The conversation with a Calvinist went something like this:
Calvinist: Repent and believe. This is the same message of the gospel that the Calvinists has as the non-Calvinist.
Me: But irresistible grace states people are unable to refuse God’s offer of grace and salvation. Doesn’t an individual’s total depravity preventing him from seeking God? So, how does repent and believe factor in? Where’s actual requirement that the sinner must repent and believe prior to his salvation. Per Calvinistic determinism, God has already ordained the events that will happen. So, the sinner’s repentance and his believing come after he’s already been saved. It happened because God willed it to happen. Repent and believe infers a requirement that an individual must do something which, per Calvinistic doctrine, 1) he’s unable to do and 2) God has already done all that is needed. Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Calvinist to simply say that one’s salvation is predicated on God’s desire – just wait and see – and you’ll know one way or the other in due time?
Calvinist: You have a false understanding of IG. Calvinists respond of our own volition after the Spirit works within our souls and opens our spiritual mind and hearts to become spiritually alive.
Me: Well, you appear to disagree with James White who wrote about IG in the book, Debating Calvinism, pg 197: “[IG] is simply the confession that when God chooses to raise his people to spiritual life, he does so without the fulfillment of any conditions on the part of the sinner. Just as Christ had the power and authority to raise Lazarus to life without obtaining Lazarus’ permission to do so, God is able to raise his elect to spiritual life with just as certain a result.”
I still maintain that any Calvinist response is not of one’s own volition. God doesn’t require that. Your view states that God gives you your repentance and your belief. You bring nothing to the table. And nothing is required on your part. Again, per Calvinistic doctrine, it’s ALL God’s doing.
Calvinist: God’s grace will override any human objection because once our soul sees the glory of God and need for repentance, we intentionally respond. God chooses to save, and we will always respond to such a great salvation through irresistible grace.
Me: I rather like your statement that we’ll seek out God once we realize our sin condition and God’s mercy. The thought of being in bondage to, say, drug use and subsequently being freed from that bondage immediately comes to mind. And once freed from that bondage, clear-eyed decision-making is (hopefully) a natural occurrence.
Calvinist: Do you subscribe to Total Depravity? We can do nothing good in and of ourselves apart from the grace and goodness of God working in and through us. Scripture says we are in bondage to sin and even dead to it. This is why the working of the Spirit needs to move us before we’ll respond in faith and repentance. The mind set on the flesh is death because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God. But the mind set on the Spirit is eternal life. A person not in the Spirit is hostile towards God. God must first fix that heart which is spiritually dead before we can respond in faith.
Me: To your question – I don’t accept total depravity because of the hundreds of verses which implore or otherwise call upon the unregenerate to come to God. John 6:37 immediately comes to mine: If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. I don’t disagree that we are in bondage to sin. But I don’t believe that bondage precludes from seeking out God.
Calvinist: Why is the gospel call to the unregenerate is a problem? That’s when the Spirit accompanies the Word in power to bring about new life in Christ.
Me: Well, I think you’re avoiding the ‘elephant in the room.’ The Calvinist message of hope and redemption through gospel is predicated ONLY on one’s “elect” status. And to this point, you haven’t convinced me of the Calvinist’s need to repent and believe is a necessary function for the Calvinist to gain salvation.