Responding to Critiques of Calvinism

When writing an article that finds its way to the internet, there is often feedback, both positive and negative. The process, including the negative reactions, can actually sharpen the thought process or enable things to be communicated in a better, more helpful way.

Sometimes though, someone is so irate that they call the doctrine you have espoused devilish and heretical. It is not always appropriate to respond. It can be a great time waster. However, sometimes, providing a response, while it may not help the person who first wrote, (in that they are not in any way open to receive a measured response) might be helpful for on-lookers so that they might know there are good answers available.

Way back in 2005 I wrote an article on 2 Peter 3:9 (http://www.reformationtheology.com/2005/10/understanding_2_peter_39_by_pa.php) discussing the verse in its biblical context. Today, almost 12 years later, someone named Vanessa wrote with a very critical review. I thought it worth the brief time it took to respond:

My responses are in bold (so it is easy to follow):

This argument makes the scripture redundant, and like most Calvinist beliefs, is composed of circular reasoning that is inconsistent when drawn out to its logical conclusions.

You would need to prove this point rather than simply asserting it.

Also, just because the epistle is addressed to the elect does not mean that when it says “all” it is referring only to the people the letter is addressed to. That is a faulty conclusion. Could you not write a letter to a particular someone and be talking about humankind in general? Why is that so hard to fathom? All means all. If he meant “all of you reading this”, he would have said “all of you reading this”.

All does not always mean all. Context tells us what the ‘all” means. Just as when a teacher asks “are we all here?” he/she is referring to students in his/her class, or a mother asking “are we all in the car?” she is asking about all her children, not everyone on the planet. Your argument seems to be “just ignore context, all means all, and I think it is just dead wrong to even ask the question ‘who might the “all” refer to. That just over complicates things.’

Secondly, your argument makes the passage redundant because it would be like saying “Hi everyone who God chose for salvation, God wants you to come to repentance and be saved. If everyone reading it is elect and only saved because God thought they were special, then why point out that God wants them to be saved?

Firstly, none of the elect are special, they have simply received a different measure of Divine grace and favor. Secondly, the point of the passage is to show why Christ’s second coming has not occurred as of yet, namely because God is not willing for any of His people to perish but to come to repentance. It is not redundant in any way at all to say this.

Of course He wants them saved if, according to Calvinism, they are saved through no choice of their own because God basically forced himself on them.

Straw man! – the elect do choose Christ, willingly, because of the Sovereign work of God in the heart.

Calvinism is false doctrine straight from the devil.

Well, isn’t that nice? Actually I honestly fear for you when you stand before the great I Am and find that He is every bit as Sovereign as the Calvinists have affirmed and you are called to account for your words here. For our part, “We give our hand to every man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ, be he what he may or who he may. The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians, not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God’s chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold that there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance. We do hope the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus.” – C. H. Spurgeon)

If you draw it out to its logical conclusions it makes God into a monster who is responsible for baby rape, torture, and murder. It makes God a puppet master and a divine rapist, and makes the devil completely unaccountable by attributing the workings of Satan to God in the name of “sovereignty”.

Even in your foreknowledge view of God, He knew all that was to happen and still ordained it would come to pass, right??? so you have the same ‘problem’ to deal with. The biblical view is that God has ordained all that comes to pass including the sin that made the atonement of Christ necessary, and will work out only good and holy purposes through it all. I suggest this link for articles on this subject should you wish to know more: https://www.monergism.com/search?keywords=evil&format=All

Guess what, God is sovereign enough to give humans a choice in the matter of whether to be saved.

Sure, and I believe that, and also believe that the Bible teaches that all men will choose rebellion unless God works in their hearts. There was a Fall that has rendered all men in a fallen state, spiritually dead and unable and unwilling to come to Christ unless God draws them, and those He draws are raised up on the last day. It is Jesus who teaches us that and we take His words seriously. Seemingly, you do not (John 6:44).

That’s why CHOICE is all throughout the Bible. “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” “Behold I have set before you death and life, blessing and life, CHOOSE LIFE.”

Yes, and we embrace those verses. Do you think somehow that we have missed seeing them in our Bibles? No, we believe these verses AND we believe all the verses that teach that men are enslaved to sin, love darkness rather than light, do not seek God, etc… Therefore, I can and do call on all men to repent and believe and choose, knowing that only the elect will do so – Acts 13:48 “and all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves. But God foreknew in the beginning who would choose Him, and predestined us according to the choice He knew we would make.

Biblically, in light of the Fall which He also foresaw – All God would foresee as He looked across time would be all of humanity’s rejection of Him unless He intervened in grace. (John 6:44)

He is not linear in His view of time like we are. He is higher than we are. We must receive the Word of God as little children, as the Bible says. That means don’t overcomplicate it and read things into it that aren’t there to fit your own preconceived ideas. Every Calvinist belief requires reading things into the Scriptures that are not there, and it requires ignoring a huge list of Scriptures that contradict it, twisting the meaning and “context” to try to make it fit your idea.

Actually I would suggest that it is you who ignore and twist the Scriptures. We seek to embrace all of what Scripture teaches.

Blind people who profess to be wise! You are turning people away from God by painting Him as directly responsible for every bad thing that has ever happened to them. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world, not because God is up there pulling every string and orchestrating chaos and evil. God is not evil, He is light and there is NO darkness in Him! The evil ideology of Calvinism is a cancer in the body of Christ that causes people to be apathetic about winning souls to the Lord.

I know you believe that. I might have said something similar years ago. I shudder though, for as I say, one day You will stand before the Sovereign One who has ordained every event in time and has promised to use it all for His glory.

If only certain people are “chosen” [as in your twisted definition of the word], then there is no point in witnessing to the lost because they are all damned to hell anyway according to Calvinism!

Actually, election is the only hope of evangelism and thankfully, it is a certain hope, for He has said He has His sheep in every tribe, tongue, people and nation and there will be representatives of all these before His throne, celebrating the redeeming work of the Lamb. The entire missionary movement, starting with William Carey, was born out of this conviction. Evangelism is the rounding up of Christ’s sheep.

“Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it. To me, it is one of the sweetest and most blessed truths in the whole of revelation, and those who are afraid of it are so because they do not understand it. If they could but know that the Lord had chosen them it would make their hearts dance with joy.” – C. H. Spurgeon (“Spurgeon At His Best” Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1988).

A quote from Mark Webb:
“After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, ‘This is the most awful thing I’ve ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.’ I answered her in this vein: ‘You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but not you, etc.’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.”

Calvinism also leads to mental anguish and torment for believers who are caught in a constant state of questioning whether or not they are elect/chosen. This is not from God. God says all you have to do is repent and have faith in Jesus. There is no favoritism with Him, and He loves the whole world. He welcomes any who will come to Him in Jesus’ name.

Assurance of salvation is vital and we are told to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. The fact that you believe this is not from God matters little to me. To the scriptures… if my faith is real and genuine it will stand up to biblical scrutiny, and I will be able to see an enduring trust in the precious Savior who indeed saves by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Himself alone.

Calvinism Upheld

Article: FIVE BELIEFS UPHELD BY CALVINISTS THAT DON’T UNDERMINE THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE by Stephen Kneale (original source here)

Calvinists subscribe to the doctrines of grace. These are typically summed up by the ‘five points of Calvinism’. As a mnemonic device, we use the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistable Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Despite how these doctrine of grace are sometimes presented, here are some things that Calvinists still believe.

People can do good things

Total Depravity teaches that everything we do is affected by sin. But we believe in Total Depravity not Utter Depravity. One only has to look around at the world to see many unbelievers helping other people, being kind and doing all sorts of things that we wouldn’t exactly describe as evil. Total Depravity does not deny that people – all of whom bear the imago dei – are capable of great good. It simply teaches that the effects of sin reach into all of our hearts and corrupts all of our human faculties such that nothing we do is unaffected. It means there are no inherently good people by nature because we all inherit the same sinful nature from Adam.

Total Depravity teaches that sin affects every part of a person – body/mind and soul – but it doesn’t teach that we have no potential to ever do good. The image of God remains on us and our consciences, though affected by sin, make us capable of making moral decisions. We also believe that God himself restrains evil which, from a human perspective, works itself out as people doing good.

We can actually please God

Unconditional Election states that God chooses us entirely apart from anything favourable or good he sees in us. God neither chooses us because of anything we have done nor because he looks to the future and sees that we will choose him. He elects us based upon the goodness of his own sovereign will.

Nonetheless, we still believe it is possible to please God. The Bible teaches that ‘without faith it is impossible to please God’. The implication, considering the comment comes after the great roll call of faith in Hebrews, is that with faith it is possible to please God. Although the Lord chooses us despite ourselves, we can nonetheless please him when we act in faith. There is nothing inherently about us that would cause God to choose us but, as his children by faith, it is possible for us to please him. Though all that we do is tainted by sin, we are nonetheless capable – through faith in Christ – of doing that which pleases God.

We do choose Christ

Although Unconditional Election teaches that God chooses us based upon his own sovereign good will, Calvinists do not deny that we choose God. Clearly, our will is involved in our coming to faith. The question is not whether we choose God or not (the Calvinist agrees that we do), it is whether God’s will is primary in our coming to faith.

It is evidently true that all who are real believers in Christ have chosen to follow him. It is clear they have, to quote the old hymn, ‘decided to follow Jesus’. The Calvinist simply notes the words of Jesus himself, ‘no one can come to the Father unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (John 6:44) and ‘no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father’ (John 6:65). We do choose Christ and our will is actually involved in deciding to follow him, but the Father’s will is primary in our decision. Apart from his will and a supernatural drawing of the Spirit, we cannot choose him.

The gospel is for all

Limited Atonement teaches that Christ died for the elect. His death covers the sin of those who put their trust in him by faith. Jesus’ death is sufficient to cover the sin of all people but it only actually covers the sin of those who believe by faith in him. Jesus did not die for every single person in the world, he died for those who were chosen by the Father before the world began and who ultimately put their trust in Christ as Saviour. Continue reading

Any Valid Examples of Evolution?

Email To Russ Miller (CreationMinistries.org):

“My child’s school is teaching her she evolved from primates. Are there any valid examples of evolution?”

Answer: Millions of examples of Micro-evolution, better called micro-adaptations or variations, could be shown. Adaptations are simply ‘kinds bringing forth after their kind’ as Scripture tells us will happen. These are caused by the sorting or loss of the genetic data they inherited from their parents. Never has a viable example of Darwinian/Macro change, such as a primate becoming a human, been found. This would require the addition of massive amounts of new and functionally beneficial genetic information. Real science, based on the observation of existing evidence, knows of no viable example of nature adding this kind of data to an existing gene pool. Thus, Genetic loss (Gene Depletion) + Selection prevents Darwinian style change to occur.

Some Further Russ Miller Quotes:

“Darwinian evolutionism is a religious belief that puts one’s faith in a single celled creature having come to life before mutating to bears, beavers and biology professors. Yet it’s estimated a single celled bacteria requires genetic data that’s 10,000 times more complex than a space shuttle. 1 in 10 to the 50th power is considered absolute zero & the odds of life forming by natural processes has been calculated to be 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power (1 in 10 to the 18th would cover every second for 30 billion years). Mathematical probability alone refutes Darwinism.”

“The next time you’re asked if you believe in evolution, correctly respond, “I believe in Biblically and scientifically correct micro-evolution.” Let me explain. Darwinists show kids pictures of brown moths and yellow moths; then discuss how they’ve descended from a common ancestor over ‘millions of years.” Well, drop the “millions of years” and I agree they have a common ancestor, it was a moth. They’ve simply ‘brought forth after their kind’ as God’s Word tells us will occur and as real science always finds. This is micro-evolution, not never-observed Darwinian-macro evolution. The ability to micro-adapt was placed in their gene pool from the start by their Creator who gave His created kinds a tremendous range of genetic variation which allows them to adapt to various climates & conditions.”

“Population studies show if we began with 4 couples (off the ark) 4,500 years ago and averaged 2.2 kids per couple we’d have around 7 billion folks today…which is what we have.”

“We constantly hear about the search for THE missing link, as if such a discovery would cause the Darwinian chain to materialize. But macro evolution requires billions of links leading from the supposed first cell to the millions of kinds of plants and animals living on earth today, yet never has a viable link of any kind been found that proves Darwinian change occurred; and Darwinism requires billions of these links. Scripture warns us to avoid false science, which some believing will err concerning their faith. Indicating that finding a ‘missing link” would cause the whole Darwinian chain to come together is science falsely so called.”

“The Bible says creatures will bring forth their kind and warns us to beware of false science; yet billions have lost their faith due to Darwinian bait & switch con games presented in science classes. For instance, texts present a Biblically correct example of a variation within a kind (also called micro-evolution or adaptation), such as a fly bringing forth a fly with shorter wings (caused by the sorting or loss of the parent’s genetic data), then switch the discussion to Darwinian (macro) evolution which requires the addition of new and beneficial genetic data. Observation-based science is a Believer’s true friend so don’t be fooled by false teachings and put your faith in the Word of God.”

“Following the 1969 moon landing, moon rocks were aged using radiometric dating techniques. One rock was sliced into pieces & sent to 8 labs for testing. As usual, a wide range of dates (10,000 to 3.6 billion years) were obtained with only the desired age of 3.6 billion years being published. But New Scientist magazine reported, “Signs of volcanic activity indicate the moon formed “just a few million years ago.” Well, that’s only about 1% of what we’ve been told and couldn’t this also prove the moon is just a few thousand years old? Absolutely! Since no one observed the creation of the moon, I’ll humble myself to accept God’s uncompromised Word.”

“Jesus said Satan was the father of lies and one of the Devil’s most successful tactics is to get man to twist what’s good into something Satan can use to serve his evil purposes. Take ‘natural selection.’ 24 years before Darwin’s book came out, Biblical creationist Edward Blyth showed how natural selection eliminated harmful mutations & helped creatures adapt to various climates in the post-flood world. Darwin twisted this into something that has misled billions of people yet, as I like to point out; natural selection is God’s Quality Assurance program. It removes genetically weaker variations & mutations, preventing them from corrupting the gene pools our heavenly Father created. Without natural selection most creatures would go extinct within 1,500 years.”

“FB message: “There are 100’s of creation myths. What evidence do you have that the Bible’s story is the right one?” Thanks for your vital question as where a person will spend eternity hangs in the balance! A great way to tell the Truth from the 1,000’s of myths about our origins, whether they are evolution, creation or alien based, is by the 100’s of Biblical prophecies fulfilled. Then add to the Bible’s amazing ability to correctly predict the future the Archaeological finds that always support the Scriptures; the Biological proofs, as kinds only being forth after their kind; and the Geological evidences of the Global Flood and it’s what I call a ‘Done Deal.'”

“Hebrews 11:3 tells us we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God through faith, so the things which are seen were not made of things which appear. Our DNA doesn’t appear to the naked eye, yet our DNA contains the data to produce more than 100,000 different proteins, each with a unique function. Human technology can store data on the surface of a computer chip. However, DNA stores data in three dimensions and, if written out in 500 page books, a pinhead sized holder of DNA could hold enough data to make a pile of books that would extend from earth to the moon 500 times! Talk about incredible design! Romans 1:20 tells us the invisible things from the creation will be clearly seen so unbelievers will stand without excuse. Put your faith in the Word of your Creator.”

Nashville Statement

NASHVILLE STATEMENT – A COALITION FOR BIBLICAL SEXUALITY

Website: https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement

PREAMBLE

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…” –Psalm 100:3

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being. By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences. The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.

We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

Article 2

WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.

WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

Article 3

WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.

WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

Article 4

WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

Article 5

WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

Article 6

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.

WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

Article 7

WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.

WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

Article 8

WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.

WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

Article 9

WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality— a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.

WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

Article 10

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

Article 11

WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image bearers as male and female.

Article 12

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

Article 13

WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological sex and one’s self-conception as male or female.

WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with God’s revealed will.

Article 14

WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.

WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.