Why do manipulative means bother you?

If you have been around church functions as long as I have you have seen just about every kind of motivation to get people to “come to Jesus.”  And let’s just face it, sometimes people go way overboard in their attempt to “get people saved.”

I remember in my first VBS as a young pastor one of the workers coming to me with group of over 20 kids ranging from ages 3 to 13 who she insisted were ready to be baptized. She apparently had taken it upon her self to offer the children an “altar call to avoid hell” in her recreation time.  Surprise, Surprise, not one of the kids wanted to go to hell!  As a compromise to her request, I agreed to meet individually with each child and try to assess if any were indeed ready for such an important decision.

One by one each child came in my office and, as I expected, proved not to have understood even the basics of the gospel appeal to repentance.  That was until Kimberly came in and sat down.  Kimberly was delightful twelve year old girl who always wore a bright cheery grin.  But she wasn’t smiling this time.  I asked her why she came to front to pray, fully expecting the same kind of shallow answers from the other kids.  She looked to ground, shuffled her feet a bit, and then, to my shock, she look at me with tears welling up and said, “Brother Leighton, I have sinned and I know only Jesus can forgive me.”  We talked for while and I found a spirit of broken submission. Repentance marked this young tender heart.  She was the only one we baptized that next Sunday.  Oh, and that VBS worker was not at all upset with me. It just so happened that Kimberly was her oldest daughter.

At the time this happened I was a Calvinist.  I hated manipulation tactics or even the hint of an “easy-believism gospel.”  False teachers, money hungry TV Evangelists and health wealth prosperity preachers made my blood boil. I certainly was not about too allow an over zealous VBS volunteer manipulate a bunch of children!

So, now that I have left Calvinism one may think I embrace such evangelistic tactics?  Or maybe that I have at least mellowed out a bit against such things?

THINK AGAIN!

When I was a Calvinist at least I could fall back on my belief that false teachers did not have the chance of preventing the “elect ones” from being saved.  I did not see these manipulators of the gospel as a real threat to the eternal souls of people.  After all, my systematic taught me that God would certainly save all His chosen ones.  So, while I had a righteous indignation, I really did not see them as the threat they actually are in this world.

Sometimes I wonder why its the Calvinistic believers who are the first to repudiate such tactics when it is those who believe as I do that should be the most indignant given what is at sake.

We all know strong faithful believers who first came to church or walked an isle as a result of “questionable tactics” employed by “questionable motives.” So, were these tactics the means God ordained for His Holy ends? If so, then should we not respond to those means with the grace Joseph responded to his criminal brothers by saying, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good,” and let it go at that?

Why do manipulative means bother you?

1. Do you believe God ordained manipulative means to come to pass for His greatest glory?

2. Do you believe God purposed such unbiblical tactics to irresistibly draw out his elect ones (because He not only ordains the ends, but the means)?

3.  Do you believe God is indignant toward some of the very means He ordained to draw His elect ones to salvation?

Do you see the problem with adopting the idea that God actually purposed the evil tactics to come to pass; rather than, His redeeming evil tactics to bring about a good purpose?

Inquiring as to how God brought about the good end without meticulously determining the means is tantamount to asking how an undefeated chess master soundly defeated every opponent.  Whatever answer you might attempt to offer, would you ever speculate that the chess master is somehow secretly determining his opponents every move in order to ensure his own victory? Or, would it be more beneficial to the “glory” of the chess master to conclude that he is so wise and great at the game of chess that every free move of his opponent was masterfully countered and turned into a victory?

God is a Master Redeemer. He knows how to take any move of his opponent and redeem it for His greater purpose.  How?  I have no flipping idea and if I could figure it all out then it probably would not be all that impressive, because I am not all that bright.  No human is, by the way.  Some of us just haven’t come to that realization yet, in my humble (but accurate) opinion.

Think about all the human discoveries, studies and disciples that most of us cannot even begin to understand.   Neuroscience, molecular biology, thermodynamics, genetics, complex engineering and the list could go on and on. Even the greatest minds in each of these fields admit how little we really know or can understand of these disciplines. Are we so naive as to think we can put our peon minds around the inner workings of our infinite Creator God simple because we have an theology degree hanging on our wall? The subject matter of a theologian makes all other subjects look like child’s play in comparison.  We would be naive to presume we can explain exactly how our infinite God works within our temporal world.

All this to say that we cannot begin to draw hard and fast conclusions about God that may impugn His very character.  It makes little sense for God (or His followers) to express outrage against things that God Himself has determined beforehand will be the means to ensure His greatest glory. In that way of thinking, any critique of that which has come to pass becomes a criticism of God’s eternal self-glorifying plan. This interpretation requires the response of any and all rebukes of questionable means or evil actions to be answered with the all too commonly misquoted proof text, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?”

“Arminian preacher, you shouldn’t  manipulate people with your seeker-sensitive easy-believism gospel!”

Answer: “Who are you to question God?”

“Lifeway, you shouldn’t sell heretical books in your bookstores.”

Answer: “Who are you to question God?”

“Churches, you shouldn’t become a country club that tickles the ears of your listeners.”

Answer: “Who are you to question God?”

“ISIS, you shouldn’t saw off people’s head for disagreeing with your religion.”

Answer: “Who are you to question God?”

God has not brought these evil choices to pass!  He is not the one who purposed specific evil desires and deeds. We should be angry at such abhorrent actions because God is genuinely angry too, and He is not angry at Himself (His secret hidden will) or His eternal plan of self-glorification. He is angry at THEM for their CHOICES, period.  We can and should join God in his rebuke of bad choices without feeling that we are rebuking God’s secret eternal unchangeable plan of self-glorification.

We can rest in the truth that God is supernaturally able to redeem the evil intentions and actions of His creatures to bring about His greater good. But nothing, absolutely NOTHING, suggests we need to adopt any systematic (or philosophical theistic theory) which even implies that God brings about evil desires, choices or actions through meticulous providence.

40 thoughts on “Why do manipulative means bother you?

  1. When Jesus said he “brought the sword” in Matthew 10, he was talking about the fact that his ministry of reconciliation catalyzed persecution and martyrdom (the Matthew 10 context is clear on this).

    We would nonetheless say, however, that each martyrdom God foresaw was an evil, malicious choice of individuals; God is angry at murderers for their choices and they shall be held accountable.

    So, (#1) why would Jesus come, if he knew he’d “bring the sword”? How could it have been the right decision to carry out his ministry given the fallout he foresaw?

    The wording is important here, too. Though his ministry was a mere catalyst and not the direct cause, Jesus nonetheless calls the sword something HE brought. (#2) Does this make Jesus malicious?

    Question #1 has one answer: It served his big picture purposes. The math worked out. It was worth it. However you want to say it — however coldly or intimately — something like this is the only possible answer.

    Question #2 is rhetorical, of course, the answer being, “No.” So, how do we reconcile “No, Jesus is not malicious” with “His mission was foreknown to catalyze the martyrdom of many people, and Jesus called this ‘I bring the sword'”? The answer is that there is a sovereign sense in which we can affirm God’s superordinate responsibility for everything, even bad stuff, without calling him malicious. I’m not aware of any other possible, coherent answer.

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    1. I don’t find much, if anything, within your reply with which to disagree. Of course there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should be used to define God’s work in regard to evil. Which word works?

      authors, brings about, causes, controls, creates, decrees, foreordains, incites, includes within his plan, makes happen, ordains, permits, plans, predestines, predetermines, produces, stands behind, wills…

      Does it matter?

      I think so. It matters as to whether we believe God is good, holy and just. Whatever word we choose it should seek to protect the aspects of God’s character that are not in question.

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      1. That’s a great answer. Indeed, it comes down to communication choices, asserting information with fidelity, and averting confusion.

        We know that the Bible’s expressed perspectives are notoriously manifold (Pro: A robust work of resonance with the mind-boggling variety of believers throughout history; Con: Confusion-catalyzing), especially on the issue of sovereignty and culpability.

        Like philosophical quietism, which seeks to quiet “fun” evergreen debates through “boring” language precision, you allude to a theological quietism. I’m so excited about this “boring” route that it’s not even funny.

        The only nag I have is against present stark “God did NOT”s in an effort to “protect God” (so to speak) and keep language of responsibility on man alone (or Satan or whatever). When someone says, “He did NOT purpose that!,” the niddling response is, “Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘purpose.’ There are many senses of the word whereby what you just said is clearly false and, of course, senses whereby it is true.” My hope is we all move toward a place where we “pre-niddle” our own theology.

        Google “stanrock semantics” to see my take on taxonomic confusion regarding “authorship of evil.”

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      2. I hear ya…I have to have a dictionary at times, but I hear ya. 🙂

        I think the difference in “God purposing evil” versus “using evil for His purposes” is not mere semantics. It is vital to maintain the clear biblical revelation of God’s holy character IMHO.

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      3. I think that’s a fine way of putting it, and I can agree with it even as a Christian determinist. I would say it is semantics, but not “mere”; semantics is super-important!

        Thanks for engaging me. Good stuff.

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    2. I appreciate Stanrock when you bring Scriptures into the discussion. From there must come our ultimate authority for deciding what we should think on these difficult topics. I think you would agree that Matt 10 was Jesus’ sayings to prepare HIs disciples for both their pre-Passion ministry to Israel and post-Passion ministry to the world.

      I wonder if you would accept an alterative definition of “sword” based on the immediate context of these sayings instead of tying it to the previous context of “persecution and martyrdom” as you have done. Would you accept the break down of these sayings into three contexts, instructions on how to minister 5-15, encouragements in the face of persecutions 16-31, and definitions of there message 32-42? There may be a better way of titling these sections but I believe the ουν in 32 marks a transition into a new section and that the emphasis that follows is a focus on Jesus Himself, the central theme of their message.

      Therefore I believe the “sword” Jesus is speaking about in this section is not the physical sword in the hands of persecutors (though I have no problem with God being responsible for His permissive will and do see an indirect connection with the previous section), but instead it is the spiritual sword that Jesus came to bring, calling for and creating division in families over Him and the gospel that relates to Him. (He sees completely the norm and extent of the possibilities of His determinations and permissions). He knows the probability of that division and has determined the existence of that probability, but He was not determining specific divisions in specific families.

      It is interesting that Jesus defines what the “sword” does, not as persecution or martyrdom but as “division” διχαζω. And I believe the more reasoned idea is not younger people (son, daughter, daughter-in-law) persecuting and martyring older people (father, mother, mother-in-law) but breaking away from their dead religious tradition to follow Christ. That is what makes this blog so exciting. It goes against the norm, for Leighton, and oldish man :-), has broken from the deadening tradition of Calvinistic determinism that is presently infecting so many young evangelicals, especially in his denomination! Of course his is a break with the elders – Sproul, Calvin, Augustine, and Zeno and a return to the normal understanding of Scripture.

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      1. I think it’s a stretch to say that he’s defining the sword as “division.” Even if we accept the “new section,” he still says, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it,” in verse 39. The idea that he has only knowledge of a “high probability of martyrdom” is irrelevant. He still knows that he’s bringing it (that is, catalyzing it), and could arbitrarily prevent it (like his remote-healing of the centurion’s servant) but will choose not to. These are tough, “for free” truths that “pop out” of God’s attributes and power like toast from a toaster. Invocations of “probability, not certainty,” “general predictions, not specific predictions,” etc. seem vaguely compelling at first but are nonfunctional at-issue.

        We need to bank on God’s having big-picture, “too wonderful to know” (Job 42:3) reasons for the thorns and weeds in the garden of creation. God never said to Job, “What’s the problem? I had nothing to do with this; Satan did it.”

        Romans 11:33

        “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

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      2. STANROCK writes, “I think it’s a stretch to say that he’s defining the sword as “division.””

        Actually brianwagner said, “…I believe the “sword” Jesus is speaking about in this section is not the physical sword in the hands of persecutors…instead it is the spiritual sword that Jesus came to bring,…the gospel that relates to Him.”

        The effect of wielding this sword is then “calling for and creating division in families.”

        I think brainwagner has Hebrews 4 in mind, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” as the “sword” that Jesus has in mind.

        This requires that we ask what Jesus meant when He said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Does not Paul say, “…being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” We remember that we are sinners and were at war with God. The preaching of the gospel exposes this war – that we denied – first causing us to object because we see ourselves as good even to the point of ridiculing the messenger, but then, through the conviction of the Spirit of God, submitting to that word. Maybe not as dramatic as Saul on the road to Damascus but still profound. Nonetheless, it appears not to be God’s purpose to save all so that our peace with God is enmity with those who hate God who then hate us even more as we take up that sword in proclaiming the gospel. So, Christ came to bring peace – to those who enter the kingdom of heaven – but war on the earth with those outside the kingdom.

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      3. Thank you Rhutchin for joining me in declaring that the action of the Sword Christ came to cast upon the earth was the division caused by the gospel! However, the context reveals that anyone can pick up that sword and allow it to divide their allegiance unto Christ alone. There is nothing in the passage to declare that the division between individuals was predetermined before creation! The context indicates that the division started happening after Jesus’ arrival, and Christ’s use of βαλλω (to cast) infers that He is not using the sword personally, but instead is making it available for others to pick up. This also points to personal response-ability instead of determinism.

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  2. Why is the focus more on HOW the sower sows, than on the condition of the ground that the seed falls? Some of the seed 1. Falls by the wayside 2. Falls on Stony Ground 3. Falls in thorns 4. Falls on good ground. I think these exist in all churches, even the careful, Lordship Salvation, 5 Point Calvinist Churches. If you’re a Calvinist, you believe God has to prepare the ground of the heart first. I think the responsibility falls on the individual hearing it and that person can be more or less ready at different times in his life to receive the word that is sown. It seems logical to think that a well-delivered, thoughtful sermon will break up the fallow ground of an unbeliever’s heart. However, the gospel is the power of God and the word of God is quick and powerful. Sometimes it’s reason and logic. Sometimes it’s emotion. Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with the presentation or the presenter but the fallow ground of the unbeliever has been so broken up by life and circumstances that a mustard seed of the gospel gets in and that’s all it takes.

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  3. Leighton, another fabulous post! I loved your rant based on the misuse of Romans 9:19-20 and the quote “Who are you to question God?” It bothers me that Calvinists do not look more closely at those verses to see that the man they are quoting for support is the hypothetical man in Paul’s argument who actually is resisting God’s will and that is why Paul is rebuking him. I can’t recall the name for the informal logical fallacy for what some Calvinists are doing there with those verses. Maybe Stanrock can help me out! 🙂

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    1. Right. The same objector we see in Romans 3:1-8 is the one we see again in Romans 9, and that clearly is the Israelites who rebelled in the face of God’s patient pleas (Mt. 23:37; Rm 10:21) and are being “given over” or “judicially hardened” in that condition in order for God’s greater redemptive purpose to be fulfilled through their rebellious actions. So, unless someone has grown calloused then been hardened by God for the purpose of bringing redemption to the whole word they have no reason to say, “Why am I to blame?” and have the verse thrown back at them, “Who are you, oh man, to question God?”

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    2. brianwagner writes, ” I loved your rant based on the misuse of Romans 9:19-20 and the quote “Who are you to question God?” It bothers me that Calvinists do not look more closely at those verses…”

      I’ll guess and say that Pastor Flowers quote , “Who are you to question God?” is drawn for Paul’s argument, ” O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

      If you believe that Calvinists have erred in their understanding of Romans 9, how about explaining how they have done this and not just sling accusations for emotional effect.

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      1. Rhutchin, I know I was not clear enough after thinking about my response. I was not denigrating Paul’s own words in Romans 9:20 – “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?'” Though I liked how Leighton showed how those words have been misused by others to silence discussion.

        I don’t think Paul was trying to silence discussion. I believe He truly was trying to draw the reader away from the argument they themselves might be thinking, expressed in the words of Paul’s hypothetical man – “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?'” (vs. 19) Paul was responding to this hypothetical man, and the reader, to draw them back to the importance of trusting in the sovereignty of God, who is the Potter (cf. Jer. 18:1-10).

        The point I was trying to make is that some Calvinists love to quote the argument of the hypothetical man – “For who has resisted His will!” to support their false doctrines of irresistible grace and determinism. Why would one choose to use as his support the foolish words of a hypothetical man who himself clearly was resisting the sovereignty of God in his life by saying such things? And Paul’s response of rebuke to such a man also infers that such a man would truly be able to stop resisting.

        Romans 9 is only the beginning of Paul’s discussion of God’s sovereignty and how it works out for the salvation of individual Jews and Gentiles as well as for the OT fulfillment of God’s promises to corporate Israel. In Chapter 9 Paul establishes that God does what He wants to fulfill His plan, including hardening and showing mercy as He decides. In Chapter 10 Paul clarifies the universality and individuality of the gospel. But in Chapter 11, in the end of Paul’s discussion, Praise be the Name of the Lord, Paul clearly declares that God has mercy on everyone (11:32)! Everyone gets the merciful opportunity to accept God’s salvation, but the opportunity is not irresistible. “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart?”

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  4. Pastor Flowers writes, “But nothing, absolutely NOTHING, suggests we need to adopt any systematic (or philosophical theistic theory) which even implies that God brings about evil desires, choices or actions through meticulous providence.”

    At least, you have not rejected all your Calvinist influences. That God ordains “evil desires, choices or actions” is necessitated by His sovereignty; but not that He is the cause of such things for they arise from the corruption of minds enslaved to sin. If anything, God must restrain the evil that people would do if given free rein to do anything they wanted so as to bring everything to the conclusion He has appointed.

    But the first issue raised – the manipulation of people to get them to “come to Jesus.” Such methods only muddy the waters of salvation making some people think they are saved when they are not.

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

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    1. Rhutchin the Calvinism double-speak is so evident in your last reply. If I have read it correctly, you have said that divine sovereignty makes necessary that God ordains evil but does not cause it. It is caused by “corruption of minds enslaved to sin”, you said, but you choose not mention that you believe God is the one who enslaves the offspring of Adam so that their minds are not able to even respond to His gracious offers to trust His mercy for salvation!

      There will be people who at the judgment still believe their good works should be enough to keep them from hell, and when they sense being sent their out of their heart they will profess what they really were trusting in – “prophesied in thy name… cast out devils, done many wonderful works.” But false profession should not bother a Calvinist! Isn’t it better to have a non-elect person profess Christianity. There is no way for him to be converted anyway, in your view… so what’s the problem?

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      1. brianwagner writes, “…God is the one who enslaves the offspring of Adam so that their minds are not able to even respond to His gracious offers to trust His mercy for salvation!”

        This is imaginative and not true. The Scriptures are pretty clear in describing Adam/Eve’s sin in the garden and then telling us that it is from this sin that the mind of man has been enslaved to sin and thereby not able to trust in God’s mercy for salvation. Because of this , as Pastor Flowers has pointed out, the Holy Spirit must intervene to convict a person of his sin else none would be saved. That is correct. There is no way for a person to be converted without the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Given that you oppose this, are we to conclude that you have succumbed to Pelagian philosophy as well as open theism?

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      2. What Scriptures? It is easy to make premises, Rhuchin, without supporting evidence. It is also easy to use labels to stop discussion, without dealing with the evidence presented to you.

        Maybe you should clarify how you believe a person gets their soul. I was assuming that you took the normal Calvinist view that man’s soul is created for him at conception and then judged by God for Adam’s sin (imputation), and therefore made unable to even accept God’s enlightenment and conviction before regeneration, which they believe is only given to a pre-creation list of elect. If that is your view, how is that not God being responsible for actively enslaving the human nature of all so-called non-elect so that they will never be able to make a choice concerning his grace? If it is not your view, does it bother you that you believe Calvinism is wrong in their viewpoint of imputation? Again, I want to see your viewpoint supported by Scriptures, not just stated. Thanks.

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      3. brainwagner writes, ” I was assuming that you took the normal Calvinist view that man’s soul is created for him at conception and then judged by God for Adam’s sin (imputation), and therefore made unable to even accept God’s enlightenment and conviction before regeneration, ”

        That man is unable to accept salvation at conception is a consequence of Adam’s sin – the idea behind original sin. Once Adam sinned, God was in the position of having to save people who could not save themselves nor did not want to.

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  5. brianwagner writes, “I was assuming that you took the normal Calvinist view that man’s soul is created for him at conception and then judged by God for Adam’s sin (imputation), and therefore made unable to even accept God’s enlightenment and conviction before regeneration,…”

    Once Adam sinned, his heirs inherited a sin nature – the idea behind original sin. Form that point they could not save themselves and did not want to do so. God was put in the position of having to save those He choose else none would be saved.

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “‘God was put in the position’??? Are you sure you want to stick with that phraseology?”

        Well, it is written in the passive voice (another example for not using the passive voice when not required and we know that the passive voice does not identify who is behind the action (which makes me wonder who you might reasonably think – given my Calvinist leanings – that I had in mind as putting God in that position as if I would see it as any but God)). Let me write it in the active voice – God put Himself in the position of having to save those He choose to save else none would be saved.

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    1. So, Rhutchin, you do not believe in the Calvinist position of imputation! Does that bother you, not being a full Calvinist? Also, how do you prove that when God judged Adam for his sin, that Adam was no longer able to respond to God’s grace or that such an inability was passed on to Adam and Eve’s offspring without God’s causation? Still waiting on the Scriptures to back up your statements…

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      1. brianwagner writes, “Adam was no longer able to respond to God’s grace…”

        The issue is not whether Adam could respond to God’s grace but whether God would extend grace to Adam that required a response (by grace, God sustains all things and this does not require a response from those so sustained – by grace we wake up each morning because God has sustained us through the night and no response is required. Of course, believers tend to respond in gratitude while unbelievers just go on with their day as if such things are the natural course of events).

        Where God extends grace to any person to which He seeks a response, He also provides the grace for the person to respond (as in salvation).

        I see no reason to rehearse the Scriptures used to support the doctrine of Total Depravity. They are extensive and too much for this forum. You need to do some home work to familiarize yourself with them.

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      2. So are you going to answer the question about your disagreement with Calvinists on imputation of Adams sin and depravity?

        I do agree with you that “God extends grace to any person to which He seeks a response, He also provides the grace for the person to respond.”

        Praise the Lord that He has said that He extends that Grace to everyone!

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      3. brianwagner writes, “Praise the Lord that He has said that He extends that Grace to everyone!”

        Yet, all do not come to salvation. Guess God extends a bit more grace to some (coincidentally, His elect) than He does to others (coincidentally, the reprobate). That’s His choice, I guess.

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      4. The point is, Rhutchin, not that He gives more grace, it is that He gives enough grace to accept or reject. He gives you and I enough grace to accept or His will, after regeneration, and we can still reject, like you sadly are doing now.

        And sadly many still freely reject the sufficient grace for their salvation. That is why we need to keep praying for them and preaching the gospel to them, so that they will have even more enabling grace, even though His grace was sufficient before.

        I am praying and interacting with you so that you will have more grace from God’s Word to reject falsehoods you have believed about God’s will. He has never previously decided that any should perish but that all should come to a knowledge of they truth, an opportunity for their repentance.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “The point is, Rhutchin, not that He gives more grace, it is that He gives enough grace to accept or reject.”

        That is your opinion; what you want to believe. If God is the source of grace and grace is necessary to salvation, then we conclude that those who come to salvation must ahve received sufficient grace to accept salvation.

        The issue is those who reject salvation. Did they receive sufficient grace to accept salvation? No one can prove that they did. The evidence argues otherwise. It is certain that God knows what it takes to bring a person to salvation and if the grace God extends to a person is not sufficient to bring them to salvation, then that is the way God wanted it.

        The point here is that no person can be saved without God extending grace to that person and God knows how much grace is required to bring any person to salvation. God determines who will be saved by the grace He extends to them. So, the Calvinist has concluded. You are not presenting an argument against this.

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      6. brianwagner writes, “So are you going to answer the question about your disagreement with Calvinists on imputation of Adams sin and depravity?”

        I don’t see that I disagree on this. Adam/Eve had children. Those children were subject to death. Yet the wages of sin is death. Thus, God must have imputed Adam’s sin to his children subjecting them to death. Those children also inherited Adam’s corrupted nature so that they were not able to escape the penalty of death except by the grace of God.

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      7. That He gives enough grace is not my opinion, Rhutchin. Man is without excuse. You never gave me the opportunity to be saved is an excuse. God enlightens everyone, (Jn 1:9), draws everyone (Jn 12:32), convicts everyone (Jn 16:7-8), has not planned any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2Pet 3:9), wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim 2:4), made Jesus the payment and propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1Tim 2:6, 1Jn 2:2).

        This is not opinion. Grace is sufficient and man is without excuse! Yours is the opinion without Scripture! God does not, has not, made plans contrary to what He has revealed, and what He as revealed He says He desires. If man ends up in hell or heaven it is not because of divine predetermination of all future decisions before creation. That false teaching flies in the face of anyone’s normal reading of the verses above! And His grace is sufficient for you to believe this! I hope you will, my friend.

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    1. Hi Yudo, Would you be willing to agree to a definition of omniscience that would include a divine knowledge of the future as it actually exists? Would you agree that the future does not yet actually exist except in God’s mind? Would you agree that God is sovereign enough to ordain a future that has certain limits and ends (like a chess game has rules and limits) and to know that future fully as it would actually exist, with some predeterminations and many possibilities (even if you don’t believe He did it that way)?

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      1. explain how God can know the future completely and accurately and it be full of variables for God?

        God is outside of time and the creator of time. what he thinks has already been done as far as God is concerned. us time-bound creatures can’t see it all and are still playing it out.

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      2. Hi Yudo! Sorry for the delay in responding. This Spring has been a little crazy for me! Thanks for the question. If the future does not yet exist in reality, but only is known in God’s mind, then it is known completely and accurately as He has chosen for it to be! If He has chosen it to consist of some predeterminations and some variables, than that is truly how He knows it.

        I think you will have a hard time proving with certainty from Scripture that God is outside of time in the sense of sequential reality (before and after). A distinction has to be made between solar time, which was created by God, and sequential “time” or reality, which is how God has revealed Himself to us in Scripture – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2). I think you would agree that God is “bound” by the reality of His own nature, and that we should get the definition of His nature from Scripture instead of man’s philosophy.

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  6. Mr, Wagner,

    ” If He has chosen it to consist of some predeterminations and some variables, than that is truly how He knows it.”

    the question remains unanswered sir. how can God know the future fully and accurately and it be full of variable for God? you’re simply telling me that He can. i’m asking you how He can?

    “I think you will have a hard time proving with certainty from Scripture that God is outside of time in the sense of sequential reality (before and after). A distinction has to be made between solar time, which was created by God, and sequential “time” or reality, which is how God has revealed Himself to us in Scripture – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2). I think you would agree that God is “bound” by the reality of His own nature, and that we should get the definition of His nature from Scripture instead of man’s philosophy.”

    don’t understand at all what you’re saying here but my point was that the sequential reality we live in was created by God and is fully known by Him from beginning to end. the existence we’re in is a forgone conclusion to God. He decreed all the actions and events which included His own interactions within our reality.

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    1. brianwagner writes, “I think you would agree that God is “bound” by the reality of His own nature, and that we should get the definition of His nature from Scripture instead of man’s philosophy.”

      For purposes of discussion. let’s limit God’s knowledge to exclude some parts of future. What does God know outside the future.

      God knows the thoughts of people:
      “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6)
      “the LORD searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts:” (1 Chronicles 28)
      “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” (Psalm 94)
      “[God] knows my downsitting and mine uprising, [He] understands my thought afar off.” (Psalm 139)
      “…[Jesus] he knew their thoughts,…” (Luke 6;11)
      “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” (1 Corinthians 3)

      Knowing the thoughts of people, then God is able to use people for His purposes.
      “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50)
      “O king, your thoughts came into your mind upon your bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals secrets makes known to you what shall come to pass.” (Daniel 2)
      “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21)

      Knowing the thoughts of a person, God can turn those thoughts in any direction he wills and by doing so always accomplishes His purposes with the end result:

      “Surely as [God has] thought, so shall it come to pass; and as [God has] purposed, so shall it stand:” (Isaiah 14)

      So God purposed the death of Christ on the cross and to gain this outcome He created Adam/Eve, sent Satan into the garden to bring about their sin, destroyed the world in Noah’s time, called Abraham, destroyed Sodom/Gomorrah, formed John the Baptist, impregnated Mary, took Judas as His vehicle for betrayal, and on and on. As there is no though of any person unknown to God, it was God who turned those thoughts one way or the other to do His bidding.

      Even denying that God is omniscient, it is still true that God decrees all things because He is sovereign and nothing is hidden from Him and nothing is beyond His control. so that even the future falls out as He determines.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good article.

    Although I think we should all be “willing” to be Calvinists—that is, we should desire the truth and to submit to God, even if some things are offensive in some way to us; yet there are, maybe, some practical out-workings in the day to day life of a believer, that I think ruminating on determinism has a negative effect on.

    Consider: you have a chance to pray or witness with someone. Under Calvinism, what you do is determined by God, and the person will be saved if they are elect, whether you pray or witness or not. Now you can argue in a sophisticated manner, that that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pray or witness, but it does, if you think about, logically follow that what you do is both determined by God and never hurts nor hinders God’s decree from happening.

    Step outside of Calvinism for a minute and consider this same scenario: You may be the only person to pray or reach a lost soul by stepping out a little. This may be the only chance that person has. And you have a choice: do it or don’t do it. Can we really be sure that choice is only God’s? On judgment day can we say “But Lord, I was a Calvinist! Who am I oh, man, to talk back to you God?!!” And this is a practical outworking of the doctrine—a continual meditation that our choice doesn’t make a real and practical difference.

    Now add all that up: Does it matter if you believe Calvinism or not? In what way does “believing” it practically help you in day to day life? All it will do is make you think your choices aren’t really your very own choices. How is that helpful? How does that help you make better choices? How does that help you say “I really can change, I really can stop doing this and start doing that, I really can reach out to a person instead of assuming God himself will make sure it happens somehow”? And wouldn’t that be Paul’s thoughts when he says “I endure all things for the sake of the elect.”

    So when we apply Pascal’s wager in principle to determinism (that everything is exactly the way God wants), we find a strange thing: it no longer matters if we believe it or not. It doesn’t practically help or affect any area of our lives to simply think “I can’t make any difference with my autonomous free choices.” And if one day we find out our choices really could make a huge and lasting impact, oh how we will hate Calvinism in heaven.

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