Skip to comments.Praise God for 5 point Calvinism
Posted on 11/21/2010 7:43:56 PM PST by bibletruth
Praise God for 5 point Calvinism
Jesus Christ affirms TULIP in the Scriptures. Hey, Catholics, these are all in your Old Testament Scriptures (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
Longevity is not the test.
With that logic then the muslims and Jews could say the thing.
Faith alone in Christ alone everything else ends up in works.
You are saved by Grace through faith so no man may boast
The verse in Matt. refers to Christ himself is the rock.
Satan has used the catholic church as his personal playground.
Catholicism and the catechism are bullshit and it's practioners are Anti-Christ cultist.
with a long history of selling indulgences to the wicked and persecuting the faithful.
I really like how you use this word to try to convince me your beliefs. Speaks volumes.
I try to not let it cause me to judge, but it can be difficult sometimes. We are to be in the word--not of the world.
s/lay route/lazy route/
Whoa! I never saw that coming. I’m shattered. Guess I’ll just surrender and go home.
The initiating premise of Calvinism is not our view man but our view of God. God is sovereign. He has the absolute right and power to do whatever he wants to do. All the rest flows from that. He has a right to give one man faith and leave another to his hardened heart, and no one can challenge his decision. Then all the election passages become readable in their direct and ordinary sense, gymnastics not required. There is a sense of relief that follows, a realization that the text means what it appears to mean.
From there one begins to look at why it must be so, how can it be fair, and only then realizes that God says very clearly that the sinful heart does not seek God, but rather is at war with him, and cannot be brought out of that state without a miracle. So all our pride, our feeling that we were smarter than someone else because we figured out how to believe in Jesus, that pride is dashed to pieces. We are left shaking like a leaf realizing how horrific our eternity might have been, had God not shown us mercy.
As for whether faith is a gift, there is a more basic question. If faith is not a gift, where did it come from?
1Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
I am content to agree with Paul. There is nothing I have that I didnt get from somewhere, and that includes my faith. But if it came from somewhere other than me, from where or from whom did it come?
Jas 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Is faith good? I hope we agree it is. Then it came from God.
Also, please note that James directly ties these good gifts from the Father with us becoming believers by God’s will.
Now, I know why you must qualify your non-gifted faith as saving faith, because Paul unmistakably identifies faith in general as one of the gifts of the Spirit:
1 Corinthians 12:7-9 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit,
So the Spirit does grant some a greater measure of faith than others, but that is not the same as arguing for two different kinds of faith, a non-supernatural saving faith, versus, what shall I call it, a supernatural extra faith, or sanctification faith, or whatever you may wish to call it. I am hard pressed to think of a Scripture anywhere that makes out your two categories of faith. I can see a single faith as applied to multiple situations, some to healing, some to patience in waiting for Gods will, some to accepting that Jesus is Gods Messiah, but until you can show me otherwise, I see only one kind of faith, differing only in degree and in object.
But if faith originates with us and not with God, how is it Paul starts his teaching on gifts by asserting that no one can call Jesus Lord but by that same Spirit who is distributing all those other gifts? Confessing Jesus as Lord is the very act of faith that separates believers from unbelievers, yet Paul says it cannot be done without the Spirit. How can that be, if by my own unregenerate faith I can conclude that Jesus is Lord?
It cannot be done, and in Hebrews 12:1 we find that we should not look to our own faith, but run the race of faith by:
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus is the cause, the author, of our faith. Without Jesus, who else would have the words of eternal life that we could turn to? Yet we have seen his miracles, and we have believed in him. He is the one who opened our eyes. Whom did the blind man in the temple wish to thank for his healing? Himself? Or Jesus? Jesus originates our faith, and brings it to its completion:
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
To whom does Jesus pray for Peters faith? God. Why? Because only God has the power to answer such a prayer. Jesus is here declaring that God can and will prevent Peters faith from failing. It is truly Peters faith, because God gave it to him. But it is not sustained by the natural powers of Peter, but by the mercy of God in keeping Peter faithful. Then, as Paul says, all pride, all boasting is excluded.
But you argue, that is only an enhancement of a faith that Peter started out with on his own. Really? Then why did Jesus say this when Peter confessed him as the Messiah?:
Matthew 16:17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Now, last I checked, Peter was flesh and blood, so he is not the originator of this insight, this certainty that Jesus is the Messiah; it is grounded in a supernatural event, the revelatory work of God working in the mind of Peter, not in anything Peter had of his own fleshly nature. If belief in Jesus as Messiah is not a work of mans flesh but of Gods Spirit, then what place is left for your non-supernatural saving faith theory? It is a novel theory indeed, but with no support in Scripture. And that is why I will probably never be able to adopt it.
There is much more in Scripture to argue that faith comes from a holy God and not from sinful man, but its getting late and this post is already too long, so I cede the floor to you, for now.
True enough, but some people were raised in environments where such words seem normal to them. I try to filter it out. After all, as I recall from Scripture, even Paul went a bit rough here and there. Frankly, I am much more concerned about the person of manners who is ready to steal my soul through subtlety.
Well you beg the question, as you must, but that doesn’t resolve it for me. Any number of groups makes the identical claim, we are the true successors to the primitive church. God is not making that claim. You are. And I have as much right to question you as I do the Mormons or the Moonies. The article I referenced shows there is substantial doubt that the primitive church knew anything of the papacy as it later came to be formulated. I don’t have time for deep historical digressions, so that article will have to remain my response to your historical claims for now. The theological/Scriptural arguments are more accessible because we share a common regard for Scripture. If you would win me on the point, and not just beg the question, I would suggest you start there. Or not. If we’re done we’re done. It’s up to you.
“The initiating premise of Calvinism is not our view man but our view of God. God is sovereign. He has the absolute right and power to do whatever he wants to do. All the rest flows from that. He has a right to give one man faith and leave another to his hardened heart, and no one can challenge his decision.”
Correct. God COULD have done so, but God says otherwise.
” 26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” - Genesis 1
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Does God have a nose & ears? Or does it mean something else? Matthew Henry comments, “God’s image upon man consists in these three things:1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body (for God has not a body), but those of his soul...But it is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does especially bear God’s image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, herein resembling God...The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature, wherein to see God.”
I believe Calvin argues that our spirit died in the fall, and thus needs to be miraculously raised to life before it can respond to God, yet we find in Genesis 4, after the fall, 6The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
There is no hint of determinism here. God says Cain has a choice, and we quickly find out what Cain chooses - but God says it is a real choice.
We find this throughout the scriptures. What of Abraham?
“5And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” - Gen 15
He believed, and it was counted as righteousness, not he was made righteous and then believed.
God can do anything He pleases, and it pleased God to offer salvation by grace thru faith, not election. When Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” - Mark 1 - was he mocking the inability of man to repent, or calling them to do so? Why is it that in hundreds of passages about believing and faith, not ONCE does God say, “If I choose you, I will give you faith to make you live”?
Instead, we read, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” - John 20 This is not hidden, and it is explicit and clear: “that by believing you may have life in his name”!
What did Peter preach at Pentecost? “21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’...Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” - Acts 2
Repentance precedes the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not born again to believe, as Calvin teaches, but believe to be born again.
“Then all the election passages become readable in their direct and ordinary sense, gymnastics not required. There is a sense of relief that follows, a realization that the text means what it appears to mean.”
I don’t have a problem with the handful of election passages - for there are only about 30 verses total concerning it. We are dead IN ADAM. We are elect IN CHRIST. To a tribal people - and the Jews were tribal - the founder of the tribe is the source of their being. There is a corporate identity that western society rejects, but that is valid in tribal society. In Afghanistan, if the person of one tribe has harmed you, you can demand restitution from another member of the tribe and they are responsible for it. For some crimes, it is acceptable to kill members of the tribe for 7 generations.
There are many articles on corporate election here: http://evangelicalarminians.org/taxonomy/term/21
That is how tribal societies think, and apparently God does as well. IN ADAM, we are dead. IN CHRIST, we have life. Election is IN CHRIST.
Think of Christ as a ship sailing to God. By grace, thru faith, you are placed on the ship. The ship is sailing, and it WILL reach port. All are offered passage, but only those who believe the promise will board in faith - and they are all chosen by the Master to be brought to him.
The election passages do NOT make sense if interpreted thru individual election, because that would put them in conflict with the hundreds of verses discussing our choice, our will, and the need to believe the promise of God.
“I am content to agree with Paul. There is nothing I have that I didnt get from somewhere, and that includes my faith.”
The passage you cite reads “ 6I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Please note is is talking about revelation, not faith. (Fuller context here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+4&version=ESV)
No man reaches up to heaven and grasps God. God reaches down to us and reveals himself to us. All revelation from God is a gift to us. But you must not go beyond the revelation of God, and delve into areas that God hasn’t revealed. This is consistent with Paul’s command not to indulge in vain speculation. Keep to what is written! And that is what I would say to Calvinists - keep to what God has written! Believe to live, not live to believe! Hold fast to what God has revealed:
16”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” - John 3
“Now, I know why you must qualify your non-gifted faith as saving faith, because Paul unmistakably identifies faith in general as one of the gifts of the Spirit...I am hard pressed to think of a Scripture anywhere that makes out your two categories of faith.”
That is OK - I’m hard pressed to think of a passage that speaks of two calling - an irresistible one to salvation, and an unobeyable one to damnation. But Jesus said faith is something he FOUND, something that comes from the person:
Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
Mat 9:2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
Mat 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
Mat 9:29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Mat 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Mar 2:5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mar 5:34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
There are many gifts of the Spirit, and faith is one: “to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
That is obviously not the faith that saves us, for everyone in the church has that, but a special gift: “Verse 9. To another faith. Another shall be distinguished for simple confidence in God; and his endowment is also given by the same Spirit. Many of the most useful men in the church are distinguished mainly for their simple confidence in the promises of God; and often accomplish more by prayer and by their faith in God than others do who are distinguished for their wisdom and learning. Humble piety and reliance in the Divine promises, and that measure of ardour, fearlessness, and zeal, which result from such confidence; that belief that all obstacles must be and will be overcome that oppose the gospel, and that God will secure the advancement of his cause, will often do infinitely more in the promotion of his kingdom than the most splendid endowments of learning and talent.” Barnes Commentary.
Yet that is the ONLY sense in which faith is spoken of as a gift. When Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith, why is it? Is he rebuking them because he didn’t give them the faith, or because he requires them to have faith? If the only way you can have money is for me to give it to you, and I give you $20, can I get angry with you for having only $20?
I need to go now, but will write more later. I do thank you for the civil and scripture based discussion. Neither your opinion nor mine matters, only what God has said.
You are correct many make that claim, but only my Church can back it up in extra-biblical writings some of which I have quoted. I can go on quoting but to be honest, I seldom engage in religious discussions anymore on FR, they tend to go on forever and I get distracted from my work. Not that I don’t enjoy debating, I do. But it becomes time-consuming. For the sake of brevity however, I would just like to add some biblical points or markers for your discernment:
*It was founded by Jesus Christ Himself in Mt 16:18.
*It would be built on Simon Peter, Mt 16:18.
*It would be defended by GOD Himself, Mt 16:18-19.
*It would have authority given by Jesus Christ, Mt 16:19,18:17-18.
*It would be guided by the Holy Spirit who will dwell within it, Jn 14:15-17, Act 15:28,16:6.
*It would be one and undivided, Mk 3:24-25.
*It would have one fold and one shepherd, Jn 10:16.
*It would have Priests, Bishops, and Deacons, 1Tim 3:1-13.
*It must have the Holy Eucharist celebration, Jn 6:42-70, Act 2:42.
*It must be found in all nations, Mt 28:19.
*It must be found in all centuries, Mt 28:20.
*Jesus Christ said He would be with His Church every day, in every year, until the end of the world, Mt 28:20. This means no gaps in time.
My apologies but I’m I’ll be on my way to visit my Mom for Thanksgiving and It;ll be a while before I get back. In the mean-time, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :-)
” 31”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” - Luke 22 / “To whom does Jesus pray for Peters faith? God. Why? Because only God has the power to answer such a prayer. Jesus is here declaring that God can and will prevent Peters faith from failing. It is truly Peters faith, because God gave it to him.”
No, it is truly Peter’s faith. Otherwise there would be no reason for praying, since God would be responsible for giving Peter sufficient faith, and God doesn’t fail. It only makes sense if Peter’s faith will be tested, and he will need help to pass the test.
Also consider Barmes: “Verse 32. That thy faith fail not. The word faith, here, seems to be used in the sense of religion, or attachment to Christ, and the words fail not mean utterly fail or fail altogether—that is, apostatize. It is true that the courage of Peter failed; it is true that he had not that immediate confidence in Jesus and reliance on him which he had before had; but the prayer of Jesus was that he might not altogether apostatize from the faith.”
Hebrews 12: From Barnes, “The author and finisher of our faith. The word “our” is not in the original here, and obscures the sense. The meaning is, he is the first and the last as an example of faith, or of confidence in God—occupying in this, as in all other things, the preeminence, and being the most complete model that can be placed before us. The apostle had not enumerated him among those who had been distinguished for their faith, but he now refers to him as above them all; as a case that deserved to stand by itself. It is probable that there is a continuance here of the allusion to the Grecian games which the apostle had commenced in the previous verse. The word “author” \~archgon\~— (marg, beginner)— means, properly, the source, or cause of anything; or one who makes a beginning. It is rendered in Acts 3:16, Acts 5:31, prince; in Hebrews 2:10, captain; and in the place before us, author. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The phrase, “the beginner of faith,” or the leader on of faith, would express the idea. He is at the head of all those who have furnished an example of confidence in God, for he was himself the most illustrious instance of it. The expression, then, does not mean properly that he produces faith in us, or that we believe because he causes us to believe —whatever may be the truth about that—but that he stands at the head as the most eminent example that can be referred to on the subject of faith. We are exhorted to look to him, as if at the Grecian games there was one who stood before the racer who had previously carried away every palm of victory; who had always been triumphant, and with whom there was no one who could be compared.”
The NIV has it, “ 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If it means that Jesus gives and perfects our faith, then we have nothing to set our eyes on, for Jesus is responsible for the outcome. But the context is of looking to the example of Jesus and following his example, and this comes as the real conclusion of chapter 11 - the chapter that lists so many examples for us to follow. None of which is needed if God gives us faith irresistibly, but all of it makes sense if faith is something inside us responding to God, something we can encourage and are responsible for having.
If faith comes from God, then he can never fault any of us for lacking it, since he is giving according to his desire. But faith means “belief that is not based on proof”. God promises salvation to all who believe his word, and doing so without conclusive proof is what faith means.
“If belief in Jesus as Messiah is not a work of mans flesh but of Gods Spirit, then what place is left for your non-supernatural saving faith theory? It is a novel theory indeed, but with no support in Scripture. And that is why I will probably never be able to adopt it.”
The REVELATION of God is the work of God. Man’s response to it is either to believe (faith) to salvation, or reject it to death. In Acts 13, Paul tells the Jews, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
Those who reject God’s revelation go to death. Those who believe it are saved by grace thru faith. But it is revelation that God provides man, and THAT is completely scriptural. It is God reaching to us, not us reaching to God - yet not all those he reaches out to accept.
“1And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” - Matt 22
In speaking of believing and faith, it is often in response to something. Here are some scriptures where believe follows some incentive to believe:
Jhn 20:8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
Jhn 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jhn 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Act 9:42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Act 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Act 13:12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Act 14:1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.
Act 15:7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Rom 10:14 But how are they to call on him in whom
they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Consider Romans 10:10 - “Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Young’s literal translation has it “10for with the heart doth [one] believe to righteousness, and with the mouth is confession made to salvation;”
It is true Calvin says this faith is implanted in our heart by God, and then we believe, but that is NOT what the scripture says. He reads that in based on his misunderstanding of being dead in sin, but what scripture says speaks for itself: “For with the heart one believes...”
One is the subject, and believes is the verb. It is what we do, not what is done to us. And we believe TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, not that we are made righteous to be able to believe. This is plain language, and doesn’t need a seminary to teach the hidden meaning. “For with the heart one believes and is justified...”
There is no scriptural warrant for claiming that belief and faith are gifts given after we are born again. John 20 is explicit as well: “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Believing comes before life, not life before belief. It is contrary to Calvinism, but a simple statement of God’s word.
Your argument from the image of God is defective on two counts. First, there are many attributes of God we do not share, despite being made in his image. We are not infinite in power or wisdom. And even if our will is free in your sense of the word, it is not nearly as free as his, due if nothing else to our finitude, let alone the problem of sin.
Second, no one can reasonably argue that the fall had no impact on that image of God in us. You have chosen to define it primarily in terms of legal effect, and that effect is certainly valid. We are forensically guilty as children of Adam. But the doctrine of Pelagius, that all souls start out essentially fresh and untainted with sin personally, has been rejected by the church at large for millennia, and for good reason. You doubtless know the drill, and I am sure you have your response package ready, but I will recite a few of the typical passages dealing with the limits of the unregenerate spirit here for the record:
Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Rom 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Do keep in mind your own rule. We both claim to be adverse to introducing things into the text that the text does not clearly support. However, you introduce a Pelagian notion of free will, which he may well have adopted from a combination of Greek philosophy and Celtic pagan theories of humans overcoming supernatural limitations, and when you do so, you do so with no textual basis for linking this classical philosophical free will concept with passages that describe sin-tainted individuals being presented with choices.
For example, all those verses that reference our choice are all considered true by Calvinists as much as by you, as far as the text will take it. The question is not whether we are presented with choices, or whether we are morally obligated to choose good over evil. We are. So we agree that far.
Your extra-textual assumption, however, appears to be that it would be unfair of God to present an obligation to one who was unwilling to fulfill it, if that unwillingness was an immutable natural characteristic of that person. I am asking you to check that assumption at the door and try to see the text for what it is, the story of what happened when a particular individual was presented with a choice, and what they did. None of these passages prove the a priori existence of a faculty of choice that could operate independently of the nature of the person exercising that choice. That is a novel, complex, and extra-textual surmise, and the truth or falsity of it cannot be demonstrated by stories that do not directly address it.
Furthermore, such a faculty for choice unaffected by the nature of the chooser is something not even true of God himself, let alone Gods finite creatures:
2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
God does not act contrary to his own nature, and neither do we. Otherwise there is no sense in being something, if you cannot predictably act like it.
Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
So God cannot lie. He, like us, acts according to his nature. His nature being perfect holiness and righteousness, he cannot lie. We can lie. What does that tell you?
Again, reminding you of your rule against extra-textual insertions, I ask you to show me where our being dead in trespasses and sins is strictly limited to the forensic sense you prefer. I do not deny that legal effect, but the Scriptures are resplendent with the personal effects of our sin nature as well, and I myself can testify to the inescapability of that nature until God came to me one day with an unexpected mercy. Therefore, one would expect such limitation as you suggest would be evident in Scripture, i.e., there should be some combination of passages which clearly show that, despite our legal trouble, we were and are totally unaffected as to our nature in consequence of Adams sin. However, if we were affected at all as to our nature, if any degree of bias toward sin was introduced, how would we be able to then act contrary to our own nature? Would not that make us more powerful than God, being able to do something he cant, act outside our own nature?
Therefore, I am forensically a sinner, true, but I act like one too. And many times in my life I was presented with choices, presented with the Gospel, and consistently chose poorly. I was than sinner of Romans 3:
Rom 3:10-18 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
That passage is not theoretical to me. I lived it. Maybe hes not talking about you, but hes definitely talking about me If you had no taint of sin and feel as though you came to God under your own power, then you were far better off than me. I was an absolute prisoner of my sinful nature. I could regale you with details but they would not be edifying to either of us. It is a life better forgotten and lost in the sea of Gods forgiveness.
Eph 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Notice Paul does not focus strictly on the forensic culpability, but on the personal corruption, in his discussion of being dead in our trespasses. The legal and the personal are fused here, a single reality viewable from both perspectives without diminishing either perspective. The death spoken of has us, in times past, walking about with a spirit of disobedience, a lifestyle of lust, driven by our nature as children of wrath. Being spiritually dead wasnt just a legal sentence; it defined us right down to the core; it is who we really were before Christ redeemed us, revived us. For me to rewrite that in some prettified fashion as merely legal would require me to unremember my own past and the utter helplessness of it.
Hence the necessity of Gods intervention.
Now, in that regard, you would like to introduce a concept of corporate election, and while that may be appealing on first blush, I advise you once again of your own rule, that we should avoid extra-textual insertions to the degree possible.
Corporate election, as you are describing it, is just such an intrusion upon the text. It is a device used to avoid the uncomfortable truth that God not only has the right and the power to draw some and not draw others into the fold as his own sheep, but that he has actually done so. However, your theory cannot be supported by the text, and in its modern incarnation is largely a product of the New Perspective on Paul movement, not a product of sound Biblical hermeneutics.
Consider for example one of the most hotly contested passages in Scripture:
Rom 9:11-13 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Now a good corporate electionist would say that the Jacob versus Esau choice was clearly national, not individual. Cf. Malachi 1:2. But that would be an odd imposition on the text because if you look at the introductory text to chapter 9, Paul is using Jacob versus Israel to explain the exact opposite of corporate election, how Israel, though it was chosen as a nation by God, nevertheless could not claim that all Israelites were of the seed of Abraham, children of the promise. He was using the example precisely for the purpose of *excluding* corporate election with respect to Israel, in favor of the spiritual Israel, the children of God who come into being through the Abrahamic promise.
(The Malachi reference does not dislodge this view, but reinforces it, in that Pauls use the original event of God choosing Jacob is to show God really choosing between two individuals, one a child of the flesh of Isaac, one a child of the Abrahamic promise. The idea that the nation of Israel would remain the permanent, corporate beneficiary of that one early choice is exactly what Paul is refuting. The choice was lineal, not corporate, though it did bring benefit to fleshly Israel for a time. It is the promise in Abraham that matters, the election that results in personal faith, not salvation by natural birth, but salvation of individuals without regard to national origin, or gender, or intellect, or wealth, who, taken together, are the true, spiritual Israel.)
Eph 1:4-7 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Note here how Paul includes himself, as us and we. Clearly he considers himself among the elect, and the only way he could acknowledge that fact in combination with the choice being made before the foundation of the world is if he was also acknowledging that he was personally, individually included in that ancient choice. There is no mention of tribal grouping here, a master set into which one might enter or from which one might exit at will. That might be your belief, but it is a modern interjection, and this text simply does not say that; you are introducing it to resolve a difficulty you have with the personal, individual election of Paul (and the others at Ephesus), which you regard as violative of your a priori theory of a nature-independent free will. That is as extra-textual as it gets.
Is that how you understand the other dependent clauses in the statement, that we are not personally and individually accepted in the beloved, redeemed through his blood, forgiven of sins, or beneficiaries of the riches of his grace, *as individuals*? But only that we can sign in or sign out of the Gospel Borg on all that whenever we like? Then who will be secure, even in Heaven? Now Im forgiven, now Im not, now the blood washes away my many, many sins, now it doesnt, the stain returns? Now he has accepted me and now he doesnt? What a nightmare! And all based on a property of random choice that is wholly independent of my nature, whether good or evil? A brave theory on your part, but the text doesnt teach it, and I am so glad of that;
Nor does the following passage support your innovative (I dare say too innovative) corporate election solution to the unfairness-of-election problem:
2 John 1:1-2 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
John here, as an Apostle, writes to a specific person whom he calls out as elect. But as if he knows you and I will one day discuss this dear woman long into the future here on FR, he adds this startling statement, that the truth, which dwells in us, will stay with us forever. This is too specific to be written off as mere group talk, not to mention the fact that if we rewrote conditionals and depersonalizations into the text to suit your theory it would hold little if any comfort, and would not have the ring of a confident, personal assertion in a private letter that it does in the Greek (See A.T.Robertson on the word order in this verse).
But what, you have asked, about all those passages about Jesus finding faith in others? Please begin by recalling that Jesus emptied himself of the divine glory and humbled himself to become one of us:
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
And all that Jesus knew, epistemologically speaking, he received at the sole discretion of the Father:
John 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
That included many things, but did not, for example, include specific knowledge of when his own visible return in glory would occur:
Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Therefore, if he did not know this critical fact concerning his own person, why should it be surprising that there would be other facts that he acquired along the way as we do? Those that he needed to know, God revealed to him; those that he would learn via experience, he would acquire at the time experienced; those he would not know till sitting at the right hand of the Father in glory, he would not know till then.
Furthermore, as I have not stated repeatedly, identifying a gift as belonging to the one to whom it was given is legally, morally, logically appropriate. It does nothing to dislodge the principle that it was nevertheless a gift that did not originate with the recipient.
Based on the foregoing two principles, it is impossible to use Jesus discovery of faith in others as ground certain that the faith so found was not a gift of the Father, and as I have already cited many other passages which indicate that it is, the burden of proof is, and remains, on you to find a passage showing that faith is something not created by God.
On 1 Corinthians 4:7 (and by analogy Peters confession of faith), you contend that only revelation is something a man might have received of God, that faith is independent of revelation or Gods choices about what and to whom he reveals Gospel truth. While I understand the importance of using context to limit potential meanings, you do know that a general principle may be cited in proving up a specific instance. Paul is telling them they didnt bring anything to the table, how much less should they boast on what particular Bible teacher they follow? And it is stated as a general principle, precisely because it is so open-ended. Paul is telling them, look, tell me what you have that you didnt get from somewhere or someone else? No answer? OK, then why are you bragging about which teacher you follow?
When I was born, did my dna come from me, or my parents? When I saw my first ice-cream cone, did my understanding of what it was and why it was desirable come from me, or the world as God set it around me? When I first heard of Moses, Jonah, and Elijah in Sunday School, did I end up in that class by pure randomness, or by the hand of God, who orders all things according to the counsel of his own will?
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
And that, again, goes to the Calvinist view of God, that he not only can exercise power that overwhelms our finite and sin-tainted sense of fairness, but that he in fact has done so, that part of faith is trusting in the inherent goodness of God, even when his acts do not square with our fleshly senses. Cf. All of Job, for example.
Or what of Abraham? I guarantee you, if it had been me taking that walk to Mount Moriah, every fiber of my being would have been in unrelenting rebellion against the prospect of offering my son up as a sacrifice. He had waited so long, yearned with such passion, to have that son, and now God seemed ready to take him away. Impossibly unfair. Yet that is the benchmark of Abrahamic faith, to surrender to God, to believe in God, even when it seems impossibly unfair to mortal reason.
So when as a young man I am hearing the Gospel preached for the umpteenth time, and finally I awake from my stupor and see the cross of Jesus for what it is, and my desperate need of forgiveness and reconciliation, how did I come to that moment, and not some other, more deserving person half-way around the world, in some country where the Gospel has yet to be heard? Who laid all the brick on the road to that crisis? Do we, as Christians, wish to attribute that to the random froth of the universe, the chaos theory of salvation? Or do we, in Scripture, see a God who does indeed hold sinful mortals accountable while at the same time not surrendering his power to determine the course of events in their lives?
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
2 Corinthians 3:5 “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves,”
For example, is it not unfair that Pilate should be held as being against the Lord, when the crucifixion of Jesus was of all events the most indisputably predetermined event in human history? How unfair is that? Yet there it is:
Acts 4:24-28 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
All of this rage against God and his plan of redemption, yet all that gathered against him were so gathered to do whatsoever thy [Gods] hand and thy [Gods] counsel determined before to be done. No randomness to those events, and yet no lack of accountability either:
Act 2:22-23 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
So why should we surmise randomness where Gods word repeatedly has spoken to us of Gods careful planning for our redemption? Would that not be the very thing of which you warn Calvinists, to not introduce ideas that have no support of Scripture? I would argue that Calvinism has the appeal that it does because it alone among the soteriological belief systems of Christianity accounts best for the Scriptures that posit human moral responsibility coexisting with an all powerful, all good God who does what he wants to do and no one can stop him or succeed in challenging him.
As for Jesus chiding his disciples for their lack of faith, that is perfectly reasonable for him to do, as they needed to know they lacked faith. That is always part of the process for acquiring what you dont have that you need. Someone must tell you you are coming up short. So it is Jesus who is here giving them the foundation for faith by instructing their reason. That they understood he was the only solution to their lack of faith is evident in their plea to him in another place:
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
Now he did not rebuke them for their inquiry, but immediately set out to show they what great things they could accomplish if they had faith; so by reason instructing them and giving them in that very act the framework for a greater faith, literally answering their prayer before their eyes.
I also find it instructive that these Apostles, pillars of the faith as they would later be called, felt their lack of faith most sharply in the context of Jesus teaching on forgiveness, which teaching immediately preceded their prayer to him. They knew by inward reflection that the kind of never-ending forgiveness Jesus was commanding was something beyond their ability and experience, and that they would have to have greater faith to live to that higher standard.
Yet what does Jesus tell them? That if they had any faith at all they could do what seemed impossible to them, they could live to that higher standard, and yet, even in the doing of it, even in the exercise of this greater faith, they would only be doing what their master had commanded them to do, and so could not consider themselves profitable servants, i.e., servants who had brought something of their own to the table.
As for the order of salvation, you confuse temporal order with logical order. Riddle me this verse:
John 10:26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
What is the causal order? Does belief come before sheepness, or sheepness before belief? Stay with the text. The Pharisees did not believe because they were not Jesus sheep. Nothing in the order of salvation is disrupted by believing that God gives faith and that faith is used to believe God. The giving and the using are natural reciprocals of one another. That we try to parse the timing of it by using words like before and after are reflective more of our own limitations as time-bound creatures than anything else. From our perspective, we are told to believe, and that if we do, we will live and inherit all the blessings that accompany faith, and that is not a whit contrary to Calvinist teaching. The only question is what makes one person to differ from another. Some variation in the cosmic chaos that makes me see and believe and leaves another blind? Whether you like it or not, that is your explanation, because anything more than that is determinism, and that can never be, though God himself should write it:
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
No Calvinist worth his salt will deny that God ordains both means and ends. These Gentiles were surely incentivized to believe, as you say, having heard the word, and been preached to concerning the benefits of salvation and the terror of the Lord to those who rebel. And yet what, in the preceding verse, goes logically before belief? Ordained (or appointed if you prefer) is passive in the Greek, i.e., they do not initiate their own appointment. Stick to the text, according to your own rule, and it will faithfully guide you to the truth.
As for your idea that if Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith, we have nothing ourselves to do, you again resort to eliminating means simply because the ends are certain. Yet that defies the very concept of prophecy itself. All things that God determines to occur will occur, but so will all the logical and temporal precedents that lead to the prophesied event. If Jesus is the author of our faith, he will lead us to that point where it becomes truly our own, and he will not then abandon us to the waves of the tempest but will continually come out to us in the storm and settle our faith and give us himself to fix upon as we walk on the water. He does not just put yellow stickies on various dates in our future and hope we get there while he wanders off to do something else. He is God, he can do it all, guide us all the way home, through every event in our lives making us wiser and richer in the riches of his grace as we slip ever closer to the heavenly shores.
As for the absence of the word our, the truth obtained stands well without it. If Jesus authors faith and brings it to perfection, then surely your faith and mine can only be a subset of that divine process, as there are no competing manufacturers.
As for the word Archegon, here translated Author, it appears elsewhere in Scripture and usage comparison would be beneficial here:
In Acts 3:15, Jesus is called the Archegon of life, the Prince of Life. Again, this could be either limited exclusively to his resurrection, or it could comprehend his resurrection as a demonstration of his absolute power to create and sustain life. You can draw your own inferences with respect to faith.
In Acts 5:31, he is Archegon and Savior, rendered Prince and Savior, jurisdictionally empowered to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness (but how can he grant repentance if that is solely mans jurisdiction? Perhaps another time ).
That, when taken together with the writer of Hebrews amazingly high view of Jesus, would not reduce his status as Archegon to mere archetype, which your interpretation tends to do, taking almost a more naturalistic, historical approach, rather than seeing Jesus as living and dynamically available to those looking up to him, as the Prince of the realm, with all power to originate life, whether physical or spiritual, as encompassed within his royal jurisdiction:
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
So, if he is the Prince of faith, he is the absolute governor over it. Hmmm
BTW, faith is not belief without proof, as you have stated. That is a recipe for psychosis, without further qualification. The Scripture does not use such a definition, but rather says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It is a kind of proof, a connecting of Gods certainty with our perception; like Peter, we do see the reality of Jesus being the Messiah, even if we do not always hold it perfectly:
Now concerning Peter:
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Please note that your notion of Peters faith failing because Jesus prayer doesnt affect it is temporally bound; you think that because Jesus prayer was not answered in Peters immediate future, therefore Jesus prayer had no effect on Peters faith. Yet not only did Jesus prayer work, but it ran exactly according to the terms Jesus prophesied, for Jesus did not tell Peter that his faith would survive now and be strong now during the impending crisis, but that when it was over, Peter would definitely return and be in a position to strengthen his brethren. Note it is not posited as if you return, but when you return. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, i.e., incapable of being turned back.
Furthermore, the only prayer of Jesus for which we have Scriptural evidence that God said no is Jesus prayer in Gethsemane, the one thing that he came to do, that God had ordained from before time began, that was so overwhelming when confronted in person that Jesus asked whether God might remove this cup from him. God clearly said no. I am unwilling to surmise that any other prayer of Jesus failed unless given an unmistakable textual mandate for doing so, and you have not provided such.
There is more to say, but for your relief as well as mine, Ill acknowledge weve gone on a bit long here, so Ill quit for now. Perhaps we can continue on a more focused basis with smaller, specific chunks of argument. Proving up an entire system in a single post is quite wearying. But its up to you.
Well, I know I don’t have time tonight to reply to your entire post, but I’ll make a small dent...
“But the doctrine of Pelagius, that all souls start out essentially fresh and untainted with sin personally, has been rejected by the church at large for millennia, and for good reason. You doubtless know the drill, and I am sure you have your response package ready...”
Since I reject Pelagius as do all other Arminians, of course. No Arminian argues that we are born free from sin and can come to God on our own. Arminius argued that it is God’s grace reaching down to us that makes any response possible. The question is not, “Can we find/gain approval from God on our own?”, but, “When God reaches to us, can we respond to Him?”
The Calvinist says no, because we are “dead”. The Arminian says yes, because we see that dead means separated and alienated, as with the Prodigal Son, not incapable of response. We also note the use of words like blind, lost, sick, captives, etc describing our pre-salvation state, none of which imply we cannot respond to God’s offer.
“However, you introduce a Pelagian notion of free will...”
Nope. To repeat what God said to Cain just after the fall of man:
6The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
That is God, not Pelagius, saying Cain had a choice to make.
“Your extra-textual assumption, however, appears to be that it would be unfair of God to present an obligation to one who was unwilling to fulfill it, if that unwillingness was an immutable natural characteristic of that person.”
Nope. If God chose to do it that way, who could argue? But God presented a different plan: whosoever believes. It was God’s choice to offer salvation to who ever believes, not mine - and who am I to argue?
But if God commands men to repent when He knows they cannot, He is being dishonest. When God breathed, “...that by believing you may have life in his name”, he means that by believing you may have life in his name, not that by being given life, you’ll be able to believe.
There is nothing subtle or complex about that argument. Life follows belief, not belief following life. That is the promise of God, and He will not break it. God’s choice, not mine.
“Again, reminding you of your rule against extra-textual insertions, I ask you to show me where our being dead in trespasses and sins is strictly limited to the forensic sense you prefer.”
Well, because of the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the “dead” son comes to his sense. Because Jesus calls us lost, and a lost man is not dead. Because Jesus calls us sick, and a sick man is not dead. Because Jesus calls us blind, and a blind man can want to see.
If the only description of us prior to salvation was “dead”, I’d agree with you. But we need to look at all of scripture, not just 20 or 30 verses. I pointed out Genesis 4, but it continues thru the entire scripture - men are presented as making real choices to follow God (at God’s initiation) or to reject his offer.
“If you had no taint of sin and feel as though you came to God under your own power, then you were far better off than me. I was an absolute prisoner of my sinful nature.”
Exactly. You (and I) were prisoners, unable to free ourselves. But God, in His Grace, died for us and offers us salvation if we just believe his word. Although scripture speaks of us as the body of Christ, try thinking of Jesus as a ship. God has said the ship SS Jesus is headed to heaven, and anyone on it will be saved from the world and taken to heaven. All one needs to do is believe and accept your berth. If you do, God promises to take you to heaven. If you don’t, then you’ll be destroyed. No one saves themselves, but God offers the rescue and does the work - all we need to do is believe his offer.
I’ll try to discuss Romans 9-11 tomorrow, time allowing. I thank you again for the polite and scripture based discussion.
In what way do you reject Pelagius? Because he, like you, taught a prevenient grace, a grace that precedes and enables but does not secure a favorable response. I am having real trouble seeing the difference between your position and his. Elucidate please.
The Calvinist says no, because we are dead. The Arminian says yes, because we see that dead means separated and alienated, as with the Prodigal Son, not incapable of response. We also note the use of words like blind, lost, sick, captives, etc describing our pre-salvation state, none of which imply we cannot respond to Gods offer.
As to the first, yes, there are other metaphors, blindness, sickness, captivity, etc. But if we accept Scripture as the whole counsel of God, it would seem a poor strategy to isolate the various sin descriptors one from another, as if they were mutually exclusive. They are not. Blindness reflects our inability to see truth. Sickness reflects our vulnerability to decay and demise, captivity reflects our inability to act as free persons, lostness reflects our lack of a moral or spiritual compass. All these things are true, yet none of these things detracts at all from our deadness; rather, they explain it.
What is deadness anyway? It is the absence of animating force, the lack of internal cellular or organic activity, other than decay and consumption by parasites. That is an awful picture of our condition under sin, but God tells us the truth even when it isnt easy to accept.
Furthermore, even if Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13 are read as strictly forensic, what is the effective difference? Under the law, a final adjudication rendered at the highest level of appeal cannot be undone, even by the judge who rendered the sentence, a concept called Res Judicata, the thing is decided. Then, like Esau, we might in our rational, uncontaminated minds (if only we had such) come before the Judge pleading for a second chance, but to no avail, because the sentence has already been issued. Unless another should stand in our place to take that punishment, we face certain demise. And if that Other should stand in our place, and take our punishment, there remains no more punishment for us to receive, and our transition from legal deadness to legal life is complete, because that Other took our punishment and left us to face no condemnation.
But, as I pointed out in my previous post, Paul does not leave us wondering whether his death reference is strictly forensic, as he specifically ties it to both our being under condemnation and to having the nature of those who live in enmity to God under the impulse of their own lusts. Again, your effort to separate those qualities by making them mutually exclusive is unfounded, and cannot and should not dislodge the ordinary power of the word death in the foregoing passages.
Furthermore, I hope you will forgive the Calvinist for seeing our new birth in Christ as nothing less than resurrection, because Paul specifically encourages the analogy, because those same death passages where you attempt to lessen the force of death also refer to our resurrection. Would you have our death be forensic, and our life be transformational? By what law of hermeneutics may you arbitrarily treat the two symmetrical halves of the same metaphor by a different rule? I am sorry, but that is an imposition on the text too obviously alien to the intent of the writer.
That is God, not Pelagius, saying Cain had a choice to make.
I hope you read that part of my earlier post where I explain that presentation with choices does not imply an absolute freedom to make those choices. Choosing derives from the nature of the chooser. Whether an Ethiopian, a Leopard, or a sinner, some characteristics are present and color every choice made. In choosing wrong, choosing sin is still sin. The deed is still evil, even if it flows from an evil desire that overwhelms any impulse to good. And God still presents humankind with such choices, as much to prove his case against us as anything else. He says we are sinners, and whenever we are presented with moral choices, unless he should intervene, we choose as sinners always choose. We do not seek God, by nature. God has said so, and we contradict him at our peril. See Romans 3:11.
Your extra-textual assumption, however, appears to be that it would be unfair of God to present an obligation to one who was unwilling to fulfill it, if that unwillingness was an immutable natural characteristic of that person.
Nope. If God chose to do it that way, who could argue? But God presented a different plan: whosoever believes. It was Gods choice to offer salvation to who ever believes, not mine - and who am I to argue?
True, and if God represented that to be the case in Scripture, I would defend that position. That is not what Scripture teaches, when taken as a whole.
But if God commands men to repent when He knows they cannot, He is being dishonest. When God breathed, ...that by believing you may have life in his name, he means that by believing you may have life in his name, not that by being given life, youll be able to believe.
And there you have it, the very thing that concerns me. God cannot lie, I am sure we agree. Yet he holds Pharaoh accountable for persecuting Israel, despite the fact he hardened him, and raised him up for this very purpose. God does not stand in relation to man the same way that one man stands in relation to another man. He is our Creator. He knows infallibly that the Pharisees are not his sheep, and will therefore not believe, and tells them so while they still walk among the living. Yet they clearly had a choice, and their choice was wrong; they chose the wrong thing, yet they were free to act according to their sinful nature, and so remain accountable for their sin. Yet again, like Pharaoh, God raised them up, with Pilate, to crucify Christ, an act of monstrous evil that was nevertheless essential to our salvation, for without their hardness of heart we would have no Savior.
I understand this is a hard concept, but God is God, and his ways past finding out. We know clearly what he has done to save us, but we cannot and dare not accuse him of dishonesty for putting choices to men when he knows full well how reliable men are in acting out their sinful nature.
There is nothing subtle or complex about that argument. Life follows belief, not belief following life. That is the promise of God, and He will not break it. Gods choice, not mine.
If you say so. Reminds me of CS Lewis comment about the simplicity of a chair. Sure it is simple, if all you want to do is sit in the chair. If you want to understand how it came to be and remains a chair, then you have a much more difficult analysis on your hands. God has told us to believe, and in so doing we will experience eternal life. You and I are quibbling the first logical events of that personal big bang moment, but no believer is worrying about that when they first come to faith. We experience things in time because we must, because we are finite and time-bound.
But God invented time. He stands in a different relationship to time than we do. If he says he chose us in the beloved before the world began, then thats what he means, even if our tiny little minds cant grasp it. Part of faith is saying, God, Im not sure how you did all this, but I trust you anyway. Calvinists and Arminians (or Armenians, if you like) both often run aground on this very point, by trying to force logically complete systems onto Scripture, when Scripture is not designed to conform to the limits of our embarrassingly small minds. We cannot force-fit our human limitations onto God; rather, we must, as a matter of faith, let God simply say what he says and we believe it, even if it leaves us with a few difficult conundrums.
try thinking of Jesus as a ship
Interestingly, I believe it was AW Tozer who concocted that old ship analogy. Interesting as it is, I dont buy it because I dont have to. Scripture does not obligate me to accept corporate election to non-salvific benefits as mutually exclusive with individual election unto salvific benefits. Romans 9-11 is a detailed apostrophe in response to the question of the security of individual salvation Paul has raised in the latter portion of Romans 8. The whole sequence is designed to show that the two types of election are NOT mutually exclusive, and therefore Christians may rest secure in the unbreakable certainty of their individual relationship with God, who will be faithful to preserve them in the love of Christ as individuals, even if the national election of Israel has been temporarily subsumed to the interests of the Gentiles.
Whereas the ship analogy is that very kind of imposition on the text which you say you reject. Analogies are great as long as they do not add to or subtract from the truth being taught by God in words of his own choice in Scripture. See Revelation 22:18-19. The ship analogy corporatizes salvific election by obliterating individual salvific election. Tozer was wrong. And Tozer was limited in other ways, as we all are, of course. My dad had us attending Tozers church for many years (Chicago area). He couldnt or wouldnt drive a car. I dont know if it was a physical or a psychological issue, but my dad believed it was psychological. Some sort of fear, perhaps? None but God knows. In any event, Tozer was always just another man to me, and his analogies, like any other mortals, must survive the stringent test proposed by Luther, But what does the word say?
And to what is our personal, individual salvation likened in the word? Resurrection. Thats Calvinism in a word, and in the word.
In the most notorious case, when he was a powerful leader in Switzerland, he had Michael Severtus arrested, tried on charges including blashphemy and insultling him (Calvin).
Severtus was convicted and was burned alive at the stake with the last remaining copy of his book, Christianismi Restitutio, chained to his legs.
Such a moral monster as Calvin can not instruct me in matters of faith. He is of a peace with the Puritans who also conducted witch trials and burnings, and the leaders of the Inquisition. These are among the darkest parts of Christian history. Those who had leading roles in these atrocities are not worthy of devotion today.
To understand better what happened between Calvin and Servetus, do a thought experiment with me. What if, instead of pushing anti-Trinitarian, anti-Gospel doctrine, Servetus was a serial child rapist? What if Calvin had warned him in a letter that if he ever came to Geneva, Calvin would make sure he didnt get out alive (and Calvin apparently did so warn Servetus)? What if the Genevan council had decided, after consulting with several other Christian jurisdictions, that cruel and painful capital punishment was appropriate for such fiends? And what if Calvin had pled instead for a merciful execution, and failing after intense effort to persuade the authorities (over which he had no real control), he spent time comforting and praying with Servetus (as Calvin did)? He would almost appear to his peers as too soft on such heinous crime, would he not?
And yet, in that time, there was no distinction between crimes against the state and crimes against the church. It does not appear so to our modern eyes, but a crime against the body was actually a lesser offense than a crime against innocent souls. Therefore no crime was greater than heresy, and the gut-wrenching revulsion we feel toward the child rapist would be what they felt, in their time, for a purveyor of false doctrine.
As for your further assessment of Calvin’s character, please remember that much of Calvin’s history was written by his mortal enemies. Picture some future generation where the only record of Sarah Palin was whatever leftist bloggers had written about her, and you might get an idea why your list of broad derogations against Calvin is suspect, at best.
The bottom line however is this. It is an accident of history that Calvins name has become so strongly associated with the Biblical doctrines concerning Gods sovereign grace in salvation. If the imperfections of Calvin bother you, ignore Calvin. But you cannot ignore Paul, and you cannot ignore Jesus, when they teach the identical truths. For me, I take what I can from whomever God blesses with insight, be they a saint and pillar of the church, or a scurrilous knave like Balaam. They will stand before God and give account for their errors, and I will give account for mine, only I hope that my errors do not include casting away Gods truth because some have held that truth imperfectly.
Of course no man can condemn you.
How about God?
The whole point of eternal security is that it is not based on mans ability to condemn but Gods ability, and decision, to justify the elect. God will not anathematize whom he has chosen:
Rom 8:31-34 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Being chosen is not some dead, static fact. It is a living reality which unfolds blessings to us every day, transforming us from dead sinners lying wrapped in sins grave clothes to living breathing children of God, who long every day to be closer to our Father, who like Peter have no need for a whole bath every day, but only that the daily dirt we acquire from walking in this world be washed from our feet.
Only we are not to presume upon our election, but to live as those enlivened by Gods grace:
2Peter 1:10-11 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Note the relationship between election and action. If God has chosen someone, he has chosen them unto a purpose, to live righteously, not merely to provide them an address in Heaven. The two always go together:
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
So there are two errors to avoid. First, one must not presume to be wiser than God by denying the straightforward reality of divine election, as difficult as it may be to accept. Second, we must not presume that mere intellectual assent to divine truth proves our election. Faith is born whole, not in parts. When he opens our eyes, we see him, not merely as a fact, but as the One we love and desire to obey:
Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
There is a reason Calvinists describe that certainty of our salvation as Perseverance of the Saints, and not as Eternal Security. There is a modern heresy that has split in two what should be one whole thing; genuine faith and a transformed life are two halves of a single coin, and cannot be separated. Faith without repentance is no faith at all. God is not mocked. Those who presume upon a creed of election have no cause to believe they are in fact elect. Yet all those who do in fact trust in the Lord will not be disappointed, and may take joy in the eternal love with which they have been loved:
2Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
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