must tell you that you underestimate my humble ability to defend the above at your own peril.

    That reminds me of when I won a contest for the most humble person in my church. I got a nice big pin that stated I was the winner. Unfortunately, they took it away when I started wearing it.

    This is all the fun I have time for right now as I need to go to work. Hopefully, I can join in again later tonight.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  326. @”A”: Yes, we were talking about “Judas”, and not fully or strictly “apostasy”! So now you want to change the said subject? I guess we can agree then on the “apostate” Judas? though he was never really a Christian, I will constantly maintain this!

    So not really much else to say!

  327. Fr. Robert writes,

    So not really much else to say!

    How about John 17:21???

    Tally Ho! (or whatever).

  328. Fr Robert,

    Me, No one at all here is “just using our human logic!”

    You, YOU missed my “just” before logic!

    Me, Huh? Did you read what I said??

    And again:

    You, And I noted you said nothing to the scripture texts, nor my question about King David?

    Me to Greg and it should of also been to you: And Greg, very frankly, all of those instances that you gave from the OT are in another category completely then deliberately creating billions of people for the purpose of sending them to hell. Or even loving them enough to provide for them on this earth but not loving them enough to provide them with any eternal hope.

    And Greg, how on earth are you going to refuse to die? 🙂

  329. @AO: I guess YOU missed what I said there yesterday, as to this text of John 17: 21, for us Reformed?

    @Irene: Sorry I wish I had time to engage the question of our human and sinful anthropology, but let me suggest you read Michael Horton’s book: The Christian Faith, A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way! A big book, but well worth the read, if you really want to know what the Reformed Faith & Divinity’s believes, and this will cover Christian anthropology. 🙂

  330. Greg @ 367,

    I believe you totally missed AP’s point. It had to do with divine determinism. How exactly can a Calvinist that believes that all things are decreed by God turn around and say that anyone can do anything autonomously?

  331. Thanks for the book rec. Fr Robert.

    Well, obviously no one’s going to change his mind, (if that’s even possible(; ), and I don’t think Mr Doubting Calvinist feels any better.

    Speaking for myself, though, this thread has helped me zero in in some key differences between Calvinism and Arminianism and/or Catholicism.
    –man in the image of God
    –what God’s love is, and what it can accomplish. [Is God’s love separate from his sovereignty, so that the objects of his love remain untouched by his love? Doesn’t Calvinism make God’s love impotent? Catholics believe love is always life-giving. Oriented outward toward the good of others rather than the glory of self. This is seen in the Trinity: the Father and the Son, from eternity, share a love so powerful that from them proceeds the Holy Spirit, who IS the love between the two. The Spirit then gives life to Christians. Free willed Christians who desire to participate in this love of the Trinity. Because coerced love is no love.
    This love of the Trinity is reflected by humanity in the love of the family. Husband and wife voluntarily come together in love. Rape is not love, and coerced love is not love. Their love is so powerful, that another person is created! Catholics, btw, take this “love is life giving” very seriously, you see. Love never renders itself impotent!
    But what exactly is God’s love in Calvinism, if you say he does love the reprobate, and does it have any power or effect? Is it life giving? Or, is God being Love compatible with God not loving whom he has made?

    I’m not expecting anyone to answer here as this thread seems to be winding up, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for assertions related to this.

  332. Greg,

    The thing is, you didn’t say he he attempted to use it autonomously, you said he did. To use it autonomously on our own….. And then in the next breath you say that is not possible.

  333. Well, maybe you didn’t really say what you meant in your original comment. Or maybe you said it in such a way that the rest of us didn’t know what you meant :). Whatever the case may be, it certainly came across as a contradiction.

  334. Greg,

    So let me see if I understand what you are saying correctly here.

    It goes like this. If God in eternity past, before the creation of anything didn’t decree that I right at this moment would be sitting here and typing this comment to you, if He didn’t decree the typo I just made and corrected, if He didn’t decree the exact wording of this comment, how long it would take me to type it, if I would get interrupted in the process, etc, etc, etc and if this decree wasn’t made in such a way that it was totally impossible for me to do anything else at the moment……if all of those things are not true, then there is not absolute truth in the world?

  335. Can God make an Arminian do something,he does not want to do. Can God keep an Arminain from doing something he wants to do?Do people who have never heard of Jesus get a free ride to heaven. You can’t be guilty of unbelief for something you have no knowledge of. If Jesus died for all of one’s sins,then did he die for the sin of unbelief?.Since God does not determine the future then is there a future?If there is,are the events in the future fixed and certain?If God knows Irene is going to on July 21,2016,become a Calvinist canIrene keep that from happening? Must she become a Calvinist? Does God,man,or nothing control the future?Can men keep the Great Tribulation from coming? Do the Scripture teach that before He is born the Anti-Christ must go to hell.Can He choose otherwise? If not ,is this Predestination to hell. If not,what would be.

  336. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-16 at 8:09 pm

    Jay: “Can God make an Arminian do something, he does not want to do?

    Wouldn’t that be a blatant violation of the Prime Directive?

    Prime Directive: “God must not intervene or override the Free Will, the Libertarian Free Will, of those whom He created in His image; otherwise the attribute of Divine Love from which Libertarian Free Will is part and parcel of, is irreparably tarnished.

  337. Prime Directive: “God must not intervene or override the Free Will, the Libertarian Free Will, of those whom He created in His image; otherwise the attribute of Divine Love from which Libertarian Free Will is part and parcel of, is irreparably tarnished.

    Funny, I know nothing of that “prime directive” and I am an Arminian. Nor do I agree with it. Nor do I know any Arminians that would agree with it (though maybe some non-Calvinists would).

    Regardless, it is easily reversible in that the “prime directive” of Calvinism is exhaustive determinism, and nothing, not even God’s sovereign right to create free moral agents and hold them accountable for their actions, can violate that “prime directive.”

  338. Fr. Robert writes,

    @AO: I guess YOU missed what I said there yesterday, as to this text of John 17: 21, for us Reformed?

    I looked over some of the earlier comments (e.g. #199, #236) and realize that I misunderstood your initial point about John 17. The first comment I saw was Don explaining to you the scope of Christ’s prayer, first for the apostles, then for all believers, etc. The point I was making was that the scope is widened even larger to the “world” in verses 21 and 23. I mentioned Judas as an aside, not even realizing that Judas was the main point of your reference to John 17.

    In reading Don’s response to you, I thought he was responding to the typical Calvinist use of John 17 (following John Owen) to support limited atonement in saying that Christ prays only for those “given” Him and not for the world. That is why I directed you to verse 21, which explodes that theory. But I now realize that was not the reason you referenced John 17. My misunderstanding was apparently based on Don’s misunderstanding.

    So if that was not your intention in referring to John 17, then there is no need to go any further on the matter. But for any who would use John 17 that way, verses 21 and 23 render that interp. impossible.

  339. Greg writes,

    Attempted autonomy IS sin.

    This is just as incompatible with exhaustive determinism as your other statements. Try as you may, you just can’t seem to talk like a consistent Calvinist.

    Don’t you see? Libertarian human autonomy is impossible without positing a contingent God and then we have a God who is literally as uncertain as His own finite AND sinful creation. The basis for absolutely everything is gone. If not even God is certain then let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. NOTHING is any more or less true than anything else. This is called ATHEISTIC SKEPTICISM. The logical conclusion of Arminianism.

    So you prefer wild leaps in logic (see above) to logic?

  340. @Irene: The “imago dei” is surely something that Calvin and right Calvinism quite believes! Btw, here is a quote from Horton’s book:

    “Stanley Grenz goes so far as to represent Calvin’s insights as “the birth of the relational imago.” He cites Paul Ramsey in this in this regard: “The image of God, according to this view, consists of man’s “position” before God, or, rather, the, the image of God is reflected in man because of his position before him.” We should not overstate Calvin’s innovation. Like his contemporaries – and forbears, ancient and medieval – he could still use standard Platonic phrases (such as the body as “the prisonhouse”), but these habits of speech run counter to his principal arguments. Grenz correctly suggests that Calvin, even more than Luther, stands out as the Reformer who gave “greater attention to the “imago dei” than any great theologian since Augustine,” and Douglas Hall, in turn, cites Calvin as more than Luther for the emergence of the relational understanding of the “imago dei.” Grenz also points to Calvin’s more eschatological (future-anticipatory) approach. Inevitably, this shift from locating the image of God in a part or faculty (i.e. spirit or intellect) to the covenant and commission given to humanity by God marked a significant transition in anthropology from what humans are in their inner essence to their identity before God as responsible creatures in history.

    The Reformed scholastics appealed also to the classical (Aristotelian) identification of humanity as a sort of “microkosmos”, displaying in a signal manner God’s external works. With rabbinical Judaism, these theologians pointed out the close connection between the temple and human beings as a microcosm of God’s holy dwelling. God’s likeness in humanity, according to Peter van Mastricht, is “that conformity of man whereby in his own way (i.e., as a creature) he reproduces the highest perfection of God.” It is therefore ethical rather…

  341. For Calvin, the fall has not eradicated our “sense” of God or any of our natural faculties, but it has twisted our whole personality into a parody of its created goodness. Man is not free, but still yet responsible before God, but ‘In Christ’, we here alone can see Christ Himself, “the primary and true image of God.” (Calvin) But only by regenerate (sovereign spiritual rebirth) in grace! “Many are called, but few are chosen”! (Matt. 22: 14) We are left to God’s call and choice! But in ourselves we know it not, nor care! Sin, still is before even modern to postmodern man!

  342. It is God’s will that I have a free will. Are you going to tell him He can’t do that or the universe will fall apart?

  343. Greg
    It is interesting to know that Free Will only is in the Bible,talking about Free Will offerings. Never do you see God saying men have a Free Will to make spiritual choices.He states they do not.Arminians think that because they do what they want,they can also do what they should.No unregenerate can do that.Actually,even doing what we want is qualified. Paul wanted and tried to go into Bithynia but was prevented to do so by God.The main problem with Libertarian freedom is that whatever choice is made is not action or choice specific.The Free Willers say that everything being the same,the choice could be different. It never occurs that the reasons for the choice must also be the same. So if one buys a newspaper,whatevey reason He had would be the same reason for not shoosing the paper. Arninianism is inherently irrational.

  344. A couple of typo errors.Choosing,not shoosing.

  345. Greg says,
    “Hear the Westminster Assembly yet again…”

    Just fallible men. I’ll stick to the plain words of Scripture. (Right??)

    Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
    Heb 3:15

    It was he who created man in the beginning, and he left him in the power of his own inclination.
    Sir 15:14

  346. so-called Prime Directive: “God must not intervene or override the Free Will, the Libertarian Free Will, of those whom He created in His image; otherwise the attribute of Divine Love from which Libertarian Free Will is part and parcel of, is irreparably tarnished.”

    Saying God “must not” is a misunderstanding. God CHOSE, that when he created man, he would GIVE man free will. So free will is not the power or right to OVERRIDE God, it is a gift that God FREELY gave.

    Hear the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from # 306. (Borrowing my style from Greg, there)
    God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and this of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan.

    Btw, fwiw, the catechism was prepared over six years, the intense work of cardinals, bishops, theologians, exegetes, and catechists from all over the world.

  347. Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD Joshua 24:14-15

    Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31-32

    I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

    Well, since we all know that man can not make any spiritual choices for himself, I guess we have to relegate these verses to total irrelevancy. Maybe God forgot to check with the Calvinists before these commands were made. Or maybe He just had them added to the Bible to fool some of us poor folks into believing that man really does have a choice while of course it is quite obvious that we don’t.

    (Please read all of my personal comment with a lot of :), :), :), in mind.)

  348. @cherylu: Sadly YOU have almost no understanding of true Calvinism! Have you read really any John Calvin? It seems you are caught-up in all the rhetoric of so-called modern anti-Calvinist verbiage, very sad! And btw, that’s all your gonna get with these so-called Arminian’s here too! And, you too should look at Augustine, who also taught God’s total Otherness, and there were Roman Catholics who stood closer here too, Dominicans, Augustinians, etc. MY first priest in Ireland was an Augustinian (when I was a lad). Talk about providence for me! Of course Calvin was a Augustinian, as Luther!

    I challenge both you and Irene to historical theology, it is here btw that the Reformed Divinity lives and stands! Let me too recommend the book edited by Donald McKim, The Cambridge Companion To John Calvin. You simply must at least touch the real John Calvin to degree, and here is a nice historical read and place to begin!

  349. Greg
    Free will or no free will,those in the flesh,unregenerate,cannot please God Romans 8-8.Of course Arminians say they can. With their non-spiritual nature,being in the flesh,they,independent of God,work spiritual faith in their stony unregenerate hearts. And they do this before they can see the Kingdom of God. They not only please God,they move him to reward them for their Amazing Decision.And God bows to their will because otherwise He could not get love from their unregenerate heart,that the Apostle says is hostile and opposed to God.Amazing doctrineThey actually believe this with a Stright face.

  350. Greg,

    I never said you haven’t read them. It just seems that they are understood in a way to say something else. I have read some interesting ways that those verses have been interpreted by other Calvinists, that is for sure.

    I almost added the verses in Acts 17:26-27 that say, And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us… But I didn’t bother because the last time I used them in a discussion with a Calvinist, I used them to make the point that God says here that people can or do seek God. And do you know what he did with it? He ignored the second verse that says that completely and said that those verses taught that God put people in certain places so that they wouldn’t know God! I was just left shaking my head.

    Fr Robert,

    I have’t read huge amounts of John Calvin. But I have read some. And it has left my head spinning. And you know what, I have read a whole lot of stuff by other Calvinist authors too. And I have gleaned my understanding of these issues from all of them. And some of what I understand is the logical implications of what is said.

    And you know what else I have found interesting? You keep insisting that people read Calvin. Funny thing, the last time I tried to discuss these issues with some one on the basis of what Calvin said, you know what I was told? “Don’t go to Calvin. We don’t necessarily believe what he said. You must engage with us on what we actually believe.” Not an exact quote, but I think it is the essence of what was said. I have found that Calvinism is a hodge podge of beliefs as is shown right here in this very thread. You don’t agree among yourselves, that is for sure. Just look at the differences in belief between CMP and Greg for an…

  351. Greg,

    That last comment was posted before I saw your apology.

  352. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-17 at 11:08 am

    Irene, 9:16am: “Btw, fwiw, the catechism was prepared over six years, the intense work of cardinals, bishops, theologians, exegetes, and catechists from all over the world.”

    Oh? What was that you said earlier?

    Irene, 8:48am: “Just fallible men. I’ll stick to the plain words of Scripture. (Right??)”

    Right. Have a Snickers bar.

    Scripture:

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    and before you were born I consecrated you;
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)

    Question for Cherylu and Irene:

    Reprobate has a thought in her brain. She decides whether to write that thought down or not. She ultimately decides to write that thought down.

    Question: When Reprobate decided to write down that thought, did she decree that her thought be written down?

  353. I read your question before TUAD. And frankly, I don’t know what you are getting at or even what you are asking. I don’t think in terms of “decreeing” something when I do it. I just do it. Your question makes no sense to me.

    The hypercharismatic church is always making “decrees” in the name of God. Funny thing though, it doesn’t seem like all those decrees have much affect on anything.

    Like I said, I don’t understand your point.

  354. TUAD,
    I know. I was just picking at Greg’s comment about the Westminster Assembly.

    Shouldn’t have been so snarky I guess.

    So what’s the deal with Reprobate having a thought?

  355. TUAD,

    I meant *I* shouldn’t have been so snarky. Not Greg. I’m starting to get used to him….. (:

  356. @cherylu: That is why I suggested reading some historical theology, there are several very good historical Reformed scholars today, and they are not pop-culture stars either! Like Richard Muller, Michael Horton, John Frame, etc. To my mind Muller is the greatest living Reformed historical theolog today! And there are some very good 20th century one’s too! Like G.C. Berkouwer, Ford Lewis Battles, (btw see an edited book on Battles called: Interpreting John Calvin, by Robert Benedetto). One must simply try to keep and open mind and do their homework. But make no mistake this is “theological” work!

    Before you too reject John Calvin, you should read a good Calvin bio, like Bruce Gordon’s: Calvin, and Bernard Cottret’s (he is French): Calvin, A Biography. YES, again this is “homework” and study! But the question always is, are we ready and willing? Just to make a point, I have read “perhaps” more of both John and Charles Wesley, than our Arminian friends here? But then I am no doubt older, and quite obviously a reader! (AS too was St. Paul a reader btw, 2 Tim. 4: 13… though of course I am no Paul!)

  357. Fr Robert,

    My point is that to have discussions with Calvinists, one has to be aware of umpteen different view points because if you don’t, you are discussing something that they are not. You guys are kind of like pinning jello to a wall! 🙂 And what you call “true Calvinism” isn’t maybe what they call Calvinism–at least not in all of it’s points. And to put it bluntly, it doesn’t seem to matter which approach I take–referencing John Calvin as the basis for Calvinist belief or leaving him out of the picture, it seems someone is likely to tell me that my approach is all wrong for those specific reasons.

    And FWIW, I don’t think any of the things I have stated on here or drawn conclusions from are contradicted by John Calvin, are they? My conclusions may not be the same, but I don’t think I have misunderstood the positions they are coming from to start with.

  358. Cherylu (399),

    Those are all great passages. There are plenty more, of course. The Calvinist charge that the Bible does not teach free will is totally false. Free will is assumed and implied throughout. Not only that, but when we read the Bible assuming decretal exhaustive determinism, almost nothing makes sense. Instead, one has to heavily philosophize what they are reading, or just “not think about it.” I think someone referenced this post before, but I will reference it again:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/the-reality-of-choice-and-the-testimony-of-scripture/

    Of course, all of the ante-Nicean writers (the earliest Christian writers) held to libertarian free will and argued against the determinism of the Gnostics using the same arguments and Scriptures that Arminians use today.

    Determinism didn’t enter the church until Augustine, and even he held to libertarian free will and argued for it for many years. His views didn’t really change until he began to argue against the Pelagians (who were extreme on free will), which seemed to push him back towards the determinism of his former Gnostic sect, the Manicheans.

    That’s the kind of history you won’t get from Fr. Robert and Greg. None of this is definitive, but it should raise eyebrows just the same. Not only that, but the idea that truly regenerate believers could not fall away began with Calvin (not even Augustine believed that). That’s 1500+ years of Christian History that rejected a doctrine that Fr. Robert and Greg seem to see as a near test for Orthodoxy. Truly wild.

    I say this, because they are really getting into history and such, rather than relying solely on Scripture. But there is plenty of history against them and their views.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  359. And here is an excellent article by Glenn Shellrude that highlights the incompatibility of determinism with a natural reading of Scripture:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/glen-shellrude-calvinism-and-problematic-readings-of-new-testament-texts-or-why-i-am-not-a-calvinist/

  360. Greg writes,

    Do you REALLY think that none of us reformed types have ever seen those passages of scripture or all the rest like them before? REALLY?

    The same can just as well be said of Arminians regarding all the passages you guys keep referencing that you seem to think support determinism, etc. I mean, REALLY?

    Do you think Augustine would have thrown his hat on the floor and stomped all over it in frustration if he read your post? Come on girl. Can we get a little more credit than that?

    Likewise, do you think Arminius or most knowledgeable Arminians would throw their hats on the ground and stomp on them after reading your posts? Come on man, can we get a little more credit than that?

    Why don’t you do some reading at my blog or at SEA to see if maybe, just maybe, we don’t find such passages very troubling at all.

    Ya need to help out yer friend arminianperspectives because he is wanderin around out in the weeds somewhere.

    If I am in the weeds, it would nice if you explained how. It would be nice if you explained how the comments you made that I highlighted can in anyway be called compatible with exhaustive decretal divine determinism. In light of that doctrine (the Calvinist “Prime Directive”), all of those comments reduce to utter nonsense. If you like, I will spell it out for you in a follow up post, but I really thought it was self-evident (as Cherylu seems to realize), and didn’t want to insult your intelligence by giving a detailed explanation of something that really shouldn’t need one.

    Let me know.

  361. Having commenting wars again. I’ll try again to post the one that just totally disappeared.

    Thanks AP. What you said about things not making sense is, of course, a part of my problem with Calvinism. And punting to “just not thinking about it,” does not seem to work very well for me.

    Greg, I have been wondering how that wonderful peace you talk about works when someone that is very close to you dies without having shown any evidence of knowing the Lord? Does it trouble you in the least to know that the reason they are now in hell is because God created them for that very purpose?

  362. cherylu writes,

    My point is that to have discussions with Calvinists, one has to be aware of umpteen different view points because if you don’t, you are discussing something that they are not. You guys are kind of like pinning jello to a wall!

    The problem is, it doesn’t matter how much you study Calvinism, this accusation will still come from Calvinists. I have read numerous books, articles, posts, and debates by Calvinists. I own several books written by Calvinists and have read them all (many more than once). I have been debating Calvinism online for about 7 years now. In that time I have had hundreds of debates on every conceivable topic regarding Calvinism. And yet, I still get told that I don’t understand Calvinism. The only possible explanation can be that God has decreed for me not to understand it and has refused to enlighten me to it’s truth, unlike those other’s here. How strange that God would want one of His children to wander in the weeds and not know or embrace this supposedly superior form of Christianity?

    But since I don’t believe Calvinism is Biblical, I don’t think that is what is going on at all. In my experience, it is typically a rhetorical tactic used when a Calvinist is really getting challenged on their beliefs and doesn’t know what else to do. At that point, it is easy to just throw out the “you just don’t understand Calvinism” and “you need to read these 15 volumes of Calvinist Theology before you can argue with me,” etc. (though you will find that they rarely have read much from actual Arminians).

    But straight answers to difficult questions (like some of yours) are very hard to come by. Now that may not be true of all Calvinists, and it might not even be true of the one’s here. But it is a definite pattern that I have seen over the years. I highlighted it long ago in this post:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/06/debate-tips-for-calvinists/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  363. “Libertarianism”, Ugh! Oh once again the mind and ideas of the Roman Catholic Luis de Molia, “Molinism”. Here are the Jesuits, though thankfully the Dominicans, and the Augustinians knew better! Here we are always just one click away from Pelagius and Pelagianism! And btw, pantheism is not far away from here either!

    Oh the study of natural theology and natural law is still central for Reformed theology. Sadly some evangelicals don’t even engage here!

  364. To the Calvinists here, (and Greg in particular) does I Timothy 2:1-4 really mean that God desires all men to be saved? Or does it just mean that he wants the elect to be saved or some of all kinds of people to be saved?

    And if He wants all all men to be saved, why does He not love all of them and why does He create them for the purpose of sending them to hell?

    Jay,

    If you are really wanting us to interact with the questions you asked earlier, would you please break them down to one or two at a time? Interacting with that list would take about fifteen comments and we are allowed one at a time. And I honestly don’t even understand the relationship of all of them to the current discussion.

  365. Jay,

    Arminians do not believe in unqualified libertarian free will. They believe in freed will. That means that while apart from Christ there is no hope, Christ’s death and resurrection and the grace that he imparts to all through his Holy Spirit allows them to make choices – accept or deny the salvation offered.

    Others have implied that God is so sovereign that he freely choose to create free will.

    Greg implies that the God from whom he claims logic flows (is it part of his nature or is it a creation of his) cannot be sovereign if he does not decide exactly how things are going to go in the details.

    The complaint I am about to make is a very common one, but I think it should be made again. When Arminians appeal to logic as they approach scripture and try to interpret it, Calvinists object that we should not use just logic, despite the fact that we claim to appeal logically to scripture. When a Calvinist is confronted with logical objections to their system, they (in my experience and what I have seen on this blog) appeal to mystery and ask us to submit our logic to their interpretation of God’s word.

    As a result, the conversation ceases to be a conversation. The actual issues are obfuscated.

    As one who identifies most strongly with Arminian ideas (though not completely) Psalm 131 is one of my favorite Psalms. But it certainly shouldn’t be used to brow-beat us into submitting to an interpretation of scripture that we don’t agree with. There are revealed things. Yet when arguing for “Calvinist” verses, the Calvinists say “it is revealed” and when “Arminian” verses are brought up they say “it is a mystery.” How can there be a conversation?

  366. Fr. Robert,

    You really need to look at the post I linked to above called “Debate Tips for Calvinists.” If you do, you will see why it is hard for me to read your posts without laughing at this point. And to think I wrote that post in 2007. Things sure haven’t changed much, they could just as easily have been written today.

    Interesting that you mention pantheism, especially when many have charged Calvinism with essentially collapsing into panentheism, or outright pantheism. If you need me to explain why, I would be glad too.

  367. Ugh! Oh once again the mind and ideas of the Roman Catholic Luis de Molia, “Molinism”. Here are the Jesuits, though thankfully the Dominicans, and the Augustinians knew better!

    This is rather silly as if libertarian free will was an invention of these groups. It is like you completely ignored what I wrote about the Ante-Nicean Fathers, many of whom learned under the apostles themselves or learned under those who learned under the apostles. For many of them, Greek was their native tongue, and yet they couldn’t find anything like Calvinism in Scripture. Augustine, on the other hand, didn’t even know Greek, and based a lot of his interpretations on problematic Latin translations, and probably on many of the left over philosophical leanings from his Gnostic background.

    But none of this is definitive, as I said. Scripture is what matters. But since you keep referencing history as if it overwhelmingly supports your theories, it needs to be pointed out that such assertions by you are very problematic, to say the least.

  368. @cherylu: Indeed there is no perfection in the best of Theology, but I think at least from Greg and myself, we are pressing Reformed epistemology! For the most part, the Arminian’s appear to not have much of a “prolegomena”, in the discussions of how knowledge is attained in dogmatic theology, noting now their use of a Catholic idea called Libertarianism in theology. But anyway we both are certainly Presuppositionalist’s, God is not someone whose existence may be questioned or denied, because he is necessary to the existence of all facts, including the faculties of human beings. Indeed God proved by reason alone is always less than the true God. The Christian task is not to prove but to proclaim, and we can only seek to proclaim of the Gospel of Christ, itself, i.e. the Kerygma (message)!

  369. @AO: Aye when ya cannot attack the issue, attack the man (Augustine)..the old ad hominem! Btw, historical theology is indeed part of our Holy Scripture! The Judeo and the Christian (Judeo-Christian) used both the Jewish Hellenism, and the Pauline of the man Saul/Paul, the Roman citizen and his Greco-Roman. But in God’s providence and sovereignty! God’s Word is the Presupposition of Truth & Revelation!

  370. Just to clarify something here. I have never claimed to be strictly Arminian either although I certainly lean way more toward Arminian views then I do Calvinist views. I don’t see that either one fully accounts for Scripture as I understand it.

    And I think that this conversation is growing very strange and not really going anywhere.

  371. Cherylu,

    What don;t you agree within Arminianism? I wouldn’t be surprised if your position is really Arminian. There are different strains of Arminianism. It is less rigid than Calvinism and allows for more diversity.

  372. Isaiah 55:8-9 is one of the most commonly misquoted scriptures.

    PART 1

    Most people I hear quote this as a way of explaining mystery in the activity of God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)

    Pretty straightforward, right?

    Well, not so much, in my opinion. There are two places to look when understanding any passage of scripture. Previous context and subsequent context. The previous context of this passage is summed up neatly in verse 7: Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (NIV)

    In what way is our God higher than us? In what way greater? Certainly in his mercy and loving kindness! He grants forgiveness to the repentant. Are we to say, “Surely the Lord cannot forgive us?” No, the Lord is not like us. His holiness is not only something that causes fear and terror, it also grants us assurance (cf. Isaiah 40 and 49; it reminds me of the hymn “Amazing Grace” with the words “tis grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved”).

  373. PART 2 (re: Isaiah 55)

    The subsequent context is summed up in verses 10-11:

    As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return to it without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
    but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV)

    God’s ways, his character, and his greatness are not just about his compassion, but about his ability and consistency in bringing about his purpose. There are so many reasons to magnify the Lord. For he is worthy to be praised. His glory is not merely his reputation that he must keep from being smeared. It is who he is in his compassion and greatness. He doesn’t “need” us to glorify him. We need to see what his glory is really like and we will naturally want to glorify him.

    What does this glory look like? We see it most clearly in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I have always appreciated the part of the liturgy which goes: “Glory to God in the highest . . . we praise you for your glory: Lord Jesus Christ . . .” While it is probably true that the liturgy was not meant the way I take it, it is a wonderful reminder that the words “Lord Jesus Christ” come right after the phrase “your glory.”

  374. Oh, I should add that sometimes people think they are not Arminian when they actually are because Arminianism has been misrepresented to them. You might want to take this survey at the Society of Evangelical Arminians:

    “Are You an Arminian and Don’t Even Know It?”
    (http://evangelicalarminians.org/survey-are-you-an-arminian-and-dont-even-know-it-2/)

    And you might want to look at the outline of Arminian beliefs as stated in our FACTS acronym:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/an-outline-of-the-facts-of-arminianism-vs-the-tulip-of-calvinism/

  375. Arminian,

    Well, I am undoubtedly indicting myself here, but I don’t necessarily find the corporate views of election completely convincing either.

    I find myself wondering all of the time if either group, Calvinists or Arminians, really have it right. And I don’t know the solution to that.

    There are Scriptures that I think give credence to the Calvinists views. BUT, I think that if they are understood in the way the Calvinists understand them, they make a whole lot of the rest of the Bible into nonsense. Case in point, turning a God who says He is love into someone that doesn’t show love to people in the area where it is most needed (infralapsarianism) or not showing most of his creation love at all and actually creating them for the purpose of going to hell as in Greg’s view. Or God speaking to people as if they can indeed chose life while all of the time they have been destined for hell or are kept from making that choice by His decree.

    Those things just don’t add up for me. And to say it is all a mystery when it seems like utter contradiction doesn’t work for me either.

  376. Cherylu,

    Hmmm, I am so impressed by the biblical nature of the corporate election view. It just seems to flow naturally out of the Bible, and as study thew Bible I am increasingly impressed with it.

    Have you read a good article on it? For example, have you read “Clearing Up Misconceptions about Corporate Election” http://evangelicalarminians.org/brian-abasciano-clearing-up-misconceptions-about-corporate-election/ ?

    If so, what reservations do you have?

  377. @cherylu: You might want to check into the aspect of Common Grace in certain Calvinists and Calvinism. Have you tried reading R.C. Sproul?

    And btw, it sure seems like “A” is pressing for converts? Watch out! 😉 (I am smiling!)

  378. Cherylu
    Just asking how an Arminian gets saved. Now I assume God has no power to control free will,So He does not control the distribution of the gospel.That is,who gets the message depends on men.Let’s assume now that Cherylu receives the gospel message and says “I accept Jesus as my personal Saviour”and you really meant it. At this point you can’t just say Jesus forgive me.You must accept him.So now God can go to work. He regenerates Cuerylu and you are born again.So now you have a new nature.But you can lose this new nature by ceasing to believe or by becoming very sinful.Now does God turn your new nature back to the old unregenerate nature,or do you perform that your-self? Surely God is only one that can change a nature.Or do you claim to have that power?So now you have the old natureback again.But the good news is that now you can get saved again. You can’t just say I’m sorry.You must accept Jesus all over again.Then God will regenerate you again.Now you have your new nature back.Is this how it works?

  379. But hey you can become an Arminian many times, but only a real Calvinist once! Sorry, but I could not help myself! 😉

    *Its Friday, and I am home! 🙂

  380. Cheryl, I’m with you on this in some sense. Calvinist’s say that Arminian’s can’t pray for the souls of the lost because the lost have a choice and God can’t overcome free will. Arminians say that Calvinist’s can’t pray for the lost because whatever God has decreed, he has decreed. You can’t change God. It is hard for any Christian to understand you prayer can be meaningful when God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful – for any theology. If I were to say, “God you are beyond me.” I’d rather it be for the reasons I mentioned regarding Isaiah 55 than for Calvinist reasons. I mean this. Though I don’t know how prayer fits in with such an omni-God, I trust that it fits in such a way that God’s mercy is magnified and that his glory is found primarily in Jesus Christ, not in some inscrutable, unfathomable glory (which inexplicably involves reprobation). This I think is the primary divide between Calvinist and Arminian typically. Is God’s primary goal his glory or to show love. Irene has made some great comments in regard to that. In my opinion, the Calvinist interpretation of God makes him not love, because love involves others. They tend to speak of him in such a way that I imagine a ego-maniacal dictator rather than a Triune God of love in three persons. Funnily (in terms of Fr. Robert’s own experience of Anglicanism) what has struck me is the depth of emphasis on God’s love “in your infinite love you made us for yourselves. And when we had fallen into sin and death, you sent your only and eternal son.” When I think of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – I think of them loving one another and in that love, creating us for one another – and then redeeming us for us and for one another. I know that in their view I am probably misrepresenting them, but the Calvinist understanding of God’s glory and sovereignty sounds as they they are worshiping a monistic God (not triune) and a despotic one at that.

  381. To quote Timothy George, ‘Why was the Trinity such an important issue for Calvin? “As we have seen, he was not interested in the metaphysical niceties of abstract theology, nor was he slavishly attached to traditional terminology. ‘The Trinity was crucial because it was a witness to the deity of Jesus Christ and thus to the certainty of salvation procured by Him.’ The purpose of Calvin’s trinitarianism was, like that of Athanasius, soteriological (salvation). He wanted to safeguard the biblical message, “God was manifest in the flesh,” against false interpretations.”

  382. Promethius (comment 432),

    The Calvinist argument that Arminian theology is not consistent with praying for the lost is erroneous. See “Arminians Can Be Consistent and Pray for God to Save the Lost” (http://evangelicalarminians.org/arminians-can-be-consistent-and-pray-for-god-to-save-the-lost/).

  383. So much ad hoc and ad hom’s have been leveled at “Calvinism”, as Calvin and Calvinists on this blog! But God’s Doctrines of Grace are in His hand, not man’s. Though the regenerate surely & truly respond!

    But what if it is true, or part of the truth? I wonder if any non-Calvinists have considered this? I can well remember when I did consider Wesleyanism, and it came up lacking, both biblically & theologically for me! Though again, I really like the Wesley brothers.

  384. Arminian,

    I should probably do some more reading on the corprate election view.

    But according to the first article you linked above, I would say I am certainly WAY more Arminian then Calvinist. I found very little there that I would have a problem with.

  385. Cherylu,

    In that case, perhaps you should start here: “A Concise Summary of the Corporate View of Election and Predestination”
    (http://evangelicalarminians.org/a-concise-summary-of-the-corporate-view-of-election-and-predestination/).

    The title gives a good description of the page. Then move on to the article I mentioned previously, which is a full scope article.

  386. Yes, I wonder sometimes how CMP maintains blog post subjects like this, on Calvinists and Calvinism, especially when a formal group like these Arminian’s show up? I admit I have been hit and miss on my depth here, we are all busy people, as no doubt Michael!

  387. I don’t think any of us can keep up with this!

    I may have said this earlier in this convo, but I find it just one more contradictory thing about Calvinism when we are told by God to love our neighbor as ourselves, and then do not find ourselves being quite upset if our neighbors (any man) is not offered salvation. And even more so if he was actually created to be damned. It seems to me that love for neighbor is really very hard pressed indeed if Calvinism is true. I’m not sure if that expressed what I am trying to say very well. But it certainly seems to me that love and concern for another is likely to be very upset at the thought that that one was created for damnation.

  388. Greg,

    A couple of things.

    Psalm 8:4-6 has been running through my mind: …what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet… This is man as God made him and how He sees Him. Strange then, is it not, that He would create most of those same men for the purpose of spending eternity in hell? One more unexplainable thing it seems to me.

    And while I wasn’t the one that “corrected you” about Isaiah 55, I do think he had a valid point. No one is saying that His thoughts aren’t higher then ours. But to use a verse taken out of context as a proof text that we must accept that our definitions of words are not at all accurate in light of His definitions seems like really stretching things. (Unless I have completely forgotten how this text was originally used in this convo.)

  389. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-17 at 5:16 pm

    Greg Tiribulus: “I live for the glory of my God. I am grieved that as far as I know NONE of my relatives except my paternal grandmother are likely with the Lord. That grief is far more than mitigated by the knowledge that my perfectly holy, righteous, just and good Father God has deemed it most glorious to Himself to send them to perdition. I deserve that lake of fire. I am in NO position to question my merciful savior about who or how He saves. He has by His sovereign election denied the occasion for anger or condescension toward them in not making the same saving choice that I have. I use that grief to motivate me to keep telling others about His love in the hope I might one day hear him say “well done my good and faithful servant”.”

    Well said, Greg!! Really quite good. Let him and her who have ears, hear these words of counsel and heed them!

  390. Fr Robert,

    I am still not at all sure why you continue to be so upset by the presence of “Arminian” and “ArminianPerspectives” in this conversation.

    You have put forth your Calvinist beliefs in a very large share of the conversations you have been a part of here on P and P for a long time now. Even if they are not discussions about Calvinism. Why aren’t these folks free to do the same thing? I don’t get it.

  391. Usually Arminians end up calling the Calvinist God a monster,devil,a cancer,honmophobe,ect..Such rhetoric has no effect on truth,but it makes them feel smugly self righteous.Rarely is it acknowledged that men had their Free will choice to obey God and lost it in Adam.This is true because God says it is true.That is why we are born with a fallen nature,enemies of God.We are criminals and God does not owe us love any more than he owed the fallen angeles love.And He gave them wrath.So assume there are two criminals on death row. The Governor pardons one and refuses pardon to the other.Two sinful criminals are before God. God pardons one and refuses pardon to another.Men praise the Governor as merciful,and condemn God for being discriminatory.Fortunately the Lord is immune to such arrogance and perversity of men,who only deserve damnation.

  392. @cherylu: I am not down on people who are Arminian at all, I have many friends who are somewhat of that stripe, after all I am an Anglican, and Anglicanism has always been quite diverse. But I must confess that I was not happy to see both “A” and I guess too “AO”, not expressing early that they were part of a “formal” Arminian group! If this were “my” blog I would have to say something to them, but it is not, but I still must show my distain about what appeared (to me anyway) to be both bating and trolling! And they are the one’s that seem to think their better than the rest of us poor “Calvinist’s”, that’s the way I sense and see it at least. I mean I never try to press my theological education (and on the blogs I have never asked to be called “Dr.”) Just a point. As I have written on my blog, being called “Father” has always been quite enough for me as an Anglican presbyter (and I used to be somewhat High Church years ago), for to me it is a pastoral title (1 Cor. 4: 15), that Paul used himself.

  393. Jay,

    That argument seems to forget that the governor didn’t decree that those folks would be criminals.

    It also fails at all to deal with that fact that there is not a single person alive on this earth now who has chosen to be born in Adams’s line. But we are born criminals, enemies of God before we take our first breath and outside of any desire of our own to be in that place. We can not do anything else but follow our sinful nature, and then the one that decreed it so decrees they (speaking of the reprobate) shall spend eternity in hell for it to bring Him glory.

    It all from the fall of Adam and onward happened because God decreed it would be so and billions–who knows how many–people will suffer in hell for eternity because of those decrees and were never given an opportunity for anything else.

    I feel like a cracked record repeating myself over and over. But it doesn’t seem like anyone hears what I am saying.

  394. Fr. Robert writes,

    noting now their use of a Catholic idea called Libertarianism in theology.

    What? Are you purposely ignoring what I am writing? Are you seriously saying that the Ante-Nicean fathers are just Catholics? If that is what you think, it really undercuts any credibility you may assume for yourself on Christian History. Yet, Augustine is considered by many Catholics to be one of the major fathers of Catholicism. Your one sided and inaccurate portrayal of history is not helping you. Maybe you should just leave it alone.

    Aye when ya cannot attack the issue, attack the man (Augustine)..the old ad hominem!

    Seriously? You are the one who kept bringing up Augustine to prop up your theology (rather than dealing directly with the “issue”). So I can’t make a comment about Augustine, or your lopsided recounting of Christian History? Why is that? And notice how you do not challenge what I actually wrote about the matter. That is telling in itself. More empty rhetoric when things get tough. At least that is certainly the way it seems. Did I write something inaccurate about Augustine? If so, what?

  395. I feel like a cracked record repeating myself over and over. But it doesn’t seem like anyone hears what I am saying.

    Get used to it. You are simply not going to get any satisfying answers. Just the typical Calvinist run around.

  396. Well said, Greg!! Really quite good. Let him and her who have ears, hear these words of counsel and heed them!

    Well, never mind the fact that in Calvinism, no one can have “ears to hear” or “hear” these “words of counsel” unless God irresistibly decreed it from all eternity. Just another example of how Calvinists can’t even speak consistently with their Calvinist presuppositions. Don’t worry though, just “Try no to think about it.” 😉

  397. Fr. Robert writes,

    But I must confess that I was not happy to see both “A” and I guess too “AO”, not expressing early that they were part of a “formal” Arminian group! If this were “my” blog I would have to say something to them, but it is not, but I still must show my distain about what appeared (to me anyway) to be both bating and trolling! And they are the one’s that seem to think their better than the rest of us poor “Calvinist’s”, that’s the way I sense and see it at least.

    This is really strange. Calvinists can promote Calvinism ad nauseum on this blog, but if Arminians show up and promote Arminianism it is a case of baiting and trolling? What? Did you really have questions about our theological orientation when Arminian posted as, well…”Arminian” and I posted as “arminianperspectives”? (never mind how easy it would have been for you to click our names and see where that leads). But you don’t like that. Why? Oh, because we don’t support Calvinism, is that right?

    But we already covered this ground. Too bad you think that only Calvinist perspectives should be promoted here and only Calvinist links to articles, books, posts, etc. should be rightly tolerated. I actually appreciate the fact that Mr. Patton tolerates different views being expressed on his blog, even when those views contradict his own. Too bad you don’t seem to feel the same way.

  398. Jay,

    My bringing up Isaiah 55 and “correcting” you was just to show that in context what the Israelites could not comprehend was very particular – God’s love for those whom he would have mercy on if man would turn – verse 7. So it is relevant in that the thing that we cannot understand is not God’s inscrutable will in decreeing damnation without the person’s choice, rather it is God’s marvelous will in wanting to save and have mercy on those who don’t deserve it.

    That said, it seems that I must point out that Arminians do believe that people don’t deserve mercy, but that they nonetheless have been given a choice through the gospel. Just because you are given a choice doesn’t mean you are earning or even working for your salvation. The choice wouldn’t be there if God hadn’t provided it.

    I also think I need to point out that there are two reasons on this blog that the Calvinists are giving for why God must be meticulously sovereign. The first is “the Bible says so.” But it seems that the second underlies the first issue. There is a philosophical commitment to determinism (at least for Greg). Despite the fact that many philosophers fall on both sides of the free will-determinism issue even outside of Christianity. While they may feel that determinism is necessary philosophically, I would find it somewhat an overstatement to say that free will is complete nonsense. That is to say that those philosophers who believe in it are utter morons.

    There are many common-sense and philosophically sound reasons for accepting free will as a real possibility.

    Obviously the Arminians have two similar arguments. “The Bible says so” and a commitment to the love of God.

    Calvinists seem concerned about a certain definition of sovereign and Arminians about a certain definition of love. Calvinists often don’t see the importance of the Arminian concern, and Arminians certainly don’t agree with the Calvinistic definition of…

  399. I might add that one of my biggest frustrations with the way the Calvinists here have argued has been that you want Biblical evidence, and then, when an Arminian argues against you Biblically, you say it is invalid because their epistemology is flawed. Greg for sure argues that one cannot understand these issues unless we begin with epistemology which of course will lead to divine determinism. And then, of course, we cannot argue the point. It is just true. And we have then deviated from the main point, which is that we can use scripture to argue.

    But instead of arguing scripture, you say that we need to understand your whole system. And yet that is the point. We are, of course, undermining your whole system if we are right. But we cannot assume that you are right for the sake of the argument! That would defeat the conversation.

    I guess I feel that you all are trying to have your cake and eat it too. If we argue philosophically, it is invalid because logic and philosophy come from God and must be submitted to him and his word. If we argue Biblically, it is invalid because we have poor philosophical presuppositions. Heads you win, tails we lose.

    I wish this could be a conversation. I wish you would take the difficulties we find with your position seriously. But what I see instead is a kind of claim that what you see in the Bible is the obvious reading. Michael Patton is right. These are thorny and difficult issues.

    But one thing I cannot get my head around is how one can call Calvinism “the gospel” and then say you accept Arminians because they are saved by the “Doctrines of Grace” even though they don’t agree with them. Does that mean that you also affirm that Muslims, Buddhists, etc. are acceptable Christians in your book as long as they live grace-filled lives . . . if not, then Calvinism is not the standard of the gospel. Something else. There must be other more important things.

  400. Prometheus,

    Some good and helpful comments here. Thanks for the input.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  401. Well Cherylu
    I think your real quarrel is with God,not Calvinists.You don’t like his justice in holding men responsible for Adam’s rebellion.Then you don’t like to hear some of them do not receive grace and a choice,even though God does not owe them a choice or grace.The fallen angels might agree with you. They did not have a second chance and they did not choose to be born.Then you don’t like God’s decrees.But that means you don’t like the idea God has an eternal plan that rendered certain all events in the future,throughout eternity.You want God to operate without a plan.Just be in the dark like men.And what is a decree? It is just a determination that something will exist and happen. Please explain how the universe and all that is in it,could exist without a plan.If God doen not plan the future how could there be a future? Who keeps you in existence and gives you power to act. Guess what,if God were not here,neither would you be.You think he is doing all this without a plan?You think He would know from eternity that you would exist at this time without planning for that to happen? If your going to quarrel with God’s decree,take care you don’t quarrel as to what He does in time.It is evident all men are not saved,and that those that are are saved operation of His grace. If this is consistent with his honor to save some and let others perish,it is consistent withit to dercree to do so from all eternity.He known before he creates men,many will never receive the gospel or any other grace and will perish eternally. Yet he freely creates them.If you can’t accept this ,your quarrel is with God,not me.Men just don’t like to hear that in making and disposing of us,God consults His Sovereign pleasure and His glory rather than our interest. You resent this and strive to bring Him to the bar to answer your objections.Never will happen.Your quarrel really is with God.Your not alone Multitudes feel the same way.God could never be elected President in this corrupt…

  402. Jay writes,

    I think your real quarrel is with God,not Calvinists.

    There’s that over the top Calvinist rhetoric again!

    Jay, try not to forget that, according to Calvinism, God irresistibly controls our every thought, desire, choice an action. He fully controls our wills. So if Cherylu is quarreling with God, she has no choice in the matter. She is doing just as God irresistibly controlled her to do, sorta like how God forms the pots in such a way that they cannot help but to talk back to the Potter, and then rebukes them for doing exactly as He irresistibly decreed for them to do (which is, of course, a major problem with the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9). What a mess. Yet, Calvinists continue to talk and live like Arminians. Why? Because the fundamental presuppositions of Calvinism are so contrary to reality, and for that reason, Calvinists simply cannot think, talk or live consistently with the doctrines they espouse as the ultimate Christian truths. We have seen more than one example of this so far in this thread. Too bad this doesn’t lead them to re-examine and re-consider the validity of their theology.

  403. @AO: I guess you did not read what I said, I could care less personally if your an Arminian, but when you come on site to a well-known Calvinist blog, please have the respect and truthfulness to reveal yourself and your Arminian group! This was not done, and this is the real issue for me! But of course I am NOT one who sees much at all that is good in Arminianism, which in reality misses the central great doctrine of God and His most complete sovereignty and decrees!

  404. Fr. Robert and Greg, I know that AO and A are both Arminians and that they are part of an Arminian group, but that doesn’t mean that they are here representing Arminians as a kind of “ganging up.” Can these two not come as individuals even if they have such obvious monikers (and happen to be part of SEA)? Besides, aren’t blogs and comments supposed to be places where discussion can take place? But rather than that, you view them as bashers. I agree that we Arminians are not always perfectly gentlemanly, nor has every comment from the Arminian perspective here been without the ability to be ad hominem or incisive. Nonetheless, it seems that this debate on your side has gone down to mere assertions. I think I can see why. You don’t see any merit in Arminian thought. And yet you don’t think logic and reason a good way to go forward. Or if you do, then why don’t you patiently show us in particular places where we are wrong. You pointed out Judas. It was pointed out to you that Judas “saved” status is not agreed upon by Arminians. I agree with your view of John 17:12.
    The word “regeneration” needs to be defined before verbal assault begins. For instance, Calvin in his Institutes III.XI.1 divides talks about a) justification and b) sanctification – the former is what makes us children of God and the latter is considered the result of a distinct work called regeneration. So, in what sense is this description applicable to the Old Testament and in what sense is it a description of the new dispensation? I guess that probably would depend upon how you read Peter’s words in Acts: “Believe and be baptized and you will be saved and you will receive the Holy Spirit; this is for you and your children.” (paraphrased). Does this reception of the Holy Spirit have anything to do with regeneration? Or is that something else completely?
    I do agree with you, though, that salvation has always been accomplished the same way 🙂 by grace through faith.

  405. Just a thought about Anglicanism, Fr. Robert. It seems odd that the way Anglicans do infant baptism. The words said seem to be manifest nonsense, since they claim about a baby what can only be said of God’s elect: “You are sealed as God’s own forever.” What does that mean? Are Anglicans truthful when they say such words over a reprobate baby? Or do they really (secretly:)) mean that the baby is God’s own for ever – for good or for ill!

    Now I know there are Arminian Anglicans and they have the same problem in my view, so I am not picking on Calvinism per se, but I do wonder how one can truly be Calvinistic and Anglican and consistent.

  406. Jay,
    In writing cherylu, I think you are missing some of the point. I don’t think she is meaning to quarrel with God. And saying, “You are quarreling with God” is not an argument. If the prayer of a good Calvinist is efficacious in some sense, it probably would be better for you to pray for her than to rail at her. I don’t see the point of your comments if you are unwilling to reason Biblically.
    But even when you ask rhetorical questions Philosophically, it doesn’t follow that your philosophical assumptions are manifest or even correct. That you must demonstrate rather than assume. Arminians of course believe that God has a plan. If I have a plan for how a vacation is going to go and I deliberately plan it with some contingencies depending upon my childrens’ choices that does not make the vacation any less planned. It rather allows for my children to act with in it. This, by the way, has nothing to do with sinful man’s inability, since we are assuming that the free will of the man we are discussing is someone who has been freed by God’s grace, not someone unable to act because they have not yet been freed. If we are to tackle the question of whether any sort of contingency is possible we should start modestly and ask if a person regenerated by grace can assent to or resist further grace. In other words, is all sin in a believers life decreed. Now I know what you will say: yes. But that, again, is an assertion. Do we admit that freed will can exist without being determined. Can my children act on vacation in such a way that it affects how the vacation goes without it ruining my plan for the vacation. You reply, yes but God is different! I reply, yes, precisely, he can set the boundaries much more surely so that the vacation cannot ultimately be ruined through some unforeseen choice. He can limit the choices appropriately. Plus, mirabile dictu, he knows the future! But Arminians can show how certain does not mean…

  407. Jay,
    Also, you seem to miss cherylu’s the point about the justice of a God who condemns all humanity to eternal misery because of the sin of Adam. You state the example of angels – but with them there is no ancestral sin, so the comparison is invalid (i.e. they each sinned individually). Also the Bible seems to suggest that God works through willing repentance and that the sin of the past (by God’s gracious plan) does not determine our future. He has granted the opportunity of repentance to people and they must take it or leave it as shown in Ezekiel 18. This is one of the longest passages in which God argues with the people. They claim God is unjust because he ought to regard genetic/ancestral sin or righteousness, but he argues that they have got it all wrong. God does not regard ancestral or personal sin OR righteousness. He regards the one righteous who repents and as unrighteous who refuse to remain in righteousness. What is so interesting is that taken apart from a Calvinistic systematic theology and together with how it would sound if preached to someone unaware of Calvinist or Arminian presuppositions the audience, the original hearers of the passage in Ezekiel 18 would have heard the call to repentance as something they could legitimately do because God graciously called them to do so! And God seemed okay with that! Why then try to take chapters like this and fit them into a scheme that seems so foreign to it? Why spend so much time defending God’s “sovereign decree” when he was happy to communicate a sense that we have a choice without adding “and, oh yeah, by the way, you can’t do what I’ve commanded and if you do I actually caused you to do it, but in such a way that you felt like you made a decision.” Of course much of this argument is rehashed for the last 500 years or so (see The Battle over Free Will: Erasmus and Luther).

  408. @Prometheus: Thanks, the first actual friendly approach in dialogue! Yes, of course “regeneration” means the life of God, and the so-called New Birth was/is in both Covenants, as in John 3. And of course yes to the work of the Holy Spirit.

    As to your second, the reality of the Covenant of Grace is presumed in the life of the children of the Covenant itself and the family (Acts 2: 39), though this must also be seen too in faith, hope and love! Note Paul, in 2 Tim. 3: 14-15 (looking back at 2 Tim. 1: 3 ; 5).

    Btw, if you have not yet seem them? note the Irish Articles 1615 (Archbishop James Ussher).

  409. @Greg: Rest in sleep for 8 hours or so for that sanctified head! Blessings! 😉

  410. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-18 at 1:27 am

    Jay, #455: “Well Cherylu
    I think your real quarrel is with God, not Calvinists.”

    Bulls-eye!! 100% dead-on target. Full points.

  411. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-18 at 1:41 am

    Me: “Reprobate has a thought in her brain. She decides whether to write that thought down or not. She ultimately decides to write that thought down.

    Question: When Reprobate decided to write down that thought, did she decree that her thought be written down?

    Cherylu: “I read your question before TUAD. And frankly, I don’t know what you are getting at or even what you are asking. I don’t think in terms of “decreeing” something when I do it. I just do it.”

    (A) Are you saying that you’re typically an impulsive person?

    (B) Does God do what you do? Can He say like you: “I just do it.”

    (C) Jay, from his excellent comment in #455, should be able to help you understand the question above with this helpful explanation:

    “And what is a decree? It is just a determination that something will exist and happen.”

    Given this definition, answer this question: When Reprobate decided to write down that thought, did she decree that her thought be written down?”

    Yes? Or No?

  412. TUAD, # 466;

    “Jay, #455: “Well Cherylu
    I think your real quarrel is with God, not Calvinists.”
    Bulls-eye!! 100% dead-on target. Full points.”

    Are you serious? That would be like us saying that we think your real quarrel is with God, not Arminians, because you refuse to submit to his sovereign decision to give humanity free will and to the plain teaching of God’s word on the subject. Is that sort of thing helpful to dialogue? And do you not see how that comes off as arrogant? Do you not see how you’re simply equating your opinion with God’s, which is not really helpful in debate between brothers and sisters in Christ over what God’s/Scripture’s view actually is? As CMP asked earlier in the thread, isn’t it possible that good people disagree about these things because they are not as clear as they could be?

  413. Greg writes,

    Yes weeds. That’s where you are. NOBODY can speak at all WITHOUT Calvinist presuppositions. Saint, sinner… nobody. I’m not up to typing it all over again again. God’s special and general revelation presuppose one another and require each other for a proper view of reality. A systematic reality wherein ALL things are from Him, to Him, for Him, by Him and through Him.

    But all of this, no matter how often you type it, is nothing more than an assertion on your part, an un-backed, un-argued assertion. It is filled with enormous leaps in logic and isn’t even coherent with the things that you say here, things I have pointed out, and things you have yet to address (i.e. the blatant inconsistency between your comments and your fundamental presuppositions about decretal exhaustive determinism, which continue with each additional protest you make against Arminianism). Just typing it over and over again doesn’t make it true, nor does it make it coherent. Have you considered the possibility that maybe you are the one who is being irrational here?

    Do you think you are the only one familiar with Van Til, or Bhansen, or presuppositional apologetics, or the transcendental argument for the existence of God, etc., etc? None of that changes the fact that you are making huge and unfounded leaps of logic in your assertions. It is up to you to prove the connections you keep trying to make between being able to do or think anything and the truth of Calvinism somehow needing to be behind it all. I submit that it is something you simply cannot do. I can just as easily argue presuppositionally, that the Bible cannot be intelligently read or understood, unless free will is presupposed. Indeed, your own posts here presuppose the existence of free will. So your arguments are self-defeating, and therefore false. I won’t get into the details right now, since assertions seem to suffice for you. But let me know if you want me to explain.

  414. Greg,

    My Armniian brothers won”t like this, but I have not read even one single new syllable from any of you in this discussion. I’ve had what amounts to the same one with dozens and dozens of unbelievers. Some of my posts have actually been largely copied and pasted from those old discussions with non Christians who hold the same epistemology you do. I am not being in any way sarcastic. You have my word.

    You probably won’t like this either, but I haven’t heard anything new here from my Calvinist brothers. It can all be found in my post, “Debate Tips For Calvinists.” (linked above) The only thing that might need to be added to that list is the fairly common attempt of passing incoherent arguments off as grand profound philosophical insights that only Calvinists are smart enough to really understand. Yep, that about sums things up from my point of view.

    So maybe we just need to leave it there. You think we are stupid uneducated spiritually immature Christians, while you and the others are profoundly intelligent, well read, well rounded superior Calvinist thinkers who have been gifted by God to understand these deep theological secrets that us primitive Arminian types have been denied access to, and rightly so, due to our sinful attempt to be autonomous (a completely incoherent statement in view exhaustive determinism, as already noted).

    But what does it matter? God is the only true actor in the universe and we are just passive instruments, unable to form an independent thought or act in any way without being irresistibly acted upon. So it all collapses into a sort of panentheism, where we are all just expressions of God. So when we debate and argue about things like this, it is really God just giving Himself a hard time through us.

    So keep in mind that when you protest about what I have just said here, you are just protesting against God. Strike that, God is just protesting against God. But we should just “try not to think about”…

  415. BTW, it seems that Fr. Robert, and now some others, seem to be referring to me as AO. Not sure what the O is supposed to mean. I assume it is a typo, and it should be AP. Just thought I’d point that out to avoid confusion.

  416. Fr. Robert writes,

    @Prometheus: Thanks, the first actual friendly approach in dialogue!

    Who has been unfriendly here? Or is it that you see strong disagreement with you as necessarily unfriendly?

    Let me just suggest to you that it can lead to frustration trying to cut through all of the Calvinist rhetoric here in order to get to any meaningful, civil conversation.

    We have been told that we don’t know our History. We have been told that we are fighting against God. We have been told that we are guilty of awful exegesis. We have been compared (many times) to unbelievers and atheists. We have been told that we essentially reject the Gospel (Calvinism). We have been repeatedly talked down to as if we are just unlearned school children who really don’t know the first thing about God or His revelation because we do not accept Calvinism. We have been told we can’t even do anything: think, talk, whatever, unless Calvinism is true.

    Now can you see how such things can make discussions a little frustrating? I suggest that we proceed by assuming that we might in fact be wrong about some things and that we might have something to learn from each other. I suggest that we proceed with the assumption that we are all trying to hold to God’s truth, not trying to fight against God or deny the gospel, or whatever. I suggest we honestly evaluate other’s arguments without all of the grandstanding. I suggest we stop assuming those we are speaking to are ignorant or uneducated or need to read volumes of books before we can understand the arguments that are being presented here.

    For me, that will create an atmosphere for friendly and respectful dialogue. Are you willing to do that from now on? I am.

    May God lead us all into His truth.

  417. Greg writes,

    arminianperspectives says: I can just as easily argue presuppositionally, that the Bible cannot be intelligently read or understood, unless free will is presupposed.
    Please do sir.

    Surely. Let’s just look at the following statement:

    This morning as I was out I knew this was comin. I don’t know why more Christians (though the number is growing) don’t promote God to the office of governor of their thought life.

    You say you don’t know why more Christians don’t promote God to the office of governor of their thought life. But you know the reason. The reason is because God decreed it that way from eternity in such a way that those Christians can no more do what you think they “should” do than create a universe. See what I mean? The things you say are wholly inconsistent with your fundamental underlying presuppositions. So the more you protest against free will and make statement s like this, the more you either affirm free will or prove your statements to be incoherence. You are truly on the horns of a dilemma. The only other option is for you to just “try not to think about it.”

    So you’re own presuppositional method of argument invalidates your own stated views on determinism. In other words, what you say invalidates what you believe.

  418. Nice how Greg walked right into that one, huh AP?

    I just wanted to add that while AP has made some arguments that the Bible cannot be intelligently read or understood unless free will is presupposed, that Greg has not offered any arguments for the idea that that the Bible cannot be intelligently read or understood, unless Calvinism is presupposed. All he has offered are mere assertions about that, sometimes presented in the form of major leaps in logic (e.g. his claim that unless exhaustive determinism is true, then God is dependent on his creation). And ironically, it is Greg who has been pushing the whole idea needing to presuppose his system.

  419. Greg writes,

    I am compelled to say real quick that I have never once in the history of my life attributed the failure of an opponent to see things my way to stupidity. EVER, even once. I go out just about every morning to walk and pray. This morning as I was out I knew this was comin. I don’t know why more Christians (though the number is growing) don’t promote God to the office of governor of their thought life.

    I wonder if you realize how insulting your comments come across. My guess is that you don’t. You say you never attribute anything an opponent says to stupidity, but then instead say it is just a matter of those people not promoting God to the office of governor of their thought lives.

    So now you have just told me that my problem isn’t that I am stupid, but that I refuse to promote God to the office of governor of my thought life (which is completely incoherent and self-defeating in your own system of thought since God governs everyone’s thought life all of the time).

    You don’t see how offensive and arrogant statements like that sound to us? You seriously don’t see how statements like that make civil and respectful dialogue nearly impossible?

  420. Please forgive all the typos in #479.

  421. Arminian writes,

    Nice how Greg walked right into that one, huh AP?

    Greg has been walking into it from the start, he just hasn’t seemed to realize it for some reason. Surely, it’s not because he refuses to promote God to the office of governor of his thought life, though. 😉

  422. AP
    Does God absolutely control you?Does He control even your thoughts so you must do His will come what may?Indeed He does.Amos 4-13.He declares to man what are his thoughts.Here you can only think the thoughts God declares to you. No other choice is possible. Psalm 105:25.He turned their heart to hate His people.Hatred is a mental state.God made them think that way.Prov231- .The heart of the King is in the hands of the Lord He turns wherever He wishes.Job 23-
    He performeth the thing that is appointed-how about decreed-for me.
    The heart of man is deceitful beyond measure.It will use all possible devices to avoid acknowledging that it is a worm,a lump of clay,a creature,and not an independent autonomous being.Now you can resume your delusions that you are the master of your fate.It is a warm thought if God decides to reveal it to you.

  423. @Greg/Tiribulus’

    I agree with your biblical “presupposition”! 😉

    Btw talk about redundancy with “AP” (sorry, that was my typo on AO) and “A” towards you! As me somewhat too. But, we must expect this from these men of grave biblical & theological error! They are actually like Paul who was, ‘kicking against the “pricks” ‘! (Acts 9: 5, KJV) And I say this pastorally as well as theologically too!

    When I came to see (as a believer btw and even a Anglican presbyter), in the complete Sovereignty of God & His Word, it was almost like a second conversion (so-called) to me! And only since then, have I been able to say fully, “soli Deo Gloria”: glory to God alone!

  424. Fr. Roberts,

    See comment #477. In light of this newest statement of yours (#485), it would appear that you have no interest in a respectful discussion. That is really too bad. Your comments truly sadden me.

  425. Greg writes,

    BTW, I said “intelliGIBly, not intelliGENTly. I’m sure it was an honest misreading, but there’s’ a big difference.

    That’s what I meant too. Thanks for pointing that out.

  426. Okay Jay,

    Does God absolutely control you?Does He control even your thoughts so you must do His will come what may?Indeed He does.Amos 4-13.He declares to man what are his thoughts.Here you can only think the thoughts God declares to you. No other choice is possible.

    The heart of man is deceitful beyond measure.It will use all possible devices to avoid acknowledging that it is a worm,a lump of clay,a creature,and not an independent autonomous being.

    Okay Jay, God absolutely controls me. My thoughts everything. But I have such a deceitful heart that I will do everything imaginable to keep from acknowledging that fact.

    Umm, if God absolutely controls me, my thoughts and everything, then is it not indubitably obvious that it is He that is controlling me to make me think these wicked thoughts and do everything imaginable to keep from acknowledging that it is He that is controlling me and making me do and think these very things? No other choice is possible. All of these wicked thoughts are only me doing God’s will after all.

  427. @AO: I guess you did not read what I said, I could care less personally if your an Arminian, but when you come on site to a well-known Calvinist blog, please have the respect and truthfulness to reveal yourself and your Arminian group! This was not done, and this is the real issue for me!

    Nobody was trying to hide anything, and it is pretty ridiculous that you would suggest that. Also, I don’t even think Mr. Patton would call this a “Calvinist Blog.” You do know that well known Arminian, Paul Copan, also posts here, right?

    But even if it is a well known Calvinist blog, as you say, that doesn’t mean that Arminians can’t voice their opinion or refer to works that support Arminianism. Nor do they need to go out of their way to reveal the obvious. Did you you really have some trouble discerning that we were Arminians? I think you are very confused about the nature of blogs, as well as the nature of this blog.

  428. cherylu (#488)

    Exactly. Just another example of a Calvinist who undermines his own theology in trying to undermine Arminianism. It is really baffling to me why this is such a difficult concept for them to grasp. They just cannot seem to figure out a way write, argue or express themselves in a manner that is consistent with their Calvinist presuppositions. That tells me something about Calvinism. Too bad it doesn’t seem to tell them anything.

  429. I quoted this by C.S. Lewis on my own wee blog the other day, as to the doctrine of “knowing” God’s Sovereign Grace:

    “There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s only one” (That Hideous Strength).”

    @AP: Sorry mate, but you guys have spoken just too ad hom, and poorly ad hoc (to people like Greg and Jay especially), to turn back the clock now! I know the “Calvinists” who have spoken here, perhaps feel the same also? Not anything personal really from our end, one thinks about the long debate between Augustine and Pelagius here. Augustine could write: “Many sins are committed through pride, but not all happen proudly… they happen so often by ignorance, by human weakness..”; and that is done on all sides in so-called Christian apologetics! But then with Pelagianism, it just cannot be redeemed, as sadly with some forms of Arminianism, but then that’s the way I see it at least!

    Btw, let me recommend people read Augustine’s piece: Causa Gratiae! (I think Bonner has it in his book, St. Augustine?)

  430. Re # 486,

    While I think everyone knows that Michael Patton is a Calvinist, it is also true that at least one other contributor to this blog is not.

    I have been commenting here fairly steadily for about 5 years now I believe. To my knowledge this blog has never been promoted as a Calvinist blog. And while Michael and others here do discuss this issue, they also discuss many, many other issues across the theological spectrum.

    They don’t seem to be nearly as eager to promote Calvinism as some of the commentor’s here are, that is for sure!

  431. Yes Cherlu,now you are finding out that God is not Santa Claus.Everything you said is true. And your objection is that you are just a robot-actually a piece of clay-and not responsible for yur naughty ways.After all you are only carrying out God’s will and you have no other choice. Now isn’t it strange that that is the same objection raised against Paul in Romans 9.So why does He find fault,for who can resist His will?. And Paul’s answer is clear. Who art thou O Cherly,who replieth against God. Put in more severe language,Paul is saying Shut up.Your a piece of clay.Suck it up.Your not on his level.God does as He pleases.Tough cookies.Be thankful your not going to hell. But on our level we love you Cherly.We love all Arminians.

  432. Fr. Robert,

    I am truly sorry that is how you feel. Suit yourself.

  433. Jay (comment 490),

    I mentioned this earlier in the thread, but since you have raised the potter/clay passage in Romans 9 again, I would again like to mention that your reference misconstrues that passage from Romans 9. Here’s a better explanation of that passage: http://evangelicalarminians.org/an-apparently-not-so-brief-response-to-c-michael-patton-on-rom-9/.

  434. @AP: Wow.. once again just more ad hom! As I stated, it was your “formal” grouping as Arminian’s that set me off! Hell, I did not punch-up your “name” till well into the discussion.

    And as to CMP, we all know he is an “evidentialist”, more so than a presupper. (I pray for him! 😉 ) He is young, he will change as he grows in the Reformed Divinity! (I hope?) And we all need the “pastoral” dimension until the end!

  435. Greg writes,

    I am unable to offer a less offensive way of expression.

    Finally, a statement that is wholly consistent with your deterministic presuppositions! I knew you could do it.

  436. It seems that at least Fr Robert and Greg (according to their own statements) know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they know the truth. Any possibility for error there at all guys?

  437. Fr. Robert,

    God Bless you brother. That will be my last word to you (unless you specifically address me or something I wrote).

  438. Yes, and St. Paul, (as our Lord Jesus, Matt. 23) could surely be “offensive”! That is truly the nature of the Gospel of the Cross (note Luther’s “theologia cruces” also). See, Phil. 3: 18-19!

  439. Cherylu,

    How nice it must be for Calvinists that God apparently decreed from eternity that they all be right, and all of us be wrong. Must make them feel pretty special, I suppose.

  440. Has anyone read the blog rules here lately?

    I think maybe it is time that we all (me included) remember this one: 5. In everything, be courteous and respectful. This does not mean that you agree, but take the extra time to write with tact, making the most of the opportunity.

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/blog-rules/

  441. @cherylu: Oh indeed I am often wrong, but never is GOD’s Sovereignty, and sovereign Word! I pray that you might encounter our Sovereign God sometime! And soon I hope? 😉

  442. cherylu,

    Good reminder for us all. I am tapping out for now. I will check back in later if I can.

    God Bless to everyone.

  443. @AP: Agreed! YOU Sir, are just too ad hom! And bring out the worst of my old Irish nature! (That’s the “flesh” mate), if we were face to face, you would speak much differently I assure you! 😉

  444. Btw, at 63, I really see the “narcissism” of this generation, the lack of respect and manners is well gone now for the most part! Very Sad! But sadly one of the worst aspects of the blog is part of this ill, i.e. lack of manners, etc.

  445. Fr Robert,

    I pray that you might encounter our Sovereign God sometime! And soon I hope? 😉

    Can you clarify what you meant? Please don’t tell me that because I do not agree with your understanding of things you don’t think I have ever “encountered” God? In other words, please don’t tell me that you are implying that I am not a Christian.

  446. @cherylu: No, dear, I am not saying you are not a Christian at all, but have “you” really encountered the knowledge and experience of the Sovereign God, that is the great question, and for all of us! See my # 482 to Greg. And theologically this is always central in The Reformed Divinity!

    Again, soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone!

  447. Thanks for the clarification.

    Now I am going to ask for another clarification. You are the only one I see using the term “The Reformed Divinity.” As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have seen that term used by any one else. I think I know what you mean, but would you explain please?

  448. OK, I have time for one more.

    Fr. Robert writes,

    @AP: Agreed! YOU Sir, are just too ad hom! And bring out the worst of my old Irish nature! (That’s the “flesh” mate), if we were face to face, you would speak much differently I assure you!

    You keep saying I am ad hom. Can you give me an example? That is quite the charge, and yet you give no evidence for it, just assert it. Please show me where I have leveled an ad hom argument? And I would also ask you to review your comments and see if there are not any ad hom arguments from your end. I tend to think there have been quite a few. Maybe you are not clear on what ad hom means?

  449. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-18 at 12:35 pm

    Arminianperspectives: “I suggest we stop assuming those we are speaking to are ignorant or uneducated or need to read volumes of books before we can understand the arguments that are being presented here.”

    If Cherylu, Irene, Arminianperspectives, Arminian, and Prometheus could answer this question, it would be helpful:

    Jay, from his excellent comment in #455, should be able to help you all understand the question below with this helpful definition:

    “And what is a decree? It is just a determination that something will exist and happen.”

    Given this definition, answer this question: “When Reprobate decided to write down that thought, did she decree that her thought be written down?”

    Yes? Or No?

    (A) Yes, Reprobate did decree that her thought be written down.

    (B) No, Reprobate did not decree that her thought be written down when she wrote it.

    P.S. I do not assume you all are too uneducated or ignorant to answer this question.

  450. I think there is ad hominem on both sides of the discussion. In my opinion, Cherylu is the least offensive of the group. Everyone else is getting either a) riled up or b) merely assertive.
    Fr. Robert, you talk about respect, but in the midst of talking about it you don’t seem to show any respect to your opponents. Does respect only count for our elders? Or should our elders lead the way by example? (Please don’t be offended by the term “elders” since you yourself brought up your age.)
    I agree that the gospel can be offensive and bring about persecution, but Peter does say that our answers should be with gentleness. I suggest to Fr. Robert, Greg, and Jay that if all that you have left to say are assertions, then perhaps this is not the place for it. The blog is a place for discussion (it reminds me of the dialogue between Luther and Erasmus on free will. Erasmus calls it a dialogue and Luther is offended saying that Christians must be assertive. Erasmus replies that while he has a definite opinion, in trying to win someone over you address them in the manner of a dialogue. Personally I find Luther’s writing here extremely offensive, not to mention highly illogical. Erasmus certainly does stoop to some insults, but mostly he is irenic in comparison.)
    Fr. Robert, I had a roommate who made assertions about God like you do, suggesting that the Reformed can worship God better because they understand him truly. First of all, I would be surprised if anyone would think their understanding of God is not better than another’s. So while I would never say to you what you say to us: “If you only understood grace the way we do, you would have a fuller experience of worship” for myself I know that I have a fuller experience than I would if I believed in Calvinism. Why? Because either I would come regretting its truth or I would stop being a Christian. So for me, not being A Calvinist is better because it means I am a Christian.

  451. To clarify about me saying I would regretfully come to Calvinism or not be a Christian. What I mean from a personal perspective is that the goodness of God so shines forth in his love for all people in an Arminian, Catholic, and Orthodox perspective that I would regret having a God that was less good than I had previously been taught or I would reject the Calvinist version of God outright. I have had times where I would rather be in Hell than with a God who created his creatures for eternal torture. This is not an attack on Calvinists. It is not a logical argument. It is a statement of one reason why I find it offensive for you to say that the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” are so wonderful and then condescendingly tell us that “if only we would embrace them we would find great joy and consolation.” This is not our experience. And we would have every right to say the same thing to you about our “Doctrines of Grace.”

  452. ‘The Reformed Divinity’ is a name and title for the whole of the Reformed Doctrine and Theology itself! I prefer it to the name “Calvinism”, myself. And the early Reformers, and most certainly the Genevan Academy (of which of course Calvin was the head), did not use the term “Calvinism”!

    Btw, if you ever get the chance, I would surely recommend the reading of Francis Turretin’s 3 vol. set: Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (P&R, 1992). Here is without doubt one of the finest Reformed Divinity’s written! The good Leon Morris said of Turretin: “a towering figure among the Genevan Reformers”! But too, I will not forget the great Theodore Beza, Calvin’s first choice to the leadership of the Genevan Academy, he lived into the 17th century at 86! (Note Calvin died at only 56 himself)

  453. TUAD,

    If all you mean by the word “decree” is that God determined it would happen, I would be happy to accept it. However, it seems you sneak in a presupposition that determination cannot include true interaction with creatures.

    Personally, the way I see God decreeing our actions (if we go with your definition) and the way we decree our actions are different. I decree my actions or thoughts in the sense that I act on inanimate unconscious matter through my free agency within the bounds of the laws of physics. God has freely decreed what I do by making room for my own free agency. So that while he does in a sense decree what I do by willing that certain things I will come true, he does not decree which result will happen apart from my own free choice. Therefore his decree of what I do takes into account his decree that I have a choice. But, as I said with my analogy of vacation, God can and does and has set certain boundaries to what I can and cannot decide in such a way that my decision cannot ruin his plan.

    The key difference, as I see it, between deterministic and non-deterministic theologies is the nature of God’s plan, not the ability of God to control all things. No Arminian would deny God’s ability to do all things. This issue of what God can do and what he has decided to do is addressed more technically in Luther and Erasmus’s debate over free will as well as in Jonathan Edward’s and Daniel Whedon’s theological and philosophical writings on Free Will. (Anyone tired of hearing about Luther and Erasmus yet! 🙂 )

  454. @Prometheus: Did not you say that you agreed with my, or really “the” position of John 17: 12? See also, Romans 9: 13-18 (and verses 19-20, etc.) It does surely seem here too that God raised up Pharaoh (from/in his sin, and leaving him to his own will therein, 9: 17). Of course this is Augustine to degree, and certainly Calvin!

  455. Fr. Robert,

    Yes, I did say I agreed, if what you meant was that Judas was not part of the protected group because he was not really part of it in 17:12. This does not mean automatically that he didn’t have a choice. So Romans 9 has nothing to do with it in my opinion.

    As for Romans 9, I believe that there are better explanations for how to read the text than the Reformed view. Nevertheless, this passage, of all passages, is probably the most convincing Calvinist proof-text. However, I don’t believe that such a reading of Romans 9 fits a good discourse analysis of all of Romans. Personally, I think that a good literary reading of Romans suggests a more Arminian approach. Nonetheless, I do agree that Pharaoh presents the biggest problem for non-Reformed thinking (as well as the Exodus language).

    The pottery imagery, though, is probably the most important aspect of this problem. What we find in OT (Jeremiah), NT (Timothy) and early Christian writers (the Apostolic Fathers) is that pottery imagery invariably involves free will except, ostensibly, in this one passage. That, in my opinion, should give us pause when dealing with an apparent exception even if one comes out on the Reformed side.

    PS Thank you Fr. Robert for sticking to the issues. I was afraid that some of what I said would be offensive.

  456. Old Dr. Luther, now there too was a Man of God, and a “Reformer”!

    Btw, my Father (RIP) was a scientist & physicist! And still something of a moderate Roman Catholic (of course Irish). He appeared to make his peace with God in Christ as he was dying (at 88 years old). And YES, he is still one of my favorite men! (A WW2 “Spit” fighter-pilot btw, RAF)…now that generation was something special! He owned several airplanes after the war, and flew and raced a P-51 Mustang into his late 60’s, as a hobby. And he met too the great Neil Armstrong (when they chatted, they talked of flying and airplanes. Armstrong was a Navy pilot in Korea). And he (my father) just flew into his early 80’s!

  457. No Prometheus, you have yet to be offensive! Now I’m Irish, so that comes rather easy, plus I am an old Royal Marine Commando (officer). A “Bootneck” as we say! And a breed too! (I have served in combat attached to your American Force Recon Marines, so semper fi!) And for us some pride is there, not to mention I am something of my father’s son (yes a first-born too). So there ya have that! 😉

    Btw, I did my Th.D. on Roman studies, especially Romans 7. But I am quite aware of Reformed differences there! But Romans 9, is certainly Augustinian and Reformed for me! But, yes, I have read Ben Witherington’s Romans too, certainly a non-Augustinian position. Btw, one thing is most certain to me, and that is Romans chapters 9 thru 11, are NOT parenthetical, at least fully so!

  458. Fr. Robert,

    I am glad that Romans 9-11 are not parenthetical for you. I think that in general it is becoming a commonplace for it not to be read as a parenthetical and for that I am grateful. I have not read Ben Witherington III’s commentary myself, so I’m not sure how he argues Romans 9 myself.

    Romans 7 is very interesting. I view 7b and 8a as corresponding to Paul’s contrast between marriage to the law of sin and death and our marriage to Christ by grace through faith in 7a. It would be interesting to see how you see it.

  459. @Prometheus: I am not going to re-hash things in your #11, after 500. As I wrote, the first day I was writing mostly on the run at the hospital, where I am a chaplain. And as I said, I should perhaps not have engaged without proper time, but the essence of what I said stands for me! And I confess I just feel “these” two Arminian’s are just looking for trouble, in their pontification.. Calling Calvinism names, etc.! I don’t think I have called Arminianism “names”? I just don’t think its biblical or even theological! But check the language written to Greg! This surely is ad hom! And the noted attack on Augustine also. I just left that alone, as Augustine surely stands upon his own as a/ perhaps THE Western Father! But anyway, we not getting anywhere, and I am certainly NOT with “A” and “AP”! As stated there is a great divide here! And the top-stone, or the foundation, for the Reformed will always be the certain Sovereignty of God over all His creatures! Again, note I am Infralapsarian, which really is different from supra. Note again the Irish Articles 1615.

  460. Fr. Robert,

    Can you show one instance of ad hom from me? CMP, a Calvinist, noted that I have been conducting myself charitably and appropriately. Calling others out on rude behavior or pointing out they have not answered certain arguments is not ad hom. Moreover, where have I called Calvinism names? Surely you don’t mean criticizing it as incoherent and the like? That’s part of the very question that has been being discussed. Surely it is a normal and completely appropriate part of theological discussion to consider the flaws or weaknesses of various positions.

    And Prometheus, I am surprised that you said we have all engaged in ad hom. I am not aware of doing so once in the discussion. If I have, please let me know where. I certainly don’t want to do that.

  461. @Prometheus: I now take the classic reformational/reformed position (Augustine’s later view) on Romans 7: 13-25. See btw, David Steinmetz’s book: Calvin in Context, and chapter 8: Calvin and the Divided Self of Romans 7. Its not long, but has footnotes. A concise but right on the Pauline button of Law/Gospel.. The Law of God simply MUST be met, but only ‘In Christ’! Always the place first of the forensic, God’s formal argumentation of God’s Justification In and by Christ. But yes, the true Pauline is both justification-sanctification, but the forensic and law-court of God is always first! Here both Luther and Calvin would agree.

  462. Fr. Robert,
    I did say that ad hom was on both sides, so no need to remind me of what AP and A have said (though I have not seen specifically ad hom, just frustration and defensiveness; sorry Arminian for inaccuracy, I’ll let Fr. Robert point out specific examples if he sees any). I also emphasized how much things had degenerated to assertion rather than argument on the Reformed side. Since then, you have mainly returned to argument, for which I am grateful.

    As for saying that the Arminian point of view is not a theology, I wonder, then, why you take time arguing with it. Personally, I see Reformed theology as theology, though I think it misinterprets significant portions of scripture. But to say Arminian theology is not Biblical or even Theological is to assert in such a way that there seems to be no more room for discussion. If Arminian thought is completely unbiblical, then is it not heresy? But even irenic heretics can be reasoned with because they at least seem interested in understanding.
    Greg, what you say is a case-in-point. You talk about confidence in arguing on facebook in front of everyone, but you still have yet to argue, in my opinion. You continue to assert. I fail to see how moving things to facebook will allow for debate when you continue to give bald assertions. Again, if we give evidence, you say it is invalid because we must address your whole system. It is okay for you to not get how we can be reading the same Bible as us. We feel the same way about you! But if we are to get anywhere, if there is to be any charity between us, it would make more sense, in my opinion, to try to understand one another. And if we find that we cannot, we should find a point at which we say we will have to agree to disagree. Many people hate that phrase, but just because we agree to disagree does not mean we think each other’s understanding of truth is equally valid. It just means we will have to agree that we are getting nowhere.

  463. Arminian,

    Sorry if I misrepresented you.

  464. I am not going all the way back over 500 plus treads, but I do remember CMP saying somewhere that this blog had become a “Calvinist bashing party” if I remember correctly? And I wonder where that came from? 😉 Btw, this is not a seminary classroom! And I am one that has long seen the great weakness of the blog for Christian Theology and Apologetics! Useful yes, but always a weak place in real dialogue! As a Anglican priest-presbyter, the pastoral always gets left on the back burner!

  465. Btw folks, we Reformed Presuppositional guys (like Greg and I), see the best argument as the Holy Scripture itself! Sure we can see some kind of evidence in logic and scriptural dialogue, but foremost always with the authority of the Text Itself! And even scholastic argument must fall back to the authority of the Scripture itself. Note the Creeds really always fall back here too (the Nicene, etc.) Again, the Christian task is not to prove but proclaim the Gospel itself! Kind of simple “theology” for us! 😉

  466. Simple but always profound! Such is the Doctrine of God!

  467. Btw folks, we Reformed Presuppositional guys (like Greg and I), see the best argument as the Holy Scripture itself! Sure we can see some kind of evidence in logic and scriptural dialogue, but foremost always with the authority of the Text Itself!

    And the implication is what, that Arminians do not see the Scriptures as the ultimate authority, or the best argument? Of course, that isn’t true in the least. We just see that authority teaching very different things than you apparently see. It’s too bad you can’t seem to admit to that.

  468. You Arminian’s simply don’t see the doctrine of God’s most sovereign authority, i.e. the great decrees of God! And this btw was somewhat Calvin’s great and particular contribution in theology, what he called himself: the horrible decree – the “decretum quidem horribile fateor ! Yes, this doctrine is just central in the great decree of God, and here is simply everything, or it is nothing! But indeed, GOD really does have His decree, will and order, always! (Rom. 11: 36)

    “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God”! (Rom. 11: 22)

  469. Btw, here is Theopedia’s piece on the Decrees of God.

    http://www.theopedia.com/Decrees_of_God

  470. Rock on Greg!

    The Infralapsarian view is that of historic Calvinism (the heart of Reformed Theology). According to Warfield, this is the only view that is self consistent and consistent with the facts of Scripture.

    John Calvin said in the final edition of the his Institutes, “No one who wishes to be thought religious dares simply deny predestination, by which God adopts some to hope of life, and sentences others to eternal death. But our opponents, especially those who make foreknowledge its cause, envelop it in numerous petty objections. We indeed, place both doctrines in God, but we say that subjecting one to the other is absurd.” Institutes III.21.5 (Translation Battles & McNeill)

  471. Greg,

    Your comment here #35 is my cue to bow out of this discussion. I don’t have the time to cut through all of the unnecessary rhetoric and un-backed assertions anymore. I read your paper, so I fully understand that this is simply your MO and I’m just not interested in discussions that are 99% rhetoric and (maybe) 1% substance. I just don’t have the patience for it anymore.

    Thanks anyway.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  472. Infralapsarian –

    This term comes from the Latin. Infra means ‘subsequent to’ or ‘below’ and lapsus means ‘fall’. This pertains to the placement of divine election in the order of decrees with respect to the Fall of man. In the case of Infralapsarianism, election is logically after the Fall.

    Infralapsarianism recognizes that election has to do specifically with salvation. It maintains that the principle of particularism, in the sense of distinguishing grace, belongs to the sphere of God’s plan of redemption. Therefore, Infralapsarians place election at the head of those decrees that look to salvation and subsequent to the decrees of creation and the Fall. In the order of thought, election falls subsequent to the decrees of creation and the Fall because these refer to all men alike, since all men are certainly created and all men have certainly fallen. Likewise, election falls prior to the decrees of redemption and its application because it is just as certain that all men are not redeemed and all men are not saved.

    —————————————————————-

    It appears the last man standing, is our brother Greg! 🙂 Rock on again mate, GOD’s Word IS THE Presupposition! Btw, to get to the pure Word itself, we fallen humans must often move thru the so-called “rhetoric”! We Reformed call it our form of Scholasticism! 😉

  473. Fr Robert,

    Since you say you are infralapsarian, I assume you do not agree with Greg when he said that God creates men specifically to go to hell? (You did say that way back there 500 or so comments ago didn’t you Greg?)

    Am I correct on thinking that?

  474. What you, Greg and Fr. Robert, have said is basically, in order to have a conversation, we must make the same assumptions about not only the infallibility and self-authentication of scripture (which Arminians do), but have to buy into your interpretation of it as the most obvious one. Until we affirm your epistemology and your interpretation of scriptures as self-evident, we cannot hope to engage you in dialogue. And yet we cannot be brought over to your epistemology or interpretation without dialogue. Again, a lose-lose situation. Besides Greg basically says that we don’t believe in inerrancy because we don’t have your interpretation!

    We are treated as though the kerygma is Reformed theology, though an actual proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers is almost never presented with Reformed doctrine attached. Most Calvinists present the gospel first and Reformed doctrine after conversion. That is my experience.

    From another angle, it would be interesting to see you justify your presuppositionalist position. 🙂 Of course you wouldn’t because you presuppose it. But in my reading of church history and particularly the history of the Biblical Canon, I see scripture as anything but self-authenticating. Scripture grew up and was formed in the bosom of the church. There is no definition of scripture or the boundaries of the canon without the church. Just ask those first Christians who, while they had a core list, they weren’t sure about others which eventually made it (self-evident? and self-authenticating?). This I see as the biggest challenge to all reformation (including Arminian) theology. I say this as a Protestant who sees a huge weakness in our presuppositions.

    All that said, I am withdrawing from the conversation as well. Whenever you, Fr. Robert, affirm Greg’s comments and then amplify them, you show that you are not interested in conversation any longer. You degenerate back into affirmation. Scripture does not stand alone. It always has interpreters.

    I wish it could be more of a mutual learning experience.

  475. Love it Greg! The “pastoral” heart beats only from God In Christ! (Eph. 2: 18)

  476. Greg,

    Michael has said quite often that he seldom reads these comments past the first 24 hours or so. So it is really not very likely that he is actually reading here no.

    Your concern for him is very evident though.

    Fr Robert,

    Did you notice my comment # 37 on this page?

  477. Greg,

    You are welcome at my blog anytime. I have a lot of posts for you to take issue with. I also don’t have a character limit. But let me say again that I am not interested in the grandiose proclamations, the grandstanding and the over the top rhetoric (notice I said, over the top- I understand that debates include some rhetorical back and forth). If you can keep to the issue at hand without all of the extra bluster, I would be happy to continue the dialogue at my site.

    However, I do not use Facebook for debates. I rarely go to Facebook at all, and I only use it to stay in touch with family and friends. That is how I would like to keep things.

    If you want to comment at my site, this might be a good place to start:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/john-piper-on-god-ordaining-all-sin-and-evil-part-1-an-arminian-response-to-pipers-first-question/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  478. @Prometheus: Back to the Arminian brotherhood eh? Fine! Btw, your points about the so-called “church” being THE said keeper of the “keys” of Scripture and everything canon is actually more “Catholic”, than Protestant! The church is really “the pillar and SUPPORT of the truth” (1 Tim. 3: 15), but is NOT the Keeper “itself”, that alone is the Holy Spirit Himself, the Vicar of Christ! I am of course more toward “the Ecclesia semper reformada”!

    And btw, let me recommend here, Michael Kruger’s book: Canon Revisited, Establishing The Origin And Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway 2012). Both Mike Horton and John Frame have written in support of the book!

    *I was raised Irish Roman Catholic, “been there and done that”!

  479. Guess I am not going to get an answer to my question from Fr Robert.

    But if what I believe to be the case about your varying views on this issue is correct, I must say I find it interesting that both of you are basically asserting that you know the truth, but you are not in complete agreement on the issues involved with that truth.

    If you are in agreement here, please do correct my mistaken understanding.

  480. cherylu: Not to worry, we all are fallible! But yes, I am Infralapsarian! See my #35. 🙂

  481. @cherylu: Again I DON”T know all of the truth, but I know both HIM who is “THE I AM, the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through/by ME.” (John 14: 6)

  482. I meant to post this a while ago in response to Greg’s assertions about Arminians needing to pray like Calvinists, or whatever:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/calvinist-prayer-and-many-other-things-explained/

  483. Fr Robert,

    Well, Greg is 100% sure that he is correct it would seem. And you have insisted that we have to go with infralapsarianism (even if you are fallible. 🙂 )

    And I think that Jay had a somewhat different take on things then either of you guys did. While you you are all pretty adamant about things, we poor non Calvinists are still left trying to sort out what the right right is! 🙂

  484. Greg,

    I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in writing an article to impress you or to prove something to you.

    I am just going to give you a little info., and you can take it or leave it. I think that I understand presuppositional apologetic just fine. The truth is, it is really an extremely simple system. I am not sure why you think I have not “engaged” the issue. I am not even sure I know what that means. I have read and learned about presuppositional apologetics from Bahnsen, Van Til, Frame, and others.

    I actually prefer presuppositional apologetics in a variety of applications, but it s not without it’s problems. I think that evidentialism must inform presuppositionalism to some extent before pesuppositionalism can really get going. But that doesn’t really matter too much.

    What I object to is the idea that presuppositional apologetics can only really makes sense or be useful if one holds to an exhaustively determinsitic Calvinist world view. That simply doesn’t follow. That is a leap in logic that Van Til and other’s have made. That argument is full of holes and is in some ways incoherent (and I am using that word in a strict sense, not just saying it doesn’t make sense, but that the various pieces of the argument simply do not hold together- cohere).

    Let me put it to you this way. After reading Van Til’s main work on epistimology and presuppositional apologetics, I threw the book away. That is one of the only books I have ever owned that I threw away. I found it completely useless because it was filled with unsuccessful attempts to prove that only Calvinism can serve as the proper backdrop for presuppositional apologetics. I found Van Til’s philosophy to be so full of holes in that regard, that I saw no reason to keep the book.

    So now you know a little more where I am coming from on all this. I want to see a coherent argument from a Calvinist that proves that Calvinism must lie behind the presuppositional approach. I…

  485. That last sentence got cut off for some reason. It should read: “I have yet to see that.” And let me add that when I read that paper you referred us to, I saw more of the same.

    As it has been suggested before, we should probably just agree to disagree.

    Good luck with those atheists.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  486. @cherylu: Yes Greg and I have some in-house differences, I like John Frame very much (a student of Van Til btw, Frame is in his early 70’s), and feel he has worked out some of the bugs of Van Til’s basic epistemology (see Frame’s book: Cornelius Van Til. An Analysis of His Thought). Greg says he just does not like Frame! But always I seek to keep my “presuppositional” ideas and faith rather simple! And I do allow for some aspect of the evidential, but it must be in submission always to the Holy Scripture!

    Way back when, I had some old snail-mail with Greg Bahnsen, (me from England then, Bahnsen in So. Cal). Sadly Bahsen died after heart-valve surgery as I remember in 1995. My little brother (Irish) was a American Marine in the 80’s! And he still lives in the So. Cal, and has become and American citizen.

  487. Greg,

    That is hardly what I said. What I said was that I found Cornelius Van Til’s argumentation weak with regards to trying to make Calvinism the foundation for epistemology, just as I have found your attempts to be in the same way lacking (and I asked you more than once to connect the dots for us).

    That is hardly the same thing as saying that I find the subject inconsequential.

    It is strange to me that you would draw that conclusion.

    Oh well.

  488. I gave up completely yesterday trying to keep up with the convo that was going on here. It was too “hot” and it was not a discussion anymore for the most part. Besides, I was fighting a bug.

    But now that things are quieted down, I just want to add some thoughts that are not directly related to the Calvinism conversation per se.

    Greg, I think this is more directed to you then anyone else as you are the one that seems to be 100% convinced you are right.

    In principle I agree with you in that there is one truth–God’s truth. However, among Christians and those reading His Word, there is a great deal of difference in how they understand that truth that they see in the Bible.

    I have been in various denominational churches as well as several non denominational ones in my life time. I grew up in a Lutheran family. I remember how shocked I was at one point when I realized that certain understandings of Scripture that I had were not at all the way others understood them. I realized at that point that just because something is taught as the truth didn’t make it so.

    Christians believe differently about a multitude of things. For example: complimentarian/egalitarian, the mode and meaning of baptism, cessationist/continuationist, the meaning of the Lord’s supper, YEC/OEC, of course Calvinism/Arminianism, not to mention eschatological differences. And the funny thing is, they all believe that what they are saying is what Scripture teaches or that it can be backed up with Scripture.

    The irony on this thread itself is evident as those of you that are Calvinists and are insisting that the rest of us should be too don’t even agree on the details of how that all works.

    Obviously my point is that Christians do differ on things. Obviously that is not the ideal, but it is a fact of life. I do believe we need to come to agreement on things. But that is easier said then done. Some of these issues have been discussed for centuries already.

  489. To Arminian. Calvinists aren’t stupid. We know Shank’s absurd doctine of Life in the Son,Corporate election.Just another variation of God predestinates the plan,not the man.So in Romans 9 God’s mercy is shown to Nations running and willing to set themselves up or to a moving corporate body of contingent individuals who have free willed their way into the body of Christ,and may Free -will their way out ,so one can never say what specific indiduals will be eternally in Christ,until history ends,if then. Pure nonsense. But the amusing part was the statement “God has been forced to use them through their failure.”..I have sad news for Arminians. Your not going to force God to do anything. He won’t be forced.

  490. Jay,

    What article are talking about?

  491. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 12:48 pm

    Arminian Prometheus, #514: “If all you mean by the word “decree” is that God determined it would happen, I would be happy to accept it.”

    Cherylu, Prometheus is happy to accept that God has determined all the events that have happened, all the events that are happening now, and all the events that will happen in the future. Will you be happy too?

    Cherylu, #158: “If your understanding of Scripture is true, all I can say is that for the greatest share of humanity it would of been better indeed if they had never been born. The thought of being born helpless and hopeless and doomed for an eternity in hell without a thing you or anyone else can do about it is beyond appalling.

    Say whatever you like, but I see no way whatsoever that any concept of love can be applied to that situation. At least you were honest about that Greg and said you didn’t believe God loves the reprobate.

    And the thought of creating people to torture them forever in a place that you yourself warn people to avoid at any cost seems downright diabolical.”

    God has decreed that every person ever born be born. No one ever born had a choice to not be born. Reprobate’s birth was sovereignly decreed. God foreknew Reprobate’s destiny before she was born, and He knowingly decreed her birth; therefore, has Prometheus has written: “If all you mean by the word “decree” is that God determined it would happen, I would be happy to accept it.”

    Be happy to accept it as Prometheus is happy to accept it.

  492. TUAD,

    Believing that the only way God foreknew something (reprobate’s destiny) is that He already decreed it in such a way that reprobate had no opportunity for salvation, is different then believing that God foreknew something because He was omniscient and knew before reprobate made his/her choice what that choice would be.

    And just a forewarning here, I don’t have either the time or the energy to pursue this conversation much further at this time.

  493. Jay mentioned this statement: “God has been forced to use them through their failure.” as if it had to do with something I said or recommended But it doesn’t. As far as I know, that statement was not in anything I recommended. And I should did not say that. I am not sure what he is talking about.

  494. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 1:15 pm

    Me: “No one ever born had a choice to not be born. Reprobate’s birth was sovereignly decreed. God foreknew Reprobate’s destiny before she was born, and He knowingly decreed her birth; therefore, has Prometheus has written: “If all you mean by the word “decree” is that God determined it would happen, I would be happy to accept it.”

    Cherylu: “… God foreknew something because He was omniscient and knew before reprobate made his/her choice what that choice would be.”

    Good! Sounds like your happy with God’s decrees when Reprobates who had no choice in being born go to Hell. Celebrate your happiness.

  495. Arminian,

    That is the statement that I was wondering about and why I asked to what article he was referring.

    Maybe he will clarify for us.

  496. TUAD,

    You just don’t see the difference do you?

    If God knows what reprobate will choose if given an actual choice is not the same thing as saying that God decrees something and there is only one choice involved–what He has decreed.

  497. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 1:34 pm

    Cherylu: “… God foreknew something because He was omniscient and knew before reprobate made his/her choice what that choice would be.”

    Cherylu,

    If this “difference” makes you happy with God’s decrees (and God decreed that every Reprobate ever born be born), then be happy with God’s decrees. Prometheus is happy to accept it. Cherylu, be happy with God’s decrees.

  498. I believe Jay was giving a rough ad hoc to the corporate idea in Robert Shank’s older book: Life in the Son? Indeed Romans 9 does appear to be only corporate in the sense of historic Israel first, but with verse 8 Paul brings to light the children of the promise, and certainly Rebekah’s coming birth of twins from Isaac: “for though the twins were not yet born and had not gone anything GOOD or BAD, so that God’s purpose according to His choice (election) would stand (remain), not because of works but because of Him who calls, etc.” (Rom. 9: 11) What could be more plain that here we have the corporate and individual of certain Jews and Gentiles, verses 22, 23, 24!

    Indeed we need to be doing more biblical exegesis here, in our theological statements! Both Calvinist and Arminian.

  499. i.e. the corporate & individual doctrine of the Election of Grace (in both Jews & Gentiles). This is Romans 9!

  500. @cherylu: When God looks at the so-called reprobate, according to the Infralapsarianism position: he is seeing one in the place of the Fall (the sinner, and He leaves him there…to go his on way), again the theological position that God’s decree to save “follows” logically (not temporarily) the decision to create and permit the Fall.

  501. BTW TUAD,

    I haven’t figured out why I should be happy to accept something just because Prometheus is happy to accept it! 🙂 Besides, I am not at all sure that you aren’t using the quote from Prometheus in a way that he never intended.

    And in case you think that Arminians don’t believe that God makes decrees, (which your line of questions and comments leads to think may be the case), that is not true. It is the nature of the decrees made that is in question here rather then if He makes decrees or not.

  502. We should note too, that God did not choose to forgive and redeem the angels that sinned and followed Lucifer, their judgment is certain also! Note Paul calls some “the elect angels.” (1 Tim. 5: 21)…Here the election is to God’s purpose & goodness.

  503. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 2:17 pm

    Cherylu: “I haven’t figured out why I should be happy to accept something just because Prometheus is happy to accept it!”

    Cherylu, are you happy to accept God’s decrees? Yes? No?

  504. Indeed God’s Decrees are eternal, and come from His will, plan and Covenant/covenants! (Heb. 13: 20)

  505. Fr Robert,

    I am aware that is the Infralapsarian position. Truly I am not ignorant of Calvinism as you once asserted I was!

    The difference though is that he is left there–with no offer of salvation being made or possible for him.

    TUAD,

    I reckon we all have to accept God’s decrees. That doesn’t mean that we can’t question someone else’s understanding of them. Or think for that matter that there may very well be something wrong with that understanding because it just doesn’t seem to fit very well with the totality of Scripture. And it seems to make God’s character quite schizophrenic, for lack of a better word. And I will admit I am not happy about that. And I don’t know that the word “schizophrenic” is really a very accurate description for what I am trying to say. But I can’t come up with a better word at the moment.

  506. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 2:39 pm

    Cherylu, God decreed that every Reprobate ever born be born. These Reprobates had no choice in whether to be born or not.

    Cherylu, are you happy to accept God’s decrees such as the aforementioned decree above? Yes? No?

  507. And always remember that infralapsarianism still holds that God unconditionally decreed all things, including the wickedness of the wicked so that the definitive cause of them being wicked is God’s decree. It was God who chose for them to sin, and that is ultimately why they sin and are wicked. So those he chooses to pass by and not save are in that state needing salvation ultimately and definitively because God chose for them to be that way in such a way that they could not have done anything else but what they did and be any pother way than they are.

  508. cherylu: You cannot see it appears that the sinner left to himself, just does not want God (the true God), but wants to go his/her own way! So at judgment they go smartly off to their own eternity without God In Christ, and no doubt they really want it that way! (Jude 10 ; 13-15)… Btw note verse 6, as to the lost angels!

  509. TUAD,

    You have already been answered on this stuff. See comments #173, 196, 198, 210, 228, 230, 232. Now, it may just be that your are not “happy” with the answers you have received, but that doesn’t mean they do not adequately address the supposed problem you are trying to press here.

  510. @ “A”: So why did not God choose to save and forgive the sinful angels?

  511. Truth Unites... and Divides 2013-05-19 at 2:53 pm

    Arminian and Arminianperspectives, God decreed that every Reprobate ever born, be born. These Reprobates had no choice in whether to be born or not.

    Arminian and Arminianperspectives, are you happy to accept God’s decrees such as the aforementioned decree above? Yes? No?

  512. @ “A”: As to # 75… That’s not completely true, as God is not the author of evil! YOU don’t know Reformed doctrine of theology, fully!

  513. Btw, “A” and “AP”, I thought you guys were done here, this blog?

  514. Fr Robert,

    Yep, and how did he get that way? He got that way because God decreed to permit the fall, or in some versions of Calvinism did not just decree to permit it but actively decreed it, and He also decreed that each person born of Adam’s seed after that would be born with a totally depraved nature so that he just does not want God (the true God), but wants to go his/her own way! And then He totally refuses to offer that one any help. So even the fact that he doesn’t want God is God’s decree, is it not?

    So how exactly is saying he doesn’t want God–when that is according to God’s decree–make this any different?