Saturday, May 30, 2009

“Giant Sale! All merchandise half price”

Dave Hunt illustrates:

“A merchant advertises, ‘Giant Sale! All merchandise half price.’ Eager customers, however, discover that certain items are excluded from the sale. When they complain that the ad read all merchandise, the merchant says, ‘I didn’t mean all “without exception,” but all “without distinction.” All kinds of products are indeed on sale, but not every item of every kind.’ This would be misleading advertising, and customers would have a legitimate complaint. Yet the Calvinist insists that God uses this same kind of deception in offering salvation to ‘whosoever will.’” (What Love is This?, pp.319-320)


JSA said...

I've been struggling for a couple of years to understand what these labels (Calvinism, Arminianism, Amyraldian) mean; and why on earth I would want to jam myself into one box or the other. That is, what possible impact would one label or the other have on what God wants me to do? This blog is certainly a help, since it seems to gather a lot of information in one place.

Regarding this specific post, I have a few questions. Hopefully some Calvinists and anti-Calvinists in the audience could help me understand.

First, is that really what Calvin said, and what Calvinists today believe? I'm not doubting it, but just wanting to be sure. I've read the 5 points many times, and always assumed that they were exegetical attempts to explain free will, and not an attempt at creating new doctrine, but that could just me my ignorance.

Second, is it accurate to say of the Arminians that they believe God has and sometimes exercises the power to predestine *some* people to eternal damnation?

chalee said...

richard, i get best buy coupons all the time that say 20% off all items, but do include fine print that spells out that some items are excluded (such as products made by apple or bose, or gift cards). people say "all" all the time without meaning "every single individual one" - even in english. (see what i did there?)

Joshua said: "First, is that really what Calvin said, and what Calvinists today believe? I'm not doubting it, but just wanting to be sure. I've read the 5 points many times, and always assumed that they were exegetical attempts to explain free will..."

calvinists don't generally care what calvin taught but for some it's a useful label to get a general idea of what people believe.(but arminians get mad when calvinists just refer to themselves as christians, and “augustinians” and “reformed theologians”are just too long.)

it's true that calvinists do not believe in "free will" as defined by human philosophers. instead, calvinists believe in what is technically called “free agency”: men are not free to choose “anything” but only able to choose according to their nature. as the bible teaches: bad trees bear bad fruit and salt springs produce salt water. and Jer13:23 teaches that we cannot just choose to change our nature.

so fallen men are free to choose what they want - but they don't want God - that's why Rom3:11 teaches us that no one seeks are naturally slaves to sin and spiritually dead (Eph2:1) such that, left to themselves, no one would choose Jesus.

Rom8:6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is HOSTILE to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

while noncalvinists believe that sinful man can still choose God in their sin, the bible says that they hate God and can't even understand the gospel. this seems like a lot for even a supposedly unfallen and “free” will to overcome.

this doctrine is where the "T" in TULIP comes from (Psa 51:5; 1Cor2:12-14; Psa58:3; Gen6:5; Gen8:21; Jer17:9). our depravity is total – it extends to our emotions, intellect and even our will. This is why 1cor1 teaches that it is not our wisdom that results in our salvation but God's choice “30It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus.”

but what richard is attempting to mock in this post is the calvinist teaching that “all” (greek word “pas”) in the bible does not typically mean “every single individual one.”

1Tim6:10For the love of money is the root of ALL evil (KJV) – modern translations often conclude that David did not commit adultery for money and there are sins that don't even involve money, and therefore translate “pas” correctly as “all kinds.” as you might have noticed, some find this ridiculous.

Acts2:17In the last days, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

presumably arminians believe that God will pour out His Spirit on every single person, and that unsaved people will also prophesy and so on. “all means all” as they say.

OTOH, calvinists look at the larger context - “18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy…” - and conclude that God is only speaking of believers. “all kinds” of believers: men and women, young and old. but only believers.

obviously, that's only a start.

as to “what possible impact would one label have on what God wants me to do”, if you've read this blog you know the God of calvin (and spurgeon, william carey and so on) is allegedly deceptive and unfair. how can you worship with people who believe that? under a pastor who teaches that? should you support a missionary who teaches about such a “deceptive” God? how can you sing calvinist hymns like “amazing grace”, “Rock of Ages (cleft for me)”, “when I survey the wondrous cross”, “Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song” or “in Christ alone (my hope is found)”?

it's a big issue for some - like the SBC.

Richard Coords said...

Hey Chalee,

Are you suggesting that there is "fine print" at 1st Timothy 4:10 which indicates that "all men" meant that some were excluded?

chalee said...

No, Richard, I explained ITim4:10 fairly thoroughly in the comments of your last post. As hard as this may be for you to follow, I am saying that pas or “all” does not always mean “every single individual” or “all without exception.” For you to quote Dave Hunt’s ignorance as you do in this post tells me one of two things: 1) you truly believe that sins like pride, sloth, lust and gossip are all rooted in the love of money or 2) you disingenuously promote a meaning for pas that you know is untrue.

(And seriously, Dave Hunt argues that “Spurgeon rejected Limited Atonement” by quoting from a discussion that strenuously argues for LA. If Hunt can’t make a minimal effort to correctly understand an essay in English written within the last 150 years or so, why would any thinking person trust him to interpret 2000-year-old letters written in Greek? Even Vance admits that Hunt was sloppy in copying from him – not doing any research into the original sources such that Hunt copied all the mistakes as well. I can’t see how anyone would take him seriously.)

Many scriptures teach that not every single individual is saved. Calling Jesus the “savior” of the unsaved is logically ridiculous. There is a reason why universalists love ITim4:10. You’d be more consistent to join Helmet in denying the reality of Hell than to take comfort from the notion that just as Jesus is the savior of those in Hell, He’s especially your savior. He tried to save them and failed but maybe if He tries especially hard, things will work out better for you?

You have quoted Adrian Rogers as saying: “If you go to hell, a broken-hearted God will watch you drop into hell.”

Of course, the bible doesn’t teach this sappy nonsense at all. God hates the wicked, not just their sin but them specifically. (Psa5:5;11:5) In the end, God will not simply watch as the unrepentant “drop” into Hell as if pulled down by gravity…rather He will judge the wicked and cast them into Hell. (Luk12:5;Rev20:12-15)

Heb10:13Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

To listen to you, His enemies are those who are made perfect by His sacrifice. But God is not trapped within time as you contend and does not have to wait to find out who will accept Him and who will refuse Him. You try to reduce Him to human level so you can judge Him with human rules. This is foolishness.

But maybe this is a better example of ancient “fine print” for you:

Heb2:9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (pas)
10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” 13And again,
“I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.

For whom did Jesus taste death? If you’d let go of your philosophical presuppositions (and short attention span), it’s not nearly as “deceptive” as you accuse God of being…

1Thes5:9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Richard Coords said...

Hello Chalee,

Starting out with “No Richard” indicates poor tone.

Continuing, you stated, “as hard as this may be for you to follow….” Again, I cite your tone.

Continuing, your quote of Dave Hunt’s “ignorance” is such poisonous rhetoric, that it is no longer worthwhile to even engage in this discussion with such a person, and mind you, we are only in the 1st of an 11 paragraph response!

Having said this, I will offer you the courtesy of a response, and then you can have the last word, and when your heart is right in this matter, feel free to resume a “Christian” dialogue, as instructed by the apostle Paul.

1) I promote a meaning in which the scope and meaning of “all” is determined by the passage at hand. Therefore, when 1st Timothy 4:10 states that God is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe, I infer from this that God is the Savior of all men, indiscriminately, collectively and distributively, so that “especially” is intended to convey the meaning that the beneficiaries of His atonement are those that believe in Him, will receive the benefits of His provision. I reiterate that John Piper conceded the fact that this passage conclusively proves that Jesus died for all, though from His perspective, not in the same way. Nevertheless, I consider the point established, regarding the scope of those for whom Jesus was crucified and rose again.

2) I recall that in Hunt’s revised edition of “What Love is This?”, he offers a correction of Spurgeon’s views on the atonement.

3) I agree that not every individual is saved, but I do believe that according to 1st Timothy 4:10, that every individual has a Savior, to whom He may go to, if he wishes, and obviously given the depravity of man, mankind does not wish to do so, and therefore God must seek out man, and I believe that God does so, however, the difference in C vs. A is whether God does so with an irresistible grace, or with a resistible grace. That God’s grace can be resisted is not in question, as Calvinist theology holds that in such instances, where God’s Spirit is resisted, must be an instance in which the said grace is merely a Common Grace, rather than an effectual, regenerating, Irresistible Grace.

4) You stated: “Calling Jesus the ‘savior’ of the unsaved is logically ridiculous.” If I tell the unsaved to repent, I am naturally implying that by their repentance, they have a Savior to whom such repentance will be received. So in my mind, the question is not whether or not they have a Savior, but whether they will submit to the Savior, when the Savior comes knocking upon the door of their heart.

5) Concerning your statement whether A theology requires that Jesus be the Savior for those in Hell, I reject this assertion, on the basis that those who die in a persistent state of unrepentance in rejecting Christ, have forfeited the Father’s provision for salvation in Christ, just as suredly as those who died from the venomous snake bites at Numbers 21:6-9 (cross referenced at John 3:14-15), forfeited the Lord’s provision for their healing.

6) I do not deny the reality of Hell.

7) You wrote, “He tried to save them and failed but maybe if He tries especially hard, things will work out better for you?” Arminians reject the notion that God, in any way, failed, but insist that the failure is entirely man’s failure, insomuch that God seeks man with a “sufficient grace,” efficient to enable the unregenerate to receive Christ, and should they fail, they fail for themselves, but that God was gracious enough to provide them with a genuine opportunity for salvation.


Richard Coords said...

8) Yes, I agree with the quote from Adrian Rogers, as I believe that such a tone is consistent with the remorse expressed by Christ at Matthew 23:37. That Christ, in fact, “wept,” was never a point of dispute in the C vs. A controversy.

9) You wrote: “the bible doesn’t teach this sappy nonsense at all.” Once again, I reference your attitude. Nevertheless, I believe that this is an error of fact, rather than a difference over inference, as the Bible does definitely teach that Christ wept, and therefore, my question is whether the theology of a genuinely weeping Savior is consistent with the theology of Calvinism. I believe that it is not, and in fact is the reason why many others have rejected Calvinism as unbiblical.

10) I agree that God will judge the wicked and “send” them to Hell, though also from the perspective that they chose their own will, over God’s will, and ended up in a place that wasn’t meant for them, but was meant for the devil and his angels, as per Matthew 25:41.

11) You wrote: “But God is not trapped within time as you.” On the contrary. I believe in the “eternal now” perspective of God, in which God dwells independent of time, insomuch that God dwells in all time and space, as if “present” to Him, which I believe is the natural state of an eternal being. I agree that God does not “wait” to find out anything, but that God, who is omniscient, cannot “learn” anything new. Thus, I do not reduce God to a “human level,” but rather elevate Him to a status which no man possesses.

12) Again, you stated concerning me, “short attention span.” From an evil heart, comes evil thoughts. Check your heart.

13) I believe that Christ tasted death for everyone, indiscriminately, collectively and distrubitively, so that the “many” who believe in Him, will be brought into His glory.

14) God has not appointed wrath, for them that are in Christ Jesus.

a helmet said...

Hello chalee,

You said:
Calling Jesus the “savior” of the unsaved is logically ridiculous.

But James White (A & O Min) in an attempt to deal with 1 Timohty 4,10 says exactly that:

Just as God is Creator of all, even of those who do not acknowledge His creatorship, and Lord of all, even over those who refuse to bow the knee to Him, and just as He is King of kings and Lord of lords, so too, since He is the only Savior that exists, He is Savior of all men.

See? Since he is the only savior that exists, he is called the savior of the non-elect. Now, one must admit that White's "exegesis" is more that awkward. But this is the only material found at on that passage!

BTW, I had said that I think the case and the scriptural support for unlimited atonement and God's universal benevolence towards each and everyone is stronger than the case for and the scriptural support that some persons will definitely never benefit from it.
Don't get we wrong.

JSA said...

@chalee - Thanks very much for the response. I have seen the "Calvinists are sneaky" accusation, and quite frankly it seems very strange to me. Universalists or pelagianists may be able to make the claim, but it seems to me that arminians are equally sneaky. I commented on this here:

Again, I am no expert. But I personally cannot see how arminians version is any more palatable than Calvinists -- they are 6 of one, half dozen of the other. In some ways, the arminians message is worse..

chalee said...

So you want to claim that you were entirely sincere in asking "Are you suggesting that there is "fine print" at 1st Timothy 4:10 which indicates that "all men" meant that some were excluded?" rather than being sarcastic in extending my modern example (which was obviously referencing Hunt’s modern example) back to the first century? I made several comments on your previous post on 1Tim4:10 that pretty thoroughly explained a couple of different Calvinistic takes on the passage…none of which involved “fine print.”

Your question was sarcastic in tone and completely out of line with what has already been discussed...making your bizarrely passive-aggressive response to my sarcasm more than a little hypocritical…but I will make an effort to be harder to provoke in the future.

I appreciate the effort of a detailed response, though. But while you say "I promote a meaning in which the scope and meaning of “all” is determined by the passage at hand", the original post (as well as your answer in number 13) denies that. If you concede that pas can indeedhave a different scope and meaning than "all without exception", then the complaint in the original post that interpreting pas in such a way is "misleading" and "deceptive" would make no sense. You can’t sensibly claim it is a valid meaning depending on the context and also claim it’s deceptive.

Who is doing the complaining after all? From our perspective, anyone may come…we don’t know the future. We would all agree that everyone who comes and believes will be accepted. From God’s perspective, the elect have ears to hear the call and will certainly respond as invited. So Hunt’s argument is only defending the wicked in Hell – if God didn’t die for them provisionally, then they can avoid responsibility. But this again is based entirely on human philosophy. Biblically, God gives the same answer to Job, Pharaoh and every other man: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” “No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

I understand that is a frustrating answer for arminians as you are so quick to judge the calvinist understanding of God as “deceptive” and “unjust” but it remains valid.

1) I agree that you are interpreting Piper correctly.

2) I would love to see such a retraction, but I suspect you recall incorrectly. All I have seen so far is a “correction” which blamed Spurgeon for being unclear and inconsistent, which is completely ridiculous if Hunt had read the entire discussion at any point. (Not to mention that Hunt was advised by numerous people before publishing the first edition that he was misunderstanding Spurgeon, yet still he went ahead with it.)

3) (more to helmet) White’s interpretation of 1Tim4:10 seems similar to Piper’s on the whole, although the sentence Helmet quotes is a little unclear – while White uses the word “savior”, he is clear that the passage is not discussing eternal salvation.

4/11) I am not referring to those within time who are currently unbelieving as “unsaved”, but that God knows who will die unsaved in the future as surely as He knows who died unbelieving in the past. If they repent, then they are the elect, for whom Christ died.

Again, God is not optimistic or hopeful that the possibility exists that some will come who, in fact, never will come. He did not have to make a provision for Judas – who Jesus recognized in space and time as “doomed to destruction” prior to his actual choice - in order to condemn Judas. The notion of God as “eternal now” is as pagan in origin as the argument that “responsibility requires ability”, and suggesting that God “does not know your action till you have done it” requires a God with less of an understanding of time than his creatures.

Jesus understood Judas would certainly betray Him in the future…and still brought him into the Twelve.


chalee said...

8) You said: “Yes, I agree with the quote from Adrian Rogers, as I believe that such a tone is consistent with the remorse expressed by Christ at Matthew 23:37.”

Jesus doesn’t weep in Matt23. Despite your interpretation of John 3:17 that Jesus did not come to condemn the world (including the unbelieving Pharisees), He calls them "You snakes! You brood of vipers… Sons of hell” (most likely in what you would consider an unchristian tone) and pronounces woes (or condemnation) upon them.

Matt23:37 is where arminians miss that the “you” who “kills the prophets” and “would not” allow the gathering (v13) is different than the “your children” whom Jesus desires to gather.

You mean Luke14:41. I’m not convinced that Jesus is apologetic about the justice of God here, but I'll keep it in mind as a possibility.

10) You said "I agree that God will judge the wicked and “send” them to Hell, though also from the perspective that they chose their own will, over God’s will."

Jesus left out the quotes as far as I can see. This is why I said you may as well deny Hell (even if you do not).

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Rom8:32 If God gave Him up for those who die unrepentant, as you argue, how will He not also give them all things? The rich man in Luke16 has only to choose to cross over into paradise – Jesus died to atone for him and God’s wrath has been satisfied – how can anything other than his choice keep him in agony? This is consistent with your theology but it is not the biblical picture.

13) You said “I believe that Christ tasted death for everyone, indiscriminately, collectively and distrubitively, so that the “many” who believe in Him, will be brought into His glory.”

Or you could make it more simple: Matt26:28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. His blood was poured out for many, not every single person. Or as Heb2 puts it, for “many sons”, for “those who are made holy”, for His “brothers”, for the “children of God”, for “Abraham's descendants.”

14) You said “God has not appointed wrath, for them that are in Christ Jesus.”

Yes. Except it’s not a “whomever”, it’s for a specific group of people: His church…His sheep…“us” as Paul says repeatedly in Eph1.