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TULIP Logic versus a Calvinist’s Statement – Part 2

November 8, 2009 16 comments

Dear Timothy,

I wasn’t able to make the formatting work in a comment on a previous post and so I just started “part 2” of this discussion as a new post.  I’ve looked over and thought about some of the things you said in your first response related to  my TULIP Logic versus a Calvinist’s Statement post from 11/05/09.  Allow me to toss back my $0.02 worth and I’d welcome any response(s) you may have.  The brackets I placed in your statements were for my readability to better understand what you were saying.  I’ve tried to maintain the accuracy of your statements – it wasn’t my intention to alter or change anything you said.

Below is a table containing your statements and my response.  I don’t know if this is the best way to compare and contrast our respective thoughts, beliefs, and opinions – but it seems like a reasonable start.

Timothy’s Statement Bob’s Response
Why [does] everyone who opposes God as Word implicitly say that God and Lucifer have the same language? The term “will-neutral” is new to me.  God is God and He is sovereign and whatever He speaks happens.  I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “defending God’s word as something that is “will-neutral holy information”.  The Bible talks about the Word becoming flesh (John 1:1-2) – It is my understanding that John’s Gospel is showing that Jesus is both God and man in one person.  With regard to “will-neutral holy information,” I believe that the words in Bible are from God and contain everything we need to know and understand about the nature and character of God in addition to a plethora of (quite frankly) very practical things such as how we can be saved and how God wants us to live.  Still, I sense I’m missing your main point so please clarify.This may go back to my earlier thoughts where I guess I may need to better understand exactly what you mean by “God as Word”.  Doesn’t John 1, makes clear that the Word became flesh (Jesus)?

Even so, your statement intrigues me but, again, I’m not exactly sure just what you mean by “God and Lucifer have the same language”.

Why [do] all who oppose Calvinism portray themselves to be overtly siding with the damned? First of all, I don’t oppose Calvinism.  I admit to being confused by Calvinistic thoughts and my own study leads me to think that Calvinistic thought is in error with the desire of God that no one should perish (John 3:16 and 1 Pet 3:9).  I admit to not understanding the nature, character and love of God as portended by Calvinistic thought.  So far, my own study of verses used in support of Calvinism has led me to a different conclusion.I find it interesting that you believe my questioning of Calvinism is “siding with the damned”.  Perhaps from your perspective, that makes sense.  Phil 3:15 says – And if on some point [I] think differently, that too God will make clear to [me].  Well, to date, God hasn’t made it clear to me that the teachings of Calvinism are the truth.  That said, I am conflicted because, quite frankly, there do appear to be a number of scripture references in which I can draw no other conclusion than that Calvinism is the truth.  However, there are just as many, if not more, scripture references that (to me, anyway) poke a stick in the eye of Calvinism.

That begs a question; how is it, Timothy, that you can ever have complete assurance of salvation?  Perhaps you are not part of the elect.  Perhaps you came to a logical conclusion that Jesus is who he said he is.  Perhaps you desired eternal life and prayed a prayer of salvation and maybe even had “feelings” to support and justify your newfound faith.  But you have no proof of your salvation.  Where in scripture do you see your name written and confirmed that yes, Timothy, is saved?

Playing the dissembling part to supposedly heroically defend the damned and give them ‘a chance’ to be saved is not at all the same as loving a sinner who is elect and knows nothing about election or predestination and is still very much a sinner. Have you ever shared your faith with an unbeliever?  I mean, honestly, why would you?  As I see it, you have no way of offering someone the love and hope of Christ.  You can demonstrate through your life all that God has (and is) doing through your life and perhaps instill with that unbeliever a desire to learn more.  And yet, if (using my favorite phrase) that poor schlep isn’t elect then you’re just wasting your time.  And yet, aren’t we, as believers, to be the salt of the earth – the hope and light to a fallen world?
There is no actual and non-metaphorical new birth in Arminianism. So you have to fake it and claim behavioral changes as evidence of new creatureness. Your statement is confusing to me.  If I re-write it without the double negative, it says – there is a metaphorical new birth in Arminianism.  I take this to mean that if one isn’t a Calvinist, then they can’t be a Christian for it is only Calvinists that can be saved because God chooses his elect – the Calvinists, naturally.This is exactly the kind of logic and thought process that brought about a three-year period in which I had completely lost my assurance of salvation.
Free will denies that heaven and [hell] will be filled with two different creatures.[It is a free will lie to say] heaven will be filled with those who supposedly earned [their way into heaven]. To the first part, you’re saying that I believe there is no distinction between those in heaven and those in hell.Quite the contrary – I firmly believe that those in heaven will be there because they have accepted Christ’s substitution for their own sin.  Those in hell will not have been washed clean by the blood of Christ and therefore they will have to experience the consequences of their own sin.  So, by definition then, I believe heaven and hell will be populated by two different ‘creatures’; those who have new life in Christ (heaven) and the lost (hell).

To your second point, God is the giver of the gift of salvation.  Is He any less God if I choose to accept or reject his free gift?  I don’t think so.  Does the Holy Spirit not move in the souls of people and otherwise convict them of their need for a savior?  I think it does.  I do not understand the Calvinist contention that it’s a ‘works-based’ faith to accept the leadings and promptings of God and come to a point of accepting his offer of forgiveness and salvation.

You tear the Bible in shreds before you ever begin to read it.  Then [you] read it to make fun of it with philosophical lies that don’t even make sense when examined even slightly. In my own mind, I find Calvinistic thought to be illogical based upon the nature of God as expressed in and through the life of Jesus.  Jesus is, after all, God.  Nowhere in scripture do I find Jesus identifying or otherwise making distinctions as to elect versus non-elect.  Jesus does make distinctions between believers versus non-believers Please, I truly would welcome feedback sprinkled with generous amounts of scripture to show the error in my thinking.
Keep [telling] the lies of [sinners] and defend the damned as if you really thought you were one of them [which is] a thing you have no actual say over at all. To me, this comes across as a rather judgmental statement on your part.  I’m not sure if you’re saying that I’m part of the elect or part of the damned because I’m not elect.  Maybe I am elect and I just don’t know it.  Maybe I am not now part of the elect but God will make me part of the elect later?What I do know is this: I believe that Jesus is who He says he is and that I have asked Him to come into my life and I accept, through faith, that His sacrifice on the cross will atone for my sins when I stand before God on judgment day.

Am I a Christian?

Free will [people] automatically side with the damned.  In Arminian theology, the righteous are the enemy. If you mean that I side with the damned because I come alongside a hurting soul and try to give him hope in Christ – yeah, guilty as charged.  I feel an obligation to reach out to the unsaved.  I never have understood what the great commission (Matt 28: 19-20) means to a Calvinist.  Why would a Calvinist waste time, talent and treasure to reach an unbeliever?  Calvinists have no way of knowing whether someone is elect or not.  Further, as I see it, any outreach a Calvinist does is pointless.  If that person is elect, God will save him.  If that person is not elect, then the Calvinist is wasting their time because there’s nothing that can be done to change that the poor schlep isn’t elect.  Is this Christian thinking?This is the thought process that drew me into Thomas Schriener’s comment, “God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against sinners who have failed to praise, honor and thank him.”  Sorry to be repetitive and perhaps daft, but Calvinist thought simply makes no sense to me.
Proverbs 17:15 says; He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. Are you saying that Calvinists are the just ones while non-Calvinists are the wicked ones.  Further, if my understanding and studying of Calvinism leads me to a non-Calvinist conclusion, then I am an abomination to the Lord?  Is that what you believe?

I didn’t intend for this post to get as long as it did.  However, as I look back on this, we seem to be dancing around a central disagreement with regard to the concept of election.  As I said in my post, the U in TULIP appears to be the bedrock of Calvinist belief.  Right now, I’ve reached a different conclusion based on my own understanding and study.

Here’s a simple overview of what I believe election to be and how it came about:

  • In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve.  Were they “elect”?
  • After the flood, those on the Noah’s arc dispersed and various nations formed.  For His own reasons, God chose the descendants of Abraham (the Israelites) to be “the elect”.  If nothing else, this is corporate election.
  • Through Israel (God’s elect), all nations would eventually hear and respond to the salvation of God and could thereby become “elect” by following the law.
  • Prophesy was fulfilled when Jesus came and preached to the Jews (the “old” elect) and the Gentiles (the “new” elect) alike about new life in Christ.

So, what does this mean or prove?  Well, Calvinists claim that one not yet saved can be an elect person – it’s just that God hasn’t brought that person to a point of salvation.  However, what I see is that it is the believers – those who have, by faith, trusted Christ for their salvation that are the elect.  Therefore, a person doesn’t become “elect” until he is a believer. As such, being elect is not future oriented wherein a person will believe because God has elected him.  Rather, becoming elect occurs the moment a person believes.  Clearly God wants none to perish.  But it’s obvious that not all are or will be saved and so there seems to be an element wherein individuals are able to accept or reject God’s free gift of salvation.  In conclusion, an elect person is a Christian.

Sincerely,

Bob

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TULIP Logic vs a Calvinist’s Statement

November 5, 2009 13 comments

Have you ever applied TULIP logic to a statement made by a Calvinist?  Thomas Schreiner, who contributes a Calvinist view on atonement in the book, The Nature of the Atonement states on pg 80, “God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against sinners who have failed to praise, honor and thank him.”  My first thought was, “Well, for crying out loud, the poor schlep isn’t part of the elect and so, of course, because God has so determined, the poor schlep’s sins aren’t forgiven and therefore the poor schlep will experience God’s wrath and judgment.”  Then I wondered how the poor schlep would fair when this same thinking was applied to all five (TULIP) tenants of Calvinism.

  • As to total depravity wherein people are morally unable to choose to follow God because of their own natures – God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against a poor schlep who failed to praise, honor and thank Him because the poor schlep isn’t part of the elect and therefore the poor schlep can’t choose to follow God.
  • As to unconditional election wherein it’s God’s choice from the beginning of time to save only those God intends to save – God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against a poor schlep whom God chooses not to elect and therefore the poor schlep is ‘toast’.
  • As to limited atonement wherein Christ’s death atones for only for the sins of the elect – God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against a poor schlep who failed to praise, honor and thank Him because the poor schlep isn’t one of the elected and therefore Christ’s death doesn’t atone for the poor schlep’s sins.
  • As to irresistible grace wherein the Holy Spirit overcomes all resistance and makes His influence irresistible in order to save someone – God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against a poor schlep who failed to praise, honor and thank Him because the poor schlep isn’t elected and therefore the Holy Spirit didn’t overcome the poor schlep’s resistance.
  • As to perseverance of the saints wherein the elect will continue in their faith unless they fall away (which means they never had true faith) – God’s wrath and judgment are personally directed against a poor schlep who failed to praise, honor and thank Him because the poor schlep wasn’t elected and therefore didn’t have true faith.

Some may think I have some sort of OCD – oppositional Calvinistic disorder.  Perhaps I do – but only because I seem to come to a different conclusion when I read scriptures in support of Calvinism.  And from this little exercise, it seems evident that the most fundamental tenant of Calvinism is the concept of unconditional election.  So far as I understand, if there’s error within the ‘U’ of TULIP, then there’s simply no way that Calvinist can justify their beliefs.  I was recently made aware of a TULIP defense (if that’s the right term) by John Piper which I plan to delve into.

Why Be a Calvinist?

November 4, 2009 2 comments

A good and dear friend who writes on matters of faith and religion for the Louisville Examiner recently posted an article: Why Be a Calvinist?  I’ve known Mike for quite a while now we’ve had many really good and deep discussions related to faith-related issues that I struggle with including Calvinism, the will of God, open theism, etc.  Even though I may have profound disagreements with Mike, I have immense respect for him and I invite readers of this blog to visit his site at:

http://www.examiner.com/x-13763-Louisville-Evangelical-Examiner~y2009m11d4-Why-believe-in-Calvinism?#comments