Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, March 11, 2013

More Irrationalism: Society of Evangelical Arminians | A Challenge from Roger Olson for Calvinists

Free will was put forward to relieve God of responsibility for sin. But this it does not do.  -- Gordon H. Clark

I got the following challenge from the Society of Evangelical Arminians blog:
As I read Mark Talbot’s chapter on God and suffering in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor) a thought occurred to me:  Since most Calvinists are harshly critical of the novel The Shack (which takes a similar approach to theodicy as Greg Boyd in Is God to Blame?) because of its alleged undermining of God’s glory and sovereignty, why don’t they (or one of them) write a similar novel in which God explains to Mack (or someone like him) why his daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered–and avoid language about God permitting or allowing it (which is really Arminian language)? I challenge a consistent “high Calvinist” such as Piper or Talbot to produce such a novel. I would like to see what the popular Christian reaction would be to what God would have to say about such atrocities in such a novel. Talbot pulls no punches; he says that God foreordains such events and is their ultimate cause; they are willed by God and not merely allowed or permitted by God (although even he occasionally uses such language–as do all Calvinists in my experience). At crucial points he pulls back a little and uses language such as God “governs” such events, but the context makes clear he means God renders them certain because they fit into his plan and purpose and are necessary for the full accomplishment of his will.
I look forward to the publication of such a novel; I think it would go far toward turning people away from Calvinism. 

Roger Olson
Society of Evangelical Arminians | A Challenge from Roger Olson for Calvinists

Unfortunately, most Arminians and probably most Reformed Evangelicals have not heard of the late Gordon H. Clark.  Clark has definitively answered the problem of evil, but more about this later.

Roger Olson, for one thing, is an Open Theist like Gregory Boyd.  They realize that an all powerful God is incompatible with their concept of libertarian free will.  Further, realizing the implications of foreknowledge in God's mind, they decided to depart from the classical Arminian view that God foreknows the future.  For Boyd and Olson, God is ignorant.  That's quite a concession for alleged "Christians" to make.  Where do the concessions to atheists, agnostics and skeptics stop?  Why stop there?  (Romans 9:19-20).

On the one hand, Roger Olson wants to be known as a Reformed Arminian as if Arminianism were some branch of the Reformed or Calvinist family.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  On the other hand, Olson wants Open Theism to be accepted as a branch of Arminian theology--even if it denies that God foreknows the future in every detail.  (See:  Is Open Theism a Type of Arminianism?)  Molinism is a step away from Arminianism because it tries to water down God's knowledge of the future by making his foreknowledge a general view of possibilities and contingencies and the outcomes of all those contingencies.   I guess an omniscient God is continually dependent on alternate endings depending on which choices his creatures make?  Open Theism goes the extra step and completely anthropomorphizes God and makes him into the image of a weak human being who does not know the future any more than we do.  Such a god is not worthy of our worship.  Re-imaging the creator to fit with something more palatable to the creature seems like a good idea at first.  But the implications are that evil exists independently of God's control.  Worse, evil may be God's equal!

Open Theism is therefore just a short step away from atheism.  Why doesn't Olson go whole hog and become an atheist?  What is truly amusing is that Olson tries to claim that Gregory Boyd and Clark Pinnock did not draw from process theology via Alfred North Whitehead.  The kinship between liberalism and Arminianism again rears its ugly head.

What is truly disturbing is that Olson does not realize that Cornelius Van Til actually opened up the doors for the Calvinists to play both sides of the fence.  There are very few Calvinists around today who are faithful to the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty and determinism.  For Van Til the Bible is not univocal revelation but merely an analogy.  So the doctrine of the free offer and the doctrine of common grace makes it possible for Arminians and Calvinists to have mock fights but actually agree with each other.  God really does want to save the reprobate and every single individual.  The only difference is that the Van Tilians say that God has two wills so they can play off their Arminianism with a pretend determinism that they do not really believe.

This past Sunday I got into a debate with a lay person leading the Sunday school class at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida.  The man teaching the class was supposed to be giving Machen's view on Calvinist determinism.  He made the blatant assertion that God is free and man is free.  But he apparently meant the Arminian definition of free will or "libertarian free will."  According to him, man really is free to choose either way, despite God's determinism.  In other words, the deciding factor for this fellow was man's freedom, not God's sovereignty.  And what was the justification given for downplaying God's sovereignty and predeterminism?  According to this fellow determinism is a stumbling block for evangelism.  We could not possibly tell anyone that we believe in double predestination or determinism because that might turn them off.  And, of course, God really wants to save everyone and the only reason he does not do so is that they have free choice and refuse to be saved.  That is the same answer the Arminians give, is it not?  But that is not what the Bible teaches at all, nor is it the teaching of the Westminster Confession or the Larger and Shorter Catechism.

Of course, we are not mere automatons.  We do have genuine moral choices to make, and we are moral agents.  (See:  Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, Of God's Eternal Decree, Section 1). But to assert that man has true freedom flies in the face of all that the Bible says, all that the Reformed confessions say, and what both Luther and Calvin had to say on the matter.  For Luther, there is no free will even prior to the fall!  I can easily prove that here:

THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them.  (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will).
I checked again.  Luther nowhere even mentions the fall of Adam or the bondage of sin here, although he does mention the fall of Adam later in the response to Erasmus.  The point is that the implication here is that Luther saw that even the fall of Adam was not based on "libertarian free will."  No.  If God foreknew that Adam would fall, then even the fall was not a contingency in God's mind but part of God's eternal decree and eternal purpose.  God, for both Luther and Calvin, is immutable and not subject to change.  God cannot be cajoled, manipulated, changed, coerced, or forced to do man's will.   In fact, Open Theism openly says that God changes:

Although many specific outcomes of the future are unknowable, God's foreknowledge of the future includes that which is determined as time progresses often in light of free decisions that have been made and what has been sociologically determined. So God knows everything that has been determined as well as what has not yet been determined but remains open. As such, God is able to anticipate the future, yet remains fluid to respond and react to prayer and decisions made either contrary or advantageous to God's plan or presuppositions.  (From:  Wikipedia:  Open Theism).
Unfortunately for the Open Theists the Reformed confessions have agreed with Scripture where the Scriptures teach that God is immutable:

1.  There is but one only, (Deut. 6:4, 1 Cor. 8:4–6) living, and true God, (1 Thess. 1:9, Jer. 10:10) who is infinite in being and perfection, (Job 11:7–9, Job 26:14) a most pure spirit, (John 4:24) invisible, (1 Tim. 1:17) without body, parts, (Deut. 4:15–16, John 4:24, Luke 24:39) or passions; (Acts 14:11,15) immutable, (James 1:17, Mal. 3:6) immense, (1 Kings 8:27, Jer. 23:23–24) eternal, (Ps. 90:2, 1 Tim. 1:17) incomprehensible, (Ps. 145:3) almighty, (Gen. 17:1, Rev. 4:8) most wise, (Rom. 16:27) most holy, (Isa. 6:3, Rev. 4:8) most free, (Ps. 115:3) most absolute; (Exod. 3:14) working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, (Eph. 1:11) for His own glory; (Prov. 16:4, Rom. 11:36) most loving, (1 John 4:8,16) gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; (Exod. 34:6–7) the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; (Heb. 11:6) and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, (Neh. 9:32–33) hating all sin, (Ps. 5:5–6) and who will by no means clear the guilty. (Nah. 1:2–3, Exod. 34:7)  WCF, Chapter II, Of God and the Holy Trinity, Section 1.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).
Notice that the Confession denies that God has a physical body and that God has emotions or "passions".  This seems problematic for the followers of Van Til, although it is most certainly in the Reformed confession.  In short, the Bible has both anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms, yet God does not literally have hands or feet nor does God literally get jealous experience the human emotion we call "love".  God's love is a different kind of love that might be better expressed as benevolence and even here this is still an anthropopathic expression to help us relate to God.

Ironically, Arminianism is alleged to be the result of rationalism or trying to pry into the secret being of God, who Van Til insisted is unknowable because of the doctrine of incomprehensibility.  However, most Arminians and Van Tilians have more in common with existentialist irrationalism than with reason or logic. 

The late Dr. Gordon H. Clark made it clear that Arminianism's doctrine of free will does not solve the problem of evil.  In fact, if God is able to intervene and does not do so then God is still culpable if one is willing to accuse God of doing wrong:

It might seem that here is the proper place to ask the question, Does man have a free will? Is it true that his choices are not determined by motives, by inducements, or by his settled character? Can a person resist God’s grace and power and make an uncaused decision? However, these questions will not be answered here. They will be discussed later. The next step in the argument is a slightly different one. Let us assume that man’s will is free; let us assume that these questions have been answered in the affirmative; it would still remain to be shown that free will solves the problem of evil. This then is the immediate inquiry. Is the theory of free will, even if true, a satisfactory explanation of evil in a world created by God? Reasons, compelling reasons, will now be given for a negative answer. Even if men were as able to choose good as evil, even if a sinner could choose Christ as easily as he could reject him, it would be totally irrelevant to the fundamental problem. Free will was put forward to relieve God of responsibility for sin. But this it does not do.

Suppose there were a lifeguard stationed on a dangerous beach. In the breakers a boy is being sucked out to sea by the strong undertow. He cannot swim. He will drown without powerful aid. It will have to be powerful, for as drowning sinners do, he will struggle against his rescuer. But the lifeguard simply sits on his high chair and watches him drown. Perhaps he may shout a few words of advice and tell him to exercise his free will. After all, it was of his own free will that the boy went into the surf. The guard did not push him in nor interfere with him in any way. The guard merely permitted him to go in and permitted him to drown. Would an Arminian now conclude that the lifeguard thus escapes culpability? This illustration, with its finite limitations, is damaging enough as it is. It shows that permission of evil as contrasted with positive causality does not relieve a lifeguard from responsibility. Similarly, if God merely permits men to be engulfed in sin of their own free wills, the original objections of Voltaire and Professor Patterson are not thereby met. This is what the Arminian fails to notice. And yet the illustration does not do full justice to the actual situation. For unlike the boy who exists in relative independence of the lifeguard, in actuality God made the boy and the ocean, too. Now, if the guard – who is not a creator at all – is responsible for permitting the boy to drown, even if the boy is supposed to have entered the surf of his own free will, does not God – who made them – appear in a worse light? Surely an omnipotent God could have either made the boy a better swimmer, or made the ocean less rough, or at least have saved him from drowning.

Gordon H. Clark. Religion, Reason and Revelation (Kindle Locations 4582-4604). The Trinity Foundation.
The Open Theists recognize that free will does not absolve God of culpability.  So now, in addition to God's non-intervention the Open Theist must now make God ignorant of the future.  Of course, he is not really ignorant of the future, according to them.  God knows the general future and changes with the choices, prayers, and other contingencies as he goes along.  Saying that God knows the future absolutely, according to Gregory Boyd, is like saying God can make square circles:

Greg Boyd claims that "open theism" is an inappropriate term since the position posits more about the nature of time and reality than it does about God himself. Open theists do not believe that God does not know the future; rather, that the future does not exist to be known by anyone. For the open theist, the future simply has not happened yet, not for anyone, and thus, is unknowable in the common sense. To say that God does not know the future is akin to saying that God does not know about square circles. In this understanding, it could be technically wiser to refer to the view as "open futurism".   (Open Theism).

In other words, for Boyd, it is illogical to affirm both God's sovereignty and man's "libertarian free will."  Apparently, the Van Tilians agree with him.   Boyd goes even beyond this, however.  He says no one knows the future, not even God.  Why?  Because the future has not happened yet.  God is not really God after all.  All those predictions in the Bible were really contingencies and might have never happened.  The cross might have never happened as well.  And one has to wonder why a limited God would need to be appeased for the sins of the human race?  (Romans 5:12-21).

Moreover, Evangelical Calvinists who cater to Arminianism inevitably wind up sacrificing Scripture, the sovereignty of God, the Trinity, and even the full deity of Jesus Christ.  For this reason, I stand firmly with the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark's axiom:  Scripture is the word of God.  Unless we begin with divine revelation and not human reason the result, according to Dr. Clark, is always skepticism.  I tend to agree.

God does not need to be absolved of his culpability, though.  God being God does not need the permission of mere creatures to do what he does.  (Cf.  Romans 3:3-8).  The Scriptures affirm that God is in absolute control over good and evil without becoming himself the author of evil.  (Cf. James 1:13).  Contra Roger Olson, God does not need to answer to atheists, agnostics, Arminians, Open Theists, or even Van Tilians.  (Romans 9:17-23).  God is God and he demands that we worship and glorify him.  (Psalm 22:23).  Nothing God does is evil because by the very nature of the Triune God he is benevolent.   (1 John 4:7-8).

Furthermore, no one who truly reads, understands, and assents to the propositions of the Bible can believe that free will exists.  Why?  Because the Bible flatly denies it:

God is very frequently said to blind and harden the reprobate, and to turn, incline, and influence their hearts, as I have elsewhere more fully stated. But it affords no explication of the nature of this influence to resort to prescience or permission…. For the execution of his judgments, he, by means of Satan, the minister of his wrath, directs their counsels to what he pleases and excites their wills and strengthens their efforts. Thus when Moses relates that Sihon the king would not grant a free passage to the people, because God had “hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate,” he immediately subjoins the end of God’s design: “That he might deliver him into thy hand.” Since God willed his destruction, the obduration of his heart therefore was the divine preparation for his ruin.[5]

Thus the futility of free will is established. Some other theory must be sought. And in the production of that theory it will become evident that free will is not only futile but false. Certainly, if the Bible is the Word of God, free will is false; for the Bible consistently denies free will.

Gordon H. Clark. Religion, Reason and Revelation (Kindle Locations 4619-4629). The Trinity Foundation.
Footnote #5 above says:

[5]  John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxiii, 8; II, iv, 3.

Gordon H. Clark. Religion, Reason and Revelation (Kindle Locations 5382-5383). The Trinity Foundation.
You will need to scroll down to section 8 and section 3 respectively in the links to the Institutes above.  But it is clear that John Calvin unequivocably rejected the idea that evil is a result of God's "permission".  No, God clearly hardens the reprobate for the express purpose of punishing them later.  (Cf. Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 7:13; 9:12; Joshua 11:20; Amos 3:6; Isaiah 45:7; Deuteronomy 2:30; Psalm 105:25).  That Van Tilians are more interested in appeasing unbelievers than in standing on the biblical propositions and on the confessional theology of the Westminster Standards is a glaring mote in their eye.  It in fact feeds into the accusations by Arminians and by Open Theists like Roger Olson, who see their equivocation a mile away.

This Calvinist sees no need to explain away the plain teaching of Holy Scripture.  God is absolutely sovereign, and he will harden whom he will harden and have mercy on whom he will have mercy (Romans 9:18-21).  It is not of man's will that the elect are saved but of God's free and unconditioned choice (John 1:13; Romans 9:16).  There is nothing outside of God that coerces or controls his free decisions and sovereign decrees.  Everything that comes to pass is for his glory.  (Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11).


Richard Coords said...

Roger Olson is not an Open Theist.

I'm not sure why you drew that erroneous conclusion. He even calls Open Theism "mistaken." The issue is that Roger's long time wishes is that Open Theists not be ostracized by Arminians. Obviously Calvinists could care less, and would just assume call them heretics and burn them at the stake, but that's besides the point. The point is that Roger Olson is not an Open Theist, and certainly not like Greg Boyd in his theology, and Roger only wants them included under the "big tent" of Arminianism. I know that you think that Arminianism is a heresy, but that's also besides the point. The point is that your article has a factual error. You should edit and correct it. Otherwise, it makes you look bad, and I'm sure that you don't want that. Also, what I found really strange is that your article identifies a "challenge" from SEA, and then ignores the challenge, though not that I, or anyone else, would expect you to write the novel that Roger describes, but it would be interesting if Piper took up Olson's challenge. Honestly, I found the whole article to be bizarre. I think that you should reboot the article and restart.

Charlie J. Ray said...

While I might have been mistaken about Olson's view, the fact remains that if he approves of Open Theism as being within the Arminian camp, he is approving of a worse heresy than Arminianism.

Furthermore, John Piper is not representative of the classical Reformed view on several counts. First off, Piper is a particular Baptist and a non-cessationist. Secondly, Piper has connections to the Federal Vision error and even invited Doug Wilson to speak at his Desiring God Conference a few years back. Piper follows the teaching of Daniel Fuller, one of his professors at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a known promoter of the New Perspectives on Paul.

Also, you might note that I am not an advocate of the neo-Calvinist doctrine of common grace or the free offer. That's because both of those views are semi-Arminian and are nowhere in the Reformed confessions of faith.

As for the challenge, I answer that challenge with every post I make on this blog:)

God is sovereign. You're not a god. What else do you want to know?


Richard Coords said...

Hello Charlie,

Olson's challenge was regarding a book, though, some form of major publication of a novel: "I look forward to the publication of such a novel," and not just a blog response, despite however effective the Blog response might otherwise be. Olson's challenge is for a C version of “The Shack” because he feels that it would effectively chase people away from C (his opinion). I only mentioned Piper because of his stature within the C community. Perhaps MacArthur, Horton or White might consider Olson's challenge. Perhaps you might have a different author in mind. By the way, Olson is no longer a member of SEA. He withdrew over an issue on being questioned about inerrancy. I also wish that my initial post was less terse. I just fired off a response. One thing that threw me for a loop was your assertion that Common Grace / Indiscriminate Offer of the Gospel, was Neo-Calvinist, since John Calvin seemed to affirm it. On that basis, I was unsure how it was a "neo" thing.

Charlie J. Ray said...

There is no mention of the term "common grace" in any of Calvin's commentaries or in the Institutes. There are those who contend that the idea is deducible from what Calvin said or "implicitly" taught by Calvin. However, given what Calvin wrote in Calvin's Calvinism, that would be hard to substantiate. God does not and never did desire the salvation of the reprobate. (Romans 9:11-13)

Also, what Scripture commands the reprobate to do and what they are able to do are two different things. The Gospel commands all men to repent and believe. The fact that not all do so proves that they are unable to do so. (John 6:37-40, 65; John 3:3-8).

You might want to check out the Cornelius Van Til and Gordon H. Clark controversy. Van Til sided with the irrationalists. Clark, otoh, believed that the beginning axiom for Christianity is that "Scripture is the Word of God." That would mean that there are no logical contradictions in the Bible and that it is the univocal, plenarily inspired words of God, infallible and inerrant.

The so-called "free offer of the Gospel" espoused by the neo-Calvinists and Van Tilians is a logical contradiction. God does not both will and not will the salvation of the reprobate. The term "offer" in Calvin's Latin means "present", not beg or persuade. God does not beg men to be saved. He commands it.

Mark 16:16

You might want to check out the Trinity Foundation website and the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. Both reject the doctrines of common grace and the free offer of the gospel (FOG).

Charlie J. Ray said...

Further Objections to the Free Offer, by Ronald Hanko.

Calvin Against the Free Offer

Calvin's Calvinism

Richard Coords said...

Based upon the quotes that I located from John Calvin's books, I found comments of his that did seem to affirm Common Grace, the universal “offer” or invitation of the Gospel, and he also specifically used the term “Temporal Grace” with respect to the alleged “non-elect.” I have some quotes for you to digest, which I thought were rather decisive.

Part 1: John Calvin's term, “Temporal Grace”:

John Calvin explains: “Let no one think that those [who] fall away...were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of ***some arrogated or temporal grace***, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.66)

Calvin adds: “Yet sometimes he also causes those whom he ***illumines only for a time*** to partake of it; then he justly forsakes them on account of their ungratefulness and strikes them with even greater blindness.” (Institutes of Christian Religion, 3.24.8)

John Calvin comments on Hebrews 6:4-6: “...God certainly bestows His Spirit of regeneration only on the elect, and that they are distinguished from the reprobate in the fact that they are re-made in His image, and they receive the earnest of the Spirit in the hope of an inheritance to come, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I do not see that this is any reason why He should not touch the reprobate with a ***taste of His grace***, or illumine their minds with some glimmerings of His light, or affect them with some sense of His goodness, or to some extent engrave His Word in their hearts. Otherwise where would be that passing faith which Marks mentions (4.17)? Therefore there is some knowledge in the reprobate, which later vanishes away either because it drivers its roots less deep than it ought to, or because it is choked and withers away.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.76)

#2 John Calvin on “Common Grace” and the universal offer and invitation of the Gospel:
John Calvin comments: “Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is ***offered to all***. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive Him.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.117-118)

Calvin adds: “Hence, we conclude that, though ***reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect***, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul’s testimony (II Cor 5:18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.149)

Calvin concludes: “It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.149)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Of course there is a general call. That's not the same as the Arminian view, however:) Matthew 22:14 Many are "called" but few are chosen. Not everyone who responds to the general call is elect. Read the articles I linked. You'll see that Calvin himself denies that there are two wills in God. God has only one will. The commands in Scripture reflect what God's law commands, not what God's will is. As Calvin quotes Augustine, God willingly permits that which is against His will. Hence, evil is a result of God's decree to permit evil and thus evil is God's will. The WCF says that evil exists not because of "mere" permission but because God decrees it. He does not violate the will of man but uses secondary means to bring about what He has decreed.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Read Calvin's commentary on 1 John 2:19

Charlie J. Ray said...

2. And not for ours only. He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.

Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ [1] suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.

Calvin's commentary on 1 John 2:2

Charlie J. Ray said...

For if they had been of us. He plainly declares that those who fell away had never been members of the Church. And doubtless the seal of God, under which he keeps his own, remains sure, as Paul says, (2Ti 2:19). But here arises a difficulty, for it happens that many who seemed to have embraced Christ, often fall away. To this I answer, that there are three sorts of those who profess the Gospel; there are those who feign piety, while a bad conscience reproves them within; the hypocrisy of others is more deceptive, who not only seek to disguise themselves before men, but also dazzle their own eyes, so that they seem to themselves to worship God aright; the third are those who have the living root of faith, and carry a testimony of their own adoption firmly fixed in their hearts. The two first have no stability; of the last John speaks, when he says, that it is impossible that they should be separated from the Church, for the seal which God’s Spirit engraves on their hearts cannot be obliterated; the incorruptible seed, which has struck roots, cannot be pulled up or destroyed.

He does not speak here of the constancy of men, but of God, whose election must be ratified. He does not then, without reason declare, that where the calling of God is effectual, perseverance would be certain. He, in short, means that they who fall away had never been thoroughly imbued with the knowledge of Christ, but had only a light and a transient taste of it.

Calvin's Commentary on 1 John 2:19

Charlie J. Ray said...

Your quotes from Calvin's Calvinism: The Eternal Predestination of God, p. 66 are totally misquoted. In fact, Calvin specifically says that it is NOT foreknowledge:)

Page 66

Gary said...

Some estimates are that over 50% of evangelical teenagers repeat their born again experience due to a lack of assurance of salvation. Do we see that kind of insecurity regarding salvation anywhere in the New Testament? Doesn't that high a level of insecurity regarding Christ's FREE gift of salvation indicate a problem with Arminian evangelical theology?

Could this be the reason why Arminian evangelical young people are stampeding to Calvinism?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Gary, the Lutherans are closer to the Arminians than to biblical Christianity. Since the elect cannot "lose" their salvation nor reject it, you side with the semi-pelagians and those who advocate libertarian free will. Calvinists believe that God keeps the elect saved. Luther believed the same thing:


Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them.
The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther.

Follow the logic here. The end of everything that happens IS God's will and it is NOT contingent. It is predetermined by God. Luther said it. Read it and weep.

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying,`My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' (Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJ)
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35 NKJ)
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Romans 9:16 NKJ)

Furthermore, the salvation of the elect is not based on foreknowledge:

(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." (Romans 9:11-15 NKJ)

Election was done before creation:

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (Ephesians 1:4-5 NKJ)

And it is impossible for the elect to fall:

"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22 NKJ)
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 NKJ)

Reprobation is likewise forordained by God:

and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:8 NKJ)
"Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (Acts 2:23 NKJ)
"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28 NKJ)
Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70 NKJ)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Luther confesses that both election and reprobation are in God's hands:

Sect. 167.—I SHALL here draw this book to a conclusion: prepared if it were necessary to pursue this Discussion still farther. Though I consider that I have now abundantly satisfied the godly man, who wishes to believe the truth without making resistance. For if we believe it to be true, that God fore-knows and fore-ordains all things; that He can be neither deceived nor hindered in His Prescience and Predestination; and that nothing can take place but according to His Will, (which reason herself is compelled to confess;) then, even according to the testimony of reason herself, there can be no "Free-will"—in man,—in angel,—or in any creature!

The Bondage of the Will

Gary said...

The Elect cannot go to hell.
Someone once saved, can lose it, and go to hell.

This person was obviously not one of the Elect, but he did have the Holy Spirit at one time, as mentioned in Hebrews chapter 6, but he rejected/abandoned his faith, and therefore, perished in hell.

We are saved by faith, not by a one time decision for faith, but by an abiding faith. There is no such thing as a Get-into-Heaven-Free card.

The Ticketmaster at the Pearly Gates only accepts faith, not "decisions".

Charlie J. Ray said...

I guess the Holy Spirit didn't really know what He was doing when He "saved" the reprobate, knowing that they were decreed to hell before creation. God's left hand doesn't know what His right hand is doing?

Not only is your statement illogical but it is an outright contradiction. Only the elect are "saved" in time and in eternity. The reprobate never were. That's why they commmit apostasy. 1 John 2:19, John 6:37-44, 65. 1 Peter 2:8

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