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I know Catholic doctrine and since we're discussing JUSTIFICATION (is that what we're discussing? It IS the solution, I think)
then I'll have to disagree with the above.
The CC teaches that man is saved only by faith...
but then in the sanctification phase (which they call ongoing justification) works are necessary and man received grace from sacraments and also naturally from God.
I am pretty sure that the RCC still rejects the 5 Solas and views the Priest hearing Confession and administering the Eucharist in Mass as "non-optional" ... but I am willing to be shown a Catholic Catechism or Papal/Magestrum Dogma that contradicts my understanding.

Frankly, while I disagree with Rome on some fine points of Justification/Sanctification, that is not what prevented me from joining "The Church" when I seriously considered Catolicism. My axe to grind is really more in the area of "Mariology" and the elevation of Tradition to the point that it contradicts the Bible (obviously, in my personal view). The current move towards "co-redemptrix" is just a bridge too far for me.​
 
atpollard said:
    • We have a FREE WILL and a FALLEN NATURE. Therefore, we are free to do anything that we want ... and our fallen nature makes us WANT to sin. As John 3:19-20 put it ... "people loved the darkness" and "everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light". Thus it is not God that prevents Men from approaching. It is Men that freely refuse to approach God.
    • God COULD have allowed men to forever hide from SALVATION and then ALL MEN would be damned ... not by an act of God, but by the FREE WILL and FALLEN NATURE of Men. Like those in Romans 1:18-22, "their senseless hearts were darkened" and God could have left them there (given them over as he did those in Romans 1). BUT GOD ... as Ephesians 2:4-5 says "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive". So God chose to DRAW some (as a fisherman draws fish in a net) into salvation. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast." [Ephesians 2:8-9]
So you see that I agree with the WHAT of your understanding, but disagree on the implied HOW and WHY. ;)


Since I agree with prevenient grace, I'd say that would explain how I believe persons come to God.
I don't believe God wants anyone to love Him by HIS will, but by the person's truly free will. Love that is not free, is not real love. The NT and the OT states that we are to approach God, seek Him and love Him.
Matthew 6:33
Hebrews 11:6
1 Chronicles 16:11
Proverbs 8:17
and so many more...

All men should be damned....but if some are going to be chosen for salvation, a just God would let us know HOW to become saved and give us all the same chance for salvation.

So, of course it's the HOW we disagree with.

I think there are other posts of yours....
 
I agree with the above.
It seems to me that this is what makes God be a just God...giving to everyone the same opportunity of salvation.
Does everyone really have the same opportunity?
  • But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? [Romans 10:14 NLT]
  • Does Billy Graham's son have the same opportunity as the child of crack addicts?
  • As a Muslim boy living in China?
Certainly God can save anyone and the field is FAR MORE LEVEL than when one had to be a Jew to enter the Temple and present your offering at the Alter ... but equal opportunity to all?
 
I don't believe God wants anyone to love Him by HIS will, but by the person's truly free will. Love that is not free, is not real love.
It is good to both agree and to disagree. It is a blessing to disagree with civility. :)

Sometimes, God's Irresistible Draw (sorry, not sorry - this is a Calvinism section and I couldn't resist 😉) looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 16:14 NLT] One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.
and sometimes it looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 2:37 NLT] Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
and sometimes it looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 9:3-4 NLT] As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"
God doesn't FORCE people to love Him, God ENABLES people to love Him ... And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. [Ezekiel 36:26 NLT]

The BIG question is ... ALL or SOME: you and I disagree on the answer.
(for the record, the verse is not explicit.)
 
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The bible is chock full of verses that state we are to seek God and that He's happy when we do so.
Just out of curiosity, do they actually STATE that we are "able" or is that IMPLIED by the fact that we are commanded to seek God?

I would be happy to see a few verses to discuss in detail.
(I enjoy comparing exegetical notes and seeing scripture through someone else's eyes.)
 
The WCF is the “gold standard” of Reformed Theology … but as someone once said:

”It is a good book to have in a flood because it is so dry that you can stand on it and never get wet.”

Ultimately, it is more Presbyterian than Baptist in its origins, so while I have read it and appreciate its exhaustiveness, there is much that I disagree with in the fine details.

So let’s take a close look at the WCF:

Thanks! No one ever did this before.

CHAPTER 6​

Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof​

  1. Our first parents, begin seduced by the subtlety and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
    • (paraphrase): Adam and Eve sinned; God allowed it. [I agree]

I agree too.
What am I to make of top reformed theologians stating that God created everything, even sin?
John Piper, John MaCarthur?
John Calvin's Institutes states that man does nothing except at the will of God.
Book 1, Chapter 18, Paragraph 1
That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men.

  1. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
    • (paraphrase): Original Sin corrupted Adam and Eve completely (body and soul). [I agree]
  2. They being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation.
    • Imputed (definition) = to lay the responsibility or blame for (something); to credit or ascribe (something) to a person or a cause
    • (paraphrase): Adam’s guilt became our guilt; as he was dead in sin, so we are dead in sin; as he was corrupt in nature, so we are corrupt in nature.
    • I can see your issue with the wording. Why did HIS guilt become OUR guilt … we have enough of our own! I agree with you in disagreeing with the WCF. I will save that for another paragraph.

It's not that we have enough of our own...which we do,
but it's what the bible teaches, both in the OT and the NT.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Ezekiel 18:10
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son.
John 5:28-29
28“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.


  1. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
    • (paraphrase): our natural URGE to sin progresses to actually DOING sins. [I agree and think that this is a really cool Biblical point. We sin because we are first sinners by nature.]

Agreed.
I think I explained how I understand this better in my previous post.

  1. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
    • (paraphrase): we may sin less, but in this life, we will never be completely sinless. [I agree]

Agreed.

  1. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
    • (paraphrase): both our “sin nature” and our actual sins condemn us as guilty under the Law of God. [I tend to agree, but not enough to fight over. This is where we split hairs over hypotheticals like are babies guilty of sin before they actually commit a sin and do they need Jesus to save them?
I agree.
Sin has a specific definition which makes babies unable to sin,,,but there's enough here to deal with.

I agreed to a lot of there.
What bothers me is that YOU are agreeing with ME,
but you're not agreeing with Calvin.

So where do you suppose the WCF comes from?
It comes from the writings of Calvin.

So am I supposed to ignore his writings?
Every Calvinist tells me something different...
Who do I believe?

Did God predestine Adam and Eve to sin in your belief system?
Does God predestine sin and sinful acts?
§Calvin says yes.
 
atpollard
Dinner time over here.
Will probably get back to this later.
It does take a lot longer than I thought...
Have my WCF here,
My Institutes.
:helmet
 
I am pretty sure that the RCC still rejects the 5 Solas and views the Priest hearing Confession and administering the Eucharist in Mass as "non-optional" ... but I am willing to be shown a Catholic Catechism or Papal/Magestrum Dogma that contradicts my understanding.

Frankly, while I disagree with Rome on some fine points of Justification/Sanctification, that is not what prevented me from joining "The Church" when I seriously considered Catolicism. My axe to grind is really more in the area of "Mariology" and the elevation of Tradition to the point that it contradicts the Bible (obviously, in my personal view). The current move towards "co-redemptrix" is just a bridge too far for me.​
If you mean that the CC teaches that confession - of moral sins, and of venial sins preferably once a year - and going to Mass is necessary, then yes, you're right. Everything is the same in that regard.
Of course, I don't know anyone that goes to Mass regulary (except one friend) and confession is not practiced much either.

I wonder what it was about justification that you couldn't agree with, I can't think of anything.
Actually, I think sanctification is probably the same too.

Right now there's no move toward co-redemptrix, although it comes too close for my comfort anyway. A bridge too far...
But I do think we should honor Mary more than we do. Did you ever stop to think that she's the "wife" of the Holy Spirit?
This occurred to me a few days ago.
 
Does everyone really have the same opportunity?
  • But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? [Romans 10:14 NLT]
  • Does Billy Graham's son have the same opportunity as the child of crack addicts?
  • As a Muslim boy living in China?
Certainly God can save anyone and the field is FAR MORE LEVEL than when one had to be a Jew to enter the Temple and present your offering at the Alter ... but equal opportunity to all?
I had this discussion with another member here and it ended up that he just ridiculed me.
Some reformed are not easy to speak to. Stage cage maybe...

Romans 10:14...
It says in verse 12 that there is no distinction for God...
God is impartial,
Acts 10:34-35
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.


Verse 13 tells us that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.
LORD in caps means God Father.

Romans 1:19-20 states that man has always had revelation of God's existence from creation.
Even before the bible was written, whoever wanted to be saved could be. This is why it states that man is without excuse, because God has always been known. After all, Jesus didn't die just for those that came after Him, but also those that came before Him.

So I do believe, and theologians do agree, that a person that has never heard of Jesus could be saved.

As to the same opportunity, I think the above shows that God would desire that all be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4,
so the NT shows us the HOW.
 
It is good to both agree and to disagree. It is a blessing to disagree with civility. :)
Absolutely.

Sometimes, God's Irresistible Draw (sorry, not sorry - this is a Calvinism section and I couldn't resist 😉) looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 16:14 NLT] One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

Lydia worshipped God before He opened her heart.
I believe this had to do with accepting Paul's words and teachings.
Yes, God opened her heart...God does everything to speak to us.
If we have a soft heart, He makes it softer (if we have a hard heart, He may make it harder and leave us to ourselves).

and sometimes it looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 2:37 NLT] Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
and sometimes it looks like this ...
  • [Acts of the Apostles 9:3-4 NLT] As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"
God doesn't FORCE people to love Him, God ENABLES people to love Him ... And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. [Ezekiel 36:26 NLT]

The BIG question is ... ALL or SOME: you and I disagree on the answer.
(for the record, the verse is not explicit.)
The above answer for me is SOME.
All are given that small amount of grace - which is why some refuse to accept salvation.
but only some will come to salvation, to those God gives a new heart...
BUT, sometimes this new heart works immediately...and sometimes it takes months or even years to fully understand serving God. Sanctification is ongoing and lasts a lifetime.

I believe the reformed understand this to mean that God will, by predestination, give a new heart.
The problem, for me and other Christians, is this idea of predestinating.

The WCF states that God ordained whatever comes to pass. Chapter III, 1
(He, however, is not responsible for or is the author of sin - how can this be if He ordained WHATEVER COMES TO PASS).

The above is confirmed in III, 2 and 3 and 4 (in modern English - I also have the original)

1. From before the beginning of time, God has decided and put into place everything that happens. He makes these decisions freely by His wise and holy will. Nothing He’s put into place can change.

Still, He orders everything in such a way that He’s not the author of sin. And He doesn’t force us to do things against our will. He is the root cause of everything, but this doesn’t mean secondary causes are not involved – in fact, God is the reason other causes exist.


2. God knows everything that can happen based on any conditions, but He doesn’t decide things or put them in place by looking into the future and seeing what’s going to happen.

3. To show His glory, God has ordered events so that some people and some angels are destined to eternal life, and others to eternal death.

4. He has counted and chosen a certain number of people and angels for each destiny. This number can’t be increased or decreased.

5 and 6 are also interesting, but I have to stop somewhere.



It's also in the Institutes:
Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 5

By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.


The WCF states that God chooses in secret.
Instead the NT shows us HOW to become saved.
 
Just out of curiosity, do they actually STATE that we are "able" or is that IMPLIED by the fact that we are commanded to seek God?

I would be happy to see a few verses to discuss in detail.
(I enjoy comparing exegetical notes and seeing scripture through someone else's eyes.)
If God commands us to do something, surely He believes we must be able to.
Why command us to do something we are unable to do?
This is why sometimes it's really difficult to use scripture...for one reason or another, it's just brushed off and not accepted.

Here are some verse, I think I already posted some in a previous post, but there are many.

James 4:8 NLT
Come close to God and He will come close to you.
Hebrews 11:6
Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
Acts 17:27-30
26and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
28for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
29“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
Proverbs 8:17
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Deuteronomy 4:39
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Isaiah 55:6
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;


and so many more...
The bible is God's revelation to us.
Why would He need to reveal Himself if it's He that picks and chooses?
 
I agree too.
What am I to make of top reformed theologians stating that God created everything, even sin?
John Piper, John MaCarthur?
John Calvin's Institutes states that man does nothing except at the will of God.
Book 1, Chapter 18, Paragraph 1
That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men.
Did God create sin?
That's a tough one and whether I answer "yes" or "no" (in my own mind), I am somewhat dissatisfied with the answer.

If God DID NOT create sin, then we have a very real chink in God's OMNIPOTENT SOVEREIGNTY. Something happened that was outside of God's control. I kinda think that is contradicted by scripture ... NOTHING is outside of God's control. Isn't that the whole point of OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT - God is in charge of everything, everywhere, all the time - that is what makes HIM GOD.

If God DID create sin, then we have the problem of "How can 100% good create evil?" Does that mean God did something "bad"? There's some 'spit in your oatmeal' to ruin your day.

I've given this question more than a little thought. The answer mattered to me a LOT. At stake was nothing less than "Can God really be trusted?" So the answer mattered. Here is the best answer that I have come up with:

Did you know that in Physics, "darkness" does not exist? Think about it. What is the definition of darkness? What is the metric unit of measure to quantify darkness? Darkness is actually, the relative lack of LIGHT. We have definition for Light and we have units to quantify the measure Light. So what if GOOD is like Light and EVIL is like Darkness? Good is part of the innate character and nature of God ... He cannot be other than GOOD. In contrast, everything else can be measured by its relative lack of that Total Goodness. Thus as LIGHT creates DARKNESS merely by existing (in a world with no light, the concept of Darkness would be meaningless); so too, GOD is GOOD and creates EVIL merely by existing. Evil is the absence of God's Goodness.​
Sin is "missing the mark". God is "the mark". Without "the mark" there is nothing to "miss". In that sense, God creates sin ... not actively, but merely "in contrast" ... by existing as the perfect standard.
 
So am I supposed to ignore his writings?
Every Calvinist tells me something different...
Who do I believe?
Let's take a short bunny trail here from Theology into "Modern History" (post 1600) and talk about "every Calvinist".

SAD FACT: "Every Calvinist" is a fallacy like "Every true Scotsman".

  1. There is no such thing as a "Calvinist". As I mentioned once before in another topic, there is no "Church of John Calvin or denomination founded by him. There is no School of Theology where he taught that carries on his legacy. Calvinism is a "shorthand" term used by different people at different times to represent different things. So let's go over some of the "meanings" of Calvinism/Calvinist:
  2. (1600s) Lutheran Church, as the official State Church, exercised its political power to brand the second wave of Reformers as "Calvinists" as an insult to imply that they had gone too far in "reforming" the Church (by departing from the teachings of Luther) and were thus following the teachings of Men and not Scripture. The term Calvinist is still used this way by many of its critics as can be seen in posts on this FORUM every day.
  3. "Calvinism" also became synonymous with "Reformed" (as in the precursors to the modern Presbyterians and the old Pilgrims of 'Thanksgiving' fame). It is as "Reformed" that Calvinism is associated with the WCF. It should also be noted that true Reformed Churches include more than just TULIP and Predestination; they also embrace paedobaptism (infant baptism) and Covenant Theology and often have a common Eschatology (end time) beliefs.
  4. (1900's) A popular book on Theology forever created a link between the term "Calvinism" and the popular "T.U.L.I.P." acronym. The five points actually date back to the Synod of Dort, but "TULIP" is a modern incarnation of them popularized less than 100 years ago. There are MANY people that embrace the 5 points of TULIP (sometimes called the Doctrines of Grace) that do not embrace other Reformed beliefs. Particular Baptists (like me) who trace our roots to the 1700's fall into this group and always have.
So when one is talking of a "Calvinist" ... one is speaking with a member of one of SEVERAL DIFFERENT groups with different beliefs. From this comes the confusion and apparent contradictions. I am true to my Particular Baptist beliefs, but I am not a WCF Presbyterian Reformed Calvinist. I accept the 5 Solas and TULIP, but others may only accept TULIP and reject the Solas. Still others (hypercalvinists) are not Christians at all, but heretics that believe things contrary to the Bible [not differences of opinion, but things like "Evangelism is evil because God will save people without preaching the Gospel"] yet accept TULIP and, thus, are called "Calvinists".
 
Did God predestine Adam and Eve to sin in your belief system?
Does God predestine sin and sinful acts?
§Calvin says yes.
Arthur says "yes", too.

God placed ...
  • Adam
  • Eve
  • Satan
  • Tree
... all in the same location.
Omniscience means He knew what would happen, so the results were no accident and did not catch God by surprise.
Scripture says "before the foundation of the world", so THIS is Plan A and not some alternative Plan B that God had to throw together after Eve ate the fruit.

I am reminded of: "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]

No FALL means no SAVIOR which means no ADOPTION.
 
If God commands us to do something, surely He believes we must be able to.
Why command us to do something we are unable to do?
Implicit vs Explicit.

It is a good argument FOR Free Will, but must then be weighed AGAINST 1 Corinthians 2:14 and John 3:19-20 and John 6:44 and Romans 9 so that each person can resolve the tension in their own mind and draw a conclusion they can live with.
 
Do things happen that God WOULD have prevented if only He COULD have prevented it?
(That is the alternative to "God ordained it to happen.")
Have to leave soon...I'll run through some of the quick stuff, but will leave the rest for tomorrow.

What do you mean if God COULD HAVE?
God could do whatever He wants to do.

Why is this the alternative to GOD ORDAINED IT TO HAPPEN?
Can't God give us free will and still be sovereign??
It makes it sound like the reformed have a weak God that is afraid to dispense free will.
God is not afraid of ANYTHING.
 
Implicit vs Explicit.

It is a good argument FOR Free Will, but must then be weighed AGAINST 1 Corinthians 2:14 and John 3:19-20 and John 6:44 and Romans 9 so that each person can resolve the tension in their own mind and draw a conclusion they can live with.
I'll go over the verses tomorrow....
But God's commands are EXPLICIT.
He doesn't IMPLY anything...
must check the verse ... no time.
 
Arthur says "yes", too.

God placed ...
  • Adam
  • Eve
  • Satan
  • Tree
... all in the same location.
Omniscience means He knew what would happen, so the results were no accident and did not catch God by surprise.
Scripture says "before the foundation of the world", so THIS is Plan A and not some alternative Plan B that God had to throw together after Eve ate the fruit.

I am reminded of: "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]

No FALL means no SAVIOR which means no ADOPTION.
To Know is not To Cause.

No Plan B.
God turns everything to good IF we love Him.

What do you mean by NO FALL, NO SAVIOR, NO ADOPTION?
Are you saying God couldn't just adopt us an nice little human pets?
He had to do all the rest instead?!

You're admitting that God CAUSED the fall just so we could be saved?
Think about this Arthur...
:)
 
Why is this the alternative to GOD ORDAINED IT TO HAPPEN?
Can't God give us free will and still be sovereign??
Think of Joseph.

His brothers sold him into slavery.
Pottifer threw him into prison.
The Officials ignored their promise and left him there.
Pharoah appointed him ruler.

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." [Genesis 50:20 NKJV]

God ORDAINED all of it!
 
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