Perseverance: Re-Introducing the Subject

The last post of this series has generated well over 300 comments — which I think is a record for One In Jesus. I had no idea! I have to conclude that if perseverance is determined by argumentative tenacity, the Calvinists and Arminians are both sure to perservere to the end!

Now, speaking purely personally, I have no interest in debating the Calvinistic doctrine of election. I mean, any argument that descends to “Why did God kill babies in the Flood?” is fraught with speculation. Besides, the answer is obvious: so innocent babies wouldn’t be raised by evil parents, allowing them to be with God rather than damned by bad parenting! Or I can think of a few dozen alternative explainations for either side.

You see, the Bible doesn’t say, and we’ll gain much more wisdom and truth from the text then from the silences. Been there. Done that. Ain’t a-going back.

The readers should understand by now why I say the Churches of Christ are heirs to the Calvinistic culture. All the founders of the Restoration Movement came from Calvinist traditions — as did most of their converts. And while we rejected Calvinist atonement theology, we kept a lot of the attitude and culture — including a love for arguing from silence. The Regulative Principle found its way from Zwingli and the Puritians into American Calvinism, and we expanded it.

Any way, while I respect many Calvinists (I enjoy John Piper’s books, for example, and have profited from them) and certainly don’t think they’re damned for their views, I very strongly disagree with Calvinistic election theology. And I covered some of that earlier in the Election series and have no interest in pursuing it further at this time (although the readers are welcome to continue their discussion in the comments. It’s just that I won’t be participating. Probably.)

You see, this is how I’ve got it figured. If Calvinistic election theology (CET) is true, then the Perserverance of the Saints (POTS) is true. However, the converse does not hold. It’s entirely possible to accept POTS and not accept CET. Ask most Southern Baptists. Most accept POTS. Few accept CET, although Piper is trying to push them that way.

In the contemporary Churches of Christ, there is a movement (small but significant) toward POTS. There is much less of a movement toward CET. I think the reason for the move toward POTS is along these lines —

* The 20th Century atonement theory  (every sin damns until you confess, repent, and ask forgiveness for that sin, leading to DAISY, that is, “He loves me, He loves me not …) is plainly anti-scriptural.

* The progressive Churches of Christ have argued vigorously against DAISY but have not done a good job of expounding an alternative theology.

* The Baptist POTS theology is plainly closer to true than DAISY, and we have a lot in common with the Baptists.

In short, unless the progressive Churches do a better job of presenting a non-DAISY theology, we’re going to wind up with POTS. And I think POTS is wrong. It’s not end-of-the-world wrong. I mean, for all the accusations people level at POTS, the reality is that the Baptists are, on the whole, quite mission minded and have done many things better than we have. We can hardly argue that POTS leads to a lack of evangelism when the Baptists are better evangelists that we are!

But I still think it’s a discussion worth having for at least these reasons —

* If POTS is wrong, then so is CET. Logically, disproving POTS disproves Calvin’s notions of election, and I’d be quite happy to see that happen.

* I think God warned us against falling away repeatedly because we need to be warned against falling away repeatedly. And these warnings are the foundation of other important doctrines — such as why and how to handle church discipline. And they tell us how to make our calling and election sure. Shouldn’t we teach that and do so in Biblical terms? And how can we teach that unless it’s possible to have an unsure calling and election?

* If you don’t believe you can fall away, then you won’t understand Galatians as a warning against falling away. And if you get that wrong, you miss the Bible’s strongest warning against legalism — and we really, really need that warning.

* Finally, as I noted earlier, what I consider the true doctrine of falling away gives greater comfort than POTS. And we need that comfort, I think.

Now, these are the possibilities —

* Once saved, always saved (OSAS): If you’re saved, you’ll never be damned no matter how far you rebel against God.

* Perserverance of the saints (POTS): If you’re saved, you’ll continue to live as a child of God should until the end. If don’t, then you were never saved at all.

* Every sin damns (DAISY): God charges all sin (or all doctrinal sin, or all sin that the editors are upset about) to your account, and so you are damned until you specifically repent, confess, and ask forgiveness (some add: make restitution; some add: go forward if it’s a public sin). Thus, you fall away and are restored repeatedly, perhaps several times a day. But then God may be patient with you for a while, but we don’t know for how long. And God continuously forgives some sins, but not the sins the editors rail against. (It’s not a well-defined doctrine.)

* Saints perservere until they fall away by rebellion, that is, by deliberately continuing to sin (Revolutionary Grace). I call it Revolutionary Grace because that’s what I called it when I wrote a book on the subject quite some time ago — and because I can’t think of a better term. (I’m open to suggestions.)

Under this theory, rebellion is both easy and hard. It’s easy in that it’s a state of the heart — a decision made to reject Jesus as Lord. It doesn’t take long. It’s hard because the Spirit strives to keep me from making such a foolish decision and because God will be remarkably patient before he gives up on me. Indeed, if I ever repent and return to Jesus, in my radical view, I was never lost at all. I was, rather, in a state of unsure salvation.

But Christians can and normally have a sure salvation. It’s not that hard. But it’s also really hard. It’s really hard because it requires that I become a slave to righteousness and to God (Rom 6:18, 20). It’s like the pearl of great price. It costs me everything — so much that I have to sell myself into slavery. But it’s not that hard because God lives in my heart to help — and God’s help is all the help I need. And it’s not that hard because God’s grace goes with me, to cover my sins with the sacrifice of Jesus. And that makes the impossible not that hard at all.

Now, one element of Revolutionary Grace I like is that, like all of Christianity, it places me squarely in a paradox. I am both under law and not. I am both already saved and not yet saved. I have free will and yet have God influencing my will. I work mightily in God’s service but I don’t work at all to be saved. I’ll go to be with God when I die, and yet I’m already with God. I work to bring the kingdom — which has already come.

God seems to like paradoxes. We in the Churches of Christ love dichotomies. We love to argue that either it’s all X or all not X. God likes to teach us that it’s both. And this drives us just nuts. And so when I find the scriptures pointing me to a both-and conclusion, I figure I may well be headed in the right direction.

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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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51 Responses to Perseverance: Re-Introducing the Subject

  1. alanrouse says:

    You're right about the paradoxes and the dichotomies. Churches of Christ aren't the only ones who like dichotomies though. Our doctrinal opponents seem right at home arguing "not X" when we argue "X". Embracing the paradoxes could eliminate a lot of pointless arguments.

  2. Hank says:

    "In short, unless the progressive Churches do a better job of presenting a non-DAISY theology, we’re going to wind up with POTS. And I think POTS is wrong."

    Me too.

    Good article.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “I have to conclude that if perseverance is determined by argumentative tenacity, the Calvinists and Arminians are both sure to perservere to the end!” – Jay

    I hope you weren’t referring to me Jay. I’m not Calvinist or Arminian.

    “And while we rejected Calvinist atonement theology, we kept a lot of the attitude and culture.” – Jay

    I know many Calvinists who don’t argue over silences. They will say what they believe in a discussion, and if other people don’t agree, they accept it, and don’t become bitter making false accusations toward those who disagree.

    “Why did God kill babies in the Flood?” is fraught with speculation. Besides, the answer is obvious: so innocent babies wouldn’t be raised by evil parents.” – Jay

    Mommy and daddy tell their children, don’t run out in the road, Tommy obeys and plays in the yard, Ralph runs out in the road every time he thinks mommy and daddy aren’t looking. Tommy has his faults too, he is a habitual liar.

    Ephesians 2:3 “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

    “You see, the Bible doesn’t say.” – Jay

    The Bible does say, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12), “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21)

  4. Jerry Starling says:

    My ex-son-in-law once asked me about OSAS (he has a Baptist background). I replied, "If that doctrine is true, I still have to act as if it is false to obey God's instructions about warning Christians." I then asked him if that doesn't give a presumption that the doctrine is false. The same is true of the doctrine of election.

    This, however, is a long way from what Jay called DAISY (He loves me; He loves me not). I tend to agree with Jay's understanding that I am saved until I deliberately turn away – but then I remember that Heb 2:1 warns against "drifting away" and needing to guard against that!

    Paradoxes do abound, don't they!

  5. Anonymous says:

    "The last post of this series has generated well over 300 comments — which I think is a record for One In Jesus. I had no idea! I have to conclude that if perseverance is determined by argumentative tenacity, the Calvinists and Arminians are both sure to perservere to the end!" – Jay

    I don't see any glory to God in people arguing making false accusations toward others.

  6. Anonymous says:

    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)

  7. Jay Guin says:

    Anonymous,

    You'll notice that I've begun deleting comments that I consider inappropriate. I'm striking personal insults as I see them.

    I'd have done it sooner but for my travel schedule.

  8. Randall says:

    Jay,
    I believe the Calvinists left the discussion some time ago. I do not know of any Arminians that were even participating. I know you sometimes use the term Arminian to describe anyone that is non Calvinist, but please consider that it maligns the Arminians when you refer to semi-Pelagians and Pelagians as Arminian. It also could have the unwanted effect of encouraging others to be sloppy in their terminology. Football, baseball, golf etc. have their own vocabulary and we learn it with ease. We could easily do the same with vocabulary we use when discussing theology.

    The tone of some/many of the comments was disappointing. I suppose you're read enough by now to see that.
    Peace,
    Randall

  9. Nancy says:

    Randall makes a good point about sloppy terminology, many of the comments on the the other thread were focused on man's depravity…not perseverance of the saints.

    Jay, have you opined concerning man's depravity (or lack thereof) on your blog?

  10. George L says:

    "You see, this is how I’ve got it figured. If Calvinistic election theology (CET) is true, then the Perserverance of the Saints (POTS) is true. However, the converse does not hold."

    You are just dead wrong on this Jay. The converse does hold because POTS has nothing to sustain it without unconditional election. Pushing POTS is just a backdoor sneaky way to introducing the full-blown Calvinist system over time and yet symbolically wash your hands and say "I didn't realize it would lead to this." The old get exactly what you want but claim its just unintended consequences ploy that politicians use everyday

  11. Calvinist says:

    Anon, why do you see any glory to God in people arguing and making false accusations toward others? You believe that God predestined it all, don't you? (Tell me you aren't a Pelagian!) Well, then he predestined it all to his glory, just like he predestines 911, the Holocaust, and slavery to his glory.

  12. Randall says:

    Calvinist – so called,
    Why do you call yourself Calvinist if you are not a Calvinist, and it is clear you are not? It suggests you want to discount, if not ridicule the perspective. I could call myself church of christer. In fact, that is my background, but I don't agree with the general perspective. None the less, I could do it to ridicule those that that claim be church of christers. Do you think Jay should allow this this type of parady? If not, why would you do it if you wouldn't want others to follow suit?
    Just wondering,
    Randall

  13. Roger C. says:

    POTS: If saved, securely saved.
    OSAS: Once saved, always saved.
    DAISY: If saved, barely saved.
    RG: While saved, securely saved.

  14. Calvinist says:

    Randall, you don't believe God predestines all things to his glory? Why ask why I would do something unless you believe in free will? Do you believe I made a choice? That sounds like Pelagian heresy! You aren't a Pelagian now, are you Randall?

  15. Pingback: Moving on… | TimothyArcher.com/Kitchen

  16. Randall says:

    Jay,
    OK, I read Baptism parts 1 through 8 (that was a chore, or at least time consuming) and it seems you are saying that you affirm a classic Arminian perspective or something pretty close to it and with a healthy dose of God employing middle knowledge to determine who he does or does not give the Spirit to. That is, man is totally depraved, but God, through prevenient grace, gives man enough grace to enable fallen man to be able to accept or reject God's effort to bring him to faith. And via middle knowledge, (knowledge of contingencies) he sees who would accept and gives them the Spirit and who would not accept and withholds the Spirit from them. Of course, there may be one little hitch here – if God based on his knowledge of contingencies did not give the Spirit to those that he foresaw though middle knowledge would not respond in faith than it means he gave the Spirit only to those that he foresaw would respond in faith. Of am I confused? I confess it is difficult to keep it all straight.

    Is this correct?

    Now moving on:
    Of course, you still claim that the God Calvinists worship is arbitrary, but that's just you. Calvinists don't believe any of God's decisions were arbitrary. And you seem to think it is better for God to save man based on man's selection of God rather than God's selection of man. I do not understand why, unless you think that is more fair of God. Clearly God is smarter and wiser and better able to make the best decision. However, you have indicated in the past that a sense of fairness has nothing to do with your decision so I still do not understand why you prefer man being sovereign or God having delegated his sovereignty to man if fairness has nothing to do with it. Didn't Jesus say something about … you did not choose me but I chose you…?

    Also interesting to me that you use words like horribly Calvinistic and never use words like horribly Arminian yet describe your self as a blend of the two if I can use that phrase to describe your third way. At the end of your comment above you stated "I remain firmly Calviminian." so maybe that is a better term than classic Arminian.

    In Baptism Part 5 regarding God opening Lydia's heart to receive Paul's preaching you said

    "The Church of Christ interpretation would be that she responded of her own free will to the word preached by Paul. But the text plainly treats God’s opening of her heart as somehow in addition to the preaching.

    The Calvinistic interpretation is that God not only opened her heart but irresistibly gave her faith — but the text doesn’t say that either."

    I might add/correct that a Calvinist might say that God opening her heart was the means he used to bring her to faith. You may consider it a fine line but it does shift things a bit.

    I have copied Baptism Part 8 below – it is the remaining part of this comment – that seems to be as clear as I am familiar with your writings on this subject:

    "Fourth theological conclusion — prevenient grace makes better sense

    It’s just a thought. And I know I can’t prove this.

    Remember: the classic Calvinist argument is that humans cannot have faith without the Spirit changing their hearts.

    The classic Arminian argument is that humans cannot have faith without the Spirit changing their hearts, but the human has free will to choose after the Spirit has opened his heart. (The work of the Spirit is bring people to faith (or potential faith) is called prevenient grace.)

    The classic Church of Christ argument (which is common among modern evangelicals) is that we are quite capable of choosing to have faith without any help from the Spirit — other than the word of the gospel.

    But many verses don’t quite fit the evangelical mold. We’ve already considered –

    (Acts 16:14) One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

    Or what about –

    (John 6:43-44; 63-65) “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. …

    63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

    In verse 63, “Spirit” is the Holy Spirit — a major theme of John’s Gospel. If the Spirit works with the spoken words, then it makes perfect sense to say “the words I have spoken … are spirit and they are life.” If the Spirit only comes as a result of believing the words, Jesus’ statement is problematic.

    Moreover, in v. 65, Jesus, speaking of Judas, and reiterating the point of verse 44, certainly seems to say that God has not enabled Judas to believe. If the enabling were Jesus’ preaching, well, Judas heard the sermon, too. So did the many other disciples who left him at this time.

    Now consider –

    (Acts 19:9 NASB) But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

    (Rom 9:18) Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    (John 12:37-41) Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

    (Rom 1:25-26) They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

    These sound horribly Calvinistic, don’t they? But the idea of God hardening and blinding people so they won’t be saved contradicts only about 99% of the Bible. Calvinism cannot be right. But if Calvin got it wrong, what do these verses mean?

    Rom 1:25-26 gives an important clue, I think. Those whom God “gave over” rejected God. God didn’t make them sinners. Rather, those who would never choose faith, even with God’s help, are given over to sins that demonstrate the price of rejecting God. They are hardened because of their unbelief. This helps the world see the difference between the world and the church.

    Thus, another possibility (a Fourth Way, in this case) is that God softens the hearts of those who will respond in faith with a softened heart. God hardens the hearts of those who won’t. In other words, God starts with the answer. God lets the effect (faith) be the cause (the Spirit’s opening of the heart).

    You see, God not only knows the future, he has perfect knowledge of contingencies — he know what will happen if … . He therefore doesn’t cast his pearls before swine. He doesn’t give his Spirit to those who won’t believe even with the Spirit’s help.

    God would never harden the hearts of someone who would have otherwise been saved. Why send your Son to die for everyone and then arbitrarily refuse to save some? It’d be irrational in the extreme.

    But God might well refuse to send the Spirit to someone who wouldn’t believe even with the Spirit’s help (very much like blasphemy of the Spirit). In such a case, sometimes God even hardens their hearts — as explained in Romans, to show the awfulness of being without God.

    If we see God starting with the answer, knowing the future perfectly, then it only makes sense that he’d only send the Spirit to those willing to respond. In fact, the only reason this doesn’t seem natural is because we tend to create God in our image — and we can’t know the future as God does."

    Peace,
    Randall

  17. Hank says:

    Randall quoted:

    "(John 6:43-44; 63-65) “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. …

    63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

    While I am not suggesting that it was intentional, the fact of the matter is that you skipped right over a very pertinent saction of scripture. You qoute John 6:44 in an attempt to prove that only certain (pre-selected) individuals are ever able to come to God, but fail to include the very next verse which states that "all will be taught of God" and that "whoever therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh to him."

    And so, while Calvinists believe and teach that God only "calls" a few pre-selected individuals, the Bible actually teaches that God is calling all men to be saved.

    I mean, Jesus himself said that if he be lifted up, that he would draw ALL men unto him.

    Paul declared that the saved are called via the gospel.

    And Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached unto every creature.

    Therefore, God is drawing and calling ALL men to be saved. Not willing that ANY should perish.

    Calvinism is wicked. It just is.

    1. Babies are created without sin.
    2. God loves everyone of them.
    3. They will all eventually transgress God's law.
    4. Jesus died for everyone of them.
    5. God is calling for everyone of us to be saved (as in everyone of us).
    6. The choice is up to us insofar as to whether or not we will be saved.
    7. God wants us to make the right choice.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hank said, “Calvinists believe and teach that God only “calls” a few pre-selected individuals.”

    Hank doesn’t know all Calvinists, there are Calvinists that do not believe God pre-selected a few individuals.

    “Calvinism is wicked. It just is.”
    Hank admits that is his opinion.

    Hank continued to ignore these Scriptures. I think the fact that they don’t fit his theology is why.

    “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12), “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3)

    The discussion was here. http://oneinjesus.info/2010/02/01/perseverance/

    I agree with Randall's comment, in the linked post, about the COC denomination,

    “We have people claiming that others beside Jesus lived sinless lives; that the human race did not fall as a result of Adam’s sin. People are accused of believing things that neither they, nor anyone else believes or teaches; and that one person has the right to tell another person that they must believe something they do not believe. Another chooses to not affirm the doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. Still others are condemned as lost as any hairy tick b/c they disagree. Every attempt is made to talk past each other rather than have a meaningful conversation”

    And some people accuse the CofC of being cult like. I can hardly imagine why. Like Royce said, this is a testimony to man’s sinful nature.

  19. Randall says:

    I am going to make an exception and attempt to ask a question in hopes that some will hear the question and think about it w/o any need to respond to the question.

    Do a lot of the readers think the word "all" in scripture always mean means all people w/o exception? I am suggesting that the context frequently shows that the word "all" may mean all the people someone was just talking about rather than all people w/o exception, or all kinds/classes of people rather than all people w/o exception, or all people in a general sense rather than all the people w/o exception e.g. all the people in New Orleans are celebrating the Saints win in the Super Bowl or all the people that the Father has given to the Son. After the raising of Lazarus the Jewish leaders expressed concern that the whole world might follow Jesus – perhaps they meant a whole lot of people,enough to present them with a problem or perhaps people of every class rather than every person in the world w/o exception. Everything is said in context and should be understood in the context in which is was said. Perhaps it puts John 6:64 and 65 in context.

    Just something to consider. I do not anticipate a reply to this comment and I trust no one anticipates any further comment from me.
    Peace,
    Randall

  20. Anonymous says:

    Randall, Don’t let the bitterness of some who come here to condemn other people bother you. I greatly appreciate and anticipate your comments.

  21. George L says:

    If all doesn't mean all when the Scriptures talk about God loving all men or Jesus dying for all men, then neither does all mean all when Paul says all men have sinned. Case closed. If Christ didn't die for all then it is because he didn't die for the sinless. If he died only for many it is because only many were sinful and not all. Hence, he died not for infants who did not need his death since they are sinless. So Calvinism is right in saying that Jesus didn't die for all and yet semi-Pelagians are right in saying that infants have never sinned. Christ didn't die for all because he didn't need to die for infants because all men aren't sinners: all doesn't always mean all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Scriptures speak the truth better than George.

    "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12), “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3)

  23. George L says:

    If all doesn't mean all, as Randall has argued, then your passages cannot mean what you suppose.

    Take for example "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." If all doesn't mean all then neither does every mean every. After all, when a man's thought is "I'm hungry" how is that evil? It is impossible for every thought and intent to be evil. It is clear hyperbole.

    Again, take "all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” But all doesn't mean. Had starfish corrupted their way on the earth? "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." ( 1 Cor 15:39 ) Had infants really corrupted their flesh on the earth? No. Again, all doesn't mean all.

    “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” All doesn't mean all.

    “There is none righteous, no, not one.” If all doesn't mean all, then its opposite none doesn't mean none.

  24. Hank says:

    No doubt George!

    Imagine the VBS where these guys go to church (where they don't believe that Jesus actually died for everybody)….

    I mean, do they teach their kids to sing "Jesus Loves Me," even when they are not sure of which ones Jesus does not love?

    I wish they would at least be consistent and when one their friends or family lose a child….that they be honest and admit that according to their beliefs, it is very likely taht the child was not pre-selected for salvation and therefore lost.

    At any rate, at least they are now admitting that they do NOT believe that God desires ALL men to be saved. Rather than accept the fact that God wants us all to go to heaven, they rather choose to define ALL MEN as "FEW MEN."

    And they quote Jn. 6:44 (but not 45-46) in attempt to teach that most men CANNOT ever come to God because God has not chosen them!

    And when we show where Jesus himself says that he is drawing ALL men and that God really wants ALL men to be saved….

    Well, they say that "all does not mean all."

    Wicked.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hank may think he is the know all end all, but obviously he is not.

    Hank doesn’t know all Calvinists, there are quite many Calvinists that do not believe God pre-selected a few individuals, who believe God desires all to be saved.

    Hank continues to ignore these Scriptures. I think the fact that they don’t fit his theology is why.

    “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12), “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3)

  26. Hank says:

    "Hank doesn’t know all Calvinists, there are quite many Calvinists that do not believe God pre-selected a few individuals, who believe God desires all to be saved."

    No there's not, who told you that? Are you one of them? Do you consider yourself a Calvinist who "do not believe God pre-selected a few individuals, who believe God desires all to be saved"?

    Anon, if you do not believe God pre-selected a few individuals, and if you believe God desires all (as in all) to be saved…then good news! You are not a calvinist. But, unfortunately, it seems as though you really are one.

    As far as this:
    "Hank continues to ignore these Scriptures. I think the fact that they don’t fit his theology is why."

    I have not ignored them, they simply do not say what you have deceived yourself into believing they say.

    You see, you think that the passages you have posted some 53 times now, teach that babies are born sinful and separated from God. You also think they teach that because God is so Holy, that he sometimes chooses to kill and "destroy" (as you like to put it), such wicked creatures.

    Of course, none of the passages teach that wicked idea and you are just plain wrong.

    But, go ahead and slap them down again as if they somehow justify your evil doctrine.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have never said God pre-selected a few individuals, and I do not believe that, I believe the Bible teaches God desires all to be saved.

    I am not Calvinist , Arminian, Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian.

    I am a student of the Bible who is following Christ.

  28. Randall says:

    Oops. In one of my last comments I indicated I had copied Jay's post on Baptism Part 8. I believe I am in error – it was actually Baptism Part 7 that I copied. Please forgive the error.
    Randall

  29. Jay Guin says:

    Randall wrote,

    Of course, you still claim that the God Calvinists worship is arbitrary, but that’s just you. Calvinists don’t believe any of God’s decisions were arbitrary.

    My understanding is that Calvinists believe God's election does not depend on faith or works. When one asks a Calvinist on what it depends, they respond "God's choice" and that they don't know why God makes the choices he does. When they are accused of saying God is arbitrary, they deny that God is arbitrary. When asked how he decides if it's not arbitrary, they respond they don't know. I have yet to hear even a guess as to God's decision making process. And so as it's evidently impossible to hazard even a guess as to the rationale for God's choices, and the arguments advanced to defend Calvinistic election theology all support an arbitrary process (due largely to a misreading of Rom 9), it sure comes across as arbitrary — and no one has yet explained how it's not arbitrary other than to take great offense at the suggestion. If it's not arbitrary, what is it?

    Now, I'll admit that I don't know the reason for all of God's decisions. For example, why did he pick Abraham? But I can at least hazard a guess — which is that he knew Abraham would be a man of great faith and that through Abraham he could come closest to his goal of redeeming all people. You see, a Calvinist couldn't even make that guess because God could plainly unconditionally elect everyone, as free will does not stand in his way. But to me, God grants free will and this limits his choices quite a bit. But he limits his own choices because he is a God of love — and love doesn't take away free will. God must be consistent with his character — even though he is certainly sovereign.

    Also interesting to me that you use words like horribly Calvinistic and never use words like horribly Arminian yet describe your self as a blend of the two if I can use that phrase to describe your third way.

    Actually, you may have put your finger on a bit of my own thinking. To be honest, I do indeed find the Calvnistic view of election horrible. I'd far rather that people be taught Campbell's views on election than Calvin's, although I lean more toward those of Jacob Arminius. I don't find Calvinists horrible and I don't find POTS horrible. But Calvin's election theology is — in my opinion.

    Now, I just don't get the argument about God being sovereign. Of course, he's sovereign. No one argues to the contrary. And he has the power to entirely take over my free will and force whatever choice on me he wishes. I just don't think God does — even though he could. And he doesn't have to overrule my free will to be sovereign. It just doesn't follow.

    Moreover, if you carefully consider the meaning of such words as "love" and "worship" and even "obey," you'll see why I don't believe I can love God unless I'm given the choice to love or not. If I have no choice, then it's not me who loves God. It's God making me love him — and it's an artificial feeling. Just so, God isn't glorified by my obedience if he forced me to obey. Everybody already knows that God could make me obey. The glory is in God's self-revelation leading to people choosing to love and to obey. If there's no choice, there's no glory.

    Does that make man sovereign? Not in any sense at all. It makes God glorious and wise.

    If my wife loves me because she chooses to love me after she has come to really know me, that is quite a compliment (one in which I delight continually). If I force her to "love" me, then I'm not loved at all and I'm certainly not glorified. Indeed, it would be pretty embarrassing to admit that the only way someone will love me is if I take over their mind and compel that result.

    As I understand the way some Calvinists argue, the idea is that God frees my will to love him, and yet I can't choose not to love him or to later change my mind. That's just playing with words. If I can't change my mind, then I don't have free will — and the love isn't real at all.

    I'm an elder. My goal is to lead the congregation to make Godly choices, not to use the power of my office to force them to make certain decisions. I try not to "lord it over" the church. You see, my role isn't to get the decisions right so much as to bring the church to spiritual maturity. And that honors God far more than imposing my will. I think that's the Christ-like way to lead. Or would it be more Christ-like to take away the church's free will? (You see, there are implications to Election theology. If I'm to be like Jesus, and Jesus is like God, and if God imposes his will to show his sovereignty and glory …)

    The reason it's Christ-like is because Jesus taught us service and submission by the life he led. That means the essential character of God is one of service and submission.

    (John 13:3-4) Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

    The reason Jesus washed the disciples' feet is because God had made him sovereign. This is the nature of our Sovereign. And that nature is inconsistent with the notion that God denies faith to some and compels faith in others and gives us no choice in the matter.

    In short, Calvin's theory of election strikes me as utterly contrary to the nature of Jesus, who is one with God.

    (PS — I'm home dealing with a kidney stone. On powerful pain meds and a little bit looped. This seems quite coherent to me at the moment. I'm hoping to not regret typing this in the morning.)

  30. Hank says:

    Amen Jay!

    Sorry to hear about your pain and all, but that was a good piece of writing indeed. Very well said.

    And I just prayed for your health issue. Never had one of those kidney stones but I've heard that they can feel pretty below average at times….

  31. Hank says:

    Anon wrote:

    "I have never said God pre-selected a few individuals, and I do not believe that, I believe the Bible teaches God desires all to be saved."

    That's great anon. But, if it is true, then you have to give up the idea that babies are born sinful and that sometimes God likes to kill and destroy such little babies while they are in such a condition…..IF God desires all to be saved.

    I mean, why would God kill and "destroy" (as you put it), an infant because he or she (the infant) is born wicked…if God desires them all to be saved?

    If the little babies were born wicked and corrupt as you have said, then why wouldn't God keep them alive and actually give them time to have faith and repent from the sin (they never actually committed)? If he wanted them to all be saved?

    But, your position has has God killing infants (even unborn fetuses) BECAUSE they are corrupt (in your opinion), and then have them going to heaven. Which makes no sense at all.

    I mean, you have God killing infants BECAUSE they are wicked and then have that same God forgiving them of their sin (without faith), so that they can be saved.

    That's crazy man (or woman), because whoever dies in sin (unforgiven) is lost. The Bible teaches that. And if God forgave the little babies right before he killed them…then he wouldn't be killing them BECAUSE they were corrupt. He would be killing forgiven babies.

    You have some straightening out to do for sure.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Why were babies and children killed when the earth was flooded, why weren’t they kept from dying?

    What do you believe happens to adults with a mental disability when they die?

  33. Hank says:

    "Why were babies and children killed when the earth was flooded, why weren’t they kept from dying?"

    Because God wanted to start the race all over again through Noah and his sons. But that doesn't mean that the babies were killed BECAUSE they were born sinful and corrupt. Think about it, anon…. if God killled and destroyed the little babies BECAUSE they were born sinful (as you believe, right?), then why did God tell Noah and his sons to get busy creating more sinful beings to populate the earth? Or, do you believe that only the babies created before the flood were created sinful? Is that it?

    Do you believe that after the flood, babies stopped being sinful and corrupt at conception? If not, why would God kill every living baby BECAUSE it was born sinful and then turn right around and want the eartth full of them again? The dotrine is as absurd as it is wicked and sinful.

    As far as:
    "What do you believe happens to adults with a mental disability when they die?"

    Assuming they were born with the mental disability, I believe they are saved. And I am actually glad you asked that question because it affords another opportunity to expose the wickedness of the notion that babies are created sinful within the womb even though they have not sinned at all.

    How about you anon? I have just two questions for you?

    1. Do you believe that every living being which died in the flood, died BECAUSE it was sinful? (Babies, adults, and animals)

    2. Do you believe that the babies born after the flood were created just as sinful and corrupt as the babies were before the flood?

  34. Anonymous says:

    “Assuming they were born with the mental disability, I believe they are saved.”

    You have God forgiving people of their sin (without faith).

  35. Randall says:

    Jay,
    Many years ago I was a student at ACC and had Lemoine Lewis, a Harvard ThD, for a two semester course in Church History. When he presented controversial historical issues (and there were many of them) like Calvinism and Arminianism, he would argue the Calvinist side as the most dedicated Calvinist would and then turn around and argue the Armininian side as the most dedicated Arminian would. You see, he was not trying to win an argument. He was trying to help students understand the issues and learn how to think for themselves. What a spectacular professor he was!

    Now on to the moment:
    I will be happy to respond to your comment point by point. However, you have already indicated you expect to be too busy to deal with anything for a few days and I suspect my reply would simply be water under the bridge by then.

    I am sorry you are dealing with a kidney stone, but glad they have "powerful" pain meds that help one deal with the pain. I have had over 40 kidney stones so I think I understand the pain and appreciate pain meds, to the degree that they help. May God be with you in the midst of the fog of pain and pain meds. My personal experience has been that the powerful pain meds they provide are never powerful enough.

    This could lead us into a discussion of sin, pain and suffering. Why does God permit any of this? Did he do this arbitrarily? Must that be the case if we can't explain his thinking on the matter? You have suggested that if we can't/don't know the reason God does what God does it must be arbitrary. However, I don't think that you really believe that so it seems to me a little unfair that you would suggest it. And to top that off, you have already indicated that FAIRNESS is NOT something that would affect your thinking on what God does.

    So why did God create Satan knowing he would fall, and also create man knowing that Satan would lead him into falling as well? Was this arbitrary or did he not know in advance? Can you explain to anyone why God chose to do things this way? If you can't, then by your own logic it seems it may be arbitrary. As you asked, if it is not arbitrary what is it?

    You said " …why did he pick Abraham?— which is that he knew Abraham would be a man of great faith and that through Abraham he could come closest to his goal of redeeming all people. You see, a Calvinist couldn’t even make that guess because God could plainly unconditionally elect everyone, as free will does not stand in his way. But to me, God grants free will and this limits his choices quite a bit. " You suggest God could "come closest to his goal" – huh? is that the best God could do, come closest to what he wanted? Surely you do not believe that.

    Is that it? you "hazard a guess" (and fault me for not making one) — and based on what? Your commitment to free will? Shall I send you the Altar to Free Will now so you have it handy in case you decide to bow down and worship at it? Where in scripture is our supposed free will stated so clearly? It simply isn't – it is an American ideal. On the contrary, in scripture the bondage of the natural man to sin is clearly laid out — and even Paul speaks of the sin principle being active in the life of a believer having him do that which he would not. Surely you must be willing to acknowledge there are some limitations on the supposed "freedom" of our wills. If not, what stops you?

    Have you considered that perhaps this is the best way God could have done all things even if we can't understand all the ins and outs of it? Would you be willing to acknowledge this, and that it was not arbitrary? Must we all bow down and worship at the Altar to Free Will or else be consigned to the realm of those that can't think straight? You said that "love doesn't take away free will." What a load of stuff! Where did that come from? I am reminded of the old movie line that goes "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Kind of syrupy, but little more than that.

    Later you say "Moreover, if you carefully consider the meaning of such words as “love” and “worship” and even “obey,” you’ll see why I don’t believe I can love God unless I’m given the choice to love or not. If I have no choice, then it’s not me who loves God."

    Why is that true, simply because you have declared it so? Calvinist do NOT deny that man makes choices and that he is responsible for the choices he makes — and you already know this. So why do you choose to mislead? If God leads us to love him (which you have acknowledged in Baptism #7 — where you indicated you affirm something close to the Arminian perspective) via giving the Spirit to those he knows will respond favorably to his efforts and withholds it from those that he knows would not respond favorably. And later you say: "Does that make man sovereign? Not in any sense at all. It makes God glorious and wise." If the decision is based on man then it suggests that man is sovereign in the decision whether God delegated has sovereignty to man or if it was man's by right. The other end of the spectrum is that God always was and is sovereign.

    Jay, if there is one thing that is clear, it is that you either still don't understand Calvinism or that you are unwilling to present it as a Calvinist would. Would that be such a bad thing to present what another believes as the other person would present it? When I was at ACU the best professors made a real effort to help the students understand both sides of the issue – not to present one side well and only a straw man of the other. Calvinists have never denied "Jesus taught us service and submission by the life he led." Do you really think you can suggest that Calvinists deny this and still be taken seriously in any claim that you have represented Calvinists fairly? Do you want to have a conversation or simply talk past each other?

    Time after time after time you seem to deliberately misrepresent Calvinists even after you should know better. I am at a loss to understand why you would choose to do that. How many times does someone have to say that God does not behave arbitrarily for you to understand that that is what they believe. And why, if you understand what they believe would you not put forth some effort to understand their position better. It suggests that you don't want to.
    Peace,
    Randall

  36. George L says:

    Hank says “Assuming they were born with the mental disability, I believe they are saved.”

    Anonymous says "You have God forgiving people of their sin (without faith)."

    Jesus says "Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice."

  37. Anonymous says:

    Jesus says “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

    Absoloutely!

  38. Hank says:

    Hank says “Assuming they were born with the mental disability, I believe they are saved.”

    Anonymous says “You have God forgiving people of their sin (without faith).”

    But, Hank wants to know what law of God does a baby break for being born (or being born retarded). You are plain wrong anon. Unlike you, I do not believe that God creates fetuses sinful and corrupt within their mothers womb. That's your wicked doctrine. I don't think people born without sense (brain damage, whatever), are sinful. You do. I don't. They are pure and free of sin just like a little baby.

    We all know why anon won't tell us what he thinks about:

    1. Whether every living being which died in the flood, died BECAUSE it was created sinful? (Babies, adults, and animals)

    2. Whether the babies born after the flood were created just as sinful and corrupt as the babies were before the flood?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I deal with mentally disabled adults nearly on a daily basis. Yes I believe they have a sinful nature.

    Do you believe that every living being which died in the flood, died BECAUSE it was sinful? (Babies, adults, and animals) – Hank

    “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12).

    Do you believe that the babies born after the flood were created just as sinful and corrupt as the babies were before the flood? – Hank

    “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”(Ephesians 2:3)

    People are so self-righteous thinking God has no right to destroy them whether they be men, women, children, babies. God is Holy, anyone that is corrupt God has every reason and right to destroy. He can destroy and He doesn’t need our permission to do so. That doesn’t mean that babies, children, and animals will be in hell.

    Isaiah 11:6-9 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea."

    Isaiah 65:25 “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.”

  40. Hank says:

    Anon wrote:

    "God is Holy, anyone that is corrupt God has every reason and right to destroy. He can destroy and He doesn’t need our permission to do so. That doesn’t mean that babies, children, and animals will be in hell."

    Fine, but neither does it mean that he creates babies and animals sinful and corrupt. How do you not see that? You have deceived yourself into believing that the verses you quote somehow support your wicked doctrine that God creates babies sinful while still in the womb. Explain yourself. I mean, what in the world does the "wolf and the lamb" eating together have to do with whether or not a fetus is created sinful? Do share with us. How are you deciding on what verse to referrence? Because the ones you keep using do not offer you any support for your evil teachings.

    You are a very perplexing and anonymous person. Whenever you are asked a direct question, you like to quote a passage and play like it answers the question when in actuallity, it does not.

    Having said all that, I remain confident in the fact that the discerning readers here will be able to see the same for them selves.

    As far as your treatment of this discussion, well….

    "Jesus wept"

  41. Anonymous says:

    You are giving your opinion, which I am confident discerning readers will see. You are not arguing with me you are arguing with the Bible, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12).“Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”(Ephesians 2:3).

  42. Randall says:

    I've been re-reading John Mark Hicks (JMH) series on Hermeneutics in the Stone Campbell Movement as we are using that series in a small group bible study. (It is listed under the serial index tab at the top of his blog site and I recommend it to everyone.) I have been reminded of how much the way we read the bible has been influenced by growing up in the CofC and being used to that way of reading the bible. Additionally, being raised in 20th century America we are influenced by the values and "common sense" taught in our culture. I am no less affected by these values and ways of thinking than anyone else – and we see it in our understanding of God, scripture and God's plans and intentions. No doubt, as JMH says, there are times "we read the texts in a particular way in order to support what we already believe." It is no easy chore to try to free ourselves from some of these influences and have a fresher look at scripture. There may be someone out there that reads the bible with complete objectivity and understands all of it the way God intended, but I have not arrived there yet; really I doubt that it is even possible to succeed 100%.

    JMH (he is NOT a Calvinist) suggests we understand the bible as a narrative of redemption. I wholeheartedly agree and assume many of you do as well. Perhaps this is one of my presuppositions, but I see scripture telling us what God has done and is doing. I understand him as perfect and infinite in all of his attributes and succeeding perfectly in his intentions. I do not see God performing something like an experiment to see how things will turn out, but maintaining enough power and control to insure that he wins. I certainly don't see him trying to accomplish something and ultimately being thwarted by man or Satan not even when/if it appears that way for a period of time.

    When it comes to predestination my CofC background tells me to deny it, and yet believe what the scripture says, even if it flies in the face of what American culture says. ((Ephesians 1, Romans 8; and so many passages in the OT that indicate God is in control of our world and will not be thwarted by man.) Our culture glorifies freedom and liberty above most other things, but I weigh that against the scriptural narrative of fallen man, horribly corrupted (though maintaining the image of God) and inclined towards sin. In the narrative we see man's desperate need of divine invention, a savior, redemption, freedom from bondage to sin etc. IMO, free will loses out to what scripture teaches about fallen man. Others may read the same scriptures and arrive at different conclusions. I much prefer to try to make sense of the whole story rather than accept only one side of the coin. I assume others want to do the same thing, so I find it disappointing when I think I see one side misrepresent the other side and not put forth every effort to understand and really talk to each other about their way of understanding things.

    It is so obvious that we make choices and that we are accountable for the choices that we make that advocating free will seems like a no brainer. But scripture never offers us a clear affirmation that our will is free. None the less, members of Churches of Christ are as certain about this as they are that Jesus died for their sins. And it disappoints me when folks claim that Calvinists teach that men are just robots or puppets and that God forces or compels our choices. When people do this they seem to refuse to understand. Jay's wife and kids love him as mine love me. And it is b/c of the relationship we have with our families, not b/c they are forced or compelled to love us. Jay's family does not love me the way they love Jay and the same is true of my family and Jay. It came about as a result of our activity in their lives.

    Is either of us obligated to love everyone in the world the same? Must I love your son the way I love my son? Of course not, but we maintain that God must love everyone person the same – I think that is more American than biblical. When I read the story of scripture I do not see scripture affirming this at all as God is always choosing one over another. And who are we to find fault with God if he chose some over others and didn't explain the reason to us; or if he makes from the same lump of clay one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable? If I have limitless resources and I go to an orphanage housing 1000 children, all of whom think I am hateful and that I want to destroy their fun. And I chose 500 to adopt and leave the other 500 thinking I am hateful and that I just took their friends away w/o an explanation am I to be blamed for being gracious to the 500? God doesn't deny any person that wants to come to him. The truth is that none of us, if left to our own devices, would want to come to God. How do I know this? B/c the scripture teaches it. "… we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, b/c of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)"

    I find building any kind of doctrine based even in part on hazarding a guess as to why God did something w/o explaining why he did it to be dangerous lest I read my own preferences into the text. I fear I already do that too much w/o going down the Hazard A Guess road. In the case of God's choosing Abraham we are not told why. There is a suggestion that Abraham was living in Ur and worshiping the same god(s) as his father. I cringe when Jay suggests (hazards a guess) that God chose Abraham b/c "he knew Abraham would be a man of great faith and that through Abraham he could come closest to his goal of redeeming all people." It seems to me that that idea is put forth b/c one wants it to be true, probably b/c it is consistent with their view of God. And then we can go on to believe he picks us b/c in his foreknowledge he saw that we would come to faith and assist God to "come closest to his goal of redeeming all people." To me, this sounds like God chooses us b/c we were in this way better and more useful to God than the other people that he did not choose. And this suggests our salvation is NOT all of grace though faith. It suggests we got grace b/c of our (foreseen) faith rather than the other way around. This is to say that we were more pleasing to God or more deserving than others, if not to say that we earned a little bit of it. Now I know that last phrase sounds inflammatory as those that believe that way would not say they earned it in any way (but it is a logical conclusion), so I instruct the jury to disregard that last phrase. ;-)

    Isn't it best to be fundamentally faithful to the biblical text and avoid hazarding guesses? If the text says God predestined us then let's accept it, and if the scripture admonishes us to be faithful and not turn/fall away from God then let's do that too. They don't have to be in opposition to each other.

    Peace,
    Randall

  43. Anonymous says:

    Hank you are intitled to your opinion, and readers can see you have given an opinion, that doesn't mean people have to believe you are right.

    You can call me or anyone else who disagrees with you satanic, or evil, or say that God doesn't hear our prayers, while you don't personally know us. That doesn't mean you are right.

  44. Hank says:

    Anon,

    I NEVER called you satanic.

    However, I have (and still do) consider your POSITION satanic. You see, when a person believes and teaches that our God in heaven creates fetuses sinful and corrupt, and then sometimes desires to kill and destroy (as you like to put it) said fetuses…well, that is a wicked position indeed!

    It is what it is anon (whoever you are).

  45. Anonymous says:

    Do you believe that every living being which died in the flood, died BECAUSE it was sinful? (Babies, adults, and animals) – Hank

    “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12).

    Do you believe that the babies born after the flood were created just as sinful and corrupt as the babies were before the flood? – Hank

    “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21), “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”(Exodus 34:7), “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”(Psalm 51:5), “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”(Isaiah 64:6), “There is none righteous, no, not one.”(Romans 3:10), “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”(Ephesians 2:3)

    People are so self-righteous thinking God has no right to destroy them. God is Holy, anyone that is corrupt whether they be men, women, children, babies, God has every reason and right to destroy. He can destroy and He doesn’t need our permission to do so. That doesn’t mean that babies, children, and animals will be in hell.

    Isaiah 11:6-9 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”

    Isaiah 65:25 “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.”

  46. Hank says:

    Anon,

    "Jesus wept"

  47. Anonymous says:

    Hank thinks Jesus weeps when people don't bow down to his opinion about why babies and children were killed in the flood??

  48. Hank says:

    I'm not asking anyone to "bow down."

    But, I do wish you would stop believing and teaching that God creatuse fetuses sinful and corrupt within the womb of their mothers and that he (God) then sometimes likes to kill and destroy them.

    Now, go ahead and copy and paste your verses again.

    But, everybody knows they just don't even come close to supporting your wicked doctrine.

  49. Anonymous says:

    But, everybody knows they just don’t even come close to supporting your wicked doctrine. – Hank

    I don't believe you know everybody Hank, but your logic may be that you do.

    Your logic has God drowning babies just for the heck of it, while the Bible says, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5), “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”(Genesis 6:12), “Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”(Genesis 8:21).

  50. Randall says:

    Though this has been primarily a discussion of POTS, the issue has been raised as to why God chose some and not others. For example, Jay decided to hazard as guess as to why God chose Abraham and suggested that a Calvinist might offer a guess as well.

    While browsing some of my usual sites on the web I came across an old (2006 I think) discussion by Sam Storms titled How and Why Does God Elect. It is in two parts and the links are below – they are long so you may need to copy and paste into your browser, that is, if you are interested.

    I do not offer this to start or continue any argument. It is simply offered to anyone that does not understand Calvinism and wishes to read what a Calvinist might say regarding this issue. So if you wish to read and and understand Calvinism better, at least from the perspective of Sam Storms, then please do so. If you wish to rant about it on Jay's blog, that is up to Jay to permit it or not. After all, Jay is sovereign regarding Jay's blog. If you wish to argue about it, please feel free to approach someone other than me. I intend it as a source of information for those that might be interested.
    Peace,
    Randall

    From Sam Storms web site
    How and Why Does God Elect

    Part 1 http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/divi

    part 2 http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/divi

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