Hey Leighton my Name is Damien Bareham
I appreciate the sound way you deal with these arguments based on the context of a passage. I myself have never been a Calvinist, I’ve never considered myself any denomination or theological persuasion by title. All I’ve known was that I was a Christian whose God was very near and voice known. If someone told me for instance that they were a lutheran, I’d respond that I was a Christian. I thought what I now know as differing denominations were in fact different religions! When I did learn of denominations I despised the idea, too dysfunctional. This among many things caused me to question–not God or His Messiah but Christianity as an expression. I have had very shaking moments when my world view has been challenged and I’ve had to test it and prove it. It seemed like they just made it up as they went along and I drank it up because it was all I knew. But I was always one to need to varify. Where did they get their info from? That journey led me through fear and mistrust and very close to despair. But God allowed me to be very aware of His presence through it, Reading the Bible with prayer and letting it speak for itself has kept me. During that time I kept hearing God say, “What did the Jews think? The word came to them first, how did they see it?” My search, skepticism, and desire for what was true led me to messianic Judaism. I find in it the most healthy and consistently biblical theology and practice. It represents perfectly Gods command not to stray to the right nor to the left.
Anyways my reason for writing you is to seek your perspective on a struggle of mine.
How do you keep your emotions in check when dealing with opposing views of Fellow Believers?
How do you keep from thinking of them as against you and therefore against God?
How can one who knows a lot stay humble enough to not be “puffed up with knowledge” and how does one build another up in love when they are in stark disagreement?
Why do I feel the need to correct them as if I’m somehow saving them from disaster? Did Jesus Care? I don’t think so because he never followed after any theological school of his day nor paid it much mind. That’s not to say he wasn’t influenced by it in anyway, I think his teaching very much reflected the Judaism of His day but ultimately He was not on the side of the Pharisee, Sadducee, Zealot, Essene, East vs West Jew mentality or any of it. Why do we battle theology so much when ultimately Jesus called us to himself and not to any school of man made thought? Did he not say, “Don’t call yourselves Rabbi or Father.”? Meaning not to start your own teaching but keep to his teaching.
Why do we theologize? what are its benefits and limits?
Or is This whole debate like a bridge where there are two opposing forces absolutely staked in position that gives the tension which allows us to cross.
Are there supposed to be calvinist to emphasize Gods Sovereignty and Armenians to emphasize human responsibility? Are there supposed to be charismatics to emphasize experience and personal life with God and Cessationist to emphasize taking the written word seriously?
Any insight will help me out, thanks and God Bless.
If you email me an answer I would get it for sure, work and family life keep me from being on the computer frequently but I can access my email from my Iphone. email@example.com
One last thing, I think Id really enjoy a conversation with you and If ever possible Id like to have a Skype call with you someday.
Hey Damien, thx for the note. Have you listened to my podcast “why so rude?” I discuss this issue there and it may be a good place to start.
I believe it was divine providence that I came across your ministry. I was searching for non-reformed rappers and someone has posted a video of you on YouTube. I too have come to many, if not all of the same conclusions you have. It is possible that you know of the ministry of a friend of mine that also shares these beliefs. In case you do not I wanted to share that information with you. He has written a series of four books called the God’s Heart Series, and in each he addresses the contradictions within all forms of Calvinism and Armenianism; he offers instead a biblical contextual view of the scriptures. Please take some time and investigate the three messages from Romans at the bottom of this page. http://www.lifeonthehill.org/?page_id=10
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I struggle as a christian with some things calvinism says. They say God decreed/ordained the fall of man to happen. Is that true? Because that would make God the author of a lot of nasty and evil things in a way doesnt it? How can I trust that He is good if that is so?
Also some say all that happens God ordains, so even if someone gets raped it’s Gods ordaining it but holding people responsible for it. Is that true?
Hi to Diet, I also get upset when I hear Calvinists say it is God’s plan for good (for example when a loved one is tragically lost or suffering), even when we cannot see His purpose. I believe bad things happen because this is a fallen world, not because God ordained them, but God is always there to sustain us and help us through difficult and tragic circumstances. A good book dealing with this is “the Innocence of God” by Udo Middelmann, Frances Schaeffer’s son-in-law. Middelmann speaks eloquently in contradiction to many Calvinistic beliefs. This web site may want to add his name to the list of non-Calvinistic theologians.
Hi there, Thanks for the reply!
I will look into that book.
Ps why did God allow satan in the garden of Eden? Why did God allow the fall, if He knew that would happen?
How must I read texts like CHRIST who was slain before the foundation of the world? Our being chosen in CHRIST from eternity etc. There are a lot of texts that speak like that. Did God plan for the fall or…? I struggle with these issues.
➡ Why did God allow the fall, if He knew that would happen?
The way the Bible reads—is that God entrusted the fate of many to one. Why would God do that? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me, But if he had sufficient reasons, we must trust him.
➡ How must I read texts like.. being chosen in CHRIST from eternity
We read them just as they stand. We accept that God’s foreknowledge is what he bases election on, as the Bible states. Does this mean God wanted others to be lost? Or that God’s omniscience means God is responsible? We must accept the Biblical testimony even if it seems to include paradoxes.
Hello Mr. Flowers
Thank God for you ministry. I know you have a million questions to answer but I hope you can answer my question.
First of all, I’m not calvinist. I thought I was closer to arminianism, but after reading your Baptist Faith and Message doctirne, I think I’m Baptist in belief.
My issue is this:
1. Why do Christian Leaders insist that the Calvinists and Arminians or Baptists are brothers?
2. Are Christian Leaders afraid of causing too much tension or is it they don’t want to divide the body? (as if it hadn’t been divided already since Augustine or John Calvin)
3. Why can’t Christian leaders (notable) just stand up and say “Hey! Cavlinism is absolutely wrong!” Because if Truth is absolute, then there is only One truth, and you and I know with a certainty that calvinism is not the truth!
Calvinism taken to its logical conclusion is fatalistic and heres why.
John Calvin states:
“The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)
Many calvinist I argue with affirm the above softly because as hard as it is to swallow, they do so anyways; (I believe out of pride.)
But that’s my issue. I can tolerate a non -believer in their attacks, but I can’t tolerate someone who claims to be in the Truth but has such bizarre beliefs about the Father that I believe we can’t simply be worshipping the same God-The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The true God, Jesus.
I don’t care how many of the essentials they all claim to believe, but if they believe that my Father parades the devil and evil people around to do His dirty work, I have a serious problem with that.
The calvinist believe that their god ordained or decreed everything that comes to past, including the devil’s activities and evil people. But how can that be? Can God cast out God? I thought that Jesus came to undo the work of the devil? But if God caused or ordained the devil work against Him, then sends the Son to clean it up… I don’t get it, is God schizophrenic? He’s playing both sides of the table.
Please help sir. I know where I stand and from listening to your podcast and reading your writings, I know where you stand. I just hope that someone of notoriety and with the proper credentials like you is able to make a stand for the truth of Christian faith for the benefit of the audience. And if nothing else, I just want my feelings to be validated by a credible source. Am I alone in feeling this way?
You are not alone. There are others who view this difference as a point worthy of a divide. And to be clear, there are some higher forms of Calvinistic teaching I would not tolerate in my home church or in the SBC. Many of these more extreme versions of Calvinism get the most play time and thus those, like yourself, see the whole bunch as one in the same. I understand that.
The truth is that there are many tender hearted Calvinists who would affirm just about every major point that you and I would affirm and while those affirmation may seem inconsistent with the claims of their systematic at least they are not willing to go against the essential truths revealed in scripture (i.e. God is all loving and genuinely desires for every individual to repent and be saved).
For the ‘lower’ forms of Calvinism (i.e. the ‘inconsistent’ Calvinist) the differences are mostly philosophical and rarely show up in any practical way.
I do think we need to stand for truth and we should do so in love. We should recognize that Calvinists are simply misunderstanding a few passages to mean something differently than you and I believe. There is nothing wrong with telling them you disagree and still loving them and respecting them as brothers.
If the person is divisive and striving to split the church over disputable matters then they are in clear opposition to the Word of God.
The bigger issue for me is the attitude/heart of the believer, not if all their theological “T’s” are crossed and “I’s” are dotted. We all have errant views. We all make theological mistakes. The issue is whether or not we love each other and are able to disagree respectably (John 13:35). I hope that helps.
Thanks Leighton. I admire your patience and reasoned arguments, especially when dealing with rabid Calvinists like James White. It can’t be fun to deal with those of such rancor and all the cheap shots and shrill rhetoric. Yes, White repeatedly throws out the “no exegesis” charge, as though he is the only one who does it right. He made the same attack against Dr Brown in that debate. It’s getting old….
By the way, your latest podcast on “a sinful God” was excellent! You have a way of making difficult concepts easy to understand. Keep up the good work!
Professor Flowers, I watched excerpts from your debate with Dr. White. His implementation and interpretation of Jesus’ slave analogy in the gospel of John completely undercutted the Total Inability and Irresistable Grace doctrine of Calvinism. Around 1:45 Dr. White says. “A slave does not choose to become free. He may humble himself as much as he wants, but unless the Son sets you free you will remain in slavery.” The problem is with the second sentence of that quote. Read the second sentence of Dr. White’s quote again. According to Total Inability and Irresistable Grace, if a sinner has humbled himself that is evidence that the Son has already irresistibly regenerated him and set him free from his slavery. Dr. White is saying that a person can truly be humble before God and remain a slave to sin which is a contradiction of his own system. My two cents. 😉
Just listened to your podcast, Does Calvary prove Compatiblistic Calvinism, and I wanted to thank you again and tell you how much I appreciate this blog. Most of my family members are still Calvinists, and having been raised in that way of thinking and culture, I need all the support I can get. Listening to Piper now is really hard for me. But thank you for your willingness to go the distance and clearly point out the errors. I can’t thank you enough. I’m praying your ministry will be increased and blessed. You are fighting a good fight — keep it up!
Hi there Leighton.
Let me start by saying I am a Calvinist, and I’ve been listening to your podcast for a bit now. I am not convinced on your views to be completely honest, but I find some of them interesting. I’ve also read your book, and am curious if you can point me in the direction of someone who can explain this “judicial hardening” view.
Look forward to hearing from you.
There are several podcasts that discuss that topic and listen to the ones next week with Matt Chandler because he touches on it in a sermon that I go over too.
Thanks for listening
I cited you in a paper on soteriology for my Systematic Theology II class. I would like to send you a copy. What’s the best e-mail to send it to? I searched through this site and couldn’t find one.
Hey Dr. Flowers
I am 26 year old M.Div student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which I know is your Alma mater. I recently just stumbled on your podcast and have been glued to it ever since. I am non-Calvinist/traditionalist (we need a cooler name lol), and I find that so many people my age who are going into ministry are reformed. I have the uneasy feeling that in 20 years, when my generation becomes the major leadership of the SBC, the Calvinist prospective will be the majority opinion in the SBC. I would like to know what your opinion on how we got to this point. What I mean is how the Calvinist prospective became so popular so fast? I have my own opinions which include many different things all combining to create a perfect storm sort of speak. But I would love to hear your opinion and why they are drawn to it in the first place? My Systematic Professor at NOBTS said that Calvinists have just done more writing then non-Calvinist and I also heard you said that as well. Why do you think that is so? I have to admit I agree, it is even hard to find YouTube videos (other then yours of course) from intelligent non-Calvinist perspective. I do apologize if you already touched on some of these topics in your podcast.
Keep plunging through the podcasts as I do cover this point, I just don’t recall where. 🙂
In short, the Calvinist are addressing the hard passages and the non-Calvinists are not.
Thank you Dr. Flowers for your service and for your God given gift to explain some verses that I ,at one time, would rather ignore. I now can fully understand how these “trouble” verses fully line up with what I’ve always believed about salvation and about the character of God. Please keep it up and know that you are making a difference. Thank you and God Bless.
Hi Leighton, can you please direct me to any of your podcasts that address ‘holiness’ and/or ‘sanctification’ in light of this discussion? thanks!
I appreciate our web-site and wonderful articles very much.
And I understand the burden this must put on you, and how painful it must be to deal with Calvinist’s who are very often unChrist-like.
Can I ask you to consider a possible future topic?
We adult consumers know, a percentage of products on the market, would not be successful, if it weren’t for false advertising. Many products would lose all credibility in the marketplace, if it weren’t for the genius of misleading language, strategically designed to induce consumer buy-in by misleading. I think most Christians would sight that use of language as a form of dishonesty.
And yet a preponderance of Christians never consider the possibility that Christian marketing incentives can function the same way. Jerry Walls, in his presentation, “What is wrong with Calvinism” remarks about the disingenuous language tactics he often observes by even leading Calvinists. I quote him as saying “Calvinism would lose all credibility in two years if it weren’t for its misleading rhetoric”.
And William Lane Craig laments that Calvinist proponents always…..quote “fail to enunciate the radical distinctions that are logically inherent in their system”.
Dr. Flowers, I’ve come to believe that language is one of the primary manifestations of both human integrity and human dishonesty.
I would ask you to please consider a concerted review of the language subtitles that should be so noticeable to one who has had so much time and intellect with which to examine Calvinism.
I believe that Calvinism’s strategic use of duplicitous language is its primary strength in the marketplace of protestant theologies, while in regard to Godliness, it is Calvinism’s greatest dishonor. I’ve said for many years, that of all the creatures, in the garden of protestant Christianity, Calvinism is the most subtle beast in the field. A scripture in the O.T. tells us not to remove the ancient landmarks. When we manipulate the meanings of words, I believe we are doing just that. I would ask you to consider looking into, and remarking on Calvinism’s significant reliance upon duplicitous semantic subtleties and semantic shell games. My very sincere thanks, Br.d
That may be so but I don’t believe it’s intentional
Question: Why do we still have worth when we are no longer “good”?
Is this a Calvinist game of semantics?
If there is a man drowning and a dog drowning which one should we save?
Does being created in God’s image give us worth even if we are not elect?
In Genesis 1 all that God created was good.
Yet after the fall in Genesis 3 we suffer the consequences of the fall and we are inclined towards sin. We are no longer good. Then why do the non-elect have any worth?
Does not good = no worth?
How do we clarify this? I think the systematic lends itself to this idea which is never clearly articulated.
I have listened to every Podcast and think your ministry is extremely important. Keep up the good fight.
If goodness is understood as righteousness in accordance with the law then one could rightly say no one is good. This is Pauline.
However, despite what Calvinists say, our inability to earn righteousness by works of the law does not equal and inability to trust in the one who fulfilled the law in our stead.
I do not believe theologians typically use the term good with regard to the value of human life in general. But it does seem to me that Calvinists would be hard-pressed to prove that God values the reprobate of that system.
I greatly appreciate your ministry. As a ‘near-Calvinist’, deep into the fold, it was something of a personal disturbance when God began to open my eyes to the serious nature of the errors of Calvinism. I was willing to put up with what I perceived as their ‘less than accurate’ theology, until I began to see how harmful it is both to the believer’s growth in maturity as well as the proclamation of the gospel. Frankly, with a God like Calvinism’s, who needs a devil? The proof is in the pudding, and after over a dozen years of seeing individuals and families wounded and/or broken by our church I had to admit that there was a serious problem that I could no longer deny.
I found your website only recently, and was so excited to discover that there are other people in the world who understand the gospel as I believe the Holy Spirit has begun to reveal it to me. People are so enamored with ‘orthodoxy’ and tradition that they frequently become incapable of genuine, spirit-led learning. Thank you for encouraging people to think again, and to question their cherished presuppositions.
May I make a request? As one who is more of a reader than listener, I would love it if your podcasts could be transcribed so that they could be read as well as listened to. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
I am so grateful to have stumbled onto your first debate with James white on You Tube, and subsequently found so much more of your material. I have been burdened for some time as I attend a church here in Maine that is staunchly “Doctrines of Grace” so called. After growing up in this church, I left to go to a conservative Pentecostal church, only to be discouraged with the lack of Biblical teaching, and return to the church of my youth.
I left my Calvinist view after seeing so much that is simply contrariwise in the scriptures, yet had little knowledge of the available other Biblical teachings that are out there. After reading men like Hunt, and watching many others debate James White, I was appreciative of stumbling onto your material. Specifically regarding the teaching of “Judicial Hardening” as you refer to it.
Over the last year or so, I have been meeting with my pastors to discuss these matters, and trying to be objective by reading their recommended books such as AW Pink’s “The sovereignty of God”, and a book by Parker and Dever titled “In My Place Condemned He Stood”. These materials seem to be complicated, and full of philosophical arguments contrary to the plain teachings of scripture. have often wondered how I can question their authority given I am no match for their intellectual thinking and have no formal education of my own.
You have given me much hope, and confidence to believe and articulate the scriptures for what they say and don’t say in their proper context. I fear so many pastors and teachers are too busy teaching people their systematic instead of teaching how to read the Bible and understand it.
One request I would make would be for you to address the seeming focus of God in the OT to Israel, as apposed to the surrounding pagan nations. I realize there were times in which God saved individuals outside of Israel, as well as people groups such as the Ninevites, but the emphasis does appear to be lopsided as my Calvinistic brothers never fail to point out! Perhaps there is already a resource you could point me to?
Your personal testimony of your struggle with and overcoming of sexual sin is precious to me as mine was very similar. After working with a local ministry called Free Indeed NE, I have found that testimony to be all too common in the church. Thanks for sharing it.
I have often had the desire for a more formal education, but have felt it to be too impractical at this season of life. I am married, and am the father of 6 children under 13. Would you recommend the online version of Trinity?
Your spirit of humility speaks loud and clear, and your passion for the glory of Christ is very evident. I have joined your supporters, and look forward to the content, and especially your curriculum as it becomes available, Lord willing!
You have blessed me more than you will know! Keep up the great work!
For the Kingdom,
Jason, this message made my day. Thank you for sharing this. I add resources recommendations to the “beliefs” page as I find them. I hope that help my friend!
Dear DR, flowers we are in Romans nine and am thankful again, not only for your perspective,but as listen to you honor Gods” Holy scriptures. your humility has not only kept me in my church, your humility has kept me humble before God and to repent from -unrighteous anger……… These brothers that say they love one another but are sarcastic and flippant in their responses are also showing me that, they are lacking humility,and they teach others to be the same by their public responses to you. You have helped me to defend, my understanding of Gods’ word and to be obedient to the whole counsel of Gods’ word and to pray for unity and not to sin in what i believe is a in-correct teaching, that God passes over from the womb…..one night in are bible study we showed a clip of R.C Sproul laughing at the Arminian view and it caused 4 new believers to anxiety and not want to return, because of what i have learned from you example, they came back to the study. i am grateful….. steven
Thanks for your encouragement brother. Stay strong in the Lord.
Thank you Dr. Flowers for you awesome web-site and wonderful work!!! And thanks for the opportunity to support it with a tangible form of fidelity! :-]
No, THANK YOU! for the support my friend!
regarding your podcast today….your point regarding “what is there for God to restrain if He is behind the evil actions of man” is right on target. You could also say to White, why call the Hanegraff radio show “the Bryson debacle” if God ordained Bryson’s views and comments, as though Bryson did or said something wrong? Why doesn’t White see the futility of his argument/position?
I totally agree with this. I think reasoning like this raises the specter of dishonesty. Jerry Walls remarks about this in one of his books, where he says that Calvinists consistently try to present facades of things logically consistent within (Libertarian Free Will ) that are not not logically consistent with Calvinistic determinism, AS-IF they are. I think this is a marketing strategy on Calvinism’s part, and it does raise the specter of dishonesty for me.
In Calvinism, everything that “comes to pass” does so because god (foreknows by foreordination) it meticulously to do so .
So on this view, god decrees [A], and “renders certain” [A], but then attempts to resist [A].
How this does not appear as dishonest, coming from a philosophically astute person is beyond me.
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