Can A Regenerate Christian Be Totally Depraved?

In an earlier post I wrote concerning John Calvin’s character with regards to his dealings with Servetus, a Calvinist commenter admitted that what Calvin did was wrong and said it wasn’t a problem since Calvinists would just chalk it up to his total depravity.  I then asked him if he was affirming that Calvin was both regenerate and totally depraved at the same time.  He responded that this was indeed what he was suggesting.  I mentioned that I understood the idea that we still have a sinful nature that must be overcome by yielding to the Spirit, but to say that one can be totally depraved and regenerate at the same time seems very problematic, especially considering the way that Calvinists explain total depravity as a state of being like a lifeless corpse, unable to respond to God.  We didn’t pursue the issue any further, but I wanted to bring it up again and get some opinions.

Do you think that many Calvinists would put the matter as that commenter did, that Calvin was totally depraved while also being regenerate?  I can’t imagine that many Calvinist would agree, but maybe I am wrong.  If it is the case that Calvinists believe that one can be dead in sin while regenerate, then how would they address the apparent problems such a position would seem to imply?  For example: How can one be dead in sin and dead to sin at the same time?  How can one be dead in sin and enjoy the life of Christ at the same time.  How can we call a believer who is being sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit “totally depraved” in the Calvinist sense?

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115 Responses

  1. Well, this title is a bit humorous:) You are not suggesting that Calvin was not a Christian, are you?

    Total inability only applies to those who are unconverted. Therefore, since Calvin was a Christian, your question does not apply to him. Total inability means that men are spiritual dead and unable to come to Christ for saving faith without a prior gift of regeneration/rebirth.

  2. No, I am not suggesting that Calvin was not a Christian. Did you even read the post? Probably not, since you left a comment on X-Calvinist Corner either without reading the instructions, or in total disrespect to what I set that page up for and made explicit in the intro when I wrote:

    This page is only intended for the use of X-Calvinists who want to share their stories of embracing and then rejecting Calvinism. It is not for the purpose of interrogating those who share their stories.

  3. Spiritually dead that is. Ephesians 2:3

  4. In that case, I should share my story:) I was born thinking that I could save myself. I joined an Arminian church. But I kept noticing that no matter how much I did to feel secure it was never enough. I realized that I fell far short of God’s law and it’s demands for perfect obedience. I realized that God does expect perfection and I realized no one was perfect.

    So at that point, the only option I could see was that Christ lived a sinless life in my place and died in my place on the cross for my sins personally, not just in general. If I am just a number, a face in the crowd, what kind of assurance is that? No, God gives his grace to those he chooses to have mercy upon, even though none of us deserve it.

    Romans 9:18

    To God be all the glory:)

  5. Charlie,

    That’s an interesting story, but it doesn’t relate to the post. I am sorry that you felt some sort of insecurity before you became a Calvinist. I am also sorry that you felt you could save yourself. I am not sure where you came up with those ideas, but they do not represent Arminianism in the least. As far as assurance is concerned, I think that Calvinism affords far less doctrinal grounds for assurance than Arminianism. You can read why I think that here:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/perseverance-of-the-saints-part-13-salvation-assurance/

    If you decide to leave a comment on that post, please make sure you take the time to read it carefully first.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  6. Well, the point is, in case you missed it, Calvinism truly does believe in salvation by God’s mercy and grace while Arminianism appeals to man’s ability, “free” will, and pride.

    However, I should point out to you that I was a convinced Arminian for over 10 years. I graduated cum laude from an Arminian theological college and I earned a master of divinity from a Wesleyan Arminian seminary.

    The one thing you cannot accuse me of is not knowing your position. Fact is, I know it inside out. But I can also say without any qualifications whatsoever that either you do not understand the biblical arguments of the “Reformed” or “Calvinist” position or you are deliberately misrepresenting it. Personally, I think it could be a little of both.

    The real issue, though, is “prevenient grace.” If prevenient grace cancels out man’s total inability as Arminians contend, then why is it that when people hear the Gospel they are still unable to bring themselves to believe? I guess prevenient grace is insufficient to overcome the sinful “bent” toward sinning. Jesus and Paul, on the other hand, called it “slavery to sin.”

    Ephesians 2:8-9.

    Charlie

  7. Luther’s statement “Simul iustus et Peccator” is more accurate. One is not totally depraved and regenerated at the same time; one is, however, justified by God and yet still a sinner. This is why Protestants differentiate between justification and sanctification in the first place.

  8. Does man retain his sinful nature after regeneration? It depends on how efficient God is. If HE alone is the one working within us and is solely responsible for our spiritual state then He is clearly NOT the all-powerful God of scripture.

    However, if man is able to resist Him, then man (even regenerate man) remains responsible for his own sin and is required to confess and repent of that sin to obtain forgiveness and cleansing from unrighteousness.

    Since the term Totally Depraved” is an invention of man and is not found in scripture, its definition is dependant on man.

    It may be more beneficiial to stick with scriptural terminology such as “bound over to disobedience” to describe man’s natural state.

  9. “Do you think that many Calvinists would put the matter as that commenter did, that Calvin was totally depraved while also being regenerate?”

    I don’t think any Calvinist would enjoy agreeing with an obviously disparate statement. As the above poster stated, at that point it’s time to argue about the meaning of “said words and terms” for an hour. Or four. Or until you contract swine flu. Or until the internet dies and we give up arguing.

    What I think we can all agree on, is that Calvin sinned. Christians sin. Where the roads diverge is at the following question – what did that sin say about Calvin?

    1st John 3:14-16 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

    Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

    By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

    So at what point do unrepentant murders no longer have eternal life abiding in them?

  10. “So at what point do unrepentant murders no longer have eternal life abiding in them?”

    I would say at the point of death if they remained unrepentant of the murder.

    Of course that point could also be reached prior to death. Continuing in a state of unrepentance could have the serious consequence of God giving the unrepentat sinner over to the sinful desires that cause him/her to remain unrepentant.
    Or by continuing to harden his heart against conviction for his sin he could eventually find GOD hardening his heart as He did to Pharoah after Pharoah continued to harden his own heart against God.

  11. The term is total “depravity” and not “totally depraved.” Be that as it may, the term total depravity has absolutely nothing to do with what you imply. “Depravity” is a technical term that does not mean that all men are as wicked as other or to the worst possible degree. What it does mean is that every area of man’s human nature is tainted by sin or corrupted. It applies to the “extent” of the corruption of man’s divine image and likeness rather than to the “degree” of his wickedness. Understood in that way, it means that man’s ability to think, reason, will, feel, etc. are all corrupt so that man is unable to turn to God or to merit God’s approval or favor. Thus, man is unable to justify himself before God or to save himself from God’s wrath.

    The fact that Scripture itself teaches this is proven many times over from the Scriptures themselves. Genesis 6:3ff, Psalm 51:3-4, Psalm 58:3; Psalm 14; Romans 3:9-23; Romans 10:3-4, etc. Romans 5:12ff clearly shows that all are alike under sin. (See also Ephesians 2:3ff; John 3:36).

  12. Well of course you would say that, but what would a Calvinist say? That some unrepentant murders go to heaven, while others go to hell? That gets to the heart of Ben’s questions – how can a “regenerate” person be so… well… “unregenerate”?

  13. This is a strawman. No Calvinist believes that “Christians” are totally depraved. The elect prior to their conversion to Christ are under God’s wrath and in slavery to sin. All who accept Christ as made free by the Son of God (John 8). Thus, only Christians have free will sin they are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. This is not to say that Christians never sin. On the contrary, Paul clearly says they do in Romans 7.

    Total inability refers to man’s inability to turn to Christ and be saved unless they first are born again by the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3ff). “”Ye must be born again” is not a command but a condition or state which must exist before believing is possible.
    Just as our first birth is not our choice, so the new birth is not in our power but in God’s hands. The new birth is sovereignly given as we hear the Gospel preached. When that happens we then are able to repent and believe.

    Those who refuse to believe are condemned already because they refuse to believe (John 3:17-20). Why? Because they refuse to come to the light. They love their evil more than God. John 8 makes it clear that they are not free, but slaves to sin.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

    Sincerely in Christ.

  14. Not only is man able to resist God, all men DO resist God. What man is “unable” to do is to turn to God and accept Christ. This is precisely why God must supernaturally intervene to save some of the rebels.

    He could have justly passed over all and left everyone in their rebellion and their resistance to His word. Thank God that He does not do so.

    But for the grace of God all of us would be still resisting His will.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  15. steven, John Calvin was not a murderer. He did believe in capital punishment, however. Michael Servetus broke the criminal laws of Geneva and was tried and justly executed for his crime. Of course, we see the same sort of justice in the Old Testament. Those who worshipped other gods were subject to capital punishment in the OT as well. Calvin was simply living in his times. Both Protestants and Roman Catholics adhered to this view of criminal law where those guilty of heresy could and often were tried and convicted and put to death.

    Whether you agree with the laws of that day and time or not, it is a bit of a stretch to say that John Calvin was not a Christian as you seem to be saying. No born again Christian is “totally depraved” since the term applies only to those who are yet to be converted. Total inability or total depravity means they are slaves to sin and unable to will themselves to accept Christ.

    The 39 Articles of Religion, which is the Church of England’s “confession of faith” put it this way:

    Article X
    Of Free Will
    The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing (preceding) us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

    http://gavvie.tripod.com/39articles/art2.html

    If you’re going to say that Calvin wasn’t a Christian, you would need to base that on what he said or wrote. Simply judging him solely on something the criminal courts did on their own does not make Calvin “depraved” in the wrong or popular misunderstanding of that term.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  16. First of all, there is only one unforgivable sin. That would be unbelief. Whether the unbelief exists from the beginning or comes later through apostasy, the result is the same. However, the Calvinist would say that those who are unrepentant are that way because God turned them over to their sinful nature (Romans 1:18ff).

    Ultimately, the reason they are condemned is Adam’s sin and their own active rebellion and resistance to God’s revelation in creation and in the Scriptures/Jesus Christ. God is not obligated to show anyone mercy or to grant them the grace of regeneration. He is completely just in not showing mercy to many among the human race.

    Salvation is not a “chance” but it is guaranteed to the elect. Those who refuse to believe get what they deserve. Those who are saved get what they do not deserve: forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Grace truly is “unmerited favor with God.”

    Next time you sing “Amazing Grace” in church, think about that. A Calvinist wrote that hymn. John Newton. You might want to see the movie, Amazing Grace, which tells the story of William Wilberforce, also a Calvinist, who refused to give up the fight against the slave trade. Why? “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

    Charlie

  17. Does it matter what a Calvinist would say? Or what an Arminian would say?

    It’s what God says that matters. And what is God’s attitude to sin?

    Maybe its time to overhaul our theological beliefs regarding “salvation” and “regeneration” to bring them into line with God’s revelation in scripture instead of with man’s theology.

    At what point do we recognise that the Christian life is not about theological discussion it is about being freed from sin and its consequences.

    As for the unrepentant murderer scripture clearly states that murderers will be excluded from God’s new creation. An unrepentant murderer remains a murderer in God’s eyes and therefore will suffer the fate of a murderer.

    So much is made of “regeneration” in our theology, but scripture says very little about that particular concept. It’s amazing what additional meaning theology has projected onto to the idea of being “born again” or “regenerated”.

  18. A statement made above should read: “the Christian life is not about theological discussion or opinion…”

  19. Regarding murder, repentance and salvation:

    Commit mass murder then still go to heaven…

    http://onefiles.blogspot.com/2009/09/commit-mass-murder-then-still-go-to.html

  20. [...] by Cory Tucholski on September 23, 2009 Interesting post over at Arminian Perspectives, asking whether or not John Calvin was a regenerate Christian. [...]

  21. For any future responses please do not use the reply button. Instead respond at the bottom of the thread. That way responses won’t be missed or overlooked.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  22. Charlie wrote,

    First of all, there is only one unforgivable sin. That would be unbelief. Whether the unbelief exists from the beginning or comes later through apostasy, the result is the same.

    What do you mean by “comes later through apostasy”? Are you suggesting that a believer can become an unbeliever?

    Ultimately, the reason they are condemned is Adam’s sin and their own active rebellion and resistance to God’s revelation in creation and in the Scriptures/Jesus Christ.

    Did Adam choose to sin of his own free will, or was his choice necessitated by God? If Adam’s choice was necessitated by God then why should he be condemned for doing what God irresistibly caused him to do? Why should anyone else be condemned for what God irresistibly caused Adam to do? Why should we be condemned for the resistance that is the inevitable result of what God irresistibly caused Adam to do?

    Salvation is not a “chance” but it is guaranteed to the elect.

    But it is a matter of chance with regards to who ends up being the elect and who does not. Salvation may be guaranteed to the elect in your view, but how can you have a guarantee that you are among the elect?

    Those who refuse to believe get what they deserve.

    But if their sin and unbelief is irresistibly caused by God in accordance with an unchangeable eternal decree, than how can you say they “get what they deserve” when all they have done is what God necessitated for them by way of an eternal decree that they cannot possibly resist? Really, they have only perfectly fulfilled God’s will for them. Why should they be condemned for that?

    Grace truly is “unmerited favor with God.”

    I agree completely.

  23. Charlie wrote,

    Simply judging him solely on something the criminal courts did on their own does not make Calvin “depraved” in the wrong or popular misunderstanding of that term.

    Calvin was happy to take full personal credit for Servetus’ death. That doesn’t jive well with what you wrote above.

    BTW, I am not questioning Calvin’s salvation per se. This post is about a claim that one can be totally depraved and regenerate at the same time.

  24. Charlie wrote,

    He could have justly passed over all and left everyone in their rebellion and their resistance to His word. Thank God that He does not do so.

    This brings up an interesting question. If God didn’t have to elect anyone, then you must affirm that God has libertarian free will. If God has libertarian free will, then the concept of libertarian free will is far from absurd as some Calvinists try to claim (not that you have). If God possesses libertarian free will, and created us in His image, then it is reasonable to conclude that God gave His creatures a measure of free will as well (in the libertarian sense). If we deny that God has such a will, then we would need to say that God’s actions were necessitated. He had to do just as He did- He had no choice. Therefore, He had no choice but to elect the one He elected. He had no choice but to elect some and pass over others. Therefore, it is not true that He could have left us all in our state of rebellion, because to say so would imply His having libertarian free will. So you either affirm that God has libertarian free will, and that such a concept is not absurd, or you affirm that God did indeed have to save some and could not have left us all in rebellion as you claim.

  25. Charlie wrote,

    This is a strawman. No Calvinist believes that “Christians” are totally depraved.

    Well, at least one Calvinist does, the one who affirmed such in the thread I linked to. If it is a straw man, then it is one that was created by that Calvinist. This wasn’t my idea. So you disagree with him? Fine, so do I. That is all this post was trying to get at. Either you disagree with him, or you try to defend his argument. You disagree. That’s really all you needed to say.

    Thus, only Christians have free will sin they are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.

    So Christians have libertarian free will to either sin or not sin? Doesn’t this threaten God’s sovereignty as Calvinists understand it? Doesn’t this mean that God can have foreknowledge of libertarian free will choices (i.e. true contingencies)? That certainly goes against classical Calvinist accountings of foreknowledge. You call yourself a Calvinist, but you are sure starting to sound like an Arminian.

    Total inability refers to man’s inability to turn to Christ and be saved unless they first are born again by the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3ff). “”Ye must be born again” is not a command but a condition or state which must exist before believing is possible.

    This is false. The text says nothing of the sort. See my post on John 3:3 below:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration-precedes-faith-in-john-33-6/

  26. Charlie wrote,

    The term is total “depravity” and not “totally depraved.”

    That’s just the difference between a noun and an adjective. It’s the same thing.

    “Depravity” is a technical term that does not mean that all men are as wicked as other or to the worst possible degree.

    Yes, I know.

    Understood in that way, it means that man’s ability to think, reason, will, feel, etc. are all corrupt so that man is unable to turn to God or to merit God’s approval or favor. Thus, man is unable to justify himself before God or to save himself from God’s wrath.

    No argument here.

  27. Well, the point is, in case you missed it, Calvinism truly does believe in salvation by God’s mercy and grace while Arminianism appeals to man’s ability, “free” will, and pride.

    Yes I did miss it, because that is not what Arminians believe.

    The one thing you cannot accuse me of is not knowing your position. Fact is, I know it inside out.

    For someone who knows it inside and out, you are sure doing a fine job of misrepresenting it.

    But I can also say without any qualifications whatsoever that either you do not understand the biblical arguments of the “Reformed” or “Calvinist” position or you are deliberately misrepresenting it. Personally, I think it could be a little of both.

    That could be. What have I misunderstood? (assuming you are talking to me)

    The real issue, though, is “prevenient grace.” If prevenient grace cancels out man’s total inability as Arminians contend, then why is it that when people hear the Gospel they are still unable to bring themselves to believe?

    It overcomes depravity and makes a genuine choice possible, but it doesn’t “cancel it out” either. The sinful nature still remains, and one can then choose to either submit to that nature or submit to the grace of God. So those under prevenient grace are able to believe, but many choose not to.

    I guess prevenient grace is insufficient to overcome the sinful “bent” toward sinning.

    You guessed wrong, but prevenient grace in this context is primarily concerned with enabling a faith response.

    Jesus and Paul, on the other hand, called it “slavery to sin.”

    Right, but the point is that prevenient grace overcomes depravity and enables us to respond. For someone who graduated from a Wesleyan university, you sure don’t seem to grasp the function of prevenient grace.

    Ephesians 2:8-9.

    Don’t forget the “through faith” part of verse 8.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. “Not only is man able to resist God, all men DO resist God. What man is “unable” to do is to turn to God and accept Christ. This is precisely why God must supernaturally intervene to save some of the rebels.”

    Charlie,

    Ezekiel 33:11 says, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”

    Also,

    Ezekiel 18:32 – “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

    If men are unable to “turn to God”, then why does God act like they can? How can God both “will” the death of the wicked, and not desire it at the same time?

    Calvin, like any person, falls into the same category of all humans. When overcome with sin and iniquity, turn and live. If he failed to do so, then he would die spiritually and be separated from God. Having hate in one’s heart, instead of compassion, is sinful. His treatment of “heretics” was not Christlike, it was reprehensible. Unlike God ion Ezekiel, Calvin seemed to find pleasure in the death of the “wicked”.

  29. onesimus, the last time I checked you are not God and you have no authority to decide who is saved or not saved. Since Calvin’s theology is biblical and evangelical, most people have no problem confessing that he was a genuine Christian.

  30. Hi Ben, Depraved Christian? That’s absurd! This contradicts with what Paul wrote about being dead to sin and alive in Christ (in Romans 6-8). We no longer live according to the sinful nature, but live according to the spirit. Paul says that those who live by the sinful nature will die, but that those who live by the spirit will live. I think most Calvinists would agree to this as well. This guy is way out on a limb.

  31. steven, you’re usurping an authority you don’t have. Simply because the civil government of Calvin’s day tried, convicted and condemned Servetus does not make Calvin himself personally responsible for his death. Calvin never took the law into his own hands nor did he advocate vigilante justice. Furthermore, Calvin tried to save Servetus by asking him to recant his heretical views on the trinity. If Servetus’ view had prevailed, then many would have denied God as three persons and one God which is an essential for saving faith. Therefore, Servetus was leading people to hell while Calvin preached the truth. But Calvin did not have Servetus arrested. The town of Geneva knew Servetus was in violation of sound doctrine and the law and arrested him.

    Reading your own superficial understand of the historical events and revising them to fit your own presuppositions is no less reprehensible than many today who declare that the holocaust of the Jews never happened.

    I might add that none of the Scriptures you quoted are doubted or rejected by Calvinists. I absolutely believe that God commands men to repent. This is also why there is no “free offer” of salvation. Rather it is a command. If you obey you will be saved. If you disobey you will be lost. So no one has an excuse for disobedience and the commands and warning are absolutely binding.

    But the real question here is WILL THEY OBEY? Both Arminians AND Calvinists say NO. They will not ALL obey. Both Arminians and Calvinists agree that not all will accept the command to repent and some rebel. The real question, however, is whether or not men are able to obey in their own strength? If so, then Christ died on the cross in vain for in such case, men are not really evil and are in no need of saving.

    Essentially, the Scriptures say that God commands men to do what they are unable to do without a supernatural intervention:

    Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV)
    23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

    Matthew 19:23-26 (ESV)
    23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Really, you try to focus on Calvin, rather than on what he wrote or said. This is essentially a “ad hominem” argument. That is a fallacy that attacks the man rather than his arguments from Scripture. While I’m sure you dislike Calvinism and Calvin, you cannot expect to be taken seriously unless and until you deal with the actual arguments rather than simply setting up strawman arguments so you can appear superior to your own choir.

    Basically, Calvin did not originate the doctrine that God is sovereign. The doctrine is on practically every page of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. And even among the church fathers and theologians, Calvin did not originate the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Augustine and others advocated the Scriptural doctrine prior to Calvin. Augustinian Roman Catholics like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, and others brought about the Protestant Reformation precisely because they saw that the Roman Catholic emphasis on the inherent goodness of mankind was wrong. The emphasis on man’s ability to save himself by good works is also wrong.

    In fact, the semi-pelagian view of Arminus occurred in the 17th century and was never a part of the Protestant Reformation. The view of all the Protestant Reformers without exception was that mankind is unable to turn to God without particular grace being given beforehand. In other words, the Arminians were a “counter reformation” which moved back in the direction of Rome and works righteousness.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  32. Kevin,

    I completely agree. I think he was being careless in his wording. What makes it weird is that he defended it when challenged. Maybe he will chime it at some point and make his reasoning more clear. I left a link at his site and invited him to comment.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  33. Charlie wrote,

    But Calvin did not have Servetus arrested. The town of Geneva knew Servetus was in violation of sound doctrine and the law and arrested him.

    It is not about his being arrested; it is about his being executed for heresy, something that Scriptures do not warrant. As I mentioned before, you can try to say that Calvin really had no part in the matter, but that contradicts his own words where he takes personal credit for ridding the earth of Servetus. His own words condemn him on that matter. Here are two quotes:

    “Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.” (emphasis mine)

    Writing in 1561 to the Marquis Paet (chamberlain to the King of Navarre), Calvin said,

    “Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels [Anabaptists and others] , who stir up the peoples to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard.”

    Please leave any further comments at the bottom of the thread rather than using the “reply” button.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  34. Charlie wrote:

    “Well, the point is, in case you missed it, Calvinism truly does believe in salvation by God’s mercy and grace while Arminianism appeals to man’s ability, “free” will, and pride.
    However, I should point out to you that I was a convinced Arminian for over 10 years. I graduated cum laude from an Arminian theological college and I earned a master of divinity from a Wesleyan Arminian seminary.
    The one thing you cannot accuse me of is not knowing your position. Fact is, I know it inside out.”

    Charley seems a bit arrogant about his understanding of Arminian beliefs. He also does not appear to know and understand Arminian beliefs as he claims. And one line in this completely betrays his whole claim: ”while Arminianism appeals to man’s ability, “free” will, and pride.”

    I do a lot of evangelism, primarily in prisons, and have seen many people come to the Lord and get saved. I am also into discipleship of new converts. So I am familiar with both evangelism and how people grow as Christians. Your characterization of Arminians is completely false in my experience. When I evangelize I don’t appeal to man’s ability or free will or pride at all. In fact I say the OPPOSITE. When evangelizing I will say things like: “you cannot save yourself your only hope is to trust Jesus to save you” or “no matter what you try, if it is not faith in Jesus you won’t be saved”, or “you are in a desperate place, nobody can save you, only Jesus can if you trust Him” etc. etc. In other words I am constantly preaching and teaching that salvation is through faith alone and that God alone saves people.

    Now how is THAT appealing to man’s ability, free will or man’s pride, as you characterize Arminians? It’s not. And for you to make the blanket statement that Arminians do so is to lie and misrepresent Arminians and construct a convenient little straw man that is easy to demolish.

    If you had the degree that you claim (from an Arminian school) and if you knew church history (e.g. are you even familiar with how Wesley preached and what he taught??), and if you had real experience in leading people to the Lord (do you evangelize much?) then you would know that salvation is through faith alone, that God alone saves people and that is the only way that people get saved. And it is the only acceptable message to preach whether you are Arminian or calvinist or whatever.

    Robert

  35. Charlie wrote,

    I might add that none of the Scriptures you quoted are doubted or rejected by Calvinists. I absolutely believe that God commands men to repent. This is also why there is no “free offer” of salvation.

    But there are many Scriptures which speak of salvation as an offer and you have yet to interact with them. Even if we view these passages as commands, it is still an offer of salvation being made on the condition of obedience to the command to repent and obey, as I pointed out above.

    You do realize that you side with hyper Calvinists in insisting that there is no offer being made in Scripture, right? Most Calvinists try to be honest with the very obvious Biblical data and simply appeal to mystery when trying to harmonize the well meant offer with unconditional election and limited atonement. They essentially say: It may seem illogical, but we need to believe what Scripture teaches. Here is an example of that:

    http://www.loughbrickland.org/articles/freeoffer.shtml

    And here is how that article concludes:

    7. Submission to Scripture

    Do you have difficulty reconciling the genuine overtures of the Gospel with the truth of God’s sovereign election and predestination? To allow any such difficulty to cause you to reject the plain Biblical testimony to the reality of these gracious overtures is to bow down to the false humanistic god of the finality of human reason and is the very antithesis of true Biblical Calvinism. Whilst all of God’s Word is reasonable, our powers of reason are those of a finite and fallen creature. We must lean upon the words that have proceeded out of the mouth of God. It is fallen man’s pride in his own reason causing him to heed again the words of the serpent, “Hath God said?” (Gen. 3/1).

    Basically, it doesn’t make sense but we need to submit to Scripture since Scripture clearly portrays the gospel as being offered to all. But you and Mitch deny this and side with hyper-Calvinists. I am fine with that since I see hypers as just consistent Calvinists, but I thought you should know that your position is essentially hyper-Calvinism.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  36. Ben, “faith” according to Ephesians 2:8-9 is the “gift” of God. “By grace” and “through faith” which itself is the “gift of God. In other words, regeneration precedes faith (John 3:3-8).

    Furthermore, if your view of “general” grace given beforehand to all all men (rather than a “particular” grace given only to those who are regenerated and enabled to respond) is true, then what you are really saying is that there is a grace that actually accomplishes nothing for in the end that grace does not in fact overcome the sinful bent toward rebellion. If men were really free, they would be able to choose Christ, which all must acknowledge does not happen in most cases. Your view of grace is essentially one that makes it possible that none would respond to Christ’s command to repent at all.

    My question to you is WHY do men choose evil IF they are “FREE”? Jesus and Paul both say that those who sin are not free but are instead slaves to sin:

    John 8:24 (ESV)
    24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

    John 8:31-36 (ESV)
    31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    Notice here it says “if the SON sets you free.” You cannot set yourself free. And even more to the point, Jesus did not say that the Pharisees were free and had a free will. He said, the reason you do not believe is because you “enslaved” by sin. So only Jesus can break that slavery and if He does so, then and only then will you be “free indeed.”

    Even more to the point, no one is willing to come unless they are drawn to Jesus by the Father:

    John 6:39-44 (ESV)
    39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 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.

    John 6:65 (ESV)
    65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

    John 12:37-41 (ESV)
    37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

    Isaiah saw His glory because it was given to him to see. The rest, according to John, were blinded and hardened. Now, if you concede that God hardened Pharaoh, which the text plainly says, then you have concede that salvation is up to God.

    Why? Because God could have softened Pharaoh’s heart. Instead, the text plainly says that God hardened his heart:

    Romans 9:14-18 (ESV)
    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    The text plainly says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the very purpose of using him to show God’s power against the wicked and to bring glory to God’s name in all the earth. Clearly, God is not obligated in any way whatsoever to save Pharaoh or to give him mercy or even to soften his heart.

    Why does God harden Pharaoh and supernaturally intervene in Paul’s life?

    Acts 9:1-7 (ESV)
    1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.

    Acts 9:17-18 (ESV)
    17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;

    I know you like to selectively read the Scriptures but Arminians reject the Scriptures dealing with sovereignty while Calvinists accept those passages and Calvinists also accept the passages which emphasize man’s accountability to God. Arminians only accept the passages emphasizing man’s responsibility. But if the Bible teaches BOTH God’s sovereignty AND man’s accountability, then we are obligated to accept ALL of the Scriptures and not just the ones we like to hear.

    Romans 9:18 (ESV)
    18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

  37. Charlie,

    Charlie you brought up the “slave of sin” metaphor.

    I am sure that you understand that there is no real slave master named “Sin” running around in the world commanding human persons to sin. Nor is there a real slave master named “Righteousness” that believers are owned by and who is issuing commands to believers. So I’ve got some questions for you regarding the “slaves to sin” metaphor:
    (1) Is there (or has there ever been) a real flesh and blood slave master named “Sin” who owns humans can commands them to do things?
    (2) Do slaves always obey their masters?
    (3) Do slaves ever run away from their masters (hint – check the book of Philemon for an example of a person named “Onesimus”)?
    (4) Isn’t running away from your slave master being disobedient to him?
    (5) According to Paul in Romans 6 the believer is to choose to be a slave to “righteousness”, which by parity of reasoning (if the nonbeliever is a “slave of sin” then the believer is a “slave of righteousness) means that we are “slaves of righteousness”.

    DO WE EVER SIN AS BELIEVERS?

    And if we do so, how do you explain this despite the fact that we are “slaves of righteousness”?

    In light of all of this, can anyone claim that if someone is a slave to something or someone that they **always** obey their slave master??

    Robert

  38. Well, the Scriptures do warrant the death penalty for false religion in the Old Testament. Unless you’re going to say the Old Testament is not Scripture?

    The point remains that Calvin acted within the just laws of the land. Thus, what he did cannot be asserted to be immoral. It is no more immoral than putting child molesters to death. The issue is the same.

    Deuteronomy 17:2-5 (ESV)
    2 “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, 4 and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.

    Romans 13:1-5 (ESV)
    1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

    Now one could justly argue that we ought not to go back to the civil laws of the OT or even the civil laws of Calvin’s time. However, your premise that those who use capital punishment against false religion and idolatry are automatically hell bound is unbiblical.

    In fact, Calvin himself put forth the principle of “general equity.” That is, since we are only under the moral law today and not the OT civil laws, then each nation can justly decide their own laws as long as those laws are generally equitable to God’s moral law as it is set forth in the 10 commandments and in other places of the Bible where God’s moral law is upheld.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  39. Charlie wrote,

    Basically, Calvin did not originate the doctrine that God is sovereign. The doctrine is on practically every page of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. And even among the church fathers and theologians, Calvin did not originate the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

    Right, God’s sovereignty is embraced by all believers, but only Calvinists define sovereignty as exhaustive determinism (contrary to Scripture). Also, the earliest Christian writers all rejected determinism so your claim is simply false. It wasn’t until after Augustine that such strange doctrines were introduced into the church.

    Augustinian Roman Catholics like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, and others brought about the Protestant Reformation precisely because they saw that the Roman Catholic emphasis on the inherent goodness of mankind was wrong.

    Arminians don’t hold to “inherent goodness” in man. Again, you seem to have a hard time fairly representing Arminian beliefs for someone who is supposedly so familiar with Arminianism.

    The emphasis on man’s ability to save himself by good works is also wrong.

    Agreed. Arminians believe no such thing.

    In fact, the semi-pelagian view of Arminus occurred in the 17th century and was never a part of the Protestant Reformation.

    Arminianism is not semi-Pelagian. See here for more on that:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/the-five-dilemmas-of-calvinism-part-4-a-litany-of-inaccuracies-and-misrepresentations/

    BTW, do you see the Reformers as infallible? Do you really think they got everything just right?

    In other words, the Arminians were a “counter reformation” which moved back in the direction of Rome and works righteousness.

    Not at all, since Arminians deny works righteousness. What they were moving away from was Augustinian determinism. What they were moving towards was the plain teaching of the Bible.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  40. I do not side with anyone. I side with Scripture. However, the doctrines of “common grace” were invented by Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck in the 19th century. The doctrine of common grace is basically a compromise with Arminianism and Roman Catholicism and accomplishes nothing.

    The Bible nowhere says that God loves the wicked. Rather, the Scriptures unequivocably state that all are under God’s wrath unless and until they are born again and repent. If God loves the wicked who are unconverted, then why, pray tell, does He condemn them to hell?

    I would even say that the “elect” are hated by God and under his wrath until they are born again. Of course, Romans 9 says that God loves Jacob before he was born, but that has to be balanced with Ephesians 2:3-5.

    Ephesians 2:3-5 (ESV)
    3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

    Notice it says that God “made us alive.” Here the text is speaking to those who are already converted and attributes the new life to God’s initiative and not to our own efforts.

    John 3:17-21 (ESV)
    17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

    John 3:36 (ESV)
    36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    Charlie

  41. Charlie,

    If you continue to ignore my request to leave comments at the bottom of the thread rather than use the “reply” button, then I am going to have to ask you to stop commenting here. It is too easy to miss comments.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  42. Charlie wrote,

    Now one could justly argue that we ought not to go back to the civil laws of the OT or even the civil laws of Calvin’s time. However, your premise that those who use capital punishment against false religion and idolatry are automatically hell bound is unbiblical.

    I never said Calvin was automatically hell bound, and I believe that the civil penalties attached to the moral code came to an end under the new covenant era. We see absolutely no warrant in the NT for persecution of heretics, let alone execution.

    But notice how you have changed your tune. First, you tried to say that Calvin really had noting to do with Servetus’ death. When hat was disproved, you quickly got to the task of trying to defend his actions.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  43. Robert, I beg to differ. This is no mere “metaphor.” It is a real description of a real slavery to a genuinely sinful human nature. It is a sinful corruption and disposition which resides within the human nature since the fall of Adam. Scripture clearly says that this wicked corruption has existed since Adam:

    Genesis 6:5 (ESV)
    5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Psalm 14:2-3 (ESV)
    2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

    Romans 1:20-21 (ESV)
    20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    Romans 3:9-12 (ESV)
    9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    Romans 7:14-20 (ESV)
    14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    Romans 8:7-8 (ESV)
    7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    Psalm 58:3 (ESV)
    3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

  44. Ben, I see all Christians and church councils as fallible. Scripture alone is infallible. Therefore, the Remonstrandts are likewise fallible. However, the very Protestant Reformation, a heritage you “claim” for your own, denies your doctrine! Not one of the Reformers believed in free will or any semi-pelagian doctrine of man’s synergistic cooperation with God in salvation.

    On the contrary, they recognized one and all that any idea that man “cooperates” essentially leads to the idea that man saves himself. Arminianism “attempts” to get around this but ultimately fails. John Wesley, for example, held to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. He was converted to this view by reading Luther’s introduction to the Epistle to the Romans. However, Wesley could never bring himself to fully reject his former view that he could save himself by participating in grace.

    Odd, this is the same Wesley who preached to the Indians but had not experienced the rebirth himself. It was only at his Aldergate experience when he realized he could not save himself. How sad he did not go all the way and agree with George Whitefield and the Moravians.

    The “plain teaching” Scripture is both God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation and man’s absolute responsibility and accountability for rejecting God, EVEN if they have not heard the Gospel (Romans 1:18-22; Acts 4:11-12; John 14:6; Romans 10:9-17).

    Arminius was indeed semi-pelagian. The idea that there is a common grace given to all which counters the sinful corruption of all men essentially “neutralizes” the fall. Thus, there is a return to the pelagian idea that men are not sinful but only become sinful by their actions.

    Charlie

  45. Ben said, “But notice how you have changed your tune. First, you tried to say that Calvin really had noting to do with Servetus’ death. When that was disproved, you quickly got to the task of trying to defend his actions.”

    Not at all:) My faith is not in John Calvin or his theology, both of which are fallible and could err. My faith is based on Scripture and what Scripture says. But I notice that the thrust of your argument is ad hominem against Calvin himself rather than what Scripture says.

    I am likewise fallible. I do not pretend to know every single quote from Calvin. I will take your word for it. However, none of that bothers me one bit. It does seem to bother you, however. Apparently, it bothers you that God would condemn heretics to death when clearly God did this very thing in the nation of Israel. In fact, God EVEN ordered the death penalty for not keeping the sabbath in those days. So by your reasoning, God is “depraved”???

    It seems to me that most of the Arminian arguments are somehow “anthropomorphic.” You are reading your own ideas back into God, which may or may not be scripturally justified.

    God’s ways are not our ways and not everything God thinks or does is revealed to mere humans who are nowhere near God’s level of intelligence or wisdom:

    Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)
    33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    Deuteronomy 29:29 (ESV)
    29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    When we start to do our theology on the basis of what “we” think is right, soon the whole bible goes down the tubes. If modern liberalism is any example, that is. “Did God really say…?” is still the beginning of all kinds of errors.

    Charlie

  46. Ben, if you want to change the format of your page, be my guest. However, it is easier to reply using the reply button since I am being swamped with comments.

    Also, it is easier to see what comment is being responded to where by using the reply button. Maybe you don’t want people to see the context of my response or something?

  47. Ben, “faith” according to Ephesians 2:8-9 is the “gift” of God. “By grace” and “through faith” which itself is the “gift of God. In other words, regeneration precedes faith (John 3:3-8).

    Not at all. Even Calvinist scholars admit that the interpretation of Eph. 2:8-9 that suggests “faith” is the “gift of God” is contrary to the rules of Greek grammar. For more on that see:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/L%C3%B3pez-%22IS-FAITH-A-GIFT-FROM-GOD-OR-A-HUMAN-EXERCISE%3F%22

    And I already pointed out that you have misinterpreted John 3:3, 6:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration-precedes-faith-in-john-33-6/

    Furthermore, if your view of “general” grace given beforehand to all all men (rather than a “particular” grace given only to those who are regenerated and enabled to respond) is true, then what you are really saying is that there is a grace that actually accomplishes nothing for in the end that grace does not in fact overcome the sinful bent toward rebellion.

    It accomplishes exactly what it intended to accomplish, the enablement of sinners to trust in Christ. Again, you seem to misunderstand. To overcome someone’s bent does not mean that they will be irresistibly caused to move in the other direction. It only makes moving in the direction of faith possible. You can’t seem to shed your preconceptions concerning determinism and irresistible grace long enough to even understand the opposing view point. To say that God enables one to embrace Christ despite his sinful nature, does not mean that embracing Christ becomes a matter of irresistible causation.

    If men were really free, they would be able to choose Christ

    Exactly, but this does not mean they must choose Christ. In that case it can’t even properly be called a choice at all.

    My question to you is WHY do men choose evil IF they are “FREE”?

    Exactly because they are free to choose for or against God. Isn’t that obvious? Your arguments are really starting to get bizarre. Why do you think “freedom” means “freedom to choose only one way”? Do you see how your preconceptions are coloring your arguments and causing you to continually beg the question of your own position?

    As for your numerous prooftexts, they have already been dealt with elsewhere. While don’t you check the category for “Ordo Salutis” or “Irresistible Grace” for starters. You can also check the side bar for numerous articles that address the very passages you cite below. It’s not as if Arminians have never read or interacted with these passages.

    And Please be sure to leave any further comments at the bottom of the thread.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  48. Ben, if you want to change the format of your page, be my guest. However, it is easier to reply using the reply button since I am being swamped with comments.

    I can’t get rid of the reply option as far as I know. If I could I would. So I am just asking that people reply at the bottom of the thread as would normally be the case.

    Also, it is easier to see what comment is being responded to where by using the reply button. Maybe you don’t want people to see the context of my response or something?

    To the contrary, it is exactly because I do not want anyone to miss your comments or any responses that I want you to reply at the bottom of the thread. Otherwise, responses can be easily overlooked since one would have to survey the entire thread again for responses rather than just looking at the last comment.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  49. I fail to see how Arminianism can escape the charge of semi-pelagianism since the emphasis is on “free will” and your “choice.” So if men are “free”, then the implication is they are not sinners. If prevenient grace cancels out sin, then men are not slaves to sin. But if prevenient grace only cancels out some sin so that men now have a free choice but they are still slaves to sin, how are they then “free” to choose? Scripture clearly says they are blinded by sin and cannot see the truth:

    Matthew 13:11-16 (ESV)
    11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    Arminians are inconsistent because they say men are sinners but not that sinful because all have prevenient grace. So God leaves it up to chance which are saved and which are not. Scripture, however, says otherwise. God himself saves men, gives them faith and repentance and only those to whom it is given to believe will indeed believe.

    Matthew 13:11 (ESV)
    11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

    Acts 11:18 (ESV)
    18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

  50. Robert said, “If you had the degree that you claim (from an Arminian school) and if you knew church history (e.g. are you even familiar with how Wesley preached and what he taught??), and if you had real experience in leading people to the Lord (do you evangelize much?) then you would know that salvation is through faith alone, that God alone saves people and that is the only way that people get saved. And it is the only acceptable message to preach whether you are Arminian or calvinist or whatever.”

    Robert, I was ordained with the Assemblies of God for 4 or 5 years. I was also a prison chaplain for 4 years. I have been on street crusades as a student at an A/G theological college and I have been on more prison crusades than you might be able to match. I have handed out tracts to literally hundreds of people.

    Furthermore, I have not changed my views on evangelism one bit. I have, however, changed my approach. I now try to be faithful to the Scripture when I witness rather than on emotional appeals to “manipulate” a false response. Simply because you manipulate someone into saying a formula prayer does not mean that person was genuinely converted. Jesus said, “Make disciples.” He did not say get a decision. Salvation is not getting as many one minute decisions as you can so you can put on your church sign: Worship at McDonald’s: Over 6 Billion decisions for Christ.”

    Hint: There are 6 billion people on earth. Only 20% at most are even nominally Christian. Of that percentage say only 10% are Evangelical in any name or degree. And even less of that number might be genuinely born again. Say 5%? I’m just using these numbers to illustrate the point. Arminianism is a miserable failure because it does not seem to be working!

    You really should become liberals. That way God will be just and the wicked can go to heaven even if they don’t hear the Gospel.

    Regarding the question are we still sinners after conversion? YES! But we are not slaves to sin nor do we practice sinful and wicked lifestyles. But we do still fall short in thought, word, and deed. We persevere in faith only because God works in us to do so. The minute we in pride attribute our salvation to our own decision or to our own efforts in sanctification, we open ourselves up to fall since God will punish our pride and even allow us to fall into open sin. Jimmy Swaggart is a good example of that.

    As Luther put it, we are sinners and saints at the same time. We produce good fruit not because we are sinless but because we are sinning less. It is a continual process of growth, not an end all and be all. No one can match Jesus’ sinless life. His active obedience is credited to us as if it were our own.

    Charlie

  51. Charlie,

    You really seem to be unwilling to engage the arguments that are being presented. You just keep making the same assertions over and over. I corrected you on equating Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism and gave you a link to a post that documents that very well. You don’t interact with that, but just re-assert that Arminianism is Semi-Pelagianism. I wonder if you even know what Semi-Pelagianism is?

    You also ignore all of what Robert wrote about being slaves to righteousness, and just quote some Scriptures which do not address the issue. You say that the Bible nowhere says that God loves the wicked, yet do not deal with the passages in which God pleads with the wicked to repent and plainly states that he does not want them to die in their sins and takes no pleasure in their death.

    We have really gotten away from the main point of this thread and gotten into a battle between all points Calvinism and all points Arminianism. You have shown that you are not willing to fairly represent the view you oppose, nor do you seem to even understand it. If you want to interact directly with the subject matter of the post, then feel free. Otherwise, please do not comment further. There is no need to go round and round on all kinds of conceivable disagreements between As and Cs (I have already dealt with them in numerous places at this site, and do not have the time to reproduce of that in this thread). I would think that neither of us really have the time for that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  52. Steven said:

    “The reason I rarely post on blogs anymore (even though I love this one!) is that so few people can actually communicate effectively. Instead of sticking to the topic at hand, comments invariably turn into a “statement of faith” about how God saves people,”

    And YOU don’t have an interpretation of Scripture you follow, Steven? Wow. Then WHY are you here arguing for an interpretation of Scripture which opposes MY interpretation of Scripture?

    The fact of the matter is that everyone has a systematic understanding of what they “believe” the Bible says. The Latin word “credo” means “I believe.” So my question to you is “What do you believe?” Please tell me?

    Hint, what you tell me you believe is your “creed.”

    It’s a bit silly to attack me for having beliefs about what the Bible says when yourself have certain and particular beliefs as well. Whether or not those beliefs are formally written in a statement of faith or a confession of faith is irrelevant. You have a “confession” of what you believe whether you want to admit it or not and whether or not it is written out on paper.

    Charlie

  53. Ben said, “It accomplishes exactly what it intended to accomplish, the enablement of sinners to trust in Christ.”

    Oh, really? What does it actually do? It only gives them a “chance” to be saved? And that “chance” means that no one might actually trust in Christ. What kind of God would leave salvation up to chance and to capricious sinners?

    Prevenient grace doesn’t work since the vast majority reject Christ. Not only that, but prevenient grace cannot work for those who have never heard the Gospel. So apparently prevenient grace does not help them at all.

    Perhaps it might be that God actually saves every sinner He intends to save?

    John 1:13 (ESV)
    13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Romans 9:18 (ESV)
    18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  54. “Author: Peter Pike
    Comment:
    Luther’s statement “Simul iustus et Peccator” is more accurate. One is not totally depraved and regenerated at the same time; one is, however, justified by God and yet still a sinner. This is why Protestants differentiate between justification and sanctification in the first place.”

    I don’t recall saying that Christians are totally depraved and saints at the same time. I said they are sinners and saints at the same time. It continually amazes me that Arminians are so unaware of the true doctrines of the Protestant Reformers. It would behoove you to address what they actually said rather than strawman mischaracterizations.

  55. Not at all:) My faith is not in John Calvin or his theology, both of which are fallible and could err. My faith is based on Scripture and what Scripture says. But I notice that the thrust of your argument is ad hominem against Calvin himself rather than what Scripture says.

    Charlie,

    Just so you know, I am not making any argument against John Calvin’s theology based on John Calvin the man. I have also never said that Calvin was not saved. I spent quite a bit of time a while back arguing with a fellow Arminian who thought we could discount Calvin’s writings and teachings based on his character. I argued that this was not the case at all. So you have me all wrong, just as you have Arminian theology all wrong. I don’t have any time for further responses today. It gets tiresome to try to continually correct you on what Arminians believe on so many points, especially when you keep repeating the same errors over and over again, despite being corrected.

    I suggest you take a look at the posts I referred you to if you at all interested in accuracy.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  56. This is a strawman. No Calvinist believes that “Christians” are totally depraved.

    “Well, at least one Calvinist does, the one who affirmed such in the thread I linked to…”

    One uninformed Calvinist layman does not present the generally accepted views of Calvinists as expressed in their formal “confessions of faith” or their reformed catechisms. These confessions are drawn from the bible but are not infallible or inerrant. Only Scripture is inerrant.

  57. Thus, only Christians have free will sin they are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.

    “So Christians have libertarian free will to either sin or not sin?”

    No:) Christians have limited free will. Free will is defined as being able to turn to God. Since the unregenerate have no ability to turn to God unless they are first reborn of the Spirit, they are not free.

    Christians are free in Christ and able to worship and glorify Him as Savior. This in no way implies that they have “libertarian” free will since even our perseverance and sanctification is a gift:

    Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    John 8:36 (ESV)
    36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    John 10:26-30 (ESV)
    26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  58. I don’t recall saying that Christians are totally depraved and saints at the same time. I said they are sinners and saints at the same time.

    Charlie,

    He isn’t responding to you. He is responding to the OP, which I still wonder if you even bothered to read in the first place. This is why it is so annoying to try to deal with your multiple posts. They are so filled with inaccuracies and misunderstandings that it takes way too much effort to try to address them all. Whenever we do address one of your points, you branch out into ten new directions filled with more inaccuracies and misunderstandings. And I will further point out that you have ignored and side stepped much of what you have been challenged with in the process.

  59. BTW, Peter Pike is a staunch Calvinist and not an Arminian :-)

  60. Total inability refers to man’s inability to turn to Christ and be saved unless they first are born again by the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3ff). “”Ye must be born again” is not a command but a condition or state which must exist before believing is possible.

    “This is false. The text says nothing of the sort.”

    But it does say that. Nicodemus understood the implications. If you cannot make yourself born the first time, then Jesus is saying you cannot make yourself born the second time either. The Spirit comes and goes at His own will:

    John 3:6 (ESV)
    6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    John 1:13 (ESV)
    13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
    14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    Romans 9:18 (ESV)
    18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    Romans 9:27 (ESV)
    27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  61. Charlie wrote,

    But it does say that. Nicodemus understood the implications. If you cannot make yourself born the first time, then Jesus is saying you cannot make yourself born the second time either. The Spirit comes and goes at His own will:

    Please don’t comment if you are not even willing to read the link I referred you to. If you continue to do this sort of thing I will start deleting your posts. BTW, no one is saying that we can “make ourselves” born again. Just another one of your numerous inaccuracies.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  62. This brings up an interesting question. If God didn’t have to elect anyone, then you must affirm that God has libertarian free will. If God has libertarian free will, then the concept of libertarian free will is far from absurd as some Calvinists try to claim (not that you have).

    Hint: You are not God. You are born in iniquity and sin. You’re not equal with Adam before the fall or with Jesus, who was sinless. Libertarian free will also does not apply to God. God would never sin so the false choice between good and evil never at any time applies to God. It would be impossible for God to sin or do evil. If that possibility existed, he would not be God nor could we trust that He always does what is good, just and right.

    Furthermore, two thirds of the angels never fell from heaven. So apparently they don’t have egalitarian or libertarian free will either? The Bible says they are elect and reprobate by God’s decree:

    1 Timothy 5:21 (ESV)
    21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

    Matthew 25:41 (ESV)
    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

    Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)
    4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

    2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)
    19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  63. Ben, I am arguing from Scripture. You don’t have the right to give me “reading assignments.” I am arguing Scripture. Tell you what, if you read the Westminster Confession with all the prooftexts in toto, I will read whatever you like from your side.

    But you should know that heard all the libertarian arguments before. I’ve read extensively on both sides of the issue. At Asbury Theological Seminary I took a christian philosophy class where the professor argued strongly against Calvinism and for egalitarian free will. I came out convinced that Calvinism was true even though I was an Arminian at the time!

    Arminianism is logically inconsistent precisely because it elevates “free will” above even God!

    Charlie

  64. “He had to do just as He did- He had no choice.” So God was predestined to be helpless to save anyone?

    I didn’t know you actually do believe in predestination:) It’s just the wrong one.

    Actually, the Bible contradicts what you say because it clearly says that God chooses who will be saved and who will not:

    Romans 9:18-22 (ESV)
    18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

    Your real objection is against God Himself. The fact is you cannot take Scripture at face value. I can take both the Scriptures about human accountability and God’s sovereignty at face value as they are plainly stated because I accept both. You, on the other hand, accept only man’s sovereignty and God is somehow in bondage to creation.

    Does that not smack of idolatry??

    Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)
    7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

    Amos 3:6 (ESV)
    6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

    Exodus 9:14-16 (ESV)
    14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    I think you have it backwards. You owe allegiance to God. He owes you absolutely nothing and He can do exactly as He pleases. He answers to you and to no man:

    Job 40:1-2 (ESV)
    1 And the Lord said to Job: 2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

    Romans 3:4-5 (ESV)
    4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  65. Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)
    4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

    Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)
    33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  66. What do you mean by “comes later through apostasy”? Are you suggesting that a believer can become an unbeliever?

    Absolutely:) The Bible clearly teaches that apostasy happens. The parable of the four kinds of soil is a good example of that. (Mt. 13:5-23; Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:29; 1 John 2:19).

    Clearly, the warning passages are there to warn the elect against apostasy. Those who walk away never to return reveal themselves as having never been regenerated in the first place (1 John 2:19).

    Charlie

  67. Did Adam choose to sin of his own free will, or was his choice necessitated by God? If Adam’s choice was necessitated by God then why should he be condemned for doing what God irresistibly caused him to do? Why should anyone else be condemned for what God irresistibly caused Adam to do? Why should we be condemned for the resistance that is the inevitable result of what God irresistibly caused Adam to do?

    Adam sinned by his own free will. This does not mean, however, that the fall was not by divine decree. God could have not tested Adam by not placing the tree in the garden. Thus, God predetermined the fall by testing Adam at the very least. All who sin after Adam sin because they are corrupt by nature and not because they are simply following Adam’s bad example. If you say they are not sinful by nature, then you are a pelagian:

    Article IX Of Original or Birth Sin

    Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

    Now, if you want me to prove that this is substantiated from Scripture, I would be more than happy to go through step by step and provide prooftexts.

    Secondly, Adam was not “irresistibly” caused or forced to sin:

    Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. III.1

    1. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: (Eph. 1:11, Rom. 11:33, Heb. 6:17, Rom. 9:15,18) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (James 1:13,17, 1 John 1:5) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:23, Matt. 17:12, Acts 4:27–28, John 19:11, Prov. 16:33)

    The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.

    You keep using the false qualifier what God “caused Adam to irresistibly do.” There is a distinction between a divine decree and an active causation. God does not violate Adam’s will, therefore God is not morally responsible for Adam’s fall.

    Also, the Bible clearly says that ALL MEN do suffer from Adam’s choice to rebel. So the implication of your question is rather, “Why do we suffer for what Adam did instead of just our own sins?” The Bible makes it clear that we do suffer because Adam rebelled and because even those in our own family rebel:

    Exodus 20:5 (ESV)
    5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

    Exodus 34:7 (ESV)
    7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    Numbers 14:18 (ESV)
    18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’

    Numbers 109:14 (ESV)

    Isaiah 65:6 (ESV)
    6 Behold, it is written before me: “I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their bosom

    Isaiah 65:7 (ESV)
    7 both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they made offerings on the mountains and insulted me on the hills, I will measure into their bosom payment for their former deeds.”

    Jeremiah 32:18 (ESV)
    18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts,

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    Again, I fully accept that we answer to God for our willful rebellion against Him. But Scripture also teaches that we suffer because of Adam’s sin and the curse he brought upon all of the human race. Not only that but we suffer because of the sins of our forefathers. This is clearly and plainly taught in the Bible but Arminians tend to gloss over these passages.

    Charlie

  68. Romans 5:12-19 (ESV)
    12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  69. But it is a matter of chance with regards to who ends up being the elect and who does not. Salvation may be guaranteed to the elect in your view, but how can you have a guarantee that you are among the elect?

    There you have it. You believe salvation is a crap shoot. I believe nothing is up to chance!

    Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)
    33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

    Salvation is guaranteed by God to the elect. And how do I know I am among them? I know because I have the promises of God’s Word. God will never break covenant with me.

    CHAP. XVIII. – Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation

    1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation(Job 8:13–14, Micah 3:11, Deut. 29:19, John 8:41) (which hope of theirs shall perish): (Matt. 7:22–23) yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, (1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:14,18–19,21,24, 1 John 5:13) and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. (Rom. 5:2,5)
    2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; (Heb. 6:11,19) but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, (Heb. 6:17–18) the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, (2 Pet. 1:4–5,10–11, 1 John 2:3. 1 John 3:14, 2 Cor. 1:12) the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, (Rom. 8:15–16) which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. (Eph. 1:13–14, Eph. 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:21–22)
    3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it: (1 John 5:13, Isa. 50:10, Mark 9:24, Ps. 88, Ps. 77:1–12) yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 John 4:13, Heb. 6:11–12, Eph. 3:17) And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, (2 Pet. 1:10) that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, (Rom. 5:1–2,5, Rom. 14:17, Rom. 15:13, Eph. 1:3–4, Ps. 4:6–7, Ps. 119:32) the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness. (1 John 2:1–2, Rom. 6:1–2, Tit. 2:11–12,14, 2 Cor. 7:1, Rom. 8:1,12, 1 John 3:2–3, Ps. 130:4, 1 John 1:6–7)
    4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light: (Cant. 5:2,3,6, Ps. 51:8,12,14, Eph. 4:30,31, Ps. 77:1–10, Matt. 26:69–72, Ps. 31:22, Ps. 88, Isa. 50:10) yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; (1 John 3:9, Luke 22:32, Job 13:15, Ps. 73:15, Ps. 51:8,12, Isa. 50:10) and be the which, in the mean time, they are supported from utter despair. (Micah 7:7–9, Jer. 32:40, Isa. 54:7–10, Ps. 22:1, Ps. 88)
    The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.

  70. So much is made of “regeneration” in our theology, but scripture says very little about that particular concept. It’s amazing what additional meaning theology has projected onto to the idea of being “born again” or “regenerated”.

    What is amazing is the level of biblical illiteracy in most churches today. Scripture many times over mentions that the Spirit is the initiator of our salvation:

    Ezekiel 11:19 (ESV)
    19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

    Titus 3:5-8 (ESV)
    5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

    John 3:3 (ESV)
    3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    John 3:5 (ESV)
    5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    Acts 26:18 (ESV)
    18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

    1 Corinthians 2:10 (ESV)
    10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

    1 Corinthians 2:12 (ESV)
    12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

    Ephesians 1:17-18 (ESV)
    17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

  71. BTW, no one is saying that we can “make ourselves” born again. Just another one of your numerous inaccuracies.

    If it is your own faith that you generate out of your own efforts and not a gift of God preceding your belief, then the implication is that the cause of your new birth is your own faith, not God’s gift of regeneration.

    John 3:3 (ESV)
    3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    John 3:5 (ESV)
    5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    John 3:7 (ESV)
    7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

    It is interesting to note that “born again” is in the subjunctive mood in verses 3 and 5, denoting the conditional contingency. In other words, the contingent is being born again and it is also the condition for entry into the kingdom.

    Verse 7 we would expect to be in the imperative mood as a command of God. Jesus said, ” Ye must be born again.” That sounds like a command in English. But in Greek “gennao” or “born” is in the aorist passive tense and the infinitive mood. “From above” is an adverb. So the implication is that in the aorist passive we are being acted upon and not that we are obeying the command to “be born again.” Again, it is the Spirit acting upon us and unless the Spirit does that we cannot believe or enter into the kingdom of God. The metaphor of natural birth applies here. You cannot create your own natural birth or your own spiritual birth by your own efforts. It is beyond you control.

    Charlie

  72. Pike seems to be responding to the same strawman arguments I have dealt with here.

    Rather than arguing against what you “think” the Reformed position is or what you think it “implies” it would be better to read the WCF with prooftexts or the 39 Articles with prooftexts.

  73. Just so you know, I am not making any argument against John Calvin’s theology based on John Calvin the man. I have also never said that Calvin was not saved. I spent quite a bit of time a while back arguing with a fellow Arminian who thought we could discount Calvin’s writings and teachings based on his character. I argued that this was not the case at all. So you have me all wrong, just as you have Arminian theology all wrong. I don’t have any time for further responses today. It gets tiresome to try to continually correct you on what Arminians believe on so many points, especially when you keep repeating the same errors over and over again, despite being corrected.

    Again, you might accuse me of attacking what I see as the “implications” of Arminian theology. However, it would be entirely wrong to say I don’t understand Arminianism. I have read many Arminian Systematic theologies in my time. Dale Moody, Millard Erickson, Wiley, etc. I also have at least one Pentecostal systematic theology from the A/G perspective.

    However, the implications I have indicated are legitimate implications I think. If prevenient grace makes salvation possible or a “chance” then it is possible no one will be saved.

    Also, how much sin does prevenient grace cancel? Just enough to give you “free will”? How can a lost sinner have a free will when Jesus and Paul both say that lost sinners are in slavery to their own sinful natures?

    Why wouldn’t God just give enough grace to all so they are free from the bent toward sinning?

    Or just maybe God did not intend to save everyone?

    Charlie

  74. Ben, I am uninterested in arguing from philosophical grounds. You can either support Arminianism from the Bible or you cannot.

    It is blatantly obvious to me that you can only support your view by reinterpreting the plain texts which state that God is sovereign in salvation to fit your preconceived views.

    I, on the other hand, accept the plain meaning of all the texts. If Scripture teaches both God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability then we are obligated to accept both.

    As for semi-pelagianism, I am familiar with the distinctions between semi-Augustinianism and semi-pelagianism. However, I tend to agree with RC Sproul who says that Arminianism is not semi-augustinian but semi-pelagian.

    While Arminians do not accept the Roman Catholic teaching on merits, for all practical purposes, Arminianism is equivalent to the semi-pelagian view since the emphasis is on “libertarian free will” (which is not in Scripture) and upon “synergism” or cooperation between God and man. This essentially means that God cannot save anyone. This is really a modified form of deism. God creates man, lets him fall, and then gives man grace which makes salvation a crap shoot. In other words, the grace does not actually overcome the sinful nature and man continues in rebellion. All of this comes from the Arminian premise that somehow God would be unjust for condemning man without a “chance.”

    I guess God was unjust for destroying the earth in a flood? And for sending death to all men because of Adam’s sin?

    Charlie

  75. Charlie J. Ray said
    “Depravity” is a technical term that does not mean that all men are as wicked as other or to the worst possible degree…

    ——
    But the term is NOT “Depravity” it is “TOTAL Depravity” and what does TOTAL mean? Does it mean partially? Does it mean “not as much as it could be?

  76. Charlie J. Ray, on September 24th, 2009 at 4:55 pm Said:
    onesimus, the last time I checked you are not God and you have no authority to decide who is saved or not saved. Since Calvin’s theology is biblical and evangelical, most people have no problem confessing that he was a genuine Christian.
    ————-
    No Charlie I am not God but He has given me His Spirit.
    Did I say anything about which individuals are saved or not? Or did I merely state a truth from scripture that says no murderer will be admitted to God’s Kingdom?
    And the only way for a murderer to escape that fate is through being cleansed of his sin. The absence of repentance denies the unrepentant one cleansing from their sin.
    As for Calvin, his theology is most certainly NOT biblical and evangelical. As for his eternal fate, who am I to know whether he repented of his involvement in murder. That determination is in God’s hands.

  77. Wow. You guys are relentless. I leave for work for a few hours, and I have the entire Calvinist playbook laid out before me! In reading all of your posts Charlie, I still don’t see you dealing with my two passages as it relates to an offer of Salvation from God.

    The other thing I would like to address is your comment that:

    “The Bible nowhere says that God loves the wicked. Rather, the Scriptures unequivocally state that all are under God’s wrath unless and until they are born again and repent. If God loves the wicked who are unconverted, then why, pray tell, does He condemn them to hell?”

    How do you explain Romans 5:8 – “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    God’s love is demonstrated in the fact that Christ died for the ungodly. The “Totally Depraved.” The “Dead in Sins.” However you want to explain it, God died for the “chief of sinners”, the apostle Paul himself.

    God isn’t only love. He is justice as well. God can love and still punish, just as men can love their children and punish them for their actions.

  78. Charlie,

    For real, dude, stick to the topic of the original post. You can get all these Arminian/Calvinist questions answered elsewhere.

  79. How do you explain Romans 5:8 – “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    God’s love is demonstrated in the fact that Christ died for the ungodly. The “Totally Depraved.” The “Dead in Sins.” However you want to explain it, God died for the “chief of sinners”, the apostle Paul himself.

    Ah, I’m glad you asked:) Yes, you are correct. The text does say that Christ died “for us while we were yet sinners.

    First, who does Paul refer to by the “for us”? Obviously, to Christians:

    Romans 5:1 (ESV)
    1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    It’s odd that Paul would say that “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God….

    Why would we need “peace” with God? Because prior to that we did NOT have peace with God. We were His enemies and under his wrath:

    Romans 5:6-10 (ESV)
    6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

    Now clearly Paul is saying here that we did not have peace with God. We were enemies of God and under God’s wrath! And clearly Paul is NOT speaking to unsaved persons here. He is speaking to those already justified and converted! Did you get that? So, Paul is not saying this to unconverted sinners but to converted sinners.

    Therefore, the text is saying that the ELECT were loved by God before they were converted even though they were God’s enemies, ungodly, unrighteous, and weak in sins. Nowhere does this text say that God loves ALL unconverted sinners. It says He loves those who have been converted prior to their conversion.

    Now you could argue this applies to all unconverted sinners without exception but that is an argument from silence. The text only explicitly and plainly says that God loves these particular Christians prior to their conversion.

    The answer is that God loves the elect before they were ever born:

    Romans 9:8-13 (ESV)
    8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    Furthermore, the Gospel according to John clearly says that Jesus Christ laid down his life for his sheep. This is an indication of particular atonement and not a general atonement. Christ died for the elect only. And he determined to die for them prior to the foundation of the world:

    John 10:11 (ESV)
    11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

    John 10:15 (ESV)
    15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    John 15:13 (ESV)
    13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

    1 John 3:16 (ESV)
    16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

    Matthew 20:28 (ESV)
    28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    Mark 10:45 (ESV)
    45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    The ransom is for “many” and not “all.”

    Revelation 13:8 (ESV)
    8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

    Acts 2:23 (ESV)
    23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    1 Peter 1:19 (ESV)
    19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

    1 Peter 1:20 (ESV)
    20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you…

    I could also add that Jesus purchased the elect in the church:

    Acts 20:28 (ESV)
    28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

    So all are under God’s wrath but only the elect are loved beforehand:

    Romans 3:9-10 (ESV)
    9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

    Peace be with you,

    Charlie

  80. onesimus said:

    “As for Calvin, his theology is most certainly NOT biblical and evangelical.”

    That’s odd, onesimus. Calvin taught the doctrines of grace:

    Salvation is by grace alone.

    Justification is by grace through faith.

    Scripture alone is the word of God.

    Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, not the Roman Catholic Church.

    God alone deserves all the glory.

    Not only that, but Calvin denies that the sacraments have any power to save either. He rejected sacerdotalism. For Calvin salvation is all of grace and not of works. Even our ability to believe and repent are both gifts of God preceding our actual belief or actual repentance: we get no extra credit for believing and repenting since even THAT is a gift of God to us:

    Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

    Acts 11:18 (ESV)
    18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    So if a murderer repents it is because God gave him the gift of repentance. Calvin is no murderer since Servetus was a false prophet and deserved the death penalty:

    Deuteronomy 17:2-7 (ESV)
    2 “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, 4 and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    I might add that being abuse to parents, breaking the sabbath, committing adultery, etc. were all punishable by death according to the Old Testament. So if you’re saying Calvin was a murderer because the civil and criminal laws of his time upheld OT laws, then it is not unreasonable to say that you think God is a murderer, too?

    Just asking?

    Charlie

  81. onesimus:

    But the term is NOT “Depravity” it is “TOTAL Depravity” and what does TOTAL mean? Does it mean partially? Does it mean “not as much as it could be?

    I’m glad you asked, onesimus. First of all, if you are going to “redefine” terms and attack a definition that is not the same definition used by Calvinists, then you are attacking a strawman. It is easy to set up a false position and then demolish it. However, in doing so you have only proved that you are unable to deal with the actual definition/position of the Calvinist position.

    But let’s see how Calvin defined depravity and how the Canons of Dort of 1619 defined depravity:

    Institutes Book II. Ch. Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and an in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.i. 9. Exposition of the former part of the definition—viz. that hereditary depravity extends to all the faculties of the soul.

    9. I have said, therefore, that all the parts of the soul were possessed by sin, ever since Adam revolted from the fountain of righteousness. For not only did the inferior appetites entice him, but abominable impiety seized upon the very citadel of the mind, and pride penetrated to his inmost heart (Rom. 7:12; Book 4, chap. 15, sec. 10–12), so that it is foolish and unmeaning to confine the corruption thence proceeding to what are called sensual motions, or to call it an excitement, which allures, excites, and drags the single part which they call sensuality into sin. Here Peter Lombard has displayed gross ignorance (Lomb., lib. 2 Dist. 31). When investigating the seat of corruption, he says it is in the flesh (as Paul declares), not properly, indeed, but as being more apparent in the flesh. As if Paul had meant that only a part of the soul, and not the whole nature, was opposed to supernatural grace. Paul himself leaves no room for doubt, when he says, that corruption does not dwell in one part only, but that no part is free from its deadly taint. For, speaking of corrupt nature, he not only condemns the inordinate nature of the appetites, but, in particular, declares that the understanding is subjected to blindness, and the heart to depravity (Eph. 4:17, 18). The third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is nothing but a description of original sin; The same thing appears more clearly from the mode of renovation. For the spirit, which is contrasted with the old man, and the flesh, denotes not only the grace by which the sensual or inferior part of the soul is corrected, but includes a complete reformation of all its parts (Eph. 4:23). And, accordingly, Paul enjoins not only that gross appetites be suppressed, but that we be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph. 4:23), as he elsewhere tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). Hence it follows, that that part in which the dignity and excellence of the soul are most conspicuous, has not only been wounded, but so corrupted, that mere cure is not sufficient. There must be a new nature. How far sin has seized both on the mind and heart, we shall shortly see. Here I only wished briefly to observe, that the whole man, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, is so deluged, as it were, that no part remains exempt from sin, and, therefore, everything which proceeds from him is imputed as sin. Thus Paul says, that all carnal thoughts and affections are enmity against God, and consequently death (Rom. 8:7).

    Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (II, i, 9). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

    Notice here that the emphasis is on man’s nature and composition and not on the degree of wickedness or his actual sins. Calvin is simply stating that man is a sinner in his thoughts, his emotions, and his will. No part of man is unaffected by the corruption of sin. This does not mean that every single individual commits sins and crimes to the worst possible degree. Not everyone is a serial killer. But everyone has hated at one time so in our thoughts we have all committed murder (See 1 John 3:15). So sins in the mind are still sins, including adultery (See Matthew 5:28).

    So the term “total depravity” refers to the sinful nature, the inherent corruption of sin which in “extent” affects the mind, the heart and the will so that everything we think, say or do is tainted by sin. The divine image and likeness of God in which we are created is so corrupted by sin as to be almost unrecognizable.

    As for the Canons of Dort, the definition is as follows:

    Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and an in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

    “Total depravity” therefore refers to man’s rebellious nature and that corruption “extends” to every part of the divine nature and likeness in man so that he is tainted by sin in every part.

    You might want to read the full definition at the Canons of Dort site, THE CORRUPTION OF MAN.

    Hope this helps,

    Charlie

  82. Ben,

    If you disagree with anything I have written here, please point it out and I will answer it.

    Regarding semi-austinianism versus semi-pelagianism, I addressed that already. If you care to point out to me how Arminianism escapes semi-pelagianism as I have stated it briefly I would be more than happy to address it.

    In all fairness, however, I did say why I think semi-pelagianism is the appropriate label.

    While Arminianism rejects many of the Roman Catholic doctrines and practices on sacerdotal issues, essentially Arminianism winds up emphasizing man’s abilities (libertarian free will) rather than what Scripture clearly says (Romans 3:9-23; Genesis 6:5; 8:21 Job 14:4; 15:14; Ps. 51:5; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:19), etc.

    The doctrine of a generally given prevenient grace is supposed to cancel out the total depravity of man so that he is now able to choose or reject Christ (i.e. libertarian free will). But this “free will” does not exist by biblical definitions (John 8:34-36; Romans 6:6-7; Romans 3:23; ) unless and until we have been regenerated (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5-7) we have no “free will” as that is defined in Scripture.

    There is no text that says that grace is given to every single individual. As you yourself, admit even if we allow for prevenient grace given to all it cannot overcome man’s will. And according to Paul (Romans 3:9-23), man’s will is so horribly corrupt that he is unable to save himself or even to believe. Not only does Arminianism attempt to cancel out the corruption of man (semi-pelagianism) but the attempt utterly fails since only “some” manage to overcome their sinful nature with a defective grace that actually does not overcome the sinful nature in the vast majority of the human race.

    I would rather say that it is not “chance” but God’s sovereignty that many are lost. God has passed them over and left them in their sins. And as for those who actually repent and are saved, that is because God literally saves them by giving them the faith to believe in the first place.

    That would include Arminians, even if they have an imperfect understanding of God’s sovereignty even in salvation. In other words, Arminianism is not a primary level division but a secondary one. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, is completely apostate and is not a Christian church. I think Billy Graham has gone off the deep end by allowing Roman Catholics to participate in his crusades.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  83. Ben, you might also note that Calvinists today are more generous than those of the time of the Remonstrants. These days we allow that Arminians are “semi-pelagian.” However, the implications of the Canons of Dort are stronger:

    Article Ten

    But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains); but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen His own from eternity in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time,confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son; that they may show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and may glory not in themselves but in the Lord, according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

    I fail to see why Arminians would be upset by the fact that Calvinists attribute all to God’s grace, including our election, conversion, and repentance. The emphasis here is on grace and not the one work of faith or the work of repentance that man does of his own efforts or in cooperation with “prevenient grace.”

    Salvation is guaranteed. It is not up to “chance.”

    Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)
    33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  84. I don’t generally get into these kinds of debates since most Arminians are not generous. But I appreciate your kindness by allowing me to comment here.

    It was the title of this post that was so obviously wrong that prompted a response.

    If you will repost the link to you article, Ben, I will read it and respond to it at my blog, Reasonable Christian.

    Otherwise, I think there is little use in continuing this debate and I will cease from posting here.

    Thanks again for your time and your kindness.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  85. I don’t generally get into these kinds of debates since most Arminians are not generous. But I appreciate your kindness by allowing me to comment here.

    Charlie, it is not about how generous Arminians are, but whether or not anyone would tolerate someone littering their posts with dozens of responses and comments that having little to nothing to do with the OP, filled with numerous inaccuracies and long lists of proof texts with no exegetical interaction. I am glad that you think I have been generous, but I am frustrated by the way you have conducted yourself on this blog. I am tempted to delete all the posts you have made since I have been away from the computer.

    It was the title of this post that was so obviously wrong that prompted a response.

    That’s fine, but you seem to have missed the point terribly. I wasn’t saying Calvinists believe that one can be regenerate and totally depraved at the same time (I suspected that most would never say that, just as I mentioned in the discussion I linked to, which was the basis for this post). I was saying that one Calvinist believed this and I wanted to see what other Calvinists thought on the matter. A simple comment of disagreement would have sufficed (e.g. Peter Pike’s simple comment), but you have gone far beyond that from the start, attacking Arminianism with numerous inaccuracies and refusing to receive correction on those points.

    If you will repost the link to you article, Ben, I will read it and respond to it at my blog, Reasonable Christian.

    I am not sure what article you are referring to, but I really don’t care whether or not you respond to anything at your blog, especially since it seems likely that any such response will just be filled with more unsubstantiated claims and inaccuracies.

    Otherwise, I think there is little use in continuing this debate and I will cease from posting here.

    There was no reason to get into most of this debate in the first place, since it had nothing really to do with the OP. I will be responding to some of what you wrote in your many posts above when I get the chance (for the sake of clearing up confusion and correcting more of you inaccuracies and misrepresentations), and that will be the end of this conversation in this thread. If you continue to respond here (despite saying there is no reason to continue), then your responses will be promptly deleted.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  86. Ben, in all fairness, you have misrepresented Calvinism by the very title. You seem to be saying you knew better but then you singled out one individual who either misstated or misunderstood the doctrine of total depravity.

    I would not doubt that you will remove everything I have said. The point is I have not misrepresented your position and you cannot demonstrate that I have.

    Be that as it may, it seems to me that you are more interested in preaching to the choir than in the truth of the matter.

    Fact: Arminianism is a departure from the Protestant Reformation and from their understanding of Scripture. Albeit, our interpretation is fallible, so is yours.

    Fact: Calvinism, no matter how much you may disagree with it, is soundly and thoroughly biblical and defensible soley from Scripture and Scripture alone. The principle of “sola Scriptura” is in fact the position taken by Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger and a host of other Reformers, all of whom rejected your doctrine of “libertarian free will.”

    As I stated before, the scriptures commanding repentance and individual conversion are genuine commands of God to all. He literally commands all men to do what they are unable to do. The fact that some men do repent is due to particular grace and particular election since Scripture also teaches that God is absolutely sovereign.

    Calvinism is true precisely because it accepts ALL Scripture and not just the parts that agree with “libertarian free will”, a term which is not only irrational but also unbiblical.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  87. I am not sure what article you are referring to, but I really don’t care whether or not you respond to anything at your blog, especially since it seems likely that any such response will just be filled with more unsubstantiated claims and inaccuracies.

    Really what you are saying is that you can’t answer the Calvinist position except when you are preaching to the choir. While you may say I have been inaccurate, you have yet to demonstrate how the implications of your position which I pointed out are “inaccurate.”

    Sadly, the real point here is that you merit your salvation by your effort since prevenient grace alone is not enough. Your salvation depends ultimately on “your choice.” Simply put, you ultimately save yourself by believing. Hence, the charge of semi-pelagianism is legitimate and valid. Not only that but even your own perseverance to the end depends on your own choices and obedience. God literally cannot empower you to endure because in the end it is up to “you” and not God to be saved. How this can evade the charge of semi-pelagianism I cannot for the life of me understand.

    Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Charlie

  88. Charlie,

    “Sadly, the real point here is that you merit your salvation by your effort since prevenient grace alone is not enough. Your salvation depends ultimately on “your choice.” Simply put, you ultimately save yourself by believing.”

    Here is just another one of your inaccurate statements, clearly refuted by the bible. In the first sermon preached in Acts 2, once people understood what they had done to Jesus, they asked Peter what they needed to do to be saved.

    His answer?

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”

    “…And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

    If Peter tells people to “save themselves”, then what is wrong with that position? He was speaking “as the Spirit gave him utterance.” If men can do and should do nothing – if they have absolutely no choice in the matter, how does this statement make sense?

    Rather than continue to state your “proof texts” over and over again, respectfully deal with the scriptures provided. Your inaccuracies pile up, and you lose a lot of respect in the process. People love to discuss scripture – it’s why we’re here! But when you get leave a mine-field of off the wall posts, don’t attribute our disengagement to our inability to do so.

  89. Ben, in all fairness, you have misrepresented Calvinism by the very title. You seem to be saying you knew better but then you singled out one individual who either misstated or misunderstood the doctrine of total depravity.

    The title says nothing about Calvinism. The person I mentioned in the post claimed to speak for Calvinists in general. Yes, I thought that Calvinists would not generally agree with him, and the post was for the purpose of getting clarity on the position. The reason for that is I do not want to misrepresent the other side, something you seem to have no problem doing even after being corrected more than once.

    I would not doubt that you will remove everything I have said. The point is I have not misrepresented your position and you cannot demonstrate that I have.

    I have demonstrated it. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge that and continue to repeat the same old inaccuracies doesn’t change the fact that you have been shown to be wrong. Just because you refuse to cry uncle doesn’t mean I don’t have you in a hammerlock (as Greg Bahnsen would say).

    As I stated before, the scriptures commanding repentance and individual conversion are genuine commands of God to all. He literally commands all men to do what they are unable to do. The fact that some men do repent is due to particular grace and particular election since Scripture also teaches that God is absolutely sovereign.

    These are simply assertions which amount to nothing more than your opinion unless they can be backed up by Biblical exegesis, and long lists of prooftexts ripped out of context do not qualify as exegesis. Don’t you think I could match or even double your prooftexts from my own position? BTW, these comments are not even remotely related to this thread. This thread isn’t about the offer of the gospel. This thread is about whether or not someone can be regenerate and totally depraved at the same time.

    It is unreasonable to ask someone to address so many prooftexts (especially in the confines of a combox). That is why I referred you to a post I wrote on John 3, which carefully examines the passage in context and demonstrates that it doesn’t support the position you claim it does. In fact, when read properly, it supports Arminianism, just as all the other passages you have listed in your various responses. But instead of looking at that passage carefully, you just kept on whipping out your numerous prooftexts. All that proves is that you can isolate Scriptures in an attempt to support you position. It doesn’t validate your arguments in the least. It would take a great deal of time and effort to exegetically engage each of the passages that have been raised by you in this combox, time I don’t have right now. Most (if not all) of them have been dealt with elsewhere, and that has been why you were directed to other posts at times, so you can at least see why I don’t find your prooftexts very useful or convincing for supporting your claims.

    Calvinism is true precisely because it accepts ALL Scripture and not just the parts that agree with “libertarian free will”, a term which is not only irrational but also unbiblical.

    As I noted above, in a comment you proved to totally misunderstand, if you claim that libertarian free will is irrational, then you must deny God the power of contrary choice which would mean that God had to elect you (had no choice in the matter) which renders your comments saying God could have left us all in rebellion as complete nonsense. This inevitably follows from your insistence that libertarian free will is irrational.

    And of course Arminians accept all of the Scriptures. We just don’t interpret those Scriptures improperly as you have done.

    Please do not comment further as you have already made it clear that you refuse to properly interact with what others are saying and have also made it clear that you were not going to continue to post, though you have not held to your word on that. As I said before,

    I will be responding to some of what you wrote in your many posts above when I get the chance (for the sake of clearing up confusion and correcting more of you inaccuracies and misrepresentations), and that will be the end of this conversation in this thread. If you continue to respond here (despite saying there is no reason to continue), then your responses will be promptly deleted.

    It would be nice if you showed some respect for my wishes by abiding by my rules and requests on my own blog. You have been given more than enough freedom to express yourself in ways that are totally off topic. Now it is my turn, and that will be the end of it. If you want to continue to rant against Arminianism with your numerous inaccuracies and prooftexts ripped out of context, then you can do so at your own blog.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  90. Rather than continue to state your “proof texts” over and over again, respectfully deal with the scriptures provided. Your inaccuracies pile up, and you lose a lot of respect in the process. People love to discuss scripture – it’s why we’re here! But when you get leave a mine-field of off the wall posts, don’t attribute our disengagement to our inability to do so.

    Exactly.

  91. Charlie,

    I have now deleted about ten new comments from you after I told you not to comment here anymore. Let me very clear on this. You are no longer welcome to leave comments here since you have shown that you do not respect me or the rules of this blog and are more interested with pushing your Calvinist agenda then being accurate in how you portray those who disagree with you. Feel free to continue your rants and misrepresentations at your own blog. Anyone reading this thread can follow the links you have left if they want to hear more from you.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  92. I said: So much is made of “regeneration” in our theology, but scripture says very little about that particular concept. It’s amazing what additional meaning theology has projected onto to the idea of being “born again” or “regenerated”.

    Charlie J. Ray, replied:
    “What is amazing is the level of biblical illiteracy in most churches today. Scripture many times over mentions that the Spirit is the initiator of our salvation:

    No Charlie,
    I was not referring to the Spirit initiating our salvation.
    I was referring to the terms “regeneration” or “born again”.

    It is you and other Calvinists who take those rarely used terms and leap to the assumption that those terms refer to the initiating work of the Holy Spirit. That “regeneration” IS that initiating work and precedes both faith and repentance.

    That assumption is totally false.

    I said: But the term is NOT “Depravity” it is “TOTAL Depravity” and what does TOTAL mean? Does it mean partially? Does it mean “not as much as it could be?

    Charlie J. Ray, replied:
    I’m glad you asked, onesimus. First of all, if you are going to “redefine” terms and attack a definition that is not the same definition used by Calvinists, then you are attacking a strawman.

    No Charlie.
    It is NOT a straw man. It is GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER; which is that Calvinism is based on man’s doctrines and man’s flexible definitions and NOT on the revelation of scripture. It is the CALVINIST who makes a constant practice of redefining terms and changing definitions. (Which could take us back to the issue of “regeneration”!)

    Calvinists redefine the meanings of theological language to suit their own purposes and through those redefinitions they come up with totally warped ideas about God, God’s ways and God’s purposes.
    It also twists your understanding of the beliefs of others so that you continually misrepresent them.

    The word total has a very CLEAR definition in the English language and that definition does not fit with the Calvinist definition of the term “Total Depravity”.

    Maybe if you put side this twisting of language to suit your own definitions, and maybe if you would stick with correct BIBLICAL terminology and definitions, you might start to see the light of the Truth.

    Can a “regenerate” Christian be “Totally Depraved”?

    Of course he can if our definitions of those terms are made flexible enough.

    As for myself I reject the term “Totally Depraved” as the invention of man. I will stick with the BIBLICAL assessment of man’s condition; that he is bound over to disobedience so that God may have mercy on all.

  93. How odd that such a short and straightforward article could go on so many particularly awry tangents and personal tirades. I think the answers to the questions you asked Ben were pretty obvious (if not rhetorical?)

    How can one be dead in sin and dead to sin at the same time? They can’t…
    How can one be dead in sin and enjoy the life of Christ at the same time. They can’t…
    How can we call a believer who is being sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit be “totally depraved” in the Calvinist sense? We can’t…

    Hence why you said, ” I can’t imagine that many Calvinist would agree, but maybe I am wrong.” And I doubt they would.

    I wonder if Gregg ever really grasped what you were getting at even though you repeated it a few times? Sometimes we read things too fast with presumptions getting ahead of ourselves, or get terms confused and get blinded in our own thought (i.e. we know what we mean but we don’t communicate it properly for others) and just run with it… It seems to me that he was just equating totally depravity with the sinful nature without really thinking his use of terms through.

    More on topic, I wonder if the hypothetical idea and issue of a “totally depraved Christian” might lead to exposing similar general issues of Calvinism’s total depravity and the effect on human will?

    For example, I imagined that one hypothetical way to created a “totally depraved Christian” might be to introduce some temporary on/off nature into the works. So that they could be Christian, but at some certain temporary times be hardened to be “totally depraved” (and do things like send out decrees to murder heretics etc). All a bit sketchy.

    Thinking about these sorts of questions and their implication on the will makes me wonder why in the normal Calvinist system a “totally depraved” person is also often discussed as being subsequently ‘hardened’ by God; seeing as they are already totally depraved (in which case are they not already as hard as they could possibly be?). Without any light can perfect darkness get any darker? Or a dead corpse get anymore er.. ‘dead-er’?

    The inverse of this issue also contains its difficulties with the denial of free will. The one freed from total depravity still possesses that sin nature. And are we not all born with the very same sin nature if we are all indeed born Totally Depraved? In perfect darkness and dead as a corpse, there is no where lower to go (much like there is no negative degrees in the Kelvin scale) and there is none above this rock bottom state. The sinful nature is never improved, only finally one day removed.

    These people who are freed from the same state known as total depravity are all given the same grace; specifically for example they are all the same given that which is complete and sufficient to resist temptation.

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

    And yet, coming equally from Total Depravity and equally given sufficient escape from temptation; some escape and some succumb.

    Ah well I hope I made some sense. What do you reckon Ben?

  94. Jay,

    It does make sense. I think 1 Cor.10:13 certainly implies free will in the libertarian sense. I also wonder why, according to Calvinists, God would need to harden Pharaoh’s heart in order to keep him from repenting (as they seem to understand the purpose of hardening in that text). If Pharaoh was totally depraved and unable to repent unless irresistibly caused to, then what need could there possibly be in hardening his heart? Good question.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  95. Ben,

    Sorry for coming to the dance so late :-)

    Thanks for the invite to debate this subject again… But having quickly read over some of the 94 comments on this topic so far, and having found many good arguments from both sides, and having a really busy schedule right now, I must pass at this time.

    One thing that did stand out while reading a few of the comments is how we all (both sides of this debate) often read into one another comments the meaning we desire… regardless of the intent of the writer, (I admit I am guilty of this quite often) and we should all have a theological dictionary open when we attempt to debate one another.

    Perhaps I can find some time to address this topic in a future post of my own?

    Grace Always,

  96. One thing that did stand out while reading a few of the comments is how we all (both sides of this debate) often read into one another comments the meaning we desire… regardless of the intent of the writer, (I admit I am guilty of this quite often) and we should all have a theological dictionary open when we attempt to debate one another.

    I couldn’t agree more, and I certainly understand not having the time to deal with things as we would like (that’s why I still haven’t responded to numerous comments in this thread that really need attention).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  97. Concerning Calvin’s plans to have Michael Servetus executed, I will leave John Calvin’s guilt with God. John Calvin, it is easy to see from our “no civil government endorsement of a state church” perspective, was wrong in his desire to entrap Michael Servetus. It must be remembered that Calvin thought (to whatever extent he entertained his gross delusions) he was honoring God in his dominionist governmental view and desire to trap Michael Servetus, whereas King David (by contrast) plotted to have Bathsheba’s innocent husband killed. Is David in heaven? If David can be in heaven, it is possible for John Calvin to be there. The social views of the age during which Calvin operated were less enlightened (and shared by both many Catholics and later by many varieties of Protestants when some of the latter attained to positions of a government sanctioned church). It is easier to see Calvin’s guilt today with our more enlightened, non-dominionist, non-civll government-endorsed religious views.

    Personally, I believe Calvin was a born-again Christian. He certainly was enlightened on some issues, although I disagree with “TULIP” Calvinism and personally side with the Remonstrants as more capable interpreters of the Bible on the issues addressed by them in their Articles. I also disagree with Calvin’s dominionist-style theocratic view of government. I nevertheless respect much of what John Calvin has written and view him as a man working out his salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), as imperfectly as Calvin’s “working out” was under his unenlightened dominionist and theocratic governmental styled views, which were prevalent in his day.

    I believe Calvinism improperly conceptualizes a delusional reductionism of anthropological freedom toward God. Calvinism does this, it seems to me, in order to magnify the grace of God in salvation at the expense of a Holy Spirit-convicted person’s free, reciprocal, prevenient grace response of faith and love toward God for the Father’s offered free gift of salvation to man. In light of the New Testament portions of the Bible, I believe one of Calvinism’s deficiencies horribly surfaced in John Calvin’s desire to have Michael Servetus executed, and in Calvin’s later, hideous glorying over that unbeliever’s execution.

    Love is the fulfillment of the law. I do not believe Calvinism can properly understand love at its inception because of its deluded reductionism view of divine monergism compelling an unbeliever to salvation, which I believe instead is a genuine human freedom which in reality results from divinely cultivated prevenient grace, which results in an individual’s free but synergistically orchestrated acceptance (or their use of that synergistic freedom in outright rejection) of the divinely offered gift of salvation.

    In the Messiah.

  98. So Calvin was a murdering freak and yet a born again Christians. How dare you compare them to Calvin. Sounds like you are trying to slur born again Christians. Are you an atheist or a Satan worshiper, Paul?

  99. Ray, thank you for your response. You raise an interesting question. Was King David a murderer of Bathsheba’s husband? Is he in heaven?

  100. Matthew 7:15-17 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (16) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (17) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” — King David, then, was a false prophet, for his fruits are polygammy and adultery (when he already had multiple wives!) and muder.

  101. King David repented, so yes he is in heaven. Had he not repented, then he would not be according to Scripture. However, we need to be very careful in calling David a false prophet. David allowed his relationship with God to become very lax and sinned horribly as a result. This should be a strong warning to all of us to always rely completely on God to overcome sin and temptation. We are never so strong on our own to keep from falling. But this does not mean that David was a false prophet. He made numerous prophesies concerning Christ, and Jesus Himself called David a prophet.

    But again, David did repent at Nathan’s rebuke. Calvin never did. While we may try to excuse Calvin’s actions due to his culture, etc.; the ultimate judgment remains with God.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  102. ray, perhaps you are a different ray than Charlie J. Ray, but I would agree with the comment by kangaroodort. (September 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm). David repented, which in my view, does not make David a false prophet.

    Since you answered one of my questions, ray, I will answer one of yours. I am a follower of Israel’s Messiah. Truth divides, and different Christians have different ways of understanding the truth. Sometimes they agree, and sometimes they disagree. I agree more with the Remonstrants and their written articles, than I do with TULIP Calvinists.

    Perhaps kangaroodort’s previous comment has caused you to reconsider your position about classifying King David as a “false prophet.” Perhaps you are aware that King David wrote many of the Psalms, including one of the most favorite of many, Psalm 23, the “Lord is my Shepherd” Psalm. In light of David’s repentance, do you, ray, believe that King David’s prophecies should remain as part of the Bible, or do you believe that King David’s writings should be removed from the Bible? What is your opinion of the Bible? Do you believe it is accurate history? Or do you believe the Bible contains false prophecies by King David, and is full of errors?

    One’s opinion about the Bible’s accuracy would have a great deal to do with how they view Calvinism and Arminianism.

    Thank you for your response, ray.

    In the Messiah

  103. David repented. Calvin did not. Case closed. I just took away any comparison you might try to make between the two. Calvin in fact became more recalcitrant when rebuked for his murder of Servetus, and wrote a book defending it and saying he would do it again, and mocking how Servetus cried out “misericcodrias!” (Spanish for mercy) in Calvin’s words “bellowing like a dog.”

  104. I am not aware of Calvin having ever repented verbally or in print for the execution of Servetus. I hope the Holy Spirit worked upon his conscience and later caused Calvin to have second thoughts about his actions towards Servetus and others, I do not know for sure, just as I do not know whether Servetus ever repented silently in his final moments. Could the cry of Servetus for mercy have been directed as much, or even secondarily or primarily, to the Creator?

    Calvin was certainly to some extent enlightened, but his dominionist styled governmental values evidently reflected the common views of his society. Calvin had been trained as a lawyer. Can a Christian have a seared, socially biased conscience in some areas (by embracing the biased governmental ideas of one’s own society), and still enter heaven? Could the embracing of one’s present societal (governmental) values have some comparison to a dispensational view of history?

    I would hope that Calvin obtained the mercy he denied Servetus. At the very least, I suspect Calvin, if he did obtain God’s mercy, may potentially suffer a loss of rewards because of his treatment of Servetus, if Calvin is in heaven.

    Some of Calvin’s treatment of Geneva’s citizens seems to me to have been excessively harsh (from my own perspective as a citizen where a state-sanctioned church is taboo). The axiom that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” I believe was illustrated in the life of Calvin. That axiom can apply to Christians as much as it can apply to non-Christians (although the form that corruption takes may differ in kind from the corruption exhibited by non-believers). I believe Calvin’s role-model as leader of Geneva suggests that a successful theocracy will only be achieved when the Head of that theocracy is absolutely perfect. I believe this will only be achieved in a future Millennial Kingdom.

    Calvin’s (I believe defective) soteriology probably had much to do with his treatment (or rather mistreatment from my modern perspective) of Servetus.

    In the Messiah

  105. I have just examined one of the links listed at the top of this article (John Calvin Personally Admits to Killing Servetus). In light of some of the information provided there, I must retract my mistaken characterization of Servetus as an “unbeliever.”

    kangaroodort’s reference to the book by Rives, “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” at that post proved enlightening concerning the real charge and the trumped up and distorted false charge against Servetus by Calvin. Chapter Two of the book by Rives indicates Servetus was probably more othodox than Calvin concerning the eternal source of the divinity of Jesus. This unfortunately suggests that Calvin’s theology was much more seriously defective than just in the area of his Soteriology. The information related by Rives suggests Calvin’s Christology was also defective, as well as something I have already concluded, that Calvin’s Soteriology was defective.

    As an individual who has been approached by members of the Watchtower, as a young Christian, I had early confronted issues concerning the divinity of Jesus. My early studies led me to recognize the divine nature of the Messiah, and some of my reading led me to originally embrace what some have suggested to be a false Christology and false orthodoxy, the Eternal Generation of the Son. This is apparently the view Calvin might have embraced, and which apparently created his loathing of Servetus, if the information Rives relates is accurate.

    Ironically, many years later in a conversation with a carpenter friend, my carpenter friend indicated the Sonship of Jesus really related to the human nature of Jesus born at Bethlehem, rather than to the eternal Logos nature. I never forgot his verbal analysis, and have found myself agreeing with him. Evidently, if Calvin had been knowledgeable of my views, and I had been in Geneva, Calvin would have wanted my execution as well.

    Unfortunately, I had a misunderstanding of the real faith of Servetus, which Calvin may have intentionally attempted to distort in order to obtain the execution of Michael Servetus (if the analysis of Rives in his volume is accurate). This new knowledge paints Calvin in a more seriously darker light than I had ever imagined, although I still hope Calvin did obtain the Lord’s mercy.

    I now consider Michael Servetus to be a believer who attempted to serve his Master, and who like his Master, suffered a wrongful conviction and execution.

    In the Messiah.

  106. The volume by Rives does suggest Servetus wrestled with, and evidently had a less than ultra-orthodox understanding of, the Sonship of Jesus. Servetus wrestled with the question as to when that Sonship began, and in my opinion, he apparently incorrectly concluded the Sonship of Jesus began at His water baptism (p. 63). Calvin more correctly may have realized that because of the Logos nature, the Messiah was the unique Son of God from the moment of the incarnation. Calvin believed in the Eternal Sonship of the Logos, but the exact specifics of Calvin’s belief is not clear in the volume by Raves. Servetus evidently saw more clearly than Calvin that the Sonship of the Messiah rested with His humanity. Calvin may have seen more clearly than Servetus that Messiah’s unique position as Son of God could not be separated from His birth and incarnation because of the Logos nature.

    Whether Calvin would have endorsed the Eternal Generation of the Son is not clear, but a possibility. What Calvin does seem to object to in Servetus is the denial by Servetus of the Eternal Sonship of the Logos, according to Rives (p. 63), but Servetus was, according to Rives, in agreement with Tertullian’s view on denial of the Eternal Sonship.

    It may be that Calvin’s real problem with Servetus was his perception that Servetus was perhaps maliciously denying the Unity of the two natures in the one PERSON of the Messiah (the hypostases), because of the fact that Servetus recognized the Messiah’s Unique Sonship had its basis in His human nature, and Servetus distinguished that Sonship as not part of the Logos Nature. Calvin may have objected to this dissection of the natures, as a threat to the Unity of the two natures in One Person. Orthodox theologians recognize that even the Bible (Acts 20:28 for example) speaks of Messiah’s human attributes as belonging to the divine nature (God redeemed us with His blood). If one is speaking of the divine Logos by referring to Him as “God,” it is permissible to then speak of the Logos (God) as possessing “blood” (Acts. 20:28). Either nature can be ascribed to the Person who took upon Himself humanity, but Who also was always divine, in the Orthodox view. Protestants sometimes find this offensive when Catholics then refer to Mary as the “Mother of God,” due to the fact this appears to suggest (incorrectly), that Mary originated Messiah’s divinity (an impossibility). Mary was the mother of the human nature possessed by the Person who also possessed a divine nature, is a more proper understanding of the confusing term.

    Whether Calvin fully understood the intricacies of the hypostatic union may be up for debate, but his intolerance of the views expressed by Michael Servetus suggests to me that Calvin’s intolerance was probably due in large measure potentially to Calvin’s own apparently inadequate understanding of that hypostatic union, or Servetus and Calvin might have ended up learning from each other, and might possibly both have come to more adequate and more potentially orthodox personal understandings of that hypostatic union themselves.

    In the Messiah.

  107. Does it really matter what Servetus believed? It is not right to kill people because you disagree with their beliefs, and it certainly is totally against Jesus’ teachings to do so. If the Calvinists think that “Servetus wasn’t orthodox” is a defense of Calvin’s actions, then all they prove by this is that they are as evil as Calvin and want to kill us for not believing in their view of predestination (which we already know they do).

  108. rey, as a citizen in a nation that rejects a state-endorsed religion, I agree with you that it was wrong to execute Servetus, no matter what he believed, but what seems troublesome is my newly discovered information about Servetus which suggests that if Calvin was a believer, he was executing what appears to me to have been a fellow believer. This seems particularly heinous to me when the Scriptures suggest followers of the Messiah would be known by their love for one another.

    Some people would excuse Calvin because Geneva endorsed a state religion. The volume by Rives indicates that Calvin was wrong to seek the execution of Servetus under Geneva’s rules. This seems to suggest deeper issues than I would have supposed. Some suggest Calvin was motivated by hate. I am giving him the benefit of a doubt, and supposing Calvin was motivated by theological issues. I cannot be certain. Possibly there was some personal animosity, which Servetus attempted to alleviate by apologizing to Calvin for some of his statements.

    If Calvin was motivated by theological issues, I am fully convinced that Calvin’s theology was defective, and am trying to expose faults in his theology which indicate he was in error theologically for that execution.

    My research above indicates to me that something I would never have imagined (Calvin’s apparently seriously defective Christology) may have been more of a factor for Calvin’s motivation than his (in my opinion) seriously defective Soteriology. Both may have contributed as primary rationalizing excuses for his actions towards Servetus, but in view of the fact that Servetus really never denied the divinity of Jesus, something I had originally assumed he was guilty of. this points to Calvin’s Christology as the most seriously defective component in his rationalizing reason to execute Servetus, if Calvin’s primary motivation was theological.

    In the Messiah.

  109. Some further research and reading on my part has led me to another possible hypothesis for Calvin’s motivation concerning his scheming to get Servetus executed, and it relates more to man’s depraved nature (which continues to be a factor believers struggle with after being born again).

    The title of this blog, “Can A Regenerate Christian Be Totally Depraved?” is not far from a description of the struggle most believers face after their spiritual births. Calvinists take truths about man’s depravity to extremes which I believe contradict the Scriptures, but there are areas in which Arminians and Calvinists agree concerning man’s depravity. All living believers, as long as we have not yet been raptured (which involves a transformation of the Old Adamic nature), struggle with the Old Adam, sometimes called “the flesh.” Calvin’s Old Adam may have been potentially more of a possible factor in his successful attempt to get Servetus executed than I had previously been willing to entertain.

    Further research on my part indicates Servetus may have been a Modalist. A modern example and variant of Modalism is the “Oneness” doctrine held by a minority segment of some Pentecostals. While Modalism is a less than consistent interpretation of the Scriptures concerning the nature of Deity (in my opinion), I do consider “Oneness” modalists to be fellow believers because they do not deny the eternal nature of deity possessed by Jesus the Messiah. Why then, did Calvin wish to have Servetus executed, since Servetus did not deny the eternal deity of Jesus?

    According to a quotation by Colvin provided by Rives (in his volume), Calvin’s perception was that denial of Eternal Sonship was a denial in some aspect of the divinity of Jesus, although Servetus never appears to have agreed with that perception and never claimed that Calvin’s perception was accurate (and Tertullian, the orthodox Trinitarian apparently also denied Eternal Sonship according to Rives). Rives, in his volume, indicates it was this denial by Servetus of Eternal Sonship which was the real reason Calvin wanted the execution of Servetus, but that the anti-trinitarian (pro-Modalist) statements of Servetus were used by Calvin as an excuse (an incorrect excuse at that, according to Rives) to obtain the execution of Servetus.

    It seems strange to me that the Eternal Sonship of Jesus was the real private reason Calvin desired the execution of Servetus. While one of the later and virtually universally accepted church creeds endorsed Eternal Sonship (incorrectly in my view, and in the views of a number of orthodox believers and theologians), there were any number of unorthodox Modalist errors which would potentially have served as genuine “heretical” errors, which would have been, in my opinion, more valid and potentially more accurate excuses for Calvin’s behavior. Instead, Calvin’s real reason for desiring the execution of Servetus was over the denial by Servetus of the Eternal Sonship of Jesus, an issue which is debated by orthodox theologians as very questionable concerning accuracy, and which I personally believe is an erroneous teaching.

    To my mind, Calvin’s incorrect belief on Eternal Sonship may reveal a potentially ulterior motive for the execution of Servetus by Calvin.

    Calvin himself had been tried for anti-trinitarian views. Calvin became uncontrollable and admitted sinning over this issue toward someone who had apparently questioned Calvin’s trinitarian orthodoxy. Add to this the above statement (kangaroodort, on September 24, 2009 at 5:33) “… provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.”

    Is it possible that Calvin may have calculated beforehand, that the successful execution of Servetus by Calvin would serve as a potential vindication to Christian contemporaries and to Christian posterity of Calvin’s own Trinitarian Orthodoxy? Is it possible that Calvin may have been trying to vindicate his own besmirched reputation due to his own “anti-trinitarian” trial? What better way to clear himself than to have someone executed for failing to agree with one of the most questionable trinitarian “truths” of a later church creed, Eternal Sonship?

    If Calvin was really trying to vindicate himself to “posterity” over one of the most questionable trinitarian “truths” of the church creeds, might it not be that his Old Adamic (depraved) nature was at work in his efforts to execute Servetus?

    All of the believers (and unbelievers) I have known personally who have expressed their views about the Servetus affair have been appalled at the execution of Servetus by Calvin. If Calvin had hoped to vindicate his name to posterity as an Orthodox Trinitarian by that gross miscarriage of justice, not only has Calvin left one of the greatest stenches in history, but I am left personally doubting and challenging the accuracy of his theology in some areas of his Christology, Theology proper, and Soteriology.

    Jesus gave a parable in which He indicated that the wheat (believers) and tares (unbelievers) should be left to grow together, lest by pulling up the tares (unbelievers), one also pulls up the wheat (believers). In the case of Michael Servetus, Calvin, I believe, pulled out the wheat by mistake. Very possibly, Calvin’s Old Adamic (depraved) nature, may have had something to do with that. I tend to believe Calvin’s writings reflect someone who was enlightened in the truth, but I confess I also believe that someone who has started out in the faith can fail to persevere and end up with unbelievers in the end. Calvin’s eternal destiny, I believe, is in the hands of a Just Judge.

    In the Messiah.

  110. “… but what seems troublesome is my newly discovered information about Servetus which suggests that if Calvin was a believer, he was executing what appears to me to have been a fellow believer.”

    All the people whose tongues he had perforated for calling him a hypocrite were also believers. (Calvin was an evil evil man.)

    But as I said, the offense is offensive no matter what the person believed.

    “My research above indicates to me that something I would never have imagined (Calvin’s apparently seriously defective Christology) may have been more of a factor for Calvin’s motivation than his (in my opinion) seriously defective Soteriology.”

    Calvin’s defective soteriology ought to have prevented him from killing Servetus if he actually believed it, but in all cases we find the Calvinist soteriology causing rather than preventing persecution of others.

    What I mean is, if you truly believe in a rock-solid incontrovertible predestination, how can a heretic ever corrupt the elect? Nobody, not Servetus, not Arius, not Marcion, not Mohammed, not Satan himself could ever convince the elect to apostasize if predestination is true. So what will burning Servetus at the stake even accomplish?

    The fact that Calvin felt the need to kill Servetus, or to perforate the tongues of those who called himself a hypocrite, or to imprison those who contradicted Calvinism, etc. proves that Calvin himself ***KNEW*** that predestination is a load of hooey. And the fact that Calvinists today clamour for the persecution of Arminians proves they also are unregenerate sinners who know their doctrine is the feces of Satan and yet continue to call it the doctrines of grace!!!

  111. Rey, not all Calvinists hate Arminians/non-Calvinists (which rather seems to be a very minority position among them) or want to see us persecuted. In light of that, it’s wholly unfair to proclaim that Calvinists in general are unregenerate. Please refrain from doing so on this blog.

  112. rey, it seems to me you make an excellent point about Calvinists not believing in the (Calvinistic) version of predestination by their attempts to punish “heretics.”

    One very prominent and well-known Calvinist, whose name most would recognize, and whose church I attended for a period of time, actually took a view of perseverance similar to my own, and similar to the views of Arminians. His son I have personally heard state that he (the son) believed regeneration was monergistic (Calvinism), but that perseverance, in his view was synergistic (Arminianism). This indicates he held to a non-Calvinistic view of perseverance, if my understanding of Calvinistic perseverance is accurate.

    This was one area where (in retrospect) I had very little disagreement, that the area of perseverance as synergistic. What seemed inconsistent to me was that he (and apparently his well-known Calvinistic dad) recognized synergism as part of the salvation process, but which I believe is integral to the entire salvation process from initial regeneration to the persevering completion of one’s life of faith.

    I definitely believe both the son and dad are real believers, but I know his dad is very suspicious of Arminians (as heretics), while he himself holds, apparently, to an Arminian view of perseverance.

    In the Messiah.

  113. A god who lies to his prophets and sends false prophets to damn people on purpose and predestines to hell–this is not a god but an idol. You might as well make an image of him of wood (gold would be too good for him) since he was invented by men. The true God is above such evil. If it is impossible for God to lie then it is also impossible for him to deceive (the same as lying) or to command anyone else to lie or otherwise make them lie. If he is not tempted with evil neither tempteth he any man, then he also does not command evil nor in any way cause it to come to pass. Your god is an ancient comic book villain, not a real God.

  114. This was in reference to some Calvinistic argumentation I just received via email due to the subscription but I don’t see here for some reason.

  115. As far as Calvin was concerned, the execution of Servetus was a premeditated act. Some seven years before the execution, Calvin wrote to Farel:

    “Servetus lately wrote to me, and coupled with his letter a long volume of his delirious fancies, with the Thrasonic boast, that I should see something astonishing and unheard of He takes it upon him to come hither, if it be agreeable to me. But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety, for if he shall come, I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail.” [Calvin, in letter to Farel, dated February 13, 1546]

    BTW, regarding Charlie J. Ray’s claim that Servetus’ arrest was not of Calvin’s doing, I am curious as to how he would explain Calvin’s own words, given the fact that he also wrote:

    “But after he had been recognized, I thought that he should be detained. My friend Nicolas summoned him on a capital charge…” [Calvin, in letter to Farel, dated August 20, 1553]

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