Is Calvinism a Heresy?

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Is Calvinism a Heresy?

#1

Post by Religious Fanatic » Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:10 am

Jac3510 wrote:Not only have I heard of Calvinism (and 4 point Calvinists, the supposed influence of Calvinism on early American colonialism, including but not limited to the idea of capitalism itself, Spurgeon's Calvinism, the hyper-Calvinism of the Particular Baptists, all the way down to Geisler's 0-point Calvinism), but I've studied it very deeply. I do find it amusing that you use the term "Calvinism" when a cursory reading of Calvin's Institutes would show that Calvin himself would have rejected Limited Atonement and the extra-calvinist doctrine of assurance by works. Poor Calvin . . . horrible person though he was, not even a murderer like him deserves to have the system that you hold to named after him. He's got to be roling in his grave.

I refer to myself, like Geisler, as a 0-point Calvinist, in that I reject all five points of traditional Calvinism, but I still hold to eternal security. I reject all five points of Armeneanism as well, but being the OSASer that I am, I can't exactly be a 0-point Armenian!

For the record, I'm actually working on a book entitled The Calvinist Heresy. Far from being the Gospel itself, it is a theology that, if perfectly follows, results in damnation. Of course, the good news to all of this is that the vast majority of people come to know Christ and then decide they believe in the five tenants . . .

See, God still has his way.

The system known as Calvinism is a curse upon man. It is a blight to theology, and a stain on the name of Christianity worse than anything the Roman Catholic Church conceived of in the Middle Ages. Calvin himself was a murderer--an evil man who, if not for the system of thought he introduced, should never have been remembered by history. His teachings are warmed over Augustinian ideas. Credit should be given where credit is due. Calvin himself offers us very little.

If I sound bitter and angry at the system, I am. It is absolutely disgusting, and read no sarcasm in that remark. The indignation Jesus felt toward the Pharisees, so much so that He referred to them as white-washed tombstones, represents the same conviction I have as it relates to this heresy. Better to be an modalist than a Calvinist, for the five-pointer (and many four-pointers as well) turn God into a monster that is far from the God depicted in Scriptures. Calvinism is an assault on the Person and Character of our Holy God. The only one who makes such attacks is Satan himself. If we hate the antichrist for maligning the name of Christ, how much more do we reject the teachings of genuine Christians as they smear the very name and character of God Himself?
What do you think about this, puritan lad?
Last edited by Religious Fanatic on Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Jac3510 makes a direct attack against Calvinism

#2

Post by puritan lad » Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:21 am

Religious Fanatic wrote:What do you think about this, puritan lad?
Not interested in a personal war of words with Jac. If he views it as heresy, so be it. If he is correct, then there are millions of souls that are presently burning in Hell that are just as much bought with the blood of Christ as you and I. Go figure.

As for myself, I'll hold fast to the Word of God.

Psalm 33:10-12
"The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance."


John 1:12-13
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

John 6:65
"And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

Romans 9:10-23
"And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,"


Ephesians 1:4-5,11
"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,"
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#3

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:37 am

I have to say, that post well articulated my position against Calvinism. I thought when I first wrote it I would later regret it as being a rant, but now in the daylight, I do feel that it is a solid expression of my position. I do consider Calvinists (in the four and five point senses) to be heretics. I consider it a very dangerous theology so far as its hinderance to progressive sanctification goes, as well as its distortion of the basic Gospel truth, which is that salvation is by grace through faith without any addition of works, repentance, or perseverance.

Do I believe that every Calvinist is burning in Hell? Of course not, but neither is every Catholic, nor is every Modelist, and for that matter, neither is every Arian, atheist, or Muslim. While the last of these three are anti-Christian, any of these could have at some point accepted Christ as their savior. Such with the Calvinist. As I have said before, the good news is that most people get saved and then come to the tenants of Calvinism.

It is interesting to note that if you study the Puritan divines--the leaders of the movement--almost all of them, to a man, had great fears on their death beds concerning their salvation. That is what Calvinism does . . . it distorts the Gospel truth and robs Christians of their assurance. Anyone who teaches it (not anyone who adheres to it) is under the curse of Gal. 1:8-9, though not at all as the NIV renders it. He or she will experience, either now or in the hereafter, the divine judgment of God, and they will pay dearly for their sin. Thankfully, that payment does not include the loss of salvation!

I have absolutely no quarrel, RF, with you or Puritan as people or as Christians. I have a massive problem with your theology. We would have no pulpit affiliation, but I would covet your prayers for me and my ministry as I affectionately pray for you and yours.

So, if you feel, RF, that attempting to divide the brethren--as this post was exactly designed to do--brings God glory and edifies the body, then more power to you. And yet again, I leave you with the same exhortation and warning as I have throughout our discussions . . . God doesn't take those who proclaim His gospel and the message that they proclaim lightly. Be very cautious what you teach and how you conduct yourself, because, for you and me, either great blessings or great curses await, as per James 3:1 and Galatians 1:8-9.

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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RE:

#4

Post by Religious Fanatic » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:08 pm

I didn't literally want a divide, just a better understanding of both.

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#5

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:43 pm

Religious Fanatic wrote:I didn't literally want a divide, just a better understanding of both.
The title change helps that :)

Now, I ask this in all sincerity . . . do you want to have a discussion on Calvinism and why I find it to be heretical? I am fully aware that er . . . debate . . . usually ends up generating way more heat than light. But, I can assure you, if you want to know, that we can handle the issue dispassionately. You are fully aware of my position, not merely as rejecting Calvinism, but as actually anti-Calvinistic. However, that need not be the flavor of the thread. I serve as the acting president of the Student Theological Fellowship at Luther Rice College and Seminary (technically, I'm the event coordinator, which has the same functions as a vice president), and we dealt with this throughout last semester. The motto then would be the same as it is now. Seek clairity, not consensus.

If you don't want to go into all this, that is perfectly fine as well.

Let me say, yet AGAIN, that it is not Calvinists that I have a problem with. I, rather playfully, refer to a friend of mine at the seminary as "our resident six point Calvinist." He and I get along great, even while we are at 100% polar opposites in most of our theology. At least he's still a dispensationalist, although he's questioning that as well, now . . . he'll end up a Presbyterian before this is all over with.

So, your thread, RF. You call the shots. Regardless, God bless, and I hope you can avoid taking offense to my personal beliefs.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#6

Post by puritan lad » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:59 pm

Jac3510 wrote:Now, I ask this in all sincerity . . . do you want to have a discussion on Calvinism and why I find it to be heretical? I am fully aware that er . . . debate . . . usually ends up generating way more heat than light. But, I can assure you, if you want to know, that we can handle the issue dispassionately.
Jac3510,

I'm ready and willing to engage in this debate, provided, as you request, it doesn't turn into a personal war. Where would you like to begin?

Here is a little food for thought that may help us avoid preliminaries.

http://discussions.godandscience.org/about1037.html
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RE: Is Calvinism a Heresy?

#7

Post by Religious Fanatic » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:14 pm

Jac3510 wrote:1. The title change helps that. :)
2. So, your thread, RF. You call the shots. Regardless, God bless, and I hope you can avoid taking offense to my personal beliefs.
1. Fixed! Hope this clarifies things, sorry about the previous edit.
2. All right, people. I'll start with the first question (which is appearantly not addressed in puritan lad's classic "Calvinism vs. Arminianism" thread).


Question 1: Was Calvin really a murderer? If so, how and why?

Since Jac3510 was the first to make this statement, we ask him to present his case for Calvin's 'crime'.

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#8

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:27 pm

RF and Puritan, good deal . . . I'm looking forward to a well informed, civilized discussion. I promise--and you won't be disappointed--you'll find no personal attacks from me, and if not for my original statement quoted by RF at the beginning of this thead, you'd never know I disagreed so personally with the position ;)

My only request is that, again, we go for clarity rather than consensus, because I know that I won't change your minds, and you know you won't change mine. However, I believe it is always good to further understand both people and the arguments they make . . .

As for specifics:

RF, I'll provide sources and details of that claim either tomorrow or Thursday. I want to make sure I get to read through the thread Puritan posted. In the meantime, and please note that this is not referenced, I can briefly answer your question by noting that Calvin, while in Geneva, made it a practice of excommunicating and having killed those who disagreed with him on certain issues, those he deemed "heretics." Some pretty haneous stuff, actually . . .

Of course, you do realize that modern Calvinism really isn't based on Calvin's teachings themselves, right? The five points were actually formulated in response to Arminius' five points . . . again, all references and details later.

God bless

p.s., as I haven't read Puritan's thread yet, this may be a needless question, but it seems to me that the vast majority of the Calvinism debate hinges on two issues: theologically, our understanding of what it means to be "dead" in sins is central, and philosophically, the nature of God's foreknowledge will be highly determinative of our positions as well . . . would you both agree that these are the most important areas to deal with? Or perhaps we should just hit the five tenants one by one? (My preference is the former).

Yeah, so I need to read that thread ;)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#9

Post by puritan lad » Wed Dec 28, 2005 6:04 am

Jac3510 wrote:p.s., as I haven't read Puritan's thread yet, this may be a needless question, but it seems to me that the vast majority of the Calvinism debate hinges on two issues: theologically, our understanding of what it means to be "dead" in sins is central, and philosophically, the nature of God's foreknowledge will be highly determinative of our positions as well . . . would you both agree that these are the most important areas to deal with? Or perhaps we should just hit the five tenants one by one? (My preference is the former).

Yeah, so I need to read that thread ;)
First, Calvinism does not worship or even exalt a man named Calvin, so Calvin's dealings with heretics are irrelevant to this discussion.

As far the the approach, there are several issues here. The two that you mentioned as well as the Sovereignty of God and the nature of the atonement itself, ie. Did Jesus actually pay for anyone's sins on the cross? If so, whose?

I'll let you lead the way, since you have to defend your original post.
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#10

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:58 am

RF: Like Puritan said, this discussion can't really be about Calvin himself, because even if it were proven that Calvin was never saved, that doesn't prove Calvinism to be false. That would be a genetic fallacy, and we want to avoid those! But, if you want a reference . . .

http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/ashes.htm

The page itself is garbage. It is promoting a book teaching that salvation can be lost, and they start by committing the previously mentioned fallacy. But, it was the first thing that came up in a google search, and I am still out of town, away from my journals and church history volumes. For what it is worth, the page is well cited, and minus the motivation, it doesn't say--so far as history goes--anything different than I would have.

Now, Puritan:

Let me begin by flatly denying any form of Arminianism. I reject human ability, conditional election, unlimited atonement, resistable grace, and conditional security. Each of these rejections comes with qualification of course, but exactly the same may be said regarding my rejection of Calvinism's TULIP. Regardless, I want to avoid the charge of being an Arminian, because it will color our discussion. If they believe it, I probably do not. I actually had a drawn out discussion with a Calvinist friend of mine who concluded he would rather me be Arminian! ;)

As to the Sovereignty of God, I believe it to be absolute. As to the will of man, I believe it to be limited . . . my preferred term is "relatively free will", in which I use the word "relative" in its literal sense (and not as "basically.") I do not think we need to debate God's sovereignty, as we would get into ten pages of how that idea plays out . . . I think there are far more productive ways to do this.

I would also like to avoid philosophical discussions relating to Foreknowledge. In my debate with Floyd (the Calvinist friend), we spent a few hours on Rom. 8:29-30 trying to decide whether "foreknew" was causative. Of course, for him it is . . . you are familiar with that discussion. But that debate was too philosophical. I can even accept now that it is causative and it not change my position at all due to my understanding of election (though, I don't have to, and I don't).

In other words, there is a lot of the "traditional" debate that we don't have to have.

Here's the way I'm going to try to do this:

First, I intend to show why I believe the Atonement is universal both in extent and application, for if this is true, then the entire nature of the debate will shift away from Arminianism. You will find that I use some Calvinist reasoning here!

I then intend to show why I believe election is unconditional, and even unto salvation, but having nothing to do with regeneration.

Based on these two ideas, I intend to show why I reject the Calvinist understanding of "Total Depravity" and offer what I believe to be the biblical model of man's ability and responsibility.

I'm working on my argument in Word now. It will take the rest of the day, on and off, but it will be up later.

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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#11

Post by puritan lad » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:31 am

Jac3510 wrote:Let me begin by flatly denying any form of Arminianism. I reject human ability, conditional election, unlimited atonement, resistable grace, and conditional security. Each of these rejections comes with qualification of course, but exactly the same may be said regarding my rejection of Calvinism's TULIP. Regardless, I want to avoid the charge of being an Arminian, because it will color our discussion. If they believe it, I probably do not. I actually had a drawn out discussion with a Calvinist friend of mine who concluded he would rather me be Arminian! ;)
That's a good start. Since you reject both, I'm quite curious to see how you believe someone is saved.
Jac3510 wrote:Here's the way I'm going to try to do this:

First, I intend to show why I believe the Atonement is universal both in extent and application, for if this is true, then the entire nature of the debate will shift away from Arminianism. You will find that I use some Calvinist reasoning here!
Interesting. Using Calvinist reasoning to support universal atonement. Do you believe in universal salvation, or do you believe that the atonement fails for some people?
Jac3510 wrote:I then intend to show why I believe election is unconditional, and even unto salvation, but having nothing to do with regeneration.
Can't wait to see this one.

Looking forward to your articles.

God Bless,

PL
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#12

Post by puritan lad » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:48 am

There have been many attempts to reconcile Calvinism and Arminianism (I find it difficult to see how a Christian can avoid both, at least in a few points), but to no avail. I've been called a "doctrinal hardcase" by many fellow believers because I make it clear that I see no need to reconcile the two. There is no reconciling the two. One is right, the other is wrong. Here are some simple arguments to start with concerning the 5 points.

1.) Either Man is Totally Depraved and incapable of coming to God, or man is capable of saving himself with his own ability and without the new birth, (with God cheering him on).

2.) Either Man's election is unconditional, or else he is saved by works.

3.) Either Limited Atonement is true, or there are millions of souls paid for by Christ who are currently burning in Hell, thus making Christ's work a failure. Hint: If one goes to Hell, it is because his sins were not atoned for.

4.) Either God's Grace is irresistible, He having mercy on whom He wills, or man's will can overcome God's.

5.) Either those who are saved will persevere, or Christ's sheep do not have eternal life.

Again, I'm not interested in reconciling the two. Only one can be right. As for your rejection of both, I'm interested in seeing where you stand on each point.
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#13

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:00 pm

This got longer than I meant for it to, oh well . . .

First, I hold to universal atonement. Here are a few verses to support my position (all quotations ESV):
  • Matt. 20:26b-28, But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Now, this passage says that Christ gave His life as a ransom for "many." The Calvinist would contend this is a clear reference to Christ not dying for all. There are two strong problems with this statement, one of which flatly contradicts, and comes close to disproving, the Calvinist position, and the other simply negates the claim of support. The word behind "many" is polus. It is true that this word can mean many, but:
  • hoi polloi in secular Gk. means the most, the majority. But in the LXX it often represents the Heb. rabbim, which tends to mean "all." Hence while the Gk. use drew a distinction between a majority as a contrasted with a minority, Heb. use is capable of inclusive meaning, denoting the many individuals forming a totality. (NIDNT)
This word, if it does not mean all, means "most" or "the majority." This is a direct contradiction of Calvinist thought, for it would mean that the elect are the majority! If, on the other hand, we take this as we should to mean "all", then the verse, again, presents no difficulties and once again supports the position I am advocating.
  • Rom. 6:9-11, We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let's pull out a few specific things. First, notice that it says that the death of Christ was to sin. It was not to “sins.” This is consistent with one we are told in 2 Cor. 5:21, that God made Christ sin itself, that His wrath might be poured out against it for us. Therefore, while it is true that Jesus paid the price for our sins, it is also true that Jesus paid the price for Sin.

Secondly, note the phrase “once for all.” What does “all” in this passage refer to? The word is an adjective usedas a substantive. For those of you who are not English majors (or don't read Greek), if an adjective is used as a substanstival, it is functioning as a noun. For example, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, or “Out with the old, and in with the new.” Now, when dealing with a substantive, we have to ask ourselves what it is referring to. In our two examples, the Good, Bad, and Ugly might refer to people. In our second example, it just refers to “stuff”, and thus, “Out with the old stuff, in with the new stuff.” How do you know what a substantival adjective refers to? Context. What about in this passage? “Christ died for all.” Either “all” refers to “all people” or to “all sin.” Either rendering is acceptable. The former rendering supports both Unlimited Atonement and Universal Atonement, whereas the second rendering supports only Universal Atonement. Regardless, both renderings reject Limited Atonement. It may be argued that “all” refers to “all sin” as it relates to the elect, but it is extremely obvious that the idea is not found in this particular verse. You have to have the previous notion that only the sins of the elect are paid for in order to get that here!
  • 2 Cor 5:14-15, For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Here, we find “all” being used again as a substantive. Here, it most definitely refers to “all people.” It may be argued that “all” refers to “all the elect”, but we can reject this on two grounds. First, the idea is not found in this passage, but it has to be imported as an understanding taught from elsewhere. Secondly, Paul then says, “he died for all (people) that those who might live might no longer live for themselves.” This second group clearly refers to the elect, for the only people who live are those who will be raised with Christ (Mark 8:35-37, John 11:25-26). So, we can paraphrase the passage this way: “Christ died for all so that the elect can live for Him.”
  • 1 Tim. 2:5-6, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Yet again, we have “all” which must either refer to “all people” or “all the elect.” The second rendering cannot be valid as Paul is contrasting the God and Mankind. Notice that Paul did not say, “there is one mediator between God and the elect.” He said there is one mediator between God and anthropous, or men (plural). “All”, then, calls back to anthropous, not “the elect” which is found no where in this passage,
  • 1 John 2:22, He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Of course, no discussion about the atonement would be complete with a reference to 1 John 2:2. Needless to say, every Calvinist has had to deal with this verse, so there are a myriad of answers to the “problem” it proposes. I have no interest in proving the Calvinist wrong with this verse. I simply assert that the verse means what it says it means. Christ is the propitiation for the sins of Christians, and not only for Christians, but for the whole world. Now, what is especially interesting is that word “propitiation.” As we know, that is a “sacrifice of atonement.” God's wrath against sin was propitiated, and not only the sins of Christians, but the sins of the whole world. You see, I have this on my side: the plain rendering. If a person were to start with this verse, they would come to the conclusion that Christ not only died for all, but His death had the same effect for all.

Look at it this way. John is saved and Bob is not. How can we say that Christ's death was the propitiation for John's sins, and therefore God's wrath against John's sins has been appeased, but Christ's death was also the propitiation for Bob's sins, and yet God's wrath has not been appeased against Bob's sins?

Now, I don't expect this to change anyone's mind. Again, clarity, not consensus. However, I am arguing that this position is exegetically sound and it takes the plain meaning of the texts. Unless a passage can be presented that says, “Christ died only for the elect,” I do not believe the position should be imported into these passages that clearly imply the opposite.

One more thing regarding the atonement before we move on. I am, again, forced to reject Unlimited Atonement for the same reasons the Calvinists hold to it, and, in fact, these reasons support Universal Atonement. If I may quote Puritan Lad's Calvinism vs. Arminianism thread:
Puritan Lad wrote:1.) If Christ made full payment for every person's sins, then no one could ever go to Hell. If so, then what kind of “payment” are we left with?

2.) If Christ work on the cross was intended to save every single person, then His work is a failure. His work did not accomplish what He intended.

3.) If Christ intended to save every single person, than He came to do His own will, not the will of the Father who elected those who would be saved.

As Greg Bahnsen writes, “Isaiah prophesied that Christ would "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied"; yet if Christ went to the cross with the intention of saving every individual, he certainly has been defeated and cannot be satisfied. But our Lord is not defeated; all power has been given to him in heaven and earth. His sufferings do accomplish what he intends, for the salvation he provides is not abstract and universal, it is particular and personal.”
Now, I reject the first and third problems entirely, because I do not hold that Atonement leads to justification (see the end of this post). However, the second argument is almost flawless. Almost. I do not hold that Christ's work on the cross was to save everyone, but to make atonement for all sin. Now, Christ's work cannot be a failure, and if He did not accomplish exactly what He intended, then it was, in fact, a failure. Therefore, it is wrong for the Arminian to say that Christ's death was sufficient for all, because that neglects the basic truth that some whom Christ wanted to save were not saved. He failed in these cases.

However, if we say that Christ's plan was to atone for all sin, then Christ's death was not a failure. It did exactly as He intended! In short, the Calvinist is right against the Arminian that Christ's work cannot be a failure in any way at all. There can be no ineffectual sacrifice without there also being a failure!

Now, if the atonement is universal, then what of the elect? I hold to a form of unconditional that would be rejected by both the Calvinist and the Arminian. I have already laid out a good bit of my views in the thread on predestination. Therefore, I'll keep my remarks brief here.

I hold that election is of individuals. Corporate election is something of a copout. However, it is also obvious that “the elect” refers to a group. We know that God chose the elect in accordance with His foreknowledge, as is often pointed out, and as Puritan noted is proved by 1 Pet. 1:2. It is unfruitful to discuss, at this point, what “in accordance with His foreknowledge” means, because then we just start citing stock arguments. Besides, I reject both the Calvinist and Arminian ideas, anyway, so the arguments would profit little!

For me, the most important passage on election is Eph. 1:4, which says, “as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” This passage, along with Romans 11:5 and Romans 16:3, are the only passages that tell us HOW God elects. Every other passage that mentions election simply says that God does it, or it talks about the Elect. But this passage says that we are chosen “in Christ.”

Now, it is obvious that all those Elect refers only to the saved (2 Thess. 2:13). Therefore, all those who are “in Him” are “the Elect.” However, if this is true, we cannot say that a person was ever “elected to be in Christ,” because this would be the same as saying, that a person was “elected to be elect.” In fact, I challenge anyone to show me a single place in Scripture where we are said to be elected to be in Christ. Again, we find we are elected in Christ.

What does that mean, “elected in Christ”? “In Christ” refers to location or position. If I said, “I was chosen in the house,” or “He was chosen in the field,” we would not think that I was chosen to be in the house or chosen to be in the field. The implication is that, while in the house, I was chosen, or while in the field, he was chosen. Thus, we see that God looks at those “in Christ” and He chooses them. Which ones does He choose? ALL of them!

If I may explain by way of analogy, imagine you want to get a game of some sort together. You tell everyone, “anyone who wants to play, come to the field.” A group of people show up, and you then begin to choose who will be on your team. You choose everyone. This well pictures God's decree of election. God invites all “to the field” (Matt. 22:14 [again, notice many is from polus], Luke 24:46-47, John 1:7, John 1:12), but only those who believe actually “come to the field” (that is, are reborn into Christ).

You see, the central assumption here is that to be “in Christ”, one must be chosen to be in Christ. And yet, such is never taught in Scripture. What we are taught is that to be “in Christ”, one must be born again, as per John 3 (c.f. 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 6:3, Eph. 2:10). This is, in the end, what it means to be “born again.” The first man is born “in Adam,” but the second man is born “in Christ.”

I say this doctrine is unconditional election because our election is conditioned on absolutely nothing! God chooses everyone in Christ. This is significantly different from the Arminian understanding that implies that, if you have faith, then God chooses you to be in Christ. It makes Rom. 8:29-30 refer to faith that God foreknew rather than people. But, again, we see that those who believe in Christ are born again in Christ, and that God looks at all those in Christ and chooses them for salvation.

The Calvinist, of course, disagrees. As I said in my previous discussion of the matter, he confuses predestination with election, making them precisely the same thing. In fact, it is of interest that in Puritan's thread, he thoroughly mixes the doctrines. Predestination, though, is distinct from election. God predestines the elect for certain things, namely, to adoption, to an inheritance, and to glorification. For the Calvinist, there can be no such distinction, and thus, the doctrine is both wrong and heretical.

This naturally leads to the third point I want to bring up, which relates to the Calvinist understanding of Total Depravity. It is objected that mankind cannot choose to believe in God, and therefore, a man must be chosen to believe. We see, then, that the doctrines of election and predestination are not actually Scriptural so much as they are logical outflows of a certain understanding of Depravity. I reject this claim, as would, of course, every Arminian. However, I also reject the claim by Arminians that men can come to God on their own. It is true that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6), but it is also true that no one can come to Jesus unless he is drawn to Him (John 6:44). It is ludicrous to think that fallen man will seek God of his own accord, and in fact, the Bible expressly states otherwise in Romans 3:11, for “no one seeks God.” Is this then proof that God must choose who will believe in Him? This is hardly the case. It simply means that fallen man, left to himself, seeks only evil. This was beautifully demonstrated between the time of Adam and Noah. Man's propensity to fall away from God is shown clearly through Israel. But this is why God issues to call to all. All men are drawn, so much as they hear the Gospel (Rom. 10:1). In fact, to prove the Calvinist wrong in his assertion that no one seeks God in the absolute sense, we can bring up Cornelius' story in Acts 10:1-8. Here is an unregenerate man who “feared God.” He was seeking the truth! So if Cornelius was genuinely seeking God, what does this say about the passage at hand? It simply means that man, left to himself, does not seek God.

Now, it is charged that unregenerate man is dead in his sins based on Eph. 2:1. It is then asserted that, just as a dead man cannot respond, neither can the man dead in sins respond to Christ's calling. Therefore, regeneration must precede the response. Those whom God elects He regenerates, and they come then to belief (thus, irresistible grace).

This position is easily discounted. It is simply incorrect to say that a dead man cannot respond. First, the word dead does NOT mean “inability.” This is an assumption drawn from an argument by analogy. A physically dead man is unable to respond, so therefore, a spiritually dead man must be unable to respond. However, in Eph. 2:1, Paul is not making an argument by analogy. He is stating a categorical fact. In truth, the word “dead” means “separated from.” In physical death, we find the body separated from physical life. In spiritual death, we find a man separated from God. There is no inability implied here except that which the reader chooses read into it. We can, in fact, demonstrate that a dead man responds in many ways. To quote a friend of mine:
Justin Kirksey wrote:If one tries to speak or communicate with a corpse, they will not respond because they are incapable. If one asks the corpse if it would like to be resurrected, it would not be able to respond. The question then becomes, is this analogous to spiritual death? Is the spirit dead in the same way the body is? If it is then your belief about inability would certainly be correct, because the spirit would be powerless to respond to an invitation from God, and would in fact need to be resurrected first in order to respond. I would respond that from the facts we know about the dead human spirit, spiritual death is NOT analogous to physical death. Let's examine the facts.

1. While the physically dead body is inanimate and incapable of action, the dead spirit is capable of action. The spiritually dead commit sin, reject God, and go astray, etc…
2. While the physically dead body is unresponsive to stimuli, the spiritually dead body is not. We note that the spiritually dead will experience torment of hell and even experience joy in their sins for a season.

With these two observations we see that spiritual death does not result in inanimation or in unresponsiveness.
If the spiritually dead person is responsive, then there is no reason to assume that he is incapable of responding to the gospel. In fact, I submit that no where in Scripture do we find the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith, but in fact, just the opposite! Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (NASB) God saves us by regeneration, but we are told in Eph. 2:8-10 that we are saved by grace, and that grace comes through faith. Therefore, it must be that regeneration comes through faith. Even if you assume that the “gift” in Eph 2 is both grace and faith, it still must follow that regeneration is through faith. Now, you can say that God gives us the faith, and through that faith, God applies the grace of regeneration, but you STILL cannot say that God regenerates us so that we might believe. That is simply contrary to Scripture. And I reject that position, anyway, because it more probable—the plain meaning of the text—that the “gift” is grace, not both grace and faith. In the end, we are told that whoever receives Christ, they become sons of God (John 1:12). This is written in the gospel of John, which is directed to unbelievers (John 20:30-31). The plain meaning is that reception of Christ, through faith, results in the reception of the gift of grace, that is, regeneration, justification, adoption, etc.

I would like to conclude my remarks by asking the question, “What gets a person to heaven or condemns a person to hell?” Bearing in mind that I believe that all sin is atoned for, that the elect will be saved, that God elects those in Christ, and to be in Christ one must believe to be born again, it should follow that it is belief alone that results in salvation. This is in line with two major scriptures that simply cannot be reconciled with the Calvinism. First we have the classic John 3:16. God demonstrated His love for the world (all people, including the non-elect) by giving His Son, that whoever believes will live. A Calvinist must read this to say that God demonstrated His love for the elect by sending His Son for them that when He chooses them they may believe in Him and live. That is simply contrary to what the text says.

The next text is Rev. 20:11-15. As the ESV renders it:
  • Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire
Notice that a person's sins are never mentioned in this passage. What is a man condemned for? Is it his sin? By God, I say no. A person is condemned for not being found in the Book of Life. This means that he is dead in his sins. You see, he is not condemned for his sins, but for his death—that is, for his lack of life. Atonement does not mean the granting of life. It means that the wrath against sin is removed. To say it means any more is to go beyond the text! But we are given life when we are born again, which happens when we believe in Christ. It is then that we overcome the world, and our names are not blotted from the Book of Life.

You see, Calvinism teaches that God arbitrarily chooses some for salvation and others for damnation. It teaches that man has no choice in the matter except to choose what God has chosen for him. Calvinism denies that salvation is by faith alone, for it teaches that salvation comes by asking for, and receiving, forgiveness for sins. Perseverance must follow, and where there is no perseverance, there is no salvation. Calvinism slanders God, for it attributes to Him the awful sin of man's rejection, and it denies His truly free gift of grace to all who believe. The Calvinist must teach a salvation of repentance, or good works, because you have been chosen to be saved. Therefore, that salvation is evidenced by the good works for which you were created, as per Eph. 2:10. Thus, it is not belief alone that is the basis for salvation, but it is the belief in a personal election. In Calvinism, I know I am saved because my works prove it. I know I am saved because I love the brethren. As Spurgeon said, Calvinism, for the Calvinist anyway, is the Gospel. However, the Gospel it teaches is far from the Gospel I have presented in this post. The Gospel I have presented is that all sin has been paid for, and that to live, one must only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If one does this, he is born into Christ, and God chooses Him for salvation.

Is Calvinism a heresy? Yes. It is a doctrine that will send millions to hell, just as indulgences did in the Middle Ages.

I can demonstrate this final claim in this way: what happens to a person who trusts Christ alone to save hi, just because He said He would, totally apart from commitment to His Lordship, apart from repentance, and apart from the genuineness of faith? If the answer is that he is not saved, then you have denied the Gospel, and what you are proclaiming is a false gospel. We should consider our teachings carefully, as per Gal. 1:8-9 and James 3:1.

God bless

edit: I went back and edited the post to include the Calvinist reasoning behind Universal Atonement. I had forgotten about it :oops:
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Post by LowlyOne » Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:14 pm

Jac,
though we may disagree on some points, you have dealt consistently and accurately with the view of election and predestination. May I copy your post to maybe use later for my friends that are confused and seeking understanding on this?

Again, bravo. I was planning on reponding to Puritan's posts on calvinism when I had a chance, and still might, but time prevented that.

Much love to you Puritan Lad,
Lowly One

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#15

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Dec 29, 2005 5:17 pm

You can use any material you find from me as you wish, no credit needed. I guessed from reading your post on repentance that you would disagree with PL on several levels . . .

Thanks for the encouragement :)

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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