Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Luther Rice's Calvinism

When you talk about Luther Rice and Calvinism, you need to clarify whether you are referring to the man or the seminary that bears his name. Dr. James Flanagan, the President of the Luther Rice Seminary, recently wrote about Calvinism in his "President's Perspective" column in the Pioneer (Vol. 46, No. 1, Spring 2008).

He chose to address this topic, he says, because he is often asked by alumni "where Luther Rice stands on issues related to Calvinism." Well, where Luther Rice the school stands is decidedly different from where Luther Rice the man after whom it is named stood (and still stands!).

Luther Rice the man made this observation in a letter to a friend:
How absurd it is, therefore, to contend against the doctrine of election, or decrees, or divine sovereignty.
His biographer, James B. Taylor, contends that it is beyond doubt that Rice held to the doctrine of "divine decrees." However, consider what Luther Rice added immediately after the above extract:
Let us not, however, become bitter against those who view this matter in a different light, nor treat them in a supercilious manner; rather let us be gentle towards all men. For who has made us to differ from what we once were? Who has removed the scales from our eyes? Or who has disposed us to embrace the truth?
He was a Calvinist who acted like one--or at least like how one should act. If those who claim to believe most strongly in God's grace do not act graciously then their conduct undermines their profession.

While Dr. Flanagan does not hold to Luther Rice's theology at this point, he does exude his spirit. I think his article is, in many ways, a model of how dialogue about this issue should take place. By that, I mean that his spirit is irenic while his convictions are clearly stated. Obviously, I disagree with some of his points and I would challenge his arguments in places. But the way he has written invites such dialogue. I don't get the impression that he would be offended by such an exchange. In fact, he writes,
Much of this conversation is an attempt to emphasize the common ground shared by Baptists and other evangelicals, but to say that we all march to the same drummer because we share a common belief in eternal security is inadequate. There are significant questions that need to be asked and substantive differences that need to be brought to the fore if we are to make headway[.]
Dr. Flanagan makes it clear that he will not hire anyone who believes in particular redemption ("limited atonement"). He defends that position by stating:
We believe that Jesus' death is sufficient to save all mankind but is efficacious only for those who believe. We reject the notion that Jesus died just for the elect.
I wonder how he would feel about someone who believed this: "The death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world."

That quote comes from the 2nd head of doctrine of the Canons of Dort. I believe that some of the angst that my non-Calvinist friends have about particular redemption would be lessened if they read the statements of Dort carefully at this point. I am not suggesting that they would all become convinced of particular redemption, but they might come to recognize that it is not a view to be lightly dismissed. In fact, I believe some would discover that they are far closer to Dortian Calvinism at this point than they ever imagined.

A second place where I would graciously challenge Dr. Flanagan's argument is in his treatment of the secret vs. revealed will of God. He rejects this approach while citing God's instructions to Abraham to kill Isaac as a passage that is "commonly cited as proof of these supposed dual volitions." He offers no alternative, however understanding, however. What does one do with this passage? Was it God's will for Abraham to kill Isaac, or was it not? To make the point even more starkly, "Was the death of Jesus God's will, or was it not?" I can argue that it both was and was not. It was because Christ was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world and, as He repeatedly told His disciples, this was the reason that He came. It was not because God has expressed His will in His law, which says, "Thou shalt not murder." This is a conundrum not only for Calvinists. The recognition that God has a revealed will as well as a secret or decreed will is the best solution that I have heard that maintains the integrity of the sacred text.

Dr. Flanagan ends his article with these gracious words:
Obviously, there are many issues related to this topic that we cannot get into in such a short article; hopefully this essay has given you an idea of where we stand. We do not think that those who differ with us on these doctrines are heretics. They are good and godly brothers and sisters. Many have achieved a level of scholarship that we can only admire, and their passion for the glory of God is evident. We rejoice in the good that they are doing for the cause of Christ. On these important issues, however, we believe they have greatly erred.
It does not offend me in the least for a brother to point out that he thinks I am in error, especially when he has tried to point it out to me with sincerity absent any caricature. It is this spirit that will facilitate the kind of discussions that brothers and sisters in the SBC need to be having.

24 comments:

MarieP said...

Thank you for this excellent post!

I was reminded of some things Spurgeon said:

"Now he that died upon the cross was God's only begotten Son. Can you conceive a limit to the merit of such a Savior's death? I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my system of theology needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, dare not, allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind; it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all this world, but ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed the Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a divine person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the divine sacrifice. The intent of the divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. In the atonement of Christ Jesus there is 'bread enough and to spare;' even as Paul wrote to Timothy, 'He is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.'"

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1000.htm

But he also was able to write:

"Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty." I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!"

http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

MarieP said...

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0204.htm

I just found the original sermon that the second quote came from...

If you would, please replace the one in the post above.

Thanks!!

SS&SG said...

This was in for me timely. Last night I had a conversation with a friend about Luther Rice. I thought that he believed in election but I was not exactly sure.
Stephen

C. M. Sheffield said...

As a student at Luther Rice I regret the theological trends of the School. However, I know what I believe and why I believe it. I also realize that they stand firmly on the inerrancy of Scripture and the centrality of the Gospel. As long as that holds true, I can deal with the rest.

pregador27 said...

I posted on this quote you offered (as I think it was profound and causes me to think about approach):

"If those who claim to believe most strongly in God's grace do not act graciously then their conduct undermines their profession."

So true, so true. I hope I never undermine my profession in that way. And I have seen some who do.

GeneMBridges said...


That quote comes from the 2nd head of doctrine of the Canons of Dort. I believe that some of the angst that my non-Calvinist friends have about particular redemption would be lessened if they read the statements of Dort carefully at this point.


I'm not so sure of that, Tom, because Particular Redemptionists (hereafter PR's) and NonPR's (NPR's) differ over what they mean by the term "sufficiency/sufficient."

The PR says that the referent for "sufficiency" refers to the perfection of the Victim (eg. Jesus). At most, in reference to the atonement, it would mean the sacrifice is fit for any person, given (a)The Infinite Propriety of the Victim and (b) the infinite nature of the offense (sin). It's a reference to the intrinisic worth of the atonement.

(I would also add that, today, it's also not a sufficient way of referring to the atonement. What sort of "infinite" do we have in mind. There are all sorts of "infinite sets." out there to which we could refer).

The NPR, when he hears or reads that term thinks this refers to extrinsic benefits conferred on the elect and non elect alike. Amyraldians often make that appeal. The General Redemptionists tend toward saying it serves as a warrant to believe (and many Amyraldians agree).

In short, I'm not so sure that referring them to Dort, given these differences really would assuage their difficulties, for at the heart of the matter, and most often is their continued predilection with the axiom that ability limits responsibility, or, in reference to the atonement, scope warrants the faith of the object of evangelism.

chadwick said...

Brothers,

I believe that Luther Rice has joined forces with Dr. Danny Allen. :D

I heard Dr. Danny Allen's sermon from the Jax Pastors Conference. He "scholarly" disproved Particular Redemption, proved Calvin to be a four-pointer, 'demerited' "The Death of Christ" by John Owen, and historically documented that the early church fathers had always held to "Unlimited Atonement" . . . ALL IN LESS THAN THIRTY MINUTES!

chadwick

ABClay said...

Chadwick,

I think what Danny Allen was trying to prove from Hebrews was that the "Limited Atonement" assuaged by Calvin was different to that that was put forth by Dort. My assessment may be off the mark though. I have yet to read what Calvin said about it for I am still trudging (sentence by sentence it seems) through "Death of Death..." by Owen.

I think this is the part of the canons of dort that Dr. Tom was speaking of:

"For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever."

Now I ask you, how can any Christian in his right mind reject this? I would go so far as to say that if you read this to most congregations (who have even heard about the battles that baptists deal with) you would get severely Amenciated.

The issue with "L" is not the extent of benefits of the cross, it is not what Calvin believed (he liked to kill anabaptists, don't you know?), it has to do with "Atonement".

a worthless sinner saved by grace, i am...

ABClay

Anybody else going to make it out to California next week?

chadwick said...

ABClay,

Dr. Allen's "straw man" presentation was, at best, vague; it generates more questions than answers.

I wished he would have used the entire seventy minutes to concetrate on his main intention: Disprove Limited Atonement.

Why didn't he, dealing with the Greek, relay to his hearers that "men" is not contained in verse 9?

I 'ain't no Greek scholar,by no means,' but I see how "every" can contextually apply to the procedeing verses:
V10: everyone of the "many sons"
V11: everyone of the "brethren"
V12: everyone of the "children" [of God]

My point is, Dr, Allen was preaching to the "choir" at the pastors conference. He didn't really want to tell his hearers that Hebrews 2:9 is a difficult passage to prove against or for Limited Atonement.

We can only, at best, make a presumptuous argument at Dr. Allen's original intention of the text.

My only intention is his argument was vague and, in my opinion, only served to preach to the choir of those who hate the Biblical Doctrine of Limited Atonement.

I encourage you to email me (just click on my profile) and we can continue our discussion on the Hebrews 2:9 issue; I don't want to hijack the Founders blog that pertains to another issue.

Respectfully,
chadwick

chadwick said...

Misspelling correction for my comment:

"proceeding"

chadwick

S.J. Walker said...

Good post brothers. Good discussion too.

An old Souther Preacher you might be aware of, Bro. David Miller, has said it as good as most anyone could when speaking of Calvinists or the like acting out their belief:

"Those fellas who preach about Grace ought to have some of their own!"

A Lion Has Roared!

ABClay said...

Chadwick,

Thanks for the response, "you have mail".

ABClay

Said at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary said...

I graduated from Luther Rice in 2005 and am currently nearing graduation at one of the SBC Seminaries. During my time at LR I often became frustrated with two aspects of the school's theology: 1) Its hyper-dispensationalism (This effected every conceivable aspect of their hermeneutics and theology and still does to this day). 2) Their total confusion when it came to a correct understanding of just what historic Calvinism really is and what it teaches (e.g. the statement from Dort). Honestly there were times I wanted to just leave. It seemed no one would listen, some profs and students just parroted the same old caricatures heard somewhere in their academic career.
On a positive note I did learn a lot at LR and am thankful for God placing me there for a time. I think Dr. Flannagan is a good man and his article is a good starting place. Do I agree with him and the faculty of LR? No not at all (at least on this issue). I do hope that somewhere along the way they will consider hiring faculty that will not always bow their knee to the way things 'have' to be. I would rather the school stay where they are in relation to Calvinism and get rid of the dispensational bent. Just some thought from one of their alumni.

Joshua Stewart said...

Chadwick,
Honestly I have not listened to Danny Allen's message from the conference. But, it it really possible that from an exegetical and academic basis he could have possible even come close to disproving everything you mentioned?
I know you don't believe so, and neither would anyone else in their right mind.
You been on any broncs lately?

Strong Tower said...

"It does not offend me in the least for a brother to point out that he thinks I am in error, especially when he has tried to point it out to me with sincerity absent any caricature. It is this spirit that will facilitate the kind of discussions that brothers and sisters in the SBC need to be having."

It is best not to caricature or falsely represent. I think it was David Allen, if I am not mistaken. In his discussion he calls the purveyors of limited atonement magicians, practicing prestidigitation (slight of hand). In other words, he is calling 5-pointers false teachers sneaking in destructive heresy by bedazzling smooth speech and false representation. Though Mr. Allen seems sincere and kind tempered, the disingenuous nature of his considerations is apparent. Beyond that, it appears that the "template" that James White speaks of is gaining more adherents.

This is far different than that which ta has described here. I wrote a response which can be viewed at my other blog, because it was banned at SBC Today. And, I will not post it here. Dr. Ascol knows well of my tendency to be too "serrated", and he is repectfully welcome to kill this link.

Bill said...

As posted above, my greater concern about LRS is the dispensationalism and "decisionistic" evangelism that I expect still pervades the institution. I have two degrees from there (as well as two degrees from SBTS), but the latter LRS degree was conferred in 1992, so my personal experience is a bit dated. Nevertheless, this still seems to be the case from my reading of the seminary's quarterly periodical.

Dr. Flanagan is indeed an irenic individual, but I find his position unfortunate. Not only would men such as John MacArthur, John Piper, and Al Mohler not be allowed to teach there, but neither would the school's namesake, unless I'm missing something.

Bill Moore

Abel said...

Read a new article on the doctrine of election at:

http://www.youmustbesaved.com/preview_052.htm

See what you think.

God Bless!

ABClay said...

Bro Abel,

You ask all of the same questions that I asked when I was struggling with the issue of election.

I pray that you will continue to search the scriptures and read those who have gone before us who have been blessed by God with great understanding and clarity. Maybe God will show you the correct answers to all of the questions.

Probably the best advice that I came across dealt with many of the verses that you quote. It went like this:
Don't misinterpret the verses that speak to man's responsibility to believe and assume they are speaking to man's ability to believe.

I will leave with a question for you:
If God knows everything, including who would believe and who wouldn't believe, why did He create those who would not believe?

Grace and Peace...

ABClay

To all others: Forgive me for troll feeding, but I am bored at work and it's almost quitting time.

Abel said...

Brother abclay,

A few points in response to your question. "IF God knows everything"? Are you suggesting that He doesn't?

One of the reasons God created man was to have genuine fellowship with him, a real relationship. This is not possible if you compel someone to believe.

A similar question can be asked of those who believe in the doctrine of election. Why would God create people He has absolutely no desire to save and absolutely no intention of saving? The usual answer is, "We don't know, other than to say that everything He does brings Him glory." Wow. I'm sure that's very reassuring for all those lost people out there. This leads me to another point.

In researching this topic you can literally find volumes devoted to the theological aspects of this doctrine but when it comes to the practical application of this belief, hardly a word is spoken.

For example, do you ever hear a person who believes in the doctrine of election boldly proclaim to the lost, "Jesus died for SOME of you." "God wants SOME of you to be saved." Of course you don't, even though that is exactly what this doctrine teaches and what is defended by its supporters.

So I have a simple question for you, what would you say to an unbeliever who asked you if Jesus died specifically for him? He's not interested in general theological information like, "Jesus died for sinners." He wants to know specifics.

Since, obviously, you don't know if this man is one of the 'elect', if you believe in the doctrine of election, the only truthful, direct answer you can possibly give is, "Maybe." This is not exactly what I would call "Good News."

This is not the message of the Gospel!

God Bless!

Abel

Strong Tower said...

Abel-

"This is not exactly what I would call "Good News."

So, what is the Good News, that Jesus died for no one in particular? Everyone generally?

How is your theology different? Just how is it you know that Christ died for the one you are talking to? Christ died for everyone, but no one really? You're a universalist but not really? Christ actually did atone for all sin in some, or only some sin in all? Which is it? You can offer only a maybe. But the doctrine of election offers the perfect assurance that Christ died for the believing ones, John 3:16, but not for unbelievers John 3:18. So then unlike you we can offer to the one who is believing the reality of their faith, you cannot. The only thing you have is "maybe" if you will believe. We on the other hand offer surety that if a man is born again he will without doubt believe.

The doctrine of election is the orthodox position, all others heresy. I do not know where you come from or what you think you know about Christianity, but there has never been a time in which God has not reserved to himself a remnant. In fact the only way that a god could not know who was to be saved and who was not, would be to be no god at all. And knowing who would be saved means that no others could possibly be. The god of chance that you propose has no power to save, only an offer to those who believe they have enough faith to save themselves. It is indeed your answer that can only be maybe, perhaps, by chance, or choice. What is behind door number three may be a quaint game for the lost who hold on to faith without knowledge. But what we need is a Savior we can trust, knowing that he saves and that cannot be by any decision we make. Offer your god to the dead, see if you can resurrect them, we will offer our Gospel to those whom God has made alive by his Spirit, pleading with men everywhere to repent, letting the Holy Spirit separate the sheep from the goats as opposed to vain philosophies of free-will.

ABClay said...

Brother Abel,

Sorry this is late, just got back into town from vacation.

All I can tell somebody who asks me "Did Jesus die for me?" is what the bible says about this. You say that the only "truthful" answer based on my theology is "maybe", but I disagree.

I can tell this person that Jesus died for all who would ever believe. If you believe, then Jesus died for you. It's very simple. I can say this because I believe that Jesus took the debt of sin that was against every one that He died for and He nailed it to the cross.

I also would like to take this opportunity to challenge your interpretation of God's purpose in creating mankind. You said "One of the reasons God created man was to have genuine fellowship with him, a real relationship."

Do we "complete" God? Is God wringing His hands hoping beyond all hope that His little creatures will turn to Him and love Him? If you believe this, I would encourage you to rethink your position based upon the revelation of Scripture.

Just a reminder, I asked you in my previous post:
If God knows everything, including who would believe and who wouldn't believe, why did He create those who would not believe?
What is your answer to this question?

Grace and peace to you brother....

ABClay

Abel said...

Brother ABClay,

Sorry this is late. I just got back in town from vacation as well.

In your answer to the question from an unbeliever, “Did Jesus die for me?”, you’re doing exactly what most people who believe in the doctrine of election do, avoiding a direct answer to a direct question in an attempt to avoid discussing the doctrine of election with the lost. Obviously, you do not believe that Jesus died for everyone. Why can’t you just answer the specific question directly and say, “I don’t know if Jesus died for you specifically or not.”

You were not being asked who Jesus’ atonement is effective for. The question you were asked was basically referring to who salvation is open to. Regardless of your beliefs, these are two different subjects. For example, if someone asks you, “Who will Jesus’ death on the cross save?”, the proper response would be just like the one you gave, “All those who believe.” On the other hand, if you are asked a question such as, “Did Jesus die for everyone?”, according to the doctrine of election, you could only answer, “No.” These questions are discussing two different subjects.

People who believe in the doctrine of election choose their words very carefully and go to great lengths to avoid discussing this doctrine with the lost. For example, they will explain to the unsaved how everyone, without exception, is a sinner in need of salvation, which is absolutely true. They will then boldly proclaim to the lost that Jesus died for sinners! Do they boldly proclaim that Jesus died only for SOME sinners? No, of course not, even though this is exactly what they believe.

If you explain to a group of lost people that everyone, without exception, is a sinner and then say that Jesus died for sinners, what do you think this group of unbelievers who know nothing of the doctrine of election is going to think? They are going to think, “So let’s see, I’m a sinner and Jesus died for sinners, so that must mean that Jesus died for me specifically.” If you believe that Jesus died only for SOME sinners, presenting information in this way, at the very least, is misleading. At the very worst, it’s just plain lying.

Moving on, am I to understand from your previous post that you don’t believe that the Scriptures support the fact that God desires genuine fellowship with us or that we don’t have a real “relationship” with Him? If this is your position, this is really astonishing bordering on laughable. First of all, we are not God’s “creatures” as you stated. “Creatures” are everything He created before He created man “in His image.” I suggest you re-read the facts of creation in Genesis.

Next, Brother ABClay, I would suggest you look up all the times the word “fellowship” is used in the Bible and see how often it relates to God and man and our Savior Jesus Christ.
After doing that, I would strongly encourage you to see how many times the phrase, “our Father” is used when referring to God. Jesus Himself teaches us to refer to God as, “Our Father.” Now follow me very carefully. If God is our Father, and we are His children, what does that define? Hmmm. A relationship, maybe? Come on, what are you trying to argue here? The fact that God desires genuine fellowship with man and a real relationship in no way suggests that mankind somehow “completes” God. That is just utter rubbish!

Lastly, in answer to your question, I already answered it. One of the reasons God created mankind was to have genuine fellowship with him, a real relationship. This is not possible if you compel someone to believe or only create people you know will believe which amounts to the same thing.

What is your answer to my questions?

Why don’t believers in the doctrine of election openly, proudly, and directly share and explain the specifics of this belief to the lost?

Why don’t you make statements like: “Jesus died for some of you!” “God wants some of you to be saved!” “God wants some of you to go to Heaven!” You defend these points all day long to other Christians, but boldly proclaim them to the lost? Never.

Every Blessing to you!

Abel

ABClay said...

Brother Abel,

Thank you for your response.

You seemed very upset and I apologize if you have taken offense to something that I said.

You spend a great deal of time railing against my evangelizing techniques when you didn't even ask me how I evangelize, you asked me what I would tell somebody if they asked if Jesus died specifically for him. I told you the only biblically sound answer that I could tell the person. I could rephrase this of course to be, "If you believe, Jesus died for you" or "Jesus died for you if you believe".

It is true that I don't go into the doctrine of election when I share the Gospel with someone unless they ask. I was not saved by the preaching of the doctrine of election, but by the foolishness of preaching the gospel. To me this gospel message includes mentioning the propitiation of God's wrath and the forgiveness of sins by Christ's death on the cross for all who would believe and that is as deep as I normally go on the extent or the effectiveness of the atonement.

I cannot speak for my other reformed brothers and sisters, but if a lost person asks me about the doctrines of grace I am more than willing to oblige. Let me tell you why....
The Doctrines of Grace exalt God the Father as Sovereign Lord over everything. There is not a single atom that is beyond the control of God and it is my desire to give Him the glory for everything. I don't see God being exalted and lifted up by telling a person something to the effect that their "free-will" is sovereign over God's will in the salvation of sinners. I believe that scripture makes it clear that those who believe are born, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. You have the "free-will" to disagree with me on this as God has willed it so and therefore it is out of my hands. I will still love you as a brother in Christ regardless.

While I do disagree with your definition of "creature", I agree that God does desire fellowship with us (exclusive us). We are told that we were "foreknown" by God. What a great assurance that before I was born, God had known me in an intimate way that a Father only knows His children. God loved us so much that before time began, he wrote our names in the book of life so that we would have our sin debt nailed to the cross by Christ so that we could forever fellowship with Him. I would like to point out that I don't believe our relationship (fellowship) with God our heavenly Father should emulate the relationship (fellowship) that we have with our earthly Father though.

While I believe that God desires fellowship with us, I don't believe this is why He created us (Since He created us I believe that makes us creatures also). If God created all mankind to fellowship with Him, then am I to assume that God was lonely and needed something to complete Him?

Is it possible that you think too highly of mankind in regards to their reason for being created? This high view of mankind leaks a filthy goo that infiltrates every facet of one's theology and consequently one's world view. When faced with the ideas that 1) God elects people of His own free will, and 2)that He can create people who will never believe for the sole purpose of glorifying God in their condemnation, this high view of mankind causes a person to exclaim, "That's not fair, How can God find fault in someone who was not chosen if it's not up to them?" To this person Paul answered, "Who are you, oh man, who answers back to God?"

I hope that I have answered your question more directly this time, for it was not my desire to avoid it in my previous post. Just in case you missed my answer, I will state it again:
I don't proclaim the doctrine of election when I am evangelizing (unless I am asked of course) because it is not the preaching of the doctrine of election that is the power of God unto salvation. It is the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified that saves the lost. It is not because I am "ashamed" or "scared" that I don't share them with lost people. I don't share with them the intricacies of the Trinity (as if I could explain them anyways) either. Does that make me unfaithful to my convictions regarding the Triune God?

My question to you was this: If God knows everything, including who would believe and who wouldn't believe, why did He create those who would not believe?
You said in your last post that you answered my question. Is your answer: "So God can fellowship with them"?

If this is your answer, then I ask you, how can a sinful man fellowship with a wholly holy God? What fellowship does darkness have with light?

I hope you have a wonderful Lord's day.

Grace and Peace...

ABClay

Abel said...

Brother ABClay,

I want you to know that nothing you have said has upset me and nothing I have written to you has been in anger. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I think you are mistaking amazement and astonishment for being upset. Many of the things you have written literally make me smile because of your inability to see the “bottom line” of what it is you believe and the staggering contradictions to what the Bible says the message of the Gospel really is. The first part of your last posting proves my point again perfectly. You rephrased your answer by saying, “If you believe, Jesus died for you” or “Jesus died for you if you believe.” Again, this was not the question posed to you. Let me try again.

Say you and I are talking to a large group of people we both know is made up entirely of unbelievers and I turn to ask you a few questions. The first question I ask you in front of the whole crowd is, “Do you know specifically if Jesus died for everyone here?” This is a simple “yes” or “no” question. What would your answer be for this crowd of unbelievers? You either know specifically that Jesus died for everyone there or you don’t know.

This is not a question about whether all of the people believe now or whether they will believe in the future or will never believe. This question is not dealing with who Jesus’ death on the cross is EFFECTIVE FOR (which is what both your answers address). It is dealing with who Jesus came to make salvation AVAILABLE TO. Again, these are two different subjects.

Now according to the doctrine of election, Jesus died only for “the elect”, in other words, only for SOME. So what my basic question is trying to find out is, “Did Jesus die for all of these people or some of these people?” You see? I’m not asking you about belief.

What people who believe in the doctrine of election seem to forget is that who Jesus came to die for is an important part of what you believe the Gospel message is. For example, if Jesus specifically stated that He came to die for 1000 people only and the Disciples preached that Jesus came to die for only 1000 people and the Apostle Paul said as well that Jesus came to save only 1000 people; I would call that an important part of the Gospel message. I don’t think I would leave out that particular piece of information and make people believe that anyone can be saved when in fact God had already decided that He was only going to save 1000 people He had already picked out. That is why I believe it is disingenuous to leave out the fact that Jesus came to die only for SOME that He has already picked out. You could always add that if you’re one of the chosen few God will compel you to believe but I feel that would still leave you with a very weak message.

Now let’s get back to our group of unbelievers. The next thing I would ask you is, “In general, did Jesus die for all mankind, without exception, or only SOME of mankind?” It’s either “all” or “some”, one or the other. What would you tell this group of unbelievers? If you’re being completely honest (which I’m sure you would want to be), I’m pretty sure your answer would be “some.”

I would then ask you, “Does God want everyone to be saved?” This is another simple “yes” or “no” question. According to the great doctrine of election, your answer would have to be “no.”

My next question for you would be, “Does God want everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth?” Again, according to the doctrine of election, the only honest answer would have to be “no.”

I would follow with the question, “Does God want most people to go to Heaven?” Well, let’s think about this one for just a moment. In Matthew 7:14 Jesus teaches us the harsh reality that most people will not go to Heaven and since the doctrine of election teaches us that God decides who will go to Heaven and Hell based on His sovereign will then the only logical conclusion is “no.” God does not want most people to go to Heaven.

I would follow that question up with, “So, according to that wonderful doctrine of election, we know that God in fact, wants most people to go to Hell, correct?” As explained above, the only possible honest answer is “yes.”

My last question for you would be, “When it comes to belief, does man actually have a choice to believe or not to believe, or does God compel those He has already chosen, to believe?” Once again according to the doctrine of election, God compels those He has already chosen, to believe.

So let’s review. According to the doctrine of election:

We don’t know specifically who Jesus came to die for.
Jesus died only for SOME people God has already picked out.
God doesn’t want everyone to be saved.
God doesn’t want everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth.
God doesn’t want most people to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
In fact, God’s sovereign will is that most people go to Hell.
When it comes to belief, man has no choice. He is either compelled to believe by God or is left to his sinful nature and consequently condemned.

Do all of these points really sound like “good tidings and great joy” for ALL PEOPLE as stated in Luke 2:10? Of course not.

These are just a few of the “bottom line” beliefs that the doctrine of election teaches and its believers defend. Is it any wonder Brother Clay, why you and other defenders of this doctrine don’t discuss this with the lost? Why would any unbeliever bother to give you the time of day when they realize what you really believe? Can’t you see how all these points determine what you believe the message of the Gospel to be? I can just see this crowd of unbelievers turning to walk away after they realize what you really believe and you pleading with them, “Wait, you haven’t heard the ‘Good News’ yet!” One of the last people turns and asks you, “Is that the ‘Good News’ for everyone or only SOME?” He walks away as you remain quiet knowing what your answer MUST BE according to the doctrine of election.

The reality is that not one of these points is true, not one. Nowhere in Scripture is anyone of these beliefs supported. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The doctrine of election is simply a man-made doctrine based on the misuse of context and misinterpretations of words like, called, predestined, the elect, and chosen, none of which mean or imply “compelled to believe.” You would literally have to ignore volumes of verses which clearly and specifically contradict this doctrine or reinterpret them (as defenders of this doctrine do) to make them mean the exact opposite of what they clearly state.

For example, we know for A FACT that God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The Bible specifically states this to be true. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4. Now the defenders of the doctrine of election will go to great and silly lengths in trying to get people to believe that in spite of the clear proclamation of this verse, the actual meaning of this verse is the exact opposite.

They will say that the phrase “all men” doesn’t actually mean all men, without exception. Well, it’s either “all men” or it isn’t. If the exact population of the world was 6 billion people and God only wants 5,999,999,999 people to be saved, that’s not ALL MEN. It’s MOST men. “Most men” and “all men” are not interchangeable phrases. Some defenders of the doctrine of election have also attempted the equally absurd interpretation for the phrase “all men” to really mean, “some men from all over the world.” This is another one of those instances where this brings a smile to my face. “Some men from all over the word” and “all men” are in no way interchangeable. You cannot say one and mean the other. That is just completely ridiculous. God is not an idiot. God says what He means and means what He says.

What’s really sad is that even in the face of the clear proclamation of this verse (and many others) the defenders of the doctrine of election don’t even realize that they want people to believe the exact opposite of what they read in their own Bible. They read “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” but what they actually want people to believe is that “God DOES NOT want all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” Outrageous! All of this is done in an obvious and desperate effort to support their man-made doctrine. They would rather teach people that they can’t trust what the Bible clearly and specifically states then to believe for a second that their man-made doctrine is wrong, as if Calvin and Spurgeon should be held as infallible right next to the authority of the Scriptures themselves.

We also know for a fact that Jesus died for all mankind, without exception. This is clearly stated over and over again in the Bible. Romans 5:18 says, “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” This verse clearly defines an equal amount of justification for an equal amount of condemnation. If all men are condemned then all men can be saved. All were condemned by the act of one man, Adam, and in the same manner all have the opportunity for justification by the act of one, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The conclusion: Jesus died for everyone and salvation is available to everyone. Does that mean that everyone will be saved? Of course not, salvation is clearly defined in the Bible as being conditional upon belief.

Another verse that tells us that Jesus died for everyone without exception, and one that defenders of the doctrine of election shamelessly try to reinterpret is John 3:16. Before you start telling me how this verse only discusses who will be saved, answer one question. What does the phrase “For God so loved the world” pertain to in John 3:16? There are only 3 possible answers. It either refers to who God gave His Son to die for (which would mean all mankind, without exception), or it refers to who can believe (which would mean all mankind, without exception), or it refers to both (which is really the only logical conclusion that can possibly be drawn). Any one of these completely destroys the doctrine of election.

Here is what Paul said in the synagogue, preaching to Jews and Gentiles alike when presenting the Gospel, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Acts 13:38. The only way this statement can be true when proclaimed to a group of unbelievers is if Jesus had died for the sins of all mankind, WITOUT EXCEPTION. If the Apostle Paul believed that Jesus had only died for the sins of SOME, then he would have had to specifically say, "the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to SOME of you." Otherwise, he would be lying!

It is THE FACT that Jesus did indeed die for the sins of the entire world, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, as stated in John 1:29 “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” and many other verses, that Paul can boldly, and specifically say loud and clear, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” So, we can also boldly proclaim to any lost person just as the Apostle Paul did, "Through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Or in other words, "Jesus died for your sins." "Jesus died for you." All of these are completely biblical statements which are supported by many Scriptures.

God Bless you!

Abel