John 6: The Drawing

The Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:39

Prior to Pentecost how did the Holy Spirit work in the lives of those who came to faith? Before Christ died and the Holy Spirit came down like fire, was He actively regenerating (effectually drawing) a preselected few as the Calvinists claim? Did the role of the Holy Spirit change in any way from the Old Testament times to the New Testament times with regard to soteriology?

In other words, was Enoch, Lot, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David and the rest of the Old Testament saint effectually regenerated by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the same way Calvinists suppose the elect are today?

Many Calvinists seem to speak very dogmatically about the meaning of John 6:44 when discussing soteriology with their non-Calvinistic brethren, but when speaking among themselves it appears Calvinists can be a bit more objective, as reflected here by John Piper’s response to a question about the role of the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost:

The relationship between the old covenant and the new covenant is complex and I do not have all the intricacies worked out yet. The work of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost is part of this problem…

 The hardest verses for me are John 14:16ff, “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another helper, that he may be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not behold him or know him, but you know him because he abides with you and will be in you.

 Also 7:39 is especially troublesome: “the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.” I’m not at all sure I understand John’s pneumatology (especially 20:22), but I suspect the key to it is found in the identification of the earthly Jesus with the Holy Spirit: “He is with you but will be in you” (14:17 cf. 6:63).

 Since the Spirit which Christians enjoy is known to be the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), perhaps John thinks it inappropriate to think of the Spirit in this sense as having come. Theologically I would ask who the agent is in accomplishing the “drawing” of 6:44 and the enabling of 6:65? Do we postulate that God the Father works directly without the agency of the Spirit? Or can we not suppose that the Spirit was redemptively at work during Christ’s earthly ministry and that the Spirit which has not yet come is that particular manifestation of the Spirit which will equip the apostles uniquely for calling to remembrance all things (14:26) and guiding into all truth (16:13)?

 These are just gropings. I do not have the problem of Johannine pneumatology solved. <link>

When responding to a fellow brother’s pressing question, Piper humbly admits his own confusion and even speculates about the unique role of the Holy Spirit with regard to guiding the apostles during His earthly ministry (which ironically sounds a lot like our interpretation of John 6…see HERE). Yet, when teaching the TULIP systematic, Piper dogmatically asserts,

In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This drawing is the sovereign [irresistible] work of grace without which none of us will be saved from our rebellion against God…. In other words, running straight through the Gospel of John is the truth that God the Father and God the Son decisively [irresistibly] draw people out of darkness into light. And Christ died for this. He was lifted up for this — that all of them might be [irresistibly] drawn to him — all the children, all the sheep, all who are of the truth, all those whom the Father gives to the Son. <link>

How can it be assumed that the Holy Spirit is effectually regenerating (i.e. “drawing”) preselected individuals prior to Christ’s death and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit?

The Traditionalist’s interpretation of John 6 does not have this problem because we do not assume that mankind lost the moral ability to willingly respond to God’s clear revelation due to the Fall, especially revelation brought by the Incarnate Word of God Himself! There would be nothing preventing the natural man from understanding and believing Jesus’ teachings from our perspective.

We believe that Jesus is only revealing His identity to His closest followers and hiding the truth from the rest (Mk 9:9; Mt. 16:20; Mt. 11:25). We understand that Jesus is using parabolic language to blind the self-righteous Jews of that day from recognizing Him as their long awaited Messiah (Mk 4:11-12, 35). That, and that alone, is the reason His Jewish audience was incapable of coming to Him in faith (John 12:39-41). There is absolutely no reason to believe that all of humanity are born morally incapable of coming due to some kind of incapacitated nature inherited from the Fall of Adam. That imposed doctrine creates Piper’s confusion and contradictions represented above.

If it is true that all people are born morally incapable of willingly responding in faith to God’s revelation, there would be absolutely no rational reason for Christ to use parabolic language in order to hide the truth from the Jews of his day, as reflected in the passages below:

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).

 “Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ” (Matt. 16:20)

But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was” (Mark 3:12).

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him” (Mark 8:30).

The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ …With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. (Mark 4:11-12; 33-34, emphasis added).

He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about JesusSome were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen! (Acts 28:23-28, emphasis added)

What would be the purpose of putting a blindfold on the corpse of Calvinism’s totally depraved reprobate?


  • Mark S. Kinzer, Post-Messianic Judiaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005), 129-130, 135, 152: “Whatever answer we give to this question [the question of judicial hardening], we know that Paul was convinced that God partially hardened Israel so that blessing might come to the nations of the world… Whereas a traditional reading of Romans 9-11 has seen the hardening of nonremnant Israel as exclusively punitive in nature, the texts we have been exploring point in another direction… Also building upon Hays, Harink makes the theological implication thoroughly explicit: ‘It is not possible to see Israel’s present hardening as its unique (but unknowing) participation in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…’ While in Pauline language, Israel has experienced a ‘partial hardening’ that temporarily prevents her from corporately embracing Yeshua-faith, she nevertheless remains a holy people, set apart for God and God’s purposes.”

75 thoughts on “John 6: The Drawing

  1. Good example of how some Calvinists, who honestly want not to be dogmatic with grammatically/contextually unclear Scriptures, cannot see or are not willing to test how grammatically/contextually unclear some Scriptures are that have been used for theological inference and extrapolation made into dogma by others who controlled institutional education and accreditation for centuries.

    It’s easier to be humble about unclear passages that haven’t been dogmatized by a prevailing ecclesiastical authority and harder to take a minority view that is more grammatically or contextually normal if it flies in face of that dogma. But what is even worse is letting loyalty to dogma based on inferences from unclear passages to overturn clear grammatical contextual meaning in other verses!

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  2. Loved this quote!! 😀

    Question:
    Why would a theology assert that God who is the epitome of rational perfection, would be so irrational as to put a blindfold on a corpse?

    Answer:
    It conforms to my narrative and that’s all that matters. Give me some time, and I’ll devise a dozen scripted answers and co-opt some bible verses to affirm it! I have a host of faithful followers who will believe and faithfully recite them. 😀

    Dr. Flowers,
    You must be familiar with the doctrine of “Divine Right of Kings”? And you may know that doctrine when popular, was defended by certain reformed theologians. Have you ever thought about the possibility….that doctrine works as a template for Calvin’s conceptions of God? It asserted that the person ( frequently an earthly king ) by virtue of being ordained by God, could not be held accountable to any human body of civil judgement. I call this doctrine the [divine right of unaccountably]. And see close parallels to Calvin’s conceptions of divine sovereignty in it.

    Throughout the human time-line there have been many “man-god” rulers. Pharaoh and many others. And in most of those systems, the ruler was often above human bodies of civil judgement, because he had divine authority from a deity. If its acceptable for an earthly ruler to have the [divine right of unaccountably], then certainly the deity has it as well. This perhaps informs us that Calvin’s conceptions of God were more anthropomorphic than not?

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    1. BR. I’m with you on this one. The whole concept of sovereignty as argued by the Reformed is essentially anthropomorphic. They have no concept of sovereignty outside the confines of an all powerful all knowing being who therefore must determine everything or else his status will be seen as somehow compromised. They must have ‘their’ God on steroids!

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      1. God on steroids! That is funny!! I’ll have to remember that one.

        It reminds of that joke concerning Calvin: “God made man in His image, and Calvin returned the favor”.

        We often find human belief systems work to paint themselves as Kata-Pneumatos ( Of the spirit), when in fact they are Kata-Sarka (Of the flesh), The strategy behind a religious group’s grandiose claims of superiority, is to always obfuscate the human element at work crafting the image……like the little man who has to hide himself behind the curtain in the wizard of ozz.

        Oh….that reminds me. It is well documented by experts on Egypt that one of the Egyptian priests tricks was to build statues of gods in which the mouth was designed on a hinge so that it could be moved. Below the statue, under ground, another priest would be moving the mouth of the statue, and another priest speaking up through the throat through a pipe. The priests did this to fool the simple minded people into believing the god was speaking…..thus the priests were religious scam artists.

        Its interesting that we see this model in Revelations….the beast makes the image speak. So here we have the model of man, crafting a deity and making it appear to be real, when hidden behind the curtain, a man is at work. The same trick is played in Calvinist arguments that their doctrine is bible based, while cleverly obfuscating the fact that scriptures are being subjected to human interpretations. The real underlying assertion there is that their interpretations are infallible. They want to present the appearance that the theology follows scripture while omitting the fact that scripture can be made to follow the theology. A common practice in the Christian time-line which follows the pattern of the Egyptian priest and his tricks. Blessings! :-]

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  3. Pastor Flowers asks, “Prior to Pentecost how did the Holy Spirit work in the lives of those who came to faith?”

    Here, we yield to Paul who writes, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.”

    Today, we preach Christ crucified (for sin) and resurrected (for justification). Prior to Christ’s death and resurrection, what does one preach? Basically, obedience to the law – manifested from a love of God. Regardless, it is God who reserves His elect then and now.

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  4. Pastor Flowers writes, “The Traditionalist’s interpretation of John 6 does not have this problem because we do not assume that mankind lost the moral ability to willingly respond to God’s clear revelation due to the Fall, especially revelation brought by the Incarnate Word of God Himself!”

    This is an instance where the Traditionalist statement is a little fuzzy. It says, “We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty (?) before he has personally sinned.”

    Why does this statement include the phrase, “before he has personally sinned.” As written, it implies that such incapacitation and person guilt does occur after the person has personally sinned. Why not just delete it and offer a clean statement as Pastor Flowers explains it (Pastor Flowers denies Total Depravity as it includes “incapacitation,” but I am not sure the Traditionalist statement wanted to go as far as this in its statement – thus the confusing addition of “…before he has personally sinned.”) Anyone know why the phrase, “…before he has personally sinned,” was added?

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  5. Overlooked in the misunderstood/misused “drawing” spoken of in John 6 is the clarifying verse which follows. “They shall all be taught by God.” The drawing spoke of was God educating people before Christ came by means of the scripture. Abraham told the rich man in Hell such scriptures were completely adequate for anyone’s salvation. And not to be overlooked, said scriptures always pointed to Christ, his sacrifice and His bodily resurrection as the means of redemption.

    So in John 6, all those instructed by the Father via the scriptures, come to Christ. Israel had the word of God sown and watered by the Prophets, and Jesus and his Apostles were enjoying the joy of the harvest (John 4). Many faithful Jews were simply waiting for Him to manifest Himself. Who can forget Godly Simeon holding the baby Jesus in his arms and praising God for “the salvation of Israel”? Luke 2

    Now people come to Christ in the church age because of Christ and the churches’ Gospel preaching. Many of these never heard the OT Prophets so it is not correct to say the Father drew them. They are drawn by the Holy Spirit, (often using NT scriptures) who is seeking a Bride for the Son of God. Like Abraham’s servant, He does so by extolling the riches of the Father and Son, and calling for a personal decision like Rebekah’s, who had to answer the question, “Will you go with this man?”

    The confusion of the Calvinist’ is largely scriptural but compounded by his reliance on philosophy and his disregard for dispensations.

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    1. Dennis Clough writes, “So in John 6, all those instructed by the Father via the scriptures, come to Christ. ”

      This is what the Calvinists say.

      The issue concerns those who do not come to Christ. Were they similarly instructed by God and if so, what accounts for them not coming to Christ?

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      1. I believe you missed a major point in my original statement. I said previous to Christ physical coming, God was at work teaching thru the Prophets, the need to trust Christ. So when He appeared, those who believed the scriptures came to Him. Then it must be obvious, people now come to Him because of His own “drawing” which does not rely on the OT Prophets but His death on the cross. As He said, “If I am lifted up (on the cross) I will draw all men to Me.” So the church continues to “draw” sinners, as we teach the meaning of Christ’s death on their behalf.

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      2. Dennis Clough writes, “I said previous to Christ physical coming, God was at work teaching thru the Prophets, the need to trust Christ. So when He appeared, those who believed the scriptures came to Him. Then it must be obvious, people now come to Him because of His own “drawing” which does not rely on the OT Prophets but His death on the cross. As He said, “If I am lifted up (on the cross) I will draw all men to Me.” So the church continues to “draw” sinners, as we teach the meaning of Christ’s death on their behalf.”

        This is essentially what the Calvinists say. The issue concerns those who do not come to Christ. Were they similarly drawn to Christ as the church preached the gospel and if so, what accounts for them not actually coming to Christ?

        The first issue that Calvinism deals with is to explain the illogical rejection of Christ by people. It should be impossible for rational, free people to reject Christ yet some seem to do so – how are we to understand this?

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    2. Hi Dennis,
      You are correct in an understanding that is commonly held within mainstream Christianity. That God, is sincerely interested in the salvation of all people, desires their salvation in a sincere manner, and attempts to draw them through the Holy Spirit.

      Of course you know, the Calvinist is completely committed to a different narrative. One in which God meticulously controls all things that come to pass. That concept of absolute and total control over every creature. Calvinists vary in their conception of the degree of control God exercises through Calvin’s decrees. Some say God “makes” but does not “cause” or “force” man to think say and do everything. Others say God “causes” but doesn’t “make”, or “force” man to think say and do everything. Others go the full measure and say God makes/causes/forces man to think say and do everything.

      So they differ in regard their conception of the TYPE of control God exercises. But they are all consistent with Calvin’s idea of God meticulously controlling man. So it makes sense to them that all are not saved because God wants that way. So the underlying and core philosophical conception,( as you point out) is that of God’s decrees controlling everything. That concept of meticulous control is the foundation and chief cornerstone of the system, which functions as the blueprint for the rest of the theology. So it functions like a real cornerstone would function where the rest of the house is plumbed and framed on top of it. All scripture is interpreted to conform to it. And all rationalizations no matter how logically inconsistent, are crafted to affirm it.

      There are many religious groups in the world that have an inordinate amount of control over the minds of their members. And as we learn more about such groups, we learn their members are 100% dedicated and have no ability to see the degree of mental conditioning they’ve been subjected too. Prayer and gentle reasoning, is a vital part of helping people in such a condition.

      Blessings!

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      1. Here is an excellent Calvinist quote regarding the conception of control:

        Calvinist; Dr. James N. Anderson, of the Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte NC, in his published work Calvinism and the first sin, states the underlying foundational concept of the system:

        “Take it for granted as something on which the vast majority of Calvinists uphold and may be expressed as the following: “For every event [E], God decided that [E] should happen and that decision alone was the ultimate sufficient cause of [E].”

        As already mentioned, Calvinists, each being individuals, have various ways of conceiving of how God achieves the type of control conceived. But all agree that the control is absolute and leaves no alternate possibilities for the creature, nor does it allow the creature to deviate from thoughts and actions which God, at the foundation of the world, designed for that creature to exhibit.

        So we can liken the creature in this sense to what civil law defines as an “instrument”. A gun, for example cannot all by itself kill someone. So in a court of law, culpability for the death would be attributed to the person who used the gun, and not the gun. The gun is defined as an “instrument” of the crime, and the person, the “Agent” of the crime. Similarly, in the Calvinistic conceptions, God is the sole “Agent” of everything a man thinks and does, while that man is the “instrument” whom God uses to carry out what God designs him to do.

        So based on that premise, it is logical for them to resolve that God designs people to hate and reject him, as a part of fulfilling their divine purpose, which irrevocably assigns their fate to eternal punishment. The various ways Calvinists can embrace that concept and still rationalize that God as Holy or loving, are so diverse and varied, it might take up a whole book. But Calvinism as a society has had centuries to refine the various rationalizations they have. And if you stick around here long enough, you’ll see them recited here.

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      2. br.d writes, “So we can liken the creature in this sense to what civil law defines as an “instrument”. …Similarly, in the Calvinistic conceptions, God is the sole “Agent” of everything a man thinks and does, while that man is the “instrument” whom God uses to carry out what God designs him to do.”

        Under Calvinism, a person can freely choose to kill someone unlike the gun that cannot do so. People are living, thinking beings who have been corrupted as a consequence of Adam’s sin. People are hostile to God and have no desire to obey Him. Thus, God is always in the position of having to restrain sinful people from doing the sin that they want to do. Thus, people are responsible fully for their actions – their only complaint is that God did not restrain them from sin enough and not that they did not want to do their sin and did not take pleasure in the sin that they freely chose to do.

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      3. “The different narrative is that God is omniscient and knows from the beginning those who will be saved and those who will be lost.”
        AND

        “Not exactly. It is God who controls everything because He is sovereign. God’s decrees are His decisions concerning how He will exercise His sovereign power in the control of His creation.”

        How foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that EVILS come to be, not by [GOD’s] His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them [EVILS], when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the ****AUTHOR**** of them…..(John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11)

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      4. br.d quotes Calvin, “How foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that EVILS come to be, not by [GOD’s] His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them [EVILS], when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the ****AUTHOR**** of them…..” (John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11)

        Of course, when Calvin says that God is the author of evil, he does not mean that God personally causes evil as in the case of sin. As God is sovereign over His creation, nothing can happen except by His decree (or else God is not sovereign). It is God who decreed that Satan not be restrained from entering the garden to tempt Eve. God was present observing all that happened. It was God who watched as Eve raised the fruit to her mouth to eat and it was God who had decreed that He would not intervene to prevent Eve eating the fruit. Thus, Calvin says that God is the author of sin because He is sovereign and sin cannot occur unless God decree it to be – that is decree that people should be free to sin willfully if that was their desire.

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      5. br.d writes, “You are correct in an understanding that is commonly held within mainstream Christianity. That God, is sincerely interested in the salvation of all people, desires their salvation in a sincere manner, and attempts to draw them through the Holy Spirit.

        Of course you know, the Calvinist is completely committed to a different narrative….”

        The different narrative is that God is omniscient and knows from the beginning those who will be saved and those who will be lost. As it is God who draws people to salvation, we can conclude that God does not desire the salvation of all people else He would save all people and would have known that He would do this from the beginning. br.d is promoting the idea that God is not omniscient and does not know the future and could not know those who would be saved and those who would be lost from the beginning.

        Then, “So the underlying and core philosophical conception,( as you point out) is that of God’s decrees controlling everything. ”

        Not exactly. It is God who controls everything because He is sovereign. God’s decrees are His decisions concerning how He will exercise His sovereign power in the control of His creation.

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  6. I believe their over-riding concept (which may parallel your “control” theory to some degree) is the Sovereignty of God. They will go all out to protect their concept of same as well as its implementation. They seem to be blind to the fact God’s Sovereignty is not threatened no matter how He employs it.

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    1. Dennis Clough writes, “They seem to be blind to the fact God’s Sovereignty is not threatened no matter how He employs it.”

      “…how He employs it.” is what it is all about. God, as sovereign, cannot do other than “employ” His sovereignty in one way or the other.

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      1. So God can decree salvation depends on faith in the scriptural Christ as the sole means of salvation without compromising His sovereignty. Of course, they do not believe this and insist on a choice made before time as the best way to express God’s Sovereingty.

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      2. Dennis Clough writes, “So God can decree salvation depends on faith in the scriptural Christ as the sole means of salvation without compromising His sovereignty.”

        If by “sole” means, you have in mind that response a person personally makes to the gospel. However, we know that the faith that a person needs to accept salvation is given to him by God – he is not born with that faith. Aside from that, God is intimately involved in bringing a person to salvation. John 6 speaks of God drawing a person to Christ, the Holy Spirit is involved in convicting a person of sin, etc. A person to whom God gives faith then naturally responds by accepting salvation.

        We know that God knew those who would accept salvation and those who would reject salvation when He created the world. We also know that those who would accept salvation would do so because of actions God would take to bring them to salvation. Those who were to reject salvation would do so because God passed them over and did not take those actions necessary to bring them to salvation. There is no other way to explain how some and not all people are saved.

        Then, “Of course, they do not believe this and insist on a choice made before time as the best way to express God’s Sovereingty.”

        Calvinists do believe that people make a faith response to the gospel, but they recognize that all people do not make the same response – a response that is essentially a no-brainer so that we should expect all people to accept the gospel. And of course, God is omniscient and did make choices in eternity past that are being played out in His creation over time.

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  7. “So God can decree salvation depends on faith in the scriptural Christ as the sole means of salvation without compromising His sovereignty. Of course, they do not believe this and insist on a choice made before time as the best way to express God’s Sovereignty.

    Dennis, can you unpack-age this a little more for me….I’m not quite catching all of the implications.
    Thanks
    br.d

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    1. OK, I will try. If we attach the “sovereignty of God” tag to any plan of salvation, it becomes valid in the minds of many. Sovereignty trumps reason in the minds of the Calvinists. Even Scriptural reasoning is eliminated in their doctrine in this manner. There is a good deal of huffing and puffing about God’s inscrutable ways and our inherent weaknesses accompanied by the assurance we’ll “understand better, by and by.”

      So all I am saying is the issue is not really God’s Sovereignty (a given) but rather what does the scripture say about salvation? In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul writes:”4 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” This verse is a favorite resource for the Calvinist, as it teaches the inability of the natural man to know the things of the Lord.

      However, it ignores the fact that the “things of the Lord” are not the same as knowing the Lord, or being saved in the first place. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 1-2 he FIRST preached only the Gospel to the Corinthians. Naturally, if any did not believe the Gospel, they remained unsaved and thus unable to discern “the things of the Lord”, i.e., deeper truths.

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      1. Dennis Clough writes, “Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 1-2 he FIRST preached only the Gospel to the Corinthians. Naturally, if any did not believe the Gospel, they remained unsaved and thus unable to discern “the things of the Lord”, i.e., deeper truths.”

        So, what does Paul write? “For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Here Paul says that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but power to those who are being saved. Paul recognizes that there are two types of people in the world – those perishing and those being saved. This was known to God when He created the world and when God brings a person into the world He knows whether that person is destined to perish or to be saved. That which God knew when He created the world has been playing out ever since over the course of time.

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      2. Thanks Dennis for drawing that out!
        And yes, I agree. Your thoughts kind of reminded of me of an article I read on Calvinism a while ago by a pastor whose academic background was in philosophies throughout history. He commented that Calvinism often advertises itself as antithetical to the the natural mind and antithetical to the flesh. But he pointed to historical philosophies/doctrines he found in the non-Christian world, long before, and long after, Augustine and Calvin, which patterns he found in the philosophies of Calvinism. So he asserted that Calvinism’s philosophies can be found in the non-Christian world, if one knows the patterns to look for. He also pointed out that those philosophies tended to manifest certain sociological patterns: A) Elitism…..which produces B) Collectivism……which eventually produces C) Violence against outsiders, and a spirit of domination.

        Thanks, my friend. :-]

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      3. br.d writes, “Calvinism’s philosophies can be found in the non-Christian world”

        Calvinism’s theology is found in the Scriptures, Calvinism’s philosophies (or logical arguments drawn from the truth of the scriptures) may indeed be found in the non-Christian world where the truth of the Scriptures is not denied.

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  8. Rutchin writes: br.d is promoting the idea that God is not omniscient and does not know the future and could not know those who would be saved and those who would be lost from the beginning.

    Hi Rutchin,
    I forgive you.

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    1. BR.D,

      Rhutchin’s repeated attacks of non-Calvinists (including SBC traditionalists and Arminians) is the same themes over and over. You write:

      “Rutchin writes: br.d is promoting the idea that God is not omniscient and does not know the future and could not know those who would be saved and those who would be lost from the beginning.”

      This is the NON-CALVINISTS DO NOT BELIEVE THAT GOD IS OMNISCIENT theme.

      In addition there are the NON-CALVINISTS ARE PELAGIANS HOLDING TO PELAGIAN THEOLOGY theme; and the NON-CALVINISTS AFFIRM UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT SO THEY ARE UNIVERSALISTS theme.

      Rhutchin just keeps putting these same records on the turn table. But it gets old hearing these same false claims played over and over and over again. These records are cracked and the sound is just getting more and more irritating.

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      1. Thank you for your kind words Robert!!

        Of course we know there’s a military strategy here. :-]
        ————————————————————————————————————————————————-
        Signs, when a religious group has a closed system of logic: Notes from lectures by Dr. Margaret Singer.

        When we say a religious group maintains a closed system of logic, what we see is an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and
        refuses to be modified except by leadership approval.

        This group will often exhibit a top-down, pyramid structure of authority.
        Leaders within the group often maintain semantic ways of never losing.
        And apologists for the group often maintain the same semantic ways of never losing in public forums.

        Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain, especially in regard to sacred doctrine. When a person does question or disagree, the person or concern, are alleged defective, not the organization or its sacred doctrine.

        Those who critique or disagree are treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its
        beliefs are always automatically, and by default, absolutely just.

        Mental conditioning or remolding (i.e. thought reform) of the individual member happens in a closed system such as this. As a group member learns to modify his thinking under the pressures of conformity, the group’s scripted narratives become his reality. In order to be accepted in this closed system, one learns to think group-think, and speak group-speak.

        The individual’s conscience, which would otherwise react against the group’s dishonesties, is now dormant, subordinated by polished
        rationalizations which defend and promote the group’s narratives. And this serves to further alienate the group member from prior belief systems and the people they once bonded with in those systems.

        Like

      2. I think, bd, that a tell tale sign of such group think is the fear and opposition they express so not to have their definitions of “orthodoxy” retested by Scripture and logic.

        Like

      3. Robert writes, “it gets old hearing these same false claims played over and over and over again.”

        You hear the same claims over and over because you never rebut the claims. Pelagain theology is a free-will based theology as all non-Calvinist theologies tend to be. Salvation is always presented by non-Calvinist as a cooperative process whereby God does some things that people cannot do and people make a free will faith response in response to that which God does – God provides the means for a person to be saved and people respond. You have never denied this. That is because you don’t deny these things – this is actually what you think. Because you never deny the things I claim about non-Calvinists – and present a valid argument to support their position – I will continue to present those claims.

        You could take the honest road and freely admit that you don’t believe that God is omniscient as Brian Wagner has done or that you don’t believe people are totally depraved = total inability as Pastor Flowers has done. Both of these men understand that the strength of Calvinism is in its belief in omniscience and total depravity. If you are going to claim falsely that you believe that God is omniscient and people are totally depraved, then you have no argument against Calvinism. That you don’t understand this is incomprehensible as you should know these things by this time.

        Your comments tend to express complaints as the above comment and rarely, if ever, say anything substantive. Rare exceptions would be your arguments to Brian Wagner explaining that God is omniscient. Unfortunately, you are not able to present an argument to explain how you are not essentially Pelagian. It is not for my lack of asking but only your lack of a counter argument.

        Like

  9. I think, bd, that a tell tale sign of such group think is the fear and opposition they express so not to have their definitions of “orthodoxy” retested by Scripture and logic.

    Hi Brian!
    How are things for you?
    Hope you are well my friend!

    Yes I heartily agree!!
    When I read her quote on how they find “Semantic ways to never lose” I couldn’t help but see the similarities to those tactics at work here. :-]

    In environments such as this, there can be those who simply operate as the local bully authority whose posts are mostly dictatorial….reminding me of the wizard of oz machine. The “little popes” at Soteriology101 😀

    Say….now that I have you in conversation Brian, and since I know you have a keen expertise in language, I wanted to get your thoughts on the business of how scripture is essentially “Language”.
    Its interesting to think about some of its characteristics. For example, when God spoke to Moses, giving him instructions on the building of the tabernacle, there were words in that dialog representing units of measure. E.G: “two and a half CUBITS long, and one and a half CUBITS wide” Can we imagine what the results would look like if Mose’s definition for “CUBIT was different than God’s definition?

    And that informs us that honesty, integrity and truth are highly dependent upon shared definitions for words and terms between all parties in dialog.

    Perhaps then you would agree with this statement:
    The degree to which words and terms having ambiguous or shifted definitions, are used in communications, is the degree to which honesty, integrity and truth are compromised.

    If you agree with that statement, then my thoughts go to the concept of STANDARDS. In the U.S. we have an organization called NIST “National Institute of standards”. That organization was created to ensure honesty, integrity and truth in the development of many corporate endeavors.

    The scripture that speaks of “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord”, makes me contemplate how a balance works. It requires units of weight that are assumed to represent weights that conform to a standard. 1 ounce should REALLY weigh 1 ounce, So the process of having a false balance, would be the process of shifting the weight of that standard. What would that look like? A customer wants to purchase 1 ounce of gold. The seller puts up a weight on one side of the scale, presenting it as weighing 1 ounce. But he has subtly shifted its weight to less than that. The customer assumes it is 1 ounce and buys the product, not knowing he has been deceived.

    That process can also occur in dialog on web-blogs such as this one. When a person communicates using specific words, and he is able to shift the meanings of those words. The recipient operates on the word common meaning, but the communicator has subtly shifted the meaning.

    Steven Hassan, an expert in deceptive religious groups call this process “Insider Language” which the group uses to defend and promote their doctrines. But is is a language heavily reliant upon words and terms having “Private” interpretations.

    Your thoughts?

    Like

    1. Jesus spoke with authority and the scripture calls for the same from true teachers of the Word. Expect mockery at some level, just don’t be deserving of it.​

      On Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 10:32 AM, SOTERIOLOGY 101 wrote:

      > br.d commented: “I think, bd, that a tell tale sign of such group think is > the fear and opposition they express so not to have their definitions of > “orthodoxy” retested by Scripture and logic. Hi Brian! How are things for > you? Hope you are well my friend! Yes ” >

      Like

      1. “Jesus spoke with authority and the scripture calls for the same from true teachers of the Word. Expect mockery at some level, just don’t be deserving of it.​ ”

        Hi Dennis,
        I absolutely agree….especially with your second statement. On the first one,as a personal conviction, I don’t ever see myself as speaking with authority. If there is truth, in anything I communicate, then that truth is of God, and carries his authority. I’m just a feeble human. So I’ll limit myself to speaking as a scribe or a pharisee. (echo of that verse). :-]

        But that’s just my personal conviction, between me and the Lord.
        Good post!
        Thanks

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks br.d, here’s the scripture I should have quoted in this matter. God bless, Dennis

        1 Peter 4:11

        If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

        Like

    2. Hi Duane (right?) Things are fine here in VA, and a good start to the Fall semester at VBC. Hope all is well with you.

      Did you know the Scripture has two different lengths for the word cubit? 🙂

      You asked if I agreed with this statement – “The degree to which words and terms having ambiguous or shifted definitions, are used in communications, is the degree to which honesty, integrity and truth are compromised.” That statement, in my thinking, needs a little unpacking. A word can a broad scope of definitions, and many do. The ambiguity in its use or the shifting between definitions in conversation depends, imo, on the honesty, integrity, and love of truth of the user. Sometimes it is just misunderstanding with one or both sides of the conversation not saying what legitimate meaning of a word they are using. If the user knows there is a broad use of meaning but demands only one choice, or if a dogmatic meaning has been used as a whip to chase away any attempt to refine the meaning based on Scripture evidence, then that is a problem.

      Your illustration of NIST may be helpful, but it is an appeal to human authority as the playing field for definitions. If the playing field is Scripture and context and word studies become our judge of theological definitions, like omniscience, then I’m all in to playing by those rules. But if theological terms, like omniscience, are judged as owned by a human organization/dogma that cannot be questioned or if a person thinks those terms cannot risk being more biblically redefined, then I will have to, and have been trying to, engage in a reasonable way to still define what the Scripture means when it says “knows all things”. Tied to that meaning, imo, has to also be a definition of reality, including the eternality and immutability of God.

      I don’t think any of us can avoid have “private interpretations” or aspects of our definitions that are uniquely our own, even if we think we are loyally following the definitions of our chosen group, or what someone might say is the majority opinion. The key to all conversation is to keep explaining what we mean and to allow it to be judged by the ultimate source of truth for today, the written word of God, as it should be grammatically and contextually understood for meaning like any other book would be.

      Let me know if this is what you were asking, and if I need to explain further. 🙂

      Like

      1. Thanks Brian,
        That’s an excellent unpacking.
        The reference to NIST was only an example of how things can be held in common among all parties and thereby function as a standard.
        Perhaps we could say that dictionaries, encyclopedias, and even the BDAG function to support that purpose?

        Your comment about none of us being able to avoid “private interpretations”, I think is a point of good wisdom, I hadn’t thought of it that way. But recognizing how human we all are…it makes good sense.

        And the reference to what Steven Hassan speaks of as “Insider Language”, I think points to a different use of language, in which the communicator, at least at some level, knows he’s strategically using misleading language, but his commitment to his group allows him to justify it and call it godly. Perhaps my focus on the use of strategically misleading language is just something the Lord has been impressing on me personally for a while. This year, a certain politician was asked if an email server had been “Scrubbed”. The response was….no I haven’t taken a cloth and scrubbed that server. This was said while making a scrubbing motion with the hand. We can see the subtle play in word definition there is strategic.

        The more I look at that language usage, the more I realize that we Christians are not suspecting in within Christian dialog. And the degree to which we can’t recognize it, is the degree to which we get taken in by it.
        Thanks again!
        br.d :-]

        Like

      2. Modern dictionaries, Duane, tend to try to present what is a common understanding in the use of words and placed on a scale of most common to least as far as the latest edition is concerned. Lexicons of ancient languages and texts are a little more interpretive, since they are trying to look back by doing word studies and then determining what the original contextual meaning was in the various instances as well as translating it into terms of our English language. It is hard not to look back, especially at words in Scripture, through theological lenses that one thinks best glorifies God and represents His Word, without recognizing that one might have some lenses that do not focus too well because of unrecognized weak presuppositions.

        I do agree that unfortunately there are some who are willfully ignorant, and do not want to test to see if their presuppositions are logically valid and based on good Scriptural evidence. They hold to the authority of what is popularly accepted, or maintained by some old long-standing ecclesiastical authority. A willingness to be in the minority when it comes to the truth is not a bad thing, though being alone in an opinion with not any historical thread as well as no normal grammatical Scriptural support is unwise also.

        Like

    3. br.d writes, “my thoughts go to the concept of STANDARDS. In the U.S. we have an organization called NIST “National Institute of standards”. That organization was created to ensure honesty, integrity and truth in the development of many corporate endeavors.”

      NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology.

      While it may have had an impact on the honesty, integrity and truth of manufacturers, it is not a regulatory agency so it ensures none of these things. Its purpose is to standardize things such as weights and measurements so that everyone operates on the same page. NIST currently describes its purpose this way:

      NIST’s mission: To promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

      NIST’s vision: NIST will be the world’s leader in creating critical measurement solutions and promoting equitable standards. Our efforts stimulate innovation, foster industrial competitiveness, and improve the quality of life.

      Like

      1. Hi Rhutchin,
        Hope your well! I spent a few years of my life overseeing the calibration of life-critical medical devices, to ensure they meet NIST standards. So I found your post interesting.
        Be well my friend! :-]

        Like

      2. br.d writes, ” I spent a few years of my life overseeing the calibration of life-critical medical devices, to ensure they meet NIST standards.”

        Normally, NIST would develop a standard because there was no standard in the first place and then it would develop a process or method for manufacturers to calibrate their medical devices and finally it would work with manufacturers to incorporate calibration methods into everyday use of the medical devises. So, where were you in that process (I’m guessing the third part) – and were you given enforcement authority to compel manufacturers to comply with the standards. For someone who worked for NIST, I am surprised that you did not know what NIST stood for. Maybe you worked for the old Bureau of Standards.

        Like

      3. Hi Rutchin,
        I didn’t say that I worked for NIST, but that I worked in oversight of calibration processes. You are correct that NIST is not set up to enforce standards. In simple terms, they are setup to create standards, based on best practices. And to create standards that all participating parties can be in compliance too. A manufacture doesn’t have to constrain themselves to NIST standards. They are free not to.

        But, for example, in the medical field, a hospital looking to purchase life-critical medical devices would hardly make the mistake of purchasing a device that was not STANDARDS compliant. To do so would be considered an automatic law suit, which the hospital would most certainly lose. So the bottom line, is the manufacture that refuses to constrain itself to established standards is simply not trustworthy. And anyone who buys their products does so at their own risk.

        In Jesus earthly ministry day, if you went to the temple to trade your currency for 10 ounces of silver coins, minted by the temple, specifically for temple taxes….you would probably have to purchase your silver coins from a money changer. If the money changer refuses to constrain himself to standards, in regard to weights and measures, he is not trustworthy. He may, for example, put your coins on a balance scale to weigh them. But he surreptitiously, puts a counter weight, that is more than 10 ounces on the scale. He leads you to believe his counter weight is in conformance to standards. But he has subtly altered the weight to make your coins appear less than they really are. Forcing you to pay him more coins than you would have done if he were not tricking you. So there we have the false balance, brought about by non-compliance to established standards. Jesus happens to be watching the whole affair and knows the money changer’s trick. Jesus comes over…….and you know the rest of the story.

        The same principle applies to honesty and integrity in communications. If I insert specific words into sentences,where the sentence structure is specifically crafted to alter the definition of those words and terms, then I am refusing to constrain myself to standards of honesty and integrity in regard to established standards of definition for those words and terms. Like the moneychanger, I lead you to believe the definitions for words and terms I’m manipulating are the STANDARD definitions commonly held among all parties. By my ability to mislead you, I gain an advantage over you. And I have the ability to manipulate you without your knowledge. One of Bill Clinton’s famous statements in his impeachment defense was “That depends upon what your definition of the word IS, is”

        Manipulating word definitions is the science of con artists, and false advertisements. We all know there are products on the market that would be totally unsuccessful if it weren’t for man’s ingenuity at crafting misleading language. So in my dialog with people, I look for words and terms that can be used in a misleading manner. And I take note of them. I guess that’s part of what God has impressed on me. Best for now. Br.d

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Br.d,

    I do a lot of evangelism and one of the things that I and my staff and volunteers do is “debrief” people after they become converts to Christianity. We ask them questions about their conversion experience including things such as: “Did you know Christianity was true at that time” [e.g. a former atheist who kept asking questions, having his questions answered, then asking more questions, just playing with the Christians who were evangelizing him]. One guy, let’s call him “Rick” said that he knew it was all true but he was rebelling against God so he had to keep raising the bar for Christians so that no matter how many questions they answered, the answers were ***never good enough***, he said it became “a game” for him. I don’t play this game with people, if I believe a person is asking sincere questions I will answer their questions. But if I sense they are playing “Rick’s game” of just asking questions and no matter what the answers are they are never good enough, I won’t play that game. I have too many other people to speak to, can’t waste the limited time that I have on someone obstinately refusing the truth.

    Atheists are not the only people who play this game, professing believers can play the game too. You see it when you answer their questions and others answer their questions and the answers are ****never good enough****. They just choose to be obstinate: choose to reject any answer given them.

    Rhutchin is playing this game and has been for a long time.

    It takes no intelligence to play this game, you just have to choose to be obstinate.

    He writes:

    “You hear the same claims over and over because you never rebut the claims.”

    Rhutchin’s claims have been rebutted over and over. At SBC today he is banned for repeatedly accusing non-Calvinists of being “Pelagians” and holding to “Pelagian theology.” No matter what anyone says to the contrary he just keeps repeating this false charge. Even though he was banned at SBC Today for the false claim regarding Pelagians and Pelagian theology he is unrepentant and just brings his game over here. Unfortunately the moderator here allows this game to be played:

    “Pelagian theology is a free-will based theology as all non-Calvinist theologies tend to be.”

    The moderator of this blog does not seem to care how many times this false charge is made by rhutchin. If he cared, he might ban rhutchin here as he has been banned at SBC today.

    “Salvation is always presented by non-Calvinist as a cooperative process whereby God does some things that people cannot do and people make a free will faith response in response to that which God does – God provides the means for a person to be saved and people respond. You have never denied this.”

    I have never denied this because it is true, salvation is through faith, that means God does the saving of those who choose to trust Him. That is what the Bible teaches and no amount of denial of this truth by people like rhutchin will ever change that fact. I have been involved in hundreds of conversions of folks based upon this way of thinking (we present the gospel, they have to believe it and repent of their sin and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in order to be saved). I have literally hundreds of debriefings to prove this is how it goes.

    “That is because you don’t deny these things – this is actually what you think.”

    I do believe that salvation is a cooperative effort, God does what needs to be done and we trust in what He has done and that is how we are saved. It is the beginning of a personal relationship between a person and God so you would expect there to be actions from both parties as the relationship begins and develops.

    I have to admit at times it is surprising to see a person like rhutchin deny this while at the same time professing to be a Christian.

    Surprising because the calvinists friends that I have also believe this, that God does what needs to be done and we have to trust in that to be saved (now they add irresistible grace and theological determinism as part of their explanation as to how this occurs, but no one who is orthodox denies that SALVATION IS THROUGH FAITH. But rhutchin does, and that makes his views false and strange and not even in line with what Calvin believed. The Reformers were very clear that salvation is through faith, especially Luther. So you do not need to deny the presence and role of faith in the conversion process to be a Calvinist or hold to Reformed theology.

    “Because you never deny the things I claim about non-Calvinists – and present a valid argument to support their position – I will continue to present those claims.”

    In other words rhutchin will keep playing the same game that Rick played when he was an atheist. Except here the game is this: others answer rhutchin’s false claims and charges, but these answers are never good enough because rhutchin simply chooses to reject them all. A very easy game to play. Skeptics are very adept at this game whether they be atheists, Muslims, cultists, or even sadly professing Christians.

    Another thing rhutchin frequently does is completely contradict himself within the same post.

    Early on he writes:

    “You could take the honest road and freely admit that you don’t believe that God is omniscient as Brian Wagner”

    So according to this statement rhutchin says I should be honest and admit I don’t believe that God is omniscient.

    Yet later in the same post he writes:

    “Rare exceptions would be your arguments to Brian Wagner explaining that God is omniscient.”

    So first he says that I don’t believe that God is omniscient and I should be honest about this he claims, then he says I was providing arguments to Brian Wagner the open theist “explaining that God ****is**** omniscient. This is completely contradictory.

    I and everyone else (excepting open theists like Brian Wagner) affirm that God knows the future exhaustively, every detail, every event, every choice, everything without exception.

    “has done or that you don’t believe people are totally depraved = total inability as Pastor Flowers has done.”

    Total depravity speaks of the extent of sin, that it has effected every aspect of mankind. Total inability if defined as the nonbeliever cannot believe unless regenerated first is a false doctrine nowhere to be found in the Bible.

    “Both of these men understand that the strength of Calvinism is in its belief in omniscience and total depravity.”

    The major problem with this statement is that a classic Arminian holds to both total depravity and omniscience and they are definitely not Calvinists. So rhutchin’s claim that holding these two beliefs is the strength of calvinism has to be false because non-Calvinists who are classic Arminians hold both beliefs.

    No, everyone believes in omniscience (except for the extreme minority/open theists), so that is not why people adopt Calvinism. They adopt it because they believe it is a logical and true system of theology. And some Arminians hold the same views or very similar views as Calvinists do on total depravity so holding that does not lead a person to calvinism either. No, Calvinists go the extra mile of swallowing false ideas such as theological determinism, irresistible grace and limited atonement.

    “Your comments tend to express complaints as the above comment and rarely, if ever, say anything substantive.”

    Actually I have refuted rhutchin innumerable times. Lately I haven’t put much time into it as I recognize that he just keeps playing “Rick’s game”. And as long as he plays that game, no matter what is presented he just chooses to reject it. It is not a hard game to play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robert,
      I’ll post this response before the knifes and daggers come after you.
      I hear your frustration. I certainly haven’t had the experience in dealing with people like you have in evangelism capacity.
      That’s commendable that you expose yourself to that type of behavior.
      But I guess the silver lining is that it does have a tendency to make us grow in being “wise as serpents”.

      Perhaps those games will eventually be recognized by the readers here, and those engaging in word-gaming and bullying tactics will eventually be taken with a grain of salt.
      Appreciated your post!! :-]

      Liked by 1 person

    2. rhutchin wrote, “Pelagian theology is a free-will based theology as all non-Calvinist theologies tend to be.”
      Robert responds, “The moderator of this blog does not seem to care how many times this false charge is made…”

      Robert claims it is a false charge but he is unable to explain what the truth is. I don’t think he knows.

      rhutchin wrote, “Salvation is always presented by non-Calvinist as a cooperative process whereby God does some things that people cannot do and people make a free will faith response in response to that which God does – God provides the means for a person to be saved and people respond. You have never denied this.”
      Robert responded, ” have never denied this because it is true,…I do believe that salvation is a cooperative effort,…”

      What I described is the teaching of the RC Church. The RC Church is Pelagian. How about a compromise: Robert is Roman Catholic.

      Then, “So first he says that I don’t believe that God is omniscient and I should be honest about this he claims, then he says I was providing arguments to Brian Wagner the open theist “explaining that God ****is**** omniscient. This is completely contradictory.”

      You know what “omniscience” is all about: You just don’t believe that God is omniscient (at least, there is no evidence of such believe in the things you write).

      Then, “The major problem with this statement is that a classic Arminian holds to both total depravity and omniscience and they are definitely not Calvinists. So rhutchin’s claim that holding these two beliefs is the strength of calvinism has to be false because non-Calvinists who are classic Arminians hold both beliefs.”

      The Arminian paid lip service to Total Depravity and then undid it with prevenient grace thereby creating a Pelagian system, so they portray themselevs as semi-Pelagian and then gravitate to full fledged Pelagianism.

      Finally, “I have refuted rhutchin innumerable times.”

      Not really. Robert generally expresses personal opinions with no refutations. His comments in this case is a good example.

      Like

      1. Rhutchin reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Supremely confident in his own ability with a sword he gets hacked to pieces and is left on the forest floor with no arms or legs. As King Arthur rides away the Black Knight is headed to scream “Come back here and take what’s coming to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!”

        This is of course also just my opinion and unlike the Apostle Paul I would not claim to have the mind of the Lord on this matter.

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      2. Andrew,

        “Rhutchin reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Supremely confident in his own ability with a sword he gets hacked to pieces and is left on the forest floor with no arms or legs. As King Arthur rides away the Black Knight is headed to scream “Come back here and take what’s coming to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!””

        That is one of the most apt and best descriptions of rhutchin that I have seen. He really is like the black knight.

        As you know he was banned over at SBC Today for repeatedly falsely accusing non-Calvinists of being Pelagians and holding to Pelagian theology. Leighton allows him to do the exact same thing here without any repercussions. I believe he should be banned here just as he is banned there.

        It becomes a waste of time to keep correcting this black knight. And, like the black knight of Monty Python, no matter how many times he is refuted, no matter how many times contradictions are shown in his comments he just keeps fighting on. I think it would be nice to post here without having to see the black knight keep posting and challenging us that he’ll bite our legs off.

        Like

      3. Well, unless somebody gets the wrong end of the analogy, I am not advocating hacking anyone to death, but there is an injunction in scripture to destroy incorrect arguments. Leighton also knows that in principle I don’t like banning people which I view as a retrograde step. All of us who post here from time to time should be subject to the same terms and expect strong rubuttal. And if people keep coming up with the same old arguments which have been proved wanting, then I think it’s down to the moderators or self censorship and to stop engaging with that person. I know it can be difficult but I don’t like naming names and there is more than one person who fits into the above category. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hi barker’s woof!,
        Hope your well my friend :-]
        I’m kind of wondering if this is a catch-22 situation. Firstly, Dr. Flowers web-site is such a totally wonderful facility for these discussions.
        I certainly wouldn’t want to make him feel like he had to extend himself further by having to introduce policing of bad behavior.

        Others may agree that aggressive attacks are perhaps the worst offenses a participant can exhibit. Posturing as the board’s pope who judges everyone else’s submissions, giving the appearance of being the dominating war lord of the environment is also questionable behavior from a Christ honoring perspective. I have also seen instances in which sisters joined in on dialog, which I was very happy to see, only to find someone attacking them, and they simply don’t return. Why would they…if that’s the way their going to be treated?

        Bringing this discussion out in the open is perhaps an excellent step in the right direction. I understand that some of the participants here are occasional visitors who come back to check out new topics and participate in dialog..where others appear to be here 24/7 on military assignment to dominate the environment and attack everything that doesn’t conform to public propaganda strategies.

        I love it where Jesus said: I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. It would seem logical to assume that putting Jesus first and an earthly power-base 2nd would be the rule and not the exception? But unfortunately we often see the opposite. And the results can appear as pretty ugly behavior.

        Thanks for this conversation!!
        br.d :-]

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Agree wholeheartedly! The golden rule can’t be that hard to keep in mind! 🙂 Though I do know that I have learned a lot about myself and how poorly I come across sometimes, in ways that I did not realize at first. But I think it can’t be too hard to comprehend what Paul means when he says –

        2Tim 2:23-26 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. and –

        Col 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

        I know that I want to be that kind of servant of the Lord!

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      6. Robert writes, “As you know he was banned over at SBC Today for repeatedly falsely accusing non-Calvinists of being Pelagians and holding to Pelagian theology.”

        When people use Pelagian arguments to explain their position, I call them Pelagian. When Robert says that salvation is a “cooperative process” between man and God, as a Pelagian would, I call him a Pelagian. If Robert wants to object to that, then let him do so – so far, he has not explained how he is not Pelagian.

        The people at SBCToday were also like that. They were irate that I called some Pelagians but no one ever explained why that charge is erroneous. If you are going to say that salvation is a cooperative effort, then you also must hold that Christ’s righteousness is infused into people – that is Pelagian. If you are not Pelagian, don’t write like a Pelagian. If you write like a Pelagian then own up to it.

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      7. Roger, where did you get that definition of Pelagianism? Is that an official one or a personal one?

        Here’s the wiki one – Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid.

        The idea of man being able to cooperate in the salvation process has always been the RC position, so I wouldn’t think they would see that as integral to Pelagianism. Didn’t anyone help you see that on the SB site before they kicked you off?

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      8. brianwagner writes, “Didn’t anyone help you see that on the SB site before they kicked you off?”

        No. I don’t think anyone there had the ability to do so. They basically jumped up and down and screamed a lot and then kicked me off. I hit them as hard as I could and no one punched back – they just took their ball and went home (to use some cliches).

        Then, “…where did you get that definition of Pelagianism? Is that an official one or a personal one? ”

        I rely on RC Sproul primarily but also have read the conclusions of the Council of Carthage in 418, descriptions of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius and Pelagius’ commentary on Romans (which, I think, you put me on to). I think it was Sproul who equated the Roman Catholic system to Pelagianism so I will watch the EWTN network every now and again and those guys talk just like people here. In the end, it is my personal distillation of what is out there.

        However, I am open to a more perfect description of Pelagianism which no one has opted to provide. Since a lot of comments on this forum show a great ignorance of Calvinism, I would not be surprised if no one really knows what Pelagianism is all about.

        My guess is that even you have not really felt impressed to devote much time to fleshing out Pelagianism – and you have resources to do so that others don’t (or not as easily).

        Like

      9. Actually, Roger, I have always liked looking into whom the RC have called heretics, since to me it is like the pot calling the kettle “black”. So I want the so-called “heretics” to speak for themselves, and that is why I purchased Pelagius on Romans.

        I hope that you will come to base your definition on Pelagianism on your reading of Pelagius and not the RC definition of it! I wouldn’t trust them to define anything accurately, because of their unbiblical ecclesiology right from its beginning, and soteriology. My view is that he was truly RC but was gaining too much ecclesiastical influence of Augustine’s liking… thus a “heresy” had to be found by twisting his words. He was declared “orthodox” if I remember by a council in Jerusalem, but Augustine didn’t like that result.

        Like all of us, I think Pelagius could be imprecise in choice of words. I think he believed Adam’s guilt was not passed on, so that an infant was born innocent. He was not clear in defining how individual sin then takes place, but he was clear that grace was needed for everyone’s salvation. He took the same sacramental approach to grace, it appears, as Augustine did, and of foreknowledge.

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      10. Brian,

        For what its worth, you have been one of the most gracious commenters here at soteriology101. Even in those times when you and I might have disagreed, though they be rare, you have always responded brotherly.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Thank you, Phillip for your kind words. The Lord is helping me be more circumspect with my words. Most probably do not know this, but many view this site Leighton has developed with posting a comment. Just today over 500 views (probably all not unique individuals) from over 20 countries. I tell my students that if you do not speak the truth in love… you do not communicate the truth!

        Like

      12. Tell your students to get active on this or other sites. I don’t think a person can internalize what they believe until they can express it in writing to the understanding of others and defend it. That develops writing skills and critical thinking – two skills that never disappoint.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks Brian,
    Wished I had your knowledge of the GREEK!!!
    And I’ve noticed for a while, your discipline to the text, and find it commendable.
    Reminds me of N.T. Wright’s emphasis…….”getting the text right!” :-]
    blessings….br.d

    Liked by 1 person

  12. From Philip:

    Brian,

    For what its worth, you have been one of the most gracious commenters here at soteriology101. Even in those times when you and I might have disagreed, though they be rare, you have always responded brotherly.

    Wonderful!! I was thinking the very same thing. I’ll be a second witness 😀
    Thanks Philip!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Now the Pharisee did the only thing Pharisees know how to do. He stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people, unbiblical free-gracers, Samaritans and Pelagians! And the Lord turned to him and said: I can see that you are filling up the measure of your fathers. He who is forgiven little loves little.

    Like

  14. Rhutchin was banned at SBC Today after refusing to falsely accuse folks there of being “Pelagians” and holding to “Pelagian theology”.

    He was confronted by multiple people directly on this.

    People provided good arguments and reasons for him to desist in this false claim. I was involved in this process as well: all of my arguments and points were ignored by rhutchin (just as he does here).

    To take one example rhutchin claims that all theology is either Calvinist or Pelagian. Well that is false today and also historically. But if you think that way as rhutchin says that he thinks that way then no matter what anyone says he will keep his distinction that it is all Calvinist or Pelagian. As I pointed out Catholics, Arminians, Traditionalists are all anti-Pelagian theology so it is both unfair and false to lump ALL NON-CALVINISTS into the Pelagian camp.

    A corollary argument of rhutchin’s is that if someone has overlapping beliefs or arguments then that someone **is** part of that group that uses the same arguments or has the same beliefs. Free will is a perfect example. Pelagians held to free will as do Traditionalists: therefore according to rhutchin’s “reasoning” Traditionalists must be Pelagians. By this “argument” all non-Calvinists since they hold to free will must be Pelagians. It is this kind of false, unfair and shoddy reasoning that rhutchin kept exhibiting at SBC Today until he was banned. He is lying when he claims no one showed his errors or showed clear differentiation between Traditionalists and Pelagians.

    Leighton for no justifiable reason allows rhutchin to continue the false charges and shoddy arguments here. It seems to me that if he was banned for doing these exact same things at SBC Today he should be banned here as well.

    Some might note that “discussions” here are just rhutchin taking over a thread arguing for his calvinism and against anything Leighton or any other non-Calvinist says. By arguing in seemingly every thread this has in effect become rhutchin’s blog.

    Again rhutchin engages in this kind of shoddy reasoning when he writes:

    “When people use Pelagian arguments to explain their position, I call them Pelagian.”

    Well see there it is again, if you share a belief or argument with another group that makes you part of that group. Catholic apologists argue for the physical resurrection from the dead, argue for the reality of the trinity, does that mean if you make the same arguments or hold those same beliefs you are Catholic? Of course not, unless you go by rhutchin’s twisted reasoning.

    “When Robert says that salvation is a “cooperative process” between man and God, as a Pelagian would, I call him a Pelagian.”

    A lot of non-Calvinists speak of the salvation process as “cooperative” and that includes Catholics, Arminians, Traditionalists, virtually any non-Calvinist believes that we are not forced to believe, but we cooperate with God’s grace by trusting in what God has revealed to us (whether that is the gospel, conviction of sin, our need for repentance, etc. etc.). We are told to believe and repent, things we must do to be saved. Doing these things is cooperating with God’s grace and none of it makes you Pelagian. Rhutchin tries to make me into a Catholic because I say that we cooperate with God in the salvation process (and we do as it is not monergistic, it involves both persons, God and man, both persons must do things in the salvation process, our part is to trust, obey, repent, etc.).

    “If Robert wants to object to that, then let him do so – so far, he has not explained how he is not Pelagian.”

    Already explained it over at SBC Today, as DID OTHERS, yet rhutchin lies as if no one attempted to differentiate Traditionalists at the SBC from Pelagians.

    “The people at SBC Today were also like that. They were irate that I called some Pelagians but no one ever explained why that charge is erroneous.”

    Another lie, others did explain but he just ignored the explanations, as he does here as well. Rhutchin just chooses to ignore whenever he is corrected, refuted, shown to be false, when others explain things to him. He just keeps ignoring it and keeps saying the same false things over and over.

    “If you are going to say that salvation is a cooperative effort, then you also must hold that Christ’s righteousness is infused into people – that is Pelagian. If you are not Pelagian, don’t write like a Pelagian. If you write like a Pelagian then own up to it.”

    Just same old same old, a broken record that gets irritating after multiple listenings.

    Brian Wagner wrote/asked:

    “The idea of man being able to cooperate in the salvation process has always been the RC position, so I wouldn’t think they would see that as integral to Pelagianism. Didn’t anyone help you see that on the SB site before they kicked you off?”

    Yes MULTIPLE PEOPLE explained his errors, corrected him, and yet he would hear none of it.

    Like

    1. Robert writes, “Rhutchin was banned at SBC Today after refusing to falsely accuse folks there of being “Pelagians” and holding to “Pelagian theology”.”

      A Freudian slip no doubt – but he speaks the truth.

      Like

      1. I left out the words “to stop” before “falsely accuse”. Hopefully others understood what I intended to say.

        Like

    2. Robert also writes, ‘As I pointed out Catholics, Arminians, Traditionalists are all anti-Pelagian theology so it is both unfair and false to lump ALL NON-CALVINISTS into the Pelagian camp.

      A corollary argument of rhutchin’s is that if someone has overlapping beliefs or arguments then that someone **is** part of that group that uses the same arguments or has the same beliefs. ”

      Let’s set the record straight. The site administrator (or a person of some influence) had a little test to determine where one stood on the issue. It seems that in three of the points, the Traditionalists agreed with the Pelagians – three points that dealt directly with the issue of salvation. The admin readily agreed that this was the case. So, we have the case of overlapping beliefs on the very issue of salvation. What is one to conclude about this? As Amos argued, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (on a different subject, but it applies here, I think).

      Then, “By this “argument” all non-Calvinists since they hold to free will must be Pelagians.”

      OK. Let me revise that. All non-Calvinists who hold to free will that is libertarian (if such is even possible) so that they choose salvation independent of God’s influence or as Robert would say, they must choose to cooperate with God, then they must be Pelagian. I agree with Robert when he says later, “A lot of non-Calvinists speak of the salvation process as “cooperative” and that includes Catholics, Arminians, Traditionalists, virtually any non-Calvinist believes that we are not forced to believe, but we cooperate with God’s grace by trusting in what God has revealed to us (whether that is the gospel, conviction of sin, our need for repentance, etc. etc.).” The concept of salvation as a cooperative process is thoroughly Pelagian – if not, one need only explain the difference. Is that so hard?

      Then, “He is lying when he claims no one showed his errors or showed clear differentiation between Traditionalists and Pelagians.”

      Well, not on purpose. I guess the arguments went over my head and I did not understand them. Perhaps Robert would be so kind as to rehearse for us the major points allegedly presented to demonstrate my error.

      Then, “Some might note that “discussions” here are just rhutchin taking over a thread arguing for his calvinism and against anything Leighton or any other non-Calvinist says.”

      I argue for accuracy and truth in the comments that are made. I do not berate anyone and speak directly to key points. Only Brian Wagner ever really engages me, and while we disagree on key points, I learn from him and I hope he gains insights from me. I look forward to the same from others.

      Like

  15. BR.D. writes:
    “Signs, when a religious group has a closed system of logic: Notes from lectures by Dr. Margaret Singer.

    When we say a religious group maintains a closed system of logic, what we see is an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and
    refuses to be modified except by leadership approval.

    This group will often exhibit a top-down, pyramid structure of authority.
    Leaders within the group often maintain semantic ways of never losing.
    And apologists for the group often maintain the same semantic ways of never losing in public forums.

    Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain, especially in regard to sacred doctrine. When a person does question or disagree, the person or concern, are alleged defective, not the organization or its sacred doctrine.

    Those who critique or disagree are treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its
    beliefs are always automatically, and by default, absolutely just.

    Mental conditioning or remolding (i.e. thought reform) of the individual member happens in a closed system such as this. As a group member learns to modify his thinking under the pressures of conformity, the group’s scripted narratives become his reality. In order to be accepted in this closed system, one learns to think group-think, and speak group-speak.

    The individual’s conscience, which would otherwise react against the group’s dishonesties, is now dormant, subordinated by polished
    rationalizations which defend and promote the group’s narratives. And this serves to further alienate the group member from prior belief systems and the people they once bonded with in those systems.”

    That brings back some unpleasant memories, as I experienced how this unhealthy mental conditioning can destroy relationships and trump (I refuse to surrender the word!) former loyalties.

    I would just like to suggest that this how ‘orthodoxy’ works, and while it was initiated by the Roman church, it was perfected by Calvin in Geneva. By declaring a certain idea, or set of ideas as ‘orthodoxy’ and declaring all other possibly opinions ‘heresy’ (especially with that convenient little threat of death by slow fire, etc.) one can see how easy it is to compel others to turn off their brains and submit to authorities. This nasty little practice was later adopted by the state, and yet governs modern ideologies, left and right.

    This is why I reject the concept of ‘orthodoxy’, which is essentially that some self-appointed authority has the right to judge all truth. I happen to know and love the genuine judge of all truth. He was generous enough to take up residence within me, to patiently, gently grant me greater insight into understanding as I am able and willing. It is a long, slow and never-to-be-completed-this-side-of-heaven process. Nowhere in scripture was it proclaimed that God would set up councils and authorities to declare all truth; one might with some assurance suggest what was promised was more or less the opposite. It is sad how few Calvinists understand that Calvin essentially corrupted the essence of the Reformation, the cry of sincere men and women for freedom of conscience that was denied by the Roman church, and declared himself, essentially, the sole proclaimer and defender of ‘orthodox’ truth. The moniker ‘Pope of Geneva’ was laid on him by those who knew him and his ways, not modern commentators.

    Thus I find myself at odds with nearly the entire institutional church, for almost all insist on, if nothing else, the ‘orthodox’ definition of the Trinity. Although I would not necessarily suggest I have a ‘better’ definition, I would insist on having the freedom to pursue one, as have countless thousands through the ages who surrendered their lives to Catholic and Protestant ‘authorities’ alike. The very nature of ‘Creeds’ – at least those with which I am familiar – is to assert one interpretation of scripture as ‘correct’, whereby all genuine, prayerful consideration of truth is expressly condemned. I could freely bow to any ‘Creed’ which limited itself to the recitation of scripture, allowing the individual the right and responsibility to seek the enlightening of the Holy Spirit into fuller understanding thereof.

    Modern idealogues are only slightly less fanatical than Calvin, as they no longer have the power of sword and stake. They must rely on aggressive argumentation and peer pressure, along with the much-desired belonging that adherence to official orthodoxy brings. Alike to all ideologues, dogmatists, or fanatics is the assertion that they have a corner on truth, and a prohibition of the genuine work of the Holy Spirit, which was promised to lead each individual thereunto.

    This was the real battle that genuine children of God have had to fight with the institutional church throughout the centuries, as the former declared their God-given right to think for themselves, and the latter asserted the need to ‘defend the truth’, as if they alone understood it. Calvinists, like all good sacral christians, are those who have surrendered their right to think as well as their responsibility to seek and follow the genuine teaching of the Holy Spirit as commanded by scripture. It is so much easier to bow to The Law, the Nicene Creed, or the Westminster Confession than to humbly admit that one has limited understanding and is earnestly seeking more. All who assert the freedom of conscience that non-Calvinists so value are a threat to the authority of ‘The Church’, and those who insist it just so happens to lie in them. It just so happens that this was the kind of ‘authority’ that Jesus insisted his apostles not imitate. The greatest error of christianity is to conflate the institutional church with the Body of Christ, and Calvinism is intent upon on reasserting this error, which was disproved by the many, many corruptions of the institutional bodies throughout church history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, Amen, and Amen…. and Amen! 🙂 …which for those not knowing Greek or Hebrew is – Truly, Truly, and Truly… and Truly! 🙂

      Like

      1. brianwagner writes, “..which for those not knowing Greek or Hebrew…”

        So, if a person does not know Greek and Hebrew, at the least, they can still offer their “opinions” but should do so with great humbleness?

        Like

    2. Well spoken truthseeker00

      This has been a perennial issue. Jesus, in the wilderness test: “All these kingdoms (i.e., principalities and powers) belong to me, and I will give power to you if you….etc..etc..etc” Jesus passed that test. But we know that not to be the case for many of his followers.

      Paul deals with the issue: “And those that were of the sect of the Pharisees ROSE UP among them demanding that the gentiles….xyz.”

      John deals with the issue: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them….etc”

      And again Paul: “The sons of the flesh do always persecute the sons of the spirit”. and “They have come into your midst to steal your liberty”

      What would Jesus have looked like if he had taken up Lucifer’s offer?
      A counterfeit!!
      One having the ****FORM**** (Morphos) of godliness by denying the truth thereof.

      Fortunately for us, we have been taught to know that every tree brings forth fruits after its own kind. Wide phylacteries, and demanding to sit in the chief seat….those are two primary characteristics (i.e. fruits) that Jesus teaches us to look out for. And a predisposition towards the perpetration of violence in order to get their way, Paul teaches us to look for. Looking down the church time-line, its not to hard to spot them. And we’re still seeing them today.

      Thanks truthseeker00!!
      Blessing! :-]

      Like

      1. … and don’t forget the fruit of using “Greetings” based on ministry position, like “Rabbi”, “Father”, “Pastor”, and “Doctor”. Jesus told His apostles to reject that to in their leadership style and method.

        Like

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