Did Jesus Die for Everyone or Just the Elect? – Kevin DeYoung Defines ‘Limited Atonement’

 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

John 3:16

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=103163&picture=cross-memorialCross Memorial

For whom did Jesus die? Did He die for the sins of ALL or just the ELECT?

Kevin DeYoung, Chairman of the Board of The Gospel Coalition, undertook the daunting task of explaining why he believes in a limited atonement in 500 words or less. Here is how he begins his Theological Primer on a limited atonement:

The doctrine of limited atonement–the L in TULIP–teaches that Christ effectively redeems from every people “only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation” (Canons of Dort, II.8). As Ursinus explains in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Christ's death was for everyone "as it respects the sufficiency of satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof.” In other words, the death of Christ was sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world, but it was God's will that it should effectively redeem those and only those who were chosen from eternity and given to Christ by the Father.

Particular redemption is often considered a more favorable term, because the point of the doctrine is not to limit the mercy of God, but to make clear that Jesus did not die in the place of every sinner on the earth, but for his particular people.

There are theologians who absolutely believe the "L" (limited atonement) in TULIP, and there are others who absolutely DO NOT! Check out this video, which features opposing views on limited atonement.

The Deebs DO NOT believe in a limited atonement. Never have, never will. DeYoung and his fellow five-point Calvinists would then accuse us of believing in Universalism, which DeYoung mentions later in his post. (see excerpt below)

If the atonement is not particularly and only for the sheep, then either we have universalism-Christ died in everyone's place and therefore everyone is saved-or we have something less than full substitution.

John 3:16, one of the most widely memorized Bible verses, states:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (NASB Bible Gateway

Calvinists who believe in a limited atonement have to resort to redefining terms in order to make this verse fit their theological paradigm. For example, they proceed to define 'world' as 'the elect'. In my book, that's changing the meaning of a passage of Scripture to fit their soteriology.

Dee and I are definitely NOT universalists. We DO NOT believe that everyone goes to heaven. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the entire world (not just the elect) and that He extends forgiveness to those who confess their sins and follow Him. We absolutely believe that those who refuse to admit that they are sinners in need of a Savior are NOT heaven bound. Instead, they will spend eternity in hell. This may be a simplistic view, but it's what we believe. What do you believe about a limited atonement?

A decade ago not many were discussing it. Now it is it a HOT TOPIC in Christian circles. Here are some videos (both for and against a limited atonement) that we believe will help you determine what you believe.

FOR

AGAINST

If you take time to listen to these clips, you will realize that there are strong arguments on BOTH sides. We believe it's important for you to educate yourself on limited atonement and decide where you stand on this theological matter.

Getting back to Kevin DeYoung's brief post on limited atonement, he states:

The good shepherd lays his life down, not for the goats, but for the sheep (John 10:11).

Several commenters took him to task on this (mis)statement. Here is what one of them wrote:

https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2017/07/12/theological-primer-limited-atonement/comment-page-1/#comment-260237

Another commenter had this to say about DeYoung's post:

http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2017/07/12/theological-primer-limited-atonement/

The bottom line is this… Don't allow a Five-Pointer to razzle dazzle you with their knowledge regarding a limited atonement. Please take the time to search the Scriptures for yourself and decide what YOU believe.


Comments

Did Jesus Die for Everyone or Just the Elect? – Kevin DeYoung Defines ‘Limited Atonement’ — 516 Comments

  1. II

    Dennis DeYoung has far more to say than Kevin DeYoung; although some of this may apply to Kevin.

    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto [どうもありがとうミスターロボット],
    Mata au hi made [また会う日まで]
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto [どうもありがとうミスターロボット],
    Himitsu wo shiri tai [秘密を知りたい]

    You’re wondering who I am (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    Machine or mannequin (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    With parts made in Japan (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    I am the modren man

    I’ve got a secret I’ve been hiding under my skin
    My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M.
    So if you see me acting strangely, don’t be surprised
    I’m just a man who needed someone, and somewhere to hide

    To keep me alive, just keep me alive
    Somewhere to hide, to keep me alive

    I’m not a robot without emotions. I’m not what you see
    I’ve come to help you with your problems, so we can be free
    I’m not a hero, I’m not the saviour, forget what you know
    I’m just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control

    Beyond my control. We all need control
    I need control. We all need control

    I am the modren man (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    Who hides behind a mask (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    So no one else can see (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    My true identity

    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,

    Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
    For doing the jobs that nobody wants to
    And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
    For helping me escape just when I needed to
    Thank you, thank you, thank you
    I want to thank you, please, thank you

    The problem’s plain to see:
    Too much technology
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    Machines dehumanize.

    The time has come at last (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    To throw away this mask (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    Now everyone can see (secret secret I’ve got a secret)
    My true identity…

    I’m Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!

  2. Please forgive my poor attempts at humor, but I've repressed the urge for some time now. When I searched DeYoung's picture to see if he is still wearing the same shirt every Calvinists was wearing five years ago. He was not, but he did seem to have a good grasp of Francis Chan's animated expressions.

  3. Here is my view illustrated:

    The Parable of the Amyraldian

    Unlimited Atonement yet Limited Attainment

    A wealthy man buys ten tickets to Hawaii and has his Son pay cash for them. He sends a letter to ten people with a ticket purchased for them and invites them to join him in Hawaii.

    He also sends a Special Courier to deliver three of the tickets to a select group of the ten and has the Courier earnestly persuade them to go {His persuasion is irresistible!} The Courier then escorts them onto the plane insuring they get to Hawaii.

    The other seven get the letter and the ticket that has been purchased for them, but because they hate the wealthy man [he makes them feel guilty] they refuse to use the ticket. They each think. If I ever go to Hawaii, I’m going MY way. No one is paying my way, especially not That Guy!

    The wealthy man, his son and the courier rejoice with the three in Hawaii. The other seven never make it and their tickets, while paid in full, are never used. While the three are in the beauty of Hawaii with the wealthy man a plague strikes the home towns of the seven and they perish.

    NOTE: This is an artificially constructed parable to show how the price can be paid in full for those who refuse to receive the gift. The Father’s election and the Spirit’s persuasion are limited to the elect, yet a ticket purchased by the Son is legitimately extended to all. =drstevej

  4. @ scott hendrixson:

    A little off-topic, but within the spirit of the rules… it seems as though you’re becoming a regular here!

    Hope so – I’ve really appreciated your comments.

    BTW, no need to repress the humorous urge!

  5. If God desires (yearns for, wants) all people to be saved as Scripture tells us, and yet does not provide a means to that end, then God must have an internal struggle (be at war) with Himself. Limited Atonement – and I will call it that, restricts and obstructs Jesus sacrificial death on the cross. It limits His love, mercy and grace. It also negates any kind of free and willing response on our part, because in effect, God is coercing people to be saved. And that’s where that erroneous concept of Irresistible Grace comes in.

    God offers a way of salvation for all, but that offer must be accepted/received. The Scripture says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” A Limited Atonement contradicts God’s desire for all to be saved, and it changes the meaning of all in John 12:32 to some. Limited Atonement thwarts the purpose of God to offer a means of salvation for ALL people, which redefines the Gospel from Good News for all people, to Bad News for MANY people. Just think of it this way. No Calvinist if they are honest, can ever say to any child, “Jesus loves you and He died for you.” So they cannot even tell their own children the good news that God loves them and Jesus died for them. Perhaps this is why assuring people of God’s love is not a priority among Calvinists in their sermons. Remember, 9Marks of a healthy church that many Calvinist churches subscribe to totally ignores love.

    Limited Atonement is a depressing and disconsolate teaching that cannot offer hope to the world. What is the Good News but to be able to tell anyone, anywhere that God loves them and Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins. Good News or Bad News? I’ll take the Good News any day!

  6. I want to pick up on just one point from the article (which I have read), and it’s one quoted above:

    If the atonement is not… then either we have universalism… or we have…

    There it is again: the either/or. To be scrupulously pedantic, Mr DeYoung actually has three possibilities rather than just two, but that’s really no improvement.

    To say, we must have limited atonement because otherwise we’d have universalism or nothing, suggests to me that he hasn’t thought all that much about why he really believes limited atonement. Or, for that matter, why we mustn’t have “universalism”. I get a bit frustrated at watching people content themselves with ending a theological quest by stuffing all the difficult alternatives in a bin, and marking that bin with a label that they lazily describe as heretical.

    The word-play over whether Limited_Atonement does, or does not, limit the atonement is just that – word-play. It’s a debate on whether 100% of a few, or a few percent of everyone, is “better” or “more successful”; or, which two sides of a square a longer given that they both arrive at the same place.

  7. I do not understand why people who believe in Limited Atonement would waste time, money, and energy on evangelization and missions!!

    Also, if someone believes God has chosen only some to be saved, then why worry about and care for the poor or the sick or the hungry or the refugees (etc,etc,–you know, all those in the Matthew story of the separation of the sheep and the goats!!).

    Either I’m of the elect or I’m not, but nothing I might do will make any difference, for all pain and suffering — including that from rape and the most horrendous abuse, even of the smallest children — is predetermined by God before the beginning of the universe and declares the incredible ‘Sovreignity of God.’ Such a theology is NOT the theology of ‘God is love.’

  8. Darlene wrote:

    If God desires (yearns for, wants) all people to be saved as Scripture tells us, and yet does not provide a means to that end, then God must have an internal struggle (be at war) with Himself.

    Taking that from a different angle, if God created all things good, and didn’t want humanity to sin, and yet made it possible for us to do so, then we’ve a similar problem. Put as neutrally as I can, we have God dealing with the fact that he wants something (albeit not for himself, but for humanity that he loves) that doesn’t happen. In other words, God suffers.

    We know for a fact that God has suffered because Jesus has suffered, and whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. So…
     Why would God be willing to suffer?
     Why are people so keen to build theologies in which he doesn’t – what are they afraid of?

    I don’t pretend to offer any simple answer to the first question. It’s more that I think this… pondering it can and should be a never-ending source of wonder.

  9. “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:2 NLT

    This is the verse that even Thom Rainer, the President of LifeWay, once told me kept him from being a so-called 5 point Calvinist.

    The matter is very complex. It seems to me that both sides in this debate are aiming at abuses that can come from the other’s position.

    Non-Calvinists are rightly concerned about the appearance of God as an unloving being who doesn’t care about everyone, but essentially set up a “play” that is acted out over eternity for his own enjoyment.

    Calvinists are rightly concerned about making God hopelessly out of control of the universe and the future, and that He has no “plan.” Everything is up to the sovereignty of man. The plan of salvation essentially becomes controlled by man. The scriptures do support the idea that God is sovereign in all things, even to the point of not all humans even being exposed to the Gospel.

    These are complicated matters.

  10. I have attended a debate between Jim White and Michael Brown. It was respectful and it was clear that they were friends and considered one another brothers in Christ. I am very uncomfortable with those who play the “false teacher” card, as one preacher does in the video.

    I also find that arguments made against a particular view of the extent of the atonement can distort what the other side is saying.

    I would also be careful to say “never will” to any teaching that is not an absolute essential. We are all urged to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” To grow may mean to change one’s long-held beliefs. That is one reason I am so opposed to mandatory statements of faith and church covenants. What I believe today may nor be what I believe in three years.

    This weekend a pastor friend of mine used an example to show our limited understanding. He drew a circle that represented all knowledge. He then asked us to fill in the portion of the circle that represented one’s own knowledge. He did this in a discussion of the God’s relationship to what we call “evil.” His point was that God could and does often use what people consider evil for His righteous purposes. It is not a sin for God to do so. Therefore, I think it prudent to try and speak humbly in these deep things that touch upon the will of God and the will of the individual.

  11. I notice the recurrent idea of ‘it’s not my fault’ and ‘it’s not the other person’s fault’ if either of us believes or not. Perhaps they think that the atonement is limited, or perhaps that grace to believe is limited. But rather one thing they seem to say is that since not all believe then it is obvious, of one adheres to ‘not our fault’, that it must be God’s fault.

    At the level of the potential response of the individual person considering the matter of what if anything is limited, there is an element to it of just one more excuse. That is, in saying that I am not the one who is limited by my own doing but rather God who limits by his sovereign will. Perhaps one more excuse that went to grad school but excuse none the less.

  12. I find it extremely disturbing that in DeYoung’s excerpt, he mentions the Canons of Dort, Ursinus and the Heidelburg Catechism–yet doesn’t cite a passage of Scripture to support the principle of Limited Atonement. Were this such a great “biblical” truth, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he would quote Bible verses to support it instead of the teachings of men?

    BTW-I am firmly rooted in the camp that “whosever will” may come. Our God is not willing that any should perish but that ALL might come to repentance. I just can’t get my brain around the notion that somehow God didn’t want all to come to Him! The very concept that God only “elected” certain ones to be saved smacks of the same pride and elitism embraced by the Pharisees. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t have a whole lot of positive things to say about that! He died for the sins of the WHOLE world, not just the “elected” one!

  13. It's not even a theological argument. A Calvinist cannot show you anywhere in the Bible that Jesus died only for the elect. That right there will trump any Calvinist.

  14. Root 66 wrote:

    The very concept that God only “elected” certain ones to be saved smacks of the same pride and elitism embraced by the Pharisees.

    Well said!

  15. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

     Why would God be willing to suffer?
     Why are people so keen to build theologies in which he doesn’t – what are they afraid of?
    I don’t pretend to offer any simple answer to the first question. It’s more that I think this… pondering it can and should be a never-ending source of wonder.

    Rhetorical question: Would it then be reasonable to assume from what you have said that you might have a simple answer to the second question? I have a simple answer to the second question, though of course it may not be correct. It is probably best to let the question hang there for any who would delve into their own thinking on this matter.

    I say all this merely to emphasize the issue, not to start a tangential discussion.

  16. Shauna wrote:

    It's not even a theological argument. A Calvinist cannot show you anywhere in the Bible that Jesus died only for the elect. That right there will trump any Calvinist.

    Yes, it would be in biblical concrete but it is not. "Whosoever" is stated (John 3:36 for one) too many times to be ignored.

    The "world" needed a savior, not the elect.

  17. okrapod wrote:

    Rhetorical question: Would it then be reasonable to assume from what you have said that you might have a simple answer to [the question of why so many people are afraid of theologies in which God suffers]?

    Yes, it would; my comment did rather imply that. Which goes to show that I could’ve worded it better..!

    TBH, I do have a fairly simple answer to it, which may not be correct, or complete. Moreover, my thinking may also be flawed, self-centred and judgemental…

  18. Mae wrote:

    Shauna wrote:
    It’s not even a theological argument. A Calvinist cannot show you anywhere in the Bible that Jesus died only for the elect. That right there will trump any Calvinist.
    Yes, it would be in biblical concrete but it is not. “Whosoever” is stated (John 3:36 for one) too many times to be ignored.
    The “world” needed a savior, not the elect.

    It doesn’t exist in the thoughts & theology of the earliest generations of Christians after Jesus & then the Disciples died. First hint is in about 500AD which is almost totally ignored until about 1500 AD. If it was there in the thought of Jesus then the first Christians would have followed it.

  19. <long comment>

    Point 1 of 2: the D-Day analogy

    Prior to the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Europe in 1944, the Allies planned Operation Bodyguard. This was a large and complex plan to deceive the Axis high command into thinking the D-day landings would be other than where they actually were, so that the crucial beaches would be less heavily defended. A lot of effort went into creating the impression of a major threat to Calais (among other places).

    I think there is an analogy here with many of the enemy’s schemes to weaken or undermine the church. There’s a lot of noise and threat against some particular thing of value, distracting much of the church into throwing all of their efforts to defend that small patch of truth – when the real attack is elsewhere.

    Point 2 of 2 – an example: the literal truth of scribsher

    I’ve met clergyman who believe the devil has a strategy to attack the literal truth of scribsher, and that they must defend it. So they (and others) have made it a fundamental of the faith that one must believe a handful of specific old testament verses literally whilst, ironically, being unable to heal the sick or raise the dead… the point being that in “defending the truth [sic] of scripture” they’ve left the rest of scripture unguarded and it has become a laughing-stock.

    Point 3 of 2: theology

    I can’t help feel that often, when some particular unbiblical teaching starts to become popular, the aim behind it isn’t really to promote that particular teaching. It’s much bigger and more subtle: namely, to generate controversy and distracting contention, and get Christians trying to find definitive correct theologies where God hasn’t given them to us or required them of us. Maybe this is centuries old. Maybe if, instead of opposing Arianism with a better doctrine, the early church should’ve ruled that the whole mindset behind Arianism or any alternative was wrong, and that no speculation should be passed off as “teaching”.

    </long comment>

  20. so, it seems to me that to view the bible as a definitive answer book is to merely pretend you can solve what appears to be the queen mutha of all algebraic equations.

    you have to either leave out variables that are clearly there, or else invent your own rules so it all fits together as true.

    (i’m working from a very limited understanding of math, here)

    i think God is far too big for any of this. to even presume to have solved for biblical x, y, a, b, etc. is to cast oneself in the lead role of the fool’s errand.

    i think in God’s realm there are square circles, gorgeous in their fantastic complexity.

    joe-blow-bible-answer-man hates them, though. has to have all the answers. and so he grabs them and makes them all squares to his satisfaction. then he folds it into a hat and puts it on his head.

    joe-schmoe-bible-answer-man does the same but makes them all circles. then he folds it into a hat and puts it on his head.

    naturally, the square hats hate the circle hats. ironically, because each plays the god card.

    getting back to algebra, seems to me the constants are that God is good, God is just, and God is love. why is that not enough?

  21. P.S.

    Point 2.1 of 2 – the literal truth of scribsher (II)

    As an extension, much of the western church has become a magnet for people (especially young men, for some reason) who want easy, simple answer.

  22. so what do i think of limited atonement?

    a grotesque go-to for the nonintuitive?

    a black hole of an intellectual exercise that has sucked resources not spent on relieving human suffering?

  23. “Particular redemption is often considered a more favorable term, because the point of the doctrine is not to limit the mercy of God, but to make clear that Jesus did not die in the place of every sinner on the earth, but for his particular people.” (Kevin DeYoung)

    As I look across the New Calvinist landscape, I see young reformers stealing churches by stealth and deception … congregational voices being silenced … authoritarian rule stripping the ministry of the Body of Christ from communities … female believers subordinated … the Gospel of Christ for ALL people not preached … Jesus’ name hardly mentioned … know-it-all arrogance reducing God’s Grace to an unrevisable set of doctrines about grace … leading folks to encounter Calvin, rather than having an encounter with the living Christ … etc., etc.

    Why in the world, would Holy God particularly redeem this particular group of rebels?! They are delivering another gospel, which is not the Gospel at all. They are certainly on a mission, but not the Great Commission. And they are getting away with it!

  24. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Thank you! The Bible is full of paradox, also known as mystery. People who see the world in black and white cannot live with paradox and a have need to resolve it. So, they do away with the mysterey by making either/or statments that demand a yes or no response. Such an approach to scripture answers all the questions that need to be answered and locks God safley in a box (for which they and they alone hold the keys). Such a rgid view of God and scripture leaves no room for mystery.Thus, they become more sovereign than God. The result is that people who disagree with them are labeled lost heretics and consigned to Hell. There unwillingness to live with mystery is ironical because God is a God of mystery whose ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. (See Job 38, 39)
    When one of my new testamant professors at Southern Seminary (back in the day when theological differences were still tolerated) was asked if he believed in election or free-will, his response was, “Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

  25. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    As an extension, much of the western church has become a magnet for people (especially young men, for some reason) who want easy, simple answer.

    Perhaps some of the young including the young men want a simple answer because they practice mostly simple thinking as a lifestyle. And perhaps some of the men. including the young want answers because our culture has tended to require it of the manly men that they have answers-to just about everything-more than we have required it of the women. And perhaps it has to be easy so that they can preach it to similar people of the uncomplicated sort who perhaps just mostly want to the ‘right’

    And perhaps the fact that it sells well is added incentive. After all, who wants religion to be a chore.

  26. Root 66 wrote:

    The very concept that God only “elected” certain ones to be saved smacks of the same pride and elitism embraced by the Pharisees.

    I believe one could say that the Jews were God’s chosen people and the Jewish laws excluded the Gentiles. But that all ended at the cross where both the Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God. Thus, both groups were made one. (See Ephesians 2:14-16)

    I don’t see where a third group was then created, the elect.

  27. Ken G wrote:

    I don’t see where a third group was then created, the elect.

    Well, someone needs to explain this to the neo-cals. They clearly believe, and state that there is such a group.

  28. Dan wrote:

    When one of my new testamant professors at Southern Seminary (back in the day when theological differences were still tolerated) was asked if he believed in election or free-will, his response was, “Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

    Yes.

  29. @ okrapod:

    What foolishness to think that my ‘answer’ is closer to the truth than God’s apparent paradox.

    But IMO the heart of most issues is still what it was in the Eden story-we want to be our own God.

  30. Moderate (4-point) Calvinists have operated within SBC life throughout the course of SBC history. They tend to get a rubber-stamp as pastors and members because they don’t accept the classical hyper-Calvinistic position of limited atonement. That is no-man’s land for the majority of Southern Baptists who hold to the “whosoever will” truth about the Gospel of Christ.

    This “4-pointer” position has always seemed a paradox to me. Can “Unlimited Atonement” truly come alongside “Unconditional Election” in a reformed theology grid? I’m a hyper-non-Calvinist as TWW readers surely know by now, but agree with reformed icon R.C. Sproul when “he suggests there is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. While he considers it possible for a person to believe four points without believing the fifth, he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyraldism

    You ain’t really a Calvinist, unless you buy into the whole mumbo-jumbo. Moderate Calvinists just don’t want to stick their neck out when it comes to limited atonement. But it’s an illogical compromising position to reformed theology which just doesn’t make sense. If you’re in the 4-pointer camp, just forsake the whole aberrant faith of Calvinism and come over to the light where there is just 1-point: his name is Jesus.

  31. What do I think of the doctrine of limited atonement?

    1) It impugns the very character of God. The god of limited atonement is not the God of love. 2) Any definition of God that claims to present the whole picture of God reduces God to something man can manage and fully define. And anyone or anything that man is able to manage and fully define, by definition, cannot be God. It sets the man who is managing and defining up as being greater than God.

  32. Dan wrote:

    When one of my new testamant professors at Southern Seminary (back in the day when theological differences were still tolerated) was asked if he believed in election or free-will, his response was, “Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

    This deserves repeating.

    (So I repeated it.)

  33. Dan wrote:

    we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of man. It all works in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before Him.

    The best any of us can do is to keep the Main thing the main thing (Jesus) and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us to Truth. That requires us to shut out the noise of mere men. Jesus warned us not to forsake the commandments of God for the teachings and traditions of mere men. Once the Holy Spirit deposits truth into our knower, we know it and can’t un-know it. If you let the mind of Christ rule your thoughts, a theological mind contrary to the will of God cannot prevail.

  34. okrapod wrote:

    @ okrapod:
    What foolishness to think that my ‘answer’ is closer to the truth than God’s apparent paradox.
    But IMO the heart of most issues is still what it was in the Eden story-we want to be our own God.

    Amen

  35. Max wrote:

    Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about the free will of man. It all works in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before Him.

    Amen. How God makes salvation work is strictly His prerogative. To quote an old hymn, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place:” “It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.” I’m far too simple a man to comprehend much more than that…and that’s OK for me. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who IS the Answer!

    The notion that God has “limited His atonement” to only certain people is indeed so repugnant, that even Calvinists often prefer to call it “particular atonement.” When you have to do back flips around your belief system in order to get other people on board, there’s clearly something wrong with your theology!

  36. Max wrote:

    As I look across the New Calvinist landscape, I see young reformers stealing churches by stealth and deception … congregational voices being silenced … authoritarian rule stripping the ministry of the Body of Christ from communities … female believers subordinated … the Gospel of Christ for ALL people not preached … Jesus’ name hardly mentioned … know-it-all arrogance reducing God’s Grace to an unrevisable set of doctrines about grace … leading folks to encounter Calvin, rather than having an encounter with the living Christ … etc., etc.

    What they are doing is called “quenching the spirit”.

  37. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    What they are doing is called “quenching the spirit”.

    Indeed! Quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, and relegating the Spirit to the back pew are characteristics of New Calvinism. While that can also be said about SBC life in general, at least traditional Southern Baptists still talk about the Holy Spirit now and then. There’s nothing about New Calvinism and general SBC apathy that can’t be fixed with a genuine widespread revival and spiritual awakening. I keep praying for that.

  38. @ Root 66:

    So true. What else can we cling to then, “Jesus died for me.”
    Our creator made the way of salvation simple in it’s directive. We don’t have to have a theology degree to grasp the love displayed at Calvary.
    Not that God is simple but he sent Jesus to show us who He is. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Thank God, Jesus died for mine. Not only did he die, he rose from the dead. I don’t know the how’s of all this, but I believe.

  39. In practice, Limited Atonement is very simple:

    “I’m Elect and YOU’RE NOT! HAW! HAW! HAW!”

    (Bonus Feature: Since I’m Elect, I can do anything I want and it won’t affect my eternal destiny!)

  40. scott hendrixson wrote:

    When I searched DeYoung's picture to see if he is still wearing the same shirt every Calvinists was wearing five years ago. He was not, but he did seem to have a good grasp of Francis Chan's animated expressions.

    Best laugh of the day!

  41. Max wrote:

    As I look across the New Calvinist landscape, I see young reformers stealing churches by stealth and deception … congregational voices being silenced … authoritarian rule stripping the ministry of the Body of Christ from communities … female believers subordinated … the Gospel of Christ for ALL people not preached … Jesus’ name hardly mentioned … know-it-all arrogance reducing God’s Grace to an unrevisable set of doctrines about grace … leading folks to encounter Calvin, rather than having an encounter with the living Christ … etc., etc.

    Like their predecessors in everything but name, the Marxist-Leninists.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN-ARytZKgQ

  42. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    P.S.
    Point 2.1 of 2 – the literal truth of scribsher (II)
    As an extension, much of the western church has become a magnet for people (especially young men, for some reason) who want easy, simple answer.

    “But the easy answer is too often the wrong answer.”
    — J Michael Straczinsky, lecture at an SF con during the height of Babylon-5

  43. TomkeinOK wrote:

    I do not understand why people who believe in Limited Atonement would waste time, money, and energy on evangelization and missions!!

    I have the same thoughts. They claim that we must evangelize because God told us we must. However, here is a dirty little secret that The Deebs have encountered as we look at abusive situations. We have some theories.

    1.There is no need to apologize because God has already forgiven the elect. So, ignore the hurt you caused. God must have willed it.

    2. You can treat people like human detritus because your actions do not determine whether or not someone becomes a Christian.

    3. All the children of people like DeYoung must be saved because they try so hard to present perfect doctrine, unlike the losers out there.

    They have a perfect get out of jail free card. They are not responsible for anything.

  44. Dan wrote:

    Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

    Same thing with the paradox of the Problem of Evil.

  45. Mae wrote:

    @ TomkeinOK:
    No, definitely would not be a , “God is love”, creator. More like a hideous eternal tormentor.

    “A God who is Omnipotent but NOT Benevolent.”
    — JMJ from Christian Monist (describing the road Islam took)

  46. Someone on Facebook once quoted one of the Calvinistic gurus (above) saying that “free will” is not found in the Bible. Well, I read through the Bible regularly in my devotions so I started making a list of “free will” verses as they jumped out at me in my reading. I have well over 100 verses on my list and that is only scratching the surface. Free will is on pretty much every page of the Bible.

    Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

  47. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    These are complicated matters.

    They are quite complicated. And, when something is complicated, people play games that usually give themselves a pass. For example, I have watched the Reformed big dogs continue to play in the dog park with men like CJ Mahaney. They show little concern for those who have been abused. They don’t need. to because it is not their fault if a child walks away from the faith. That means they were not one of the elect and that gets them off the hook for cavorting with abusers.

  48. Root 66 wrote:

    I find it extremely disturbing that in DeYoung’s excerpt, he mentions the Canons of Dort, Ursinus and the Heidelburg Catechism–yet doesn’t cite a passage of Scripture to support the principle of Limited Atonement

    Not only that but he blatantly misquotes Scripture – John 10:11

    DeYoung appears to be rewriting Scripture to support his doctrinal bent.

  49. dee wrote:

    1.There is no need to apologize because God has already forgiven the elect. So, ignore the hurt you caused. God must have willed it.

    2. You can treat people like human detritus because your actions do not determine whether or not someone becomes a Christian.

    3. All the children of people like De Young must be saved because they try so hard to present perfect doctrine, unlike the losers out there.

    Features, not Bugs.

    They have a perfect get out of jail free card. They are not responsible for anything.

    “IN’SHAL’LAH… AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

    Some years ago, a writer contact of mine moved to Louisville and tried to hook up with a local church. One he tried in sounds Neo-Cal in retrospect; he reported the above attitudes, i.e. the same attitudes associated today with Extreme Islam. Passivity, fatalism, determinism, no brake on the leaders’ greed and pride (“God Wills It!”), and the perfect excuse machine (“Not My Fault! God’s Will!”). All that was missing was the beheading knives and suicide bombers.

  50. Deb
    Good post. I am having fit of giggle this morning thinking about the church in Charlotte that has *called* DeYoung as lead pastor. (Christ Covenant)

    They have asked him to be *senior pastor.* Do they know how little time he will have for them? He has accepted a faculty appt at RTS as well. he will continue to blog, continue to be a chief dog at TGC, write books, gives paid speeches all over kingdom come, etc. I believe he now has 7 kids .

    And the church thinks that he is going to *lead* them? He is going to use them for what I have heard is a decent salary and he will make sure they understand he is in charge and is not to be questioned.

    Sit back and file your nails, folks. This ought to be interesting.

  51. We cannot understand these complex teachings of scripture on this side of eternity. We have to trust the Creator of the universe…His ways we cannot fathom. To the Calvinists…I say…follow JESUS not John Calvin!!!! Ask a Calvinists….what person in the new testament wrote most passionately about election? Answer…. apostle Paul. Who was the greatest evangelist in the new testament? Bingo! Apostle Paul!!

  52. Something must be in the air! I was just writing about this doctrine in my chapter on forgiveness for my book on helping people through infidelity discovery.

    I contend this point is illustrative of forgiveness:

    Jesus’ death provided forgiveness for everyone; however, that forgiveness is not effective unless a person repents of their sins and accepts Jesus as Lord (see Acts 2:38). This fits with Luke 17:3 where Jesus instructs his followers to forgive IF the sinning brother repents after being rebuked.

    Obviously, I do not believe in Limited Atonement. My God is big enough to save the entire world even if some in that world choose willfully to reject that salvation and go their own sinful, destructive way!

  53. elastigirl wrote:

    so, it seems to me that to view the bible as a definitive answer book is to merely pretend you can solve what appears to be the queen mutha of all algebraic equations.
    you have to either leave out variables that are clearly there, or else invent your own rules so it all fits together as true.

    In the words of the very first YRR I ever knew, “God meant for me to know everything about Him!”

    You notice he did not say “us” or “people” or anything else that conveyed anyone else but him. So being “Elect” also means getting all the knows and the stuff and the things and then you can just pretend that everyone else is unregenerate, dumb, left out, and going to hell).

    And they are quite proud of that. It takes a special person to be unashamed about being fine with everyone else is going to hell.

  54. Most surveys I have seen put Calvinist belief among church-going folk worldwide in the 10-20% range. Most Christian denominations and organizations have rejected the tenets of reformed theology as their guiding doctrines. Hyper-Calvinists have been given 500 years to convince Christendom that their theological tenets should be viewed as orthodox, but have largely failed … and for good reason, reformed theology is heterodoxy, not orthodoxy. Calvinist movements have come and gone, while the banner of the Cross of Christ for ALL people continues to march forward. In the meantime, numerous American churches have been taken off course by New Calvinism – a distraction to fulfilling the Great Commission in our generation. This, too will pass – aberrant faith always does – but, it will leave countless young souls caught up in the hype disillusioned and in despair.

  55. I saw this article the other day at Stuff Christian Culture Loves: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtfulpastor/2015/02/16/the-seduction-of-young-men-and-destruction-of-compassion-by-the-neo-calvinist-church-planting-movement/

    It has this fantastic paragraph:I have summed it up this way: The clean, slim, beautiful, fertile, straight, economically comfortable and white population love the idea of total depravity because the relative ease of their lives can only mean one thing: they are God’s favorites. However, if anything “bad” happens, they can rest assured that the totally sovereign God knew about this ahead of time so they don’t have to waste energy wondering if their God might actually cruel, punitive, capricious, or helpless. Nope. God’s just in charge. Evil can’t be explained, so don’t bother to question it.

    The writer is a Methodist Minister.

  56. Dan wrote:

    Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

    The problem with pushing the paradox or the mystery is basically people like me. Would never occur to me that God would want me unless he was clear about it. So does he want me to be saved? Well maybe.It says so. But it also says something else. So how do you know? You don’t. So how do you trust completely? You don’t. What happens when life gets very hard? God’s character goes totally out of focus because this paradox leaves room for God to be creating people in order to reject them.

    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

  57. Deb

    Kevin DeYoung is a big supporter of CJ Mahaney. I bet he thinks CJ is going to be in heaven and the two of us will be banished to the outer reaches of hell.

  58. Beakerj wrote:

    love the idea of total depravity because the relative ease of their lives can only mean one thing: they are God’s favorites

    Yep. And that brand of “Christianity” always leads to antinomianism. After a while, one’s total depravity kicks in and you start believing that you are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. In that atmosphere, anything can happen.

    Total depravity to the reformed mind really means total inability … unable to exercise a choice in the matter at hand – God already did that for them. When temptation comes along, they get tripped up so easily. They start believing that “God made me do it” in every act they commit. Yep, after a while, this New Calvinism will drive God’s favorites crazy. The New Calvinist sheep are running headlong and furious toward the cliff – the only way for individual sheep to save themselves is to separate from the flock.

  59. dee wrote:

    Not only that but he blatantly misquotes Scripture:John 10:11 DeYoung appears to be rewriting Scripture to support his doctrinal bent.

    Dee,
    That’s the only way he could make the round peg fit into the square hole!

    Wouldn’t it be better if these guys would simply see people as Christ sees them in Matthew 9:36? “When he saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

    I see no compassion at all in the concept of limited atonement if the majority of all the people who have ever lived had absolutely no chance at salvation whatsoever in the first place. I’m hard-pressed to see how that’s “Good News” for anybody.

    Off topic perhaps, but the one trait that hurt the most in our former YRR pastor was the simple fact that he didn’t have any compassion or love for the people of the church, but merely saw us an opportunity to “reform” us.
    No thanks, I’d rather be “transformed” into the likeness of Christ!

  60. @ scott hendrixson:
    I need this today. I just need this in my freaking life right now.
    It’s going to help me get through another day of being a Christian.

    Definitely feeling the presence of God right now. I’m putting on, Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock n Roll. It’s the perfect complement to help me stay focussed on my walk with Christ.

  61. @ Max:
    Your rhetoric rather casually offends those worldwide Reformed denominations who adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, Three Forms of Unity.

  62. These people cannot handle mystery. Everything has to fit neatly into their theological grid, even if that means doing violence to the actual words of Scripture.

  63. @ Lowlandseer:
    I attempted to qualify my comment in terms of “Hyper” Calvinism and “New” Calvinism. Classical Calvinism is more civil in its discourse and more respectful of non-Calvinist belief and practice than the neo-brethren and their hyper friends who are on a mission to restore the “gospel” that they believe 80% of the church which has lost.

  64. Root 66 wrote:

    Off topic perhaps, but the one trait that hurt the most in our former YRR pastor was the simple fact that he didn’t have any compassion or love for the people of the church, but merely saw us an opportunity to “reform” us.
    No thanks, I’d rather be “transformed” into the likeness of Christ!

    Is it just me, or do they seem like they think they are getting some big award for reforming the most people?

    And that alone is completely contrary to their own theology.

  65. Mae wrote:

    @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:

    Yes, those are complicated ideas. However, the gospel ( good news ) is not complicated. God sent his son to save us. The Gospels clearly present God’s desire for us to come to salvation.

    Mae:

    The Gospel is not complicated. We agree.

    The complications come because we cannot understand why a God who desires all people to come to know him, would impart the Gospel in such a limited and obscure way.

    In Jesus’ day, Israel was a backwater. Not the center of the world. The Gospel was hardly understood initially, let along communicated to much of the world.

    And for hundreds of years, the spread of the Gospel was limited due to the ability of humans to travel long distances, the lack of broadcasting, the lack of mass printing, language abilities, hostilities etc.

    When we think of issues related to “predestination” we often are thinking of two people in the same culture who have available access to the Gospel. One is predestined. One is not. And we rightfully question that.

    But over the years, unbelievers have asked me if God wanted all to be saved, why would He allow so many to die without hearing? China alone, for example, was not open to the West for centuries, and millions dies without hearing.

    I have always mentioned the Christian’s duty to evangelize etc. But even with robust evangelism, it is impossible to deny that millions perished without ever having the chance to hear, and would still have perished despite everything Christians in those generations could have done.

    These are complicated questions to me. I have not yet heard a satisfactory answer.

  66. @ Lowlandseer:
    @ Max:

    Well, I don’t see that offending somebody or not offending somebody has a direct correlation with whether what one says is or is not true. Nor do think that error, if it is error, should be overlooked merely because the people participating in it are civil. I have never met an uncivil Jehovah’s Witness who knocked on my door, for example, but that does not mean that I must affirm their doctrines.

    Not that going around offending merely for the sake of offense is any sort of Christian virtue, but sometimes one’s defense of what one believes to be true will offend people, and that is of course a two way street.

  67. One has to go through a lot of theological gyrations to escape: “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

    Of course DeYoung’s spin on this passage, as noted above, is: “In other words, the death of Christ was sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world, but it was God’s will that it should effectively redeem those and only those who were chosen from eternity and given to Christ by the Father.”

    God’s will? I seem to remember that the first evangelists preached that the Lord was not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). But, then along come the New Calvinists, with their “God has two wills” argument. They are always twisting, always debating … May God help us, debating is not preaching the Gospel!

  68. Max wrote:

    he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic

    Ironically, as Richard Zeile pointed out in the OP, Luther actually held to both the position of predestination and of unlimited atonement and would therefore be philosophically/theologically inconsistent (with himself?) according to RCS,Jr. HOWEVER, Luther was not a ‘Calvinist’ and would not be considered ‘Reformed’ according to the modern use of the word, so the appeal to Luther is a logical inconsistency when it comes to the defense of TULIP and Neo-Cal/YRR theology.

  69. Beakerj wrote:

    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

    I can hear what you are saying, but I also think that however one understand the issue one is still left to deal with doubt. If it is all up to God (election) then how does one ever know where one actually stands with God for sure? If it all up to me (free will) then how will I ever know whether I have done the right thing, willed correctly or sufficiently, and whether my salvation varies from day to day depending on whether I actually believe enough that day then how can I even sleep at night with that cloud over my head? And if somebody throws works in the pot, as in faith without works and all that, then there is the question of whether I did enough and well enough and with the right motivation.

    This does not seem resolvable based on what we know; that is doubt and uncertainty are bound to be an issue either way, more so for some people apparently than for others. Some religious manipulators play on that insecurity to control people. Some people think this is more of a psychological issue than a theological issue.

    What can I say? I personally am more apt to doubt myself than I am to doubt God, and without something more that just the idea that I have faith at least some of the time and more or less and comes and goes experientially-then I personally might have to go on meds.

    These are just my thoughts. All God’s Children got thoughts.

  70. elastigirl wrote:

    getting back to algebra, seems to me the constants are that God is good, God is just, and God is love. why is that not enough?

    Because humans have to define who is in the IN group and who is in the OUT group. Once the OUT group is defined, then rules and regulations can be put in place so that the IN group can lord it over them.

  71. @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:
    I think the answer lies, perhaps (in part), in what Paul wrote in Romans 2…

    “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them ) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
    Romans 2:12‭-‬16 NKJV

    I was taught that we will all be judged according to the light we have, not the light we do not have. After all, as Abraham asked the Lord (with effect), “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?””
    Genesis 18:25 NKJV

    To condemn eternally those who have never ‘heard the Gospel preached” would be unjust. God is just. Jesus even went and preached to those who died in the flood…which would serve no purpose if they were not allowed to act on what they heard. (See 1 Peter 3:18-19)

    For me, the question is, “Can I trust the God who is Love, and was personified by Jesus, to be just to all, even if I can’t fully understand all the mechanics of it. I am not a Universalist, though I understand the attraction, because Universalism runs into the same free will problem that limited atonement does. Even those that Jesus preached to who had already died still had the choice to tell him no. If all are saved, then some would be saved against their will. No. I belueve everyone will be given the opportunity, one on one with Jesus, to accept or reject on their own.

    My currents thought, subject to modification over time. 🙂

  72. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    When we think of issues related to “predestination” we often are thinking of two people in the same culture who have available access to the Gospel. One is predestined. One is not. And we rightfully question that.
    But over the years, unbelievers have asked me if God wanted all to be saved, why would He allow so many to die without hearing? China alone, for example, was not open to the West for centuries, and millions dies without hearing.
    I have always mentioned the Christian’s duty to evangelize etc. But even with robust evangelism, it is impossible to deny that millions perished without ever having the chance to hear, and would still have perished despite everything Christians in those generations could have done.

    I think there are a couple of things we need to consider as Christians.

    1. I do not believe in judging whether or not someone is saved. I leave that in the hands of God who is at a much higher pay grade in these matter.

    2. Are we so sure that all of those who have never heard the word of God will definitely perish? CS Lewis approached the answer to this question by stating “There will be surprises in heaven.”

    I would contest the fact that everyone who is in heaven confessed Jesus and I bet that you do as well. Let me prove it.

    1. Almost everyone, even the many of the hardliner Calvinists believe that babies who die in infancy go to heaven.

    The moment one exception is made, we must be prepared to consider that other exceptions can be made. Here are a couple of other uncomfortable scenarios for consideration.

    2. What about a person who is born with no mental capacity to understand salvation and the role that Jesus plays in it.

    My guess is that most would say they go to heaven. Hence, we have one more exception.

    3. What about a child how grows into adulthood, having been beaten and raped by parents who used the name of Jesus as they abused them Now, the name of Jesus causes this adult severe PTSD. This person then commits suicide. (True story BTW)

    Well, maybe in exception for her?

    Are you 100% sure that there are no further exceptions, ever?

    Lewis caused quite a conniption fit when he included one soldier of Tash in the New Narnia.Aslan told him that this soldier was really serving Aslan. (As an aside, I truly believe that TGC and the Piperettes would have treated CSL the same way they treated all the other famous people who have strayed from their perception of true doctrine.Now they pay lip service to him without fully understanding where Lewis stood awn number of issues.

    I know Scripture is clear. If we have heard about Jesus, and reject him for our whole lives, then we need to be concerned. Are we really sure that everyone who died in 400AD China is in hell? Were their no exceptions? I do know one thing, there have been exceptions that we all agree to.

  73. dee wrote:

    3. All the children of people like De Young must be saved because they try so hard to present perfect doctrine, unlike the losers out there.

    I’d like to have a chat with DeYoung about his children. I’m sure he loves them. I want to ask him, “How would you feel if you knew that one of your children would be spending eternity wreathed in flame because he/she wasn’t chosen to be saved before the foundation of the world?”

    And that’s the question I’d ask any of these Calvinistas. But this is why I’m outside the household of faith–I’d also ask the “whosoever will” crowd how they would feel if someone they knew was burning for eternity because they didn’t get Jesus “just right.” I decided a long time ago I’d rather not go to a heaven if there was a possibility someone was suffering forever because they didn’t get it “just right.”

    I don’t know God’s plans for eternity–how could I? But it just stabs me in the heart to think that just because someone didn’t hold the right idea of Jesus in their head when they died that they’re lost forever. I just can’t live with that.

  74. Max wrote:

    @ dee:
    Yep, they probably pray for the Deebs every day. (if you know what I mean)

    “O GREAT CHEMOSH! O GREAT BAAL! BRING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION DOWN UPON THESE MY ENEMIES!”
    — some Fifties Bible Epic, before a highly-sanitized child sacrifice to Baal-Chemosh

  75. dee wrote:

    @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:
    PS, if you claim that I am lurching towards universalism, I shall heartily protest. I believe hell is necessary precisely because Hitler lived and died.

    And if you study all of history, Hitler was far from the worst.

  76. ishy wrote:

    Is it just me, or do they seem like they think they are getting some big award for reforming the most people?

    That is analogous to the meme floating around the local Calvary Chapel-influenced Christian scene during my time in-country in the Seventies. The gist of it was that the ONLY thing God would judge you for on J-Day was (1) Did you say the Sinner’s Prayer? and (2) How Many Others Did YOU Lead to Christ?

    The only thing that mattered to God/In Eternity was how many converts you made. Add the “GOD Will Hold You Accountable!” for any opportunity where YOU chickened out and Didn’t and you get some really insane levels of “Wretched Urgency” and equally insane obsession with “Witnessing”.

  77. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    These people cannot handle mystery. Everything has to fit neatly into their theological grid, even if that means doing violence to the actual words of Scripture.

    Because CALVIN alone had God All Figured Out.

  78. Root 66 wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Not only that but he blatantly misquotes Scripture:John 10:11 DeYoung appears to be rewriting Scripture to support his doctrinal bent.

    Dee,
    That’s the only way he could make the round peg fit into the square hole!

    Long-ago Cartoon of someone hammering a square peg into a round hole screaming “YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT!”

  79. Deebs, You have gotten my attention. We lived in Charlotte until 2009. (left when banking started to crumble and back in Raleigh). I remember when Furtick came to town and even heard him once. Can Kevin and Steven “play well together” and share the spotlight?? What are your opinions???

  80. dee wrote:

    Deb
    Good post. I am having fit of giggle this morning thinking about the church in Charlotte that has *called* DeYoung as lead pastor. (Christ Covenant)

    They have asked him to be *senior pastor.* Do they know how little time he will have for them? He has accepted a faculty appt at RTS as well. he will continue to blog, continue to be a chief dog at TGC, write books, gives paid speeches all over kingdom come, etc. I believe he now has 7 kids .

    And the church thinks that he is going to *lead* them? He is going to use them for what I have heard is a decent salary and he will make sure they understand he is in charge and is not to be questioned.

    Sit back and file your nails, folks. This ought to be interesting.

    Yep, he's CRAZY BUSY!!!

    Then there's this…

    A kids' edition?

  81. @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:

    Who is to say the gospel was limited in its scope/ geography? Tradition says Thomas went to India and ancient trade roots existed all across Asia minor and beyond.I believe the news spread. Philip baptised the Ethiopian eunuch, soon after Christ rose from the dead, resulting in eastern Africa hearing the good news.

    Also, in the OT God cared about Nineveh being converted, sent Jonah. Even so, I do believe God reveals himself to those who have not heard, but seek truth. I have no doubts about God having a means of grace for the disabled, children, etc.

    God is good and God is just. I trust him to do right by all mankind.

  82. dee wrote:

    They have asked him to be *senior pastor.* Do they know how little time he will have for them? He has accepted a faculty appt at RTS as well. he will continue to blog, continue to be a chief dog at TGC, write books, gives paid speeches all over kingdom come, etc. I believe he now has 7 kids .

    Rev Kev is busy at 9Marx, too.

  83. Burwell wrote:

    HOWEVER, Luther was not a ‘Calvinist’ and would not be considered ‘Reformed’ according to the modern use of the word, so the appeal to Luther is a logical inconsistency when it comes to the defense of TULIP and Neo-Cal/YRR theology.

    Luther was not a ‘Calvinist’ (according to the modern definition and application of the word) partially due to the fact that he predated Calvin in terms of the Reformation. I wonder how a Neo-Cal would react if someone were to tell him that his theology is really just a misinterpretation and distortion of Lutheranism…rather, how long would it take for the meltdown and lecture to commence?

  84. okrapod wrote:

    That is, in saying that I am not the one who is limited by my own doing but rather God who limits by his sovereign will.

    Just a while ago I was pondering this notion of Limited Atonement. Jesus pleading over Jerusalem came to mind. “I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her brood but you would not.” (Taking that from memory here.) The notion of L.A. has Jesus saying: “I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her brood but *I* will not.” Yes, the Atonement is limited but my question is: By whom? By God or by us?

  85. Ann wrote:

    Can Kevin and Steven “play well together” and share the spotlight?? What are your opinions???

    Can the Universe have two Centers?

  86. Deb wrote:

    I’ll bet Kevin’s wife is busier than he is. Surprised she hasn’t written her own CRAZY BUSY book yet.
    Maybe it’s in the works…

    Nah. She prolly don’t have the spare time.

  87. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    But over the years, unbelievers have asked me if God wanted all to be saved, why would He allow so many to die without hearing? China alone, for example, was not open to the West for centuries, and millions dies without hearing.

    The only sense I can make of that is to refer to the ‘sins of the fathers’. People chose to turn their backs to God (Esau, for example) costing their descendants dearly.
    Adam sinned, and we all suffer the consequences.

  88. Question ……….. How do all of these YRR big wigs know for certain that they themselves are among the predestined elect???

  89. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    P.S.

    Point 2.1 of 2 – the literal truth of scribsher (II)

    As an extension, much of the western church has become a magnet for people (especially young men, for some reason) who want easy, simple answer.

    This seems to exist (the young men thing especially) elsewhere also. In Islam and I have noticed it in parts of Orthodox Judaism. Also among some young conservative Catholics. I’m not sure why, but there is some non-theological reason at work, something sociological.

  90. At present there are 22 comments on DeYoung’s article. 21 are thoughtful and took people, Calvinist and not, some of their valuable time to write. 1 took almost no time or thought to equate opponents of Calvin with “trolls”. But you know what took no time or thought whatsoever? DeYoung’s replies. As usual, he’s AWOL. Crazy busy and all that. But not too busy to come up with his English Slandered Version of John 10:11. Next thing we know, Joe Carter will be warning us against broken goats, and DeYoung will chime in.

  91. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Question ……….. How do all of these YRR big wigs know for certain that they themselves are among the predestined elect???

    Because they are elders, called by God to lead His most perfect Elect church. And since they have all the knowledge that Elders should have, we should be submissive and not question their God-given leadership. I mean, the only way we can be saved is by a covenantal relationship with one of their churches where they were predestined by God to lead.

    Wait! Stop! Don’t look behind the curtain at the fact that they appointed themselves elders! You’re not supposed to notice that! Or anything else! Blasted rebel sheep!

  92. Deb wrote:

    Yep, he’s CRAZY BUSY!!!

    He’s just trying to keep up with Mohler. Since Al has a bigger stack of books, DeYoung decided to be busier. He definitely has the crazy part right. Stretching Scripture to make it fit your theological grid will drive you loony-tune after a while … totally depraved. Before you know it, you will be talking out of your mind to children about being busy all the time.

  93. dee wrote:

    Root 66 wrote:
    I find it extremely disturbing that in DeYoung’s excerpt, he mentions the Canons of Dort, Ursinus and the Heidelburg Catechism–yet doesn’t cite a passage of Scripture to support the principle of Limited Atonement
    Not only that but he blatantly misquotes Scripture – John 10:11
    DeYoung appears to be rewriting Scripture to support his doctrinal bent.

    Doesn’t Piper do this as well ? They learn well from their teachers.

  94. Mae wrote:

    @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:

    Who is to say the gospel was limited in its scope/ geography? Tradition says Thomas went to India and ancient trade roots existed all across Asia minor and beyond.I believe the news spread. Philip baptised the Ethiopian eunuch, soon after Christ rose from the dead, resulting in eastern Africa hearing the good news.

    Also, in the OT God cared about Nineveh being converted, sent Jonah. Even so, I do believe God reveals himself to those who have not heard, but seek truth. I have no doubts about God having a means of grace for the disabled, children, etc.

    God is good and God is just. I trust him to do right by all mankind.

    I do, too.

    I just resist guessing.

  95. @ Beakerj:
    This Patheos article by the Methodist pastor addresses some of the sociological issues I have been musing on. Of course there are variations, in much of the Middle East I understand there is immense unemployment among the present generation of young men and fear of “Westerization.” (Which primarily means greater gender equality.) Plus, everywhere a general sense that the previous generation of fathers were weak in not wholeheartedly maintaining gender hierarchies, and therefore have nothing to teach younger men. Which leads to finding gurus who will be the father with all the answers. I’ve seen it in the more conservative religious orders in the Catholic Church (e.g. Opus Dei) as well.

  96. Hey Dee,

    Speaking of Hitler, there was a guy who preached a sermon recently and said that most modern people think that Hitler and a couple of other really bad people (maybe Trump for the Trump haters) go to Hell. But no one else is going there.

    Modern life is quite interesting.

  97. scott hendrixson wrote:

    Dennis DeYoung has far more to say than Kevin DeYoung; although some of this may apply to Kevin.

    Highly relevant. Per Wikipedia, “Between stints with Styx, [Dennis] DeYoung, a devout Roman Catholic, joined a touring revival of the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar in 1993. He appeared in about 200 performances across North America as Pontius Pilate.”

  98. dee wrote:

    thinking about the church in Charlotte that has *called* DeYoung as lead pastor. (Christ Covenant)

    A bit off-topic, but this news seems to only strengthen my belief that the Neo-Cal/TGC/9Marks leaders look out for their own. At 1800 members, CCC is a large church by PCA standards; it was planted by Harry Reeder (of Briarwood) in the ’80s and is closely tied to Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Of course, this “strengthening of my belief” could also be nothing more than confirmation bias.

    Another thought crossed my mind as I read CCC’s press release announcing DeYoung’s call as pastor. I may be wrong but it seems that there is a “tell” in the second paragraph. They wrote: “Identified as one of the nation’s rising evangelical leaders, DeYoung…“. Now, is it possible that DeYoung is not the only beneficiary of this hiring? Could it not also be true that CCC is trying to raise its standing within both the PCA as well as the broader American Reformed community? After all, Tim Keller has stepped down and Reeder recently had major surgery and is not getting any younger. Plus, T. Tchividjian has disqualified himself through his years of sin and affairs. Just a thought.

    One final nit to pick – I found it interesting that among DeYoung’s prominent ‘recognized qualifications’, the word pastor is not included. Sure, he is a “preacher, author, scholar and spokesperson…” but for someone who has been leading the same church for nearly 13 years, I would expect pastoring would be included among his ministry bailiwick.

  99. Burwell wrote:

    Max wrote:

    he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic

    Ironically, as Richard Zeile pointed out in the OP, Luther actually held to both the position of predestination and of unlimited atonement and would therefore be philosophically/theologically inconsistent (with himself?) according to RCS,Jr. HOWEVER, Luther was not a ‘Calvinist’ and would not be considered ‘Reformed’ according to the modern use of the word, so the appeal to Luther is a logical inconsistency when it comes to the defense of TULIP and Neo-Cal/YRR theology.

    They try to rope Luther in. I’m not a Lutheran but sympathetic and certainly not Missouri Synod but my view is the MS try very hard to stick to original confessional Lutheranism and they are not neo-Calvinists.

  100. Burwell wrote:

    Could it not also be true that CCC is trying to raise its standing within both the PCA as well as the broader American Reformed community?

    Well, the good people at CCC better get ready! Here comes a steady stream of New Calvinist who’s who to fill the pulpit for the crazy busy DeYoung who will be away most of the time. Before you know it, CCC will be known as another ground-zero for New Calvinism, not their grandpa’s “Old” Calvinism.

  101. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Question ……….. How do all of these YRR big wigs know for certain that they themselves are among the predestined elect???

    They know because they picked themselves. Convenient, yes?

  102. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    Speaking of Hitler, there was a guy who preached a sermon recently and said that most modern people think that Hitler and a couple of other really bad people (maybe Trump for the Trump haters) go to Hell. But no one else is going there.

    I couldn’t even send the worst of the worst to such a place (eternal conscious torture by fire), my conscience would not allow it.
    What’s more, I would not create and maintain a monument to the hatred and cruelty of the devil in the first place.

  103. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    Speaking of Hitler, there was a guy who preached a sermon recently and said that most modern people think that Hitler and a couple of other really bad people (maybe Trump for the Trump haters) go to Hell. But no one else is going there.

    Bah. I’ll tell you who’s going to hell. Stupid people like everybody here, who’s always criticising richfaithful men of god and hates everyone.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up yours,
    Roger Bombast

  104. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Question ……….. How do all of these YRR big wigs know for certain that they themselves are among the predestined elect???

    Yes, especially when one consider’s Calvin’s teaching on Evanescent Grace which featured in his Institutes. If God tricks some folks into thinking they are one of the elect when they’re actually one of the reprobates, even allowing them to have the same experience of saving faith and God’s grace as the elect have, then how does any Calvinist know for sure that God isn’t fooling them.

  105. I have a comment in customs. Surprised it’s taken this long for that to happen, given all of the stupidness at this site. Well, I don’t care – at least I’m</em “saved”, as if anybody cares what that means.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,

    Roger Bombast

  106. Burrell, When we moved to Charlotte around 1987 or 88, we visited quite a few churches. We attended Reeder’s church and he was so arrogant! When I shook his hand and mentioned my former (PCA) church in Charlottesville, he said, “Oh, well I am much better than Skip (Ryan)”-who was the pastor in Charlottesville.
    He didn’t act like he was joking and I knew I would never return. I think shortly after he was called to another church.

  107. Ann wrote:

    We attended Reeder’s church and he was so arrogant! When I shook his hand and mentioned my former (PCA) church in Charlottesville, he said, “Oh, well I am much better than Skip (Ryan)”-who was the pastor in Charlottesville.

    Arrogance seems to come with the territory for these guys. Brother Reeder needs to read C.J. Mahaney’s book on humility (sarcasm).

  108. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    If God desires (yearns for, wants) all people to be saved as Scripture tells us, and yet does not provide a means to that end, then God must have an internal struggle (be at war) with Himself.

    Taking that from a different angle, if God created all things good, and didn’t want humanity to sin, and yet made it possible for us to do so, then we’ve a similar problem. ,b>Put as neutrally as I can, we have God dealing with the fact that he wants something (albeit not for himself, but for humanity that he loves) that doesn’t happen. In other words, God suffers.

    Nick, you’ve gotten me to ponder this concept. I would say at some point we must acquiesce to mystery. Now, at what point we acquiesce is another matter altogether. In thinking about this more deeply, it would seem that while God desires for human beings NOT to sin, He also doesn’t want robots or automatons. So, the one thing God cannot do is override our free will to either choose Him or reject Him, to obey or disobey Him. That part of our free will is in tact. In other words, God wants us to willingly obey and follow Him. Otherwise we have God believing for us, which is that pesky concept of “regeneration precedes faith” comes in. Further, if God damns a certain portion of humankind in order to glorify Himself as the Reformed say, we have God not only making those reprobates sin, but wanting them to sin, which causes Him to be the Author of sin. They never had a chance to be saved because God set up the terms and conditions in advance for them to be condemned to hell.

    By the way, I have no problem with God wanting something that doesn’t happen with regard to human beings sinning. He may want us to live in obedience to Him but sure isn’t gonna force us to obey. Because in this instance, God is treating us as humans who have a choice and He permits us to make that choice. However, if God, who calls Himself Savior, never even allows a great portion of humanity to even have the opportunity to know Him as Savior, even damning them before they’ve ever taken breath, then in my opinion, that makes God intentionally cruel and unkind. I would go so far as to say this makes God a heartless tyrant.

  109. I have to wonder, reading the comments, how many are opposed to the theological implications of reformed theology SIMPLY due to many commenters’ apparent antipathy towards Piper, Mohler, Duncan, Sproul, Dever, MacArthur – and on that basis deciding they don’t hold to the classic Calvinist stance.
    It’s like a knee jerk reaction; if John Piper says it I hate – regardless of what it is.
    _____

    You should know that men who don’t hold to that position, such as Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines and many others, have deep respect for those who do; often great friends. There simply is not a great bitter divide among the Conservative Evangelicals over this issue.

    One of the comments talked about checking your moral compass and then deciding. I would say, read the Scriptures and then decide. BY the way; good luck. It’s a tough nut to crack; not sure it is crackable this side of heaven.

  110. Root 66 wrote:

    I find it extremely disturbing that in DeYoung’s excerpt, he mentions the Canons of Dort, Ursinus and the Heidelburg Catechism–yet doesn’t cite a passage of Scripture to support the principle of Limited Atonement. Were this such a great “biblical” truth, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he would quote Bible verses to support it instead of the teachings of men?

    Well….it works something like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Except in this case, it’s more like the 20 Degrees of Limited Atonement. They deduce, and deduce, and deduce till at some point they arrive at their conclusion. But it is arrived at with much deflection, hand-wringing and word salad.

  111. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I don’t pretend to offer any simple answer to the first question. It’s more that I think this… pondering it can and should be a never-ending source of wonder.

    This is a very good statement. Anyone who thinks they have a sure answer on this should repent and approach it with much more humility.

    A few years ago I learned about the Eastern Orthodox view of heaven and hell. That really rattled my cage – it pretty much blew away the whole question in terms of how I was viewing it. Here is a pretty good summary of that view (there are quite a few articles available on the internet written by various Orthodox theologians): http://www.orthodoxroad.com/heaven-hell/.

    Heaven and hell are not understood as physical places in which we are sentenced for all eternity, but an actual state of being when we encounter the Almighty God of Consuming Fire. God’s loving and fiery presence either causes us to withdraw within ourselves or to reach out and be consumed and healed.

    In the end, we will all receive the presence of God. Whether or not we enjoy that presence depends on the condition of our hearts.

    My point is not to argue for or against any one particular theory, but rather to point out that there are more than a few ideas on this, both ancient and modern, that have been embraced by people who have studied this deeply and seriously. I think Kevin DeYoung (and all YRRs) would serve himself well by reading more broadly and by backing off on his divisive rhetoric.

  112. okrapod wrote:

    Well, I don’t see that offending somebody or not offending somebody has a direct correlation with whether what one says is or is not true.

    I completely agree. But it does not make me popular in the Southern Bible Belt culture.

  113. Lowlandseer wrote:

    Your rhetoric rather casually offends those worldwide Reformed denominations who adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, Three Forms of Unity.

    Why not just adhere to scripture?

    I don’t believe you can offend a denomination . . . it’s up to individuals to be offended or not.

  114. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    Rhetorical question: Would it then be reasonable to assume from what you have said that you might have a simple answer to [the question of why so many people are afraid of theologies in which God suffers]?
    Yes, it would; my comment did rather imply that. Which goes to show that I could’ve worded it better..!
    TBH, I do have a fairly simple answer to it, which may not be correct, or complete. Moreover, my thinking may also be flawed, self-centred and judgemental…

    Well Mr. Bulbeck, not having read all the comments yet, I’m waiting on pins and needles to discover your answer. Just don’t let Roger Bombast be the one to beat you to it. I don’t much care for that man’s abrupt and discourteous disposition.
    🙂

  115. Brent wrote:

    I have to wonder, reading the comments, how many are opposed to the theological implications of reformed theology SIMPLY due to many commenters’ apparent antipathy towards Piper, Mohler, Duncan, Sproul, Dever, MacArthur – and on that basis deciding they don’t hold to the classic Calvinist stance.
    It’s like a knee jerk reaction; if John Piper says it I hate – regardless of what it is.

    My opposition is due to all the research I’ve done over the last few years. But I have to admit, that as I’ve read all their various writings, I have developed a bit of a knee-jerk reaction because the good things they write are nearly always seasoned with toxicity. My knee-jerk reaction was a learned response from actually reading their writings. I used to have great respect for John MacArthur, for example. One can only read so much of their bad stuff without lumping all their writings together. I’ve read so much of their bad stuff that I seem to have passed the event horizon and now have no possibility of ever re-gaining respect for their teachings.

  116. Darlene wrote:

    By the way, I have no problem with God wanting something that doesn’t happen with regard to human beings sinning. He may want us to live in obedience to Him but sure isn’t gonna force us to obey. Because in this instance, God is treating us as humans who have a choice and He permits us to make that choice. However, if God, who calls Himself Savior, never even allows a great portion of humanity to even have the opportunity to know Him as Savior, even damning them before they’ve ever taken breath, then in my opinion, that makes God intentionally cruel and unkind. I would go so far as to say this makes God a heartless tyrant.

    What if the Calvinists are right, and God is a heartless tyrant? God surely doesn’t care what we think, right? I often hear people say “I couldn’t believe in a God that was like that”. So what?

    I think the Calvinists are WRONG WRONG WRONG. In my reading of the Bible, it seems very clear to me that the whole point of God’s creation of humanity is exactly free will. That includes the option of rejecting his plan.

    OTOH, perhaps that’s just me struggling to find a God I can believe in…

  117. Beakerj wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    Shauna wrote:
    A Calvinist cannot show you anywhere in the Bible that Jesus died only for the elect. That right there will trump any Calvinist…..

    The “world” needed a savior, not the elect.

    It doesn’t exist in the thoughts & theology of the earliest generations of Christians after Jesus & then the Disciples died. First hint is in about 500AD which is almost totally ignored until about 1500 AD. If it was there in the thought of Jesus then the first Christians would have followed it.

    Oh no, no, no, no, no! You must understand that the church went off the rails immediately after the last apostle died. AND…….it took Calvin to make it all right again.

  118. roebuck wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    By the way, I have no problem with God wanting something that doesn’t happen with regard to human beings sinning. He may want us to live in obedience to Him but sure isn’t gonna force us to obey. Because in this instance, God is treating us as humans who have a choice and He permits us to make that choice. However, if God, who calls Himself Savior, never even allows a great portion of humanity to even have the opportunity to know Him as Savior, even damning them before they’ve ever taken breath, then in my opinion, that makes God intentionally cruel and unkind. I would go so far as to say this makes God a heartless tyrant.
    What if the Calvinists are right, and God is a heartless tyrant? God surely doesn’t care what we think, right? I often hear people say “I couldn’t believe in a God that was like that”. So what?
    I think the Calvinists are WRONG WRONG WRONG. In my reading of the Bible, it seems very clear to me that the whole point of God’s creation of humanity is exactly free will. That includes the option of rejecting his plan.
    OTOH, perhaps that’s just me struggling to find a God I can believe in…

    Well many Calvinists would say you believe what you do because you don’t want to submit to a Sovereign God. Instead, you want to submit to a god made in your image, one that placates your feelings.

  119. Darlene wrote:

    Well many Calvinists would say you believe what you do because you don’t want to submit to a Sovereign God. Instead, you want to submit to a god made in your image, one that placates your feelings.

    Instead of the god made in CALVIN’s image.

  120. Darlene wrote:

    Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:
    Question ……….. How do all of these YRR big wigs know for certain that they themselves are among the predestined elect???

    Yes, especially when one consider’s Calvin’s teaching on Evanescent Grace which featured in his Institutes. If God tricks some folks into thinking they are one of the elect when they’re actually one of the reprobates, even allowing them to have the same experience of saving faith and God’s grace as the elect have, then how does any Calvinist know for sure that God isn’t fooling them.

    A lot of the Truly Reformed behavior seems to be finding unambiguous evidence that they are Truly Elect. (Assurance of Salvation.) This usually shakes down into “Whatever I do that YOU DON’T.”

    In the past, claimed Proof of Election have been Material Blessings, i.e. Getting Rich. This became the Christian Work Ethic and with a bit of Entropy over time, the shortcut version of The Prosperity Gospel.

    Just nowadays it’s Perfectly-Parsed, Truly REFORMED Theology and Doctrine, i.e. Purity of Ideology.

    Putting both together explains a lot of the Calvinista Big Dogs’s wealth and rigidity. They’re trying to PROVE to themselves that THEY are Elect (and you’re NOT).

    —–

    An analogy is “ARKology”, the obsession on searching for Noah’s Ark atop Ararat. Because THAT would be PROOF of Genesis being literally TRUE, PROOF the Faithful could rub in the faces of the rest of us.

  121. Darlene wrote:

    He may want us to live in obedience to Him but sure isn’t gonna force us to obey. Because in this instance, God is treating us as humans who have a choice and He permits us to make that choice.

    The Israelites, God’s chosen people …….. how many times did the nation of Israel disobey God? Did God make them disobey? Is He a two-faced monster? Did God force Israel to make the golden calf? Did Gid make Moses strike the rock with his rod, after he had told him not to do so? Did God make King David go after Bathsheba? In the book of Ezekiel, did God make the Israelites rebel so that He could remove the shekinah cloud of glory from the temple?
    I don’t think so. There is a long list of events recorded in the Bible that debunk some of the YRR “theology”.

  122. @ drstevej:
    drstevej wrote:

    A wealthy man buys ten tickets to Hawaii and has his Son pay cash for them. He sends a letter to ten people with a ticket purchased for them and invites them to join him in Hawaii.

    Here’s what I can’t puzzle out: The cost of the Son’s death was far more than a cash ticket to Hawaii. The Son accepted the penalty due for our sin. If He died for the specific sin/debt of someone who has the capacity to reject that act, who is God? The one who has the power to reject? Does universal atonement reduce Jesus to an inadequate sales person or misguided do-gooder? If He bore the penalty for all, how would anyone go to Hell unless they had the power to override His act which governs a destination after human death? It’s not like there’s any choice at that point. Why avoid sin in life if all are forgiven?

  123. Darlene wrote:

    If God tricks some folks into thinking they are one of the elect when they’re actually one of the reprobates, even allowing them to have the same experience of saving faith and God’s grace as the elect have, then how does any Calvinist know for sure that God isn’t fooling them.

    Several years ago in private correspondence, Martha from Ireland wrote that this was fallout from the Reformation Wars and Calvinistic iconoclasm breaking/burning/sweeping away all the folk religion that had accumulated between AD 33 and that point, leaving only “naked Faith” and Sola Scriptura. And that when the dust had settled and all that was left was SCRPTURE, the only protection was to make a magickal fetish of that SCRIPTURE and wave it around against the demons and devils.

  124. Darlene wrote:

    Well many Calvinists would say you believe what you do because you don’t want to submit to a Sovereign God. Instead, you want to submit to a god made in your image, one that placates your feelings.

    Actually (hat tip to Nick), that’s sort of my point. How do we know we’re not making God in our own image? I don’t “feel” like I am, but?

    I know a lot of Christians (and a lot of would-be Christians), of a lot of different stripes, who have said “oh, I couldn’t believe in a God like that”.

    As if that settled something.

  125. Max wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    Yep, he’s CRAZY BUSY!!!
    He’s just trying to keep up with Mohler. Since Al has a bigger stack of books, DeYoung decided to be busier.

    The Measuring Bit, i.e. “Mine’s Bigger than Yours!”?

  126. roebuck wrote:

    I think the Calvinists are WRONG WRONG WRONG. In my reading of the Bible, it seems very clear to me that the whole point of God’s creation of humanity is exactly free will. That includes the option of rejecting his plan.

    Whenever I encounter a New Calvinist, they seem to prattle off more modern authors than Bible. They also talk an awful lot about what men get to be in charge of everybody else.

    I don’t agree with classical Calvinism, but I do think there were some good reasons they rejected Calvin’s authoritarian philosophy. I also think there was a good reason most Baptists don’t depend on Spurgeon.

    But I do believe that whatever you talk about the most is where your heart is. And if it’s modern authors and being king of the hill, it’s probably not God.

  127. Muff Potter wrote:

    Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    These are complicated questions to me. I have not yet heard a satisfactory answer.

    Have you tried searching your own conscience and moral compass?

    I could do that.

    But are suggesting that my conscience and moral compass are going to be the standard?

    If not mine – yours? Or who’s?

    Aren’t we playing God at that point, and basically back in the Garden?

  128. Mae wrote:

    @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:

    I hear you. A few things I’ve decided ( for me ) are just by faith. (Hebrews 11 )

    I totally get that, and appreciate it.

    Am just extremely reserved about stuff I don’t know or believe because it’s clearly set forth.

  129. Muff Potter wrote:

    Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    Speaking of Hitler, there was a guy who preached a sermon recently and said that most modern people think that Hitler and a couple of other really bad people (maybe Trump for the Trump haters) go to Hell. But no one else is going there.

    I couldn’t even send the worst of the worst to such a place (eternal conscious torture by fire), my conscience would not allow it.
    What’s more, I would not create and maintain a monument to the hatred and cruelty of the devil in the first place.

    That’s exactly how we should feel about our sending people to such a place or creating such a place.

    Thankfully, we can’t create such a place, and sending anyone there is about like us trying to jump to the moon.

    This takes me back to the comments of the disciples when they asked Jesus if they could call down fire or such on some people.

    One of the natural dangers of religious people, seen in that account, is to confuse a naturally jealousy for God and His righteousness, to a claim or right to exercise his righteousness or judgment.

    Actually, the denial of judgment is in a way a very cruel thing. Many people have been horribly treated and harmed in this world. All of the great religions claim that God will some how make that right. I think that is a longing of the human heart and a natural understanding of a good God. But it’s really easy to them become God.

    Jesus clearly testified to the judgment of God in the afterlife, but he was constantly warning religious people about their tendency to want to play God and call down judgment on others, which is not their right, and for failing to see their own failings and how others might feel the same about them.

  130. Beakerj wrote:

    Dan wrote:
    Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.
    The problem with pushing the paradox or the mystery is basically people like me. Would never occur to me that God would want me unless he was clear about it. So does he want me to be saved? Well maybe.It says so. But it also says something else. So how do you know? You don’t. So how do you trust completely? You don’t. What happens when life gets very hard? God’s character goes totally out of focus because this paradox leaves room for God to be creating people in order to reject them.
    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

    Excellent perspective, Beakerj. While I believe it is true that there is a place for mystery and paradox, I also think there are some definitive things that we can state about God and salvation. Otherwise everything about our faith is ambiguous. Did Jesus die for all of humankind or only the elect? I don’t think we should address this particular subject with paradox. Either Jesus did or He didn’t and I think it’s quite plain from the Scriptures what the answer is.

  131. elastigirl wrote:

    a black hole of an intellectual exercise that has sucked resources not spent on relieving human suffering?

    My sentiments too. As if the long litany of human suffering since the fall is not enough, a further penalty had to be levied. You’re right on the money elastigirl, it’s grotesque…

  132. @ Brent:

    No…I’m opposed to Reformed theology because, to me, it makes God into an untrustworthy monster. Doesn’t matter to me who does or doesn’t hold to it. I’ve rejected the theology on its own merits. 🙂

  133. Max wrote:

    Total depravity to the reformed mind really means total inability … unable to exercise a choice in the matter at hand – God already did that for them.

    And it’s all tied up in a neat little theological package with a bow on top called Monergism, Irresistible Grace & Regeneration precedes faith.

  134. As someone who considers himself both Calvinist and Arminian at the same time, here is what I believe about limited atonement:

    1. If Jesus died for you, then you are saved. That is because His death paid for your sin. It would be unjust for God to exact a penalty twice for the same offense.

    2. Everyone who confesses Jesus with their mouth and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved.

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    The text cannot be more plain. The motivation in sending Christ was “For God so loved the world”, and the purpose of Jesus being sent was “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish…”. It is for God’s love of the world that He died, and it is the believers who receive the benefit.

    It doesn’t really matter whether God foresaw or predestined since from my view those distinctions don’t actually exist outside the four dimensions of our material universe, or, as the Bible puts it “A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day” – in other words, time is not a constraint on God.

  135. I am a universalist. I think there are many roads to the truth.

    Over my career I’ve worked with many different cultures, ethnic and otherwise. I’ve known a number of gay & lesbian people. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Unitarian.

    I’ve come to the conclusion we can’t all be going to heck.

    What about those who die never hearing a word about Jesus through no fault of their own? What about those that lived before Jesus or in the Americas or China or Japan?

    Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    I heard a stat estimating that about 36 billion people have lived and died as long as there have been people.

    Heck’s going to be a pretty busy place cause I’m going to bet most wouldn’t be defined as Christian.

  136. Dew wrote:

    They try to rope Luther in. I’m not a Lutheran but sympathetic and certainly not Missouri Synod but my view is the MS try very hard to stick to original confessional Lutheranism and they are not neo-Calvinists.

    Read Luther’s On the Bondage of the Will and you’ll see that he and Calvin were kissin’ cousins so to speak on the issue of predestination and free will.

  137. I find this new strain of Calvinism to be a form or expression of utilitarianism philosophy and sociology that masks itself as theology.

    Like Dew said above, I think there is something inherently sociological and social psychological going on. It doesn’t seem to be *primarily* theological. The question of what influences what or drives the other (theology and sociology) is hard to discern, but I think that’s right.

    I find their Christ/Christology to be very utilitarian-y (new word) and I think that’s why they use the word gospel more than the name of Jesus. The gospel serves as an utilitarian function, representation, and all encompassing savior in their system. It’s a catch all phrase for subthoughts and subfields that represents and encompasses all their beliefs which are their highest goods. Jesus in his whole self is subtly replaced for the right and best goods of thought = gospel this, gospel that.

    It goes without saying why the Holy Spirit may not be mentioned or represented well in a utilitarianism driven system.

    I think the church contracts are a natural result of their utilitarianism as well.

    And I think their concept of Limited Atonement is inherently utilitarianism in function, as it makes/projects God to operate in such an inherently utilitarian way. Though you could argue that there is no highest/optimal good present if God is knowingly creating people he chooses not to save. Which is why I think they adhere to continually talking about “God bringing glory to himself” as the highest good as a trump card to gloss over those tough criticisms about God’s nature if what they believe is true.

    (I just wrote the word utilitarianism 500 times 😀 )

  138. okrapod wrote:

    If it is all up to God (election) then how does one ever know where one actually stands with God for sure? If it all up to me (free will) then how will I ever know whether I have done the right thing, willed correctly or sufficiently, and whether my salvation varies from day to day depending on whether I actually believe enough that day then how can I even sleep at night with that cloud over my head? And if somebody throws works in the pot, as in faith without works and all that, then there is the question of whether I did enough and well enough and with the right motivation.

    It has been said that there are only 2 religions in the world: DOING and DONE. Our salvation depends on an event in history… the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a finished work that is DONE… by Jesus on our behalf. Our part is just to believe God’s statements about our need and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. If we “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” then we are saved. We don’t analyze how well we believe (that falls in the DOING camp), rather we only analyze whether the object of our belief is valid and true.

  139. hoodaticus wrote:

    It doesn’t really matter whether God foresaw or predestined since from my view those distinctions don’t actually exist outside the four dimensions of our material universe

    There is a huge difference between “foresaw” and “predestined”. If God knows how any individual will respond to his call, that’s one thing. If He decided before you were born, indeed before the foundations of the Earth were laid, that you will be saved or not saved, that is totally different. Conflating “foresaw” with “predestined” is wrong, IF you believe that God wanted humankind to have free will. If not, who cares?

  140. @ TomkeinOK:

    The reason someone who believes in limited atonement evangelizes is not to save people – God will do that with or without our help because He loves you that much. He can create witnesses from stones if no one steps up.

    No, the reason someone who believes in limited atonement would evangelize is because she has been invited to be part of the means of God’s salvation of another soul and to have the unimaginable honor of joining Him in His work.

  141. Brent wrote:

    One of the comments talked about checking your moral compass and then deciding. I would say, read the Scriptures and then decide. BY the way; good luck. It’s a tough nut to crack; not sure it is crackable this side of heaven.

    I’ve done exactly that. I’m made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor (Psalm 8). A divine template within that tells me my Maker was mindful of me when he began to weave a little bit of himself into my genome.

  142. Doesn’t a 500 word self-validating essay seem a little indulgent when the vast majority of people are going to hell and can do nothing about it. You can’t truly love people like Jesus did and write this stuff for public consumption. It’s a sad detached perspective from which to minister to the elect.

  143. roebuck, I don’t see how God perfectly foreseeing every event that would ever occur as a consequence of His creating the universe, and then choosing to create the universe anyway, could be anything but predestination.

    I also don’t see how this could possibly contradict free will. Free will means I make my own choices. Whether someone else could predict my choice so perfectly that I had no possibility of deviating from it hardly changes the fact that I’m the one doing the choosing.

  144. Calvinism is wrong when it makes the claim that anyone can’t be saved, for Jesus surely can save anyone; the bible is quite clear on that.

    Universalism is wrong when it makes the claim that everyone will be saved (though that would be wonderful!)

    The truth is somewhere between the two extremes. Frankly I think it’s far easier to have a healthy view of salvation as an Arminian than a Calvinist, so if you have to choose between the two then I’d stick with the former. I’ve also never been abused by an Arminian church.

  145. hoodaticus wrote:

    roebuck, I don’t see how God perfectly foreseeing every event that would ever occur as a consequence of His creating the universe, and then choosing to create the universe anyway, could be anything but predestination.

    I also don’t see how this could possibly contradict free will. Free will means I make my own choices. Whether someone else could predict my choice so perfectly that I had no possibility of deviating from it hardly changes the fact that I’m the one doing the choosing.

    You are very confused between forseeing and determining. Meditate on that for a while.

    In any case, God is NOT ‘someone else’. He is God, and who knows how it looks from eternity. Why do you think God created humankind?

  146. @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:

    Calvinists are also concerned with the Arminian notion that God can love you and send you to hell at the same time. If God loves you so much that He died for you and you end up in hell anyway, then neither His love nor His sacrifice seem to be worth squat.

  147. @ roebuck:

    Roebuck, respectfully, I am not confused, and I have mediated on this now for decades. I refuse to see a distinction between two human concepts of predestination and prescience when the effect of both is the same. Ad hominem is not a counterargument. To convince me that predestination and perfect foresight are not the same thing I will need to see how they would play out differently, since I cannot find any difference between the two concepts in how they would affect anything at all. If there is no discernible difference then I submit they are the same thing.

  148. hoodaticus wrote:

    I refuse to see a distinction between two human concepts of predestination and prescience when the effect of both is the same.

    OK.

    I did not employ ad hominem, btw. I think you’re wrong, you think I’m wrong – that’s all.

  149. Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

  150. roebuck wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    I refuse to see a distinction between two human concepts of predestination and prescience when the effect of both is the same.
    OK.
    I did not employ ad hominem, btw. I think you’re wrong, you think I’m wrong – that’s all.

    The reason I say your reply was ad hominem was because the only counterargument you offered was a claim of my own confusion.

  151. @ ishy:

    “In the words of the very first YRR I ever knew, “God meant for me to know everything about Him!”

    …So being “Elect” also means getting all the knows and the stuff and the things and then you can just pretend that everyone else is unregenerate, dumb, left out, and going to hell).
    And they are quite proud of that. It takes a special person to be unashamed about being fine with everyone else is going to hell.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    blimey… how’d you survive having to associate with such obnoxious brats?

  152. hoodaticus wrote:

    Universalism is wrong when it makes the claim that everyone will be saved (though that would be wonderful!)

    That’s what I used to think. Unexpectedly, I found that Universalism has been a hope of Christians for a very long time. Some very influential and “orthodox” church fathers hoped for it. In fact, how can anyone who claims to be a Christian not hope the for the salvation of all. Will God ultimately save all? I don’t think any of us can say for sure. But I would not be too quick to condemn universalism. There might be some truth in it.

  153. roebuck wrote:

    @ hoodaticus:
    If I see someone jump off a cliff, I know they will go splat at the bottom. That does not mean I pushed them off the cliff.

    But at that point in time free will no longer enters into it. All the choices have already been made. So that example illuminates nothing about free will.

  154. hoodaticus wrote:

    No, the reason someone who believes in limited atonement would evangelize is because she has been invited to be part of the means of God’s salvation of another soul and to have the unimaginable honor of joining Him in His work.

    While at the same time lying to the non-elect. The good news is bad news to the non-elect. Whenever the good news starts sounding like bad news, it’s time to ask some hard questions.

  155. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    Universalism is wrong when it makes the claim that everyone will be saved (though that would be wonderful!)
    That’s what I used to think. Unexpectedly, I found that Universalism has been a hope of Christians for a very long time. Some very influential and “orthodox” church fathers hoped for it. In fact, how can anyone who claims to be a Christian not hope the for the salvation of all. Will God ultimately save all? I don’t think any of us can say for sure. But I would not be too quick to condemn universalism. There might be some truth in it.

    We can only hope! So the real error is not in universalism, but in using universalism to counter other doctrines, such as repentance. Thank you for the correction.

  156. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    No, the reason someone who believes in limited atonement would evangelize is because she has been invited to be part of the means of God’s salvation of another soul and to have the unimaginable honor of joining Him in His work.
    While at the same time lying to the non-elect. The good news is bad news to the non-elect. Whenever the good news starts sounding like bad news, it’s time to ask some hard questions.

    I’m confused as to who is lying. God when He said anyone who believes will be saved, or the Calvinist who repeats it?

  157. @ hoodaticus:

    If I see someone jump off a cliff, I know they will go splat at the bottom. That does not mean I pushed them off the cliff.hoodaticus wrote:

    roebuck wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    I refuse to see a distinction between two human concepts of predestination and prescience when the effect of both is the same.
    OK.
    I did not employ ad hominem, btw. I think you’re wrong, you think I’m wrong – that’s all.

    The reason I say your reply was ad hominem was because the only counterargument you offered was a claim of my own confusion.

    That is not ‘ad hominem’ logic. Ad hominem would be if I said “hoodaticus cheated on his wife, therefore anything he says is wrong”.

  158. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Will God ultimately save all? I don’t think any of us can say for sure. But I would not be too quick to condemn universalism. There might be some truth in it.

    Agree!

  159. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:

    elastigirl wrote:
    “getting back to algebra, seems to me the constants are that God is good, God is just, and God is love. why is that not enough?”

    muslin wrote: “Because humans have to define who is in the IN group and who is in the OUT group. Once the OUT group is defined, then rules and regulations can be put in place so that the IN group can lord it over them.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    immature humans, i suppose.

    does religion foster such things? i tend to think the Abrahamic religions do.

    very disappointing.

  160. elastigirl wrote:

    does religion foster such things? i tend to think the Abrahamic religions do.
    very disappointing.

    If you think Abrahamic religions foster the existence out groups, you should try Hinduism sometime.

  161. 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

    If God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and not counting people’s sins against them, it would seem that “hell” could not be eternal punishment.

  162. hoodaticus wrote:

    As someone who considers himself both Calvinist and Arminian at the same time, here is what I believe about limited atonement:

    1. If Jesus died for you, then you are saved. That is because His death paid for your sin. It would be unjust for God to exact a penalty twice for the same offense.

    I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian, so I think we pretty much end up with similar conclusions at the end. But I do challenge the assumption that salvation is about being saved from a penalty. The Bible does not describe our salvation as having a penalty paid for us. Think in terms of taking your kids on a hike in the mountains. You tell them to never leave the trail, not to wander past any guardrails, and everything else you can think of to keep them safe while enjoying the beauty of the mountains. If one of them disobeys, crosses a guardrail, and falls over the side, I don’t think your first response would be getting into a hot rage for how your honor and glory were violated. Nor do I think you would be focusing on anyone paying any penalties for your child’s disobedience. Nor would you be tempted to walk away and let your child suffer the due consequences of disobedience. No, I think you would pull every resource at your disposal to effect a rescue. This is the type of language the Bible uses to describe our salvation. It’s not about balancing legal books, it’s about saving lives. Just my two cents.

  163. I John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

  164. hoodaticus wrote:

    I’m confused as to who is lying. God when He said anyone who believes will be saved, or the Calvinist who repeats it?

    It appears to me that it would be the Calvinists. If they believe in limited atonement, they cannot honestly tell everyone that the invitation is for all. To be honest, they would have to say that God only saves some, that there is nothing anyone can do to change God’s mind, and therefore the invitation does not really apply to all.

  165. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):

    “That’s what I used to think. Unexpectedly, I found that Universalism has been a hope of Christians for a very long time. Some very influential and “orthodox” church fathers hoped for it. In fact, how can anyone who claims to be a Christian not hope the for the salvation of all. Will God ultimately save all? I don’t think any of us can say for sure. But I would not be too quick to condemn universalism. There might be some truth in it.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    such a refreshing comment! makes me want to run down a grassy hill and go fly a kite.

  166. Bottom line: if your conception of Calvinism is such that free will does not exist then you definitely should not believe in your conception of Calvinism because then God is the only sinner in the universe, which is unthinkable evil. Arminianism would be healthier for you.

    Same goes with Arminianism: if your conception of Arminianism is that God can send someone He loves and died for to Hell, then your conception of Arminianism is evil because that surely isn’t love. Calvinism would be healthier for you.

    And if both of these are a problem then perhaps a third way is called for, or just the simple trust and faith and love for Jesus and each other which is all that we need anyway.

  167. What if God was loving enough to desire to reconcile all people to himself, and powerful enough to do it someway, someday?

    What if we Christians had that view of God? Would we think feel and act more positively or negatively toward others? What results do the Calvinist and Arminian views have on our attitudes and actions?

  168. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    To be honest, they would have to say that God only saves some

    Arminians also say that God only saves some. In fact, they completely agree with Calvinist on who those people: the believers.

    I don’t see how one can be a liar and not the other.

  169. Kathy C wrote:

    What if God was loving enough to desire to reconcile all people to himself, and powerful enough to do it someway, someday?
    What if we Christians had that view of God? Would we think feel and act more positively or negatively toward others? What results do the Calvinist and Arminian views have on our attitudes and actions?

    This is exactly why I say Arminianism is better than Calvinism if you have to choose between the two, because it tends to be more enthusiastic with evangelism. Arminianism can have disturbing intellectual consequences though if you think about it too hard (and most people never do, which is good!), and the answer to that is Calvinism.

    I truly believe both positions are so fully supported in the Bible because they are both true at the same time.

  170. hoodaticus wrote:

    I don’t see how one can be a liar and not the other.

    That’s one of many reasons why I am neither. Right now Eastern Orthodox theology is making the most sense to me. It makes me an odd fit in my SBC church.

  171. @ hoodaticus:

    i know the hindu people i’ve known are the loveliest and most gracious, and ganesh has to be the weirdest-looking god ever (amongst thousands, millions, I understand).

    how does hinduism foster in groups & out groups? the sheer number of gods & goddesses?

  172. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    I don’t see how one can be a liar and not the other.
    That’s one of many reasons why I am neither. Right now Eastern Orthodox theology is making the most sense to me. It makes me an odd fit in my SBC church.

    I’m leaning that way too and was raised SBC!

  173. elastigirl wrote:

    @ hoodaticus:
    i vote for this 3rd way.
    i imagine there’s no money in it, though.

    So many dangerous women here, thinking for yourselves! No wonder you’re so reviled by those promoting a snowflake masculinity codenamed complementarianism xD

  174. elastigirl wrote:

    i know the hindu people i’ve known are the loveliest and most gracious, and ganesh has to be the weirdest-looking god ever (amongst thousands, millions, I understand).
    how does hinduism foster in groups & out groups? the sheer number of gods & goddesses?

    They have an enormous population of people in a caste called the Untouchables that they can never leave that category in this life. There is no equivalent in mainstream Abrahamic religions (though Acts 29 appears to have a priest caste that can do no wrong).

  175. @ hoodaticus:

    Hoodaticus

    You are a brave soul and you have a great username. I hope the following clarifies my stance.

    I don’t know what I believe any more, but I always picture Gabe Kaplan from “Welcome Back Kotter” when I hear the name Calvin, although I’m sure that wasn’t his first name. I picture Calvinism being spread by Gabe Kaplan dressed as a viking carrying an artist’s palette as my grasp of period dress is a little off. Then I imagine a theology called “Barbarinoism” which leads to Scientology via “Grease” and “Electric Cowboy”. When I think f Scientology it brings me back to …..

  176. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    That’s one of many reasons why I am neither. Right now Eastern Orthodox theology is making the most sense to me. It makes me an odd fit in my SBC church.

    It is quite Orthodoxical.

  177. Have to think that if the Lord had meant for us to understand Christ’s death as providing limited atonement in the specific sense that five point Calvinists and people like Deyoung describe it, He could very well have inspired the word “eklektos” rather than “kosmos” (the world) in that verse you reference. I once pointed this out to a very arrogant young man who was attending SBTS and he said “Uh, but you see, there’s this parallel verse and uh…” I told him “The only reason you think there’s some kind of parallel verse is because someone told you that, ‘kosmos’ pretty clearly means ‘the world’.” No answer from him, he changed the subject.

    Not saying I understand all this, doubt it’s possible to comprehend all in all, just one of those things about the nature of God that probably transcends human understanding and for which language fails us in fully describing. But of course, what sort of puny God do these men believe in, Who can be wrapped up into a tidy mnemonic? I know that Jesus is Lord, I know the Bible is true, I know He died for our sins, but trying to know him altogether–these young guys are chasing their tails and stroking their egos, sometimes makes me wonder hat they worship: A set of doctrines and creeds and the strutting men who teach them or the Lord of the Universe?

  178. @ hoodaticus:
    What is the end game and root of Calvinism? What is the Why?

    What is the end game and root of Arminianism? What is the Why?

    For the 3rd way you mention, the Why and What seem to be restored fellowship with God and fellow person under the guidance of God, offered as a choice within the framework of free will; which goes right back to where the trouble began, in the Garden, and before that, where human beings began, created in the image of God for fellowship.

    a third way is called for, or just the simple trust and faith and love for Jesus and each other

  179. Law Prof wrote:

    He could very well have inspired the word “eklektos” rather than “kosmos” (the world) in that verse you reference.

    I have absolutely no capacity in comparative ancient Greek to test my hypothesis one way or the other, but I have assumed that God loved the whole world He made but for whatever reason has chosen to save a specific part of it (which admittedly could be all of it). That specific part though is not a point of contention among Christendom, really, since it’s generally accepted that it consists of that subset of humanity that believes in Jesus.

    However, since no one knows the number of people who will go to heaven it’s impossible to say that it does not in fact include everyone.

  180. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    It appears to me that it would be the Calvinists. If they believe in limited atonement, they cannot honestly tell everyone that the invitation is for all. To be honest, they would have to say that God only saves some, that there is nothing anyone can do to change God’s mind, and therefore the invitation does not really apply to all.

    I agree. This is one of my main problems with Calvinism. If God tells us to preach the gospel to all creation and God desires that all men should be saved (1 Timothy 2:4, John 3:16 etc) then he must sincerely desire that. If, on the other hand, he tells us to preach the gospel to someone when God has no actual intention of saving them, it is an offer given in bad faith.

    I had this discussion with my former Calvinist (Gospel Coalition) pastor and asked him how he squared his view with the fact that God is faithful to his word. He said something like “I admit I don’t know but God is sovereign and can do as he pleases”. The pastor effectively used God’s SOVEREIGNTY to cancel his FAITHFULNESS, his JUSTICE, his LOVE and his other attributes. W

  181. Root 66 wrote:

    I find it extremely disturbing that in DeYoung’s excerpt, he mentions the Canons of Dort, Ursinus and the Heidelburg Catechism–yet doesn’t cite a passage of Scripture to support the principle of Limited Atonement. Were this such a great “biblical” truth, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he would quote Bible verses to support it instead of the teachings of men?

    This does not surprise me. I found the same thing in John MacArthur’s defence of various Calvinist teachings. They rely on the traditions of men rather than the word of God!

  182. This is the first time I have commented here but have been reading for a few years. Calvinism has weighed on me on and off for many years and I would even say caused me to be in a state of depression for a period of time. I try to avoid dwelling on the subject because I don’t want to be “back there” again. During a difficult time in my life, one morning before church, I asked God to show me that day something that I needed, and He did. The following verse, for me, settled the issue of limited atonement. (I know this was brought out in one of the videos above, but this verse has helped me so much, I wanted to emphasize it again)

    (1 Peter 2:1)
    But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord WHO BOUGHT THEM – bringing swift destruction on themselves.

    These false prophets and false teachers are obviously not believers, and it is not even remotely implied that they ever will be, but it says that the Lord bought (even) them.

  183. Dan wrote:

    he Bible is full of paradox, also known as mystery. People who see the world in black and white cannot live with paradox and a have need to resolve it. So, they do away with the mysterey by making either/or statments that demand a yes or no response. Such an approach to scripture answers all the questions that need to be answered and locks God safley in a box (for which they and they alone hold the keys). Such a rgid view of God and scripture leaves no room for mystery.Thus, they become more sovereign than God. The result is that people who disagree with them are labeled lost heretics and consigned to Hell. There unwillingness to live with mystery is ironical because God is a God of mystery whose ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. (See Job 38, 39)
    When one of my new testamant professors at Southern Seminary (back in the day when theological differences were still tolerated) was asked if he believed in election or free-will, his response was, “Yes.” Bottom line, both are supported in the biblical text and we dismiss the mystery of the paradox at our own peril.

    I am cautious about blindly pleading “mystery” when we don’t know the answer, but sometimes we have to admit that there are theological complexities. We must study God’s word to see what it actually says and what the original words mean in context.

    Some Calvinists just tell me it is a mystery. If we blindly accept “mystery” it sets a precedent in reasoning. I can just use this any time I want and if a Calvinist points out a contradiction in beliefs I can just say this back to them. For example, one Calvinist pointed out that the Koran had contradictory creation accounts as an argument AGAINST it. But a Muslim could just use his line of reasoning and say “it’s not a contradiction, it’s a mystery that our finite minds cannot resolve”. If Calvinists plead “mystery” to cover his own contradictions then they must allow the same to their opponents.

  184. This quote from Kevin DeYoung at the top is a false dichotomy. Kevin DeYoung overlooks the fact that FAITH is required as a response to God’s gift. The implication of DeYoung’s argument is that the elect already have salvation even if they do not currently believe. John 3:16 should be re-written: “For God so loved the elect that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever he died for should believe on him at some point in their lives!”

    “If the atonement is not particularly and only for the sheep, then either we have universalism-Christ died in everyone’s place and therefore everyone is saved-or we have something less than full substitution.”

    I will quote from none other than John Calvin himself to refute him. From Calvin’s commentary on Romans 5:18:

    ““As by the offense of one we were made (constitute) sinners; so the righteousness of Christ is efficacious to justify us. He does not say the righteousness — δικαιοσύνην, but the justification — δικαίωμα, 173 of Christ, in order to remind us that he was not as an individual just for himself, but that the righteousness with which he was endued reached farther, in order that, by conferring this gift, he might enrich the faithful. He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.”

  185. Darlene wrote:

    Just don’t let Roger Bombast be the one to beat you to it. I don’t much care for that man’s abrupt and discourteous disposition.

    Bah. That’s because you’re rubbish.

    In fact you’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,
    Roger Bombast

  186. Darlene wrote:

    Well Mr. Bulbeck, not having read all the comments yet, I’m waiting on pins and needles to discover your answer.

    Hmm… Roger Bombast was up early this morning.

    Anyway, my answer isn’t all that earth-shattering. If I understand Okrapod’s comment aright, both our answers are similar, in that people don’t want a God who suffers because the idea is just too complex and unsettling. It’s always been the case – people rejected Jesus because he didn’t fit their idea of what a Messiah should be, and the Jews of first-century Judea were people exactly like us.

    It’s been noted here, and elsewhere, often before that a lot of western ideas of what God ought to be come from ancient Greek philosophy, and especially that of Plato. Inevitably, that results in a man-made God – which is to say, an idol. If I were designing God, what would he/she/it be like? In fact, God isn’t like we assume he is, and not always in a way which appears “better” to our finite vision. It’s easier to worship am idealised character in a novel we’ve written.

  187. Darlene wrote:

    Oh no, no, no, no, no! You must understand that the church went off the rails immediately after the last apostle died. AND…….it took Calvin to make it all right again.

    Quite so. God’s biggest mistake was removing his own Person from the church and replacing himself with a slightly extended version of the written code that didn’t work the first time. He thought all we needed was a few extra rules. He’s obviously a slow learner. Though perhaps he’s not slow as some count slowness… who knows.

  188. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    That’s what I used to think. Unexpectedly, I found that Universalism has been a hope of Christians for a very long time. Some very influential and “orthodox” church fathers hoped for it.

    This is a really good point (and I agree with Hoodaticus that it “would be wonderful” !). A part of the false antithesis in the featured article above is that – and I’m rather crudely paraphrasing here – we have to have TULIP because the alternative is universalism. Now, if universalism is fundamentally false but people trust it – I don’t care about making every effort to enter through the narrow gate because God wouldn’t send me to hell anyway – then it’s dangerous and we should oppose it. But every time we oppose universalism, I think we need to remind ourselves that – if the bible accurately reflects God’s thinking – God himself wants to be a universalist.

  189. Anyway, that’s five comments in a row now – albeit partly because of time zones – so I’ll stop.

  190. Dont know if this fits too well but this is one of my favorite twilight zone episodes

    The Obsolete Man.

    Its online but I did not post the link due to potential copy write issues.

  191. There are more things than just Calvinism and Arminianism.

    I was born and raised in a semi-calvinist group called the southern baptists-long ago. They had their own applications of things influenced by calvinism. When as a pre-teen I wanted to make a public profession of faith and be baptized my parents objected, the idea being that one had to be able to say how one knew that, I supposed at the time, God wanted them. This was most obvious in one favorite invitational song which said ‘pass me not oh gentle savior, hear my humble cry, while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by’. The message being that you might get ‘passed by’.

    Years later I raised my children free will baptist. In application I found more differences than merely ideas about free will as related to salvation.

    Somewhere along the line I ran across the idea that salvation is both ‘done’ and also ‘doing’. ‘Done’ in the sense that the perfect sacrifice has been offered as propitiation and there is nothing lacking in the sufficiency of that sacrifice. ‘Doing’ in that salvation is not limited to a legal pardon from the just condemnation for human rebellion against God (sin) but is also about being saved from continuing in sins, and that the consummation of salvation is being saved eventually from the presence of sin including any personal tendency to sin making one able to exist in the presence of and utterly holy God himself eternally.

    Only years later did I realize that this idea is the conflation of the concepts of justification and sanctification as basically two aspects of the same thing which can be called salvation. Thus, I think that salvation is all three: done, doing and will be done.

    And I am long since ‘done’ with being either calvinist or arminian, though some ideas from many sources actually overlap in most theologies.

  192. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Anyway, my answer isn’t all that earth-shattering. If I understand Okrapod’s comment aright, both our answers are similar, in that people don’t want a God who suffers because the idea is just too complex and unsettling. It’s always been the case – people rejected Jesus because he didn’t fit their idea of what a Messiah should be, and the Jews of first-century Judea were people exactly like us.

    Yes. Unsettling. I think that part of what is unsettling about it can be seen in Jesus’ descriptions of what one might expect if one follows Him, and that looks like God does not shy from leading us also into suffering. Take up you cross. Detach from your family if necessary. You will have tribulation. They will hate you because they hate me. Something about even hating one’s own life also..He spared no words and make no empty promises.

    So, when God did not spare Himself suffering, and did not promise to spare us suffering, that sort of thing is rather unsettling on steroids.

  193. I see problems with John 3:16. No, seriously I really do.

    First is what does the word ‘world’ mean, and does it mean the totality of all creation in which we have a problem in that did Jesus die for jaguars and oak trees. There is that in scripture that mentions the redemption of all creation, but of course neither jaguars nor oak trees ‘believe’ in the usual biblical sense. That is a complex issue and I am not going there-just mentioned that in passing.

    What ever ‘world’ means, there is the question of ‘that’ and ‘that’. It looks like ‘that’ in this verse is linked to intent and purpose. God loved whatever world means ‘and the intention arising from that resulted in’ he sent his son. The second ‘that’ is problematic. ‘That whoever believes’ implies the possibility/ expectation that ‘whoever’ would believe. But ‘whoever’, however, is an inclusive term, or it can be, but ‘believes’ is a limiting term since it is clear in the rest of scripture that not everyone believes and Jesus did not expect that everyone would believe.

    Does 3:16 say that God loved everybody and thus he sent his Son that some would be will be saved?

    It seems to be the reality some two thousand years later that God did love, did send, and some are saved. But was that the totality of the original intent of God?

    It depends on how you read 3:16. I think that we see what we look for, and we look for not only what we know to look for but also what we want to see, and thus people end up seeing things differently.

    I have not ruled out the possibility that just as the choosing of Israel was a step in the process of God’s dealings with humanity perhaps also the salvation of some who believe is a step toward yet more plans that God has for the redemption of ‘the world-all of creation’ and the restoration of all things. Such that only that which is ultimately irredeemable, and that would be those who have every opportunity and knowledge and freedom to choose God but deliberately refuse to do so would be allowed to choose eternal separation from God, which those who choose God would consider hellish but which those who ultimately continue to defy God would consider a welcome relief from God himself. And yes I got part of that speculation from Lewis.

    Speculation is not something on which to build theology. But for those who do research in the sciences and who push back the unknown (aka the mysteries) then speculation has its uses but must submit to evidence when evidence becomes available.

  194. [[Off topic, but relevant about Kevin DeYoung]]

    I think it’s strange that Kevin DeYoung’s book _Crazy Busy_, which was published in 2013, won the 2014 Christian Book of the Year Award even though it didn’t win in its category. Apparently the publisher, Crossway, claimed it had high sales. The problem is that you see no evidence of a groundswell of demand. It wasn’t a fantastic seller on Amazon, in Christian bookstores, or anywhere else. It never made even one of the monthly best-seller lists on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association website.

    To top it off, Crossway contradicts this claim themselves. According to the Crossway publicist three years after the book’s release, in Oct 2016, the book had just crossed the 100,000 unit mark. That’s nothing special.

    So why did this boring book where DeYoung humble-brags about how busy his life is win? To give you a feel of the tone of the book, here’s a bit from the website:

    Who better to write on busyness than a best-selling author, full-time senior pastor, circuit conference speaker, active board member, loving husband, and dedicated father of five?! It’s no wonder Kevin DeYoung knows how to break the “busyness as usual” mindset—he’s had years of experience being way too busy! — From the book’s website

    So how did this unimportant book win the prestigious Christian Book of the Year award?

  195. This is a very interesting article by R.T. Kendall who discusses what he Lloyd-Jones and even Calvin believed about Limited Atonement- you my be surprised by the conclusions he comes to.

    Calvin and Calvinism

    (For those who covet what I perceive to be a sound theology!)

    Those who have followed my ministry for very long will likely know three things about me: (1) I am a Calvinist, (2) my coming to this way of thinking immediately followed my baptism of the Holy Spirit on 31st October 1955 – an event to which I have referred countless times and (3) I do not make an issue of this when I preach. These things said, I have recently felt an urge to write about such lately in some tweets in which I have spoken against the traditional reformed teaching of limited atonement. I have also mentioned that my mentor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was very uneasy with this teaching and admitted to me, “I only preached it once – when dealing with Romans 5:18 – and I remember being in great difficulty then”.

    Why is this important? First, for one’s own assurance of salvation. If Jesus died only for the elect, no person alive can honestly say, “Jesus died for me”. There is simply no way a person can know infallibly that Christ died for him or her if Jesus died for a limited number of people but not all. Those who “conclude” that Jesus died for them because of they see the fruit of sanctification in their lives are the most presumptuous of all! They are basing the assurance of their salvation on their good works – a horrible thing to do, said John Calvin. The truth is, the only way anybody can assuredly say, “Jesus died for me” is if Jesus died for every single person, as taught by verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Hebrews 2:9.

    Second, for evangelism. If Jesus died only for the elect, no evangelist can say to people, “Jesus died for you”. The evangelist can merely say, “Christ died for sinners” – but never “you”. The only way a person can be transparently honest and say, “Jesus died for you” is if Christ died indiscriminately (Calvin’s word) for all men and women.

    Third, that people might know John Calvin’s own teaching on this matter. If you ask, “Who cares?”, I would answer: there are a lot of people who would be more attracted to the doctrines of grace if they knew they did not have to embrace limited atonement in the package. It is a pity that limited atonement was ever conceived when the plain, natural, unbiased, unprejudiced and obvious reading of the New Testament is that Jesus died for everyone. Those who reply that Jesus died only for the “church” or for the “sheep” would never have thought to argue this were it not for a need to be defensive for the teaching of limited atonement.

    What my experience of 31st October 1955 showed me that very same day was that it was a work of the Spirit. This means that what happened to me cannot be worked up or hastened by the flesh. That – to me – also meant predestination and election. Perhaps you would not come to that conclusion, but I did, even though I had not read a single word of any Calvinist in my whole life (being brought up a Nazarene). This led to my reading Romans 9:11-18 without being defensive but just accepting those exceedingly plain words. And yet there was no hint of limited atonement in these verses – only God’s sovereign choice of Jacob and His elect people.

    When I discovered for myself that John Calvin did not believe in limited atonement I was both thrilled and sobered. It was a thoughtful process – a story in itself – that led to my being convinced that Calvin really believed this. And yet when Dr. Lloyd-Jones read my Oxford DPhil thesis he chided me for not quoting Calvin more than I did. I remember it as though it were yesterday. He phoned me on a Monday morning. “I was not able to preach this weekend so, having read your thesis, you got me to reading Calvin. I have discovered many statements of Calvin that you did not use”. He started in with one statement after another. I replied, “I know about those”. “But why didn’t you use them?” “It is because the Oxford rules limited me to a maximum of 100,000 words and I had to leave them out”. “This is a pity. You can prove your case to the hilt”, he said. Then he proceeded to quote more, either from Calvin’s Institutes or his commentaries.

    Many of my quotations from Calvin in my Oxford thesis are in the footnotes. I knew that my examiners would read the footnotes as carefully as they read the main text and these examiners are the ones who awarded me my doctorate. But most people don’t read the footnotes. I also wish I had somehow been able to put more of Calvin’s many statements in my thesis, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones discovered. My only regret now is that I did not put all of Calvin’s statements in the main text. But I have never been so clear about anything in my life as I am about Calvin’s view of the atonement of Christ – and, for that matter, the Apostle Paul’s view!*

    *For those who want to read further see my Calvin and English Calvinism to 1648 (Oxford University Press, since republished by Pater Noster). Now out of print. We have a limited number available.

    Here are my recent tweets again in case you missed any…

    RT Kendall

    Limited atonement is the theory that Jesus died on the cross for the elect alone – not everybody.

    The five points of Calvinism are easily understood by TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, and Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints.

    When I say I am a four and a half point Calvinist people think it is a joke. It is not a joke; I don’t accept limited atonement.

    I got my teaching on the atonement from John Calvin himself – not from the Synod of Dort (origin of TULIP).

    Calvin taught that Jesus died indiscriminately for all people.

    Calvin taught that although Jesus died for all people, He made intercession for the elect only. That is four and a half point Calvinism.
    TULIP Calvinists cannot say Jesus died for you or even Jesus died for me; they can only say Jesus died for sinners.

    I can say Jesus died for me, Jesus died for you. Why important? It makes a complete difference in evangelism and one’s personal assurance of salvation.

    Dr. Lloyd-Jones told me how he struggled having to defend limited atonement.
    “I only did it once – my exposition of Romans 5:18; I was in real difficulty.”

    Mrs. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said to me, łI have never believed in limited atonement and never will. The Doctor sat there and smiled.

    The limited atonement people make a big deal of Jesus dying for many (Isa.53:12; Rom.5:19): the many being the elect but not all. Calvin: many means all.

  196. hoodaticus wrote:

    This is exactly why I say Arminianism is better than Calvinism if you have to choose between the two, because it tends to be more enthusiastic with evangelism. Arminianism can have disturbing intellectual consequences though if you think about it too hard (and most people never do, which is good!), and the answer to that is Calvinism.
    I truly believe both positions are so fully supported in the Bible because they are both true at the same time.

    This is a problem I have with this argument–there are more than two positions. To make it either/or is false. Nobody has to be one or the other. You can be right in-between or a little bit one or the other, but that doesn’t make you one or the other. There are even positions that make take pieces of Calvinism or Arminianism, but are mostly outside the pendulum of those two points to be equal positions in their own right. For example, Baptist “Once Saved, Always Saved” or a number of the social justice theologies or thomism or molinism on congruism. You can even ignore the whole thing altogether and just let God be in charge of it.

    And I believe both extremes have the same “disturbing intellectual consequences” in that as many are showing here in this thread–hypercalvinists have to explain away a lot of the Bible to make their point, from the verses about God’s love to the “all” verses to the verses on love and missions. And hyperarminianists end up in universalism. That kind of argument is nearly always true of extremes no matter what position you take and really is a poor argument for anything.

  197. @ ANDREW KENNY:

    Jesus died for only the few, and only the few are saved.

    Jesus died for all, but only the few are saved.

    With all due respect to the use of conjunctions, how is that any different in practical application?

    It seems to me that TULIP survives or perishes as a totality and not in bits and pieces. Regardless of the extent of the atonement if irresistible grace is not dispensed to the many but only to the few, then what does it matter for whom Christ died?

  198. @ ANDREW KENNY:

    Thanks for your interesting comment. I was doing some research on John Calvin recently, and I was shocked to discover that Calvin would not be a Five Point Calvinist (TULIP was contrived after he died).

  199. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    What my experience of 31st October 1955 showed me that very same day was that it was a work of the Spirit. This means that what happened to me cannot be worked up or hastened by the flesh. That – to me – also meant predestination and election.

    Well, having some interest in this issue, I have noted a few things. Wesley added ‘experience’ to make his quadrilateral go beyond Hooker’s three legged stool. And Hooker sought a position which neither made a separate god figure of scripture nor limited theology to magisterial tradition. Then there are also the positions of those of course who emphasize either sola scriptura or ‘the church says’ as foundations of belief.

    It is not my intent to discuss all that, but those are the reflectors along the roadside of my personal journey. Along that road, then, the issue of ‘experience’ as experienced by both Wesley and by the man you quote has to be considered. I too have had experience with the unexplainable, so I have researched it to my own satisfaction, which does not say much about whether or not I am correct.

    Some findings.

    The unexplainable also happens to non-christians.

    Spiritual experiences carry with them their own believability, whether or not they are ‘real’ in any other sense.

    Personal experience with God the Spirit does happen to people.

    One must be cautious lest one go too far in making theological conclusions derived from personal experiences. By that I mean not too far beyond the understandings which stand the test of scripture, reason and tradition at the most as sources for a broader understanding than just I, me and myself and what I think and/or have experienced.

    Apparently your source knew that and was cautious, but I say it here because many voices are out there who are not cautious.

  200. ANDREW KENNY wrote:

    Those who have followed my ministry for very long will likely know three things about me: (1) I am a Calvinist, (2) my coming to this way of thinking immediately followed my baptism of the Holy Spirit on 31st October 1955

    Interesting! My immediate thought was – that was on the anniversary of Luther's nailing the 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. The 438th anniversary to be exact. 😉

  201. scott hendrixson wrote:

    Doesn’t a 500 word self-validating essay seem a little indulgent when the vast majority of people are going to hell and can do nothing about it. You can’t truly love people like Jesus did and write this stuff for public consumption. It’s a sad detached perspective from which to minister to the elect.

    Sadly, I don’t believe the target audience is the “vast majority of people who are going to hell and can do nothing about it”. It would seem that the main purpose of this article is to clarify his bona fides prior to taking over as pastor CCC and becoming a FT adjunct professor at RTS.

  202. @ Deb:
    I wouldn’t give Calvin too much of a break. The church has wrestled with his philosophy for over 500 years, failing to reach common agreement on his teachings. His followers still proudly declare “I am of Calvin”, twisting and confusing the Scriptures as a lost world dies in darkness.

  203. Max wrote:

    @ Deb:
    I wouldn’t give Calvin too much of a break. The church has wrestled with his philosophy for over 500 years, failing to reach common agreement on his teachings. His followers still proudly declare “I am of Calvin”, twisting and confusing the Scriptures as a lost world dies in darkness.

    My thoughts at this moment as well. Why must what Calvin thought/taught be the be all and end all?
    Being a 3, 4, 4.5, 5 point Calvinist convinces me of nothing, except devotion to Calvin.

  204. John Piper is a 7-Point Calvinist! Yep, the Pope of New Calvinism has to have more points than anybody else, you know. So he has added a couple more petals to his personal TULIP:

    (6) Double Predestination. “Just as God chooses whom He will save without regard to any distinctives in the person, so also he decides whom He will not save without regard to any distinctives in the individual.”

    (7) Best-Of-All-Possible Worlds. “God governs the course of history so that, in the long run, His glory will be more fully displayed and His people more fully satisfied than would have been the case in any other world.”

    You can read all about it at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-piper-mean-when-he-says-hes-a-seven-point-calvinist

    I keep telling you folks that Hyper-Calvinism drives folks crazy after a while. Consider the above.

    Just:

    Tell me the story of Jesus,
    Write on my heart every Word;
    Tell me the story most precious,
    Sweetest that ever was heard.

  205. Deb
    Sounds like Mom and Dad De Young are perceived as *angry* by their kids. Par for the course for the Calvinists crowd. They all sound a but angry to me.

    Looking forward to writing my post on the John Piper and the dangers of ta tas today. They need to learn to laugh more.

  206. brian wrote:

    Dont know if this fits too well but this is one of my favorite twilight zone episodes
    The Obsolete Man.

    Loved that episode. One of my favorite along with “To Serve Mankind.”

  207. @ Dorothy:
    Thank you for your comment. We have heard from a number of people who said that the doctrines inherent in Calvinism led to depression for them. I can see what it would do so.

  208. Mae wrote:

    Being a 3, 4, 4.5, 5 point Calvinist convinces me of nothing, except devotion to Calvin.

    Mae, sounds like you’ve got this far without Calvin and you don’t need him now!

    I’ve got a feeling you “know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie.” (1 John 2:27)

    Yep, you don’t need Calvin or his followers to substitute for the Holy Spirit (that’s why they don’t talk much about the Spirit). Devotion to Christ is far better than devotion to Calvin.

  209. @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:
    Fascinating-we love to find rules to say that *so and so* won’t get into heaven. They usually revolve around our own biases: who you shouldn’t ave voted for, if you listen to the music of Vicki Beeching, if you don’t believe in a Young Earth, etc

    That is why I leave it in the hands of a very unbiased and most merciful God. I have enough to worry about in my own life and am grateful that God has not appointed me judge and jury on who gets into heaven.

  210. dee wrote:

    We have heard from a number of people who said that the doctrines inherent in Calvinism led to depression for them.

    I’ve known folks who escaped from the snares of Hyper-Calvinism who experienced despair and negativism, and profound feelings of hopelessness. Symptoms of depression of this sort is a form of mental illness, the product of a confused mind. Who is the author of confusion?

    To those who may be struggling with this – who are beat up and confused from extreme Calvinistic indoctrination – get alone with your Bible, read the words in red, and pray for power to overcome. Jesus will help you.

  211. dee wrote:

    Sounds like Mom and Dad De Young are perceived as *angry* by their kids. Par for the course for the Calvinists crowd. They all sound a but angry to me.

    Yep, I noticed that too in the video. That little guy was preaching a sermon – I doubt that Dad was really listening to his heart. After watching that, I just wanted to take him fishing!

  212. @ dee:

    Well, yes, I did know that much. I assume you knew they are not just a fruit, but a berry in particular?

  213. Muff Potter wrote:

    Dew wrote:

    They try to rope Luther in. I’m not a Lutheran but sympathetic and certainly not Missouri Synod but my view is the MS try very hard to stick to original confessional Lutheranism and they are not neo-Calvinists.

    Read Luther’s On the Bondage of the Will and you’ll see that he and Calvin were kissin’ cousins so to speak on the issue of predestination and free will.

    I read that back in the 70s as an undergraduate. To respond to you intelligently I should re-read it. I do remember at the time being bothered and asking a professor who was an “old fashioned Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priest” (and also old to my eyes) if Luther and Calvin agreed. He said in Luther’s work predestination was meant as a “doctrine of comfort”. But it was only a passing conversation years ago. Today these issues mean pretty much nothing to me in how I try to live in the faith.

  214. @ Max:

    Have never read Calvin’s Institutes. Why would I? (just being a lowly sheep, having no knowledge of greek/hebrew) Have read a fair amount of books on Calvinism. ( pro/con ) Most leave me feeling discouraged/depressed.

    What lifts my soul, spirit in dark times, is not reading books, but reading the Gospels. Being reminded of who Jesus was, what he did, his sermons, interactions with people etc. That fills my heart and soul with the comfort of Jesus loving, even me.

    I will never have the intellectual acumen to know how the stars were hung in space, what eternity is, how time fits into eternity, how God fits into time. Too much to humanly understand.

    Yet, I take comfort God sent JEsus, to represent himself to the world. Jesus I understand, Jesus I love. God knows our limitations in understanding almighty God, so he sent Jesus. Such a comfort to rest in.

  215. By old-fashioned Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priest, I mean he said pretty much daily mass (early morning at the local Episcopal Church), held to orthodox doctrines regarding the Incarnation, Resurrection, and the Trinity (As far as my sophomore mind could make out), and believed in the pre-reformation ecumenical councils. It was the basics of what some simply call “historical Christianity.”

  216. Mae wrote:

    Have never read Calvin’s Institutes.

    Nor have I, though I did download them from a website once and import them into Pages to do a word-count.

    Around 600,000, in case anyone was wondering.

    The Bible itself has more, but it took centuries. The new testament has considerably less.

  217. @ Dee
    @ Nick

    Did you all know this about the lowly potato?

    https://www.livescience.com/45838-potato-nutrition.html

    I wrote a paper on the potato in seventh grade at a time when the common idea was that it was just a bunch of starchy filler and not much else and only the poor and needy ate all that much of it. A time when overweight was called chronic potato poising. And a time when some people still believed the tomato to be poisonous, deadly nightshade relative and all that as is the potato.

    We have come a long way about both tomatoes and potatoes. Except for the pronunciations of course.

    Fortunately we still have the potato with us, but the genetics manipulators have about ruined the tomato. Grumble. Snarl. Spit.

  218. okrapod wrote:

    Jesus died for only the few, and only the few are saved/ Jesus died for all, but only the few are saved.

    The Bible teaches that only a few will be saved (ex, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matt 7:13). Thus, the net result is the same, but in the second instance, no one can stand before the Lord and accuse Him of not offering a way of salvation.

    Returning to the previous question of the OP, DeYoung is writing to defend the extra-Biblical idea of particular redemption, which he posits as orthodox theology. In doing so, he is not arguing for or against the exclusive nature inherent in salvation, which is that not all will be saved; rather, he is arguing about the scope and application of that salvation, which is the thought that Jesus died only for those who were/are/will be saved.

    In my opinion, the idea of particular redemption is a theological exercise in ‘rescuing’ God from an apparent, but in reality non-existent, conundrum and thereby preserving His nature as omnipotent and omnibenevolent, the conundrum being that if Jesus died for the sins of the world then why isn’t the whole world saved? Either God isn’t powerful enough to save everyone (thus non-omnipotent) or He does not love the world (thus non-omnibenevolent). If we say that Jesus’s blood is efficacious only for the elect, we avoid such difficulties, unless we are like Driscoll/Westboro Baptist and plainly state that God hates sinners.

    Furthermore, the notion of particular redemption is predicated on there being no such thing as free will (i.e., libertarian free will). Thus the notion of total depravity, which in Reformed parlance means that human will is now in bondage and we humans are no longer moral free agents but are slaves to our evil desires and impulses.

  219. @ Deb:

    yep, the extent of the atonement was not an issue in his day. The Canons of Dordt does address it in response to the The Five Articles of the Remonstrants (Holland, 1610).

  220. @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..
    it is just like do you believe an electron is a particle and a probabilty density ? Yes and Yes… hard core data shows electrons are…. Do I really understand it… no..

  221. drstevej wrote:

    @ Mae:
    Calvin never directly addresses the issue of Limited Atonement in the Institutes. Surprise you?

    If he didn’t come up with it, then who did?
    Some “More Calvinist than Calvin” type a generation or two later?

  222. Burwell wrote:

    The Bible teaches that only a few will be saved (ex, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matt 7:13). Thus, the net result is the same, but in the second instance, no one can stand before the Lord and accuse Him of not offering a way of salvation.

    Yes, which then opens the door for the question as to whether God owes anybody an offer of salvation. I do think I have heard it argued that he does not. If not, then who could accuse God of not doing what he had no necessity to do in the first place? Which brings us back to the attribute of love as it applies to God, which IMO we really don’t understand all that well.

    Is it loving for God to offer salvation to someone when by his foreknowledge he knows the offer will be rejected if that rejection is then only one more nail in the spiritual coffin of the one who rejects the offer?
    It is an old question that used to come up in missions theory. Once one carries the gospel to ‘darkest africa’ are they worse off than if they had never heard the offer of salvation, and if so why the great commission and/or why are they not worse off?

    In this conversation that discussion would be if the ‘non-elect’ are worse off for being non-elect or would they be even worse than worse if the offer of salvation had been real and for them and they had rejected a perfectly good offer.

    Personally I think the offer is real and universal and there are variables which impact individual decision making and God will have to sort it all out, which thankfully he has shown willingness to do when all is said and done.

  223. Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:

    @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..

    AKA Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.

  224. Mae wrote:

    Jesus I understand, Jesus I love. God knows our limitations in understanding almighty God, so he sent Jesus.

    Over the years, I’ve studied Arminianism, Calvinism, and various flavors in between. I’ve cluttered my mind with the teachings and traditions of men and found that they all fall short of imparting spiritual life. Only Jesus can give you life when you long to know Him more and walk in His light.

    As I’ve sorted through the religious debates of men (Calvinism being the most vicious), I found myself reducing my personal theology to “Jesus loves ME, this I know, for the Bible tells ME so” and my eschatology to “When He comes, I go.” In the last chapter of my life, I find myself reading the words in red over and over – they are spirit and they are life. Nothing satisfies like Jesus.

  225. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    As someone who considers himself both Calvinist and Arminian at the same time, here is what I believe about limited atonement:
    1. If Jesus died for you, then you are saved. That is because His death paid for your sin. It would be unjust for God to exact a penalty twice for the same offense.
    I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian, so I think we pretty much end up with similar conclusions at the end. But I do challenge the assumption that salvation is about being saved from a penalty. The Bible does not describe our salvation as having a penalty paid for us. Think in terms of taking your kids on a hike in the mountains. You tell them to never leave the trail, not to wander past any guardrails, and everything else you can think of to keep them safe while enjoying the beauty of the mountains. If one of them disobeys, crosses a guardrail, and falls over the side, I don’t think your first response would be getting into a hot rage for how your honor and glory were violated. Nor do I think you would be focusing on anyone paying any penalties for your child’s disobedience. Nor would you be tempted to walk away and let your child suffer the due consequences of disobedience. No, I think you would pull every resource at your disposal to effect a rescue. This is the type of language the Bible uses to describe our salvation. It’s not about balancing legal books, it’s about saving lives. Just my two cents.

    Yes!

    We are constantly told that we cannot understand God. We are constantly focusing on mystery and ‘Gods decisions’ as in ‘God sends people to hell or God saves’, etc.

    I think a big part of this boils down to the ingrained concept that “man centered” anything is sin. You hear it all the time,’ you think you can save yourself’, blah, blah.

    My view is that God IS human centered. I don’t think God “sends” anyone to paradise or to separation from Him. I believe humans make that choice. Over and over we see provision for Rescue. We even see it in the OT even for non Jews. Jews who were supposed to be His light of the world but failed over and over.

    God is human centered because He chose to manifest Himself as a lowly nobody to walk among other lowly nobodies to show what being the light in the world was like. Then he conquered death which is the consequence of all sin. That is human centered to me. (God is not distant)

    There is no way to take human volition out of the picture as far as I can tell. We spend a lot of time blaming God but little time blaming our own choices.

    Frankly, I don’t think Jesus changed the expectations we see communicated best in Micah 6:8. I do think we cling to the “believe” and have faith part and tend to ignore the repent part. (That is easier to do in Calvinism) After all, little kids on the playground instinctively know what’s not “fair”. Where does that come from? And taking that instinct and applying it to others as justice. Do unto others.,..all the one another’s, etc.

    I believe God is perfect Mercy and Justice but I don’t believe Jesus’ message and subsequent conquering death lets us off any justice hooks before or after we choose to believe. I don’t believe in hell but I do believe in separation from God. And I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to spend eternity on the redeemed earth with types like unrepentant and unpunished on earth Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, ISIS beheaders, etc. I think they made their choice to do heinous evils to fellow humans. God did not choose for them.

    There is a passage in Revelation 6 that startles me. I have no dogmatic interpretation on such apocalyptic writing but the principle of Justice is in there:

    “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

    I think God put all this cosmos around us into motion and gave humans dominion. Throughout that time He kept providing rescue for humans horrible choices. Even to the point of walking among us as both lowly human and Divine and then conquering death (sin) with the resurrection. A blatant message of rescue. But we have to decide. I don’t think the cross/resurrection was so we could choose to do evil to one another and be rewarded anyway,

    My view is that Universalism is another form of determinism. It’s nice to think that way but it presupposes the evil human changed their mind. Not God. (My SIL’s father was a Universalist Methodist pastor and we had these discussions every Thanksgiving. He declared that ‘every knee would bow’ meant that God would change people in the end. Frankly that is determinism to me albeit the “choosing” happens in the end and not before the “foundation” of the world.)

    The Jews were not saved because they were Jews. In the OT God even laments that few followed Him.

    So, from my perspective God is not the one that “sends” or “chooses” people. He certainly has intervened and can make His presence known. He can woo a young Soviet girl who mused about his existence upon studying a snowflake or from an episode of Star Trek (Ht: Dee) I have heard a former Muslim from Afghanistan speak of his dreams about Isa. (Moved me more than anything!) Whitaker Chambers, a rabid atheist, could not dismiss the concept of God from studying the ear of his new born daughter. So, I don’t discount anything. But in the end, we make the choice to ignore it all, seek more information and decide how we live among each other.

    The bottom line for me is that Yahweh is human centered in all respects. He is not a glory seeking narcissist the Calvinists describe…..although He often made a big deal out of proving His might and power to Pagan barbarians in the OT. In a more subtle way, He proved His divinity in the NT with more compassionate miracles. And while He provides the rescue, I have to accept not only the rescue but the conditions –which is changing my mind and turning to a new direction. Easier said than done, of course. But, still, in the end a human centered decision.

    Hoodaticus: I have been enjoying your comments along with Ken F’s who has done a yeomans work on studying these things.

  226. Mae wrote:

    Have never read Calvin’s Institutes.

    Forty years ago in an electrical engineering class we went through fifteen pages of equations to model a fairly simple circuit. While it may be a worthwhile exercise to help the understanding of a lowly engineering student I had little interest in using it as a tool. There were so many assumptions along the way and real world issues such as noise that I had little confidence it would accurately describe behavior in the real world.

    While this analogy may not work for others it is useful for me to visualize the flaws of systematic thinking, John Adams quote also comes to mind “Ideology is a systematic way of being wrong with confidence”.

    For those Trekies I can relate the episode “A Piece of the Action”. Kirk and Spock are explaining the rules to the fictitious game of fizbin, at some point Kirk interjects the rule “except on Wednesdays”. For the last fifty years (has it been that long?) I have voiced “except on Wednesdays” when someone goes on an overly complicated diatribe.

  227. @ ZechZav:

    In addition to the written word, we have one more powerful tool available to us that we rarely use:

    https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjDorqn0ojVAhVHX34KHXWzDOYYABABGgJwYw&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASEuRoRyVJqJlii2f2vC73EWTXyg&sig=AOD64_06Kr0GM3OV-FojabLY0XwjxSYXJQ&ctype=5&q=&ved=0ahUKEwiap7an0ojVAhVs74MKHU8iC5QQwg8IHQ&adurl=

    @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Thank you Nick, but I fear the genie is now out of the bottle.

    On a serious note; the outward expression of this five point doctrine may be as concerning as the doctrine itself. Even reasonable theology about the beautiful gift of Jesus is so polluted by trash talk these days that it loses it’s value. I simply don’t understand how the outward expression benefits the included or the excluded. The following is a list of points on this topic that I didn’t have the energy to tie together in a comprehensive theological rebuttal. Furthermore, tying them together would likely be motivated by a desire to be theologically clever than a desire for “Truth”.

    1. It takes theological trash talk to a whole new level by taunting the hopelessly condemned in the interest of biblical scholarship.

    2. TAP seems to be sufficient without the exclusionary ULI in the propagation of the faith and church.
    3. There seems to be neither milk nor meat in ULI.
    4. False positive conversions and adverse selection of followers.
    5. Foolish controversies. I think this is a huge issue in all of Christendom and has been for a long time.
    6. It seems like absolute humility would be required to express ULI in a way that builds righteousness rather than self-righteousness which misrepresents the character of God. It would be something to be discussed with fear and trembling amongst people are ready for the hard truths rather or left to personal revelation. Would you really support your theology in a “friendly” debate detached from the fate of others.

    I know that a theology can’t be evaluated exclusively by the way it’s expressed, but evaluating expression might shine a little light on the hearts of others as well as our own.
    .

  228. @ okrapod:
    The center of a potato IS starchy filler.
    Most of the nutrients in a potato are near the surface, under the skin.
    Which is why you don’t peel a potato if you can avoid it. (As far as I can tell, the custom of peeling potatoes comes from using Russet potatoes, the most easily available in bulk and the cheapest. Russets have thick, dense skins that (except for baking) need to be peeled. Until I was in my twenties, I didn’t know other types of potato existed.)

    I used to use frozen hash browns; now I use white or red potatoes and chop/slice them myself (skin on). Pan-fry/sautee with chopped sweet onion in olive oil with some seasonings and you have a great side dish. Or a main dish if you brown some meat (ground beef or chopped sausage) and pan-fry it all together. (What used to be called “Poor Man’s Dinner” during the Great Depression.) Lots better than the frozen hash browns, and doesn’t take much more time or effort.

  229. Thersites wrote:

    For those Trekies I can relate the episode “A Piece of the Action”. Kirk and Spock are explaining the rules to the fictitious game of fizbin, at some point Kirk interjects the rule “except on Wednesdays”.

    Ah, Fizzbin.
    Like Calvinball, you make up the rules as you go along.

  230. Max wrote:

    John Piper is a 7-Point Calvinist! Yep, the Pope of New Calvinism has to have more points than anybody else, you know.

    Because 6-Point Calvinists are more Calvinist than 5-Poiint Calvinists, and get to burn them for Heresy.

    And 7-Point Calvinists get to do the same to 6-Point Calvinists.

    “Can You Top This?” meets “Me, NOT Thee” in a specifically-Calvinist form of One-Upmanship.

    I fully expect to see 8-Point Calvinism, then 9-Point, then 10-Point, etc. All to one-up the others and PROVE that I am Elect.

  231. hoodaticus wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:
    i know the hindu people i’ve known are the loveliest and most gracious, and ganesh has to be the weirdest-looking god ever (amongst thousands, millions, I understand).
    how does hinduism foster in groups & out groups? the sheer number of gods & goddesses?
    They have an enormous population of people in a caste called the Untouchables that they can never leave that category in this life. There is no equivalent in mainstream Abrahamic religions (though Acts 29 appears to have a priest caste that can do no wrong).

    Not only that but the barbaric practice of sati. Widows were definitely “out” when their husbands died!

    https://kashgar.com.au/blogs/history/the-practice-of-sati-widow-burning

  232. ishy wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    okrapod wrote:
    There are more things than just Calvinism and Arminianism.
    what?!?!?!?
    This article covers some different perspectives: https://bellatorchristi.com/2014/07/07/do-thomists-and-molinists-hold-better-alternatives-than-calvinists-and-arminians-in-understanding-the-balance-between-sovereignty-and-freedom/
    I’ll admit I see some interesting points in both.

    I was going to mention the Thomists and Molinists!! Thanks for beating me to it!! I know Calvinists see everything in strictly Protestant terms, but the Thomist-Molinist controversy was a pretty big deal. As you know, the pope resolved it by telling both sides to stop anathematizing each other. It’s a big fat mystery, he said (in so many words), so it’s perfectly legitimate to hold either view.

  233. dee wrote:

    All the children of people like DeYoung must be saved because they try so hard to present perfect doctrine, unlike the losers out there.

    Yes! That was the unspoken message at the hyper-calvinist church we attended. You baptize them into the covenant when they are born, you raise them up in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. (Yup, even got those who walk away covered. “When they are old” they will come crawling back.)

    And even though those children are to be considered a part of the elect (because they were born into the right family, don’t-ya-know, with elect parents), they are still “little sinners” from birth and need to have the sin beaten out of them (even as babies) by the rod.

    Because… bible?

  234. @ Lydia:

    Really good to hear from you again. Time was when you were here right much, and Gram3 was sharing her insider knowledge, when some who barely comment now used to write more often and when a really wide diversity of people spoke up. I really benefitted from all that. Maybe that will rise from the ashes for the benefit of all of us.

  235. hoodaticus wrote:

    They have an enormous population of people in a caste called the Untouchables that they can never leave that category in this life. There is no equivalent in mainstream Abrahamic religions (though Acts 29 appears to have a priest caste that can do no wrong).

    In the Hindu caste system, the highest caste are the Brahmins, AKA Priests.

  236. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Jealous. My mom would not have potatoes in the house. Said they had no real nutritional value. I could not wait for church potlucks which always had a ton of potato choices; salad, au gratin, cheesy potato casseroles, even potatos in the green beans! yum, yum, yum. But kids always had to go last so I would hope and pray it wasn’t all gone.

  237. Beakerj wrote:

    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

    Yes. And it is especially difficult when one has trust issues to begin with.

  238. Darlene wrote:

    It doesn’t exist in the thoughts & theology of the earliest generations of Christians after Jesus & then the Disciples died. First hint is in about 500AD which is almost totally ignored until about 1500 AD. If it was there in the thought of Jesus then the first Christians would have followed it.

    Oh no, no, no, no, no! You must understand that the church went off the rails immediately after the last apostle died. AND…….it took Calvin to make it all right again.

    And Joseph Smith…
    And Charles Taze Russell…
    And Sun Myung-Moon…
    And Mo David…
    And Jim Jones…
    ALL of the above make the same claim, that “the church went off the rails immediately… AND it took Our Anointed Founder to restore the Original New Testament Church”.

  239. Max wrote:

    Beakerj wrote:
    love the idea of total depravity because the relative ease of their lives can only mean one thing: they are God’s favorites
    Yep. And that brand of “Christianity” always leads to antinomianism. After a while, one’s total depravity kicks in and you start believing that you are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. In that atmosphere, anything can happen.

    I don’t quite get this “antinomianism” thing connected to hyper-calvinism. In our former hyper-cal church, it was the direct opposite. The progression seemed to be toward more and more legalism.

    What am I missing?

  240. refugee wrote:

    Max wrote:
    Beakerj wrote:
    love the idea of total depravity because the relative ease of their lives can only mean one thing: they are God’s favorites
    Yep. And that brand of “Christianity” always leads to antinomianism. After a while, one’s total depravity kicks in and you start believing that you are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. In that atmosphere, anything can happen.
    I don’t quite get this “antinomianism” thing connected to hyper-calvinism. In our former hyper-cal church, it was the direct opposite. The progression seemed to be toward more and more legalism.
    What am I missing?

    Yes, on further thought, our former church embraced total depravity in a self-flagellating way. We were god’s favorites, all right, but we were also rotten, horrible, desperately evil and wicked sinners and must never forget the wide gap between our miserable selves and perfect, holy god.

    We said so, every week, in the confession of sin, which always ran quite a bit longer than the little bit of scripture quoted for the absolution part of the liturgy.

  241. Root 66 wrote:

    I see no compassion at all in the concept of limited atonement if the majority of all the people who have ever lived had absolutely no chance at salvation whatsoever in the first place. I’m hard-pressed to see how that’s “Good News” for anybody.

    Amen. I nearly lost my faith over this.

    I still struggle to read the bible at all because those teachings, “based on scripture” are still in my head.

  242. @ Lydia:
    Lydia, your post sufficiently makes up for the long absence from TWW. Great perspective! Welcome back!

    (I knew you were still out there – I see you fighting New Calvinists over at SBC Today)

  243. @Headless Unicorn Guy:

    File this under “Things I Would Never Have known Were It Not for My Nerdy Kids”: Did you know that Frederick the Great was largely responsible for bringing the potato to Western Europe? It’s been a few years, so I’m fuzzy on the details, but Frederick apparently tried to introduce potatoes to his countrymen. (He was really big on agricultural innovations.)

    At first the Prussian peasant farmers were resistant to the knobbly little tubers. Potatoes didn’t look like anything they’d ever grown before. But then along came the Seven Years War. Large armies would camp near the peasants’ farms. To keep from starving, the armies would requisition all the peasants’ grain. Apparently this was SOP. The high mucky-mucks didn’t need to provide army rations if the soldiers could simply steal the peasants’ grain.

    Of course, this meant the peasants would starve instead. Oh well…we need armies more than peasants, right? Very short-sighted reasoning, but there you are.

    Well, those wily peasants quickly figured out a way around this. They started planting potatoes. The potatoes grew underground, so the soldiers didn’t even know they were there. (Bear in mind that potatoes were completely unfamiliar to most Europeans at this time.)

    The potatoes were even more nutritious than grain, so the peasants thrived.

    And this was the beginning of the Popularity of the Peruvian Potato all over the known world. 😀

  244. @ Lydia:

    My DIL makes some sort of whipped potatoes in which there is cream cheese and light seasoning, and I pig out on the delicacy every holiday.

  245. Seeking God is a lowly position because one has to admit they are wrong, can’t do life on their own, Eternal Life is not DIY. One approaches God on their knees in humility. “I screwed up.”

    “I come to God because I am special and chosen, one of the predestined select few of the limited atonement,” is not humility.

    Jesus told this parable to people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven,…, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18 NASB

    My husband was born a prince, raised in a religion of perfectionism. In his youth, when he saw he was not perfect, he became a Christian, saying, “Christianity is the one religion where you cannot approach God unless you have come to terms with the fact that you are unworthy. The Christian God is the God of the ineligible rather than of the select.”

  246. refugee wrote:

    I don’t quite get this “antinomianism” thing connected to hyper-calvinism. In our former hyper-cal church, it was the direct opposite. The progression seemed to be toward more and more legalism.

    I think that is a function of “Old” vs. “New” Calvinism. Hyper (classical) Calvinists tend to restrain the flesh via rules and regulations. On the other hand, the some of the new reformers are taking liberties with their Christian liberties. Consider potty-mouth Mark Driscoll and his band of YRR-Driscollites within New Calvinism. Whew – they were a law unto themselves! Talking about a bunch of flesh-babies!!

  247. Lowlandseer wrote:

    @ Max:
    Your rhetoric rather casually offends those worldwide Reformed denominations who adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, Three Forms of Unity.

    I did see Max’s “hyper-calvinist” modifier… and while I don’t know the Three Forms of Unity, my former hyper-cal, destructive church grimly adhered to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism. So to me, that’s not really a badge of honor or a free pass.

    Jesus once said that even the demons believe, and fear. At least, I think that’s the right quote.

    Please don’t take me wrong, I’m not calling the traditional calvinists demons. However, I have trouble seeing any follower of Calvin’s teachings as loving and benign. Or are the new-cals twisting the “great” man’s teachings, distorting them? Did he not teach that some are created *on purpose* so that they may be destroyed in the end?

    From what I understand, he helped to institute an incredibly repressive, joyless, punitive reign in Geneva that was based in his teachings. I might be wrong, though. I haven’t read the Institutes or history accounts about Geneva in Calvin’s time in a couple of years now, and the memories are fading.

  248. @ refugee:

    Are you saying that there is some church which practices liturgy replete with confession and absolution but which also believes in total depravity? That seems really odd to me. I don’t want to intrude but if that is typical of some denomination I would like to know the name of the denomination.

  249. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
    @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..
    AKA Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.

    I always found it ironical that Calvinists insist so strongly on God’s Sovereignty yet also insist, at the same time, that they have Him all figured out.

  250. refugee wrote:

    Did he not teach that some are created *on purpose* so that they may be destroyed in the end?

    And let me clarify that this teaching was not emphasized in our former church. It sort of hovered in the background, took awhile (more than a decade) to sink in, but when it finally did, I was horrified.

    And it does seem to say that in the scripture. “vessels made for destruction”

    How can I love a god who creates people for the dedicated purpose of destroying them?

    I can fear a god like that, but I cannot bring myself to love such a one.

  251. okrapod wrote:

    @ refugee:
    Are you saying that there is some church which practices liturgy replete with confession and absolution but which also believes in total depravity? That seems really odd to me. I don’t want to intrude but if that is typical of some denomination I would like to know the name of the denomination.

    It is one of the denominations of Presbyterians. Not a splinter group, like Wilson’s CREC. However, any mainline denominations is a spectrum of belief and practice, and we happened to land on the far end of the spectrum.

    Just because a church is part of a large denomination does not promise safety or sanity.

  252. Lydia wrote:

    My view is that Universalism is another form of determinism.

    Enjoyed your “novella” and glad to see you back. I think you nailed it. I don’t understand the theology that cannot except our free choice.

  253. refugee wrote:

    Not a splinter group, like Wilson’s CREC.

    (By saying “not a splinter group like Wilson’s CREC” I wasn’t calling Wilson “Presbyterian” by the way. Just saying that I don’t know all the Presbyterian denominations that are out there, and there may be more than just the ones I’m aware of. However, our former church was active in one of the main branches.)

  254. @ refugee:
    I hope I don’t make a mess of this. But, like you I had a ton of questions about it. The best place it is highlighted is in 1 John. Sin is lawlessness (anomian)

    There are 2 different approaches to it I can see. One approach is some believe Jesus obeys FOR us in the new covenant so we are exempt from being lawless and our sinning, as believers, is the normal.

    Another approach is the sin sniffing approach because of total depravity even after salvation much like the Puritans who are very popular with the Neo Cals. They could not go on to live in victory over death because they were stuck in total depravity. A legal approach to sin and salvation.

    A lot of it originates with the dualism of original sin concept but plays out differently with different sects/denominations. I also think we tend to describe anything as sin and that is a bigger problem which leads to lots of misunderstandings.

    we tend to forget that Jesus said, be perfect like your Heavenly Father is perfect. Perfect in the Greek meaning mature, completed.

    Both views tend to take human volition out of the equation, IMO.

  255. @ JYJames:
    @ Beakerj:
    Great article (link), Beakerj!
    Answers my question of “What is the Why?” or underlying current – what is really going on.

    The writer, Christy Thomas, ends with: “We have been blessed for one reason: to be a blessing to others. To hoard blessing stops the movement of grace. To think we deserve blessing smacks of repellent arrogance. To use blessing to degrade another human being becomes darn near unforgivable.”

  256. drstevej wrote:

    @ Mae:
    Calvin never directly addresses the issue of Limited Atonement in the Institutes. Surprise you?

    No, it doesn’t surprise me, I have previously heard that. I think a poster on here stated that omission is why he is a 4.5 Calvinist.

  257. @ Lydia:
    Ah. That helps to put things into perspective. Our former church greatly admired the Puritans and their teachings, and it makes sense that the sin-sniffing, increasingly joyless, totally depraved sinners’ approach is the one that I am familiar with.

  258. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Like Calvinball, you make up the rules as you go along.

    I think there is more to it than changing the rules as you go along. Earlier I spoke of pages of equations, now it is computer modeling. In engineering we build mathematical models for all types of things from small items to nuclear power plants.

    The problem is all these models have severe limitations containing a multitude of incorrect assumptions and over simplifications. Calvin’s Institutes strikes me as Calvin building a computer model to predict God’s behavior. This is not to say there is no value in creating models to help our understanding but good grief, know the limitations. God is a lot more complex than anything we have built and so are we by the way.

  259. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
    @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..
    AKA Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.
    I always found it ironical that Calvinists insist so strongly on God’s Sovereignty yet also insist, at the same time, that they have Him all figured out.

    Yes!
    And if God is sovereign,( which I believe), why can’t he also create free will? Who are they to say it can’t be so?

  260. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    I think the answer lies, perhaps (in part), in what Paul wrote in Romans 2…

    I am of the same bent. I have yet to hear a successful tap dance around Romans 2 by any fundagelical ideologue, it’s almost just a footnote in their world. And yet they’ll clamp onto the homosexuality in Romans 1 like a neodymium magnet to steel plate.

  261. @ okrapod:

    Stop! It’s too delightful sounding. It’s funny how such things from childhood become ingrained. I never buy potatoes for home use but feel positively wicked when I partake in other places. My mom was the same with corn (for fattening pigs, she mused). So every summer I visit my cousin who puts up “peaches and cream’ corn from a local farmer and I partake as if there is no price to pay from the buttery delight since it’s only once a year.

  262. @ Deb:

    I thought for sure they would have shaved their heads by now so they could be just like Mahaney and MacDonald. You know, the Conehead look.

  263. Mae wrote:

    And if God is sovereign,( which I believe), why can’t he also create free will? Who are they to say it can’t be so?

    I have asked that question of many a Calvinist and never gotten an answer except “He can’t”. I have gotten “You misunderstand sovereignty” or a launch into a repeat of what they just said or even “You must not be Elect since you don’t accept it” and a whole lot of quoting of Piper et al on topics which don’t really answer the question, but never any sort of supported reasoning for the inability of the coexistence of both free will and sovereignty. It’s always seemed to me that God would be able to do that if He were truly sovereign. So I think this is one of the things that says to me that their framework defines their views more than anything.

  264. @ Lydia:
    Good food for thought.

    And if I ever heard the “rescue” idea as opposed to “taking our punishment”, I don’t remember. The “paying our bill” or “paying for our sins” message is the one I remember hearing for at least the last three decades.

    In addition to your thoughts, the comment you quoted, with its analogy of taking the kids on a hike, painted a clear picture. I missed the original comment in my reading, so I’m glad you added that into your comment.

  265. dee wrote:

    I think there are a couple of things we need to consider as Christians.

    1. I do not believe in judging whether or not someone is saved. I leave that in the hands of God who is at a much higher pay grade in these matter.

    2. Are we so sure that all of those who have never heard the word of God will definitely perish? CS Lewis approached the answer to this question by stating “There will be surprises in heaven.”

    Let’s do the Socratic dialogue thing here.
    What do you mean by ‘salvation’ and ‘heaven’?
    Can you define your terms?

  266. @ okrapod:

    Thanks! I don’t know why I hit on your comment earlier and it referred to refugee. Human error or cyber glitch? A “mystery”. 🙂

  267. Thersites wrote:

    Calvin’s Institutes strikes me as Calvin building a computer model to predict God’s behavior. This is not to say there is no value in creating models to help our understanding but good grief, know the limitations.

    Especially when the Gospels and Acts show God as doing the unexpected over and over.

  268. refugee wrote:

    Our former church greatly admired the Puritans and their teachings, and it makes sense that the sin-sniffing, increasingly joyless, totally depraved sinners’ approach is the one that I am familiar with.

    “The one in a hundred Predestined to walk the cold, hard, grey, joyless path of Salvation.
    — James Michener, Hawaii, background of New England Puritan missionaries to “Owhyhee”

  269. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Deb:
    I thought for sure they would have shaved their heads by now so they could be just like Mahaney and MacDonald. You know, the Conehead look.

    “LET US CONSUME MASS QUANTITIES!”

  270. dee wrote:

    Deb
    Sounds like Mom and Dad De Young are perceived as *angry* by their kids. Par for the course for the Calvinists crowd. They all sound a but angry to me.
    Looking forward to writing my post on the John Piper and the dangers of ta tas today. They need to learn to laugh more.

    Y’know, I think hyper-calvinism reinforces anger and depression at the very least, and may well be the cause of such as well as the fertilizer. (And hasn’t depression been characterized as “anger turned inward”? I seem to remember that from somewhere.)

    That’s just my impression, thinking back to our experience and the people we used to worship with.

  271. Lowlandseer wrote:

    @ Max:
    Your rhetoric rather casually offends those worldwide Reformed denominations who adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, Three Forms of Unity.

    What is offensive as far as I am concerned is the teaching the Christ didn’t die for the sins of the whole world but only the elect.

  272. @ refugee:

    It’s so weird to me! Growing up, I heard mostly the conquering death/rescue view and even some light “ransom” positions. But not so much the legal/forensic teaching of PSA or even SA. But it became extremely popular in rather mainstream circles as far as I can tell over the last 30 years or so.

    Baptists were a wily big tent lot. Okrapod remembers her early baptist years as semi Calvinist. A bit later than her, in the same city, I don’t recall anything even remotely deterministic at all. And we were in many different SBC churches due to my moms music ministry. I heard a lot of different preaching and debates when seminary friends and colleagues were over.

    In fact, OSAS (once saved always saved) was widely debated but as a secondary issue not an Essential. It wasn’t thought you could “loose” your salvation but that you could choose to turn away from it. That is why I think so many Neo Cals make fun of the concept of rededications that were acceptable to many SBC churches years ago. People turned away from Christ then came back to Him.. Is that loosing salvation or turning away? My view is the salvation is always there and we choose to follow or not. I guess if it happens a lot, it can look suspicious, though.

  273. Lydia wrote:

    many Neo Cals make fun of the concept of rededications that were acceptable to many SBC churches years ago

    They also make fun of the “sinner’s prayer.” In fact, current leader of SBC’s foreign mission program (David Platt) once said that saying a sinner’s prayer at the point of salvation was “superstitious.” After leading folks over the years to understand the precious Gospel message and kneeling with them as they repented with a sinner’s prayer, I took offense to Mr. Platt’s words. I guess Platt won’t have anything to do with sinners praying to accept Christ on foreign mission fields – he’s already recalled 1,000 SBC missionaries who have endeavored to do just that.

  274. Mae wrote:

    Even so, I do believe God reveals himself to those who have not heard, but seek truth. I have no doubts about God having a means of grace for the disabled, children, etc.
    God is good and God is just. I trust him to do right by all mankind.

    I agree with your sentiment as well. And then there is that passage in the second chapter of Romans if one will seek to find and understand it, that addresses the topic of those people who have never heard the gospel.

  275. I wonder – on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most important) where would the Deebs rank this issue as far as being potentially harmful to those who love Jesus?

    My personal opinion is that the terms Calvinism, Arminianism, free-will, etc. are unhelpful for discussions to be helpful and edifying. I’d ditch the word “church” too. Tons of baggage.

    Also think that anyone who says they never were and never will believe _______, aren’t worth listening to (arrogance/pride). Diminished objectivity.

    Johnny Piper strikes again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R80uRV2dcl4

    Listen carefully near the 7:40 mark.

  276. @ refugee:
    The Puritans scare me. Years ago, Someone gave me a leather bound cd holder embossed with “The Valley of Vision”. It’s Puritan prayers on 8 CD’s read by a guy with a voice for radio. It was the most depressing and defeated approach to prayer life I had ever heard. Eight CD’s (!) chocked full of self flagulation and worm Theology.

    I made up my own title for it: How to make a date with Satan.

    What a gift! An invitation to self hatred? What on earth is the message behind such a gift?. It was an extended family member who became immersed in the Neo Cal movement early on. Still is. Still immersed in her depravity and shunning those who aren’t. It’s a big fat crying shame. Really is. Reminds me of Spurgeon who broke with his own brother over it.

    Uh. No thanks!

  277. @ Muff Potter:

    Indeed. I think, to some extent, we are all prone to that behavior – ignore what we disagree with and jump up and down and wave the bits that bolster our view. I know I have been guilty of that at times.

    In my later years, I have had (for sanity’s sake) to back up and look at things from a wider angle…look at the text in large chunks rather than little bites.

    Currently, these are the things I feel reasonably sure of:

    1) There is far more mystery lurking just under the surface of the Bible than the churches of my experience were ever willing (able?) to see or teach.

    2) Therefore, there is and will always be far more I don’t understand than I do understand.

    3) I have found more peace and rest since I quit trying to know and understand it all.

    4) I will know and understand what God shows me. And not what He does not.

    5) The foundational character trait that colors all other character traits of God is personified in Emmanuel – God with us – Jesus. And that trait is Love.

    6) The above changes everything…. 😉

  278. @ Beakerj:
    @ Max:
    As the linked article (by Christy Thomas) of Beakerj’s comment states: “The clean, slim, beautiful, fertile, straight, economically comfortable and white population: …they are God’s favorites.”

    So, who needs a sinner’s prayer? It’s a wrap.

  279. @ Max:
    Ok. I have to add this. My step father is 97 and his lucidity comes and goes. A few weeks ago he was very lucid about the past and we knew we were witnessing something grand so I taped it on my iPad. He reminisced about WW2 and totally by coincidence running into his brother in the South Pacific and what a grand but short reunion it was for a pair of country boys who had never been out of the state, and then his salvation. He talked about the “mourners” bench he went to so signify he wanted to follow Christ. (This was a country church) He mourned for his sin, prayed and got up to follow Christ. He was positively jubilant recalling every detail 85 years later. We were moved and had tears of joy streaming down our faces! I cherish that recording. What a testimony.

    So, who is to say a mourners bench is wrong? A sinners prayer for someone who doesn’t have the words or a moving experience alone? It’s all human choice in responding to an incredible Savior.. My hunch is our Lord is pleased no matter the process.

  280. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    There is far more mystery lurking just under the surface of the Bible than the churches of my experience were ever willing (able?) to see or teach … Therefore, there is and will always be far more I don’t understand than I do understand.

    “At present we are looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!” (1 Cor 13:12)

  281. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    I don’t know God’s plans for eternity–how could I? But it just stabs me in the heart to think that just because someone didn’t hold the right idea of Jesus in their head when they died that they’re lost forever. I just can’t live with that.

    Dee, I’d posit that there’s more to the Christian faith than getting the right idea of Jesus in one’s head. In fact, I would say that Jesus spent quite a bit of time teaching in parables about how we should live by our actions in the way we treat others. I don’t think Jesus cares all that much about whether we get all the ideas about Him 100% correct. Rather, have we been kind and loving toward those who cross our paths? Have we loved others and treated them the way we want to be treated?

    So the person who presumes to have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed when it comes to right doctrine, yet their actions show they are malicious, vindictive, cruel, hateful, greedy, slanderous, violent….feel free to add to this list….what will God think of them? I think Jesus had a lot to say about that.

  282. Lydia wrote:

    So, who is to say a mourners bench is wrong?

    He who says a mourners bench is wrong is wrong and needs to go to a mourners bench to cry out to God with groanings that cannot be uttered.

  283. Max wrote:

    Jeannette Altes wrote:

    There is far more mystery lurking just under the surface of the Bible than the churches of my experience were ever willing (able?) to see or teach … Therefore, there is and will always be far more I don’t understand than I do understand.

    “At present we are looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!” (1 Cor 13:12)

    😀

  284. Max wrote:

    Jeannette Altes wrote:
    There is far more mystery lurking just under the surface of the Bible than the churches of my experience were ever willing (able?) to see or teach … Therefore, there is and will always be far more I don’t understand than I do understand.
    “At present we are looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!” (1 Cor 13:12)

    Max, I love mystery and paradox, I really do. My faith teaches me to embrace these realities. But not EVERYTHING is mystery and paradox. There are some things within our Christian faith that are directives clearly spoken. There are some things God requires/expects of us. I think the goal is that we seek wisdom to know which things are mysteries and paradoxes and which are not.

    As I said up thread regarding the subject of this post, i.e. Limited Atonement – Did Christ die for the sins of all of humankind, or only the elect? Did He make a way of salvation for all, or only a chosen few? So is it a mystery, a paradox that cannot be understood? Can we tell a person, ANY person, that Jesus died for them upon the cross of Calvary, making a way for salvation through His blood? Can we declare this definitively? Or is it an ambiguity that must be filed under the category of mystery?

  285. Wartburgers, I will be signing off shortly to travel to my grandson’s graduation from Vacation Bible School. The VBS theme is “Christmas in July” about the story of Jesus’ birth. He will be on stage as one of the three wise men. I have already watched a video of a rehearsal in which he tried to drink the frankincense and was handling gold coins in the treasure chest. The little sinner is only 3-years old; pray for us, it could get interesting tonight.

  286. Max wrote:

    After leading folks over the years to understand the precious Gospel message and kneeling with them as they repented with a sinner’s prayer, I took offense to Mr. Platt’s words.

    When I was a Baptist I never once saw any kneeling or repenting or praying any sinner’s prayer or anybody being one-on-one ‘led to Christ’ according to the terminology which I think I hear you saying. The IFB did it be we did not. We were expected to have reached an age where we ‘understood what we were doing’ and we were supposed to give a credible reason why we were making a profession of faith and why we wanted to be baptized in case anybody asked, which as far as I know nobody did.

    May I say that the main message of Paul Washer seems to be what he sees as the lack of repenting etc, currently in churches. I am thinking that there have been distinct strains of Baptists all in the same denom-not just individuals or individual church differences but rather more than one current of thinking on certain issues. Probably my family chose a church that thought and practiced like they thought and that thinking was probably emphasized in the home. That is my best guess.

  287. ishy wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    And if God is sovereign,( which I believe), why can’t he also create free will? Who are they to say it can’t be so?
    I have asked that question of many a Calvinist and never gotten an answer except “He can’t”. I have gotten “You misunderstand sovereignty” or a launch into a repeat of what they just said or even “You must not be Elect since you don’t accept it” and a whole lot of quoting of Piper et al on topics which don’t really answer the question, but never any sort of supported reasoning for the inability of the coexistence of both free will and sovereignty. It’s always seemed to me that God would be able to do that if He were truly sovereign. So I think this is one of the things that says to me that their framework defines their views more than anything.

    Have a friend who is a PCA pastor. We banter over Calvinism vs non, fairly frequently. I know he thinks hubby and me are believers but misguided ones. 😉
    Anyway, he would answer the question by emphatically stating, God wouldn’t do that, it’s beneath God to do so.
    Why he believes God’s love for us wouldn’t include a free will, is beyond my reasoning. He just can’t, won’t budge, that God’s sovereignty is assaulted by God offering a free will position.

  288. @ Max:

    Precious!

    However, I am amazed that any SBC church still has a VBS! So congrats on that, too. They sure are fond memories for me.

  289. Darlene wrote:

    There are some things within our Christian faith that are directives clearly spoken. There are some things God requires/expects of us. I think the goal is that we seek wisdom to know which things are mysteries and paradoxes and which are not.

    Amen and Amen!

    Darlene wrote:

    Can we declare this definitively? Or is it an ambiguity that must be filed under the category of mystery?

    Embedded in your questionnaire is the Truth of the Gospel of the Cross of Christ. Yes, indeed, we can declare that definitively. Pastors who retreat to “mystery” are not fulfilling their ministries and will give an account for wasted breath and wasted years.

  290. Max wrote:

    Wartburgers, I will be signing off shortly to travel to my grandson’s graduation from Vacation Bible School. The VBS theme is “Christmas in July” about the story of Jesus’ birth. He will be on stage as one of the three wise men. I have already watched a video of a rehearsal in which he tried to drink the frankincense and was handling gold coins in the treasure chest. The little sinner is only 3-years old; pray for us, it could get interesting tonight.

    Enjoy your grandson.

  291. Max wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    So, who is to say a mourners bench is wrong?
    He who says a mourners bench is wrong is wrong and needs to go to a mourners bench to cry out to God with groanings that cannot be uttered.

    We attended a church which had a mourners bench. The pastor would often call upon the congregation to come to it.
    The folks who did come to it, were ministered to by other believers who had been assigned to do so.
    Although it can be used as an emotional tool, I think it has it’s place. I do believe more then a few met their savior there.

  292. refugee wrote:

    Root 66 wrote:
    I see no compassion at all in the concept of limited atonement if the majority of all the people who have ever lived had absolutely no chance at salvation whatsoever in the first place. I’m hard-pressed to see how that’s “Good News” for anybody.

    Amen. I nearly lost my faith over this.
    I still struggle to read the bible at all because those teachings, “based on scripture” are still in my head.

    Refugee,
    So sorry to hear of your struggles, but God knows your hurts and He can bring peace and rest to you. It is truly heart-breaking to know that thousands, if not millions, of peoples’ precious faith is being shipwrecked by the arrogance and legalism of this “movement” (hyper-Calvinism; Reformed movement–whatever you want to call it!) Recovering from hurts like this can be extremely difficult, but like Max said earlier, reading the “words in red” will help bring Christ’s reality back into focus. Jesus was kind and loving to all except towards the religious “elect” of His day that thought they already had God all figured out! (Sound familiar? 🙂 )

    One of my favorite passages that seems to refute this notion of the “elect” is found in II Corinthians 5:11-21, where Paul talks about that since God is in the business of reconciliation (I LOVE this term!), we should be, too. He also says that we should therefore “persuade men.” What would be the point of “persuading men” if they’re already elected from before the foundation of the world? That’s when I saw the “man-behind-the-curtain” and realized that the Neo-Cal/Hyper-Calvinist movement would come to nothing. Oh, and did I mention this same passage says that “Christ died for all?”

    Jesus loved us enough to die for us, therefore He can’t think that we’re the worthless worms the Neo-Cals portray us to be. We matter to God–YOU matter to God. Praying that you keep the faith!

  293. Darlene wrote:

    But not EVERYTHING is mystery and paradox.

    I hear what you are saying but I also heard Paul talk about how limited is our understanding. Why would not one approach be that we know some things but (a) do not know anything to the degree that Paul thought we would eventually know and (b) do not necessarily accurately perceive just how much we know and how much we do not know on any particular subject, where the dividing line is between knowing and not knowing.

    So the gospel of whosoever will is preached just as we are told to do, but if there is more to it than that we may not know. And we may not need to know. We do what we are told to do none the less.

    I don’t see that defining ultimate truth as whatever we happen to know right now is consistent with reason, tradition or scripture. So, yes, I think that there is yet unrevealed mystery behind almost everything, a deeper layer so to speak, which should not stop us from acting on what we do know.

  294. Lydia wrote:

    He talked about the “mourners” bench he went to so signify he wanted to follow Christ. (This was a country church) He mourned for his sin, prayed and got up to follow Christ. He was positively jubilant recalling every detail 85 years later. We were moved and had tears of joy streaming down our faces! I cherish that recording. What a testimony.

    You were lucky to record that! It’s definitely a piece of family history to cherish.

    But it does bring up an interesting point. What about those who have attended church but don’t have the “experience”.

    Throughout this comment thread there has been a lot of good testimony – to use the term.

    However, I’m sure there’s also a lot of folks whose experience is a bit like this…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsys9hYFewc

    I guess it’s possible that some of us aren’t chosen?

  295. @ okrapod: For one, if Christ only died for the few,we can not say to an assembled group that Christ died for them or that Christ loved them. If on the other hand, Christ died for all, as I believe, we can challenge any group to respond to his love and sacrifice for them.

  296. Kathy C wrote:

    Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

    Yes. This. “All” has to mean the same thing on either side of the comma. This is known as Universal Reconciliation (not universalism). Universalism = any road will get you there. Universal Reconciliation = all will be reconciled to Christ.

    Thomas Talbott’s work on this subject is outstanding.

  297. ION: Tennis

    It’s Roger vs Marin Cilic in the men’s final on Sunday; tomorrow, of course, is Venus vs Garbine Muguruza.

    On a sentimental note, Jamie Murray (brother of Sir Andy) and Martina Hingis qualified for the mixed doubles final just before Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson (also of this parish) followed suit; one way or another, the home nations are guaranteed a Wimbledon champion therefore.

    It seems that, with Andy Murray going out in the quarters, and Jo Konta losing to Venus, all the local fans have switched their allegiance to Federer, in his capacity as Wimbledon’s favourite non-Brit. Cilic is, therefore, aiming to poop the party. But he’s also playing well. Two very good finals are in prospect.

    IHTIH

  298. Mae wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
    @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..
    AKA Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.
    I always found it ironical that Calvinists insist so strongly on God’s Sovereignty yet also insist, at the same time, that they have Him all figured out.

    Yes!
    And if God is sovereign,( which I believe), why can’t he also create free will? Who are they to say it can’t be so?

    Eggzackly!!!

  299. 1 Lord, I believe were sinners more
    Than sands upon the ocean shore,
    For all Thou hast the ransom given,
    Purchased for all peace, life, and heaven.
    2 Lord, I believe the price is paid
    For every soul, the Atonement made;
    And every soul Thy grace may prove,
    Loved with an everlasting Love.
    3J esus, be endless praise to Thee,
    Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
    For me, and all Thine hands have made,
    An everlasting ransom paid.
    Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf translated by John Wesley

  300. Lydia wrote:

    @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    That is fascinating. Especially the part about a hidden crop and war. Yeah peasants!

    I liked that part too! I think that’s why it has stuck with me all this time.

    BTW I can relate to what your mom said about starches. My mom allowed potatoes — she even made pretty good potato salad — but she was always warning us off of starches in general. What was it about moms of that generation? I mean, these are carbohydrates we are talking about, and they’re kind of nutritionally essential. Not that we should overdo them, but they’re not evil or poisonous either. Very strange!!

  301. Darlene wrote:

    Mae wrote:

    Even so, I do believe God reveals himself to those who have not heard, but seek truth. I have no doubts about God having a means of grace for the disabled, children, etc.
    God is good and God is just. I trust him to do right by all mankind.

    I agree with your sentiment as well. And then there is that passage in the second chapter of Romans if one will seek to find and understand it, that addresses the topic of those people who have never heard the gospel.

    Amen! As my friend Edwin Tait (graduate of Duke Divinity School) once put it, God is not going to totally write people off just because Western missionaries are too lazy or a-skeered to bring the Gospel to them.

    Salvation is through Christ alone, but that doesn’t mean that all the saved have heard of Christ during their earthly lives. Some may respond to His Grace without explicitly knowing Him by Name. Moreover, I have a theory (strictly speculative) that He comes to every person before death and gives them one last chance to choose for or against Him. This isn’t defined doctrine by any means, but it accords with my Molinist sympathies, so I’m partial to it as peemissible speculation. As Jesus said to Saint Faustina, “the final hour abounds in mercy.”

  302. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    @ Anonymous Oracle at Delphi:
    I think the answer lies, perhaps (in part), in what Paul wrote in Romans 2…
    “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them ) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
    Romans 2:12‭-‬16 NKJV
    I was taught that we will all be judged according to the light we have, not the light we do not have. After all, as Abraham asked the Lord (with effect), “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?””
    Genesis 18:25 NKJV
    To condemn eternally those who have never ‘heard the Gospel preached” would be unjust. God is just. Jesus even went and preached to those who died in the flood…which would serve no purpose if they were not allowed to act on what they heard. (See 1 Peter 3:18-19)
    For me, the question is, “Can I trust the God who is Love, and was personified by Jesus, to be just to all, even if I can’t fully understand all the mechanics of it. I am not a Universalist, though I understand the attraction, because Universalism runs into the same free will problem that limited atonement does. Even those that Jesus preached to who had already died still had the choice to tell him no. If all are saved, then some would be saved against their will. No. I belueve everyone will be given the opportunity, one on one with Jesus, to accept or reject on their own.
    My currents thought, subject to modification over time.

    Jeanette, your words above have caused me to respond: Wisdom, let us attend! Thank for stating what you believe so clearly.

  303. Dan wrote:

    Thank you! The Bible is full of paradox, also known as mystery. People who see the world in black and white cannot live with paradox and a have need to resolve it.

    I have already said that I have an issue with one paradox, that of the normal compatabilist position on freewill. I’m not at all a black & white person & this is the only paradox I have a issue with because it casts a shadow on the character of God – where he goes from loving, in a sense that resonates with what most of us know as love, to basically power whose love is only kept for a few. I hope you realise that not everyone who has a problem with this issue is doing it because you judge them to be rigid & inflexible.

  304. Darlene wrote:

    okrapod wrote:
    That is, in saying that I am not the one who is limited by my own doing but rather God who limits by his sovereign will.
    Just a while ago I was pondering this notion of Limited Atonement. Jesus pleading over Jerusalem came to mind. “I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her brood but you would not.” (Taking that from memory here.) The notion of L.A. has Jesus saying: “I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her brood but *I* will not.” Yes, the Atonement is limited but my question is: By whom? By God or by us?

    Building upon what I said yesterday. Was Jesus grieving over Jerusalem because God had already damned (reprobated as the Reformed like to say) Jerusalem before the foundation of the world? Or, was Jesus grieving over Jerusalem because they, of their own accord and free will chose to reject Him as Messiah?

    The Limited Atonement folks – and I’ll throw in Monergism as well – have a problem. Why would Jesus be grieving over a people whom God has chosen to damn before they even drew breath? And if these folks never had a chance at salvation from the get-go, then why even regard them as being able to receive Jesus as Messiah? How could they if God determined they never would?

  305. @ Darlene:
    Thank you. I have a dear friend who walks this faith journey with me. We have many discussions on this. We don’t alwas agree on bits here or there. But, we always agree that God’s love is foundational; we do not see clearly, but only in fragments; taking the fragments we do see and keeping things simple is preferable.

    As Max: noted here, Paul talked about seeing in a glass (mirror) dimly – but we will see clearly when we see Him face to face. Until then, I try to keep it simple, as Paul also admonished…Christ and Him crucified…Emmanual, God with us. The core.

  306. I Just finished reading this book; The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge. It is a long read, 600 pages, but a comprhensive treatment of the various understanding of the Jesus death, the cross, and the atonement. The author is a Episcopal theologian and she provides a first class, orthodox treatment of the subject from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I highly recommend it. It deffinatley provide me food for thought on view points of the atonement that I had previously dismissed.

  307. Mae wrote:

    Why he believes God’s love for us wouldn’t include a free will, is beyond my reasoning. He just can’t, won’t budge, that God’s sovereignty is assaulted by God offering a free will position.

    Yep. “He can’t” is always the only real answer they can give. And I don’t buy it. I think that has more to do with a human inability to imagine God can allow free will than whether or not He really can.

  308. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    Indeed. I think, to some extent, we are all prone to that behavior – ignore what we disagree with and jump up and down and wave the bits that bolster our view. I know I have been guilty of that at times.

    I’m still guilty of it.
    I own it and I am proud to be a free-thinker.
    Let me be clear and define my terms. I adhere to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed and especially its supernatural components. They are my axioms and non-negotiables. The rest of the stuff? I’m more than happy to negotiate and I pick and choose what I sign onto or don’t sign onto. Some of my views will earn me the stinging rebuke of my liberal and progressive brothers and sisters, and yet others will raise the hackles of conservatives to the point where I get declared heretic and apostate.

  309. Muff Potter wrote:

    Some of my views will earn me the stinging rebuke of my liberal and progressive brothers and sisters, and yet others will raise the hackles of conservatives to the point where I get declared heretic and apostate.

    The story of my life… Hey, we must be doing something right! 🙂

  310. dee wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    Nobody tells me anything.
    Did you know that tomatoes are actually a fruit, not a vegetable?

    Did you know that if an ambulance and a mail truck arrive simultaneously at an intersection, the mail truck has right of way because “the mail must go through”?

  311. Muff Potter wrote:

    Jeannette Altes wrote:

    Indeed. I think, to some extent, we are all prone to that behavior – ignore what we disagree with and jump up and down and wave the bits that bolster our view. I know I have been guilty of that at times.

    I’m still guilty of it.
    I own it and I am proud to be a free-thinker.
    Let me be clear and define my terms. I adhere to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed and especially its supernatural components. They are my axioms and non-negotiables. The rest of the stuff? I’m more than happy to negotiate and I pick and choose what I sign onto or don’t sign onto. Some of my views will earn me the stinging rebuke of my liberal and progressive brothers and sisters, and yet others will raise the hackles of conservatives to the point where I get declared heretic and apostate.

    Oh, I’m still guilty of it, too. Though I try not to get obnoxious with it. It helps to have good friends who are willing to call BS when they see it. 😉

    As to the Apostle’s creed, yes. Me, as well. More and more, my instruction to myself is, ” keep it simple.”
    I, also, find myself being remonstrated by both liberals and conservatives alike. I no longer fit into any specific camp that I’m aware of. I’m actually trying to move away from the whole ‘in a camp’ paradigm…with success varyin on any given day. 🙂

  312. ___

    Consider The Source: “Calvin’s Not So Original Spiritual Hammer (AKA Augustinian Gnosticism) , Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    It is the population of other Christian churches with the questionable gospel of John Calvin by force, deception, and stealthy means that I find very distressing, insufficient and extremely repugnant. It is that gospel in which DeYoung and his fellows subscribe; thereby presenting a wholesale tyranny unfit for any extensive religious consumption IMHO. Research has shown TULIP to be ultimately sourced from an 4th century Augustinian Gnostic false gospel.

    Calvinism, which DeYoung wholly subscribes and proscribes is certainly causing un-necessary divisional rifts among SBC churches because of these pronounced underhanded actions listed above.

    As a reminder, the simple message of the gospel is this:

    Jesus was sent to save His people, Israel from their sins. When the people of Israel rejected Him, Jesus was encourage, by the will of His Father, after His resurrection, to raise up Saul, (a young Jewish religious leader later called Paul) sending him to the gentiles (the rest of the nations) with the faithful message of His gospel: (that being) –If you will believe in Jesus, you will be saved, and have eternal life.

    It is this ‘good news’ gospel of Jesus that has been sufficient for salvation since it’s inception.

    Please see your bible for details.

    ATB

    Sopy
    ____
    Notes:

    John Calvin’s ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’, originated from some six hundred quotes from Augustine’s writings.

    Augustine’s writings teach that :

    (a.) Man has nothing to do with his own salvation.

    (b.) Man has inherited the totally depraved nature of Adam and Eve to the point they are spiritually incapable of availing themselves of God’s grace.

    (c.) As a result of the depraved Adamic nature being inherited, babies are born in sin and with a sinful nature.

    (d.) that the only way any are saved is by God intervening and choosing some whom he calls his elect to be saved.

    (e.) This choosing is totally arbitrary and independent of those chosen.

    (f.) Those thus chosen, cannot ever be lost or fall from grace.

    (g.) Those NOT arbitrarily chosen before the foundation of the world to everlasting life are irrevocably doomed to hell, having absolutely no hope of salvation, regardless of what they do or do not do.

    This doctrine, as formulated by Augustine constitutes the later similar teachings contained in Calvin’s ‘Institutes’…

    Notable associated Calvin quote:

    “In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment. In the elect, we consider calling as an evidence of election, and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an indication of the judgement that awaits them.” (John Calvin, “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, as translated from the origin Latin by John Allen.)

    😉

  313. @ Jack:
    Jack, I firmly believe WE choose.

    Keep in mind the 97 year old was not describing an emotional experience out of no where. That was just not done that way. People were much more reserved. And men were VERY reserved about expressing emotion publicly.

    The mourners bench signified that he had made a decision. He mourned over his sin and was prepared now to follow Christ. It was just a different way to communicate a decision. A sort of old fashioned way I had not heard of until him.

    I don’t recall any overt emotionalism from any of my parents generation. Wearing your emotions outwardly was just not done.

    Things are so different today, I often feel like an alien.

  314. @ Darlene:

    Great question!

    Here is mine, why would Jesus’ first teaching to people be “repent and believe” if some “couldn’t” because He, as Yahweh, did not choose them before the Foundation of the world? He would know, right?

    Wouldn’t that be a bait and switch manuever worthy of a con man?

  315. Lydia wrote:

    @ Darlene:
    Great question!
    Here is mine, why would Jesus’ first teaching to people be “repent and believe” if some “couldn’t” because He, as Yahweh, did not choose them before the Foundation of the world? He would know, right?
    Wouldn’t that be a bait and switch manuever worthy of a con man?

    It would be bait and switch in my eyes. And, why would a benevolent God present himself in such a manner? Feels more like the Wizard of Oz then Jesus, savior of all.

  316. okrapod wrote:

    There are more things than just Calvinism and Arminianism.

    Looking at the current state of the Evangelical world, one could easily miss this.

  317. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    If he didn’t come up with it, then who did?
    Some “More Calvinist than Calvin” type a generation or two later?

    IMHO The confessions that came after Calvin can just as easily cause problems.

  318. @ Lydia:

    hi, Lydia. Nice to see you! I’ve missed your comments. They’re always so interesting, and i always learn something.

  319. Lydia wrote:

    So, who is to say a mourners bench is wrong?

    From your description, that was the custom and tradition of country churches like that.

    Different churches/denoms have different customs and traditions.

    A sinners prayer for someone who doesn’t have the words or a moving experience alone? It’s all human choice in responding to an incredible Savior.. My hunch is our Lord is pleased no matter the process.

    The trouble starts when someone proclaims THEIR version of the process the Only True One.

  320. okrapod wrote:

    Really good to hear from you again. Time was when you were here right much, and Gram3 was sharing her insider knowledge, when some who barely comment now used to write more often and when a really wide diversity of people spoke up. I really benefitted from all that. Maybe that will rise from the ashes for the benefit of all of us.

    Agreed.

  321. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Of course, this meant the peasants would starve instead. Oh well…we need armies more than peasants, right? Very short-sighted reasoning, but there you are.

    And there was also the attitude of the Highborn that peasants would just breed back after a die-off, so So What?

  322. refugee wrote:

    Yes, on further thought, our former church embraced total depravity in a self-flagellating way. We were god’s favorites, all right, but we were also rotten, horrible, desperately evil and wicked sinners and must never forget the wide gap between our miserable selves and perfect, holy god.

    Worm Theology, AKA Spiritual Masochism.
    That way lies Madness.

  323. Just wanted to drop this into the thread for people dismayed by the implications of TULIP.
    Thomas Jay Oord wrote an amazing book titled, “The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence” Dr. Oord presents a strikingly different view of God that largely solves the problem of evil and God’s role. Highly recommended:
    https://www.amazon.com/Uncontrolling-Love-God-Relational-Providence-ebook/dp/B01959VKI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500071150&sr=8-1&keywords=uncontrolling+love+of+god

  324. Lydia wrote:

    So the person who presumes to have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed when it comes to right doctrine, yet their actions show they are malicious, vindictive, cruel, hateful, greedy, slanderous, violent….feel free to add to this list….what will God think of them? I think Jesus had a lot to say about that.

    They die like flies when their Betters play their Games of Thrones, but somehow they’re still around when those Betters are no more.

  325. okrapod wrote:

    When I was a Baptist I never once saw any kneeling or repenting or praying any sinner’s prayer or anybody being one-on-one ‘led to Christ’ according to the terminology which I think I hear you saying. The IFB did it be we did not.

    So did Calvary Chapel, which dominated “non-denominational” church culture in my area.

  326. Bridget wrote:

    okrapod wrote:

    Really good to hear from you again. Time was when you were here right much, and Gram3 was sharing her insider knowledge, when some who barely comment now used to write more often and when a really wide diversity of people spoke up. I really benefitted from all that. Maybe that will rise from the ashes for the benefit of all of us.

    Agreed.

    @ okrapod:
    Yes, I hope so, too.

  327. Lydia wrote:

    God is human centered because He chose to manifest Himself as a lowly nobody to walk among other lowly nobodies to show what being the light in the world was like. Then he conquered death which is the consequence of all sin. That is human centered to me. (God is not distant)

    From what I am learning about Orthodoxy, you have a very orthodox perspective. I’ve been greatly blessed by seeing other ways of viewing God’s work and his relationship with humans.

  328. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But every time we oppose universalism, I think we need to remind ourselves that – if the bible accurately reflects God’s thinking – God himself wants to be a universalist.

    Yes, this is an important point. In my line of work, definitions of terms is critically important, which makes me tend to sort through theological definitions. One key word that needs definition is “saved.” And along with that, we need to know what we are saved from and what we are saved to. I’ve often noted that Calvinism and Universalism are two sides of the same coin – on one side some people are “saved” against their unregenerated will, and on the other side everyone is “saved” against their unregenerated will. In both cases, “saved” assumes going to heaven instead of hell. But as I posted earlier about the Orthodox view of heaven and hell, that might be a bad assumption. The Bible seems to indicate that all will be raised to eternal life. So in that sense, all are saved. But what is the state of that salvation? If the Orthodox are correct, all will rise to be eternally in the presence of God. None will be able to escape his fiery presence. How they experience that presence will depend largely on choices that have been making all along. For those who seek “godliness,” that fiery presence will be experienced as bliss as all that is untrue about us is burned away. In that sense they are saved. For those who reject godliness, that fiery presence will be experienced as torment as they cling to all the things that cannot survive God’s presence. In that sense, they are not saved. But all are raised to life because of what Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection.

    Maybe it’s something like being forced to visit amusement parks in Orlando in the middle of August. For some, it will be the trip of a lifetime. For others (like me) it will seem like a living hell of long lines, sweaty crowds, and exhuastion. It’s not the circumstanced that are different – the state of the visitor will determine whether they experience it as good or bad. This is a very different way of believing about the afterlife from what I was taught, but it’s making a lot of sense to me.

  329. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    @ Brent:
    No…I’m opposed to Reformed theology because, to me, it makes God into an untrustworthy monster. Doesn’t matter to me who does or doesn’t hold to it. I’ve rejected the theology on its own merits.

    Me too, Jeanette.

  330. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I was going to mention the Thomists and Molinists!!

    Molinism has intellectual attraction, but if you think through it fully, it turns out to be Calvinist determinism with window dressing. Molinism relies on the set of all possible worlds. This gets pretty freaky because the set of all possible worlds include countless worlds were one is saved, countless worlds where one is not saved, countless worlds where one has (in one world or another) committed all possible crimes, countless worlds where each possible person is a world leader, countless worlds where no one living today exists. The only worlds it excludes are impossible ones. Out of all of those countless possible worlds, God chose to actualize just this one. He could have chosen a world where you were saved (even one where everyone was saved). But instead, he chose to actualize a world where you are not saved even though he could have chosen a world where you were. So even though it pretends to support the idea of free will, it actually is the same determinism as Calvinism. It just appears less offensive on the surface.

  331. okrapod wrote:

    Thus, I think that salvation is all three: done, doing and will be done.

    What you wrote struck me because it perfectly agrees with something I read recently in a book about Orthodoxy. Here is a short link that says pretty much what you did: http://antiochian.org/1123705533:

    Salvation demands faith in Jesus Christ. People cannot save themselves by their own good works. Salvation is “faith working through love.” It is an ongoing, lifelong process. Salvation is past tense in that, through the death and Resurrection of Christ, we have been saved. It is present tense, for we must also be being saved by our active participation through faith in our union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is also future tense, for we must yet be saved at His glorious Second Coming.

    I’ve been very much appreciating your thoughts on this thread. Very thought provoking.

  332. Sopwith wrote:

    but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment.

    Key word: incomprehensible. If it’s true that we become like that which we worship, this would explain why so many of the YRRs are incomprehensible. It’s in their spiritual DNA.

  333. roebuck wrote:

    hoodaticus wrote:
    If He decided before you were born, indeed before the foundations of the Earth were laid, that you will be saved or not saved, that is totally different. Conflating “foresaw” with “predestined” is wrong, IF you believe that God wanted humankind to have free will. If not, who cares?

    Finally, Calvinism boils down to this: God decided who would be saved and who would be damned and there’s not a thing you (generic you) can do about it. All the books, conferences, preaching engagements, para-church ministries are pointless, because whether these things are done or not doesn’t matter. God already decided everyone’s fate.

  334. NE Schreiber wrote:

    Here’s what I can’t puzzle out: The cost of the Son’s death was far more than a cash ticket to Hawaii. The Son accepted the penalty due for our sin.

    I was puzzled in the same way until I started researching penal substitution. It turns out that the Bible does not say anywhere that Jesus was punished for us or paid a penalty for us. In fact, there is not much in the New Testament about penalty. Isn’t it odd that we’ve been steeped in this concept. It means that the atonement was about much more.

    If you are bored, here are some of the better articles/papers I found about penal substitution: http://thewartburgwatch.com/interesting/books-movies-tv-etc/#comment-326343. Yes, I was actually geeky enough to read all of them, along with many other articles that did not make the list.

  335. My mother is unsaved and I regularly pray that she would trust Jesus, with Limited Atonement my prayers may never make a difference since she is not chosen. I have to believe that my mother can choose with God making her heart warm toward the gospel whether or not to accept Jesus.

  336. @Beakerj wrote:

    this paradox leaves room for God to be creating people in order to reject them.
    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

    BeakerJ, there was a time about 5 years ago where I knew I could not be a Christian anymore until I found a different way to understand Romans 9 than the idea that God created vessels of wrath destined for destruction. It’s such a horrific idea, it’s hard to believe that Christians can believe this and still love God. I was sick over it. To me, if a Christian believes this about God, it creates an atmosphere that can foster abuse.

    It was an intense relief to me to find out that many (maybe most?) Christians believe that when Paul says God loves Jacob and hates Esau, he is referring to the fact that God chose (elected) Israel as his chosen nation for revealing himself to the world. It’s corporate election, not personal, individual election. And as for “hating” Esau, it’s the same concept of “hate” that Jesus used when he said we should “hate” our father and mother. It’s hyperbole.

    I still remember the flood of physical relief that I felt. I grew up IFB, then I moved to Calvinism. The God of the IFB’ers is picky and legalistic. The God of the Calvinists cares more about his glory than he does about us. For the last several years, I’ve been on the hunt for a more compassionate, generous God.

  337. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    okrapod wrote:

    Thus, I think that salvation is all three: done, doing and will be done.

    What you wrote struck me because it perfectly agrees with something I read recently in a book about Orthodoxy. Here is a short link that says pretty much what you did: http://antiochian.org/1123705533:

    Salvation demands faith in Jesus Christ. People cannot save themselves by their own good works. Salvation is “faith working through love.” It is an ongoing, lifelong process. Salvation is past tense in that, through the death and Resurrection of Christ, we have been saved. It is present tense, for we must also be being saved by our active participation through faith in our union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is also future tense, for we must yet be saved at His glorious Second Coming.

    I’ve been very much appreciating your thoughts on this thread. Very thought provoking.

    Catholics also believe that salvation is a process. 😀

  338. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But every time we oppose universalism, I think we need to remind ourselves that – if the bible accurately reflects God’s thinking – God himself wants to be a universalist.

    Yes, this is an important point. In my line of work, definitions of terms is critically important, which makes me tend to sort through theological definitions. One key word that needs definition is “saved.” And along with that, we need to know what we are saved from and what we are saved to. I’ve often noted that Calvinism and Universalism are two sides of the same coin – on one side some people are “saved” against their unregenerated will, and on the other side everyone is “saved” against their unregenerated will. In both cases, “saved” assumes going to heaven instead of hell. But as I posted earlier about the Orthodox view of heaven and hell, that might be a bad assumption. The Bible seems to indicate that all will be raised to eternal life. So in that sense, all are saved. But what is the state of that salvation? If the Orthodox are correct, all will rise to be eternally in the presence of God. None will be able to escape his fiery presence. How they experience that presence will depend largely on choices that have been making all along. For those who seek “godliness,” that fiery presence will be experienced as bliss as all that is untrue about us is burned away. In that sense they are saved. For those who reject godliness, that fiery presence will be experienced as torment as they cling to all the things that cannot survive God’s presence. In that sense, they are not saved. But all are raised to life because of what Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection.

    Maybe it’s something like being forced to visit amusement parks in Orlando in the middle of August. For some, it will be the trip of a lifetime. For others (like me) it will seem like a living hell of long lines, sweaty crowds, and exhuastion. It’s not the circumstanced that are different – the state of the visitor will determine whether they experience it as good or bad. This is a very different way of believing about the afterlife from what I was taught, but it’s making a lot of sense to me.

    You allude to the River of Fire, I believe? It is an attractive belief, and I think a permissible one, but I can’t see how it can square with the Scriptural record (including Our Lord’s own words). Also, as far as I know, it was not the majority view of the Early Fathers. Not by a long shot.

  339. dee wrote:

    3. What about a child how grows into adulthood, having been beaten and raped by parents who used the name of Jesus as they abused them Now, the name of Jesus causes this adult severe PTSD. This person then commits suicide. (True story BTW)
    Well, maybe in exception for her?
    Are you 100% sure that there are no further exceptions, ever?

    Dee, I love your list of exceptions. I’ll add some others that have been on my mind.

    When I think about people like Vyckie Garrison, and the people in Homeschoolers Anonymous, and others who used to believe in an abusive portrayal of God who are now atheists, it’s unthinkable to me that they would end up in eternal torture if they die still rejecting Jesus. I believe that when they die, they will finally see that God is not the abusive monster they were taught he was. They will finally see that he is the source of all love and beauty and truth.

  340. Darlene wrote:

    God already decided everyone’s fate.

    And pretty much everything else. In Calvinism, it’s as if we are all playing out a pre-written script, as we robotically act out God’s great play. And we foolishly think the play is real, and that we have choices.

    Ken F, I’ve appreciated your thoughts [and 20 questions] on the Atonement. And this seems to be the core of the LA debate. If the Atonement simply describes how Jesus paid the price for our sins, the question is, how many sins did He pay for? All or some? It has helped me a great deal to consider that maybe there was more going on.

  341. Yay Himalaya!

    Graet comment. Another exdepton mean the rule does not always apply. I am planning on writing a pos tabout this one of these days. I will use you example.

  342. okrapod wrote:

    @ ANDREW KENNY:
    Jesus died for only the few, and only the few are saved.
    Jesus died for all, but only the few are saved.
    With all due respect to the use of conjunctions, how is that any different in practical application?
    It seems to me that TULIP survives or perishes as a totality and not in bits and pieces. Regardless of the extent of the atonement if irresistible grace is not dispensed to the many but only to the few, then what does it matter for whom Christ died?

    Bingo, Okrapod! And along with Irresistible Grace, I’ll toss in Unconditional Election. If one believes in the T, U, I & P, then one must believe in the L to be consistent.

  343. I agree with someone up-thread who said that universalism is a form of Calvinism. I’m originally from Boston, where the vast majority of Calvinist Congregational churches eventually became Unitarian Universalist or some variation thereof. There is a reason for this! The transition was easier than you’d think — it was just the switch to one form of determinism to another.

    Both Calvinism and its illegitimate daughter, Universalism, deny free will. To deny free will is to deny human dignity. If we have no free will, we are puppets, not persons. Universalism sounds really kind and compassionate, but, just like Calvinism, it reduces human beings to automata.

    God does not save us against our will. He loves us infinitely, but He will not force His love upon us. As CS Lewis famously put it, in the last analysis there are two kinds of people: those who say to Jesus “Thy Will be done” and those to whom Jesus says, sadly, “THY will be done.”

    IMHO there is a Hell, and it is populated, but it is also self-chosen. And in a certain crazy sense, I think, the denizens of Hell are happier than they would be in Heaven. I mean, of course there’s no real happiness in Hell. But we’ve all known people who wallow in their own misery. When they finalize their decision to wallow in their own misery, at their deaths…then how could they ever be happy in Heaven?

    Misery is not lessened by being self-chosen. But I suppose there can be a certain grim satisfaction in it. Or something.

    Anyway, CS Lewis talks about this a lot in The Great Divorce. It’s a work of the imagination, not a theological treatise, but I find much of it very thought provoking and compelling.

  344. @ Ken F (aka Tweed):

    Yes, what does saved mean (sozo) and from what are we saved and to what are we saved? I tend to substitute “rescue” but if you study the word it can encompass healed, safety, etc. Not sure we even touch the surface. It’s one of those words like Gospel which has become meaningless if you ars around certain circles too long.

    These questions started to perculate in the back burner of my brain during the mega church days. So much time, money and effort to attract people. Ok, saved to what, then? Entertainment, a social life? In Neo Calvinism, saved to what? Obeying a 30 year old “elder” ( do they even grasp how Mormon that is?)

    I will add one more concept to your afterlife ideas. The concept of redeemed earth described in Revelation. (Some think God is going to destroy the earth. But what if He redeems it) An eternity living the way God mean it to be? I don’t know. it’s interesting to discuss and a bit exciting, actually. But I promise not to get emotional about it. 🙂

  345. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    You allude to the River of Fire, I believe?

    If I did, I did not mean to. I was not thinking about that at all, but you reminded me that it is represented in Orthodox icons. I need to do some research on this. As for the belief that God’s presence can be like fire or water depending on our state, that thought was expressed by both Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. I’ll have to do more research to know which other church fathers believed it. But the key point is this – historically, “orthodox” Christianity has included a variety of thoughts. Much more flexibility than the current New Calvinists such as the subject of this post.

  346. Off topic but late July 2014 Braxton passed his father’s words still echo in my soul

    “No words. No sermon. No funny quotes. No answers. No note. Nothing but excruciating pain & the assurance that I’ll see him in Glory.”

    I was sitting next to my father at my brother’s funeral and saw a single tear come down his cheek. It was the only time I can remember seeing my father cry when I was young. I just thought it was important to remember this young man, who struck me as a very kind regular 15-year-old kid. God keep our children safe.

  347. Himalaya wrote:

    @Beakerj wrote:

    this paradox leaves room for God to be creating people in order to reject them.
    This paradox has eaten my faith like an acid.

    BeakerJ, there was a time about 5 years ago where I knew I could not be a Christian anymore until I found a different way to understand Romans 9 than the idea that God created vessels of wrath destined for destruction. It’s such a horrific idea, it’s hard to believe that Christians can believe this and still love God. I was sick over it. To me, if a Christian believes this about God, it creates an atmosphere that can foster abuse.

    It was an intense relief to me to find out that many (maybe most?) Christians believe that when Paul says God loves Jacob and hates Esau, he is referring to the fact that God chose (elected) Israel as his chosen nation for revealing himself to the world. It’s corporate election, not personal, individual election. And as for “hating” Esau, it’s the same concept of “hate” that Jesus used when he said we should “hate” our father and mother. It’s hyperbole.

    I still remember the flood of physical relief that I felt. I grew up IFB, then I moved to Calvinism. The God of the IFB’ers is picky and legalistic. The God of the Calvinists cares more about his glory than he does about us. For the last several years, I’ve been on the hunt for a more compassionate, generous God.

    I was always taught that this hate-vs-love thing was a Semitic idiom. It does not literally mean that God hated Esau, any more than Jesus meant that we should literally hate our parents and children in order to follow Him.

    Plus ISTM that God took excellent care of Esau. If that’s “hate,” let’s have some more of it!

  348. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    You allude to the River of Fire, I believe?

    If I did, I did not mean to. I was not thinking about that at all, but you reminded me that it is represented in Orthodox icons. I need to do some research on this. As for the belief that God’s presence can be like fire or water depending on our state, that thought was expressed by both Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. I’ll have to do more research to know which other church fathers believed it. But the key point is this – historically, “orthodox” Christianity has included a variety of thoughts. Much more flexibility than the current New Calvinists such as the subject of this post.

    Yes, indeedy! Could not agree more!

    And I agree with you about Disney World. Sheer torture!!!!

  349. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    @ dee:
    Well, yes, I did know that much. I assume you knew they are not just a fruit, but a berry in particular?

    And that home grown tomatoes are far better than greenhouse tomatoes any day! 😉

  350. Mae wrote:

    Yet, I take comfort God sent JEsus, to represent himself to the world. Jesus I understand, Jesus I love. God knows our limitations in understanding almighty God, so he sent Jesus. Such a comfort to rest in.

    It took a miracle to put the stars in place;
    It took a miracle to hang the world in space.
    But when He saved my soul,
    Cleansed and made me whole,
    It took a miracle of love and grace.

  351. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jeffrey J Chalmers wrote:
    @ elastigirl:
    It is also an exercise in intellectual arrogance….. As was summarized above… do you believe in free will? do you believe in predestination? Yes and Yes. Can we really understand this, no…. it is supernatural, and we are, for the most part, natural beings..
    AKA Paradoxes exist. Deal with it.

    Yes, that free will and predestination both exist is a paradox. And that they can both exist at the same time is a mystery. This is where I place the mystery, not in: Did Jesus die for everyone or only the elect?

  352. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I was always taught that this hate-vs-love thing was a Semitic idiom. It does not literally mean that God hated Esau, any more than Jesus meant that we should literally hate our parents and children in order to follow Him.

    Jewish thought does not always comport with fundagelical exegesis and derived ideology. For example, God did not harden Pharaoh’s heart, he hardened his own heart. Good catch. One’s family is one of the most precious gifts a person can have in this life. I’m also convinced that the most precious commodity doled out to the children of men is time.

  353. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Anyway, CS Lewis talks about this a lot in The Great Divorce. It’s a work of the imagination, not a theological treatise, but I find much of it very thought provoking and compelling.

    I agree this is a good, well, I guess Lewis was good at analogies or parables. It has been a few years since I read this one. I think I would get more out of it at the place I am now.

    As to Calvinism (or Puratinism) and Universalism being two sides of the same coin, I agree. I didn’t realize that a lot of the Calvinism of old became the Universalist of now. It does make sense, though. I know in my own wrestling with various doctrines in my wilderness days (metaphorically speaking), my own compassion would drive me to universalism if I spent too much time considering Calvinism. But free will upsets both apple carts every time. 🙂

  354. Lydia wrote:

    An eternity living the way God mean it to be? I don’t know. it’s interesting to discuss and a bit exciting, actually. But I promise not to get emotional about it.

    😀
    Oh, I get emotional about it, too….

  355. chuck wrote:

    My mother is unsaved and I regularly pray that she would trust Jesus, with Limited Atonement my prayers may never make a difference since she is not chosen. I have to believe that my mother can choose with God making her heart warm toward the gospel whether or not to accept Jesus.

    God bless you, Chuck! I just prayed for you both.

  356. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:

    I love history and what you described in your first paragraph always shocked me when I read snippets of it in biographies or history books about descendants of Puritans turning to Universalism. I honestly believe that it is very hard to leave determinism when it is so ingrained early on. It’s hard to lose the filter when you are trained to read scripture with that filter of God so ingrained. It makes sense to me some would trade the determinist legalism of the Puritans for the freedom in living of deterministic Universalism.

    But It caused me to dig in a bit deeper. John Adams despised Calvinism. There are so many references here and there in their letters about beliefs and religion. They were definitely thinking about it a lot. But they had also been reading Locke, etc. Thank God!

    I honestly don’t think a Declaration of Independence of any kind could have come from serious Calvinists of Puritan beliefs. They had no concept of “self” governing. It flies in the face of Calvinism.

  357. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    For those who reject godliness, that fiery presence will be experienced as torment as they cling to all the things that cannot survive God’s presence.

    Ken, it may be that the fiery presence will burn away all the things that can’t survive God’s presence, and it may be that the eyes of that person will finally open and see God for all his worth and beauty. This is something I’ve thought a lot about, so I’ll just submit my thoughts to the community for review! A comparison that might work is that of a criminal who is imprisoned. Without his support structure and enablers, he may find himself alone and unable to escape the realization of the hurt he has caused. He may start to experience real grief and repentance, and we know this has actually happened to some imprisoned criminals.

    This may also be what happens with some people after death. God may confront them with the truth about their deeds, bringing about grief and repentance. And that would not be coercion. That would be coming to a knowledge of the truth.

    Lydia wrote:

    He can woo a young Soviet girl who mused about his existence upon studying a snowflake or from an episode of Star Trek (Ht: Dee) I have heard a former Muslim from Afghanistan speak of his dreams about Isa. (Moved me more than anything!) Whitaker Chambers, a rabid atheist, could not dismiss the concept of God from studying the ear of his new born daughter. So, I don’t discount anything.

    Lydia, those are beautiful examples. And it may be that God will work with people in the same way after they die! Although I imagine the process might be faster taking place in God’s actual presence! And that wouldn’t be determinism. That would be finally having the privilege of knowing fully, even as we are fully known.

  358. Lydia wrote:

    Hey ole Muff! My Pelagian buddy. (Wink)

    Yep, that’s me. Amongst other labels, appellations and epithets (some colorful I might add), I’m also a Pelagian heretic.

  359. @ Lydia:

    As so many have mentioned and alluded to, I think that’s why it’s so important to consider philosophy, history, sociology, psychology, etc and so on – the whole context of a human and group of people – instead of merely looking at “doctrine” as if it is static and unaffected. It’s never just “doctrine”, but many things, personally and social systems and historically, informing and interplaying into someone’s or a group’s theology.

    Like this new strain and off shoot of classic Calvinism, it’s not just limited atonement, but why and what would draw someone to those beliefs?When does theology become projection instead of revelation? How are personal, local, national, universal issues and history manifesting themselves?

    It will be interesting to see how this movement plays out further down the line from a church history perspective and how future historians will connect dots we cannot even see yet.

  360. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Max wrote:
    John Piper is a 7-Point Calvinist! Yep, the Pope of New Calvinism has to have more points than anybody else, you know.
    Because 6-Point Calvinists are more Calvinist than 5-Poiint Calvinists, and get to burn them for Heresy.
    And 7-Point Calvinists get to do the same to 6-Point Calvinists.
    “Can You Top This?” meets “Me, NOT Thee” in a specifically-Calvinist form of One-Upmanship.
    I fully expect to see 8-Point Calvinism, then 9-Point, then 10-Point, etc. All to one-up the others and PROVE that I am Elect.

    I am reminded of Emo Phillips:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3fAcxcxoZ8

  361. @ Beakerj:
    Forgive me for painting with a brush too broad. Some people have a need to find an answer for every question and resolve every contradiction. I do not have that need. For me, as my faith has grown, I have found peace living with the infinite mysteries of an infinite God who, I believe, loves his creation with an infinite love. And I believe that God always – for God’s purposes and in God’s way – does the right thing. Since I have a finite mind, I cannot begin to fully understand the infinite mind of God. Often, the only response I have for questions about God and the ensuing theological conundrums, is “I don’t know.” Knowing God and knowing about God are two different things. I do know Jesus; and, through my relationship with the living Jesus, I have been given me a glimpse of the wonderful, mysterious God of creation. I have found peace in his presence. For this I am thankful.

  362. Lydia wrote:

    I honestly don’t think a Declaration of Independence of any kind could have come from serious Calvinists of Puritan beliefs. They had no concept of “self” governing. It flies in the face of Calvinism.

    Another good catch. The writers of Scripture were products of their culture and in their world there was no such thing as The Rights of Man. So it follows in a perverse sort of way that they (Puritans) would have a difficult time coming to grips with the Enlightenment Era thinkers and the proposition of self government beyond the scope of ruling autocrats (kings, princes, high-powered clergy and such).

  363. okrapod wrote:

    I don’t see that defining ultimate truth as whatever we happen to know right now is consistent with reason, tradition or scripture. So, yes, I think that there is yet unrevealed mystery behind almost everything, a deeper layer so to speak, which should not stop us from acting on what we do know.

    Okrapod, I think when it comes to mystery, we agree. It’s when the mystery card is used as an excuse or diversion when we can know and understand that I have a problem. Not everything about our faith is shrouded in mystery. Some things have been clearly revealed to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

  364. Lydia wrote:

    @ Darlene:
    Great question!
    Here is mine, why would Jesus’ first teaching to people be “repent and believe” if some “couldn’t” because He, as Yahweh, did not choose them before the Foundation of the world? He would know, right?
    Wouldn’t that be a bait and switch manuever worthy of a con man?

    Good one, Lydia. I cannot conceive of Jesus Christ in any way, shape, or form being a “con man.”

  365. Mae wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    @ Darlene:
    Great question!
    Here is mine, why would Jesus’ first teaching to people be “repent and believe” if some “couldn’t” because He, as Yahweh, did not choose them before the Foundation of the world? He would know, right?
    Wouldn’t that be a bait and switch manuever worthy of a con man?
    It would be bait and switch in my eyes. And, why would a benevolent God present himself in such a manner? Feels more like the Wizard of Oz then Jesus, savior of all.

    Bringing Calvin’s teaching on Evanescent Grace into the discussion makes God a Trickster and Indian Giver.

  366. ___

    “Jumping Though John Calvin’s Mental Impairment Hoops, Perhaps?”

    Calvin Causes Spiritual Disturbence?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

    hmmm…

    Ken F,

    Hello,

    Calvinism can cause quite the mental impairment for those that subcome to this 4th century originating Augustinian Gnostic theological system and those people that push it. How unfortunate that most folks never read John Calvin’s ‘Institutes Of The Christian Religion’ for themselves, and compare it with what is written in their bibles. Further yet, the real unfortunate ones never ever read their bibles at all. This IMHO is a prescription for a maximum amount of religious manipulation, and a strong dose of religious tyranny to boot. Both of which can be spiritually fatal, or worse.

    huh?

    “Hello spiritual tyranny, my old friend,
    I’ve come to walk with you again,
    False religion…a spiritual cancer grows…
    Because of Calvin’s vision softly creeping,
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains…
    Within the reach of tyranny…”

    Run, don’t walk to the nearest exit, the spiritual life you save may be your own…

    I would hate to see your heart break…
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QZweyIKNwX4

    (sadface)

    Sopy
    ___
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5Vwu-t7QRaE

    😉

  367. Jack wrote:

    I am a universalist. I think there are many roads to the truth.
    Over my career I’ve worked with many different cultures, ethnic and otherwise. I’ve known a number of gay & lesbian people. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Unitarian.
    I’ve come to the conclusion we can’t all be going to heck.
    What about those who die never hearing a word about Jesus through no fault of their own? What about those that lived before Jesus or in the Americas or China or Japan?
    Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    I heard a stat estimating that about 36 billion people have lived and died as long as there have been people.
    Heck’s going to be a pretty busy place cause I’m going to bet most wouldn’t be defined as Christian.

    Most aren’t defined as Christian and the Bible’s pretty clear on that point–you know, the wide road/narrow path discussion by Jesus–Who I believe to be the Whole Thing, It, the only way to God the Father. Now of those who came before Jesus or those who never got–or never will get–a chance to hear about Him, that’s beyond all knowledge. I believe God’s just and loves them just as He loves anyone else. How He works all that out is up to Him; just don’t know how it’ll be, but I’m sure it’ll be just the right thing and one day when I stand before Him I’ll slap my forehead and think “Of course, that’s exactly the right solution!”

  368. okrapod wrote:

    Is it loving for God to offer salvation to someone when by his foreknowledge he knows the offer will be rejected if that rejection is then only one more nail in the spiritual coffin of the one who rejects the offer?

    It is certainly more loving than offering it in bad faith. If I invite a friend to a party and think “I know what his answer will be but I would really like him to come”, you have acted with love and integrity. But if you offer it with no actual intention of giving it yourself, thinking “I know what his answer will be and I am happy about that. I really don’t want to invite him but I need to keep up appearances” then that is just hypocrisy and unloving!

  369. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    t does not literally mean that God hated Esau, any more than Jesus meant that we should literally hate our parents and children in order to follow Him.

    In our cultural mindset, love and hate are incompatible but I don’t believe that is the Biblical view. God is love and this motivates him to save but before we were saved we were considered enemies of God (Romans 5 etc). God hates because he is just and holy – many times the Bible says that God hates the wicked (not just what they do). But he is kind and benevolent to offer them salvation. We are told to love our enemies and God does the same. When we say things like “I would not wish this upon my worst enemy” and seek for his good, whilst still feeling repulsed at his character, then we see how it reconciles.

  370. Himalaya wrote:

    For the last several years, I’ve been on the hunt for a more compassionate, generous God.

    I think you’ve put your finger on something really important, Himalaya.

    Pondering the narrow gate (as in, “enter through the narrow gate”)… it’s narrow and hard to find, but that’s just the beginning. It leads to a narrow path.

    A lot’s been written about Paul’s “wretched man that I am!” passage at the end of Romans 7. I think it’s really instructive, because right before the “wretched” bit, things seem to be going well for our hero. Way back in chapter 5, he had peace with God etc. Then he didn’t…

  371. Himalaya wrote:

    Ken, it may be that the fiery presence will burn away all the things that can’t survive God’s presence, and it may be that the eyes of that person will finally open and see God for all his worth and beauty.

    That seems very possible. One hint is in the book of Revelation. In the middle of Chapter 16, which describes the bowls of wrath being poured out on the earth, we find these words (twice): “and they did not repent…” If the whole point is retributive justice, what is the point of bringing up the idea of repentance? It makes it sound like repentance always remains a possibility.

    Ray Anderson’s book “Judas and Jesus” explores this. Anderson’s question is basically this: if one dies unsaved, will that person face a god who will say, “I am sorry, there is nothing I can do for you now.”?

    There is also this: Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    I hold out the hope that God can save people even after they die. I don’t see convincing evidence making this impossible.

  372. I think that we decide for ourselves what is good or bad, loving or hateful, compassionate or uncaring, truth or lie, praise worthy or disgusting, virtue or vice-I could go on but not necessary. Need I reference the Eden story?

    Then we judge God by what we ourselves have judged to be what God either ought to be or which we want Him to be. But alas, God does not seem to live up to our standards in many ways.

    When we do not find what we individually are looking for in God, and it is apparent from scripture that we do not find our individual preferences in God, then we look somewhere else for God. That would be ‘a god I could believe in’ or something to that effect.

    To put this into perspective, for multitudes on the face of the earth God would never become incarnate; it would be both impossible and demeaning. For many of his co-religionists in Jesus’ day God would never associate with sinners much less violate any of the laws, along with would not become incarnate. For us and today God would never insist on having his own way-playing the God card-resorting to ‘because I said so’; He would be much too concerned with winning our favor.

    I think that we all do this even when we try not to, including in the recesses of our thinking where we are not aware of what we are doing.

  373. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    If the whole point is retributive justice, what is the point of bringing up the idea of repentance?

    Wow! I never saw this before! Thank you for adding another beautiful piece to the puzzle!

    I looked up the book you mentioned. Is it “The Gospel According to Judas”? I will have to pick that up. It’s funny, but I know 10 years ago I would have scoffed at at book like that.

  374. Himalaya wrote:

    For the last several years, I’ve been on the hunt for a more compassionate, generous God.

    Yeah, me too. But whenever things are hard, all the old fears come back – I actually think I’ve developed a bit of religious OCD/PTSD on this subject which overrides my ability to think clearly about biblical language in those moments. This drives me nuts as in ordinary life I handle language well enough to score in the high 80s at Masters level. Sigh.

    But I think I am washing up on the shores of orthodoxy/neo-orthodoxy/methodist areas of theology & picture of God, & hope to be strong enough soon to stand up on this shore & walk about a bit. Am about to start reading NT Wright’s The Day the Revolution Started, very slowly. Makes a big change from the days that this subject just had me hiding under the bed.

  375. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I think it’s really instructive, because right before the “wretched” bit, things seem to be going well for our hero. Way back in chapter 5, he had peace with God etc. Then he didn’t…

    Right, what happened there? When I was going through my struggle over Romans 9, I picked up Volume X of the New Interpreter’s Bible so I could read NT Wright’s full commentary on Romans, not just the little “Romans for Everyone.” I remember he said some very interesting, insightful things about Romans 7. I’ll look it up when I get home from work this afternoon.

    But what are your thoughts? What do you see going on there?

  376. okrapod wrote:

    I think that we all do this even when we try not to, including in the recesses of our thinking where we are not aware of what we are doing.

    Yes, though I don’t like it, this is true. One of the things my friend and I remind ourselves of when we start placing certain specific expectations is: God is not safe, but He is Good.

    Sometimes, by our human way of thinking, God seems crazy and unsafe. He will take us to a place where we are undone. But…He is Good. One of the hardest things for me so far has been learning to trust His goodness enough to surrender my outcomes to Him.

  377. Himalaya wrote:

    Is it “The Gospel According to Judas”?

    That was the original book. The updated book title is “Judas and Jesus: Amazing Grace for the Wounded Soul.” It includes The Gospel According to Jesus. It’s a quick read – only 130 pages. I highly recommend it.

  378. Himalaya wrote:

    When I was going through my struggle over Romans 9

    The YRRs make that passage all about salvation. But it’s really about God’s plan for bringing the Savior into the world.

  379. “John Calvin, following the 4th century Gnostic writings of Augustine, have left a five hundred year old casted shadow upon Christianity; thereby fostering and encouraging a malignant tyranny upon all it touches.” -Sopwith

  380. I know I have real problems with the Westminster catechism’s section on predestination. It makes God sound cold, hard, and calculating. Not loving.

    But then, scripture itself is good at that.

    “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

    Bridget wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    If he didn’t come up with it, then who did?
    Some “More Calvinist than Calvin” type a generation or two later?

    IMHO The confessions that came after Calvin can just as easily cause problems.

  381. And Augustine’s views on women certainly sound twisted.

    Reminds me a bit of Piper, actually.

    Sopwith wrote:

    “John Calvin, following the 4th century Gnostic writings of Augustine, have left a five hundred year old casted shadow upon Christianity; thereby fostering and encouraging a malignant tyranny upon all it touches.” -Sopwith

  382. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:

    I had not heard of that idiom/semantic thing before. How typicical, to shroud “eternal” truth in something that will be incomprehensible to later generations.

    The scene where Esau is not blessed by his father because of his brother’s trickery has always been troubling to me.

  383. Refugee wrote:

    I had not heard of that idiom/semantic thing before. How typicical, to shroud “eternal” truth in something that will be incomprehensible to later generations.

    The scene where Esau is not blessed by his father because of his brother’s trickery has always been troubling to me.

    One of the watershed moments I had in my journey out of fundagelicalism was when I was no longer troubled by the lives and times of bronze-age desert chieftains.

  384. Refugee wrote:

    And Augustine’s views on women certainly sound twisted.

    Reminds me a bit of Piper, actually.

    Tertullian was no shrinking violet either in his vile hatred of women…

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Woman is a temple built over a sewer. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

    In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225): On the Apparel of Women, chapter 1
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What confounds me even more is that so many theologians, seminarians, and lay-people even at present day put so much stock in all these old powdery dead men.

  385. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    I’ll bet Kevin’s wife is busier than he is. Surprised she hasn’t written her own CRAZY BUSY book yet.
    Maybe it’s in the works…
    Nah. She prolly don’t have the spare time.

    Naturally. After all, housewives don’t get sabbaticals.

  386. Refugee wrote:

    The scene where Esau is not blessed by his father because of his brother’s trickery has always been troubling to me.

    I wonder what would have happened if Jacob had not tricked his father. Would he have been blessed anyway. Maybe the point of the story is how God can bring about his plans (in this case the line of the Messiah) even when we humans try to do it on our own.

  387. @ Refugee:

    ‘The scene where Esau is not blessed by his father because of his brother’s trickery has always been troubling to me.”
    ++++++++++++

    i suppose i’ve started seeing it as a rough story, the details of which have been shaped and/or re-shaped by humans for various reasons as a means of tracing backwards and forwards the jewish people, the promised land, the messiah, etc.

    i don’t look too carefully at the scheming, barbaric, weird details. I see them as part of the customs and times, perhaps storytelling choices. I think God works with what’s available (scheming, barbaric, weird, story-telling, & all), changing things for the better over time.

    like, i wonder if Abraham was the guy simply because he was paying attention and responded. And things started from there.

    Could have been someone else, somewhere else, the details ending up being very different.

    but i imagine the end result would have been the same — people reject God’s good offer of relationship, and so God goes the distance in spite of it all. because he wants to be with / interact with / partner with / know and by known by his people.

  388. Refugee wrote:

    And Augustine’s views on women certainly sound twisted.
    Reminds me a bit of Piper, actually.

    Piper wrote a biography of Augustine. Of course Piper didn’t include any of Augustine’s views on women, but I have to wonder about his conclusion on those views. I’m wondering if Augustine’s views confirmed anything for Piper . . .

  389. Himalaya wrote:

    But what are your thoughts? What do you see going on there? [On the whole Romans 7 Thing…]

    I think the background to it is this kind of thing:
     It’s not just a narrow gate, but a narrow road beyond it;
     We WILL have troubles in this life;
     Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God;
     and more.

    So, at some point, and in a manner that’s unique for each individual, you (generic “you”) realise your life is going to involve following Jesus. There will be a certain kind of excitement that goes with that; some kind of peace with God, as you realise life is never going to be the same.

    Switching for a moment to the parable of the sower:
     The seed landing among stones, weeds, and in good soil, all germinated;
     The seed on the path is snatched away by the devil… BUT…
     That may not necessarily mean the person walks away…
     … rather, sometimes, it will mean that they are snared by a counterfeit version of Jesus;
     Regardless; you’re going to face the challenges of the Christian life;
     and at some point, most people get to the point where it seems it just doesn’t work…
     … that is, they get to Romans 7: wretched person that I am; who can help when I’ve already turned to Jesus and “Jesus” doesn’t seem to be working either!

    I don’t know whether I can prove this (and I wouldn’t go to war over it!) but I think that in some way, shape or form, something like this has to happen to every believer. Things may happen in a different order, but in some sense, we have the “opportunity” to share in Jesus’ sufferings. I put it in quotes because it like **** doesn’t feel like an opportunity (think: My God, my God – why have you forsaken me?!?).

    At that point, you think: I thought I knew God, but apparently I don’t. You do some praying, and maybe, a lot of telling God to **** off and die (I certainly have). But in that process, if you don’t give up telling God where to go, maybe something else happens – a bit like Romans 8, or the end of the book of Job, where the Lord answers you out of the storm. He doesn’t answer your question, mind – but that’s not important, because at least he shows up, which is all you really wanted.

    And I suppose I haven’t really answered your question at all! Best I can do, though.

  390. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Bridget wrote:

    Piper wrote a biography of Augustine.

    What… he has a TARDIS? I never knew that.

    Well, that’s a sobering thought…Piper traveling through time…Preaching his shtick though the ages…. O.o

  391. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    At that point, you think: I thought I knew God, but apparently I don’t. You do some praying, and maybe, a lot of telling God to **** off and die (I certainly have). But in that process, if you don’t give up telling God where to go, maybe something else happens – a bit like Romans 8, or the end of the book of Job, where the Lord answers you out of the storm. He doesn’t answer your question, mind – but that’s not important, because at least he shows up, which is all you really wanted.

    Yes. This process is never fun. A friend calls it that stage of faith where you hit the wall.

    It has been (and is ongoing) a slow process for me to learn to let go of specific expectation on the way things should look/be. When He shows up in the middle of your railing and doubting and anger and is Emmanuel anyway….I don’t know, really, how to word it well, but you begin to shift your faith. I have gone from believing (and expecting/demanding) He will do x, y, Z for me that I conjured up based on men teaching what God will do if I just believe HARD enough, to just trusting Him – that He loves me and that He knows what I need. To just trust Him, not expect this or that specific outcome. Just trust His love. Not sure I’ve articulated that well…

  392. Beakerj wrote:

    I actually think I’ve developed a bit of religious OCD/PTSD

    I definitely have religious PTSD. For quite a while I was afraid to open the door to examine some fundygelical teachings that were eating away at me, because I was afraid that if I looked too close I would lose my faith. When John Stott died, I read articles that said he was an annihilationist. I had two simultaneous reactions to that: “I guess he went liberal in his old age,” and “Oh, if only annihilationism could be true!” I was curious what led him to that belief but I didn’t look into it, because I was afraid that it would be like pulling the thread that would unravel the whole thing.

    I finally started examining my beliefs when my son told me he was agnostic because he couldn’t believe in 6-day creation anymore. He had been taught at his Christian school the Ken Ham story that if you can’t trust the literal interpretation of Genesis, you can’t trust any of the Bible, including the story of Jesus. And he asked me how I as a woman could believe in a God that is as sexist as the God in the old testament.

    So needless to say, I finally began confronting the parts of Christianity that made me queasy. I had to let go of inerrancy, which wasn’t easy, me being a former fundy and all, but that actually made things better. It was a huge relief to find out I could still be a Jesus-loving believer in the empty tomb without believing that God wanted Samuel to hack Agag to pieces. I think the OT shows a trajectory that tracks a process of discovering what God is like. Toward the end of the OT the prophet says that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. Jesus liked that so much he quoted it.

    I have that book, but I haven’t read it yet. Please let me know what you think. NT Wright has helped me a lot. A few years ago I had to go back to fundamentals (not fundy fundamentals, but actual fundamentals). I had to make sure I believed in the resurrection. I had been in the fundy/calvinist world for so long that I did not realize there were respected non-fundy, non-evangelical scholar/theologians who actually believed in Jesus and the resurrection. I was excited when I discovered that NT Wright had written a big tome on the physical resurrection of Jesus. I found a lecture on youtube that he did at Asbury Seminary in 1999. I downloaded it to mp3 and listened to it while I drove, folded laundry, walked my dog, etc. It was great. Really helped me.

    I think there are so many of us who are clinging to the kind, compassionate Jesus that we meet in the gospels, and hoping he does not turn out to be like the vengeful God of the OT. I used to think he was like that, but I don’t think so anymore. I think the Jesus we meet in the gospels is what God is like.

  393. Himalaya wrote:

    It was a huge relief to find out I could still be a Jesus-loving believer in the empty tomb without believing that God wanted Samuel to hack Agag to pieces.

    I love this!

  394. “I can never join Calvin in addressing his god… his religion was Dæmonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5 points is not the God whom you and I acknowledge and adore, the Creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a dæmon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.” -Thomas Jefferson; Letter to John Adams (April 11, 1823)

  395. Lydia wrote:

    I love this!

    I have trouble with it. How can one believe in the resurrection unless one believes in the cross-the death by torture of an innocent person by the express will of God (ref: Gethsemane).

    And how can one believe in the cross, considering innocence, and yet not think it possible that God would require the death of the guilty (Agag) especially if the Wiki article on Agag is correct and especially since the death of Agag was based on law, Wiki saying that Samuel ordered/did the execution according to the law of the people of whom Agag was high ruler instead of under Hebrew law. If, of course I have read a reliable source, which is always and ‘if’.

    So if we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus (a sin offering as Paul describes it) from what are we saved? Partly we are saved from the death (spiritual death) which the law required for sin-again Paul, who also says that we each and all are still subject to physical death because of sin-the consequences on all living things. But if there had been no death penalty, if Samuel was just a maniac or if the OT understanding of the legal consequences was incorrect, then from what are we saved? If sin has no outcomes then is Christianity not total nonsense anyhow? If the law had no penalty then why are we jumping around in glee that we are not under the old law (again Paul). If sin and death have nothing to do with each other-spiritual and physical death-then why the cross and why the resurrection?

    Yes, those were barbaric times. We mostly don’t crucify people any more. We do dismember them in utero, of course, but we have decided that one sort of slaughter is acceptable while another sort of slaughter is not acceptable. Not m