And Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson – Your References Don’t Support Divine Sovereignty and Unconditional Election

I looked through scriptures referenced in your blog post (noted below) defending God’s sovereignty and unconditional election. I don’t know … some of the verses may tangentially appear support God Sovereignty and unconditional election. Unfortunately, like many ardent Calvinists, you don’t differentiate between God’s sovereignty vs God’s determinism. Calvinists often appear to use these terms in an almost overlapping manner as if they’re equivalent. I certainly don’t think so. Further, I think it’s necessary to have a Biblically cohesive framework. That is, all scriptures must tie together to derive a logical set of beliefs. Hence, I think you run into difficulties when on the one hand you claim that God only chooses certain individuals (i.e. the ‘elect’) for salvation but verses such as John 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9 clearly state that God wants all to be saved and for none to perish – meaning no one is intentionally excluded.

And just so you know, because of my competitive nature, I’m going to be keeping score. And no “appreciation trophy” will be awarded. You’ll either win or lose.

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And Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson Regarding John 6:37 – It Doesn’t Infer Unconditional Election

You wrote in the Facebook Soteriology 101 Discussion group, “There are so many crystal-clear passages declaring God’s sovereignty over men and their salvation that as A.W. pink says, These Scriptures are so sweeping, and so dogmatic that all controversy concerning the subject ought to be forever at an end. Yet rather than receive them at their face value, every device of carnal ingenuity is resorted to as to neutralize their force.” You further add that if God had purposed the salvation of all men, then all men would be saved and reference John 6:37 – All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whomever comes to me I will never drive away.

The first obvious things to be noted is that the passage says nothing about regeneration. I’ve seen before where Calvinists begin to analyze a verse or passage with their Reformed theological presuppositions and thereafter develop an interpretation from that basis.

The second thing to note from Pink’s quote – it’s a non-sequitur. God has provided a way of salvation. Faith in Christ. That God has left the decision to accept this free gift to individuals in no way means that God has failed. God calls all. But not all respond.

I’ll grant you – at first glance, John 6:37 seems to offer an appearance of what you’d refer to as unconditional election. But with so many verses stating that God loves all and wants none to perish, then perhaps there’s another interpretation that is more in-line with all that is within the Bible.

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Help! Is There a Cure for Calvinitis?

A medical “itis” is never a good thing. The same thing could be said as to a theological “itis” Maybe I should join a twelve-step support group – “Hi, my name is Bob and I have Calvinitis.” The condition of Calvinisticalism occurs when something normally easy to read and understand suddenly becomes difficult and complicated because word definitions have unknowingly been altered to convey a completely different thought. This condition is most prominent when a non-Calvinist reads a Calvinist’s letter and must superimpose Calvinistic tenants onto that letter in order to understand just what actually being inferred. For example, the below letter is from a Calvinist pastor inviting his congregation to participate in small group discussions about the prodigal son. I’ve imparted Calvinisticals to make clear the inherent Calvinist logic and thought which may not be obvious to those unaffected by Calvinitis. The bolded and bracketed wordings are the Calvinisticals.

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My Top 10 Difficulties with Calvinism

Calvinists obviously have their tenants and beliefs, but I sincerely doubt they understand why so many express serious disagreements with Calvinistic doctrines. After a recent encounter, and in no particular order, I cobbled together 10 difficulties that I have with Calvinist doctrines.

1st point: Many Calvinists seem to delve into the Greek language when doing Bible studies if only to ‘prove’ a point. I prefer the NIV and believe it to be a reasonable translation. The scholars who put together the NIV (or any other translation for that matter) typically have advanced degrees and have studied the language, culture and history. How can I hope to do better?

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An Unborn Child Is Most Likely Damned Through Calvinism’s Doctrine of Unconditional Election

Calvinist says – If anyone ends up in hell, it’s because they deserve to be there on account of their sins. They will be there justly/in justice. That anyone is saved from hell is a matter of mercy and grace. Grace and mercy, by definition, are not obligated. If it were obligated, then it would be justice, not mercy or grace.

My response – A significant error in your Calvinistic beliefs is that, according to your doctrine of unconditional election, God essentially chooses whom he will and conversely not save. Consider what if a child dies in the womb or is otherwise aborted. Has this child actually sinned? No! So, even if this child had a ‘sin nature’, the unborn child has not sinned. Yet if God didn’t unconditionally elect this child, then God is damning someone who is innocent of sin.

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A Newborn Grandson Undercuts Total Depravity and Unconditional Election

I understand well the concept of Total Depravity. I reject it. Part of reason I reject Total Depravity – I look at the picture of this newborn little boy. He’s only a few minutes old. Has he had the time or even the inclination to sin … even if he was born with a sin nature? What is the worst thing that he could have done so far – cry because he experienced pain from passing through the birth canal or is experiencing light, sound and cold for the first time and obviously not understanding anything? Even more so, children who die in the womb – would they not stand before God’s judgement – sinless and therefore innocent? So logically, the Calvinist accepts that God condemns sinless people to hell? And God is glorified by this?

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Another Calvinist Response to Eph 1:4

This post is a follow-on to a previous conversation from my previous post. Maybe it’s just me. But I’m sensing that the Calvinists I interact with don’t necessarily have a good basis for believing their doctrines. In a previous post I stated that Eph 1:4 doesn’t support unconditional election. Eventually, the response from “Calvinist #1” was, sadly, “crickets.” Shortly afterwards, though, “Calvinist #2” continued the conversation:

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A Calvinist Response to Eph 1:4?

On a non-Calvinist FB forum, a Calvinist asked the question: If God allowed or permitted evil acts, the denial of the Gospel, & [election] based on divine foreknowledge, did God also decide the course of redemptive history before he created [the world]?

Another Calvinist quickly responded to the effect that many within this forum deny the Bible’s teachings (aka Doctrines of Grace). I asked for a specific example and received a litany of Bible verses in return. I inquired whether he’d like to take his first reference (Eph 1) and defend unconditional election. After a while and no response, I put forth my defense that Eph 1:4 does not support unconditional election and wrote the following:

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Christian Faith … Going … Going … Gone

It’s been nearly four years since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In a manner of speaking, things have kind of broken down with respect to my Christian faith. There’re various reasons for this. But so far as I understand, Christian faith has become rather binary wherein it’s either right or it’s wrong. I can no longer incorporate what I’ve come to understand as diametrically opposed perspectives. This post, I hope, will shed some light as to where I find myself.

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Quantitative Analysis of Unconditional Election

An interesting blog post asks whether conditional election or unconditional election has more Biblical basis. The author goes on to state,

One of the most persistent and often divisive issues within Christianity is the debate between the doctrine of unconditional election (often called the doctrine of predestination) and the doctrine of unconditional election (often represented as the doctrine of free will).

Provided within the post is a list of verses that each camp uses to justify their respective positions. I don’t know the origin of this list nor do I believe this list is in any way complete. Still, the author wonders whether a greater number of verses (that, at least for this list) in support of unconditional election lend credence that unconditional election is indeed what the Bible teaches? I’m a numbers guy and do some quantitative analysis on the day job so this thought got my attention. 

However, as I scrolled down the list, I noticed that some verses were listed as supporting both predestination and free will. I certainly don’t think it accurate to derive “truth” from just a verse and I don’t think that is necessarily intended here. Context is everything and as such, any given verse must be read within the context of the passage. That said, if something is “truth” in one passage, then doesn’t there have to be commonality of that “truth” throughout all of the Bible?

Jesus says the truth will set me free (John 8:32). Perhaps my struggle regarding unconditional election can only mean that I don’t know the truth. Of course, preceding vs 32 is vs 31 where Jesus says if I hold to his teachings then I am really his disciple. Perhaps therein lies the issue – I’m not his disciple. Therefore, I can’t know the truth. Hence, I struggle in my faith – and not just with unconditional election. Perhaps I’m beginning to overanalyze – time to chill-out.

Anyway, I’ve come across this before – Calvinists and Arminians using the same verses and passages to to defend (or argue against) unconditional election. Romans chapter nine is perhaps the best example I know of. That the likes of John Piper and Greg Boyd have diametrically opposed perspectives of this chapter is troubling to me. But I understand that not all Christians are bothered by, what I can only call, the “variance” of Christian thought at least with respect to unconditional election.

In any event – to the question: does a greater number of verses supporting one perspective help to sway or otherwise bring about resolution within the Calvinist-Arminian argument? Probably not. But, what do I know?