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Predestination and Calvinism

OzSpen

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But then HOW are the few chosen?
If not by "wearing" the Lord?

W

The HOW of being chosen is not the point of the parable. It is the WHAT. Some are chosen, although many are called. We've already discussed the HOW involves God's drawing and the people choosing to believe.

If you want a thorough doctrine of salvation, you won't find it in the parable of the Wedding Feast. It is covered in the rest of Scripture.

Oz
 

ivdavid

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4. Man is depraved.
Well, what kind of a God would make a creature that is so depraved that it could not even perceive Him unless He wanted it to? If God made man depraved - or He allowed this depravity, is He not responsible for it?
To my knowledge, calvinism does not state God created man depraved - it is sin in the flesh that prevents man from perceiving and obeying God (Rom 8:7-8), and it's a commonly agreed fact that God is not the author of sin.

To your second point, how is God responsible for 'allowing/permitting' something which He is not the author/cause of ? Is God responsible for 'allowing' sin to even exist, when He is not the cause of it ?
 

OzSpen

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We agree on this OZ.
We have a habit of speaking past each other...

I believe I am also a classical Arminian (although I may not really know all this entails...)

W

Sadly, many who want to identify themselves as Arminian today are not Reformed/Classical Arminian but are semi-Pelagian or even worse, Pelagian.

I've attempted to address a few of these issues in a couple brief articles on my homepage:
See Roger E Olson's article, American Christianity and Semi-Pelagianism (Patheos 2011).

Oz
 

ivdavid

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2. I can never know if I am truly saved.
If Calvinism believes that IF I turn from God it means I was never saved to begin with - then HOW could I possibly know whether or not I AM saved since I must wait till the end of my life to see if I've been able to persevere. The Word tells me I have a CHOICE to persevere and will stay saved as long as I am in Christ.
Aren't both the above highlighted phrases the same? To be in Christ is to not turn away from God - and to turn away from God is to no longer be in Christ. So, one can know if they're saved as long as they continue believing in Christ for their sanctification and salvation - and this is applicable to both camps. At least depending entirely on God to preserve me is a surer option that depending on my own ability to persevere - how can you know before the end of your life that you will indeed continue to 'choose' to persevere?

And there is never a case where one desires to continue believing in Christ but they are thrown out because they're not of the elect - so the ultimate indicator is always just this - do you believe in Christ for everything good at this moment, and if so, you have a lively hope of salvation. And how do you believe in Christ - by the flesh or by the spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is given as a pledge/guarantee/assurance of being raised to life - Rom 8:9 could be a basis to test the quality of our believing itself.

And Scripturally, I am obliged to believe that if one turns from God, they never were of God (1John 2:19). Do you interpret it differently?
 

OzSpen

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To my knowledge, calvinism does not state God created man depraved - it is sin in the flesh that prevents man from perceiving and obeying God (Rom 8:7-8), and it's a commonly agreed fact that God is not the author of sin.

To your second point, how is God responsible for 'allowing/permitting' something which He is not the author/cause of ? Is God responsible for 'allowing' sin to even exist, when He is not the cause of it ?

How does that align with Calvinism's theology of the sovereignty of God and God driving everything that happens in the universe? James Montgomery Boice was a Calvinist and his definition of God's sovereignty was: 'He has absolute authority and rule over his creation. In order to be sovereign, God must also be all-knowing, all-powerful and absolutely free. If he were limited in any one of these areas he would not be entirely sovereign' (Boice 1986:117).

So, does he have 'absolute authority and rule' over ever rape of children, terrorism by ISIS militants, the terrorism of September 11, 2001, Hitler's slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust??? etc, etc.

That's what makes this Calvinistic doctrine of God's sovereignty so extreme to those of us who love the Lord and have a high view of Scripture.

Oz

Bibliography
Boice, J M 1986. Foundations of the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, Illinois / Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.
 

wondering

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Wondering,

We face a few problems in 2016 with the theology you are raising here and I can only rely on my many years of living in Australia and 7 years in the USA and Canada:
  • Many people struggle with understanding the Bible and its overall message because sound expository preaching has been blown out the window by contemporary topical sermons. I had one preacher tell me recently, "I'm through preaching most of most sermons in 2 years and then I begin repeating them". My response (as a preacher) was: "I will never ever in my lifetime have preached through the entire Bible. Preaching from Genesis to Revelation would take more than 50 lifetimes". I've just spent 3 expository sermons working through James ch 2. The next one begins James 3.
  • I've met people who struggle with the context of verses because their pastors and Bible teachers (in church Bible studies) don't preach and teach like that.
  • Another difficulty we face with interpreting passages is that we are dealing with an English translation of Middle Eastern languages. We know the meaning in English (unless it comes with an Aussie accent and meaning) but that may not be exactly what the term means in the original language. Then there is the added problem that some pastors have not learned the original languages to be able to explain the words and phrases.
  • This is especially evident by how we use 'love' today. Even in English there are a number of views, e.g. love of my wife, my children, my parents, erotic love, other-centred love, etc. What did agape of God and agape of one another mean in the first century. How should agape be translated today to convey the meaning of the 'love of God' to the world of sinners (e.g. John 3:16 ESV). This is how the Amplified Bible attempted to translate the nuances of this verse: 'For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life' (John 3:16 Amp). That is an attempt to prize out the meaning of agape, but most of the other versions I checked on BibleGateway assumed we knew what 'loved' meant. Many don't understand the unique meaning of agape as a selfless, other-centred, sacrificial and unconditional type of love. It is not like parental, friendship or erotic love.
  • I am right with you in rejecting the view that the God of other-centred, sacrificial love could damn people to eternal suffering - all in the name of agape. It's an oxymoron of attempted understanding.
  • I not only have a difficult time with double-predestination, but I reject it as inconsistent with the God revealed in Scripture.
Oz
Well AMEN!
And I love your last sentence. I'm on two different threads regarding Calvin, but I made a specific point of this on one of them.

Your points:

  • How could one ever have a limit on preaching from the bible. Almost every sentence is a sermon!
  • Context. All important. But, as you know, I do take some liberty in applying a literal text to a spiritual concept. You'll forgive me for that.
  • Language. Yes. But many who don't speak two languages don't understand this. They think you translate a language word by word. You cannot say in Italian: "I am HANGING my clothes." They'd think you've gone batty. By concept is also difficult precisely because of the reason you stated: Words mean different things at different times. Example: I'm gay. 1950 had a different meaning from 2016. The Aussie accent and meaning is also a great example! LOL. What does "underground" mean??!!
  • Love. Yes. Who can really grasp what Agape Love is? i never really will. Can we love as God loves? And if God can love so, how can Calvinists believe He would arbitrarily send anyone to hell?? Thanks for bringing this up. His love for His creation is so great. Unconditional love. When I'm sure we all place some condition or other on our love for others, could we really grasp this?
  • I don't hear Calvinists speaking to much of God's love, but of His justice - and is it any wonder?
I love this sentence. Double predestination and the God revealed in scripture are not compatible.

Thanks for the great post.

Wondering
 

wondering

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Sadly, many who want to identify themselves as Arminian today are not Reformed/Classical Arminian but are semi-Pelagian or even worse, Pelagian.

I've attempted to address a few of these issues in a couple brief articles on my homepage:
See Roger E Olson's article, American Christianity and Semi-Pelagianism (Patheos 2011).

Oz
I rather dislike titles.
But we need to be identified somehow, right?

Will check out the articles.

Wondering
 

ivdavid

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'He has absolute authority and rule over his creation. In order to be sovereign, God must also be all-knowing, all-powerful and absolutely free.'
It's not because a calvinist defined it so - but I myself believe this is true of God. I don't understand - would you rather He not be absolute in some attribute?

So, does he have 'absolute authority and rule' over ever rape of children, terrorism by ISIS militants, the terrorism of September 11, 2001, Hitler's slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust??? etc, etc.
What does having 'absolute authority and rule' mean? If some take it to mean that God caused these acts of evil by ruling over them, then some serious reinterpretation is necessary. As by me, I understand it as God being able to rule over any and every event in the world - which does not necessarily imply that He will choose to exercise that ability to rule over each and every event. If God so counselled, He could have exercised His absolute authority and rule - and stopped Hitler and various other acts of evil. That He chose not to intervene is itself within His sovereignty. Isn't it in the same sense in Matt 26:53 - God can and is able - but counsels not to, in His own sovereignty, unto His own purposes.
 
B

beloved57

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No I didn't. We were talking about unbelievers and I said, 'The wrath of God abides on that person [the unbeliever] because he/she has not sought forgiveness from the Lord who appeases the wrath of God (1 John 2:2 ESV).

I do not appreciate it when you distort what I write to make me say what I didn't say.

Oz
Believing is not what takes away Gods Wrath, Christ death does. You contradict yourself.
 

OzSpen

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Well AMEN!
And I love your last sentence. I'm on two different threads regarding Calvin, but I made a specific point of this on one of them.

Your points:

  • How could one ever have a limit on preaching from the bible. Almost every sentence is a sermon!
  • Context. All important. But, as you know, I do take some liberty in applying a literal text to a spiritual concept. You'll forgive me for that.
  • Language. Yes. But many who don't speak two languages don't understand this. They think you translate a language word by word. You cannot say in Italian: "I am HANGING my clothes." They'd think you've gone batty. By concept is also difficult precisely because of the reason you stated: Words mean different things at different times. Example: I'm gay. 1950 had a different meaning from 2016. The Aussie accent and meaning is also a great example! LOL. What does "underground" mean??!!
  • Love. Yes. Who can really grasp what Agape Love is? i never really will. Can we love as God loves? And if God can love so, how can Calvinists believe He would arbitrarily send anyone to hell?? Thanks for bringing this up. His love for His creation is so great. Unconditional love. When I'm sure we all place some condition or other on our love for others, could we really grasp this?
  • I don't hear Calvinists speaking to much of God's love, but of His justice - and is it any wonder?
I love this sentence. Double predestination and the God revealed in scripture are not compatible.

Thanks for the great post.

Wondering

Thank you for your perceptive comments about the points i made. I'll take those on board as well.

Oz
 

OzSpen

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Believing is not what takes away Gods Wrath, Christ death does. You contradict yourself.

I agree with you that Christ's death appeased the wrath of God (1 John 2:2 ESV; 4:10). However, on the practical level, the propitiation of God's wrath is not applied to you and me until we believe.

I have not contradicted my self. I've related Christ's propitiation to personal application to the life of the sinner who is then saved.

Oz
 

OzSpen

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It's not because a calvinist defined it so - but I myself believe this is true of God. I don't understand - would you rather He not be absolute in some attribute?

The problem with that view of the sovereignty of God is that it does not take into consideration what God has done from the beginning of creation. He, in his sovereignty, gave to human beings the ability to be secondary causes of all the evil in the world. It started with Adam and Eve being given the choice of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or NOT EATING. God in his sovereignty allowed human beings to be secondary causes of evil.

Thus, all of the evil in the world is not caused by the sovereign, good God. It is caused by evil human beings who choose to commit evil acts.

If you don't take this view of God's sovereignty, then you make God into a monster who decrees the rape of children by paedophiles, the slaughter of people by terrorists, the vile acts of Hitler, Stalin & Mao, etc.

What does having 'absolute authority and rule' mean? If some take it to mean that God caused these acts of evil by ruling over them, then some serious reinterpretation is necessary. As by me, I understand it as God being able to rule over any and every event in the world - which does not necessarily imply that He will choose to exercise that ability to rule over each and every event. If God so counselled, He could have exercised His absolute authority and rule - and stopped Hitler and various other acts of evil. That He chose not to intervene is itself within His sovereignty. Isn't it in the same sense in Matt 26:53 - God can and is able - but counsels not to, in His own sovereignty, unto His own purposes.

I think I've touched on that already. God's having absolute authority and rule means he gives to rebel human beings the ability to choose to do evil actions of all kinds of vile things. One day at the end of time they will be judged for that and governments have laws in place so that many of them are punished in this life.

I agree that God can choose to intervene in some circumstances and the verse you gave from Matt 26:53 (ESV) is an example of how he could do that. But it seems that your view of God's sovereignty doesn't seem to include secondary causes of evil that are allowed, e.g. Nero, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Al Qaeda, ISIL, etc.

Thus, human beings do evil. Evil is not perpetrated by the good God. However, He in his sovereignty allows all of the evil to happen in the world as a consequence of choices made in Genesis 3 (ESV).

Oz
 

smaller

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(EDIT)
Calvin's Jesus did not die for the sins of the world; He died for the sins of SOME OF the world. That's not the Jesus of scripture or history any more than the JWs' Jesus or the Mormons' Jesus is the Jesus of scripture and history.
Calvin's god loves only part of his creation in direct contradiction to the specific word of scripture so that teaching is blasphemy.
There is absolutely no difference in Calvin's God and the God of freewill when it comes to this subject. Why? Because both postures have the same bottom line to the unbelievers. How they get their is irrelevant to the final answer of the equations because the answer is the same.

In freewill land atonement is universal (to mankind, not devils, not inanimate objects, etc) BUT that atonement is essentially worthless to the unbelievers.

John 3:16, gratuitous compliance insert.
 

smaller

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The problem with that view of the sovereignty of God is that it does not take into consideration what God has done from the beginning of creation. He, in his sovereignty, gave to human beings the ability to be secondary causes of all the evil in the world. It started with Adam and Eve being given the choice of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or NOT EATING. God in his sovereignty allowed human beings to be secondary causes of evil.

The above is only true if we disregard Gods placement of the knowledge of good and EVIL in the Garden, AND the making of a tempting deceiver to provoke them into temptation, deception and their ultimate fall.

And further, IF Adam and Eve had no knowledge of EVIL prior to their eating, then they didn't have knowledge of GOOD either.

Thus, all of the evil in the world is not caused by the sovereign, good God. It is caused by evil human beings who choose to commit evil acts.

Evil (as well as good) is stated in the scriptures to be a power. Hab. 2:9. Scriptures state God created all powers. Col. 1:16
If you don't take this view of God's sovereignty, then you make God into a monster who decrees the rape of children by paedophiles, the slaughter of people by terrorists, the vile acts of Hitler, Stalin & Mao, etc.

The fact is that evil does exist. And whether God created it or not, it's adverse marks have been made and left for all to see. The real question IS, IS God Capable of OVERCOMING it all? Obviously we aren't capable. The HOPE of the Gospel is, in part, that there will be a satisfactory outcome in the end, and that by Gods Own Power.

In any cases of sights on evil, God is not exonerated. IF God has the power of intervention and does nothing, then God is just as guilty as anyone else.
 
B

beloved57

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I agree with you that Christ's death appeased the wrath of God (1 John 2:2 ESV; 4:10). However, on the practical level, the propitiation of God's wrath is not applied to you and me until we believe.

I have not contradicted my self. I've related Christ's propitiation to personal application to the life of the sinner who is then saved.

Oz
If Christ death appeased Gods Wrath, then how are people under Gods Wrath ? You have a contradiction.

Those who Christ died for are reconciled to God while they are enemies and unbelievers Rom 5:10. So they are not under Gods Wrath. One can not be under Gods Wrath and reconciled to God at the same time.You have a contradiction!
 
B

beloved57

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Ozs

However, on the practical level, the propitiation of God's wrath is not applied to youand me until we believe.However, on the practical level, the propitiation of God's wrath is not applied to youand me until we believe.

That's without scripture support. Those unbelievers Christ died for are reconciled to God while they are enemies Rom 5:10 so the death of Christ had been applied to them while they were in unbelief.
 
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wondering

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To my knowledge, calvinism does not state God created man depraved - it is sin in the flesh that prevents man from perceiving and obeying God (Rom 8:7-8), and it's a commonly agreed fact that God is not the author of sin.

To your second point, how is God responsible for 'allowing/permitting' something which He is not the author/cause of ? Is God responsible for 'allowing' sin to even exist, when He is not the cause of it ?
Hi ivdavid,
Calvinism teaches the total depravity of man. This description (which follows) goes beyond the Sin Nature as is understood by mainline Christianity. Calvinism teaches that man is so depraved that he cannot seek God of his own will - but God must do even that for him.

This is from Calvinistcorner.com

Total Depravity:

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."

As to my second point - I'm not sure where I made this point since I don't really understand your question.
God is not the author/cause of evil or sin. Yet, He does allow it to exist.
Are you saying He would have to be the cause of evil for evil to exist?


We don't know why God allows evil. Job comes to mind:
Job 38:4

We don't know why it is not stopped. This is the great problem of Christianity - why does God allow evil?
We can only know and be secure in the fact that God loves us, and the reason will be known in the future when we see Him face to face.

Wondering
 

wondering

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You'll have to qualify that statement further - I know you didn't mean it this way, but as a technicality, it would end up being wrong if God's will to harden Pharaoh's heart was against Pharaoh's will to actually do God's will.
So God's sovereignty cannot subdue good, because that would be God denying His own will - God's sovereignty is rather seen in His showing mercy to whom He will, which entails God softening their stony hearts in the spirit; and in His not showing mercy to whom He will, which entails their continuing to harden their stony hearts further in sinful flesh.
The hardening of Pharaohs heart could be taken to mean that God ALLOWED Pharaoh's heart to be hardened. This would be in keeping with your belief that God could not go against what Pharaoh wished of his own free will.
It's like saying, if this is how you want it, this is how it'll be. As when God said that He gave them over to the impure lusts in their hearts in Romans 1:24. It's obvious that God does not approve of this behavior and so a different meaning must be found. It's language, as Ozspen often states.

I cannot totally disagree with the idea that, perhaps, it was God's intention to harden his heart in order for God's will and glory to be demonstrated. I site the death of Lazarus in this regard. Jesus was in no hurry to get to the home of Lazarus after He received word that Lazarus was sick. John 11:3
Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but He stayed TWO DAYS LONGER in the place where He was -
John 11:6
Jesus said Lazarus' sickness was for the glory of God.
John 11:4

So, it does seem that Jesus purposefully waited for Lazarus to die. I am not scandalized by this. I hate to sound Calvanistic, but yes, God may do what He wills and for His own purpose. I put forth, however, that this would be out of the ordinary, very rare and in order to achieve His own ends, and could be classified as being the same as a miracle, which is also outside nature.

Do you find this problematic?


It is never meant that way usually. Certain qualifying words are to be assumed - it actually amounts to "Everything Good is done by God alone ; and God is Never the author of sin."

If applied to God's foreordained will, "Nothing that ever occurs is so without being permitted by God's counsel(will2), though they may not always be according to God's desires(will1)". Eg: God counsels the death of the unjustified though He does not desire it.

The word 'will' might get confusing at times since the same English word 'will' is at times used to mean 2 different Greek words - eg: the 'will2' in James 1:18, Acts 13:36 is different from the 'will1' used in Matt 8:3, Rom 12:2. Both words occur together in Eph 1:11, Luke 22:42, and Matt 1:19.]
I agree. I was not stating my belief but the Calvinist belief.
My example of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart would be the Will of God as expressed in James 1:18.



In the context of free 'will', we almost always refer to our own counsel(will2) and not desires(will1) - since whatever is counselled to be the most apt option from among many desires, is chosen and acted upon. And this counsel is either by the flesh or by the spirit. What needs to be discussed is - whether any choice/action can be pleasing to God when counselled by the flesh, and if not - is one in the flesh really having a 'free' will?

But yes, that was just semantics. As you meant it, we are given to choose and we do constantly exercise that act of choosing - we aren't deprived of the very act itself. But whether the limitations to it(by sin in the flesh) or the influences over it(by God's Spirit in your spirit), permit it to be termed completely free, is a matter of discussion.
There's another poster here who is very interested in your idea of our free will not being really free because it is always affected by one influence or the other.
I'm not competent enough to discuss this. The only thing I will say is that one in the flesh is not free. He is subject to the wiles of satan. Jesus said that only HE offers true freedom - the freedom to serve God, thus delivering us from the harm that satan can do to us. John 8:36

No action counselled by flesh can be pleasing to God. Hmm. But then we might also ask: Is one in the spirit really having a free will? I believe so. I don't always obey. We sin, we make mistakes that could have been avoided.
Now, does one following the evil one have choice? Do they ever do good? Or is the mere fact that they ARE following evil, make it impossible for them to BE good. One must BE good, not DO good.

Interesting questions ivdavid.

Do you have the answers??!

Wondering
 

wondering

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Believing is not what takes away Gods Wrath, Christ death does. You contradict yourself.
How is Ozspen contradicting himself?

Christ's death takes away God's wrath.
Great.
But if you DON'T ACCEPT IT and BELIEVE IT
it will be of NO BENEFIT to you, and God's wrath remains for you personally.

Wondering
 

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The hardening of Pharaohs heart could be taken to mean that God ALLOWED Pharaoh's heart to be hardened. This would be in keeping with your belief that God could not go against what Pharaoh wished of his own free will.
Wondering

There is a far more credible explanation of what happened.

Here is what happens when Gods Word comes into play:

Mark 4:
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

There are TWO parties to the above equation of scriptural fact. The person (these) and Satan.

Anyone who fails to discern this factor is not going to understand much of anything about scriptures. Who's "heart" are we really talking about and even more important, WHICH PARTY was hardened? And even more, which one was BLINDED by the other party?

It really has nothing to do with just pharaoh, the individual. (EDIT)
 
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