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Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Predestination

 

003white  Section A Question of Salvation       >      Index To Predestination       >      DOC Part XI... Conclusion

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Predestination
 

Calvinism Part IX...

Conclusion

Carol Brooks.

Index To All Sections

Section 1: An Introduction to John Calvin and his Doctrines of Grace
Section 2: Total Inability... The Cornerstone
Section 3: Unconditional Election
Section 4: Limited Atonement
Section 5: Irresistible Grace
Section 6: Perseverance of The Saints and Death Before Sin
Section 7: When the Gospel Becomes a Lie and Assurance of Salvation...
How Can Any Calvinist KNOW He is Saved?
Section 8: God’s Sovereignty and Omnipotence. Hypocrisy Unlimited
You Are Here 001orange Section 9: Conclusion
Section 10: Calvinism and The First 1500 Years. The Sins of Augustine
 

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On This Page

Calvinism and Calvinists
An Intellectual Elite?
Years Of Struggle
Spurgeon's ‘Flash Of Insight’
Idealization of John Calvin

More Than Just Erroneous Doctrine

The Character of God

Finally

 

Calvinism and Calvinists
An Intellectual Elite?
Judge Richard (Rick) Brooker (who has been a juvenile court judge for 20 years and spent 30 years of service in ministry) said this on his blog...

    Looked at objectively, Calvinism is nothing more than a system of baffling, almost mystical theological complexities and contradictions piled one on top of the other. It is a tradition so revered and so exalted that most Christians are assumed to be not intelligent enough to understand it fully. Therefore, we require an intellectual elite - a Reformed priesthood - to explain it to us as if we were medieval Catholic peasants. [67]

This is echoed by more than one person who has studied Calvinism and arrived at the conclusion that it is not Biblical. Former Calvinist Steve Jones says

    "...The doctrines frequently create a spirit of division, elitism and theological snobbery. The system erects walls between believers. It creates a class of Christians within the church general who are supposedly part of a worthy "inner circle."

    Many Calvinists read nothing but Reformed titles, hence these brethren seldom learn new perspectives. On the contrary, they are continually reaffirming their own "theological correctness." Such authors such as A. W. Pink, the Puritans, John Murray and such publishing companies as Banner of Truth become the sole staple for many. I say without intending offense that such exclusiveness differs little from that of Jehovah's Witnesses or other authoritarian groups.

    Of course, I do not intend to paint all Calvinists with this brush. Many are thinkers who read outside literature, even Arminian literature. But the overarching trend in this tradition - a tradition of which I was once a part - is often one of narrow-mindedness and doctrinal superiority. As we have seen, the Scriptures give no warrant for such bigotry. The average Calvinist may be amazed at just how weak his system is when scrutinized in the light of revealed truth. [69]


Years Of Struggle:
However a belief in Calvinism does not always come easily as Pastor John Piper shows...

    We do not begin as Calvinists and defend a system. We begin as Bible-believing Christians who want to put the Bible above all systems of thought. But over the years – many years of struggle – we have deepened in our conviction that Calvinistic teachings on the five points are Biblical and therefore true. [48]

Why would it take "years of struggle" for a Christian to believe that Calvinistic teachings are Biblical?

Perhaps because it flies in the face of everything we know about our God and every ounce of common sense we have been given as individuals, but seem to ignore so much of the time. Perhaps also because Calvinism is such a heap of "theological complexities and contradictions piled one on top of the other" that it takes years to be convinced that it is true.

There is one point that struck me when reading an excerpt from Spurgeon's Autobiography...


Spurgeon's Flash Of Insight
In his article What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, John Piper quotes legendary Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon who said

    Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me...I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron...

    One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, "How did you come to be a Christian?" I sought the Lord. "But how did you come to seek the Lord?" The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God" (Autobiography, pp. 164-5). [60]

Which is all very nice, but one needs to pay close attention to the story as Spurgeon relates it. After a couple of questions Spurgeon asked himself, the truth was that "God was at the bottom of it all"  flashed across his mind in a moment. Spurgeon goes on to say that this was how "whole doctrine of grace opened up" to him.. a doctrine he never departed from.

Now I do not know whether or not Spurgeon had previously read or studied Calvin's theories. If he had not, then he arrived at the truth of Calvinism based on an idea that flashed across his mind. But, even if he had previously been introduced to Calvinism, or even studied it, the fact remains that he was convinced of the truth of this doctrine by a sudden flash of insight. Did he then, like countless others, go to the Scriptures to prove what he had already decided to believe?

But whatever the path taken to get to a belief in Calvinism, once there, there seems to be no boundaries when it comes to many Calvinist's ...


Idealization of John Calvin

Not only did Reformed theologian of yesteryear Dr. Loraine Boettner say they

    accept the term "Calvinist" as our badge of honor; [4]

...but the trend continues. For one example of how far the Calvinist will go in his praise of Calvin, I refer to a book called "The Expository Genius of John Calvin", in which the author Steven J. Lawson (senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama) quotes Spurgeon who says in his autobiography, [Vol. II: The Full Harvest] [Emphasis Added]

    "Among those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin; no age before him ever produced his equal, and no age afterward has seen his rival." [70]

If no age before Calvin's had ever seen his equal, then our Lord was wrong when He said

    Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  [Matthew 11:11]

What a blasphemous distortion of our Savior's words by both the person who originated the saying and the one who quoted it.

The author then rightly points out the pathetic condition of the evangelical church, saying

    "to judge by outward appearances, the evangelical church in this house seems to be flourishing. Mega churches are springing up everywhere. Christian contemporary music and publishing houses seem to be booming. Men's rallies are packing large coliseums. Christian political groups are heard all the way to the White House. Yet the evangelical church is largely a whitewashed tomb. Tragically, her outward facade masks her true internal condition.  [71]

And his solution?

    "We desperately need a new generation of expositors, men cut from the same bolt of cloth as Calvin. Pastors marked by compassion, humility and kindness must once again "preach the Word". In short, we need Calvins again to stand in pulpits and boldly proclaim the Word of God....  "We do want Calvins again. We must have Calvins again. And, by God's grace, we shall see them raised up again in this hour." [72]

    To which I can only say .. God Forbid!

Calvinism is not only based on a very weak foundation, but is much ....


More Than Just Erroneous Doctrine
There are degrees of false doctrine. While some can be almost harmless many, if not most, are misleading and dangerous. However, when it comes to Calvinism the stakes are very very high, so much so that it is in a class by itself, striking at the very heart of the reliability of God and the Bible. As judge Rick Brooker says...

    The Calvinists I've met will insist on asking me why I reject the possibility of a sovereign God electing certain ones to save and damning the rest, if that's what He wants to do? I don't reject that possibility at all. God could do exactly that if He chose to do so. You see, the point is not, “Can't God do whatever He wants with His creation?" Of course He could, He's God. The real issue is, "What has the God, who cannot lie, promised to do, according to the Bible? In order for Calvin's view of election to be true, God MUST BE a cheat, a liar and a hypocrite. It is unavoidable! [67]

Who could possibly trust in a God who appears to extend saving grace to ALL when He really hasn't, and who plainly and repeatedly offers salvation to EVERYONE, even though He has no intention of saving everyone who hears His offer. Just how two faced can anyone get?

Yet Calvin claimed that the Lord deemed it fit that man fall because "He saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed".

    Moreover, though their perdition depends on the predestination of God, the cause and matter of it is in themselves. The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should: why he deemed it meet, we know not. It is certain, however, that it was just, because he saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed. When you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included. For that which deserves praise must be just. Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before declared that all the things which he had made were very good (Gen. 1:31). [19]

I hate to say this, but there are times I have wondered what this man was smoking. If he and countless theologians since, are to be believed we have to ask how God's glory is displayed in millions of people going to hell without an option to do otherwise? How God could possibly show His glory by manipulating pawns on His cosmic chessboard? 

Or is God's glory outstandingly manifested when the beings He created choose to turn to Him.. choose to follow Him and trust in His promises? When He shows that His Spirit is sufficient to change sinners into saints? When He shows that He can keep safe the man who is willing, even though they may stumble?

I propose it is the latter.

As asked by David Servant

    Who is really robbing God of glory? Is it the non-Calvinist who says that man must yield to God's Spirit using his God-given free will in order to be saved, or is it the Calvinist, who turns God into a monster? [68]


The Character of God
In an attempt to explain what they call "several common misconceptions about Unconditional Election, the Calvinistic site got.questions.org says [Emphasis Added]

    First it is important to understand that the doctrine does not teach that God's choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that the reason God elects someone to salvation is not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will. He makes the choice as to who will be saved for His own reasons, according to His own perfect will and for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). And while some object to the doctrine of election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God's will and it pleases God; therefore it must be good and perfectly just. [73]

It is assumed that the doctrine of election is true therefore, working backwards, it has to be based on God's will and has to please Him. If it is based on His will and pleases Him, it has to be "good and perfectly just". 

This is faulty reasoning at best.

Doesn't the Bible itself tell us that we judge a tree by it's fruit? in other words the fruit of a tree is a clear indication of how good or productive the tree is. Isn't a deliberate crime committed by a person plain evidence of the moral character of that individual? Wasn't Hitler judged by the atrocities he committed on the Jews?

So why should it be any different with God? On what basis are we to believe that our God is a just, holy and loving God? Because He said so?

Not good enough.

Just as we judge the character of a person based on his deeds, we come to a conclusion about the character of God exactly the same way... based on His deeds. Which means we cannot overlook the fact that if God deliberately withholds salvation from who know how many millions of people, He cannot be a just, holy and loving God. His actions demonstrate that He is a monstrous unfair, unjust and unloving God who does not deserve our loyalties. Even most of us, as "Totally Depraved" people, do not commit such crimes.

So let work the other way around.. Lets see what we know about the character of God, and if this is in line with condemning people to hell without giving them any option to do otherwise.

    (A study of the character of God is vitally important for other reasons as well. Paul said... It is His plan that each of us “be conformed to the likeness of his Son” [Romans 8:29]. He told the Galatians that he would be in travail until Christ be formed in them [Galatians 4:19] and told the Ephesians that the measure to be reached was Christ.. Christians were to grow until they become like Jesus. They were to put on the new man, that after God was created in righteousness and holiness [Ephesians 4:13]. Since God tells us we are to become more and more like Him we have to have to have some idea what the the standard is that we, as Christians, are to aspire to).

For starters the Bible is literally strewn with passages that tells us what God hates, and what He commands His people to do... He hates

    those that burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:31), People who love violence (Psalm 11.5), Haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, liars and those who spread strife among brothers (Proverbs 6.16-19), He hates robbery and and iniquity. (Isaiah 61.8).. Those who devise evil in their hearts against others (Zechariah 8.16) and deal treacherously against their spouses [Malachi 2:15]

God says He desires goodness, and not sacrifice [Hosea 6:6]... this demonstrated in many passages in the Scriptures.

    He says He takes no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices when the hands of the people are covered with blood. Their sacrifices meant nothing to Him and their incense was an abomination. He would not even listen to their prayers unless they made themselves clean, which meant ceasing from doing evil, learning to do good; relieving the oppressed, protecting the fatherless; defending the orphan, pleading for the widow (Isaiah 1:11-17)

    He told the Israelites that he hated their festivals and solemn assemblies. He would not accept their grain offerings and would not listen to their songs or harps until justice rolled down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5.21)

    He commanded the Israelites to dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; Not to oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor and not to devise evil in their hearts against one another. (Zechariah 7: 8-14)

    His warning to the house of David was that unless they administered justice every morning; And delivered the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor, His wrath would go forth like fire and burn with none to extinguish it, because of the evil of their deeds. (Jeremiah 21.11)

In the New Testament Paul, as spokesman for God, urged the Colossians to

    put away anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking and lies seeing how they have put on the new man and are being renewed in the image of their creator.  He then says as God's elect they are to put on hearts of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing and forgiving one other. But above all they are to put on love which is the bond of perfection. [Colossians 3:5-14]

Walking The Walk
One of the expressions I have heard Christians use is that one has to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Similarly, what God says He hates or urges people to do is not enough. Unless His commands are followed by action against those that do not keep them, they remain just words.

However there are endless examples of God punishing people who do not obey His commands.

When they refused to pay attention He "scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known" and the land was left desolate behind them which they had caused  [Zechariah 7: 8-14]. Because of their transgressions a fire was kindled to burn upon them [Jeremiah 15:14] and He cast them out of their land into a land that neither they nor their fathers knew and showed them no favour. [Jeremiah 16:13]. He discontinued their heritage and caused them to serve their enemies in strange lands. [Jeremiah 17:4].

Paul certainly seemed to have a very different idea of God’s justice than John Calvin did. In Romans 2:5-11 he says God will render to every man according to his works:

    but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life:  but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God

Paul warned the Colossians that if they did not put to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness the wrath of God would descend on them...the sons of disobedience.

And this is why His wrath is about to descend on this planet yet one more time. [See The Wrath of God]

The Bible Is A Book About God's Justice. God's response of anger, outrage and wrath against all the sin on this earth is the only one that works. Why? Because without 100% integrity, loyalty, and social justice... without a heart of compassion and selfless caring for our neighbor, all we will ever have is what we have now.. a world in which no one is safe. A world in which there is endless suffering, cruelty and inhumanity. A world in which we have absolutely no guarantees and have to count ourselves lucky if we get through our lives relatively smoothly, or at least without major calamity.

We will never have "heaven".


The Bible Is A Book About God's Love: 
On the other hand God's love is the shepherd leaving his 99 sheep in their pen to go out and look for the 100th lost one... then rejoicing more over it than over the ninety nine which have not gone astray. 

And this God who is so concerned with justice and righteousness, the orphan, widow and stranger....Who hates anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking and lies, Who will punish cruelty and inhumanity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness... Who values compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing and forgiving... This is the same God who directly or indirectly elects people to be eternally damned?

Give me a break.


Finally:
Let us not attempt to replace the fluff that all too commonly emanates from modern pulpits with complex bewildering ideas that, equally, find no basis in Scripture for all that they are presented with a deluge of words, intricate arguments and endless repetition. 

If we do not wish to abide by the old acronym K.I.S.S. "keep it simple and straightforward" or, if you prefer, "Keep it simple, Stupid!" Let us at least endeavor to not get so carried away that we ascribe "logical clearness" where there is none. Let us not assign "keen intellect and systematizing genius" to influences that were wrong about almost everything else. And finally let us not attribute "deep knowledge of Scripture" to a new convert who actually wrote a book to defend putting someone to death. [4]

Life is too short to read the whole of Calvin's Institutes. However in looking up a particular quote from chapter 23 of his third volume, I started reading from the beginning of the chapter. What the man apparently considered the deep things of God, is nothing but an endless torrent of words. Calvin says the same thing over and over and over again, first one way then another. And, that being done, he thinks up ten more ways to say exactly the same thing ten more times.... all in this one chapter. I shudder to think that there are 24 other chapters in this volume alone.

Although I realize that many of the writers in years gone by tended to be rather long winded, seldom content with a paragraph when an entire book was possible, I stopped reading about two thirds of the way through the chapter since time is way too precious to waste on a man whom Ecclesiastes 5:3 could have been directly addressing when it said...  a fool's voice [is known] by multitude of words.

Dr. Loraine Boettner once said that

    The tendency in our enlightened age is to look upon Calvinism as a worn-out and obsolete creed. [4]

No Dr. Boettner! That is not quite true. We wish Calvinism were a worn-out and obsolete creed. What Calvinism is, is

a slur on the character of God.


Part 10... Calvinism and The First 1500 Years. The Sins of Augustine

 

End Notes
[68] David Servant. The Five Points of Calvinism Considered. Calvinistic Converts
http://www.heavensfamily.org/ss/calvinism/calvinism-total-depravity-and-irresistible-grace

[69] Calvinism Critiqued. By a Former Calvinist.. Steve Jones.
http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/calvinism.html

[70] Steven J. Lawson. The Expository Genius of John Calvin. Reformation Trust Publishing (March 1, 2007) Ch. We Want Again Calvins. Pg. 131]

[71] ibid. Pgs. 131-132

[72] ibid. Pgs 132-133.

[73] Unconditional Election - is it Biblical?  Got Questions Ministries.
http://www.gotquestions.org/unconditional-election.html

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