Monday, January 30, 2006

"Is John Calvin in Heaven?"

That is the title of an article that appeared recently in Northwest Florida Daily News. Its author, Rev. Joel M. McDuffie, Jr., is pastor of First Baptist Church of Valparaiso. He quotes Dan Corner's essay on Michael Servetus entitled, "His Ashes Cry Out Against John Calvin," as follows:
"At best, Calvin was spiritually blinded by his hate and therefore, spiritually hindered from rightly dividing the truth. At worst, which was apparently the case, John Calvin himself was unsaved, according to Scripture."
Leaving aside the question of why the Southern Baptist McDuffie would cite the 5 point Arminian Corner as a trustworthy evaluator of a dead man's salvation "according to the Scripture," the assertions in this article are breathtaking in their arrogance and ignorance. Here is a sampling:
  • "The heart of Calvinism contradicts the heart of everything revealed in scripture."
  • "The one who believes in Calvinism is fighting all of scripture."
  • "If choice and self-determination is [sic] not real, then why does everything God create demonstrate this ability[?]"
  • "How does sovereignty from the Calvinist point of view, explain the meaningless and futile events of history, mankind and more importantly the cross [sic]?"
  • "Calvinism reduces God and this creation to the awful experiment in futility that the atheist, agnostics and the lost world say it is if God is behind it."
  • "Calvinism also sets God up as a liar and fraud."
McDuffie does include some sentences that have the appearance of argument but which are little more than the gratuitous assertions listed above. Here is one of his most ambitious efforts:
"If Calvinism is true, everything in Eden, [sic] is a great big hoax. Man is nothing more than an unfortunate victim in a sick drama he had not choice to play in. In this drama he is subject to illusions, lies and manipulation by his creator [sic]. He is told not to eat of the tree or he will die, he is shown a tree of life by which he can live forever, but then God makes the decision for him and damns him for it. A Calvinist will never express their [sic] view to such extremes, but these are unmistakably the implications of what they are [sic] saying."
Consistent with his assertions, McDuffie does not treat one verse of Scripture in his essay. Although he does not directly answer the question posed in the title of his article, he certainly implies that the answer is a resounding "No."

The misrepresentations so permeate this article that a thorough refutation would require far more words than what McDuffie has written. His erroneous presuppositions would have to be debunked and there are so many of them a complete response would almost get sidetracked dealing with them before getting to his actual assertions.

I will only comment on two of his statements cited above, because I have confidence that even mildly alert readers will recognize the disingenuousness that characterizes his comments.
"If choice and self-determination is [sic] not real, then why does everything God create demonstrate this ability[?]"
Why don't we go ask a rock? But, let's give McDuffie the benefit of the doubt that by "everything" he only means "people." Choice is not the same thing as self-determination. Of course we have the ability to choose. McDuffie exercised his ability to choose in publishing his article and I am exercising mine in responding to it. But the capacity to choose does not mean that one is free to choose any and everything which he might determine for himself. McDuffie cannot, by self-determination, choose to live on Pluto just as I cannot choose to run 100 meters in 6 seconds (I am not even sure I could choose to do it in 15 seconds!). Why is that? Because in both cases, our choices are limited by our natures. He is not a space alien and I am not a cheetah. Let me say it again, our ability to choose is limited to our natures. There is a detailed history of theological debate clarifies this in terms of a man's moral ability and natural ability. Suffice it to say that a fallen man's chooser is limited by his sinful nature.
"How does sovereignty from the Calvinist point of view, explain the meaningless and futile events of history, mankind and more importantly the cross [sic]?"
Here McDuffie reveals how anemic his worldview is and how unbiblical his thinking is. There are no meaningless and futile events in history. Let me limit myself simply to one verse--Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Even apparently "meaningless and futile events in history" are included in this verse. To claim otherwise is to parrot existentialist and atheistic writers.

The kind of screed that McDuffie has published will work against any efforts for Calvinists and Arminians to work together in the SBC. Such extreme, uninformed and inflammatory remarks should be rebuked by all Bible-believing evangelicals.






51 comments:

Tim Ellsworth said...

It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed people are when they try to speak or write about Calvinism. Thanks for pointing out the errors.

Andy Parrish said...

Sadly, Rev. McDuffie is by no means an anomaly in the SBC. In January 2003, I personally heard Dr. Paige Patterson give a talk to a few dozen Southeastern Seminary students who were ministering in rather difficult circumstances. Dr. Patterson's talk included gratuitous potshots at John Calvin. Though irritated, I remained silent and seated. Aggressive ignorance concerning Calvin and reformed theology is not exactly unheard of at SEBTS, so I just wanted to wait out the storm once again. Unfortunately, Dr. Patterson went on to question Calvin's salvation, but concluded, "I think Calvin was a Christian." He actually stressed the word "think" when he uttered this sentence. At that point, I could no longer remain both silent and seated, so I quietly walked out of the room.

Despite being a Baptist solidly convinced that the doctrines of grace are biblically sound, the fact that Dr. Patterson (or anybody else) isn't a Calvinist doesn't give me fits. Though important, this isn't an essential issue like the deity of Christ, and godly, intelligent believers can reasonably disagree. My problem with brothers like Dr. Patterson and Rev. McDuffie is that they seem unable or unwilling to deal with this issue without resorting to caricatures or worse.

I daydream about the possibilities of the talk Drs. Mohler and Patterson will have at the SBC convention this June. In my dream world, Dr. Patterson will articulate what the reformed SBCers believe about the doctrines of grace, and do it in a way that allows reformed believers to say, "That is what I believe". And then he will argue against it.

Scripture Searcher said...

Smacks and smells like John Rice, Jack Hyles, and MANY others who have chosen to write and speak about a subject they misunderstand.


If McDuffie is for real then then some SBC churches/
congregations may be in even worse condition than previously thought.


If McDuffie is genuine he must be desperately seeking some attention he has failed to receive ~ perhaps from his childhood until the present.


If McDuffie means what he has written then we should pity his congregation that is exposed to his theologically unsound discourses being pawned off as scriptural sermons.

Jim Shaver said...

Sounds like this guy is a Laurence Vance and Dave Hunt kind of guy.

I've been amazed when I go into the offices of outspoken anti-Calvinist pastors over the lack of Baptist history and theology books on their library shelves.

It is a rare critic of Calvinism in the SBC today who has read much at all about early Baptists.

No wonder their theology is so skewed.

Tony said...

What is sad and alarming is that from the side of those that dislike the truth of the Doctrines of Grace they feel justified in make assertions that are unfounded but appear to have some foundations. However, when one would answer a person such as this with scripture we are told we have manipulated scripture.

If one were to take the statement made concerning futility and turn it around one sees true futility. Except then the futility is in god since he (I purposely made the “g” & “h” small) has no control and thus things just happen. This view makes god out to not be the God of the bible but the god of man’s desires. As you said, Tom, seemingly futile events only have meaning, as scripture (Rom 8:29) says, in light of God’s work in and through them.

I pray that people like McDuffie would come to see not only the harm in their baseless ranting but would also truly come to see what scripture says. Reformation in the SBC obviously needs to start from the people as all too many in the convention that have the forum to make comments as made by McDuffie get heard.

Buy the way, why is it that one can write as McDuffie did but if a “Calvinist” was to write his opinions they would be labeled as a divider and troublemaker?

Thanks for the article

Burt Harper said...

Before you try to refute any false doctrine, you should understand what you are refuting. When you refute it, you should refute it with the almighty Gospel of our all sufficent Lord Jesus. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Tim 3:16 (KJV)
A preacher should preach the Gospel. A Christian should preach the Gospel. I have read countless books for and against Calvinism. I am going to have to quit reading them. There is too much talk on both sides and not enough scripture. So many times I have put a book down in frustration wondering, "where is the passage of scripture for your point?". Then I go to my Precious Saviors Word and find the scripture to support or refute the point in question. I am just a wicked sinner saved by grace, who longs to leave this sin ridden flesh and meet my Father. If my memory of Church history serves me correctly, John Calvin points to his Baptism in the Catholic Church as the confirmation of his salvation. His life was unholy in the fact that he promoted the torture and death of many who did not hold his interpretation of scripture. He may be in Heaven, but his life did not reflect my Lord's teachings. "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:" IThes.3:12. He may have made a profession of faith I dont know about. However, we wont actually know if he is in Heaven until we get there because of what these 2 verses teach. "for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" 2 Samuel 16:7. "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." ICor 3:15. All verses above are KJV.

T A Blankenship said...

By Mr. McDuffies comments he almost sounds like an Open Theist.

Nathan White said...

Burt,

I am sad to see you take the same stance as Rev McDuffie does regarding John Calvin and his life. I encourage you to do some additional research Calvin -the detailed history of his life along with what he wrote, and I believe you will find quite the opposite of what you asserted. Unfortunately, some men (like Dave Hunt) have used so much ad-hominem and 'poisoning the well' type rhetoric when giving an account of Calvin's life that many have been led astray from the truth of the matter.

SDG

Antique Religion said...

Am I not mistaken to say that Calvin (although working very distinctly under the church-state system of Geneva) executed by fire these men through the arm of governmental authority? I understand that the reason behind the executions stemmed from fundatmental disagreements of doctrine, but weren't they nevertheless administered by the State part of Geneva, with Calvin acting as magistrate?

Does this mean that a Govenor who puts someone to death in their state will have no chance of seeing heaven. Again, I know the two systems are different and that the crimes were not the same. I hope someone gets what I'm asking.

crosscross said...

The pastor at a church where I was a member preached his sermon against calvinism awhile back. I recieved a copy on CD and nearly lost my lunch. he of course pulled out the Calvin hated anabaptist and baptised infants argument. Then he took on Augustine saying that he felt Christianity should be spread by the sword. There was zero mention of Pelagius and that heresy. As Charles Spurgeon said when a man takes on Calvinism he makes a straw man names him Calvin and shoots arrows at him. The congregation was repeatedly told what a "calvinist' believes. I kept thinking, no I don't believe that nor did Whitefield or Spurgeon. This of course is from a church where you'll have folks rapelling out of the ceiling and other shenanigans during the service all in the name of church growth. May the Lord revive His work among us.

Stewart said...

The political machinations of Geneva were pretty complex, and governed by fallen men. Go to www.prbc.org and listen to some of James White's Church History lessons. Servetus was a HERETIC! He intentionally showed up in Geneva and attended to a Calvin sermon on the Trinity. He knew he was under a death sentence in Geneva. Calvin repeatedly begged Servetus to recant. He begged for the Genevan authorities to be merciful.

One final note: We need to be careful judging people without understanding their historical context. Remember, false prophets were stoned in Bible times. Do we condemn God's command or do we try to understand the context?

Joe said...

"How does sovereignty from the Calvinist point of view, explain the meaningless and futile events of history, mankind and more importantly the cross [sic]?"

If I understand McDuffie's question above the way I think he meant it, it would appear that he considers "futile events" to take place not only in "history" and "mankind" but that he also considers the death of our Savior on "the cross" a futile event also. If (and I emphasize IF) he meant to say that then his problem is explained. Can someone truly have the faith that saves if one considers the death that purchased the pardon of God's people a futile event? It seems to me that that kind of faith would at best have to share with trusting in Christ and the sinner's own works and that can't be. SOLO CRISTO!

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt."

I am not trying to be unkind in what I suggest but just trying to be of help toward the needy. McDuffie therefore doesn't anger me but provokes me to pray that the Lord will open his eyes to the glory of our Substitute and His gracious work on behalf of those who could never save themselves! May God help him!

crosscross said...

And I know that Calvon sent that man of God Farel to preach to Servetus. He refused to repent. The fact is it's infantile and ridiculous to look at the 16th century through our oh so wise 21st century eyes.
Also ,if you have read any books by Piper he buttresses his arguments for the doctrines of grace with much scripture. I am incredulous one would stipulate he hasn't read any books on Calvinism with much scripture. However if this is so enjoy...http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/doctrines_grace/summary.html

Nathan White said...

At the foundational level, it really doesn’t matter whether Calvin committed murder or not. Even if he did murder in cold blood (which I believe he did not), what then of Moses? What then of David? What then of Paul? We dare not indict cold-blooded murderers as being lost. For Moses and David were certainly believers at the time.

Murder is not the unpardonable sin, and to hold that against Calvin while ignoring the rest of his life is very sad indeed.

Even still, this is all a moot point as pertains to this subject. We do not believe Calvinism because Calvin taught it, we believe it because our Lord Jesus taught it.

SDG

GeneMBridges said...

Regarding Servetus (for Burt):

Calvin was out of favor with the local authorities. The land was Magisterial, where church and state were intertwined. Calvin actually pleaded Servetus death be merciful.

Servetus was an anti-trinitarian and under the death penalty already. Had he not been executed, Geneva, hotbed of reform, would have looked like a home for heretics. Switzerland lies between France and Italy. Italy was under papal jurisdiction. Frace was a Catholic state. This was the age of the wars of religion. Had Geneva let Servetus go, either the Pope himself or France would have entered Switzerland, for in that day, rulers excused their political machinations with religion on a regular basis. This would have halted a large segment of the Reformation and would have given license for the persecution of Lutherans in the Lutheran states. Protestants would have become known as purveyors of heresy of the highest orders.

As to Calvin's view of assurance... Yes, Calvin did look to baptism for assurance. However, Calvin did so because he affirmed that baptism is a seal of the promise on what God will do in the lives of children in the covenant. A person who is unregenerate and has not himself been converted later in life cannot look back on his baptism for anything. To hold your objection, Burt, you have to show that Calvin believed in baptismal regeneration. Perhaps if you paid attention to what you were reading, you'd understand that.

For Mr. McDuffie:

How does sovereignty from the Calvinist point of view, explain the meaningless and futile events of history, mankind and more importantly the cross.

Well, let's apply this question to Arminianism. Since no choice is free unless you can act with libertarian freedom, then on what basis is this a satisfying explanation? On the contrary, plain old fashioned chance is involved on this view, yet if God's foreknowledge is infallible and correct, we end up with real fatalism. How is this a biblical response? Incidentally, where does Scripture ever appeal to the free will of men as an explantion for evil?

Calvinism can explain evil in the world through an appeal to the providence of God and His working all things after the counsel of His will to His ultimate glory. Arminians typically attack this, but watch what they invariably do. They claim Calvinism can give no reason and is "arbitrary." Pardon? By claiming that Calvinism claims that such evil exists for the glory of God, you have, in fact, pointed out the reason for us. We should think that what is arbitrary has no reason or purpose at all. Don't call our view arbitrary and name the reason we attach to it in your objection.

In contrast, Arminianism has no answer whatsoever and can only blame men, but how can men be to blame if they acted with libertarian freedom and are subject to the whims of chance? If their desires don't determine their actions, how is this a recipe for moral responsibility?the Arminian view, damnation is arbitrary. The Calvinist says that God creates the damned as a means of manifesting his attribute of justice. By contrast, Arminians can't give any reason for why God would make men knowing they would repudiate Christ and go to hell.At most, he could offer a reason for why the damned deserve damnation, but he can't give a reason for why God would knowingly make men who deserve damnation, and then make them accordingly. In addition, if God foreknows that some people will end up in hell, then doesn't he create them with such a destination in view? And does that amount to a de facto brand of predestination?

Arminians regularly conflate responsibility and blame. Causation is a necessary condition responsibility but not blame. Proximate cause is both a necessary and sufficient condition of blame. Moreover, moral blame requires a moral motive that is evil. That's what leads to moral responsibility. What God desires for His glory, men do with evil motives. This is what makes them morally responsible, for those motives belong to men and men alone. This is basic information. One wonders if our Arminian friends paid attention in seminary.

Perhaps the Pastor of FBC Valpariso should apply some critical thinking to his own belief system. This kind of shallow thinking does nothing beneficial for the people.

I sincerely hope, Tom, you will write the NW FL Daily News or Rev. McDuffie and attempt to address his concerns.

Mike Miller said...

Burt,

I don't know what books you've been reading, but I'd like to suggest "Still Sovereign" edited by Thom Schreiner and Bruce Ware. It is loaded, not just with Scripture references, but with in-depth exegetical commentary. Also, you can check out www.aomin.org where James White provides ample biblical exposition.

You also create a dichotomy by implying that to speak of our differences (Calvinists/non-Calvinists)is not to speak of the Gospel. If the doctrines concerning the very nature of salvation (these are the doctrines of which Calvinists speak) are not relevant to the Gospel, then I'm not sure what is.

And as for referring to Calvin's baptism, to call oneself a Calvinist does not typically imply an agreement with Calvin on everything. Many of us do not affirm or practice paedobaptism (see articles on www.founders.org). We simply hold to the doctrines of grace as espoused by Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and numerous other men of the Word throuhgout history.

Finally, let me just say that for the Calvinist, the Word is central to our doctrine. The only exposure I had to Calvinism during my first round of seminary studies (I hold 2 degrees and am working toward a third now--3 different seminaries) was that of a caricature. I was told that Calvinists didn't believe in prayer, evangelism, or missions (all blatant misrepresentations). But through intense study of the Word, I became a Calvinist. I didn't know that's what I was, however, until I later began reading John Piper and others. The Reformed position is purely biblical in that it did not arise from "Intstitutes of the Christian Religion" (Calvin's definitive doctrinal work), but rather from the Word of God itself.

Men like McDuffie further make no attempt to understand our postion or to critique us biblically. Instead, they further the caricature by resorting to misrepresentation and ad hominem, which do nothing more than deflect any discussion away from the core biblical issues.

Burt Harper said...

I know some that believe in some or all of the 5 points that like to be called Reformed Evangelicals or Reformed Baptist. Two of them told me they agree with me about some of the horrible acts of Calvin and would rather not be called Calvinist for that reason. So I refrain from using the term unless it is by necessity, for love for my brethren. The theology of the 5 points will not fall or stand with John Calvin anyway. It fails on the first 4 points with the Bible. It depends on how you view the 5th point as to whether it is refuted by the Bible. I have read James White. He is a very educated man. However, his intellect seems to fall short in the context of scripture when he tries to defend the 5 points. I beleive he is a good Chistian leader beloved of God. However, his traditions seem to blind him to the theology of the 5 points.

Stephen Thomas said...

I can't really add anything that hasn't been said very well so far. But I just wanted to say something because one of my pet peeves (along with Calvinism bashing) is Calvin bashing. I think it irritates me so much because (as has been said by others here) the issue of Calvin is irrelevant. We use the name Calvinist, as Spurgeon and Edwards say, as a form of short hand. It's a lot easier to say "I'm a Calvinist" than it is to say "I believe *insert several pages of doctrine here*." Although this latter sentence is the one we are having to use more and more often because people don't know what the word "Calvinism" means. With the definitions given by people like this McDuffie fellow, long explanations are necessary. But when speaking among a group such as the readers of this blog, it is just plain easier to say "Calvinist." But it has nothing to do with Calvin! I was a Calvinist before I ever read Calvin! I just borrow his name as a form of shorthand! So any attack on Calvin's person will not change my beliefs one iota. Nor do I think it will affect any other Calvinist. We just don't care! We believe in "Calvinism" because it is found in the Bible, not because it is in the Institutes. To summarize my rambling paragraph: Attacks on John Calvin aggravate me because it is an irrelevant avoidance of the real issue.

But after having said all that, I also get aggravated because it is an assault on the fine character of a Christian. I do not want any of my brothers or sisters in Christ to be slandered. I do not want their work for God to be forgotten and replaced by lies about them. Calvin does not deserve my accolades because all the good the he did and taught came solely from God. But he should not be slandered or lied about. It does not give very much glory to God to impugn the character of one of His beloved saints.

I will not say much of what the truth about Calvin is becausse that has already been done here, and because there is just too much that could be said. However, I will reinforce the fact that Calvin did not go around putting people to death. He was a pastor for the city-state of Geneva. Calvin did not put Servetus to death. Servetus put Servetus to death. He willingly and knowingly entered into a city where his teachings resulted in the death penalty. He willingly and knowingly risked that because he thought that he may be able to swing the divided city council over to his side. Calvin did his civic duty by reporting to the authorities that Servetus was in town. Note that Calvin himself was not the authority. Then, in Servetus' trial, Calvin acted as a prosecuting witness. All he really did was just read passages from Servetus' writings. Servetus refused to recant of those things. The governmental authorities (not Calvin) sentenced him to death by burning. Calvin pleaded for a more humane form of execution, but his request was denied. Calvin did not make the law, he merely obeyed it. He was not some sort of all-powerful Protestant pope. In fact, if I remember my history right, at least half of the council didn't like him at that time anyway. So they certainly weren't going to be told by him what to do.

David B. Hewitt said...

Hi again, Burt.

The conversation seems to have moved here -- I'll post here then instead of the last thread if you would like. :)

So, it fails at the first four points? Sounds like something worth discussing.

So then, Total Depravity. How is it that this doctrine is not true? Remember, a responsibility to do something doesn't mean we have the ability to do it in and of ourselves. :) I would reference an article here at Founders (only one page) that addresses the issue of man's responsibility and God's sovereignty. You can find it here.

I hope this is helpful!

SDG,
Dave Hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Stephen:

"I was a Calvinist before I ever read Calvin! I just borrow his name as a form of shorthand!"

Well said! That's why I prefer the term "Reformed" really, because of the often misunderstandings. However, you said it well -- and I haven't read "Institutes" either. :)

Dave

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Burt,

The theology of the 5 points will not fall or stand with John Calvin anyway. It fails on the first 4 points with the Bible. It depends on how you view the 5th point as to whether it is refuted by the Bible.

Care to explain? The people on this blog have been posting detailed and lengthy arguments to support their positions. All you have made thus far are blanket statements. I urge you to be faithful to your first comment:

Before you try to refute any false doctrine, you should understand what you are refuting. When you refute it, you should refute it with the almighty Gospel of our all sufficent Lord Jesus...There is too much talk on both sides and not enough scripture. So many times I have put a book down in frustration wondering, "where is the passage of scripture for your point?".

I ask you the same question: "where is the passage of Scripture to prove your point?" All I'm asking you to do is be faithful to your own admonition.

Stephen A Morse said...

Tom, thanks for posting this today. I am teaching on the second sentence of Article V in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message tonight and this is just a little more material for our study. We have been having a wonderful time discussing a doctrine that most people haven't really ever heard of in a positive light and several in my congregation are wary, if not blatantly contrary to. I have been taking it very slow and methodically and God has been faithful to produce growing witnesses from it.
BTW I am posting my study on my blog and would love to have some of you come and visit it. (www.throwtheword.com - I am looking for feedback, not for some shameless promotion). I hope to find a publisher because I don't seem to see much in the way of Baptist (specifically) confessional, theological material coming out in the near future. Let me know what you think.

Burt Harper said...

Brian,
I believe I have given more scripture in this thread and the last thread to back up my points than the total of everyone else here. In the last thread I refuted Limited Atonement with a passage of scripture from John 3:16. I even put it in context. I yet to get one other interpretation of scripture than the one we read from that chapter. All I have gotten is Dave wanting me to go to another website where I have to register at yet another site to read his interpretation. I get people sayin read this book. Read that book. Read this author. I READ THE BIBLE. Praise be to God. That is enough for me. Just give me the Bible that refutes what John 3 says.

Dave,

Can you please post your explanation of how John Chapter 3 teaches Limited Atonement before we go on to another point. Are should we go to another point because you cant support your argument here?

Nathan White said...

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

'That whoever believes on Him...he who does not believe is condemned already' -Does that not place a firm limit on the atonement? That is, all who believe are those for whom Christ died? Or are we going to read into the verse and affirm that Christ died to 'potentially save'? Because if Christ's death actually accomplished anything, that is if He saved anyone in His death, then there must be a limit to the atonement.

I just wrote on article on this -which stemmed from John MacArthur saying: “I personally believe with all of my fiber that Jesus was a Calvinist”. Feel free to check it out here.

SDG

Brett said...

1. God sent his Son to save the kosmos.
__A. Believers are saved.
__B. Unbelievers are not saved.
2. God did not send his Son to judge the kosmos.
__A. Believers are not judged.
__B. Unbelievers are judged.

GeneMBridges said...

Over on the right of Triablogue is an index of articles Steve Hays has archived. I copied his essay "Favorite Fallacies" 1 and 2 awhile back. I encourage Burt to read them.

Steve writes: Christians who deny special redemption typically appeal to the “pantos” (“all’) passages of Scripture. But this confuses extension (referent) with intension (sense). A universal quantifier has a standard intension, but a variable extension. That follows from the nature of a quantifier, which is necessarily general and abstract rather than specific and concrete marker in the text. That’s what makes it possible to plug in concrete content. A universal quantifier is a class quantifier. As such, it can have no fixed range of reference. In each case, that must be supplied by the concrete context and specific referent. In other words, a universal quantifier has a definite intension but indefinite extension. So its extension is relative to the level of generality of the reference-class in view. Thus, there is no presumption in favor of taking “all” or “every” as meaning everyone without exception.

Burt, there is no presumption for taking words like "world" and "all" to mean "all person without exception." “All” or “every” is always relative to all of something. All of what? What world?

Take 1 John 5:18 and 19:

18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

So, here we have the whole world being under the power of the evil one, but immediately before this, we have believers excluded. This is the world of unbelievers and the world system, yet it is "the whole world."

Then we have 1 John 2:2: 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Shouldn't we allow John to define what he means by "world" here instead of assuming it means "all persons without exception?" Or should we let our presumption that it means all people without exception define it for us?

"Kosmos" can mean many things, Burt. Is this, every person without exception? Is it the known geographical world? Is it the planet? Is it the world system? Is it the world of unbelievers? There are many ways to define the term.

It just so happens we have a linguistic parallel here with John 11:51 - 52:

51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,

52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Notice:

1 John 2:2

And
He Himself
is the propitiation for
our sins
and not for ours only
but also
for
the world

John 11:51 - 52
he prophesied that
Jesus
would die for
the nation
and not for the nation only
but also
that He would gather together in one
the children of God scattered abroad

Who, then, composes “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2? Answer: “the children of God scattered abroad.” Thus “our” refers to Jewish Christians and “the whole world” to those who are Gentiles scattered abroad or, more broadly, “our” refers to “all believers alive at the time John wrote his epistle,” and “the whole world” could refer to “all believers yet to come.” Either way this is the whole world of believers.

Once more just to be clear: there is no presumption for taking words like "world" and "all" to mean "all person without exception." “All” or “every” is always relative to all of something. All of what? What world?

In a follow up to my article to Dr. Paul McCain, a Lutheran, Steve added:

Regarding the “cosmic” (“world) passages, McCain is like an old-time fundamentalist who assumes that a word has the same meaning for a contemporary reader that it had for the original author. As Vern Poythress put it:

“’Plain interpretation,’ let us say, is interpretation of a text by interpreters against the context of the interpreters’ tacit knowledge or their own worldview and historical situation. It minimizes the role of the original historical and cultural context. Grammatical-historical interpretation differs from plain interpretation precisely over the question of the primary historical and cultural context for interpretation. Plain interpretation reads everything as if it were written directly to oneself, in one’s own time and culture,” Understanding Dispensationalists (Zondervan 1987). I’d add that more astute fundamentalists are correcting for this mistake.

Now, when, as 21C reader, you come across a word like the “world,” what comes to mind? Doesn’t it conjure up a mental image of the globe, as seen from outer space by Apollo 11? Doesn’t it trigger a mental map of glowing cities and swarming multitudes scattered all across the face of the earth?

When we, as modern readers, come across this word, we bring a tacit geography to bear on the meaning. We prejudge the meaning based on our own experience and usage.

But to assume that this must be what John or Paul intended courts a gross anachronism.

If McCain were to spend a little time with the standard Greek lexicons and dictionaries (e.g., BAG, DNTT, EDNT, TLNT), he’d see that his assumption is quite unscholarly and simplistic.

In the most recent major commentary on John, this is how Andrew Lincoln interprets Jn 3:16:

“Some argue that the term ‘world’ here simply has neutral connotations—the created human world. But the characteristic use of “the world” (ho kosmos) elsewhere in the narrative is with negative overtones—the world in its alienation from and hostility to its creator’s purposes. It makes better sense in a soteriological context to see the latter notion as in view. God loves that which has become hostile to God. The force is not, then, that the world is so vast that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it, but rather that the world has become so alienated from God that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all,” The Gospel According to St. John (Henrickson 2005), 154.

In other words, Jn 3:16 defines the love of God, not by the number of the people whom God loves, but by the kind of people whom God loves.

And if (you) were to consult a concordance of Johannine usage, (you) could see for (your)self that this is, in fact, characteristic of Johannine usage.

Brett said...

Burt,
I wanted to thank you for at least asking the questions. Most people are content to spew false accusations and then feel justified in writing Calvinists off. You have shown some character in at least engaging in conversation.
Thanks.

David B. Hewitt said...

Gene,

Many thanks. You've said it better than I could have for sure; beautifully done!

Dave

Joe said...

"Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

This is an appeal to Burt to consider the above passages in light of what Total Depravity is. Simply defined it is inability to glorify God because of our death in sin which took place in Adam. The above passages (I'll assume you know where they are in the Scriptures) bear out that the unbeliever does not have the ability to be subject (submissive) to the law of God, or to please God.
My appeal is this. If you do not believe in Total Depravity perhaps you could share with us all how you were able to glorify God when you were in unbelief. How were you submissive to His Law, and how did you please Him?
Also do you believe that Christ gave His life for the sheep and only His sheep as John 10 states? If you do then you believe in Limited Atonement.
I think that you admitted to believing in Perseverance of the Saints. How are you persevering? Will you persevere to the end? If so how? Maybe you could share your Biblical answers to those questions with us.
Thanks
Joe

Mike Miller said...

Burt,

You said: "The theology of the 5 points will not fall or stand with John Calvin anyway. It fails on the first 4 points with the Bible."

So, in your opinion, Calvin, Luther, Beza, Carey, Spurgeon, Edwards, and countless others did not derive their beliefs from Scripture? And in modern times, all the scholars who hold to Calvinism are unbiblical? While it is certainly true that even large numbers of people can be wrong, you do not back up your assertion with any Scripture that refutes Calvinism--not even one.

Then you said: "In the last thread I refuted Limited Atonement with a passage of scripture from John 3:16." John 3 (in its entirety--not just verse 16) is a passage that is crucial to the understanding of Calvinism. It not only refutes limited atonement, it affirms it. Clearly Jesus teaches that only those who believe will be saved. Therefore, the atonement cannot possibly be effectual for all people. That would be universalism.

Earlier in John 3, Jesus clearly teaches that the new birth is exclusively the work of the Spirit. And in verse 21, He teaches that the coming of anyone into the light is a work of God. John 3 is just one of the many passages from which we derive our doctrinal convictions.

But if you would like more biblical support, check out the following passages (not an exhaustive list by any means). I won't bother to explain them unless you'd like for me to (then I'd be happy to). Just let the Bible say what it says.

John 1:12-13
John 6:35-51
John 6:60-66
John 10:1-30
Romans 8-11
Ephesians 1:3-14
Ephesians 2:1-10
2 Timothy 2:10
Titus 1:1-3
1 Peter 1:1-2

It has been stated in this thread already, but I think most Calvinists would agree that we became Calvinists before we ever read anything Calvin wrote. We learned what we learned by the grace of God through the study of His Word.

Burt Harper said...

So, for the most part most of you are saying John was actually saying this?

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. "For God so loved the "whole world of belevers", that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the "whole world of belevers" to condemn the world; but that the "whole world of belevers" through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the "whole world of belevers", and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:15-19 (KJV)

Or maybe something similar? Or, I may be totally off the mark? If this is not what you are saying, maybe one of you could type your interpretation down. Or one that most of you would agree with. It is easier for me to understand the translation you understand if I can see it typed out.

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Burt.

That doesn't really fit so well, though it can be said by implication. Thayer, in his Greek dictionary, seems to say that the term "kosmos" in John 3:16 and 3:17 does only refer to believers:

"8) any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
8a) the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom_11:12 etc)
8b) of believers only, Joh_1:29; Joh_3:16; Joh_3:17; Joh_6:33; Joh_12:47 1Co_4:9; 2Co_5:19"

That is how I took it originally in my exegesis of John 3 that I linked to an earlier post. However, it would seem to be more correct to take his whole 8th definition to get the meaning in the context of John 3:16. The term world would appear to indicate Jews and Gentiles; that is, that God loved the peoples of the world, and by implication, you could say that He loved the elect, since they (we) are the ones who receive His redemptive love.

Jesus was likely telling Nicodemus that God's love was not limited to the Jews, but that people of other races would also experience this saving love in Jesus.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on it, and it seems to be indicated so from the context.

Comments are welcome. :)

SDG,
Dave

Mike Miller said...

Yes, Burt. I agree with Dave's explanation. And all one needs to do is look at the various ways John uses the word "kosmos" (world). He uses it 79 times in his Gospel and 23 times in 1 John. It does not mean the same thing every time. In fact, if it means "every single person in the whole world" as you seem to imply, then you have some serious problems in your theology.

Take, for example, John 1:9-10. In speaking of the incarnation, does John mean, first, that when Jesus came (in the flesh--the context of vv. 1-14) He came to every single person in the world? Obviously He did not encounter every person in the world, ergo "world" must mean something different in that context.

And when it says He was "in the world" does that mean He was in every single person in the world? Obviously "world" means something different in that context.

Then John tells us that "the world did not recognize Him." Wow! Not one single person recognized Him? So much for John the Baptist's "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (by the way, according to you, John means that He took away every sin, thereby saving everyone). And so much for Peter's "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Surely you would agree that not every single person in the world failed to recognize Him. And if you would agree, then "world" must have a different meaning.

In 1 John 1:15, John commands the believers not to "love the world." If anyone does love the world, then according to John "the love of the Father is not in him." So, how do you square that with "God so loved the world" unless you allow that "world" does not mean "every single person in the world" every time it is used? Could it be that God changed His mind and decided that we should love no one? Surely you would agree that such could not be the case.

So, to reiterate, sound exegetical principles, based on context, linguistics, and the full body of biblical material relative to the subject all lead to the conclusion that John 3:16 does not mean in any way that the atonement is effectual for anyone except those who believe. In all likelihood, based on all the evidence, "world" (as pointed out by Dave) is referring to the inclusion of Gentiles into God's redemptive plan. An expanded translation could be something like this: "For God so loved all the peoples of the world (meaning all kinds of people--see Rev. 7:9) that He sent His one and only Son, so that every single person who believes in Him--and only those who believe in Him--will not perish, but will have everlasting life." That gives a plain sense rendering--and one that does not allow at all for a universal atonement.

GeneMBridges said...

Burt,

Remember, in John 3, Jesus is discussing the new birth with Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, a teacher of the law, so we have to ask ourselves what "world" would mean to Nicodemus so that what Jesus is saying was understandable. Even if this is a case of John editorializing, then we still have to account for his editorializing and placing it in a conversation with Nicodemus.

In the OT and Jewish theology of the day, salvation is of the Jews, because the Jews alone are members of the covenant community. Even prior to Moses, this was the case. Even when Abraham meets Melchizedek, if Melchizedek is not a theophany as such, he is still a man who was a priest of God, somebody with whom God had covenanted, and it is on this basis that the two of them recognize each other; e.g. they recognize each other as men of covenant with God Himself. We find this again when we look back to Noah, and we see Abraham descended from Noah through Shem, all after a covenant is established. There is even an implied covenant at the time of fall, for God slays an animal and places skins on Adam and Eve, then sacrifices (the most basic sign of a covenant) are executed, as we see in the story of Abel and Cain. Seth replaces Abel as the son of Adam from whom the godly line descends. This contrasts with the line of Cain, "the sons of men." The 2 intermingle and this eventually leads to the Flood, after which the Noahic covenant recaptitulates the process until the time of Abraham. Then, in the Law, we find that salvation is of the covenant. Those not in the covenant are cut off from grace. The writer of Hebrews tells us that all of that was to serve as an outward representation and that it was based on the New Covenant, which is a covenant written not on tablets of stone, but on the heart.

So, remember, for Nicodemus, who constituted the covenant people that God loved? Jews or Gentiles? Both? Answer: Jews. Gentiles were "dogs." John 3:3 brings up the image of the washing of the Spriit as a spiritual mikvah (ritual bath) that must occur before a person can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus is saying, "Even though you are a Jew of Jews, Nicodemus, even you must proselytize into the covenant community."

"What?!" thought Nicodemus, "Why must I, a Jew, proselytze into the covenant community, I am part of the convenant community." Jesus discusses the new birth and couches it as a mysterious thing. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Jesus also explains that being a part of the covenant community has nothing to do with taking a real water mikvah (baptism) but is a spiritual one, for what is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This is all to say that, he was telling Nicodemus that his Jewishness and his knowledge was insufficient to make him part of the covenant community, but being part of the covenant community was a requirement to enter heaven. In other words, Jesus disaffirms human merit and ability to enter the covenant community on our own. The Spirit Himself brings this about on His own. This is an express disaffirmation of synergistic regeneration. It directly affirms monergistic regeneration, that God brings about on His own through the preaching of the gospel.

So, when we read:

For God so loved the kosmos---the qualitatively evil kosmos (the evil world) composed of all kinds of people, not just Gentiles, but Jews also. This is the place God loves. It is a place in which Gentile and Jews both compose the covenant community, for both groups of them are under sin, yet both are loved by God, not just the Jews only. This is a general statement emphasizing the qualitative state of the world and the ethnic composition of the world. (This is why we must preach the gospel indiscriminately, for we don't know anything more about the identity of the believing ones than this).

So that whosoever believes may not perish but have eternal life.

"Whosoever believes" is just a present participle. Literally, it reads "the believing ones." It is a statement of fact, not an invitation. If you are importing an invitational quality to "whosoever," that is not in the text. The text is not a command or request. Shouting "whosoever will" won't work. Why? It is a statement of fact. The believing ones have eternal life. This defines the covenant community.

So we have:

God so loved the evil world composed of Jews and Gentiles not Jews only. This is the world that God loves. It is a qualitatively evil, ethnically diverse world a world whose covenant community is not exclusively Jewish. He loves that world so that the believing ones in that world will not perish but have everlasting life. It is through this covenant community that God will save the whole world. It is this covenant community for whom Christ died.

The world is saved through the salvation of the believing ones the same way that the whole nation of the Jews is said to be restored in Nehemiah's time, yet only Judah, Benjamin, some Levites, and a handful of "unknown origin" returned to the land. The salvation of the world is pictured the same way. The whole nation corresponds to the whole world. Yet the population of the whole nation at the time of the restoration did not include the lost tribes. Where are they ever mentioned in their census? They aren't. The most we get is a statement that there were a few of unknown origin and others that state that those tribes remained in exile for they never came to repentance. This fulfills what Hosea prophesied that the Northern Kingdom would be utterly destroyed, but the Southern Kingdom would be spared utter destruction, though both deserved the same fate. It was the Southern Kingdom that was restored, yet God says that this was a restoration of the nation itself. Thus, in the New Covenant, we have believers alone, of two ethnicities (Jew and Gentile...mirroring Benjamin and Judah) who are the believing ones (the covenant community) functioning as a kingdom of priests (mirroring Levi). Believers alone constitute the actual population of the world that is saved.

Now, limited atonement, does not mean that there are no benefits that come to unbelievers. It means the saving power of the atonement is limited to believers and that their salvation is secured from beginning to end. It is the basis of eternal security, by being the basis of the grace of regeneration itself. You affirm eternal security, but that is illogical without an actual, effectual atonement to ground it.

Most of the Reformed also believe that common grace comes to all persons without exception by way of the cross, for it is in the working out of the application of redemption to the elect, who are scattered throughout history in every age, that keeps God from extinguishing mankind now and inaugurating the eschaton, so there is a sense in which Christ dies for all men without exception, but the graces for all men without exception differ from those for whom the salvific benefits are applied. I have long said, even on a foreseen faith view of election, it is illogical to hold to a universal salvific atonement if you affirm penal substitution. If you affirm penal substitution, then why are unbelievers in hell? If you say, "unbelief," isn't that a sin for which Jesus died? You either have to deny that unbelief is a sin (a thing I've seen folks at the Baptistboard do in the past) or say Christ died for all our sins except the sin of unbelief (which is nowhere stated in Scripture). Alternatively, you affirm double jeopardy, in that God is punishing unbelievers for at least one sin (unbelief) for which Christ has paid the price. Where does Scripture affirm double jeopardy?

D.R. said...

Yesterday, after having read this posting the day before, I went to Southern Seminary to check the open ministry position board. I was shocked to see that FBC Valpo had posted an open minister position (though I don't know what specific position -- I think youth ministry) on the SBTS board. Doesn't McDuffie or whoever called Southern to have this particular position listed know the evil that is being taught at Southern. Why you can even by a picture of the anti-Christ himself, John Calvin, at the on campus LifeWay! (note extreme sarcasm here) That was just nuts to me, though not as shocking as McDuffie's article being picked up by a supposed "reputable" media outlet.

fred said...

This is really good guys! I count it a privilege to have been able to read many of the posts in this thread. I came for just a crumb from the good Dr. Ascol, and I am leaving with a basket full of loaves. Hallelujah!

May His blessings be upon each of you who continue to labor for His glory. You are in my prayers often.
In Christ’s service,
Fred

Stephen A Morse said...

I had a class at Southern with Richard Land and he spent several classes explaining the ignorance of Calvinism. His strawmen were so dated and yet he, as normal, was so dogmatic about it.
What gives?

Burt Harper said...

Praise be to God for your answers from the Bible. It is not mens words that you are quoting, it is scripture. You are seeking, and God will honor that. That is good news for us all beloved brethren. I still remember when the Gospel had pricked my heart so many times and I had rejected every time. But praise be to God for the pastor I had when I finally believed. He said, "when you hear me preach on Sunday and Wednesday dont take what I preach for granted. For all men mince their own words with the Bible. Especially those that go into long dialog seeming to persuade with their own words rather than the Word." Your words of scripture have brightened my day.

Gene,

You said Steve writes, "Thus, there is no presumption in favor of taking “all” or “every” as meaning everyone without exception."
The world in verse 17 is the same world by context in verse 16. So the condemned world in verse 17 is not speaking of a condemned world in which as everyone without exception. You believe it is a condemned world in a general sense. Not in a general and particular sense. If that is your view I sense the dilemma.

Mike,

So, in your opinion, Moody, Wesley, Arminius, Zeller, Dehaan, Rogers, Hutson, Albright, Bounds, Hurlbut, Stanley Jones, Bob Jones Sr., James Strong, A.W. Tozier and countless others did not derive their beliefs from Scripture? And all the scholars who dont believe Calvinism are unbiblical?
The argument cant be made on men, it rest on the Bible.
Also, from looking at the 79 verses with kosmos in them, if it is used to mean "all people of the world" or "people of all nations" or something to that effect. It would be the most unlikeliest of interpretations for most of the verses within it is used. If that is the standpoint of criticism you want to work with. Not always the best way. Especially in this case. Just look at all the verses and try it yourself.
Context is the key here. So to start with how are you defining the condemned world in verse 17? If you want to try to say that Jesus is telling Nicodemus that the Jews are in the same boat as the Gentiles by using the word world, you have to come up with something written by John in the context that would lead you to that conclusion. You cant come to the conclusion historically(as in the fact that Jesus is speaking to a Jew), because that would be too liberal use of historical context. However, I am not saying that it isnt possible that you may be right about the meaning of the verse. It just seems to be a bit of a stretch. In the sense that it would be a rare meaning of the word for the writer John. When looking at the 79 uses of the word in the book of John.

Gene,

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Many people think this means: "As the wind moves mysteriously, so does the Spirit, and it breathes upon whom it will, effecting the inward change called the birth of the Spirit arbitrarily." Due to incorrect translation because of modern theology. The same Greek term is "wind" and "Spirit" in this verse. The word (pneuma) is not translated "wind" elsewhere, however, it occurs many times in the New Testament. I think it is always "Spirit." Anemos, is usually "wind." This creates confusion. Does Christ say "The wind bloweth where it listeth; so is (not the Spirit, but) every one born of the Spirit?" Which says of him who is born just what is affirmed of the wind. So "wind" is wrong. Translate pneuma here, as it is translated elsewhere in the New Testament. So we have:"The Spirit (pneuma) breathes where it pleases and thou hearest the voice thereof, but canst not tell whence it comes nor whither it goes. So (by hearing its voice) is every one born of the Spirit" (pneuma). You cannot tell where the Spirit goes, but you can hear the voice of the Spirit. The birth of the Spirit is not the same thing as the gift of the Spirit. To those who are born of the Spirit is given. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6). Hence, in harmony with the above view, Peter says, "Being born again, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."

Amen Fred. Studying the Word is much more satisfying than listening to mans explanations with mans limited understanding.

Fred said...

Burt,

I appreciate the sentiment, but I didn't have you in mind when I was offering praise. I have read many sound refutations of your position, and mostly your response has been one of an emotional appeal.

I once held the same view as you, though I did not argue against "calvinism". The fact is I had never heard of it for the fisrt 7 years after my conversion. But God was gracious to me, and allowed me to truly understand the meaning of grace. I hold no ill will toward those who have not come to the same understanding as I have. It is my belief, that in time, if they are sincere, God will reveal it to them in this life. And if not in this life, then surly the next.

What saddens me, is that I am constantly under assult by those who revile "calvinism". And claim that "Calvinists" do not love the lost. I say this humbly, but with a first hand knowledge, that in my own church, there are those who think that "calvinists" are a great evil. Yet, when given the opportunity to come along side me to minster to the sick and dying in a nursing home 50 feet from our church (SBC), they are nowhere to be found.

Why is that? Why the lies? I must conclude that it is a matter of maturity, and a bit of lazyness. And by lazyness I mean, the unwillingness to truly examine what a "Calvinist" believes. What about the integrity of correctly representing anothers position. What about the 9th commandment.
God has called every believer to walk and talk in a manner that glorifies Christ.

The Caricature of "Calvinism" that Rev. McDuffie made resembles nothing that I have ever seen. The men who have responded to him in this thread, have demostrated by their gentle Christ-like response what it means to love and honor the Lord. You judge who has the truth.

In Christ's service,
Fred

Burt Harper said...

Fred,

Brother, we all have our trials. I will pray for your church and those in it who do not understand you. I see alot of the same problems with many Christians with different theologies. A Reformed Brother told me just a few weeks ago that I served a pagan god. All I could do was just hug him and tell him I love him no matter what he says about Gods Word. Thats how you stop the chain of ungrace. Love those that say bad things about you. Christians shold treat all people with grace. Brother McDuffie should treat Reformed Evangelicals with grace. If he wants to state his doctrinal with the Bible that is good. If he says Calvinist are bad that is bad. If someone says John Calvin was a bad man, I dont even have a though that a Calvinist is bad. But, it would probably be good for Brother McDuffie to explain that most of are Calvinist Brothers are good men. I thought you were glorying over the fact that we are sharing the Gospel here instead of fussing with dead words. Actually I find Reformed theology appealing more to my emotions. It is much more pious and free. I have heard the appeals from my pastor, sunday school teacher, and brethren. However, I am constrained by the Bible I have been sharing with you all. I thank God for each one of you. I think God that we can share our theologies without the fear of being burned alive for them. I am glad for the students of the word here, and I know God will honor their study of His Word. Praise God he is so faithful.

JoshuaPM said...

It's sad that the argument over Reformed Theology so easily comes down to Calvin and not Scripture.

Burt Harper said...

It does not even by a thought come down to Calvin to most who preach against Reformed theology. Of those friends of mine who do not believe in most or any of the 5 points, very few of them know of the life of John Calvin. I had actually never paid much attention to his deeds until August of last year. I only knew what he had taught. I was introduced to his teachings about 22 years ago. They are very enticing I must admit. I have read James White. I have listened to sermons from my pastor. I have listened to my Sunday School teacher. Sometimes with a will of wanting to believe because I want to be in agreement with my pastor. But the whole counsel of God constrains me to the Truth. Many times one of these sources has given me a verse it doesnt fit their interpretation when I go back and study the whole context of the passage. I can sincerely understand how people can become confused with Reformed theology. I completely understand why people so firmly believe Reformed theology. I understand why there are so many diffent types of Reformed Christians. 1 pointers to 2.5 pointers to 5 pointers. My heart goes out to them all. John Calvin has nothing to do with how I feel about my Reformed Brethren. I love and pray for you all.

Pastor Chris Humphreys said...

Every time a bitter anti-Calvinist speaks his mind, it just proves Calvinism to be true. Especially the point about total depravity.

KnowNoTone said...

As a now conservative Presbie and former Baptist, it never ceases to amaze me how the degreed and pedigreed (in both camps) find so many things to fight about.

The true historical "doctrines of grace" should be the most Godly, peace promoting banner for all of us to rally about. It is only in them that the infinite holiness of God and complete absurdity of fallen man are seen.

a christian said...

i

a christian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a christian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
volfan007 said...

any theological system that is fatalistic is wrong. calvinism and arminianism are young mens religions. the understanding of the great doctrines of salvation are so much more than calvinism and arminianism. by the way, did you hear what the calvinist said after he fell down the stairs? he said, thank God that's over.

Kevin said...

To answer the question; no.
Calvin was never baptized, and thus died in his sins. His defense of paedobaptism is false because it equates the two covenents, when Jeremiah clearly contrasts the two. Matthew 12 illustrates the grave fact that there are those who claim belief in Christ, and yet refuse God's gift of the remission of sin.
I would suggest that his hatred of Anabaptists (like me), and his woefully inadequate theology of baptism, proves my point.

Kevin said...

Beg pardon...
Matthew 22, the wedding feast.

Josh said...

Regardless of any misconduct espoused by some on the life of John Calvin, the Five-Points related to his theology of soteriology are accurately taught in Scripture. I have always believed in the Total Depravity of man and the Perseverance of the Saints. I guess what finally caused me to take an honest look at Scripture is the fact that Calvinists seem to be doing more in Evangelism than those influenced by Arminianism. Being obedient to a Sovereign God in preaching the Gospel seems to be the motivation for this. While Arminianism is obviously present in such heretical new-age and postmodern movements such as the ECM, etc, it is not the "Christian" who attempts to entertain an unrepentant sinner into Heaven, but rather the Christian who faithfully preaches the Gospel who is fulfilling the Great Commission. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Faith is a gift of God by His grace. The Holy Spirit draws us, convicts us of sin, enables us to repent (because none seeks after God and our righteousness is as filthy rags), justifies us (or rather Christ's atonement), sanctifies us, and glorifies us. He also convicts believers to preach the Word of God in accordance with their calling. So what exactly is it that we do? We make a free will decision (in accordance with the drawing, faith, and conviction granted by the Holy Spirit) to receive Christ as Savior. These are all great examples of God's unconditional election and irresistible grace. The fact that human volition and the sovereignty of God are both displayed, both unique yet inseparable, is just another example of the limits of our minds and the mystery of God. The hardest part for me has always been Limited Atonement. God was not sacrificed to pay for our sins so that we could burn in Hell. All those the Father gave to Him will come to Him. So the biggest question is whether John used "world" to mean everyone, or everyone other than the Jews?