What Produces Faith?

by Mike Bergman on June 22, 2011 · 286 comments

So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God.—Romans 10:17

Two people grow up as best friends, they come from similar backgrounds and have similar life experiences.  They both have parents who keep them active in church and speak the Gospel into their lives.  One believes, but the other rejects the faith with which he grew up.  Why?  What produces faith in one and not another?

Paul’s words above remind us that to have faith we must encounter the Gospel.  It is a concluding thought in a string describing the necessity of proclaiming the message of Christ for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.  Yet we know while hearing the word is a necessary part of salvation and producing faith it is not the totality of it.  Jesus told us in Matthew 13 that many people hear the Gospel and never come to a saving faith.

So what else must there be?

One, there must be fertile soil. In Matthew 13, Jesus compares the heart to four different types of soil.  And the seed, which is the word of God, falls upon all types as it is sown.  The first type is as the lack of soil along a road, as the seed falls Satan and his minions quickly steal it away so it does nothing.  The second type is rocky soil where the seed may seem to spring to life briefly, but then quickly dies for lack of depth.  The third is soil filled with thorns, these thorns being the worries of life and deceitfulness of wealth, and they too quickly squelch any growth.  But the final soil is good soil, when the seed falls there it springs to life and produces fruit.

Two, the person hearing the word must be a sheep. In John 10, Jesus describes how he is the Good Shepherd and his followers are sheep in his fold.  A sheep hears the words of Jesus and follows him (10:1-18).  Jesus declares some to be his sheep before they hear and follow (10:16).  And he tells a group of unbelieving Jews the reason they do not believe his word is that they are not his sheep (10:26).  This is not the other way around: you are not my sheep because you do not believe, but: “you do not believe because you are not my sheep.”  Jesus clearly states his sheep are those who believe and follow, and those who are not sheep do not believe and follow.

Yet, though there must be fertile soil and the hearer must be a sheep this still doesn’t tell us how…how does the soil become fertile?  How does one become a sheep and therefore come to believe?

The answer is: three, there must be new birth/regeneration. The new birth produces the fertile soil for faith.  The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the word, not just possibly enabling a person to believe but actually accomplishing such a feat.  In John 3 we have the famous passage where Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”  This new birth is also dubbed being “born of the Spirit.”  The analogy of the new birth is comparable to that of physical birth: it is the creation of new life.  Yet the analogy does not end here.  Just as the physical birth is the result of the will and actions of the parents, so our new birth is the result of the will and actions of our Father God (John 1:12-13, 3:8).

Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).  Clearly, the new birth is caused by God not by an act of man, and it is a function of grace flowing from his great mercy.  Likewise, Paul tells Titus, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (3:4-5).  Salvation is brought by the mercy of God through new birth.

In 1 John 5:1, John says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whomever has been born of him.”  Now lest we ponder at this point which comes first faith or new birth, John makes several other “born of God” statements.

First, he says in 3:9, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”  In the Christian life it is the new birth that precedes the break from the practice of sin.  We are enslaved to sin until Jesus sets us free.  John repeats his idea in 5:18.

Second, he says in 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”  Again, since true love is a fruit of the Spirit, and God is love, true love must flow from a heart set to follow God.  To love in the way John calls us to love, we must first be born of God.

Then in 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”  The victory is found in our faith.  The victory is that we have overcome the world.  Yet once more, we only overcome the world after being born again not before.

So if being born of God precedes these other events, it only makes good grammatical and logical sense in John’s writing that it also precedes faith.  Or to put it another way: causes faith.

So how does a person come to believe?  God causes them to be born again.  Such regeneration produces good soil and sheep, so when the seed falls on the good soil and the sheep hear the voice of Jesus, faith grows and the sheep follow.  Being born again produces faith.

1 David R. Brumbelow June 22, 2011 at 9:04 am

Mike,
I suppose you are saying you have to be regenerated and then you have faith in Jesus. I disagree. Your view presents a strange situation of one who is saved, but does not believe in Jesus. Even many Calvinists have disagreed with this idea.

Many verses appear to be contrary to your view, starting with John 3:16-18. “He who does not believe, is condemned already.” How can you be regenerated, yet not believe and thereby be under condemnation?
David R. Brumbelow

2 Mike Bergman June 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

Your view presents a strange situation of one who is saved, but does not believe in Jesus.

When you get down to it, using your description, one could say the Bible presents a strange situation of one who is saved but does not believe in Jesus.

Aside from the sheep in John 10 that Jesus says he will call and will make one flock with the rest, you also have the book of life in Revelation. According to chapter 20, those whose names are not written in the book of life are judged in the eternal fire. Yet according to Revelation 13:8 the names were written in “before the foundation of the world.” Now some will argue, “That was the foreknowledge of God knowing who will believe,” while others will tie it more to unconditional election; but either way you cut it God had a book containing the names of those eternally saved, not just before they were temporally saved but before they even existed.

Now that aside, yes the moment where our salvation becomes a temporal reality may be when we believe, but that experience is different for different people: for some there is a distinct moment where everything changed, for others belief was more like a process and they don’t know when they “first believed” they just know they believe and have for a while.

Both ways, though, faith had to come from somewhere.

I’ve heard it said, “Well the Holy Spirit draws all people and basically takes off the blindfold, but we have to open our eyes and that is faith.” Still, that doesn’t explain why one person opened their eyes and the other did not.

The Bible is clear: in our sin we are all equally inept and unwilling to “open our eyes.”

We are slaves (John 8) and what slave can free himself? We are dead (Ephesians 2) and what dead man can make himself live? We are children of wrath (Ephesians 2) and what child of one family can insert himself into another at his own will?

More damning still: none is righteous, none seeks for God, none have fear of God (Romans 3) our minds are set on the flesh (Romans 8) and “The mind that is set on flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.” We do not, will not, and cannot submit to God.

Yet somehow we can still produce faith within ourselves? Or there is something within us where, though the Spirit might work equally, one person opens their eyes, but the other person must lack that something because they don’t?

It makes no sense.

With the book of life and other statements the Bible is clear: either our salvation is guaranteed or it is non-existent from ages past, it just must play out in the passage of time. Regeneration is part of the process. It is what produces faith.

In time, salvation is a process not an instantaneous event.

We even see this in the life of Paul who seemed to have had an instantaneous salvation experience (Acts 9). Yet in sharing his testimony as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul says: “But when he who had set me apart from my mother’s womb, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me…” (Galatians 1:14-15). So even though Paul could point to the Damascus road event as the “moment” of his salvation–the moment Jesus was revealed to him–God had already set him apart for such before he was born.

All who are regenerated will believe and have salvation and all who believe and have salvation were regenerated. But we don’t know the exact details of how God works–so we don’t know how quickly one leads to another.

3 Mike Bergman June 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

Oh those 8) are supposed to be 8 ). So Romans 8 and John 8… 8)

4 Dave Miller June 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I hate that. Whenever I number my points, it is 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and smiley face! So annoying.

5 Jason June 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

David,

To be precise, no one is a believer until they believe. So the “strange situation” you mention does not exist. That is a straw man, and not a particularly good one.

I don’t know of anyone who believes that there are people out there that have been regenerated and those people not believe immediately upon regeneration.

Something tells me you know that too.

Regeneration producing faith, is a simple concept. I find it funny that to argue against it a false scenario of a bunch of regenerated condemned people running around is created. Though it is clear no one is saying that, that horrible argument is lifted up repeatedly, as if they laid down the trump card and destroyed the argument. No effort to engage the text….just silly imaginary (and illogical) hypotheticals, that aren’t really even hypotheticals.

6 Greg Alford June 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm

David,

Let me turn you (silly) little argument on it’s head…

You are saying that one must have faith before regeneration. That is to say that one’s own “Regeneration is a fruit/result of ones own faith is it not?

Might I then ask what is the evidence of this faith before regeneration? How can one know if he hath faith or not? It is a profession of faith, praying a prayer, Baptism, Church attendance? The Scriptures say “Not of works least any man boast, so I am very interested to know where is the fruit of this faith before regeneration and what is it’s source?

Are you saying that man can (of his own flesh) produce the fruit of the Spirit of God? Because the Scriptures clearly teach that the fruit “of the Spirit”… is produced by the Holy Spirit and most certainly not the flesh of man.

Furthermore, If the fruit is produced by the Spirit (as I anticipate you will be forced to admit) are you saying the the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, producing this fruit, before regeneration?

Lastly, if what you say is true (and I note that it is not) then it is you who are claiming that there are Lost Believers… Believers who have faith, but not Regeneration.

This is all very strange… but when you put the cart before the horse (or man before God) things do tend to look rather strange.

7 David R. Brumbelow June 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Greg,
You said,
“Might I then ask what is the evidence of this faith before regeneration? How can one know if he hath faith or not? It is a profession of faith, praying a prayer, Baptism, Church attendance? The Scriptures say “Not of works least any man boast, so I am very interested to know where is the fruit of this faith before regeneration and what is it’s source?”

Faith, or believing in Jesus, is not a “work.”

Romans 4:5
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

Notice Scripture says this faith is not a work.

I guess I believe faith precedes regeneration or salvation (although it is all bound up together) because:

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

John 3:18
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 5:24
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Acts 16:30-31
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved

Romans 10:9-10
if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:12
for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him

Romans 10:13
whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved

And yes, I believe a prayer saves you.
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2009/09/saved-by-sinners-prayer.html

David R. Brumbelow

8 Jason June 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm

David,

Are you going to the SBTC Pastor’s Retreat in Dallas next month?

If so, I would love to sit down and talk with you.

9 David R. Brumbelow June 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Jason,
I’d love to meet you. But I doubt I’ll be able to attend the Pastor’s Retreat. I do plan to be at the SBTC annual meeting.
David R. Brumbelow

10 Jason June 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Maybe we can plan to get together at the annual meeting.

11 David R. Brumbelow June 22, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Jason,
Sounds good. You can contact me through Gulf Coast Pastor, etc. I should have plenty of time there to get together.
David R. Brumbelow

12 Greg Alford June 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm

David,

Thanks for all the scripture quotes… but you really did not answer my question “How can one know if he hath faith or not? Is it a profession of faith, praying a prayer, Baptism, Church attendance?”

Funny think about all the scripture you gave me on belief… You left one out…

James 2:19 KJV
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe , and tremble.

Tying these comments with you previous comment here, you are not suggesting that a prayer or profession of “belief in God” produces/causes/leads to regeneration are you? If so James takes great issue with you!

Here again we see James is saying that salvation is more than just believing in God or saying “I having faith”…

James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Now let see you were quoting Romans were you not? How about some of Romans 9… just a little bit mind you.

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

14 What shall we say then ? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid .

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy , and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion .

16 So then it is not of him that willeth , nor of him that runneth , but of God that sheweth mercy .

13 Bill Mac June 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

David: All those verses indicate that salvation is a fruit of faith, in other words faith precedes salvation. No one denies this. But you are making salvation and regeneration synonymous and we are not. You might be right, but your verses don’t prove that. We are saying that the work of the Holy Spirit that initiates saving faith is regeneration

14 Bill Mac June 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

Mike: Great article, and goes at the heart of divisions over soteriology. Why do we pray for the salvation of others? Because we want God to save them. But what precisely are we asking God to do? If their will and nature are inviolate, then we are asking God to do something He cannot do. Regeneration precedes faith.

15 Jason June 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Interesting point.

When people pray for someone to be saved…what precisely are they asking God to do?

16 Jim G. June 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hi Mike,

I don’t think any true evangelical (Southern Baptist or otherwise) would disagree with the statement that the new birth is an act of God’s grace. Both Calvinists and Arminians are fully on board with this idea. Pelagians (there are few of those) and Semi-Pelagians (there are lots of those) would quibble, but classical and Wesleyan Arminians as well as all Calvinists would agree.

I do not think you have proven the case that regeneration precedes faith, though. I don’t know if we can be certain of any sort of logical or temporal priority of either. I think there is a stronger biblical case, if any, for at least the logical priority of faith, but our faith is not the catalyst of salvation. The person and work of Jesus Christ is.

Jim G.

17 Wade Burleson June 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

“How can you be regenerated, yet not believe and thereby be under condemnation?”

Your question would be better phrased by asking

“How can you be ‘chosen by God’, not yet regenerated and therefore not yet believe, and thereby be under condemnation?”

The answer to the rephrased question is “You can’t.”

This is precisely John Gill’s point in his excellent treatise “God’s Everlasting Love to His Elect” and it is the basis for God’s statement to His people, given through the prophet Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

The reason you have been chosen in Christ, the reason you are redeemed in Christ, the reason you will be regenerated, the reason you will be sanctified, the reason you will be glorified, (which by the way, are ALL past tense verbs in Romans 8) is because of God’s everlasting love for you.

It precedes your faith. It abides upon you before your faith conversion to Christ. It is the reason God was good to you and preserved you from death until you embraced His Son. It is the reason you were eventually drawn to embrace Christ by the goodness of God. The love of God is displayed to you through the rod and staff of your Good Shepherd which has followed you all the days of your life.

It is this distinguishing, personal, unconditional love for your soul that ought to bring you to complete rest in Christ. You have chosen Him, because in God’s love for sinners, God has chosen you.

Those who believe not are under condemnation already. God doesn’t have to wait to see who will not believe. He is outside of time, and faith must be a gift anyway, for no sinner or rebel toward God would ever of himself believe. So, he who does not believe is under condemnation. All the elect will believe, and we have God’s love to thank for that fact.

18 Dave Miller June 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Look, Wade got caught by the smiley face too. Or was that on purpose?

19 Robert I Masters June 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Wade,
Thank you for your excellent comment. Biblical.

20 Bill Mac June 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

There are a couple of ways to look at this. It may be that regenerated is not the same as saved, because we are saved by faith. All saved are regenerated, all regenerated will be saved, but there may be a temporal interval between the two. But outside of human linearity, all who will be saved are already saved in God’s foreknowledge and predestination (however you want to unpack that).

I wish I could get some sincere non-Calvinists to answer the question: When you pray for someone to be saved, what exactly are you asking God to do?

I understand that certain aspects of Calvinism are uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable with them myself. But in my mind, the alternative is a God who is trying to save everyone and failing most of the time.

21 Jim G. June 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi Bill,

When I pray for God to save someone, I am praying just that.

Isn’t it just as silly to say there might be someone who believes who is not regenerated (the extreme logical outcome of “faith precedes regeneration) as it is that there might be someone regenerated who does not believe (the extreme logical outcome of “regeneration precedes faith”)?

God saves. God regenerates. I am not a Calvinist, but I am no Pelagian (full or semi-) either. For my unsaved loved ones, I pray that God will save them. I also pray that they will repent and believe. I think both prayers are legitimate and right for us to pray. When we try to attach some sort of logical or temporal order to salvation as we experience it, all sorts of weird ideas (as those attacked from both sides in this discussion thread) appear.

The truth is, salvation is a work of God wrought from before the foundations of the world. There are a lot of the “mechanics” of salvation (for lack of a better term) that we just don’t fully understand. It is fine to postulate theories about those mechanics, but in the end we don’t fully “get it,” no matter how much we study, read, or reflect. So we must take all of our theories with a good swig of humility lest we substitute our favorite theory for the real work itself.

Like you, I am uncomfortable with some aspects of Calvinism. But I wouldn’t characterize any alternatives as a failure on God’s part. It’s just a difference of perspective, though. I hope I answered your question.

Jim G.

22 Bill Mac June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Jim,

I appreciate your response. But maybe we can unpack it a bit more. Let’s forget which comes first for a moment. When we pray for someone to be saved, we are asking God to start a process by which the object of the prayer will come to faith, however the mechanics of the thing works out. I have no doubt that non-Calvinists pray that prayer sincerely and I am thankful that they do. I just don’t see how that prayer makes sense according to their doctrine. I don’t see how God, if their doctrine is correct, can do the thing they ask. And if He can (or is willing to) I don’t see why He doesn’t do it for everyone who is prayed for. If God truly desires the salvation of all people, AND the atonement of Christ is truly universal, AND the prayer of salvation is an effectual one, then why isn’t everyone who is prayed for saved? If there is one prayer in all the world that is guaranteed to be in line with God’s will, surely it is that one.

Given equal access to the Gospel, is the prayed-for person more likely to come to Christ than the un-prayed for (or perhaps less prayed-for) person?

23 Jim G. June 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Hi Bill,

I likewise appreciate the tone of your discussion. I think the prayer for the unsaved is perhaps a thornier issue if one is a Calvinist. If 5-point Calvinism is true, then God will save Joe or Jane Elect (not trying to be slanderous or facetious, just personifying unconditional election) whether or not anyone prays for Joe or Jane. If someone prays for Joe or Jane to be saved, well and good; but Joe and Jane will be saved no matter what, because they were unconditionally elected to be saved.

On the flip side, if 5-point Calvinism is true, Ron and Rita Reprobate cannot be saved even if you and I pray for them 10 hours a day for the rest of our lives. God (for reasons we don’t understand) has chosen to pass them by. Praying for their salvation will do absolutely no good, since God has no intentions of saving them. In the 5-point world, our prayers for Ron and Rita have no effect.

Now we have no way to tell who is Joe or Ron, or Jane or Rita. We do not know who is elect and who is not. But in the 5-point system, we still have no way to know if our prayers of salvation are effectual or not. I don’t think one system is all that superior to the other as far as praying for the salvation of others is concerned.

I’ll have to post later about hypothetical universalism. Gotta take the kids swimming now.

Jim G.

24 Christiane June 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

One of the great saints of the Church came to faith in God late in his life and wrote about it, this:

“Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new!
Too late have I loved Thee.
. . . . . . Thou didst call and cry to me and break down my deafness.
Thou didst flash and shine on me and put my blindness to flight. Thou didst blow fragrance upon me and I drew breath,
and now I pant after Thee.
I tasted of Thee and now I hunger and thirst for Thee.
Thou didst touch me and I am aflame for Thy peace….”

St. Augustine

Does God call to us ? In a thousand ways, yes.

25 Greg Harvey June 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

“I wish I could get some sincere non-Calvinists to answer the question: When you pray for someone to be saved, what exactly are you asking God to do?”

From a Calvinistic perspective, the parable of the sower/four soils is probably the most helpful model of evangelization. We’re called to evangelize–cast seed–not to determine the outcome. Regardless of how you read this passage–Calvinistically or not–there is a trust that there is purpose in the proclamation of the Good News:

Rom 10:14-17
“14 But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How welcome are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”

Cue Bob Cleveland in your head commenting on his experience that Calvinists are the most fervent evangelizers. I won’t argue either for or against his position other than to note that Calvinists who obey the Bible evangelize and believe their efforts are purposeful.

But even more importantly than that, Calvinists, Arminians, Fully and Semi-Pelagians, Preterists and Semi-preterists who truly love the Lord and are believers will love one another and will not seek to downplay each other’s honest convictions with logic traps.

Greg Harvey

26 Bill Mac June 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Greg: If you answered my question I’m afraid I missed it in your response.

Is it fair to say that non-Calvinists believe in free will (so do Calvinists but no one believes us), and that God will not save people against their will (Calvinists also believe this but everyone thinks we’re lying)? If so, then when we pray for someone to be saved, if non-Calvinists are correct, are we not asking God to do something He either cannot or will not do?

Or is the prayer for God to save someone practically ineffectual, but only for the purpose of generating evangelistic feelings within ourselves?

27 Don Johnson June 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

While it is true in Reformed theology that regeneration precedes faith, the Bible however teaches faith precedes regeneration.

28 Jason June 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Care to back that up?

29 Greg Harvey June 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm

(partial preterists my brain told me after I hit submit.)

30 Jared Moore June 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I’ve heard that Dr. Russell Moore, a 4-point Calvinist, argues that faith precedes regeneration. Does anyone agree with his position? Are there any links to his argument?

31 Debbie Kaufman June 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Calvinists who obey the Bible evangelize and believe their efforts are purposeful.

Exactly. Well worded.

32 Mark June 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Interestingly enough, Andrew Fuller held that regeneration preceded faith. I note that because he is esteemed by many Baptists. There is even a book out called ‘Fullerism Instead of Calvinism’ or something like that.

33 Jason June 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

34 Don Johnson June 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Jason,

Glad you asked.

The following is my first proof text showing faith precedes regeneration. This one is my favorite because it is the only verse in the Bible that mentions the word “regeneration” with respect to the new birth.

Not only does the verse mention “regeneration”, but it partially defines the word. Which leaves no room for doubt in the Ordo Salutis as to where “regeneration” should be placed.

Titus 3:5
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

My first question would be: What is washed?

I would be very interested in the Calvinist’s answer to that question.

But instead of waiting I’ll give you mine.

The washing of regeneration I believe must be the washing away of our sins. I say that because I don’t find anything else in scripture that it could possibly be. Note the following:

Rev. 1:5
“…and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

Acts 3:19
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”

Acts 10:43
“…whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Acts 22:16
“…and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

Assuming I am correct on the washing of our sins; my second question would be: Do sins get washed away before or after one repents and believes? The above verses should help answer that question if you have any doubt.

I trust you all said one repents and believes before washing.

Now my third question: If repentance and faith occur before our sins are washed, does that not prove they must also precede regeneration since regeneration is the washing of the sins?

The washing of sins is not the only thing involved when one is regenerated, but it is the part God wanted us to know.

Even though Titus 3:5 should settle the fact that faith precedes regeneration, I’ll have more texts to further substantiate the point.

35 Greg Alford June 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

From where comes faith?

Why do some men have faith, and others do not?

How does one acquire faith?

And how does one know that they have faith?

36 Jason June 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm

OK…I have several responses.

One, your whole argument rises and falls with the acceptance of the idea that regeneration is simply “washing of sins”.

Two, is that precisely, only, or mainly what regeneration is?

Three, from where does one’s faith come? Key question in this issue.

Four, do other passages give us understanding of what regeneration is, even without the word regeneration?

Five, what role does the giving of life have in an understanding of regeneration? You know being “born again”.

Six, how do you understand Ezekiel 36 in your view?

I have a few more response questions, and passages to look at, but that seems sufficient for now.

37 Jason June 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I think my responses probably showed a bit of my response to your questions.

I think it is also helpful to realize that we are discussing the logical order of these things, not the temporal order. Temporally-speaking these things happen simultaneously. This issue confuses all the discussion and leads to crazy conclusions by some trying to argue their point. (This deals with Q3.)

Regeneration is much more than washing. I think we all know that.

Since we are discussing the logical order of salvation, then we must ask the question: where does faith originate? Where does repentance originate? (Do we have Scripture for those answers?)

Now to address some issues within the text of Titus 3:5…regeneration is said to be the means by which we are saved. That means that regeneration is not a response to salvation/faith/belief, but the very means by which we believe and have faith. So, the verse does not say that regeneration is a response to anything or that it comes after anything. If your interpretation causes you to understand regeneration as something that happens after salvation, then you misunderstood the passage.

Side note: I will save for a later date a discussion the fact that the things you attributed to salvation as discussed in the passage (faith, repentance, belief, etc) are attributed as works of God that HE DOES, not us. :)

38 Don Johnson June 22, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Jason,

Where in Titus 3:5 does it say regeneration is “the very means by which we believe and have faith”?

The verse does however say “by the washing of regeneration”. Could you tell me what this washing is and when it occurs?

39 Jason June 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Titus 3:5 says: “…He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (KJV) or “He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (NAS).

You have asked: “what this washing is and when it occurs?”

I am going to answer your question through working through the passage.
I believe that the passage says the means of God’s salvation to us is THROUGH regeneration (and renewal of the Spirit). That is the proper understanding of “through” or “dia”. It is ‘through’ or ‘on account of’. The process, the means, of God saving us is regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. The washing spoken of is descriptive of regeneration. The washing IS regeneration. When does it occur? At salvation. It is the means by which God saves us.

It’s all right there in the passage.

40 Mark June 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

One important item that is hardly ever mentioned from those criticizing Calvinism is where grace fits in. Instead, Calvinism is argued against by presenting sinners as if they are autonomously free to exercise faith with grace seeming to have no part and sin no effect on the will.

41 Don Johnson June 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Jason,

You did not answer any of my questions, but I’ll try to respond to yours.

1. No, my whole argument is not regeneration is simply “washing of sins.” That is however the point conveyed in Titus 3:5.

2. It’s only part of what regeneration is.

3. Faith comes from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit when the Word of God is preached (John 16:8-11).

4. Yes, other passages give us an understanding of what regeneration is even though the word is not mentioned.

5. Giving of life or being born again is the result of regeneration.

6. Please explain what you mean by Ezek. 36.

42 Jason June 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Sorry, I thought you were asking rhetorical questions…since you gave your own answers.

I will, by all means, go back and answer those questions.

43 Jason June 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Don,

1. So faith comes from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Not from within a person?

2. Is giving life/being born again “the result of regeneration” or “regeneration itself”?

3. What does Ezekiel 36 tell us about regeneration?

44 Job June 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

The Bible says that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. See 1Cr 12:9, and Gal 5:22. However, the Bible also says that the Holy Spirit comes by faith. See Gal 3:2, Gal 3:5 and Gal 3:14.

HOWEVER … the context of Galatians 3 is salvation by faith versus salvation by adherence to the law of Moses. So, in those verses, Paul was using “receiving the Spirit” as a metaphor for salvation. (It should be noted from the Acts record that during the church’s infancy, exhibiting the “sign gifts” was spoken of as “receiving the spirit” and was taken to be salvation or evidence thereof.)

So, once Galatians 3 is taken into context, faith is given by God the Holy Spirit. And this happens when God the Holy Spirit regenerates a believer. Without faith it is impossible to believe God. And it is also the difference between saving faith concerning Jesus Christ, and the many who have only human, intellectual belief in the facts concerning Jesus Christ. Only the former, which is given by God, can save. The latter, which is a product of man, cannot. That distinction explains why Jesus Christ stated that many who call Him Lord and do good works in His Name are not saved and will not be (Matthew 7:21-23). So, God the Holy Spirit only regenerates those whom God the Holy Spirit gives faith to.

As to what determines who God the Holy Spirit gives faith to … that is another tale for another day.

45 Josh C June 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm

While there is probably some benefit to thinking through the logical order of repentance-regeneration-faith on the basis of Scripture, strict views assigning temporal order to one or the other seem to fail into reductio ad absurdum. If one holds strongly that regeneration precedes faith in a temporal fashion, then the issue of regenerated but not yet saved people walking around waiting to believe in something. With faith preceding regeneration (temporally), there can easily slip in the idea that once someone has put their trust in Christ they are now lacking a specific prayer ritual or set of actions (baptism?? I’m thinking Restorationist churches there; some Pentecostals would put Spirit Baptism here) for it “to take” and get the born again experience. I’ve even heard a Baptist say that there exists a time between someone coming to faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit “sealing” them (Eph. 2).

That to say, all of that gets us into weird areas once we start dividing into space/time how and when God’s grace and our response occur in our being transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

46 Chase June 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I think the problems you mentioned come from confusing logical and temporal order, for logical distinctions do not necessitate temporal distinctions. For example, consider lapsarianism; God’s decrees emanate from eternity, but we can still ponder their logical order and the resulting theological consequences. In a similar manner, regeneration can logically precede faith, or vice versa, while temporally both are simultaneously applied.

47 Debbie Kaufman June 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Josh:I would disagree with your statement for several reasons. 1. The Bible teaches it as far as I can comprehend. 2. It’s important to know that God is active not inactive and how he is active. It’s important. We are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Take the story of Nicodemus. I believe the story to tell us that we have no power within ourselves to come to Christ. We have no desire within ourselves to come to Christ. In fact it would interest you that Rome and Luther had this very same debate. I’ll let you guess which view Rome had. :)

48 Josh C June 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Strange since I didn’t actually state my view above, as much as critique attempts to temporally order these things…

49 Debbie Kaufman June 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)” (Eph. 2:5).

50 William June 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

…so I’m toying with announcing to my church Sunday that I’m going to preach because I must, and they are going to hear because they’re present and that some of them are regenerated and some are not and some of those who are not are wasting their time because God has said ‘nope’ to them but there’s always hope that those who think they are not but really are but they just haven’t gotten there and don’t know it yet and those who are didn’t really have a whole lot to do with it…and then I might get to the matter of God loving everyone but only some in that special way…and being a clever fellow I may use the Orwellian illustration that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others…and, even though some in my congregation have been around the block with some calvinists before I may even round up a couple of kids to help me illustrate God’s choosing/nonchoosing by saying ‘God may have chosen this one for heaven but not this one who is bound for hell and there’s not a doggone thing he/she can do about it’…and if I have time I will try to work in the idea that there believers who haven’t believed.

That oughta do it.

How I love the calvinists. They make life so interesting, especially when they get out of the seminary hallways and into a church with real people.

:) Perhaps I can conjure some of those smiley faces that seem to have popped up. This is a great place for them.

51 Jason June 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Wow.

So, misunderstanding or misrepresenting what calvinists believe AND belittling them by saying they aren’t prepared for ministry.

Even if it was joking…it isn’t funny.

52 Mark June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

…I’m toying with sharing the idea for the next Sunday evening I preach that we should not pray for the salvation of others because that it totally up to the person and not God; for God can merely send His message, uninfluenced and hope someone believes it. I will explain how some of those listening at that moment who do not have faith will never have faith. God knew this before He created them in His perfect foreknowledge. Since the gospel is open to all who believe by their free autonomous choice, once you’ve heard the message, go home and don’t worry about coming back until you believe it because it’s 100% up to and all about you…and maybe you’ve said ‘nope’ to God from eternity past and so there is nothing that will change that as God’s knows in His perfect foreknowledge so He has no reason to ask you again…or maybe I’ll give the Rob Bell love option where no one ultimately earns eternal separation from God for their sin, but God loves in just one, equal way for all people everywhere including loving His Son Who, Himself, doesn’t really have a special love for the church…so go and love your neighbor’s wife just as your own. It’s all good because it’s all love.

That oughta do it.

:)

53 Squirrel June 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm

William, I’m sorry, but you do not have any clue what the Doctrines of Grace actually teach. You would be well served to listen to this series by John MacArthur. I honestly don’t care if you agree or disagree with Calvinistic Soteriology, but, dude, at least understand what you’re disagreeing with!

Squirrel

54 William June 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Unnamed Squirrel…I’m all ears. Pick any of my TIC points and correct me. I am well versed enough in calvinists to know that any disagreements elicit the boilerplate response that the person doesn’t understand the doctrines of johannes calvinus…so, let ‘er rip.

55 William June 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Pardon me Elder Clyatt, I found your name. McArthur I know, Founder’s Ministries I recognize…but I’m sure you can help me understand what I am disagreeing with.

56 Squirrel June 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I didn’t know my name was hidden. Since you’ve demonstrated that you can follow internet links, why don’t you go through that presentation by MacArthur and detail where he doesn’t teach what you assert that Calvinists teach.

And, just by-and-by, I was “Calvinistic” long before I ever read anything by John Calvin. I got my doctrine from the same place he got his; Holy Scripture.

Squirrel

57 William June 25, 2011 at 7:36 am

As best I can tell Elder Clyatt Squirrel was the one who said I have no clue, so, perhaps you could pick any one item out of my original humor post and correct me. Your very nice website says that you do this sort of thing rather than just provide a conduit for links.

I’m all ears…

58 Frank L. June 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Squirrel,

Is John MacArthur the final say on what all Calvinists believe? In other words, if I read MacArthur’s series would I then have the point of view all Calvinists accept?

From what I’ve gathered (not being a Calvinist or a non-Calvinist) is that there are almost as many varieties of Calvinists as there are varieties of people.

This seems to greatly complicate any meaningful discussion.

59 Squirrel June 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Frank,

MacArthur’s presentation of the Doctrines of Grace is a good one. Here’s another by Jim McClarty. Or this one from John Piper. The point is, while they may disagree at certain points, none of them teach what William asserted above.

Squirrel

60 Lydia June 25, 2011 at 1:11 am

Isn’t McArthur one of the fewi dispsy Calvinists?

61 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 1:33 am

Yes, John MacArthur is both Calvinist and Dispensational. But, actually, Lydia, we (yes, I am one!) “CalviDispies” are not all that few.

By far, the greatest number of Calvinists are also Covenantal in their theology. However, the first systematizer of Dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby, was also a five-point Calvinist, & Dispensationalism comes out of Calvinism. Indeed, only with an understanding of the absolutely Sovereign God of Calvinism, does Dispensationalism really make sense.

Squirrel

62 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 1:47 am

You claim you are neither Calvinist nor non-Calvinist. Now I am confused and have to ask how that can be Frank.

63 Jeremy Parks June 25, 2011 at 8:45 am

I cannot and will not speak for Frank, but I would have to say that as far as I know I am neither a Calvinist nor a non-Calvinist. I do not know what the five points are, nor what TULIP means. Nor do I know why people object to Calvinism.

64 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

Jeremy: Read that sentence again. I am neither a Calvinist nor a non-Calvinist. I am neither a Calvinist nor a non-Calvinist…..

65 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 9:01 am

:)

66 Jeremy Parks June 25, 2011 at 10:16 am

I’ve re-read it. What am I supposed to see? My first thought was a grammatical error, or jumbling my words to the degree that the sentence was gibberish. Help me out here, please.

67 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

Jeremy, I think Debbie is pointing out a logical fallacy in your sentence. The Law of Non-Contradiction: P and not-P cannot both be simultaneously true. If you are not a Calvinist, then you are, by definition, a non-Calvinist.

Now, as to your other statement, that you do not know what the five points are, nor what TULIP stands for; a friend of mine long ago put together this simple explanation:

TULIP – the 5 points of Calvinism

John Calvin did not originate these doctrines; they are derived from the study of the Bible. We use the word “Calvinism” because John Calvin was the theologian who brought the church’s attention back to these truths after the Protestant Reformation.

Calvin also did not reduce his theology to “5 points”. It was the followers of Jacob Arminius, called “the Remonstrants”, who, after Arminius died, systematized and formalized his ideas and published the Five “Articles of the Remonstrants” in 1610.

A meeting (a “synod”) of protestant leaders was called at the town of Dordrecht (The Synod of Dordt). They met from November of 1618 until May of 1619 and published their refutation of the “Articles of the Remonstrants” in the document we know as “The Canons of Dordt”. By refuting the “Five Articles” the Synod of Dordt established what are sometimes referred to as the Five points of Calvinism and remembered by many using the mnemonic “TULIP” with each letter representing a doctrine related to salvation:

T – Total Depravity, or Total Inability. All of man, including his will, is completely depraved and is completely unwilling and thus unable to choose God.

U – Unconditional Election. There is no merit or good work in man that causes God to choose him for salvation. God’s choosing of some to salvation is an act of His grace alone.

L – Limited Atonement, or Particular Redemption. The sacrifice of Christ was intended to save only the elect, propitiate all their sins, and purchase everything needed for their salvation.

I – Irresistible grace, or Effectual Calling. When God intends to save someone, He always succeeds.

P – Perseverance of the Saints. All of those in Christ will persevere to the end. The elect can never be lost.

T – Man is spiritually dead. Because of the fall, man has become spiritually dead, blind and deaf to the things of God and is therefore unable of himself to choose spiritual good and determine his own destiny.

We use the term “Calvinist” in a purely soteriological sense to denote a person who believes in the absolute freedom and sovereignty of God, and that salvation is God’s work alone, without any contribution to it from man. A Calvinist may or may not accept all of Calvin’s theology, but does accept the conclusions of the Synod of Dordt about the sovereignty of God in Salvation.

I hope that helps,

Squirrel

68 Jeremy Parks June 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

So there’s only two positions in this debate, even for those who are not a part of the debate? One must be either A or not-A? One must chose sides or a side will be chosen for him? As I said, I have nearly zero clue as to what the debate is really about.

69 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Jeremy, there are more than 2 positions here. There are several theological “camps” that disagree with Calvinistic soteriology on one or more points. There are Lutherans, Amyraldians, Arminians, Pelagians, and, no doubt, others with differing theological understandings. But “non-Calvinist” means “not a Calvinist” — if you are not a Calvinist, whatever position you hold is non-Calvinistic in nature.

Now, if by saying you were not a non-Calvinist, you intended to communicate that you are not an anti-Calvinist, I think that meaning came across. No worries :)

The basic argument boils down to this: Is God’s election of a sinner unto salvation dependent on or independent of the volition, actions, and/or choices of the person being saved?

Squirrel

70 Jeremy Parks June 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Whatever. You guys have fun debating this.

71 William June 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Jason, I do wish that calvinists had a sense of humor.

There are reasons that most Southern Baptist pastors aren’t calvinists and most laypeople either get mad or scratch their heads when reading a piece like the above. I’ve merely illustrated some of the reasons and freely admit to non-vicious sarcasm and humor in doing it. All of the components are in Mike’s piece but feel free to take the next step and explain why I am misrepresenting it. I’ll let any of you have the last word.

Or, just be happy that a sub-calvinist like me does not favor actions like the church in GA who has defunded Southern Seminary.

72 Jason June 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I have a sense of humor…I just didn’t find your post particularly funny.

Since when is it funny to say people are unprepared for ministry?

I don’t need the last word…you have the right to do what you want to do. I can take a joke. I can laugh at myself. I can laugh at extreme forms of my theological family. But when joking comes off as mean-spirited, I don’t find it funny. Perhaps if you had left off the statement about calvinists coming into churches, it wouldn’t have felt like a cheap shot rather than a friendly jab.

73 William June 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

Jason, calvinists have to deal with each one of those points, call them caricatures, misunderstandings, or misrepresentations or whatever. The difficulty of such is why calvinists will always be a minority in SBC life.

Debbie, I understand quoting the texts. I read Mike Bergman et al for the explanation of the quotes and go from there. I don’t understand your statement about “not holding back on all that He is.”

74 Jason June 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm

You mean calvinists have to constantly deal with misrepresentations and caricatures because people are unable or unwilling to discuss the ACTUAL views of calvinists.

Interesting that you would admit that.

75 William June 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

Jason, I didn’t admit “that” and a closer reading to what I actually wrote would help you, but if you would like to pick any point in my original piece and correct it, that might be worthwhile.

If the ACTUAL views of calvinists cannot be charactized as I so did, I’m all ears…

76 Mark June 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

William, what do you mean if the “ACTUAL views of calvinists cannot be charactized” as you did?

77 Jason June 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

If you actually believe that what you posted is what calvinists believe, then discussion is useless.

It is sad when people present a caricature, it’s unfair.

It is even more sad when people present a caricature and actually believe their caricature is the truth.

Why would I address your errors…they have been addressed over and over and over again. You obviously have not studied what calvinists actually believe so I feel that would be a fruitless discussion.

I am fine with people disagreeing over calvinism and the related issues. If you understand passages differently, that is fine. I have no desire to convince people to take on my view.

But I have little tolerance for misrepresentation of opposing views. It shows arrogance and ignorance…a deadly combination. Joking about it doesn’t make it less of a misrepresentation.

78 Debbie Kaufman June 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm

William: I am simply quoting scripture. God is God and not holding back on all that He is. I am simply pointing that out.

79 Dr. James Willingham June 22, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Th analogies suggested by conception and the actual delivery of a child at birth (Jn.3:3-7 & Jas.1:18), anagennao and anakueo, the first for conception and the second for begat or delivery at birth is pretty clear on the matter. As to Faith, the command to believe is to do he impossible, a paradoxical intervention, a therapeutic paradox, which enables and empowers the lost sinner to accept responsibility for his/her sin and to respond accordingly. As to the source of faith, I have a message on Mk.11:22, “Have faith of/from the source, God.” (genitive of source), titled The Right Stuff. Jesus call for His disciples to make sure that they have the faith that comes only from God. As to the Reprobates, that doctrine, too, is a therapeutic paradox, a paradoxical intervention. Consider Mtt.15:21-28, where the woman of Canaan is clearly called a dog, te very image of Reprobation, and she agrees to the identification and uses it to advance the cause of her salvation, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their asters’ table.” Jesus answered, “O Woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you will/please.”

I have been mulling over the doctrines of Sovereign Grace for virtually all of my 53+ years as a Christian. It took about 20 years to realize that they were the truths that were the cause with the presence of the Holy Spirit of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions, and, due to prayer, for the past 38-50 plus years these ruths are coming back. And we are facing the possibility of a Third Great Awakening, one that will win the whole earth and every soul in it, beginning with this generation, perhaps, and continuing for a thousand generations.

Each of the truths of Sovereign Grace, Predestination, Total Depravity/Inability, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement/Particular Redemption, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance/Preservation of the Saints, and Reprobation are invitations, intensely winsome, attractive, wonderful charming, compelling, magnetic, drawing, wooing invitations. Rightly understood, they are more alluring, engaging, winning, fascinating, seductive, cheerful, lovable, captivating, motivating, moving. adorable, sweet, amiable, angelic, precious, ardent, etc.

We need more insight and understanding as to how paradoxes work to restore a sense of responsibility. Dr. George W. Truett in his Address at the Centenary Celebration of the Birth of C.H. Spurgeon in London in 1934 declared that Calvinism pressed down the crown of responsibility on the brow of man. Oneof the things I noted in my studies of American Intellectual History was the fact that the Historians observed the responsible behavior of the Puritans. They were able to make judgments of their conduct. For example, we hear so much about the Salem Witchcraft Trials and how many were executed, but, when one compares it with the many executed in England and Europe (in the thousands) and realizes that the Puritans did a self-examination on the issue and ceased the practice, then one becomes aware of the fact that these people could learn and take responsibility. They are some of the most persevering and responsible people in history. Note how Jonathan Edwards took Ev. George Whitefield to task for his blatant attacks on the unconverted ministry which had caused so many hard feelings among the Puritan ministers in New England and let to the attack of Harvard on Whitefield’s ministry. The result that followed includedWhitefeld turning his money raising talents to help Harvard get a library after the old one had burned in a fire. Could it also explain why Whitefield pushed the issue of reconciliation between him and John Wesley? The true liberal is the most orthodox Bible believer, for he or she is willing for God to do the persuading – when human means are not enough. Some folks’ belligerency might be utterly dissolved, if they could but let God handle the hot button issues instead of them proving they can become enraged like Paul and Barnabas over John Mark…when Paul later confessed that that was not the way of agape love (Acts.15:39 & I Cors.13:5). When God’s servants begin to realize the profound depths of agape love and its winsome ways, wemight well be on the verge of that time when God shall shake not the earth only but Heaven also (Hebs.12:26). God grant that it might be so.

80 Don Johnson June 23, 2011 at 10:48 am

Jason,

Yes , we are saved by the washing of regeneration as Paul clearly states. My question though, is “what is washed”?

Please once again I ask what do you mean by Ezek. 36? You somehow believe it gives credibility to your case but for some reason you won’t explain why.

81 Jason June 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I think you are focused on the wrong aspect of regeneration when you are focused on washing of sins.

That’s why I tried to get you to walk through the actual verse. Did you miss my post? Do you have nothing to say to any of the points I actually made? Or are you just going to respond to my questions with questions?

You said nothing to the issue that Titus 3:5 says that God has saved us BY (THROUGH) regeneration. Do you admit that regeneration is the means of salvation? If so, how can it be the result of salvation. That undermines your entire argument. If you deny regeneration is the means of salvation, then you will need to prove exegetically that Titus 3:5 does NOT say that.

As for the washing spoken of…it was defined by Paul as “the washing of regeneration”. That means that he is explaining regeneration through the picture of washing at the moment of salvation, as He saves us. I wouldn’t import too much outside meaning to the picture, lest you say more than the passage intends. The washing saves us, the regeneration saves us. If you make washing mean something that happens after salvation/belief/faith, you are changing the meaning of his words that we are saved BY or through this washing. So whatever this washing is, it IS salvation, it is the means by which we are saved. Paul defines that washing as regeneration.

Again, I think you are skipping past the important issue of logical order that is spoken to in the passage as you start your word study on “washing”…especially when your word study is used to undermine the statement of temporal importance in the passage.

82 Don Johnson June 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Jason,

I have never said one is regenerated after they are saved. I said one has faith before being regenerated or saved.

Again I ask, what is washed?

83 Jason June 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Don,

Are you going to ignore my answer to your question and simply ask it over and over again??

I gave a pretty thorough explanation of the issue in my response. Perhaps if you read it, you would see from where I am coming.

BTW, you continue to ask the wrong question on this issue.

84 Don Johnson June 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Jason,

You didn’t answer my question. You talked around it but you didn’t answer it.

Your unwillingness to answer shows I’m not asking the wrong question.

Again I ask, what is washed?

85 Jason June 25, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Hmm, if only I wrote a paragraph that started…

“As for the washing spoken of…it was defined by Paul as “the washing of regeneration”. That means that he is explaining regeneration through the picture of washing at the moment of salvation, as He saves us. I wouldn’t import too much outside meaning to the picture, lest you say more than the passage intends. The washing saves us, the regeneration saves us. If you make washing mean something that happens after salvation/belief/faith, you are changing the meaning of his words that we are saved BY or through this washing. So whatever this washing is, it IS salvation, it is the means by which we are saved. Paul defines that washing as regeneration.”

Now, I understand you may not like that explanation. That is why I stated that you are asking the wrong question. Your question is not a good question, for 2 reasons. One, it is leading to eisegesis, where you read into the passage an imported understandig of something being washed and ignore the explanation Paul gives in the verse. Two, it fails to see the theological points made in the text itself.

I would ask you to go back an address my issue, as I have answered your question.

Please go deal with the actual exegetical issues I brought up in the text…and stop (or at least, delay) focusing on issues not in the text.

86 Don Johnson June 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Jason,

I’ll give you credit. You give a good non-answer.

Paul wrote “by the washing of regeneration”. God chose the word washing not me. Whatever else regeneration involves, one thing we know for sure. It washes something. It is not a picture of salvation but in fact, it is how we are saved.

If you don’t want to answer what is washed, we can look at your Ezek. 36 text.

87 Jason June 26, 2011 at 12:12 am

I would be glad to look at Ezekiel, but you haven’t even really looked at the Titus passage. You said that it by itself proves your point and nothing else is really necessary.

I walked through it and showed how your understanding of the text is deficient. You want to continually go outside of the text for explanation, but you are jumping too far ahead. You are not asking the questions at the right spots. Let the text speak for itself and lay out the theology of HOW/WHEN before you ask the question of WHAT. Paul explained what he meant by washing by saying the washing was regeneration. You have skipped what that says about regeneration and salvation and have asked a secondary question. You may find that as a non-answer, but it is a pretty clear answer from the text. I am sorry you don’t find that sufficient.

I notice that you have now posted a bunch of times in response to me, but you never have actually dealt with my explanation of the text. It seems the one avoiding the issues and questions here is you. I made a very clear post and you have no actual response.

Shall I take that as you agree with my exegesis of that part of Titus 3:5? :)

88 William June 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Mark said: “William, what do you mean if the “ACTUAL views of calvinists cannot be charactized” as you did?”

I’m using Jason’s words. I suppose if I were mischaracterizing calvinism, he would correct me. He has about a fourth of all the comments in this topic. I think I asked him to just pick one, since this discussion is getting pretty old.

89 Mark June 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

William, my guess is that Jason does believe you’ve mischaracterized Calvinism, but you’ve done it in such a way that reasonable dialogue does not seem to be in view.

Of course, Jason can correct my understanding as I don’t mean to speak for him.

90 William June 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I didn’t think it necessary to append any TIC to my original piece.

Like I said, I’m all ears…

91 Jason June 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm

He CLEARLY misrepresented calvinism and calvinists.

I am unsure if he knows or cares that he did so.

He used common caricatures and presented them as “actual views”. He either doesn’t know the real views while proposing that he does know them (ignorance) or he knows the right views and purposefully caricatured them the way he did (arrogance and lying).

Neither of those options make me want to discuss the issue further with him.

92 John Wylie June 24, 2011 at 11:42 pm

The General versus Particular debate is as old as the group known as Baptists. Neither side has a monopoly on the historic Baptist faith as most Baptists have been somewhere in between the two doctrines. That’s where I am, not calvinist, not arminian, just Baptist. I would be in the camp that believes that faith precedes regeneration.

But having said that, I have several calvinist friends and routinely have them come and preach, one is coming on July 3rd. I have the utmost respect for brothers like Dr. Mohler and Dr. Peter Masters out of Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Southern Baptists had better agree to disagree on these points because you stand to lose some of your greatest expository preachers if you keep this up. By all means, purge the SBC of all liberals, but the calvinists are vital to the survival of the SBC.

93 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 10:07 am

In regard to William’s comment directed to me.

William, I’m not sure if you are referring to our church website or my blog, but, in either case, I’m glad you like the website.

Now, I do not have a whole lot of time today to devote to this, and you really are the one who hasn’t done his homework, and I’m not going to do your homework for you, but let me point out, if I may, one thing.

But first, a question: William, are you an Open Theist? Or do you believe that God knows the future perfectly from eternity past?

Now, I’m going to assume that you hold to the BF&M 2000, which states, “God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.” (Baptist Faith & Message 2000, Article II. ‘God’) If you do, in fact, hold to the BF&M 2000, you cannot be an Open Theist, and so I’ll will proceed under that assumption.

Let’s say you’ve got a guy – let’s call him “Ralph” – who attends your church. Since God knows the future perfectly, let’s say that God knows that Ralph will never come to faith in Jesus Christ. (We’ll leave how God knows that for another time…) Now, to you, Ralph seems to be an all right guy. He helps out on church work days, he attends regularly, and he gives faithfully to the church’s coffers. But, what isn’t evident to you, is that Ralph does all of this out of his own pride, and not out of genuine faith in Christ. Since God knows that Ralph will never come to faith & repentance, and, since God’s knowledge of the future is perfect, Ralph is, essentially, without hope.

Now, let’s say you’ve got another guy – let’s call him “Bob” – who grew up in your church, but doesn’t attend regularly. In fact, at this point in his life, Bob is more likely to be found in the bar than in the pew. He’s living with his girlfriend, and, when you talk to him, he seems angry at God and bitter all the time. But God, knowing perfectly the future, knows that, when Bob is 38, he will repent of his sin and come to true saving faith in Jesus Christ.

As pastors, our responsibility towards both of these men, as it is to all men, is essentially the same: to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God’s Word. We preach to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ at every opportunity. No pastor will ever know with absolute certainty about anybody. Oh, we can have a pretty good idea sometimes, but, even then, we do not know if someone we think is a Christian will abandon the faith at some future point, nor do we know if someone who’s living a worldly life of sin right now will be converted in 5, 10, 20, or 50 years from now.

Here’s the thing – unless you are an Open Theist who believes that God doesn’t know the future perfectly, then who will, and who will not, come to faith in Christ is already set in God’s mind. You or I cannot change it by any action we may or may not take. So, unless you are an Open Theist, you face the same dilemma as any Calvinist, in that you will preach to the saved, you will preach to people who will never be saved, and you will preach to people who are not yet saved, but will be in the future. And neither you nor I will know for certain who is in which group.

The difference between the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist-non-Open-Theist is really this:

The Calvinist believes that God sovereignly chooses to save certain individuals, and not to save others, solely according to His will and His purposes, and for His Glory.

The non-Calvinist-non-Open-Theist believes that God knows the future perfectly, but did not absolutely determine it. Things happen that are out of God’s control, and have no purpose in God’s plan. God can use these events in some way, but He did not purpose these events to happen.

Now, which of those two positions best describes the God of the Bible?

Squirrel

94 William June 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for the considerable effort here, Squirrel. And I am perfectly willing to stipulate for the purposes of this discussion that your views are biblical. I am interested in your denying that my characterization is inaccurate. So:

Teaching Elder Squirrel: “The Calvinist believes that God sovereignly chooses to save certain individuals, and not to save others, solely according to His will and His purposes, and for His Glory.”

William, originally, as if speaking to his congregation: “…some of [you] who are not [regenerated] are wasting [your] time because God has said ‘nope’ to [you]…”

So, at least this part of my original post is accurate, if phrased rather callously? Right?

Thanks.

95 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I did say I had a lot to do today, didn’t I? :)

I know of no Calvinist who would stand in front of any group of people and say, “Some of you are wasting your time because you are not elect and there’s nothing you can do about it,” because there is no way that the speaker could possibly know that the entire group he is addressing isn’t elect. We don’t know who are elect and who are not. We preach the Gospel and tell people that we are all sinners, that God commands us all to repent of our sins, and that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior. God ultimately determines (In fact, He has determined from before the foundations of the world) who will and will not repent.

What I’m finding objectionable – and you are not the first to imply it, nor have you explicitly stated it here – is the strawman argument that goes something like this: “I don’t believe that God created anybody who has no hope and is doomed to hell from the womb.”

The problem here, as I tried to articulate above, is that everyone who believes that God has perfect knowledge of the future must accept that there are people born everyday who will never repent of their sins, and that God knows exactly who those individuals are, and He allowed them to be born anyway.

Squirrel

96 William June 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Squirrel, I believe that almost all calvinists know not to be so plain, and stark, as I was; however, it is precisely what you believe. I make no dispute with you over our responsibilities etc.

You may have created a straw man but such was not one that I have employed.

So, this original statement of mine is correct? A simple “yes” will do.

97 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm

No, your original statement was not correct, because no one, without direct divine revelation from God, can ever say to anyone else, “You are not elect.” (Well, sure, I suppose someone could say it, but they’d be incorrect in doing so…)

Do I believe that there are people who are not elect? People who will spend eternity in hell? Of course. Don’t you? And do I believe that God knows exactly who those people are? Again, of course. And, again, don’t you?

You may have created a straw man but such was not one that I have employed.

I did say that you had explicitly stated the strawman argument that I laid out. If I interpreted you to be implying something that you were, in fact, not implying, then please accept my apology. I don’t want to put words in your mouth any more than I want someone else to put words in my mouth.

So, let me explicitly and, as much as I am able, concisely state what I believe.
All mankind is sinful, and stands justly condemned before a Holy God.God would be perfectly just to consign all mankind to eternity in hell.God has decided to graciously save some of mankind from their deserved punishment in hell.God decided before He created who those people were that He would save.God decided before He created how those people that He would save would be saved.Faith in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is the “how” that God decided to use to save His people.God will cause all whom He chose to save to come to faith in Jesus Christ.The proclamation of the Gospel is the means God has decreed to call His people to faith in Jesus Christ.Salvation is entirely a divine act by God.

Squirrel

98 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

And now I’ve just learned that I can’t use html codes for lists in the comment box here… Learn something new every day!

:D

Squirrel

99 Squirrel June 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm

“I did say that you had explicitly stated…” should read “I did say that you had not explicitly stated…”

100 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm

William: NO!!!! That is the biggest misconception I have read yet!

101 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

In fact I would say the opposite. They are the elect

102 William June 26, 2011 at 8:22 am

Work with me here, brethren/sistren:

Teaching Elder Squirrel: “The Calvinist believes that God sovereignly chooses to save certain individuals, and not to save others, solely according to His will and His purposes, and for His Glory…God would be perfectly just to consign all mankind to eternity in hell. God has decided to graciously save some of mankind from their deserved punishment in hell. God decided before He created who those people were that He would save.”

William, originally, as if speaking to his congregation: “…some of [you] who are not [regenerated] are wasting [your] time because God has said ‘nope’ to [you]…”

My statement is labeled a “misconception” (Debbie) and I’m told that I cannot say it (Squirrel) not because it is untrue but because all of the group to whom I am speaking may be among the elect?

Looks to me like “yes” would be a simpler answer to my question, and then you can nuance it to suit your sensibilities. Some people are lost, will be lost, forever will be lost, will bust hell wide open and cannot do a thing about it. Right?

I’d like to know how my statement was a ‘misconception’ and also are all calvinists constrained from clearly stating that God has elected some and not others and therefore the non-elect have no hope of heaven and there is literally nothing they can do about it.

I get the sense that you agree with my language but just wish I would euphemize it.

I’m stll all ears…

103 Mike Bergman June 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

William, originally, as if speaking to his congregation: “…some of [you] who are not [regenerated] are wasting [your] time because God has said ‘nope’ to [you]…”

Okay… I’ll throw an answer into the hat: yes that is true at its core.

Would I say it in that way while preaching? No. For the reasons above: I can be reasonably assured who the sheep are based on their faith, repentance, and fruit. But no matter how much a person acts like a goat, I don’t know if they’re among the elect or not until they reach the end of their lives and have turned to Christ or not. So to them I preach the Gospel: you are lost in your sins, and you need to repent and follow Jesus.

But I have said it in other ways, the way that the Bible says it. In fact I taught on it two weeks ago–from Matthew 7, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’…but I will say, ‘I never knew you.’” And so there are people who do some things Christians should do, may even think they are followers of Jesus, but their deceitful heart has blinded them, and they are in essence wasting their time w/ their religious activities.

Of course, on the other hand, it is never a waste to preach to anyone elect or not elect. 2 Corinthians 2&3 tell us that as we preach we are an aroma of Christ for life to life of those who are being saved, and for death to death of those who are perishing. No matter what our hearer is or does, Christ always leads us to victory in proclaiming the gospel to them. But since that message is not only a catalyst for life but also for death, Paul asks, “and who is sufficient for this” which he answers later that our sufficiency does not come from ourselves but from God. So I preach and God determines how to apply the word to the hearer whether they are elect or not.

I’ll throw another comment into this as well. In your funny/sarcastic response that started all of this you characterize the preacher as saying “God loves all of you but not equally” or something like that.

Actually, I don’t preach that God loves everyone b/c I don’t believe it and I don’t believe the Bible teaches it.

Psalm 5:5 for example says God hates the evildoer, and 11:5 concurs. Those aren’t actions or attitudes God hates, but people. Of course I qualify it that God’s hatred is not like man’s hatred. For 1) it is completely justified, and 2) it doesn’t mean that God fails to do good to them, he still shows common grace; but he hates them in the way he hated Esau (Malachi 1, and Romans 9)–he rejected him from the covenant. So it is with us: God extends his New Covenant to those he has chosen to love.

Of course, people will object: But John 3:16, “For God so loved the world.”

Yeah. But the world is the cosmos–it is his creation. He can love his creation but not love every aspect of it (Satan and demons, for example). He can love humanity as a whole but not love every human. Those who are his covenant people, he loves, those who are not he rejects and does not love. Furthermore, “for God so loved the world” is not limited to people. Jesus died to release, renew, and glorify creation through the glorification of his people (Romans 8 ).

104 David R. Brumbelow June 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

William,
Just for the record, and in contrast to some others on this thread, I believe Jesus died for all and that God loves the world. God loves every single human being on the face of the earth. I have a message of salvation for every human on the face of the earth.

I pray we never forget the simple, normal meaning of the following verses:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 Timothy 2:4
Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:6
Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time

2 Peter 3:9
Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

1 John 2:2
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

See more at:
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2009/10/unlimited-atonement-jesus-died-for-all.html
David R. Brumbelow

105 Frank L. June 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm

“”“for God so loved the world” is not limited to people.”"

These debates never lead anywhere because both sides use Scripture to support their views, but because their views are completely diferent, both cannot be right (thoughy both can be wrong).

It is amazing to say that John 3:16 is not about “people.” I don’t know anybody that would read that and come to that conclusion — unless they were looking for loopholes or trying to split theological hairs.

It is “clearly” about (limited to) people. While the word, cosmos, can refer to all creation, the words “whoever believes” requires volition. Rocks do not “believe and have eternal life,” nor will they perish because of unbelief.

So, bending Scripture to fit a theological perspective can end up simply looking simple.

That’s why I think the Lord led me to say to the congregation today: “Whatever you do, don’t get your theology from a theologian. Simply read the Bible.”

106 Jim G. June 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Hi Frank,

Everyone who reads the Bible to understand it is a theologian, for good or for ill. We just need more good ones.

Jim G.

107 Squirrel June 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm

William, I have interacted repeatedly with your comments, yet you have yet to answer my questions at all. Therefore, please respond to these questions or I’m done responding to you. Dialogue goes both ways, y’know.

William, are you an Open Theist? Or do you believe that God knows the future perfectly from eternity past?

• And •

Do I believe that there are people who are not elect? People who will spend eternity in hell? Of course. Don’t you? And do I believe that God knows exactly who those people are? Again, of course. And, again, don’t you?

Squirrel

108 Mike Bergman June 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

It is amazing to say that John 3:16 is not about “people.”

1) I didn’t say it’s not about people, I said it’s not limited to people. There’s a difference.

2) If you don’t think that Christ dying and people’s salvation doesn’t have cosmic implications that are very fitting to the love of God described in John 3:16, then you need to read Romans and Revelation. God redeems creation, not just people. Jesus died for creation, not just people. Absolutely it is broader than people.

3) What’s really amazing to me is that people can read Psalm 5:5 and elsewhere and still say, “God loves every individual.” Whatever happened to a clear reading of a text?

109 Frank L. June 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

“”then you need to read Romans and Revelation.”"

Mike, thanks for the advice about Romans and Revelation. I don’t know how after 35 years of preaching, I missed those two books.

But, I have read John 3:16. How is it referring to God’s general redemptive work? How does a “cosmos” believe?

I’m not saying I do not believe in God’s general redemptive plan and I am not saying Jesus’ death did not have cosmic effects.

I’m saying that your post represents the practice of fitting Scripture — a particular Scripture verse — into a theological (systematic) viewpoint making it say something it does not say.

This type of proof-texting s why I said these debates never lead anywhere.

I’m just betting that persons without a “theological agenda” (or a home team if you will) would read John 3:16 and think: this is about people. Yet, in a blog discussion, the simple reading of the text takes on a whole life of its own.

Every verse becomes “Calvinistic” or “non-Calvinistic” to the point that the simple reading and application of the text becomes almost impossible.

Does “ho pas” mean “all” or “all of the elect?” And if it means all of the elect, how does one picking up the Bible figure out if he or she is “elect” or “not?” All of that from a little word, “all.”

I guess I’m not as sophisticated as some, but I just don’t see that “all” being a dividing line between ideologies. One can easily become like the antagonists Jesus encountered in John 5:38-40 (et. al.) and be forever learning and never getting any closer to the Truth (capitalized for emphasis).

I guess what I’m saying is categories can get in the way of understanding, it appears to me from reading some posts.

110 Debbie Kaufman June 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

William: Again. NOOOO! God does not turn anyone away that calls on his name and believes in Jesus. He does not turn anyone away who truly seeks him. But…..He is God. He is not inactive. He is also the one who opens the heart of the one who is seeking him to in fact seek him. He opens the heart to the one calling on his name, to in fact call out his name. He gives the belief required by God to believe to come to Christ. But he doesn’t turn anyone away who is in church. God orchestrates my witnessing to someone from the time of the meeting, to the relationship, to well everything. He is God first and foremost and all is done for His glory.

111 Debbie Kaufman June 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Popcorn verses are not the way to get doctrine. John 3:16 in its proper context. With all of chapter 3, never as a stand alone verse. Also scripture interprets scripture. Always.

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John Testifies Again About Jesus
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[h]

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

112 Mark June 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Jeremy, just so you know even Arminian scholar Roger Olson explains that there is no middle way between Calvinism and Arminianism – Is there a middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism.

113 Christiane June 26, 2011 at 11:44 am

There is a middle way between Thomism and Molinism . . .

114 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Mark,

Sure there is a middle way between the two camps and in fact most Baptists find themselves there. All that one has to do in order to be in that middle ground is to have points of disagreement with both views. The fact is that neither calvinism nor arminianism are perfect because they are man made paradigms. Most Baptists do not completely agree with either camp.

115 Jason June 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Did you read Olson’s article?

116 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Yes I did read the article and totally disagree with his hypothesis. He was somehwhat arbitrary when he decided that the disagreements are only in the areas of U, L and I, and when he ascerted that a perso is classically arminian if they differ with the calvinists in these areas. A person who espouses a belief in eternal security yet doesn’t hold to calvinistic teaching on these stated points is not an arminian. Ultimately both paradigms are flawed because they are human inventions.

117 Jason June 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm

BTW, that wasn’t an accusation…I just didn’t know where you coming from in your disagreements. This last post was very helpful to understand what you are thinking. Thanks.

118 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Thank you Jason, I think if we can all approach these things in a disarming way, like you just did, we’ll have a more productive conversation. I need to do better in that regard.

119 Jim G. June 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Hi John,

A person can believe in eternal security and be a classical Arminian. Arminius himself never committed to the possibility of one losing his/her salvation.

Jim G.

120 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I see your point Jim, but I still believe that Olson was arbitrary in deciding that the differences are only in the U, L, and I as you stated. The way the calvinist/arminian debate has played out among Baptists has been in the formation of the General/Free Will Baptists and the Particular/Unconditional Election Baptists and the rest of us being somewhere in between agreeing and disagreeing with points from both groups.

121 Jim G. June 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Hi John,

Olson covered the U, L, and I. All that is left is T and P. Classical Arminians hold to total depravity in a way very similar to Calvinists, so that is a point of non-contention between classical Arminians and classical Calvinists.

(Now, it is a point of contention between Wesleyan Arminians and classical Calvinists, as Wesleyans hold to the idea of prevenient grace, which is a universal enabler that allows humanity to turn toward God. This grace is a result, in Wesleyan theology, of the work of Christ, which is a safeguard against semi-Pelagianism. I don’t know that prevenient grace is a very common idea among baptists, unless it occurs in explicitly free-will baptists, but I am not familiar with that strand of Baptist thought.)

If T is not a point of contention, the only thing left is P. Eternal security (which most Baptists believe) can be at home in either system. So I agree with Olson that the real disagreements among Baptists are in U, L, and I. Please correct me if I am missing something obvious. It’s getting late and my brain is getting tired.

Jim G.

122 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 12:16 am

Jim G.,

I’m really enjoying this conversation with both you and Jason. The main reason is because of the respectful way you both conduct yourselves.

My mind is getting tired also, but I would love to continue this tomorrow.

123 Jim G. June 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Hi John,

I’m not sure Olson is completely correct, though the way forward I see is not necessarily in the middle but a third way. Olson stated that the three main points of disagreement between classical Calvinism and classical Arminianism are over the conditionality of election, the extent of the atonement, and whether or not grace is resistible (the U, L, and I of the “tulip”). Olson rightly states that Calvinists embrace U, L, and I (unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace) while classical Arminians embrace their negation (conditional election, general atonement, and resistible grace).

Olson’s point is that there is no consistent way to affirm one or two of U, L, or I. One must accept all three or reject all three to remain consistent, according to Olson. I think as long as election remains individual, Olson may well be right. But if we pursue election from a corporate paradigm where Christ is both electing God and elected man (a la Karl Barth and Thomas Torrance), then I think it is possible to consistently affirm U while rejecting L and I.

That might be a way forward in this debate. Time (and persuasion) will tell if it affects the SBC much.

Jim G.

124 Debbie Kaufman June 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I disagree that it is man made. I see it all through scripture. Disagree with me, but calling it man made is old, tiresome, and simply not true.

125 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm

With all due respect Debbie, all theological paradigms are man made, that’s why we must let the scriptures correct the paradigm lest we hold to a theological paradigm more tightly than the scriptures. When we make the mistake that our paradigm is flawless, we then interpret scripture through that filter and ultimately err. If you don’t believe this just challenge someone’s paradigm, whether it be calvinism, arminianism, landmarkism, dispensationalism, or pentecostalism, and you will see people who will fight to maintain the paradigm at all costs. Allowing the Bible to fix our theology is necessary to approaching the scriptures correctly.

126 Lydia June 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Amen, John Wylie.

127 Jason June 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Of course all paradigms reflect the fallenness and fallibility of man. But that does not mean that all human paradigms are wrong.

Moreover, agreement with a human paradigm does not mean that the human paradigm is the reason for the agreement.

Here’s the problem, let’s say you and I reject all labels completely, and let’s say you and I both strive to be as biblical as possible with our theology. How do we then describe our disagreements? We have both approached Scripture correctly. We have both, to the best of our abilities, shrugged off human paradigms. Yet we disagree.

I think blaming any of this on human paradigms has a tendency to be a little bit of a red herring. Most people I know are seeking to believe what the Bible says, first and foremost, not trying to understand a paradigm.

So it leads us to the question we must ask…which understanding (not of a paradigm, but of a theological/biblical teaching) is correct?

128 Jason June 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

So, now applying that to John’s statements…how do we know that people that agree with certain paradigms have not done precisely what he asked and let Scripture dictate their “paradigm”? No one is saying their paradigm is flawless, just right. They believe that because they are convinced it is biblical.

So, as I said, this discussion of paradigms is really a bit off-topic.

The question is: what does the Bible teach? I am convinced that the vast majority of the people here believe what they believe because they are seeking to answer that question. Not because they want to have a “paradigm”. Most are probably like me and believed what they believed long before they had a term for it or a supposed system for it. They just saw it in Scripture and believed it.

129 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Jason,

Thanks for your thoughtful response, but I have to disagree with the discussion on paradigms being off topic because we have been discussing the possiblity that one can find him/herself neither fully espousing the beliefs of calvinism nor arminianism. The reason for this is that no human paradigm is flawless. I disagree with calvinism where it is flawed and I disagree with arminianism where it is flawed.

I’m not questioning the fact that most sincerely want to let the Bible determine their theology. I’m not against labels or categorizing one’s theological viewpoint. However, we can all fall into a scenario where we reject precepts that knock holes in our paradigm. So we must not ever approach the Bible from that paradigm but must accept the Bible as the truth and the filter of all truth.

130 Jason June 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I think we may be agreeing on this, and just talking past each other. I too think most people are willing to reject paradigms where they are flawed. The disagreement is over where or if they are flawed. I guess my area of disagreement with you would be that, just because a human understanding is being discussed does not mean it is wrong, it just means it is not infallible. If that makes sense.

The question is which comes first: the belief or the paradigm? I would not assume people believe something only because a paradigm exists or teaches it.

131 Mark June 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

John, you said:

1) “I disagree with calvinism where it is flawed and I disagree with arminianism where it is flawed.”

And

2) We “must accept the Bible as the truth and the filter of all truth.”

What is your method of arriving at 1 by using 2 without using human paradigms?

132 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Mark,

Thanks for the question. Well, the truth is that we all use human paradigms to some degree, please don’t take this as me trying to say I’m not included in that. I’m not saying we should wholesale reject all paradigms, but rather let the Bible correct them.

My method is actually pretty simple, that is believe the Bible even if it contradicts some aspect of my paradigm. All “isms” have human error and must be constantly adjusted in light of biblical truth.

133 Jason June 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

John,

That’s my point. We are all doing that.

134 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Yes I believe we all try to do that, but when we come to a conclusion that someone cannot be somewhere in between these two frameworks, calvinism and arminianism, we fail to recognize both views are fraut with human error. It is because of these flaws that we can hold to some points of the arminian and some points of the calvinist and thus be somewhere in between those views. I’m saying that because all human frameworks contain error and to say that one must be one or the other is incorrect. I agree with calvinists where they are correct and I agree with arminians where they are correct. I think Olson is wrong in assuming that a person cannot be somewhere in the middle. As I see it that is precisely where the lion’s share of Baptists have been for centuries.

135 John Wylie June 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Jason said…”The question is which comes first: the belief or the paradigm? I would not assume people believe something only because a paradigm exists or teaches it.”

I agree with that statement 100%. I think a paradigm comes into being when people begin to take those beliefs and expand upon them in order to bring them to a logical (albeit human logic) conclusion. Most students, including Bible students, like the security of a framework and so we all go about building those framworks, and the building blocks are those things we came to believe before we were introduced to or created our own paradigm.

For instance, the free grace movement we are seeing today in the Grace Evangelical Society and the Free Grace Alliance was formed around a paradigm that rejects Lordship salvation. It all started with a belief that faith alone in Christ saves, but their conclusions have left something to be desired. Their paradigm has caused them to reinterpret many passages that deal with evidences of salvation, like what’s found in James and 1 John.

136 Don Johnson June 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Jason,

You wouldn’t be a politician on the side. It”s amazing how many different responses one can give to the same question and still not answer the question.

Your last eisegesis will not work either. The text does not say washing “is” regeneration as you claim. The text says washing “of” regeneration. The two statements do not mean the same thing.

The “washing of a shower” does not mean “washing is a shower”. The shower washes something just as regeneration washes something. The question again, what is washed?

137 Jason June 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

First, I’m not sure you know what eisegesis is…in fact, it’s a little ironic considering you are trying to take an outside definition of washing and inserting into the text.

Second, you missed my point entirely. Paul clearly says that we are saved by “the washing of regeneration”. That means, however you define it, we are saved through that washing. You don’t like me saying that the washing IS regeneration, but I think what you can say is that “regeneration’s washing” is the means of salvation. This washing that belongs to regeneration.

Third, I find it funny that you think I am avoiding the issue, but you have not addressed any of my other points on this verse except to ask repeatedly “what is washed”. As I have said before, that is not the question the text asks, and it isn’t the primary issue of the text. You need to deal with the issues the text raises before bringing up periphery issues like the one with which you seem obsessed.

Fourth, I walked through that verse, and I think your view is deficient. No response to that? In reality, if you get the verse wrong, then your question of “what is washed” is irrelevant. I know you feel you proved your view, but I think you are way off. Perhaps that is why you keep coming back to this issue. But you need to prove other points, which you did not do.

Fifth, your inability to understand my answer, or accept my answer, does not mean that I gave different or deficient answers. I have been pretty clear. But for some reason you aren’t getting my point. If you did, you would actually deal with the exegesis of the text and not incessantly ask a secondary question. You must deal with primary issues first…you have not.

138 Don Johnson June 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Jason,

My inability to understand your answer is because it changes with each response you give, so I don’t know which one you actually believe.

You haven’t shown my view to be deficient because you refuse to even mention any of my supporting verses. Nor have you given a single Biblical explanation of why my view is wrong, other than to say that it is. If I’m incorrect on this please give me the post # where you address any of these things. Of course lastly you still will not give a straight answer to my question.

If you don’t believe anything is washed just say so. At least I’d have a starting place with which to work.

139 Jason June 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

Don,

I have said the same thing every time. The washing is regeneration. The person saved is washed.

I don’t know how you can say that I didn’t address any of the verses. The whole discussion has been on your usage of Titus 3. So to say that I have not addressed the issue biblically is simply wrong. I have spent all those posts trying to walk through Titus 3. I have addressed it and your points in a half dozen posts. If there are other passages you mentioned, I would gladly address them, I may have just missed them in the comment stream. (This isn’t the easiest format to keep up with discussion.)

To be clear…I have said that you are asking the wrong question at the wrong time. The passage tells you that the washing saves us. The passage tells you that regeneration is the means by which you have been saved. It does not go into great detail about what is washed other than the person being saved. To skip and ask that question doesn’t deal with the passage fairly. You need to figure out what Titus says FIRST before jumping to a secondary question. Your understanding of Titus is deficient because you made an assumption on timing based on your own view of the logical order, not what Paul wrote to Titus. But I posted that already.

I would love to discuss this more, but maybe it would be better on a comment stream that didn’t have 250+ responses. Then we wouldn’t miss each other’s comments. I would gladly exchange e-mails with you so we can be a lot more precise and not miss each other’s points. In fact that might be the best way to continue this discussion.

140 Mike Leake June 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Sorry to interject…but there is no “of” in the original. Washing and regeneration are genitives. One could just as easily take this as an epexegetical genitive….then it would be saying…”washing which is regeneration”. I’m not saying that is necessarily so but it’s certainly not eisegesis to translate it that way.

141 Jason June 26, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Thank you. I really didn’t want to turn this into a discussion on the greek, but suffice it to say there are several ways to translate it, including the way I did.

142 Don Johnson June 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Mike,

Could you give me the Bible translation you are are refferring to that says “washing which is regeneration”?

143 Mike Leake June 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

I’m not sure that there is one. Most do of…and honestly that is how I would probably translate it. I think it is a genitive of source. So I take it to be washing which comes from regeneration and renewal which comes from the Holy Spirit.

I simply think Paul us picking up Ezekiel 36 language…but we’ve had this discussion before….and judging from your comments to Jason my points weren’t even considered. So I don’t care to enter debate. I only interjected this one comment to say that how you translate a genitive is notvas cut and dry as simply saying “of”

144 Jason June 28, 2011 at 1:10 am

Don,

The text itself gives us insights into this issue. That is why I gave the explanation I did.

I know you think I was being difficult, but I was trying to communicate the logic/argument of the text.

Textually and contextually, I feel that is a valid understanding of the passage. Not just valid, but correct.

145 William June 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Mike Bergman, thank you. Finally, a Calvinist who will give a straightforward answer. Refreshing.

And, in light of your explanation of the love of God, If my original phrasing (“God loving everyone but only some in that special way”) was imprecise, it could be improved by my saying
“God loves all of you in a corporate sort of way, and as a part of humanity in general but I can’t say that God loves any of you in particular. Maybe He does. Maybe He doesn’t.”

I have been informed here that I misunderstand or misrepresent what calvinists believe, that I belittle the same, that I don’t have a clue, that I am meanspirited, use cheap shots, show arrogance and ignorance and haven’t done my homework…and I thought I read in the comment stream that I hate dogs and fried chicken to boot. Oh, what a worm I must be…

…but when it comes down to specifics, the only two items discussed from my original comment have been confirmed by my wonderful calvinist brethren. Perhaps all the ignorance, misrepresentations and all that were about the rest of my stuff.

There is a reason that calvinists and calvinism are and will forever be a small minority in SBC life: at some point they have to be honest about their beliefs outside of seminary classrooms.

146 Jason June 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

“I have been informed here that I misunderstand or misrepresent what calvinists believe, that I belittle the same, that I don’t have a clue, that I am meanspirited, use cheap shots, show arrogance and ignorance and haven’t done my homework…and I thought I read in the comment stream that I hate dogs and fried chicken to boot. Oh, what a worm I must be…”

It is comments like these that demonstrate what was talked about. No one attacked you. No one said you were a bad person. It was simply said that you do not understand the issues you seem to be mocking.

I’m not sure how someone who made the comments you did can be the one on the defensive, but yet here we are.

I am hesitant to even post this because it is clear that you do not think you are belittling with your comments. But you are. Maybe you do get that you are, but you don’t care. I’m not sure.

I think anyone that cares to have honest discussion wouldn’t erect straw men and wouldn’t create caricatures or exaggerations. I would think they would also be slightly apologetic if someone accused them of misrepresentation. Not more indignant.

I’m not sure if you really believe what you write or if you are simply playing a clever game…but either way there is no place for comments like this in the discussion: “at some point they have to be honest about their beliefs outside of seminary classrooms.” Unfair. Uncharitable. Another misrepresentation.

An accusation of lying? Come on, brother.

You can disagree with calvinists all you want…but these types of comments and accusations are uncalled for.

147 Debbie Kaufman June 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I’d put it this way William. God has a special love for those who are His, just as we love our children more than other children. The family is a representation of God just as marriage is a representation of Christ. He loves all, He gives grace to all, rain on the righteous and unrighteous. But God has a special love for his children, those who have Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I think it’s a blessed thing. A good thing. David is described as a man after God’s own heart. When you read that do you think that’s unfair and unGod like too? Yet, it’s in scripture and no other person is described that way. It’s beautiful.

148 Mike Bergman June 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

There is a reason that calvinists and calvinism are and will forever be a small minority in SBC life: at some point they have to be honest about their beliefs outside of seminary classrooms.

I actually don’t go around touting the “c” word unless the conversation warrants it for some reason.

Though soteriologically that’s where my beliefs align. I even pastored a church which had stripped the license from a guy they had licensed b/c after giving it to him he started teaching calvinism. I knew something was up when I met w/ the search committee and one of the first questions out of their mouth was, “What are your views on calvinism?” I replied, “What do you mean? That’s an awfully broad question.” They asked, “What are your views on election.” And I opened my Bible, explained my views, pointed to verses, and when I was done they were like, “Oh, okay, sounds good.”

They did have a particular perception of the “c” word, and if I would have said “I’m a calvinist and I believe in unconditional election” it would have been the end of the interview. But actually laying out what I believe and the biblical support for it, they had zero issue. And I never faced a problem or a critic at that church when it came to the doctrine of salvation.

My position is: I believe the Bible… I believe what I believe because this is what scripture says. So why would I hide it? Of course, the sovereignty of God is my job security. I do my best to open the word, and explain and apply a passage in a way I believe honors that text and the totality of Scripture. And if a church doesn’t like it and wants to run me out of town because of it…oh well. But it hasn’t happened yet, though.

149 Chief Katie June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

William,

I’m late to the conversation but wanted to share with you where my struggle with the Doctrines of Grace led.

I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years. I certainly read through Romans 8 and 9 many times, but I was always troubled by the implications. How could a ‘loving almighty God’ allow anyone to be born only to cast them into hell? I couldn’t argue that God didn’t know the future, of course He does. It’s right there “those whom He foreknew He also predestined”. My immediate reaction every time I read it was that God must be capricious and that made Him a God that didn’t fit my own personal idea what what God is and was. God simply couldn’t be that cruel. I kept on struggling for years and I essesentially avoided these scriptures. Who is this God who would allow people to be born bound for hell? How can we really have a choice? Worse, I considered that God wasn’t real, that I had believed in something that didn’t exist. And then, just when I was about to abandon God, He took me on a journey to find answers. I won’t go into all the details, but in general a crazy man who purported to be a Godly man , but who behaved in a very offensive way led me to learn about the name of Dr. James R. White. One thing led to another and soon I was reading Piper, MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Driscoll and so many more. Sorry, nothing as dramatic as a lightning bolt. I resisted for awhile. The bottom line soon became apparent. I wanted God to fit MY sense of fairness and justice. I put God in a box. I, I, I………….. Who am I to question the motives of the God of the universe? Whatever He does, it is for His glory not mine.

You can certainly believe whatever you wish and I’d not criticize you for it. I don’t hold to the idea that Arminians aren’t saved i.e. elect. I just know that this essential teaching helped me to understand my own part in the Kingdom

God Bless

150 William June 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

Thanks and I appreciate your sharing your journey.

151 William June 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Jason, twice you have put words in my mouth.

“Accusations of lying” above and “saying they aren’t prepared for ministry” something I didn’t say.

But I don’t do victimhood well and hold no ire towards you. I recognize some characteristic calvinist demeanor in all this. May I simply say that my initial comment was TIC but serious to the extent that each of those are taken directly out of what calvinists believe, confirmed in the two instances above. It has been maintained that no calvinist would ever put it that way but I have actually had laypeople report to me almost verbatim these same points.

I will you well.

…and really, bro, I ‘m not sure you have a sense of humor. :)

152 Jason June 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

You said: “at some point they have to be honest”

Was that not an accusation of lying?

The statement seems to say that calvinists are lying and will have to stop lying at some point. Did I read that wrong?

I apologize if I am mistaken, but it appears as an accusation of lying and thus I would not be guilty of putting words in your mouth.

153 William June 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Jason, “Seems to” and “appears” make a pretty thin route to your conclusion that is was an accusation of lying. Let me put it this way: It is sometimes difficult to get calvinists to state plainly some of the things they hold dearly.

But never mind. I apologize for antagonizing you. I wish you well.

Mike, I recommend that every church search committee explore with their prospective pastors the matter of calvinistic beliefs and that very thoroughly. I trust that the calvinist will be forthright about his beliefs to the committee. The answer, ‘I believe the Bible’ is one that we all may make.

Debbie, that’s almost exactly what I said about God’s love in my original piece…to the ire of some here.

God bless you all.

154 Jason June 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I was merely giving you the benefit of the doubt. I thought you might have picked up on that.

No matter…I think people can plainly see from comments such as “at some point they have to be honest” and “It is sometimes difficult to get calvinists to state plainly some of the things they hold dearly” precisely what you are saying.

Play coy if you like….at some point you have to be honest. ;)

155 Jason June 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Might I point out the irony of the comment about people stating things plainly?

So, for the sake of clarity…are you saying that calvinists lie about their positions?

(Here’s a hint: if you say “yes”, it means you accused them of lying.)

156 William June 27, 2011 at 7:43 am

You weren’t giving me the benefit of the doubt…but you aren’t the first calvinist to do that. :)

I have had laypeople on search committees, several instances, tell me that calvinist pastor candidates were not forthcoming in interviews. Witholding pertinent and relevant information is one way to be less than completely honest. Had I desired to say that calvinists are liars, I would have done so but I did not.

Congratulations on discovering the semicolon and close parenthesis. It would have saved you a lot of trouble a few days ago. :)

157 Jason June 28, 2011 at 1:01 am

Funny that you say others are guilty of being less than honest, but you won’t even own up to your own words.
(Hint, they are right above, anyone can read what you wrote.)

I can’t tell if you are purposefully doing all of this or if you really are unaware of what you say and do?

Great, you talk to search committees that say that. This has become the new anti-calvinist bogeyman. I suspect there aren’t a lot of search committees calling you to discuss this issue, and I suspect that most committees do not even know about the issue. But maybe this has truly happened. If it has, then it is unfortunate. We should all be upfront with our beliefs.

But that is neither here nor there for the purpose of my question. You got all defensive when I said that you called calvinists liars, and now you are defending the accusation. So, I guess that clears that up. You did make the accusation.

Let me ask you something….as a pastor, do you use the same double-speak you use here? Same vague generalizations? Same covert accusations? Same mocking tone?

I have to say, the tone of your posts and then the unwillingness to clarify the comments, put me off from the beginning. I truly don’t wish to interact with you in that way.

158 Job June 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm

John 3:16 does says “whosoever believeth in Him.” However, the key is not the “whosoever” but the “believeth.” Belief in God the Son is not generated by man. Instead, true saving belief in God the Son is given only by God the Holy Spirit. True spiritual faith that perseveres to the end (and not carnal faith from which men fall away, see the parable of the sower) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22. We cannot generate such faith with our own free will. It can only come from God.

Or should I say this: provide the verse where it asserts or depicts someone generating their own faith by the power of their own free will. If this were possible, then this faith would be a product of our own virtue, our own inherent righteousness. Then we would be able to boast of our own ability to save ourselves through the belief that we generated ourselves. Our salvation would not be a triumph of the cross, but rather “the triumph of the will.” At best, the purpose of the cross would have been to make the triumph of our own will, the victory of our own fallen human flesh, possible.

159 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Job,

Actually John 3:16 is in the active voice in the Greek which means the subject (whosoever) is the one taking the action (believeth). Yes faith comes from God, because God is the One Who enables someone to believe, but when confronted by the Gospel we must respond by believing. Otherwise all of the times in the book of John that we are called upon to believe (some 98 times) wouldn’t make any sense. Whoever responds by believing has everlasting life.

160 Squirrel June 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Actually, “whosoever” isn’t the best translation of ??? ? ???????? “All who believe” would be better, perhaps. But I’m no Greek scholar, so I’ll shut up now :D

Squirrel

161 Squirrel June 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

No Greek font, eh? pas ho pisteu?n, then. :)

162 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Either translation still makes it plain that in order to be born again one must believe (active voice). Christ gives us the capacity to believe, but we must believe. Also that same text teaches us that people are condemned already because they have not believed, and that the wrath of God abides on them because they have not believed on the Son.

163 Squirrel June 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Agreed. And the faith with which they believe is itself a gift from God (Eph 2:8)

164 Jason June 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

John,

Totally agree.

The question is: does Christ give everyone that capacity to believe?

165 Don Johnson June 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Jason,

Yes, He gives that capacity to believe to everyone.

166 Jason June 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Don,

That’s the disagreement.

This passage speaks nothing of such a thing. Where do you get that idea?

167 Don Johnson June 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Jason,

I did not know I was limited to that one verse.

I got the idea from the Bible.

Acts 5:31 God gives or grants repentance to Israel.

Acts 11:18 God grants repentance to the Gentiles.

Jew and Gentile, I think that covers everyone. Don’t you agree?

168 Jason June 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Don,

I only mentioned that verse because that was the verse under discussion. If we were discussing belief as discussed in that verse, then obviously it is important.

Other that that, of course you can use any verse in Scripture.

Yes, God grants repentance to people. No question. Acts 5:31 says that God gave repentance to Israel. But your contention that he gave it to everyone in Israel would be mistaken. If that is true, the he also gave forgiveness of sins to everyone in Israel, which we know is not true. So that cannot be the meaning of Acts 5:31.

Acts 11:18, again, is not talking about every Gentile receiving repentance. That is obvious. But even if you don’t see that right away, v18 clearly says that the repentance given “leads to life” – it guarantees salvation. Are all Gentiles saved? Certainly not.

Those verses do not say that God gives the capacity to believe to every human being. Not even close.

169 Squirrel June 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I’m not sure if William is ignoring my earlier comment, or if it just got lost in the crowd, so I’ll repeat it here, just in case.

William, I have interacted repeatedly with your comments, yet you have yet to answer my questions at all. Therefore, please respond to these questions or I’m done responding to you. Dialogue goes both ways, y’know.

William, are you an Open Theist? Or do you believe that God knows the future perfectly from eternity past?

• And •

Do I believe that there are people who are not elect? People who will spend eternity in hell? Of course. Don’t you? And do I believe that God knows exactly who those people are? Again, of course. And, again, don’t you?

Squirrel

170 William June 27, 2011 at 8:19 am

Elder Squirrel, I said above (#94) that I was perfectly willing for the purposes of this discussion to stipulate that your views are biblical. I didn’t say it but, conversely, you are welcome to presume that mine are not biblical, that they are rank heresy, or whatever. It is irrelevant. I haven’t made any effort to prove my theology is superior to yours nor have I exerted myself in the slightest in disproving yours.

What I have done is recast, indelicately I admit, a number of calvinist beliefs. So far, some of my wonderful calvinist brethren and sistren here have agreed with me on two of the several components of that.

I love you guys…partly because you revert to what you know and prefer to debate the presumed errors of your theological critics rather than to openly acknowledge the starkness of your own. You don’t have to convince me that you are correct. You and other calvinists have to convince pews full of laypeople, few of whom will buy what you are selling when they grasp it, but that suits the followers of Johannes Calvinus just fine – the few, the beleaguered, the proud, the righteously correct.

But, no, I’m not an open theist and, you bet, there are folks who are going to heaven and others who are not and certainly God knows. But, please, your theology is king here and mine is irrelevant.

[And take my third paragraph as a Monday morning bit of non-serious, edgy humor. Some of my best friends are calvinists. ;)]

171 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

William: I am going to be blunt here. 1. Calvinism is growing, that is a fact. 2. Many do not know the scriptures we give. They have never seen them before. They know John 3:16, the Roman Road, that’s about it. Hopefully that is changing. I am one who teaches Calvinism as I believe it to be what the Bible teaches, but we have both Calvinists and non-Calvinists in our church. Both views are taught. Both views have taught side by side. It’s not necessary to understand either for salvation, it is faith in Christ alone, but it is necessary to know what you believe about God and to further growth. What one believes determines how one views all the rest of scripture and how one lives. I believe it to be very important in growing in Christ.

172 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

I have said this before, but I think it’s important. Both are members of our church in good standing and in the 20 years I have been a member we have not had a split nor a fight that was worth anything, nor have we had a power struggle. None. We love each other and respect each other. I know that sounds pretty perfect, and it is pretty perfect. It can be done. We just refuse to fight each other. We in fact love and learn from each other, and no one is trying to do anything but teach the Bible and push each other to Bible knowledge. (1 Corinthians 1: beginning at verse 9)

173 William June 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

Debbie,
1. I am aware of that.
2. I agree that ignorance does abound. I’m not sure if you mean to say that future growth in Christ depends on understanding calvinism. I wouldn’t agree with that.

I wish I could say that all the calvinists I have known in churches were respectful of non-calvinists. There has been more than a modicum of contempt by my calvinist friends, as in “I was attempting to correct heresy in the church.” It’s anecdotal, I admit, not to be generalized.

174 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I am saying that future growth in Christ depends on a reading, studying and understanding of the Bible. I again am going to be blunt and say of course I would say that it was Calvinism, that is what I believe the Bible teaches. I am strong in that belief enough to teach others, but it takes time to understand through study. Calvinism isn’t a listen and believe type system. It is a study of scripture.

175 Squirrel June 27, 2011 at 9:27 pm

William, you said:

But, no, I’m not an open theist and, you bet, there are folks who are going to heaven and others who are not and certainly God knows.

So, then, since you believe that there are people whom God knows will never repent and trust Christ for salvation, don’t you also preach to people who have no hope?

Squirrel

176 Don Johnson June 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Squirrel,

Are you implying having perfect knowledge of who will not repent, is the samething as making it impossible for one to be able to repent?

177 Christiane June 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm

VERY good teaching question, DON JOHNSON

I once read a rabbi’s argument that challenged people in the same way:
. . . if you saw a child holding an ice-cream cone at a slant and you KNEW that the scoops of ice-cream would be falling soon,
your fore-knowledge is not the same thing as you making the ice-cream to fall off of the cone.

Don, I think you have ‘done your homework’, as you present a form of a CLASSIC question for people to consider on this post.
Bravo !!!

178 Squirrel June 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Don,

That’s really the whole debate in a nutshell, isn’t it? Let’s take the eternal ramifications out of it, and just deal with lunch (yes, lunch) for a minute.

IF God knows perfectly all future events.

And IF God, in His perfect knowledge of future events, God knows that I will eat a ham sandwich for lunch on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.

THEN am I really free to eat a hotdog instead?

Because if God perfectly knows what the future holds, then, in reality, that future is already fixed. Now, the question that arises should be; How does God know the future?

The Calvinist believes that God knows the future because He had decreed the future, and He omnipotently makes the future He has decreed come to pass. Most Arminians I have heard seem to use some variation on “God looks down through the corridors of time, and sees who/what/when etc.”

And then there are the Open Theists, who believe that the future is not fixed, and that God doesn’t know the future because it hasn’t happened yet.

In my opinion, only the God of Calvinism is absolutely sovereign. The God who “looks down the corridors of time” is still reacting to others, and must conform Himself to their choices and actions, when, in fact, it is we humans who must conform to God’s sovereign will & decrees.

Squirrel

179 Mark June 27, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Don, would you agree that if God has perfect knowledge that person A will never repent then it is a fact that person A will never repent? (Note: I am not asking about causation.)

180 Don Johnson June 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Squirrel,

Does God decree everything that comes to pass?

181 Squirrel June 28, 2011 at 12:16 am

I’m tired, and have a busy week ahead, so, just one verse…

Daniel 4:35 NASB “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

Squirrel

182 William June 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Elder Squirrel, I know you guys revert to form on this but I’ve already said you may safely label me a heretic or whatever…but, sure, I preach to people who will never be saved. I just wouldn’t say that some of them will go to hell because God has said “nope” and left them without hope. You may not say that either, but you believe that.

183 Squirrel June 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Yes, William, I believe that God mercies whom He wills, and God hardens whom He wills, because salvation does not depend of man’s will or man’s effort but on God. And I teach that from the pulpit. Because it’s in the Bible. I do not preach to please men, but to please God.

Squirrel

184 Job June 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm

“but when confronted by the Gospel we must respond by believing”

Where did I say that such is not the case?

“Otherwise all of the times in the book of John that we are called upon to believe (some 98 times) wouldn’t make any sense. ”

I disagree thoroughly. Explain to me why you believe that it is so.

Jesus Christ called upon everyone to believe. Did everyone do so? Of course not. Not even Judas Iscariot did so. So, did the exhortation to believe that Jesus Christ gave to Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus Christ referred to as “a devil” and “the son of perdition” not make any sense?

Jesus Christ called upon everyone to believe, but not everyone had faith given by the Holy Spirit so that they WOULD believe. You are making the assumption that calling on everyone to believe means that everyone has the ability to generate their own true spiritual belief that will endure to the end. I still say that the scriptural texts asserting such to be the case are lacking. If such texts existed, I would believe them. Judas Iscariot lacked the ability to will himself into believe that would persevere until the end. If he had such ability, he would have done so. For Judas Iscariot saw all the miracles. Judas Iscariot was among those who were sent out two by two, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, who WORKED miracles. Judas Iscariot heard everything that Jesus Christ said about those who did not receive Him would not receive God the Father, and that such people would spend an eternity in hell fire, where the worm never dies, in outer darkness where there will be gnashing of teeth. And yet Judas Iscariot STILL did not believe.

The Sanhedrin also did not believe. They KNEW that Jesus Christ said that He would rise in three days. They KNEW that Jesus Christ DID rise in three days. They KNEW that it was GOD who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Yet what did they do? They cooked up a conspiracy to pretend that Jesus Christ’s followers stole the body, and they used persecution, imprisonment and murder to try to suppress Jesus Christ’s followers from preaching that He rose from the dead DESPITE KNOWING THAT HE DID RISE FROM THE DEAD.

Judas Iscariot had knowledge. The Sanhedrin had knowledge. But what they did not have was faith. And they did not have faith because the Holy Spirit did not give it to them. Judas Iscariot and the Sanhedrin were called. But they were not chosen. For indeed, many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 20:16, Matthew 22:14). And it is only those chosen that receive faith from the Holy Spirit. And it is only those who receive faith from the Holy Spirit that are saved.

John 3:16 does not oppose or negate this. Instead, those texts are needed to place John 3:16 in their proper context.

185 Christiane June 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Look for the ‘sign’ of an elect person: HUMILITY

“The Lord does not reveal Himself to proud souls. The proud soul, even if it has read all the books, will never understand the Lord, for in its pride it does not allow any room for the grace of the Holy Spirit, and God is only experienced through the Holy Spirit. Pride does not allow the soul to enter on the path of faith.” (from the Orthodox teachings on ‘humility’)

“29 And there shall come from the east and the west and the north and the south: and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, they are last that shall be first: and they are first that shall be last.”
( from the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 13)

186 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

What about the active voice in the Greek? The whosoever do the believing in John 3:16. A person becomes born again by believing. That’s the context of John 3.

187 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

The context of John 3 is “By grace are ye saved and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8&9.

188 John Wylie June 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm

No they did not have faith because they refused to believe. Christ at the Cross drew all men unto Himself, meaning He has enabled anyone who will to believe. Judas, the Sanhedrin and anyone else you might choose to name, were condemned because they consciously rejected Christ and refused to believe on Him.

189 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

Correct, but they did not believe because God did not give them the gift of belief.

190 Dr. James Willingham June 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm

How come TULIP is the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the theology of the launching of the Great Century of Missions? Personally, I find that these doctrines are all invitations, designed to produce humility in the sinner being saved and encompassing far more souls than the usual Arminian and middle ground theologies. From the old Limited Atonement man himself, John Owen, how about a infinite value in the blood of Christ sufficient for a 1000 worlds. After all God is going to have do something to get the numbers of the redeemed in eternity up to thepoint where no one can number them. The idea of a 1000 generations (I Chrons.16:15) (and the Lord is not noted for wasting his breath) allows for 20,000 years, if you allow just 20 years per generation. Why not plead the promises pleaded by William Carey and Andrew Fuller in Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt (about a 100 of them) for a Third GreatAwakening that will begin in this generation and continue for a 1000 generations. Since I began pleading these promises, Sovereign Grace believers and groups and churches seem to be springing up all over the place. And the devil must be getting nervous about the possiblity of losses to his kingdom, so we have the rise of militant Islam in our midst as well as an attempt to shove socialism and governmental control over every individual down our throats along with many other evils too numerous to mention here. The antichrist just about has control of our government, while believers do not pray. I note that every Sunday our church failed to have the Sunday afternoon prayer meeting at 5:30 then that week the forces of evil made a great advance. Father’s day, no meeting, and the victory in the New York for Sodomites. I now wish I had been keeping a journal, because it grew on me that there were about three ofr four things occurred for the last number of Sundays where prayer meetings were not held.

My prayer is for the heavenly presence to come down upon our churches, communities, nations, and the whole earth (Drop down ye Heavens, Isa.45:8) (also the model prayer, Your kingdom come (the kigndom of heaven, your will be done (on earth under these circumstances, just like in Heaven where no sin is)). It could be that it will occur under the most adverse of conditions and circumstances, the hour that shall try the whole earth (Rev.3:10)/ But pleading the promises will bring God’s power, indeed, it is bringing His blessings.

191 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

After reading this thread with interest, I have a sincere question, though it is a difficult one. First, a little explanation.

Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that salvation is ultimately based in the love and goodness of God. God’s choice of who is saved (be it unconditional for the Calvinist and conditional for the non-Calvinist) freely and completely flows from the love of God as he is in eternity – Father, Son, and Spirit. I think all of us on this board can agree with this paragraph in principle.

My question is this: where does the rejection of some people (or passing over if you prefer, the outcome is the same) come from? If salvation by God’s gracious election is rooted in the eternal love of the triune God, where does his rejection of some come from? What in God causes him to reject these people? Remember, if election is unconditional, then it matters not what the reprobate have done; they are passed over by the free choice of God. Our deeds do not cause our reprobation. Our deeds may confirm it, but they certainly do not cause it.

That is why I don’t think we can answer this question by appealing to sin as that which ultimately condemn the reprobate. Unconditional election is a decree from eternity past. Sin did not exist in eternity past. Sin has a temporal beginning and will have an ending. The reprobate living today was already fully condemned when God built Adam out of the dust of the ground. I really cannot see how sin condemns him at all. I doubt there are many supralapsarians reading this, but supralapsarianism logically orders the decrees so that God chooses the elect before permitting the fall. This was the position of T. Beza, whom I believe was well-critiqued by Arminius.

I fear that ascribing some kind of unconditional individual eternal rejection to God may necessarily imply a real split in the triune God. I fear it would imply that rejection is as much a part of his nature as love, implying that it is quite possible for the Father, say, to dislike something about the Son. I don’t see a way around that pitfall at this time, but I welcome your thoughts.

Jim G.

192 Squirrel June 27, 2011 at 12:41 am

Jim, I can only answer with Paul’s words from Romans 9:

Romans 9:18-24 NASB

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (19) You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” (20) On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? (21) Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (22) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, (24) even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

He is God Almighty. He does as He wills. That’s what being sovereign means. I’m quite okay with Him being God and me not being God, therefore I can accept that there are things I will not fully grasp while on this earth.

And, with that, I’m off to bed. Jury duty in the morning.

Squirrel

193 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

Thanks Squirrel,

I don’t think you got completely to the heart of my question, but I appreciate what you wrote. I understand that we are not God and that there are lots of things we cannot possibly know now.

We can appeal to Romans 9 here, but I don’t know that it helps us with “faith seeking understanding.” I really hope my logic above is NOT correct. Because if it is, then unconditional individual election has a very nasty side effect, which cannot help but come back and bite us somewhere else (the question of assurance, trust that God is who he says he is, the full deity of Christ, and a few others off the top of my head). I’m not being accusatory or intentionally misrepresenting. I’m working on trying to think it all through.

Jim G.

194 Chase June 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Jim,

Because if it is, then unconditional individual election has a very nasty side effect, which cannot help but come back and bite us somewhere else (the question of assurance…

It seems to me that the doctrines of grace preclude any assurance of salvation. Consider the problem of apostates. By perseverance of the saints, if one apostatizes, such a person was never saved in the first place, for if they were saved they would have persevered. Such people were predestined to feel that they had faith, join the church, pray, etc., but in reality they were deceiving themselves. The problem is, how can anyone know that they are not one of these people, reprobate and predestined to deception? There is no way for anyone to know if their “faith” is real. And if one is indeed predestined to apostasy, there is nothing that such people could do about it anyway. The only assurance possible is a hope that we were lucky enough to win God’s cosmic lottery; the odds look slim, though (Mt. 7.13-14; 22.14).

195 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hi Chase,

I agree that assurance is incompatible with the historic doctrine of perseverance as taught by (mostly Presbyterian) Calvinists. Baptists have tended to replace perseverance with “preservation” (eternal security). In that way, Baptists are modifying the doctrine to allow for the possibility of assurance. Presbyterians certainly do not make this modification.

Even Calvin himself taught that God would cloud the mind of the non-elect who became part of the congregation, deluding them into thinking they were actually elect, that they would be all the more damned (if that is even possible) in eternity. All high Calvinism has to offer for assurance is that your works tend to show that you might be elect. But there is always an outside chance (from within the system) that God is bringing a delusion upon you.

Assurance is, in my view, completely incompatible with unconditional individual election. Those who are to be saved (elected unconditionally, atoned for, and irresistibly regenerated) can never know for sure that it happened to them because we cannot understand the mind of God, so the best one can do is hope (as you said). There is no concrete foundation upon which one can actually anchor his faith and know that God loves him enough to save him.

Jim G.

196 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Jim: 1. There is no such thing as “high Calvinism”. There is hyper-Calvinism, but it has nothing to do with anyone here. 2. I read your last part of this comment and wonder what in the world are you talking about. The Bible says that if we are truly saved we will never leave the faith. Never. We may for a season, but we will always come back. 2. The Bible says that God’s Spirit agrees with our spirit in Salvation. We know. Deep down inside we know.

197 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

We also will struggle with temptations. No one is perfect in this life. People struggle with sin; alcoholism, sex, etc.

The difference between a believer and a non-believer isn’t that we don’t struggle and fail in sin, but that we ask God for forgiveness. We hate our sin.

198 Chase June 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Debby,

The Bible says that God’s Spirit agrees with our spirit in Salvation. We know. Deep down inside we know.

So your assurance reduces to a subjective feeling that you are elect? How do you know that you have not been reprobated, and that God has predestined you to feel this way, to warrant yourself further condemnation? How do you know you have not been predestined to apostatize next week, or in several years? You cannot appeal to God’s character, for in your system such situations are possible, and perhaps common.

199 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Debbie,

Wow…no such thing as “high Calvinism??????”

Google “high Calvinism” and see what you find.

Again, a great example of misreading me. If you are going to comment, please pay attention. Don’t “drive by.”

Jim G.

200 Frank L. June 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

“”The Bible says that if we are truly saved we will never leave the faith. Never. We may for a season, but we will always come back.”"

Where does the Bible say this? Or, is it your interpretation of from several places in the Bible? I don’t know of any passage that teaches that a person has or can “leave the faith for a season and come back.”

I’d be open if you can show me a passage that says such.

What I suspect will happen is you will choose a passage (more than likely several passages) and say, “See, the Bible clearly supports my point of view” (meaning my Calvinistic view).

What likely will happen is someone else will take those same verses, or a set of verses, and say, “No, I see that as saying . . .”

Then, you will respond something like: “I’ll be blunt. I’m just quoting Scripture, and you are taking it out of context.”

Net, result, the person will feel like they have just wrestled with the tar baby.

I fully understand Jim G.’s frustration. Like Jim, I often struggle to see exactly what God is saying. For what it is worth, I think Jim has asked some very good questions and is seeking understanding much more than seeking to win an argument.

He has certainly given me much to think about.

201 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Chase: Yes.

202 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Frank: The prodigal son would be a good place to begin.

203 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Chase: “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, ” Hebrews 6:11

5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5

204 Chase June 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Debbie,

I realize that the Bible states that we can indeed have assurance. The problem is that assurance is not possible within Calvinism. Anything which might count towards assurance could simply be God predestining us to deception; and it is not possible to trust in the goodness of God’s character in this situation, because we cannot know whether we are of the elect. The two (assurance and Calvinism) cannot be reconciled in any meaningful way. So either the Bible is wrong regarding the possibility of assurance, or we must interpret God’s sovereignty in salvation in a different way.

205 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Chase: You are wrong and I have shown where you are wrong. There is assurance in Calvinism, there is however no room for false conversions.

206 Chase June 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Debbie,

The only thing that you have told me is that some people have a feeling, which they think is from the Holy Spirit, that tells them they are saved. You have given no reason for anyone to trust this feeling, given that in your system God actively deceives some of the reprobate into thinking they are saved.

207 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 2:13 am

Chase: I think this is why our church gets along with both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Neither view is misrepresented. I told you more than your comment says. Salvation is through Christ alone. We have faith in Christ alone and not anything else for our salvation, one is truly saved. This is known because The Holy Spirit agrees with our Spirit. We know. We also begin to see changes in ourselves that is only done through the power of the Holy Spirit. We know we are saved. No doubt. This is scripture and it’s in us.

208 Chase June 28, 2011 at 3:43 am

Debbie,

We have reached an impasse. I hope that you will further consider the issues that Jim and I have raised, though.

209 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 6:33 am

Chase: When you and Jim G can both listen and represent what I believe properly, we can talk otherwise we are at an impasse. To build a straw man and then argue against that straw man is something I won’t deal with.

210 Chase June 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Debbie,

I think I understand your problem now. I am not dealing with what you believe, but the logical conclusions of what you believe. You can claim that you believe in assurance, but if the possibility of assurance reduces to nonsense given the rest of your theology, then you are either wrong on assurance, or wrong on something else. The fact that Calvinists claim assurance is possible, does not mean that assurance is actually possible within Calvinism.

You have given no real answers to any of my questions, other than, “I just know,” which of course is no answer. So please, if I’m actually misrepresenting you, let me know how.

211 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

“O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33).

JimG: No one can answer that question. God is God and does as He pleases. End of story. We are told to give the Gospel to every creation. We are burdened for all to be saved. There is a human side of looking at salvation and a divine side. God is not inactive in salvation. He doesn’t sit up in heaven wringing his hands on who will come to belief in Christ and who doesn’t. I don’t know why He does not save some anymore than I know when Christ is coming back again. I just know both to be true because the Bible teaches it.

212 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hi Debbie,

I don’t think you really got the point of my question, either. Of course I agree that God is God and I am not questioning that. I’m questioning whether our ideas about God (i.e. the traditional Calvinist understanding of unconditional individual election to salvation and its twin doctrine of reprobation) are consistent with what the rest divine revelation seems to teach. That is the issue I am raising.

I am not questioning God. I am questioning human reflection about God and the systems we create to try to add understanding to our faith. These systems, since they are created by us, are imperfect and flawed. If the system becomes too flawed, then the system needs some tinkering or replacing. I have raised an issue with the system, not with God. I have raised an issue with our understanding of divine revelation, not revelation itself. We need to be able to separate the God whom we worship and the system we devise to understand him better.

Jim G.

213 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

1. I don’t agree that they are created by us. The Bible passages are clear. 2. Of course I believe it is more than compatible with the divine revelation given us. No question in my mind about that.

214 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Hi Debbie,

Of course theological reflection is a human creation. Theological reflection is based upon OUR interpretation of the Scriptures. The Bible is an infallible, authoritative work of God. Our understanding, on the other hand, is limited by a whole host of things, not the least of which includes our own sinful tendencies and our finite understanding. Theological reflection is a limited enterprise of our own thoughts about divine revelation. We can believe that our reflections closely approximate the way things are, but that’s the best we can do.

Saying “The Bible passages are clear” at this stage of the discussion is a bit naive, don’t you think? If the Bible was so universally clear on these points, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we? I think that you believe your interpretation to be clear and that is fine. But this disagreement over clarity and interpretation goes back hundreds of years. It is new neither to Baptist life nor to Protestantism in general. Honest, sincere, faithful, and intelligent people have disagreed on this issue and I don’t think it can be dismissed so easily. I think I have raised a troubling issue with the traditional Calvinist understanding of unconditional election. Is it troubling enough to force us to rethink the way we teach unconditional election? In my mind, it is. But I would like to see if I am incorrect in that view.

Jim G.

215 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Jim G: Again, I am going to be blunt. That is a cop out and not true. Each of us has the Holy Spirit who when we sincerely study the Bible gives us the proper interpretation. This is not a read it and get it process, neither is it overnight. But it’s simply not true to say that it is human in invention and we can’t understand the Bible. I do not believe that or God is a liar when he says “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

216 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Hi Blunt Debbie,

Let’s just drop it. You are not hearing what I am saying, anyway. I never said we could not understand the Bible, nor am I copping out, so don’t put words in my mouth. We do not have an infallible understanding, nor a complete understanding. I would hope at least you would agree with that. Speaking for myself, there is a possibility that I might be wrong on some things. And so might you.

Jim G.

217 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Jim: This is going to shock you, but we can have a near infallible understanding of scripture.

218 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm

And I understood what you are saying. I’m just not in agreement through scripture and the Holy Spirit in us.

219 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm

As for their being a “high” Calvinism, even Google makes mistakes, there is no such bird.

220 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Hi Debbie,

I sure hope your comment immediately above (about there being “no such bird” as high Calvinism) is in jest. If not, well, …

Jim G.

221 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

“As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed” (Acts 13:48).

222 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

The story of the raising of Lazarus is more than Christ raising Lazarus from the dead, it’s the picture of salvation and Christ’s active involvement in it.

223 Christiane June 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I have always loved the picture of Lazarus ‘coming forth’ from his tomb . . . still bound in his wrappings which were then removed by those who loved him

still bound, so that we would KNOW that he did not ‘come forth’ by his power

224 Christiane June 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm

correction:

still bound, so that we would KNOW that he did not ‘come forth’ by his OWN power

225 Frank L. June 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

“”even Google makes mistakes, there is no such bird.”"

How high-minded can one get. One is smarter than the collective wisdom of the Internet!

“Supralapsarianism” also called, “high Calvinism.” From “supra” meaning “high, above, or before” and “lapsus” meaning “fall.” As opposed to infra (below, after) plus lapsus, or “infralapsarianism” also referred to as “low Calvinism.”

This is in addition to the idea of “hyper-Calvinism” that came through Particular Baptists of the 18th Century that deals with the denial of the gospel call for every person to “believe and repent.” This is a minority view rejected by most people who claim to be Calvinist (whether supralapsarian or infralapsarian).

So, I don’t know if “high Calvinism” is a “bird” as one commenter suggests, but I do know there is such a thing. But, I’d hate to see facts derail a perfectly meanderous discussion.

226 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Hi Frank,

I really don’t want my original question to get derailed by the rather pointless discussion above. I appreciated your comments on my thread, and I think mine is a legitimate question. None of our theological reflections are above scrutiny. If we cannot live with the rather direct implications of unconditional individual election, we need to either tweak it or scrap it. I vote for tweak, myself. But I think it is something traditional Calvinism (there is no such thing as “high Calvinism,” despite them internets) will have to deal with. I hope they will deal with it, rather than just quoting more Scripture in the hopes it will prooftext all the troubles away.

Jim G.

227 Frank L. June 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Jim,

I believe you are correct in your approach. I am not of “calvinist” of any kind I can identify, without some “tweaking.”

That is probably the case with just about all theology. There are always thorny issues to be resolved. That seems to be the nature of truth in general.

In Christian discussions, the Scripture is never the “final” word in the sense that one side nails it and the other side is out in left field. When I talk theology with my buddies (the real ones that actually have faces versus the blogosphere), my hope is that they will help me “tweak” my theology toward an understanding that honors and glorifies the Lord.

I have concluded that most of the “Calvinists” I’ve seen post are in at least some ways more calvinist than Calvin.

228 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 1:12 am

Hi Frank,

It’s funny that you would mention that about Calvin. I don’t think he would be a Calvinist. He was a bit inconsistent in his views on perseverance, believing assurance to be possible and even vital (his “delusional pseudo-faith” doctrine notwithstanding). Many Calvin scholars believe he did not teach limited atonement. If one believes in general atonement, it is hard to hold irresistible grace and unconditional election together. So, at best, JC may have been a 3 1/2 pointer, at worst maybe even a 1-pointer with some qualifications. I certainly don’t think he would be a Calvinist of the Dabney/Boettner/Turretin persuasion.

Jim G.

229 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

As I said Frank….there is no such bird. And it is not hard to be more knowledgeable than the internet.

230 Squirrel June 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Sorry, Debbie, but Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You, and one of the best historical theologians I know of, wrote:

Supralapsarianism is sometimes called “high” Calvinism, and its most extreme adherents tend to reject the notion that God has any degree of sincere goodwill or meaningful compassion toward the non-elect. Historically, a minority of Calvinists have held this view.

“High Calvinism” is a bit of an archaic term, and few use it these days, but Frank is essentially correct in his definition of it.

Squirrel

231 Squirrel June 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm

And, by the way, I lean towards the “High” Calvinist side. But, honestly, the lapsarian issue will never be settled, and is not really worth debating. It’s one of those “secret things” that belong to the Lord

Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

Squirrel

232 Frank L. June 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm

“”And it is not hard to be more knowledgeable than the internet.”"

Incredible!

233 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Frank: In the last twenty years I have read a lot of Reformed writings. It is not referred to as “high” but infra and supra. I am very well aware of the infra/supra debate. And it is a debate that has no end. It really doesn’t matter.

234 Debbie Kaufman June 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Frank: It’s the internet for crying out loud. Get over it.

235 Frank L. June 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm

What I think I’ll get over, Debbie, is trying to have anything like a conversation with you.

For one: your just too smart. For two: you are just annoying.

236 Jim G. June 27, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I’m waiting for an apology, Debbie. You called me out over high Calvinism above (telling me there was no such thing) AND you high-jacked my thread.

I find it absolutely incredible that in 20 years’ worth of reading Reformed writings, you never came across the term “high Calvinism,” especially since the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were saturated with it. That was the traditional way to separate the supras from the infras. Beza and Gomarus were two of the most important high Calvinists of the era.

In addition, everything Chase said about assurance was right on the money. In traditional 5-point Calvinism, the elect persevere, but there is no way to be assured of one’s election. A subjective appeal as you made COULD be the result of a false faith God gives to the non-elect to damn them all the more. Calvin himself said this over and over. In the end, there is nothing concrete to base one’s assurance of salvation. No one can know he/she is elect. That is why Reformed Baptists modified perseverance into preservation. If you have spent 20 years reading Reformed literature, you should know this. It’s not a secret. It’s common knowledge. A 5-point Calvinist can claim without hesitation that Jesus died for the elect. What a 5-point Calvinist cannot claim so easily is that Jesus died for him. He cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is one of the elect. He can only hope.

I’m glad you believe in assurance. So do I, albeit for different reasons. But you need to see that claiming real assurance veers you off of the historical Calvinist path.

Jim G.

237 Jeff Musgrave June 28, 2011 at 12:44 am

Jim,
I imagine this might be a little off-topic, but I wanted to thank you for this particular comment as it helped me make sense of a part of a discussion I had quite some time ago with a former Calvinist turned Lutheran. He has found comfort in having “assurance” via his baptism in Lutheran doctrine and this explains his mindset a little better for me.

238 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 1:06 am

You are welcome, Jeff. Calvin (who is not always consistent in his writings) believed assurance was possible, but was later chastised by Puritans and Presbyterians alike for believing it. True assurance for a consistent 5-pointer is next to impossible, though, because unconditional, individual election is a secret work of God. As I said above, I think a direct implication of this doctrine is that there is an element of rejection inherent to the Godhead. That is a serious charge, but I can’t see a way around it at the moment.

Jim G.

239 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 2:04 am

Here is an article by Theodore Beza promptly entitled Supralapsarianism: The Rise and Fall of Man. No mention of the words high and low here.

http://www.constitution.org/primarysources/beza.html

To say that Calvinism teaches one cannot have assurance is simply not true. Also God does not work in secret, that is something that is not taught either from Calvin or Calvinist. If one strays from the faith, if there is no change in thought or deed ever, that person is not a true born again Christian. That is taught. Christ works from the inside out and never leaves a person where they are. That is perseverence of the Saints. Perseverence of the Saints is the fruit of a true born again believer. No fruit, not a true born again Believer.

240 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

Hi Debbie,

This is my last reply to you. You are acting in a very immature manner over refusing to believe that people have utilized the term “high Calvinism” just because you hadn’t heard of it. By continuing this type of behavior, you are losing what credibility you have left. Both Squirrel (who shares Calvinism with you) and Frank tried gently to help you out, but you pridefully refuse to listen.

Instead of just admitting that high Calvinism is a synonym for supralapsarianism and letting it go, you continue to rant on, claiming the term does not exist. Furthermore, you have accused both Chase and me of erecting straw men to attack your beliefs. If you have been reading Reformed works over the past twenty years, I am surprised you have not come across the Southern Presbyterian R. L. Dabney’s critique of Calvin (and Luther for that matter) saying that assurance of faith is not possible. I am surprised you have not interacted with the entire Puritan strand of Calvinism that denies the knowledge of assurance.

The fact is this: one cannot remain a consistent (that is the key word – consistent) five-point Calvinist and hold to assurance. I am glad you have assurance. But having assurance shows your Calvinism is inconsistent, which is okay. But to accuse Chase and me of erecting straw men is not what happened. You don’t want to face the pitfalls inherent in your own tradition. You don’t want to admit the obvious – that Calvinism (and every other system of theology) is the result of human reflection upon divine revelation. Until you show some maturity and some ethics in your blogging, and quite frankly until you repent of accusing me of being untruthful and erecting straw men, please do not engage my posts. I will respectfully not engage yours either.

Jim G.

241 Debbie Kaufman June 29, 2011 at 12:03 am

Now for the Greek word, get the translation out. Bologna Jim.

242 Lydia June 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Guess I should stop using the Greek translator on the internet since I am more knowledgable. :o)

Debbie, “Supra” is Latin for “above” which is also translated as “high”.

243 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 1:13 am

Lydia: If you will read any and I do mean any writings on the subject from reformed writers of any time period on this subject, which I have read and for many years, these are the views of not simply high and low as you put it and which I say are non-existant but supralapsarian and infralapsarian. The proper translation is above and below.

244 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

I am Calvinist, yet non-Calvinists attempt to define my view with something they seem to know nothing about. Sorry if that gets into my craw. I contend their is no such thing as a high and a low Calvinist. Tell that to most if not all Reformed believers and you are going to get a blank stare. Infra or Supra will get a response.

245 Frank L. June 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Actually it is before and after in this context. The Latin supports both. In fact my Latin students had to do an essay on the use of “supra” in supralapsarianism.

246 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

Your Greek translator wouldn’t do much good Lydia. Infra and supra are Latin.

247 Debbie Kaufman June 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

I’m kidding. :)

248 Lydia June 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I made the statement that Supra was Greek?.

I was referring to your comment about the ignorance of the collective internet and thinking of the Greek translator I use quite a bit.

If you go back and look, they were 2 seperate comments. :o)

Retract those claws, dearest. it looks “hard and bitter” (wink)

249 Debbie Kaufman June 29, 2011 at 12:19 am

Lydia: It was a joke. I knew you would jump on it so I did clarify myself which I should have done when I said it. It’s really no big deal.

250 Joe Blackmon June 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

No, actually, it wasn’t a joke. You were in such a tizzy and falling all over yourself in such a rush to get to the keyboard to defend your beloved Calvinism that you only halfway read what she wrote. Then, after putting up your snarky comment, you read what she wrote and said “Oops, this is going to make me look foolish. I know, I’ll just say it was a joke. Everybody’ll buy that. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

251 Debbie Kaufman June 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

Lydia and Jim: We are going to disagree. I do not agree.High Calvinism is just another label that has nothing to do with the definition of the two views. None whatsoever. One is either infra In fact the two views have nothing to do with the words high and low. Supralapsarianism,” and infralapsarianism have to do with the logical order of God’s decrees for salvation. So to argue high, low, middle, upside down and round and round is ridiculous as it has nothing to do with either view.

252 Joe Blackmon June 29, 2011 at 8:43 am

Really? That’s funny, because when I did a Google search (or as you would call it “research”, snicker) I found A LOT of stuff using the terms high and low Calvinism.

Within scholastic Calvinist theology, there are two schools of thought over when and whom God predestined: supralapsarianism (from the Latin: supra, “above”, here meaning “before” + lapsus, “fall”) and infralapsarianism (from the Latin: infra, “beneath”, here meaning “after” + lapsus, “fall”). The former view, sometimes called “high Calvinism”, argues that the Fall occurred partly to facilitate God’s purpose to choose some individuals for salvation and some for damnation. Infralapsarianism, sometimes called “low Calvinism”, is the position that, while the Fall was indeed planned, it was not planned with reference to who would be saved.

Someone with character and integrity would just man up and admit they were wrong. And with that hairy upper lip of yours, I would think it would be easy for you to “man up”.

253 Debbie Kaufman June 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

Joe: You are absolutely right. I too did a Google search which I should have done in the beginning but didn’t as I though High and Low Calvinism sounded derogatory and I didn’t want to read derogatory remarks. Of course that happens here doesn’t it? I have always read the words infra or supra to describe either view.

I also agree with you that I was so full of myself and the knowledge I have of Calvinism that this was a blind spot with me. I didn’t listen nor did I try to find out for myself, I was so sure I was right on this. I wasn’t. As for my remark to Lydia, it was a joke. I didn’t say it the first time because I thought it obvious, but later thought I should clarify it. But being full of oneself as I was on this topic shows why we never debate Calvinism at our church, we present both sides respectfully. That is not what I have done here. For once I agree with all you have said Joe and it’s a achilles heel of mine that I truly didn’t realize I had till now, even if I don’t want to admit it.

254 Debbie Kaufman June 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

Sometimes I hate the internet, it causes one to be as Paul said :

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. “

255 Lydia June 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

Debbie, It was really no big deal. I am dabbling in Latin (dangerous, I know) with my daughter to prepare her for a new school and was excited that I recognized something. :o)

I did not realize it would offend you.

256 Don Johnson June 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Jason,

It’s true all Israel and all Gentiles will not repent and receive forgiveness of sins, but that does not mean it’s not available for all.

God gave manna for all Israel, but if they were to avail themselves to it, they had to go and collect it. God also makes salvation available to all Israel (and Gentiles) by simple faith in the Gospel.

The reason the Gospel is to be proclaimed to all is not because we don’t know who the “elect” are, but because it is in actuality good news. Therefore, it is to be proclaimed to every creature, because Christ died for all.

257 Jason June 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

Don,

The problem is that you cited those verses and they don’t say what you said they said. They did not prove your point, in fact they worked against it. If we fleshed it out, they REALLY work against it.

Now, you are asserting something new…but those verses don’t say that either. Acts 5:31 does not talk of capacity to believe, but belief itself. Belief and forgiveness was given to Israel. I will refrain from a discussion of the meaning of “all”. It does not say anything about simply the ability to believe, that is reading your theology into that text. Acts 11:18 says that God gave repentance that leads to life…not just the ability to repent, but repentance that leads to life. Effectual repentance, if you will. This was an after the fact observation of Gentiles who had been saved, they recognized the only way they could believe was for God to give them repentance. That statement would mean nothing if God gave everyone repentance.

All I am asking is for the scriptural proof that God gives the “capacity to believe” to every human being. I have yet to see it.

258 Chase June 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

Scripture commonly used to support prevenient grace:

John 1.9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

John 6.44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

John 16:7-8 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,

259 Jason June 28, 2011 at 1:22 am

Well, we can add those 5 verse to the previous 2 as verses that though used to assert prevenient grace, do not actually teach it.

None of those verse teach that God gives every single human the ability/capacity to believe.

260 Chase June 28, 2011 at 1:40 am

Whether or not one reads those verses as teaching prevenient grace is determined by one’s starting presuppositions. The same is true of every Arminian or Calvinist doctrine. We choose our “clear” verses to start with, and then read our interpretation of these verses into the “problem” verses.

261 Jason June 28, 2011 at 1:53 am

Yeah, that’s true. But I don’t see how those verses are “clearly” teaching prevenient grace. Those verse speak of actions done by Christ, but they do not speak to every human having been given the capacity to believe.

If those are the “clear”, I am curious what would be considered “unclear”.

Correct me if I am wrong.

262 Chase June 28, 2011 at 2:01 am

I hate to proof-text like this, but here is a simple argument from the verses I cited.

It is impossible for man to come to God unless drawn by God (Jn 6.44). All men are drawn by God (Jn. 12.32), therefore all men are capable of coming to God. This is confirmed by Titus 2.11, as God’s grace brings salvation to all (universalism precluded by man’s acceptance or rejection of salvation).

I think that’s fairly clear, given Arminian presuppositions. But perhaps “all” in Jn. 12.32 does not mean “all people,” but “all types of people,” as many Calvinists argue. Then the argument falls apart.

263 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 1:44 am

Hi Jason,

You won’t find any verses explicitly teaching prevenient grace.

You also won’t find any verses explicitly teaching the full doctrine of the Trinity or the four “withouts” of Chalcedonian fame.

All of these are inferences from multiple Scriptures. The Trinity and Christology doctrines are almost universally agreed upon as good and necessary inferences. Prevenient grace is an inference too. If you think it to be an incorrect inference, you will need to argue against the specific scriptural interpretations that lead to prevenient grace.

As I tried to make plain above, we are dealing with theological reflection upon our interpretation of the Bible, not the Bible itself. “Chapter and verse” is not as helpful as we might think it is at this point.

Jim G.

264 Jason June 28, 2011 at 2:04 am

OK. I am with you on the last paragraph, I suppose. But I am not with you that Scripture teaches prevenient grace in any way whatsoever.

It seems that the burden of proof in this discussion is not on me to disprove something not clearly taught, but rather on its proponents to prove its existence. The more that a doctrine (or proposed doctrine) is derived from inference rather than stated truths, the more work it takes to prove it.

So…we are back to where we started….where is the proof that prevenient grace exists? If it is an inference drawn from many texts, then show its basis. So far, the verses given do not even hint at its existence. What we have seen is an assertion that is exists, with no defense. I am asking for the defense.

To link PG with the trinity is unfair. I can (as well as most of us) give a reasonable defense of the trinity, from Scripture, and draw a rather clear picture of its truth. I can also show how the MOST reasonable understanding of all the passages cited teach or point to the trinity. I don’t think the most reasonable understanding of ANY of those 7 verses points to or teaches PG.

265 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hi Jason,

I didn’t say that the Scriptures teach prevenient grace. (I think they do in a way, but I didn’t state it explicitly above.) All I was getting at is there is no chapter and verse for it.

The only linkage I made between PG and the Trinity is that both are inferences. That is a fair linkage. I think the inference of the doctrine of the Trinity is much stronger, but it is still an inference. I am not explicitly arguing for PG in this thread. I just think asking for “chapter and verse” when we are dealing in the world of inferential theological reflection is asking too much.

Jim G.

266 Jason June 28, 2011 at 10:57 am

Jim, I understand where you are coming from.

Yeah, I knew what you are doing with the trinity-PG discussion. My point, though probably not made clear, was that the evidence for the trinity is very strong, thus it is not comparable to PG.

I appreciate your input.

267 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hi Jason,

I agree the evidence for the Trinity is much stronger.

Perhaps the simplest inference for PG for which I can argue is this:

1) 2 Pet 3:9 says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2) Salvation is a work of God and not of man. Otherwise we would be falling into the errors of Pelagianism (full or semi-)
3) Humanity is totally depraved, with every faculty of being (heart, soul, mind, strength, will, emotions, etc.) tainted by the fall.
4) Given 2) and 3) above, God must, as an act of his grace, enable any who would come to him. Jesus also says as much in John 6:44.
5) If 1) above is true and can be taken at face value; and if 4) is also true, then something like PG must occur.

In that logical progression, I think numbers 1-4 are beyond questioning. The first antecedent in 5) is where I think objections would lie. In all though, I think this is a pretty straightforward argument for PG. Another is the incarnation of Christ itself as the means by which PG is possible, but we can pursue that later. I welcome your thoughts.

Jim G.

268 Jason June 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

Jim,

I think your thoughts are on target. You are right that the issue comes at #5.

It would then be necessary to take into account other aspects about salvation, including election. If election is true, then God could necessarily enable only the elect to come.

So, we have to add in another antecedent, that would revamp #5 and change the conclusions.

But your logical flow is right on. I think we agree on the methodology here, I think earlier we were talking past each other. This format for discussion leaves much to be desired when clarity and precision are the goal.

269 Jim G. June 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Hi Jason,

Yes, #5 becomes the rub, and this is why there is legitimate disagreement in Protestant theology over this issue. However we modify #5, we must not negate nor dismiss 2 Peter 3:9. There are four historic approaches to election (not counting universalism), each fraught with some untidiness.

*1 The Arminian approach is to make election conditional upon God’s foreknowledge. God knows exhaustively what will occur at all times throughout his creation and elects those he knows will believe. The pitfalls here include God being dependent upon human actions, and a seeming dismissal of God’s free choice of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who hold sovereignty at or near the top of the list of the attributes of God will be uncomfortable (to put it mildly) will not care much for this approach.

*2. The Calvinist approach is to see election as unconditional and individual, meaning that there are at least some whom God has not chosen by his own free choice. This completely restores the sovereignty of God. The pitfalls here include considerable damage to 2 Peter 3:9 and the doctrine of the universal love of God. Those who start from God as love (as long as love is defined in a way that seems to be both biblically and common-sensically straightforward) are uncomfortable here.

*3 The Open Theist approach says that God has given humans true freedom, which necessitates that God cannot exhaustively know all the choices that will be made. Competent open theists are careful to distinguish their system from Pelagianism, and maintain that salvation is still an act of God’s choosing, he just chooses everyone and people are free to respond or not. Most evangelicals are uncomfortable with God’s lack of exhaustive knowledge and shy away from open theism.

*4. The Torrance-Barth paradigm holds that Jesus is both electing God and elected man. There is only one that God has elected – Jesus. As God, he contains all of humanity in himself anyway, so that his election becomes ours by virtue of his incarnated deity. We cannot experience it without the work of the Spirit and the word of the gospel drawing us to it, however.

I like 4 best. I think it does the least amount of damage to the biblical text. I am presently working through this system and adding some of my own thoughts and refinements, but I think it is a promising way forward. Individual election (God electing individual people to salvation, whether unconditionally or conditionally) just brings up too many snags from the Scriptures. I personally think that is why this disagreement has lasted for centuries. Each side rightly sees the shortcomings of the other side but is unwilling (or unable) to face the shortcomings of his own. It almost becomes a “lesser of two evils” type of choice, and it shouldn’t be that.

Jim G.

270 Christiane June 29, 2011 at 7:01 am

Hi JIM G.

I read with interest your comment, this:

“The Torrance-Barth paradigm holds that Jesus is both electing God and elected man. There is only one that God has elected – Jesus. As God, he contains all of humanity in himself anyway, so that his election becomes ours by virtue of his incarnated deity. We cannot experience it without the work of the Spirit and the word of the gospel drawing us to it, however.”

I do not know if you are aware that the Eastern Orthodox also have a view of salvation that places great emphasis on the Incarnation ?

You might take a look at the Eastern Orthodox view and compare it to the Torrance-Barth paradigm and see the similarities . . . they are there in the way that they view the importance of the Incarnation in reconciling God to mankind.

Let me know what you think, if you have the interest and time to do a comparison of both the Orthodox and the Torrance-Barth viewpoints as they center on the importance of the Incarnation itself in salvation.
I would love to know your opinion about this.

271 Don Johnson June 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Jason,

Before we look at the capacity to believe, do you have a verse or verses that show it is impossible for some to believe?

272 Jason June 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Don,

Fair question. Needed question.

Again, I would cite a general theological reality as the main reason I believe it. It is why I mentioned the promise of Ezek. 36 and the picture of the promise in Ezek. 37. I would say that it is generally accepted that man cannot fulfill God’s demands, in general, and specifically with regard to anything that brings him to a position of favor.

I would add on top of that the fact that belief is stated repeatedly as a gift. There would be no need for belief to be given to people if they had the capacity to believe inside themselves.

But I also think that passages such as Romans 8:7-8 show an inability to please God. Not just a lack of desire, but that sinful people CANNOT please God. I would include belief as something that pleases God, and therefore something that man cannot do. I think that fits with the context as well.

Paul echoes this sentiment in 1 Cor. 2:14. I think that is the teaching throughout the book of John as well (6:44; 6:65; 8:43).

There are a few other places I would go as well. But I understand that not all people agree with that understanding.

Hope that helps you understand from where I am coming.

273 Don Johnson June 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Jason,

Again you mention Ezek. 36 but don’t give any exegesis of any verse or verses. So I can’t respond not knowing of what you might be refferring.

Rom. 8:7-8 is talking about an inability to keep the law, which is true. No man ever has or ever will. The text however, does not say man that man can’t believe the Gospel.

1 Cor. 2:14 is refferring to the natural man who has not received the Spirit. Therefore, he is incapable of understanding deep spiritual truths. Can you give me a verse that states a person receives the Spirit before they believe. If you have a verse then I would agree 1 Cor. 2:14 would certainly bolster your case.

The John passages we’ll look at later. Not that I’m afraid of them but because it will be a lengthy ordeal.

274 Jason June 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm

The Rom 8 text says that man cannot “please God”. Is belief pleasing to him? By what failure are the people being judged as inadequate and thus unsaved? Just failure to keep the law? That is why I said what I did about the passage. Paul is discussing the fact that these people are not SAVED. Not that they simply didn’t keep the law. The argument is that they lack the ability and desire to do what is required. So, God does it.

1 Cor 2 is talking about an unsaved man. Right? That is precisely the people we are talking about. This unsaved person cannot (is not able) to understand and thus respond to the things of God, because they must be spiritually discerned, and God has not given him the Spirit. But his status apart from God imparted wisdom through the Spirit is one of complete ignorance. He CANNOT know the things of God. He does not and cannot “get it”. If he cannot know it, then he cannot believe it. The picture , IMO, goes back to that cited in John 3, 4, 6, and 8.

If we opened the Ezek 36/37 can, we would lose track of this discussion, I fear. Perhaps I can make a summary statement that the promise in 36 was that God would remove hearts of stone and give hearts of flesh. He would do the work – He would give the required elements of the New Covenant. 37 is a visual portrayal of what God is promising to do. Dead, dry bones. The inference from all that is that the people of God are dry bones until God gives life. That means every aspect of salvation, including belief, must be given….these bones can’t live on their own. Now, there are MANY MANY intricacies of those passages…but I think the picture is there, at the very least.

Brother, I think we are in for a lengthy debate no matter what. LOL

We may not come to an agreement with our different presuppositions, but I appreciate this discussion.

275 Don Johnson June 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Jason,

Let’s start with 1 Cor. 2. Yes, we are talking about an unsaved person. The context let’s us know Christians have the Holy Spirit and the lost do not. There is nothing in the text that states the unsaved cannot understand the Gospel.

What the unsaved cannot understand is deep spiritual truths. However, there are many spiritual truths the unsaved can know.

I could list many spiritual truths the unsaved can know, but they are simple truths not deep ones. I’ll give a couple now, but if you want more I’ll give them.

In Gen 1:1 the gives us a spiritual truth, namely God created Heaven and earth. Question, are there any unsaved people who believe God created the earth?

Question, are there any unsaved people who believe there is a heaven?

Question, do only Christians know it’s wrong to murder someone?

I could go on and on but I think you get the point.

If the unsaved can’t know any spiritual truths, then please explain to me what Paul meant in Rom. 1:19 “Because that which may be KNOWN of God is MANIFEST in them; for God hath SHOWED unto them.

Lastly, I asked for a verse which states one can receive the Holy Spirit before they believe, but you gave none. Your whole premise is based on the theory the lost must receive the Holy Spirit somehow so they will be enabled to believe. Is there such a verse?

276 Jason June 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

So, is the Gospel not a spiritual truth? That seems a hard argument to hold up. Why would they be unable to understand all other spiritual truths except the Gospel? Tenuous position.

But worse yet, you are not arguing against me, you are saying that Paul/God is not correct in saying that natural man cannot understand spiritual things. I would be very careful in arguing for your point so strenuously that you end up denying too much.

The passage clearly says they cannot understand the things of the Spirit. It says nothing of “deep things”…it says the things of the Spirit. Is the Gospel of the Spirit? Does the Spirit teach the Gospel?

As for Romans 1:19, think about what Paul says about how the people respond to those truths of God. Do they accept those truths? No, they reject them. Why do they reject them? Because they do not have the Spirit, and those truths are spiritually discerned. They, in turn, suppress those truths in unrighteousness. Their suppression PROVES they do not understand the things of the Spirit.

Don, perhaps we should discuss one issue at a time to avoid confusion. I will gladly provide basis for why I believe people must have the Spirit, but we have not even come close to an agreement on THIS issue. I am not forgetting or avoiding the answer, but we have very detailed discussion on this particular issue about the ability/capacity of mankind to believe. Perhaps we should hash this out first. We have time to discuss it all. No rush.

277 Don Johnson June 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

Jason,

Yes, the Gospel is a spiritual truth, I never said it wasn’t. It is however a simple spiritual truth and not one of “the deep things of God” 1 Cor 2:10.

I listed some simple spiritual truths that even the lost can grasp, yet you gave no rebuttal. Why not?

Rom. 1:19 & 20 state the very opposite of what you said. The verses say “KNOWN, MANIFEST, SHOWED, CLEARLY SEEN, UNDERSTOOD”. It does does not give any hint whatsoever of not being able to understand. Because they understood, Paul then states they are without excuse. If they could not understand they would have a valid excuse, but because they did understand, they have none.

Again, if you could supply me with just one verse that states one receives the Holy Spirit before believing, I would concede my point.

278 William June 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

Jason, you apparently wished to interact with me in a certain way. Try going back and comparing the terms you have used of me with those I have used of Calvinists in general and then reflect on that a bit. You have had a penchant for reading what I wrote (commendable), drawing your conclusions (fair enough), but then restating the same with words I did not use (er, not helpful); but, no big deal. I haven’t been mean spirited, although the limits of this medium may allow someone like you who thinks they know my state of mind to make that accusation.

Is it really necessary to state the obvious here? From the first, I have engaged in some mild sarcasm and mocking towards my wonderful Calvinist brethren/sistren. It was my purpose to recast Calvinism as laypeople hear it. If I’m so far afield from the real item, I’m sure you can correct me. I’m still all ears…

BTW, try going way back and reading Mark’s comment #52. He had the right idea from the start.

I wish you well.

279 Jason June 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

So, you said you did “light mocking”…so was I really far off when I said you mocked calvinists?

You said that calvinists have not told the truth…so was I really far off when I said that you accused calvinists of being liars?

Come on, brother…your shtick may work with some, but I’m not falling for it.

Not sure what terms I used for you, but I am sure I qualified them. I am sure you rejected the qualification.

But thanks for, yet again, avoiding the things I posted and asked.

Believe it or not…I wish you well, also.

280 Jason June 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

I’m sorry, the quote was “mild sarcasm and mocking”, not “light mocking”.

281 Jason June 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

BTW, I read Mark’s post…and that was an obvious response to you.

You should realize that I don’t have a problem with a little teasing and even mild sarcasm. I have MANY friends with whom we go back and forth on those issues and tease each other.

The problem is that all you did was re-state misunderstandings of calvinists – that isn’t light teasing or mild sarcasm, that is misrepresentation.

Maybe it wouldn’t feel so fake if you didn’t also calvinists liars who misrepresent their views to search committees. Was that sarcasm too?

I hope you can see where I am coming from on this issue. I have no problem with you disagreeing, and the joke might have been funny in person. But it came off differently, IMO. I would think when it came off that way that you would at least explain yourself or temper your statements…rather you went into evade and attack mode.

It is what it is. It’s done. I’m ready to move on.

282 William June 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Ah, “liars” again, have we? Alas…

So, how come your calvinist friends here have agreed that at least some of what you call my “misunderstandings” of calvinism are accurate, even if they wouldn’t state it the way I did?

Sure, I believe you that you wish me well, as I do you.

[Ah, bro, you fell hook, line, and sinker for my "shtick." I almost feel bad about it.]

283 Jason June 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Just to be clear…what do we call people who are “less than honest” about their theology?

If someone is less than honest or ‘not forthcoming’….what is the word we have for that?

Hmmm…liar. Right.

The fact that you have a shtick is a little sad. Isn’t it? I expect pastors to be forthcoming and sincere. I guess I ask too much. Its almost like you are being less than honest about your intentions, words, and motives. Hmm…less than honest….what do we call that?

;)

284 William June 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I don’t know what “we” call them, but you have consistently put words in my mouth, so I know what you call them.

…and I’m still all ears, but perhaps you have turned your attention to your calvinist colleagues who have agreed with me.

:)

285 William June 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

Squirrel, when I read a calvinist give an answer like you did above, which includes the tag line “I do not preach to please men, but to please God” I cannot help but wondering if you believe the unstated corollary of it, ie, that non-calvinists preach to please men and not God.

You didn’t say that and and far be it from me to put words in your mouth, but is that your intent?

286 Squirrel July 1, 2011 at 10:27 am

My comment was precipitated by this comment by you:

You and other calvinists have to convince pews full of laypeople, few of whom will buy what you are selling when they grasp it, but that suits the followers of Johannes Calvinus just fine – the few, the beleaguered, the proud, the righteously correct.

The Gospel isn’t a “commodity” to be “sold”, it is a commandment to be obeyed. The adaptation of salesmanship techniques to evangelism is, I believe, one of the key reasons that evangelicalism is in such a sad state. As MacArthur has said, we use worldly methods to build crowds and call them “churches”.

When we faithfully proclaim the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel, then as many as are appointed to eternal life will believe. We plant, we water, God gives the increase.

Squirrel

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