45 thoughts on “Rebutting Calvinistic Proof-Texts of Tom Ascol from the Founders

  1. Dr. Flowers,

    I really appreciate your blog, and I have been studying these issues for about 4 months now. When I listen to your hermeneutic approach, to me it seems like you are really making the context of these passages stand out in a way that brings more clarity to the text. I think it’s great.

    But here are some general questions…what kind of mileage can we get out of Traditionalism?

    1. If the Gospel is the means by which God draws people unto himself…then doesn’t that still create a class of elect and non-elect…Elect being those who have heard the Gospel and can choose to believe or not believe, and those who have not heard the Gospel and can not choose to believe.

    2. In a similar question, this post touches on this subject of those who haven’t heard the Gospel somewhat, in regards to Cornelius, and the possibility of his grandfather believing. Doesn’t this cross a line into the accusation of being semi-pelagian. It seems you are saying that these people were seeking God, without God’s drawing (i.e. hearing the Gospel message), whereas previously I was understanding you to be saying that God was drawing people to himself but through the Holy Spirit empowered Gospel message, not through regeneration. But if people can seek God before the Gospel message is brought to them…in what way is this not something from themselves (which is where I am drawing the semi-pelagian idea from, it seems like you are saying that Cornelius was the initiator but perhaps I misunderstood).

    3. Does Traditionalism put too strong of an emphasis on the work of people in the salvation process? I mean this in the sense that if the Gospel message is the only means for someone to be drawn, and that God isn’t doing something else in the person’s heart, doesn’t this create an unwarranted amount of responsibility in the messenger/preacher? I am concerned that this way of thinking makes the freewill choice of the listener easily influenced by the ability of the presenter. The calvinist may say that they preached the word, and it’s up to the Lord to change their heart (i.e. God is the one that causes it to grow), so how does the traditionalist handle this? The traditionalist preached the word, but maybe the listener didn’t want to believe because they didn’t explain this point well enough…hopefully you can understand my question.

    Also I would love if anyone has a resource that compares and contrasts Arminian, Calvinist, and Traditionalist on their beliefs on key biblical texts and how they relate to soteriology and maybe even the problem of those who haven’t heard the Gospel. Perhaps this is asking for too much, but if someone has already done the work I would love to look it over.

    Thanks,
    Travis

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    1. Here are a list of articles here you can read that address these same issues. You should be able to search for them in the search box above:

      Without excuse: What About those who never hear the gospel.

      Pelagianism: Calvinists favorite boogieman

      Why I am not an Arminian

      Hope that helps.

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      1. Thanks for the suggestions. After reviewing your various posts…I can see that there is something maybe that wasn’t exactly clear to me. In some of your posts the means for God’s initiating grace is defined as special revelation (the law, the church, the spirit, the apostles, the gospel). But in others you seems to also indicate that general revelation is a sufficient part of the initiating process.

        Now my whole reason for bringing up the question about semi-pelagianism, and I meant it in the most sincerely non-accusatory way, I had just finished reading an article (http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/is-the-traditional-statement-semi-pelagian-adam-harwood-ph-d/) from Adam Harwood, so I had some confusion. The article states that “The TS explicitly argues against this view. Consider this line from Article 2: “While no one is even remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, no sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” Article 2 is clear that sinners are saved through a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel. This drawing of the Holy Spirit described in the TS occurs prior to the response of the sinner. In this way, the TS prohibits the semi-Pelagian understanding of a sinner taking the first steps toward the Christian life.”

        And also “Article 8 explains that “God’s gracious call to salvation” is made “by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.” Sinners are saved by responding to the drawing of the Holy Spirit through the gospel.”

        So my confusion was in this area, if Cornelius was drawn to God (by the Holy Spirit according to the TS) before hearing the Gospel…then in what different way was he drawn? Because the TS and most of your teachings on this blog speak of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit as the means of initiating grace. This was the main part of my confusion, because the way you presented Cornelius in this video made it seem that he was responding to God in a way outside of the work of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

        According to your articles I am understanding you would answer my question in this way:

        The Gospel is not the only means for God to draw people to Himself. It begins with creation.

        Romans 1: All people are without excuse because they have rejected God. All have received sufficient revelation to turn toward God, and those who don’t reject the truth and exchange it for lies will (in this age) necessarily have opportunity to hear the Gospel message and be saved. Thus the ebb and flow of the Gospel being sent throughout the earth is in accordance with God’s perfect will and foreknowledge.

        Acts 17: God according to his foreknowledge has placed all people based on their known response in the time and place where they could receive clear revelation if they wanted it. According to the boundaries of the nations and the age in which the Gospel will be available, so that those that respond to Him can find Him.

        Therefore, would you say in the example of Cornelius it is not semi-pelagian because you are saying all people everywhere have had a sufficient initiating of God’s grace to submit to the creator, that is why God is just in bringing condemnation. They could have responded to the small amount of revelation they had (even though it isn’t necessarily means of salvation), but they chose not to. Therefore they have been given over to their sinfulness.

        Now here again my confusion over your presentation is in this regard. It seems according to the TS statement that the Holy Spirit works in each person’s life, in this example of Cornelius perhaps the Holy Spirit is working in correlation with the testimony of creation to allow people the opportunity to respond to God. In this way it is very confusing because it sounds like prevenient grace, but you are saying that’s not necessary and is redundant. Instead we should just call prevenient grace the Gospel. Now that is most confusing…though understandably confusing. For the often quoted Romans 10:18, have they not heard? Indeed they have…then Paul quotes Pslams 19:4, which is about the heavens declaring the glory of God (which incidentally do not have “words” in the Psalm 19 verse 3). So the confusion to me in this text and your arguement…is the message the Holy Spirit and creation…or the Holy Spirit and the Gospel…and why is Paul making it seem that the whole earth knows about the “words” of Gospel while quoting a reference to creations testimony that doesn’t use words?

        I much appreciate anyone who has the time to help clear this up for me.

        Thanks,
        Travis

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      2. Travis asked, “So my confusion was in this area, if Cornelius was drawn to God (by the Holy Spirit according to the TS) before hearing the Gospel…then in what different way was he drawn?”

        Cornelius is described as “a devout man, and one who feared God.” That he feared God suggests a knowledge of God and this knowledge could have come from the OT rather than from the observation of creation. So, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit was working through the OT which is the gospel.

        Then, “The Gospel is not the only means for God to draw people to Himself. It begins with creation.”

        I think the argument of creation is that people have a knowledge of God by observing the creation without the help of the Holy Spirit. However, “…even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks;…their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,…” So corrupt is man, and so great his disdain for the Scriptures, that even the obvious escapes them. Proverbs tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom,…” (Proverbs15) Paul writes, “…in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” The conclusion is that human wisdom has been so corrupted that no man can come to Christ without help. So, in the case of Cornelius, his fear of God would not have come through his wisdom in observing the creation but through the work of the Holy Spirit using the OT.

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      3. Hi Travis… you may have missed by earlier response on the 17th to your first post. You can find it down the page of comments. But for your convenience, here it is again –

        << Hi Travis! You may want to consider what Paul meant when he said – Rom 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” And Paul said this is connection with the importance of hearing the gospel (vs 16).

        <<They may not have the historical record of what happened in Jerusalem for our redemption, but neither did anyone before AD 33.

        <<God’s salvation has always been the same… trusting in His mercy. Isn’t that the gospel. See Job 33:14-30, Heb 4:2 and Luke 18:13-14. If a person cries out based on the knowledge received according to Rom 1 and 2 – “God be merciful to me a sinner”… will they be justified by God, as Jesus said the man in Luke 18:14 was?

        But to follow up your post from the 18th – For what its worth, I think the Scripture teaches that the Word has its own supernatural drawing power that does at least some positive work in every heart it enters, even hard ones, so that they are forced to at least "feel" – "What I am hearing sounds true and I should look into this more?" I don't think creation (Rom 1) or conscience (Rom 2) have any supernatural power on their own, though they do speak some truth about God and about sin.

        However… I firmly believe that God uses supernaturally His influence a few times in every person's life to point to that truth that is found in creation and conscience. Those times of supernatural influence using creation and conscience are similar to what the Scripture does every time its heard. God "makes plain in them" at least enough so that they are forced to "feel" – "What I am seeing in creation and sensing in my conscience sounds true and I should look into this more." They are enabled in those moments to seek, and if they seek they will be given more light until eventually they can place their trust firmly in God for His mercy to save them from their sin!

        Roger pointed to 1Cor 1:21 as if it proved general revelation can not be have any positive influence towards salvation – "… in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God." Of course that verse does not contradict Rom 1:21 – "when they knew God they glorified Him not as God…" What Roger is missing is that even though on its own, general revelation as defined by the wisdom of the world (philosophers) cannot bring the knowledge of God, general revelation can be used directly by God Himself in the mind and heart of a heathen to make the knowledge about His Godhead and power to be made plain "in them". He can and does also directly use the law that is written on their hearts to bring conviction of sin through their conscience which will encourage and enable them to seek forgiveness if they choose to and don't harden their hearts against His voice in those moments.

        Unfortunately the Calvinist believes that heathen will always harden their heart until a "regeneration" takes place in their will. But the Calvinist only needs that theological perspective to safeguard their theological notion that only eternally immutably pre-selected individuals must get saved… so they are the only ones who get that so-called "regeneration". He thus discounts the enabling work of God's giving light through creation and conscience to every person (John 1:9). But since God did NOT eternally immutably pre-select any individuals before creation. In fact there were no other individuals in existence before creation to select except members of the Godhead. And before an individual is in Christ through faith they are not one of God's people or one of His beloved, His elect (Rom 9:25). So everyone is truly being enabled by God's light at various times in their life to begin to seek. But they must not harden their heart against that grace they are given.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “the Calvinist believes that heathen will always harden their heart until a “regeneration” takes place in their will.”

        I like what Dr. Flowers says. The heart begins hard and grows more calloused (hardens, perhaps judicially hardened) as the person rejects God, Christ or His word. However, the Calvinist does say that God has to intervene to stop the downward spiral.

        Then, “But the Calvinist only needs that theological perspective to safeguard their theological notion that only eternally immutably pre-selected individuals must get saved… ”

        More accurate to say something like this, “their theological notion that an omniscient God has chosen in eternity past and immutably, only those individuals that He will save and who then must get saved… ” Technically, those whom God passes over can still be saved but must do so without God’s direct help and according to rules non-Calvinist have laid down.

        Then, “[The Calvinist] thus discounts the enabling work of God’s giving light through creation and conscience to every person (John 1:9)”

        Not exactly. The Calvinist just adds that more is required than that – for instance, faith is also required – light and conscience might influence a person to seek God as Brian maintains (as he writes, below, “So everyone is truly being enabled by God’s light at various times in their life to begin to seek.”) but God must still convey faith to the person, the Holy Spirit must convict of sin, and other things generally disputed..

        Then, “But since God did NOT eternally immutably pre-select any individuals before creation.”

        God could have and who can say that he didn’t?

        Then, “In fact there were no other individuals in existence before creation to select except members of the Godhead.”

        Except that even you allow that God knows all future possibilities and since it is God who decrees who will be born, such individuals can exist in the mind of God. Surely God had Adam and Eve in mind all along.

        Then, “And before an individual is in Christ through faith they are not one of God’s people or one of His beloved, His elect (Rom 9:25).”

        Which does not negate God’s ability to know what He is doing with such people.

        Then, “But they must not harden their heart against that grace they are given.”

        Of course, more grace is given than that for ultimately, Paul says, “You are saved by grace.”

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      5. brianwagner writes, “Interesting use of the word – “technically”… ”

        I don’t think a Calvinist would object if someone actually came to salvation without God’s direct help. That would be a truly extraordinary person – someone like Brian.

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      6. Interesting… or should I say ironic use of the word “object”. I wonder if you know any Calvinists as friends, Roger!

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      7. brianwagner writes, “or should I say ironic use of the word “object”. I wonder if you know any Calvinists as friends”

        Calvinists have no problem with Universalism if God wants to save all people; they just don’t see that outcome in the Scriptures. The non-Calvinists seem to get highly incensed with the idea that God could save everyone if He wanted.

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      8. Not incensed about what God could do… but about the misrepresentation of what God said He did do for everyone. Do you have any Calvinist friends… any friends…?

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      9. brianwagner writes, “Not incensed about what God could do… but about the misrepresentation of what God said He did do for everyone.”

        Don’t you buy into 2 Peter 3, “God is not willing that any perish…” Isn’t that the opening for God to save anyone He wants up to everyone.

        Then, ” Do you have any Calvinist friends… any friends…?”

        Everyone I know believes that God is omniscient. Some get confused about the consequences of omniscience.

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      10. Peter is clearly saying, using Gk – bouloumai, God is not planning for any to perish. Logically that does not mean no one will perish… just that He has not and will not actively plan for them to perish.

        If they perish, it will be because they rejected the other part of His planning – “that each of them come to an opportunity of repentance.” He has planned and continues to plan opportunities for everyone to seek Him and come to an opportunity to repent.

        And you still did not answer the “friend” part of my question!

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      11. brianwagner writes, “Peter is clearly saying, using Gk – bouloumai, God is not planning for any to perish.”

        I guess that is why God gives them light, the opportunity to hear the gospel, faith, and the conviction of sin, etc. Perhaps, God is planning to save all.

        Is Creek writing generally heavy in the use of the participle or is it coincidence that key verses use the participle (here and John 3:16, for example)?

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      12. Participles are abundant in Greek, and must relate somehow to a noun or verb in the sentence. A good chart of the various uses of the participle when modifying a verb is found – http://www.ntgreek.org/pdf/adverbial_participles.pdf

        The use of the participle in John 3:16 is as a substantival adjective (“the ones believing”), the subject of the main verb in the clause – “should not perish.”

        The use of the participle in 2Peter 3:9 is adverbial, relating to the main verb “is longsuffering”. It would be easy just to say its use is temporal… “longsuffering while he is not planning…” But other uses probably fit better. Attendant circumstance – “longsuffering and is not planning…” Manner – “longsuffering as seen in His not planning…”, and Result – “longsuffering with the result He is not planning…” and Cause – “longsuffering because He is not planning…” all seem like reasonable uses of this participle.

        But for now I probably lean towards Result and Cause since the action of the participle is to be used twice – “He is longsuffering toward you with the result that He is not planning that any of you should perish but /because He is planning that all of you get to come to a moment of repentance.”

        I am also taking a modal idea for the infinitive “to perish” having it mean “should perish”.

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      13. brianwagner writes, “But for now I probably lean towards Result and Cause since the action of the participle is to be used twice – “He is longsuffering toward you with the result that He is not planning that any of you should perish but /because He is planning that all of you get to come to a moment of repentance.”

        That’s a nice Calvinist rendering of the verse.

        When you go into teacher mode, you say really neat things. I checked out ntgreek.org website – excellent site.

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      14. Thanks. Where we disagree is on who are the readers, the “you”. I believe the apostles spoke to a readership like speaking to most congregations… There are always among the “you” those not truly converted. (Compare 2Cor. 13:5, 2Pet 1:10)

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      15. brianwagner writes, “Where we disagree is on who are the readers, the “you”. I believe the apostles spoke to a readership like speaking to most congregations… There are always among the “you” those not truly converted. (Compare 2Cor. 13:5, 2Pet 1:10)’

        And the Calvinist refers to context –

        2 Peter
        1:1 Simon Peter,…to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours,…
        3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you…
        2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand…
        8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved,…
        9 The Lord is…patient toward you, not wishing for you to perish but for you to come to repentance.
        11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…
        14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,..

        Context does not seem to allow for extrapolating beyond the believers to whom Peter writes regardless who else might hear the letter read.

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      16. I noticed you did not comment on 1:10, Roger… include 1:9 and 11 also… and 1:19.

        And you probably could agree that “obtained a/the precious faith of equal value as we apostles were given” could reasonably/grammatically refer to the revelation/faith which the apostles received directly and by experience, but that the readers were receiving in written form… especially when you see Peter’s emphasis in 1:16-21.

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      17. brianwagner writes, “you did not comment on 1:10, Roger… include 1:9 and 11 also… and 1:19.

        OK. Extending the context –

        2 Peter
        1:1 Simon Peter,…to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours,…
        2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you…
        3 …His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,…
        4 …He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature…
        5 …in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge;
        7 …in your brotherly kindness, love.
        8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful…
        9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind …
        10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
        11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
        12 Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things,…established in the truth which is present with you.
        13 …stir you up by way of reminder,
        15 …after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.
        19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place,…
        3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you…
        2 …that you should remember the words spoken beforehand…
        8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved,…
        9 T he Lord is…patient toward you, not wishing for you to perish but for you to come to repentance.
        11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…
        14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,..

        Then, “And you probably could agree that “obtained a/the precious faith of equal value as we apostles were given” could reasonably/grammatically refer to the revelation/faith which the apostles received directly and by experience, but that the readers were receiving in written form… especially when you see Peter’s emphasis in 1:16-21.”

        The source for the reader is the gospel – consistent with Paul’s account in Romans 10. Nonetheless, from 1:1 and then emphasized in 3;1, the audience consists of believers and this is the “you” throughout 2 Peter 3. You have not argued otherwise to this point.

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      18. Copying the context which includes the verses I pointed to is not commenting on those verses.

        And saying I have not argued otherwise when I plainly did offer reasonable grammatical alternatives for the meaning of “faith” in 1:1 and of “you” in 3:9 means you either did not read what I wrote, read it but did not understand there was an argument, or just reject my argument so much that you say it doesn’t exist.

        The worse case scenario is that you are trying to deceive the readers of our conversation that there was no argument from me, so they credit what I said as important. But I am giving little credence to that highly unlikely assessment as to why you said that I “have not argued otherwise to this point.”

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      19. brianwagner writes, “you still did not answer the “friend” part of my question!”

        I don’t have any friends – but I do have many acquaintances.

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      20. I hope Roger you will consider me at least an online friend to you! I will know you will feel comfortable to acknowledge me that way when you stop using “brianwagner writes” and speak directly to me. No pressure – lol 😉

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      21. brianwagner writes, “stop using “brianwagner writes” and speak directly to me.”

        I use, “brianwagner writes, ” because that is the screen name you have chosen and it avoids confusion as to whom I am referring. We are online acquaintances since we really know nothing about each other – although I think you are a smart guy who actually knows what he believes and why which I don’t find to be the case, generally. You can actually argue against Calvinism and then advocate an alternative – how often do we see that??

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      22. Acquaintances, yes, and more. I consider you an online friend Roger because of our interactions over years, your occasional affirmation of respect, like in your last reply, and the few times you did let your guard down and used my first name! 😊

        I only wish we could have met in person before I moved last month from north central VA, to Tampa, Fl.

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      23. Yes sorry I had not yet gotten to this post. I will just briefly ask about Romans 10:18. You have quoted this numerous times to me. But when I read this in Romans 10 My immediate question is are you sure that this means all men everywhere for all time know about the Gospel? Or is it possible that Paul is talking about Israel. For example in Acts 2:5. Now I haven’t studied this indepth, but I’m not sure contextually we should expand this to everyone. Let me know your thoughts.

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      24. Thanks Travis for the question. I think the context is clearly Jew and Gentile, 10:12. And the word gospel is connected to “how shall they hear” in 10:16. Paul is pointing back to Rom 1 in 10:18, I believe, for he is quoting about the use of general revelation by God from Ps 19.

        Acts 2:5 is an interesting verse. If literally true and not a hyperbole, then God was already preparing for a quick spread of the gospel to “every nation under heaven.” Of course, Peter at that point probably thought they would return to their nations to tell only Jews the good news of Jesus the Messiah.

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    2. Hi Travis! You may want to consider what Paul meant when he said – Rom 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” And Paul said this is connection with the importance of hearing the gospel (vs 16).

      They may not have the historical record of what happened in Jerusalem for our redemption, but neither did anyone before AD 33.

      God’s salvation has always been the same… trusting in His mercy. Isn’t that the gospel. See Job 33:14-30, Heb 4:2 and Luke 18:13-14. If a person cries out based on the knowledge received according to Rom 1 and 2 – “God be merciful to me a sinner”… will they be justified by God, as Jesus said the man in Luke 18:14 was?

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  2. It is great, Leighton, that you are attempting to respond to those influential voices in SBC who are promoting Calvinistic thinking. And pointing to the weaknesses of their hermeneutics is key! But don’t burn yourself out, Brother! I hope you are prayerfully choosing which voices to respond to… And if you are never saying “no” to responding to any, you may be taking on too much for yourself. Keep your family first in your ministry testimony! Their voices need responding to more often than many stubborn Calvinist ones need responding to. 😉

    It is such a great point you made, that God would not put blindfolds on those who are unable to respond to His light in an understanding way (blindfolding a corpse). I may have missed it, but I know you have added this point before, and I encourage you to always add it, that even those same hardened Jews in John 6, that God used in their hardened state to bring about the crucifixion, where then given another chance to understand the gospel after Pentecost, “and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

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  3. Dr. Flowers brings up the issue of Christ’s need to speak in parables if people are Totally Depraved. Under Total Depravity, people would just consider the mystery Jesus was hiding to be foolishness if explained openly, so why hide it?

    What makes this more interesting is the context provided by the parable Jesus had used. It is the parable of the seed and it describes four responses to the gospel. If Jesus spoke this parable to hide a mystery from people, what exactly was Jesus trying to hide? In the parable, Jesus has the gospel preached to some and Satan immediately takes the word away. So, Jesus is telling this parable to hide the fact that Satan seals the word from people as soon as they hear it. Well, if Jesus explained this openly, Satan still steals the word and they end up not even caring what Jesus said – so why use a parable in the first place.

    Within this parable is a “mystery” that Christ seeks to hide from some the lost (in this context, Jews). The mystery in this is what the mystery was that Jesus sought to hide so that Totally Depraved people could not hear it as it would cause them to seek forgiveness. If Dr. Flowers actually knows what Jesus is doing here, he doesn’t let on (but no one else seems to know what Jesus means either).

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    1. I disagree Roger! Leighton does know “what Jesus is doing here”, and Leighton clearly gives a reasonable explanation to what Jesus is doing in Matt 13. Only those who sought explanation heard Jesus’ interpretation, so speaking in parables did confirm the already hardened and also separated out those who were seeking. And I didn’t know you wanted to feign omniscience – but you did say, “but no one else seems to know what Jesus means either.” Or are you just saying since no one seems to agree with your view, “no one else seems to know what Jesus means”? That would be hubris.

      I certainly know what Jesus meant, for He explained that why parables were given and explained the meaning of two of them to His disciples so that we could understand even others. Satan certainly understands that if he gets the chance to steal the word out of a hard heart he is going to take it, “lest they believe and are saved” (Luke 8:12). He is either really self-deceived, or he rejects determinism and understands that even hard hearts will be influenced by the Word towards salvation if that that seed is allowed to remain.

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      1. brianwagner writrs, ” Leighton does know “what Jesus is doing here”,…”

        Great!! Jesus said, ““To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables,…” So, what is the mystery of the kingdom of God that Jesus hid in this parable that if not hidden would have led those outside to return and be forgiven?

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      2. Well, Roger, it is obvious what two hidden understandings about the kingdom that where in the two parables that Jesus explained! Do you really not know what Jesus meant in His explanations of them?

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      3. brianwagner writes, “it is obvious what two hidden understandings about the kingdom that where in the two parables that Jesus explained! Do you really not know what Jesus meant in His explanations of them?”

        I really don’t know what Jesus meant and why that information had to be hidden from the Jews less they turn and repent. Given that the parable was explained when Mark wrote the gospel, and we don’t see Jews flocking to Jesus after it was written, whatever needed to be hidden while Jesus was on the earth seems to have lost its effect. If you have an explanation for what was happening, please share.

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      4. You truly don’t see, Roger, the Jews flocking to Jesus after they were used in their hardened condition to bring about the crucifixion! What? Did you read the book of Acts yet? Thousands flocked… even many priests (6:7). And you don’t think the parables of Jesus were explained until Mark was written? Really?

        Don’t you ever feel ashamed at how you have to devalue the testimony of Scripture to maintain your loyalty to determinism?

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      5. brianwagner writes, “You truly don’t see, …”

        No, I don’t. The issue here is to explain the mystery of the kingdom that Jesus specifically hid in the parable of the seed in Mark 4. You do not have a clue about this else you would have explained it. Don’t take it personally; I have not found any one else who has been able to explain it.

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      6. Jesus said “mysteries” of the kingdom. His parables were told publicly without explanation… thus the meanings of kingdom teaching were hidden… a mystery… to the hearers. It really is not that hard, Roger.

        He revealed the meanings hidden in two of the parables to those who demonstrated they wanted to do God’s will by coming to Christ to find out the meaning. (John 7:17) The clear Word/ teaching of God is powerful (Heb 4:12) even in a hard heart… that is why the evil one wants to take it out.

        Jesus gave parables/ mysteries to the crowd as a way to separate from it those presently seeking and to allow those in it to remain hardened who had already shut their eyes to clear truths of God’s Word. Jesus was doing the will of the Father in this type of preaching.

        As His disciples we are not told to publicly proclaim God’s truth in parables, or at least not without explanation, but to clearly explain/proclaim the powerful truth.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Jesus said “mysteries” of the kingdom….”

        Jesus said, ““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!’” (Mark 4)

        To respond to my question, your response would be –

        “The secret(s) of the kingdom of God contained in the parable of the seed is…” Had the immediate audience – the unbelieving Jews – perceived and understood this “mystery” they might have turned and repented because…”

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      8. It is difficult Roger to keep repeating myself, for it makes me believe the person who keeps asking the same question and rejecting the same simple answer just does not want to hear… and I’m not even speaking in parables to keep the truth hidden from you! Read John 7:17 again. You have to have ears that want to hear and wants to do God’s will.

        Most in the crowd that day showed they had already closed their eyes by not following Jesus by coming to Him later to find out the meaning of the parable. The truth/understanding of the parable is powerful even in hard hearts that receive it, and would have been also in theirs if they came to Jesus looking for understanding.
        The ears that want to hear after hearing the explanation will then believe they must check their own heart to ask themselves if it is hard, shallow, or being choked… for only a good heart without those hindrances will have the Word produce its fruit. Do you want to hear Roger, or is your loyalty to the thorns of determinism choking the influence of God’s Word in your heart?

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      9. brianwagner writes, “The ears that want to hear after hearing the explanation will then …”

        You argue that those who had “ears to hear” would come to Jesus afterwards to learn the meaning of the parable and understand the mystery hidden therein. Naturally, those who don’t have “ears to hear” do not come back for further explanation and continue in their ignorance. I don’t see that as the issue.

        The presumption I see is that a “truth” is being expounded by Christ which would lead the unbelieving Jew to repent whether they had ears to hear or not, Thus, Jesus seeks to avoid this outcome by hiding that truth in a “mystery” in the parable. I see nothing in the parable that would cause the unbelieving Jew to turn and repent. Yet, Jesus said that there was something, a mystery, that He did not want revealed to the unbelieving Jews so He hides it within a parable.

        In explaining why this is so, you say something interesting, “The truth/understanding of the parable is powerful even in hard hearts that receive it, and would have been also in theirs if they came to Jesus looking for understanding.” Note the BIG Calvinist “IF” that you add. This is nothing more than that which we find in John 6 – No one can come to me (no one has ears to hear) unless the Father draw him (give him a desire for understanding).

        We now seem to be on the trail to an answer to the dilemma posed by Dr. Flowers – Why does Jesus speak in parables to those who are depraved and could care less anyway. The answer may be that Jesus uses parables to divide those whom God is showing mercy from those that God is (judicially) hardening. Jesus speaks in a parable; God opens the ears of His elect (God draws them to seek understanding); and they come to Jesus seeking to understand the parable. Those not drawn are further hardened against Christ in order to bring about His crucifixion.

        Sorry to be so tedious on this issue, but I want more than the superficial treatment normally accorded this passage because Dr. Flowers has rightly exposed that treatment as inadequate.

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      10. Take your fingers out of your ears Roger! Do you really want to understand? The parable hid the truth. If Jesus had spoken openly the truth about the influence of God’s Word to that crowd… it would have had the powerful effect that the explanation which He gave about the Word has when it is put into a heart! They would have “heard” that truth and would have been enabled to make a choice to seek more understanding about how to get rid of hardness, shallowness, or choking influences. But Jesus wasn’t going to give that crowd the clear Word! He gave them parables/mysteries instead. That was on purpose, partly because they had already closed their eyes to truth He had previously given to them openly. See Mark 7:14f as an example when He did speak clearly to a crowd with the clear assumption they could hear and understand and act upon His teaching. It really isn’t that hard! Get rid of the deterministic weeds that are choking your interest in believing what is so simple!

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      11. brianwagner writes, ” Do you really want to understand? ”

        Your position is evolving – as it should. Now you claim that the word “would have had the powerful effect that the explanation which He gave about the Word has when it is put into a heart! ” That’s interesting because the plain exposition of the word seems not to have much effect on the Jews today. It’s effect on gentiles is only a little better. I guess it was powerful back then because the words came from the mouth of Jesus. I guess Jesus had to tone down the power of His words through parables else all would have come to salvation and He would never have been crucified – with disastrous consequences.

        Then, you say, “They would have “heard” that truth and would have been enabled to make a choice to seek more understanding…” meaning that it would have negated the depravity that restrained them – that it would have “enabled” is regeneration so we have regeneration before faith.

        Then, “See Mark 7:14f as an example when He did speak clearly to a crowd…”

        Seems to me that Mark 7 involves parables just like Mark 4. I don’t think you can say that Jesus spoke clearly to a crowd unless you mean Jesus spoke parables clearly to a crowd so that they would not understand.

        Nonetheless, you are still unable to explain what truth Jesus hid in the parable of the seed to prevent iy having a powerful effect on the Jews..

        I enjoy your openings and closings because they provide comic relief when you cannot explain something.

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      12. Once again I am saddened, Roger, that I was unable to help you move towards greater willingness to understand. And I am thinking you have not done much evangelism getting people to actually hear the word and watching its powerful effect as demonstrated in the four soils. Remember Jesus was clearly teaching in His explanation of the parable that the Word has a positive effect with potential in the first three soils, but only brings forth fruit in the fourth.

        I’m not just here for your “comic relief”. I pray often for you to understand. So much for now…

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      13. brianwagner writes, “Remember Jesus was clearly teaching in His explanation of the parable that the Word has a positive effect with potential in the first three soils, but only brings forth fruit in the fourth.”

        We both agree to that; it was never the issue.

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  4. Just read to my blind daughter the clear presentation at the banquet calling for a more aggressive approach to meeting – albeit in Christian love – the fallacies of Calvinism. Just a thought: Is there such an entity of God having saved all “objectively,” independent of whether or not that salvation is accepted? I notice that this is missing in the entire discussion of God’s salvation being for all. Could he have already saved all “in Christ” – Christ’s humanity being the Representative of all humanity? (II Cor 5:19) Again, this is always lacking in the discussion.

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