Blinded to Total Depravity (2 Cor 4:4)

January 8, 2018 Leave a comment

Blind GirlI’ve always understood that Calvinism’s doctrines (TULIP) are essentially in logical order. For instance, one must be totally depraved and unable to “see the light” in order to justify that it is God and God alone who chooses (i.e. unconditionally elects) those who’ll be given salvation. From there it follows that because there are only certain people saved, then the concept of limited atonement makes sense.

For reasons I don’t necessarily understand, unconditional election has been the stake driven through my heart which has caused the most angst within my spiritual walk. It’s been that way for years. Occasionally, though, a verse “pops up” and makes me go, “Whoa!” Such is the case for 2 Cor 4:4 which says,

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

I can’t count the number of times Calvinists have explained that all of man is spiritually dead and therefore unable, on their own accord, come to faith. Yet, here is Paul stating that Satan has “blinded” unbelievers so they can’t see. Why? If we’re spiritually dead, then what’s the point? Maybe Satan wants to add insult to injury?

In my own mind, logic and Calvinism are incompatible. And I am admittedly bothered that there are two very determined sides (or perspectives) in which the pro and anti-Calvinists will use many of the save verses to justify their respective positions. In my own opinion, though, regardless of what I see as the “Calvinist twist” applied to many verses, there are simply too many verses which seem to contradict the fundamental premise that God loves everyone and wants none to perish. To which, I believe that God has offered his gift of salvation to all who would accept. There’s no implied limitation as to the number of “elect” persons. But, that’s my perspective.

However, regarding Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 4:4, there seems to be no “logical” reason which necessitates Satan wasting his time and attention on spiritually dead people. It only seems to follow that Satan, instead, could be more productive with his time and attention directed at other matters. It’s almost as though Satan is sitting back in his easy chair clicking through channels on the television. However, the television is not on!

Total depravity, as has been explained to me numerous times, is the “inability” of people to get past their own sin. Mankind, according to Calvinism, is spiritually dead – and has been since the original mom and dad (aka Adam & Eve). Per Calvinism, we are born completely unable to see, hear, understand or respond willingly to the word of God. We are dead in our own trespasses. A spiritual corpse, therefore, is unable to see, hear, understand or otherwise repent of their own sins. Am I missing something? Is there not a fundamental contradiction here? Wouldn’t Satan’s work to blind people and snatch away the word be completely unnecessary and redundant? So, why does Paul mention that Satan works (and is presumably able!) to prevent folks from seeing the way, the truth and the light? Is Calvinism doctrine of total depravity false. Are Paul’s comments the “proof” which derails total depravity?

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The Key to Election is a Preposition? Eph 1:4

January 7, 2018 14 comments

KeyAn article about how sinful we are led to this comment:

But also we will see that if it had not been for His “everlasting love” with which He loved us in Christ in Election “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) and “the grace that was given to us in Him before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9), there would be no hope whatsoever for any one of us because of How Sinful We Are.

The article was about how sinful we are. Yet, the above sentence is an obvious statement in favor of the Reformed doctrine of unconditional election. Calvinists seem to use Eph 1:4 a lot to defend personal election. And, fair enough, there it is – “he chose us”. What is there not to understand? However, reading the verse without the prepositional phrase sheds a completely different meaning to the verse.

[For] He chose us [in Him] [before the creation] [of the world] to be holy and blameless [in His sight].

Without the prepositions, then, the fundamental point of Eph 1:4 is that [God] chose us to be holy and blameless. To which, Eph 1:4 appears to have nothing to do with divine election of individuals unto salvation. Rather, this verse seems to be about holiness. This is, I believe, even more readily understood when I look up the word “chose” in my trusty Webster’s dictionary and see different meanings including: “to select freely and after consideration” and “to decide”. The authors of the NIV Bible selected the English word “chose” when translating Eph 1:4 from Greek to English. Perhaps given the constraints of translating from one language to another, “chose” is the best translatable English word. I accept that.

However, using Webster’s common English understandings for the word “chose”, I believe a fair interpretation of this verse is:

God decided that we were to be holy and blameless before He created the world.

How that came about was through the law in the OT and through faith in Christ in the NT. Hence, I would argue that Eph 1:4 is not a verse that Calvinists should use in their defense of unconditional election. The prepositions are the key.

Reference Article

The Beginning of Sin

January 7, 2018 2 comments

Beginning of SinA recent article I came across was entitled, The Beginning of Sin. The link has been posted below for convenience and reference. It begins, “In order to understand how sinful we are, we have to understand the beginning of sin.”

The author concludes by stating, “This, of course, did not catch God by surprise. He “knew” that Adam was going to sin; and in fact, He foreordained it without being the Author of Adam’s sin, so that it was “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).”

For my clarification, I re-wrote the above sentence wherein:
[God] knew that Adam was going to sin.
– [God] foreordained [Adam’s sin] without being the author of Adam’s sin.
– [Adam’s sin] was according to the eternal purpose which [God] purposed in Christ Jesus   our Lord.

The author’s belief is that God fully intended and indeed implemented a way for man to sin (i.e. Eve being tempted by the serpent). I suppose this makes sense to a Calvinist. Maybe I can’t see the underlying principles here. Maybe I’m missing something. However, when I read Eph 3:11 in context, it’s clearly apparent that Paul is speaking to Gentiles and is explaining, that per God’s eternal purpose, the OT law is ‘kaput’ and now both Jew and Gentile alike can have salvation through faith in Christ. I see nothing, at least within this passage, as to the intentional initiation of sin into the world by God for the express purpose of setting up, as it were, man’s moral failure. But man did sin. And, rather quickly, too! But because of God’s desire for a continued relationship with his creation, God put into place a methodology for allowing man’s sin to be dealt with.

There’s no disagreement as to the sin nature that all of mankind has. I agree with the author, as was stated in the article, that Adam and Eve had free will. Therefore, it only seems reasonable that because of the free will ability which man has always had to turn away from God, it didn’t take long for sin came into the world. Consequently, I disagree with the author’s conclusion that the beginning of sin was because of God’s doing. Sin came about because of the free will that God gave man. Man is able to choose. And man chooses sin. In his grace and mercy, God still wanted a relationship with his creation and thereby worked out a way for man to be redeemed – through the law in the OT and by faith in Christ in the NT.

In conclusion, the author believes it is God who caused man to sin. And yet, in some way that is not clear to me, God is not therefore responsible for man’s sin. This is illogical. God did not create a robot. He created a free will creature who brought forth a lot of trouble and hassle. Further, the author’s argument is premised on an inaccurate reading and interpretation of scripture. Sadly, this is, to me, further evidence of the fallacy of Calvinistic beliefs and doctrines. With a bit of frustration, given the number of smart and gracious people that I personally know who adamantly espouse Reformed doctrines, I often wonder just what it is that I’m missing? However, when an argument is made regarding some aspect of TULIP and a simple reading of scripture coupled with a wee bit of logic explodes that argument, I’m left wondering – just what it is that compels Calvinists to hang onto their doctrines?

Original article

The Ballad of Mike & John

January 6, 2018 Leave a comment

calvin-servetus[1]The Ballad of Mike & John
by Carl Ganzel

Now there once were two fellers who were not the best of friends,
They quarreled about doctrine and just how far God’s sovereignty extends.

One was called John and the other called Mike.
Just wait till the end and see which one you like.

Now Mike said some things for which he could never be forgiven.
Like, “sprinkling those babies can’t get them to heaven,”

And some other ideas about the Trinity and such,
But it was his insults to the Institutes that put him in dutch.

“Your Institutes I’ve read,
And your TULIP is Dead”.

It was things like this that in letters to John he did write,
But it only made John angry and cause his hatred to ignite.

John said “God controls everything, so I want to too!
That’s why I count their dishes, their plates and silverware, it’s true.

Whatever I do I can’t let them be free!
For I know they are all bad and would never choose me!”

Just then a thought popped into John’s head,
The god of his Institutes had spoken, and this is what he said,

“I cause everything to happen from beginning to end.
Now some do deny this and those you will offend.

“I caused Adam to fall and his descendants to sin.
I hate most and love some, even one of a twin.

“Some I have chosen but most I have not,
From those I get glory for Hell is their lot.”

“Oh God,” cried John, “I hate that Mike for what he has said.
I wish I could kill him and chop off his head!”

“It’s good that you hate him,” said God, “and wish he were dead.
Now beheading is fine, but why not burn him instead?”

Hmmm a big bon fire and Mike is invited,
When John heard these words, he was certainly delighted.

Soon after, Mike came into John’s town just a sojourner passing through.
Going to church it was John’s law, so Mike slunk into the very last pew.

But he was seen and turned in by some local town folk.
Now cold and in prison, Mike knew this was no joke.

So, Mike had his trial, such as it was.
John said, “Burn the heretic” and that’s the way it twas.

“Bad deeds must be punished by me don’t you know,
Now get some green wood, so he’ll burn nice and slow!

“He insulted my book, so he’ll get what he deserves, don’t you see?
Well except for the green wood, that ones on me, hoho hehe!”

Now some folks will tell you that what John did was alright.
But does book criticizing justify the green wood that they light?

I say love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.
Didn’t Jesus say these words in a Book that is true?

Does John’s god have a neighbor? If so who would that be?
Does he love all or does he pass by the helpless like an old Pharisee?

Does he have delight in the wicked when they die?
Does he get glory for sending them to hell to fry?

“Does he hate some babies before they do anything wrong?
Or, does He long for our redemption with patience oh so long?  

Does He wait like the father for his son to come home again?
Doesn’t He run to meet him and forgive him for all his sin?

Choose you this day whom you will serve!”
Was this a real choice or was God throwing a curve?

It truly makes God sad when you won’t love and obey His Son.
He wants you to love Him freely, but it’s your choice and it’s a real one!

 

This poem was found on the FaceBook forum, Christians Against TULIP and the Heresy of Calvinism and has been reprinted with permission by the author.

 

 

Are We but God’s Little Dollhouse?

January 2, 2018 11 comments

DollhouseIt was incredibly interesting over this past Christmas holiday to have observed, what I believe to be, a huge commonality between Calvinism’s belief that God sovereignly decrees all that is to pass and how my four-year-old granddaughter plays with her dollhouse. She puts the furniture where she wants it. She clothes and places her dolls where she wants them. She initiates and maintains the conversations between the dolls. It’s fascinating to watch. Sometimes things are pleasant and sweet. Sometimes things are innocent and funny. And sometimes things get, well, nasty and one of the dolls is in a heap of trouble. This little girl is exercising her complete sovereign will over those dolls! And considering how completely Calvinist doctrine stipulates that EVERYTHING is ordained by God, I can’t help but sense that in the Calvinist’s sphere of being (best phrase I can think of) we, as God’s creation, are nothing more than puppets to him. God moves us where he wants us and we’re powerless to do otherwise. God dresses some with righteousness (i.e. being elect). To others God dresses in disease & pestilence, suffering and want or perhaps anguish and misery. For others, God does not clothe them. Instead, he leaves them naked in their natural state (i.e. being reprobate). For many, God chooses to stuff them into a suitcase and toss them into the deepest part of the closet never to be loved or cared for until finally, sometime later, they’re simply done away with – well, the non-favored ones, anyway. A few of the dolls are indeed favored and highly treasured. Most, however, are insignificant and of no importance.

The Odds of Calvinism’s Unconditional Election

January 1, 2018 2 comments

Small NumberThere was recently a discussion in which common grace vs special (or saving) grace was bandied about. Curiosity got to me and I wondered, as a function of the number of elect persons there are, just how special is God’s saving grace. And so, I looked up some numbers to calculate a ballpark figure. I’ll assume, for argument’s sake, that it’s only the US population of Evangelical Christians who comprise God’s “elect”. There might be a few others throughout the world that are elect. But, it’s also likely that not all of the US elect who think they’re elect are actually elect. Nevertheless, ~25% of the US population of 323M people are Evangelical Christian. The world population is ~7.6B People. So, if my math is right, then; 0.25(323e6) / 7.6e9 = 0.0107. That is, God’s election is only extended to about one tenth of one percent of the world’s population.

Put another way, for every soul born throughout the world, there is a likelihood of ~99.9% that the child is NOT of the elect. Well, at least I now know my approximate odds of God having found favor with me before the foundation of the world.

Unconditional Election – Living in the Mansion or the Garage

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

An analogy as to unconditional election:

A father recently brought his identical newborn twins home from the hospital. For reasons known only to the father, he loved one and hated the other. There was nothing different from the favored child vs the non-favored child. It’s just the way the father wanted it. And long before the twins were born, the father determined that the favored child would receive love and attention and would be given the best of everything. No benefit was withheld. The father ensured within his will that everything would be given to the favored child. All the while, the not-favored child was left wanting, not cared for and not loved. Further, the not favored child would have to live in the garage and would never be given the chance to live in the house. Further, there would be no interaction with his father.

How is this analogy not a reasonable description of unconditional election?