Answering Greg Elmquist’s "Four Unanswerable Questions"

I came across a writing some time back by Pastor Greg Elmquist called, ‘Four Unanswerable Questions,’ which I’ve seen copied and pasted by Calvinists on forums as evidence that the doctrines espoused in Arminianism could not possibly be true. I decided to examine each of these supposed unsolvable Calvinist conundrums for myself and find out if there was a scriptural and logical answer to them. I’ll be going over his essay, which will be in italics, and my thoughts and commentary will be in normal type.

Greg starts out,

“There are four lies being told in Orlando today.”

I’ve been to Orlando, I’m pretty sure I counted more than that; but Greg is about to add a few more to the list.

“Modern, man-centered, Christ dethroning religionist would have us believe…”

At least he’s not poisoning the well….he then goes on to tell what those lies are:

“God loves everyone;”

Oh! How awful!

“it is God’s will for everyone to be saved;”

Nooooo!

“Christ died for everyone;”

The horror! The horror!

“and the Holy Spirit draws the saved and condemned alike.”

Eeeeeeek!!! Hide the children (at least the condemned ones)!

“These are well established suppositions, rarely questioned for their truthfulness.”

For rather obvious reasons.

“To call them into question is to unmask the faulty foundation of a false gospel and kindle the wrath of those desperate to protect their traditions.”

Or possibly reveal the terrible logic Elmquist employs in trying to harass other Christians with his bizarre doctrine and incite widespread laughter as it is refuted without any difficulty. He then gets to the questions:

1) “What sayeth the Scripture?” “The Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness” (Ps. 11:7). “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Rom. 9:13). God’s love is a holy love. He can no more love unrighteousness than He can cease to be holy. God’s love is for Christ, in Christ, and through Christ. Everything outside of Christ is under the condemnation and wrath of God. He has loved His elect with an everlasting love, having chosen them in Him before the foundation of the world.
Question #1: If God loves all men, those who receive eternal life as well as those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the love of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

Answer: Everything, for without the love of God no one could be saved, but God’s love for men does not preclude the fact that He requires sinners to receive Jesus Christ to be saved.

Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: God does hate unrighteousness, yet still does have love for sinners, else He could not love the elect while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

2) What does the Bible say about God’s will and salvation? “Having predestined us according to the good pleasure of His Will” (Eph. 1:5). “Having made known to us the mystery of His Will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” “I will have mercy upon whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom 9:15-18). “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wills” (Jn. 5:21).
Question #2: If God wills for all men to be saved, what does the will of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

Answer: Everything, for no one can come to Christ apart from the will of God. Yes God is willing that all be saved, yet is not willing to do so apart from Christ; and so He, foreknowing that not all would believe, did not choose everyone.

3) What do the Scriptures say about the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross? Did He die for all men? “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people” (Titus 2:14). “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4). If Christ purposed to die for all men, did He not have the power to accomplish His purpose? God forbid! Did He die to make men savable or did He die to accomplish the salvation of a chosen people?
Question #3: If Christ shed His precious blood for all men, what does the work of Christ on the cross have to do with anyone’s salvation?

Answer: Everything, for Christ’s is the only way to receive forgiveness of sins, but receiving pardon by it is conditioned on faith.

Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: He cites scriptures that say that Christ died for the elect (which is obviously true), yet none of them say that Christ died for only the elect and none else. In his disgustingly biased proof-texting frenzy, he simultaneously ignores numerous passages that testify to the fact that Christ died for all men (1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Romans 5:6, Hebrews 2:9). He also raises the old canard about Christ only making men savable, not factoring in foreknowledge.

Do the math: men now savable by the grace of God + foreknowledge that they will believe = accomplished salvation

4) What does God say about the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption? Are sinners dead (Eph. 2:1) in need of regeneration, or just sick in need of a little reformation? “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). “The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Cor. 3:6).
Question #4: If the Holy Spirit draws the saved and the condemned alike, what does the Holy Spirit have to do with anyone’s salvation?

Answer: *SIGH* Everything, since no one can come to God otherwise. This has no bearing on the fact that some men resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51) and refuse to believe.

Additional problems with Elmquist’s logic: He makes an indirect appeal for the need to be regenerated before one believes, which is simply absurd. Grace is needed before one believes, yes, I believe that, but spiritual life comes by faith through the name of Christ.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)

“The Truth: Salvation is of the Lord!”

Thanks…I don’t think anyone is arguing that point.

“Don’t believe a lie, it will damn your soul.”

It can also make you into a ranting, paranoid dogmatist with awful critical thinking skills and no discernment for sound doctrine.

Elmquist’s supposed Gordian Knot is easily sliced with the sword of the Spirit. The logical fallacy that he consistently employs is assuming that if some salvific operation of God (His love, His will, the death of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit) does not irresistibly produce salvation, then it can have nothing to do with salvation at all, which is rather extreme all-or-nothing reasoning. His reasoning here is akin saying, “If suicide prevention counseling ever fails to prevent a suicide, then the counseling can have nothing to do at all with preventing suicides.” Such painfully oversimplified logic and excessively dichomatic thinking is the hallmark of cults everywhere, said mentality showing itself further in pastor Elmquist’s other teachings, such as that if you believe that you were saved as an Arminian (even if you’re a Calvinist now), then you aren’t really saved at all (What is the Gospel?, para. 4).

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6 Responses

  1. I am amazed . . . utterly and simply amazed.

    His comments are just as bad, if not worse, as what I discovered at http://unashamedofgrace.blogspot.com.

    And yet, when Arminians come back with such abusive comments against Calvinism (as happened to me on campus recently), we are quickly corrected about being so harsh towards the beliefs of giants such as Luther, Calvin, Beza, Edwards, Spurgeon, etc., etc., etc.

    I told one of my Calvinist friends that as long as Calvinists continue to make defamatory remarks against Arminianism, he and others can EXPECT a rather nasty rhetorical response.

    If I posted such material, as these two fellows have, against Calvinism, the reponse would be overwhelming. I would have students and staff at SEBTS down my theological throat!

    God help us.

    Billy

  2. BTW, I don’t know which one of you posted these comments, but I was laughing my tail off by the first few comments . . . and I’m trying to be quiet in the library!

    Funny stuff.

  3. I enjoyed reading your response, and I agree. Calvinists so often look at what God has done for the lost and pass over what He does for believers as if it’s pointless.

    God does some preliminary work in salvation for everyone, such as His love, His desire for them to come to faith and be saved, Christ’s death on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s drawing. Yet not all are saved. But God isn’t done yet. God also does some special things for believers, He enters a loving relationship with them, He desires Himself to accomplish their salvation, Christ applies His blood to their lives and the Holy Spirit indwells them. This author looked at the first half and stopped. I wonder why?

    Dan

  4. I recently examined the gospel as preached in evangelism by Peter and Paul in the New Testament, compared to the present day, and ended up by creating the website:

    http://www.whatisthegospel.org.uk

    Hope you like it!

  5. The Biblical use of the Greek Word “pas” translated “all”
    Let’s look at how God uses the word “all” (in Greek 3956 {pas}),

    whole (Strong’s # 3650 {holos}), and world (2889 {kosmos}). Revised 1/97

    (Verses from the 1769 Authorized King James Version with 1833 Webster’s Update.)

    … “the world {kosmos} has gone after him” (John 12:19). Did all the world go after Christ? “then went all {pas} Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan” (Mat. 3:5). Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? “Ye are of God, little children”, and the whole {holos} world {kosmos} lieth in the wicked one” (1Jn. 5:19). Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts — some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile … C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Particular Redemption

    Obviously “all”, “whole” and “world” does not always mean everybody.

    Verses used in an attempt to prove universal atonement:

    2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all {pas} should come to repentance.

    1Timothy 2:4 Who will have all {pas} men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    John 3:15-16 That whosoever {pas} believeth in him should not perish,but have eternal life. [16] For God so loved the world {kosmos}, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever {pas} believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    John 6:33, 37, 39, 51 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world {kosmos}. [37] All {pas} that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. [39] And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all {pas} which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world {kosmos}.

    John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all {pas} [men] unto me.

    John 1:7, 9 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all {pas} [men] through him might believe. [9] [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man {pas} that cometh into the world {kosmos}.

    Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every {pas} man.

    1John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole {holos} world {kosmos}.

    The following verses indicate that “all” {pas}, “whole” {holos}, and “world” {kosmos} can not always mean everybody.

    Luke 2:1,3, 6:47, 20:38 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all {pas} the world {kosmos} should be taxed. [3] And all {pas} went to be taxed, every one into his own city. [6:47] Whosoever {pas} cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: [20:38] For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all {pas} live unto him.

    Romans 5:18,8:22 Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all {pas} men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all {pas} men unto justification of life. [8:22] For we know that the whole {pas} creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    Matthew 2:3, 10:22, 19:11 When Herod the king had heard [these things], he was troubled, and all {pas} Jerusalem with him. [10:22] And ye shall be hated of all {pas} [men] for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. [19:11] But he said unto them, All {pas} [men] cannot receive this saying, save [they] to whom it is given.

    Mark 1:37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All {pas} [men] seek for thee.

    John 17:2,9 As thou hast given him power over all {pas} flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. [9] I pray for them: I pray not for the world {kosmos}, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

    1Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all {pas} die, even so in Christ shall all {pas} be made alive.

    2Cor. 5:14,15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all {pas}, then were all {pas} dead:[15] And [that] he died for all {pas}, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

    2Timothy 1:15 This thou knowest, that all {pas} they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

    1John 2:23, 3:27, 5:19, 12:19 Whosoever {pas} denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also]. [3:27] John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. [5:19] [And] we know that we are of God, and the whole {holos} world {kosmos} lieth in wickedness. [12:19] The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world {kosmos} is gone after him.

    Ephesians 3:9 And to make all {pas} [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

    Luke 12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Matthew 6:32 indicates that “the nations of the world” are the Gentiles: Matthew 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
    From “The Election Collection” at
    http://comingintheclouds.org/freewill/election.htm

  6. riszi,

    The use of “all” [pas], as with any word, must ultimately be determined by context. Pas has a variety of uses, but its use in one context does not dictate the same use in another context.

    For instance, the context of 1 Tim. 2:4 will not allow for the restrictive sense you wish to apply to it. Not only that, but the word pas is being used as an adjective in the plural. Vine’s says of the word when used this way, “In the plural it signifies the totality of the persons or things referred to”.

    So “all men” means exactly that: “all men”.

    You might want to look up the word in the TDNT as well, instead of just relying on Spurgeon for your source of information.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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