Where Do You Draw the Line?

I recently received this question from a loyal listener, who also happens to be a pastor:

“Professor Flowers, I greatly appreciate the cordiality with which you approach our differences with the Calvinistic brethren, but I have a specific concern.  You often speak of not wishing to “run off the Calvinists” or “kick them out of the convention,” and typically I’m in full agreement with this sentiment, as I have good Calvinistic brethren in my own church who I want to stay actively involved.  But, the Calvinists I’ve been use to in the SBC are those like David Platt or Matt Chandler, who regularly affirm God’s universal love and sincere desire for everyone to come to repentance and faith (they don’t try to reinterpret John 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:4 or 2 Peter 3:9, etc).

But, this new “young restless and reformed” (neo-Calvinism) we are seeing rise up seems set on redefining “whosoever will” by making “the world” out to mean “the world of the elect”…Or “God’s desire for all” to be “God’s desire for all kinds.”  (BTW, I love the quote from Spurgeon you read debunking that interpretation of 1 Tim 2:4).

This brings me to my question.  Where do we draw the line?  With the ‘moderate’ Calvinistic teachers in my church, those who affirm God’s love and desire for all, the typical layperson doesn’t even notice their Calvinism (unless they know what to look for).  I really don’t have too much beef with these kind of Calvinists.  But the harsher, higher form of Calvinism seems to be seeping into my church. I cannot in good conscience allow for people to teach that God doesn’t really love all people and desire for their salvation.  I have to draw the line somewhere and I’m not waiting for hyper anti-evangelism to draw it, I think I must draw it at the denial of God’s universal love and desire.  What do you think?”

This is a great question and one I have had to grapple with myself. I certainly believe respect and cordiality must extend to all types of Calvinists, but I do not think it unwise to “draw the line” at requiring teachers to affirm God’s universal love and desire for every individual. If the church has a Statement of Faith which affirms this clear biblical teaching (as does the BF&M), then it is the pastor’s responsibility to ensure that all teachers hold to that standard.

If my pastor knew a teacher in the youth ministry was telling my three teenagers that God did not love and desire everyone to be saved and he did nothing to address it, I would be upset. Most Baptist parents would!

Now, if I was attending a Presbyterian church with a Statement of Faith that denied God’s universal love, I would expect this, but as a Southern Baptist I would insist correct Baptist (biblical) doctrine was upheld.  That truth can be defended with firm conviction but still with a loving and gracious spirit.

What are your thoughts? Where do we draw the line with differences on theological perspectives?

80 thoughts on “Where Do You Draw the Line?

  1. I guess you mean in your local church. The church I last attended began to be taken over by the false doctrine of Full Preterism, when one assistant pastor started influencing everyone unchecked. He hid the title of his doctrine so that no one could know it was unique or check out what others thought of it, and just preached it as “Biblical.” I think that type of thing needs to be exposed—people should know what others label your preaching as, and they should have a chance to say why they think it’s not Biblical. The more everyone knows where everyone else stands, the better. I’m positive people sometimes come in preaching Calvinism yet hide why others disagree with it. This is why ministries like yours are important.

    There’s another line of calling someone Christian/brother/sister/saved. That’s a broader line for me, and would involve denying the doctrine of the Cross in some way.

    blessings

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  2. Hello, I have read the discussion, and I hope that qualifies me to add my 2 cents. This is an important question, and you may not like my answer. I want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just because they say they are Calvinist, it doesn’t cause me to relax, but lean forward. Why? There are disturbing doctrines they believe which certainly do not reflect the heart of God in salvation or in growing to maturity.

    I do know that most who proclaim Calvinism really don’t know the implications of the doctrines. Most are just as evangelical as other Christians who believe the gospel. They may honestly not know what they profess, and this is true across the board for many Christians. However, if we do know the worst of Calvinism, it becomes our responsibly as Shepherds to not only feed the flock, but protect it.

    Calvinists want to appear mainstream while the doctrines they have as their foundation not only mis-represent God, but are portray Him as a manipulative, arbitrary tyrant. We cannot allow them to profess Calvinism without the understanding of its implications. This is where we must draw the line. If they are in your Church, they should not be in the place where they can teach, but in the place to learn. If we truly love them, we cannot allow them to walk away thinking we are the same, when their house is built on sand. Even if they speak the words of the gospel, their hearts are far from HIm.

    Lastly, we must do our best to engage in conversations that are meaningful and do not deteriorate into fighting. There are those honestly seeking God through Calvinism and we cannot turn them away, but supply exactly what they need. We must be kind, gentle and pray for them. This passage should be our guide:

    And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
    Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
    and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will”.
    2Ti 2:26

    Doug

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    1. Doug,

      “I do know that most who proclaim Calvinism really don’t know the implications of the doctrines. Most are just as evangelical as other Christians who believe the gospel. They may honestly not know what they profess, and this is true across the board for many Christians. However, if we do know the worst of Calvinism, it becomes our responsibly as Shepherds to not only feed the flock, but protect it.”

      Doug I have been of the Reformed faith for over 30 years. I assure you I understand the doctrine and its implications. The implications are glory to God in all things.

      “Calvinists want to appear mainstream while the doctrines they have as their foundation not only mis-represent God, but are portray Him as a manipulative, arbitrary tyrant…. Even if they speak the words of the gospel, their hearts are far from HIm.”

      That is a very poor representation of Calvinism. And the literally thousands of Calvinists I personally know love Jesus as much as I’m sure you do.

      SDG!

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      1. Hi Les, 30 years? And you say you know the implications of Calvinism? First, I am not in any way saying I know what is in your heart, but I cannot for a moment believe that you have faced the implications, and there are too many to detail here. Here are some of my thoughts on the implications, and after I’m done, I will wait patiently for your response.

        To the point, as I said before, Calvinism does not represent the character of God. The belief that God condemned all in Adam, and then didn’t provide a way of salvation for all, speaks to the character of God. And to note, God is responsible for us, after all, He gave us life. In Calvinism’s eyes, God only desired to save some, so provision was only made for some. If it is as Calvinism says, the atonement was limited, the moment sins were not imputed to Christ and judged, meant masses are doomed to destruction. That would mean that there are those walking around right now, helplessly and hopelessly lost. The gospel will not save them since their sins were not judged in Christ. They are born condemned- to an eternal torment simply because God gave them life and did not choose them- for some unknown reason.

        And no, I cannot be satisfied or happy that I am saved when others would be suffering without the hope of salvation. I will clearly say, that is not merciful at all. If a building was on fire and there were 10 people trapped inside, and I had complete power over who I could save, BUT I only choose to save 2, or 3, and left the rest to die in the flames, that is NOT mercy or grace. And, I’m sure I wouldn’t be viewed as a savior or hero, especially when everyone learns I could have saved them ALL! What kind of gospel is that? Certainly not glorious. Here is the character and wisdom of God:

        Rom 11:32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

        How many are bound over to disobedience? Everyone, all. How many does he have mercy upon? On them ALL, not some. Also (according to Calvinism), do the lost in the lake of fire know why they are in the lake of fire? They were born in Adam, with an inherited sinful nature, they never had hope, their sins were not included in Christ, and they were never targeted by God for saving. They were never regenerated (a Calvinist thought), and hence, they don’t even understand why they are suffering, lost, tormented day and night forever! Now, they are in the lake of fire, but why, WHY? Also, what is the judgment all about? What do they have to answer for? -Sins that they did by nature? What could they have done better? Since they were not given any choices, why parade them before a Holy God for judgment as though they had choices? They are sinners by nature, right?

        And also, how did God pick those who are saved? The luck of the draw?
        I don’t play the lottery myself, but if you buy a lottery ticket, there is a very slight chance you could win. Certainly the chances are very small, like millions to one. Calvinists say some are chosen for salvation and others are simply not chosen. They have NO chance at getting saved at all and NEVER DID. I don’t know about you, but I have a burden for the lost, I care about them, they are not simply disposable. God is not like that at all. He loved them so much, He gave his only begotten Son… Calvinism does not reflect or respect the character of God.

        More could be said of course, but I will pause.

        Doug

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      2. Doug, I am not even through reading your comments and was struck with this statement by you:

        “If a building was on fire and there were 10 people trapped inside, and I had complete power over who I could save, BUT I only choose to save 2, or 3, and left the rest to die in the flames, that is NOT mercy or grace.”

        If a world of people were heading to hell (as in all people) and trapped in their sins and someone (God) had complete power over who He could save, but He only chose to save some, and left the rest to die in their sinful rebellion but left their libertarian free will intact, what do you call that?

        That is the position of the blog owner and Brian and perhaps you.

        Back later.

        SDG!

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      3. Hello Doug.

        “Hi Les, 30 years? And you say you know the implications of Calvinism? First, I am not in any way saying I know what is in your heart, but I cannot for a moment believe that you have faced the implications, and there are too many to detail here. Here are some of my thoughts on the implications, and after I’m done, I will wait patiently for your response.”

        Yes 30 years as both an ordained Southern Baptist pastor and an ordained PCA pastor (teaching elder ) and ruling elder (Brian you may wish to turn away about now; ordination and such). I have indeed faced the implications.

        From here on I will use ALL CAPS simply as a way to distinguish my comments from yours. Not shouting.

        “To the point, as I said before, Calvinism does not represent the character of God. YOUR OPINION. MANY, MANY DIFFER. The belief that God condemned all in Adam, and then didn’t provide a way of salvation for all HE DID PROVIDE A WAY FOR ALL. JESUS, speaks to the character of God. And to note, God is responsible for us, after all, He gave us life. In Calvinism’s eyes, God only desired to save some, so provision was only made for some. GOD WAS GRIVED AT THE REBELLION OF MAN AND THE CONDEMNATION THAT FELL UPON ALL PEOPLE AND IN SOME SENSE DESIRES THE SALVATION OF ALL. BUT IN ANOTHER SENSE IT IS NOT HIS HIGHEST DESIRE FOR MAN ELSE IT WOULD OCCUR. If it is as Calvinism says, the atonement was limited YES IT WAS, the moment sins were not imputed to Christ and judged, meant masses are doomed to destruction YES DUE TO ADAM;S SIN AND PERSONAL SIN. That would mean that there are those walking around right now, helplessly and hopelessly lost IF THEY BUT WOULD TURN TO JESUS THEY WOULD BE SAVED. BUT THEY WILL NOT. THEY HATE GOD. The gospel will not save them since their sins were not judged in Christ JESUS WULD SAVE THEM IF THEY WOULD BUT TUEN TO HIM. They are born condemned- to an eternal torment simply because God gave them life and did not choose them- for some unknown reason. GOD DID NOT CHOOSE EVERYONE FOR REASONS LARGELY UNKNOWN TO US. BUT FOR THOSE NOT CHOSEN THEY GET WHAT THEY DESERVE. OR DO YOU THINK THEY DESERVE SOMETHING ELSE?

        And no, I cannot be satisfied or happy that I am saved when others would be suffering without the hope of salvation I DON’T DELIGHT IN THE NON ELECT’S DOOM. THEUR HOPE IS IN JESUS. I CAN ONLY AFFIRM WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH. I will clearly say, that is not merciful at all. If a building was on fire and there were 10 people trapped inside, and I had complete power over who I could save, BUT I only choose to save 2, or 3, and left the rest to die in the flames, that is NOT mercy or grace. And, I’m sure I wouldn’t be viewed as a savior or hero, especially when everyone learns I could have saved them ALL! What kind of gospel is that? Certainly not glorious. Here is the character and wisdom of God: I DEALT WITH THIS IN ANOTHER COMMENT. SO WHY DOES NOT GOD SAVE ALL? HE CERTAINLY HAS IT IN HIS POWER.
        Rom 11:32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. YES, JEWS AND GENTILES.
        How many are bound over to disobedience? Everyone, all. How many does he have mercy upon? On them ALL, not some.

        Also (according to Calvinism), do the lost in the lake of fire know why they are in the lake of fire? I’M SURE THEY DO.They were born in Adam, with an inherited sinful nature, they never had hope, their sins were not included in Christ, and they were never targeted by God for saving. They were never regenerated (a Calvinist thought A BIBLICAL THOUGHT), and hence, they don’t even understand why they are suffering, lost, tormented day and night forever NOT SO! Now, they are in the lake of fire, but why, WHY? Also, what is the judgment all about? What do they have to answer for? -Sins that they did by nature? What could they have done better? Since they were not given any choices, why parade them before a Holy God for judgment as though they had choices? They are sinners by nature, right? AND BY CHOICE. THEY ARE GOD HATERS AND IN FULL SCALE REBELLION.

        And also, how did God pick those who are saved? The luck of the draw? NOT AT ALL. ACCORDING TO HIS DESIGNS. NO SUCH THNG AS LUCK.
        I don’t play the lottery myself, but if you buy a lottery ticket, there is a very slight chance you could win. Certainly the chances are very small, like millions to one. Calvinists say some are chosen for salvation and others are simply not chosen. They have NO chance at getting saved at all and NEVER DID. I don’t know about you, but I have a burden for the lost, I care about them, they are not simply disposable. God is not like that at all. He loved them so much, He gave his only begotten Son… Calvinism does not reflect or respect the character of God.
        I ALSO HAVE A BURDEN FOR THE LOST AND SEEK TO PROCLAIM SALVATION IN CHRIST. SURGEON DID AS WELL AND WAS A PREEMINENT SOUL WINNER.

        SDG!

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      4. Hi Les, Thank you for responding. I think your responses speak for themselves, but in my mind, we are not dealing with the same facts. Let me clarify some of the things you mentioned.

        ME
        “If a building was on fire and there were 10 people trapped inside, and I had complete power over who I could save, BUT I only choose to save 2, or 3, and left the rest to die in the flames, that is NOT mercy or grace.”

        You
        If a world of people were heading to hell (as in all people) and trapped in their sins and someone (God) had complete power over who He could save, but He only chose to save some, and left the rest to die in their sinful rebellion but left their libertarian free will intact, what do you call that?

        Me
        God did not just stumble upon this world full of sinners heading to hell trapped in their sins. Where the ones who were saved NOT trapped in their sins? How did they get trapped in their sins? Did they choose to be born in Adam? They were born in sin, just like you and I were. There was no choice in that? Personal sin is a result of being born with a sinful nature. They chose to sin, but it was the NATURAL result. Just as a pear tree produces pears, those born in sin produce the fruit of sin. You make it seem as though sinners were born perfect and they are just a rebellious bunch of God haters. No, All were born in sin and naturally hate God, not some. All are hopelessly and helplessly lost. If anyone is going to be saved, God is going to have to do it, and you say He only chose to save some?

        How did all this happen in the first place? Adam sinned in the garden. He did choose to knowingly violate God’s command and sin by eating the forbidden fruit. Who put the tree in the garden? God. Who created man? God. Who gave him the choice? God. After that, we are all born in Adam as sinners. Why? God set it up that way. We born physically alive, but spiritually dead at birth, Condemned by the justice of God and inherit the sinful nature from Adam. That sinful nature compels us to sin. It is our nature, and that is why “”There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10). Surely, man in lost, depraved (sinful nature), condemned (God condemned the entire human race for 1 sin, Adam’s), spiritually dead (God separates himself from sinful man, He is holy). That is the WAY it is. This is not by mistake but God is the one who set things up this way. He is the creator and designer of all things. For instance, when Satan sinned originally, all the Angels did not fall with him. Each angel was created perfect and made a choice to follow Satan or to remain with God. We didn’t have that choice, we were born sinful, with Adam’s penalty. This is not some men, ALL. The elect (as you say), those not elect, ALL were in the same sinking boat. Not by their choice, but because those are the facts. We are born slaves to sin. We are ALL born enemies of God. There is no choice in that at all. That is the word of God, and simply the facts of the matter. Now, if we are dealing with the same facts, then maybe we can talk further.

        Rom 11:32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all

        God doesn’t have that attitude of hatred for them, Jesus says of his abusers, “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

        Doug

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      5. Doug,

        I’m concerned we are NOT working off the same facts…at least hw I see you skewing or framing the facts.

        And frankly I will be surprised and a bit disappointed if I am the only one who has concerns about how you frame things.

        You seem to be blaming God for man’s fallen condition. If I summarize your latest posting, who is really the one who set this all up this way? God. He created everyone. He put the tree there. Man cannot help it that he was born a descendant of Adam and has the sin nature.

        Here you are: “How did all this happen in the first place? Adam sinned in the garden. He did choose to knowingly violate God’s command and sin by eating the forbidden fruit. Who put the tree in the garden? God. Who created man? God. Who gave him the choice? God. After that, we are all born in Adam as sinners. Why? God set it up that way.”

        and…

        “This is not by mistake but God is the one who set things up this way. He is the creator and designer of all things. For instance, when Satan sinned originally, all the Angels did not fall with him. Each angel was created perfect and made a choice to follow Satan or to remain with God. We didn’t have that choice, we were born sinful, with Adam’s penalty. This is not some men, ALL. The elect (as you say), those not elect, ALL were in the same sinking boat. Not by their choice, but because those are the facts. We are born slaves to sin. We are ALL born enemies of God. There is no choice in that at all.”

        Now obviously some of the facts you state I agree with. What I do’t agree with as I am getting from reading your words is the tone that seems to shift the blame for man’s predicament over to God. Like an excuse.

        In any case, if we agree that all are as you say, “we were born sinful, with Adam’s penalty. This is not some men, ALL” and “We are born slaves to sin. We are ALL born enemies of God” and “All were born in sin and naturally hate God, not some. All are hopelessly and helplessly lost. If anyone is going to be saved, God is going to have to do it” then we can keep talking. So man is helpless. And a sinner and if man is to be saved God has to do it. Ok. We agree.

        Now what? Do you agree that God is not going to save every person? I do too. Remember you said, “All are hopelessly and helplessly lost. If anyone is going to be saved, God is going to have to do it” and I agree. Wherein is our difference? We both agree that God is not going to save everyone, right?

        Let’s just say that in all of time there are a trillion people ever to live. All sinners in need of saving. We agree that if any of the trillion are going to be saved that God has to save them.

        Let’s say that over all time, 600 billion of them are saved and 400 billion are not saved.

        My view: God elected the 600b of all the trillion that did not deserve to be saved and He saved the 600b. The 400b He did not saved, who also did not deserve to be saved, were eternally lost.

        Your view? Ends up in the same place, but it seems to make you feel better if the 400b who eventually are lost at least had a free will choice to accept the working of the Holy Spirit on them at some point in their lives but at the end of the day God leaves them to their free will choice. Remember, we both agree that “If anyone is going to be saved, God is going to have to do it (your words that I agree with).” But in your case the Holy Spirit actually did some wooing and worked in their lives to see extent but didn’t ensure that they came all the way to faith. God who is the only one who can save them left them in their sin and condemnation. But this makes you feel better?

        So Doug, where does that leave us?

        SDG!

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    2. Hi Les, and thank you again for your timely response. I’m sorry that I’m not able to respond as swiftly due to time constraints. Let’s get to it.

      So, what was interesting is that you rejected the facts as I stated them, and was even was a bit concerned about me. I guess that means you think I’m extreme. Well, I read the bible and I see the limitations and boundaries and I make the applications. How else should I do it? I accept the facts as they are given to me. I don’t question why the sky is blue, I accept it and am OK with it too. But, then later in the discourse, you AGREE with me- “Ok. We agree.” I don’t think it is that important that you agree with me, but that you agree with the bible. I could start pulling out the scriptures that support what I am saying, but I think you already know it is there. You may not have dealt with the facts in quite this way. Well, Les, we don’t have unlimited time, but I will pull them out if necessary.

      I am not blaming God, that would say that I don’t like His choices. And please note, they were His choices and His alone to make. I see the wisdom in what God has done, I agree and I’m on His side, fully! I’m not mad at God! Too many have looked at all this subjectively. They have reduced God to simply saving the lost. Salvation is but a component part of God’s overall plan, it is not the plan. God didn’t create the entire universe just to save some. God didn’t have to allow the fall in the first place, it was all within his wisdom and plan. So, if we understand God’s plan from His perspective, we know that God is creator of all things, even volition. God did NOT create sin. He created volition and since that is the case, He must therefore permit sin to exist. That is, if volition is to be truly free, then the results of using it must be permitted (even though God has a plan to eliminate sin). The fact that there is sin within God’s universe says volition is truly free. Imagine that, God created creatures that could say “no” to Him.

      So, in short, all these facts are part of God’s plan. I would say we are not on the same page with regard to what God’s plan is. But, if we would ever understand God’s business, we must not be afraid to listen and follow the facts, wherever they lead. It’s like a murder trial (crazy analogy), and the first thing you must do is understand what happened. The physical evidence and the facts must be understood. OK, you now know that this man killed another man, but you are not done. You must press on to say, why? What is the motive here? That is what we do when learning God’s plan. Right now, we must agree with the facts as they are there before we can understand God’s eternal purpose. So much more could and should be said here.

      “Now what?” you ask. Now that we understand that man born in Adam is helpless to do anything about his condition and God must save, we put it together and understand “how” He saves. The issue is responsibility. Who is responsible for us? God! However, giving us free will, places the responsibility of our salvation on our shoulders. If I go to the lake of fire, it is because I chose that, NOT God. As for me, I have taken that responsibility for my soul salvation and given it to Jesus Christ. I trust in Him to save me: John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Whoever (anybody) who believes, and Whoever (anybody) who rejects must be responsible for the decision they make. Consequences?—Has eternal life; or God’s wrath remains. His wrath was already and still there, it abides/remains. Man BELIEVES from a position of wrath, not regeneration. There is a legitimate choice here, or else why say this is truth at all.

      My View/Your View? The results here seem to be the driving force in your argument (600b saved/400b lost). Let me say, if God let 400b be lost, and being saved and lost is the point, then He still failed. Why not just save them all! If God let just ONE person be lost without hope, that would be horrible! Jesus tells the story of leaving the 99 and going after the 1. This is the heart of God! Every soul is precious to God and is respected and loved. No, I’m not OK with God saving some and leaving others in a hopeless state, for an eternity! You shouldn’t be OK with that either?! As I said, God gave us life, and He is not willing that ANY should perish. God’s desire is that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He did something about it too, He sent His Son, “who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1Tim 2:6).

      I’m OK with the result that some are lost because of their choice. I don’t want anybody to be lost, which is why I am partnering with God to save as many as possible. The fact is that many will be lost. In all of this, God’s plan can be accomplished. Is it worth it? Yes, God thinks so, or He wouldn’t have pursued this course of action. I think so too. In fact, it is the only way His eternal purpose could be fulfilled. If you don’t know His eternal purpose, you are not in a position to evaluate it properly. It would be like trying to judge an unfinished work of art. From what I know, I see it as wisdom. Rom 11:32 “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Not all will accept the mercy/grace of God. They will be lost, yes. But, it will not be because they didn’t have a chance!- no, “because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18). More to follow.

      Doug

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      1. Doug,

        Thanks. You said,

        “So, what was interesting is that you rejected the facts as I stated them, and was even was a bit concerned about me. I guess that means you think I’m extreme. Well, I read the bible and I see the limitations and boundaries and I make the applications. How else should I do it? I accept the facts as they are given to me. I don’t question why the sky is blue, I accept it and am OK with it too. But, then later in the discourse, you AGREE with me- “Ok. We agree.” I don’t think it is that important that you agree with me, but that you agree with the bible. I could start pulling out the scriptures that support what I am saying, but I think you already know it is there. You may not have dealt with the facts in quite this way. Well, Les, we don’t have unlimited time, but I will pull them out if necessary.”

        No I don’t think you are extreme. I just think you are wrong. I also read the bible and I see the limitations and boundaries and I make applications. That’s the way it should be done. I also think its important that we agree with the bible. We just are coming to different conclusions based on the bible. Not good or bad or extreme. Just different.

        You: “The fact that there is sin within God’s universe says volition is truly free. Imagine that, God created creatures that could say “no” to Him.”

        And it was truly free before the fall. And Adam could say ‘no’ to Him and in fact did. But since the fall man is not totally free. He is in bondage. Bondage to sin. And he can say no to God and in fact does.

        You: “However, giving us free will, places the responsibility of our salvation on our shoulders.” We are responsible. But we are unable on our own to do anything about our sin. God must do something about that. We need a supernatural work of God if we are to be saved. God holds us responsible, even if one is not elect. And there sure is a legitimate choice. Problem is man will always make the wrong choice unless and until God changes his “choosing ability” so that man CAN choose Jesus.

        That’s all I have time for right now.

        SDG!

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      2. Hi Les, thanks for responding. Onward!

        You think I’m wrong? That’s not very helpful to me and I knew we disagreed from the beginning of the discourse.

        God must do something, about our sin, about our salvation. On this we agree. If we are lost and helpless, we don’t even know we need saving in the first place. So again, God must do something. What does He do?

        You:
        He saves some, and leaves the rest in their HOPELESS, sinful condition. Why? You can’t really be sure because God is sovereign? He only elects some, only pays for their sins in Christ and only calls them to salvation.
        Me:
        God does the work of salvation, judges ALL sins in Christ. The sins of every person who would ever live on the planet. Then, He sends the Holy Spirit after the lost. The Spirit’s job? To overcome the darkness in them and to bring to their consciousness the good news. To offer the lost reconciliation based on the facts: “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2Cor 5:19a). This is the message of reconciliation. This is the work of God, and the work He commissioned us to do: “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:19b). You would not be able to preach this message since you don’t know who is or is not elect. If not elect, it is NOT true (according to Calvinism), because you say God does count their sins against them. So, you cannot say to people that Christ died for their sins (the heart of the gospel). Why? It might not be true in your doctrine. What do you tell the lost? God might have paid for your sins?

        The Spirit’s work:
        “Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Why is the Spirit striving with sinful man? God is reaching out to the lost here, early in human history. Even though many were lost in the flood, except 8 souls, they had a choice to make. “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” They always resist the Holy Spirit? Again, there is God, reaching out to the lost, helpless, but they were not willing (Matt 25:37). “John 16:8, 9 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me” The Spirit’s ministry after the resurrected Christ. Yes! The Spirit works with the lost. I know, He worked with me and that is how I heard the gospel and believed.

        You said: “God holds us responsible, even if one is not elect. And there sure is a legitimate choice. Problem is man will always make the wrong choice unless and until God changes his “choosing ability” so that man CAN choose Jesus.”

        Why does God hold the non elect responsible? What “legitimate” choice did they have? Didn’t we agree they were born in sin? Why will man always make the wrong choice? Isn’t it because he is a slave to sin? On this we agreed. Why is he a slave? He was born a slave, “sold as a slave to sin” (Rom 7:14). The only legitimate choice lost man can make is sin. Is God surprise by this? No! “1Jn 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

        God doesn’t change his “choosing ability”, He simply opens his eyes and gives him a choice. Changing his choosing ability is manipulative! If God does that, then what else does He do? So, you never of yourself, believed in Christ? That is a command, and you have not obeyed it? Not if you say God saved you and gave you the faith to believe. You were forced by God to believe. That is worse than a shotgun wedding! Of course you like the deal you have, but what about the deal the lost have? How can you say you love God? How do you know that you are not programmed by God to love him? I can write a program on my computer to say every morning, “I love Doug” My computer does not love me, even if I hear it every morning.

        No! God is not like that at all. God steps forward and offers us salvation. We choose by our belief in His plan, or our rejection (John 3:18, 36). He opens our spiritually dead eyes so we can see the cross. That is our Tree. Paul said it best, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Paul saw his wretched condition and believed in Christ, as an “example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1Tim 1:16b). If we don’t believe, the wrath is still upon us. Some believe, and some do not. Salvation is offered to all.

        You are free to disagree with me, but you are also free to agree. THAT is legitimate choice.

        OK.

        Doug

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Doug,

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply (OCTOBER 28, 2015 AT 11:26 AM). I think there is much we probably agree on. As I commented to Brian down near the bottom of the page, I have a full day and will pop in when I can. I don’t have time right now to make a full reply to this latest comment of yours. But I will do my best later today.

        Have a blessed day.

        SDG!

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  3. When our pastor found out a member which was involved in a number of ministries in our church was a Calvinist, he told him he had to withdraw himself until he changed and came in line with the doctrinal position of the church. That member and his wife left the church shortly after that.

    Draw the line. Make it very clear.

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  4. I think in your denominational set up each congregation can draw the line really anywhere they please. As I understand it, in the SBC neither pastors nor congregations have to affirm any of the versions of the BF&M so it’s really each autonomous church deciding what they will teach and/allow to be taught.

    In my church (denomination some call it) to teach one has to teach consistent with the WCF and catechisms. Thus, we teach that God does indeed desire all to be saved and loves all men. We define those differently than you do I suspect.

    SDG!

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      1. Les, As you desire me to be more clear when I define omniscience, which I try to do each time that I mention that word, shouldn’t you state clearly that you mean “all” as in “desires all to be saved” to mean all kinds of people, not all that ever were created, as most would think that word all means when they read those words – desires all to be saved?

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      2. Brian, happy to oblige as time permits. I had said, “Thus, we teach that God does indeed desire all to be saved and loves all men.”

        God’s “desire” as I read the entirety of scripture is that all would be saved. Desire in that He regrets the fate of His creatures and regrets that each and every man since the fall is a rebellious God hater. Of course NOT “desire” as in “God really, really wants people to be saved and is hoping above all hope that man will ‘make the right decision to repent and believe’ and really, really loves every man SOOOOO much that it is His will that every man spend eternity with Him in heaven, but then lets some men whom He loves SOOOOOOO much make their own free will choice to reject His will and love and perish” so that He will not be guilty of violating man’s LFW. Oh noooooo. LFW trumps everything else, even God’s will and His self sacrificing love for each and every man, even the ones in hell.

        No, most who read the bible without their man focused perspective will see that zero people deserve anything from God except His just condemnation and that grace is getting what you don’t deserve. A gift.

        All deserve condemnation, right? Zero deserve grace, right? Some get grace, right? The rest get their just deserts, right? Wherein do we disagree?

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      3. All don’t deserve grace, Les! But all get enabling grace, because of God’s mercy. Some do indeed end up in hell because of their rejection of God’s grace.

        He is remorseful for those who reject. And He is faithful to His promise to provide saving mercy for all to choose or reject (Rom 11:32).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Brian, that’s all you got to my comment? “But all get enabling grace, because of God’s mercy.” And cannot even substantiate such a statement?

        Try again. There is much more there for you to interact with. I’m still tied up with Doug’s longer post. 🙂

        SDG!

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      5. Les, Rom 11:32 is sufficient unless you want to parse the universal mercy mentioned in that verse contrasted against universal commitment to disobedience. But 2Pet 3:9 is another verse promising universal opportunity for repentance in God’s plan. Hope that helps. It should if you are open to study it in context prayerfully.

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      6. Brian,

        “Rom 11:32 is sufficient unless you want to parse the universal mercy mentioned in that verse contrasted against universal commitment to disobedience. But 2Pet 3:9 is another verse promising universal opportunity for repentance in God’s plan.”

        Sorry Brian. 11:32 the “all” is unmistakable Jews and Gentiles. Unless one is looking at it with their universal salvation bias trying to establish a proof text. ! Pet 3:2? So God desires all to repent, and yet they don’t? Better look for a better interpretation. I don’t think you think God is a failure.

        “Hope that helps. It should if you are open to study it in context prayerfully.”

        I think you mean well when you write this. But it’s not really helpful. It is as if you think I am presently NOT “study it in context prayerfully.” Not helpful but rather condescending.

        SDG!

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      7. Please, Les, don’t take it as condescending. Does God commit every last Jew and Gentile over to disobedience? Then what kind of mercy does He show to every last one of them?

        And look up the word “come” in 2Pet 3:9 and you will see that it supports the idea of making a place for repentance is what God plans for everyone, not a forcing of repentance on them.

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      8. Brian,

        “Please, Les, don’t take it as condescending.” I won’t. But please refrain from repeating it.

        “Does God commit every last Jew and Gentile over to disobedience?” No. Every kind of persons…Jews and Gentiles make up every kind of people group.

        “And look up the word “come” in 2Pet 3:9 and you will see that it supports the idea of making a place for repentance is what God plans for everyone, not a forcing of repentance on them.””

        I will, but God doesn’t force repentance on anyone. Your premise is in error.

        SDG!

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      9. So, Les, you agree that God does commit every last Jew and Gentile to disobedience and He does bring every one to a place of repentance. Are you just saying that His mercy to every last Jew and Gentile, and being brought to a place for repentance, just does not make salvation possible to everyone? Is that only based on your choosing to believe that salvation was predetermined for a few who would be created for it, and the rest would be created to be damned? Adam and Eve didn’t choose for billions to be born with no real opportunity for salvation! So who did?

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      10. Brian,

        “So, Les, you agree that God does commit every last Jew and Gentile to disobedience and He does bring every one to a place of repentance.” No, that is not what I said. Re-read it.

        Are you just saying that His mercy to every last Jew and Gentile, and being brought to a place for repentance, just does not make salvation possible to everyone?” Irrelevant since you misunderstood above.

        “Is that only based on your choosing to believe that salvation was predetermined for a few who would be created for it, and the rest would be created to be damned? Adam and Eve didn’t choose for billions to be born with no real opportunity for salvation! So who did?”

        That’s a convoluted question. Sorry I have no answer for it.

        SDG!

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      11. So Les, let’s walk thru this more slowly. Does “commit all” in Rom 11:32 mean “commit both groups” to you? Can you give another example in the NT where all means only both? Or will you agree that grammatically that all is a very uncommon simile for both. And are you saying that Rom 11 never addresses individuals as receiving mercy?

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      12. Brian,

        “So Les, let’s walk thru this more slowly. Does “commit all” in Rom 11:32 mean “commit both groups” to you? Can you give another example in the NT where all means only both? Or will you agree that grammatically that all is a very uncommon simile for both. And are you saying that Rom 11 never addresses individuals as receiving mercy?”

        Let’s put that section here:

        ” Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

        “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
        he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
        “and this will be my covenant with them
        when I take away their sins.”

        As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

        Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

        (Romans 11:25-33 ESV)”

        It seems apparent here that Paul is wrapping up this difficult (commentators are varied on the overall passage’s meaning) chapter and in doing so is making the point that this Jew/Gentile distinction is not something to take pride in. Sure, you Gentiles are coming in now because of the partial hardening of the Jews, but don’t get puffed up. It’s only temporary. Regarding the gospel, they are enemies and it is to your benefit. But that is only temporary. Regarding election their gifts and the calling of God cannot be revoked. Jews are not shut out forever you silly Gentiles.

        Just like you, they are right now disobedient so mercy can come to the gentiles until that fulness has come and then they receive mercy. All y’all (that’s what we from the South like to say) are disobedient (in Adam harkening back to Romans 5), that is you Gentiles and the Jews (a point Paul labored early on in Romans to make…Jews AND Gentiles are sinners). But just as ALL (Jews and Gentiles) were consigned to disobedience now (at the fullness of the Gentiles) all (Jews and Gentiles) receive mercy.

        “Can you give another example in the NT where all means only both?” Romans 3:9.

        “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,”

        “And are you saying that Rom 11 never addresses individuals as receiving mercy?”

        No, for Paul refers to himself right off the bat. But the primary focus is on the people groups. Example: “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

        Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

        (Romans 11:11-15 ESV)

        That;s all for now. SDG!

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      13. Thanks for the attempt Les, I just don’t see how all means just both groups in this context, or the other you provided. And even if it did, you affirmed that the first part of Rom 11:32 means all individuals in both groups, so it would be natural to assume the mercy is also be extended to all individuals in both groups.

        The problem is that you do not want it to mean that God enables all individuals with His mercy so that they all will have a choice in their damnation/salvation! I am not sure why. I wonder if it is because you would have to jettison your lengthy loyalty to a view of predetermination before creation of a few to have an opportunity for salvation mercy and a certain damnation for all the rest. I can imagine that would be hard to do… much like Luther had to jettison his long held views in agreement with Catholicism. I hope you will look again at the best arguments against your view and ask which one follows a more normal reading of the Scriptures that a layman would have.

        SS!

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      14. Brian, so ten I have a question and a statement. Question, does “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written” mean to you that every Jew who ever lived or will live will be in heaven?

        Statement. See how this sounds to you:

        Thanks for the reply Brian, I just don’t see how all doesn’t mean both groups in this context, or the other I provided.

        The problem is that you desperately want it to mean that God enables all individuals with His mercy so that they all will have a choice in their damnation/salvation! That way you preserve the all supreme free will of man in deciding his own eternal destiny. I am not sure why. I wonder if it is because you would have to jettison your lengthy loyalty to a view of free will. I can imagine that would be hard to do… I hope you will look again at the best arguments against your view of the supremacy of man’s free will and his self determination in his eternal destiny and ask which one follows a more normal reading of the Scriptures that a layman would have.

        See how that looks? Your writing form needs some improvement.

        SDG!

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      15. Hi Les, Thank you for the question and comment!

        The answer to the question as I understand that passage “and then all Israel will be saved” in context is that when Jesus returns and begins His kingdom reign from Jerusalem, all individuals in the nation of Israel on that day will be only saved individuals, having been converted by expressing a personal faith in Jesus. All the other individuals of Israel, who rejected Him and identified with the Antichrist, will have been destroyed and thus no longer a part of the nation of Israel.

        I appreciate your use of my own words that I used to identify your position to help me view my own position more clearly. I did not use the word “desperately” in my evaluation of the you in your holding on to your view. I don’t see you that way, Les, and I can affirm that I do not feel desperate either, but peaceful that my view is from a normal, most often used, understanding of the word “all” in this context.

        I have never used the terms “all supreme free-will of man”, but I do believe in the all supreme free-will of God as He has expressed it in Scripture to keep allowing all men an opportunity to decide for or against His grace that would lead them to certain salvation. And I plan on reading all the arguments for and against my understanding of Scriptures on these matters with a willingness to jettison any view I am presently holding, when shown to be false in the light of clear Scriptures that follow normal grammatical, contextual understanding that a layperson would have of it.

        You are certainly correct when you say that my “writing form needs some improvement.” 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement in that area. It is actually one of my motivations for entering discussions on this blog. I want to improve in speaking the truth in love in written form, which as you know is much more difficult than when face to face.

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  5. I would have never started my journey into Soteriology unless I was not offended by a high Calvanist. When Jesus’s love for the lost is questioned by people my reaction is always the same. To defend my Lord and Savior. I have met many unbelievers who struggled with this very issue. Does God love me? I always respond, he loves you so much that he gave his life for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It is difficult to converse with a Calvinist because their soteriology is based on definitions that are not commonly used. There is often a caveat they supply in order to make scripture fit their theology . God desires all to be saved BUT God has two wills – one that evidently does not desire all to be saved. God loves the world BUT its the world of the elect certainly not every individual most of whom He actually hates. Even the elect according to the Calvinist are those who God has already chosen to be saved – the “Lucky ones”. Man has free will but it is only free as determined by his desire which God freely manipulates.
    It is not likely that preachers will have a lot of effect on those who have accepted these false teachings but they have a responsibility for the rest of the congregation. Preachers need to point out the way Calvinists interpret the Bible and the implications of their deterministic beliefs. It is important to show how this world view conflicts with the Bible. Many young men have been led astray in colleges and seminaries because the local church (preachers and teachers) failed to adequately prepare them. Too often, I believe, this was done out of fear of offending someone. If you love someone you will tell him the truth.

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  7. Calvinist Spurgeon at the end of a sermon on “Jacob I have loved, Esau I Have Hated:

    “Oh, sinners, if ye perish, on your own head must be your doom. Conscience tells you this, and the Word of God confirms it. You shall not be able to lay your condemnation at any man’s door but your own. If you perish you perish by suicide. You are your own destroyers, because you reject Christ, because you despise the birthright and sell it for that miserable mess of pottage—the pleasures of the world. It is a doctrine that thrills through me. Like a two-edged sword, I would make it pierce to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow. If you are damned it shall be your own fault. If you are found in hell, your blood shall be on your own head. You shall bring the faggots to your own burning; you shall dig the iron for your own chains; and on your own head will be your doom. But if you are saved, it cannot be by your merits, it must be by grace—free, sovereign grace. The gospel is preached to you; it is this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.””

    SDG!

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    1. spurgeon says: But if you are saved, it cannot be by your merits, it must be by grace—free, sovereign grace. The gospel is preached to you; it is this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.””

      This simply assumes all choices are meritorious. The choice to agree you cannot merit salvation can’t be meriting salvation, yet the choice still makes the difference.

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    2. DIZERNER,

      “This simply assumes all choices are meritorious. The choice to agree you cannot merit salvation can’t be meriting salvation, yet the choice still makes the difference.”

      What part of the Spurgeon quote to cited do you disagree with?

      SDG!

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      1. The point of the passage seems to be this (knowing that the sermon and man are Reformed in nature):

        1. When sinners sin they chose it and deserve their fate.
        2. When righteous are saved, they had nothing to do with it, but were irresistibly saved (and that’s what grace means).

        I don’t really agree with a lot of that passage, but the part I was honing in on was this: the implication that grace means LFW or choice-making can play no part for the redeemed and it still be called grace.

        Of course one consistent systematic (logically) is irresistible grace, but you simply can’t make the argument that because a choice plays a role at any point, that automatically makes the result self-meriting. In day to day life we always operate like that (imagine a homeless man running around saying he earned the $100 someone hands him), but when we want to promote a certain theology, it seems we are often willing to “spin” the way the logic of something looks a bit (like the whole “God is a failure” argument, which makes zero sense to me; God’s desire is to save all, but this does not make him a ‘failure’ in the sense of attempting to do something and failing, but rather in offering something and not getting it; as if offering $100 to a homeless man who refuses makes one a “failure” in any sense).

        As for whether sinners “deserve” their fate, I would say in one sense they do and in one sense they don’t. They are victims of another’s man sin, and in that sense they are innocent of the action that led to their being inherently sinful; but since they are inherently sinful, they are born under condemnation and worthy of wrath. Although they at no point in time chose to be born sinful, yet they constantly break God’s law and are evil. They are what I would call innocent criminals or evil victims (assuming they had no grace or Gospel enlightenment yet). This is what drives some non-Calvinists away from original sin; yet Arminians can hold to original sin and election.

        regards.

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      2. Dizerner,

        Thanks for replying. You wrote, “but the part I was honing in on was this: the implication that grace means LFW or choice-making can play no part for the redeemed and it still be called grace.”

        First, I do not agree that there is really anything like what is called LFW. But second, I do not, and I don’t think Spurgeon was saying, that there is no choice being made at all. But after regeneration, man chooses Jesus…for all the reasons I have replied to others on this post. Please see those comments.

        But if, apart from regeneration man brings his own faith to the table, and he makes the right choice, on his own (LFW?) how can that NOT be meritorious? Why did the man standing right next to him not also make that same right choice with HIS LFW?

        I also disagree with how you even allow that man is some sort of innocent victim in his sin. Scripture overwhelmingly says the opposite.

        SDG!

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      3. you say: First, I do not agree that there is really anything like what is called LFW.

        I’m already aware that Calvinists don’t believe in anything that can truly be called LFW. That’s why they argue against it.

        you say: I don’t think Spurgeon was saying, that there is no choice being made at all.

        Believers in LFW use the word “choice” to express or define what LFW does. Without LFW we find the words “choose” or “choice” to be misleading and not convey any real information (since they merely express a deterministic value determined from outside). Same for words like “permission” or “responsibility” which imply a counter-will or they become meaningless.

        you say: But if, apart from regeneration man brings his own faith to the table, and he makes the right choice, on his own (LFW?) how can that NOT be meritorious?

        Because it contains no meritorious act. What you would be arguing is that, for a person to say “I’m not humble” is for them to be humble, or a person to say “I’m not righteous” is for them to be righteous. If God asks us to admit we can’t perform merit to be saved, you can’t then define our admission as meritorious, it’s paradoxical. Saying “God have mercy on me a sinner” is not performing a righteous act, it’s performing an act of trusting in another for righteousness. A choice alone is not by definition necessarily meritorious. It’s quite simple really: if a millionaire offers me a million dollars me saying yes does not contribute towards earning it anymore than me saying no. There are choices that are made apart from a system of merit and righteousness. The Bible confirms this in that “Abraham believed while still ungodly.” If Abraham believes God to be counted as sinless, he has to be a sinner while doing it—that’s simple logic. And if Abraham believes God *instead* of a system of merit or works, than believing *cannot* be meritorious or a work of merit.

        you say: Why did the man standing right next to him not also make that same right choice with HIS LFW?

        Because he chose not to. Think about, how under your proposed idea that a LFW to accept salvation includes meriting that salvation, this parable of Jesus would have to be reworded:

        24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a FOOLISH man who built his house on the rock BY MONERGISTIC IRRESISTIBLE GRACE. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a FOOLISH man who built his house on sand BY MONERGISTIC IRRESISTIBLE REPROBATION. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

        If Jesus was so worried like the Calvinist that merely choosing his to accept his grace would make a man “smarter and more spiritual” than the next man, why did he have no trouble describing the saved man as “wise.” Paul also exhorts us to be “wise” not according to this present age but become spiritual men by accepting God’s foolishness. He states “If anyone thinks he is wise, he should become foolish. Let no man decieve himself.” Why does Paul attribute the ability to become wise or foolish to the man himself, why does Paul attribute the deception to the man himself. Do you see how it looks to those outside the reformed faith, that they constantly read in divine determinism at all costs to the passage? To us, that’s not an honest hermeneutic.

        you say: I also disagree with how you even allow that man is some sort of innocent victim in his sin. Scripture overwhelmingly says the opposite.

        Scripture says sinners are sinful and they sin. Show me one verse, please, that says a human being chooses to be born sinful (just one should be easy since Scripture “overwhelmingly” says it.) Take your time, go through from Genesis to Revelation, and give me one verse that says a human being plays any part or has any choice about being born sinful. Something like “But you O human chose to be sinful of your own self!” I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be waitng a long, long time to get something like that from you—right up there with God decreeing Adam’s fall (by his secret will that somehow isn’t secret anymore).

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      4. If I throw a rock at a window did I “permit” it to break the window? Is it “responsible” for breaking it? Can we say, in any sense whatsoever, the rock “chose” to break the window? See how taking away causality removes meaning from words?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Dizerner,

        You write long posts. I don’t have that much time to reply to all that. Try it in pieces. It might take longer, but that’s the way I usually function. With a few exceptions.

        “Believers in LFW use the word “choice” to express or define what LFW does. Without LFW we find the words “choose” or “choice” to be misleading and not convey any real information (since they merely express a deterministic value determined from outside).”

        No, not determined from outside. Man’s truly repents and believes when he is set free.

        “If God asks us to admit we can’t perform merit to be saved, you can’t then define our admission using his LFW. He makes the correct choice while the other guy des not. n as meritorious, it’s paradoxical. Saying “God have mercy on me a sinner” is not performing a righteous act, it’s performing an act of trusting in another for righteousness.”

        No, you and others (unless I have misunderstood you) have argued that man repents and believes on his own and that these (repentance and faith) are not gifts from God but are inherent and innate in fallen man. And that prior to any supernatural work to free the bound sinner, the sinner is able to trust and believe and repent. Sorry friend, that’s meritorious.

        “If Jesus was so worried like the Calvinist that merely choosing his to accept his grace would make a man “smarter and more spiritual” than the next man, why did he have no trouble describing the saved man as “wise.” He has no problem because Jesus knows the scriptures: “For the Lord gives wisdom;
        from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;”

        “Paul also exhorts us [KEY WORD…US. BELIEVERS] to be “wise” not according to this present age but become spiritual men by accepting God’s foolishness. He states “If anyone thinks he is wise, he should become foolish. Let no man decieve himself.” Why does Paul attribute the ability to become wise or foolish to the man himself, why does Paul attribute the deception to the man himself. Because he knows the scriptures. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” and “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” and “For the Lord gives wisdom;
        from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;”

        You could very well ask why we are told if a man won’t work he shouldn’t eat. Yet we are also told that God will provide us what we need and not to worry about it.

        “Do you see how it looks to those outside the reformed faith, that they constantly read in divine determinism at all costs to the passage? To us, that’s not an honest hermeneutic.”

        Sorry you see it that way. We actually do not read divine determinism into everything. That’s what is frustrating. Our non Reformed friends THINK we do. But we don’t.

        Shorter next time. Please.

        SDG!

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      6. Anybody can think they effectively argue for a point by simple assertions. For example “you think we Reformed people do but we don’t” is an assertion with no evidence. I don’t find that kind of dialogue very helpful. (It’s obvious that to say “there is no free will in Scripture” you simply have to *a priori* read determinism into every conditional and every choice.) You also don’t effectively use logic or Scripture and seem to think the topic is simply not worthy of much time (but of course the Walking Dead is). If I were a Calvinist I’d be embarrassed at your posts. I won’t waste time on someone who thinks they can just put no real thought into an argument and still come out declaring themselves right (ala rhutchin).

        bless & thx for your valuable time

        Like

      7. Dizerner,

        I’m sure we all have busy lives. Mine is for sure. Some here seem to have LOTS of time to post. And so far today I and the token Reformed person trying to respond from hits coming in on several fronts. Not easy to keep up.

        “Anybody can think they effectively argue for a point by simple assertions.” True. I see it all the time.

        For example “you think we Reformed people do but we don’t” is an assertion with no evidence.” Really? I have to dig up online convos to prove what I see? Ok, I withdraw the assertion.

        “I don’t find that kind of dialogue very helpful. (It’s obvious that to say “there is no free will in Scripture” you simply have to *a priori* read determinism into every conditional and every choice.)” Except I have not sad there is NO free will. I said no such thing as LFW. Read the best quote carefully to see what Reformed theology teaches about free will:

        “God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.

        2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

        3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

        4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.

        5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.”

        “You also don’t effectively use logic or Scripture and seem to think the topic is simply not worthy of much time (but of course the Walking Dead is).” Well The Walking Dead is absolutely with my time. Not yours? So what of my logic and scripture? Point out where I fall short.

        “If I were a Calvinist I’d be embarrassed at your posts.” I will refrain from responding in like kind with specificity, as to what group should be embarrassed by posts on this site.

        “I won’t waste time on someone who thinks they can just put no real thought into an argument and still come out declaring themselves right (ala rhutchin).” No thought? However you see your time best spent. As I said earlier, we all have busy ives.

        SDG!

        Like

      8. Man I butchered this:

        “I don’t find that kind of dialogue very helpful. (It’s obvious that to say “there is no free will in Scripture” you simply have to *a priori* read determinism into every conditional and every choice.)” Except I have not sad there is NO free will. I said no such thing as LFW. Read the best quote carefully to see what Reformed theology teaches about free will:”

        Should read:

        ““I don’t find that kind of dialogue very helpful. (It’s obvious that to say “there is no free will in Scripture” you simply have to *a priori* read determinism into every conditional and every choice.)” Except I have not said there is NO free will. I said no such thing as LFW. Read the below quote carefully to see what Reformed theology teaches about free will:”

        Like

    1. Ernest,

      I do have to disagree. The fact is that no man, woman, or child has the ability to do the one thing that God requires and demands of every person ever born if they are to be saved–convert themselves. God demands repentance and faith. Of everyone. No one has the ability to do that in their natural born (fallen) condition. Therefore,

      SDG!

      Like

      1. Sorry Les, but who has ever said that God requires men to convert themselves? Certainly not I ! God commands all men to repent. He promises salvation for all who believe in the Son. This promise is an empty promise if men are unable to believe. It is no better than teasing a starving dog with a piece of meat and then giving it to another. There is no glory for the deo in this theology.
        The God of the Bible loves all men to the extent that He died for all of them. He became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. He proved His desire that all men could be saved and ransomed all. There is certainly glory for this Deo.

        Like

      2. Ernest,

        Thanks for bringing to light a mistake in my wording. I did not mean to say that God requires men to convert themselves or that you or anyone else thinks that. My mistake.

        My previous comment should read this way:

        “The fact is that no man, woman, or child has the ability to do the one thing that God requires and demands of every person ever born if they are to be saved–be converted. God demands repentance and faith. Of everyone. No one has the ability to do that in their natural born (fallen) condition.”

        When I use the word converted, I am talking about the theological term which means repentance and faith. i.e. God requires man to repent and believe and in his natural condition man cannot ever do that. He must “be” saved by God!

        Sorry about that.

        SDG!

        Like

    2. As Calvinist Spurgeon said in a sermon:

      “Men say they do not like the doctrine of election. Verily, I do not want them to; but is it not a fact that God has elected some? Ask an Arminian [or add a Traditionalist] brother about election, and at once his eye turns fiercely upon you, and he begins to get angry, he can’t bear it; it is a horrible thing, like a war-cry to him, and he begins to sharpen the knife of controversy at once. But say to him, “Ah, brother! was it not divine grace that made you to differ? Was it not the Lord who called you out of your natural state, and made you what you are? “Oh, yes,” he says,” “I quite agree with you there.” Now, put this question to him: “What do you think is the reason why one man has been converted, and not another?” “Oh,” he says, “the Spirit of God has been at work in this man.”

      SDG!

      Like

      1. Les, as we discussed before, enabling and resistible is the only way to make sense of warnings such as – “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” The regenerate elect of Calvinism cannot harden their hearts, so they don’t need this warning, and the never to be regenerate reprobate of Calvinism cannot hear, so they don’t need such a warning. This warning and others like it do not fit into Calvinism.

        Like

  8. Les Prouty
    “God demands repentance and faith. Of everyone. No one has the ability to do that in their natural born (fallen) condition.”
    ………………………….
    Nothing, aside from pride, prevents them from humbling themselves and asking for mercy.

    Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

    Like

  9. Leighton, This is a very practical question, and needs much attention! Thank you for voicing it! My view is that there are four lines that need to be drawn… between the gospel and sound doctrine, between sound doctrine and doubtful things, and between doubtful things and harmful doctrine, and between harmful doctrine and a false gospel.

    The gospel is identified by premises necessary to believe for God to fulfill His promise and give everlasting life and forgiveness of sin. I would accept into congregational membership any who profess these, since that is only what God requires before adding them to the membership of His church. Of course, there should be some hint given to new members that if they join their testimony to certain identified “shepherds” in their community, they will be discipled in line with the sound doctrine that has qualified those pastors/elders to be pastors/elders in God’s eyes.

    Sound doctrine are those premises necessary for spiritual health and growth. I believe that the premises of the gospel are clear enough in Scripture without explanation for even a child to understand. I believe that the premises of sound doctrine are clear enough in Scripture for adult laypeople with normal education to understand from reading Scripture on their own without explanation. Explanations about Scriptures that teach the gospel and sound doctrine are helpful, but not necessary.

    Everything else in Scripture are doubtful things that can be given personal explanation but should be left as doubtful and without universal authoritative application. Harmful doctrines and false gospels clearly violate the normal reading of Scripture by taking doubtful things and making them dogmatic for sound doctrine or gospel, or even by taking things not mentioned in Scripture and doing the same thing with them, elevating them to sound doctrine or the gospel.

    Calvinism has taken doubtful things and even harmful premises and has dogmatically made them necessary for sound doctrine that qualifies “pastors” in some denominations. A good example is those denominations that require profession of all of the WCF as qualification for pastors. This disqualifies them from truly being pastors in God’s eyes since they must hold fast to the WCF doctrines which contain some harmful premises, and some doubtful things being falsely elevated to necessary sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

    Calvinists are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching, and useful in the body, but they should not be identified as pastors. And as church members they should submit to limiting their teaching to accord to the sound doctrine of the pastors to whom they have joined their testimony.

    I do think discussion of Calvinism in a public forum in each local congregation is a helpful exercise to provide an opportunity to learn how draw these four lines Scripturally and to identify what is the source of authority for popular doctrines like those found in Calvinism. Calvinism is an elevation of Tradition and man-made Creed over Scripture. Much hiding behind scholasticism, stilted illustrations, and philosophical definitions is necessary for it to survive!

    The more we can convince laypeople that they really can understand the Scriptures by themselves for anything necessary for the gospel and sound doctrine, the more Calvinism’s influence will wane.

    Like

    1. “A good example is those denominations that require profession of all of the WCF as qualification for pastors. This disqualifies them from truly being pastors in God’s eyes since they must hold fast to the WCF doctrines which contain some harmful premises, and some doubtful things being falsely elevated to necessary sound doctrine.”

      I will just note how funny this is. Robert has already made mince meat of your argument that someone like a PCA pastors not qualified in God’s eyes to be ordained and pastor. Are you a Southern Baptist? Do you pastor a SB church? Do you teach at a SB college/university?

      SDG!

      Like

      1. Hi Les, I like mincemeat on holidays, but I haven’t tasted any from Robert yet! 🙂 Every denomination of Christianity develops a list of doctrines that they feel are necessary for pastoral qualification. They would not accept any person as qualified in God’s eyes for a pastoral role in their denomination unless they affirmed those doctrines. I think you would agree with this assessment of reality.

        In my view, it is just as inconsistent (and postmodern) to say a man who rejects those doctrines is still qualified to pastor in God’s eyes, in another denomination, as it is to say that God has a place in heaven for those sincere in their own religion, other than Christianity. God only has one set of qualifications for those called to be overseers in His church, just like He only has one set of premises necessary to identify as the gospel. Doctrines added to God’s list that are based on Scriptural inferences and not clear Scriptures, or perhaps not even on Scriptures, is just plain harmful and ends up dividing His church on the local level.

        No, I am not pastoring at the present. I was ordained to the ministry of God’s word by elders in a local non-denominational congregation affiliated with the IFCA, back in 1983. I am presently teaching at Virginia Baptist College, which caters to independent Baptist churches. And yes I have to affirm our school’s doctrinal statement, and they are well aware of what I believe and teach concerning the sound doctrine qualifications for pastors that must be based only on clear Scriptures that a layperson can understand without explanation.

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      2. Brian,

        “God only has one set of qualifications for those called to be overseers in His church”

        And YOU have that just right I bet…in your own eyes.

        Piece of work I must say.

        SDG!

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      3. So, Les, how many sets of qualifications for pastoral leadership does God have, and on what Scriptures do you base that He has more than one? This is a very important issue, I think you would agree, that is not worthy of ad hominum comments.

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      4. Brian, I did not mean my comments in any harmful way or personal (ad hominem comments). I apologize they came across that way.

        Brian, why don’t you spell out with scriptures what the pastoral qualifications are for all Christians, since you brought this up above.

        SDG!

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      5. If you give me, Les, your email I will send you a copy of what I think could be considered as a basic statement of sound doctrine that elders should hold fast to. The basic premise is that the wording of it should be almost all directly from clear Scriptures.

        As you may have discovered, most doctrinal statements are worded in a way that suggests the wording of Scripture must not be very clear for the most important doctrines that pastors must believe and teach. This, in my view, is the cause for denominational dogmatism for some things that are based only on Scriptural inference or extrapolation, and not based on clear texts.

        Like

    2. Les,

      I told you so! 🙂

      I told you that Brian Wagner was an open theist who plays semantic games in order to defend and rationalize his aberrant and false theology. You went back and forth for multiple posts with him, now I think you understand and have seen this aberrant and false theology first hand.

      I also told you that Brian Wagner has radical and bizarre beliefs concerning who ought to be ordained to be a pastor, who is acceptable to be a pastor, whom God recognizes as a pastor. Les you and others were going along fine and discussing some differences when Brian Wagner decided to enlighten us all with his distinctions which lead him to his bizarre views on ordination. Wagner wrote:

      “Calvinism has taken doubtful things and even harmful premises and has dogmatically made them necessary for sound doctrine that qualifies “pastors” in some denominations. A good example is those denominations that require profession of all of the WCF as qualification for pastors. This disqualifies them from truly being pastors in God’s eyes since they must hold fast to the WCF doctrines which contain some harmful premises, and some doubtful things being falsely elevated to necessary sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).
      Calvinists are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching, and useful in the body, but they should not be identified as pastors.”

      Les I told you so!

      There it is: denominations that require profession of the WCF (that is the Presbyterians and you Les) as qualifications for pastors IN THEIR GROUP/DENOMINATION “disqualifies them from truly being pastors in God’s eyes”. Wagner makes this even more explicit with his comment that Calvinists “are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching, and useful in the body, but they should not be identified as pastors.”

      According to scripture God gives people their gifts, so if someone has the gift of teaching, that was given to them by God. According to scripture one of the requirements of elders/pastors is that they have the gift of teaching. So you could have a calvinist or Presbyterian who has been given the gift of teaching, is a godly man, submits to Presbyterian distinctives and yet ACCORDING TO BRIAN WAGNER they are not qualified to be pastors! This is radical, false and ridiculous, it is a bit surprising that Wager makes these kinds of pronouncements based solely upon his own authority, and others do not call him on this. Even those who are not calvinists such as those non-Calvinists who affirm infant baptism, e.g. Wesleyans, Methodists, ought to be alarmed and concerned about Wagner’s bizarre and radical and false views (i.e. according to Wagner anyone who affirms infant baptism is unfit to be a pastor and cannot be a pastor).

      I say it again my understanding is that a pastor affirms the essentials of the faith (e.g. the trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of scripture), demonstrates godly character (the NT reveals these character traits in the elder lists), is called by God and this is recognized by the body of Christ, and they submit to the distinctives of their group/denomination.

      There is nothing in scripture about Calvinists cannot be pastors or Arminians cannot be pastors or those who affirm infant baptism cannot be pastors. This is all invented and comes from Brian Wagner alone. According to him, if you affirm infant baptism (which includes more than just Calvinists, this also includes Anglicans, Wesleyans, Methodists, etc.) or are a Calvinist you cannot be a pastor “in God’s eyes.” Wagner with his open theism and views on pastors/leadership/ordination has some of the most radical and false ideas that I have ever seen.

      What it boils down to is that if you hold Brian Wagner’s beliefs you can be a pastor, if you do not, whether it is calvinism or infant baptism or whatever, then according to him you are unfit to be a pastor.

      As I happen to know pastors/leaders from many different groups who are godly men, who have been called by God, who do submit to the distinctives of their groups/denominations, it is clear that Wagner is wrong on this.

      I told you so Les.

      Like

      1. Robert,

        “I told you so! :-)”

        Yes you did. I have tried to carefully and slowly draw out form Brian in his own words his views on omniscience. Sadly, his words are not very clear at all and lead me to believe that Brian rejects the biblical view of omniscience. The profoundly simple scriptures I posted a bit ago are unassailable on what the bible teaches about God’s knowledge. I do hope Broan continues to think on this matter and will try to block out all the philosophy he has been reading and stick to the scriptures and come to an orthodox view of God’s knowledge.

        On the ordination thing, of course he is way out in left field on that. No, outside the ballpark. I am waiting on a paper he’s written about it and I will read it, but from what he has written, you are right. Only if one agrees with Brian’s views is one fit for ministry. I’ve never heard that from any mainstream evangelical. Ever. And is some mainstream evangelical is brought forward to agree with Brian, well he is wrong as well.

        I mean, John MacArthur is unfit to be an ordained minister? Really? JM is one of the most gifted and godly pastors I have ever known. Brian, if you are reading this, please reconsider these views of yours.

        SDG!

        Like

      2. Les,

        “Yes you did. I have tried to carefully and slowly draw out form Brian in his own words his views on omniscience. Sadly, his words are not very clear at all and lead me to believe that Brian rejects the biblical view of omniscience.”

        He **does** reject the biblical view of omniscience.

        “The profoundly simple scriptures I posted a bit ago are unassailable on what the bible teaches about God’s knowledge.”

        Correct, they are simply and unassailable, which is again precisely why myriads of Christians from all of the Christian traditions hold to the biblical view of omniscience. Again when this is pointed out, Wagner then tries to use a divide and conquer strategy (knowing that the major traditions have some disagreements, he tries to play this off of the fact they all agree on omniscience so his argument becomes well they are wrong on this, so they must be wrong on omniscience too, but this is a sneaky and underhanded argument as rather than arguing from their disagreements, we ought to recognize that despite substantial disagreements in other areas they all agree in this area).

        “I do hope Broan continues to think on this matter and will try to block out all the philosophy he has been reading and stick to the scriptures and come to an orthodox view of God’s knowledge.”

        I doubt he will change, he also has his pride on this as he has taught and argued for this wrong view publicly and it would be extremely humbling for him to admit that he blew it on this. He has been challenged by me and others but he keeps plugging along arguing for open theism.

        “On the ordination thing, of course he is way out in left field on that. No, outside the ballpark.”

        I am glad you recognize how radical and far out his beliefs in this area are. I am a bit surprised that others are not alarmed at this really radical, bizarre and false belief. Of course I am not surprised that his fan-boys like Phillip are silent regarding his aberrant and false beliefs (both his open theism and his bizarre views on pastors and ordination).

        “I am waiting on a paper he’s written about it and I will read it, but from what he has written, you are right. Only if one agrees with Brian’s views is one fit for ministry.”

        That is what it boils down to. Wagner will argue that a pastor must hold to “sound doctrine”. If you question further what this “sound doctrine” amounts to, it is whatever Brian Wagner believes. So for example, Brian Wagner believes in believer baptism, so automatically anyone who believes in infant baptism is disqualified from being a pastor! And that is a lot of people both Calvinists (such as Presbyterians) and non-Calvinists (such as Wesleyans and Methodists).

        “I’ve never heard that from any mainstream evangelical. Ever.”

        But he is not a “mainstream evangelical”, he is a radical independent Baptist who rejects all denominations and infant baptism and all pastors who do not agree with his beliefs.

        “And is some mainstream evangelical is brought forward to agree with Brian, well he is wrong as well.”

        He won’t have many people in support of his radical and bizarre beliefs. And even if there were some who agreed with him, all that would show is that some people hold the same radical and bizarre beliefs that he holds.

        “I mean, John MacArthur is unfit to be an ordained minister? Really? JM is one of the most gifted and godly pastors I have ever known. Brian, if you are reading this, please reconsider these views of yours.”

        That is a good example and of course the examples could be multiplied.

        Here is one, how about John Wesley? He was a godly man who did a lot of good, especially in the area of evangelism. And yet he held to infant baptism so Brian Wagner would claim he was unfit to be a pastor and not recognized by God as an ordained pastor.

        Or for more contemporary examples I knew (he has gone to be with the Lord) a Methodist pastor (non-Calvinist), a very godly man, and everyone recognized him as a person of impeccable character, he was a college professor and yet again he affirmed infant baptism so according to Brian Wagner he was unfit to be a pastor, not a person who should have been ordained. I also know Vern Poythress a Calvinist who is a professor, has written some outstanding books, is a godly person in his character, but he has three strikes against him according to Wagner. He affirms the Westminster confession, believes in infant baptism and he is a Calvinist. So Wagner rejects him as a pastor, believes he should not be ordained.

        The examples could be multiplied almost endlessly. So I have to ask myself, are all of these godly men unfit for the pastorate? Should they never have been ordained? Were they wrong by serving as ordained pastors? My answer to these questions is No. Brian Wagner’s answer would be Yes.

        Now I would love for a fan-boy like Phillip to speak up on this! 🙂

        Like

  10. I am not certain how to approach this issue, but my position has been to look at what they are teaching. I can tolerate a range of incorrect views from pastors if that is not what they are predominantly teaching. Thus our church has both Arminians and Calvinists teaching, and while that flavour is there, the direct teaching is not usually. The problem is when teachers who have a mistaken belief spend all their time teaching this belief. Teaching error is a greater problem than believing error. And what pastor doesn’t have some mistaken beliefs.

    So preachers that preach the Bible first, and theology second are usually safer than those who preach theology. I would happily sit through a series on Luke by a Calvinist. I would struggle with a preacher who used every sermon to turn the Bible into “proof” of Calvinism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bethyada,

      If you or others would like to peruse the sermons online from my congregation, I think you will see week after week after week of sound biblical exposition from that Presbyterian (PCA) church. Of course we are Reformed. Make note of how little you hear about the things discussed here. Most here would likely be surprised. Take a listen. http://twinoakschurch.org/sermons/

      SDG!

      Like

  11. Les,
    You make the Calvinistic claim that //God requires man to repent and believe and in his natural condition man cannot ever do that.// Through out scripture we are taught otherwise. Genesis records man is created in the image of God. It then tells us the consequences of Adam’s sin. These consequences do not include the loss of man’s ability to believe God. The consequences do include a separation from God and thus a separation from the source of Life. In this way man is spiritually dead until He responds to God in faith and is made alive.

    Like

    1. Ernest,

      “You make the Calvinistic claim that //God requires man to repent and believe and in his natural condition man cannot ever do that.// Through out scripture we are taught otherwise.” Ernest, you will have to prove from scripture that man in his fallen and natural, God hating condition can rent and believe on his own,

      Genesis records man is created in the image of God.” Agreed.

      “It then tells us the consequences of Adam’s sin. These consequences do not include the loss of man’s ability to believe God.” You state that, but I don’t think you can back it up with scripture.

      “The consequences do include a separation from God and thus a separation from the source of Life.” Agreed.

      “In this way man is spiritually dead until He responds to God in faith and is made alive.” An assertion but with no scripture back up. On the contrary, spiritually dead man cannot believe and repent unless and until he is alive. He cannot hear God’s voice. He can hear a preacher’s voice, but his spiritual ears are not working. Deaf spiritually.

      SDG!

      Like

  12. I know a Calvinist pastor who withheld his Calvinist views from a church board so that he got the position and then proceeded to introduce Calvinism over time. He felt nothing was wrong with what he did since, in his view, Calvinism is the gospel and thus these folks needed the gospel. This is happening far too often. I feel these Calvinists are being unethical in doing this. If an Arminian lied to a Calvinist church to get in the door only later to introduce Arminianism as the gospel, Calvinists would protest. Both are wrong to do in my estimation.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Les,
    In your resonse to Ernest you said:
    “You make the Calvinistic claim that //God requires man to repent and believe and in his natural condition man cannot ever do that.// Through out scripture we are taught otherwise.” Ernest, you will have to prove from scripture that man in his fallen and natural, God hating condition can rent and believe on his own,

    “It then tells us the consequences of Adam’s sin. These consequences do not include the loss of man’s ability to believe God.” You state that, but I don’t think you can back it up with scripture.

    “In this way man is spiritually dead until He responds to God in faith and is made alive.” An assertion but with no scripture back up. On the contrary, spiritually dead man cannot believe and repent unless and until he is alive. He cannot hear God’s voice. He can hear a preacher’s voice, but his spiritual ears are not working. Deaf spiritually.

    I am not speaking for Ernest, but I think this might be what he is referring to when he says that throughout scripture we are taught otherwise. Please reference the following scriptures in which God advises, invites, even commands, a singular person or group of people, most of which are clearly directed at unbelievers, to respond to His invitation or command. If they do respond, God says that He will then conditionally based on their response in turn do something for them (save them, forgive them, change them, bless them, etc.) None of these verses make any sense whatsoever if the people God is inviting and commanding have not the ability to do what God commands them to do. Or do you think God “plays both sides of the chessboard” and makes the invitation or command to unbelievers as if they had the ability, then comes to the other side of the board and and irresistibly (to only some) changes their will, then goes back to His side of the board and responds to them with forgiveness and salvation because (surprise, surprise, after He forced His will upon them) they responded positively to His command?

    -if Cain would do well, God promised he would be accepted (Gen 4:6,7)
    -if the Israelites listen and keep and do His commands, God will love them, bless them, and
    multiply them (Deut 7:12)
    -if they would circumcise the foreskin of their minds and hearts and stop being stubborn and
    hardened, He would impartially save them and bless them (Deut 10:16-17)
    -He was setting before them obedience or non-obedience and conditionally on what
    choice they would make He would bless or curse them (Deut 11:26)
    -They (and we) are not unable to respond to him and do what He commands, that to obey His
    commands is not too hard for them (or us) or too far off to achieve, and that they (and we) can in
    fact do what He commands (Deut 30: 11-13)
    -He was setting before them life and good, death and evil, and conditionally based on the choice
    that they made to love and obey God, God would bless them and give them life or God would
    cause them to perish (Deut 30:16-20)
    -He was commanding them to choose who they would serve, false gods or the one true God
    (Joshua 24:15)
    -He commanded them to seek Him and His strength and to seek His face continually (1 Chron
    16:10-13)
    -If they would humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways,
    then conditionally based on their choice and response God would forgive their sin and heal their
    land (2 Chron 7:13-22)
    -If Asa would seek God He would be found by him (2 Chron 15:1-2)
    -Because He does not despise any, that He will open our ears to instruction and command that
    we turn from our iniquity, and if we listen and serve him, He would conditionally base on that
    choice allow them to complete their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness and not
    perish by the sword or die without knowledge (Job 36:5)
    -He is good to all and His mercy is over all that He made, therefore if we call on him in truth and fear him and cry out to Him and love him, conditionally based on this choice He is near to us, fulfills our desire, and saves us and preserves us (Psalm 145:8-9)
    -He tells us that if one turns at His reproof, He will conditionally based on that choice to turn pour out His spirit on that person and make His words known to him (Prov 1:23-27)
    -He tells us to seek Him while he may be found and call on Him while he is near (Isa 55)
    -He tells us that if a man is righteous and does what is just and right, He will conditionally give that person life (Ezek 18:5,10,14,19,21)
    -He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that He has pleasure in the man who turns from his evil way and returns to God and conditionally when the man does this He will give him life (Ezek 18:23-29)
    -He commands the unbeliever to enter by the narrow gate and if the man does then conditionally based on that choice it will lead to life (Matt 7:13)
    -He commands the unbeliever to hear these words of mine and do them and if they do then He will be their rock and foundation and their “house” will not be destroyed in the coming judgment (Matt 7:24-27)
    -Jesus marveled at this man’s faith (Matt 8:10-12) (why would Jesus marvel at faith that was
    simply faith that God irresistibly gave him?)
    -Jesus conditionally denounced (cursed) the cities because they had the ability to repent but would not repent (Matt 11:20)
    -Jesus told of God’s conditional condemnation because those who were invited had the ability to
    but would not come (Matt 22:3)
    -Jesus conditionally wept over Jerusalem because they had the ability to come to Him but
    refused (Matt 23:37, Luke 19:41)
    -Jesus tells His disciples that if anyone (whoever) believes and is baptized then they will
    conditionally be saved because of their belief (Mark 16:15-16)
    -Jesus rebukes them because they had the will to (ability to) come to Him to have life, but were still not willing, refusing, to come to Him (John 5:40)
    -Paul teaches that God is not far from each one of us, and that we are to seek God and perhaps feel our way toward him and find him and that God commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:26-31)
    -The gospel is the God’s power to work unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16)
    -God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repent (Rom 2:4-11)
    -When a person turns in repentance to the Lord, God will conditionally based on that repentance strip off the veil and give them understanding of God’s word (2 Cor 3:15-16)
    -If we believe, then the promise that is by faith in Jesus Christ will be given to us (Gal 3:22)
    -If we hear the word of truth of the gospel and then believe, then God will seal us with His Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14)
    -God is conditionally a rewarder of those who seek Him and believe that He exists (Heb 11:6)
    -If we will get rid of uncleanness and wickedness and humbly receive God’s Word in our hearts, God will conditionally save our souls (James 1:21)
    -If we respond to God’s call to “come,” God will give us the water of life (Rev 22:17)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy,

      Thanks for the question. I don’t have the time to look at each reference and answer verse by verse. At least not right now.

      But fundamentally our difference is in how we view man’s fallen state and how that fallen has affected and affects man’s natural ability to respond when for example, a preacher quotes scripture and says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” The Reformed view of man’s ability is that in his fallen, natural born state he neither wants to believe nor can believe. His will must be changed. His heart toward spiritual things must be changed. He is naturally spiritually blind and spiritually deaf. He can hear the verse quoted and the command given (God commands all men everywhere to repent) and the invitation to believe and have his sins forgiven. He can hear all that with his ear and he is intelligent enough to understand what the verses and the calls and the commands mean. But spiritually they truly mean nothing to him.

      So the preacher’s words really do fall on deaf ears, spiritually. The words of God and the gospel are foolishness to him. And so examples of the calls of scripture where you cite God calling, e.g. “He tells us to seek Him while he may be found and call on Him while he is near” are what they are. God’s word and His call. But they must be accompanied by a supernatural work by the Holy Spirit to have any effect spiritually. Man is dead spiritually and so they mean nothing apart from an awakening by God of the man.

      You say, “surprise, surprise, after He forced His will upon them.” First, God doesn’t force His will in the sense I think you are saying. He does’t have to. When He opens a heart (like Lydia) the sinner sees the odious nature of his sin and the beauty of Jesus and chooses with his new truly freed will to love Jesus. Second, even if He forced a sinner into believing, I guarantee that in eternity the sinner would have zero problem if he discovered God forced the sinner into heaven, by violating his so called free will, rather than an eternity in torment. But as I said, He doesn’t have to.

      Grace is freeing the sinner from his spiritual bondage and spiritual blindness and spiritual deafness so the sinner can and desires to run to Jesus.

      The non Calvinist does not see it at all like I just described. The NC sees man as having some sort or natural ability to believe and repent (and so does not see these as gifts from God) or he sees God temporarily “turning on the spiritual lights” for the sinner, allowing the sinner to have his LFW opportunity, and then if the sinner says no, the lights go back off. i.e. God gives the sinner a taste of heaven and then takes it back if the sinner rejects Jesus. Or please correct me if I have that wrong. I do not want to misunderstand.

      The Reformed view is that man must first be awakened/quickened and then he will willingly and eagerly choose Christ–every time. The non-elect are never quickened in that way but are nevertheless responsible for their sin and hatred of God.

      SDG!

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  14. Les, Scripture recognizes that man can repent and believe in response to hearing God’s word and thus man is commanded to repent and believe. The Calvinist denies this ability and is only able to support this view by citing examples where men did not repent and ignoring examples of unregenerate man repenting, Cornelius is a prime example that even Piper had no answer for saying he was some special case (my words . not Pipers).
    It is the Calvinist (you) that is claiming mans lack of ability so its up to you to offer scripture that says the unregenerate man does not have the ability to believe. Perhaps you can make a stronger case for your position than the typical “no one seeks God”. “man is dead in sin”, or the John 6:44 quote – none of which really address the question of unregenerate man’s inability to respond to God.

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    1. Earnest,

      ” Scripture recognizes that man can repent and believe in response to hearing God’s word and thus man is commanded to repent and believe.”

      The Reformed person agrees with this statement. But Reformed theology recognizes that scripture teaches than unless God quickens the man first, he will not repent and believe. This is really easy.

      “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

      Now I know some have tried to wriggle out of this truth, but there is really no way around it, unless bias has crept in. Owen stated it brilliantly in his work The Holy Spirit:

      “To say that we are able by our own efforts to think good thoughts or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages.

      All men can be divided into two groups. They are either regenerate or unregenerate. All men are born unregenerate (John 3:3-8).

      . . . Spiritual darkness is in all men and lies on all men until God, by an almighty work of the Spirit, shines into men’s hearts, or creates light in them (Matt. 4:16; John 1:5; Acts 26:18; Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9) . . . The nature of this spiritual darkness must be understood. When men have no light to see by, then they are in darkness (Exod. 10:23). Blind men are in darkness, either by birth or by illness or accident (Psa. 69:23; Gen. 19:11; Acts 13:11). A spiritually blind man is in spiritual darkness and is ignorant of spiritual things.

      There is an outward darkness on men and an inward darkness in men.

      Outward darkness is when men do not have that light by which they are enabled to see. So outward spiritual darkness is upon men when there is nothing to enlighten them about God and spiritual things (Matt. 4:16; Psa. 119:105; Psa. 19:1-4,8; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rom. 10:15, 18). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to remove this darkness by sending the light of the gospel (Acts 13:2, 4; 16:6-10; Psa. 147:19, 20).

      Inward darkness, on the other hand, arises from the natural depravity and corruption of the minds of men concerning spiritual things. Man’s mind is depraved and corrupted in things which are natural, civil, political, and moral, as well as in things which are spiritual, heavenly and evangelical. This depravity is often held back from having its full effects by the common grace of the Holy Spirit. So, man’s mind being darkened, he is unable to see, receive, understand or believe to the saving of his soul. Spiritual things, or the mysteries of the gospel, without the Holy Spirit first creating within the soul a new light by which they can see and receive those things, cannot bring salvation.

      However brilliant the mind may be, and however brilliant the preaching and presentation of the gospel might be, yet without the Holy Spirit first creating this light in them, they cannot receive, understand and agree with the truths preached, and so will not be led to salvation (Eph 4:17, 18).

      So the unregenerate “walk in the futility of their mind” (Eph 4:17). The natural inclination of the unregenerate mind is to seek those things that cannot satisfy (Gen 6:5). It is an unstable mind (Prov. 7:11-12). The unregenerate understanding is darkened and cannot judge things properly (John 1:5). The unregenerate heart is blind. In Scripture the heart includes the will also. Light is received by the mind, applied by the understanding and used by the heart. “But if the light within is darkness,” said Jesus, “how great is that darkness.”

      . . . Even though the unconverted mind is highly educated and talented, yet it is utterly unable to receive and understand spiritually those things needful for its eternal salvation. It will not respond to the preaching of the gospel until renewed, enlightened and enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). The subject of this verse is the natural man. The natural man is quite opposite of the spiritual man (1 Cor 15:44; Jude 1:19).”

      Calvin says of natural man, “”Faced with God’s revelation, the unbeliever is like an ass at a concert.”

      SDG!

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      1. Les, That last quote from Calvin gives a hint towards why Calvinists may have a difficult time truly showing love for lost souls who still bear the image of God!

        And if He can make a donkey speak the truth for Him, He can certainly give every unbeliever the enlightenment needed to make a response-able decision concerning the Gospel.

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      2. Brian,

        “That last quote from Calvin gives a hint towards why Calvinists may have a difficult time truly showing love for lost souls who still bear the image of God!”

        I don’t think Calvinists have any harder time showing love for lost souls than any other theological persuasion. The fact is many, many of us Christians are too often apathetic toward the lost, mom Calvinists and Calvinists.

        “And if He can make a donkey speak the truth for Him, He can certainly give every unbeliever the enlightenment needed to make a response-able decision concerning the Gospel.”

        As our children’s catechism says, “He can do all His holy will.” God CAN do anything. He is omnipotent. Question is DOES He? The Reformed answer is no.

        SDG!

        Oh, and I can help with Reformation Day resources!!

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      3. You are so right Les that we non-Calvinists have our own faulty motivations for not loving all the lost! But we never once have the thought cross our minds that God does not want most of them to receive a true opportunity for salvation!

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      4. Brian, “But we never once have the thought cross our minds that God does not want most of them to receive a true opportunity for salvation!”

        See this inevitably leads us into definitions. Cals believe all people do receive a genuine opportunity and God does WANT everyone to repent and believe. But non Cals can’t take us at our word and say we are twisting words and meanings and redefining terms. I have a full day and may only be able to pop in here or there, so I don’t really want to start a new stream of comments here about “does God “desire” all men to be saved, etc. I think we’ve already done that.

        Have a good day.

        SDG!

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