There are a few things that people never forget. The details of certain tragedies and trials stay by your side and the vivid details remind you of their significance. People remember where they were when the planes hit the World Trade Centers. I was leaving for work and glanced at the TV. People remember where they were when the first space-shuttle exploded. I was in eighth grade down by the snack machine getting Bugles. I remember where I was when I was told about my sisters death. I was driving down 635 just passing Preston Rd. I remember where I was when I was told about my mothers aneurysm. I was sitting on the couch on the middle cushion with cereal in my mouth. We remember certain events because of their significance. Unfortunately, most of these are tragic. It is funny to bring this up in this context, but most Christians remember where they were when they first heard about God’s election – predestination.

It was nearly 20 years ago. I was outside my mother’s room and she came to me with her Bible and said, “You think you have got it all figured out? Well, how do you deal with this?” She gave me her Bible opened to Romans 9. It was the first time I had read it. I read it right there in the hallway. When I read the words, “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but upon God who has mercy,” I got mad. Well, I started off confused. But I did not let my mother know this because at the time I was a know-it-all (hence, the “You think you have got it all figured out” etc.). My confusion turned into determination. Determination to resolve this “crisis.” I went into my room and laid down on my stomach on the left side of my bed. I studied that passage inside out. No, I did not consult any commentaries. I was too smart for them at the time. All I needed was the Bible and the Holy Spirit. My mother was sure to tell me that she had asked people all her life and no one could give her an answer. This fueled my motivation.

After hours alone with the text, I went back into my mother’s room and sat down on her right side on her bed. I said, “I have figured it out.” I proceeded to tell her that God “elected” people based upon what He already knew. I had reasoned this way: If God knows everything, even the future, then He knows who will choose Him. Therefore, He simply looks ahead in time and chooses those who choose Him! That is it! Next question please.

Yes, I came to that conclusion on my own without even knowing that I was articulating an Arminian position with regards to election. I left her room satisfied that she still believed I could solve any biblical dilemma. Yet, the problem was that I was not satisfied with my answer. I knew that my answer was insufficient. Deep down, I knew it. I knew that I was not being intellectually honest with my mom, myself, or the text. I knew that I was simply trying to solve a problem that when looked at in the face was very frightening. No, it was repulsive. This know-it-all-Arminian-by-nature was thoroughly confused. Why? Because the answer I gave was exactly what the text would not allow. It said, “For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.” And I just told my mother that it DID depend on whether or not someone had done something good or bad, namely whether or not someone had faith.

That day, whether I admitted it or not, I knew my theology was changing. I did not know what Calvinism was and was greatly unaware of the debate surrounding the issue of election, but I was becoming a Calvinist. I did not want to. I fought it for weeks, months, even years. I was a reluctant Calvinist.

However, things did change. I also remember the day that I fully (and joyfully) embraced unconditional election. I was at a seminar led by James Montgomery Boice. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I do remember this story. I will do the best I can with it.

“Imagine this. Imagine yourself being in heaven and walking with the angels. One of them asks you, “How did you get here.” You would say ‘Well, I got here by the grace of God alone.’ The angel responds and asks, ‘Well, I don’t understand. Why are you here and others are not?’ You say, ‘Because God had mercy on me.’ ‘Yes, but,’ the angel replies, ‘What makes you different.’ If you are an Arminian, you would ultimately say, ‘Well, when it comes down to it, the major difference between those people who did not make it and myself is that I choose to place my faith in God.” [At this point Boice places his thumbs under his arms with a haughty look]. The angel then says, ‘Oh, so ultimately, you are the cause of your salvation.’ But to the Calvinist, things are different. There will never be an opportunity or a place for boasting before the angels or anyone else. Not even in the slightest. There is nothing that you can claim. There is no haughtiness, no pride, no self-esteem. Only a deep understanding that God did everything and you did nothing. This is grace. To the angel, all the Calvinist can say is ‘I don’t know why God had mercy on me and not others. All I know is that it has nothing to do with me.'” 

That day I finally came to a settled conclusion that this is what the Bible teaches and I had better submit to its authority, not the authority of my emotion. That day I realized that salvation is a monergistic work of God. That day I realized that my faith was a response to God’s mercy upon me. That day I realized how radical grace is and how sovereign God is in His administration of it. That day I joyfully gave the Potter charge over the clay and placed my hand over my mouth. That day I knew that I could never be lost since I had nothing to do with being found.

Since then, the struggles with regards to this issue have not ceased. I still understand the problems that people have with Romans 9 and the entire doctrine of election. I understand why people reject it. Yet all the arguments that I have ever heard against it only serve to confirm my conviction of the truthfulness of unconditional election.

PS: This blog post is not necessarily meant to be an argument for Calvinism (though it is implied), but simply some details about my theological journey, if you will.

PSS: NO, I am NOT still a know-it-all. Silence!


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. 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. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    182 replies to "The Day I Became a Calvinist"

    • C Michael Patton

      Vance, what you are failing to see (I think) is the the unconditional part is the only thing that causes the mystery. If election is not unconditional, problem solved! There is no mystery or tension. But then the Scripture does not make sense.

      What I am saying is that it is clear that election is unconditional. Again, I appeal to my post on Romans 9. What do you do with the text? How do you explain the objector’s reaction outside of unconditional election?

      There are some things that are very clear, like the issue of the Trinity that produce mystery and tension. The issue of God’s unconditional election and man’s responsibility produces mystery and tension.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      When one opens to an arbitrary passage (isolated context) and is introduced to a text upon which Romans, chapters 1-8 (really the entire Bible up to this point) was building, it is not dissimilar to concept overload/confusion (much like immediately teaching calculus to a 5 year old).

      Please consider the following:

      The whole framework of Romans MUST be understood with its introduction (God’s purpose for BOTH Jew [circumcised] and Gentile [uncircumcised]):

      The Gospel was the culmination of God’s promise (Rom. 1:1-4.
      The introduction of the Gospel from Pentecost-onward:
      Salvation has ALWAYS followed the “obedience of faith” (Acts 2:36-47; 8:5, 12;10:33-48; 11:18 et al).

      Acts 14:37 shows that it was the obedience to the Gospel (the “offer” to all for salvation) that will define the “obedience of faith” in Romans (salvation “by faith”, Heb. 11).

      Acts 15:1-5 is essential, it shows the Jews’ desire to hang onto the Law of Moses (and compelling Gentiles who were never made to be circumcised in the first place, to keep it).

      1. Romans has nothing to do with “faith alone” (thus Paul’s introductory marker of, “…unto obedience of faith among all the nations [Rom. 1:5; 16:26])

      2. Paul then sets his thesis statement that IT (the Gospel) “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

      THEREFORE: “believeth” must be understood in light of “…unto obedience of faith among all nations”, which includes Jew and Gentile alike (as well as thinking “by faith” yet NEVER thinking “faith alone”) in their obedience to the Gospel (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; cf. Gal. 3:26-28).

      Paul then goes to show that God’s wrath is revealed to those “not” obedient (both Jew AND Gentile, Rom. 2:1-11)

      He then goes to show that a Savior was needed for ALL men (obviously those “accountable” [with a capacity TO believe], Rom. 3)

      He then shows God’s method of salvation, in justifying both Abraham (one NOT circumcised) and David (one who WAS circumcised) because both manifested the obedience of faith, being saved by the grace of God, despite both falling short of “sinless perfection” (Rom. 4:12).

      The point of Romans 9-11 is for the JEW to understand why he needs to become a member of the church for which Jesus died (instead of just accepting the same Judaism he’s been obeying all his life). It has a great deal to do with the AD 70 judgment in mind (very soon to come for them, Rom. 16:20).

      It has nothing to do with “unconditional election/total depravity/God’s arbitrary decision to save one while arbitrarily condemning others.

      Without these perspectives continually in mind, the study of Romans will be an exercise in futility/absurdity/error.

    • Nick N.

      Kris,

      You said: “Personally to me an Arminian God is a passive God who simply responds to our call.”

      That’s only because you’re a Calvinist 😉

      I’d ask you to read the quote from Arminius above (comment #26) and I here offer the first article of the Remonstrance:

      “That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii:36: ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,’ and according to other passages of Scripture also.”

      [Phillip Schaff. The Creeds of Christendom, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996), 3.545.]

      And the fourth point as well:

      “That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts vii., and elsewhere in many places.”

      [Ibid. 3.547]

      The “Arminian God” (and I shudder at the use of such a term — it implies that the Calvinist’s God is different) is very much active in electing, calling, and providing the grace necessary for man to repent and believe. 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Kris,

      It was called the University if Biblical Studies and Seminary. It was a mixture between third wave and Weslyian. I got a degree in Biblical Studies there.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      Really, it is false to base one’s philosophy/theology on either men (just accept what the Bible says).

      Any body who follows “Alexander Campbell” rather than the Bible is lost (because Campbell taught error on some things, much like it is false to call the “churches of Christ” “Campbellite” churches

      Where any man AGREES with the Bible, then he is correct, when he DISAGREES with the Bible, he is incorrect, it is really that simple.

      Any “Peter/James follower” (Gal. 2), when they were/are not correct, will be lost

      :o)

      If any man became a member of a “church of Christ” by not being added by the Lord upon his obedience of faith (Acts 2:36-47), then he is lost.

      If any man believed and followed any man in error, when he (“any man”) was in error, he would be lost (Matt. 15:13-14).

      We could go on and on…

    • Carrie Hunter

      I remember the day I turned over to the dark side. 😀

      I was at my desk reading Scripture. I hated what I saw in Romans 9. It was Romans 9 that did it for me. A year and a half later, I am still a Calvinist. I am not however high in my Calvinism and I am certainly not hyper, but I am a Calvinist nonetheless.

      I have learned a lot from talking to some of my friends who know A LOT more about this subject than I could ever possibly hope to know. I have learned for example that today’s Calvinism is more Owenism (rooted in the theology of John Owen) than it is authentic Calvinism.

      I have seen a few questions here raised regarding limited atonement (something that when looking at Calvinism through the eyes of Owen would seem is limited only and exclusive to the elect). John Calvin did not limit the scope of the atonement to the elect. He only limited the salvific nature of the atonement to the elect; having said that everyone limits the salvific nature of the atonement.

      Some limit it to those who choose Christ, while others limit it to those whom God has elected. At the end of the day, everyone limits the scope of the atonement, unless they are Universalists. So everyone holds to limited atonement in some facet or another.

      I would say the atonement is for all but especially for the elect. Did all of mankind in some way benefit from Christ’s death on the cross? Yes I believe we have. Will all of mankind benefit from the saving nature of the atonement? No sadly they will not. Does it make me sad that some will die lost? Yes it does. Why if I believe in election would I worry about who dies lost? Because God has a heart for the lost so why on earth should I not? Does God hate those whom He does not elect unto salvation? No of course not. Why then does He not elect to save them then? I have no idea. That is what I understand to be the hidden will of God and I will not be so bold as to even attempt to answer on His behalf.

      In my understanding of John Calvin’s soteriology, I do not see a denial of God’s universal love for all of His creation. I do not see a denial of God’s desire that ALL MEN (without exception or distinction) come to a saving faith through Jesus Christ. I do not see a denial of ALL MANKIND’S responsibility to repent from their sins and trust Christ. I do not see a denial of duty faith on the believer’s part. I do not see a lot of things in Calvin’s theology that a lot of people today seem to impose on his work.

      I realize this post is a bit convoluted and I apologize for that. I had a lot I wanted to say and I only skimmed the surface; again my apologies for being a bit erratic with my thoughts. They are my thoughts though and I appreciate being able to share them here.

    • Kris

      Nick,
      I agree that my use of “Arminian God” was harse. They are not different
      Gods. The Arminian simply does not fully understand the Grace of the
      true God ;).

      While this is used half-jokingly, I do believe that if you reserve for yourself
      even taking credit in making a decision for God to save you then you lessen
      Grace.

      It’s basically saying that you by your will control whether or not God will save
      you and that there’s nothing that He can do to infringe upon it.

      No matter how you look at it, it says that you are the ultimate determining
      factor in your salvation. I think that in order to hold to his then you must say
      that God simply plans His actions around your decisions which make him a
      passive God.

      Thank you for the correction on the “Arminian God” reference though. I know
      many Arminians who love God passionately and I would never say that they
      are worshiping a different God.

    • JohnT3

      The problem with some Calvinists is that they have never read Calvin’s writtings. They have read someone else’s take on it and then they say “Hey I am a Calvanist”

      While I know Micael has read Calvin I am per plexed by something though, If the Lord should tarry at least another 100 years would there be Christians who have read this blog and call themsleves Pattonists 🙂

    • Vance

      But Michael, does your analysis of Romans 9, or the Calvinist position in general, really give enough credence to man’s responsibility to create any tension going the other way? It sounds to me like that view of Man’s side of the equation is merely the phrase itself, without any real meaning behind it. It is as if there is a concept of responsibility or free will, but really anything there.

      For there to be real tension, there has to REAL free will and responsibility on the one side, and REAL unconditional election on the other.

      I agree that the popular Arminian position removes the tension the one way, but does not your position, when it boils down, not really give enough REAL substance to free will and responsibility for there to be tension?

      Maybe I am not grasping the weight you give the free will and responsibility side, how it really means something, and something that would truly seem to be in direct tension with your view of election.

      For me, I still am one step “back” on the pathway, willing to say “hey, I am not sure HOW there can be predestination and election on the one hand, and free will and responsibility on the other, but I know that both are clearly there in Scripture”. That is real tension, and I ascribe the solution to this concept of God’s timelessness, which is a complete mystery. We just don’t have language for it, in my opinion.

    • C Michael Patton

      Lover, I disagree with you about the context having nothing to do with election. The context has to do with justifying God’s promise in light of Israels apparent rebellion. How can we trust God to save us when Israel has turned away? It is a necessary excursus in the argument of Paul to say that God will hold to his promises (mentioned at the end of chapter 8). The reason we can know that God will hold to His promises is because, like the remnant within Israel who were elect, so we can have the same confidence.

      God did not choose all of Israel, only some. The same is true with the Church. God did not choose all people, only some. Therefore, “The gifts and the calling are irrevocable.” The whole section (9-11) is dealing with the security of a believe in the promises of God. The security is argued for based on God’s unconditional election. Therefore, unconditional individual election is an essential component of this section.

      Again, I encourage you to read my paper on Why I am Still a Calvinist.

    • C Michael Patton

      OK, I can’t keep up 🙂 Need to get back to work soon.

    • C Michael Patton

      Carrie. Great post. Follows my original intention with this blog. I thought (hoped) it would turn into “memoirs of the day I heard of unconditional election.” lol…fat chance.

    • C Michael Patton

      John, you are great! We can only hope not.

      That is why I would prefer to deal with the particular issue (unconditional election/conditional election) rather than its name-sake (Calvinism/Arminianism).

    • Vance

      You bring up Calvinism v. Arminianism and expect it to be a “one-off”? Silly Michael . . . 🙂

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      The “some” were those exercising the “obedience of faith”, that which the majority lacked. The “us”, within Paul’s argument from Romans 8 are for those Jews who obeyed the Gospel/are God’s remnant, along with the Gentiles having become apart of the “nation”, the church.

      Paul’s referent from the arguments and the ramifications upon the “elect”.
      Rom 9:25 As he saith also in Hosea, I will call that my people, which was not my people; And her beloved, that was not beloved.
      Rom 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith:
      Rom 9:31 but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.
      Rom 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling;

      The reason the Jews were not “elected”/saved was because they rejected Christ, all those rejecting Christ are not saved, nothing “Calvinistic” about it.

      Those who are “elect” are those obeying the Gospel “call”
      “…whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thess. 2:14)

      Nothing in the Bible gives credence to “Calvinism” (except a fundamental misunderstanding of redemption by men [e.g. Augustine/Calvin] who had base thoughts of the “nature” of mankind, in general).

      Hope that helps

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      God “chose” those obedient (much like the “chose” Joshua and Caleb), nothing personal to the rest of the nation, they just rejected His call (Num. 32:12)

      BTW, Caleb was a gentile, out of an Edomite descendant, which goes to show there is NOTHING arbitrary about God’s salvation (Those who follow will be saved/elect, those not following will be lost).

      I really don’t see any of the “5 pillars” here.

    • Josh

      Michael, are you aware of any responses/critiques to Piper’s, “The Justification of God”?

      I have heard from both sides that this one of the heaviest hitting exegesis of Romans 9 and curious your thoughts (if you have read it) on it.

    • C Michael Patton

      Vance, I am very comfortable with your comments. Tension is only necessary with unconditional election though.

      I do have a very high view of man’s responsibility. I don’t hold to libertarian freedom for philosophical reasons, not so much biblical. But I do believe that people make free decisions even if their will is corrupted. This will come back to my view on the relationship of the First Adam to the rest of the human race and my view of imputation (which is what I was getting at on the creation/evolution thing).

      When all is said and done, there is a mystery concerning how people are held responsible for their decisions and God’s unconditional election.

      Yet, my tension really is not there. My tension is in this: If God’s love and mercy is the basis for election and God loves all people, why didn’t He choose everyone?

      This perplexes me beyond what I could express in this blog. This is where I say I just have to put my hand over my mouth, believing that God REALLY does love everyone, yet, for some reason (mystery) He did not choose everyone.

    • C Michael Patton

      Lover, all I can say (besides I don’t understand what you are saying) is that the context I provided is the most likely. You must follow the arguement where it leads.

      You also have to consider, Lover, why it is that the great majority of biblical exegetes do see this as teaching unconditional election.

    • Matthew

      Carrie,

      Ha! I, too, remember the day I first read Romans 9. It was just before Easter, 2006.
      I was Roman Catholic at that point. I had been conversing with a few friends of mine who were either Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist. I was quite well acquainted with the teachings of Augustine on grace and election, as well as the writings of Aquinas. For some reason, that I can’t seem to place right now, I had *never* read Romans 9. At least, not in any depth. I had been working through the doctrines of grace quite systematically but nothing could’ve prepared me for the first time I studied this chapter.

      Long story short, it was quite easy to call myself a Calvinist afterward.

      By the way, you bring up an excellent point vis a vis John Calvin. Calvin made some statements that favor a limited atonement, and others that seem to show a general redemption. I find that both 5-pointers and 4-pointers try to claim him for themselves.
      As for me, I relate limited atonement more to the electing of the Father and the irresistable call of the Spirit. Owenism, as you call it, is the bar test in most circles for being Reformed.
      I believe Christ took on the wrath of God for sin. I do not believe that Christ was a metaphysical marble-jar taking on each individual sin of each individual person or of the elect. But that He died to propitiate the wrath of the Father for all mankind. This is subjectively applied to each individual person through regeneration, faith, and repentance. In that sense, I reject limited atonement. I do, however believe that the elect are perfectly saved by Christ’s person and work, and only they will receive the benefits of His atonement in a salvific sense. Even strict 5 point Calvinists will say that the benefit of the atonement does not apply to the elect until the Spirit works regeneration in them. I believe the non-elect are in the same position, except that the Spirit will never bring them to new life, and they will be hardened.

    • C Michael Patton

      Josh, I am sure there are some out there, but I have not read any. You are right. Piper’s Justification of God is about the best exegesis of Romans 9-11 in print. It puts the whole subject in the context of Paul’s purpose to justify God, not so much God’s purpose to justify us.

      The assumption is that God’s justification is the primary purpose of the book of Romans (a view that I think is valid, yet a little misleading). I would agree that all of 9-11 is the vindication of God. V. 6 says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” This is the key to understanding the entire section. Paul wants to demonstrate how God’s promises have not failed with regards to Israel, hence, they will not fail with regards to you.

      It is a very good book. I imagine that it would be hard to find a good response to the book that is not emotionally charged and predisposed against unconditional election. But, agian, I am not sure.

    • C Michael Patton

      OK, I am out of here for a while.

      Thanks for the great conversation. Most of all, thanks for not calling each other names!! 🙂

      These are very difficult issues.

    • eduardo

      sean,

      Romans 8:29 “for those he foreknew”…God foreknew them because He created them (the elect) for that purpose. They were created in Gods mind (to put it that way) from the beginning. Not because he foreknew their actions. He foreknew those who existed in Gods mind in eternity.

    • C Michael Patton

      FYI ALL:

      I don’t know why, maybe it is because the comments are going so fast, but many are getting placed in the spam filter. It even put three of mine in spam!!!

      I will continue to check it, but if your post does not show, this is why.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      Michael, a very simple answer is:

      “The same reason the majority of the Jews did not believe Jesus”

      They chose to accept a misinterpreted tradition rather than truth (Matt. 15:1-14)

      Mar 7:3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders;
      Mar 7:4 and when they come from the market-place, except they bathe themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels.)

      One could very easily restate:
      For the “majority of scholars”, and all the “mainstream Protestant denominations”, except they “say the sinners’ prayer”, “are saved” not, holding the tradition of the elders (pick a “church father”);

      This is restating the thrust (with contemporary application, per me).

      One could easily replace “say the sinners’ prayer”, “are baptized not”…(holding to the “tradition” of “faith only”, and it will say basically the same thing.

      The “sinner’s prayer” is a tradition (a vain one at that) of man that deceives men into thinking they are saved when they have not actually obeyed the Gospel and have not been added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27)

      as well as, “…and many other things there are, which they have received to hold,…

      All self will/”what mommy/daddy taught”/our “reformation heritage”, usually.

      People CHOOSE not to do JUST what the Bible says (no addition nor subtraction) because, then, “it would be all so booooorrrriiiiiiinnnnggggg” (Luke 9:23, usual response).

      Many think worship is to please themselves instead of God (offering just what God asks “by faith” should be pleasant in itself).

      OR

      “You’re just be a member of a cult” (I’ve received that one a bit, too).

      Which is natural, if you’re a high and mighty denominationalist, who thinks he’s saved regardless of how many verses explicitly/implicitly teaches the contrary (ESPECIALLY if someone [who is not in a ‘denomination’] else points them out to him).

      But, of course, one must recall the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23, only “few” are the good ground upon which the truth is actually obeyed (Matt. 7:13-14).

      People have deceived themselves (II Thess. 2:10-12) if they think the “majority” of the “orthodox” cannot be wrong. Jesus will tell you that (Matt. 7:13-14).

      Joh 7:48 Hath any of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees?

      Sounds so familiar it’s scary….

    • C Michael Patton

      Lover, that is very uncalled for. You don’t know these people. Have you even read Cranfield, Piper, or Moo on Romans 9?

      You can’t label with ad homs them simply because you don’t agree with their view on election. You have to deal with the evidence. You are not being fair or intellectually honest.

    • tnahas

      Imagine God is at the Farmer’s market and selecting apples and he chooses 6 apples and only 6. And the farmer says “why only 6?” God says “because I only need 6”. “Why those 6”, the farmer says? God says “because I am God and it’s my money and I can buy those that I choose.”

      God goes on to say that “I find nothing wrong with the other apples I only chose those 6 apples that I need.” As an apple selected by God we give Him all the glory. As an apple not selected by God we are condemned to rot because of the elements of nature such as heat and rain and the natural rotting process.(as humans, this would be represented by our inherent sin, our sinful nature and our personal sin).

      We continue to struggle but I like that illustration.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      LOL I actually would love to read those commentaries when I get the chance (regardless of whom they are, I can appreciate “scholarly” insight). However, the “rabbi’s”/”scholars” take a backseat when they have accepted an unscriptural philosophy (pluralism, existentialism, Calvinism, etc…)

      I would gladly accept a copy of Cranfield’s ICC to review 🙂

      Have you ever heard Franklin Camp? He was one off the best teachers of Scripture I have ever heard (he is not a “critical scholar” but a simple preacher of the Gospel), but he has more insight to what the text “actually says…” than most scholars (this is somewhat of an anomaly, given that he was not skilled in Greek or Hebrew, just had a very practical and somewhat complete understanding of redemption).

      Truthfully, “scholarship” is a political “battlefield” of which I try to stray. However, I do appreciate many interesting “scholarship” insights.

      He (Franklin Camp) had a complete class all through the Bible, entitled, “Redemption through the Bible”

      You can order his Rom. 1-16 class for $10 (2 mp3 cd’s) I think these would be the best hours of study you probably will ever spend, IMHO)

      http://www.brothersincorporated.org/study_material.htm

      He also has an impressive book entitled, “The Word of the Holy Spirit in Redemption”. It is one of the finest one can find on the subject.

      Also, in the Campbell-Rice debate, Campbell really did a number on Calvinism (Rice’s doctrine).

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      Man poses NO nature different from what he possessed in the beginning.

      My child is just as “innocent” as Adam (before he sinned).

      Your imaginary “inherent sin” is self-deception. You have believed Calvinism so it is true “for you”. I do not, while on the contrary, knowing that it is false. Just as the earth was flat “to them” (of Columbus’ Day) so is Calvinism true “for you” (yet false to all who understand Ezek. 18:20-23)

      Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
      Eze 18:21 But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
      Eze 18:22 None of his transgressions that he hath committed shall be remembered against him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
      Eze 18:23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live?

      Either you “inherit” your father’s sin, or you do not, there is no “middle ground” (law of excluded middle).

      TvF: Satan was “born” sinful

      TvF: Adam was born sinful

      TvF: Eve was born sinful

      TvF: Abel was born sinful

      TvF: Mary (Christ’s mother) was born sinful

      TvF: Christ was born sinful

      TvF: At least one man has been born sinful

      The foregoing all false propositions have demonstrated:
      1. None of these individuals were born sinful

      2. No man has been born sinful

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      This lecture is a good one on the Jew/Gentile theme of Romans
      Please tell me what you think:

      mms://digitalbiblestudy.com/GBN2/VP/VP3.wmv

    • Chad Winters

      Wow….Full Blown Pelagianism

    • C Michael Patton

      Lover, please refer to the blog rules in the about page. You comments are not following them. Please be respectful and stay on topic. You are all over the place.

    • Josh

      Was just about to say that Chad lol. Lets just ignore all the texts that say we are born into sin and loving darkness… lol

    • Vance

      Makes us Arminians (I still like to call myself that, even if I am agnostic on the issue) seem pretty Reformed!

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      1st-Time Poster.

      Absolutely adored the recollection of how you became a Calvinist, CMP! Also, this is a great, Great, GREAT blog!!!

      (1) I need help with “P” of TULIP. I like and agree with T-U-L-I. Does anyone know a great link to an article about “P”? Intellectually, there’s no such thing as 3-point Calvinist. You’re either a 5-point Calvinist or a 5-point Arminian. They all tie together that closely and logically imply one another.

      Most folks wrestle with “L”. I wrestle with “P”!

      (2) Someone asked about double predestination. RC Sproul has a very nice essay explaining that on the internet.

      (3) Mixed feelings about Scot McKnight. He was an author of a chapter of a book I own that debunks and refutes the Jesus Seminar scholars. Good!

      But I read a 20+ page article that he wrote last year at a conference at Westminster Seminary where he’s an apologist for the Emergent/Emerging Church movement. It’s not the purpose of this thread or my comment to detail all the areas that I disagreed with Dr. McKnight on his article, but suffice it to say that I was greatly disappointed with his analysis and conclusions. Not to be snarky, but it seems like a logical slippery slope to go from Arminianism to the Emerging Church movement.

      (4) I absolutely consider Arminians Christians. I just think they’re off in some aspects of their theology. Eg., William Lane Craig is one of my favorite apologists. But he’s an Armininian.

      (5) Monergism vs. Synergism. This is key. Calvinism vs. Arminianism/Roman Catholicism.

      Thanks C. Michael Patton for your blog and for your thoughtful musings.

      Pax in Christ alone.

    • Matthew

      Truth Unites,

      I would try monergism.com. They have some great articles on the “P” there.
      Especially the ones by Sam Storms and John Piper.

      Awesome stuff.

      In Christ,
      Matt

    • Joanie D

      http://tominthebox.blogspot.com/2007/07/so-easy-calvinist-can-do-it.html

      From a link on the new blog that Michael has named “The Submerging Influence” I ended up at the blog above. Funny! You would think at first look that the author is not a Calvinist himself, since he is poking such fun at them, but he IS a Calvinist. So those of you who are Calvinists, enjoy his humor.

      I enjoy those caveman Geico commercials. (I hear there is going to be a half-hour comedy with the cave-men idea.) But I really like the little gecko guy too and hope he is not “pushed out” by the cavemen.

      Oops, how’s that for getting off-topic?!

      Joanie D.

    • Nick N.

      Truth Unites,

      Technically, there is such a thing as a 4 point Arminian. The Remonstrants took Arminian theology to a place that their teacher had not yet gone (although I do feel the direction they headed was the logical conclusion to what Arminius did believe and teach). But if we were to judge Arminianism by its founder then one could go either way on the perseverence issue.

      I’m of the belief that the ‘P’ absolutely requires the ‘U’ and since Arminians reject the ‘U’ then they should in turn reject the ‘P’, yet some do not… (sigh) 🙁

    • tnahas

      Well, I for one am so glad that I was chosen before the foundation of the earth (Eph 1:4) since well, as Spurgeon aptly put it: “If God didn’t choose before the foundation of the world then He certainly wouldn’t choose me now.

      Let’s all face it, in fact, wouldn’t it be a better answer to this blog that instead of critiquing each other, why don’t we compare our testimony stories and then see God’s work at hand and really then be blessed by fellow Christians.

      As we witness to unbelievers reading the blog, maybe someone will get saved.

    • […] Room to Boast, eh? C. Michael Patton in a post on Parchment and Pen entitled The Day I Became a Calvinist recounted the day he embraced unconditional election saying: I also remember the day that I fully […]

    • Paul M

      1st time poster

      Wow, great posts. And lengthy, so forgive me if I ask something
      already addressed. Two questions ring in my mind (besides the L
      being very problematic). I will try to phrase them adequately.

      1) Regarding the I – How can we really love God if we there is no real
      individual responsibility. Meaning if He liberates A to see truth, but not
      B how is that not partiality that the Bible talks against and He does not
      show? (The only answer I have heard to this is that the Bible says there
      is, but that response seems less then responsible.) It seems humanity
      has ability to choose other things before and after justification.

      2) Given: Anything apart from God is not good as far as the Master is
      concerned (and that is all that really matters). Even in man’s depravity
      we see love expressed, a expectation of justice, an aching for
      something else. If one takes total depravity to the extreme, one would
      wonder why these (created in the image of God) qualities still exist. My
      question is this: as “depraved” people still have a “hunger” for
      something more that they try to fill in various ways, are we really saying
      that the gospel is to complex for such a person to hear and accept?
      Some may call it pervienient grace, but I see God despensing enough
      grace to everyone to make a decision as no more common grace
      then the provision of air, food, daily provisions that he provides to the
      depraved.

      PS – would it be heretical to say that it is 100% God and 100% man?

    • Lisa R

      Sean (others),

      Back to comment #16 (sorry life happens): yes it is all God’s grace but doesn’t conditional election suppose that we can reject that grace, which in fact overrides God’s choosing?

      And yes Nick, I agree with you…the P has everything to with the U, which I thin challenges the functionality argument.

    • Vance

      I wonder if the existence of any of the letters actually change the “functionality”. We are either preserved or we are not, regardless of how we think about it as Christians. If we are truly saved, and it is because of an unconditional election, we would still be saved even if we did not believe it was due to an unconditional election.

      In other words, even if TULIP was all correct, you would not have to believe a single one of those doctrines in that way to be saved. In fact, you could believe every single one of them was incorrect and still be saved, as far as I can see.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Thanks Matthew (#87) and Nick (#89)!

      I did look at Piper and Storms essays on monergism.com. But maybe I missed the thing that’s been bothering me in their essays. Plus, it’s more fun and instructive when it’s semi-interactive on a blog. Here’s what I’m wrestling with:

      Hypothetically, suppose our blog host (Sorry CMP!) 10 years from now renounces his Christian faith! Before then he was a faithful servant-warrior for Jesus, ministering as an undershepherd, fulfilling the Great Commission, and obeying the Greatest 2 Commandments. Wonderful walk with the Lord, many folks discipled, and many of the lost now became saved because of CMP’s faithfulness.

      Then suppose either a Job-like experience or a “liberal theology awakening” occurs. So much doubt creeps in poor CMP that he becomes an atheist or a gross heretic or terrible apostate. (Heaven forbid! But this is just a hypothetical example, remember!)

      And this turn of events stay this way until the day CMP passes on. Although we are not to judge another person’s eternal destiny, let’s speculate anyways.

      Did CMP, a staunch 5-pointer in the beginning and middle of his walk, really Persevere?

      I’ve posed this question to others and they say that he was never a Christian in the 1st Place! And I’m like, “How can you say that?” They say, “Did he persevere?” And I go, “Doesn’t look like it.” They say, “Either he was never a Christian or you gotta lose the ‘P’ in TULIP.”

      And I’m like, “Awwww man, this finite brain cannot process. Beyond my CPU cycles. I’m just trusting God cuz this mystery is beyond me.”

      Anybody with a better, faster CPU? Please help me out of this conundrum.

      Solus Christus.

    • Nick N.

      Truth Unites,

      I think the ‘P’ is the easiest to debunk — there’s far too many warning passages to just wave them off as hypotheticals (which I have seen many a Calvinist do) — Likewise, they are too clear in their intention to have them countered by arguments that the Arminian (or Arminianesque believer) is assuming that genuine believers are in view in these passages.

      And if it was up to me I’d uproot the whole weed… er… um… I mean flower 😉

    • Enterprise24

      Truth,

      A very good friend of mine, who is a youth pastor in a church in Los Gatos, CA, told me the story once of a good friend of his who pretty much lived out your hypothetical situation. This man was a staunch believer for many years (decades, if I remember correctly). From all outside eyes (including his best friend, the youth pastor I know) this man was a saved, viberant Christian. In the ’80s, this man left the church (for whatever reason…) and starting living in a homosexual lifestyle. He’s been outside of the church ever since.

      This pastor-friend of mine told me this story over lunch some months ago. We both pondered over the fate of such people. He knew the man for years and years, and because of that, wasn’t quite willing to say that his friend wasn’t saved. He is an Arminian of the “Once Saved, Always Saved” persuasion. I’m a classic 5-point Calvinist. We both struggled over this issue.

      Here were some of my thoughts on this subject:

      Man looks at the outside, but only God can judge the heart. The Scriptures do teach that those who are saved persevere, that God is able to keep them from stumbling; yet at the same time doesn’t God himself discipline those whom He loves? Could God discipline an aberrant son unto death? So I see at least two options here for your mirror universe version of CMP: either the man wasn’t saved or he was saved and God merely disciplined him unto death.

      My conviction is that God deals with each one of His children a unique way, teaching and applying the truths of Scripture in each one of His children’s unique lives. Perhaps this mirror universe CMP was saved, and in God’s way, dealt with his apparent disobedience. Remember, in Ecclesiastes, we’re taught that the wicked sometimes receive temporal goodness while the righteous sometimes receive temporal cursing. Not all is as it appears to be. If this person was saved, then perhaps God dealt with him appropriately. If he wasn’t saved, then he was a very good liar and deceiver. If he was saved and lost his salvation…well, then people are able to unchoose themselves out of God’s hand and into hell.

    • Vance

      Just to add something that I have found useful, and it is what points me in this direction of the “mystery” angle, which is not just a cop-out from the work of developing a doctrine on this. Here is a bit from the Believer’s Bible Commentary that expresses where I am coming from pretty well. After
      discussing the sovereignty of God in choosing side of it, it goes on:

      “But there is another side to the story. The same Bible that teaches sovereign election also teaches human responsibility. No one can use the doctrine of election as an excuse for not being saved. God makes a bona fide offer of salvation to all people everywhere (Joh_3:16; Joh_3:36; Joh_5:24; Rom_10:9, Rom_10:13). Anyone can be saved by repenting of his sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if a person is lost, it is because he chooses to be lost, not because God desires it.

      The fact is that the same Bible teaches election and free salvation to all who will receive it. Both doctrines are found in a single verse: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (Joh_6:37). The first half of the verse speaks of God’s sovereign choice; the last half extends the offer of mercy to all.

      This poses a difficulty for the human mind. How can God choose some and yet offer salvation freely to all men? Frankly, this is a mystery. But the mystery is on our side, not on God’s. The best policy for us is to believe both doctrines because the Bible teaches both. The truth is not found somewhere between election and man’s free will, but in both extremes. W. G. Blaikie summarizes:

      Divine sovereignty, human responsibility and the free and universal offer of mercy are all found in Scripture, and though we are unable to harmonize them by our logic, they all ought to have a place in our minds.”

      I think that, while the current flavors of Arminianism underplay, or outright ignore, the “God’s Choice” side of the equation, the Calvinist side equally underplays the free will side of the equation, as well as the salvation being offered to all. I think they give these lip service, but since our minds REALLY want to go one direction or the other and insists upon a logical resolution, they go to the other side without really giving full weight to maintain the full, seemingly contradictory, tension.

      You can’t have a logical, systematic theological resolution AND a mystery at the same time. And you definitely can’t have a dogmatic presentation of any area that is a mystery.

      Human language for God Things = Through a glass darkly, at best.

    • Vance

      Possibly a double post, if so, sorry.

      Just to add something that I have found useful, and it is what points me in this direction of the “mystery” angle, which is not just a cop-out from the work of developing a doctrine on this. Here is a bit from the Believer’s Bible Commentary that expresses where I am coming from pretty well. After
      discussing the sovereignty of God in choosing side of it, it goes on:

      “But there is another side to the story. The same Bible that teaches sovereign election also teaches human responsibility. No one can use the doctrine of election as an excuse for not being saved. God makes a bona fide offer of salvation to all people everywhere (Joh_3:16; Joh_3:36; Joh_5:24; Rom_10:9, Rom_10:13). Anyone can be saved by repenting of his sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if a person is lost, it is because he chooses to be lost, not because God desires it.

      The fact is that the same Bible teaches election and free salvation to all who will receive it. Both doctrines are found in a single verse: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (Joh_6:37). The first half of the verse speaks of God’s sovereign choice; the last half extends the offer of mercy to all.

      This poses a difficulty for the human mind. How can God choose some and yet offer salvation freely to all men? Frankly, this is a mystery. But the mystery is on our side, not on God’s. The best policy for us is to believe both doctrines because the Bible teaches both. The truth is not found somewhere between election and man’s free will, but in both extremes. W. G. Blaikie summarizes:

      Divine sovereignty, human responsibility and the free and universal offer of mercy are all found in Scripture, and though we are unable to harmonize them by our logic, they all ought to have a place in our minds.”

      I think that, while the current flavors of Arminianism underplay, or outright ignore, the “God’s Choice” side of the equation, the Calvinist side equally underplays the free will side of the equation, as well as the salvation being offered to all. I think they give these lip service, but since our minds REALLY want to go one direction or the other and insists upon a logical resolution, they go to the other side without really giving full weight to maintain the full, seemingly contradictory, tension.

      You can’t have a logical, systematic theological resolution AND a mystery at the same time. And you definitely can’t have a dogmatic presentation of any area that is a mystery.

      Human language for God Things = Through a glass darkly, at best.

    • Lisa R

      Let me expound. By functionality I meant not so much about how we get saved but how we think about that salvation. True you can believe in conditional election and eternal security, but let’s say you don’t and that you can lose salvation. So your Christian experience will have what you do in view Whereas the P people, oh the UP people, will have in view what God does.

      Hear me out – I am NOT abdicating personal responsibility. One passage of scripture that to me succinctly balances the God/Man tension is Phil 2:12,13:

      12. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
      13. for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure

      I think, as in my opinion guys, the non-UP people (NUP?) will tend to focus on vs. 12 because after all, there was some contribution to salvation. Whereas, the UP people will tend to focus on vs. 13, realizing that God has everything to do with it.

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