Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

SOTERIOLOGY 101

Does not the insistence of the need for a “prevenient” (prior) working of enabling (or irresistible) grace assume that the gospel revelation itself is not sufficiently gracious and enabling?

  • Why do so many seem to presume the Holy Spirit’s inspired truth, preserved in the scriptures and carried by the Holy Spirit led Bride of Christ is not sufficient to enable the lost to respond willingly to it’s appeals?
  • Why should we accept the far-fetched claim that mankind is born able to place their trust in the claims of the Koran but not the Bible?
  • Does it make much sense to teach that mankind is born in a kind of fallen condition that makes them unable to even respond willingly to God’s own powerful and gracious appeals to be reconciled from that fallen condition?
  • Where does this presumption originate and why do so many seem to accept it without question?

First of all…

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37 thoughts on “Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

  1. “Does it make much sense to teach that mankind is born in a kind of fallen condition that makes them unable to even respond willingly to God’s own powerful and gracious appeals to be reconciled from that fallen condition?”

    Yes, John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

    “Where does this presumption originate and why do so many seem to accept it without question?”

    It is not presumption, but based simply on John 3:3, one can not even perceive that the kingdom of God is real, therefore they cannot understand what the Gospel is.

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    1. Also, God made a blind little baby in a woman’s womb and later sent His son to give Him sight? Why, to glorify His mercy, compassion, kindness, etc. Same thing for every man he enables to see by causing him to be born again.

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    2. You are in error in thinking that John 3:3 supports your line of thinking. It does not. The word used for ‘see’ does not carry the meaning of see as in intellectual or spiritual perception. Instead the word means to ‘experience’ the kingdom of God.

      So it is a presumption on your part….. and an incorrect one at that!

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      1. barker’s woof writes, “The word used for ‘see’ does not carry the meaning of see as in intellectual or spiritual perception. Instead the word means to ‘experience’ the kingdom of God.”

        The word has a wide range of meaning and is not restricted as you want people to believe. You need to be able to argue that the restricted sense is what is intended. Can you provide a source for your position – something more than your personal opinion?

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      2. When you can demonstrate that the “wide range of meaning” for the word ‘see’ is applicable in the case of John 3:3 you might have a case. But you don’t have a case ….. do you! Put quite simply, you ask for something from others which you yourself are unable to give. It’s quite revealing really. Can you provide a source for your position – something more than your personal opinion? I thought not.

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      3. barker’s woof writes, “When you can demonstrate that the “wide range of meaning” for the word ‘see’ is applicable in the case of John 3:3 you might have a case. But you don’t have a case ….. do you!”

        I do. The meaning of a word is determined by its use across the literature. This word is used throughout the gospels in a variety of ways many of which are easily discerned by context. This is the default position from which we all start. When we come to John 3:3, the context and meaning of “see” is disputed; you have one opinion; another person has a different opinion. It is, therefore, incumbent on any person seeking to exegete John 3:3 to sort out the meaning of “see” in John 3:3. You have offered your opinion that the context of John 3:3 requires that “see” be taken in the context of “experience.” You are entitled to an opinion as well as any one else is to theirs. The issue, now, is whether you can exegete the verse properly and demonstrate that your opinion rises to the level of truth. Can you (or cite someone who has done the necessary exegesis)?

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      4. You have not carried out any exegesis on this verse. You have made an unsubstantiated claim that the word ‘see’ means to perceive. The correct meaning and context is given in Thayers Lexicon but you have been told this before. But this doesn’t fit your eisegesis does it! Again you ask things of people which you can’t deliver yourself !

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      5. barker’s woof writes, “You have not carried out any exegesis on this verse. You have made an unsubstantiated claim that the word ‘see’ means to perceive.”

        I made no claim. I challenged your claim.

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      6. You confirm yet again that you are a complete time waster. This is Leighton’s blog so he is welcome to run it how he sees fit but I notice the lack of serious minded input from others. Your response is little more than childish tit for tat. I will have no part in it.

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      7. barker’s woof writes, “Your response is little more than childish tit for tat. I will have no part in it.”

        In other words, you have not done the exegesis to support your claim about John 3:3 and cannot continue a defense of your view.

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      8. You have quite a problem, is not hearing the preaching of the Gospel, experiencing the kingdom of God? Just like an ambassador of a kingdom coming to another ambassador to proclaim a message to him, that man experienced the operation of that kingdom.

        Therefore, you are saying one cannot experience the preaching of the Gospel without being born again.

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      9. Matthew 12:28
        But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

        Did the Pharisees experience the kingdom of God?

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      10. Whatever. My case was made and it is true. Your lack of defense proves, in part, how incapable one is to make a positive case for an interpretation other than what I said.

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      11. That’s exactly your problem. You haven’t made a case at all. You’ve simply assumed a default position. Having failed to do more than this, you then begin to employ diversionary tactics such as what does ‘experience’ mean. Give me strength! If you can show that the word ‘see’ as used in John 3:3 has the meaning of perceive, fine go ahead. But unless you can come up with something concrete in the way of support, I cannot see the point in engaging in further discussion. Experience has definitely shown me that at least!

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  2. Pastor Flowers writes, “you have to affirm that God (for some unknown reason) decided to punish all of us for the sin of Adam by making us all innately incapable of responding willingly to His own word unless He actively did something to make us able again. Does that make any rational sense if viewed objectively?”

    Calvin called this the “horrible decree.” It makes no sense to us, but to God, it does make sense. We see God creating a world knowing there will be people that He will cast into “outer darkness.” God creates a man and women and puts them into a garden to take care of it. Then God loosens His restraint on Satan so that Satan can roam the garden and tempt Eve who, in turn, will get Adam to eat the fruit. By his sin, Adam gains physical death and his descendants also die. Adam is separated from God being expelled from the garden and now needs a savior to restore his relationship with God. Adam’s children are denied entry back into the garden being tainted by Adam’s sin so that they now need a savior, too.

    To our feeble human minds, none of this makes sense. We trust God who with omniscient knowledge and infinite understanding decreed all in perfect wisdom. Of Christ we read, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” and

    “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:’You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” and

    “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.” and

    “God made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” and

    “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”

    Are we not as Job, “The LORD said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you?”

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  3. reminds me of the Jimi Hendrix album: Are You Experienced ? ….have you heard…have you seen…have you lived a lifestyle…have done worldly things ? it seems one or more can be true without conflict of logic.

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  4. Is RHUTCHIN’S purpose in life to attempt to refute everything posted on this site? I’m all for your right to disagree and express your opinion, but when all you do is consistently attempt to rebut each and every article that doesn’t affirm the erroneous Calvinistic interpretation of soteriology, it reeks of insecurity in your own beliefs….

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    1. WeArentAllPelagians,

      Interesting name that you post as. You wrote:

      “Is RHUTCHIN’S purpose in life to attempt to refute everything posted on this site? I’m all for your right to disagree and express your opinion, but when all you do is consistently attempt to rebut each and every article that doesn’t affirm the erroneous Calvinistic interpretation of soteriology, it reeks of insecurity in your own beliefs….”

      I have said in the past and gotten one person extremely upset (the guy who posts as “Phillip”) that rhutchin seems to act like a calvinist troll at times. Phillip for whatever reason doesn’t want to acknowledge that, but here is yet another person who sees the same thing. Thankfully rhutchin no longer posts at SBC Today, so at least there you can get a break from his “attempt to refute everything posted on this site”.

      I agree with you that it’s fine to disagree and express your opinion. But with rhutchin it is much more than that, he will also add misrepresentations (e.g. he regularly claims that all non-Calvinists are Pelagians, that all non-Calvinists deny omniscience, that all non-Calvinists affirm universalism, etc. etc.). I am surprised that some see this happening over and over and yet they continue to engage him and get in these debates that go in circle after circle like dogs chasing their tails.

      I am also surprised that the Leighton Flowers allows this to continue here at this blog. Leighton writes some excellent and helpful articles: then rhutchin enters the picture and the water gets very muddy.

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      1. Robert writes, “he will also add misrepresentations (e.g. he regularly claims that all non-Calvinists are Pelagians, that all non-Calvinists deny omniscience, that all non-Calvinists affirm universalism, etc. etc.).”

        Non-Calvinist are famous for using Universalist and Pelagian arguments to describe their theological positions. This is because they don’t want to be associated with any particular theology but want to freely take from other theologies – sorta like a cafeteria approach to theology.

        What is Pelagianism famous for – the advancement of man’s free will in the process of salvation. Don’t we see most non-Calvinists jumping on this bandwagon in opposition to the Calvinist emphasis on the sovereignty of God? What is one of the foundational pillars of Calvinism – omniscience. If a person agrees that God is omniscient, he has nothing to argue against Calvinism. That is why non-Calvinists who say that God is omniscient will pretend that God is not really omniscient or have God neutralizing His omniscience in some manner to allow for the free will decisions of people. Kudos to Brain Wagner who figured this out and took a decidedly Open Theist, and consistent, approach in his theology.

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    2. Wearentallpelagians writes, “Is RHUTCHIN’S purpose in life to attempt to refute everything posted on this site?”

      Given my Calvinist leanings, that which I believe is generally opposite what others believe. I an sensitive to two situations: (1) the misrepresentation of the Calvinist position, and (2) the expression of a theological position, without support, just because they think it opposes Calvinism. A lot of comments do one of the other – thus, as you noticed, i get many opportunities to comment.

      Interesting to me is that I recently got banned from SBCToday because i accused a couple people of being Pelagian (mainly because they used Pelagian language on some positions). While they were highly insulted that I called them Pelagian, none of them was able to differentiate their position from Pelagianism. Given your online moniker, I wonder if you could differentiate your beliefs from Pelagian theology? Perhaps you will have the opportunity to do so in the give and take on this site. I have found that non-Calvinsts, in general, are good are attacking Calvinism (but don’t seem to know what Calvinism is all about) but never able to defend their own beliefs. Hope you are more adept.

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      1. Rhutchin writes:

        “Interesting to me is that I recently got banned from SBCToday because i accused a couple people of being Pelagian (mainly because they used Pelagian language on some positions). While they were highly insulted that I called them Pelagian, none of them was able to differentiate their position from Pelagianism.”

        It is true that rhutchin was recently banned from posting at SBC Today.

        Is it false that “none of them was able to differentiate their position from Pelagianism”. In fact multiple people did so and yet despite multiple direct warnings to stop calling non-Calvinists Pelagians to stop claiming they hold to Pelagian theology, he continued to do so and was banned. Multiple times in the thread rhutchin claimed that theology boils down to either calvinism or Pelagianism. This is false.

        Leighton if you read this you should seriously consider banning rhutchin from posting at this site as well. He continues to maintain the same false charge against non-Calvinists that we are Pelagians and hold to Pelagian theology. He keeps doing so and is completely unrepentant about it.

        [[Special Note for Phillip = Oh, and Phillip if you read this, why aren’t you outraged by rhutchin’s antics? He keeps making these false charges against Traditionalists and yet there is not a peep out of you about that. Phillip you have tried to have me banned from posting out of personal hatred on your part, but no similar attempts regarding rhutchin. While I at times disagree with folks, I do not engage in these false charges and misrepresentations of their theology. And regarding the few folks that I have suggested be banned it is not merely because of disagreement or their theology that leads me to the suggestion but that they repeatedly engage in behavior that appears to be what is commonly referred to as being an internet troll. Other people (even on this very thread) have also noted this behavior in regards to rhutchin.]]

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      2. Robert writes, “Multiple times in the thread rhutchin claimed that theology boils down to either calvinism or Pelagianism. This is false.”

        Ever since Augustine confronted Pelagius, the issue has been the free will of man vs the sovereignty of God in salvation. Traditionalists within the SBC like to differentiate themselves from Pelagians on tangential issues but on the issue of the free will of man, they are in lock-step with the Pelagians.

        So, Robert, how about you explaining your view of man’s role in salvation and describe how it differs from Pelagian free will theology? I suspect you can no more do it here than you could at SBCToday. Start contributing to the discussion.

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    3. These things can be seen in a humerus light. :-]

      It can certainly appear that most of the participants on this blog are occasional visitors, while certain others give the appearance of being here on military assignment, with orders from head-quarters to raise the leg on every fire-hydrant (i.e. every post) in the neighborhood, to ensure there is only one dominating territorial scent! :-]

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  5. “Why should we accept the far-fetched claim that mankind is born able to place their trust in the claims of the Koran but not the Bible?”

    Because of what the Bible teaches.

    “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
    ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    http://bible.com/59/2th.2.11-12.esv

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    1. Let’s look at the greater context in the passage cited by Hamrick

      9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,
      10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
      11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
      12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

      Look at v9-10: “…the lawless one…deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

      Then, v11, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion…”

      So, the initial condition is that the people are perishing because they do not love the truth – suggesting that they understand that truth and have willfully rejected it. It is these people to whom God sends a powerful delusion. What is the purpose of this delusion? Certainly not to prevent them believing in Christ since they have already rejected Christ (who is the truth).

      As Pastor Flowers has proposed elsewhere, God hardens some who have hardened themselves against the gospel. I think he may be right based on this verse. God’s purpose would be to make certain their judgment.

      The question posed by Pastor Flowers remains unanswered, “Why should we accept the far-fetched claim that mankind is born able to place their trust in the claims of the Koran but not the Bible?” If 2 Thessalonians addresses this question, perhaps Hamrick can explain how he thinks it does.

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      1. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servantsc for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

        It is not irrational to think that since the Bible teaches that the heart is so wicked (Jer 17:9) and we have all gone our own way, and that we were in the domain of darkness (Col 1) and dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2), that people would seek evil (Islam, atheism, Mormonism, etc.) rather than the light. (And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19).

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      2. “It is not irrational to think that since the Bible teaches that the heart is so wicked (Jer 17:9) and we have all gone our own way,…”

        I agree.

        2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 describes an unique situation not related to this as it describes an action God takes in the Day of the Lord.

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  6. Rhutchin keeps making the false charge that Traditionalists and all other non-Calvinists are Pelagians who hold to Pelagian theology. This got him banned from posting at SBC Today (it should also get him banned here as well).

    Rhutchin’s new method, technique, way of arguing, whatever you want to call it (which he tried at SBC Today, it failed and he was banned for continuing to present it despite multiple warnings to stop) is to try to tie Traditionalists and other non-Calvinists to Pelagianism by noting the shared views on free will (i.e. Pelagians and Traditionalists and other non-Calvinists hold to libertarian free will). His reasoning then is: well if someone holds to LFW, they hold to the same view of free will as did the Pelagians, therefore they are actually Pelagians. This does not follow at all, because the controversy regarding Pelagius and Augustine was the necessity of grace.

    Augustine argued that a person could not be saved without grace, thus grace is necessary for a person to be saved. Pelagius argued that a person could be saved without grace. After Augustine believers then disagreed about whether or not this grace was resistible or irresistible (with calvinists arguing it is irresistible and non-Calvinists arguing it is resistible). But note both sides agreed that a person could not come to faith without grace. So the debate was between (1) grace is necessary (Augustine and others) versus (2) grace is not necessary (Pelagius and his followers).

    In church tradition the grace is necessary position won out over the Pelagian position. But it should be noted the debate was not on the nature of free will at all. The debate was on the nature of grace and whether or not grace was necessary
    .
    Rhutchin comes along and tries to recast this historical debate when he writes:

    “Ever since Augustine confronted Pelagius, the issue has been the free will of man vs the sovereignty of God in salvation.”

    No, that was not the issue, it was not free will versus the sovereignty of God, it was THE NECESSITY OF GRACE versus the non-necessity of grace.

    By recasting the debate as free will versus sovereignty, rhutchin then argues that calvinists hold to sovereignty while others (all non-Calvinists including SBC Traditionalists) hold to free will and so are “Pelagians”. This is does not at all accurately reflect the debate as it occurred in church history. Even the Catholic Church condemns Pelagian theology (and the Catholics do not condemn the libertarian free will view which is the view of free will that they hold, so in condemning Pelagianism as heresy they have not condemned the LFW view of free will). Those who know church history will immediately recognize that rhutchin is inventing history, reworking history so that he can argue against non-Calvinists. Traditionalists and other non-Calvinists are not Pelagians, and their holding to LFW on free will does not make them Pelagians. The Pelagian does not believe the grace of God is necessary, that a person can thus take the initiative and come to God on their own, completely apart from any grace from God. Orthodox Christians across the board have rejected Pelagian beliefs.

    Note rhutchin tries this new argument again when he writes:

    “Traditionalists within the SBC like to differentiate themselves from Pelagians on tangential issues but on the issue of the free will of man, they are in lock-step with the Pelagians.”

    Holding to LFW does not make a person “lock step with the Pelagians”.

    We could use this exact same argument against Calvinists (i.e. find some belief they have in common with Pelagians and then argue that since they do, they are Pelagians!!!). This is a ridiculous argument and anyone should be able to see the problems with it. Let’s show how this works with an example involving good works.

    The Pelagians believed that genuine believers should do good works, calvinists believe that genuine believers should do good works, does that then mean since calvinists share that particular belief with Pelagians that they are then in “lock step with the Pelagians”? No.

    “So, Robert, how about you explaining your view of man’s role in salvation and describe how it differs from Pelagian free will theology? I suspect you can no more do it here than you could at SBCToday. Start contributing to the discussion.”

    I am “contributing to the discussion” here by exposing for everyone to see how rhutchin is desperately trying to make all non-Calvinists into Pelagians holding to Pelagian theology: exposing his newest attempt to do so.

    Rhutchin keeps muddying the waters of discussions here with his false charges and intentional misrepresentations of what SBC Traditionalists and other non-Calvinists believe.

    A lot of time wasting occurs as others spend time correcting rhutchin’s false representations and false charges.

    Instead of discussing the issues that Leighton brings up, people are using valuable time correcting rhutchin’s false representations and false charges ( a person who does not care about accurately presenting the views of others as shown by his track record of constantly and repeatedly misrepresenting non-Calvinists/including Traditionalists as Pelagians holding to Pelagian theology. rhutchin desperately invents any argument he can come up with against the views of Leighton and other non-Calvinists here. As “WeArentAllPelagians” correctly noted earlier in this thread:

    ““Is RHUTCHIN’S purpose in life to attempt to refute everything posted on this site? I’m all for your right to disagree and express your opinion, but when all you do is consistently attempt to rebut each and every article that doesn’t affirm the erroneous Calvinistic interpretation of soteriology”.

    Just as he was banned from SBC Today for doing this with his false Pelagian charge, it might be good for him to be banned here as well.

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    1. Robert writes, “So the debate was between (1) grace is necessary (Augustine and others) versus (2) grace is not necessary (Pelagius and his followers).”

      I understand the argument to be (1) Grace alone and (2) Grace Plus.

      At the Council of Carthage in 418, Pelagainaism was labeled a heresy and two key canons in support of this action were the following:

      Canon 4 – “If any man says that this grace only helps not to sin, in so far that by it we obtain a better insight into the Divine commands, and learn what we should desire and avoid, but does not also give the power gladly to do and to fulfill what we have seen to be good, let him be anathema.”

      Canon 5 – “If any man says that the grace of justification was given us in order that we might the more easily fulfill that which we are bound to do by the power of free will, so that we could, even without grace, only not so easily, fulfill the Divine commands, let him be anathema.”

      These canons address (1) the Pelagian denial of Total Depravity (Total Inability) and (2) the grace plus free will response of man advocated by the Pelagians. A person is essentially Pelagian if he denies Total Inability (and the corresponding grace alone position) in favor of a free will position that calls for a cooperative effort between man and God for salvation – God provides the means whereby a person can be saved (sometimes described as a well-meant offer) and the person decides freely whether to accept God’s offer.

      I see the Traditionalist Statement laying out a basic Pelagian position.

      So, Robert, can you (or anyone else) explain how the Traditionalist position does not espouse a basic Pelagian theology?

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