Sunday, December 23, 2007

Relational Theology's response to the Five Points of Calvinism

We wish to point out here, that despite the noble attempts of Calvinism to interpret the Word of God (though quite unfortunately, NOT the WHOLE Word of God) why T.U.L.I.P. in not necessarily Biblical and is at best half-truths at Bible interpretation not only as far as the concepts of Salvation and Assurance, but such philosophical statements have tremendous implications on how to relate to God and walk daily with Him. The side you choose determines whether or not you walk with God and relate to Him as a lover in a give-and-take relationship where the actions of one affects the other, OR whether you are simply a slave or actor in some kind of divinely puppeteered drama.

The teachings of other theologies like Arminianism, Open Theism, Wesleyanism are feeble attempts to respond properly to TULIP mainly because they continue to use "classical" thinking to respond to this classical teaching. The only way to respond effectively against Classical Hellenistic logic is to use Jewish (Elohim's) logic and Elohim or YHWH is relational and personal. Classical thinking is logical but cold. It's coldness is what gives it away as unbiblical. Most opponents look the wrong way to argue against it. They look at it's logic which seems flawless if interpreted within its own rules. Unfortunately, the teaching is not Biblical if taken in the whole context of the Biblical revelation of who God is and how He relates to His creation.

Hence, to declare this teaching as half-truths and unbiblical, one has to show where it clearly contradicts the teachings of YHWH and how it clearly contradicts the demonstrated KHECED of God as demonstrated by the AGAPE-based PHILEO of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We shall deal with the 5 points in order except for Total Depravity being last. The reason I am making this last is because it was the last of the 5 I was able to reject but the reason for my rejection is what really makes all 5 impotent.

Unconditional Election

Calvinist writings define this as, and I quote verbatim,

"Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would "accept" the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8)."

Note first of all where the Calvinist is coming from, a fixation on God's Sovereignty and an almost absolute disregard for God's LOVE!!! It is assumed at this point that a Relational theist believes, and which is completely Biblically supported, that God's Love is what determines how He exercises His sovereignty and not the other way around. Classical theologians, among them Calvinists, tend to imply that God has no control over His sovereignty, that God CANNOT help but be sovereign over all, with the ability to predetermine, control, etc. Relational theology does NOT deny this. However, relational theology gives God the flexibility and common sense to exercise or limit His sovereignty because of His Love. Hence, the God of Relational Theology is more powerful PRECISELY BECAUSE He has the ability to CONTROL or LIMIT the use of His sovereignty!

The classical view is SOVEREIGNTY RUN AMUCK. TOTALLY UNCONTROLLED, i.e., God CANNOT control the exercise of His sovereignty! So they go around in circles to argue that God does not love the whole world because many are going to hell. This implies that if He loved the whole world and He is indeed sovereign, then He can save the whole world with just a word of His mouth (which is true in a technical sense but Biblically wrong!) Such logic may display a logical grasp of Sovereignty but an utter lack of the understanding of the meaning and workings and implications of TRUE Biblical Divine LOVE.

Classical theology, therefore, sees God limiting the way He loves because He has no control over His sovereignty! Hence, we have an all-powerful God whose sovereignty has virtually run amuck!
This is the only way the Calvinist can logically justify that since God knows everything including the future (a classical extrapolation but definitely not Biblical, see other blogs on this) and that God Himself is timeless and cannot operate within time, that he already "knows" who is going to heaven and who is hell-bound. As a result, the Calvinist begins to make excuses about God's accountability to Himself, that since not all will be saved, then not all are actually loved by God and not all are beneficiaries of His sacrifice on the cross.

They now begin to capitalize on the term "elect" in the New Testament. It is only the elect that will be saved! Finally, they believe that they have a closed systematic theology that can explain all this jargon.

It is quite unfortunate that although the language is Greek, the philosophy is not Platonic (God is wholly other, timeless, perfect, totally omniscient (including all future), impersonal, etc.). Instead they overlook the fact that the culture under which Koine Greek was used to write the New Testament was still mainly and firstly to a Jewish audience. In this regard, the word "elect" is analogous to the Jews being a "chosen" people. Do you see a difference between the terms, chosen vs. elect? Well, I definitely don't. And yet it is this "chosen" people that were chastised and sent to exile, their kingdom divided, their kings and leaders cursed, their pregnant mothers pierced by their conquerors killing both baby and mother, women raped, most going through several holocausts and many perhaps facing a Christless eternity. That is the context by which one is to interpret the Greek word, "eklektos" for "elect".

The word "elect' is always (except in 2 obscure cases) used in reference to a group and not to an individual in the same analogous sense as the chosen people always being addressed as a people and not any specific individual!

Hence the church is elect but not ALL it's individuals necessarily go to heaven!!! Egg-zactly the same as God's chosen (let us just say "from the foundation of the world"), the Jews, not all are saved except a small remnant (surprise, surprise....). King Saul and many of the kings of Judah and Israel were literally chosen by God, elected if you may, but were also definitely rejected afterwards based on their behavior, faithfulness or obedience to God's commands. I would not be surprised if the Church is treated the same way by God, who is no respecter of persons and therefore will show no bias (perhaps apart from what is dictated by Love?).

Note the following caveat from,
"This doctrine does not rule out, however, man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism."

...and, may I add, to try to resolve both by saying there is a tension is mere...CONFUSION. The above quote was supposed to be a scholarly statement but really means.......NOTHING! If all you are going to teach is more confusion, perhaps it is better to just shut up. Note the words, "presents a tension.....which it does not try to resolve." This is utter blindness! There is more discourse in the Bible about man's responsibility. Every topic which directly addresses sovereignty in scripture are footnotes compared to man's responsibility. Why make a major doctrine out of a footnote?

Again, we affirm God's sovereignty, but God Himself clearly describes His use of His sovereignty and how He operates when it comes to man's redemption and Salvation. His sovereignty has already dictated that after ALL that God has done to court man to salvation, human responsibility is what makes the difference as to whether one is saved or not! Human responsibility is what declares that though salvation is freely offered to all, actually having it is based on personal choice.
That view affirms God's Love for ALL without surrendering sovereignty but simply controlling it according to the dictates of His great love for the world (John 3:16). It seems that our Calvinist friends have a difficult time exegeting as simple a verse as John 3:16. By the way, in the passage the quoted above, did you see any smidgin of a hint about sovereignty? Or was it more about Love and human responsibility? Isn't that sheer blindness? Calvinists have to stop wearing colored lenses and start putting on real reading glasses!

Let me point out unequivocally that unbeknown to the Calvinist, they do NOT have ANY assurance at all for their salvation! If salvation is entirely based on the arbitrary exercise of sovereignty by God, then there would be people with the morals of Samson, Jack the Ripper, Hitler who ARE ACTUALLY ELECT! And there are people like Billy Graham, Dwight L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, who may turn out to be ACTUALLY NOT ELECT! Why? Because no one knows for sure who is the elect according to Calvinist defintions and assumptions.

So, Mr. Calvinist? You could actually be walking with Christ, living in the Spirit, have all these glorious experiences of communion with God, etc and still turn out NOT to be ELECT!!! Don't look at me. I was just being logical and using your own logic!

Why do I say this? Precisely, "For who has known the mind of the LORD?Or who has become His counselor?”, (Romans 11:34). So if individual salvation is ENTIRELY and arbitrarily God's sole choice, and no one knows that mind of God, then no one will ever have the assurance that they are saved!

Hence, the Calvinist is now arrogant or misled in claiming he is saved when he admits that he does not even know the mind of God! Alas, the Calvinist is in fact, NOT saved by faith, but saved by hopefully guessing right that he is elect! How can he be saved by faith if his faith has no sure anchor? How can one have real faith in a guess, even an intelligent one?

Plain common sense logic would tell you that Sola Fie is not really Sola Fie from the Calvinist viewpoint since it is entirely by grace if unconditional election is true.

I look for comments or responses from our Classical friends but the above discourse should be more than enough to prove that Unconditional Election is UNBIBLICAL, throw that out!!! Next!

Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)

We quote our Calvinist friends:
"Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, "for whose sins did Christ atone?" The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church -- the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name "Christian" (Ephesians 5:25).
This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Christ's death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. Believing that Jesus' death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ's act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!"

Ho-hum...should we even bother to discuss this without repeating what we said about Unconditional Election? This is obviously a philosophical statement based on another philosophical statement and not an exegetical statement derived directly from Scripture. I just wish that our Calvinist friends would be as strict on hermeneutics as they are strict when addressing the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses.

So, let me reiterate to anyone who is Sovereignty-fixated: The Bible declares and demonstrates a loving and (Self-Admittedly) a Jealous God quite EXPLICITLY. Most of the sovereignty discussions are either hints or footnotes. In fact, God has declared that He is Love, that He is Jealous. This means that these attributes are what God desires and even resolves to EMPHASIZE!

Now the scriptural declarations like "Almighty" God, and other "footnotes" about Divine Sovereignty demonstrate presumption, which is correct. However, the fact that they are not discussed too often and rarely explicitly, but just mentioned in passing means that God does not really intend to emphasize this. (Please see my discussion on The Chief End of Man is NOT to Glorify God for a better perspective on this).

In a nutshell, God wants man to be LOVE-fixated and NOT Sovereignty-fixated. (See my discussion on the The Chief End of Man is NOT to Glorify God) That is the difference between Relational Theology and Classicism (demonstrated mostly by Calvinism in all its forms).

Reread the Calvinist summary discussion above and it becomes more evident that such teaching comes from somewhere else but defintely NOT Heaven. The teaching flies in the face of God's Love and attempts at best (though very futile) to redefine what God's love is.

"Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28)"

Hermeneutics, hermeneutics, hermeneutics!!! How about the Great Commission? How about John 3:16? How about 1 John 2:2 (NASB), "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." St. John is addressing Christians, yes, but look at the declarative sentence. So what is there about the English that they don't understand? Should we go to the Greek? Another one of those things where if they get this teaching from the Bible, their Bible is sure different from mine! Should we look at the Amplfied version?, the NRSV, the RSV? What does it take for them to retract? Logic, perhaps but unbiblically sourced logic, indeed! Ironically, last time I checked even the versions John Calvin used said the same thing? So, where did this otherwise, well-meaning scholar get these strange derivations? It must be an extreme reaction to Arminianism which is another variant of classical thought but closer to Relational Theology.

"Believing that Jesus' death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ's act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners."

It is Calvinism that trivializes Christ's ACTUAL suffering and atonement by downgrading it to an act! It is now a ceremonial death and no longer an actual atonement! The Calvinist portrays God as playing with Himself! They have also trivialized God! The atonement is almost unnecessary if God has already chosen! I am amazed that they can sleep at night with all these confused theological mambo-jambo.

"Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!"

So, what ever happened to, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of your sins!"???? The Calvinist has virtually changed the gospel message in order to fit their theology! Evangelism is not just NOT lifted up, it is downgraded to an act and redefined as passive statement of assurance. It is no longer directed to the lost world but to the evangelist's "congregation". No more "fishers of men", no more Great Commission! Hey, might as well go all the more Bible!

Finally, let us address John 6. This chapter is replete with statements about God chosing first or drawing men first before any step can be done towards salvation and we do not deny that. However, is John 6 the whole of Scripture? Shall we then create a Bible which contains ONLY John 6?

The preponderance of Scripture says otherwise than what the English reads in John 6. Hence, at best (and I will not give more importance to this, since John 6 is not even a minutiae of 1% of the Bible), Jesus is speaking idiomatically in challenging the stubborn will of the Pharisees that God has capabilities that should put their pig-headed pride bow down to the dust. God IS capable and He CAN force issues if He wants to (John 6). But thank God, He has not chosen to (the rest of Scripture!).

We have shown (via common sense hermeneutics and a little sarcasm) that the preponderance of verses contradict how Calvinists interpret the John 6 discourse. Their real hermeneutical problem is that they have closed their minds to other possible interpretations and mainly because they think using Greek philosophical propositions instead of the simplicity of Jewish thinking.

The most basic rule to follow is that God is the author of the WHOLE of Scripture, not just John 6. We should not allow our interpretation of a small passage end up with God contradicting Himself in other major passages. Otherwise, we lose the benefit of the passage, we are the losers and at this point I would say, many (not all, since most who say they are Calvinists are really Calvinians or Arminists, sarcasm intended) Calvinists are the losers.

Let us therefore address these one by one with the other possible interpretations other than the Calvinist slant.

John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out".

Note that the English (with emphasis on the english, note that this translation is not God's Word. God's Word is the original Koine Greek with idioms familiar to a Jewish audience), if taken literally, the 2nd clause, "and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out", makes the 1st clause, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me", senseless. Using the English reading, it does not make sense for Christ to cast out anyone whom the Father gives Him. In fact, if the English reading is literally correct, then Christ does NOT even have to mention this! It goes without saying! That interpretation does NOT add anything to what we already know!

Now note the verses after. Verses 38 and 39 emphasize the 2nd clause. Christ wants to assure His listeners that His arms are open wide to receive anyone who comes to Him (of their own volition). Why do I know this? Look at how He concludes with verse 40!

Now since Christ did NOT emphasize the first clause (which the Calvinist always does instead), then the first clause has to be an idiom. As far as the Greek didomi is concerned, this word is used in Luke 1:73,74 and Mark 4:29 to mean allow. In fact the English word in Mark is "ripen". Here is a sample definition from The Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains.

Just look at the English word, LOVE. It could mean phileo, agape, eros but the English uses the same word and the only way to determine the exact meaning is to look at the context. All languages have their limitations as well as idioms. It is common sense to question whether or not an direct translation or transliteration is contradictory, to reject this initial pass and move on to other possible meanings. I am sorry to imply that the Calvinist fixation is devoid of common sense, but it is. It seems to know how to use English when communicating with the modern world and then assume that the Bible has mysterious meanings when translated. That is hog-wash.

God knows how to communicate better than we all do, and He knows that the best way to do it is to use our language and our conventions. Otherwise, He is doing NO revelation at all, progressive or otherwise!

John 6:44."No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."Note again the verses just following this statement. v.45 "..Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me". This one clearly tells me that someone who uses his God-created intelligence, if he realizes what is involved would willingly and perhaps, enthusiastically, come to Christ. Thereafter, all the way to verse 58, all the discussion centers around man's (volitional) response to Christ, to the "bread", to the "manna", to the "blood". There is so much preponderance in this sub-passage alone, so much so, that the Calvinist interpretation is more of a fixation on something that is not even there!

The only recourse is to treat the first clause again as an idiom. Now let us look at the transliterations. the word "draws" from the TDNT, "The basic meaning is to “tug” or “draw” ". So, there is an alternative interpretation which is not compulsion! No doubt, this is one of the strongest verses for the argument of compulsion and control of somebody else's will especially when taken without the rest of the passage. Of course, we do not deny nor discount that God CAN and sometimes WILL compel a change of mind and heart. However, to say that this is THE RULE in salvation or any other divine dealings with man is taking this just way too far from what is real in the rest of Scripture.

Besides drawing someone in the context of love is analogous to courtship where the one being wooed is a free agent who can exercise her will as to whether to respond positively or negatively. Again, we qualify that we do not deny that God has the capability of Irresistible Grace. However, we see this more as an exception than a rule in salvation or the rest of Scripture.

John 6:65, " And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

For what reason?

John 6:64, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.".

"From the beginning...". Now why do Calvinists interpret this idiom as "from the beginning of time" or "from the beginning of creation"? Why is it that they fail to see the common usage of that idiom?
This phrase demonstrates the divine discernment Jesus Christ has in reading the minds of men. No more, no less. It does not even have to imply knowing the future? It is just reading the PRESENT mental thoughts and propensities of the men around Him!!!

Why would an honest exegete extend this meaning to the point that it defies the rest of Scripture? Why can't an honest exegete simply look at common usage? Why should an honest exegete give special meaning (and, therefore, claim "special knowledge" like the cults do) to a simple statement like this? Well, I will ask God when I get to see Him in the next life.

Irresistible Grace

"The result of God's Irresistible Grace is the certain response by the elect to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him (John 6:37). Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them (John 6:44), and the very Spirit of God leads God's beloved to repentance (Romans 8:14). What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!"

This teaching is so pathetic, I should not even humor it with any discussion. Sure God's grace is irresistible if He so choses, but look at the WHOLE of Scripture - - - He HAS NOT chosen SO!!!!!!
God's declarations of what he CAN do should not be construed as God being so uncontrolled that He has NO OTHER recourse but to DO what He said He CAN do!!!.

We do not deny that God will do what He says He WILL do. However, there is so much in Scripture to demonstrate that God OFTEN does NOT do what He CAN do, although He does what He says He WILL do. Can you discern the difference? It is as clear as the difference between black and white and yet the Calvinist continues to see Gray and revels in it!

Just take a look at what happened to King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38. God's will is DEFINITELY, EXPLICITLY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, CONTEXTUALLY, HERMENEUTICALLY that Hezekiah was to die that exact same day. But did it happen?

The RELATIONAL (hence, loving and flexible) God actually changed His mind about His DECLARED will and gave Hezekiah 15 more years in response to his plea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talk about literally THWARTING the DECLARED will of God! Well, at least that is the way I would put it to the Calvinist. What really happened was a flexible God of Love changing His mind according to the prayers of His people.

It logically follows that if one can "thwart" God's will via supplication, that one can also resist God's grace and the evidence of many going to hell even based on God's limitless and unconditional love declares this clearly. Of course, what the Calvinist means is that once one is elect, he is subject to irresistible grace. All I can say is, logical, yes but one biblically wrong premise implying a biblically wrong conclusion.

To interpret otherwise borders on complete idiocy or denial, or dishonest hermeneutics !!!

"What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!"

Complete hog-wash mambo-jambo. If God works entirely on sovereignty (i.e., without Love) He does not even need to penetrate sinful hearts! He just needs to say the word! It is Calvinism that reduces God's sovereignty based on their viewpoint! Which is good because it confirms that our logical brain is still intact. These statements are either ceremonial jargon or....please wake me up with some good coffee from Peet's!

Perseverance of the Saints

"Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God's hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will remain in God's stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the "last day" (John 6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ's promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect."

Quite subtle, but since Mr. Calvinist is working from the perspective of God's uncontrolled Sovereignty, why even bother??? Of course, if God choses to "guarantee" the salvation of His "elect" He CAN do it. But we have shown in the previous discussion that what God CAN do, He does NOT always actually do. Note that if God CAN do something, there is no promise that He WILL do it. Most, if not all, of salvation is CONDITIONAL (i.e., only if you read the WHOLE Bible and NOT only the Calvinist verses!).

I wish to develop this further, but let me tell the difference between the Calvinist and the Relational Theist. The Calvinist looks at salvation and eternal life as a "possession". For example, in 1 John 5:11-13, it does "look like" a possession. However, in contrast, the same author John wrote John 15 about the relationship between the vine and the branches.

"Once saved, always saved!". Such a phrase has been a recognized normal implication of the 5th point of Calvinism. Calvinists normally consider eternal life as a possession per 1 John 5. However, this concept is contradictory to the metaphore of the Vine and the branches per John 15. This passage actually declares that the LIFE of Christ or the LIFE that comes from Christ which is both "abundant" and eternal is a SHARED life and NOT necessarily a possession.

In this case, which is a more lengthy discussion than that of 1 John 5, the abundant life and/or eternal life is a "shared" life that can only be realized for as long as the branch is attached to the vine. Hence, no attachment equals no life!

God does not guarantee salvation for rebellion and pig-headedness after the so-called "born again" experience. Note that in John 15:6, it is explicitly declared by Christ Himself, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.". The Calvinist will take that statement as allegorical (ironically, they are the ones who insist mostly on literal interpretations!) while the Relational Theist and Arminian considers the verse prescriptive.

There is a preponderance of verses in Scripture which declare that "he who endures to the end will be saved". There would be a significant effort at polemic and logical calisthenics to interpret this Calvinistically. This is where I laud the Calvinist. He has achieved logical reconciliation of such a position in the light of the preponderance of other Scripture! Of course, the layman's term for this is simply....irrationality.

Let us quote 2 Peter 3:17, "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position."

I hope readers understand at least the English here of, " fall from your secure position"! OK, so the Calvinist talks about security of salvation, it is St. Peter himself that says that that security IS CONDITIONAL!!! Not convinced? Explore the Greek and look at how God in the Old Testament dealt with His CHOSEN PEOPLE!

Like I said earlier, God is no respecter of persons!

Nevertheless, the Calvinist belief in Unconditional Election actually logically negates any assurance of salvation as explained above. Hence, from the Calvinist's viewpoint, the Perseverance of the Saints is really meaningless since no one will ever know the mind of God and hence, no one will ever know if they are the beneficiaries of God's "arbitrary" election.

C'mon Mr. Calvinist, based on your theology what made you ever think or even assume that you are ACTUALLY elect? A feeling? It has to be, since there is no logical way to know based on your aberrant viewpoint!

Enough of philosophy. Are there other Bible passages aside from what we have already shown that challenges Perseverance of the Saints?

Hebrews 6:6, "if they fall away..." There is no logic to falling away if you were never a Christian. It is an insult to the Great Communicator (God) to play around with what He really means!

Revelation 3:5, "...I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life..." There is logically nothing to blot out if the name was never written in this Book. Furthermore, God does NOT ever issue empty threats. He cannot threaten to blot out names if there is absolutely no situation where He has to do it.

Revelation 22:19, "... God will take away his part from the Book of Life ...". Same reasoning as the previous. An empty threat is one where the one who threatens is really powerless either by ability or by law to carry out his threat.

Search the WHOLE of Scripture on the word "perseverance" or "persevere" or whatever equivalent you can think of and try to disprove this BIBLICAL TRUTH. Quite clearly, Perseverance is MAN's responsibility and NOT God's responsibility !!!

Total Depravity (Total Inability)

"Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as "totally depraved," they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality -- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5)."

Finally, we come to the last point that I finally had the logical sense to deny. For the most part, we agree with the proposition of the Calvinist. No man can be saved unless God has first provided the means to be saved. However, let us dig deeper into why they think this is so (they actually imply something else!) and what its implications are.

"Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel"

Once more, hermeneutics, hermeneutics, hermeneutics! The Calvinist finds an isolated verse (or even a few isolated "footnotes") and develops another doctrinal declaration out of it. The last time I checked, this is the same method used by the Mormons and the Jehovah's witnesses! Emphasize what pushes your agenda and muddle the path to those other verses which contradict your proposition!

But let's get to the core of the issue here. I would agree to total depravity only as far as the capability of man to attain or earn his salvation. However, Calvinism makes this teaching all-encompassing. What Calvinism is claiming is that man does not even have the capability to respond to the offer of God. In other words, unregenerate man is no better than an animal in the animal kingdom, with no will, no intellect, no ability to exercise faith, no discernment to distinguish truth from error.

However, what about folks like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Golda Meir, etc. These are people whose level of wisdom and discernment is beyond the rest of their contemporaries and they are proven "unregenerates". They even have great insights when it comes to moral issues!

Calvinists overlook the real implications of the fact that man was created in God's image. What this means is that there is AND ALWAYS WILL BE an element of the divine nature in man regardless of the fall of man. Man will always instinctively know right from wrong. Man will always be able to think intelligently or intellectually. Man will always, within reason, be able to respond independently (apart from God's intervention) and volitionally (apart from God forcing) to anything that God does or offers simply because THAT IS THE WAY GOD CREATED HIM.

Calvinists believe that even saving faith comes from God and this is where they run aground. The exercise of faith has always been inherent in man, being created in God's image. No amount of the fall or the curse from the fall can negate this. In fact, the only thing that the fall has really accomplished (or damaged) in a strictly Biblical sense is the fact that man was created innocent (no matter how sinful) but the forbidden fruit in the middle of the garden of Eden gave them awareness of what is good and what is evil, finally removing their innocence. After the fall, man "legally" became accountable to God for his actions and required to pay for any violations of the Divine law or laws. That is why the tree in the middle of the garden was called, "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil".

However, it is systemically wrong to assume that the fall took away man's ability to decide rationally or to understand information, digest it and act upon it whether positively or negatively. Furthermore, it did not remove man's ability to put faith in things that he believes. Hence, the exercise of faith to believe in the finished work of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ is ENTIRELY a HUMAN response to the Divine offer.

The Living Bible has the WORST paraphrase for Ephesians 2:8, "...And even trusting is not of yourselves, it too is a gift from God.". The creature who was created IN THE IMAGE OF GOD has now been demoted to that of an animal who has no ability to exercise faith! From my own personal experience with college students has made so many Christians miserably waiting for faith to fall upon them from God (not only during the salvation event but as they start living the Christian walk) when, in fact, it is their God-endowed right to exercise faith anytime they need or want to.

When Ephesians 2:8 declares that salvation is " grace through faith", that is exactly what it means. Grace is of God and faith is of man. Grace is God's part and faith is man's part. [ “Grace” is God’s part, “faith” ours. - A.T Robertson] Grace is not effective without faith. Paul himself shows the partnership of the two in Romans 4:16,"Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace".

It is man's being created in God's image that gives him the sense to realize that Calvinism's fixation with Sovereignty (which includes their faulty concept of foreknowledge and predestination) is extreme. It is the image of God in man that tells him that Arminians are wrong in believing that man easily loses salvation with every sin he commits. It is the image of God in man that makes him sense that the Open God that some open theists portray seems to possess less sovereignty than what the Bible portrays him with. Man has common sense, man has reason, man has will, man has volition and man exercises faith, all independent of God but by God's divine design.

It is this VERY IMAGE OF GOD in man that makes him look at all these theologies and say, "I am somewhere in the middle". It has been unfortunate that the middle-ground folks could not clearly articulate what that middle ground is. The Covenant-Relationship perspective, hopefully, would put the correct sense, rationality, logic, balance, consistency with the WHOLE of Scripture (and not just pieces of it like the predestinarians do) and proper articulation to this middle ground which most of the redeemed instinctively know as they look at the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, David and Daniel in the sacred pages of Scripture.

Plain common sense logic would tell you that Sola Fie is not really Sola Fie from the Calvinist viewpoint because it is entirely by grace (or disgrace) if unconditional election is true.


  1. Lots of ranting- not much scriptural proof, beyond down-playing the verses he doesn't like to the rank of 'foot-notes'- sad. Rabid sarcasm disgusts the reader and lowers the tone of the article to the point of looking cheap. Loads of straw-man arguments- I haven't yet met a Calvinist who would agree that they believe much of what the writer of this article says they believe.

    1. The passion I feel which sounds "rabid" to you is my gut reaction to Calvinist IDOLATRY... painting a different God other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and fully revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ who would rather die for me than live without me.

  2. Sorry you feel that way. With so many verses quoted in this article, you must be referring to a different bible, a Calvinist Bible perhaps?

    Also, you haven't met Calvinists who are real Calvinists, that is, their life being consistent with their theology perhaps. Ever heard of Cornelius Van Til, or perhaps R.C Sproul is pretty close. Folks like Norman Geisler and John McArthur are not true Calvinists but a bit confused since they like the doctrine but they want to put tons of qualifications or clarifications to it. It should be take it or leave it, if you cannot live out a theology to its logical extreme, then junk it. Hyper-Calvinism is true Calvinism lived to an extreme but is quite fatalistic and sovereignty oriented. If they did not preach grace, it would be close to Islam is essence.

    The last person I talked with who said this arguments were straw men has actually renounced Calvinism and is now an extreme Pentecostal although I do not recommend that either. Like I said, either live out your theology to its extreme or junk it. Anything in between is a TRUE HYPOCRITE.

    Nuff said.

  3. In my last statement, I meant TRUE HYPOCRITE to mean TRUE THEOLOGICAL HYPOCRITE. Pragmatically, there is a difference. John McArthur for example is not a biblical hypocrite because he lives and preaches what he believes the Bible to say. However, he claims to be Calvinist but either CANNOT live it to the extreme (If unconditional election is true, evangelism is an exercise of futility, simply evangelizing to obey God makes God stupid since He is portrayed as being pleased with ritual, no matter how irrationally senseless the substance is. If specific predetermination is true, prayer is a futile exercise since it doesn't change God's mind, and if it only changes us, there is more statistical and testimonial evidence that hypnosis works better (Just look at all those "Christians" in theraphy for depression or some other excuse, isn't that such a weak God who cannot even help His children for simple things?) or he makes excuses and qualification for what Calvinist points may "really" mean. That is why he has been accused of "Lordship salvation (which is very biblical and non-Calvinist by the way)". It is in this sense that he becomes a theological hypocrite. However, he seems to downplay this by avoiding any preaching on Calvinist theology (like most people who claim to be Calvinists) although he stumbles into it every once in a while quite uncomfortably (of course, whatever it is it contradicts the rest of Scripture, how can one be comfortable with that, unless he chooses to be intellectually dishonest?)