Responding to a Calvinist

At times it is helpful to witness the interactions of others regarding different theological perspectives, especially when those interactions are cordial and focused on the biblical issues at hand.

A respectable Calvinist, Jon Norman, recently posted a blog article in response to my testimony, “The Five Points that Led me Out of Calvinism.”

His post was divided into 5 parts and due to time restraints I chose to focus on his concluding remarks.  I felt these sufficiently rebutted his major points, but welcomed further commentary as requested.

I pray this helps bring clarity to some of the points raised against this soteriological perspective.

Below is my response to his original article:

Hi Jon, thanks for engaging with my article. Due to time constraints I’ll limit my comments to this final page, but if you feel there is an important point that you’d like me to address just let me know.

Jon: It will be necessary for Flowers—as it was for Tozer—to show how this is the case from Scripture. Not only that, but no one denies a will given to the creature

Leighton: Jon answers his own request. No one denies creatures have a will. We are discussing our theories of how that will functions based on our interpretations of the exact same texts. So, my answer to him would be the same…he would need to show his theory of how man’s will functions is supported by individual texts. I’d be glad to discuss any specific text Jon would like to present, but blanket appeals like this are far too broad to give a fruitful reply in this format. The scholarly works of both perspectives are well documented.

Jon: what state is that will now in after the fall?

Leighton: Man’s will is fallen, but not judicially hardened. Man is Sinful, but not unable to admit that fact in response to God’s revelation. I recently posted an article on my blog titled “The Nature of Man vs. The Nature of the Gospel,” in which I spell out the issue is less about how fallen man is and more about the purpose and power of the gospel. We can agree as to the nature of the man after his fall while still disagreeing as to the sufficiency of the gospel’s appeal to enable a fallen man to respond.

Jon: Flowers needs to define free and autonomous.

Leighton: Contra-Casual freedom is the ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action. Compatibilists believe the will is ‘free’ if it is acting in accordance with its desire (voluntary), yet the desire itself is ultimately determined by God’s meticulous determinism. In other words, man is doing what they want but what they want is determined by God…would you agree? If not, why not?

Jon: Is it free and autonomous at all times? In all situations? Is the will affected by nature, circumstances, temptations, the fall, regeneration?

Leighton: Free does not mean free from outside influence…it means free from outside determination. The chooser determines his choice though he does so in light of many countless influential factors. The will makes the determination, not the outside factors. Some refer to this as “self-determination.” The cause of the choice is the chooser.

Jon: Is there anything in history that is known to God, but not decreed?

Leighton: Depends on what you mean by “decreed”… do you affirm the concept of a permissive decree (bare permission)…where by God merely allows (does not prevent) the contra-causal free agency of others to choose and act?

Jon: It is not for me to reckon how man’s accountability and God’s sovereign decrees are reconciled, I can only admit that both are Scriptural, and be content to leave it at that. I’d actually charge the person who rejects compatibilism with attempting to fit God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability into a logical or linear construct—so that it can make sense in their mind.

Leighton: Scholarly compatibilists go further than you do in their “reckoning” of these issues…as alluded to before (i.e. men do as they desire but God determines men’s desires). I point you to my blog post titled, “Why the Theory of Compatibilism Falls Short,” where I engage with a scholar on the subject.

Jon: Flowers may want to tread lightly here, before he rejects—out of hand—the proper definition of sovereignty. The first question I asked upon reading this was: where does he get this definition of sovereignty? The Bible certainly never speaks of God’s sovereignty in this manner. The problem for the Flowers is evident: he is forced to change the definition in order to fit his new system. No longer is Sovereignty an eternal attribute of God, meaning “absolute rule, dominion, power, kingship, authority, etc.”; it is now a role taken on by His interaction with creation.

Leighton: I am fine if Jon wishes to use the term “providence” instead of “sovereignty” as that which is in relation to God’s rule over creation. The terms change but the point remains.

God’s eternal power or abilities do not change because God might choose to grant others rule, dominion, authority temporally within His creation. I contrasted “sovereignty” (rule over creation) with His eternal attribute of “omnipotence” (all power and ability). Likewise, Jon would need to contrast “providence” (rule over creation) with His eternal attribute of “Omnipotence” or “Sovereignty” (or whatever term chosen to represent the eternal unchanging attribute of God’s limitless power and ability).

Semantics often keeps us from discussing the real point being made and so for the sake of that point I’m more than willing to concede the definition of terms and use Jon’s terms. Take everything I said about “Sovereignty” and plug in “Providence”…now answer the argument regarding how God’s eternal quality is not comprised by our claims regarding God’s choices in regard to how he rules over the temporal world.

Jon: As James White has rightly observed: Sovereignty is not something God does, it’s something God is.

Leighton: Allow me to translate using White’s definitions of those terms: “God’s meticulous deterministic control over all created things is not something God does, it’s something God is.”

That is the point I was debunking. I was doing so by drawing the distinction between Providence (what God does in relation to creation) and Omnipotence (who God is). White confounds the two as one thus presuming true the very point up for debate. White presumes that what God does in relation to creation IS EQUAL to WHO God is…do you?

When I debated White on this subject he would object to my view saying, “God cannot create a rock to big for Him to move.” And my rebuttal, which went unanswered was, “Does that mean God cannot create a rock that He chooses not to move?” White believes the choice of God to allow others to have any level of control would be equal to God choosing not to be God and that is convoluting the eternal nature of God Himself with God’s contingent choices to rule over His temporal creation.

White’s view suggests that God’s power is limited in that He would be unable to create a world with contra-causally free creatures because to do so would deny Himself. White limits the abilities of God’s eternal attributes (an all powerful God cannot create a contra causally free creature) in order to protect a temporal attribute (His power over the temporal world).

Jon: This sentence really doesn’t make any sense: “God is all powerful, not because He is sovereign, but He is sovereign because He is all powerful.” It might be better written as “God is sovereign and omnipotent.”

Leighton: Let me use your terms to see if it clarifies things: “God is all powerful, not because he has Providence over creation, but He has Providence over creation because He is all powerful.” The point is to understand the distinction between the eternal attribute and the attribute that is contingent upon the existence of another. God’s control OVER ANOTHER is contingent upon the existence of ANOTHER. That was the point… a point you didn’t seem to understand or address throughout the rest of this discourse. I hope this helps.

Jon: In a sense Flowers has a point; Christ has not yet subjugated all to a final judgement (well, already-not-yet); and God has permitted evil forces to continue for His “sovereign” purposes. However, what is the implication of this statement? Is the idea that God is now, somehow, completely hands-off?

Leighton: Complete hands-off? Of course not. I’m not arguing that God doesn’t play either side of the chess board…I’m arguing that He only plays His own side. He doesn’t determine creatures moves and His own by the same deterministic control. He does determine some things, just not everything.

Jon: Does He not still exercise dominion and sovereignty over all things that take place?

Leighton: Depends on your definitions, but it seems clear that God gives creatures dominion/authority/control/power over some things…as pointed out already in the text. God PERMITS others to rule and have dominion…and thus suffer the full weight of the consequences associated with their rule.

Listen, there is a place where God has complete meticulous deterministic control…its called Heaven and I can’t wait to get there because of that fact. His will here isn’t being done like it is there, which is why we pray for his will to be done here like it is in heaven…there is a distinction between the two places. People and the rulers of darkness have been given dominion HERE, but not THERE. Surely you don’t want to suggest God is just as in control over what happens here as what happens in heaven, are you? God controlled the rape, molestations, holocausts…etc etc? I don’t think so…those where the MOVES of free creatures, not the MOVES of God. Now, I do agree God counters those evil MOVES with his works of redemption and bringing about His good purposes, but He is not to be associated with moral evil in any way (Jer. 7:31)… He doesn’t even tempt men to moral evil much less causally determine it. (Jms 1)

Jon: He now goes on to list the passages that show how authority is still being given to temporal powers, including: Isa 24:21; Eph 6:12; Col 2:20; 1 Cor 15:24. But again, we must not understand these as though God has no present control or decreetive purpose in what comes to pass. To say that takes these verses much too far.

Leighton: I’ve only stated what the verses themselves say…God has given dominion and authority to others. It appears Calvinists want it both ways…God gives dominion to others while maintaining all dominion for Himself? Does God give dominion to others or not? Are the “others” just tools God uses to work his dominion through (i.e. puppets)? If so, please expound. You affirmed that I have a point but you never seem to acknowledge what that point is in relation to your views.

And we affirm God has a purpose in permitting others to have dominion. His purpose in doing so is the same purpose he put the forbidden fruit in the garden and gave his youngest son his inheritance to go and squander. It is only in PERMITTING man to make choices (i.e. free will) that they will experience the forgiveness, unconditional love and joy in the journey. See the CS Lewis quote.

Jon: Oy! This is another one of those statements that just makes me wonder how I can believe this guy was a “former Calvinist.” I just don’t think I could ever reject Calvinism and then make arguments like this; I should hope they’d be a bit more fair and understanding.

Leighton: I agree, the way in which this is stated is not palatable for the Calvinistic system, but that doesn’t make it any less true of the Calvinistic system’s claims. What specifically is untrue or misrepresentative of what Calvinism teaches? Explain why.

Jon: One more time: The reason men won’t come to Christ is not because God won’t enable/allow them, it’s because of their sin. But they won’t come unless God enables them, because of their sin.

Leighton: It’s more than their sin being discussed. It is their inability from birth to acknowledge their sin and trust in Christ for healing (a condition imposed on them by God’s decree leaving them without hope of responding to God’s revelation). Jon is equating the two as if they are one in the same. Proving man is born a sinner is not proof that man is born unable to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled from that sin. Proving that the lost cannot seek God is not proof man cannot respond to a God who is seeking lost. Proving that man cannot attain righteousness by law through works is not proof that man cannot attain righteousness by grace through faith.

Jon: It truly belittles the Scriptural account of man’s sin and God’s gracious provision.

Leighton: Ironically it is just the opposite… I believe it belittles God’s gracious provision to suggest man’s sinful nature is too fallen to be able to respond to that provision. It seems backwards to suggest that God has to irresistibly reconcile man from their fallen condition in order for man to be able to respond to the appeal to be reconciled from that fallen condition. It’s like a doctor finding the cure for cancer making an appeal for all with cancer to come and be healed only to find out that they can’t be cured by the new medication because they have cancer and so they must first be cured from their cancer in order to take the medication meant to cure them.

Jon: It was Mr. Flowers’s stated objective to help all—even the Calvinists—reading his blog to REALLY understand why he ended up abandoning his Calvinist position. But, as I have said several times, he has failed to REALLY help us understand.

Leighton: Jon may be correct in my lack of abilities to explain these views, but there is no shortage of materials available for anyone to read, listen to or study if they desire to really vet this perspective. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” Jon seems to confuse the word “understand” with the word “accept.” Whose fault is it for not understanding a well established, well documented perspective? I’m glad to work with any willing soul seeking to better understand our point of view, but they must be open to understanding it even while rejecting its claims.

The two reasons Jon believes I’ve failed in my goal is (1) I didn’t prove (to his satisfaction) that I was actually a Calvinist and (2) I didn’t provide enough biblical exegesis. First, I’m not sure how point 1 matters as to the fact that I went from affirming the claims of TULIP to not affirming the claims of TULIP in my ministry. I taught TULIP for over a decade and now I don’t teach TULIP. I was on staff with a Reformed Baptist Church associated with The Founders of the SBC and willingly affirmed the claims of the Calvinistic confessions associated within and now I do not. I went from attempting to convince people to affirm the Calvinistic interpretation to attempting to convince people NOT to affirm the Calvinistic interpretation (but instead affirm the corporate perspective). Those are just the facts of the matter.

Whether I taught Calvinism or even understood it to the level that would satisfy Jon is really not the point. That doesn’t affect the well established systematic held to by most non-Calvinistic Southern Baptist scholars. It doesn’t affect that fact that I affirmed one systematic and now I affirm another.

Second, the article was a narrative, not an exegesis. I’ll refer him to my blog and podcast to hear more of my exegetical commentary on these subjects…or to the scholarly journal from Brian Abasciano I linked to at the bottom of the first part of my story at SBCToday. It seems if Jon were interested in understanding, not merely debunking, my views (or the established scholarly exegesis that underlie these views) then he would have researched the subject instead of questioning my scholarship based on a relatively short narrative. (NOTE ADDED: since this response, Jon has posted an article responding to Dr. Abasciano on his blog)

Thanks for the manner in which you approached this subject. Though you got a bit personal in parts, you seemed to be relatively cordial in your approach, which is all too rare.

I’d love to discuss the doctrines by phone for my podcast one day when you have time. It would give the listeners a good example of the different perspectives. Let me know when you have time.

14 thoughts on “Responding to a Calvinist

  1. Pastor Flowers writes, “Compatibilists believe the will is ‘free’ if it is acting in accordance with its desire (voluntary), yet the desire itself is ultimately determined by God’s meticulous determinism.”

    I don’t think this is correct unless one is arguing in a secular context. Within the Biblical context, I think all agree, pretty much, that the desires of sinful humanity is driven by a sinful nature. Romans 8 provides a vivid account of the sinful nature – it is hostile to God.

    When we speak of God’s determinism (or His sovereign rule), we understand that God made man such that he (through Adam) could disobey God and thereby corrupt his flesh (his nature) and God decreed that Adam be allowed to choose to sin. God could have placed a hedge around Adam preventing Satan entry into the garden (see Satan’s complaint regarding Job) and Adam would not have been tempted and would never have given any thought to eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Why God set up this scenario is unknown, but we live with the consequences. Now, we see that God constrains sinful humanity so that people cannot be as sinful as they desire – but they strain at the leash so to speak. At one tine, God did little to constrain sinful man and then destroyed everyone in the flood except eight souls. That was for our benefit.

    So, by meticulous determinism, we mean sovereign control and that control is exercised to restrain, not encourage or prod, sinful man so that men are not as sinful as they could be. However, as the end approaches, it may be that God will loosen those restraints resulting in great tribulation.

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  2. Pastor Flowers writes, “It’s more than their sin being discussed. It is their inability from birth to acknowledge their sin and trust in Christ for healing (a condition imposed on them by God’s decree leaving them without hope of responding to God’s revelation)…Proving man is born a sinner is not proof that man is born unable to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled from that sin. Proving that the lost cannot seek God is not proof man cannot respond to a God who is seeking lost. Proving that man cannot attain righteousness by law through works is not proof that man cannot attain righteousness by grace through faith.”

    We do read descriptions that strongly suggest even if they do not :prove” the point. By illustration-

    “[The unsaved have their] understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Ephesians 4

    “[Unbelievers are]…dead in trespasses and sins; [they walk] according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also [believers] all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2

    “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;…For to be carnally minded is death;…Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8

    Pastor Flowers agrees that this condition cannot be rectified except “by grace through faith.” What is grace? It is God’s work to bring a person to salvation. So what Has God done and to whom were God’s efforts directed–

    “God…gave his only begotten Son, that [those who would come to believe in Christ] should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3

    “[Jesus] was delivered for [the offences of those who would come to believe in Him], and was raised again for [the justification of those believers]. Romans 4

    “…we know that all things work together for good to [those who believe in Christ]… whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Romans 8

    “God commended his love toward [those who would come to believe in Christ], in that, while [they] were yet sinners, Christ died for [them]. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, [those who would come to believe in Christ] shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when [believers] were enemies, [they] were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, [they] shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5

    “…[you who now believe were once] without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2

    “{God] delivered [those who believe] from the power of darkness, and translated [them] into the kingdom of his dear Son:” Col 1

    Books have been written on this. Pastor Flowers says that all this is not proof that the unsaved cannot respond to the gospel. So, he is not convinced – yet even he realizes that this cannot happen absent God’s grace coupled with man’s faith. On this last point both he and Calvinists agree.

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    1. Rhutchin, you try to color Flowers’ position as in agreement with Calvinism… In your last paragraph you state “that the unsaved cannot respond to the gospel…. absent God’s grace coupled with man’s faith. On this last point both he [Flowers] and Calvinists agree.” Why would you twist the reality of the wide division between Flowers’ position and the Calvinist’s one? What is your motive? It is either unwittingly a shallow attempt to use deception to try to draw Flowers back to the Calvinist fold, or it is open deception so that readers of this blog will not be too influenced by Flowers’ biblical position.

      God’s grace is defined differently by Calvinism and my understanding of Brother Flowers’ biblical view. For Calvinism that grace which brings salvation is irresistible and only presented to the few who were supposedly elect before creation. Brother Flowers points out that God’s grace that brings salvation through the gospel is powerful enough to overcome any hardness (like outlined in your verses above) and give a bona-fide opportunity to anyone to be saved and to join the incomplete list of the elect. It is not an irresistible opportunity, but one that makes each man who hears the gospel response-able, and responsible, so that they are without excuse if they should refuse.

      Man’s faith is also defined differently by Calvinism from the definition of Brother Flowers’ biblical view. Calvinism makes “man’s faith” an irresistible divine gift also, that is only given to the few who were supposedly elect before creation, and it is given to them after their regeneration (another big difference between Calvinism and the biblical teaching of Brother Flowers). The Bible teaches that man has the ability to trust unto salvation through the enlightenment and conviction given to him by God especially when the gospel is preached, though not irresistibly.

      I do appreciate, Rhutchin, that you have conceded that assumedly your strongest list of verses in support of the point that total inability is never overcome except for the elect “only strongly suggest even if they do not ‘prove’ the point.” I hope you will continue to search the Scriptures and come to realize the elect is not a completed list written down before creation, but an open list to which names are being added as God continues to effectively call all men to an opportunity to receive His salvation. That universal call is seen clearly in the warning – “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden you hearts.”

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    2. rhutchin, is the gospel of the spirit? Is the gospel gracious? Is the gospel needed before someone can believe in Christ? Is it sufficient to enable someone who needs reconciliation to respond to its appeal to be reconciled? If not, why not?

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “…is the gospel of the spirit? Is the gospel gracious? Is the gospel needed before someone can believe in Christ? Is it sufficient to enable someone who needs reconciliation to respond to its appeal to be reconciled? If not, why not? ”

        Let’s list points of agreement between you and the Calvinist.
        1. Faith to accept salvation comes by hearing and hearing through the preaching of the gospel.
        2. The conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit precedes the exercise of faith to accept salvation.

        Your claim is that each and every person who hears the gospel preached can then exhibit faith unto salvation and following the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, some of those who heard the gospel preached decide to accept salvation.

        What about those who did not accept the gospel asks the Calvinist – How come they did not accept salvation? Your response: It’s a mystery to me. The Calvinist suggests that it is not all that mysterious – the Holy Spirit didn’t convict those who refused to accept salvation and then we go into the nuts and bolts of there argument (i.e., TULIP).

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    3. brianwagner writes, “For Calvinism that grace which brings salvation is irresistible and only presented to the few who were supposedly elect before creation. Brother Flowers points out that God’s grace that brings salvation through the gospel is powerful enough to overcome any hardness (like outlined in your verses above) and give a bona-fide opportunity to anyone to be saved and to join the incomplete list of the elect.”

      Pastor Flowers is not Open Theist. Thus, both he and the Calvinist start out with the position that God knew who would be saved when He created the world. The disagreement is over the process by which people come to salvation and the extent to which God is involved in that process. At the least, Pastor Flowers says that God makes salvation available to a person who then chooses whether to accept it. The Calvinist says this also. The Calvinist adds that God must prompt the person to choose salvation. But Pastor Flowers essentially says the same thing when he refers to the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin. Is the conviction of sin irresistible? Well, as it turns out, those who God knew would be saved are saved because of that conviction. What about those that God knew would not be saved – Did the Holy Spirit convict them of their sin? If He did, how do we explain their refusal of salvation when others, similarly convicted, accepted salvation?

      The difference between Pastor Flowers and the Calvinist seems to be that Pastor Flowers appeals to mystery in areas that the Calvinist appeals to God.

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      1. Rhutchin, the point is not that we don’t hold some things in common, it is that those things do not outweigh the importance of our differences. When it comes to “foreknowledge” I would believe that we all hold that there is an element of mystery based on Deut. 29:29. But you believe, I am assuming, the foreknowledge equals foreordination and pre-determinism for a few to be saved. If I asked you why God only chose a few – and how God’s choosing of a few and rejecting all others does not make Him responsible for all the lost in hell – you would say, I think, “it’s a mystery”.

        You will have to confirm with Brother Flowers, but I know his view of foreknowledge is not foreordination, but everyone has a true opportunity to accept the gospel and become one of the elect. He just does not believe foreknowledge, if I understand him correctly, should be viewed as linear, as you and I do. Before creation for us means before creation. See, we can agree on some things Rhutchin. 🙂 But our agreement in this, as you can see is not that important.

        My view of foreknowledge, as you know, is that God knows all that can be known, and since He did not pre-determine all things before creation, He knows all the future as it actually exists with some things predetermined and the rest as possibilities, which He perfectly and fully knows. I do not limit the meaning of foreknowledge like you do, nor do I depend on past theologians for its definition, but I get it’s full meaning from the normal reading of Scriptures. I wish you would do the same!

        The Book of Life still has room for more names to be added based on decisions of God’s free grace and man’s free will. I am thinking that Brother Flowers and I agree on that against your narrow view of God’s grace! This view of ours certainly helps me to love and pray for all the lost unconditionally. Your view, I know, weakens that kind of love and prayer.

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      2. brianwagner writes, “But you believe, I am assuming, the foreknowledge equals foreordination and pre-determinism for a few to be saved.”

        Foreknowledge is part of God’s omniscience and merely describes God’s knowledge of future events. Foreknowledge does not imply or equal foreordination and pre-determinism. God does not acquire foreknowledge by learning things He did not know. One source of God’s foreknowledge is that which He decrees/ordains. Otherwise, people seem to appeal to mystery to explain how God has foreknowledge.

        That God is sovereign, and thereby exercises absolute control over his creation, accounts for the conclusion that God decrees/ordains all future events. Necessitating that God make conscious decisions on future events before they can occur is that He has the power to change any, and all,events if He chooses to do so – God is in charge. All of God’s decisions – His decrees – were make before He created the world – God had decided – decreed – to create the world, create Adam/Eve, that Satan should enter the garden to tempt A/E, that A/E should sin, that A/E should be tossed out of the garden, that Cain should murder Abel, etc. As sovereign, God could have arranged things differently. His conscious decisions on how events were to play out were His decrees – thus one source of His foreknowledge of those events.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “The Book of Life still has room for more names to be added based on decisions of God’s free grace and man’s free will.”

        God’s grace (of which the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is one part) is necessary for salvation. People of free will find that grace irresistible; people without free will reject that grace.

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      4. Rhutchin you said about God – “He has the power to change any, and all, events if He chooses to do so – God is in charge.” You should delete that statement from your position, because it contradicts the rest of what you said about God pre-determining all things before creation. In your view, to be consistent, God no longer has the power to change anything. He has limited Himself and His freedom by His pre-determination of all things, including His future responses. Of course the Bible does not read that way… just a fatalistic philosophy borrowed from the Greeks by Augustine and Calvin does!

        There is no verse in the Scripture that teaches that the grace of God for salvation is irresistible. If the grace of God after salvation is resistible and acceptable, it makes sense that the grace of God before salvation is both acceptable and resistible. Not only does it make sense, it fits the normal reading of Scripture and the warning – Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “In your view, to be consistent, God no longer has the power to change anything. He has limited Himself and His freedom by His pre-determination of all things, including His future responses.”

        That God has ordained any future event does not limit His power (He is still sovereign and still omnipotent). It only limits the extent to which God chooses to exercise His power. As God is all wise and “works all things after the counsel of his own will,” we should expect that His decisions are such that He does not need to rethink any situation or to change any decision He has made. That’s the advantage of God making decisions – the decisions stand the test of time.

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      6. Don’t be inconsistent, Rhutchin. You don’t believe God is making decisions, even though the bible says that He is.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Don’t be inconsistent, Rhutchin. You don’t believe God is making decisions, even though the bible says that He is.”

        That little word that President Clinton made famous – “is.” God made His decisions before He created the world. He is now implementing the decisions He made.

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  3. Another great response, Leighton, to those Calvinists who are trying to understand how someone could reject such a “scholarly tradition” for what is professed to be biblical truth! Even a cursory read of the Gospels, Acts, and Christian History will reveal how strongly deceptive the “traditions of men” can be! All of our doctrines must be constantly rechecked with the normal reading of Scripture for the layperson’s viewpoint, and for the normal grammatical and context meaning of words. When men try to twist truths of the gospel and sound doctrines by theological inferences or extrapolations by “scholars”, the kind that can NOT be easily seen by the layperson for whom the Scriptures were originally written, a huge red flag should go up!

    God so loved the world. The Holy Spirit convicts the world. Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. God has not planned anyone to perish, but that all should come to repentance. God wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to/for all men. Jesus is the true light which enlightens everyone. When a scholar comes along and tells a layperson “These verses really do not mean what you think they mean,” a red flag should go up! Remember, most translations are influenced by Calvinism, and even they could not bring themselves to sponge out the normal meaning of these truths about God’s grace.

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