Calvinism undermines Apostolic Authority and Divine Inspiration

 

Dr. James Leo Garrett, an esteemed Southern Baptist scholar, wrote of a “Westernized hyper individualization” of certain biblical doctrines:

“From Augustine of Hippo to the twentieth century, Western Christianity has tended to interpret the doctrine of election from the perspective of and with regard to individual human beings. During those same centuries the doctrine has been far less emphasized and seldom ever controversial in Eastern Orthodoxy. Is it possible that Augustine and later Calvin, with the help of many others, contributed to a hyper individualization of this doctrine that was hardly warranted …?”[1]

Let’s just be honest.  We, as American Westerners, do tend to think everything is about us, the individual. We tend to read the text with an ego-centric bent. If someone tells the story of David slaying the giant, we see ourselves as the hero in that story and feel as if it is a lesson about how we can slay the “giants” in our lives too. However, it’s much more likely that we are better represented by the Israelites hiding in fear while Christ, the actual hero of the story, slays our “giants.” And despite what you may feel about the title of this article, I am objective enough to realize that it is typically the Calvinistic pastors who are pointing out this tendency.

However, when we read of God setting certain people apart for noble tasks, it is the Calvinist that most tends toward a self aggrandizing interpretation of those text by assuming God must have set us, as individuals, apart in a similar manner. For instance, how often have you heard someone quote, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit” (Jn. 15:16) to prove that they were individually chosen to be effectually saved?

And what about passages where certain prophets or apostles were set apart by God, such as:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace” (Gal. 1:14-15).

Have you ever heard someone use these types of passages to prove that they were set apart and called by his grace before they were born too? Not only is this an ego-centered method of interpretation, but it undermines the very important doctrines of “Apostolic Authority” and “Divine Inspiration.”  The Pulpit Commentary states,

“THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS CONFERRED. It does not originate in the man who possesses it. He is “one sent,” a messenger, a missionary, an ambassador. As the prophet is the man who “speaks for” God, the Divine spokesman, so the apostle is he who is sent by his Lord, the messenger of Christ. Thus the apostolic authority is very different from that of the philosopher which depends entirely on his own intellectual powers, and that of the religious founder which grows out of the man’s own spiritual ideas, and all purely personal authority. It is derived from the authority of Christ. Natural gifts can no more make a man an apostle than they can give a free-lance the right to command a national army.”[2]

When people misuse the scriptures to suggest that they are set apart, called and sent out by the same sovereignly effectual means as the divinely appointed prophets and apostles, it undercuts the uniqueness and thus the authority of these holy messengers and their inspired message. Throughout the scriptures we see God uniquely choosing certain individuals for very specific holy purposes.  For instance:

“The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the LORD, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever” (1 Chronicles 23:13).

“Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him” (Psalm 4:3).

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.  In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,  which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:1-5)

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:39-43).

Who had God “already chosen” according to Peter in the text above? God had already chosen His witnesses, not those who may or may not believe their witness.

This is a common mistake made by Calvinistic scholars. They point to instances where God has sovereignly used external normative means (such a big fish or blinding lights) to ensure His message is delivered as proof that God “sovereignly” uses inward effectual means (such as regeneration) to cause preselected individuals to believe their message.

However, proof that God chose and persuaded Jonah, for instance, to deliver His message of redemption to the Ninevites, does not prove that God preselected which individual Ninevites would or would not believe that message. So too, proof that God has preselected a nation and individual messengers from that nation to bring the good news of redemption to the rest of the world by sovereign means does not prove God has preselected which individuals will or will not believe that good news.

Now, I realize that Calvinists do not feel as if they are undermining the teaching of apostolic authority or divine inspiration. Most, if not all, Calvinistic scholars do in fact teach in defense of these doctrines. My contention is that their support of these doctrines is undermined by their soteriological premise and their understanding of divine sovereignty (as meticulous determinism).

Allow me to present one example. Many Calvinists maintain that all things are ultimately brought to pass by God’s sovereign will. <link>  This would include the salvation, calling and writings of Dr. John Piper, would it not? One of Piper’s most famous quotes is:

“God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.”[3]

  • Do you believe that is a true statement?
  • Was that statement written by a man set apart for effectual calling before birth?
  • Was that statement brought about by God’s sovereign decree?
  • Did Piper come up with this statement alone or did it ultimately come from God?

If you answered all of these questions in the affirmative, as a consistent Calvinist must, then what sets apart Piper’s writings from that of the Apostle Paul’s?

The Calvinist may say, “Well, the Apostle Paul’s writings were divinely inspired and Piper’s were not.”

Ok. So, what is the difference between true statements that were inspired by God in the scriptures, and true statements that were sovereignly decreed to be written by God in a book brought about by His own sovereign will?

Do you see the issue?

Calvinists have undermined the unique characteristics of the Apostle’s calling and the sovereign means of His divine work within our world. They have done this by suggesting that all saints are saved in the same effectual manner that the messengers were called and all things are brought to pass by God’s sovereign will. They have left nothing, absolutely nothing, to be considered somehow distinctly “of God” so as to be contrasted to that which is not.

Other verses to be considered:

Ex. 34:27–28

Isa. 6:8–13

Matt. 16:18–19

Acts 9:1–19


[1] James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical Historical, and Evangelical Vol. 2. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995), 500:

[2] The Pulpit Commentary: http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/adeney/apostolic_authority.htm

[3] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/god-is-most-glorified-in-us-when-we-are-most-satisfied-in-him

74 thoughts on “Calvinism undermines Apostolic Authority and Divine Inspiration

  1. Primary vs. secondary causation. You already need PvS to handle mosquito bites and ocean cliff faces and weather patterns and bacterial behavior, unless you think that God micromanages all of those deterministic-but-chaotic things.

    Like

    1. (Replying to my own comment, after reviewing the discussion that was spawned from this comment, but further down.)

      Prof. Flowers,

      It’s true that this comes down to a taxonomic discussion, that is, which terms are helpful and unhelpful in talking about God’s character, plans, how we decide things, and what kinds of freedom we have and lack.

      I think you’ve cited Vincent Cheung before, and I’ve explained how misguided he is as a practitioner of radical reduction. That is, he declares certain distinctions “meaningless” only because he is radically reducing. He is the kind of person who would say that the distinctions between a dog and a mosquito and a snowball are “meaningless” because they are all just matter and energy. Then he’ll tell you that this is what “metaphysics is.” No, this is radical reduction, a ridiculous brand of metaphysics. The metaphysical discussion is broader, and entails, “We can reduce to ultimate causes/ends/constitutions [downward], and we can recover meaningful forms [upward], that is, varieties of causes/ends/constitutions.”

      Let’s talk about chaos theory for a moment. Chaos describes the loss of meticulous control, over time, within a system that is: [1] orderly (adequately deterministic, basically), [2] elegant (there aren’t tons and tons of different basic mechanistic rules), [3] populous (there are lots of little moving pieces), [4] interactive (those little moving pieces bump into and affect each other), and [5] left uninterrupted. “Loss of meticulous control over time” is a corollary of [1], [2], [3], [4], and [5], that is, it is the 100% logically guaranteed “fallout” of those systemic premises.

      With humans, who are limited in knowledge and can — at best — make rough projections, chaos can be used interchangeably with unpredictability. For a God with closed-future-foreknowledge, chaos CANNOT be used interchangeably with unpredictability, since God can predict (or just “knows”) whatever emerges from this chaos. However, “loss of meticulous control over time” remains true of chaos, even with God with closed-future-foreknowledge.

      This is why it is meaningful to say that the emergent forms of secondary causation may owe themselves to God in an ultimate sense, but they should not be called God’s “authorship.” It is completely, completely, completely meaningful to say this. I say “completely” three times in order to emphasize how important this is. Please also understand the tone of my post; the Internet tends to yield inferences of antagonistic tones but I’m not trying to sound pedagogical or arrogant. It’s just a thing that needs to be understood.

      So, if loss-of-meticulous-control is a corollary of chaos over time, how can God make his will manifest in the world? The answer is selective interruption. God makes exceptions to [5], as subtly or overtly as it suits his plans, to course-correct and/or establish/retain/regain relationships.

      This is a taxonomy where:

      [a] We don’t fall into the Vincent Chueng nonsense of radical reduction.

      [b] Adequate determinism can be true.

      [c] God is not the author of sin, with authorship so-defined (and it’s a useful, sensible definition).

      Like

  2. Wow! Now that’s food for thought! If everything is God-inspired and God-determined, then in what sense is Holy Sccripture more “inspired” than any other action, or for that matter, any other literature. Thanks Leighton for another thought provoking article.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “Ok. So, what is the difference between true statements that were inspired by God in the scriptures, and true statements that were sovereignly decreed to be written by God in a book brought about by His own sovereign will?

    Do you see the issue?”

    No. You are way smarter than the thesis of this post. This is juvenile, no slam intended.

    Like

      1. I didn’t mean to suggest I didn’t. As CS Lewis said, “Good philosophy must exist if for no other reason than to answer bad philosophy.” Compatibilism is bad philosophy IMHO.

        Like

      2. Here is some other food for thought on primary and secondary causation from an earlier discussion…once again revealing how “juvenile” this discussion really is, right Les? 😉

        Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith. The confessions clearly tell us that God is the ultimate cause, but not the secondary cause, therefore God is not the author of sin. This statement is confusing to many, but it is imperative to understand that when the confessions deny that God is the author of sin, they are not saying that God is not the primary cause, a statement they explicitly affirm. Rather, the reformed definition of “author of sin” is understood as a reference to secondary causation—sinful man and Satan is the “author of sin” according to the confessions, because they cause man to sin in this secondary sense.

        Such a definition of authorship is unhelpful. For example, a common objection against Calvinism is as follows: “If Calvinism is true, doesn’t that make God the author of sin?” Consider what such a person is actually asking. He is likely to be asking, “If Calvinism is true, doesn’t that make God the ultimate/primary cause of sin”. In other words, the person who asks such a question is using the phrase “author of sin” as a reference to primary causation. Now, the reformed theologian comes along, and answers the same question with an equivocal definition of authorship as secondary causation. The typical response would be that God is the ultimate/primary cause, but not the author of sin. This often results in great confusion. It is unnatural to define authorship as only secondary causation when there is a prior metaphysical cause (i.e. a primary cause) before that.[1] So God is the metaphysical author of sin (i.e. primary/ultimate cause), but is himself not sinful.

        The subject in question here is that of metaphysical causation. It is not referring to the one who does the act. Hence, under this subject of metaphysical causation, we say that God is the ultimate cause, while man (the one who sins) is the secondary cause.

        There seems to be a slight inconsistency within the Westminster Confession of Faith concerning liberty, and this has been pointed out by Vincent Cheung:

        If the topic is metaphysics, or causation, then terms like “synergism” and “secondary cause” make no sense. They are meaningless and useless. When the main topic is divine sovereignty, we are indeed talking about metaphysics, about causation. This means that I oppose the traditional doctrine on the matter. It is absurd to say that God’s sovereignty does not take away but rather establishes “the liberty or contingency of secondary causes.” Of course liberty and contingency are taken away. They, along with the very idea of secondary causes, are entirely destroyed and rendered meaningless.[2]

        Cheung is not denying that there is such a thing as secondary causes, since elsewhere he affirms that such a distinction is made in scripture. What Cheung denies here is that when dealing with causation, God being the primary cause, removes man’s free will to do things freely independent of God. Thus, while man does things consistent with his nature, he is not really free and his liberty and contingency is indeed taken away in the metaphysical sense. Man only does what he is moved to do by the Spirit and is not able to choose apart from this.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It is my sense that Cheung may be a hyper Calvinist. WCF is not hyper Calvinist. I realize he is the easy one to bring into the discussion.

        But yes, this is really an easy discussion. I did give you more credit than to post a position like this. It is really grasping at straws.

        1. Habakkuk. Should be enough said. God is doing something. But He did not village, etc. Himself. He didn’t have to/He raised up the Chaldeans for that purpose.

        2. Then there are Acts 2:23; 4:27028; John 19:11 and so forth.

        BTW, do you believe in such things as chance and luck?

        Like

      4. I still haven’t seen a “simple” answer to the question as to what is the distinction (with a difference) between a true statement in the last message you wrote and Paul’s truth in scripture? Can you answer that before we move on?

        Like

      5. “what is the distinction (with a difference) between a true statement in the last message you wrote and Paul’s truth in scripture? Can you answer that before we move on?”

        Are you asking me what the difference is between a truth as it exists in the world today and the truths given to us in holy scripture? Not sure what you’re getting at.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. “If you read the article then what I’m getting at should seem pretty obvious, I would think.

        No slam intended”

        You need not keep saying “No slam intended.” I do not think you are trying to slam me.

        Ok I will go with what I conjectured earlier. “Are you asking me what the difference is between a truth as it exists in the world today and the truths given to us in holy scripture? Not sure what you’re getting at.”

        When the men who wrote the scriptures, their words did not originate in their minds. They were put into their minds by the direct inspiration or action of God. What they wrote came directly from God. No the case when I type words on this blog.Even when I type what I just wrote. To the extent that I am stating a truth like 2=2=4 is a praise to God that He allowed me to gain a mind which can comprehend that. But when I state that, He is not putting the words or numbers directly by “breathing” into me what to say.

        There. Now we can move and you can answer my questions.

        Like

      7. Les, I’m not talking about math equations. I’m talking about spiritual realities about God and salvation. If you write a spiritually appraised truth (like 1 Cor 2:14 speaks of), then what you wrote is by Gods sovereign decree. All good comes from God, right? So that truth came from Him, didn’t it? You aren’t taking credit for it, are you? God ordained you to right it and you were set apart from birth, effectually called. So I’m still not seeing a difference with a distinction bw your writing a spiritually appraised truth and Pauls.

        You keep using the word “direct” as if the true spiritual truths you’re writing go through some extra step after leaving the mind of God, but with Paul it was a different? Still very unclear what you mean, unless your taking credit for when you write truth and giving God glory for when Paul writes it.

        Like

      8. “So I’m still not seeing a difference with a distinction bw your writing a spiritually appraised truth and Pauls.” After mentioning 1 Cor 2:14, ”

        “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.”

        Oh, maybe I see it now. You are misunderstanding 1 Cor. 2:14 apparently. This silly says that the unsaved person cannot discern spiritual truths spiritually. The gospel is foolishness to him. He may can understand a spiritual truth in an intellectual sense, but the spiritual reality does not get through to him since he has not the Spirit of God.

        “You keep using the word “direct” as if the true spiritual truths you’re writing go through some extra step after leaving the mind of God, but with Paul it was a different?” No, no. The direct action of God such that Paul wrote for canonicity was as I said, direct action by God on Paul. What I write is NOT direct action by God such that I type exactly what He intends me to write. Nevertheless, I do nothing which falls outside His control.

        So, I repeat:

        “Ok, so chance and luck. And what about the Billy Graham quote which he based on scripture? “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5)

        Do you have an alternative idea on this scripture?”

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Not sure how your comments on 1 Cor 2 changes anything. You ARE a regenerate person thus isn’t the Spirit helping you understand truth? You’re not taking credit for your understanding and writing of truth shown to you by God, are you?

        Again I see no difference between being under God control and the “direct action” for any practical purposes. It’s all from God and of God. You’re just using different verbiage.

        Like

      10. Sorry if you can’t understand the difference in the writings of say, Paul, and my writings. I probably do not do a good enough job explaining the difference.

        Now, as to my oft repeated two questions for you….

        Like

      11. I do understand the differences bw the two in our system, I’m asking you for something more than a semantical difference bw the two in your system. Both (your writings and Pauls) are fully under Gods control and given by God sovereignly on Calvinism. And both you and Paul were chosen before the world began and effectually saved. So…What’s the actual difference?

        I thought this was juvenile, Les? Yet still you’ve not provided any real distinctives which would set apart the apostolic authority of Paul in contrast with yourself.

        Like

      12. “I thought this was juvenile, Les?”

        You’re really hung up on that, huh? See it’s like when one of my five children, when younger, would say something I thought was juvenile. I would explain to them the real case. But they didn’t always understand my answer. The difference is they would never try to “taunt” me with, “hey dad I thought what I said was juvenile. And here you can’t even explain the true answer.”

        No, that response would in itself be juvenile.

        Now, I have answered you. You either refuse to believe what I am saying or you truly just don’t understand. But I have answered. And I will be happy to carry on more. BUT, after you have answered my now out repeated questions for you.

        So you have the floor.

        Like

      13. Les, I’m not taunting you by repeating your own statement back to you. You may be reading that tone into my reply, but it’s not meant to taunt. It is meant to stay on the point. The reason I engaged you here was to rebuke that point by revealing that this question is far from “juvenile.” It’s a real argument that deserves a serious response rather than dismissive rhetoric and belittling.

        I often repeat a phrase to keep the discussion on track rather than chasing the rabbit into a discussion about Job.

        BTW, Job was rebuked for blaming everything on God and accusing God of injustice, remember?

        “Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know; for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job has said, ‘I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’

        For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.’ “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world? (‭Job‬ ‭34‬:‭2-6, 9-13‬ ESV)

        While we have no problem speaking of God setting limits on us and the span of our lives, that says nothing of God decreeing moral evil, as the rebuke above clearly states. You may not want to base your theology on the words of someone in the midst of great suffering who is rebuked for blaming God for injustice…just saying 🙂

        Blessing Les. Got to run.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. The discussion about Job is germaine. As is the question about luck or chance. So, if you can just answer the following:

        “do you believe in such things as chance and luck?”

        and, on Job’s statement, do you believe that God has numbered our days on this earth? Or, is He a) not knowledgable of the exact time we will die or b) He knows but has zero control over the exact time we will die?

        These questions are certainly germaine to your issues of whether God is in control of all things or not.

        Thanks in advance.

        Like

      15. Leighton, are you intending to come back to this?

        ““do you believe in such things as chance and luck?”

        and, on Job’s statement, do you believe that God has numbered our days on this earth? Or, is He a) not knowledgable of the exact time we will die or b) He knows but has zero control over the exact time we will die?

        These questions are certainly germaine to your issues of whether God is in control of all things or not.

        Thanks in advance.”

        Like

      16. Since his days are determined,
        The number of his months is with You;
        And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.
        6“Turn Your gaze from him that he may rest,
        Until he fulfills his day like a hired man.

        Les, you are reading this verse in typical Calvinist fashion. Job doesn’t necessarily mean by these words what you are trying to make him say. Isn’t in possible that Job is simply saying that man is not immortal, but that we are limited by our mortality, which is God’s doing, in the general sense? We cannot live on and on as long as we like, but are limited by God to live a span of life that is relatively short, and then we will die physically. This verse is not necessarily talking about each person’s literal span of life. If we took every verse in the Bible, especially in a poetic book like Job, and applied the literal wooden sense to it, we would get completely out of whack. Calvinists don’t do this to every verse, so why do it to this one? I don’t need a response from you. I’m mostly writing this for others who might be open to it. I’m not saying you are definitely wrong about this verse, but I don’t think you can use it to prove Calvinist determinism, because it’s quite possible you are misapplying it.

        Like

      17. Leighton, I’ll try again.

        “Leighton, are you intending to come back to this?

        ““do you believe in such things as chance and luck?”

        and, on Job’s statement, do you believe that God has numbered our days on this earth? Or, is He a) not knowledgable of the exact time we will die or b) He knows but has zero control over the exact time we will die?

        These questions are certainly germaine to your issues of whether God is in control of all things or not.

        Thanks in advance.”

        if you don’t intend to respond with answers, please at least say so. Thanks brother.

        Like

    1. Let’s take the mosquito for example. That God controls all things does not mean God DOES all things. He made the mosquito. Mosquitos do what they do–they bite people and suck their blood. God doesn’t manipulate the mosquito to force him to do his thing. He does his thing according to how he was created. But rest assured, if God knows that a man will eventually die in a car wreck on certain day at certain time (and He does know such since He knows all things) then said man will not contract malaria 20 years prior to that and die from it. In fact, even if in a serious wreck 10 years prior, God will ensure that he will not die in that wreck. Or that an intruder will enter his house and shoot him. And on and on.

      Billy Graham knows this stuff: “When we will die is not a matter of accident or chance; the Bible makes it clear that our lives are in God’s hands. He knows the time of our death, and He has even appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5).” Billy Graham

      Like

      1. Les wrote, “Let’s take the mosquito for example. That God controls all things does not mean God DOES all things. He made the mosquito. Mosquitos do what they do–they bite people and suck their blood. God doesn’t manipulate the mosquito to force him to do his thing. He does his thing according to how he was created.”

        Yet, I have quotes from Piper saying God meticulously controls dust particles…

        “Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins? Yes. There’s a great quote from Spurgeon about dust motes. You may not even know what a dust mote is, but when I get up in the morning in my room, there’s a window to the side of the bed, and a beam of light will be shining through it at certain times of the year when I get it. Now when I look through the dark I see nothing. But when I look through the beam I see the dust in the room. It’s flying around, and I say, “I’m breathing that stuff!?” Yes, you are. And Spurgeon says that every one of those particles is keeping its position and moving through the air by God’s appointment.” – John Piper

        Les, your opening statement quoted above goes more along with our view, as Tozer is quoted saying:

        “God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

        Do you still think this is a simple answer that is beneath my intelligence, Les? Come now…

        Like

      2. Well I don’t speak for Piper, Tozer or anyone else. I am confessional. WCF. I think what I have stated before and certainly imply here is in line with God’s decree as outlined in the WCF.

        As to philosophy, of course we use it and logic etc. But at the end of the day scripture must trump and be consistent…or rather our philosophy, logic etc. must square with scripture. In the case of 1st and second causes, IMHO they do.

        Like

      3. I’m addressing you quip about this being juvenile, Les. The fact that there are educated and notable Calvinists promoting these views debunks your notion that this is beneath the need to be addressed.

        Of course scripture trumps all philosophy… that’s a given.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “I’m addressing you quip about this being juvenile, Les.”

        As I said on my first comment, I think you are way smarter than what you’re trying to say in this post…”If you answered all of these questions in the affirmative, as a consistent Calvinist must, then what sets apart Piper’s writings from that of the Apostle Paul’s?

        The Calvinist may say, “Well, the Apostle Paul’s writings were divinely inspired and Piper’s were not.”

        Ok. So, what is the difference between true statements that were inspired by God in the scriptures, and true statements that were sovereignly decreed to be written by God in a book brought about by His own sovereign will?”

        What sets Piper’s writings apart? Inspiration by the Holy Spirit. You are trying to say that essentially God wrote Piper’s book. And that is ridiculous and a juvenile attempt to undermine Calvinism. I and not saying YOU are juvenile. You’re not. There are more sophisticated arguments you can make than trying this one. That’s all I’m saying.

        Ok, so chance and luck. And what about the Billy Graham quote which he based on scripture? “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5)

        Do you have an alternative idea on this scripture?

        Like

      5. Hi Deborah,

        “it seems like your allegiance to the confession you speak of is stronger than it should be.”

        How so? I certainly do not see the confession and catechisms on par or above scripture.

        Like

      6. It seemed like you were using it as an escape instead of just admitting Leighton had a point when he mentioned John Piper’s words — and John Piper is just following the theology of John Calvin himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I don’t know why you remain in the Calvinist camp if you don’t agree with John Calvin. If you argue things along the lines of Tozer, just give up your allegiance to Calvinist theology already. 🙂

        Like

      8. Deborah,

        “It seemed like you were using it as an escape instead of just admitting Leighton had a point when he mentioned John Piper’s words — and John Piper is just following the theology of John Calvin himself.”

        No, Leighton didn’t have a valid point. When talking about Reformed theology it only makes sense to ascertain what Reformed theology teaches via Reformed confessions, such as the WCF. Everyone has a confession you hold to, even you.

        “I don’t know why you remain in the Calvinist camp if you don’t agree with John Calvin. If you argue things along the lines of Tozer, just give up your allegiance to Calvinist theology already. :)”

        My standards as a confession, the theological standards to which I adhere, are the WCF and catechisms. Not The Institutes. Having said that, I agree with very much of what Calvin wrote. And to the extent which Tozer stumbled onto the Reformed theology and happens to agree with me, well that’s a good thing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Hi Les,
        Would you be so kind as to tell me what Calvin believed or wrote that you would DIS-agree with?
        Thanks!

        Like

      10. Hi Deborah. I am a postmillennial on eschatology and as best I can tell Calvin was millennial.

        On Piper, “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.” I do not disagree with Piper on this.

        Like

      11. Deborah. I said pretty clearly, “On Piper, “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.” I do not disagree with Piper on this.”

        On Calvin, no.

        But Deborah, what are you fishing for?

        Like

      12. On Calvin, you are saying you agree with him on everything else besides eschatology? Is there anything else you disagree with Calvin on?

        Like

      13. Deborah,

        To whatever extent his statement agrees, and I cannot be sure it does, with WCF: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” Then I agree.

        It is not clear that his statement from his sermon agrees with my confessional view. So since my theology is not based on Piper, that’s as far as I will go. I confess that the WCF is the best human statement on what the bible teaches. I do not confess that Piper’s stated views are the best representation of what scripture teaches.

        On other areas where I may disagree with Calvin, well you’ll need to just start asking specifics. I really have no interest in me laying out for you where I may disagree with Calvin…just to satisfy your curiosity.

        Like

      14. Thanks, Les. When the confession says that God has unchangeably decreed whatever comes to pass, does that mean for you that God ordained simply the nature of beings (mosquitoes, for example, acting according to their nature,as you stated above) or does that mean for you that God has preordained every single act of every creature (mosquitoes, for example, acting EVERY TIME exactly as God has preordained, meaning that every little thing they do, including everything they bite, every time, has been preordained by God to happen exactly that way)? I ask this because these are two different concepts, and it’s easy to see the difference. In the first case, God ordained some things (the nature of a being) and left some things free (where the mosquito flies, who it bites, etc.) In the second case, God preordained everything — nothing is left free, nothing left open — and the mosquito is only acting out a previously written script. In the second case, there is no freedom at all, not for any molecule in this universe.
        The reason I’m asking you about your agreement with Calvin, is because Calvin clearly believed in the latter scenario — just like John Piper talked about with the dust motes.
        What exactly is it that you believe? If you believe in what you wrote before (mosquitoes acting freely according to their nature), then you must admit you disagree with Calvin and agree more with the likes of Tozer. Which leaves you LESS reformed, and finds you stumbling more into Tozer’s way of thinking than it does Tozer stumbling onto reformed ways of thinking.

        Like

      15. Deborah,

        To use the mosquito as an example, I believe that God ordains all things and that includes when and who the mosq bites. This is necessarily so since God knows all things that will ever occur and He knows them perfectly. Therefore all things are undoubtedly fixed. Events cannot happen which God did not know would happen. He cannot be surprised and have to adjust other events to account for a surprise event. If He knows all things that will occur and exactly how they will occur and when they will occur, then that is exactly how and when they will occur.

        Now does He also incorporate into all these events and actions the human will? Absolutely. The arrest and crucifixion or Jesus is but one example of God ordaining exactly every detail and using human actions and motives to accomplish exactly what He ordained to happen.

        This is compatibalism. His decree of all things is compatible with human agency. Both are clearly taught in scripture. And I might add, that these seem hard to understand to our human minds is not surprising. An example of such hard to understand things is the writing of what we hold as holy scripture. Who actually wrote Ephesians? God? Paul? The answer is yes. Paul, with all his unique training and personality and style wrote a letter. But he wrote EXACTLY what God ordained that he write. Explain that? hard to do.

        Dr. John Dick, a Scottish minister, said about in his Lectures on Theology on this very subject,

        “”Upon such a subject, no man should be ashamed to acknowledge his ignorance. We are not required to reconcile the divine decrees and human liberty. It is enough to know that God has decreed all things which come to pass, and that men are answerable for their actions. Of both these truths we are assured by the Scriptures; and the latter is confirmed by the testimony of conscience. We feel that, although not independent upon God, we are free; so that we excuse ourselves when we have done our duty, and accuse ourselves when we have neglected it. Sentiments of approbation and disapprobation, in reference to our own conduct or that of other men, would have no existence in our minds if we believed that men are necessary agents. But the tie which connects the divine decrees and human liberty is invisible. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high, we cannot attain unto it.'”–Ps. cxxxix. 6.”

        Now some are quick to accuse us of the Reformed faith of bailing out to mystery. To which on some subjects I plead guilty. Dr. Dick when on to say,

        “If everything in religion were level to the comprehension of reason, there would be no room for faith. It is better to believe humbly, than to reason presumptuously.”

        Like

      16. Les, this is really simple. Just read the quote Leighton offered by Piper, where Piper quotes Spurgeon, and state clearly that you agree with Piper or not.

        Like

      17. Oh and Deborah, you wrote, “Which leaves you LESS reformed, and finds you stumbling more into Tozer’s way of thinking than it does Tozer stumbling onto reformed ways of thinking.”

        I don’t think so. Tower may have swerved into some Reformed thinking at places.

        Like

      18. Deborah,

        My views may or may not agree with Piper’s views in some areas. He is not my standard. I really am curious why you feel so pressed to make me take a position on Piper’s statement. I am not biting. I have no interest in analyzing his statement. I just don’t care. I like Piper and have read some of his writings and listened to a few sermons. All years ago. I am not a Piper fan. I agree with him on some things and not on other things. So, I reiterate my earlier response to you:

        “To whatever extent his statement agrees, and I cannot be sure it does, with WCF: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” Then I agree.”

        But without talking to Piper personally, I cannot ascertain if his wording is consistent with my confessional position.

        Now, any response from you to my most previous at MARCH 23, 2016 AT 2:29 PM (times are obviously off).

        Like

      19. Les, you are as slippery as a politician. Forget about Piper then. Let’s talk about your views. It turns my stomach to read what you wrote about the mosquito doing “what it was created to do” and yet trying to make the ridiculous implication that God cannot be blamed for what it does. You wrote, “Just because God controls all things, doesn’t mean God DOES all things.” But for goodness sake, it’s like beating a dead horse here! If God is the Creator, and He creates all beings with the exact nature He wants, so that they will carry out the demands of their natures, then God is responsible for what the created things do! How hard is that to get? If God created a person to be bad and to follow the sinful dictates of his heart so that God could be glorified by his damnation (Calvin), how the heck is God not to be blamed for that person’s sin? It is absolutely ridiculous. You write, “he (the mosquito) does his thing according to how he was created.” But GOD is the one who created it to do that! So God is responsible, right? Now, when it comes to mosquitoes, I don’t believe that God created them to suck people’s blood. It’s only the female ones that do, probably to beef up for making babies, and they also drink fruit juice and other things. As we know from reading Genesis that people and animals were created vegetarians. The good created order did not allow for people eating animals, etc. Animals and mankind were given plants to eat. It wasn’t until after the Flood that people were given the OK on eating animals. I think that’s probably because the creation was altered (negatively) after the flood, and people were not going to be able to get enough nutrition from plants anymore. Same with animals, and animals have devolved from being peaceful creatures into enmity with each other. This creation was subjected to death, but one day it will be made new. It will be liberated from this present order where death and decay are prevalent. So no, God did not create mosquitoes to bite people and cause them harm through diseases, etc. And God did not predetermine that the vast majority of humankind would be created, as Calvin says, for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of carrying out their SINFUL NATURE UNTO DAMNATION. That is ABSURD. Those are my views.

        Like

      20. Deborah, here’s an idea. Why don’t you state YOUR theological positions on predestination and foreordination and whether of not God is in control of all things that occur?

        Like

      21. Deborah,

        (1) You’re employing a buck-stops-here view of responsibility. This doesn’t work with Scripture and is philosophically untenable. Responsibility is actually really complicated and multi-dimensioned; we’d like it to be simple, but it’s not. It is the case that God has superordinate — “top of the stack” — responsibility for absolutely everything that happens. But this is the case whether or not anything has libertarian free will, because God can always intervene as it suits his plans, and has so intervened. In other words, even with libertarian free will, absolutely everything that happens and sticks must be in accord with his net-will (even as it may displease him in time). If it weren’t, he’d prevent or undo it. You might say, “The reason he doesn’t always prevent/undo sin is because he has a confounding pleasure — the preservation of free will.” But such a reply is consonant with this thesis: Everything that happens and sticks must be in accord with his net-will, where net-will is “all of his interests, in time and over time, taken into account, including his desire to allow and his desire to redeem.” And so, even with libertarian free will — even under Open Theism! — if somebody sins, and God deliberately chooses not to functionally undo that sin, then he bears superordinate — “top of the stack” — responsibility for it. Theodicy must bear this load. Libertarian free will doesn’t help in any way.

        (2) You said you don’t believe God made mosquitos to suck blood. You said that, rather, these things were subjected to enmity/death/etc. But who subjected them? It turns out that God subjected them, deliberately, in response to the Fall. They didn’t subject themselves. Satan didn’t subject them. Rather, God subjected them as ancillary to the hope of redemption, like the pains of childbirth. That is, stuff fell into frustration as part of a plan to redeem it all. As Romans 8 says, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

        I am not a Calvinist. I agree that the idea of the majority of humankind being created for the express purpose of being damned forever is absurd. Romans 8 leads to Romans 9, but Romans 9 leads to Romans 10 and 11, and Romans 11 says that even the unelect are not necessarily beyond recovery. Many Calvinists, in my experience, start at ch. 9 and stop reading before ch. 11, even though chs. 9 through 11 are a single theodicy that shouldn’t be split-apart.

        For more about the complexity of responsibility, and how it interacts with issues of the Fall, Google “stanrock responsibility”.

        Like

      22. You are right, Stanrock, it is more complex. And I think I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Thanks. I know God subjected the world to decay in response to the Fall.

        Like

      23. Deborah,

        Forgive my delay in replying. Lots to do today for work.

        What you call being a slippery politician is simply me being very careful with my words. And for good reason. Not a few non Reformed folks have tried to take Reformed folks’ words and make them say something the Reformed person did not intend.

        With that said, there is no doubt that God is responsible in an ultimate sense. I think that is part of what Stan was getting at. But don’t forget that man fell from his first created existence and suffered the consequences of his rebellion to God. You certainly don’t want to blame God for man’s rebellion, do you? Creation suffered as well as Stan pointed out. So man is responsible for his lawlessness to this day and so is justly punished. And everyone ever born save one deserves that just punishment. Can’t blame God, right? But that is where grace comes in. God gives grace to whom He wants to give grace according to His reasons and prerogative. Now I understand you don’t think that’s fair. But God is under no obligation to any person to grant grace. it wouldn’t be grace if He was obligated to give it, would it?

        And still, you think that it’s not fair for man to be born in a state of rebellion and hatred for God…and be justly deserving eternal punishment and then, of all things, NOT be chosen to receive God’s grace. You may say, “It’s not the person’s fault!” Well yes it is. And God anticipated your reaction. he says,

        “14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

        19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

        So there you have my view as well.

        God bless you.

        Like

      24. Les, forgive me, but your tone placing yourself as the teacher and me as the student is irritating to me, because I used to stand around in my neat little Calvinist Sunday School circles, saying just the same thing, and citing just the same Scriptures. But there may be a better explanation for those Scriptures, and I think Leighton does a good job of explaining them, so I’m not going to add to it here. After being a Calvinist for 20+ years, I finally decided to give the other “side” an ear, and guess what, they made more sense. I used to stand behind the confessions and catechisms, too, by the way, and I used to think that if a person wasn’t a Calvinist, they either didn’t understand Calvinism (how arrogant of me), or they were stubbornly refusing to accept the truth (also arrogant).
        Anyway, regarding God being ultimately responsible, etc. The way I see it is something like what Tozer has written, that God always gets His way, since the buck really DOES stop with Him, no matter which way humans choose. He gets His way, in the end, because He determines the consequences of the actions of humankind. That is, He puts before humans a clear choice: obedience or disobedience, blessing or cursing. God doesn’t determine the choice. But He does determine the outcome. If people obey, blessing. If they disobey, cursing. If people disobey, God wins, because He will bring the consequences of their sin upon their own heads. If people obey, God wins, because He will bring them blessings. The Good News is that Christ has obeyed God for all mankind as a free gift. But the choice to accept the gift is still left up to them. So now, God will get His way: those who reject the free gift, will suffer eternal separation from God. Those who accept the gift, Eternal Life. Either way, God’s WILL is done. But obviously, God prefers that the wicked turn, and He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they would turn, and live. Man’s sinful condition means that we cannot live up to the standard of holiness that God requires, and that is where Jesus comes in. But man’s sinful condition does NOT mean that fallen man is unable to hear, turn, and live. I used to believe that, but it is not held up by Scripture. You might think that you have Scriptures to prove it, but you might take a second look at them. So to conclude, God gets His Way, but not always His Preference. The choice He leaves up to men.

        Liked by 1 person

      25. Deborah,

        You need not ask for forgiveness. Apparently I have come across in a way I did not intend. In no way was I or am I seeing myself as the teacher and you the pupil. I certainly have not intended to convey that you don’t “understand Calvinism” or are “stubbornly refusing to accept the truth.” So please forgive me because I have offended you in those ways. That was not my intent.

        So in the end, we disagree. I choose to believe that you are a sincere believer in Jesus and love Him and desire to serve Him with all your heart. Many blessings to you.

        Like

      26. Les wrote, “God doesn’t manipulate the mosquito to force him to do his thing. He does his thing according to how he was created.”

        Just a technical note. God created mosquitoes to live in perfect harmony with Adam and Eve and their children. No mosquito ever thought of biting Adam in the garden Then Adam sinned and even the world was affected. The mosquito was corrupted, subject to mutation, and became a nuisance and even a danger as we have come to known it today. God does not make the mosquito do its thing. However, God does have the mosquito on a leash and it behooves us to ask God for protection from the pesky mosquito in a world of malaria and zika.

        Like

      27. rhutchin,

        Your comments at MARCH 27, 2016 AT 2:09 PM are right. I didn’t see the need at the time to add the details you added. But you are correct. I only wish Leighton had not backed out of this conversation before answering my questions.

        Like

  4. “Unless you think that God micromanages all of those deterministic-but-chaotic things.”
    If he doesn’t, then according to Calvinists like Sproul, he is not God.

    I’ve asked this question and never got a satisfactory answer: ‘If God pre-determines everything, what is a miracle?’ Either everything is a miracle or nothing is, if God is actively controlling every molecule at all times. You can’t have a miracle as a disruption in the natural order in a deterministic universe, because it too would be directly controlled by God in the same way everything else is, so there would be no such thing as a natural order.

    How does adding another domino in the chain of causation make a difference? Are Piper’s writings then slightly less inspired then Paul’s because God didn’t blind him with a bright light?

    Like

  5. BTW Leighton, I’m a theology geek too, and there aren’t too many women in that camp, that’s for sure. (Referring back to a recent podcast.). I completely get what you were talking about when it comes to being lost in conversation with people. I’m grateful to find others who are theology geeks too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Leighton: You mentioned the quote from Piper….

    “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.”[3]

    Do you believe that is a true statement?
    Was that statement written by a man set apart for effectual calling before birth?
    Was that statement brought about by God’s sovereign decree?
    Did Piper come up with this statement alone or did it ultimately come from God?

    As you note, this comes from one of his online ‘sermons’ and he starts with a typical bit of misdirection. I mention this because it is the way magicians ply their trade. On occasions they may even explain that they are misdirecting the audience which seems to work even better. 🙂 They love the fact they are being fooled, as do Piper’s listeners!

    So Piper starts with the misdirection and states: “The problem is that, at the heart of that answer is God’s self-promotion. God created the world for his own praise. For his own glory. ” He then follows up with …. “So people see this as a problem — that God created the world for his own praise. They think such self-exaltation would be immoral and loveless. That may be how you feel.”

    What Piper has done is to con his audience from the beginning, forcing them into making a decision. Do they think God is immoral and loveless or not and if not, then his self-promotion must OK too! But the truth of the matter is, there is no such decision to be made. God has never said that he is self-seeking and looking for praise for himself. Neither is there any justification for setting this against questioning the morality or love of God! Further more and perhaps more to the point, Piper has never come up with scriptural backing for making the claim that God is at all self-seeking. The reason being that He isn’t. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost because of God’s great love for us. There’s God’s motive. There’s the heart of God. God doesn’t have a secret agenda in which he ‘desires to save’ mankind because it makes Him look really glorious! To say otherwise, is to call God’s integrity into question, which of course Piper does (shock horror) although not directly. Instead of backing up his assertion he leaves it hanging in the air and blithely proceeds with an ‘assumed close’ (that’s the salesman coming out) that his claim has been established. It hasn’t! The “Desiring God” brand has set its stall out and denies that God desires ALL men everywhere to be saved. How utterly inglorious is that!

    Although many people ‘adore’ this quote from Piper, I see it as a prime example of his trade. He is the archetypal snake oil salesman selling half truths through pithy sayings which which amount to nothing much really. I hope this isn’t too juvenile a comment for you. At times I see remarks made by some who appear to have the intellectual capacity of that metaphorical gnat who was of course only a secondary cause of irritation! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It doesn’t just apply to truth, but to lies, as well… If God is the original source of everything that comes out of people’s mouths… He’s the one who “sovereignly” decreed everyone’s words “for His own glory…” then who’s REALLY the “father of lies”?

    Like

  8. Pastor Flowers asks, “…what is the difference between true statements that were inspired by God in the scriptures, and true statements that were sovereignly decreed to be written by God in a book brought about by His own sovereign will?”

    The Scriptures contain truth that was written by men as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. God, using the distinct education, experiences, and writing styles of certain men whom He chose for that purpose, moved them to write specific truths about Himself/Christ/Salvation.

    James exhorts those who lack wisdom to ask God for wisdom. With such wisdom, men also write truth as derived from rules of logic, or discerned from the scriptures. or through scientific experiment, or other means attributed to the ability of people to think. Such truths, God has prepared for men to discover through their own efforts. Men have discovered much truth using the abilities God has endowed all people and in many cases, using wisdom He provides when they ask for such.

    We can distinguish between those truths that God moved men to write (the Scriptures) and those truths that men have discovered using the mind and intelligence that God has given them. Thus, Piper says, “God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him.” Is this true? To determine whether such is true, we investigate the Scriptures to see if it is so.

    Overshadowing all of this is a sovereign God who knew before He created the world all that would happen in that world and in creating that world, God thereby ordained and decreed that all should come about in full agreement with His knowledge. Thus, the wisdom of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Calvin, Tozer, Sproul, Piper and others and all that they would discover form the Scriptures and from the world that God gave them to explore were known to God before He created the world. Nothing that has happened, is happening, or will happen that was not already written in God’s mind and part of His knowledge before He created the world.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s