Discussions with a Calvinist

Teresa's Final Comments

Teresa wrote:

On Aug 17, 2004, at 8:51 PM, Steve Amato wrote:


Your original email to me accused me of misrepresenting Calvinism specifically on the issue of the order of faith and regeneration. Yet through our correspondence I have proven that I am innocent of such a charge. In addition you have confirmed my understanding of other aspects of Calvinism as follows. And though you may disagree with my theological position and continue to argue that Calvinism is more Biblical, the fact is I am accurately portraying Calvinism.

1. Imputed Guilt Paul's reasoning in Romans, yes even in the context of the verses saying that all have sinned, is that people are guilty because they sin.

It says all Steve including infants and imbeciles . I have given you scripture that God practices the principle of imputation of Guilt and blessings

A fine example of the principle is found in Hebrews 7:9-10 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

The sin of men was imputed to Christ 2 CR 5:21

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The issue of innocence is irrelevant. The issue is whether Paul is arguing that people are guilty not because of their own behavior or because Adam sinned on their behalf.
No Steve the issue of innocence is not irrelevant. it was you I believe that brought up innocence . Those that are not guilty by definition are innocent. Who does God see as innocent or sinless?

Steve consider the flood What did God say?

Gen 6 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

A sweeping Statement without exclusion . He made no exception for the infants in the womb or the infants at the breast or the children under 7. So why would a just and holy God condemn the "innocent" to death .How is it that God did not spare the infants and not condemn them as wicked?

Imagine the cries and screams of the "innocent " children as God executed judgment and justice on them .

Now on to Sodom

What is it God said? Gen 18

And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes:

Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for [lack of] five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy [it].

And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do [it] for forty's sake.

And he said [unto him], Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do [it], if I find thirty there.

And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for twenty's sake.

And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for ten's sake.

Ten righteous TEN . Tell me Steve is it not true that Sodom was a city that had within its walls pregnant women ? Nursing infants ? Children under the age of 7? Yet God spared not the city for those you would argue were innocent. Was God lying to Abraham?

Exd 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].

If Paul was saying that all are guilty because Adam sinned then there was no need to speak about people's actual behavior in the first two
Steve being guilty of adultery does not mean one can not also be guilty of theft.

As one of your fellow Baptists note Our hearts are sinful because of original sin so that causes us to make sinful choices, think sinful thoughts, and feel sinful feelings ( our actual sin)

Our standing before God and is thus not an internal quality but an objective reckoning of guilt, whereas original sin is the ruin of our character and thus is a reference to internal qualities. Both original sin and imputed sin place us under the judgment of God.

Two things that need a remedy. One is our sinful nature that enslaves us to sin, and the other is our original guilt and condemnation that is rooted not first in our individual sinning but in our connection with Adam in his sin. The book of Romans—indeed the whole Bible— is the story of how God has worked in history to remedy these two problems. The problem of our condemnation in Adam God remedies through justification in Christ. The problem of our corruption and depravity he remedies through sanctification by the Spirit.

John Piper

Steve we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. You know well why Paul addressed personal sin in Romans , because our salvation is no excuse to sin ,Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Nor does the Bible ever say, "All are guilty because Adam sinned." Thus when Paul says that we observe that all (categories of people) sin, he was saying that all such people commit sinful acts and are therefore guilty.
What did he say Steve, Write the words , not what you want them to say, but the words the Holy Spirit inspired. Romans 3:10 -11

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

These are difficult verses for men that think that they elected God before He elected them or that think they chose God, he did not choose them . They are spoken without condition to the believers to whom this letter was written.

And nowhere in the first two and a half chapters leading up to his statement that all have sinned did he mention Adam. It's just not part of his proof. This in contrast to Calvinism which teaches that people are guilty because somebody else sinned. As such Calvinists portray God as unjust, holding people accountable for things they had no control over. And this you have affirmed.

Acts 4:24-26 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.

Steve why did Jesus say this prayer? Luk 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Why was it said of Judas the ordained tool of God , "it would have been better for him if he had never been born "?

Consider Steve the precious lamb of God, pure and undefiled bore the sin of the elect to the cross and bore the wrath of God that we deserve. HE WAS GUILTY BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE SINNED.

1Pe 2:22-24 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Furthermore along this same line, given your interpretation of verses like Ex 20:25, you hold that children are not only guilty of the sin of Adam but also for the sins of all their ancestors starting from their father. Or is it that you limit it the third or forth generation? Is it that you reckon yourself guilty of the sins of your great-great grandfather, but not of your great-great-great grandfather?
Yes , I am sorry if that makes you uncomfortable , but that is what the bible says .

Steve one thing about Calvinists, we believe what the bible says.

A. Exodus 20:5- "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me," Deut 5:9 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me," Exodus 34:6-7 - "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." 1 Corth 15:22 - "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive."

Jesus became the curse for those that are his

Oops! If that were you interpretation then no one today would be reckoned guilty of Adam's sin since he was many generations prior to that. So I guess it follows that you figure you're guilty of all the sins of your ancestors all the way back to Adam.
Do you assume that the children and grand children do not sin on their own? Do you think it is an accident that things like addictions to alcohol or gambling run in families? Or that some families seem to have a propensity to have children out of wedlock?

You can accept that we inherited physical death , pain , etc from the fall, but the sin of Adam was not part of the curse?

Adam was created in the perfect image of God Seth was born , not in the image of God, but in the image of his father Adam .

Gen 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

But consider the application of this concept. If indeed you really believe what you say you believe. If Calvinism were actually applied in a justice system one would be reckoned guilty of and should pay for the crimes of their ancestors. However both Calvinistis and non-Calvinistics recognize this as injustice.
Steve , you are mixing apples and oranges. In the Jewish legal system (as compared to ours ) did not hold the father guilty for the son or the son for the father. but we are not talking here of men judging men we are taking about God judging man .

Is unjust of God to hold man accountable for the crime of not following the Law when man is completely unable to follow the Law?

The fact is Steve God is not fair , If God was fair then all men would be sent to hell. Steve I keep coming back to what I hear you saying . Man is not all that bad , Man is worth saving , God owes him an OPPORTUNITY TO REDEEM HIMSELF IN GOD'S EYES

Only Steve men can not redeem themselves, unregenerate man can not preform any God pleasing act . (Yes that is in the bible)

And so also the Bible. Ex 23:7 "Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty." Yet how is one to determine the innocence of the person if one is reckoned guilty of the sins of all their ancestors including that of Adam? It is fortunate that Calvinists don't actually practice what they preach.
No man is innocent in the eyes of God. (remember a few minutes ago when you wrote that innocent did not matter? Yet here we are with you proclaiming a man innocent before God. WE are ALL GUILTY that is why we need a Savior.

Steve why do you suppose they called Jesus the "second Adam" if the sin of Adam was not in play here? THINK

2. Order of Regeneration Going back to your first email you accuse me of misrepresenting Calvinism on this point. But I have shown Calvinism teaches that people are born-again before repenting and coming to faith in Christ, which of course is contrary to many verses such as John 1:12.
Indeed just as scripture teaches , a man must be born again , be regenerated before the gospel can be heard and before he can be brought to repentance and faith .

See Arminians do not really believe the word of God when it says we were dead in our trespasses and sin . They think we were just injured , a little scratch and dent. Alive just enough to grab onto that life preserver .

Steve do you really read the word of God, or do you scan it?

Read your citation


But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name; Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Read it Steve . Who was it that received Him? Those that were born not by their will but by God Romans 9:16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Phl 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

Steve all those that come will be saved, The question is who will come? Who will BE ABLE to hear the Gospel with spiritual ears.?

It is God that opens ears to hear the gospel . Dead men can not hear. Deu 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

Jesus explained this to the disciples

Mat 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Mat 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Mat 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Mat 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Mat 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Mat 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Mat 13:16 But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous [men] have desired to see [those things] which ye see, and have not seen [them]; and to hear [those things] which ye hear, and have not heard [them].

1Cr 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

God acts first.

What do you think it means when it says that when we were dead in sin that God QUICKENED us?

3. Grace and Mercy and Debts. Calvinism, as you affirm, holds that grace and mercy are not grace and mercy if it involves the one receiving such grace or mercy doing something. This in contrast to the Bible which answers the question, "What must I DO to be saved." with the answer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved".
That is a scriptural truth . It does not address the ability or desire of a man to do that .

God acts and man responds Act 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.


lets look at the text of incident you cite

Act 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

Act 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Act 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Act 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

When you read this , remember Isaiah that fell trembling in the presence of God, remember Paul trembling in the presence of God asking what he should do .This is consistent with an act of God ON the man . The man asked that question because God had regenerated him and he now desired God

Psa 119:120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

An unregenerate man would not ask .

You seem to think that Calvinists do not think it is necessary to do something.

Steve I know that you will not agree with this (I will be glad to give the references )

But Repentance and faith are gifts of God. Unless God gives them a man will not desire to repent or come to Christ

And we have illustrations such as the blind men of Mat 9:27 who cried out to Jesus, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" You're essentially saying that their crying out is a work of which Jesus is under obligation to pay them back by healing them. Thus it follows that your theology holds that under such conditions Jesus did not have mercy on them because none was needed!
No that is what you are saying , not what i would say .

No man ASKS until God regenerates him . They asked for mercy (they were repentant) proof that they were regenerate. The knew who Christ was and they asked him for mercy. God acts and then men respond .

Read the order

Mat 9:27-28 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, [Thou] Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

Repentance , then faith . Repent and believe.

I have no clue why you think no mercy was needed in Calvinist doctrine . Seems we see the need for an act of God and Mercy more than you do :>)

Furthermore in real life it's a pretty silly position to say that people deserve things just because they seek them. God graciously holds out the gift of eternal life to us, offering it freely. You're saying that if we freely take it, our taking it nullifies God's graciousness.
No, I am saying that you would have no desire to take it if He did not first give you the eyes to see it , and the ears to hear it and the heart to desire it. Salvation is all of God.

What seems missing here is gratitude, you get to do it all yourself.. Who is god in this situation. Reminds me of the promise of Eden

It's foolishness. If I came to your door and offered you a $20 bill for free, you're saying that the act of taking it from me earns you the $20 bill. So instead of thanking me for being gracious, you feel that your earned it by simply taking it. (Just how lazy are do-nothing Calvinists anyway?)
That is silly

Consider also the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matt 18. It says, "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go." Was it out of grace or was it out of obligation that the master cancelled his debt? Under you Calvinistic scheme of things it follows that he would have been under obligation to forgive.

No actually you are confusing your beliefs with mine. You are the one that believes if you decided to ask that he has to give it to you . Arminians are the ones that make god the debtor of man , not Calvinists. It was grace because the man did not deserve it and could never pay it back.

The debt that men owe could never be paid by men . Only Christ could pay that debt .

4. Faith a Gift Contrary to the Bible, Calvinists abhor the idea that faith is something that you do. And thus they view it as simply a gift given to men in a puppet-like fashion.
Again you place on Calvinists the beliefs of Arminians. To an Arminian faith is walking down an isle and saying a sinners prayer . The music is good, the sermon stirring and so the altar call is given and the men come forward. Ahh say the people the service was so good today many were saved.

There is no glory for God in the acts of men.

Many of your false accusations against non-Calvnists are based on the idea that faith is a work if it is something that we do.But the Bible doesn't categorize faith as a work and yet it does categorize it as something we do. Something indeed that we are COMMANDED to do.
You are also commanded to be as holy as God , are you? You are commanded to keep all the commandments , do you?

Is faith a work? If it comes from God it is not. If it comes from the man it is . (A bit like Dorothy clicking her heels together and repeating i want to go home)

1Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Sometimes huh?

Notice Romans 4:2,3 "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about- but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Notice that "believing" is not categorized as a "work".
That is because His faith was given by God. it was a work of God IN Abraham .

Jhn 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

2Th 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:

It is God that distributes the spiritual gifts as he will. Faith is a spiritual gift . God either gives a man enough faith to believe or he does not .

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;

God does not give every man the same measure of faith, so if a man does not have the faith to believe, it is because God has ordained it .

God quickens us while we are dead in sin , God opens ears to the gospel , God gives repentance, God gives faith to believe . It is all Gods Grace.

5. Free Choice Under Calvinism man freely chooses to do evil. But in fact the model of choice portrayed by Calvinism eliminates the possibility of choice and as such ends up simply with a puppet model. If one has two alleged choices but if one choice is not possible then choice does not come into play at all. One does not chose between one thing. Choice only comes into play when there are a number of things to chose from.
Steve i have proven to you that men can only chose from the choices available to him. Man will always chose that which he prefers , and that which he sees as to his advantage . So the number of choices is not unlimited . A man born in iraq may never have "choosing Christ " as one of His options. Who placed thjat man in an Islamic family in an Islamic state?

Steve do you worship your choices or do you worship God? I hear more import place on YOU, YOUR choice. Me me me.

Me . I am clay in the potters hands. . That is a blessing not a curse.


In your first email you stated, "As Christians we have an obligation not to misrepresent the faith of others." A presume you have taken that to heart in your attempt to portray the position of non-Calvinists in the following statements you have made:

1. You say, "According to your sense of justice every single man should be able NOW to completely fulfill the requirements of the Law."

Of course that is not my position. Nor can I see how your logic follows. It is a non sequitor logical fallcy. A false accusation.

Well if he can not keep the law and god demands he does how do you count that as "fair" Is that not holding man responsible for what he can not do? (your accusation of Reform doctrine?)
2. You say, "Arminians do not believe that God saves the guilty , only those that are innocent because they made the right choice (God as man debtor)"
This again is a false accusation. You can ask any Arminian, "Do you as an Arminian believe that God does not save the guilty but only those who are innocent because they made the right choice?

So then do you believe God saves people that do not make the correct choice? (I never said a man was "innocent" that made the "right choice" Saved men are NEVER INNOCENT , they are forgiven not innocent. Those are your words not mine

3. You say, "The problem is Steve you do not really seem to think men are sinful or that they really do not need a savior."

Once again clearly a false accusation, even to the point of slander.

Steve we have talked a long time, you seem to believe that God OWES every man an opportunity to be saved. That can only be because you think in some way they deserve the opportunity.
4. You say, "If Arminian Theology is correct, and all men are worthy of being saved, so Christ died for all of them . The Father is not trustworthy because He has sent those "he loves " to burn in hell , in spite of the fact that the price was paid for their sin, and they had been redeemed by Christ. That is God demanding double payment ."

This again is a slanderously false accusation.

Does God love ALL MEN Steve ? If you are right and Christ died for all men then most of the men that Christ died for are in hell. How can that be? You say it is not true, yet you do not address the issue. Speak up my friend Did Christ die for all men ? Was anyone saved at the cross? Or was no one saved at the cross .

1. All the sins of all men. 2. All the sins of some men, or 3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved. 2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. 3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, "Because of unbelief."

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!"

Steve I am not surprised you wish to end this discussion. i have challenged what you believe and what you teach

I have shown you the serious error in your theology it is not easy to have to re think your doctrine. the fact that you have not answered any think I have asked you speaks for itself. There is no scripture on an age of accountability . You have not replied to my question who was saved at the cross.

That is because , perhaps for the first time you have been asked to account for your theology with the word of God. I understand that because that is where i was a couple years ago. I pray that the next time you open your Bible the truth of election and predestination jumps off the pages at you .

Steve The atonement was not a good guess or a crap shoot . God did not just hope that it would happen , he ordained it before the foundation of the world.

i will miss our exchanges as iron sharpens Iron

Blessings terry

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