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I Can’t Take a Day Off!

It seems I can’t even take a day off from blogging without something major happening. It appears as though I’ve been issued a challenge, and Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor said that atheists are less than human! More on the Cardinal in another post.

There are three fallacies with the challenge. First, Rey wants to know how Calvinism can be true and Wesley’s words false. When was the last time we assigned infallibility to Wesley? We believe that the Bible only is infallible, therefore Wesley is simply wrong, which brings us to the other two fallacies.

What obligates God to save a sinner in the first place? Arminian theology assumes that everyone starts with an “A” in class and by our sins we move to an “F.” But that isn’t the case. Humankind is born into sin, and we start with an “F.” We have no desire of our own to move to an “A,” and we don’t live our lives with that intention. Natural man, in his natural state, supresses the knowledge of God and tries to live for himself. The wonder of it all is that God saves any of us rebellious, undeserving sinners! Nothing obligates him to do so; he would be just to let us all burn in hell for the sins we commit everyday. But that isn’t what he’s done; instead, he lovingly predestines some to glory. The Bible’s focus is never on the ones that perish, but always on the ones who are saved. That’s where we should keep our eyes: on the ones that God will save.

Which is why Calvinism believes in evangelism as strongly as it does. Since we don’t know who the elect are, we should never lose an opportunity to reach out to someone with the gospel. God might use you to draw one of his elect to himself. Some might ask, as Wesley does, why bother if the elect are already decided? To that I say, turn your Bibles to Judges 3:28, where it is said that the Lord has given the enemy into Ehud’s hands. That doesn’t mean that Ehud and the Israelites simply sat down on the ground and said, “Why bother? God already gave us the enemy.” No, they fought the battle anyway, even knowing the outcome.

With Arminianism, we have no confidence that anyone can be saved. It is up to the reprobate sinner to decide to let Christ into his heart. Apart from that invitation, God can do nothing. Calvinism teaches the opposite. With Calvinism, we have confidence that many will be saved because God promises to save his elect, fully and completely.

Bottom line here is that God acts with and through us, not over and against us. Ehud still had to fight the battle, even though God gave the enemy into his hand. We still have to preach the gospel, because that is the means by which God will bring his elect to himself. We still have to fight the good fight, just like Ehud did. The Israelites saw no contradiction here, and neither should we.

Finally, what necessitates that God love everyone equally? Are you telling me that God loves Christopher Hitchens–a man who wrote a book entitled God is not Great and is outspoken in his rebellion against God–with the same love as a Christian who loves God first in his life and tries to keep his commands? That reduces God’s love to subhuman capacity. Humans are able to love at different levels. God commands it! I’m supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church. However, I’m not supposed to love my neighbor’s wife that same way. The love I feel for my wife is very different than the love I feel for my daughter. If humans, made in the image of God, are able to love at different levels and intensities, why can’t God? Why can’t God love some of his creations more than others; so much more, that he elects them and saves them for eternal life with him?

Predestination is not a doctrine of hate, despite how Wesley and others see it. Predestination is God’s ultimate expression of love for the sinner. We love him because he first loved us.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on May 16, 2009, in Roman Catholicism, Theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. It’s almost like you completely ignore the passages that say whoever believes will be saved… where it says Christ died for the sins of all of mankind. Remember that God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son? It doesn’t say God loved a few chosen so much…

    Sometimes I read your stuff and I just don’t understand how you embrace Calvinism. Honestly it aggravates me.

    No doubt God can have different levels and intensities of love. But for me to accept that God looks at all of humanity and picks out this one and that one and says to the rest, sorry you’re screwed, enjoy eternal separation from me cuz I just didn’t love you as much as these, sounds really sadistic. Makes me think of Judas Iscariot… how cruel.

    I totally do not believe that is what scripture indicates, nor does it sit well with my spirit.

    It is up to our own free will to either choose God or not to choose God. He makes himself known, He makes his laws known. After that it’s up to us. It is our own fault if we are condemned.

    • I don’t ignore those passages. I understand that, left to ourselves, no one will ever choose God. That is why God must take our heart of stone out and give us a heart of flesh. Thus, once regenerated, we will heed the call of the Holy Spirit and come to God of our own free will. But God must be the first mover because no one seeks after God of their own accord.

    • And I forgot to add: Predestination is anything but random. Read my article on unconditional election. But don’t take my word for it. Glenn Miller from Christian Think-Tank has a lengthy treatment of the concept that includes a sub-section on its seeming “randomness,” and he concludes that predestination is anything but random.

      • “And I forgot to add: Predestination is anything but random.”

        Because according to Paul, its based on foreseen faith. That’s really Paul’s whole point in Romans 9, that whereas his opponents think that every Jew will be saved and every gentile damned based on ethnic descent from Abraham or lack thereof, the reality is that even the carnal blessings were not granted to those descendants of Abraham in whom no faith was foreseen, Ishmael and Esau being the examples. And just in case they might say that Ishmael was left out of the carnal blessing because of his illegitimacy rather than lack of faith, he uses Esau who is certainly not illegitimate in comparison to his brother Jacob, but rather is his twin and conceived by the same instance of intercourse. That is how to read Romans 9:10’s “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;”–Everyone woman conceives by one man! That’s not Paul’s point that she conceived by one man rather than two (LOL!) but by one act, i.e. “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one [intercourse] by our father Isaac;”–This is to show that Ishmael’s not receiving the carnal blessing is based on his lack of faith, not illegitimacy, for the same thing happens with Esau who is not illegitimate, and it happens with him before he is born, for God foresees his lack of faith. The point is being made with respect to carnal blessings, so that Paul can then show how foolish it would be to assert that all Jews will be spiritually saved by ethnicity when they do not even all inherit the carnal blessings without faith.

  2. “First, Rey wants to know how Calvinism can be true and Wesley’s words false. When was the last time we assigned infallibility to Wesley?”

    Its not that you or anyone else holds Wesley to be infallible, but it certainly is that Wesley’s argument is based very much on Scripture. Scripture teaches that the Devil, Satan, the Tempter, is the enemy of human souls, the devouring lion who walketh about (as Peter says) seeking whom he may devour. Watch for your soul! Resist the Devil! This is all Scriptural. Now, Wesley’s argument is that if Calvinism is true, if God has decreed all men to sin so he can damn them all, and the subsequently held a lottery and let everyone who won the lottery off the hook, then God has caused the damnation of those who he did not pick in the lottery because he previously decreed that all sin. These miserable souls are damned by God’s decree, therefore. If this be true, Wesley argues, then the Devil might as well give up because God has done his work for him. What need do we have of two enemies of mankind? When you have an almighty enemy you no longer need a limited one. These individuals who were decreed to damnation by God Himself do not need the Devil to seek out and devour their souls, because their souls are already irresistibly devoured by God’s decree. Essentially, in other words, the Devil becomes no more than a scape-goat boogy man of an Almighty Tyrant who has himself devoured these men’s souls but wants them to think that the Devil did so! The point is that Calvinism renders everything said about God and the Devil false. Calvinism makes God the real Devil and the Devil we have always heard and read about into nothing more than a fable. This is what I was asking you to respond to, so please, be a man and have the courage to face up to the conclusions your system of blasphemy leads to.

    “Which is why Calvinism believes in evangelism as strongly as it does.” Calvinism believes in badangelism as strongly as it does because it seeks to turn all men away from Christ by painting him as worse than the Devil. Calvinism has never made one heathen love Christ, for it is impossible to love the Devil which is what Calvinism’s Christ essentially is. Calvinism only attacks those who are already Christians and weakens or destroys their faith, or it makes heathens into hater of Christianity. It makes no one into a Christian.

  3. “Predestination is not a doctrine of hate, despite how Wesley and others see it. Predestination is God’s ultimate expression of love for the sinner. We love him because he first loved us.”

    And the “non-elect” hate Him because He first hated them? The notion of God first loving us, which john teaches, is not of God only loving a few lottery winners, but all humanity. Calvinism does not allow for this. Calvinism requires that the “non-elect” hate Him because He first hated them.

    • The same John says that God loves all humanity (John 3:16) but Calvinism does not allow for this: Calvinism requires that the “non-elect” hate Him because He first hated them.

      Calvinism also renders this statement of John nonsensical: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1st John 4:8) In Calvinism only the “elect” love God because only they were loved first by God, and the “non-elect” hate God because they were hated first by God. Therefore, God is both love and hate; and, therefore, both groups know him; they just know him as different things, the one group know him as love, the other group knows him as hate. The statement that those who hate do not know God doesn’t work in Calvinism, for the haters know God as well as the lovers, since in that blasphemous system he is both love and hate.

      1st John 4:10 also says “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Does he speak only of the “elect”? Well, the same John says (or already said earlier in the same letter) in 1st John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” — If he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world and not only of the “elect” then God must have loved all mankind and hated none. Then John must be right in saying “God is love” without adding in Calvinist fashion “God is also hate.”

  4. “To that I say, turn your Bibles to Judges 3:28, where it is said that the Lord has given the enemy into Ehud’s hands. That doesn’t mean that Ehud and the Israelites simply sat down on the ground and said, “Why bother? God already gave us the enemy.” No, they fought the battle anyway, even knowing the outcome.”

    So, you’re saying that although (according to Calvinism) God has already damned everyone who will be damned by an irresistible decree, the Devil still needs to work hard to damn them?

  5. Reading through these comments reminds me of something discussed in Sunday school last week…get a room full of people struggling with the same thing…you haven’t gained any wisdom…you’ve simply pooled your ignorance.

    Please get off the internet and read your Bibles…and if you want to understand Calvinistic predestination, read The Potter’s Freedom. It is rife with exegesis and refutation of Arminian arguments.

    • Get a room full of Calvinists and you’ve got a room full of smug self-righteous jerks convinced that they will float up to heaven by virtue of how much they can blaspheme God and how often they claim he is the author of sin.

    • “Please get off the internet and read your Bibles…and if you want to understand Calvinistic predestination, read The Potter’s Freedom.”

      I have to read “The Potter’s Freedom” because even you admit Calvinism isn’t truly Biblical. After all, the Biblical concept of God as Potter takes free-will strongly into account resulting in a strongly anti-Calvinist Potter theology, as Jeremiah explains:

      Read all of Jeremiah 18:1-12.

      {1} The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: {2} “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.”
      {3} Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. {4} And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. {5} Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: {6} “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! {7} The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, {8} if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. {9} And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, {10} if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”

      {11} “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” {12} And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”

      –God deals with the SENTIENT clay according to how it responds to him. If God has purposed to make the clay into a chamber-pot but the clay repents of its wickedness and becomes righteous, then he makes it a drinking vessel for a king. If he has purposed to make the clay a drinking vessels for a king, but it repents of its righteousness and becomes wicked, he will make it a chamber-pot.

      –Paul himself says the same to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 2:20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

      Notice how the will of the clay is involved, oh you ye worshipers of a non-existent puppet-master who doesn’t exist because the true God is not putrid puppet-master freak.

      • Rey,
        I’m not going to engage you in a debate…you’re at a loss when it comes to interpreting texts. The Potter’s Freedom, and The God Who Justifies are RIFE with exegesis.

        THAT is why I recommended the Potter’s Freedom…it interprets Scripture and deals with many of the same things you tried throwing in my face.

        If you consider yourself a student of the Word, much of which you actually reject…why not take the time to read men that handle the Word and interact with the languages?

        This isn’t a matter of self-righteousness (although thank you for pointing that out…I am guilty as charged more often than I’d like to admit), it is a matter of being faithful to study God’s Word.

      • “I’m not going to engage you in a debate”

        Because the passages I just quoted show conclusively that God does not treat humanity as a sensless clay but as a sentient clay and that he takes their free-will repentance or refusal to repent into account heavily in what type of vessel he makes them. You know that you can’t do anything to get around this except to ignore these texts on the potter concept in favor of over emphasizing texts that are less clear. You will take (as I’m sure this book you tout does) Paul’s allusion to God as a potter in Romans 9 and pretend that it shows that God makes you into a certain type of pot with no input from you. And when anyone brings forth Jeremiah 18:1-12 or 2nd Timothy 2:20-21 to show you that this is NOT the kind of potter that God is, then you simply tell them that they don’t have enough fancy education like your theologians have. All the fancy education in the world can’t make Paul’s allusion to God as potter in Romans 9 both contradict and trump Jeremiah 18:1-12 or 2nd Timothy 2:20-21 with a man who loves God. Such tactics only work on Satanists and are only employed by Satanists.

        “If you consider yourself a student of the Word, much of which you actually reject…why not take the time to read men that handle the Word and interact with the languages?”

        I do that all the time. Calvinism has no leg to stand on, however, as has been proven time and again, because it is nothing more than wicked men seeking to make themselves righteous by accusing God of being the author of their sins! No amount of twisting the word can ever prove that God is responsible for your sins. All the Calvinist authors in the world could write a million book each, but in the end all they will accomplish is to provide paper fuel for their own torments in hell.

  6. For those that are curious, The Potter’s Freedom and The God Who Justifies are available from Alpha & Omega Ministries. Just go to their store.

    I’d also like to add Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul to that list. Sproul is great at explaining the concept of how free will fits into God’s sovereign choice. That book is available from Amazon.com.

    • The typical Calvinist response to a clear disproof of their entire system: “You’re not reading enough Calvinist books. Here’s a list that will surely brainwash you into our system.” Why would I go read a book that I already know will do nothing more than Romans 9:21 and set it in contradiction to Jeremiah 18:1-12 or 2nd Timothy 2:20-21 in a vain attempt to use this simple allusion by Paul to the potter concept disprove the very plain explanation of it by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:1-12 and by Paul himself in 2nd Timothy 2:20-21??? When Jeremiah and Paul have both shown that God as potter means that although God may purpose to make a person a chamber pot, God will instead make them a vessel of honor if they repent, and that whereas God may have purposed to make a person a vessel of honor he will make them a chamber pot if they turn back to sin; when both have clearly shown this in Jeremiah 18:1-12 or 2nd Timothy 2:20-21 where they explain the concept of God as potter, what right have you to take a mere allusion by one of these very authors and set it against his own explanation and that of another prophet?

      Paul alludes to the potter concept, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:21) Well, yes, the potter has this power, but God as potter does not use such power arbitrarily, as Paul himself explains to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 2:20-21 “If a man therefore purge himself from [iniquity], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” In other words, what type of vessel a man is made into by the potter does depend on the man’s free-will. So also Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:1-12 when he records the words that God Himself spoke to him when he went down to the potter’s house to hear the Lord’s words by the Lord’s own instruction, and the Lord said to Jeremiah that the Lord’s being as a potter to Israel means that if the Lord has purposed to destroy a nation but the nation repents then the Lord will relent of the destruction he had purposed and would rather honor them, but if he has purposed to honor a nation and they repent backwards (i.e. leave righteousness for wickedness) then rather than honoring them (as he had originally purposed) he would dishonor or even destroy them. This is how GOD HIMSELF explains the potter symbolism to Jeremiah, for as the potter was making a vessel before Jeremiah the vessel was marred in the potter’s hand and the potter remade it into a different type of veseel: So also, God says that if he has purposed to make a nation a certain type of vessel, but the clay itself resists being made that type of vessel, then God will (like the potter) change the type of vessel he was making it into! So, the person whom God purposed to honor, who leave righteousness, God will now make a vessel of dishonor. The person who God purposed to dishonor, who now repents, God will make a vessel of honor.

      But this does not jive with Calvinism, so none of it will be in your “wonderful” book.

      • I’ll assume that you’re an open theist, since you think that God can change his mind. What do you do with the myriad of texts that say he doesn’t change his mind? Like, for example, Mal 3:6; Heb 1:10-12; Jms 1:17; and Heb 13:8?

      • A mind that cannot change is not a mind. When Scripture says he does not change it means that his commitment to morality is always rock solid. He does not become evil even for a moment. God does not become the Calvinist god even for a microsecond. He always maintains his integrity. His mind does not change as far as his essential nature. But his mind does change about what he will do. What do you do with Genesis 6:6 “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart”? You say that the Holy Spirit lies to us and represents God as doing something he cannot actually do and he lies to us because we’re too stupid to understand otherwise. At least that Calvin’s take, and I’m sure yours is similar. But look, in repenting that he made man and being grieved over it, he was not changing his essential nature, although his attitude did change and his mood. You will say to me (I speak like Paul) “God has no passions.” But if God has no passions, he has no mind. A mind that doesn’t change, a mind with no passions, is an inanimate object not a person or a being. Unless your argument is that God is the Material Universe, then the notion of a God who cannot change his mind is ludicrous. Look at Isaiah 55:9 “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” What are thoughts? They are the processing of new information. A thought is not a static thing that is the same for all eternity and never changes. Data can be static, but not thoughts. In fact to have thoughts you must constantly acquire new data. How can one have thoughts without the ability to learn? If one’s mind is truly STATIC, if no more processing of information is possible, then how can there be thoughts? There cannot. Your view of God, therefore, makes him less thoughtful than a wooden statue of an Elephant with 10 arms! Ginesh is more thoughtful than the static Calvinist god, even though his brain is made of splinters than can have no thoughts.

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