Why do non-Calvinists hate Calvinism so much?

That’s the question being asked on a couple of blogs today. Frank Turk starts things off with “Filthy Calvinists and the People Who Love to Hate Them“, asking why many non-Calvinists get so fired up about Calvinism, insisting loudly that they’re not Calvinists, but they don’t express similar vehemence against other systems like Catholicism. (He also mixes in quite a bit of rhetoric as blog fodder, but this is the basic question.) The post is followed by an extensive discussion in the comments on the issue.

Adam Omelianchuk follows up with “My Distaste for Calvinism Made Public.” Although not a Calvinist himself, he argues:

I think the main reason why so many protestant Christians have a problem with Calvinism more than issues related to Catholicism is that they see Calvinism as a plausible system. That means it is a reasonable one that could possibly be true (sorry, but some of those beliefs about Mary are just plain silly). I remember being introduced to the theology 11 years ago through the “limited atonement” piece of the puzzle, and I still remember the violent reaction I had to it. It made the strange view of Open Theism look attractive, but Calvinism’s plausibility created a long-time of wrestling that ultimately resulted in a (short lived) conversion to Calvinism.

He then goes on to explain why he is opposed to Calvinism, focusing largely on issues related to the problem of evil and the idea that everything God does is focused on his own glory (i.e. the “self-absorbed God” problem).

I’d actually be inclined to argue that non-Calvinists are more stridently opposed to Calvinism because it is “closer” to them – closer theologically, culturally, and often geographically. The general orbit of non-Calvinist Protestants churches overlaps that of Calvinist Protestants far more than it does that of Catholics, Orthodox, and others. And, if you’re going to throw stones at someone, you’re far more likely to throw them at the person standing next to you than some guy on the other side of town.

Feel free to engage in the discussions at the other two blogs, but I’d also be interested in hearing what you think on the subject. If you’re a non-Calvinist, do you find yourself being more critical of Calvinism than other theological systems? If so, why? And, if you’re a Calvinist, do you have any thoughts on why other Protestants pick on you all the time?


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on July 21, 2010, in Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 137 Comments.

  1. I think I am a Calvinist but I have been told that I am not so I don’t know who to throw my stones at. 🙂

  2. I am not a 5-pointer in the traditional sense, but I have many theological sympathies with Calvinists. I think most are turned off by Calvinists because 1) those who tout the Calvinist brand do so loudly and non-Cs find this offensive, and 2) we tend to prize our free will above anything. It’s offensive, then, to think that in matters salvific to think that it doesn’t all fall on my plate.

  3. Pt 1 is especially true. Some hard core 5 pointers make their view the gospel.

  4. At one point last year I read an explanation that was an alternative to either position. I don’t remember the details (and I think there is more than one), but I find the whole topic to be divisive and a waste of time (just like Eschatology 😉 ).

  5. Why is Calvinism disdained/hated?
    a) Calvinists in America like to fight and often betray their theology by being self-righteous about their theology (see Jason’s point 1).

    b) Disproportionate influence based on size, I think is another motivation. In America, for example, the OPC, PCA, URC all together don’t make half a million people in their congregations. But in evangelicalism anyway, the Calvinists are pretty bright and influential lights. And always have been.

    c) While I am not saying that Calvinists are the smartest folks (we aren’t) we are often more theologically comprehensive than other Evangelicals. My congregation has many folks in it that are not “Calvinist,” and one of the comments I have heard from them when talking about Scripture and theology, “Presbyterians have an answer for everything.” That can feel arrogant (even if it is not) and suffocating. Sometimes it is arrogance by Calvinist. Sometimes it isn’t Calvinists who are arrogant.

    d) Anti-intellectualism. Calvinists talk (a lot) about what Scripture teaches (i.e. doctrine), and very often Evangelicals despise doctrine and are more committed do a certain sentiment than to a confession of what we believe, why, and how it makes a difference for ordering our lives.

  6. I’m not a Calvinist (not a 5 pointer anyway, and certainly not a 7 pointer). My experience is that just saying this sentence is enough to get many of my friends worked up into an angry theological lather which requires them to “convert” me. It gets really old. Especially when this often means quoting at length from reformed thinkers rather than scripture. I actually had someone tell me once that if I allowed them to talk to me for an hour that I would be a Calvinist by the end. As if I was ignorant of the theological backing for Calvinism and once I understood it, it would all make perfect sense because “that’s what the Bible says.” So for me it boils down to a few practical things:

    1) An overemphasis on the issue that causes it to become some central tenant of Christianity rather than one of the several orthodox treatments of providence.

    2) A passionate necessity to convince others that this is the correct point of view.

    3) The appearance of not listening to the other possible theological solutions.

    I will add that from a pastoral point of view, I dislike the way some people roll out their theology (i.e. “Don’t waste your cancer”). Some people have found that really helpful, but there are plenty of others who find themselves living under a lot of guilt because of their emotional reactions to hardship in life because they’re not believing that God is doing what is best for them when they are dealing with the aftermath of some horrific event. I’m not saying that other systems of providence don’t have similar issues pastorally, just that I’ve run into more of the Calvinist stuff in my experience.

    All that to say… I don’t hate Calvinism or Calvinists. In fact, oddly enough, most of my disciples over the years have become hard core Calvinists. And I don’t care, it’s a perfectly acceptable system, and I don’t try to convince them out of it. What I dislike is when it becomes some sort of litmus test of being a Christian, or a good theologian, or a smart person, or someone who truly understands the scripture. That is stupid.

    p.s. Also. I dislike it when there are two guys in every seminary class who have to constantly bend any classroom conversation toward discussing reformed theology. I am pretty sure the Lord’s secret will is for me to kick them with my boots. In love.

  7. Marc: I’m not a Calvinist but I appreciate Calvinism. I disagree strongly with its soteriology, for sure, but I’ve learned so much from Reformed theologians over the years that I could never say I hate their system wholesale. Jason makes a good point though, in that, many folks simply dislike loud and brash “Calvinists.” I place the term in scare quotes because (sadly) the most vocal majority are folks who have learned what the acronym TULIP stands for and little else. They then proceed to shout TULIP at the top of their lungs with untempered zeal, while decrying all non-“Calvinist” Christians as heretics (at worst), or ignorant & confused (at best). But I know plenty of real Calvinists, who know that there’s more to Reformed theology than TULIP, who are also annoyed by these zealots.

    Jason: I think your second point unintentionally highlights a reason that non-Calvinists have a problem with Calvinism. You said, “we tend to prize our free will above anything. It’s offensive, then, to think that in matters salvific to think that it doesn’t all fall on my plate.” (bold mine) Calvinists commonly caricature non-Calvinist soteriologies as being “man-centered” or having man as the “source” or “author” of salvation. Most (and certainly all that I’ve ever come across) non-Calvinists acknowledge that God is the source/author of salvation and that man simply cooperates with God in receiving/accepting Christ by simply saying, “yes,” to God’s free offer of salvation. Now I don’t think you meant to caricature non-Calvinist thought on the issue, but I know many Calvinists who have done/do exactly that.

  8. What a silly question! The answer is obviously “because we were predestined to have Calvinism”! 🙂

  9. …just like James was predestined to write “have” and not “hate.” Thanks, Jesus.:-)

  10. Before I get into my comment, I should say that like Brian I’m a bit of a theological mutt. I probably read Barth too much to be a good Calvinist, but I lean that way more than any.

    I think it’s interesting that there have been so many comments on the general attitude of Calvinists and how that turns people off. That leaves me wondering why. And, I can only come up with two possibilities. Either (1) there’s something inherent in Calvinism or Calvinist churches that actually produces or attracts a disproportionate number of people who come across in negative ways, or (2) there’s something about the Calvinist system that strikes people as arrogant/prideful no matter how winsomely you present/represent it. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that it’s a combination of the two.

    The second possibility is what I think Pat was touching on with his third comment and where it seems several others were going with their comments about Calvinists always needing to be right. This perspective seems to suggest that there’s something in the very comprehensiveness of Calvinism that lends itself to coming across as arrogant and closed-minded, especially in a modern context that devalues theological conviction and decries absolute positions.

    My first reaction was to reject the first possibility entirely. Surely it can’t be the case that Calvinism actually produces or attracts more obnoxious people than other theological systems. As I reflected some more, though, I began to see things a little differently. We’re all broken people. That means that if a theological system has a propensity toward any particular error, a good number of us will push it that way. So, while theological coherence and consistency is one of Calvinism’s greatest strengths, broken people raised in that system can easily make it a weakness when it they use it to be closed-minded or prideful. In the same way, other theological approaches that value, for example, “mystery” or “experience” can be used by broken people to jettison all sense of theological conviction or commitment.

    So, I guess I’m saying that maybe Calvinists get criticized more at times because they really are more obnoxious (in certain ways) than other groups. And this is a product of the theological system itself, when brought into contact with sinfully broken people. That doesn’t make the system wrong, it just demonstrates one of its weaknesses (and we all have them).

  11. Nick: Thanks for the comment. My use of “we” extends to all Christians, Calvinist or other. I didn’t intend to pigeonhole non-Calvinists as “man-centered” soteriologically, just to point out my particular observations from non-Calvinists with whom I’ve interacted on the matter. Granted, my observation is based on interaction with less informed proponents of the other side, but I only intended to offer a response based on my interactions. You’re certainly right in that caricature is a primary weapon on both sides of the issue and I certainly don’t want to be guilty of such a thing.

  12. Even without caricaturing, I think we can agree that many have bought into modernistic notions of free will and personal autonomy that cause them to react negatively to almost any presentation of Calvinism. Nick’s right to point out that this isn’t why thoughtful non-Calvinists do so, but it happens at the popular level quite frequently.

  13. Despite a vivid imagination, I could not, with all my powers, conjure up a more diabolical god than is conceived of by Calvinism.

    In describing the ultimate monster, you would want your “ultimate nightmare” god to inflict massive amounts of pain, so the divine wrath must be excruciating and endless. CHECK.

    The pain must be combined with moral guilt and shame. CHECK.

    The torment must be unavoidable by the victim or anyone else. CHECK.

    It must affect all (or almost all) of humanity. CHECK.

    It must be pre-planned. CHECK.

    The plan must be for your own magnification. CHECK.

    The only way this monster could be more despicable is if it affected all of humanity.

    Now, to make the monster even more diabolical, note that he expects to be praised as “full of mercy” etc. CHECK.

    It is because Calvinists smugly consider themselves the elect (which they are not) and have no qualms for praising such a monster, that I despise them to a man. They have no morality.

    Also, their interpretation of scripture is wrong.

  14. WE = always the king of assertions and hyperbolic rhetoric.

    • Definitely my fav post by WE, that I have read recently.

      Hyperbole is underused in the biblioblogosphere IMO. 8)

  15. This does raise the question of what impact the doctrine of election has on all this. Do non-Calvinists hear the Calvinist doctrine election as implicitly (or explicitly) smug?

  16. Probably. For some it is a cop-out to discussing matters of truth (“Well, of course you won’t understand. You’re not part of the elect. Satan has blinded you.”). But I am not sure if this can be avoided.

  17. Mark, I’m not a Calvinist, and I blog along side of Brian LePort, and he is a self-professed Calvinist, so he thinks.

    I have no problem with Calvinist, what so ever. Most Calvinist, that have humility are great to be around, but I can say that about any group in general. It all depends on ones attitude and how they respect other positions that are possible conclusions.

    • Robert, thanks for stopping it. It’s good to see another of the Near Emmaus triumverate in this neck of the woods. And, I’m not sure that your perspective on Calvinism counts. If you can get along with Brian on a regular basis, you must have a supernatural level of patience. The rest of us will just have to watch in amazement.

  18. My short answer is because Calvinism is correct and the most faithful theological framework to Scripture. (This statement thus fulfills my obligation as a Calvinist to be loud, brash, arrogant and offensive.) I agree with many of the comments, most specifically the one that speaks of Calvinists as being arrogant. An arrogant Calvinist is an oxymoron! However, we should contend for truth vigorously, which is what most Calvinist “perceive” they are doing.

    There are three other reasons:
    1) The Armenian wants to protect libertarian free will. (Pat and others mentioned this) In their view, this allows God to hold men culpable for sin. It was their free will choice.

    2) The Armenian wants to protect God. If God ordains all things, and the Arminian view of libertarian free will is not biblical (as Calvinists claim) then God is unjust (The whole Rom. 9:19 argument).

    3) Regardless of what is claimed, ones view of God has IMMENSE implications, especially concerning his sovereignty in salvation and suffering. A.W. Tozer said it best, “The most important thing about a person is what they believe about God because they will spend the rest of their life responding to that perception.” (paraphrase) Calvinism and Arminianism post two very different views. For Calvinist, the Armenian view of God is of one who is powerless and little. And (as WoundedEgo has submitted) the Arminian views the God of Calvinism as cruel and arrogant. Both will claim that the other side just doesn’t understand.

  19. >>>…Both will claim that the other side just doesn’t understand.

    But only one is right.

    AND it turns out that even if the Armenian is wrong, so is the Calvinist. Calvinism and “the commercial view of the atonement” go hand in hand, and they are both pedantic and absurd.

  20. I don’t think anyone here is Armenian, at least I don’t think none of you were born in Armenia? If you were please let us know.

    Bcash32, The correct spelling is Arminian, and we are not trying to protect libertarian free will, we are simply trying to protect our understanding of what the scriptures say, which we believe it says that God is loving and just. It’s these sorts of misrepresentation that get old. Just wondering what books have you read by Arminian theologians?

    • Of course, everyone agrees that God is loving and just. So, non-Calvinists don’t get to stake out the moral high ground on this one. The debate comes after that as we try to understand what that means, how we uphold God’s goodness and power while still wrestling with the problem of evil, and what it means to say that humans make morally responsible decisions (everyone agrees with this too).

      And, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think views of free will come into play here. Of course, everyone is trying to make the best sense of Scripture. But one of the ways in which we do this is through particular understandings of what it means to say that humans make choices and are held responsible for this. Arminians and Calvinists disagree on this point, and it’s something that has to be brought into the discussion.

      I was also going to make a snarky comment about Billy’s anti-Armenian rhetoric and ask if he also had problems with other ethnic groups. But I didn’t get there fast enough.

  21. >>>…Just wondering what books have you read by Arminian theologians?

    Arminians hardly live long enough to tell!

    Arminius was almost certainly murdered by Athanasius and his gang of thugs. Servetus – put to death by fire by Calvin (acting under order by the Pope). JWs are universally condemned as devils (despite their evident conscientiousness in many areas of Christian behavior)…

    So, with the hordes of Constantian “believers” expect hostilities…

  22. I can’t stand Calvinism because even though there are obviously texts that support both Arminianism and Calvinism (although I think much more for Arminianism), Calvinists choose to go with the less desirable system that has a hard time not making God seem like a monster, puppet master, or narcissistic. And then they make it seem like they had no other choice, that they were just following the Bible wherever it lead no matter how difficult it was to accept. It sounds like trying to be a theological martyr or something.

  23. I don’t typically find myself in the position of defending Calvinism, but let’s make sure that we’re being fair here. It’s not like Calvinists are inventing a concept of God (e.g. a horrible monster-God who eats people and kicks puppies) and then tries to come up with some way of inserting him into the biblical texts. If we’re going to invent a God, let’s go with a God who hands out lollipops and gives free llama rides whenever you want. Calvinists are offering what they legitimately see as the best interpretation of the biblical texts. You may not agree, but let’s not suggest that they’re simply forcing their preconceived notions on the text. (At least, let’s not suggest that they’re doing this any more than the rest of us do.)

  24. Robert, thanks for the correction on the spelling. Thought I caught them all.

    As for the defending “what the Scripture says” remark, Calvinists claim to be doing the exact same thing. (Since you took my comments to imply otherwise, are you now implying that Calvinists do not say that God is loving and just?) I don’t argue, nor did I claim, that Arminians don’t believe that God is loving or just (Thus I’m not sure where the “misrepresenting” remark came from). I think that was exactly my second point above, that Arminians want to protect the just-ness of God in their view, which they perceive Calvinism as undermining. (Just so you know I also don’t claim that Arminians are Pelagian.)

    Also, are you claiming that Arminians do not try to defend a particular view of free-will that they perceive is implicit in their understanding of “Scriptures they are trying to protect”? (…”we are not trying to protect libertarian free will…”) If so, then you would be the first Arminian I’d met that was not. With most Arminians I’ve met and read, what is at stake in their view is the freedom of choice for man to be held culpable for his actions. Let me know if I’m incorrect, and this is not a major tenet in Arminian theology (Conditional Election).

    As for reading Arminian theologians, that would include guys like Roger Olson and John Wesley. I recently finished Jack Cottrell’s book, “What the Bible says about God the Ruler.” I thought it was excellent. One of the few Arminian theologians I’ve read that was clear, to the point, and tried to be biblically faithful to the text. I thought many of his arguments were compelling. In the end, I just didn’t agree with him.

    For the record also, I don’t hate Arminians and don’t think you have to be Calvinist to be saved. I’m sorry if my comments came across as the epitome of the “Arrogant Calvinist.” My attempt at sarcasm in the opening of my initial post may have been lost on me. I should have heeded Marc’s blog about that last week.

    • I’m sure Robert’s point was that it’s not a particular view of free will that’s at the center of the debate for Arminian’s, but Scripture. Calvinists often make it sound like a philosophical pre-commitment to a particular view of free will is really what’s driving the system. Arminians rightly object.

      I’d also have to say that your comment about Cottrell being “One of the few Arminian theologians I’ve read that was clear, to the point, and tried to be biblically faithful to the text” is unlikely to win you any Arminian friends.

  25. Marc:

    I think you may have misinterpreted what I said.

    I’m not talking about inventing whatever God we want. I’m talking about formulating our view of God based on scripture (which is why the puppy kicking God or lollipop giving God aren’t real options) and I believe both theological systems have done that. My point was when the scripture gives you two different options (and it is obvious that scripture supports both views although I think Arminianism much more), why not go with the one that’s more desirable and less hard to swallow? Why go with Calvinism when it seems to have more difficulties and seems to have a hard time not making God seemlike a monster, puppet master, or narcissistic (not to Calvinists of course). That just ends up seeming like theological martyr-ism to me: picking the more difficult theological option when you really don’t have to.

    I have in mind something like what Charles Cosgrove describes in the introduction of the book The Meanings We Choose: Hermeneutical Ethics, Indeterminacy and the Conflict of Interpretation:

    Today we confront indeterminacy as the hermeneutical situation in which ‘applying a given interpretive question and a given publicly­ shared method (or set of methods) yields more than one reasonable interpretation’. This calls for self-awareness about the way we choose one interpretation over another for constructive Christian use. Here our decisions almost invariably depend on ‘extra-exegetical’ considerations. Our own sense of ‘equity’ (or ‘justice’) is likely to inform our judgments. Adjudicating between competing reasonable interpretations also calls for taking into account other values and interests; in this way we take responsibility for the meanings we choose, subjecting to scrutiny not only our exegetical rationales (as critical methods demand) but also the usually hidden factors that incline us toward one interpretation and not another.

    Cosgrove is talking about biblical texts specifically but I think it also applies to the theological systems we hold to. Do we have an ethical responsibility to choose one theological system over the other if both have good support in scripture? And further, why would you choose the one that is more difficult to hold to, especially if you don’t have to?

    Sorry for the long comment.

  26. Bcash32, no need to apologize, i didn’t think you came off as a arrogant Calvinist. I’m glad that you have read Roger Olson, Jack Cottrell is also good, but can be a bit extreme on other views. I think that if more people would take the time to read and understand the opposing position, and respect their conclusions, I think we woukd have more meaniful discussions. I have also read many books by Calvanist theologians. In the end like you I just don’t agree with the Calvinist position.

    I need to get going, preaching tonight at my church, I’ll try and follow up later tonight. If I get a chance I’ll try an explain by what I meant by ”we are not trying to protect libertarian free will…”

  27. Bryan, thanks for the clarification. I think the way you present it in your last comment is very helpful. In a debate that has lasted as long as this one has, it’s clear that both sides have legitimate, possible interpretations of Scripture. And, understanding why a person goes one way or the other is a complex task. I’m not familiar with the Cosgrove work you cite, but I’ll have to check it out.

    But, I still think we need to be careful how we describe each position. Both sides have a tendency to acknowledge that the other side’s interpretation might be “possible,” but they’ll then go on to characterize it in such a way that only an idiot would possibly choose that approach. So, you end up with the “monster” God of Calvinism and the “weak” God of Arminianism. If we’re going to say that both interpretations are legitimately possible, I tihnk we need to work hard to present them as plausibly as possible.

  28. I knew it was only a matter of time before the discussion took a turn into a debate about Calvinism v. Arminianism itself. Interestingly, it was a ~Calvinist who took the stereotypical Calvinist role by doing some rhetorical chop-blocks and name calling that got it going. Are you sure you’re not really Reformed, WE?:-) [Please don’t answer]

    As a credentialed Calvinist (note: Leport has too much self-doubt – Calvinists doubt others!:-); Marc admitted that he is a watered down version (immersed not sprinkled, btw) and Barthian to boot; and Billy, well he’s a Texas Baptist – not to be trifled with but still too nice to fit the bill), let me say that it is too bad that “Calvinist” is the short-hand for “strong-predestinarian.” We miss more than we gain with that designation.

    Calvin himself is recognized as one of the pre-eminent theologians of the Holy Spirit in Western theology; he has a robust, vital view of the sacraments; and rich teaching on union with Christ. The other stuff is important, but it bogs down sometimes and gets people to proving “total depravity” in spite of their intentions.

  29. I share many of the beliefs of my calvinistic brothers and sisters so much so that you (and I) might be tempted to call me a Calvinist.

    But I resist the title, especially with a capital C. As I do most Christian sub-titles with capital letters. They whiff of elitism and sectarianism. They are an ‘I am of…’ mentality.

    Who is Calvin…or Luther… or any other (Paul, Peter, Apollos) are they not men, servants…

    Sometimes a label can help to give a short cut to identity but more often than not it is a caracature and gives as many false signals as true.

    I suggest labels should be used with caution and never for egotistical reasons.

  30. I’m catholic (not Roman) and whilst I do not hate Calvinists proper (those that follow Calvin’s theology). I don’t like hyper-calvinism and its ugly God concept. Particularly it’s limited and substitutionary atonement. I think Victor Christus is nearer the truth, but that’s just my opinion.

    Also another problem I think stems with God chosing only an elected few. I could be wrong, but I don’t find it very Christocentric, nor the heart of the Gospel (John 1:29, 3:16)

    Of course the problem with hyper Calvinism as portrayed per se nowsadays, is always focussing in on predustbination and the obsession over John 6:44 and of course the inerrancy of Scripture. I’m sure than Calvin didn’t, he quite happily suggested that Matthew was wrong in Matt 27:9.

    Another problem for me is hard determinism from a theological perspective it does seems to be very calvinistic, and very 18th Century. It doesn’t allow God to use randomness and chance, or for Him to exercise His free will, thus having true Sovereignty.

    But these are just my thoughts.

    Grace and peace to all.

    • >>>…whilst I do not hate Calvinists proper (those that follow Calvin’s theology)…

      “Calvinists proper” would, in theory, be “following Calvin’s theology” I suppose, but it should be noted that modern “Calvinism” is more an extrapolation of Platonism. It is a misnomer.

  31. Just another thought. Wasn’t reformed theology culminated by Barth, particularly regarding election.

    1) Jesus Christ is the Electing God
    2) Jesus Christ is the Elected Human.

    Ahhh, that’s better, much more christocentric. 😀

    Christ is drawing all creation to Himself, so God can be all in all.

    Yep, I am a soft universalist. ;p

    • >>>…1) Jesus Christ is the Electing God
      2) Jesus Christ is the Elected Human….

      The election of Jesus is a good case in point on the *scriptural* notion of “election.”

      Psalms 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

      What this demonstrates is the election is something builders do. It is a Greek word, not a magic Calvinist word. A builder, when building a building, would select a **suitable** material for their project. One wouldn’t “elect” stubble for a skyscraper building material (in most cases). And when it was time to select a cornerstone, the builders didn’t think Jesus was a good choice. The reasons are not given, but apparently they did not esteem him a good fit. However, for God’s purposes, he made the perfect fit.

      James had some picky builders:

      James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

      The poor suit God’s purposes better than the rich do. That isn’t to say that every poor person ultimately becomes converted, but:

      Matthew 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

      Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


      Romans 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

      Why? It was not suitable for God’s purposes for the younger to serve the elder, because he wanted to paint a picture of the elder serving the younger.

      Pharaoh was of the perfect temperment for God’s purposes, so he was God’s elect.

      So, to be elect, one must be suitable for God’s purposes:

      2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

      There is no one to one relationship between called and chosen:

      Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

  32. Pat’s got a great point on how narrow this conversation tends to be. Of course, that was determined largely by the fact that the question focused on what annoys people about Calvinism. Regardless, it is sad how little non-Calvinists talk about the tremendous strengths and theological resources of Calvinism. Maybe we should have a follow-up post on “What do non-Calvinists appreciate the most about Calvinism?”

    John, I think your point fits very well with Pat’s. This post and the ensuing discussion was really about exploring how and why people react to a label “Calvinist,” and people who wear that label in particular ways. I think labels are unavoidable (and unavoidably problematic), but you’re right that we need to be very careful with them.

  33. I would also like to point out to Pat that I never claimed to be a “Barthian.” I like to read Barth, but I’m pretty sure that’s different. I also like to read Neil Gaiman, but I’m definitely not a Gaimanian. Of course, a true Barthian could never actually say that he/she was a Barthian anyway, since a good Barthian would reject such an abstract allegiance to a theoretical “system.” So, I’m not sure my denial helps much.

    • Yep. I would expect a real Barthian to say he isn’t – and then acknowledge the quandry of either affirming or denying it, thus proving the dialectical nature of their position, and their Barthian bona fides. That was too easy, Marc:-)

      • Wait, what’s this? A link to Pat voting for Barth? Could it be that Pat is really a closet Barthian himself? It’s okay Pat. You can embrace your inner Barth-child. We won’t mind.

  34. Phoebs, thanks for your comments. Since substitutionary atonement isn’t limited to Calvinists, I’m not sure that plays as big a role here. But I can definitely see how limited atonement could be off-putting to many, especially if it wasn’t presented well. And, I think it’s interesting that you identified an inadequately christocentric theology as a reason for being upset with Calvinism. That’s one that hadn’t been brought up before, but it would make Barth happy, since that was his biggest frustration as well.

  35. Why do non-Calvinists hate Calvinism so much? Good question! Speaking for myself I don’t hate Calvinists but I’ve found it extremely painful to read their Blogs and online rantings.

    If it wasn’t for the redeeming person of Jesus in their mist I am sure all non-Calvinist (like Open Theists, Arminians, Lutherans) would have been tared & feathered a long time ago, if not outright lynched and simply hanged.

    Most Calvinist (online) reminds me of Al-Qaeda – not the body of Christ. Since they have “The Truth” about every aspect of God, Jesus and the Word of God there is not, apparently, any need for humility whatsoever. It’s disgusting.

    – Leo

  36. Wounded Ego, I’ve been pretty patient so far, but I am going to have to ask you to reign it in. I’ve never had to shut someone down on this blog, and I’d hate to start now. But, I also don’t want to have one person dominating the discussion and engaging in rhetoric that is clearly not conducive to quality dialog. So, I am asking you to moderate the tone of your posts or participate somewhere else.

    And just to be clear, the only commenting policy that we have on this blog is whether or not I think the comments are contributing to what I think the purposes of the blog are. I realize that sounds self-centered, but I’m okay with that.

  37. IF YOU WORSHIP AN UNLOVING ,UNJUST, god, then you will become just like the object of your worship…

  38. Touche!

    – Leo

  39. I just stumbled across this site, but as a rather neutral observer with not a lot at stake in the argument, it is interesting to me that many of the Calvinists in this thread speak of Arminians not wanting to hear “the truth”. I don’t think most Calvinists are arrogant per-se, but there does seem to be, at least among most of my Calvinist friends, a general unwillingness to be open to the possibility they might be wrong, or at the very least that someone else might have a viewpoint that is also plausible. I think for most non-Calvinists it is the implicit, rather than the explicit arrogance of Calvinists (as opposed to Calvinism) that is most off-putting.

  40. Paul said of the Corinthians that they tended to be the poor and uneducated, because the gospel is tailored to such:

    1 Cor 1:
    26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
    27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
    28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
    29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

    This is not a rule, but I’ve noticed that Presbyterian and other Reformed Churches tend to be populated by lawyers and doctors, software professionals, seminarians and such – middle class and above. Mostly Republicans. Mostly white. Their activities are mostly geared to sedentary men.

    I believe that this is because Calvinism is a philosophy that springs from Platonism, and as such is extremely cerebral. This is not as interesting to the poor and uneducated.

    Reformed Churches are boring, useless affairs. Those who like to throw around terms like “Ordo Salutis” or “Sola Scriptura” and compare Zwingli to Luther are completely titillated by their faux brilliance and sophistry.

    And they tend to consider those who “don’t get it” on the outside of their Taliban like clique.

  41. I do not hate any Calvinist. On the contrary I find that the Calvinists tend to think we non-calvinist (not arminian) have not as yet been “enlightened.” That smacks of elitism on their part. Like being elected make them of higher spirituality, intelect and closer to God. That is hogwash of the prodigal son type hogwash.

    God granted repentence to we Gentiles in the book of Acts. Jesus said, if I be lifted up I will draw ALL men unto me. Only in Calvinism does all not mean all.

    Calvinism is nothing but Augustinianism. I am not Roman Catholic, so I cannot and will not be a part of any “doctrine” by one of the 4 founding fathers of Catholicism. “Calvinism” was not taught by the early church, as Augustine thought this up. It was not taught by the true church for 1000 years until John Calvin. The same John Calvin while hating the pope, hated Baptist and put to death many of my fore-fathers and mothers of the faith. John Calvin believed that one must keep the sacraments in order to be saved. John Calvin believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. John Calvin was an unrepentant murder of at least 50 people. No where in scripture are we to put to death any one who believes contrarty to us or what scripture says. John Calvin also believed in Baptisimal Regeneration. If so…then John Calvin has been in Hell some 500 years or so.

    While I hate no Calvinist, as my very best friends is Calvinist and I believe very confused as to the man Calvin. Before one believes the teachings of any but Jesus, you better understand ALL of what the man taught.

    Peace to all true believes in the death, burial and ressurrection of our Lord Jesus and have received him by faith through His marvelous grace.

  42. Where in the Bible KJV or other wise does it say: Jesus only died for the elect?

    Where in the Bible KJV or other wise does it say: Total depravity is a condition that renders the human brain to be unable to choose? Total Depravity is a condition of the heart of man, not our brains.

    Adam and Eve had free will. God told them not to partake of the forbidden fruit and even warned them of the consequences. But the choice was left up to them and also said consequences.

    I need not John Calvin…he didn’t die for me.

    Just give me JESUS!

  43. Mr. Cortez, what makes you think you are one of the elect? How are you sure He is just ‘washing your feet’ now and planning to get His joys seeing you writhe in hell later?

  44. There are a couple of things about some of the more recent comments on this that I find interesting. Calvinists have been critiqued several times for their arrogance and unwillingness to consider (fairly) the positions of other people. But I have to say that some of the anti-Calvinist comments exude exactly the same attitude that they decry. Even if the criticism of Calvinists is fair, I don’t think the answer is to make the same mistake louder.

    I also find it interesting that several seem to be presuming that I am myself a Calvinist. I’m way too much of a theological mutt for that label to stick very well. I didn’t ask this particular question because I’m a Calvinist, but because I found the question interesting.

  45. You know, i’m not a “calvinist” but i’m a born again bible believing christian by the grace of God and the bible speaks clearly the doctrine of predestination plain and simple in ephesians 1:4-11 in all versions from the KJV all the way to the ESV, NASB, NIV,NLT and finally the most literal version; YNG (Young’s literal translation). I will use the most literal translation which is YNG so that noone can say that it is not written in God’s word.

    EPHESIANS 1:4-11 “according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love, having foreordained us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the remission of the trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, in which He did abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,having made known to us the secret of His will, according to His good pleasure, that He purposed in Himself, in regard to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth — in him; in whom also we did obtain an inheritance, being foreordained according to the purpose of Him who the all things is working according to the counsel of His will,” (YNG)

    I also am congregating in a new church and after service today i just came up to someone to ask them if they believed in reformed theology, not in an arrogant or haughty way but i asked because i just wanted to see how the members of the church reacted to this form of theology. To my surprise the first thing that splurted out of the rude mouth of the person that i kindly and humbly asked a simple question was “how dare you start a conversation with a question like that!!!!”.

    It was as if i had asked her to kill somebody or something and she even started yelling at me to the point where i had to raise my voice and rebuke her and tell her that she was bieng rude. In the end i didn’t wait for her to come to me but as Christ taught us i went to her and gave her my handshake and told her sorry to mention “reformed theology” and told her that i love her still.

    I understand her though because i was also very hostile to this theology when i first heard it. All by the grace of God and all to the Glory of God. On the contrary of what many people say here; I have seen very rude people that oppose reformed theology and i have seen very humbled and broken people that accept it. The doctrines of grace don’t make us arrogant because that is just plain stupid. The doctrines of grace actually humbles us more and motivates us to live holy and set apart lives for Jesus Christ and to love our enemies because if it wasn’t for God’s grace we would still be like them (lost and without hope).


    • Hey Anthony, thanks for the comment. I was particularly intrigued by your experience at church. It’s exactly that kind of reaction to Reformed theology that got me to write this post in the first place. That was an interestingly strong reaction to an apparently simple question.

      And, I completely agree that the doctrines of grace should lead us all to be more humble and loving. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. If nothing else, I hope this discussion helps us see the need to be ever-vigilant against theological pride.

    • >>>EPHESIANS 1:4-11

      Paul says that his purpose in writing is to give the believer the destiny to which they have been called:

      Eph 1:17 …That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
      Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
      Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power…

      In other words, “You’ve believed and stand saved. Is that it?”

      Ephesians speaks of “grace” to let the believers know that “Christ” is like a train; you “get on,” and it takes you to a destination.

      There is nothing in the forgiveness of sins that suggests that one who is forgiven then gets any favors. For example, in our country, when you “serve your debt to society” in our prison systems, they merely give you back your belongings, open the door, and then shut it behind you. God could have done the same thing. “Okay, you believed, I counted it for righteousness and now you have no more sin. Goodbye.”

      But God didn’t just do that. Those who believe are then adopted, and enter into the delights of favor he bestows:

      Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
      Rom 5:2 By whom ***also*** we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

      Ephesians is describing this new destiny in which one who believes participates. It isn’t about arbitrariness. It is about “us [who are, because of faith] in him.”

  46. Yeah Marc, thanks for the feedback. If you felt intrigued by reading it imagine how i felt by experiencing it. I never experienced that in my life but now i know that i shoudn’t mention reformed theology to anyone unless i really know them well or unless they come to me about it.

    Also, you said “It’s exactly that kind of reaction to Reformed theology that got me to write this post in the first place”. So did you also get a reaction like that before?

    It’s humbling but oh well…… I can stay humble because I know i woudn’t have known about predestination if the LORD hadn’t predestined it…lol…. So i just feel like I deserve to be trampled on if that’s what it takes to be conformed to the image of Christ because isn’t that what we were predestined for…..to be conformed to the image of Christ?

    I believe God’s children learn from all experiences because everything works out for good for those who love God.

    Peace and Grace from our Father in heaven and Lord Jesus Christ.

  47. Thankfully neither Calvin nor Armenius are prophets or apostles and neither of their writings, beliefs or conjectures are inspired.

    There is a free will given by a sovereign God; but His foreknowledge doesn’t not negate man’s free will.

    He is a God of love, not some capriocious child whom selects one for heaven, one for hell, one for heaven, one for hell…you get the picture.

    Adam and Even weren’t created robots and were given a choice, just as we were when the Lord gave us entrance into this earth.

    “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of Salvation.”

    Salvation is by grace, through faith, totally apart from the law or any other works-based system.

    The true Calvinist cannot know true God given peace because he doesn’t know if he was chosen or not; for, as Calvin says, you cannot trust your own heart. And the true Arminianist cannot know true God given peace for he does not know if he has commited the unpardonable sin and therefore has lost his salvation.

    Keep in mind that words like elect, foreknew, predestinated, called, chosen, etc. CANNOT be used interchangable for they are NOT synonymous. These words have unique meanings. Furthermore, examine and research what the believer is brought into when these words are used. These words simply are not used of unbelievers. The instant I am saved, I come into the good of all the “elect, foreknew, predestinated, called, chosen, etc” stuff connected with those words.

    To God be the glory.

  48. I think we should all just pull an Augustine:

    ““And what I said shortly afterwards: ‘For it is ours to believe and will, but His to give to those who believe and will, the power of doing good ‘through the Holy Spirit’ through whom ‘charity is poured forth in our hearts’ (Rom. 5:5) is indeed true; but by virtue of this rule [‘The same God…works all in all’] both are His, because He Himself prepares the will (Prov. 8:35), and ours also because we do only what we will.”

  49. Calvinism denies that sinners are the master of their destiny and sinners don’t like it. Calvinism is also making a major comeback and is rocking the boat of the free-willers. At least one third of Southern Baptist graduates from seminary are Calvinists and now inroads are happening in Methodism. Men will continue to curse Calvinism and God will continue to spread it. If the Lord is preparing a major move,He will look to the Calvinists,just like He did in the Reformation.

  50. love it! so JW are you saying Calvin was a Calvinist? 🙂 OR are you indeed saying that God is a Calvinist? Interesting . . .

  51. Hmm Marc…I just have to add my 2cents worth.

    Modern Calvinism has little to do with John Calvin and his theology. He was a four pointer; though TUIP doesn’t have the same ring to it as TULIP does.

    Its been my observation that a lot of modern Calvinists; Restless Reformed (RR) believe that the Gospel is actually their “systematic theology” And this is what you must believe to be saved….

    there is a huge peer group pressure to conform and therefore there is passion to ensure that one is personally remains within the clan.

    One of the interesting things I have observed about Calvinism is in their selectiveness in how they use the church fathers to proof text; and yet will vigorously oppose the fathers in the next breath if they support something that they don’t hold to.

    Take Augustine as an example.. he wrote more about the ongoing personal experience and outworking of the Holy Spirit (in a charismatic way – City of God) then he did about any form of limited atonement….

    Also John Calvin also wrote about the experiential nature of the Holy Spirit and his own experience of prophecy…. so it would appear that there is a push for a certain interpretation of sola scripture by the restless reformed that is not supported by Scripture or by the church fathers.

    Finally in my face to face interactions with Calvinists I have found them to be warm and courteous… to rude and obnoxious… I have found RC’s and people from other denominations to be the same.

    Finally when it comes to theological obnoxiousness; it would appear that Young Earthers would be more so than Calvinists are.. when it comes to theological differences.

  52. A Short Study on the Concept of Original Sin

    3.2 ARTHUR W PINK – ‘IT MUST BE…’ 7
    3.4 SUMMARY 8
    4.3 THE HUMAN RACE 10
    5 CAUSE OF SIN 11
    6.1 MISUSED TEXTS. 12

    1 Introduction

    Brief history
    In the 5th century BC the dominant theologian of the time was Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, The mountain of his writing shaped the church which is now known as the Catholic church, In15xx an Augustinian monk sparked a major revolution in church history which became known as the Reformation, The most dominant leader of the reformation was a man named John Calvin who wrote the book “The institute of the Christian Religion”. The ideas in this book dominate high reformed thought to this day. In 1618 two Dutchmen published 5 disagreements with the prevailing reformed theology. This became known as the remonstrance. Today, denominations in Europe are based either on the high reformed thinking or line themselves with the remonstrance position.
    Since the remonstrance a gargantuan amount has already been said and written about the difference between the opposing positions. The fundamental ideas on both sides seems to be derived from understanding or interpretation of the idea of ‘ORIGINAL SIN’
    Therefore this study is largely a trawl through to Old and New Testaments to compare reformed views with actual biblical evidence.
    All Bible quotations are from the authorized King James Version

    2 The Terrible Decrees

    John Calvin – Condition of Babies Institutes Reference
    … hence even infants bring their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb, suffer not from another’s, but their own defect….and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God.
    Book 2, Ch 1, Section 8

    “I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 4

    God … arranges all things by his counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death
    Book 3, Ch 23, Section 6
    “Again I ask: whence does it happen that Adam’s fall irremediably involved so many peoples, together with their infant offspring, in eternal death unless because it so pleased God? … The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree.” “And it ought not to seem absurd for me to say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his own decision..”
    Book 3, Ch 23, Section 7

    John Calvin – The cause of Original Sin ?
    “…it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan.” “..God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening.” Book 2, Ch 23, Section 1
    some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5

    “We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5

    “Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 1
    “With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has willed.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 5
    God not only foresaw the fall off the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity: but also at his own pleasure arranged it.”
    Book 3, Ch 23, Section 7
    “Even though by God’s eternal providence man has been created to undergo that calamity to which he is subject, it still takes its occasion from man himself, not from God, since the only reason for his ruin is that he has degenerated from God’s pure creation into vicious and impure perversity.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 9

    Calvin’s Contradictions
    Fall decreed by God Fall NOT decreed by God
    “…salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it”. Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5

    “We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others”. Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5
    “…it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan.” “..God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening”. Book 2, Ch 23, Section 1 “Man falls according as God’s providence ordains, but he falls by his own fault”. Book 3, Ch 23, Section 8

    “Even though by God’s eternal providence man has been created to undergo that calamity to which he is subject, it still takes its occasion from man himself, not from God, since the only reason for his ruin is that he has degenerated from God’s pure creation into vicious and impure perversity.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 9

    “Moreover, the Wicked bring upon themselves the just destruction to which they are destined”. Book 3, Ch 24

    “The very inequality of his grace proves that it is free.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 6
    “…God could foresee nothing good in man except what he had already determined to bestow by the benefit of his election,..” Book 3, Ch 22, Section5

    God “Predestines people to damnation” !! No – God “Passes Over”??
    Some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5
    “…we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction. …he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 7
    God not only foresaw the fall off the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity: but also at his own pleasure arranged it.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 7
    “Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 1

    3 Reformers

    3.1 Common Calvinistic Dogma

    “The whole human race existed as one moral person in Adam; so that in Adam’s sin we sinned, we corrupted ourselves, and we brought guilt and merited condemnation upon ourselves. Adam’s will was the will of the species, so that in Adam’s free act, the will of the race revolted against God and the nature of the race corrupted itself.”
    “Unconscious infants, dying without baptism, are damned by virtue of their inherited guilt.”
    “From this condemnation no one is exempt, not even newborn children.”
    Doctrine of Augustine, 5th Century A.D.

    “Even children, dying un baptized, are lost.”
    Martin Luther

    The sin of Adam is the immediate cause and ground of inborn depravity, guilt, and condemnation to the whole human race.”
    A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology

    “Every man is guilty in Adam, and is consequently born with a depraved and corrupt nature. And this inner corruption is the unholy fountain of all actual sin.”
    L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology

    “Original sin is the corruption of man’s nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to evil, and that continually.”
    Larger Catechism

    we assuredly gather it was His everlasting determination so to do; and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world A W Pink ‘The Sovereignty of God pp 83-84

    If then God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass then He must have decreed that vast numbers of human beings should pass out of this world unsaved to suffer eternally in the Lake of Fire.
    A W Pink ‘From The Sovereignty of God in Reprobation Chapter 5

    “From this original corruption whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.”
    Westminster Confession

    3.1 Charles Spurgeon – Grammatical Gunpowder

    The following text relates to a common problem. ‘Words do not mean what they say’. This argument is often used to explain away a biblical text that is contradictory to a desired dogma. Spurgeon destroys such fallacies as shown below.

    3.2 Arthur W Pink – ‘It Must be…’

    Arthur W Pink’s wrote many books where his forthright views make Calvin himself look a bit soft. Never mind the secret council of God’s will. No, ‘IT MUST BE’ declares Pink.

    Pinks logic is often used by modern Calvinist and directly contradicts their notion of original sin. I.E. Did Adam voluntary sin or was it prearranged?

    Supra Lapsarian – Calvanist who believe God pre arranges every event and even the fall as described in Geneses was pre planned down to the very second.

    Infra Lapsarian – Calvanists who believe that Adam fell by his own free will and only after this event did God pre plan who would be saved and who would be lost.

    3.3 Grudem – Closet Calvinism

    Modern Calvinism is the kind of Calvinism that A W Pink vigorously attacks. Pink belongs to the ‘Double Predestination’ school of thought. That is that God actively dams people to hell. I.E. Calvin’s terrible decree. This teaching often gets its proponents into a lot of heated debate and trouble. Hence it has been watered down and most modern Calvinists adhere the ‘Single Predestination’ view. That is God pre elects those who will be saved but ‘passes over’ those who wont be. The purpose of this teaching is to try and avoid the inescapable conclusion that God is the author of sin. Grudem is one of many who attempt to use circular logic to get themselves out of trouble as shown in the article below.

    3.4 Summary
    • Predestination is only mentioned 4 times in the Bible. Always referring to the future state of believers. The notion that every teaching has a positive and negative side, hence ‘proving’ Calvinistic predestination – has no biblical basis whatsoever.
    • There is not one shred of evidence in the Bible for double or single predestination.
    • The single predestination proponents still have the problem that those passed over have never had nor will have any chance of salvation. Teaching totally opposite to the Bible.
    • Any version of Calvinistic predestination contradicts its own versions of the concept of original sin.

    4 Born Bad or Not
    4.1 The Status of Children.

    The Calvinistic doctrine is that babies are born “odious and abominable” to God. The actual Biblical text not only makes no mention of this but says the opposite E.G no knowledge between good and evil. It is self evident that babies know nothing when they are born let alone the difference between good and evil. The Bible text states ‘For before the child shall know to refuse the evil’. Hence the Bible teaches that babies are born innocent, and they reach an age of accountability before they can willfully commit sin. Calvinism supports a major contradiction in that babies are born ‘Totally Depraved” (First of the 5 points of Calvinism) but are made clean by Infant Baptism. I.E. a work of man.
    Calvin’s Institutes

    “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:3

    … hence even infants bring their condemnation with them from their mothers womb, suffer not from another’s, but their own defect….and therefore cannot but be odious and abominable to God.
    Book 2, Ch 1, Section 8

    “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

    “I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 4

    “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16 and Luke 18:16-17

    God .. arranges all things by his counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death. Book 3, Ch 23, Section 6
    Other Texts

    “Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.” Deuteronomy 1:39

    “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrers shall be forsaken of both her kings.” Isaiah 7:15-16

    4.3 The Human Race

    “Original sin is the hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature…which first makes us subject to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which the Scripture calls works of the flesh.” Calvin

    Ecclesiastes 7:29: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions

    This text, one of many, confirms that God has NOT created man totally depraved, odious or obnoxious but as it says ‘upright’. Also ‘in his own image and likeness’. Hence without sin. The following texts show that no one is born a sinner. Born in sin meaning born into a sinful world.

    Some Opposing Reformed Views
    “I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will.” Calvin Book 3, Ch 23, Section 4
    “…God could foresee nothing good in man except what he had already determined to bestow by the benefit of his election” Calvin Book 3, Ch 22, Section5


    “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…And God saw everything that he had made, and…it was very good.” Gen. 1:26, 31

    “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” Ecclesiastes 7:29

    “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
    Psalm 100:3

    “God that made the world and all things therein…seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men…For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God…” Acts 17:24-26, 28-29

    “Man…is the image and glory of God.” I Corinthians 11:7

    “Men, which are made after the similitude of God.” James 3:9

    5 Cause of SIn

    The Bible says many times that men, having been created upright and in the image of God, have corrupted themselves not created corrupt. Or gone astray (past tense) and sinned against the good nature that God created them with. There are hundreds of texts in the Bible that speak of sin, and sin is always the evil or wickedness that the sinner has knowingly and willfully done. There are no exceptions.
    “Thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doeth the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them that do such things, and doeth the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?…who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” Romans 2:1-3, 6-9
    The following Bible verses give a completely different picture to that cast by Calvinists.

    “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him…And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

    Genesis 1:27, 31

    “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
    Genesis 6:5-7, 11-12

    “They have corrupted themselves; They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it.” Exodus 32:7-8
    “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you.” Deut. 31:29
    “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?…Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” Deuteronomy 32:5-6, 18

    “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”
    Ecclesiastes 7:29
    “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalm 14:1-3
    “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalm 53:3
    “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men (because of your sins), and fall like one of the princes.” Psalm 82:6-7
    “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man…for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
    Mark 7:15, 21-23
    “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
    James 1:12-15

    6 Inherited Sin or Not

    The Bible says that man is guilty for his own sins and for his own sins alone. He is not guilty, and cannot be guilty, for the sin of Adam or any other man:
    Biblical Text

    “Far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked. That be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
    Genesis 18:25

    “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16

    “But he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.” II Chronicles 25:4

    “But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” 2 Kings 14:6

    “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 18:20

    “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.” Ezekiel 33:20

    6.1 Misused texts.

    Genesis 8:21: “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

    Note: From youth. NOT Birth. Later texts quoted below show that the Bible teaches that Humans GO astray, not made that way.

    Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
    If Psalm 51:5 is to be taken literally the so must Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” It is surely obvious that these verses are figurative. If they were taken literally as fact, they would teach contrary to reality and what is impossible. What baby has ever had the vocal chords, muscles, knowledge to do any other than cry ? NONE.
    Ephesians 2:3: “And were by nature the children of wrath.”

    Taken in isolation and completely out of any context and with pre conceived ideas this verse is used to ‘prove’ that babies are condemned by God from birth. ‘ Were by nature’ has nothing to do with being born. The context shows that Paul was explaining to adults there character and nature before they were converted. Notice “were by nature” is past tense.

    Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

    Note ‘death passed upon” NOT created dead in sin or anything remotely similar. Also ‘all have sinned’ NOT all created sinners to start with. Paul continues:- 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

    Hence Paul did not consider Adam’s sin (original sin) to be their sin. In fact Paul states some did not sin. How the can they be born sinners as Calvinists claim?

    Biblical Text
    Test Type

    “Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good…”
    Isaiah 7:16

    “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”
    Romans 2:14-15

    7 Human Choice – Fixed or Free

    NOTE: The text below is NOT intended to suggest that humans can save themselves or any Armenian type theory.

    Biblical Text

    “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

    “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
    Genesis 8:21
    They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee and established thee?…Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.”
    Deut. 32:3-6, 18
    “That he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good…”
    Isaiah 7:15-16
    “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served.” Joshua 24:15

    “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations…they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not Isaiah 66:3-4

    Genesis 5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
    Did the Lord predestine himself to be ‘grieved at heart’? The texts above as well as many others prove that humans are created NOT sinners but in the image of God. Then reach an age of accountability – Isaiah 7:15-16‘before the child shall know’ (also Romans 2:14-18). They can then exercise to chose ‘that in which I delighted not ‘ to ‘corrupted themselves’.
    There is no biblical evidence to suggest any human was ever created for damnation as Calvin states (see Calvin’s contradictions above).

    8 Conclusions

    • The biblical definition of sin differs from ‘standard’ teaching E.G- “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4 and “For where no law is, there is no transgression.” Rom. 4:15.

    • The source of sin differs from standard teaching E.G But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:18-19

    • The teaching that babies are born sinners or ‘Totally Depraved’ is not supported by scripture. Sin being as the Bible says doing evil knowing it to be evil! But babies really know nothing and really do nothing when they are born

    • There is Biblical evidence for an age of accountability and the need for knowledge of the law to be able to sin. E.G “And your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither.” Deuteronomy 1:39. Or Sin is not imputed where there is no law. Romans 5:13.

    • The Calvanistic view if not adds to Bible teaching certainly take a blinkered approach, reading ideas into the Bible. Ignoring the majority of the text. Redefining words E.G All does mean what it says. See Spurgeon’s Grammatical Gunpowder section above.

    2 Peter 2: 1-9, “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach their destructive heresies about God and even turn against their Master who bought them. Theirs will be a swift and terrible end.
    In short – if it is not mentioned in the Bible then it’s not Biblical

    • Thanks for the comment, but let’s try to keep the length of the comments just a bit more manageable lengthwise. If this material is available online elsewhere, please provide just a link to it. Otherwise, the comments section will get even unwieldier than it already is. Thanks.

  53. @God, I think I might agree with you.

  54. Hi everyone,
    This is my first foray into a blog site. I am an unapologetic believer in the sovereignty of God. I don’t know all that Calvin or others have said. May God’s Spirit give me my understanding and not man. It grieves me to see Christians on both sides use so much venom to attack those who disagree- or say that they can’t be saved.
    Doesn’t it help if we straighten out our theology first? I think it degrades our doctrine of God when we run it through the filter of our preferences, though I guess we all do it to some extent. When I see scripture that seems to say anything I am uncomfortable with, I “run it” through hopefully sound hermeneutic AND my doctrine of God, His infinite wisdom, knowledge and rule over all things- because He has ordained them (not because He learned about them and adjusted accordingly). For me this is like my compass and it gives me the right orientation when looking at scriptures that have to do with election and the will of man.

  55. 2 Tim 4:3 ” For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.They will turn their ears away from the truth…”

    This is why Calvinism is so hated. Men hate the truth. Jesus was not a Calvinist. He was hated because he was the truth. Calvin was a follower of Christ. One of the greatest bible teachers of his day. He defended truth. He was hated by many as well. Jesus said we would be hated.

    Truth will always be hated.

  56. Truth will be hated in this world. Not in the kingdom to come.

  57. Cavinism is Platonic philosophy. Jesus did not preach TULIP.

  58. John 6:44 ” No one CAN come to me unless the Father who sent me DRAWS him.” ( draws in the Greek meaning to “drag”.)

  59. >>>draws in the Greek meaning to “drag”.

    Actually, it means “draws” and is the same word used in the LXX for “with everlasting kindness have I drawn you” and in John where Jesus says “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.”

  60. Use of “Helkuo” in the New Testament

    John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

    John 18:10 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.”

    John 21:6 “And He said to them,’Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”

    John 21:11 “Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were many, the net was not broken.”

    Acts 16:19 “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”

    Acts 21:30 “And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.”

    James 2:6 “But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?”

  61. I consider a loving Father dragging his child to safety an amazing kind of love. Don’t you?

    • You are mixing metaphors. The passage is not talking about someone’s father or about dragging. As you read it, the “dragging” is irrelevant of his being lifted up, and divorced from the allusion to “with loving kindness..” It is divorced from the message. it is a physical compulsion.

  62. @Chip – mhm… not if the Father has two children and only drags the one. That IS creepy…

    Let’s face it. Calvinism is nothing but selective arbitrary “universalism”.

    – Leo

  63. The fact that he saves anyone at all is an amazing act of undeserved love. None of us deserve to be saved. I will not judge the Lord of all on why he saves some and not others. Why does he open Lydias heart and harden Judas’s . He is the potter. We are the clay. I am humbled and in awe of the fact that he saves anyone.

  64. @ Chip – The “love” you attempt to illustrate with your statement “I consider a loving Father dragging his child to safety an amazing kind of love” is not really “love” that “amazing” given the fact that the father could have saved both children but for some arbitrary reason – unknown and a complete mystery – only choose to save one. Take my advice, since any normal human concept of a father love is completely at odds with your Calvinist god’s “fatherly love” do not use those kinds of human metaphors. They don’t work for what you are trying to communicate.

    First you speak of “great love” and when someone says “mhm, doesn’t seem very loving to me?” your only retort is “well, it’s a mystery”. How do you know “mystery love” is really love at all since it’s a mystery? Jesus said “what father would give his son a rock when the son asks for bread?”. The answer is that “Chic’s Calvinist Father God would do just that”.

  65. That is good question. But remember, no one is innocent. We are all sinners. Sin entered the world through one man and has spread to all. If God in his perfect justice were to send all to hell, we would receive our just punishment. He would be perfectly just in choosing to do so. But in his love he extends mercy toward some. (Romans 9;14&18) I cannot explain or begin to understand Gods justice . But when i read Romans chapter 9, there is no explaining it away. Just because it may not seem to me to be fair( in my earthly , human idea of fairness) doesnt mean i get to create a different idea of God in my own mind. He shows mercy toward some , he hardens others. It is biblical truth. I dont get to pick and choose the parts of the bible that i will hold fast to. You must accept it all as truth or none of it. I am curious….what are your thoughts on Romans chapter 9? How do you deal with that chapter?

    • Romans 9 is dealing with the remnant of faithful Jews, spared the partial, temporary, judicial hardening that allows the gentiles to come in… it is not the general paradigm for how God deals with men.

  66. Assuming for the sake of argument, that that is true, Im wondering… do you hold to the promises of God when he is talking in regards to the nation of Israel in the old testament? Dont we believe the old testament promises, and blessings, and apply them to the Church today? We cant pick and choose what we apply to the Jews and what we apply to the gentiles. Pauls ministry and his letters were inspired by God and written for both the Jew and the gentile , and apply to the church today. You believe that , Im sure.

  67. Leo …You are in this….Human metaphors of love are completely inadequate when we are speaking of Gods love.

  68. Leo…You are correct in this.

  69. @ Chip – So, now you’re saying God’s justice is a complete mystery as well? You seem to affirm the idea that God’s love and justice, as morals concepts, are incomprehensible and completely beyond human understanding. Yet, you use metaphors of “love” that make human fathers (and I am one) shudder. That is creepy, I am sorry.

    If you want to learn more about alternative understandings about Romans 9 I suggest you pick up a book by a guy like Roger E. Olson or maybe get “The Grace of God and the Will of Man” by Clark Pinnock. Once you’re in the Calvinist “box” though, it’s hard, I know, to think outside of it.

  70. So then, does God have one standard of justice for the Jewish nation , as in Romans chapter 9, and another standard of justice in dealing with gentiles? Is it just for him to harden the hearts of the Jewish nation, but unjust if he hardens the hearts of people today. Has he gotten out of the business of hardening hearts for some and opening them for others. He opened your heart to Christ. He opened mine. God closes and opens hearts. Again , this is biblical truth. Now, as to why he chooses some and not others, well … I will trust that God is God and that in his infinite wisdom , he knows what he is doing.

    • >>>…Is it just for him to harden the hearts of the Jewish nation, but unjust if he hardens the hearts of people today….

      The hardening of the Jews was not an arbitrary divine game but was an act of judgment. Had it been rooted in arbitrariness, it would have been wicked.

      For example, God caused the generation that came out of Egypt to wander in the wilderness for forty years and then die. Why? Because of their unbelief.

      Now, if he had done that just for fun, then it would have been wicked.

      The gentiles were not under that temporary, partical, judicial hardening. What “opens one’s heart” is not, according to scripture, God acting by fiat, but rather it is the effect of the gospel, which is “the power of God to salvation.”

  71. @ Chip – If, as you say “Human metaphors of love are completely inadequate when we are speaking of Gods love” then why would Jesus use them? Why does Paul refer to them? What’s your take on 1 Cor. 13:4-8? If God’s love is incomprehensible, why even talk about it? You’re talking about something that doesn’t make sense. Are you sure you’re on the right track here?

  72. Leo…Are you saying that Gods infinite love and his perfect justice are concepts that you have a complete knowledge of ? Are you saying that in our human , fallen state, we have the capacity to fully understand Gods love and that we are able to have a full understanding of his justice? Be careful .

  73. Leo..Your the one who told me that human metaphors were inadequate.

    quote: Take my advice, since any normal human concept of a father love is completely at odds with your Calvinist god’s “fatherly love” do not use those kinds of human metaphors. They don’t work for what you are trying to communicate.

    Christ used human metaphors because he was dealing with sinful fallen man. I used it because im human. Its what i understand. But, It seems that we are getting off track. Does God harden the hearts of some gentiles today or only the Jewish nation?

  74. @Chip – Whoaa!! So, now you’re going on the attack trying to put words in my mouth. Where have I EVER said that I, or anyone else, have “complete knowledge” of God’s perfect justice and infinite love?

    I am merely pointing out that you, by your own words, writing in this thread, are saying that “Human metaphors of love are completely inadequate when we are speaking of Gods love”. Furthermore, you’re the one that says “I cannot explain or begin to understand Gods justice”.

    Remember, you’re the one that started this by using a human metaphor when you said “I consider a loving Father dragging his child to safety an amazing kind of love. Don’t you?”. Next, a day later, you are saying “Human metaphors of love are completely inadequate when we are speaking of Gods love”. This is confusing.

    I think it’s a fair questions to ask that if “Human metaphors of love are completely inadequate when we are speaking of Gods love” then why would Jesus use them? Why does Paul refer to them? What’s your take on 1 Cor. 13:4-8?

    Instead of putting words in my mouth why not just answer those questions and explain yourself. I think you’re the one that need to be careful here.

  75. Wounded ego…. The Holy Spirit opens hearts. In John three Jesus explains the Spirit to Nicodemus . He compares it to the wind, saying that you can not tell where it comes or where it goes , but that it goes where it pleases.

    • John 3 does not speak of “the Holy Spirit” at all. It speaks of the wind, which is not restricted by borders. Those who are born of the divine breath (ie: those who are born of the gospel) are likewise not confined by borders.. unlike Nick.

      There is no “the Holy Spirit”… only the “breath of the holiness” or “breath of the holy one”.

  76. Do you mind if i ask what denomination your are? I am curious. I have never heard anyone deny Jesus in John three is not speaking of the Holy Spirit.

    • I’m of the opinion that Paul taught that sects were antithetical to Christianity.

      But I suspect you might not have understood me… I’m not just saying John 3 is not about “the Holy Spirit” but that there IS no such thing (in the scriptures) as “the Holy Spirit.” The whole concept of “spirit” is, IMHO, post-NT. The scriptures only speak of God’s *breath*.

  77. Do you believe that Jesus in John three was speaking of the Spirit , as in the third person of the trinity ( God , son, and Holy Ghost) ?

    • No, the “Trinity” is a bogus, post-NT invention.

      Joh 3:8 The **wind** bloweth where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the **breath**.

  78. You may reject the word ” trinity”, but do you believe in the theology of three God heads in one. Im asking if you believe God is three in one. ( father,son , & spirit)

    • Absolutely not:

      Mar_12:32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: [not “them”]

      1Co_8:6 But to us there is but one God, *the Father*, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. [Paul, reaffirming the Shemah]

      Eph_4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

      1Ti_2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [Not two Gods and one mediator]

      Jas_2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

  79. Well that gives me a better understanding of where you are. Do you believe in the virgin birth?

  80. Just trying to find some common ground. The deity of Christ is foundational to the gospel as far as I’m concerned. I would like to delve into the Trinity with you but this is probably not the proper time and place. I pray that your eyes and heart will be opened to the truth of God in three persons. I would love to discuss it outside of this venue.

  81. John 1;1 ” The Word was with God and the Word was God”
    John 8:58- 59 ” Before Abraham was, I AM. ”
    John 14:7-11 ” Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. ”
    John 20:28 ” My Lord and my God.”
    Acts 20:28 ” To shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with his own blood. ”
    Heb. 1:8 ” Your throne O God will last forever and ever.”
    Tit 2:13 ” Our great God and Savior , Jesus Christ.”

    This is a short list of verses where Jesus either claimed to be God or was called God by others. There are so many more. To many for me to list , but I will provide more if you would like them.

  82. No…. Those verses simply prove that Jesus is god. Do you have an explanation as to why Thomas would say ” Lord of me and God of me” to Jesus?

    • Perhaps he wasn’t talking to Jesus? Or perhaps he missed the memo a couple of verses before:

      Joh 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

      But rather than go tit for tat, please show me where your deity is defined (since it is not defined in scripture). When you say that “I believe in the Blessed Holy Trinity” then you really need to provide the definition of what you are asserting or else your assertion is meaningless. It is like saying “I believe in Hobduk” when you have not provided a definition of Hobduk.

      I mean, the fourth gospel says a great many things, does it not?:

      Joh_17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know **thee the only true God**, and Jesus Christ, whom thou [God] hast sent.

      Do you not like that verse?

      So it isn’t enough to point to prooftexts. I mean, in which of the verses you cite does Jesus make the claim “I am God”? But even if he had, that still doesn’t define what your concept of a “Trinity” is,does it?

      So when you say “I believe in The Blessed Trinity” are you referring to that defined in the Creed of Athanasius? Where is your god described as a “Trinity”?


  83. Thomas did not miss the memo. He knew who Jesus was. John 1:1 states that the Word , (speaking of Christ, )was God. You cant ignore the verses or brush them off with witty retort. Did John miss the memo as well?

    • John 1:1 is not speaking of “Christ” but rather of God’s utterance. It is referring to the “let there be xxx” utterances of Genesis 1, by which God made the sky, dry land and inhabitants.

      Nor is he *identifying* the utterance as being God himself, but rather being of divine *quality* (which is all the Greek construction allows). In other words, he is saying that the utterance of Genesis 1 was “God-utterance.” Just as Paul says of all scripture that it is “God-breathed.” That does not mean that it is the *person* of God (identity) but rather the quality. Think “The unicorn was magic.” That means that the unicorn had a magical quality. That is what that means. It is a reckless leap to go from that into “one God in Three Persons.”

      But as I said, you like John 1:1, but what about John 17:3 and 20:17? What about when Jesus said “We Judeans know whom we worship”?

      But you still have not identified where your concept of “The Blessed Trinity”, your god, is defined, so we are still talking about a piece of jargon that has no inherint meaning.

  84. Hey guys, it looks like you’re having a really good time with this discussion, and I’m glad. I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I don’t think it’s likely that you’re going to resolve this debate anytime in the next few minutes. So, I think the time has come for you to bring your conversation to an end or continue it via email or something. I appreciate the dialog/comments, but it’s time to wrap things up. Thanks.

  85. I have no problems at all with John 17 and John 20. I believe in a triune God. When God came to the earth in the form of a man he took on human attributes.

    Phil 2;5 ” Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

    It is not out of the realm of possibility for God to empty himself and to take on a human form. In fact , It is what the Bible tells us he did.

  86. No problem Marc. I apologize. God bless.

  87. Getting back to the original post, then…

    I find it interesting that Jean Chauvin (John Calvin) did not actually propose TULIP or the sect that bears his name.

    And are they called “Chauvinsists” in France?!

  88. All these stupid doctrines …. makes you wonder why I even bother .

    • I like the quote that this thread started with: “I think the main reason why so many protestant Christians have a problem with Calvinism more than issues related to Catholicism is that they see Calvinism as a plausible system.” As a Calvinist that spent the first decade of my life in Christ as a vehement Arminian, I can definetely say that in retrospect that was on my mind and didn’t want to own up to it.

      Part of my disdain for Calvinism was simply buying into the rhetoric that Arminian writers threw around. I’m thinking of Charles Finney for an older writer, and Dave Hunt’s book on Calvinism for a more modern “expose” of Calvinism. Both of these writers write in a way that just feed prejudice against the Reformed position. They’re full of ad hominem arguments that are great food for an Arminian who just wants a reason to avoid a plausible interpretation of the bible.

      Although, those arguments grounded in Calvinism being a “bad God” because he seeks his own glory above all else struck me as odd, and still do. Of course God seeks his own glory. Who is more glorious? What greater end could there be than the greatest being? If God seeks his own glory, then He’s doing what’s right and good. If He sought some part of the creation as pre-emiinent over Himself and His own interests, he would be making a horrible mistake in missing what’s really of value. I think it’s fair to suspect these arguments as stemming from humanism, and I think Arminians and Calvinists ought to be in agreement on that point at least.

      Anyways, the other big thing that made Calvinism seem so vile is that I really only understood the basic gospel message of Jesus dying to save sinners. Jesus was it, and by “the centrality of Jesus” I understood the gospel message. My understanding of God as creator, sustainer and governor, provider and director of all of life were all things I believed, but could only see through the lens of an evangelistic message. I simply could not recognize Jesus as a cosmic governor, he was almost exclusively a savior from sin. Don’t get me wrong: that is a pretty sweet picture, but it makes the other things Jesus does (create the world, etc.) seem like not-Jesus, especially the mystery of governing all things.

      The biggest thorn in my side as an Arminian was the book of Job. 9:24 “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it?”

      I felt I had a better answer than Job’s sufferings with my free-will arguments, and the book of Job is one big avoidance of that option. Job presents it here as if saying: “Go on, I dare you to suggest that circumstances are governed by anyone other than God” Job’s friends don’t even bother with that option.

      After a long bout of suffering, I finally had to give up Arminianism, because a God who leaves things to chance and “free choice” is a God who really has no plans or purpose in our woes. The free will arguments looked good on paper, but I found them pastorally irrelevant. In trying to rescue God from evil, they left Him distant and ignorant. It’s far easier (and biblical) to say God caused ___ event and hasn’t said why, but can be trusted that it’s for a good purpose, even the greatest purpose: His glory. My suffering ain’t about me.

  89. We know we are hated. We rejoice in it. It shows that our theology is not the ways of men. Just like when God said His ways were not the ways of men. If we wanted to be liked,we would be Arminians. We would tell sinners they are the masters of their soul and of history,in short they are like mini-gods. Just like Satan told Eve in the garden.

  90. You can see from the comments addressed to me the real hate of Calvinists. Calvinism is the only theology that denies the supreme claim of sinners to be as God,the final ruler of their destiny. All other religions,pagan or otherwise affirm men have this power. They are all built on works. It irritates arrogant man no end that God distributes His grace as He sees fit ,according to His Purpose and timing, and doesn’t take orders from men. He Sovereignly gives to some what they don’t deserve and others what they do deserve and makes no apologies or explanations. Whether a man goes to heaven or hell is purely his decision. Arminians long to control God’s grace and salvific will. They are so blinded by their ignorance and perversity that they actually think their gutter rhetoric intimidates God or has a bearing on truth.

  91. Personally, I find its assumptions antisemitic, ignorant, and gnostic, its conclusions blasphemous and hateful to creation, its appeal to those who are smug, self-righteous, and lacking in compassion, and its historical fruits rotten with dictatorships, superstition, murder and mayhem.

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