Debating Calvinism

From the Sacred Sandwich.

And, I might add, the Calvinist responded, “Semi-Pelagian!”

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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11 Responses to Debating Calvinism

  1. Tom Forrester says:

    Heresy! Let the inquisition begin

  2. Boy, talk about inside joke!!

  3. Royce Ogle says:

    Jay, Maybe I didn't read everything as carefully as you did, and I am not as perceptive likely, but I thought the conversation had turned to works based salvation vs salvation by grace as a free gift. I didn't get the Calvinism slant.


  4. abasnar says:

    Maybe that's because you did not really check the background of some of the statements. And it is not about work-based vs grace-based salvation either.

    The debate on Calvinism started with Jr's comment of the perseverance of the saints (the R in the Calvinistic TULIP). And as far as I understood, Anonymous held to the same tenents. There also was some discussion on predestination on the way.

    Anyway, I think this is a good place to lead this discussion, and maybe we can leave it here. The joke at the beginning may help us to relax a little while doing so.


    P.S: I read the article you referred to. As far as I understood it, you also make a distinction beteween genuine and supposed faith. The scriptures you quote are quite fitting, but they are not the whole truth either. If everything hinges on a "real" faith it leaves me uncertain of my salvation. If I have to look and trust my works to be sure I have this real faith, it actually comes pretty close to a form of work-salvation, too. And it does not answer the question what would happen to me, if along the way I decide to go back to the world as Demas did.

    Maybe you yourself don't mean it: Whenever someone claims, "faith alone" saves, he adds "genuine" in brackets. This helps him to explain all verses where people fall away or are rejected because they did not bring good fruit. On the other hand the same people say that works are not essential for salvation. In a way, this theology is pretty messy, but besides that: One can judge for ihmself, whether he "genuinely" believes in Christ only according to his works. If you then say, which I don't know, that those who have really and truly been born again and have genuine faith, will never be lost again, you have two options only:

    a) If a person now has "genuine" faith but stops producing good fruit and shall be saved at the end anyway – then works or fruit are no criteria for genuine faith after all.
    b) If a person now has "genuine" faith, but stops producing good fruit and shall be doomed in the end – he did not have genuine faith after all.

    Calvinist's "P" would confirm b) and there is no assurance of salvation in this system.
    The majority of modern Evanglicals would confirm a) and there is no need for a holy life in this system.

    I believe, that a "genuine" faith is temporary. And the promise is tied to this faith. If you hold fast to the end, you will be saved – if you give up on the way, you will be lost. The genuinness of your faith is never really in question, it is more about a living or a dead faith. But Jesus in His parables never questions the faith of the branches on the vine or the different soils that res´ceived the Gospel. He ONLY looked at the fruit.

    Faith will work, but does not do that automatically – it is always our choice to obey or to disobey.
    The Seed of God will bring fruit out of its own divine life – but we can hinder this process by not weeding the garden, by disobedience.

    This is all actually very simple, there is not much theology involved. Don't be mistaken: It is not about work-based or grace-based salvation. It is about the natural understanding how a plant grows and produces fruit. God gives the seed, growth and fruit – We have to weed and obey His words. Our obedience alone would never produce fruit. Our disobendence however will kill the plant.

    It is the same as in this truth: Man cannot create life, but he can destroy it.

    I'm looking forward to a discussion on this topic that is not off-topic any longer. 🙂

  5. Randall says:

    It was a very cute cartoon and if you're a Calvinist you would understand it and like it – thus some feel compelled to add their own new ending to the cartoon.

    When confronted with the Romans 9 passage the Arminian panics and goes to name calling by referring to Servetus. Servetus was a contemporary of Calvin, but he was not orthodox regarding the person of Jesus. As a consequence of his heresy he was condemned to death, I think by burning at the stake, While Calvin agreed with the death penalty for heretics, he asked that Servetus be shown mercy and be beheaded rather than burned alive. Alas, Servetus was burned at the stake anyway. Some 20th and 21st century Arminians have throw this in the face of Calvinists b/c Calvin agreed that Servetus should be killed. They try to show Calvin as barbaric. Of course, they fail to recognize that this was the practice of many/most Christian groups of that age. Anabaptists were drowned as heretics and more than a couple of the early reformers were burned at the stake e.g. John Hus.

    Some have tried all kinds of ways to wiggle out of Romans 9 – you'll see it frequently when conversing with those in the CofC. Only problem is their twists and turns don't match the plain sense meaning of that text. One might just as well shout "SERVETUS!"

  6. Tom Forrester says:

    Leroy Garrett had a recent article with some interesting thoughts on this:

  7. abasnar says:

    Only problem is their twists and turns don’t match the plain sense meaning of that text.

    Twisting and turning is on both sides, Randall. Calvinists cannot accept that Christians can lose their salvation, and what they do to verses like Heb 6:4-6 falls nothing short of denying hard facts.

    Ar for Rom 9:10-23 it is commonly mistaken as a passage about "individual" predestination while Paul is actually speaking about the election of Israel. Note these interesting verses:

    Rom 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
    Rom 9:7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."
    Rom 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

    That Israel has been elected does not mean that each and every descendent of Israel shall be saved. And he makes an interesting point: Athough the promise was given to Abraham and his seed, not all descendants are ment, but only those of Isaac. Paul says, this has a Spiritual meaning, that it is not about being a descent of Abraham after the flesh but after sthe Spirit. The same he stresses in Galatians that we are sons of Abraham and heirs according to the promise having the same faith.

    Rom 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls–
    Rom 9:12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
    Rom 9:13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

    Again, this is not about individual predestination but about the people of Israel. But he is using this also in a spiritual sense, because – as argued above – not all who are Jews according to the flesh are Jews.

    It is also notweworthy that works played no role in Jacobs election, because he was already choesen before his birth. For all Israelites, being a descendent of Jacob was an unmerited gift – but it was of no effect for those who did not believe and obey God. So although every Jew was "chosen in Jacob" it does not man that every Jew got saved in the end.

    The same is true for us who have been "chosen in Christ". The election centers on the Lamb of God. In Him we are elect, too, before the world was created. But this election is conditional: "In Him" we are chosen.

    This means first that the gosepl needs to be preached and accepted in order we may come "into Christ", we must be grafted into this olive tree Paul is speaking of a little later. And then we must "remain in Christ" by maintaining a living love-faith-relationship with Christ. And Paul also says, we will be broken of the olive tree again, if we don't. So our election is conditional – even in the context of Rom 9-11.

    Again: Election is not about people but about peoples:

    Rom 9:24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
    Rom 9:25 As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'"

    He is only speaking about Jews and Gentiles and how they relate to God and each other.

    I dare to say: Calvinists even twist and turn these texts – and this is not to the Glory of God.


  8. A. Amos Love says:

    In my experience Calvinists and Armenians
    don't really believe what they teach.

    Because, it seems that those who believe it’s “either – or,”
    and only see one option, have some questions to overcome.

    1 – If “Predestination” is the only correct option
    and an adversary/brother believes in, defends, and teaches “Free Will:”
    Then; Wasn't it God who “Predestined” them to believe in “Free Will?”

    For how could they believe in “Free Will” unless
    God “Predestined” them to believe in “Free Will?”

    2 – If “Free Will” is the only correct option
    and an adversary/brother believes in, defends, and teaches “Predestination:”
    Then, Wasn't it God who gave them a “Free Will” to choose “Predestination?”

    For how could they believe in “Predestination” unless
    God gave them a “Free Will” to choose “Predestination?”

    So where is the argument?

    Now I can agree with my adversary quickly.

    When I repeat scriptures that talk about
    "Free Will" and choosing, (there are quite a few)
    and I get corrected by a Calvinist, I just agree, an admit,
    Gee, I must have been "predestined" to believe in "Free Will."

    When I repeat scriptures that talk about
    "Predestination" and God's sovereignty, (there are quite a few)
    and I get corrected by an Arminian, I just agree, an admit,
    Gee, I must be exercising my "Free Will" to choose "Predestination."

    When Arminius preached, people realized,
    they could choose to follow Christ.

    When Calvin preached, people realized,
    they were chosen to follow Christ.


  9. Royce Ogle says:

    Amos, What about a 3rd alternative, they are both true. Both are clearly in the scriptures and both are true.

    Edward Fudge describes it this way. The door to heaven on the outside says "Whosoever will let him come" and once you enter and see the other side of the door it says "chosen before the foundation of the world". I think that is a very good analogy.

    We should always be reminded that God's ways are past finding out, our finite minds can't grasp all of God's glorious truth. What we need to know we can know, He has made sure of that, but not one human has everything about God figured out completely.


  10. Jr says:

    Alexander wrote: "what they do to verses like Heb 6:4-6 falls nothing short of denying hard facts."

    Let's actually look at the text, shall we?

    Is there any language in those verses speaking about salvation? Justification? Regeneration? Glorification? Any? Bueller?


    But let me ask: If the beginning part of that passage was talking about losing salvation, are you prepared to follow it through and say that if one does lose their salvation that they can never get it back? "For it is impossible…" Are you willing to say that?

    What is clear from the passage is that although these people may have participated in the Christian community (where they experienced enlightened instruction in the Word of God, where they saw public repentance occur, and where the Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways), when such people do “fall away” it is clear that they are not true Christians because they have not made a true, saving response to the gospel, resulting in genuine faith, love, and perseverance. (see ESV Study Bible notes on this)

    How do we know this? Well, namely v.9 and following which begins, "Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation."

    The writer of Hebrews is clearly making a distinction between what he just wrote and those things that actually "belong to salvation." Simple outward appearances and being a part of a Christian community does not make one saved. And those who bear only thistles (v.8) do not belong to salvation.

    Grace to you –

  11. Royce Ogle says:


    Your illustration, using the picture of a plant as the life God gives, fails to fairly represent what God gives. Man cannot kill that life.

    John 11:25,26 and 1 John 5:11-13 teach that what God gives freely to the believing sinner is Christ's life which is eternal. Thus the statement in Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you the hope of glory".

    Christ could give nothing more than himself to those who trust him. It is his life that is eternal life and those who are in him can't die because they have his immortal life. So he can say of a certainty of those who trust him "they shall never perish", "even though they die yet shall they live" and "I will raise them up in the last day" (resurrection). You can be sure it will happen.

    Christs's life is something outside of us and out of our control but those who come to him by faith, taking him at his word while forsaking their sins are given as a free gift His life eternal. Our oneness requires that the Father, the Son, and the children have the same life, we who are adopted into the family share in the life of God.


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