Wednesday, July 9, 2008

D. James Kennedy: Solving Bible Mysteries

D. James Kennedy was not your average Calvinist. In his book, “Solving Bible Mysteries,” in the chapter on, “Whis is True--Predestination or Free Will?”, He made some statements that Arminians can point to in agreement. For instance, he flatly denied Double Predestination. He believed in some kind of Free Will, though he also believed in Total Depravity, clarifying the difference between freedom to do what we “want” vs. freedom to do what we “ought.” But surprisingly, he also believed in an Unlimited Atonement. Kennedy believed that Jesus died for all men:

D. James Kennedy writes: “So God makes His sovereign selection from among the human race, a race of sinful and corrupt people, all of whom deserve condemnation. But God extends mercy to a vast multitude. He must be just, but He doesn't have to extend mercy to any. Those whom He selects are saved---a great number out of every tribe and tongue and nation. He sends His Spirit to them to draw them to Himself. But what about the rest? Note carefully: God invites them all to come. With a sincere invitation, He offers them a free salvation, paid for at the cost of His own dear Son.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.30)

Did you catch that? Who did Kennedy say that Jesus died for? He’s referring to “the rest,” that is, those whom he believes were excluded from the “sovereign selection.” Clearly, he's indicating a universal provision, though one must believe in Christ in order to receive the blessings of Christ, which Arminians fully agree.

Kennedy adds: “The Bible never says that anyone is predestined to Hell.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.29)

D. James Kennedy writes: “Again and again we see that people are predestined (elected) to salvation--but nowhere do we see that anyone is ever predestined to condemnation of Hell. When we thing of God as unfairly, arbitrarily electing people to Heaven or Hell, it is as if we have a mental picture of a row of people sitting on a fence, and God passes down the line and points at each one, ‘It’s Hell for you, Heaven for you, Hell, Hell, Hell, Heaven, Hell...’ Now, that would be unfair--and absolutely capricious! But that's not the kind of God we love and serve.” (p.29)

Kennedy writes: “God has graciously created human beings with a free will.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.29)

He goes on to describe the bondage of the will, in agreement with the doctrine of Total Depravity, but the point is clear: Kennedy rejects Hard Determinism. At the very least, this makes him a Compatibilist (Soft Determinism).

Kennedy adds:God does not cast anyone out. He does not bar the door. Those who are outside are outside by their own choice, because they keep God away.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.31)

However, if it’s their “own” choice via Hard Determinism, then it’s frankly not their “own” choice, but someone else’s choice. As most Compatibilists recognize, that’s part of the complexity that they must attempt to resolve, without simply deferring to paradox.

What did Kennedy teach about predestination and foreknowledge?

Kennedy writes: “For that is what predestination is--a decision that our sovereign, gracious, loving Almighty God made from all eternity when He looked ahead to a world of lost and rebellious sinners. It’s a decision He made to save a vast multitude of them through His Son, Jesus.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.31)

“Looked ahead”? As an Arminian, I believe that God, being eternal and dwelling independent of all time and space, can look back upon our future as if it was the past. So I don't necessarily think that God needs to “look ahead,” since God is not trapped by time as mankind is.

In any case, these were some of the interesting quotes that I found from this particular book by Kennedy, who was widely admired and appreciated by those on both sides of the denominational isle of Calvinism and Armininianism.


Richard Coords said...

What does Kennedy mean by "paid for"?

Unknown said...


Here are some of my thoughts on this issue.

Hope it helps.


Charlie J. Ray said...

Have you ever heard of the Westminster Larger Catechism????

Nothing Kennedy said is out of line with Calvinism per se. However, your agenda has caused to you read him out of the context of the Reformed confessions of faith:

Chapter IX
Of Free Will
I. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil.[1]

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God;[2] but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.[3]

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[7]

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.[10]

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.[11]"

Charlie J. Ray said...

Kennedy is not suggesting that Christ paid for the sins of the reprobate. God's choices are not arbitrary but sovereign. He is King and does what He wills.

djknight said...

I can tell you, Armininian, that you are wrong in your stance, as God clearly has predestined some to Heaven and Hell, all of them, and before they had done good or evil, just as Romans says. All throughout the Bible God makes it clear that he is in charge of what will happen despite our plans. Since God has allowed you to have enough clarity to see through DJ Kennedy's false Calvinism, then you should have enough to see past lies about predestination, that God doesn't predestine a person TO SALVATION OR HELL, based on their actions, but based on his choice alone apart from their actions. Where the Bible says, "I will destine you for the sword," it is not talking about salvation, and could be taken as a figure speech, since God has already planned out everything, and knows the future perfectly.