16 For God so loved the elect, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever of the elect believeth in Him shall not perish in the fire God created for those he hath predestined to burneth for all eternity, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent his Son into the world to condemn the heathen to hell and save only those who acknowledge they have no choice but to repent and do exactly as God says.
18 Whosoever be amongeth the elect is not condemned, but whosoever is among the damned stands condemned already because God’s sovereignty wills it.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come unto the elect, but all the other men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were predestined to be evil.
20 For everyone who doeth evil must hateth the light, and shall not come into the light because they have no choice but to doeth evil.
21 So he that doeth truth cometh to the light by the TULIP, that his deeds may be made manifest through reformed theology, that they are all forced by God.
NOTE: This article was first published in The Wittenburg Door, March/April, 2007 and was reprinted by permission in Christian Ethics Today. Check out more satirical articles here at the blog: “Romans 13: The Patriotic Version”…”The Sermon on the Hill (American Beatitudes)”.
January 2nd, 2009 at 12:14 pm
Thanks for posting this. I hadn’t seen it before. Some time back I commented on Calvin’s actual Commentary on John 3:16 here: http://web.me.com/craigadams1/Commonplace_Holiness/Blog/Entries/2008/2/19_Calvin_on_John_3%3A16.html
January 2nd, 2009 at 12:19 pm
The funny thing is that I have been struggling with this concept with some of my brothers in practical theological study recently. I love my Presbyterian friends dearly, but I have never been a Calvinist as was the object of the satire in this poignant post.
January 3rd, 2009 at 1:36 pm
HA! Just found your blog from a facebook comment by Daniel Cosby
January 3rd, 2009 at 8:11 pm
Good post. Love Craig’s comments on his blog (see above). As a process of logical thought, there’s little with which I can disagree in Calvin’s basic theological proposition. He seems to agree with Peter. BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE. My problems come with how Calvinism works itself out. Calvinism seems more often than not to lead to spiritual arrogance and meanness. On those grounds, I have to reject it as a system in need of a grave. Moreover, his ideas on what constitutes a church are appallingly unbiblical. Here’s to a day when we can get past the silliness of focusing on anything other than that which our Lord told us to focus. Sorry, I’m getting a it soapy. Hope your days are filled with love. -JA
January 6th, 2009 at 12:37 am
David – the sad thing is this IS the way most Calvinist would read those verses. The problem is most read the scriptures with a presuppositional filter that prevents them from reading the verse as it truly is. God desires that no man goes to hell, but all men would repent and turn to him for their salvation from sin.
January 6th, 2009 at 12:53 am
You’re right, Preston. Thanks for reading!
January 6th, 2009 at 3:14 am
God gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever *believes* in Him would have eternal life. God did NOT give His Son so that ALL people who have ever lived for all time would have eternal life. Whether you’re Arminian or Calvinist, you have to ask: why does God not save EVERYONE? The most reasonable answer is that God must be committed to something higher.
The question, then, is, what is God’s higher priority? The Arminian says it is man’s “free will” that God considers the higher priority. The Calvinist, on the other hand, generally believes it is God’s glory that is the higher priority. I challenge anyone to find Scripture to support the first claim, because I have never seen one verse that very clearly supports it. If you find one, I will look at it and consider it. As for me, I see a wealth of Scriptures that clearly show that God’s great name — that is, His everlasting glory — is His motivating factor in both saving people AND judging them.
* Isaiah 48:9-11
* Ezekiel 36:21-23
* Ezekiel 36:32
* Psalm 25:11
* Psalm 31:3
* Psalm 79:9
* Psalm 143:11
* Jeremiah 16:21
* Ezekiel 6:14
* Ezekiel 28:23,24
Pop these verses into biblegateway.com or something and pay attention to the emphasis on “God’s name.”
God can, and does, do whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3). If He chooses to save some, but not all, do we dare find fault with His governance? Are we fit to be His counselor? Were we there when He created the world? (Perhaps we should revisit the last few chapters of Job.)
I’m not so much defending Calvinism as I am simply challenging people to ask whether “free will” is the BIBLICALLY-revealed priority that God had in mind when He chose (and continues to choose) not to save EVERYONE.
January 6th, 2009 at 3:48 am
Thanks, Scott. I do question that God’s “glory” is the primary motivational factor of his being. Folks like John Piper (who is committed to Reformed Theology and the writings of Edwards) may isolate verses to prove this, but I am slower to draw that conclusion. We will continue to trek along together and find the balance of the Scripture. But most importantly, we will seek the heart of the Living Word of Christ… not merely doctrines we might construct from the written word.
I’m glad that this satirical piece has stirred you in some way. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to share.
January 6th, 2009 at 10:10 pm
Perhaps God’s desire to be worshiped and loved is the primary motivational factor of his being. This seems to be born out within the very existence of the Trinity. Thanks David for the post. I hadn’t seen this one before.
January 7th, 2009 at 2:09 am
I personally believe the Lord desires to share himself with those that would enter in to community and know his Trinitarian nature. We all have a desire to be loved, but I’m not sure this is the Lord’s motivation. The love of the Father, Son, and Spirit are given one to another without thought of self. It is an altruistic love that we read about in 1 Corinthians 13. Some believe the Lord was lonely and was not satisfied with the community he shared within himself in the Trinity so he created man. I would reject this thinking and opt for a view that is consistent with the Person of Jesus. The Lord’s very nature is to love. When that pure love of Christ is truly experienced by other beings… the response is to reciprocate that love or spurn it. Just some quick thoughts.
January 9th, 2009 at 11:19 pm
I’m curious… What do you make of the fact that we are *commanded* to love God? The thing that bothers me most about ardent free-willers is that they go around saying, “God has given us the *choice* to love Him or reject Him,” when in fact, He has not. Are there not grave consequences for idolatry (failure to love God)? Would anyone in their right mind knowingly prefer these consequences? And isn’t He a jealous God?
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strenth,” is not only a *commandment*, but it is the first and *greatest* commandment! Combined with, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” it sums up the *entire* Law. So, loving God is not optional.
If God were to “force” us to love Him, that would be a kindness to us, of infinite magnitude. He already “forces” us to love Him with the Law. But what I mean here, by “forcing us,” is this: if God were to find a way to awaken our hearts to a genuine love for Him, that would be a kindness of infinite magnitude toward us.
God is beautiful, not because He takes a “hands off” approach regarding man’s choice to love or reject Him, but really because He does the opposite. The God that I have seen revealed in scripture knows that we are so corrupt that we will never love Him on our own, and that we are doomed to destruction without His intervention. Therefore, in His love, He takes a “hands on,” active approach. He *seeks* and *saves* that which was lost, drawing them to Himself, taking out hearts of stone and putting in hearts of flesh, so that they walk in His ways (Exekiel 36:26-29). He searches out His bride, dying for her in order that she may be forgiven and redeemed.
That’s my perspective, at least… 🙂
January 10th, 2009 at 1:04 am
I believe the argument is really insignificant when it comes to knowing the indwelling Christ. I have no interest in ridiculous theological debates. No offense to you, but that is exactly what this is to me. Both sides of the aisle have missed the balance of the Scripture and ultimately prove their error by forming doctrines in their name. Calvinism is the extreme that was born out of reaction to another extreme. My satire was written to show how foolish folks can be that they would twist words and yank verses out of context to defend a teaching that has run its course. I don’t see how either extreme view is benefiting the nations for Christ. I was in vocational ministry for a while and have been a believer for most of my life. I have never known someone to come to Christ or grow in their knowledge of Jesus by embracing either view. And personally, when I dealt with these issues several years ago in school… I recall recognizing even then that the whole thing was a battle of rhetoric that often did not reflect the whole message of Scripture.
Again, the entire argument is flawed and seems to only be interested in polarizing folks who disagree. I would much rather focus on the simple things of the Lord and allow him to shape my theology indirectly. Theology and orthodoxy is not the center of my being. It is something that ought to flow from a direct relationship with the living Word and the living Christ. When doctrine is central and supreme… we know it because we become self-righteous jerks who believe it is our duty to slap everyone around until our opponents believe the way we do.
This was a major error of all Reformers. They thought more of the written Word than the living and indwelling Christ. Their half-way reform produced a Bible centered faith that in turn made them do some horrible things in the name of doctrine. It was the Anabaptists that made an effort to place the living Christ at the center. When this happens… everything else falls in its proper place. We can then move from being “Doctors of the Law” (i.e. Pharisees) to being simple disciples that are “unlearned” men that have been in the presence of the Nazarene. I pray that we would be known for our love of Christ and how Jesus is manifesting himself through us… not in the theological schools of thought in which we subscribe.
January 9th, 2009 at 11:21 pm
Btw, I’m VERY glad you reject the idea that God created us because He was lonely… 🙂
January 10th, 2009 at 3:29 am
Thanks for your reply. I do apologize if my response felt like an attempt to “polarize” people. I know I tend to come across that way when I don’t really mean to. But I don’t think it’s insignificant to consider some of the things I mentioned, for the very reasons you mentioned.
Lest you think I disagree, I will affirm with you that doctrine itself is not central and supreme. Theology for theology’s sake is nonsense. “Knowledge puffs up.” My hope and goal in all my meditations is to know the heart of God, to be caught up into glorious fellowship with Him. I do feel humbled to consider the implications involved in one’s view of the interplay between “free will” and the sovereignty of God. (Ironically, I haven’t really “debated” about this kind of thing for a very long time because I have found a lot of these conversations to be rather fruitless, tending to distract people from God’s glory, rather than calling attention to it. I haven’t really thought of myself as a “Calvinist” in a long time.) As for me, personally, though, the topic has deepened my love and reverence for the living Christ, and given me an anchor in Christ’s love to hold onto during life’s trials. Not many people can say that about their theology. Because of that, I find it hard not to “chime in” when the topic comes up. We all love to speak about the things we hold dear. But to be clear, it is something I hold dear about Jesus Himself, not something I cherish about a bunch of black dots on paper, or a certain famous reformer, or a system of doctrines.
I wouldn’t dare to think that all believers must hold such views view in order to walk nearly with the LORD, but I do believe that it could be one more reason among infinite other reasons to love and trust Him that much more, and so, to that end, I encourage people to think on such things.
As I am sure you know, debate isn’t always bad; it is a question of whether we are seeking to puff ourselves up, or seeking to build others up. There’s a world of difference between the two. I believe there IS such a thing as a humble, Christ-honoring, mutually edifying debate, though they are admittedly very few and far between. How quickly do we fall upon our sinful self-defenses when we lose step with God’s Spirit during such conversations! As such, I seldom do any more what I did here, unless I undeniably sense God moving me. Who knows how littered with pride all my ramblings are, even this one.
Thanks for your patience with me.
Grace and peace,
January 10th, 2009 at 6:34 pm
I agree with your reply and I appreciate you taking the time to share. I enjoy a good discussion when it leads us out of the old arguments that tend to drag us away from the heart of Christ. It is good to hear that we are united in our passion for Jesus being central and supreme… that he is our primary concern. I am grateful that you did chime in and responded to this little piece of satire. I look forward to joining you in conversation in the future. Blessings, bro!
January 10th, 2009 at 7:24 am
I feel as though God has to do all things for His own glory, and His own Glory alone. If not, He is faulting to something other than Himself. It is apparent that regardless how God does business, it’s how God does business. I have to reside to the stand point of Scott. If God is sovereign, then He’s sovereign. If He’s not sovereign, then He’s not God. Now, does Sovereignty determine whether or not God hand picks people, I don’t think any of us are equipped with the answer , nor should we attempt to be. I think that the root of all of this goes back to what is that God wants us to do, where’s He moving us, and how we in turn respond to that. Good discussion though. It’s good to discuss these things, but we have to remember what our boy Paul writes to Timothy “Tell them not to spend their time on stories that are not true and on long lists of names in family histories. These thing only bring arguments; the do not help God’s work. God’s work is done by faith” -1st Timothy 1:4 As long as we come back to the place where we’re all seeking God, discussion is good. Discussion is bad when we allow discussion to become a brewing for sin and mistrust. By the way, I enjoy this blog, first time seeing it.
April 11th, 2009 at 2:45 am
My main concern after reading this blog entry and then the comments that follow is that if we claim that our goal is keeping Christ central, why are we posting things about and discussing a divisive subject such as this?? The tone and the content of the post automatically cuts off a great portion of the body that may think differently. I guess I’m just wondering, what was the overall goal of this post??
April 11th, 2009 at 2:52 am
The point of satire is to jolt folks into recognizing the absurdity of a person’s position. I have found that some really like satire… and others despise it. It is not intended to divide, but to prod us into thinking about the ridiculous nature of doctrines built upon extremes. So, overall the goal is to shift our focus to that Person of Christ that presents a much different picture of a god who condemns people to hell who have no choice in the matter. It is a question of God’s sovereignty and the nature of his love. This is very much at the heart of the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ.
May 15th, 2009 at 12:01 am
Well done David!
August 2nd, 2009 at 11:02 pm
A 5 point Calvinist actually told me “I can’t believe we teach our children ‘Jesus loves me’ in Sunday School when it is a lie.” Whaaaa??? I made this image to show how 5 pointers view the world http://bit.ly/kqzFm
God help us all.
August 7th, 2009 at 3:24 pm
So because one extreme Calvinist said it, all of them believe the same? Johnathan Edwards was a Calvinist and led the Great Awakening by just telling his congregation to tell their neighbors about Christ. I think that making a judgment based upon one person is ridiculous. Also, anyone that would claim that Christ does not love us is hardly a Christian at all. Calvinists would claim that God loves us so much that He does in fact choose us and pull us from Hell. For Theologians of today that ‘lean’ Calvin you should read John Piper, or Mark Driscoll. I do not claim being Calvinist because I love the Bible, and I want to preach and teach that which is in it. I do think Calvin had a lot of things right, but I also disagree with a couple of his doctrines. The truth of the matter is this. None of us will ever have a deep enough understanding of the Bible to get everything right, thus we NEED Christ. That’s the whole point to Christ is the fact that we cannot get it right. Singling this group out does nothing toward the glorification of Christ, especially when on both sides of the aisle there are people who will say and do the same ridiculous things you just spoke of Robin. Here’s a thought to ponder. IF, God did condemn and choose to save whom He pleases, are we in a position to tell Him that is wrong?
August 9th, 2009 at 5:50 am
Let’s be clear. Edwards went beyond speaking of Christ in the way of the apostles by using a vivid imagination to scare the hell out of folks (e.g. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”). I think there is plenty of reason to be concerned about the many “conversions” that were born out of this method of evangelism. I have yet to find this type of preaching within the New Testament and I don’t see it bearing fruit that looks like the life of Jesus.
August 10th, 2009 at 3:32 am
Have you ever read his entire sermons? Or just read the excerpts someone passed out to you ranting about how bad Calvinism is? He was monotone, and had terrible eyesight. He didn’t do anything to stir people. He read straight from his notes as well. Explain how that would scare people? He quotes the Bible like a tank as well. I challenge you to read his sermons and hold the same opinion.
August 10th, 2009 at 3:35 am
Also, how does your reply have anything to do with the main idea of my post?
August 10th, 2009 at 3:49 pm
Yes, I have read his sermons. I am familiar with Edwards. You can hardly have been a Baptist for 25 years and not know the ins-and-outs of calvinism and all the protestant preachers of the period. On top of the fact that most of my life was spent reveling in the thinking you have presented… I have a degree that equipped me with the knowledge to discuss these issues without relying on the “excerpts” and opinions of others. I do appreciate your concern, but I have heard all the arguments. Regardless, my point was the actual words that were spoken by Edwards.
I didn’t see the need to address the rest of the post. As I have stated in earlier comments… this article is satire. Like it or leave it. Think about it or move along. It is intended to bring us into the balance of the Scriptures… not continue to squabble over doctrines of men.
August 28th, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Mr. Flowers, I happened to stumble across your blog through a search with similar wording to your blog name. I have read the piece you posted and all comments.
First, my response would be to read the Word of God and only the Word of God in ALL its context. See the following and actually read them:
Read and study John 6, Eph. 1-2, Rom. 3 (especially 9-19), 8 (especially 5-8, 28-31), 9.
Rather than claim absurdity of a particular issue concerning Scripture, go further and use Sola Scriptura. You are right that Theology and “doctrine” are secondary matter because everything falls under Scripture. This issue of The Doctrines of Grace (wrongly, I think, called Calvinism) leaves no room for the glorification or “wisdom” of man but truly relies on the CENTRALITY and SUPREMACY of Christ who is the Word of God made flesh.
Second, let me say that I appreciate satire. However, as a man who’s blog name concerns the centrality and supremacy of Christ, you ought not make a mockery of Scripture and pass it off as some old Reformer’s absurd ideas. My qualm with your use of satire in this instance is the target you chose for it. You belittled a clear cut teaching of the Scriptures not a squabble over the doctrines of men (you belittled The Word of God and not John Calvin). Scripture is replete with examples and CLEAR teachings of God choosing whom He pleases (election), God being sovereign (and He is completely just in it), man being spiritually dead and blind (having no way of realizing their depravity), salvation being not of works but of God (we are not wise enough to choose salvation, it is God who shows us His saving grace), man not being deserved of salvation, and those who are saved (elected) by God will seek to follow God’s Word though imperfectly (the Christian walk is an indicative of the Christian person…I am saved therefore I do such and such, rather than I do such and such therefore I know I am saved).
Read this link. http://www.grace.org.uk/faith/calvin.html I hope you do not skip over this link and passages included. Explain to me where Christ is not Supreme in all of this. How is it absurdity?
Finally, you stated, “[…]the goal is to shift our focus to that Person of Christ that presents a much different picture of a god who condemns people to hell who have no choice in the matter. It is a question of God’s sovereignty and the nature of his love. This is very much at the heart of the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ.” A God who condemns people to hell with no choice in the matter? You sound as though you think we are deserving of anything else but hell? And then you seem to think that man is somehow able to awaken himself from his being DEAD in his sin so that he can make the right, wise decision to follow Christ. “Oh how silly one must be that they reject Christ after being offered a choice. Oh how wise and what a smart choice we have made to serve God”. No way. That is absolutely not Scriptural in the context of ALL of Scripture and Scripture alone.
You cannot ignore the passages I gave you and those listed in the website link.
August 28th, 2009 at 9:19 pm
This one post has received more hits than any other here at my blog. And I do believe it is the most misunderstood. I have yet to discover if this is because folks have so many presuppositions about those things which I am challenging or if the satire alone is a genre that has clouded my original intent.
First: As a person comes to know me personally and follows my writings, even over a brief period of time… I am certain that a suggestion toward the idea that I show a lack of respect for the Scriptures is one that can only be made in error. I am educated in the Scriptures and have always held to the highest view that is possible, while at the same time recognizing that the Word became flesh.
Again, I don’t see any room for attempts made by others… to somehow undercut what I have written… by saying I have made a “mockery” of the Scriptures. Far from it. My very point in this satirical piece is to show my readers that it is not “I” who have done this, but those who read things into the Scriptures that are not there.
Second: I believe in predestination and election as I have previously stated in comments above. However, I believe it is a doctrine for the saved, not for the damned. And yes, I do take what Calvin and his followers (who persecuted believers to the death who did not agree with him) with much skepticism. Calvinism began in reaction to another extreme: Arminianism. Truly, there is a balance within the Scriptures.
The way I see it, a person must face up to what I have suggested in this satire. If a person believes in defining God’s “sovereignty” like Calvin (but mostly his followers), then that person must agree that they would soon John 3:16-21 say what I have written with humor. If your idea of “election” and “sovereignty” is that of traditional Calvinism, then I don’t see why the satire is so upsetting…. because that’s what you profess.
Suggesting that I sit down and read the Scriptures is a bit rude. I know that you probably didn’t mean it to come off that way, but it assumes that I have just come off half-cocked and never dealt with these issues before. If there is a case you would like to make built off these Scriptures… then I’m all ears. But, please understand that this satire was born out of an in-depth study of Calvinism. It came out of an engagement with the entire counsel of Scripture.
Finally, not only does my knowledge of the Scripture not allow me to accept a doctrine that uses God’s omniscience to come to what committed reformed theologians defend tooth-and-nail (a narrow concept of God’s dealings with the world)… my growing experience of the Person of Jesus contradicts this sort of image of the Triune God. My response to Calvinism goes beyond isolating a few texts that mention “predestination”… “election”… and “sovereignty.”
Let’s talk more in person. 🙂
September 10th, 2009 at 12:50 am
Thank you for this David. Fantastic discussion. You hosted it and the criticism very well. I came out of the IFB movement and they claim to be the closest to the Anabaptists, but after deeper study I found that they are not. We left that ‘church’ and live in Christ alone now. Thank you for being bold to write what God is showing you. I linked you to my blogs list of Christ centered Blogs.
September 10th, 2009 at 1:36 am
Thank you, Lisa!
September 10th, 2009 at 4:30 am
You’re welcome. I’m also now sharing your posts and blog on my Facebook page. I have a praise report. I received an email from one of my subscribers, it seems she can still get my email subscriptions, but my blog is now banned from her view in China. I guess that’s a good thing. 😉
September 11th, 2009 at 2:34 pm
But.. I’m quite confused one your statement of, “my growing experience of the Person of Jesus contradicts this sort of image of the Triune God. My response to Calvinism goes beyond isolating a few texts that mention “predestination”… “election”… and “sovereignty.””. Does this mean that if when you read Ephesians you dismiss the whole first chapter because of your “experience”? If the Word of God is not your place of ultimate Truth, what is? I honestly do not mean this as an attack, I’m simply confused as to what you mean by some statements you’ve made. They make feel as though you will occasionally reject Scripture because your feelings or intellect do not like them. Also, the whole Bible carries this idea of election. The Israelites were God’s chosen people. Abraham was chosen by God, Moses was chosen by God, and in 1st Peter 1:1-2, Ephesians 1, Romans 8, Paul and Peter blatantly say that we are pre-destined or chosen. If you disagree with these, I really want to know where you’re coming from. These texts cannot be simply dismissed as “isolated” because two of which are entire chapters. Where is the source of knowledge if it is not the Word of God?
September 11th, 2009 at 3:06 pm
Surely you don’t suppose I am inferring that I base my decision on experience alone with disregard to the Scriptures? You have followed some of my writings. I don’t see how you would ever come to this conclusion.
I have made statements like this before in my posts. What I intend to do is shake us back into considering an important God-given aspect that is usually thrown out the window when it comes to debating doctrines that have become points of division among the saints. Our journey of faith is one of the intellect, reason, and experience. Like it or not, we must consider this aspect and not divorce it from our journey. Can we maintain a view of God that is different than our knowledge of Christ and our experience of Him? I should hope not.
As I have stated numerous times before, I believe in “election” and the “predestination” of the saints… it is the meaning of those words that I call into question. Election of the saints does not (and should not) force us into an election of the damned. Based off my knowledge of the Scriptures AND my growing experience of Christ… I am no longer able to support anything that reeks of this narrow view of the God who IS love.
September 11th, 2009 at 3:33 pm
I think that our human intellects get in the way of really trusting Christ as our all in all as we limit Him by our fallible minds. He is more than just multi-faceted and I believe he witholds some understanding of who he is, thus the mysteries he speaks of. Until a time that pleases Him to reveal His Son in us. After 15 years of being the good theological student myself, I have come to understand so much more once I stopped trying to figure him out all on my own intellect.
I agree there is so much that divides us by which seminary or denomination people belong to. I really don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind, at all. Somewhere along the line Believers failed to properly search a matter out.
February 15th, 2010 at 8:08 pm
So you believe in the election, predestination of the saints but not the condemnation of the unbeleiving (election)? How do you perceive one with out the other. Knowing the scriptures and experiancing the indwelling Christ. I have yet to find any one that can bridge the two. Predestination is referenced in scripture but not mans free will. Unless we use blanket scripture John 3:16, whosoever will call…..etc. If there is a double center line that comes together in the distance where or what might that be? Is it some thing we just can not know? I am an OpenAir street witness for the Lord. The more I preach to the masses on the streets the more I am totally convinced man is blind and he can not hear, see or feel God unless God opens him to receive Himself. Some never do or should I say God does not open them. How does one figure this if God does not elect people to hell? If He does not elect them to hell He let’s them go there with out intervning. I am also convinced mans free will is an enemy of God. For the very thing we must do as followers of Christ is to surrender our will to God to be saved. What do you think? I sure am glad you got a degree in this sort of thing.
February 15th, 2010 at 9:19 pm
Thanks for reading, Mark. I appreciate your honest question.
Here’s what I said in a previous comment:
“Both sides of the aisle have missed the balance of the Scripture and ultimately prove their error by forming doctrines in their name. Calvinism is the extreme that was born out of reaction to another extreme (Arminianism). My satire was written to show how foolish folks can be that they would twist words and yank verses out of context to defend a teaching that has run its course. I don’t see how either extreme view is benefiting the nations for Christ.”
The apostles speak of “election” and that God “predestines” for sure. Yet, I see that this is to highlight God’s choosing His people for salvation… not that they chose Him. It’s a doctrine for the saved, not for the damned. Who can know and understand the mind of God? I don’t presume to be able to do so. But I do boldly express that believing that God sends people to “hell” without a choice… is contrary to his nature and what we know of God in Jesus.
So, I can embrace the teaching for us as believers… but I do not feel the need to logically conclude that God MUST THEN eternally “elect” sinners for hell. Jesus doesn’t speak this way… Paul doesn’t speak this way… and neither should we… no matter how “logical” it may sound to us.
I hear people accept this idea of God sending people to hell without a choice and say, “I don’t understand it… I just accept it cause He is sovereign.” I disagree. I can only say this while falling on the love of God I see in Jesus. I can’t accept anything that doesn’t look like God in Jesus. Any teaching on “hell” and “damnation” must align itself with what we know in Jesus. That requires that we lay down the medieval view of God, heaven, and hell.
Yes, men must open their hearts to God when He first seeks them. And I believe He is always seeking those who do not have His Son. Therefore, we should be careful to reflect this in the way we preach, what we preach, and IF we should preach… or if we should simply share Christ through natural relationships. In this country where Christianity is so distorted and there is a growing disdain for believers… I tend to chose the later.
February 16th, 2010 at 6:50 pm
That’s good….so do you think God is at work for the sinner in what is called prevenient grace? That is through natural world of creation, the conscience and the written spoken Word? Not wishing any to perish but all to come to the knowledge of the truth. Grace given to man to be able to make a choice to receive Christ’s grace of forgiveness and mercy? Men are dead apart from regeneration hell bound sinners such as were we. I am trying to find the truth. People hate Him naturally, I see it in them the Bible says without a reason. My extended family can’t see spiritually, why? No one in their right mind would turn away from what Jesus offers yet they do. Even after hearing the truth in love convincingly. I know they love their sin the Bible tells us that yet they are bound and can not even believe unless God opens them. Ya think? You think they can of their own will open their heart to God? I am curious….
February 16th, 2010 at 7:40 pm
Mark, I do believe that God is drawing sinners to himself and has revealed himself in nature (Rom. 1:18-20).
Again, I think we are trying to understand something that only the Lord can fully know. What does it benefit us to embrace either of the extremes that are often argued in this debate? As far as I can tell… it’s only one more doctrinal dispute. I don’t see it leading people to what is plain… to live lives of love that look like God in Jesus Christ. No matter what we think about the matter… what is plain is Jesus. He loved all and gave His life for all (Jn. 3:16). We are to do the same regardless of where we have landed on this issue. 🙂
Jesus sums up the kingdom in this parable and says, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” Matt. 22:9
What if I told you that I believe that God is always making it possible for people to open their hearts to Him? Are you so sure that people would accept the Lord even if they completely saw Him rightly? Some days I think so… other days I don’t. I believe a person’s “free will” decisions are never made apart from the sovereignty of God. In Him we live, breathe, and move in His sovereignty.
February 17th, 2010 at 6:23 pm
April 5th, 2010 at 2:33 am
Hey, brother, I read your comment on Feb 15, 2010. (I still don’t appreciate your satire piece here for a plethora of reasons. haha. But that is not the purpose of this comment.) The idea that if God elects His Church unto salvation then logically He must also elect those who are not His elect to hell, threw me for a loop when it crossed my brain while studying the Scriptures concerning election and predestination. It’s a semantics game it seems. Yes, men who are not God’s elect unto salvation, are damned to hell to endure the eternal wrath of God. But does that mean God elected them unto hell??? I think not. And I think the answer to the question of whether or not God elects men to hell is found in the understanding of 3 things 1.) man’s radically depraved nature and 2.) the saving power of the gospel and 3.) God’s amazing grace, mercy and love. Allow me to share my thoughts…
God does not have to elect certain persons to hell. ALL mankind is corrupt and licentious to the core, sinful from conception in the womb as the Psalmist described, dead in our sins and wanting nothing but to sin as Paul describes in Eph. 2; we are damned to hell through the sin of Adam and our very own sin nature, and deserves nothing else but to be objects of God’s wrath by our very nature as Scripture describes us. However, God -being rich in mercy, vast in love, having no partiality- by grace ALONE has foreordained His elect to be saved…and that is the beauty of the gospel; it is what makes the gospel good news! =) It is the power to save, as Paul tells us. The gospel is the outworking of God’s eternal decree to save his elect. The same God who plans our salvation has also executed it. It must therefore be powerful and infallible in its purpose.
So, I agree that God does not elect men to hell, rather that the fall of mankind and our sin nature condemns all men to hell, yet even so God has predestined His Elect to salvation for His glory and out of His loving nature.
The gospel is a gospel of grace. Saving grace. Sure, it is not apart from God’s wrath as that is what the Redeemed are saved from, but it is not the enabler of it either. It is salvation from it.
Hope that made sense to you and to Mark, who was in dialog with you earlier. Just my musings.
Alas, who can know God fully?! We will never have Him figured out this side of Heaven (and I’m not so sure we will ever). I continue to seek to always reform to Scripture. To God be the glory!
January 7th, 2011 at 4:39 pm
Hi, David…came across this late in the day it seems, but yes, this is exactly how Calvinists read Scripture, in my experience. Psychologically, Calvinism attracts extremists, people with low self esteem who need to feel “special”, sociopathic folks who need to feel justified in their hate of others, and just dimwitted folks.
January 9th, 2011 at 5:43 pm
Hey David, thanks for reading, bro.