Discussions with a Calvinist

Discussion with Mark

Mark

Dear BCBSR,

Quote from BCBSR on Eph 1:11 There is a sense of security being in Christ, knowing God's will and intention that all in Christ will be saved. And it seems that it is this sense of security which Paul is trying to communicate to the saints at Ephesus. In Christ we are chosen for this destiny. That is, as Christians we are chosen. The Biblical idea of predestination is not the same as fatalism, for we are involved in being chosen by putting our faith in Christ. For it was His will that we be involved in this process. However, having been chosen as such our destiny is secure. It's like stepping on an elevator that is predestined for a certain floor. Once you're on, you don't have to worry about whether you're going to get there or not. You just have to worry about whether you are in fact on the elevator. (And you're not going anywhere if you just stand in the doorway) So make sure you are "in Him".

I pulled this straight from your website.

It is one of the most bizarre comments that I have seen on this passage. Your lock hold on the Arminian heresy (condemned centuries ago I might add) has totally blinded you to truth that is beyond obvious in the bible. Don't fear, God can rescue you from the blindness like He did me in 1996 when I first preached through this section of scripture for the first time. I was a fighting, feuding Arminian against all Calvinists before this encounter. No doubt you may be seething in anger over this email right now. Keep reading and take a deep breath.

To say that God chose us because He knew we would choose him is logical and biblical absurdity. Why does God need to know or even care what we would choose. We were not even created yet when all this went down. Now the logical part: babies do not choose to be born, that decision comes from the will of the father (parents in the human case) John 3 is the total explanation of this concept.

I ask you, how are we involved in our own choosing? You have just made man more powerful than God if you honestly believe that. For the limiting factor in the Arminian view of salvation is man and not God.

You say, then what about free will and my choice? Did I choose Christ, did you? Absolutely we did. When the Bible says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith what do you think that means? He actually creates faith in us so that we can now have the capacity to believe in Him. Tell me please what dead men are capable of doing for themselves? How was Lazarus able to come out of the grave, obeying Jesus' command to 'come out!' A dead man that could obey? Impossible! And yet that is exactly what Arminians believe about dead spiritual men, dead but not really.  Was he dead but yet alive enough to obey? Or maybe his body was dead for four days but his ears did not fully die and begin to rot! No my friend, with the commands in scripture such as "you must be born again." comes something amazing from God: rebirth. We are actually born again, given life FIRST and then we can repent, love, trust, believe, accept. It is totally God. He acts first, He plannned all this. It is his glory that is published! Look closely at John 3 again. Look at the silly questions that are asked in there. "How can I climb back into my mom's womb?" Impossible. You must be born again for the will of the heavenly father. Not our decision. Painful to hear for humans that want to believe that heaven is a democracy where evevyone gets a vote and a chance. All are perishing, in God's wrathful crosshairs and going to hell because of Adam's sins (Romans 5:12) God, in His goodness chooses to save some. All should and deserve to die in Hell forever, but He decided to save some! Wow, how humbling, how gracious and generous and how amazing. Ephesians 2:8-10 only make sense as a Calvinist. All of scripture opens up like never before is a person will just let go of their man centered theology and see God as who He really is: Sovereign and in complete control without need of man's help to see into the future or wait on us to make a good decision for Him.

This is such a brief email on the subject. For very helpful reading I encourage you and your folks to read: John Murray's, Redemption: accomplished and applied and also Curtis Thomas', Five points of Calvinism.

Mark


BCBSR Reponse

Mark,
 
Thanks for sharing your opinion. The book I recommend you read is the Bible. I am familiar with the heretical views of Calvinism. For example you say "We are actually born again, given life FIRST", I've written a rebuttal on that subject at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/fborn.html  And feel free to peruse my other articles concerning reformed theology at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/theo.html 
 
Yes I understand under Calvinist theology "predestination" is view as purely fatalistic. Futhermore under Calvinisim God holds people accountable for things they have no control over and thus is unjust in "human terms", as indeed Calvinist have said directly to me. My approach to the Bible is not as a Calvinist nor as an Arminian nor with any inductrinated presumptions. (By the way, Arminians call me a Calvinist). I approach the Bible as a Berean, free from any denominational or otherwise theological allegiance.
 
Steve Amato
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Mark's Response

Steve,
 
Thanks for taking the time to get back with me. We both see things very differently that is certain. And, neither of us will be moving from our position any time soon. We are engaging in this exercise and all the others we have ever participated in not to convince the other person of our position but to re-preach the message to ourselves. "Why can't everyone just believe like me, for I know and have the truth on this matter!" This is what we often think when we engage people. I think that and so do you on this subject. All issues do have a right and a wrong. I admit that I have not all the answers or even a website to prove it to all. I also admit that me views and actions about life are filled with errors, errors unknown to even me. I believe we are all walking heretics is some given point of doctrine along the way.
 
You say, "Thanks for sharing your opinion. The book I recommend you read is the Bible."
 
(You are right, I will do this.)
 
You say, "I am familiar with the heretical views of Calvinism."
 
(Armian views are not heretical? Seems history would disagree with you.)
 
You say, "For example you say "We are actually born again, given life FIRST", I've written a rebuttal on that subject at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/fborn.html  And feel free to peruse my other articles concerning reformed theology at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/theo.html "
 
(Dude, you so missed the boat on this article. Nice hard work but you missed the very basics and the obvious! Of course we were born again first! Every bit of our salvation, sanctification and glorification was FIRST! That's the whole point of Eph 1 and Romans 8. Oh yeah, that's right, I've never read the bible so how could I know. You never answered John 3 about being born again and you never answered how a totally dead man could obey Jesus to come out of the grave. The whole point of which was to proclaim that Jesus IS the Resurrection and the life! He is the life giver. You have to have life first, Steve, before you can have all the qualities of a living person either physically alive or spiritually. Our man difference in theology is what does the bible mean when it says that we are dead in our tresspasses and sins and all the other references to us being dead spiritually. You can not nor never will be able to answers these basic questions which is why you didn't in your first response.) 
 
You say, "Yes I understand under Calvinist theology "predestination" is view as purely fatalistic."
 
(Not true! It is purely hopeful just like the bible describes it. Its not 'my view' by the way, its what the bible teaches in Ephesians and Romans. We are free to act, totally free to act according to our nature. When we get a new nature from Christ we have new freedoms and actions but when we were dead, separated from Christ we were free to act only in accords with that dead nature. Which the bible says that even our righeous acts were as filthly clothes.)
 
You say, "Futhermore under Calvinisim God holds people accountable for things they have no control over and thus is unjust in "human terms", as indeed Calvinist have said directly to me."
 
(Hmmm, very interesting. From your argument here you act as if God needed our permission or needed to give us a consult and ask for our choice in the matter before He decided to save us in eternity past by the way! I guess you have also had this same lamenting argument with your parents about your first physical birth! "Mom, dad, its not fair that you birthed me without my permission!" Your view holds no water in scripture or in logic! But how would I know since I never read my bible.)
 
You say "My approach to the Bible is not as a Calvinist nor as an Arminian nor with any inductrinated presumptions. (By the way, Arminians call me a Calvinist). I approach the Bible as a Berean, free from any denominational or otherwise theological allegiance."
 
(Hide behind 'Berean' or whatever label you wish to give but your position is Arminian at best or semi-pelagian at worst. Both of these were clearly condemned as heresies by the way and not Calvinism and historic Augustianism.)
 
(I'm just so curious about one thing. Why do you find it so difficult to give God ALL the credit for life in general and salvation? I mean all the elements of it? Is it so bad to say, and really mean it: Thanks God for saving my long, sin dead soul from Your wrath. This is the sickest end result of man centered theology.)

Mark

BCBSR Reponse

Mark,
 
Thanks for writing. Sorry I overlook those questions you mentioned. I thought they were just rhetorical and obviously too weak to think that you would seriously consider them being the basis of your argument. Yet you say, "You can not nor never will be able to answers these basic questions which is why you didn't in your first response." Amusing, but reflects the kind of arrogant presumptive nature characteristic of Calvinists in my experience. Or consider your statement that Arminians are heretics because Calvinists say so. It's the kind of argument I've come to expect from Calvinists.
 
Now I will disprove your statement, "You can not nor never will be able to answers these basic questions which is why you didn't in your first response." by responding to your questions. You said, "You never answered John 3 about being born again and you never answered how a totally dead man could obey Jesus to come out of the grave." OK let's consider the hermenuetical technique you're using to read your theology into the Bible. And this is typical of Calvinists. While I interpret analogies in light of what the Bible says explicitly on the subject, Calvinistists tend to interpret what the Bible explicitly says on subjects based upon what they can read into analogies. John Calvin himself read infant baptism into the Bible by reading it into the analogy of circumcision rather than reading what the Bible explicitly teaches on the subject. Oh, and by the way, Christians who don't believe in infant baptism are heretics and should be put to death, according to your theological forefathers.
 
OK if the Calvinist technique of interpreting the Bible is to read into analogies whatever you want, let's try that. Consider Lazarus, since you want me to respond to that example. Lazarus was dead and yet Jesus commanded him to "come out" and he did. So what have we learned from that fact by way of analogy? We learn that dead people can do what God tells us to do. God has given that ability. For example when Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to "sin no more" or likewise of the paralytic who was healed, they, though being dead in sin, were capable of doing what he said. Right?
 
As for "being dead in transgressions and sins" Eph 2:1, that is speaking with regards to our relationship with God. Calvinists claim that dead people can do nothing. Well then according to that idea dead people can't sin. But again Calvinistis read their theology into such analogies rather than reading out of the Bible what it explicitly teaches. You can continue to restate your assumptions, but your assumptions will never prove your argument.
 
Concerning John 3, while you presume that it says that a person must be born again before believing in Christ, what it actually indicates is that a person has to be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." It's referring to a future event. Isn't it written, "that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" 1Cor 15:50 And "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10 So a person must be born again to enter the Kingdom of heaven, and to be born of God they must first believe in Christ.
 
For notice that you never responded to my argument. (Are you able to do so? Or am I supposed to conclude that you're not able to do so?) Notice the order in John 1:12,13 "to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." So first they believed then they were given the right to become children of God. Yet Calvinists say that first a person is born of God and then they believe. Paul writes, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" Galatians 3:26 Calvinist reject this claiming that a person after a person becomes a son of God then they believe.
 
You make the arrogant statement, "Ephesians 2:8-10 only make sense as a Calvinist" and yet it makes sense to me as a non-Calvinist. Imagine that! You can view my study guide on thoses verses at http://www.bcbsr.com/books/eph2a.html Just simply stating your assumptions does not prove your argument. But this is the kind of arrogance characteristic of Calvinists I've had to deal with.
 
Now as I've stated "Futhermore under Calvinisim God holds people accountable for things they have no control over and thus is unjust in "human terms", as indeed Calvinist have said directly to me.", you do not deny this but try to defend it. It is an accurate depiction of Calvinist theology. The Bible says God is just and yet the Calvinists misread the Bible in such a way as to view God as holding people accountable for things they have no contol over.
 
And again they go back to analogy to defend their viewpoint. OK let's look at your analogies. But first let me deal with you reading into what I said something I didn't say. For you say, "you act as if God needed our permission or needed to give us a consult and ask for our choice in the matter before He decided to save us in eternity past" Nope, didn't say that. Made no indication of that. Just like Calvinists read their theology into the Bible rather than reading out of it, they also read into what their opposition says things they didn't say, nor even implied.
 
Now here's your statement, "I guess you have also had this same lamenting argument with your parents about your first physical birth! "Mom, dad, its not fair that you birthed me without my permission!" Yes, you guessed. But you guessed wrong. (If Calvinism is based upon guessing, seems they don't have much of a basis to their theology).  Now if a person is put if prison for being born, or simply being of a certain race, we call that unjust. So is God "unjust" from your Calvinistic viewpoint? The Calvinist portrayal of God is sick.
 
And again with the arrogance, "Your view holds no water in scripture or in logic!", as if simply saying this makes it true. Kind of like raising a flag and seeing if someone salutes it. 
 
But now just to be comprehensive let me deal with another question you had. You ask, "When the Bible says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith what do you think that means?" You're referring to Heb 12:2. The Greek word "author" there is archegos, which means leader or prince. He leads, and out of our free will, we follow. How does your Bible translate Acts 3:15 "And killed the Prince <archegos> of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." As for the being the perfecter of our faith, that's referring to an ongoing process. Or do you think that you have already attained perfection? Now notice also that it's addressed to those in the faith. You can't derive your presumption that we come to faith in Christ apart from any cooperation on our part on the basis of a misinterpretation of a single word. Or is that the kind of hermenutical argument I should expect from you?
 
God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:4 And thus if it had nothing to do with our choice, wouldn't all be saved? When you preach the gospel do you tell people that "God may or may not want them to be saved. And you can't do anything about it. So why am I talking to you?" The Bible says, "God so loved the world", but what do you say? The Bible says, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." John 2:2 but what do you say?
 
If volition is not involved in coming to faith, why is it implied whenever the gospel is presented? How does a Calvinist view Acts 2:40 "And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.'" Seems like it would make little sense from a Calvinist perspective.
 
steve



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Jul 29,2015