Sunday, October 12, 2014

Games Calvinists Play to Keep the System Breathing, Part Two

Part One

The five points of Calvinism do not present a different gospel per se, because those five points don't deal with the crux of the gospel, which is, one, whether you believe in a biblical Jesus, and, two, whether your faith is a biblical faith in Christ.  I could leave Calvinism alone, except that Calvinism itself gets your attention by either stating or implying that you don't preach a true gospel unless you present Calvinism.  If you really do believe what they say you do, then you are in real trouble, attention-grabbing kind of trouble.  It sounds like, as coming from Calvinists, that if you don't believe and teach Calvinism, you could preach that salvation is by grace alone through a biblical faith alone and in a biblical Jesus, but still not be preaching a true gospel.  The following is case in point.

Bill Combs, professor at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, writes concerning the absolute binary necessity of being either a Calvinist or an Arminian:

The real issue comes down to the question of who saves us. Does God save us, or do we, with some help from God, save ourselves?

He continues in explanation:

One answer is that God chose Joe (unconditional election) and gave him grace (efficacious) that caused him to believe. He owes his salvation completely to God (monergism). Joe cannot boast in his salvation (1 Cor 1:28–29; Eph 2:8–9). This is Calvinism.

And finally, he writes:

One may not like the labels Calvinism and Arminianism and can rail against them all day long. But they historically represent the two evangelical options for the salvation of sinners. Either God is the ultimate decider: He gets all glory. Or the sinner is the ultimate decider: he deserves to share in that glory.

In support of Combs and to supply his own explanation, Dan Phillips writes:

Over at the indispensable DBTS blog, professor Bill Combs asks whether a person really has to be either Calvinist or Arminian, with no middle-ground. He answers, correctly, Yes.

Here's one way I'd put it: either God's choice of me is the result of my choice of Him, or my choice of Him is the result of His choice of me. There's no middle-ground that isn't exclusively populated by weasels.

I point out these particular quotes of Combs, because they look and read like they are saying that, unless you believe in unconditional election, you believe in salvation by works.  This is where a Calvinist gets my attention.  I could leave it alone, if it weren't for that.  You've got to step in at this point and say, "Uh-uh, that's not true."  And it isn't how the Bible reads.

The Bible doesn't present with these two options, that it is either/or, period.  This is an invented dichotomy. It reminds me of something my younger brother would do when I was in school.  He would point out two unfavorable females and ask which one I was going to marry.  Those two and only those two were the only options for me, when they really, of course, were not.

It is true that there is only one truth.  However, the Bible doesn't present two options like this relative to choosing or deciding.  It isn't even true according to history.   It is what we call in logic, a false dilemma, and in that sense is just a propaganda technique.  Phillips just makes it a little bit more biting, by calling those who won't accept the false dilemma, weasels.  You accept this viewpoint or you're a weasel.  Perhaps we could call this one of the 'new measures' of Calvinists to persuade others of Calvinism.  I have to ask, can someone persuade someone to be a Calvinist, using this technique, or isn't that just predetermined?


In his above linked article, Bill Combs quotes Wayne Grudem:

The reason for election is simply God’s sovereign choice…. It was not because of any foreseen faith or foreseen merit in us.

In the same paragraph, Combs summarizes from this:

 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Eph 1:4). God’s choosing or election of the individual to salvation is not conditioned on anything within the individual himself—thus unconditional.

What matters about election is what God says about it.  Knowing what God says, I question the quotation of Grudem -- the reason for election is God's sovereign choice?  The reason?  I love God's choosing, His election, but the reason for it is God's sovereign choice?  Where does scripture say that?  And isn't "election" itself simply "God's choice"?  Election is His choice, not the reason for His choice.

Choosing ahead of time does not follow that the choosing is unconditional.  Not with God.  God is not bound by time.  He is Omniscient.  I guess we're supposed to believe that choosing beforehand means the choice is unconditional.  Doesn't God's timelessness and omniscience allow for God to elect only those who believe?

Grudem also twists foreseen faith into foreseen merit.  Calvinists do this by making foreseen faith a work by categorizing faith as someone's individual choice or election.  I agree that election or choosing is separated in the Bible as a unique aspect of God in salvation.   However, man does believe and believing isn't technically, that is, scripturally, a choice.  Men choose, but salvation doesn't come by choice, but by faith.  I'm saying that faith isn't a choice, because the Bible doesn't say it is. Faith and choice are different.  Even in real time, after the foundation of the world, among men, faith is not choice.

Grudem and Combs are saying that faith, if it is foreseen, is a choice and, therefore, merit, because man is making that choice, because man believing equals man choosing.   However, let's say that faith isn't a choice and yet man is still believing.  Because man is believing, that doesn't make it or mean it is a work, just because it is a man believing.  Is God believing for a man?  Is a man actually not doing the believing either?  Because if he believes, a man, then it is a work?  Either way, biblical faith isn't a work, and Grudem and Combs are wrong on this, no matter how they promote this false dilemma.

I have a theory or opinion about Calvinists.  Even if it were true, I can't see one of them admitting it, but I think that Calvinists feel ashamed of their view of God, which is why they keep barking about these points that don't plainly follow from the text of scripture.  Their emotion, often anger, comes out of that shame.  I expect Calvinists to mock this.  But they know why people don't believe it.  People who reject the points of Calvin can't wrap their brain around the idea that God has predetermined people to heaven and to hell. Scripture doesn't come out and say that.  Calvinists get that idea from a kind of deduction that I don't think we should call logical.  All teaching in scripture included, the Calvinist idea isn't supported.  It isn't logical because the premises of Calvinism aren't all true.


Combs writes about deciding:

What I mean, and what I’m trying to get at, is who is the ultimate decider in the matter of our salvation? Is God the one who ultimately decides if I end up in heaven or hell, or am I the one who ultimately decides if I end up in heaven or hell? Quickly, someone will say that both God and I decide. There is truth there, but there can be only one ultimate decider, one person who makes the final determination.

The language, "ultimate decider," is a definition of "choice" or "election" that Calvinists choose for God.  The Bible doesn't say, "ultimate decider."  God doesn't choose to call Himself the ultimate decider or even use that kind of language.  It doesn't square with scripture.

I don't care if someone believes God is the ultimate decider.  If I was asked if God was the ultimate decider, I would say, "Yes."  And yet I don't believe in unconditional election.  God decided there was a condition:  faith.  He decided to provide the only way of that salvation.  He decided to reveal Himself to all men.  He decided to make His Word accessible to man.  He decided to make His Word powerful.  He decided to send His Son.  He decided to start the church.  He decided to choose apostles.  Men can be saved, not because they decided, but because God did.  We don't get saved when we want to get saved, but when God decides to allow us.

God will sit on the Great White Throne.  Only God could choose before the foundation of the world. He is the ultimate decider, but I still don't believe election is unconditional.  He chose us "in him." He chose us "according to foreknowledge."  He chose us "through belief in the truth."  His choosing is not unconditional.

God gets all the glory through salvation by grace through faith.  If you don't add unconditional election to that, Combs is saying that God doesn't get all the glory, but man does.  He doesn't have a verse to back that up.  He's making it up.

In this way, Calvinism is lazy.  Rather than thinking through all the ramifications of God's election and man's faith, Calvinists just resort to predetermination.  God chose to send this person to heaven and He chose to send this person to hell, regardless of the person's faith.  Someone will believe.  Why?   The fourth point of Calvinism says that grace is irresistible to the one God elects without condition.  Every person God elects must believe.  Each will believe.  He makes each of them do that with the irresistible grace at His disposal.  He doesn't dispense of that grace to everyone, just those He elects.  Everyone else is doomed in advance, created or formed for destruction.  Calvinists say these people have no choice and yet they are responsible for making a bad choice -- both.  That is not how the Bible reads.

More to Come.


Anonymous said...

The Philippian jailer asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30. If Paul had been a Calvinist he might have said, "You can do nothing to be saved, absolutely nothing. You are dead in sin and a dead man can do nothing. If God doesn't regenerate you, then you are doomed to eternal punishment." How different was the answer Paul gave: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"
Acts 16:31.

dave b said...

"The five points of Calvinism do not present a different gospel per se, because those five points don't deal with the crux of the gospel, which is, one, whether you believe in a biblical Jesus, and, two, whether your faith is a biblical faith in Christ."

Saying something like that is one of the "games Calvinists play" to be sure!

Calvinism absolutely contradicts the gospel because the gospel is for "whosoever will" and thus affirms the reality of freewill. Jesus also commands repentance, which Calvinism spits on. And Jesus doesn't teach waiting around for God to zap you with an enabling grace, but rather "seek ye first the kingdom of God" and whosoever will let him COME...not let him wait to be dragged in.

Anonymous said...

Whosoever can also mean anybody or no one at do realize this don't you? There is no where in Scripture that says we have free will either. Adam took our freewill when he sinned against God.

Unknown said...

If you can do anything to earn salvation, then you are A legalist and that has nothing to do with Calvin or anyone else! Eph 2:*&(

Unknown said...

It is whosoever has been elected. Free will has nothing to do with salvation. Our will is tainted with sin and we cannot save ourselves Ephesians 2:8&9 'and that not of yourselves'

dave b said...

See Deuteronomy 30:11-end. While you're at it, see Sirach 15's commentary on that passage too. The Bible certainly does teach that we have freewill. Also there is a clear distinction between "earning" salvation and meeting the requirements for "receiving" salvation, which include believing, repenting, confessing your belief, and being baptized.

KJB1611 said...

Dear David,

Baptism is absolutely not a prerequisite to salvation – that is a false gospel. See here:

dave b said...

Baptism is absolutely a prerequisite to salvation: "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."

But it is not a prerequisite to justification, because justification only deal with the question of who is a valid candidate for baptism. To be justified = to be viewed as a valid candidate for baptism. And that is by faith alone.

This is why you faith alonists who put a long period of catechization in front of baptism are actually denying justification by faith alone in the true sense in which Paul meant it. Faith alone is the only prerequisite to baptism, and nobody has to prove themselves by subscribing to your non-biblical creeds nor doing any other work to prove they're ready for baptism. The only confession required is that in Acts 8:37, not the Westminster Confession or any other.

KJB1611 said...

David, you need a verse that says "he that believeth but is not baptized shall be damned" to prove that those who are not baptized shall be damned. Everyone who recognizes the truth of justification by faith alone believes that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, because if all who truly believe will be saved, then all who believe and are baptized will be saved.

Your definition of "justified" is astonishing. Can you please find a single lexicon that defines dikaiaoo not as "declared righteous" but as "to become a valid candidate for baptism?" Romans 5:1 states that those who are justified by faith have peace with God--His wrath is no longer on them. Romans 4:1-8 indicates that Abraham was justified by faith alone and was thus righteous and ready for heaven--not that he became a candidate for baptism.

I will put in below the section (w/o the footnotes) from:

on Mark 16:16. Please read it for your own soul's eternal benefit.

KJB1611 said...

1.) Mark 16:16a[liv]

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” the first half of Mark 16:16, allegedly proves baptismal regeneration. Since this half of the verse states that one who believes and is baptized will be saved, the conclusion that one who is not baptized will be damned supposedly follows. However, this argument has major problems.

First, the truth of an affirmative does not require the truth of its converse or negative.[lv] “He that flieth to the equator shall be warm” does not mean that those who do not leave cooler areas by jet will not be warm; they could get to the equator by car, boat, or bus, or could simply dress in enough layers and stay where they are. Similarly, Mark 16:16’s declaration that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” makes a positive affirmation about who will be saved but says nothing about who will not be saved.[lvi] A verse that stated, “He that believeth but is not baptized shall be damned,” or simply “He that is not baptized shall be damned,” would prove baptismal regeneration—but no such verse is found anywhere in the Bible.[lvii] In contrast, Scripture asserts not only that those who believe are justified (“He that believeth on him is not condemned,” John 3:18a.), but that those who do not believe are unforgiven (“[B]ut he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” John 3:18b-c.). Since no verse, including Mark 16:16a, affirms that “he that is not baptized is condemned already, because he hath not been baptized in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” the baptismal regenerationist’s argument fails.

Second, considerations of the context of Mark 16:16a further devastate the baptismal regenerationist’s argument. Mark 16:16-18 reads:

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

The second half of the verse, Mark 16:16b, states, “[H]e that believeth not shall be damned,” demonstrating that the imperative matter for the receipt or loss of salvation is believing, not baptism. In Mark 16:17-18, Christ continues, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Verse 17, which is closely connected to verse 16 by the word “and,” also demonstrates that believing, not baptism, is the essential matter for the receipt of salvation, since Christ promised signs following “them that believe,” not “them that are baptized.” Unless one is willing to affirm that the “them that believe” of verse 17, who are casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, taking up deadly serpents, drinking poison without dying, and healing the sick, will still be lost unless they are baptized, the conclusion that belief, not baptism, is the imperative matter for salvation is contextually supported by v. 17-18. Verse twenty also mentions the Lord “working with them [the “them that believe” of v. 17], and confirming the word with signs following.” One cannot argue that these signs follow only baptized believers, for Acts 10:44-48 presents unbaptized believers who spoke “with new tongues,” as mentioned in Mark 16:17.[lviii] The Bible also connects “work[ing] miracles” and “the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:5) elsewhere. God gave signs to demonstrate that He was with His people, in confirmation of their message; obviously, then, those believers performing them were already reconciled to Him.

KJB1611 said...

Third, the overwhelming majority of baptismal regenerationists do not even accept the declaration of the first half of Mark 16:16; they do not teach that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”[lix] The statement promises eternal security to those who believe and are baptized (and denies nothing more or less to the unbaptized), while those who teach that baptism is the means through which past sins are forgiven almost always also stipulate that the baptized one can fall away and not be saved if he does not continue to do good works.[lx] Thus, the baptismal regenerationist’s proof-text refutes his own doctrine.[lxi] Mark 16:16, to truly be suitable, would need to read as follows: “He that believeth and is baptized may be saved, if he continues to be faithful enough; but he that believeth and is not baptized shall be damned—along with he that believeth and is baptized who does not continue to be faithful enough.” The next verse would need to begin, “And these signs shall follow them that believe, are baptized, and are continuing faithfully enough; they shall cast out devils, etc.” Mark 16:16a not only does not prove the doctrine of baptismal regenerationists, it actually contradicts it.

Why, then, does Christ bring baptism into Mark 16:16 at all? Surely He does not do so to contradict His repeated promises of eternal life to simple faith (John 3:16, 6:47). Since believers show their faith by their works (James 2:18), and the God-given gift of saving faith (1 Corinthians 3:5-7) is not merely intellectual knowledge but works by love (Galatians 5:6), the new nature given by God (Hebrews 8:8-12) at the point of belief (Romans 5:1) will inevitably express itself in holiness of life. Obedience to Christ’s command to be baptized is expected of the convert. Furthermore, since man cannot see the heart, only the outward actions of others (1 Samuel 16:7), while sinners are justified by faith apart from works in the sight of God (Romans 3:28), Christians should only have confidence that others have been born again when they see fruits that evidence regeneration (cf. Matthew 7:16, 20), including baptism. Nothing is more natural for one who has been given a new heart to love the Lord Jesus than to seek to keep His commandments (John 14:23), including the command to be baptized. The Bible contains numbers of passages that, in a manner comparable to Mark 16:16a, conjoin promises of justification by faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7) and statements about the works that are the fruits of that justification (Ephesians 2:10, Titus 3:8).

Mark 16:16a does not prove baptismal regeneration. Neither the verse, nor any other text in Scripture, states that the unbaptized will be damned. The immediate context (16:16b, 16:17-20) manifests that belief, not baptism, is the point upon which eternity rests. Those who typically affirm baptism forgives past sins do not even believe their proof-text. It guarantees salvation for those who believe and are baptized, while baptismal regenerationists almost universally affirm that baptized believers who fail to continue to do enough good works will be lost. While saving faith shows itself in obedience, a doctrine Mark 16:16 supports, the verse by no means contradicts the overwhelming testimony of Scripture that a man is justified before God by faith alone.

dave b said...

"David, you need a verse that says 'he that believeth but is not baptized shall be damned' to prove that those who are not baptized shall be damned."

Baptism is the most foundational commandment of Christ. Its the first thing anyone who believes is commanded to do: Repent and be baptized. Its the first part of the great commission given as a response by the one who accepts the gospel. "Go make disciples, baptizing them..." The first thing the respondent does is be baptized. Therefore it is imediately obvious that anyone who rejects baptism does not really believe. So the statement "he that believeth not shall be damned" covers those who reject baptism.

KJB1611 said...

Dear David,

So which is it?

1.) Are those on their way to hell who do not really believe, while those who really believe are immediately not condemned, because "he that believeth on him is not condemned," and (unlike with baptism) "he that believeth not is condemned already" (Jn 3:18), and baptism is a fruit of already present saving faith?


#2: Those who die of a heart attack on the way to the baptismal pool--and infants not yet able to believe, aborted children, and everyone in the Old Testament, the repentant thief on the cross, etc--in hell, because "Baptism is absolutely a prerequisite to salvation," which you said before.

#2 is a false gospel; #1 is Biblical.

By the way, to say that it is a sin to not baptize people the same day is adding to Scripture, just like it is to say that it is a sin to baptize people the same day. However, the Bible says, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Mt 3:8), so it is Biblical to refuse baptism to those who do not show evident fruit of an already present conversion in a holy life.

dave b said...

Lol, so you believe in the false Catholic doctrine or "original sin" invented by Augustine in 380 AD? That's not in the Bible. Paul says he was alive until the law came and he died, in Romans 7. Now considering that he wasn't old enough to have been at Sinai when Moses received the Law, he obviously is referring to the age of reason when the Law began to apply to him. So he wasn't born dead in sin by inheriting Adam's guilt. Until that soaks into your brain, there's really no point answering the rest of your questions. You have to unlearn all the heresy that is based on Augustine's inherited original sin lie first.

KJB1611 said...

Dear David,

You won't be Laughing Out Loud when you hear Christ say "I never knew you – depart from me, ye that work iniquity." You will then be filled with terror and will wish you had repented of your foolishness and believed in the true gospel.

The apostle Paul clearly teaches the imputation of Adam's sin in Romans 5:12-19, and the affirmation that the idea was invented by Augustine is simply not the case.

It is very ironic that you attack Augustine when you hold his own doctrine of baptismal salvation.

However, if you have the attitude of laughing out loud at the truth instead of receiving it meekly with fear and trembling, it is certainly true that we should not keep talking about this, as it will simply make your damnation worse.

Prepare to meet thy God.