Why I Am a Calvinist(7 posts)
I think this might be the first time on this blog that I have ever stated, “I am a Calvinist.” I know it’s something I seldom say directly in conversation. It isn’t that I’m embarrassed about my convictions, it’s that such a statement is too often taken as fighting words and has too often led conversations off the path and into that magical land of equivocation, straw men, and revised history. Rarely, if ever, has it produced a sensible discussion of monergistic regeneration and the doctrines of grace. (And, as you may know, I hate arguing.) Perhaps here, where I can speak my piece without being interrupted and pummeled with red herrings, I can do better.
What I intend to do is write a series of short posts, each dealing with one of the five points. These posts will take you through my process as I connected the dots and came to conclusions that I think are not only logical, but obviously Biblical as well. I believe that if a person is able to leave his presuppositions behind (an exceedingly difficult thing to do) and approach Scripture unbiased, the analogia Scriptura will lead inevitably to the Doctrines of Grace. I know that sounds insulting to Arminians who will claim that they have done exactly that. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they have laid aside their own notions of what is just, which is really the greatest stumbling block to the acceptance of unconditional election and monergistic regeneration. God’s justice must be made to conform to the Arminian’s idea of justice. There are Arminians who have worked out a sort of Scriptural apology for their views. However, the average Arminian’s objection begins with, “. . . but that’s not fair! God wouldn’t do that!”
This will not be a restatement or exposition of the Canons of Dort. My views may not exactly follow orthodox Calvinist reasoning. I didn’t come to my conclusions by reading systematic theologies, but through a long and rather painful process of discovering that Scripture disagreed with me more often than not. However, I do believe my Calvinism is mostly in line with historic Calvinism. This will not be a sophisticated argument. I intend to demonstrate that Calvinism is not a complex system that only appeals to theology students and would never be drawn from a plain reading of Scripture, but that it is the plain reading of Scripture. I also will not be going into such details as infra- vs. supralapsarianism, or the precise ordo salutis. I may be wrong, but I don’t think Scripture answers those questions as completely as we would like. In any case, I don’t have it figured out, so don’t expect to find any profound nuances of theology here.
As I have stated, I may not be Truly Reformed® in all of my reasoning, but I will affirm . . .
- . . . that man is thoroughly corrupted by sin and will not believe and repent without supernatural intervention.
- . . . that God has, before creation, chosen those whom he would call to faith in him, and has not done so on the basis of anything in us or anything we would do, but only “according to the good pleasure of his will.”
- . . . that Christ’s death on the cross did not only make salvation possible, but actually secured salvation for all who will be saved.
- . . . that every person whom God calls, without exception, is inevitably saved.
- . . . that all who receive the gift of saving faith are also given the grace to unfailingly persevere to the end.
In the next installment (which will probably not come until next week), I will begin explaining how I came to those conclusions.
Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Depravity
This is part 2 of a series.
Part 1 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Introduction
The beginning of any soteriology (doctrine of salvation) must necessarily begin with an understanding of the need to be saved. We must acknowledge that we are not born righteous or even spiritually neutral (Psalm 51:5). We are not born with any degree of goodness in us. We do not possess even the smallest potential for good. We are altogether unrighteous. So far, there should be no disagreement. If you do disagree, you are not an Arminian, or even a Christian. You might be a Pelagian.
From here, admitting that we are lost and in need of salvation, we must ask, what now? What can we do about it? And therein lies the disagreement. Calvinists answer, we can do nothing. Arminians say, we can do nothing but for the prevenient grace that God provides, which enables us to exercise our free will. Then we are either saved or not, depending upon our choice.
This is where, while I am most certainly not an Arminian, I am not quite a kosher Calvinist. I don’t believe our will is the problem at all. I do believe in the freedom of the will, but I believe our will is entirely irrelevant. The will is not an active force. It is simply what we want. And what we want is an outgrowth of who we are. Our problem is not what we want, but who we are. When who we are changes, what we want quite naturally follows. So I really think arguments concerning the freedom of the will are a waste of time.
Furthermore, salvation could never be based on our free choice because salvation is not based on something that can be chosen. All people can make all kinds of free choices. Unbelievers, as well as believers, can make free moral choices, and do all the time. An unbeliever can live a morally upright life, for all appearances above reproach. In fact, I doubt if anything is more pleasing to Satan than a self-righteous unbeliever freely choosing to do good. But those free choices are irrelevant, because “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Salvation is by grace, through faith, and that faith is a gift*. We can’t choose it, we can’t go get it. It comes to us as a gift, emphatically not because of anything we have done or chosen. By faith, we “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” and are saved. I have written elsewhere on the logical impossibility of choosing to believe anything, and I won’t go into that here. I will go through what it means to believe by faith, and the process of how we come to believe the Gospel.
To believe by faith does not mean that we take a blind leap. A “leap of faith” is simply wishful thinking, wanting something to be true and really, really, really hoping it is, and hoping that somehow, if we hope hard enough, our wish will come true. That is not Biblical faith. To believe by faith is to believe because we trust the one who has given his word. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” — not, “Abraham believed what God said,” but “Abraham believed God.” That is faith: believing what God said, not because we fully understand it, but because we trust him to tell the truth and keep his word. And that faith is a gift.
That is not to say that no understanding is required. God has revealed himself and his redemptive plan to so that we may understand. He has not simply told us, “Trust me, I’ll save you.” He has told us how and what we are to believe. We must understand what God has done. We must understand that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is where we run into our depravity, inability, or whatever term you prefer. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2 that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So we blunder along through life until, at some point, whether it be as children through our parents, or in our old age through a neighbor or pastor or radio broadcast, or somewhere in between, we hear the Gospel. But we have a serious problem — we don’t get it. It makes no sense. No matter how hard we try, we can’t understand. As unbelievers, we cannot respond to the general call of the Gospel, because we cannot understand it. It makes no sense to us. We cannot understand how utterly sinful we are, and that the “good” we see in ourselves is no good at all. We cannot understand that God’s perfect standard is so far out of our reach that we can never hope to attain it. We cannot understand that our sin carries the death penalty, and that that penalty must be paid. We cannot understand that the only way we can stand before God is to be perfectly righteous. We cannot understand that Christ has fulfilled all those requirements. And because we cannot understand, we cannot do the one thing we must do to be released from the penalty for our sin and receive the righteousness of Christ credited to our account — simply believe it.
But that is only the passive reason why we cannot be saved. There is also an active reason. Not only are we intellectually dull and unable to understand, we are unwilling to accept the things of God. We are actively in rebellion against God. From the moment we are conceived we want what we want when we want it, and we don’t want to be told what to do. We hate God and his demands, and we will not submit to his rule — indeed, we cannot.
Paul goes on to say (2 Corinthians 2) that, while the natural man can’t understand the things of God, we who are spiritual — those who have been born again — can understand, because “we have the mind of Christ.” So how do we get from this state of spiritual stupidity and rebellion to a state in which we can believe? We must be born again. And just as we had no power to be born physically, we have no power to be born spiritually. Our life must be given to us. Just as there is no way we can assist in our own physical conception, there is no way we can assist in our own spiritual birth. In fact, it is worse than that. Unlike our physical birth, in which we were completely passive, we actively resist the spiritual birth.
Regeneration is not, in any way or at any stage, a cooperative effort between God and man. There is no synergy between us. We don’t understand our sinful condition. We don’t understand God’s holiness. We hate God. At best, we just don’t want to go to Hell, and we want to know what to do so that we do not go to Hell. We want that because we care about ourselves. We are selfish, and anything we do to achieve salvation is entirely selfish. We do not love God. We love ourselves, and we cannot and will not do anything to change that unless we first become who we are not — living, spiritual beings with hearts of flesh. Only God can do that.
And that, in a nutshell, is human depravity.
Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Election
*Yes, faith is the gift. If you've been thinking grace is the gift, your understanding of English grammar is as bad as your exegesis.
Once the Biblical Doctrine of Depravity is established, a Doctrine of Election that is conditioned on man’s cooperation with God becomes impossible to defend. When we see that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” it simply cannot follow that God has chosen to save anyone based upon some foreseen choice they will make in his favor. If God has, in fact, looked forward in time to see what we, of our own free choice, will do, he most certainly has seen nothing but mass rejection and rebellion. Then, predestining us according to what he saw that we would do, he has predestined every living soul to Hell. So it is a fool who takes comfort in the grace of God if that grace is conditioned on a sinner’s free choice. What, then, is election conditioned upon?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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. —Ephesians 1:3–6
God has chosen whom he will adopt “according to the good pleasure of his will,” and for no other reason. Why does he chose whom he chooses and not someone else? Why did he choose me? Turn to Romans 9. This is the chapter in which Paul, hearing the objections of all Arminians throughout history, replies, “And you are . . . ?” He explains that it is really no one’s business why the Potter has made “one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.” He has every right to do so. And the claim that election is conditioned on anything in the individual is thoroughly debunked:
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (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. —Romans 9:10–13
This passage causes us a great deal of consternation. “Esau have I hated.” The idea that God hated Esau, especially after emphasizing the point that Esau had as yet done nothing good or evil, just doesn’t seem right. Our natural reaction is to rebel against the truth of this passage and insist that it can’t really mean what it plainly says. It is just too offensive to our sense of justice. This is the kind of presupposition I was talking about in the introduction to this series that must be done away with in order to understand how God works. We have got to stop trying to make God conform to our sense of right and wrong. Justice is not a system of ethics to which God must conform. Justice is defined by what God does. If God wanted to choose his elect according to the color of their skin or by shoe size, it would be his right to do so. Instead, he has chosen not to explain himself. He has simply told us, “I am the potter. I use the vessels I have made as I see fit, and I’m not interested in your opinions about it.”
There is absolutely nothing shocking about the statement “Esau have I hated.” Esau is one of those described in my last post on depravity; so are you and so am I. Seeing how we, in our natural state, hate God and want no part of him, it is perfectly reasonable that he would hate us in return. Nothing could be more just. What should amaze us to no end is the statement “Jacob have I loved.” Jacob was also among the depraved, just as much an enemy of God as Esau, and just as much an enemy of God as we are. Why would God choose him? “. . . that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” Simply to show that God chooses and calls whom he will without regard for anything they do. God does not choose, as some claim, based on foreknowledge of future acts. He chooses whom he will — period.
And that‘s where I will leave it. There is so much more that could be said about election, but I did say these would be short posts, and I am trying to keep it simple.
Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Atonement
Update: This post was written too hastily. The author should be chastised for being so lame. Please read the comments below, especially Daniel's, for some necessary explanations.
I am a five-point Calvinist. I believe in the L in the TULIP, which stands for “Limited Atonement.” You may have noticed that I have not used the TULIP acrostic yet in this series. I haven’t used it because the terms involved are misleading, and I haven’t cared to preface every post with an explanation of why I don’t like the terms and what terms I prefer. I am making an exception in this case, because I believe the term “Limited Atonement” is so bad and causes so much misunderstanding that it is worth addressing.
Before I do that, I want to say this: I don’t believe this post, by itself, will convince anyone of the doctrine of Limited Atonement. This is a doctrine that is necessarily deduced from the other four points. To call yourself a “four-point Calvinist” and exclude this point is just bad math. It doesn’t add up. So I believe that, while this post might not stand well on its own, its conclusions should be inevitable in light of the others.
What does “limited” mean? First, it does not mean “limited in efficacy.” That would actually describe the Arminian view — Christ’s death was intended for all, but effective only for some. The Biblical view is that Christ’s death effectively atoned for every sin for which he died. If he died for your sins, atonement has been made for your sins. The penalty for your sins has been paid, and you will stand justified before God. Christ became sin for you, and his righteousness will be imputed to you. Many theologians prefer to say “Particular Atonement,” meaning that Christ died for particular sins, and actually made satisfaction for those sins.
Now, brace yourselves. I’m going to state bluntly what I have so far only implied: Christ did not die for everyone. He died for the elect only.
“Hold on!” you scream. “Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world!” Of course he is; but does “the whole world” mean everyone in the world? (Here I invite the scorn of all Arminians.) I think it clearly does not. If Christ was the propitiation for the sins of every sinner, then every sinner would be justified. Every sinner is not justified. In fact, Scripture tells us plainly that most are not and will not be justified. Christ is not the propitiation for their sins.
“Well,” you might respond, “that’s convenient, isn’t it. Just redefine the terms to fit your theology.” But that’s not what I’m doing here. We could go through the entire Bible and look at every occurrence of words like all, every, none, no one, etc., and demonstrate that they all have a meaning limited by their context. They seldom have universal application. I won’t do that here, but I will challenge you to do this: analyze your own speech. See how often your use of all-inclusive words has universal application.
I always say . . .
Everyone was there.
I eat there all the time.
I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere . . .
I’m sure you can think of your own examples. Interpreting Scripture without regard for context — immediate context and the broader context of Scripture (analogia Scriptura) — is not interpreting it literally. Literal hermeneutics require consideration of context and literary genre. Scripture interprets Scripture, so when your interpretation of a passage contradicts the plain teaching of other passages, you’re getting it wrong.
Getting back to the atonement, it is unthinkable to me that anyone for whom Christ died is not or will not be saved. Let me conclude with a few questions: If Christ died for my sins, how can those sins remain unforgiven? When we consider the fact that God has chosen a particular people to save, why is it difficult to believe that Christ died for them in particular? How can anyone for whom Christ died spend eternity in Hell? Did Christ’s death on the cross actually atone for actual sins? And what is accomplished by insisting that Christ died for the souls in Hell?
Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Calling
I was raised, as I believe I have stated before, on a strange mixture of evangelical Lutheranism and Arminian revivalism.The Lutheranism was of the best kind, but the revivalism, while certainly nowhere near the worst, was confusing enough. In Sunday School and Confirmation, we learned sola fide, and at evangelistic meetings — which were certainly not called “revival meetings,” we were plied with the fiction of gospel songs like the one that follows:
by Phillip P. Bliss
“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last!
“Almost” cannot avail;
“Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
“Almost,” but lost!
Have you ever read anything so calculated to manipulate? Couple those pathetic lyrics with the mournful melody, which, if you can stand it, you can listen to at cyberhymnal.org, and you are guaranteed to get some poor, emotionally assaulted sinner to walk — or crawl — down the aisle to “make a decision for Christ.”
“He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost,” were the words with which the Rev. Mr. Brundage ended one of his sermons. P. P. Bliss, who was in the audience, was much impressed with the thought, and immediately set about the composition of what proved to be one of his most popular songs.
One of the most impressive occasions on which this hymn was sung was in the Agricultural Hall in London, in 1874, when Mr. Gladstone was present. At the close of his sermon Mr. Moody asked the congregation to bow their heads, while I sang “Almost Persuaded.” The stillness of death prevailed throughout the audience of over fifteen thousand, as souls were making their decisions for Christ.
Sankey, Ira David. My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns (Harper & Brothers, 1906) 112.
Did I really use the word “fiction” to describe Almost Persuaded? Yes, as the scenario described in Bliss‘s gospel song — from which the Gospel is mysteriously absent — has never occured. Certainly, sinners sit and listen to preachers call them to repentance and faith in Christ and walk away untouched. I almost dare say that happens every time the Gospel is preached. But the call of the preacher, which has no guarantee of any specific result, is not the supernatural call of God. Scripture assures us that this call always results in saving faith in the hearer.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)
With that verse, I could almost end this series. Really, what more needs to be said? But, though I do aim for brevity, I have more to say.
This is part 5 of a series.
Part 1 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Introduction
Part 2 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Depravity
Part 3 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Election
Part 4 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Atonement
Part 5 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Calling
We come now to the last of what are known as the “Five Points of Calvinism,” Perseverance of the Saints. It has been argued that preservation would be a better word than perseverance, because it is God who keeps us in the faith, and not ourselves through our own efforts. I agree; it is entirely by the power of the Holy Spirit that our faith does not, and will not, fail. However, I prefer to keep perseverance. The main reason I do is that preservation seems to me to be too accommodating to the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” which is held by those who teach the heresy of Lordless Salvation*. We are not merely preserved in a passive state of grace; we are caused to actively persevere in our faith. Either word is acceptable, as long as we understand that we are preserved in a state of active faith, and that our perseverance is all of grace.
I used to find the Doctrine of Perseverance repulsive. My reaction was, “Well, if that’s true, then you could just ‘get saved’ and then live any way you want!† That just can’t be!” Obviously, judging the truth of a proposition by the attractiveness of possible consequences is horribly foolish, as it makes my “wisdom” sovereign; but that is the way I approached it. After I came to understand that the Bible does teach that salvation cannot be lost, I also found the answer to my fears of antinomianism; but I’ll save that for another time.
At this point, I was going to address some Scripture passages that might be used to refute the Doctrine of Perseverance; but as I looked at various passages, I saw that I had to stretch and rip them out of context to even consider them challenges at all. So, in the interest of brevity, I’m going to forego that for now. If anyone does present me with a substantial challenge, I’ll deal with it then.
Instead, I’ll go to a few passages in John’s Gospel and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans to show where this doctrine is taught. This is by no means a comprehensive list of texts on Perseverance, but I think it is more than sufficient.
John 3:14–16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:35–36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 6:35–58 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 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. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
John 10:27–29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Romans 8:16–18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 6:20–23 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:29–39 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In these passages, we find the following assurances:
- The life we are given is eternal.
- God the Father has given us to Christ, and no one can take us from him.
- Christ will lose nothing that the Father has given to him.
- All whom the Father has given to the Son will be raised up on the last day.
- All who are justified will also be glorified.
- No one can bring any accusation against God’s elect.
- Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
How long is “eternal life”? Forever! Who can take us from Christ? No one! How many of God’s elect will Christ lose? None! How many of those who believe on the Son will he raise up on the last day? All of them! How many who are justified will see Heaven? Every one! Who can accuse God’s elect? No one! What can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing!
We can rest assured that if we have been justified, we will surely be sanctified and glorified as well. This is the unbreakable promise of God: Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
*See Phillip L. Simpson, A Biblical Response To the Free Grace Movement Part One, Part Two, Part Three; Matt Waymeyer, “Free Grace” Theology and Acts 17:30-31, “Free Grace” and Matt. 7:21-23 Part 1, Part 2. Read The Gospel According to Jesus & The Gospel According to the Apostles by John MacArthur.
†I now believe that exact thing. How is that possible, considering my condemnation of the teaching of “Lordless Salvation”? That, as I said, may be a topic for future consideration.
I have previously written on Why I Am a Calvinist (click here). But my journey towards Calvinism (which I hated) really began as I struggled with the illogic of Arminianism. Since I was involved in a discussion last week on the logical failings of Arminianism, I thought I would briefly cover them here. This is not exegetical proof, but simply a demonstration of logic which anyone, believer or not, should understand.
First, Arminians say that God looked ahead in time, saw who would believe, and elected/predestined those individuals to salvation.
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
It should be obvious that we have a problem biblically (John 15:16; 1 John 4:19); but we also have a problem logically. If God looked ahead and saw who would believe, if who would believe could be seen, then those individuals were already predestined — by whatever cause — to believe. It is absurd to say that God predestined the thing that was already going to happen with or without his intervention. It reminds me of the old Get Smart television series, in which Agent 99 would often get ahead of Max Smart (Agent 86) and suggest a theory or plan of action. Max would then say something like, “Let me handle this, 99,” and then proceed to repeat what 99 had just said. Humorous, but hardly godlike.
Second, while Arminians agree that nothing can be done to earn salvation, they do believe that salvation depends upon a moment of decision when one must choose to believe.
Again, we have a problem biblically, i.e., the natural man cannot understand, let alone believe, the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). But logically, it doesn’t add up, either. I’ve written this before: no one ever chooses to believe anything. Whatever we believe, we believe it because we have been convinced by influences outside ourselves. Confronted with evidence, and given understanding, we are helpless to deny anything.
Well, none of this is very profound. It’s pretty obvious, really. If you are an Arminian, I’d be interested in how you would address these problems.