Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley and Sam Storms as they discuss Calvinism.


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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    15 replies to "Theology Unplugged: An Invitation to Calvinism"

    • Constantine

      Thanks for the invitation but I was chosen before the foundations of the earth. (Eph. 1). 😉

    • Melani Boek

      Wayne Grudem is a widely respected Reformed theologian. In his Systematic Theology text he makes these statements: “I must decide to depend on Jesus to save me personally” (pg 710). “…true saving faith…only comes when I make a decision of my will to depend on, or put my trust in Christ as my Savior” (pg 712). “He does not save us ‘automatically’ without seeking for a response from us” (pg 695). “What is promised for those who come to Christ? … forgiveness of sin and eternal life” (pg. 695).

      1. Do you agree with these statements?
      2. Does a man possess either salvation or eternal life before he makes a decision of His will to trust in Jesus Christ?
      3. When a man places his trust in Jesus Christ, looking to God for salvation and eternal life, is that synergistic (“a cooperative effort of God and human beings”)? Why or why not?
      4. What does God do after a person places his trust in Jesus Christ to give him eternal life and salvation (Scripture please)?

    • Dr Michael

      Melani, I think Grudem answers it best.

      “In addition, when we look beyond these specific passages that speak of foreknowledge and look at verses that talk about the reason God chose us, we find that Scripture never speaks of our faith or the fact that we would come to believe in Christ as the reason God chose us. In fact, Paul seems explicitly to exclude the consideration of what people would do in life from his understanding of God’s choice of Jacob rather than Esau: he says, “Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue not because of works but because of his call, she was told, “The elder will serve the younger.’ As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” ’ (Rom. 9:11–13). Nothing that Jacob or Esau would do in life influenced God’s decision; it was simply in order that his purpose of election might continue.” (677)

    • Duane Jones

      Thank You for making this available for ME. I am like a kid in a candy store. I cannot wait to unwrap (Listen to) that which you are giving to me.


    • Melani Boek

      Dr. Michael,
      Thank you so much for taking time to respond to my post. In your conversation Sam Storms said that the defining issue in Calvinism is how we come to saving faith in Christ. This specifically is the area that I have questions in.

      Do you believe that a man must first come to know, understand, and approve of certain facts of the gospel before he can make a decision of his will to place his trust in Jesus Christ, as Mr. Grudem itemizes on pages 694 and 712?

      If, according to Reformed Doctrine, a man in his unregenerate state cannot perceive or understand the things of God without being given new spiritual life from God, doesn’t this mean that the new life must come to him before he hears a complete gospel presentation so that he will have the ability to perceive the facts of the gospel? Doesn’t he need some time to hear all of the necessary facts given in a gospel presentation? Is there a possibility that he might need some time to come to an understanding and acceptance of these facts, or is the understanding and the acceptance immediately guaranteed? And might and individual take at least a little time to make the decision to actually place his trust in Jesus Christ? Therefore, to be consistent with the precepts of Calvinism, wouldn’t there need to be some space of time between the reception of new spiritual life and the actual act of an individual’s will to place his trust in Jesus Christ?

      Or does the unperceiving unregenerate man make his decision to trust in Jesus Christ at the moment of regeneration, without a need to perceive, hear, understand, and accept the facts of the gospel?

    • Rick C.

      In the podcast, I think it was Sam Storms who mentioned there were thinkers in the early church who thought ‘Calvinistically’ prior to Calvin. Of course, everyone knows Augustine did.

      Q: Could anyone inform us of a ‘Calvinistic’ thinker prior to Augustine? (I know of none).

      Dr. Michael (#4) quoted Wayne Grudem’s ‘take’ on Romans 9; a ‘classic Calvinistic interpretation’ that Paul was writing about individual-election-to-salvation.

      Q: Non-Calvinists, and probably most Arminians (and certainly Classical Arminians) interpret Paul as speaking to God’s election of Israel (Jacob) as His chosen people through whom He would accomplish His purposes. Are there any Calvinists who speak to this today? (To my knowledge, neither Calvin nor Augustine seemed to know about, nor engage with, this understanding of Romans 9).

      Thanks! (Hello C. Michael)!

    • ScottL

      While I have some Calvinistic leanings in the areas of soteriology, I wonder when the church is going to move past Calvinism-Arminianism debates and focus on living and proclaiming that God’s rule is here and He is about to make all things new. It seemed to be the passion of Christ himself, as well as much teaching in the NT.

    • mbaker

      ScottL said:

      ‘I wonder when the church is going to move past Calvinism-Arminianism debates and focus on living and proclaiming that God’s rule is here and He is about to make all things new. It seemed to be the passion of Christ himself, as well as much teaching in the NT.’

      Agreed. Well put.

    • Rick C.

      “…I wonder when the church is going to move past Calvinism-Arminianism debates….”.

      Hi Scott! One really helpful thing, that would take things a LOT further down the road, would be for Calvinists and Arminians to acknowledge-and-address their different understandings of what Paul meant (was saying) in Romans 9, ff. As I mentioned before, I don’t know if Augustine or Calvin were aware of other readings or understandings of the text (not their own). From what I recall in reading them, I have doubts they did. However, since we know Paul is being read in very different ways today (Calvinists, Arminians), isn’t it about time folks get-with-it on this? Most especially full-time pro theologians, imo! Thanks.

    • david carlson

      I thought Calvinism was someone who agreed with and believed Calvins interpretation of the bible

    • david carlson

      the more I read and listen people talk about Calvin, and realize that no one agrees with all that Calvin taught, the more I think about Proverbs 21:2. Then I start thinking that somewhere wormwood is laughing.

    • Bruce Prosser

      Several years ago I began embracing the idea of a Calvinistic way of thinking and am still wrestling with the hard line of the Perseverance of the Saints without some very careful and thorough elucidation.

      This embracing started in a college level study of the Letter to Romans while at the same time wrestling through a course in bibliology at an mid-western Arminian college. Romans 9 really beat me up, along with the same professor teaching both classes, in one he was advocating the classical Arminian view, and in the other was stressing the importance of submission to the ultimate authority of Scripture. Romans 9:16 was the breaking point. I even translated the whole chapter to make sure Paul was really saying what he was saying.

      My wife has not come to this realization, and it has become a struggle with us because I am having a hard time explaining what happened to me.

      She is unwilling to join our current church because of it.

      Any helpful suggestions? please!


    • Bruce Prosser

      It is funny to me that in going to a Arminian ministry school I moved toward Calvinism and in going to a heavily Dispensational theological seminary I embraced Reformed/Covenant theology.

      Am I strange in this?

    • Joseff Amador

      Hi Melani, you asked whether a passage of time existed between spiritual life being given and the persons exercising their will to trust in Christ.

      My understanding is that Calvinists believe regeneration and faith happen simultaneously in time, that is, temporally, but one happens before the other logically.

      That is to say that no physical time happens between regeneration and faith. When we speak of regeneration preceding faith, we don’t mean temporally, we mean logically. It simply means that though they happened at the same time, one had causal priority.

      An analogy of this is flipping on the light switch, while standing in a dark room. Which comes first, the act of the light coming on, or your ability to see? They happen at the same time, but one had to “preceed” the other in a logical fashion.

      Another example would be two pool balls hitting each other. They touch simultaneously, but the ball that was moving had causal priority. It was responsible for their collision.

      In like manner, when a man is regenerated, he has faith. Being spiritually alive he is able to respond to the gospel presentation.

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