This short paper contains a list of common-sense and biblical arguments and counter-argumentsagainst Calvinism and predestination. I am not saying that Calvinists are going to hell or anything radical like that. Calvinists are Christians and Calvinists and non-Calvinist Christians share a multitude of common ideas and beliefs. Truly, in the end, it doesn't matter if God elected us or if we elected God, for we are with Him.
My main beef against Calvinism is the belief that God predestined certain people to be "elect"; in normal words, Calvinists believe that God dictated who will be saved before that person was even born. Now, that in itself is not so radical when you stop to consider how God sees time. But what is outragous is how Calvinists believe that man has no free will in the matter. I.e., man does not choose to follow God, God predestines man to follow God and be saved. So they believe that it's not: "Because you have faith in God and follow his ways, God will have mercy on you and save you." Instead, they believe it's: "Because God chose you, you will serve God and be saved." This paper will refute this notion.
What is Calvinism?
There are five main points to Calvinism spelled out by the TULIP acronymn:
- This is saying that man is hopelessly sinful. Man is incapable of being "good." Any "good" deed is truly motivated by something evil. The rest of the four points rely on this point.
- This is what I find outrageous. Since man is totally evil, man'ssalvation is completely dependant upon God. This part is somewhatbiblical; God chooses who he chooses. No matter how hard man tries, his actions alone cannot get him into heaven; God is the only one who has control. However, I believe that God will save those whose hearts are totallydedicated to Him, thus granting some influence to man. Afterall, God isjust. However, calvinists see it otherwise. Calvinists believe that manhas no free spiritual will.
- Since God predestined the elect, Jesus paid only for those few elect.
- The elect have no choice about being elect. The elect cannot resist God's grace.
Perseverence of the Saints
- Calvinists believe that once you're saved, you're always saved since God had predestined the elect and the elect have no choice about being elect.
Why is Calvinism based on an unstable foundation?
The last four points rely so strongly on the first point. Is man purelyevil and incapable of good deeds whose intentions were not born of evilorigins? Many non-calvinists typically grant this first point, for itseems biblical and logical. Unfortunately, if we grant the first point,then the other four points can easily be proven as true, thusacknowledging that Calvinism is in fact true. But I contend that man isnot purely evil. For if man was indeed purely evil, it is easily seenthat
Many Calvinists would point out Romans 9:15-18
If God has already elected those who are going to heaven, then why evangelize, seek to be saved, or even follow God's path?
- Your traditional Calvinist would proclaim, "Because God told us so!" But if God has already elected those who will be going to heaven, no amount of influence from Christians will change who is elected or not. Evangelism may be the means of how God saves the elect, but our conscience decision to not evangelize will not affect the elect.
- The interesting counter-argument would be when Calvinists say to non-Calvinists, "But why bother evangelizing... God already knows if a particular person will ever accept the message or not." However, foreknowledge does not imply predestination, and God transcends time.
If God predestined everything, then there is no use in praying for your friends or family.
- Basically, God has already predestined the events and no appealing to God will likely change his mind- it has already been predestined and cannot be changed.
If God predestined everything, then God created sin.
- This is where Calvinists disagree among themselves. There are several camps; some that believe every little detail has been predestined, those who believe that God predestined all major events (including salvation), and those who believe that God only predestines those who will be saved. I suppose this point would address the first camp; If indeed God did predestine every little thing, then God did create sin. He caused man to act a specific way knowing in advance what it would lead to.
If man is totally incapable of good, then man cannot truly be remorseful or repentant. If man is totally incapable of good, then man cannot be faulted for his sins. If God predestined everything, then there is no such thing as randomness. (Now that's an interesting research topic..) If God predestined everything, then why eternally condemn thenon-elect? After all, it is not their fault.. they were predestined tobe damned!
- This concept is called double-predestination. The logic is rather simple: if God only allows the elect to be saved, and God predestined the elect, then by default, God predestined everyone else who is not elect to be eternally condemned.
- Most Calvinists believe it, but there are quite a few who don't. Thomas Aquinas' view was that God does not in fact damn thosewhose inherent sin would normally be condemning; God simply "passes over" those who he chose tonot predestine. While this view is also somewhat arrogant, (how arrogant it is for us tobelieve we were predestined while our neighbor might not be), it simply doesn't make sense.The bible clearly states otherwise.
- (never mind that little verse that says "
whoeverbelievesin him should not perish but have eternal life") Jesus died for everyone, not just the elect.
- Calvinists would point out verses such as John 10:11
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep., Acts 20:28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood., and John 15:13-14 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you., which states that Jesus died for his friends. However, Jesus promptly then states that we are his friends if we obey his commands. Clearly, though, Jesus died for everyone. Verses decribe Jesus as the savior of the world, the savior of all men, and etc. Specifically, 1 John 2:2, which states that "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."
- Calvinists would point out verses such as John 10:11
Once-saved-always-saved is a farce
- One only has to read the very last two verses of James (James 5:19-20)
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.to see why. "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truthand one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from deathand will cover a multitude of sins. "
- Calvinists typically don't have a response to verses like these other than to falsely argue that "well, the sinner must not have ever really been born from above to begin with."
- It is not unfeasible for someone to be whole-heartedly devoted to God for a majority of their lifetime and then suddenly snap and turn totally against God in his heart. For example, suppose Billy Graham were to all of a sudden denounce God and start worshiping Satan. Calvinists would suggest that Billy Graham must not have ever have been saved whereas any other rational person would say that he once was a great man of faith whose heart was totally devoted to God but then suddenly snapped.
- One only has to read the very last two verses of James (James 5:19-20)
Yes, God is omnipotent and omniscient. He knows what will happenbefore it will happen. But
Yes, I believe God predestines many events. Many events throughout the Bible have been predestined. Jesus' birth was predestined. Jesus' death was predestined. Jesus' resurrection was predestined. Many things in our own lives could very well be predestined. But God certainly does not predestine people to go to heaven or go to hell. It is man's choice to either accept God's path or reject it.
In its fundamentals, the problem of predestination is as universal as religion itself, but the emphasis of the New Testament on the divine plan of salvation has made the issue especially prominent in Christian theology. Predestination has been especially associated with John Calvin and the Reformed tradition.
One of the most divisive debates in the history of the Church centers around the opposing doctrines of salvation known as Calvinism and Arminianism.
Calvin's religious teachings emphasized the sovereignty of the scriptures and divine predestination—a doctrine holding that God chooses those who will enter Heaven based His omnipotence and grace.
Calvin's belief in the uncompromised "sovereignty of God" spawned his doctrines of providence and predestination. For the world, without providence it would be "unlivable". For individuals, without predestination "no one would be saved".
Calvinists had many strict rules defining good behavior. For example, singing, dancing, playing cards, and wearing fancy clothing were all forbidden. Many people followed these rules to show that they were saved.
How to Argue Like a Calvinist - YouTube
While some Calvinists forthrightly deny that God loves everyone, more commonly Calvinists attempt to affirm the love of God for all persons in terms that are compatible with their doctrines that Christ died only for the elect--those persons God has unconditionally chosen to save.
Unlike some Calvinists, Lutherans do not believe in a predestination to damnation. Instead, Lutherans teach eternal damnation is a result of the unbeliever's rejection of the forgiveness of sins and unbelief.
Arminius taught that Calvinist predestination and unconditional election made God the author of evil. Instead, Arminius insisted, God's election was an election of believers and therefore was conditioned on faith. Furthermore, Arminius argued, God's exhaustive foreknowledge did not require a doctrine of determinism.
Calvin was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism.. It accepts Calvin’s belief in total depravity, so that salvation must be God’s gift; unconditional divine election, so that all is grace; and perseverance of the saints, arguing that, once we become the children of God, it is impossible for us to go back to our status before our conversion (cf.. And it argues that we are each given the same freedom to choose salvation: “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (v. 16b, emphasis mine).. Such a position could be called three-point Calvinism.. Those who argue for human freedom must face the question: How can I be free if God knows what I am going to choose?. Consider this fact: God knows exactly what you are doing in this moment, as you read these words.. C. S. Lewis was right: if time is a line on a page, God is the page.
Judaisers menaced Paul throughout his ministry because Paul was teaching firstly that Jews could obtain salvation from the terms of that Covenant, by which they had invoked curses on themselves, and secondly that Gentiles were being included in the Elect, without reference to the Moses Covenant.. As regards the gospel [the Jews] are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.. Paul’s whole point here is that those whom God “calls” are not merely the Jews, but all those who, through their faith, love God.. Paul’s point is that, whereas previously “those whom God called” could safely be equated with “those who are physically descended from Abraham”, it can now be seen that it also includes Gentiles, because all are “called to belong to Jesus Christ”, who is the true firstborn Son, an image to which Israel had failed to conform.. It was made so carefully and laboriously, not so that we would have a systematic theology of Salvation, but so that the believers would be equipped to refute Judaisers who insisted that only Jews were God’s “holy people” (refuted in Romans 1:7), “the elect of God” (refuted in Romans 8:33).. This is because the Israelites, whom God had known before Jesus’ time, had been assigned to fulfil the ultimate role God had in mind -that one nation would like God’s firstborn son, an eldest son among a family of nations; but God had allotted a destiny to all people who love him , so in Christ he also called all of the others , along with the Jews.
At the same time, the Bible teaches that all who come to Jesus Christ by faith have been chosen, or predestined, by God to come.. Does God choose me, or do I choose God?. And yes, God predestined all who come to Jesus by faith.. Therefore, every Christian – everyone who truly has faith in Christ has been predestined by God.. Predestination is not based on man’s response, but on God’s sovereign will to have mercy on whom He will have mercy .. He cannot blame others – or God – for decisions that he has made, since he acts in accordance with his genuine volition.. The Bible assumes, more than states, the ability of a person to make decisions and act, and the reality that he is responsible, in the truest sense, for the decisions he makes and actions he does.. People make decisions, and God holds people accountable for those decisions.. The great British preacher and pastor of the 19th century, Charles H. Spurgeon, was once asked how he could reconcile God’s sovereign will and man’s true will or responsibility.. And God is sovereign over all things, even over the will of man.. They come to Jesus, and that is an act of man’s will.. Genuine will – or human responsibility, and God’s divine sovereignty are friends, not foes.. The real question theologians ask (or need to ask) isn’t whether a man’s will is genuine or whether God is sovereign.. And the answer to that question is clear: God’s will is ultimate, not man’s.
Well, if calvinism is true, than Paul was working against God’s will and desiring something that was against God’s will.. If calvinism is true, then that verse is not true in in regards to the majority of the world, if calvinism is true than man is more loving than God.. 27 is eco 33, 11, slander them as I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live turn you, turn you from evil ways for why will you die if calvinism is true than this verse is not, and God takes great pleasure in the death of the wicked.. 52, if calvinism is true than God doesn’t need to blind man’s eyes.2Corinthians 4:4, in whom the God of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not less, the light of the Glorious Gospel of Christ who is the image of God should shine unto them.. 53 of the second chapter of the Bible, God has given man a choice in the last chapter of the Bible, God has given man a choice all in between the second chapter and the last chapter.. 1 Timothy 4:10, we read therefore we both labor and suffer reproach because we trust in the living God who is the savior of all men.Specially of those that believe 1 John 2:1-2, my little children, these things write I into to you that you sin not, and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.. Roman 1:1-32 clearly shows that because some men rejected God, then as a result of that, then God gave them up, gave them over to a reprobate mind because they will in turn from the truth.whereforee, because of that God also gave them up.. I’ll dwell with the love of God in the person who’s unwilling to meet the need of somebody else to give them food and shelter and how dwelleth the love of God in a God who is unwilling to give something far more necessary eternal life.. If calvinism is true than God and not the sinner is to blame for the sinners, rejection of the Gospel and yet God and then God then takes the center and cast them into hell because that’s what he wanted to do with him all along.
More to the point, if you accept that definition, you’re endorsing the idea that God lovingly created every person equally and in His own image but decided before the creative process began that only some would be saved and all the others lost forever to hell.. The worst part of that idea, and the thing that makes every reasonable, sensible person question the concepts of fairness and justice is that the suggestion is that God made this plan knowing that the first two humans, Adam and Eve, though created perfectly without sin, would be the only perfect individuals to make a sinful choice that would then cause the infection of the entire human race with a sinful nature.. If you were God and you were going to choose some people to be saved and leave the rest unchosen, who would be first on the unchosen list?. Did God create people who can’t make a choice between loving God or not loving God?. They say God loves everyone and has the power to save all of us but He decided to save only some of humanity and consign the rest to eternal damnation because He is Sovereign.
Predestination is a doctrine in Calvinism dealing with the question of the control that God exercises over the world.. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God “freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass.” The second use of the word “predestination” applies this to the salvation, and refers to the belief that God appointed the eternal destiny of some to salvation by grace, while leaving the remainder to receive eternal damnation for all their sins, even their original sin.. In Calvinism, people are predestined and effectually called in due time (regenerated/born again) to faith by God.. through faith, unto salvation.. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.. As a disciple of Augustine, John Calvin also taught double predestination.. It is not the view of any of the Reformed confessions, which speak of God passing over rather than actively reprobating the damned.. Frank A. James says that he rejected it, preferring a view called “single predestination” where God elects some to salvation, but does not in any way predestine to reprobation.. “All events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God.” Therefore, “nothing happens but what [God] has knowingly and willingly decreed.” This excludes “fortune and chance.” Calvin applied his doctrine of providence concerning “all events” to individuals and their salvation in his doctrine of predestination.. This is possible because most Calvinists hold to an Infralapsarian view of God’s decree.. In that view, God, before Creation, in his mind, first decreed that the Fall would take place, before decreeing election and reprobation.. This view is sometimes erroneously referred to as “double predestination”, on which see above.. Individual people are not the subjects of election, but are elected or rejected by virtue of their being in Christ.
Consider the objection: “If God is sovereign, guaranteeing certain outcomes in people’s lives, then there is no free will.” This is flawed thinking.. If you knew the things he was going to freely choose to do–and this is important–at any given point, would you be able to catch him?. This illustration shows that God can be completely sovereign in that He controls all final outcomes, yet human beings could still make free choices.. Reformed theology teaches that God unilaterally decides whom He will forgive, that He chooses those who are to be saved.. God simply makes a choice Himself, on His side of the ledger, to exercise grace on our behalf and allow us to have mercy and forgiveness for the sin we freely commit.. Even a criminal in prison has a measure of freedom.. Here’s a third objection: If God exercises forgiveness for some and not for others, then God is the cause of people going to hell.. Now, the criminal might be out if the governor chose to exercise mercy, but that isn’t why he’s in.. If these verses say that God wills all men to be saved, then how can Calvinists say that God only wills the elect to be saved?. God wants all kinds of things of His people–He wills those things–but they don’t come to pass.. If you choose the first option, that there is only one aspect of God’s will–the moral aspect–which can be broken by our free choices, then it’s hard to see how God can have ultimate and sovereign control over human history if our choice is the deciding factor.. What it means is that some of the objections raised against Calvinism don’t stand, ultimately, and must give way.
Because that means all sin was created by God, and all men that. practice sin, is through God's will, that God created Satan, and. Satan is on the same level of righteousness, because. Satan did not reject God's authority, but rather submits to it, I. hate even having to write those words in the same sentence.. God promises he will save you if you believe, and if you have faith then you believe the promises of God, not in what you believe.. This is why the word of God itself must be preached without distillment, since only faith in the promises of God, or trusting in him alone, will save a person, and only by grace are they saved, and that grace is imparted through those chosen to be given as a blessing to all the nations, that blessing being the Lord himself and his promises.. God's will is always done in only one sense - God's will is that man have free will and choose God or reject God.. God never enforces His will against man's will,i.e man has to give God permission to act.. Some verses you may not be aware of:. God is sovereign:. Ps 115:3 But our God is in the heavens:He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.
While the Calvinist may feel he has the “upper hand” when asking about the “decisive factor” in man’s choice to reject God’s words, the role reverses quite dramatically when the conversation shifts to man’s first choice to reject God’s words.. Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them.. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God — namely the suggestion that God is implicit in the determination of moral evil, as evidenced by John Calvin’s own teachings:. God gives grace to the humble not because a humble response deserves salvation, but because He is gracious.. Calvinists often conflate man’s choice to confess with God’s choice to forgive while labeling it all “salvation.” They go on to convincingly argue that God is “sovereign over salvation” which actually means “God is as much in control over His own choice to forgive as He is over man’s choice to confess in faith.” It’s difficult to argue with someone who is making the case that God is “in control of salvation” and is “the One who gets all credit for salvation,” but that difficulty only exists due to the conflating of man’s responsibility to believe/confess with God’s gracious choice to save whosoever does so.. Of course Salvation is all of God, but that is distinct from man’s responsibility to humbly trust in Him for salvation.. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted .”. Throughout the scriptures we see examples of God “finding favor” in believing individuals (Job, Enoch, Noah, Abram, etc), but these men, like all of humanity, still fell short of God’s glory and were unrighteous according to the demands of God’s law.. However, that does NOT mean that all people are unable to believe God’s revealed truth so as to be credited as righteous by God’s grace.. We happen to know, based on Biblical revelation, that God wants to show mercy to those who humbly repent in faith, which is man’s responsibility not God’s!. 1 Peter 5:5-6: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.. So, for example, if I ask a believer how he will answer Jesus’s question at the last judgment, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard it?” very few believers answer that question by saying: “Because I was wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble.” Most of us feel instinctively that we should glorify God’s grace by saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, we know intuitively that God’s grace was decisive in our conversion.. By asking what determined a man’s choice, the questioner is presuming someone or something other than that man made the determination, thus presuming true the foundation for deterministic logic (i.e. “a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws [or Divine decree].” Merriam-Webster Dictionary)..  On the one hand, Calvinists argue that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination which is ultimately determined by their God given nature, yet on the other hand they affirm that Adam “was perfectly free from any corruptions or sinful inclinations,” and that he “had no sinful inclinations to hurry him on to sin; he did it of his own free and mere choice” Jonathan Edwards, ‘All God’s Methods Are Most Reasonable’, in Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, ed.
It is crucial to the foreknowledge view that in this text God’s foreknowledge comes before God’s predestination.. When we supply the word all here, we are responding to an implication of the text.. Some of those he predestined, he also called.. If God’s predestination is based on his foreknowledge of how people will respond to the outward call of the gospel, how is it that only some of the predestined are even called?. If some of the predestined are predestined without being called, then God would not be basing his predestination on a prior knowledge of their response to his call.. If we supply the word some to the Golden Chain the result is fatal to the foreknowledge view of predestination because it would have God predestinating some people who are not called.. Since the view teaches that God’s predestination is based upon God’s foreknowledge of people’s positive responses to the call of the gospel, then clearly the view collapses if some are predestined without a call.. They agree that in fact there are people who hear the gospel outwardly (the external call of God) who do not respond in faith and who therefore are not justified.. What is the inward call of God?. If all whom God calls inwardly are justified and all whom God predestines are called inwardly, then it follows that God’s foreknowledge concerns more than a mere prior awareness of the free decisions humans will make.. It teaches that God predestines an inward call.. Since all who are called are justified and since not everyone is justified, then it follows that calling is a rather significant divine activity that some human beings receive and others do not.. An advocate of the foreknowledge view would have to answer that the reason God calls only some people inwardly is that he knows in advance who will respond positively to the inward call and who will not.. THE REFORMED VIEW OF PREDESTINATION In contrast with the foreknowledge view of predestination, the Reformed view asserts that the ultimate decision for salvation rests with God and not with man.. The Reformed view of predestination understands the Golden Chain as follows: From all eternity God foreknew his elect.
What Friedman’s book does invite readers to consider, however, is the question of how best to characterize the nature of the relationship between religion, the order of worldly life, and the disciplines that have formed in order to study and characterize worldly life.. This claim is a striking contribution to the literature in part because it contrasts with Max Weber’s famous claim that predestinarian Calvinism generated a set of habits and affections congenial to modern capitalism.. But I generally find that attention to Calvin’s writing adds nuance, aiding our understanding of why Calvin might have drawn on certain ideas in his own context and—importantly—how these ideas might operate in surprising ways in later contexts.. Because of this, Calvin thinks that knowledge of God’s decrees is exactly what enables the most useful and beneficial kind of human action.. So when I was working my way through the middle chapters of Religion and the Rise of Capitalism , especially the chapter on the clerical economists, I could not help but think of how the rejection of predestination might be very bad news for anyone who has struggled.. 2 But what about predestination in particular: the idea that God chooses some and rejects others?. Some people do well with little, other people squander what they do have.. Big ideas about God, humans, the world, and the relationships between them become vivid and compelling when they make possible a kind of life.. Ideas change along with times and circumstances, but unless you successfully deconstruct the question itself—for example, the question of why some people see a truth that others simply do not see—the idea that resolves that question will keep reemerging in some form.. The kind of human who rationally acts for their own glory and who represents the good of progress is not predestined but occupies the role of the predestinator : a secularized Christ.
The Calvinist bases election upon the divine plan (according to God’s purpose), so that the grounds of election is in God himself, which is to say salvation begins in God’s will and purpose and not in an act of faith or some other condition in the responder.. His attempt at defining election suggests, “By election we mean that sovereign act of God in grace whereby He chose in Christ Jesus for salvation all those whom He foreknew would accept Him.” Both of the above noted theologians would probably define themselves to some degree as Calvinists.. Since Christ was the Substitute for the lost, and since Christ has paid the redemption for them, and since Christ fulfilled the demands of the law against them, and since Christ is their satisfaction (propitiation), and since Christ has reconciled them to God, the lost have an obligation to accept salvation, and Christians have an obligation to tell them the “good news.”. Calvinists teach that the grace of God is as immutable as the power of God so that man cannot resist it.. They teach that since God of His own free will has chosen (elected) man and Christ has died for him, then man cannot resist the power of God that brings him to salvation.. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and especial love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving Him thereunto) He doth in his accepted time invite and draw them to Jesus Christ by his Word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able, freely to answer his call and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.”. Calvinists teach that the saints will persevere because their salvation is dependent upon God’s irresistible grace which was granted to them because Christ died in atonement limited to the elect.
Donald John MacLean has been writing about the free offer for some time and I’ve published an essay, in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine , attempting to explain why real, honest-to-goodness hyper-Calvinists don’t accept the doctrine of the free offer of the gospel and what the theological basis, within confessional Reformed theology, is for the free offer.. We may be wrong, but we really do believe that we’re following God’s Word when we confess both that God has known his elect from all eternity and that He reprobates some by passing them by and that Christ died for those whom the Father gave to him from all eternity ( pactum salutis ) and that God has ordained that the gospel of free salvation through faith alone ( sola fide ), by grace alone ( sola gratia ), in Christ alone ( solo Christo ) should be preached and offered freely to all as a “well-meant” offer of the gospel.. Further, confessional Calvinism teaches what it does, not because of some rationalist a priori about the way things “must be” or on the basis that “we all know that….” Rather, we teach and hold what we do because we believe it is taught in God’s Word.. I was shocked not that Estep rejected Calvin and Calvinism.. I don’t expect anti-predestinarians to like my theology.. I don’t expect them to agree with me, but I do reasonably expect them to be able to represent my theology accurately and to understand how I read the Scriptures and what the history of Reformed theology actually is, and what I actually confess.. is not really what God’s Word says.. The real question is why opponents of the Free Offer reject out of hand exegetical arguments for the free or well-meant offer?
Wikipedia, certainly no theological publication, at one point began its definition of predestination by mentioning only one name right at the beginning, saying, “Those who believe in predestination, such as John Calvin...” The association of Calvin's name with the teaching is sealed.. So here is a brief overview of Calvin's careful proof of predestination from the Scriptures, his careful use of the doctrine, and his pastoral care seen in using the doctrine.. He quotes verses such as Deuteronomy 7:7-8 which says, “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people: for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you.” Calvin then goes on to speak of a deeper dimension of predestination, that in the Old Testament we see a more special election still of God saving certain ones out of the nation of Israel.. So important was it to Calvin to believe this doctrine that he said, “We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election.” Yet even though he saw eternal election this way, he also stressed a need for caution.. Calvin’s Carefulness with Predestination. When men hear of election, they immediately want to ask, “Why would God choose some, and not others?” To this Calvin replied: “When they inquire into predestination, let then remember that they are penetrating into the recesses of the divine wisdom, where he who rushes forward securely and confidently, instead of satisfying his curiosity will enter in (an) inextricable labyrinth.” God’s thoughts are higher than man’s, and men will be trapped in a mental maze if they try to understand things that are beyond their human comprehension.. Calvin goes on to say, “Let it, therefore, be our first principle that to desire any other knowledge of predestination than that which is expounded by the word of God, is to be no less infatuated (or crazed) than to walk where there is no path, or to seek light in darkness.” For Biblical support, he quoted Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever.” Calvin even demonstrated his commitment to this truth in his placement of his teaching on predestination in The Institutes .. Calvin’s Pastoral Care in Using Predestination. In Volume 4 of John Calvin’s Tracts and Letters , a letter written by Calvin in April of 1541 can be found.. In this letter, we see Calvin using predestination as a “doctrine of comfort.” Listen to how Calvin then uses the doctrine of predestination to minister to this grieving father.. “Should it be his will to exercise you still further, by concealing it from you, submit to that will, that you may become the wiser than the weakness of your own understanding can ever attain to.” Calvin shows how much wisdom and comfort can be found in submitting to God’s divine will, trusting Him regardless of how much or how little of that will He has revealed to the afflicted.
William Lane Craig offers 5 arguments against divine determinism at reasonablefaith.org in an article called "Troubled by Calvinists". Do you agree? ›
D. A. Carson identifies nine streams of texts affirming human freedom: (1) People face a multitude of divine exhortations and commands, (2) people are said to obey, believe, and choose God, (3) people sin and rebel against God, (4) people's sins are judged by God, (5) people are tested by God, (6) people receive divine rewards, (7) the elect are responsible to respond to God's initiative, (8) prayers are not mere showpieces scripted by God, and (9) God literally pleads with sinners to repent and be saved (Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension, pp.. The argument seems to be that people cannot sin or be in rebellion against God without making an intentional and autonomously free decision to do so.. Second, it explicitly asserts that at least some sins are in fact caused by God , meaning that autonomously free decisions are not necessary to be in sin against God.. If God blinded their eyes so that they could not recognize Christ, so that they would not accept Him, and worship Him, then, in doing so, they sinned and were in rebellion against God the Son, because God caused them to be so.. The problem with this argument is that if the concept of God's testing of people is taken to necessitate autonomous human freedom, then in the same sense it also necessitates a lack of God's omniscience -- He tests us in order to find out what we will do.. A better understanding of God's testing is, rather than to say that God tested someone, to say that God proved someone, such as Abraham or Job.. On the other hand, if the argument is that the elect cannot be responsible without autonomous free will, note that David was responsible for sinning by taking the census that God caused him to take by means of the devil (2 Samuel 24:1, 24:10-14; 1 Chronicles 21:1), demonstrating that an autonomous free will is not necessary to be held responsible for disobeying God's laws.. The argument seems to be that since prayers are not caused by God, prayers must not be caused by God.. It is suggested that "if it is evil to make another person do wrong, then on this view God is not only the cause of sin and evil, but becomes evil Himself, which is absurd", and we of course agree that such a conclusion is absurd, quite simply because it is not evil for God to make a human do something sinful.. We see no such command governing God in scripture, and since we do clearly see God causing people to sin, and since we know that God, the one in absolute authority, cannot possibly sin or err in any way or else He would be opposed to Himself and therefore no longer in authority, we must necessarily come to the conclusion that God has not in fact ordered Himself not to cause people to sin.. There are no free agents in rebellion against God, whom God seeks to win through His love, and no one who freely responds to that love and freely gives his love and praise to God in return.. In refutation, God has never told us that we are autonomously free, but rather He has informed us that we can either be enslaved to sin (and free from forgiveness) or else enslaved to Christ (and freed from sin) (John 8:34; 1 Corinthians 7:22); that every moment of our existence is entirely at His pleasure (James 4:13-15; Luke 12:16-20); and that our very actions are based exclusively upon His will (Proverbs 16:1, 16:9, 21:1).
The good news of the gospel is that through faith we are given grace and forgiven of our sins due to what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross and coming back to life.. The takeaways from this first point is that we do have a choice; that choice must be to believe in what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross to be saved and that we cannot please God without choosing to have faith.. We know that salvation is a free gift offered to all men ( Titus 2:11–15 ) and that God wants all people to come to repentance ( 2 Peter 3:9, Romans 10:5–15 ).. While it is true that believers have grace and that true believers will walk in humility because they are still not perfect people, the way someone can still lose their salvation is by walking away from the faith ( 1 Timothy 1:18–20 ).. In that same way, Calvinism teaches a Jesus that did not come to save all and did not come to give us a choice between eternal life and eternal damnation — that is not the Jesus of the Bible.
If God’s will always happens and if he chooses people for salvation/damnation from the beginning of the world, then it follows that he forced wicked non-elect sinners into this world – who will end up in hell despite totally obeying God at all times.. 1) John 6:39-44 argument about God drawing people, forcing them to be saved. In John 1:6-7 we can read that Jesus came so that “ALL through him might believe”.. “Predestination” and “elect” are two Biblical words, but nowhere in the Bible will we see individuals chosen for salvation.. If someone has the opportunity to do the right thing and obey the only true God and still chooses to disobey him, it is possible to phrase it as though “God hardened his heart”, because if God had not provided this particular opportunity to choose the right thing, Pharao could not have been expected to choose it.. The Bible says that it is certainly possible for man to harden his heart – naturally against God’s will:. If God is the one making us do good things, and actually also bad things since nothing happens against his will (if Calvinism is true), then naturally God alone must be blamed if we lack fruit in our lives.. 2:1-2 argument that individuals are chosen for salvation/damnation before they are even born. 8) Acts 4:26-28 argument that Judas was predestined to sin by betraying Jesus. Judas SINNED by betraying Jesus.. It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.. The Bible also says that if we love God – which we do if we truly have faith in him – then we OBEY him.
By total inability Calvin meant that a lost. sinner cannot come to Jesus Christ and trust Him as Saviour, unless he is. foreordained to come to Christ.. The Bible teaches. that God would have all men to be saved.. No man will ever look at Jesus Christ and say,. "You didn't want to be my Saviour .". Do you have a Bible?". By irresistible grace, John Calvin meant that God simply forces people. to be saved.. The Bible says in John 10:27-29:. I believe that Jesus Christ died for all. men, and I believe what the Bible says, "That whosoever shall call upon the. name of the Lord shall be saved.". But it is his own will that he trusts Christ.. Every man comes to God of his own will.
Donald John MacLean has been writing about the free offer for some time and I’ve published an essay, in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine , attempting to explain why real, honest-to-goodness hyper-Calvinists don’t accept the doctrine of the free offer of the gospel and what the theological basis, within confessional Reformed theology, is for the free offer.. In contrast, the mainstream of orthodox Calvinism, including Calvin, has always embraced the mystery and paradox of the free offer.. The universalists can’t see how it is that God can freely and genuinely offer the gospel to all unless it is the case that Christ actually died for everyone who ever lived and unless it is that Christ’s death has made it possible for all to be saved if they will only do their part.. We may be wrong, but we really do believe that we’re following God’s Word when we confess both that God has known his elect from all eternity and that He reprobates some by passing them by and that Christ died for those whom the Father gave to him from all eternity ( pactum salutis ) and that God has ordained that the gospel of free salvation through faith alone ( sola fide ), by grace alone ( sola gratia ), in Christ alone ( solo Christo ) should be preached and offered freely to all as a “well-meant” offer of the gospel.. Further, confessional Calvinism teaches what it does, not because of some rationalist a priori about the way things “must be” or on the basis that “we all know that….” Rather, we teach and hold what we do because we believe it is taught in God’s Word.. In fairness to the critics of Reformed theology at the John 3:16 conference, many contemporary Reformed folk seem to have forgotten this distinction (hence the book) so we understand a little why critics might not know about this distinction.. I was shocked not that Estep rejected Calvin and Calvinism.. I don’t expect anti-predestinarians to like my theology.. is not really what God’s Word says.. The real question is why opponents of the Free Offer reject out of hand exegetical arguments for the free or well-meant offer?. Posted by R. Scott Clark | Friday, November 28, 2008 |. Categorized Defense of the Faith , Free Offer of the Gospel , Pactum Salutis , Reforming Evangelicalism , The Mission: Reaching and Teaching | Tagged Free Offer of the Gospel , hyper-calvininism , reformed theology Bookmark the permalink .