Church History: How Christians Settled an Argument About Election (by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones)

Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is Associate Vice President for Online Learning and Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at his eponymous site. A editorial comment is in order here. I have pretty much shut off discussions of Calvinism, because they have been so unproductive. But this post was too good to pass on!  When have we ever discussed the “Defenestration of Prague?”  So, let’s defy the odds and have a productive discussion of Calvinism and Arminianism!

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Defenestration and Divine Election in Seventeeth-Century Europe

By the opening years of the seventeenth century, the Reformation had turned European Christianity into a conglomeration of conflicting sects. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent drew a firm line between Catholics and Protestants by declaring that Roman Catholic tradition represents the final authority when it comes to interpreting the Bible.

In 1618, a war between Protestants and Catholics broke out when some Protestants tossed two Catholic ambassadors out a second-story window. Fortunately, the ambassadors survived. Unfortunately, they survived because they landed in a heap of horse manure. Historians have named this foul-smelling event the “Defenestration of Prague,” which proves once and for all that historians have no sense of humor when it comes to naming events.

The Defenestration of Prague—or, as I prefer to call it, “The Great Stinky Second-Story Window Tossing”—was how the Thirty Years’ War began, though they didn’t call it the Thirty Years’ War then because they didn’t know how long it was going to last. In Central Europe alone, at least ten million people died during this conflict. Not a joyous occurrence, no matter how humorously the war began.

The year 1618 also marked a moment of theological conflict among Protestants in Holland. This conflict involved no windows and no excrement. In fact, by the early twentieth century, this conflict would be summarized by a flower—a tulip, to be exact. The conflict had to do with election. No, not a first-Tuesday-in-November democratic election. This conflict concerned divine election.

Dutch Difficulties from Dirck to Dort 

According to Scripture, every Christian is “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2). This election isn’t based on any human choice but solely on God’s gracious predetermination (Romans 9:11)—or at least that’s what a long line of Christians throughout history have believed when it comes to divine election. Not everyone has accepted this viewpoint, of course—but a clear series of Christian thinkers stretching from the ancient church through the Middle Ages and particularly among the Reformers embraced this perspective.

In the late 1500s, a Dutch thinker named Dirck Cornhert—yes, seriously, that was his name!—came up with a radical suggestion for dealing with doctrinal differences: Until God sends a new apostle to tell Christians exactly what to believe, Protestants and Catholics should lay aside their distinctive doctrines and join together into one theology-free church.

One summary of faith that Cornhert specifically rejected was the Heidelberg Catechism, a statement that happened to be quite important to the Dutch Reformed churches. Not surprisingly, this recommendation didn’t go over well in Holland.

A young professor named Jakob Hermanszoon was enlisted to defend the teachings found in the Heidelberg Catechism, particularly the parts that had to do with election. But Hermanszoon lost the debate before it even began! As he studied for the debate, he became convinced that the Reformers had been wrong about the whole issue of election.

According to Hermanszoon, God has placed in every person just enough goodness and grace—he called it “prevenient grace”—to choose whether or not to trust Jesus. As a result, God’s election wasn’t really God’s choice at all; God simply noticed ahead of time who would choose him and then chose them back.

Hermanszoon died in 1609, but his followers continued to develop his ideas. His followers became known as “Arminians” because, whenever they called themselves “Hermanszoonians,” everyone around them politely replied, “Gesundheit.” (Okay, so I made that part up. Actually, the Latin form of the Dutch “Hermanszoon” is “Arminius” which is a lot easier to say than “Hermanszoon”—and that’s why, if you’ve heard of Hermanszoon before, it was probably under his Latinized name “Jacob Arminius.”)

Soon after Hermanszoon’s death, his followers published a document known as the “Remonstrance.” The Remonstrance spelled out five particular points where the Arminians disagreed with the theologians of the Reformation.

These five points resulted in a conflict that threatened to tear apart the Reformed churches of Holland. A Dutch prince tried to end the conflict by inviting Reformed pastors throughout Europe to gather in the city of Dort to draft a declaration of their beliefs. In 1618 and 1619, the Synod of Dort responded to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance with five points of their own. Their five responses became known as “the Canons of Dort.”

The First Point: Election

What the Arminians said in the Remonstrance: “God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ … before the foundation of the world, … determined … to save … those who … shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end.” God’s election was conditional, based on human faith and perseverance.

How the Reformed responded in the Canons: “Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, … God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people. … This election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith … but rather for the purpose of faith.” God’s election was unconditional; God chose not because he foresaw faith but because he planned to give faith as a gift.

Key Scripture texts: John 6:44; 15:16; Romans 9:10-16

The Second Point: Atonement

What the Arminians said in the Remonstrance: “Jesus Christ …died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all … redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer.” Jesus died for every person and obtained salvation for every person. If anyone fails to believe in Jesus, God’s work of redemption has been thwarted in this person’s life.

How the Reformed responded in the Canons: “This death of God’s Son is … more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world. … It was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross … should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father.” The death of Jesus secured the salvation of those whom God in his grace chose before time.

Key Scripture texts: Job 42:1-2; John 10:14-15, 28; 1 John 2:2

The Third Point: Human Nature

What the Arminians said in the Remonstrance: “Man … of and by himself can neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good; … it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit.” Although fallen human beings cannot in themselves do good, God has placed “prevenient grace” in all people, so they can choose faith and be born again.

How the Reformed responded in the Canons: “All people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, … neither willing nor able to return to God.” Humans are, by nature, spiritually dead; humanity’s fallenness is so great that no sinner wants to trust in Jesus until he or she is made alive through the Holy Spirit.

Key Scripture texts: Psalm 14:2-3; 53:2-3; Romans 3:10-12; Ephesians 2:1-3

The Fourth Point: Operation of Grace

What the Arminians said in the Remonstrance: “As respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible.” Regeneration is God’s response when a sinner chooses Jesus by means of prevenient grace; sinners can resist, reject, and thwart God’s attempts to save them.

How the Reformed responded in the Canons: “Regeneration … is an entirely supernatural work. … All those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe.” Though people do resist the Holy Spirit up to the time when God brings about new life in them, God transforms the person at the time of the new birth (or regeneration) so that he or she desires to trust Jesus and, as a result, freely chooses faith. Prevenient grace is insufficient to bring a sinner to trust Jesus.

Key Scripture texts: John 6:37, 44; Ephesians 2:4-6

The Fifth Point: Perseverance

What the Arminians said in the Remonstrance: “Those who are incorporated into Christ, … Jesus Christ assists them … and, if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling. … Whether they are capable … of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, … that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures.” Perseverance depends on the will and work of the believer; it is uncertain whether a believer can forfeit his or her salvation.

How the Reformed responded in the Canons: “God … does not take the Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does God let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification. … God preserves, continues, and completes this work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises.” Perseverance depends on God’s will and work; God works in the lives of Christians so that they persevere in faith to the end.

Key Scripture texts: John 10:27-28; Romans 8:29-39

Of course, the Synod of Dort didn’t settle this issue once and for all. To this day, Christians discuss and sometimes divide over the issues that the Arminians raised in the Remonstrance. Over time, the Canons of Dort became known as “the five points of Calvinism”—even though they didn’t emerge until decades after John Calvin was dead. Despite such difficulties, the five points do provide a helpful summary of the Reformed perspective on how and why sinners trust Jesus.

Troubled by the TULIP? A Proposal for PROOF

What has been far less helpful for healthy discussions of Calvinism is a five-point acrostic that emerged in the early 1900s. This acrostic rearranges and renames the Canons of Dort to spell the word “TULIP.” In this reformulation, the five points become:

* Total depravity
* Unconditional election or universal sovereignty
* Limited atonement
* Irresistible grace
* Perseverance of the saints

TULIP has only been around for a century or so, and I certainly understand the appeal of the acrostic. It’s a Dutch flower, after all, and it makes the five points quite easy to recall. And yet, this memory device has grown to dominate discussions of Reformed theology in ways that have rarely been fruitful.

“Total depravity,” for example, gives the impression that unsaved people are as bad as they can be, which isn’t at all what any Reformed theologian has claimed; plus, “total depravity” sounds like some sort of cable television show that no Christian should be watching in the first place. The “L” in the TULIP doesn’t catch the qualification in the Canons of Dort that the death of Jesus was “more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.”

So here’s a proposal for a different memory device—one that’s truer to Reformed theology and far more helpful for discussions of Calvinism:

Daniel Montgomery and I are currently working on a book that unpacks this vision for theology.

In the meantime, here are some devotional guides on the five points as well as a children’s book that works through these doctrines of divine grace.

30 Days through Church History: Day 21

Comments

  1. Greg Harvey says

    How do you deflect criticism of acrostics based on flowers among Southern Baptists? Invent a new one that alluded to the alcoholic content of liquor. And then use “intoxicate” as an especially wry way of demonstrating your tone deafness…

    I’m intrigued of course. I’m reminded of my general conclusion that EVERY statement of theology invented by a committee is a specific response to a specific attack against presumed, universal orthodoxy. Which is why confessions, credos, and “faith and message” formulations–not to mention secular written laws–tend to grow longer, more cryptic, wordier, and more unwieldy over time…

    I will offer, though, that the fighting over God’s word is often a political decision that rewards leaders with notoriety and the following of better defined–i. e. more countable–mobs of followers no matter the purity of their initial convictions. As surely as power follows status, the temptation to be corrupted follows the wielding of power.

    And from the temptation of corruption comes the sensation that we really can control others. Even when we demonstrate–privately though we attempt to keep these secrets–an inadequate control of self and especially the periodic exposure of outcroppings of the declared-dead sin nature.

    More only if I make it through the actual materials that are linked. My apologies to the author–and the editor in chief–for the bluntness. I blame Election Day for my general frustration with human nature of both the unredeemed and (presumably) redeemed variety. Including my own.

  2. says

    Just a note: among us techies, ‘defenestration’ can refer to removing Windows from a computer, and installing some other operating system like Linux. An interesting flip of meaning, going from throwing someone out a window to throwing out Windows itself. Interesting how words can easily slip in meaning.

    Haven’t yet gotten a chance to look at the video yet, so won’t comment on that, but the description of the Arminian/Dortian conflict looks fairly even-handed (if a bit light-hearted (not that I object to that)).

  3. volfan007 says

    Just send in the finished work to Lifeway, and they’ll probably make that our new, Sunday School material.

    :)

    David

  4. says

    This post is actually very informative and interesting. However, I found that Dr. Jones was my kinda guy when I read the following sections:

    1) “The Defenestration of Prague—or, as I prefer to call it, “The Great Stinky Second-Story Window Tossing”—was how the Thirty Years’ War began, though they didn’t call it the Thirty Years’ War then because they didn’t know how long it was going to last.”

    2) “Hermanszoon died in 1609, but his followers continued to develop his ideas. His followers became known as “Arminians” because, whenever they called themselves “Hermanszoonians,” everyone around them politely replied, “Gesundheit.”

    3) “The year 1618 also marked a moment of theological conflict among Protestants in Holland. This conflict involved no windows and no excrement.”

    • says

      I’ll have to agree. The combination of someone who can describe the Hermanszoonian position vs the Dortian position so even-handedly, plus can give it a humorous twist gives one the impression that this might be someone that you can actually have a discussion (vs an argument) with. And if not, we now have new labels to apply to different positions (e.g. the Cornhertian cohort). On the other hand, he may just have contributed to creating a terminological monster.

  5. says

    The TULIP acrostic is problematic in some respects, but it has this in its facor: It concentrates the issues, making them pointed, forceful, and stabbing to the conscience. However, a little thought would teach the thinker that these are therapeutic paradoxes designed to empower man to respond. They are intensely evangelistic truths, inviting the worst of sinners to trust in Christ by admitting their inability to respond and begging for His help to overcome their difficulty. Like John Robinson said, “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?” Try a 1000 generations of every last soul on earth converted along with the inhabitants of thousands of worlds in the Universe, providing man is allowed to go to the stars. And Remember it makes sense, if Rev.7:9 along with the promsies to Abraham are to be fulfilled. Wait until every one begins to find in the concentration camps that such theology is the sweetest of morsels for souls facing extermination by the pluralists who have been long in planning this little set-to.

  6. Christiane says

    that term ?
    “Defenestration” ?

    likely derives from ‘fenestra’, which is Latin for ‘window’

  7. says

    While I definitely like this guy’s humorous approach, his PROOF is still Calvinism. It’s simply packaged in a feel good form that makes it sound like Sovereign Grace doctrines are all about the person. At least there’s enough honesty in most Calvinists to state that it’s about God and for His glory. PROOF makes it much more palatable to 21st century American sensibilities, but it’s still TULIP.
    I’m more of a Hermanszoonian myself.

  8. parsonsmike says

    James,
    I’m a 5 pointer, but I learned my points from the Word. So I guess I have a little different take on things than a lot of other C’s

    Now it seems to me a bit off when you say this:
    “They are intensely evangelistic truths, inviting the worst of sinners to trust in Christ by admitting their inability to respond and begging for His help to overcome their difficulty.”

    They have the inability to respond, but not the inability to beg for help to respond? Sounds like theoretical jargon to me my dear brother.

    Rather, the Gospel is preached and God moves in the heart how and when He chooses to bring His elect to respond.

    Aside from that, and generally speaking, and not directed at James, I see the problem of the Arminian type of election as leaving the sinner in a boast: for rather than salvation being all of God’s doing from start to end, the individual makes the #pivotal# decision that those in hell failed to make.

    Also, theological incorrectness on many issues, including this one, does not make one not a brother. Jacob A. was a good godly man who suffered for the Gospel as he lived it out in his life. So were many of those that followed more or less in his understanding. So let us be humble as we discuss our differences, no matter how right we are or imagine we are.

  9. says

    When fear threatens, folks flee in all directions. The Arminianism sounds good until the water meets the wheel, until the depravity and inability of man rises up to threaten all of life. I remember viewing some photographs taken with an old Brown box camer, pictures of one of the smaller concentration camps, taken by a member of my second pastorate, What can truly deal with such depravity, the seeds of which are in every human heart? Only a supernatural Gospel, the very nature of Sovereign Grace theology or calvinism as some are wont but mistakenly to call it. Read Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope for the folks who want pluralism to be adopted and determinism, their term, to be repudiated, and who have planned and provided for the success of pluralism which is the front door to the hell of Satanic worship. There is another way of allowance, one that waits for the Grace of acceptance to work, producing understanding, agreement, and appreciation for the most wonderfully winsome truths. Like the lady said to a friend of mine named Spurgeon after he won her to Christ (with a nominal soul-winning plan as he was not at that time a believer in Sovereign Grace), “O, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” This, brethren, is the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions; it is the theology that will spark the Third Great Awakening, the one continuing for a 1000 generations (anywhere from 20,000-500,000 years). It is the theology of true liberalism, being the first to allow for differences as in the union of the Separate and Regular Baptists of 1787, the theology that enabled and empowered believers to work with political figures like Washington, Henry, Jefferson, Madison, and others, the theology that utilized educated and uneducated ministers together in God’s service., the theology that really created the greatest nation on earth and the freest, the one that is called in the first history books, “A Calvinistic Republic.” It always pays to do research in the primary sources, checking how our predecessors and ancestors looked upon the word of God, upon these doctrines, upon ecclesiology, and eschatology, etc. Consider the matter of eldresses among the Separate Baptists and Robinson, the Pilgrim Pastor, and the matter of new light getting ready to break forth from God’s word. Also note Luther and Justification by Faith alone and how even Rome some 26 years or so ago said Luther was right. I remember what a shock it was to me to read that in the Newspaper of New Orleans some time in the period of Jan.-June of ’84.

  10. says

    I am afraid this very excellent article kinda got swallowed up in the post-election banter. But I appreciate that Dr. Jones presented both an historical setting and gave us information from both the Synods and the Remonstrance. One of the most helpful articles on the subject I have seen.

    • Stephen Beck says

      Will there be subsequent articles posted on the individual points? I realize they would probably just be rehashing what has already been linked in the devotionals and such, but it might be a good discussion on his rewrite of the points.

  11. parsonsmike says

    a Hermanszoonian:
    “According to Hermanszoon, God has placed in every person just enough goodness and grace—he called it “prevenient grace”—to choose whether or not to trust Jesus. As a result, God’s election wasn’t really God’s choice at all; God simply noticed ahead of time who would choose him and then chose them back.”

    Two problems i see, Hermanszoonians can feel free to explain how i am wrong.

    1] Say i am an usher at a baseball game, the only ticket taker. Could i not say that I chose all the fans in attendance because i chose to accept their tickets?

    Or did I have to accept their tickets they chose to buy for righteousness’ sake?
    God chose you to be saved because you first chose Him? Dilutes any meaning from His choice does it not?

    2] If we all have just enough prevenient grace so that we now can choose God or not, does that not leave us with a boast over the fools who failed to choose God?

    yeah, I think so.

    Any Hermanszoonians want to respond?

  12. parsonsmike says

    I did ask…
    “Any Hermanszoonians want to respond?”
    Dale responded.

    I also asked…
    “Two problems i see, Hermanszoonians can feel free to explain how i am wrong.”

    Any one want to respond with an explanation how i am wrong?

    • says

      I’m just messing with you, Mike. I would be glad to explain my position, but it won’t be any different than any other time that one of us from a non-Calvinist perspective have explained anything. Your responses to our responses will be the same one’s we’ve all heard. The whole cycle starts over again. It gets us no closer to convincing one another of our respective positions. You claim to have come to your position scripturally. I claim to have come to my position scripturally. But I’ll do it one more time:
      “We love Him because He first loved us.” We believe that He loves ALL of us, not just His elect. So, no, it doesn’t dilute any meaning in God’s choice to love us. Your baseball analogy is a nice attempt, but it breaks down, as all analogies do at some point. We aren’t buying the tickets, God has provided the ticket. Any who will come may do so. There is unlimited seating in His stadium. He owns the ball game. But I can only watch the game if I go to the game. And I’m totally dependent on the ticket giver for my admission. That’s grace. I can’t purchase the ticket because I don’t have enough to buy it. He gives it.
      One place where we diverge is in your determinism. And you HAVE to be deterministic if you’re a 5-pointer. There’s no way around it. God chose a few who are totally unworthy to receive tickets, but the seating is limited. He’s already decided who will show up. When that person hears about the ball game he will be unable to resist showing up at the stadium because he can do nothing else. Once you’re at the game you can never leave. Those who don’t fit in with His determination for them to show up at the game can just go to hell. Literally. By His choice to send them there. They deserve it, and He receives the glory for them going to hell instead of the ball game.
      As to the boasting, no one can boast in any work they have done to achieve salvation because they did nothing to achieve it. The fact that God allows us to have free will in the choosing is not a point of boasting. Rather, it should be a point of humble gratitude for a God Who loves and extends grace like that.
      As I and others (David Rogers and Dave Miller most eloquently) have stated, we take an antinomist approach. God is sovereign, yet man has a free will. These are two laws which stand in apparent contradiction, but both are biblically true.
      So……..no new info here. Same stuff, different day.

      • parsonsmike says

        Dale,
        Thanks for your response. You didn’t have to. You were under no compulsion and you have free will.
        I really meant it when i said i didn’t learn my Calvinism from man. I don’t mean I have never studied C teachers, but I did so after i found myself already in agreement with them in most places.
        And i really mean it when i say you have free will. Without it, there could be no such thing as love.
        And maybe you see no difference between compatibilism and determinism. The Law of God can only righteously condemn a person because that person freely choose to sin. Yet God does make people sin. And still yet, man can not thwart God’s plans.

        In your ‘game’ rendition, you said that God gave us all a ticket but that only some chose to go to the game. Thus God does not choose who goes to heaven but the person does. In Hermanszoonian talk, God looked ahead and chose those He saw choosing to come to the ‘game’! Now how is that a real choice?

        Likewise, the other objection also stands. What made you, one who received just enough grace to choose God, decide to go to the ‘game’, and thus be saved as opposed to the other guy, who also received just enough grace to choose God, who didn’t?
        It wasn’t the grace, you both received enough. Thus it wasn’t attributable to God but to each one of you. Thus something in you, apart from God and His grace, made the difference between you and that fool who ends up in hell. What is it? Are you wiser? Smarter? More spiritually discerning? Luckier? What in you apart from God and His grace made the **pivotal** decision?

        The C doctrine of election attributes the difference to God and God alone. God moves who He chooses both by enlightening the heart and by that inscrutable way He influences men to do His will yet not violating their free will.

        Your response does point out why we are at odds though -whom God loves salvifically. You can’t get to where i am by where you start. And by where i start, I can not see how God loves every single person who ever lived in a salvific way.

        I believe that unless one hears the Word of God and His promise they can not be saved. But I see that millions upon millions, probably billions have died without hearing that saving Word. And I also believe that God knew this when He created and yet created anyway. Thus i fail to see how God loved them salvifically.

        But i thank God, as I am sure you do as well, that not only did I get to hear that saving Word, the Gospel, but that God made me see His glory in the face of Jesus and saved my sorry soul…

        And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
        [2nd Cor. 4]

        May His peace continually fill your heart.

        • says

          Then here we stand at two different points attempting to make sense of one great truth–“The wages of sin is death, but free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” May He continually make us effective messengers of that glorious fact!
          Blessings on you as well.

          • parsonsmike says

            Dale,
            Great verse.
            Wages implies choice, a doing.
            Gift implies a getting.

            Our doing brings us hell.
            God’s gifting brings us Heaven.

            We have nothing in ourselves that can get us to Heaven.
            That’s why we need His gifting.

            And that’s why salvation is 100% God and zero% ourselves.
            And that’s why that even if we are given a ticket to the ‘game’, we go because of God’s moving in our heart and mind.

    • says

      One other thing——–You wrote: “I’m a 5 pointer, but I learned my points from the Word. So I guess I have a little different take on things than a lot of other C’s”
      Dude, if I were a Calvinist, I’d be offended by that. Every Calvinist I know would say he or she got his or her Calvinism from the Bible.

      • parsonsmike says

        Dale,
        Thanks for sharing.
        Actually, I think many were taught their Calvinism. There is nothing wrong with teaching, I teach Sunday School. And God gave us teachers. But there are certain derived doctrines and ideas we hols onto that are taught by men but are not in the Word.

        And here in the context of this thread, I speak to the oft held idea that D. James holds to…

        “They are intensely evangelistic truths, inviting the worst of sinners to trust in Christ by admitting their inability to respond and begging for His help to overcome their difficulty.”

        Many C’s that I have read say similar things. But is it Biblical? What do you think?

        I think not. And if one is offended because a part of their beliefs is challenged, well maybe that is a good thing -eh?

        Now Dale, let me ask you this, for what purpose did you make your comment? was it to rebuke me? Was it to edify the body? Was it to add knowledge and information to the discussion?

        And if you would answer this, it would be nice: Why did you as a God-hating rebel sinner decide to surrender yourself to the Lord Jesus?

        Thanks brother and God bless.

  13. says

    I responded because you asked. Simple as that. Do I need to have an ulterior motive for doing so? Your question seems to imply that you presume such from me.
    Honestly, I wish I understood the points James thinks he makes sometimes, so I won’t even attempt to crawl into his brain. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any Calvinist who would say that his Calvinism came from being taught such. I don’t think that James would say that. I haven’t heard that. Ever.
    As to my own testimony, I know that I rejected the opportunity to accept Christ as my Savior MANY times before I finally confessed my sin, professed Christ as Savior, and relied upon His gracious atonement for my sin. My choice was a free response to God’s grace at the age of 17.

    • parsonsmike says

      Dale,
      Sorry to leave you with the impression that I implied that you would have an ulterior motive for responding, The thought never crossed my mind.

      And I thank you for your testimony.
      But the question was not if you made a free response { i assumed you are saved] but WHY you made such a response.

      My answer? because God made Himself and your own need for Him real in your life. And that He did for you what He doesn’t do for everybody. And that is why you turned to Him and confessed Him and relied on Him.

      But for others, who end up in hell, God does not do for them what He did for you. Thus the difference between heaven and hell in your life is attributable 100% to God and God alone. And thus none to you.

      And for that we give Him all the praise and glory. All of it brother. And I imagine you do despite your held doctrines.

      Peace.

  14. says

    No. I glorify Him for saving me BECAUSE of my held doctrines. I think you missed my point above–I had nothing to do with my salvation, thus, it is 100% attributable to Him in my view as well. I had nothing to do with it. It is His grace alone at work in my life, just as it is in every person’s life who responds positively to His offer.

  15. parsonsmike says

    Dale,
    Color me confused.
    You, in a sense, chose to go to the ‘game’. Other choose not to. Yet all received enough of the grace of God to make the choice.

    Each received enough. Yet you say, “It is His grace alone at work in my life, just as it is in every person’s life who responds positively to His offer.”

    Two ways of looking at that, unless you can show me a third.
    [1] Some didn’t get enough grace which explains why they didn’t come. Guess God loved you more.
    [2] Each got enough but there was something special about you, over and above the grace and that is why you came. Thus your salvation is not 100% attributable to God.

    Since i don’t see a third, what do i see? I see a doctrine that wants to attribute salvation 100% to God and also in some part to man. 100% leaves no part unaccounted for, leaving no part to man, to yourself.

    So why did you come to God? And if you attribute that 100% to God, why do you say that [or i presume you would say] those who don’t come to God got enough grace?

    He is our Lord.

  16. parsonsmike says

    Dale,
    let us look at it another way.
    We agree that you and i and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ came to God 100% attributable to the grace of God.
    We agree on that, and we thank and praise God that he so graciously saved us and translated us from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son.

    But what about those not saved? Hermanszoonian thought says that they got enough grace, does it not? But yet they remain unsaved, some already dead physically and awaiting terrible judgment. But the Dordt type people say they did not get enough grace. Oh no, for they remain in their sins and in their sinful rebellious state. Even as you did for years until God’s grace saved you [For by grace are we saved].

    So, please show me in the Word of God where it says they who are perishing fet enough God’s grace even though it is not obviously enough.

    And i will show you that they do not get enough, if any. And that I alraedy have…

    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. [2 Cor 4]

    You saw the light, they remain blind.
    You got the needed grace, they did not.
    You got saved, they remain perishing.

    God moved in your life,
    and not in theirs.