Perseverance: Old News

Tim Archer just put up a post with several resources for and against the doctrine of perseverance of the saints.

I was waiting to get a table at a local restaurant earlier this evening, checking out Google Reader on my iPhone, and quite naturally took a look at Tim’s post. And lo and behold, he put up a series of links from me! I’d completely forgotten that I’d written these. (Age is catching up. Now what was I talking about? Oh, yeah …)

Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 1
Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 2
Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 3
Election: Further Conclusions

So, anyway, I really don’t get Calvinistic election or even how it’s appealing to some, but perseverance of the saints — as taught in the Calvinist tradition — isn’t that different from my own views. The idea that we stay saved despite persistent willful sin is, of course, abhorrent, but that’s not what traditional Calvinists teach nor is it what I teach. I still can’t reconcile perseverance of the saints with Hebrews and can’t help but notice that no one has made such an effort in the comments.

I think saved people can fall away and that the Bible plainly teaches that. But I reject the 20th Century Church of Christ notion that we fall away, beg forgiveness, get saved, fall away, beg forgiveness, etc., etc. Most saved people persevere to the end and aren’t lost for a single second between the baptistry and the grave.

Meanwhile, I’m working on this new series on the Lord’s Supper — but it’s not finished yet.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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23 Responses to Perseverance: Old News

  1. Randall says:

    In Perseverance Part 1: First we have Jay's account of a chat with a Baptist girl he dated once many years ago – in high school. He was not convinced by her point of view, which is a forgone conclusion or it would not have been provided for us. The Baptist girl has a pretty limited ability to defend her Baptist doctrine and in this case she may have become a strawman for the sake of making Jay's point. I am not sure the full weight of a good argument flows off her tongue.

    Next we have some excepts from John Piper on perseverance in which Piper says that admonitions to remain faithful and not fall away are appropriate. Jay suggests they are not appropriate if the elect won't ever fall away. Jay wrote:
    "Ponder this one a bit. Am I the only one who sees an obvious contradiction? If a false faith does not save, why preach “many admonitions” to persevere? They’re damned, and they can’t save themselves!
    And for those with a genuine faith, well, they “cannot be lost.” Why the admonitions?
    Does your head hurt yet?"

    There is no need to make this appear more difficult that it is. Of course we believe we should admonish all people w/o exception to be faithful and true to God. One could ask the question "Why should we pray for what we need when God already knows what we need and already knows what and how he is going to give it to us?" The answer of course is b/c the scriptures tell us to do this. Jesus himself admonished us to pray even though God already knows what we need.

    Our asking may well the the means God uses to provide us with many gifts. And, for example, the admonitions of a parent to their children to to remain faithful as well as the prayers of a parent that their children will remain faithful may well be the means God employs to insure this happens. Indeed, God answers prayer! I believe it was Augustine that credited his salvation (humanly speaking) to the prayers of his mother on his behalf while he lived a life of debauchery. Those opposed to the concept of predestination make the argument that since the end is determined the means are unimportant, even irrelevant. Nothing could more wrong. If the end is determined then all the means to that end are also determined. I would add that the means to the end are also edifying, encouraging and a normal part of our Christian walk. They draw us closer to God and conform us more closely to Jesus.

    This is mysterious and we do not grasp it all, and certainly don't control it all. Perhaps some find it frustrating to think that God could have determined the outcome and yet our decisions and actions are still our own decisions and actions. That is, no one had faith for me, my faith is my own. I came to my own faith thanks to the activity of God through his Spirit, his Son and his saints on my behalf. And I shall persevere b/c it is God that gives me endurance, it is Jesus that intercedes for me.

  2. Bob Harry says:

    Randall

    You r last paragraph is too simple. I too have the same faith by the same spirit, however at the timw many years ago the spirit eas a very dim reality.

    I find it amazing that such a collection of letters, especially Paul, Peter and John can be scrutinized by so many, out of context, and made into a set of doctrines and rules. It would be great if we had the original manuscripts and someone very fluent in the native language to tell us what they really meant.

    I also find it incredible that so many early martyrs died because of testimony delivered by word of mouth and believed to the point of death.

    I truly believe that the Christian preachers of today that lead us, would rather have us believe something complicated and Byzantine, as opposed to simplicity.

    Maybe its just me.

    Bob

  3. Randall says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for your reply and your kindness.

    In Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 3 Jay makes the point that in actual practice there is little or no difference between those that affirm POTS and those that think a true believer can lose their salvation.

    This post is very short and I would encourage everyone, especially those that get real worked up over this issue, to read this post.
    Peace,
    Randall

  4. rey says:

    "So, anyway, I really don’t get Calvinistic election or even how it’s appealing to some"

    The same reason that Richard Dawkins appeals to some: hatred of God. Just with Calvinism you get to be an atheist while pretending to be a Christian and have the luxury of other pretenders defending your claim to be one. But unlike outright atheism Calvinism gives you something to worship, a demon god, and therefore Calvinism appeals to the basest of humanity, to the darkness of the most evil hearts. But someone will object saying "Some of my friends are Calvinists and are good people." I'm sure a lot of idiots said the same thing about Nazis during WWII.

  5. Randall says:

    Perseverance: part 2 – a few comments
    Jay says:

    "We start with one of the most difficult verses in the New Testament –

    (Heb 6:4-6 ESV) For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

    The teaching is not complicated. It’s just hard to accept. The passage seems to plainly declare that for those who’ve been saved, if they fall away, they will never repent.

    (Forgiveness is always available. God never gives up. He is always ready to accept us back. Falling away only occurs when it’s no longer possible for the individual to repent.)"

    Begin Randall's comment: Okay, so it is one of the "most difficult verses in the New Testament" as stated at the beginning or is is that "The teaching is not complicated. It’s just hard to accept. The passage seems to plainly declare that for those who’ve been saved, if they fall away, they will never repent.?" The commentaries I read suggest it is a very difficult passage, especially the structure of the Greek. Some also suggest this speaks of those who have "tasted of" but not committed their hearts to Jesus i.e. they are nbot true believers – each one will have to decide that for themselves. Also Jay says "Forgiveness is always available. God never gives up. He is always ready to accept us back. Falling away only occurs when it’s no longer possible for the individual to repent." yet verse 6 says "it is impossible to renew them again to repentance." Jay than adds " If someone does finally repent, then that person never fell away at all. After all, it’s impossible for those who’ve fallen away to repent." So it seems Jay thinks the person only appeared to have fallen away (perhaps temporarily back sliders) but didn't really fall away. I do not want to put words in Jay's mouth that he would disagree with so let's let Jay speak for himself as to why these people seem to have fallen away

    Usually it is Calvinists that are accused of this type of thinking and here Jay seems to acknowledge it as his own, so I'm confused. Perhaps I am just reading the sentences wrong but Jay here says that if they repent they never really fell away and if they don't repent they did – so they must have looked the same way until they did or did not repent. This is the same argument he uses against Calvinists who say that if one persevered to the end he was one of the elect and if he did not persevere then he never was one of the elect.

    Calvinists generally teach that we humans never know with certainty about another person as only God knows the heart and only he knows the difference between a true believer and a make believer. We do expect to see evidence one way or the other from a professed Christian, but we also understand that the tares look pretty identical to the wheat. John says they went out from us because they were not of us. That's not such a difficult way to understand things.

    Jay also quoted another scripture: "(2 Pet 2:21-22) It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” I believe someone commenting on another post mentioned that the context of this passage is false teachers so here the text is used out of context to make a point that the text does not make.

    Jay also says: "Now, if you begin reading Hebrews with a once saved, always saved preconception, this is all nonsense, even offensive." Randall says: I wonder if one reads Hebrews with a you can lose your salvation preconception if they will find texts they can use to support their point of view. I also wonder if a person goes to many classic texts in scripture that the POTS folks quote all the time if they come away saying this is all nonsense, even offensive. It seems like there are a lot of TWO WAY avenues rather than the one way routes I see posted here. Problem is we can all quote our proof texts and it would be so much better if we did more than that and really tried to understand the other point of view rather than talking past each other.

    I read a couple of on-line commentaries and found one supporting one point of view and another supporting the other point of view. When I try to make sense of many doctrines, (a lot of them,not just this one) I find there are "problem texts." That is why the issue was controversial to begin with. We all place more weight on some scriptures than others. In my view, POTS is taught clearly throughout scripture and the "problem texts" are few and can easily be understood differently than the way some people read them. Of course problem texts are understood in light of what else the bible has to say. I believe Jay does the same thing I do but comes out on the other side of the discussion.

    On a completely different thought now – Jay seems to suggest that all the adult Israelites ( I assume with the exceptions of Joshua and Caleb) that went on the Exodus from Egypt were eternally lost – Jay please correct this assumption if I have misread your intent. In his post he says "Although not immediately obvious, the writer’s point is that most of the Israelites not only rebelled but did no irredeemably. God never forgave them. They died in the desert. They never stepped foot in the Promised Land. No one rebelled, died in the desert, and then confessed, repented, made restitution, asked forgiveness and so got to go to the Promised Land!"

    I wonder if they were eternally damned or that their punishment for the rebellion was that they never stepped foot in the promised land, though they may have repented and been saved. Any thoughts regarding this issue? If all of the adults but Joshua and Caleb (maybe a few others e.g. Moses) were eternally damned for their rebellion that is a pretty hard pill to swallow. After all, one argument (a false argument in that it is not true) levied against Calvinists is that they believe fewer people will be saved that what semi-Pelagians and Pelians believe will be saved. So what do you think – were almost al of the Israelites eternally damned or just not allowed to enter the promised land?

  6. rey says:

    "After all, one argument (a false argument in that it is not true) levied against Calvinists is that they believe fewer people will be saved that what semi-Pelagians and Pelians believe will be saved."

    I've never seen this argument used. The only argument of any importance is that Calvinism makes God out to be Satan. Calvinism's god condemned people to hell on a dice roll and its so-called 'Jesus' only dies for the lottery winners. That's the argument against Calvinsm. That's why its Satanism.

    John Wesley (and I'm in no habit of quoting him) says it right when he says in his Sermon titled Free Grace:

    Such blasphemy as this, one would think might make the ears of a Christian to tingle! But there is yet more behind it; for just as it 'honours' the Son, so doth this doctrine 'honour' the Father. It destroys all his attributes at once: It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. More false; because the devil, liar as he is, hath never said that he willeth all men to be saved: More unjust; because the devil cannot, even if he would, be guilty of such injustice as you ascribe to God, when you say that God condemned millions of souls to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, for continuing in sin, which, for want of that grace he will not give them, they cannot avoid: And more cruel; because that unhappy spirit seeketh rest and findeth none; so that his own restless misery is a kind of temptation to him to tempt others. But God resteth in his high and holy place; so that to suppose him, of his own mere motion, of his pure will and pleasure, happy as he is, to doom his creatures, whether they will or no, to endless misery, is to impute such cruelty to him as we cannot impute even to the great enemy of God and man. It is to represent the high God (he that hath ears to hear let him hear!) as more cruel, false, and unjust than the devil!

    This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I raise issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, "What is its true meaning then?" If I say, " I know not," you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination.

    This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination, a doctrine, upon the supposition of which, if one could possibly suppose it for a moment, (call it election, reprobation, or what you please, for all comes to the same thing) one might say to our adversary, the devil, "Thou fool, why dost thou roar about any longer? Thy lying in wait for souls is as needless and useless as our preaching. Hearest thou not, that God hath taken thy work out of thy hands; and that he doeth it much more effectually? Thou, with all thy principalities and powers, canst only so assault that we may resist thee; but He can irresistibly destroy both body and soul in hell! Thou canst only entice; but his unchangeable decrees, to leave thousands of souls in death, compels them to continue in sin, till they drop into everlasting burnings. Thou temptest; He forceth us to be damned; for we cannot resist his will. Thou fool, why goest thou about any longer, seeking whom thou mayest devour? Hearest thou not that God is the devouring lion, the destroyer of souls, the murderer of men? Moloch caused only children to pass though the fire: and that fire was soon quenched; or, the corruptible body being consumed, its torment was at an end; but God, thou are told, by his eternal decree, fixed before they had done good or evil, causes, not only children of a span long, but the parents also, to pass through the fire of hell, the 'fire which never shall be quenched; and the body which is cast thereinto, being now incorruptible and immortal, will be ever consuming and never consumed, but 'the smoke of their torment,' because it is God's good pleasure, 'ascendeth up for ever and ever.' "

    O how would the enemy of God and man rejoice to hear these things were so! How would he cry aloud and spare not! How would he lift up his voice and say, "To your tents, O Israel! Flee from the face of this God, or ye shall utterly perish! But whither will ye flee? Into heaven? He is there, Down to hell? He is there also. Ye cannot flee from an omnipresent, almighty tyrant. And whether ye flee or stay, I call heaven, his throne, and earth, his footstool, to witness against you, ye shall perish, ye shall die eternally. Sing, O hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! For God, even the mighty God, hath spoken, and devoted to death thousands of souls, form the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof! Here, O death, is they sting! They shall not, cannot escape; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, O grave is thy victory. Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil are doomed never to see the light of life, but thou shalt gnaw upon them for ever and ever! Let all those morning stars sing together, who fell with Lucifer, son of the morning! Let all the sons of hell shout for joy! For the decree is past, and who shall disannul it?"

  7. rey says:

    For the full sermon http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/… The part I quoted is from page 2.

  8. Randall says:

    Getting back to Perseverance of the Saints:

    Suppose a man had a son whom he loved. The son was loving and obedient when he was younger, but as he got older became more and more rebellious. He rebelled against the authority of the father. He disobeyed and behaved in such a way as to bring shame on himself and his family. The father tried one thing and then another to no avail. The son might temporarily seem to repent, but in the end he continued to rebel.

    If you were the father of that son would you give him up as hopelessly lost? Would you halt your efforts to bring the son to repentance and leave him to his own devices?

    Suppose you had all the knowledge and wisdom in the world. Furthermore, you had infinite power and were able to know what would and what would not be effective at turning your son's mind and attitude and behavior around. You knew you could be successful in bringing your son to repentance and restoring a right relationship with him. Is there anything that would cause to to refuse to it? Would you decide against it b/c it wouldn't be fair to use your limitless resources against the rebellion of a mere son. Would you decide to not bring your son, whom you loved, to repentance b/c you might infringe on his free will? Is there anything at all that you would not do do to effect the restoring of a right relationship with your son?

    I speak only for myself, but I can not imagine a scenario where I would not use all my resources to bring about that end.

    I think God has spoken through his word for himself and I never hear him say he doesn't want to infringe upon the free will of his children. Indeed he has given his son; won't he also give us all things in him? "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?"

    "But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."

  9. Jay Guin says:

    Randall,

    If I take away my son's free will to end his rebellion — I've not really ended his rebellion. I've only destroyed him as a person.

    I mean, stick with your analogy. If I force my son to act as though he loves me, but he has no choice — he doesn’t really love me. If I use threats or drugs or whatever to force a decision, there's really no decision at all. He becomes an automaton. And his "love" is a lie.

    There's an effort being made to create robot girlfriends. The robots have no free will but they can talk and say they love their owners. Is this love? Not really. Not even close. And what kind of man would want such a girlfriend? Well, someone who is sadly neurotic.

    If the goal is love, there are some essential limits on how that love can be obtained. And denying someone his free will makes true love impossible. It can, as best, only create a neurotic semblance of love. It's not really love.

    Some things can only happen with free will.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A child is going to fall down many times in their life. When we are learning to walk they we down, our Father is a loving Father who loves us too much to leave us there and He helps us back up, we will fall down other times in our life, again our Father is a loving Father who loves us too much to leave us there and He will help us back up.

  11. Anonymous says:

    walk they we down (typo)

    we fall down our Father is a loving Father who loves us too much to leave us there and He helps us back up.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I trust God with all of my life, everything about me is in His hands, my weaknesses, my fears, my doubts, whatever Satan wants to throw at me, God is with me, He will protect me.

  13. Randall says:

    Jay,
    I do not believe you could misunderstood what I said more that you did. I suggested that the father could/would know what to do to bring about a change in the mind, attitude and behavior of the son and restore a right relationship. That does not mean he will destroy the son's will or make him a robot. It means he could work in such a way as to make the son willing just as you or I would; only more effectively b/c our resources are finite and his are infinite. Suppose instead of destroying the son's supposed "free" will he liberated the son's will from bondage to sin which caused the rebellion to begin with. Would that destroy him as a person?

    And so I ask again, If you were the father of that son would you give him up as hopelessly lost? Would you halt your efforts to bring the son to repentance and leave him to his own devices?

    Do you think it is possible for lawyers to expend so much effort arguing their side of a case that they no longer are able to see if the other side has any merit at all?

    BTW, I am curious as to your thoughts on Paul's use of the a fortiori argument.
    Peace,
    Randall

  14. George L says:

    The issues with POTS begins with unconditional election without which the doctrine cannot survive. Inasmuch as unconditional election is certainly unbiblical and just totally evil, so is POTS.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Everytime someone disagrees with you go into, it's all evil and satanic mode.

  16. George L says:

    How can it be anything but evil to believe that God condemns people for what he forces them to do? When you deny free will you render sin an impossibility, and then still claim that God punishes that which in reality can no longer exist.

  17. Jay Guin says:

    Randall,

    You asked whether I'd "infringe" my son's free will. You concluded, "I think God has spoken through his word for himself and I never hear him say he doesn't want to infringe upon the free will of his children."

    That sounds a lot like you believe God will override our free will if necessary to keep us saved. I disagree not only for the reasons stated in my last comment but also because the scriptures repeatedly warn us against falling away — even declaring that some have in fact fallen away.

    Over the next several days, I'll be posting a series on Hebrews — which is where I find the perseverance of the saints most plainly contradicted. But it's not the only place.

    Do I believe POTS is utterly without merit? No. But I believe it's wrong.

    It's meritorious to the extent it recognizes that salvation is supposed to be confident and sure and that God works actively to keep us saved, with great effort and patience.

    But it goes too far in denying even the possibility of falling away. I mean, if you can't fall away, what do you do with Galatians 5:4 —

    (Gal 5:4) You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

  18. Anonymous says:

    We have free will to choose to come to Him to give Him our life. If I thought I was ok without Him I would have never came to Him.

    None of us are greater than God neither is Satan greater than God, for the Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”(John 10:27-30), Paul gives us assurance saying, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:38-39), “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”(Ephesians 1:13-14), we can be confident that God keeps us as He promises to complete what He started in us, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

  19. Anonymous says:

    I trust when I put my life in His hands there couldn't be a more secure place to be.

    2 Peter 2:9 “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”

  20. Randall says:

    Jay,

    In response to my comment you wrote:
    "That sounds a lot like you believe God will override our free will if necessary to keep us saved. I disagree not only for the reasons stated in my last comment but also because the scriptures repeatedly warn us against falling away — even declaring that some have in fact fallen away.

    Over the next several days, I’ll be posting a series on Hebrews — which is where I find the perseverance of the saints most plainly contradicted. But it’s not the only place."

    Jay, you might recall that I do not believe our fallen wills are truly free. I am not one of those that worships at the Altar to Free Will. I hope you are not one of them either, but clearly your admiration for the attribute is greater than mine. I don't even believe it exists in the absolute sense. We are in bondage to sin as the scripture says. So yes, I do believe God may free us from that bondage and enable us to serve him.

    As to Hebrews, will you interpret the rest of scripture that is relevant to perseverance in light of how you understand what the Hebrews writer says?

  21. Jay Guin says:

    Randall,

    I'm going to cover Hebrews first. But I tell you what: tell me your three most irrefutable passages in favor of POTS, and I'll see if I can defend my position against them.

  22. Randall says:

    Jay,
    Wouldn't it be easy if anyone could provide their three most solid proof texts and we could base the arguments on that?

    The totality of the doctrine of sovereign grace falls or stands on the doctrine of total depravity and I do not know where you stand on that doctrine. I have asked you about it several times and I do not recall you providing me a direct answer yet. Perhaps you did it at some point prior to me becoming familiar with your blog. I do recall you referring to yourself as Arminian, but then it became apparent that you only meant that in the sense that you were a non Calvinist – not in the sense that you were a classic Arminian that affirms total depravity who also affirms prevenient or prevailing grace. So I still don't know if you are closer to being a semi-Pelagian or a Pelagian. It is very difficult for me to have a meaningful conversation when I don't clearly understand where you stand on this issue. After all, what the natural man is capable of and inclined towards is the real issue isn't it?

    I know that in the CofC we prefer to consider ourselves as simply Christian and do what we can to avoid labels. I can appreciate that position if/when one makes it clear what they do and don't believe. Barring that clarity it is difficult for me to understand what one's position is vis a vis the nature of the "natural" man.

    As to proof texts, if that is what you want, please consider these as they come to mind right off the top of my head:
    John 1:13
    John 3: 3-10 conversation with Nicodemus
    John 5:21
    John 6: 29
    John 6: 37 and 44 and 65 and contrast with John 8:44 and 47
    John 10: 26-29
    Acts 13: 48 – as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed
    Acts 16:14 – God opened Lydia's heart to receive what Paul said
    Acts 18: 10 – God tells Paul to preach "for I have many people in this city"
    Romans – the entire book (yes, we do have significant disagreement over Paul's Gospel as he presents it to the Romans) but consider especially the fallen state of man as outlined in the first three chapters; the a fortiori argument in 5 6-10; slaves to sin, but free in regard to righteousness in 6: 20; there's the discussion of Romans 7 of the sin principle being active even in the Christian. Of course there is all of Chapter 8 – beginning with There is no condemnation and ending with nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
    The Corinthian letters make it clear that the natural man can not understand the things of the Spirit. cf I Cor. 2:14 and on it goes.

    There is the meaning of words/phrases like *eternal* life and having been *ransomed* and *redeemed*. There are discussions of being in bondage to sin or in bondage to Christ. There is the western emphasis on the high state of man and our American obsession with our supposed free will, that is clearly much less than truly free.

    I didn't even mention the OT and the clear teaching of the depravity of man's heart from Adam's fall through Malachi. God destroyed the world once due to the evil intent of man's heart. Israel serves as a type of how mankind is constantly in rebellion against God even while being the chosen nation and enjoying special privileges. What more is necessary to demonstrate human depravity? The question is blatantly rhetorical.

    So pick three verses or even three brief passages – I know you are not kidding but how could I boil the scripture down to the barest germ? Like this – Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Regrettably that is not scripture but the words of a song I learned many years ago.

    In short, Calvinism is a whole world view based on the whole narrative of scripture. It is not three or more proof texts that I might consider to be difficult to refute. It simply cannot be boiled down to my favorite three proof texts, no matter how much that fits the CofC modus operandi or some debating style The more one thinks about it, the more the dysfunctional nature of our brotherhood becomes apparent. I mean no offense. After 60 years (mostly) in the CofC this is simply the way I see it. To this day I am not ready to understand the whole of scripture in light of the semi-Pelagian understanding of the epistle to the Hebrews.

    BTW, how do you understand the nature and ability of the natural man?
    In all sincerity,
    Randall

  23. Jay Guin says:

    Randall,

    I really can't respond to "the whole narrative of scripture" without dealing with some of the key passages first. I've already dealt with Rom 8 – 11, and will be dealing with John 10 shortly.

    This is not a discussion about prevenient grace/total depravity, just POTS.

    And as I said in the comments at least twice here lately, my views on total depravity/prevenient grace are found at Searching for the Third Way. http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/t

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