Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Calvinism: a sweet treat, but with a rotten core

I liken Calvinism to a candy apple, but made from rotten fruit. Before passing judgment, consider what I have to say.

On the surface, the Calvinist tastes the caramel sweetness of eternal favor with the Father, having been chosen into an eternal flock of the Father, giving the Calvinist an overwhelming sense of confidence and joy in knowing that his destiny was eternally predetermined, and that at no time was he ever truly on the path to Hell. To the Calvinist, what could be sweeter than that? Thus, you have what I believe is the most attractive element of Calvinism. However, upon sinking one's teeth into Calvinism, he discovers the bitter theology that he wasn't saved by the Cross, but for the Cross. What does that mean?

One Calvinist explains: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily.”

The Calvinist answers: “In the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.”

If you had an eternal favor with God the Father, apart from the basis of the Cross, and apart from your hope in His Son, then your alleged, eternal favor with God has circumvented Christ, who instead says: "No one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) The reality is that your favor with God the Father stems from your faith in His Son, and that apart from your faith in His Son, you have no favor with God. Your favor with God the Father begins at the very moment that you trust in His Son. Apart from trusting in Christ, you are a dog.

John Hagee states: “Jesus called a Gentile woman, a dog. He never called the Gentiles His brethren. Let me remind you of something. We did not get plugged in until the cross. We had no basis of standing with God until the cross. There’s where we were in Galatians 3 when Paul said you were outside the covenance of Israel, without hope and without God. That’s very important. Then at the cross, we were plugged in, and we received the riches of Abraham, and we received healing, and we received adoption, and we received all the cornucopia of the blessings of God. But before the cross, we were castoffs. You need to understand that.”

Thus the question: Does Calvinism inevitably teach that those of the alleged, eternal flock of the Father, are eternally plugged in with the Father, apart from the basis of the Cross?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In the Father?

Ephesians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him."

Arminian Question #1: Do you believe that Eph 1:4 is saying that [the chosen] were chosen [to become] in Christ? If so, in whom were they chosen, whereupon God has chosen them [to be] in Christ?

Arminian Question #1 restated, because I only received half of an answer: If you are saying "yes" that Ephesians 1:4 means that "the chosen" are chosen "to be" in Christ, then in whom were they chosen to become chosen in Christ? My point is that it sets up a case for another election, namely, an election in the Father. In other words, Calvinism seesm to suggest: God has chosen us in Himself, and having chosen us in Himself, He has chosen us to become in Christ. Would you agree to that? James White writes: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine) What I'm seeing is the making of an eternal "in the Father" election whereby God the Father has an eternal flock of sheep, and that He gives these to His Son in order to belong to Him. Calvin describes these as having been hidden in Him from all eternity. I'm trying to see if you are willing to confess to an eternal "in the Father" relationship.

Calvinist Answer: "The full Godhead is in salvation. The Father does the choosing. The Holy Spirit does the drawing. The Son does the saving. Yet...Christ choose you before you choose Him, No one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him and we are saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."

Arminian Question #1 restated: Do you believe that God the Father chose you in Himself from before the foundation of the world, in an eternal flock of the Father, in order that you may be given and chosen to be in His Son? (Yes/No)

Calvinist Answer: "I would word it this way..God elected me. You want to push your idea of "in Christ" and "in the Father". How about "in the spirit"? Is this 3 elections? I think you need to spend some time thinking about this."

Arminian Question #1 restated again, because it still wasn't answered: "If Ephesians 1:4 meant that God the Father chose "the elect" to be in Christ, then in whom were these elect chosen in order to be qualified for election in the Son? The purpose of this question is to determine whether Calvinism truly does teach a primary election in the Father, with a resulting secondary election in the Son.

Calvinist Answer: "In Christ means we are saved. It means we are not of this world. All of these blessings come to us, by the work of God. These are applied to only the elect of God. Notice God loves the saints."

Arminian Question #1 never answered. So I asked someone else:

Calvinist Answer: "Is there a difference in being chosen IN the Father and BY the Father? I would argue that we are chosen BY God to be IN Christ at the time the Fathers draws us to Christ and we accept Him as our Savior."

Arminian Question #1 restated: If they are given BY the Father, doesn't it naturally follow that it is because they were His own to give, that is, IN Him, in order to give them away like the father of the bride gives his daughter away to the groom? The daughter was IN her Father's family in order to be given BY Him. If you say that they are given BY God, doesn't it follow that they had to be HIS in order to GIVE? Therefore, at Eph 1:4, if you say that "the elect" were given to be in Christ, then it seems inevitable to me that these would have to be IN the Father in order to be given away to the Son. Now let me ask you a very candid question. Why would you be opposed to accept that these would then be eternally elect IN the Father?

Calvinist Answer: none

Ephesians 1:13-14: "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory

Arminian Question #2: If being made Born Again as the "new creature" with the "new heart" is a facet of the new birth in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and if we are not sealed in Christ until after we believe in the Gospel, as per Ephesians 1:13, then how is that Calvinism teaches that people are made Born Again in Christ before they are sealed in Christ?

Calvinist Answer: Yes...Only the elect are sealed...holy/saint...and changed into His image.

Arminian Summary: According to Calvinists, "the elect" are chosen to become in Christ, and they are elect apart from the basis of being sealed in Christ. Calvinists therefore have claimed for themselves, an elect status with the Father, independent of Christ, which demotes Christ and promotes Calvinists. However, Jesus stated: “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Thus, the “to be” Election of Calvinism which logically speaking, inevitably places one in the Father from all eternity, is reduced to dust by John 14:6. For the Calvinists who fancy themselves as being eternally plugged in with the Father, before their need for salvation ever arose, have ultimately negated Jesus' role as Mediator, since they would have you believe that they were already, eterally mediated to the Father in His eternal counsels. To that, I say that Calvinism is hogwash.

Either I am predestined TO BECOME in Christ, or.... I am predestined in Christ, meaning that I have a predestined inheritance once I become sealed "in Christ."

Either I am chosen TO BECOME in Christ, or.... I am chosen in Christ, speaking of what blessings of Adoption that I can look forward to once I become sealed in Christ.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Adrian Rogers on Prevenient Grace

Adrian Rogers explains: “Spiritual blindness makes beggars of us all. ... The blind need more than light in order to see. ... I used to think, as a young preacher, that what you had to do to get people saved is just to tell them how to be saved. Just turn on the light. But it doesn’t matter how much light there is, or the person is blind because he cannot see it. It takes more than light, it takes sight. And a person who is blind cannot see the light, no matter how strong the light is or how pure the light is. It takes more than preaching to get people saved. That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth. That is the reason why we must be a praying church. That’s the reason you must be a spirit filled soul winner. That is the reason that we must have the anointing, because we are dependent upon God to open blinded eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes more than light, it takes takes sight. We need to understand that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. Nobody can be educated into the kingdom of heaven. I’m not against letting the light shine. You must let the let shine. You must preach. But remember, there is another dimension.” (Jesus is God’s Answer to Man’s Darkness: John 20:30, emphasis mine)

Fallen man is spiritually blind, and therefore he needs sight. No one seeks God, so God must seek man, and Jesus does this very thing when He seeks (Luke 19:10), draws (John 12:32) and knocks upon the heart's door of the lost. (Revelation 3:20) Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit convicts the heart (John 16:8), pricks the heart (Acts 26:14), pierces the heart (Acts 2:37) and even opens the heart to respond to the Gospel. (Acts 16:14) This is Illumination of Prevenient Grace, but that is not to be confused with Regeneration. Illumination deals with the old heart. Regeneration deals with the new heart. John 1:9 states: “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” The Gospel is the Light through which the Holy Spirit gives Sight. (Romans 10:17) A man is illuminated in order to receive the Gospel. A man is regenerated after he has been sealed in Christ. (Ephesians 1:13) Regeneration is when we are washed and renewed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), in having become a "new creature" in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), born again with a "new heart" and a "new spirit." (Ezekiel 36:26) Calvinism, in contrast, overrides Ephesians 1:13 by erroneously teaching that men are preemptively placed in Christ in order to gain access to the "new heart" in regeneration, in order that the decision of the elect be made irresistible, as in Irresistible Grace. Hence, you have the clear difference between the Prevenient Grace of Arminianism and the Irresistible Grace of Calvinism.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

R.C. Sproul and the Author of Sin

In his book, Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul delves into the Westminster Confession of Faith to explore whether it teaches that God is made the "author of sin." Sproul vehemately denies this charge, but does he do so, rationally or irrationally?

R.C. Sproul explains: “If is true that in some sense God foreordains everything that comes to pass, then it follows with no doubt that God must have foreordained the entrance of sin into the world. That is not to say that God forced it to happen or that he imposed evil upon his creation. All that means is that God must have decided to allow it to happen.” (Chosen By God, p.31, emphasis mine)

R.C. Sproul explains: “In spite of this excruciating problem we still must affirm that God is not the author of sin.” (Chosen By God, p.31, emphasis mine)

Why? Why must you fight this argument to your last breath, as if it was the Boogeyman of Calvinism? Suppose that God was, in fact, the author of sin? Why would you need to fight it? If God was not concerned about it, then why should you be? Really, in the end, the only thing that matters is what the Bible says. So for Calvinists to belligerently draw their lines in the sand, concerning the “author of sin” charge, only sets themselves up to be considered, irrational. It seems that you could say almost the same exact thing, but with different wording, and that would pacify the Calvinists, and indeed, that’s exactly what Sproul has done when he claims that God foreordained the "entrance" of sin, but did not "author" sin. I’d like to know where the difference lies. In other words, God is the entrance of sin into the world, but by no means whatsoever, by any stretch of the imagination, is He the author of sin into the world. That, we just can’t have, says the Calvinist, end of discussion. Since Calvinists have tinkered with the definition of "ordain," why don’t they simply tinker with the definition of "author"? In other words, God may have authored the Script of Life which contains sin, but He, by no means, endorses their behavior, no more than J.R.R Tolkien endorses the behavior of Sauron. However, real life is not like a book, in which there is a Script of Life by which men play parts in a Divine play at the direction of God. That is more philosophy than theology. This is not to say that God does not have books, plans and decrees. Of course He does, but do not forget that real foreknowledge is the basis for God’s decrees. (Acts 2:23)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Charles Spurgeon and the GAP Theory

Although Charles Spurgeon clearly denounced the theory of Evolution, did he prescribe to the GAP Theory, which includes death before Adam?

Spurgeon states: "Can any man tell me when the beginning was? Years ago we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it; but we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make it a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it, who might die and leave behind the marks of his handiwork and marvellous skill, before he tried his hand on man. But that was not the beginning, for revelation points us to a period long ere this world was fashioned, to the days when the morning stars were begotten; when, like drops of dew, from the fingers of the morning, stars and constellations fell trickling from the hand of God; when, by his own lips, he launched forth ponderous orbs; when with his own hand he sent comets, like thunderbolts, wandering through the sky, to find one day their proper sphere. We go back to years gone by, when worlds were made and systems fashioned, but we have not even approached the beginning yet. Until we go to the time when all the universe slept in the mind of God as yet unborn, until we enter the eternity where God the Creator lived alone, everything sleeping within him, all creation resting in his mighty gigantic thought, we have not guessed the beginning. We may go back, back, back, ages upon ages. We may go back, if we might use such strange words, whole eternities, and yet never arrive at the beginning. Our wing might be tired, our imagination would die away; could it outstrip the lightnings flashing in majesty, power, and rapidity, it would soon weary itself ere it could get to the beginning. But God from the beginning chose his people; when the unnavigated ether was yet unfanned by the wing of a single angel, when space was shoreless, or else unborn when universal silence reigned, and not a voice or whisper shocked the solemnity of silence; when there was no being and no motion, no time, and nought but God himself, alone in his eternity; when without the song of an angel, without the attendance of even the cherubim, long ere the living creatures were born, or the wheels of the chariot of Jehovah were fashioned, even then, "in the beginning was the Word," and in the beginning God's people were one with the Word, and "in the beginning he chose them into eternal life." Our election then is eternal. I will not stop to prove it, I only just run over these thoughts for the benefit of young beginners, that they may understand what we mean by eternal, absolute election." (Election, 1855, emphasis mine)

Answers in Genesis teaches that there was no death before Adam, and that if there was, it would "make nonsense of the atonement message and would also make nonsense of Hebrews 9:22 and Genesis 3:21. One can't have death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering before the first death and bloodshed, which is the whole basis of the atonement." (Answers In Genesis)

AIG adds: "The meaning of death, therefore, is that it is the penalty for sin. This is the reason Jesus Christ suffered death on a cross. Those who believe in millions of years of history teach that death was in the world long before Adam sinned. If physical death was not the result of sin, then death would not be the penalty for sin. This would make Christ's death on the Cross meaningless." (Answers In Genesis)

In terms of Charles Spurgeon, AIG explains: "There were many theologians and Christian leaders in the past (and present) that uncritically accepted old-earth views. Dr. Terry Mortenson discusses this, and even uses the same quote by Spurgeon to show how he compromised on this position, in his booklet: http://www.answersingenesis.org/radio/pdf/MillionsOfYears.pdf