Robert Shank on Rev. 2:20-22 and Monergism

Consider the words of Christ to the church at Thyatria [sic.] concerning the prominent woman referred to as ‘Jezebel’ and His servants, who were practicing immorality and pagan customs, doubtless in a religious context after the manner of the cults:

“I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.  Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. (Rev. 2:20-22)”

Consider especially the words of our Lord, ‘I gave her space [time, opportunity] to repent…and she repented not.’  If Calvinism’s thesis of monergism is correct, if repentance hinges on the decision of God alone, if man repents only as a consequence of a special immediate act of God, we are left to wonder why Christ gave Jezebel opportunity to repent without giving her repentance.  If her failure to repent was the consequence of His own decision, in what sense did He give her opportunity to repent?  If He did not choose for her to repent, why did He do something directed toward repentance?  If He did something directed toward repentance, why did He not do everything needed?  If the repentance of Jezebel and His servants hinged on His own decision rather than theirs, where is any sincerity in His warning of dire consequences to come ‘except ye repent’?  No logic, no reason, no sensible meaning can be found in the text if it be denied that there is latitude in the will of God and that man’s agency and responsibility to repent are authentic rather than artificial, imaginary and symbolic, as monergism insists.  Monergism collapses in the face of Revelation 2:21.  Bloomfield is correct in his observation that ‘the reading supplies, as Wordsworth observes, a strong text for the freedom of the human will, against necessitarian doctrines.’  The text is decisive, admitting no qualifications or assumptions. (Elect In The Son, pp. 146, 147, emphasis his)

Again, we see that in Calvinism we have to look for the secret decree behind God’s words which makes Him less then sincere in what he says.  To quote Walls and Dognell again,

“In other words, the true intentions of God cannot be discerned from his words.” (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, pg. 57, emphasis theirs)

The Calvinist is again forced to interpret “the things revealed” according to the “secret things” which do not belong to them, even if it means rendering senseless the things revealed.

Shank writes, “Monergism collapses in the face of Revelation 2:21…The text is decisive, admitting no qualifications or assumptions.”  What do you think?  Is Dr. Shank overstating his case or does Calvinism suffer shipwreck on this simple passage?

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35 Responses

  1. Hi Ben,

    Shank is on the money. The Bible is full of these kinds of passages that don’t make sense in Calvinism. Isaiah 5:1-7 (the Lord’s vinyard) is another example.

    Isaiah 5:4
    What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
    When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?

    According to Calvinism, the Lord DID NOT do all he could have done with the grapes (Israel). In fact, he withheld the only thing that Calvinism says matters – the “effectual call”. And then he proceeded to gripe about the results that he exhaustively determined. 🙂

  2. I don’t know about any of that.

    Here is a definition of monergism. whether you adhere to this or not is the question I ask. I ask this question. Is this a fair definition of monergism?

    Monergism is the name for the belief held by some in Christian theology that through the preaching of the word, the Holy Spirit alone can act to effectually bring about the spiritual regeneration of people that they might understand and believe the gospel.

  3. Kevin wrote: “And then he proceeded to gripe about the results that he exhaustively determined. ”

    Thanks for another good example Kevin.

    As you note the bible is full of examples of this phenomena: things that do not fit reality if everything were exhaustively predetermined as the calvinist/determinist wants us all to believe. God gets frustrated, angry, and is saddened by things people (especially his own) do. None of it makes sense if He at the same time determined for these very things to occur. The determinist has to come back and downplay or minimize or even claim that God is not acting in these ways (i.e., the bible really does not mean what it is saying).

    Robert

  4. I actually think Shank is right on the mark. This text, as well as others (like 1 Cor 10:13), is decisive against determinism. The only way to interpret them is to say God’s “revealed will” is just a lie, which is really just a not-so-subtle way to put a big black marker over these passages!

  5. Is Dr. Shank overstating his case or does Calvinism suffer shipwreck on this simple passage?

    I am careful about basing my entire theology on 1 verse. Now he may be correct, Jesus after all corrected the Sadducee’s error based on the tense of a single word in the Pentateuch. But I tend to think this verse is just another weapon in the Arminian armoury.

  6. hey, what about my question?

    Is it a definition of monergism?

  7. michael said:

    “I don’t know about any of that.

    Here is a definition of monergism. whether you adhere to this or not is the question I ask. I ask this question. Is this a fair definition of monergism?

    Monergism is the name for the belief held by some in Christian theology that through the preaching of the word, the Holy Spirit alone can act to effectually bring about the spiritual regeneration of people that they might understand and believe the gospel.”

    You need to change the word “might” to “will”. The word “might” implies free will…….which would contradict determinism. Also if you don’t believe someone can fall from grace then you will still have problems with those verses, not to mention, how to understand it in a monergistic context. For Revelation is talking about Christians in those verses. In order to hold on to monergy, you would have to see those people as not saved in the first place.

    If monergy means “monergism” in the area of Regeneration only, and if the regenerate can’t be lost, then that would cause a problem in trying to understand these verses.

    I think Robert Shank was on the money.

    JNORM888

  8. Hey JNORM88

    good to see your comments again.

    That definition I cut off someone else’s blog or somewhere.

    I pasted it, not as my words but as definition.

    If your explanation is sufficient to redact that definition fine.

    What is your belief?

    Oh, I see, Shank is spot on. Ok.

    thanks

  9. Michael: According to that definition of monergism, Arminians are monergists.

    It’s not necessarily a bad definition, since there are some Arminians who claim that Arminianism is monergistic. No doubt they are using such a definition. Just recognize that any Arminian who rejects the label, or any informed Calvinist who refers to Arminianism as synergist is using a different one.

  10. Ben, Shank is right on the money. This reminds me of the 10 plagues of Egypt. Surely their answer to Shank’s question will be simular to their answer regarding God allowing room for pharaoh to repent.

  11. freak,

    define for me what you mean by being a synergist.

  12. Kevin,

    Good points about Isaiah 5. I remember reading Wesley making use of that passage and I wrote a short post on it awhile back here.

    Certainly there are numerous such passages throughout Scripture which simply do not comport with monergism as Calvinists define it.

    Michael,

    The monergism being described by Shank means that one cannot believe or repent unless moved by irresistible grace. In that case when God “grants repentance” He does so irresistibly. So it becomes very strange that God would give “room”, “space”, or “opportunity” for repentance without granting repentance. What is the point of giving Jezebel opportunity for repentance and then judging her and those led astray by her for their lack of repentance when God is also making it impossible for them to repent?

    jc_freak,

    I think most Arminians see faith as synergistic (God enables faith but we need to respond) and salvation as monergistic (God alone justifies, regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies the believer). Arminians do not see faith as part of salvation but the condition that God has sovereignly ordained be met before He will save. Therefore, there is a synergistic element to Arminianism but it is probably improper to say that Arminians believe salvation is synergistic (since man does nothing and can do nothing to save himself). For Calvinists even faith is monergistic in that it is just part of the salvation package which God irresistibly gives to His elect.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  13. Ben,

    thanks. I believe things are becoming clearer for me and the sharpness with which you write in response to me is helpful.

    Let me open up an idea for your judgment.

    It goes first to Jezebel. She was not Jewish? She was a particularly strong willed female, controlling and domineering daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians?

    In light of that, knowing that she does not lose her “national” idenity, I want to point to this and that:

    Consider this Psalm and David’s understanding of Saul:::>

    Psa 59:1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me;
    Psa 59:2 deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.

    Now consider this about Saul and what he did not lose as far as King David is concerned and remember these Scriptures are for our learning and admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come:

    2Sa 1:11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him.
    2Sa 1:12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
    2Sa 1:13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.”
    2Sa 1:14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?”
    2Sa 1:15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died.
    2Sa 1:16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.'”
    2Sa 1:17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son,
    2Sa 1:18 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:
    2Sa 1:19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!

    Now keeping those two portions of Scripture in mind and making a connection between Saul and Jezebel and this idea of monergistic and synergistic sense let me lay out a couple more ideas for food for thought in understanding both:

    1Sa 28:16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy?
    1Sa 28:17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.
    1Sa 28:18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.
    1Sa 28:19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

    Here I want to note what Samuel says there at verse 19. We should agree, do we not, that Samuel, when he passed, did not go to hell? And likewise, he is a True Prophet of God? And so it makes sense to me that after he spoke to Saul, Saul should have rejoiced seeing Samuel just told Saul he would die and when he did he would be where Samuel is!

    Now consider these verses too from 1 Cor. 5:

    1Co 5:3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
    1Co 5:4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
    1Co 5:5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    Here we see a fellow who has certainly “fallen” from any sort of “Right” living as a Christian. He apparently is Greek or a Jew living among the Greeks. Paul the Apostle now says a most unusual thing, don’t you agree? He says, first, most mysteriously, though he is not physically present, he is present “spiritually” and gathered together with them in the “Name” of the Lord and the Lord “present” with them that they are to “turn” this Christian’s “flesh” over to Satan to be destroyed, so that his spirit is “saved”.

    Huh? Wait just a minute. First of all, we all know Satan is going to be turned over to God’s wrathful Presence in the place described as a terrible place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, this place is the lake of fire!

    Why then would the Apostle discipline such a one as this pervert incest practioner over so that just his flesh is destroy so that his spirit is saved to Paradise where there is only a wonderful Eternal Presence of God in His Holiness and Glory?

    That just doesn’t make any sense logically at all, does it?

    No, I should say not. Nor does it seem logical that Saul would commit suicide, he and his armor bearer and before the day he does the Prophet Samuel tells him he will be with him after he kills himself.

    So too Jezebel. I believe she simply got hoodwinked and deceived by our enemies too, those rulers and authorities in heavenly places and so God exercising His Sovereignty destroys their flesh that they will be saved from the certain lake of fire we know by revelation the beast, the false prophet, Satan, Death, Hades and those whose names are not written in the book of life will go to when all is said and done and God brings to an end this present heavens and earth, this present creation!

    I leave off with these verses from Ephesians 3:

    Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
    Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
    Eph 3:13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
    Eph 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
    Eph 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
    Eph 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
    Eph 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
    Eph 3:18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
    Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    And as if that were not enough, look at the last verse and how Paul applies the word “all”:

    Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
    Eph 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    So, I hope with this meandering trail of thoughts I have made some addition sense out of the meanings of monergism and synergism?

  14. Hello Ben,

    “I think most Arminians see faith as synergistic (God enables faith but we need to respond) and salvation as monergistic (God alone justifies, regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies the believer).”

    This is an important distinction: between **what we do** and **what God does**. God may enable us to trust through the work of the Holy Spirit, but we have to choose to trust, as trust (faith) is a choice that we make (God does not make this choice for us, or I our place, nor does He take over our bodies and trust Himself in some sort of spirit- possession).

    What you say here that God alone does, is precisely what saves us. We trust that He will justify us because we cannot justify ourselves; we trust that He will regenerate His own; we trust that He will sanctify us; we trust that He will culminate our salvation by glorifying us.

    “Arminians do not see faith as part of salvation but the condition that God has sovereignly ordained be met before He will save.”

    As one friend of mine likes to put it: a **begging faith** does not save you, but merely places you in the hands of the one who does save souls.

    “Therefore, there is a synergistic element to Arminianism but it is probably improper to say that Arminians believe salvation is synergistic (since man does nothing and can do nothing to save himself).”

    The “synergistic” element is present because salvation occurs in the context of personal relationship (i.e., God saves those who trust Him for salvation, so in the relationship we trust that God can and does save sinners and God must do the actual saving).

    “For Calvinists even faith is monergistic in that it is just part of the salvation package which God irresistibly gives to His elect.”

    This is an important observation: calvinists tend to argue that faith is part of a package deal that God gives only to those he preselected for salvation. But the bible does not teach that (1) God gives us faith as part of salvation, (cf., in Ephesians 2 the “gift” given to us, is not our faith but salvation) it says that (2) He saves those who trust Him.

    There is a subtle but biblical difference between these two claims.

    Robert

    PS –the person posting here as “Michael” is also someone who posts by the name of “Natamllc”. He is a staunch calvinist who writes long posts often diverting discussions away from their themes by quoting lots of scripture that is not relevant to the current topic. It is wise not to engage Michael/Natamllc in discussions as this will lead people away from the topics at hand, as his posts tend to be long, obscure, and confusing.

  15. Hey Robert,

    to each his own.

    This is not your blog is it?

    If I am to be banned, don’t you suppose the blog owner should be the one to do it?

    As for your claim though. Why not unpack this in light of your assertion:::>

    [But the bible does not teach that (1) God gives us faith as part of salvation, (cf., in Ephesians 2 the “gift” given to us, is not our faith but salvation) it says that (2) He saves those who trust Him. ]?

    Rom 10:6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down)
    Rom 10:7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
    Rom 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
    Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

    James put it this way and maybe it is not necessary for some who are reading this, but there just might be some who didn’t get the import of what you just did to me, ah, by showing partiality and making a distinction. According to Scripture, you are full of evil thoughts then. Do you care to repent?

    Here’s James’ own words:

    Jas 2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
    Jas 2:2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
    Jas 2:3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”
    Jas 2:4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
    Jas 2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
    Jas 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?
    Jas 2:7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
    Jas 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
    Jas 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

  16. Michael also known as “Natamllc” wrote:

    “Hey Robert,

    to each his own.

    This is not your blog is it?

    If I am to be banned, don’t you suppose the blog owner should be the one to do it?”

    I did not suggest that you be banned, I simply issued a warning to others that you are “Natamllc” and that interacting with you is not a good use of time. If others choose to do so, that is their choice.

    “As for your claim though. Why not unpack this in light of your assertion:::>

    [But the bible does not teach that (1) God gives us faith as part of salvation, (cf., in Ephesians 2 the “gift” given to us, is not our faith but salvation) it says that (2) He saves those who trust Him. ]?

    Rom 10:6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)
    Rom 10:7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
    Rom 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
    Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

    The Romans 10 passage says that faith in Christ is not difficult, because in the case of those to whom Paul was writing the “the word is near you” and so readily available. The passage also speaks again, that our part is faith, that we are to trust in the Lord for salvation.

    “James put it this way and maybe it is not necessary for some who are reading this, but there just might be some who didn’t get the import of what you just did to me, ah, by showing partiality and making a distinction. According to Scripture, you are full of evil thoughts then. Do you care to repent?”

    Your words here are a good example of what I am warning people about. You misunderstand the sin of partiality and proof text from James to attempt to make your point. If you are challenged you respond with very judgmental comments and personal attacks as you do here. “showing partiality” does not refer to warning others about people such as yourself. James 2 (which you cite) talks about partiality in that they were treating some differently than others based upon their wealth (and that is sinful conduct).

    The James 2 passage was not discussing warning others about people to avoid on the internet.

    Your statement that “According to Scripture, you are full of evil thoughts then” is precisely the kind of comments you often engage in towards others who challenge you. You are in no place to make this judgment that I am as you put it: “you are full of evil thoughts then.” It is precisely because you often engage in this kind of thing that I am suggesting that others avoid interacting with you.

    You also wrote: “Do you care to repent?”

    I have no sin here to repent of. I warned others about you so that they do not interact with you and so receive the kind of response you present here. Your response is exactly the kind of thing that demonstrates why folks should not interact with you.

    Robert

  17. Shank is dead on target here. He is by a long shot my favorite and it is good to see him quoted again.

  18. Robert,

    with all do respect, review my comments. It is you I have directed these words to and not to others.

    You are twisting again in here my words and intentions as you have in other places, blogs where you have chosen to respond to my comments.

    You do have evil thoughts. I will let your own words speak.

    As for my questions, I stand with them.

    You are the only one making charges that I am a Calvinist. I am not as I don’t study his works except partially as others who do quote him and his ideas. I lean to his understanding and not toward James Harmensen.

    You insist on having something to do with your Salvation. I do not. i am proclaiming that I have nothing to do with my salvation and everything that is done to save me is of God. Apparently you dispute my sincerity about my beliefs. So be it. I haven’t questioned your sincerity.

    I haven’t engaged in your comments at other blogs and only here, now, because of your jab above am I addressing them.

    There have been several in here who have responded to my inquiries, and for that, I am grateful and respectful to them.

    What you are engaging in here is a “fruit of the flesh” and not of the Holy Ghost. I know, I know, you probably will again attack that that I just equated you with.

    The fruits of the flesh include “variance” which is what you now engaged in.

    Nevertheless, that is what you are giving place too.

    Gal. 5:20, “variance”:

    ἔρις
    eris
    er’-is
    Of uncertain affinity; a quarrel, that is, (by implication) wrangling: – contention, debate, strife, variance.

  19. Michael,

    I am not going to ban you unless you become rude and act in a manner that is inappropriate. I think you are very close to that in the way you are talking to Robert. I understand that you took offense to what Robert said and I am not sure I blame you but I do not believe Robert’s intentions were evil and it is certainly not your place to say so. That is a very strong accusation and I would think that you would need quite a bit of strong evidence to suggest such a thing, especially of a fellow Christian. We need to be very careful when judging people’s motives and intentions especially in a forum such as this where it is so easy to be misunderstood.

    I have interacted with you some because I believed you to be an honest seeker, but I have had questions concerning your posts just as Robert has. I have read your interactions at Dan’s site and you certainly seemed to be a staunch Calvinist. As far as I am concerned if you hold to unconditional election then you are a Calvinist. I tried to get you to declare on what your view of election was on another thread and I felt like I was being sent on a wild goose chase kinda like what Robert was describing in his post.

    I have had a very hard time following your reasoning and find it a little irritating that it is so difficult to get a straight answer out of you on any given subject. Instead I get Scriptures with little explanations to their relevance (and many seem to be quite unrelated to the topic) and then a question or two from you that I can’t begin to answer because I can’t figure out what you are trying to say. So I understand how Robert came to the conclusions he did concerning you though I admit that the fault might lie with me in not being able to follow your arguments or grasp the points you are trying to make.

    If you want to continue to interact here then I am going to ask that you give straight answers so that the discussions can be productive. If you use Scripture please be very careful to explain why you think those Scriptures are relevant to the topic. If you continue to speak to others as if you have some special insight into their motives or intentions and call my brothers in the Lord evil without just cause, then I will have to ask you not to comment here anymore. I hope it will not come to that but as it stands I think you owe Robert an apology.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  20. Being a bystander here and having read the comments I wonder why Robert felt the need to insinuate himself into Michaels/Natamllc comments? Why not let each individual reader draw his/her own conclusions? Also, I believe that Michael/Natamllc said that Robert had evil thoughts, that is different than saying that one is evil.

    One more thing, when you write that one must give “straight answers” I wonder what criteria you use to determine that? Does that mean that unless you can understand it then it is not a “straight answer”? Rather than say that one is not giving a “straight answer” it would help too ask for clarification- I have seen you do that:) It seems that Michael/Natamllc will elaborate if asked on something that he wrote.

    Grace & Peace

  21. Kdort,

    thanks for your insights.

    Let me be very straightforward and ask a clear unequivocal question of you:

    What do you mean, you, not what some Theologian means, when you use the expression:

    “unconditional election”?

    As for Robert and him taking offense with me.

    Let me be straight forward and unequivocal, if I have offended him, he needs to bring it out as I adhere and embrace in no uncertain terms this that Paul the Apostle taught and I have been exercised by for over 35 years of ministry.

    If you want me to go into detail after quoting the verses, I will, just ask me, ok?

    Here is what I believe quoted from the NASB, the KJV and the ESV, take you pick, each says it differently:

    NASB
    Rom 12:17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

    KJV
    Rom 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

    AND ESV
    Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

    And I also adhere and practice, orthopraxy this too:

    ESV
    1Co 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
    1Co 10:33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

    So, having quoted the Scriptures hereon now, is there a need for me to clarify anything I have asked or said?

    I would bring it back to my question. What is your definition of “unconditional election”? And more importantly, why is that so important when God is the one who saves us?

    Would it be fair to say you believe if one holds to unconditional election that unfortunate one is excluded from the Sovereign Powers of God that He can bring to bear on a lost soul to save them?

  22. Mitch,

    Thanks for your two cents. Allow me to return the favor.

    Being a bystander here and having read the comments I wonder why Robert felt the need to insinuate himself into Michaels/Natamllc comments?

    I can see where Robert’s comments may be offensive to Michael and I said as much in my last comment. However, Robert was trying to warn people not to engage Michael based on his own interactions with him and the fact that these interactions can become a distraction. I have seen the same thing as I have read many such interactions on Dan’s site. Robert believes it is not “wise” to engage Michael because it often takes the focus off what is being discussed. He was not saying everyone had to agree with him as he later stated but trying to give readers here some background that they might not have had concerning the way Michael communicates. It is still up to them whether or not they want to engage him or agree with Robert’s assessment.

    I was personally aware of this long before Robert mentioned anything and yet I still decided to have a few discussions with Michael. I had not responded to some of his comments for the exact reasons Robert mentions above.

    Now as far as seeking clarification and straight answers I would suggest that you read some of my questions to Michael here. Notice this request for a straight answer regarding his view of election,

    Michael,

    Please forgive me but I am having a hard time following you again. Are you suggesting that election is conditional or unconditional? Could you explain what you see in the passages you have cited that pertains to the nature of election?

    Now follow the link and tell me if you think he answered the question. He did give me some commentary on the passages he sited but still evaded the question and did not explain how his commentary related directly to the issue of election being conditional or unconditional. Like I said, it feels like a wild goose chase and so I understand what Robert is saying and I have seen this same sort of thing numerous times at Dan’s site. You can check out some other discussions in recent threads and (like you say) judge for yourself.

    And I personally don’t see much of a difference between saying a brother has evil thoughts and calling a brother evil. The point is that Michael is not in a place to judge Robert ‘s thoughts as “evil” and call on him to repent. Wouldn’t you agree?

  23. Kdort,

    thanks for your insights.

    Let me be very straightforward and ask a clear unequivocal question of you:

    What do you mean, you, not what some Theologian means, when you use the expression:

    “unconditional election”?

    Michael,

    Why didn’t you ask for clarification in the other thread where I first posed the question? You didn’t seem concerned about what I meant there. It is frustrating to communicate with someone who always answers questions with questions and seems to demand answers. This is the wild goose chase I was referring to and likely what Robert was warning about. I just don’t have the time to devote to such things. If anyone else wants to engage you or try to solve your riddles then they are welcomed to do so. I will leave it to Robert to decide if what you wrote above qualifies as an apology.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  24. refresh my memory Ben,

    what question?

    thanks

  25. Ben,

    I agree that Robert’s comments could/were offensive. The opening sentence seemed to suggest that Michael/Natamllc was being deceptive by stating that Michael was also Natamllc. Now I’ve seen solid evidence that Michael is very clear that he is also Natamllc. To start with such an insinuation is clearly offensive, no? While I agree that the James passage cited by Michael does not address internet I feel the general gist would still apply. We are to treat all brothers the same, Robert obviously thinks that Michael needs to be ignored and encourages people to do that. Now is that a very Christian thing to do?

    If we do not understand what someone writes, then as you said we should first look to ourselves before trying to ostracize a brother in Christ. That is if Robert even believes Michael/Natamllc to be a brother in Christ? At times Michael/Natamllc is hard to understand, but I’ve found him to be always ready to elaborate and give more detail when requested.

    It seems to me that if you request/demand an apology from Michael/Natamllc that that should equally apply to Robert, but that is just my own .02.

    Grace & Peace

  26. Michael,

    Here is the question as I cited it above:

    Michael,

    Please forgive me but I am having a hard time following you again. Are you suggesting that election is conditional or unconditional? Could you explain what you see in the passages you have cited that pertains to the nature of election?

    Notice the part that is in bold print.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  27. Ben

    in the admonition to Mitch, I took it to heart and I followed the link back and have refreshed my own memory.

    I cut and paste here some of my inquiry, frankly, because I do not spend my time reading Calvin’s thinking in a scholarly manner on unconditional election nor do I Harmensen. My issue is to a basic or a more fundamental inquiry when I ask this:

    When I read these verses, I cannot help but wonder if there might be a misunderstanding of the meaning of unconditional election in some?

    Ben,

    I don’t understand your understanding of “unconditional” or as I cited Peter to indicate that, what you would imply he means by making our calling and “election” sure?

    I was having a similar inquistion with Bnonn and asked him simply, if I “get it wrong”, is it such a disaster I will not be saved by God’s Sovereignty so that when I die I find my eternal place in the lake of fire?

    His answer was acceptable for me, comforting to me mind you and when you consider the outcome of getting one’s Salvation and place in eternity wrong because of getting a fundamental doctrine wrong, that does concern me, especially if my “calling” and “election” is to preach this Gospel of the Kingdom of God to others that God might act upon their soul too bringing them safely from darkness to light, turning them from the dominion of Satan to God to receive the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance for which Christ died for them to receive.

  28. Please forgive me for not answering the question you posed to me, you asked

    And I personally don’t see much of a difference between saying a brother has evil thoughts and calling a brother evil. The point is that Michael is not in a place to judge Robert’s thoughts as “evil” and call on him to repent. Wouldn’t you agree?

    What is the difference in that and in this that Paul writes-?

    But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
    For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
    And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
    But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
    Galatians 2:11-14

  29. Mitch,

    The opening sentence seemed to suggest that Michael/Natamllc was being deceptive by stating that Michael was also Natamllc.

    I didn’t see that as an insinuation of deception but further information on who Michael is so if one were to take his advice they would avoid engaging him under either screen name; but, then again, the danger of trying to detect motives and intentions in the words of another in a combox.

    At times Michael/Natamllc is hard to understand, but I’ve found him to be always ready to elaborate and give more detail when requested.

    Well I will just have to disagree as noted and documented above.

    Thanks again for your two cents and you are entitled to your opinion. My opinion is that Robert’s comments were unnecessary and potentially offensive but I don’t think he meant to be (trying to give him the benefit of the doubt). I don’t see that as the same as boldly saying that another Christian has evil thoughts and calling on him to repent without having near enough information to make such judgments. I would ask both Robert and Michael to refrain from trying to read each other’s minds and presume to know what are the motives and intentions of others while discussion issues on my blog. It is unhelpful, unproductive, and potentially hurtful.

    Thank you,
    Ben

  30. Michael,

    I am sorry if I have misunderstood you but I am afraid I am continuing to have a hard time understanding you and I just don’t have the time to try to figure it out. It seems that the more you try to clarify the more I get confused. That may be a deficiency on my part and I hope you will not take offense if I refrain from responding further to your comments.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  31. Mitch,

    I would say that Paul based his judgment on far more evidence than Michael had available to him. You are welcomed to dsiagree. I am done discussing this matter.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  32. Ben,

    I take no offense with you or Robert!

    I like a good debate.

    I go back and while it may be judged by some as a justification on my part, so be it, to my question to clearly understand in want context you were applying the word and its meaning “unconditional” in the sequence of words applied: “unconditional election”.

    I don’t know what Calvin thinks on that nor do I know what Harmensen thinks on that. They are dead and we are not. I cannot ask them any questions about what they understand.

    I don’t want to get into their heads seeing it is pure speculation at this time. What I do want to do is engage you on what is in your head and as a prudent step I wanted to be, as best as could be, under the circumstances, clear as to what you define the word and the term, “unconditional” and “unconditional election” to be?

    You admitted that you are neither a scholar of either as I admit I too am not.

    So, in fairness, I don’t see what is the difficulty in working through the definitions back and forth so that one can respect what is right and give proper respect to them? And using the Scriptures to help define the meaning also?

    As I have stated clearly, I hope, and if not, please forgive me too, I don’t believe I have one thing I can do for myself or for others when it comes to my salvation, calling or election. It sounds contrary though when I cite this: 2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

    If “conditional election” is understood that way, then yes, I am a conditional guy. If that reflects what “unconditional election” means, then that is what I am all about, hence then, I am for unconditional election.

    But let me reiterate what seems to me to be of more importance in this debate as I indicated with Bnonn and here too, “is it a deal breaker” to one or the other when it comes to God saving a soul from the kingdom of darkness so as to come under Peter there at 2 Peter 1:10?

    If it is, then it should be a vigorous debate between us “brothers” and “sisters” too, if you wish to have such a dialogue?

  33. Ben,

    I’ve already used my .02 so I too shall leave it be, thanks for the interaction.

    Grace & Peace

  34. when you use the word monergism please note the difference between calvinism and lutheranism – lutherans are monergists because they believe that sinners are spiritually dead so they cannot cooperate with God (synergism), but after one is regenerated he is spiritually alive and therefore he can now cooperate with God. So they belive in monergism in regard to regeneration (initial salvation) but in synergism in regard to the Christian life. I don’t know about the Calvinists.

    enoch

  35. I think monergism vs. synergism is a false antithesis.

    Calvinism suffers shipwreck not only on Rev. but on many other revelations as well.

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