The God of Calvinism and A Calvinists translation of John 3:16-18?

I thought I might stir things up a bit today.  A friend wrote this story and titled it “The God of Calvinism.  He didn’t add the question mark, that was my addition.  Is this the God that true Calvinism depicts?  Read this story by Kurt Dahlin and share your thoughts.

The God Of Calvinsim?

“Once upon a time there was a birthday party for seven-year olds at the house.  Forty little kids were having a great time. It was good. The moment came to light the candles on the cake.  Dad realized that the ice cream was still in the refrigerator out back (he put it there earlier).  He placed the matchbox on the table and said, “Don’t light the candles, you’ll kill yourselves.” They were special candles that don’t blow out. What a treat for seven-year olds! 

While Dad was delayed getting their ice cream, one of the kids suggested they light the candles and practice blowing them out to get the proper camera angle.  So, as the partygoers gathered to blow out the candles one fell on the pile of presents and burst into an inferno.  The Dad, realizing what had happened, rushed into the house and carefully and arbitrarily rescued four kids to show the world what a real hero he was.  He could have saved the rest but he did not.  He let them burn along with the entire house and presents. He wanted to show them his displeasure at their disobedience (which he planned).  He locked them in so they could not save themselves. 

The four kids and the Dad ate the ice cream in joyous celebration and happiness while the others were weeping, pleading and gnashing their teeth.  Occasionally, the four yelled to the others to come out.  However, they couldn’t get out on their own, only the Dad could rescue them if he had wanted to.  In reality the Dad hated those he did not choose and planned for them to burn in the fire before the party began.  He even knew the one boy who would light the fire.  Moreover, he did not simply foreknow it, he actually ordained it to happen according to his good pleasure.”  

By Kurt Dahlin

Someone else submitted “The Calvinist Translation of John 3:16-18.  I don’t really know how to respond to it, so I will let those of you who can, do so…

 

 16 For God so loved the elect that he gave his one and only Son, that those unconditionally decreed by God to believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the elect, but to save the elect through him. 18 The Elect one who believes in him is not condemned, but everyone else stands condemned forever because they are not elect.” John 3:16-18

 

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on March 23, 2011, in Christianity, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Calvinism has a lot to answer for, and sadly many Christians today see God as very much like that.
    A good post with food for thought. How do I really see God?

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  2. This story is woefully incomplete. Your friend needed to say that even though the father in his parable infallibly foreknew that this would happen, he still allowed it to go ahead anyway. And again, just to complete the picture, your friend should have stated that whatever God does, He does for his own glory.

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  3. Which actualCalvinist translation of John 3:16-18, does the writer refer to? I have a number of Calvinist translations here. I refer to those of William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible and the Authorised Version and in recent days, the English Standard Version, none of which translate the words as suggested. However, I am always willing to stand corrected. Maybe the unnamed writer could get back to me on that. In the interest of Christian testimony etc.,

    Calvin himself, although “dead yet speaketh” through his writings which he left us. As the few quotes show below, certainly Calvin would not run with this so called translation:

    “Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.” (John Calvin’s comments on John 3:16)

    “The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keep the road of faith.” (John Calvin’s comments on John 3:17)

    “Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity—which is closer to us—rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination.” (John Calvin Institutes 3:23:7)

    P/s Any advances on my point above re: the father in the parable infallibly knowing beforehand that what would happen and still allowing it to go ahead anyway and that for his own glory?

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  4. Hey there Colin,

    Greetings in the name of the Lord! Jim and I are always going back and forth over this kind of thing because he tends to believe that the atonement is limited. So I sent him that version of John 3:16-18.

    Of course there is no actual translation of John 3:16-18 the way I stated it. No credible linguist could translate it thus. Yet, if modern day Calvinism is correct in its T.U.L.I.P hypothesis, then that is what the verse should say.

    If humanity is totally depraved in the sense that one can not respond to God in any way, and only will respond to God’s gracious offer of forgiveness in Christ because God regenerates him first, (he is born again and then he comes to faith in Christ), and that God’s gracious offer is something he can not refuse, and that those who are not saved never could have been saved, (because God chose before the foundations of the world not to move upon them in a saving way) this is the logical extension of the argument. Now I know that someone will say that God’s call makes the person want to choose Him. Yet, if a person can not choose another option, because another option does not exist, one has no choice.

    Believe me, I am not saying that God could not have made his world this way. God is sovereign, he does as he wills. It just doesn’t make sense that he did, when you have so many verses like John 3:16-18 that clearly call the κόσμον (world, humanity) to exercise faith. If one follows Hyper-Calvinism to its logical conclusion, this is what the verse should say:

    16 For God so loved the elect that he gave his one and only Son, that those unconditionally decreed by God to believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the elect, but to save the elect through him. 18 The Elect one who believes in him is not condemned, but everyone else stands condemned forever because they are not elect.” John 3:16-18

    Of course, it doesn’t say that. Hence my belief that the argument Calvinism makes is lacking. But, in all fairness, I recognize that I could be wrong on this matter. You and I will never solve this debate. I for one am glad that no matter what one believes on this topic, whether its Arminianism, Molinism or Calvinism, it doesn’t effect ones status as an adopted son or daughter of the king. I checked out your site, and from what I saw there (very impressive) I think you would agree with me on that one.

    I am also impressed with Jim for allowing this kind of interaction when he doesn’t agree with me most of the time.

    John

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  5. Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your gracious tone and kind comments re: my website. Shalom! A number of issues here:

    #1 It is not that the sinner can’t “respond to God in any way because he does. Left to himself and his depraved will (for which he always remains entirely responsible) he will ultimately reject the overtures of grace. As Calvin (not the ultimate authority, by any means, but a man generally respected in the Church) put it well in John 5:40: “He again reproaches them that it is nothing but their own malice that hinders them from becoming partakers of the life offered in the Scriptures; for when he says that they will not, he imputes the cause of their ignorance and blindness to wickedness and obstinacy. And, indeed, since he offered himself to them so graciously, they must have been willfully blind; but when they intentionally fled from the light, and even desired to extinguish the sun by the darkness of their unbelief, Christ justly reproves them with greater severity.” It is therefore wrong to say that the sinner has no choice in the matter. He does. He is therefore a responsible being before God. He wilfully chooses darkness over the light, hence Calvin again commented: “…all are held convicted, because were it not that, blinded by pride, they delight in their crimes, they would readily and willingly receive the doctrine of the Gospel.” (John 3:19) Calvinism does not loosen the responsibility of man one iota.

    #2 Again on this issue of man’s responsibility (where the world is called upon to exercise faith) – a man cannot sin himself out of responsibility before God. God calls upon sinners to keep the whole law perfectly, warning them that to offend in one point is to offend in all and incur the curse yet we know that they are incapable of doing so. The thorn tree cannot bring forth figs nor the leopard change its spots. Yet, man is still held accountable – the wages of his sin is still death. “Depart from me, ye cursed” etc., So the sinner is still commanded to repent and believe the gospel, even though he cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God.

    #3 You are right to say that the Scripture does not say “but everyone else stands condemned forever because they are not elect” but you are wrong to attribute this to Calvinism. We don’t believe that reprobation is the cause of any man’s damnation. Reprobation treats men as sinners…but it doesn’t make them sinners. The sole cause of damnation in a sinner is his own sin – nothing more and nothing less. Hence Spurgeon’s great maxim: “Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin.”
    #4 I wonder will anyone come back on my comment re: the very incomplete and loaded parable re the father and his sons. I would like to think that the author of this mischievous piece might show up and give us his views.

    Any way, thanks for writing. You’re right. If we are trusting the Lord Jesus as our Saviour in that act of Evangelical obedience, then we are his, no matter where we may differ in the details. Thanks for interacting with me here. I enjoy a good discussion.

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    • I started this post with the hope that it would spur interaction from different view points, knowing that it is good to hear views other than our own. Thank you for chiming in here. I TRULY appreciate your tone. I was slightly worried that this post would bring out the name calling. It hasn’t thus far. Hundred’s of people have seen it, but there have been very few comments. Perhaps people are leary of what the debate could degenerate into. We have ALL seen that happen! As far as Kurt, the author of the parable, he doesn’t know we are talking about it. He wrote that back in 2005 and has it posted on his website. He doesn’t read this blog. I “borrowed” it from him.

      For most of my Christian life I have believed that Jesus did not die for the sins of every human being who ever lived. If he did, then every sin has been paid for, and damning one to hell for all eternity whose sins were atoned for amounts to double jeapordy. When one stands before the judgement seat of Christ, what would he be held accountable for, since his/her sins have been paid for? Clearly, this could lead to a universalist view, though no true Armininian believes all will be saved. Actually, both camps believe the atonement is limited, in that not all will be saved. The question is how is it limited? Some say that the sin of rejecting Christ is the only sin not atoned for. That makes sense to me. But what about the people who never had an opportunity to reject Christ? If all sins, except rejecting Christ are paid for, for everyone who ever lived, then these people can be forgiven. I must admit, I like that view and hope it is true, but the Bible seems clear to me on this point that it is absolutely false.

      Yet this view that I hold loosely (because I have concluded that there are some things God does not want us to fully grasp, this being one of them) is not without trouble for me. How can the atonement be limited and yet the call to come to Christ be universal in nature? How can it be limited when Jesus said “For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only son so that whosoever believes in him….? Then again, how can the atonement be unlimited when clearly there are two destinations in the after life (contra Rob Bell)? I am quite clear on both the Arminian and Calvinist views as I read and study both. I know their answers, and honestly, they each have strengths and weaknesses. Neither is 100% convincing for me. Recently, I have been exposed to a middle view called “Molinism” and have enjoyed studying it.

      Regardless of how God works out His unbelievably merciful plan, I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for everyone who will be saved. When I share the gospel with others, I do so with the conviction that Christ died for that person. I will let Him worry about the details. I do, however, enjoy thinking about it and wrestling with the issues.

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    • “It is therefore wrong to say that the sinner has no choice in the matter. He does.”

      In my humble opinion, the question is not “why are the lost lost?” but “Why aren’t the lost saved?” The nasty, awful, ‘deep-dark-dirtly-little-secret’ of Calvinsim is that it teaches there is one and only one answer to the second question, and it is that God does not want them saved. Period.

      Even Calvin says this in “Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God”, p. 72 “It is a puerile fiction by which Pighius interprets grace to mean that God invites all men to salvation despite their being lost in Adam. For Paul clearly distinguishes the foreknown from the others upon whom God did not please to look.”

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      • I cannot help but marvel that the emotive charge “The nasty, awful, ‘deep-dark-dirtly-little-secret’ of Calvinsim”, should come to us on the severely bending back of one solitary quote from Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God” Absolutely anyone can pick out selected quotes, void of any reference to context whatsover. As even the estate agent knows, the important word is “location, location, location.”

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      • Was that quote out of context? Please, feel free to supply the context of that quote so others can have a more correct view.

        More importantly, why are the lost, lost? Because of their sin? Agreed. Why are the lost not saved? The first link in that chain, for every Calvinist who is being completely consistent is God.

        The saved, are not saved because of their righteousness. They are saved because God chooses them to be saved. Likewise, the lost, are not saved, because and only because God chooses not to save them.

        I understand that many Calvinists do not like this conclusion and resist it. There are many Calvinists that do not resist it and openly proclaim this. I disagree with them. However, I respect them for being consistent.

        Why are the lost not saved? It is because God decided that he would do nothing to save them. For whatever reason, God does not want to and will not save those who are ultimately lost.

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  6. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your reply on my comment(s). I agree with you that both sides of the Arminian/Calvinist debate limit the atonement, although in different ways.

    I take the classic Calvinist line that although Christ cannot be said to have atoned for the sins of any one who is (or will be) in Hell, yet His atonement has an unlimited merit in it that could save a billion worlds if God so desired to do so. IOW: Had the number of the elect been one more than it is or (or a billion more) Jesus would not have suffered any deeper or any longer upon the Cross. It is on this basis, coupled with the command of God, that we can freely offer Christ to the “whosoever will” and we do.

    I do not believe that the Bible teaches that the only sin that damns is the sin of unbelief and that all the other sins are forgiven. The Scripture names a whole host of sins – fornication, uncleanness etc., and then tells us that “for which things sake, the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:4) Again, it is in their capacity of being murderers, whoremongers etc., (a whole list of sins are given) that those who have their part in the lake of fire are there (Revelation 21:8) This issue then solves your problem about the heathen going to hell for rejecting a gospel they never heard. Their own conscience and laws convicts them of their sins of murder etc., and it is for these sins that they perish.

    I accept that the whole story has not been told, but we are duty bound (are we not) to take what has revealed and teach not contrary to that?

    Regards,

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    • “I accept that the whole story has not been told, but we are duty bound (are we not) to take what has revealed and teach not contrary to that?” You and I absolutely agree on this.

      “I take the classic Calvinist line that although Christ cannot be said to have atoned for the sins of any one who is (or will be) in Hell, yet His atonement has an unlimited merit in it that could save a billion worlds if God so desired to do so. IOW: Had the number of the elect been one more than it is or (or a billion more) Jesus would not have suffered any deeper or any longer upon the Cross. It is on this basis, coupled with the command of God, that we can freely offer Christ to the “whosoever will” and we do.” Colin, I have never heard any one from the Calvinist side explain it this way. Is this something that all Calvinists believe? If you can point me to where J. Calvin states this, it would be a big help to me.

      Lately, I have come to the conclusion that what might pass as Calvinism today, may not accurately reflect what Calvin himself taught or believed. I recently order a copy of “The Institutes” so I can read it myself, un-colored by the opinion of the modern day theologian (no disrespect towards them at all).

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  7. Jim,

    There is a school of thought out there that argues that John Calvin did not actually hold to Limited Atonement and that it was developed more by Beza. Certainly, there is (at least as far as I have found) nowhere where Calvin distinctly and unequivocally states this belief. There is a book out by the Banner of Truth entitled “Calvin and the Calvinists” that argues that he did – but it does so more from indirect ways rather than anything direct. I tend to think that he did, but again I would not go into battle over whether he did or not. I hold to it simply because I believe that the Bible teaches it, for reasons given in my last posting. When all is said and done, ultimately who is John Calvin?

    Spurgeon was pretty Calvinistic in his view of the atonement. He wrote the following:

    ”There are others of us who hold what is called the doctrine of particular redemption. We conceive that the blood of Christ was of an infinite value, but that the intention of the death of Christ never was the salvation of all men; for if Christ had designed the salvation of all men, we hold that all men would have been saved. We believe that the intention of Christ’s death is just equal to its effects, and therefore I start this morning by announcing what I regard to be a self-evident truth, that whatever was the intention of Jesus Christ in coming into the world, that intention most certainly shall be fulfilled. (New Park St. Pulpit 4:549)

    His pastoral application of this view is seen here:

    “But I still say thou art limiting his love. What doth he say himself? hath he limited it? Hath he not himself said, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price!” And thou art thirsty, and yet thou thinkest that his love cannot reach to thee. Oh! while God assures thee that thou art welcome, be not wicked enough to throw the lie in the teeth of mercy. Limit not the Holy One of Israel. “But, sir, I am such an old sinner.” Yea, but limit not God. “But I am such a black sinner.” Limit not the efficacy of the cleansing blood. “But I have aggravated him so much.” Limit not his infinite longsuffering. “But my heart is so hard.” Limit not the melting power of his grace, “But I am so sinful.” Limit not the potency of the atonement. “But, sir, I am so hard-hearted, and I feel so little my need of him.” Limit not the influences of the Spirit by thy folly or thy stubbornness but come as thou art, and put thy trust in Christ, and so honor God and he will not dishonor thy faith.”

    See: http://www.corkfpc.com/chsparticularredemption.html
    http://www.corkfpc.com/chs12atonement.html

    I hope this helps.

    Regards, Colin.

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  8. Ken, it really is to you to supply the context, seeing you made the serious charge on the basis of it. Can we safely assume that you never bothered checking out the context?

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    • I understand your reluctance to answer the question: “Why are the lost NOT saved?” According to Calvin, they are not saved because God wills that they perish.

      John Calvin Quotes in Context

      “…it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan.” “..God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening.” Book 2, Ch 23, Section 1

      “…salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it”. Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5

      “some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or the other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 5

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

      “…we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction. …he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.” Book 3, Ch 21, Section 7

      “Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 1

      “With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has willed.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 5

      God not only foresaw the fall off the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity: but also at his own pleasure arranged it.”
      Book 3, Ch 23, Section 7

      I might not be a theologian, but I submit that IF God “arranges” the destruction of the lost, and the lost are lost because God “for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them…” and if God “has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation” so that they don’t have “access” to salvation and never will, and if they are lost because it is all apart of “God’s secret plan” then we must conclude that the lost are lost because THAT is what God wants, and so decrees. Any other conclusion is verbal and logical gymnastics.

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      • Hi Ken,

        Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

        I have been thinking quite alot about your question. “Why are the lost not saved?” I have never thought about it from that angle. It is a bit troubling for me. I think your point is well made. The Calvin quotes seem to add more weight to it. This can’t be the way it really is. The God this depicts is not the God that has been revealed in the scriptures. He would be an evil, unjust, lying being if it is true. I am hoping that some of my Calvinist friends will chime in on the subject and help explain better what Calvin really means here.

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  9. Hi

    Ken: OK, for the sake of greater accuracy, let me do your homework for you. John Calvin tells us why he wrote this work. “Eternal Predestination. of God the Secret Providence ” He summarised Pighius’ teaching on the grace of God as being general and ultimately ineffectual if and when the wicked sinner opted out. I quote: “Now Pighius explains his mind on the great matter before us thus: that God, by His immutable counsel, created all men to salvation without distinction; but that, as He foresaw the Fall of Adam, in order that His election might nevertheless remain firm and unaltered, He applied a remedy which might, therefore, be common to all, which remedy was His confirmation of the election of the whole human race in Christ; so that no one can perish but he who, by his own obstinacy, blots his name out of the book of life.”

    This was anathema to Calvin (as it is to any Bible reader and believer) and so when Calvin denies that grace means that Christ is offered to all, it is not so much that he absolutely denied that Christ was to offered freely to all men. We can say this because on many occasions Calvin affirmed it. I have compiled the following list in an ongoing work: http://www.corkfpc.com/freeoffercalvin.html The issue therefore is not whether Christ is offered to all men but whether this alone constituted the grace of God. Calvin denied the half baked gospel which Pighius proclaimed and replaced it with the true gospel that speaks of redemption not only accomplished but applied also. The grace of God is not merely salvation available, but actually saving lost sinners.

    Re: the doctrine of Reprobation. It is important that you remember that reprobation does not make men sinners and therefore guilty and condemned, but merely treats them as such. If you had been somewhat more careful in your selection of quotes (which you did assure us were in context ) then you would surely would have included these all important lines of Calvin which sit right in the middle of the 3:23 chapter:

    “Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity—which is closer to us—rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination.” (Inst 3:23:7)

    Did you even see them or did you leave them out?

    Regards,

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    • Hi Colin,

      Thanks again for adding your thoughts here and for your tone. Here is a “Shameless Plug” check out his website. It is very good.

      I just picked up The Institutes and am reading through it. I haven’t got to the section yet that is being discussed here, so I can’t say whether or not things are in context. It does look like Calvin is trying to have it both ways. It is hard to reconcile these two statements with each other. They can’t both be true.

      “Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does
      for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” Book 3, Ch 23, Section 1

      “Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity —which is closer to us—rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination.” (Inst 3:23:7)

      Which is it?

      God passes over those not saved and he condemns them for
      no other reason but that he wills to exclude them. If there is no other reason, then it seems forced and contradictory to then claim that there is another reason, namely the cause of condemnation lies in the corrupt nature of humanity.

      Reprobation according to all my theology books is defined as “the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, deciding not to save them, and so to punish them for their sins and thereby to manifest his justice.

      I think we would all agree that those who are lost are lost because of their own sin. But that is not what Calvin seems to say consistently. The question on the table is “Why are the Lost not saved

      If the answer to Ken’s question is that the lost are not saved because they are sinners, and God sees that we will be, and therefore chooses to condemn us, how is that different from the Arminian view of God knowing those who would accept his gracious offer and therefore chooses them?

      It does seem to me to be a logical conclusion that if the saved are chosen to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleausre, then the lost are lost the same way. I do not like that conclusion, but it IS consistent.

      I will be honest with all those who read this blog. I don’t label myself a true Calvinist or a true Arminian. I have studied both, and have a degree in theology. Yet, I never chose a side in this debate. Neither camps seem to be able to fully appreciate the weakness of their system. My experience has been that once a side is chosen, then one begins to only see the strength of their position. The parts of the system that are messy, we seem to ignore or interpret away. I can see that in all three systems (even Molinism).

      I think that perhaps God has set up a “No Trespassing” sign. We can come into his counsel so far and then no more.

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  10. Jim,

    Calvin isn’t saying in 3;23:1 that there is no other reason for the condemnation, but that there was no other reason for the passing over, except His sovereign will to exclude. There is a massively big difference there. If sin was the reason why some are passed by and not others, then none could be saved, because all have sinned – or (seeing this happened before the foundation of world) were viewed as having already sin. I repeat again, reprobation does not make people as sinners, but merely treats them as such. The wonder is not that God is this
    sinner by and left him in his chosen doom, but that he saved that sinner who was equally deserving of damnation.

    The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is not therefore the reason why men are damned (we both believe it is sin alone) but why some are saved. The Arminian says because of their faith which is the cause (or condition) or their salvation i.e. God saw I would believe and therefore chose me. The Calvinist says that faith flows from election which is unconditional. IOW, I believe because I am elect. Faith to the Calvinist is not the cause of election, but the fruit.

    Regards,

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    • Hi Colin,

      I am still studying this out and came upon a quote by Wayne Grudem in his Systamatic Theology book, which I love! He is addressing an objection to Election brought by the other camp that says the Calvinist view of Election means that mankind does not have a choice in accepting Christ or not Accepting him. Grudem states:

      “We (Calvinists) say that God causes us to choose Christ voluntarily.” p 680.

      Do you think this accurately describes the Calvinist view? God causes man to voluntarily choose Christ? This seems like a contradiction. Thanks for the help, as I know you know this stuff quite well.

      Jim

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      • Hi Jim,

        Because of the slavish and fatal nature of sin, man will not and indeed cannot freely choose God unless caused to do so by God. IOW: Man can trace his ability to voluntarily choose God to God’s own will and power.

        Thus David wrote that he was willing in the day of God’ power (Psalm 110:3) and again, Paul observes that it is in God that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17) – not only physically, but spiritually also.

        I think it ought to be kept in mind that no Calvinist makes any claim to have been brought involuntarily to Christ, as if he was spiritually kidnapped.

        Hence Isaac Watts could sing: “O happy day that fixed my choice on Thee my Saviour and my God” adding later in the same hymn: “He drew me and I followed on, charmed to confessed His voice divine.”

        Even Charles Wesley the Arminian wrote a hymn that included the words “Force me to be saved by grace.”

        Regards,

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        • Hi Colin, thanks for jumping back in over here. I tried emailing your website but it came back as un-deliverable. This is a huge wrestling point for me and I appreciate your thoughts. My sticking point is that it seems if God “forces” (Wesley’s word choice) me to choose him, it is not voluntary on my part. It seems like a contradiction. I can’t do anything but what God causes me to do in salvation. I can’t voluntarily NOT choose him, can I? Therefore, it would seem that there really isn’t a choice. Adding the word “voluntary” seems like a well intentioned attempt to make the teaching more palatable. It makes more sense to me, if this is indeed how God operates, that we simply say, “God makes me submit to him.” Period. I recognize that this does not have to make sense in order to be the way God works. Yet, this is a big stumbling block for me. Do you have any articles over at your site that deal with this?

          Anyone else have thoughts on this?

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  11. Jim,

    Part of the problem here is that we are trying to trace that exact place where God’s sovereignty ends and man’s choice begins. Sufficient for us to know that even the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD and as rivers of waters, He turns it whersoever He will (Proverbs 21:1) with God still being sovereign and the earthly king still being free. A similar verse is when God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)

    Regards,

    Like

  1. Pingback: Moving east to find lost treasures… | Brambonius' blog in english

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