Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Rapture and how it could be explained away

In a post-Rapture world, the devil will have to explain how the Rapture wasn’t really a Rapture. I’ve often wondered how the devil could possibly pull this off, given the obvious circumstances involving what would be a Rapture, but I now think that this could rather easily be accomplished, if you are dealing with people who are willing to be fooled, and people who will accept anything but the truth. We actually saw this play itself out with the Jehovah's Witness when the Watchtower Society made their famous false prophecies for 1914 and 1975. For instance, 1914 went from being the heralded date for Armageddon, to merely being the date of an "invisible" return, and ultimately, the cult survived both false prophesies and is still going strong to this day. So what follows is one possible blueprint for how the devil could dismiss a Rapture, and get people to confidently fall in behind it. However, this explanation presumes that an anti-Christ is already well established and firmly set in place, when any such Rapture actually does take place, in order to immediately squash any and all refutations of the disinformation campaign.

The thrust of the disinformation could go something along the lines of: This could not have been a Rapture because of A, B and C, and then the devil would simply have to fill in the blanks. What follows is one potential scenario. The first part “A” would have to be a straw man argument, that is, some kind of easy softball that immediately wins the rational mind into agreement. The second part “B” will have to be a genuine appeal to the core values of a liberal. The third part “C” will have to be a bald-faced lie that is designed to get the deceived to emotionally root against any Rapture explanation.

So the disinformation could go something along the lines of: We know that this could not have been “The Rapture” because, A) [here comes a strawman argument] there were no cataclysmic catastrophes involving rolling earthquakes around the globe, starting with New Zealand. (Chuckle chuckle.) So we can safely rule out any wild Rapture theories. [People like Harold Camping have helped to make such strawman arguments very easy to construct.] Secondly, we know that this could not have been a Rapture because, B) [and here comes the emotional appeal] good people of all faiths are still here, and God would not leave behind indisputably good people who, in some cases, have spent an entire lifetime devoting themselves to the noble causes of social justice, in order to make this world a better place for all of humanity. Thirdly, we know that this could not have been a Rapture because, C) [here comes the bald-faced lie to get people to root against a Rapture explanation] if a Rapture did take place, it would mean that we are all damned, and are we going to give in to fear and doubt, or are we going get back on our feet, and rise to meet these new challenges? I can tell you that we will not give in to wild conspiracy theories, but instead, deal with the realities that face us, which in the end, will only serve to make us a better and strong society because of it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My take on the book of Romans

The theme of Romans leading up to chapter 9 is that Paul had written a letter with the Jews in mind, evidenced by the many Jewish themes throughout, including pointed questions aimed directly at the Jew. From the start, Paul identifies with the Jew by pointing out the depraved state of the Gentiles, and their condemnation under the Law. But then Paul challenges the Jew with a charge of hypocrisy, when they do some of the very same things as the Gentiles. Paul then points out the hopelessness of achieving righteousness through the Law, while simultaneously pointing out that not all was lost, since there were well known historical Jews such as Abraham, Moses and David who did, in fact, achieve a state of righteousness with God, and this is where Paul points out that it was not through the Law at all, but by faith. This becomes the perfect segue into Christ being the ultimate end of faith. Paul extols the riches of Christ and all that God has eternally stored up for those who believe in Him. That’s when we reach Romans 9. The standing question is that if Christ is the Messiah of the Jews, then why don’t the Jews believe in Him? There’s actually a long history there. God reached out to the Jews with many offers of grace, until God finally had enough, which resulted in their hardening, as recorded at Isaiah 6:9-10, in which God states that He will harden Israel so that they could not receive His Son, or at least, they would not receive His Son without first reconciliation with God. God was not going to have people reject Him, while instead embracing a conquering Messiah to deliver Israel from the Romans. So God sent Christ in the same image of the prophets whom the Jews persecuted before Him. Now Paul’s objective at this stage of Romans 9 was to develop the backdrop for the illustration of the Olive Tree described at Romans 11, in terms of the natural and wild branches, in which the natural branches were being cut off, for a time, so that the wild branches could be grafted in. What Paul was doing in Romans 9 was expressing his sincere passion for the Jew, which was also God’s passion, while highlighting the fact that God was now, as a result of Jewish unbelief, turning to the Gentiles in order to graft them in. Jesus warned the Jews with illustrations that this was going to happen. So Paul sets up God’s sovereign right to first choose the Jewish nation (by using examples like with Isaac, the one chosen to receive the inheritance, including his son Jacob), as the basis to suggest that God also has the right to choose the Gentiles, which validates Paul’s ministry of the Gospel to the Gentiles. In other words, if God has the sovereign right to choose the Jews, then it stands to reason that He has the same right to graft in the Gentiles. Additionally, He has the same right to harden the Jews, which is what He warned at Jeremiah 18:1-13 and what He did at Isaiah 6:9-10, and ultimately quoted as its fulfillment at John 12:36-43. When Paul asks the question of what right does the pot have in responding back to the Potter, this is a question aimed at the unbelieving Jews (or at least, unbelieving in the Messiah, Christ), in anticipation of their protest against God's hardening, in terms of the Jews, the natural branches, having been removed from the Olive Tree. But even despite the hardening, Paul points out that it is a "partial hardening" until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. So this is what I see going on in the book of Romans, and it has nothing to do with either Calvinism or Arminianism.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Roger Olson on God-Centered Theology

Roger Olson comments on what he believes constitutes a truly, "God-Centered" theology. Click on his photo and that will direct you to the sermon on youtube. I thought it was well done. I thought that the eruption by some Calvinists made little sense. "Why didn't the eruption occur sooner?", I thought to myself. Basically, he set up the Deterministic scenario, and only when he put 1 & 1 together and spelled it out in black & white, did the eruption finally occur. I didn't get that. In other words, if there is no such thing as independent thought, and that all thoughts and deeds are scripted, and that all evil is decreed by God, and that there is only 1 free will in the universe, and that God needs sin in order to accomplish his purpose and to give Him the "most" amount of glory, and the devil does only and precisely what he is directed to do, being under the complete sovereign control of God, then what does that result in? Roger Olson spells the answer out in black & white, and kaboom! Oh well.

Two points that I thought interesting were the following:

1) There are two ways to look at the reality of sin in our universe. Either God’s plan will succeed despite the existence of sin, and that sin contributes nothing positive to the cosmos, or according to Calvinism (or at least Determinism), God’s plans will succeed through the utilitarian necessity of purpose-based, God-ordained sin, insomuch that the success of God’s plan required the existence of sin, which sin, Determinism holds was immutably scripted by God, in which there exists no form of independent thought, outside of God’s own predeterminations. However, I operate under the assumption that God doesn't need sin, and never did, in order to obtain the most amount of glory. I think that God uses sin, but I don't think that He needs it for any reason, and I agree with Roger Olson that sin contributes nothing positive to the cosmos. God will be perfectly glorified throughout eternity future, without the existence of a single sin. It is completely unnecessary to God's goodness and glory. Sin was born in the angelic realm through the rebellion of Satan and his fallen angels and born in the earthly realm through the rebellion of Adam and Eve. God didn't create it, never needed it, never wanted it, but will use it, proving that He can still achieve success despite it. When Calvinists differ, Arminians accuse them of diminishing God's goodness and ultimately making God and the devil indistinguishable, and then kaboom!, Calvinists erupt. It's an odd thing to me, but it was kind of a humorous moment in the youtube clip. "Read my book," says Olson, "and I'll see you back here."

2) The prevailing Calvinist view is that in order for a particular theology to be considered truly "God-centered," human decision must play no role in salvation, whatsoever. But if you suppose that God possessed the power and sovereign freedom to select either the Calvinist or Arminian plan of salvation, then it seems to follow that either hypothetical plan of salvation would be "God-centered," simply by virtue of the fact that He chose it, and is getting the most out of it, as opposed to whatever alternative option that He could have chosen instead. So even if human decision played a role in salvation, that is, for a person to either accept or reject God's offer and provision of grace at Calvary, I gather that it would still have to be considered, "God-centered," and I think that the argument works both ways. You can look at it from a bunch of different angles, and claim one alternative as superior to another (in terms of God-centeredness), but ultimately, it seems that the mere fact of God's choice guarantees that the plan selected (whichever it may be) has be God-centered by definition. I think this also applies to the sovereignty arguments. For instance, if you suppose that God could have preferred and chosen the Arminian plan of salvation over the Calvinist plan of salvation, then if the former was in fact what God had selected, it could not detract from His sovereignty if that's what He had chosen from His sovereign prerogative to choose it. A non-Calvinist Baptist pastor once stated from the pulpit, "I believe that God is so sovereign that free will presents no problem to His sovereignty." That's why I think that it's silly to suppose that God could have chosen the less-sovereign plan of salvation, since either one would be THE sovereign plan if it results from His sovereign right to choose it. In other words, the whole argument on God-centeredness and sovereignty is fundamentally silly.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A little Preacher humor

Ever ask a $1 question and get a $2 answer? Well I got my money's worth on one particular question. I have a preacher-friend that I jokingly asked whether or not he believed in ghosts, and here was his answer:

"Son, I have pastored for 30 years (any answer that starts out like that is bound to be good), and during that time I have married 'em, and I have buried 'em (which is to say that in his pastoral duties, he has performed both weddings and funerals), and I can tell you that when you bury 'em, they STAY dead...No, it's the ones that you marry that comes back to haunt ya. You put 'em in the ground; they stay there. They behave themselves. Nah, you marry 'em, and they are COMING BACK, and they WILL getcha."

I guess the Jersey Devil didn't scare him at all, but a couple devils at the alter apparently got him pretty good.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Determinism, Compatibilism & Free Agency

Calvinist God: “You may choose between (a) or (a), and you're free to choose whichever is most compatible and consistent with your nature, but you're not free to abstain from choosing, and the choice that you make, will ultimately be YOUR choice. So what's your choice?”

Person: “I guess I choose (a).”

C God: “Great. Now I will reveal the gracious gift or perhaps, just punishment for choosing (a).”

Person: “Whoa…wait...what?”

C God: “You made your choice! YOU chose it out of your own free agency!”

Person: “Wait! All I had was choice (a). What other choice COULD I make?”

C God: “What choice DID you make?

Person: “I chose (a).”

C God: “Exactly!”

Person: “But what choice did I HAVE?”

C God: “Apparently, the choice that you MADE.”

Person: “But it wasn’t MY choice.”

C God: “Sure it was.”

Person: “But I couldn’t choose anything OTHER THAN (a), so how was that MY choice?”

C God: “You admitted it yourself. You chose (a). You said so yourself.”

Person: “Ok, I chose it, but I didn’t have any OTHER choice.

C God: “Exactly! Finally you admit it.”

Person: “But my choice wasn’t REALLY a choice, since I had no OTHER choice.”

C God: “Would you like to know the ramifications of your choice?”

Person: “Not really.”

C God: “I chose to be gracious towards you.”

Person: “You did?”

C God: “I did.”

Person: “Wait! See, YOU’RE the One who did the choosing.”

C God: “I never said that I didn’t make a choice. I simply said that you ALSO had a choice, and YOU made your choice.”

Person: “Well, I guess it turned out ok, so I’m happy.”

C God: “Good. I’m glad that you’re happy.”

Person: “What about these others?”

C God: “I chose something different.”

Person: “Are they happy with THEIR choice?”

C God: “No.”

Person: “Well…they made their choice. They should just accept that.”

Calvinist God: “Exactly!”

I wonder if Calvinists were on the losing end of secret selection, that they would feel differently? Calvinists have postulated whether their children could be predestined to Hell, but they don’t seem to be bothered too much by it. In fact, Erwin Lutzer supposed that since his children were born into a Christian home, that his children must be “one of the elect,” which is rather silly when considering the term, “PK.” No offense to Preachers. I’m just pointing out the fact that simply by virtue of being born into a Christian home, does not automatically guarantee spiritual victory. So Lutzer’s comment seems odd. The prevailing attitude seems to be, “God picked me, so why should I care? Why should I be an advocate for Reprobates? After all, they made THEIR choice.”

* At this point, I should probably define what (a) actually represents. (a) represents a sequence of events. Determinism & Compatibilism have no problem explaining why a person follows sequence (a), but conversely is absolutely terrible at explaining why a person did NOT choose sequence (b) through (z). All Compatibilism really serves to do is to camouflage raw Determinism, so as to make it *appear* as though a person had a choice in choosing sequence (a), when in fact, their choice of (a) was both divinely purpose-driven and predetermined, and thus excluding (b) through (z) from any possibility of ever occurring, and thus a person's freedom to do it, must by necessity be excluded. Remember that according to Calvinism, sin has a "purpose," and thus if there is a divine purpose in (a), then a person's freedom to do (b) through (z) would conflict and obstruct (a)'s alleged purpose, and thus anything other than (a) could never come about, and any choice to the contrary would be a mere illusion of Compatibilism. On the other hand, if God was determining events for you based upon what He foreknows about you (i.e. Middle Knowledge), then that's fine, because God would be acting in connection to something undetermined, unscripted and unncessitated about you. In other words, God is saying, "Since that is how you've chosen to be, here is what I will do." You see this demonstrated beautifully at Jeremiah 18:1-13, which is not one of the Calvinists most often quoted "Potter" passages. Arminians love to remind Calvinists of it, when discussing the Calvinist's most often cited proof-text passage, Romans 9, and Calvinists often insist that the Holy Spirit is bringing about a "new truth" at Romans 9, and thus Jeremiah 18:1-3 becomes irrelevant. Anyway, that's one defense. Not all Calvinists think alike; that you can be absolutely sure of. That's why I crack up whenever I hear a Calvinist insist that they've been "misrepresented," since Calvinists vary so much with each other! Even Calvinist, Phil Johnson, admitted that if you had a room full of 100 Calvinists, you'd be hard-pressed to find just 2, that believed exactly the same way in everything. Often Calvinists will chide other Calvinists as not being "truly Reformed." That's the whipping stick used to keep renegade C's in line.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Calvinism goes to the dogs

Sometimes when you play too rough with the Calvinists, in pointing out the obvious flaws of their theology, such as their ridiculous concept of John 3:16 in that it means, "For God so loved the world of the elect," or how obvious of a contradiction it is to affirm that God is the "ordainer of evil" but not the "author of sin," or simply by labeling a Calvinist as a "double-talking, logic-dodger," the Calvinist will notoriously retreat into the niceties of Calvinism, such as by claiming that they merely believe in the "Doctrines of Grace." Now doesn't that sound nice? One thing about Calvinists is that they are pretty good at slick marketing, not preferring the title of "Calvinist," but instead favoring the concocted title of "Reformed Theology" and the "Doctrines of Grace." It's almost humorous when a Calvinist is pinned down, that they trot out the badge and shield of the man-made term, "We believe in the Doctrines of Grace!" Yes, "Halt! We believe in something good!" But do they realize that it spells out an acronym of DOG? The slick marketers over at "Calvinism Headquarters" really dropped the ball on this one, or perhaps it's God's inside joke that Calvinism is a dog. Really, at best, the DOG is the doctrines of "Limited Grace" (i.e. Limited Atonement), while at worst the doctrines of a Caste System, and Calvinist do not like their theology compared to a Caste System at all, but that's really what it is. And really, regarding the latter, nowhere is it found among the prophets or apostles the expression of gratitude in thanking God over having been chosen to be born into an upper caste of Election. Instead, Christian gratitude is expressed in giving thanks to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. What prophet or apostle ever said, "Thank you God for allowing me to be born into the upper caste of Election instead of the lower caste of non-elect Reprobates!" Where's that in Scripture?

Calvinist, John MacArthur, states: “We are chosen unto salvation. We are chosen to belong to Him. When you look at your salvation, then thank God. Thank God! Because you are a Christian because He chose you. I don’t understand the mystery of that. That’s just what the word of God teaches. That is the most humbling doctrine in all of Scripture. I take no credit, not even credit for my faith. It all came from Him. He chose me. He selected people to be made holy in order to be with Him forever. Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election)

But that's just what a Calvinist reasons. Notice the following:

Luke 18:9-14 states:And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

The Calvinist prescribing to the DOG could say with the Pharisees, "Yes, thank you God for letting me be born as a priviledged member of the Upper Caste of God's eternally elect sheep, instead of being born into the Lower Caste of God's non-elect eternal Reprobates."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What does the Gospel include?

1st Corinthians 15:1-5 states: "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

Can you identify the elements of Paul's definition of the Gospel? First of all, Paul states that it's something which they "received" and were "saved." He adds that Jesus was "buried" and that He was "raised on the third day." Do you notice anything else significant about his definition? Notice that Paul adds that his Gospel message to the formerly lost Corinthians had included mentioning that "Christ died for our sins." "Oh," but the Calvinist says, "Paul is speaking to Christians." But regardless of who he is speaking to, Paul is defining what the Gospel comprised, back when he had spoken it to them when they were lost. And notice that Paul didn't say, "Christ died for sin." Of course, Jesus did die for sin. But Paul makes it personal.

Unless there are many Gospels, which no Calvinist espouses, Paul defined what the ONE Gospel included, which is the fact that "Christ died for our sins." Now that doesn't mean, "just my sin." To be clear, "our sins" means your sins and mine, speaker + audience. That's the impact of "our." It is a mutual inclusion. I'm trying to make this as plain as possible. Paul's Gospel obliterates Limited Atonement. Paul told lost people that Jesus died for them. Paul recalls that this was the Gospel when he had preached to them.

One Calvinist responds: "First Corinthians was written by a Christian, namely Paul, to Christians. So Christ died for 'OUR' sins means 'OUR.' Not theirs, don't add to the gospel."

"Our sins" is inclusive. It means your sins and mine. The speaker includes himself together with the lost audience that he had preached the Gospel to, and who received it and were saved. Is this really Calculus? Is this really hard to understand? Or is the problem, not necessary a factor of intelligence, but of cultic indoctrination, which refuses to see the light? You could tell a cultist that 1+1=2, but they will try to argue that it somehow really means 1.5 or 3. It's like you cannot make it simple or plain enough, and that's because logic and reason are not the problem. A culticly indoctrinated person can reconcile anything, such as spinning John 3:16 to mean, "For God so loved the world of the elect." For that person, no amount of logic will work. Their mind is shot. They cannot engage in reason. They will only engage in spin and obfuscation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arminius & the Doctrines of Grace

The impression that one might get of the Calvinist's "Doctrines of Grace" is that it is graceful, or has the appearance of being kind. The problem is that it is really the Doctrines of "Limited" Grace, or worse yet, something that Jacob Arminius had described:

Jacob Arminius stated: "It represents God as decreeing something for a particular end [or purpose] which neither is nor can be good...", in that "...God wishes to subject his creature to misery..." which is "...repugnant to the Goodness of God...", such that "...he wills the greatest evil to his creatures, and that from all eternity he has preordained that evil for them, or predetermined to impart it to them, even before he resolved to bestow upon them any portion of good...", which in other words, " was preordained that man should be formed vicious and should commit sin, that is, that he should neither know God, love, worship, nor serve him...." (Arminius Speaks, pp.40-42)

(This will tie in nicely to the next Blog series on "Why I am NOT a Calvinist," in which I will cite dozens of reasons and their corresponding explanations, and also what I feel would make the Calvinist's own list as to why they are not Arminians, and my corresponding thoughts.)

Most Calvinists that I know, speak of coming into a belief in the "Doctrines of Grace" as something which they entered "kicking and screaming." (I do not care for that title since it implies a monopoly on grace. Calvinists excel at marketing. Calvinists own the term "Reformed" as well. They also own Sovereignty, Providence, Predestination, ect.) That bothers me because Arminians teach all those things as well, though from a different perspective, which Arminians feel is a more biblical perspective, though Calvinists disagree, but the point is that although many have BECOME Calvinists kicking and screaming, Arminius instead had LEFT Calvinism kicking and screaming. Arminius spoke highly of John Calvin and his Institutes, although I don't think that he had the same opinion of other Calvinists of his day, especially of the mindset of Beza. But the point is that the Calvinist concept of God predeterming evil, appears to have been a powerful motivation for Jacob Arminius to abandon his Calvinism, and of course I believe that is a good thing, but what is the one major concern whenever someone leaves one particular theology? Holdover Theology. You see this sometimes when a person leaves the Jehovah's Witnesses, and has a skewed understanding of the divine nature of Christ. So as I read and study Arminius' writings in Arminius Speaks, the one thing that I will be cautious to look for, is to beware of theological baggage or holdover theology.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Calvinism & Satanism

I'm not saying that the two are identical, but there's something that I ran across that had me thinking about it, and I want to share with you a particular quote by R.C. Sproul. (My next two posts will address a list of reasons of, "Why I am NOT a Calvinist" and then followed with a book review of "Arminius Speaks" by editor, John Wagner.

R.C. Sproul writes: "The Calvinist view of predestination teaches that God actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to make absolutely sure that they are saved. Of course the rest are invited to Christ and given an 'opportunity' to be saved if they want to. But Calvinism assumes that without the intervention of God no one will ever want Christ. Left to themselves, no one will ever choose Christ." (Chosen By God, p.34)

Wouldn't Satan agree, and build on to that by adding, "...and they will surely curse You to Your face." I would imagine God's response to R.C. Sproul would be the same response that He gave to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:8; 2:3) It seems that R.C. Sproul is perpetuating Satan's contention against God. I realize that he's coming at it from a different angle, but it still seems to be the same basic point that Satan raised, in that God is unwanted and undesired. Obviously, Job didn't feel that way, and I don't either, and Sproul doesn't either, but Sproul merely attributes that to an irresistible, spiritual brainwashing, not of his own choosing, and worse yet, the opposite of what his choosing would otherwise be. Satan needs to admit that he's wrong, and Sproul needs to stop agreeing with him!

Now I want to clear some things up. 1) I disagree with R.C. Sproul's definition of the elect. I believe that the elect are the elect "in Christ" meaning actual Christians, exclusively (meaning, not the perceived would-be's, but the actuals). 2) How can someone be given the "opportunity" (his words) to be saved, if Jesus never died for them? In other words, "Repent because...oh wait. Nevermind. I don't know for sure that Jesus died for you. Instead..."Repent!...just in case Jesus died for you." Is this the "opportunity" and invitation that R.C. Sproul had in mind? R.C. Sproul needs to explain how you can offer someone a Savior that never died for them. That's why some Calvinists insist that the Gospel is not an "offer" but a command, which only those who are born into the alleged, elected Upper Caste will receive. 3) If Satan believed that Irresistible Grace was real, then why did he challenge God by saying concerning Job, "If You put forth Your hand and touch all that he has" (Job 1:11) and "put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, he will curse You to Your face" (Job 2:5)? Because if Satan believed that Irresistible Grace was real, then his real challenge should have been, "Put forth your hand and remove the Irresistible Grace..." Now if Irresistible Grace is real, and if Satan didn't know it, then Augustine must have really burst his bubble! In reality, though, Determinism is Satan's product, as taught to Socrates and perpetuated by the Platonists, Neo-Platonists, Gnostics and Augustinian Predestinationists.

R.C. Sproul adds: "Non-Reformed views of predestination assume that every fallen person is left with the capacity to choose Christ. Man is not viewed as being so fallen that it requires the direct intervention of God to the degree that Calvinism asserts." (Chosen by God, p.34)

The last phrase is key, in which Sproul has Irresistible Grace in mind. Obviously, Arminianism does view man as being "fallen" and requiring the "intervention of God." That's called "Prevenient Grace," and it appears in many forms, whether you're talking about the faith producing, power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16, 10:17), or the individual goading of the Holy Spirit upon the unregenerate heart of Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 26:14) But the point that I wanted to make is that Sproul is discounting Prevenient Grace as something that man is "left with," rather than something that man is being "given." Yes, God intervenes, since God is giving something to enable him, rather than simply leaving man helpless and hopeless, as Common Grace might imply. Once you view Prevenient Grace as something positive that God does to enable man to receive His free gift of grace, you'll no longer see man as being "left" (as in, left behind), as Sproul had characterized it. This makes sense because Sproul doesn't believe in Prevenient Grace, period. He said so: "The $64,000 question is, 'Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of Prevenient grace? If so, where?" (Chosen by God, p.125) The odd thing is that, not only is it all over Scripture, as I've cited just a few verses already, the fact is that he too must believe in Prevenient Grace, since he affirms the preceding grace of "Irresistible Grace." Prevenient Grace is simply the divine intervention of God that precedes and enables people to receive the invitation of the free gift of Christ, primarily by taking the blinders off, so that man can see the truth, both of himself and of God, and the reality of where he stands before God. The issue isn't whether Prevenient Grace is taught in the Bible, but how Calvinists believe it differently from Arminians, in terms that the former believes that it is an irresistible preceding grace, whereas the latter believes that it is resistible. But that there is a preceding grace, neither side disagrees.

Next up is the "Why I am NOT a Calvinist" post. SEA helped put together a list of reasons why not to be a Calvinist, and I want to share it.