“Saved by Grace”- Through Faith

Not surprisingly, a Calvinist has taken issue with my recent critique of Paul Washer’s arguments for unconditional election.  This Calvinist, who goes by the moniker, “Saved by Grace” (SBG), left a very lengthy and detailed comment after reading my post, rebuking me for misrepresenting Calvinism and for failing to rightly interpret numerous passages of Scripture.  Since SBG’s comments were very long, and a careful and detailed response will go a long ways towards dealing with common Calvinist proof texts, as well as clearing up charges of misrepresentation, I thought it best to make a post out of it.  SBG’s comments are designated by “SBG” in block quotes.  My responses are in between these block quotes.

SBG: Your first problem that you approach Mr Washer’s teaching from an unbiblical position of election by works.

This could not be more inaccurate.  No Arminian believes in election by works.

SBG: You first combat unconditional election:
When you say: “So rather than look to what the Bible actually says about election, Paul Washer wants to take the student on a philosophical journey of the Calvinist conception of inability in order to “teach” this student why he should hold to the Calvinist unconditional election view.”

More specifically, I was arguing against Washer’s approach to establishing unconditional election via the claim that inability logically necessitates an unconditional election view.

SBG: Election is not conditioned on faith:
John 6:29: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom He sent.”

We can see that the work God requires is faith. Either you accept from this verse that belief is God’s work into a man (the calvinist position) or belief is the work God requires from man for not only for initial salvation but also continued salvation.

Not really.  Jesus is just explaining that what God requires of them is faith (i.e. faith is the God ordained condition for receiving eternal life).  He is not speaking of “working” in the Pauline sense of faith vs. works.  You say that the Calvinist position is that this means not that man works, but that God “works [faith] into a man”.  But this contradicts the way Christ uses the word in verse 27 when He introduces the concept.  The idea of God “working” faith into man cannot make sense of the way Christ uses the concept in verse 27.  So the Calvinist interpretation (though I don’t think that many Calvinists interpret this as you do) is highly unlikely.  But it is important to add that Arminians do not necessarily object to the idea that God works faith into people.  They only object that God does so irresistibly.

I think the main idea here is simply for Christ to re-direct their focus to what matters most.  These men actually “worked” (labored) to find Jesus after He fed them (John 6:22-24).  Jesus doesn’t want to discourage their effort in coming to Him and seeking Him out.  Rather, Jesus wants to discourage them from coming to Him for the wrong reasons. The end result of their effort should be to believe in Jesus and receive from Him the bread that will create spiritual life in them.  Christ’s words might possibly have secondary application to be understood in the sense that in order to do the “works” God requires, these works can only be done in the context of a relationship with Christ, through which we gain the life and power to truly “work” for God (i.e. the work of God can only be done through faith, cf. Rom. 8:3-17).  Therefore, Christ points them to the need for faith, since this must be the beginning of any opportunity to do the works that please God.  There is work to be done, but this work must be the result of faith in God and a desire to serve Him, not just a desire  for God to take care of our physical needs (cf. John 4:4-38, esp. verses 31-38). It is also interesting to note that Jesus is clearly reaching out to them here, which contradicts the typical Calvinist understanding that these Jews were reprobates without any hope of truly coming to Christ in faith (more on that below).

However, since you seem to equate receiving eternal life with election (in your use of this passage as a counter to conditional election), you have essentially conceded that election is by faith as the Gospel of John repeatedly testifies that eternal life is received by faith.

SBG: Romans 9:11-12: “(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”

Why should this passage contradict election by faith?  It only says that election is not of works.  It isn’t even addressing individual election unto salvation, but God’s choice of the covenant head through which the covenant people will be named and thereby receive the covenant blessings, which ultimately include salvation.  That God is speaking of the covenant people as a corporate entity through the choice of the covenant head (Jacob) over Esau, is plain from what God said to Rebecca while they were in the womb,

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

The quote from Malachi (Rom. 9:13, Malachi 1:2, 3) also makes this very clear (along with the fact that the individual Esau never personally served Jacob). If you want to better understand the corporate view and why these passages actually support conditional election, see the articles I linked to by Dr. Abasciano in the endnotes.  You can find those articles as well as links to several other good articles on corporate election here.

SBG: 2 Tim 1:9: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,”

Again, election is expressly not by works. But Christ clearly says that belief is a work. The basis of your view of election is therefore not Scriptural.

Again, no Arminian would ever say that election is by works.  Also, if Christ meant that belief is a work in the way you seem to want to describe it, then your “Calvinist” interpretation of John 6:29 given above must be false.  As I said before, Jesus did not mean that faith is a work in the Pauline sense, only that it is the God ordained condition for receiving the free gift of eternal life (and possibly, in a secondary sense, that the works of God can only be done through faith).  When Paul speaks of works vs. faith he is speaking of the difference between trying to earn or merit salvation (by works), and receiving salvation as a free and undeserved gift from God (by faith).  This is very clearly explained in Rom. 4.  That is not what Jesus is speaking of in John 6.  Jesus also makes it very clear that salvation is a free gift from God, received by faith, throughout John’s Gospel (and John 6, cf. verses 32-35, 51, etc.).

SBG: Next you say:
“The student seems to rightly recognize that inability alone cannot really decide the matter in favor of unconditional election since God could draw all to Himself (John 12:32), enabling all to believe and become the elect if that were how God sovereignly chose to do things (John 16:7-11; Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:1-6;).”

Firstly John 12:32 needs to be addressed: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
The word “draw” needs to be understood before a person can understand what this text is saying. Draw is from the greek word “Helkuse” which means to drag, or draw in the sense of drawing water from a well first, It denotes force. First example:

Surely, you understand the difference between using a word to describe purely physical interactions with inanimate objects (as in most of your examples) like swords or nets (or even people who are being physically overpowered), and interactions between persons in reference to their emotions, wills, and other spiritual components?  You can see this in normal English usage just as well as in Greek.  In English, if I say that water was “drawn” from the well, it would be obvious that this would be in the sense of forceful pulling with the bucket having no power to resist that pulling force.  However, if I said that someone was “drawn” to strong drink, that would not mean that the person could not possibly resist that drawing.  It would be nonsense for me to use the example of drawing water to argue that if someone is drawn to alcohol it must likewise mean that the drawing is irresistible.  People immediately and quite naturally understand the difference based simply on the fact that the first example deals with purely physical interactions, while the second takes into account the human element that goes far beyond just physical components.  That is why no translation has “drag” in John 6 or 12, since “drag” does not fit the context.  L. Leroy Forlines makes this point well when he writes,

“I have no problem with the idea that the drawing spoken of in John 6:44 is a “strong drawing.”  But I do have a problem with speaking of it as a “forceful attraction” [quoting Calvinist Robert Yarbrough].  A word used literally may have a causal force when dealing with physical relationships.  However, we cannot require that that word have the same causal force when it is used metaphorically with reference to an influence and response relationship.  John 6:44 [and 12:32] speaks of a personal influence and response relationship.

For John 6:44 to aid the cause of unconditional election, it must be understood in terms of cause and effect.  The verse plainly says that no one can come to Christ without being drawn by the Father.  But there is nothing in the word helkou that would require that it be interpreted with a causal force.  In fact, if we keep in mind that the relationship between God and man is a personal relationship, the use of helkou in this verse is better understood in terms of influence and response rather than cause and effect.” (Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation, ed. J. Matthew Pinson)

SBG: John 6:44 uses the same word and we see that, just as in ever other use of the word (examples given), irresistibility is depicted.
“No one can come to Me unless to the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So now you know from the word “Draw” that it is not a simple wooing, because that is never how the Holy Spirit uses this word in the Bible.

Sure He does, in John 6 and 12 where the word is not being used to describe purely physical interactions, but interpersonal interactions between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man.

It is especially important to note that the LXX uses the same Greek word in Nehemiah in the context of God working to bring Israel back to Him, and Israel resisting that work (drawing),

“And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,
29 And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, By which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.

30 “However, You bore with them (literally, “drew” them, the same Greek word used in John 6 and 12) for many years, And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear (which proves that this drawing was not irresistible). Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

31 “Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

This really destroys your entire argument as it is clear from this passage that the Greek word for “draw” does not always convey the idea of irresistible drawing or dragging (I am indebted to a New Testament scholar for pointing this out to me).

SBG: Further, the pronoun “him” being used twice reveals that ever “him” that is “draw[n]” is also the same “him” that is “raise[d]… up” I have never heard a convincing argument to why a person should separate the obvious connection in this verse between the two uses of the pronoun “him.” Everyone drawn is also raised up. This is why Jesus says “All that the Father gives Me will come to me… This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given me, I should loose nothing, but I should raise it up at the last day.” (John 6:37,39).

I think you meant to quote verse 44.  The verses you quoted use the plural in verse 37 and neuter singular pan (denoting the whole of all that are given) in verse 39.  Those verses are focused on the whole of those given.

In John 6:44 it is clear from the language that no one can come unless drawn (i.e. drawing is necessary for coming) and that the one who “comes” as a result of that drawing will be raised up.  That is all that the language dictates and that is the most natural reading.  The problem for your claim is that the passage does not say that the drawing guarantees the “coming”.  That is something that you must read into the passage.  All it says is that no one can come unless drawn.  It then says that the one who comes (as a result of this drawing, since the necessity of drawing is clearly implied) will be raised up.  It nowhere says that all who are drawn also come. The one who is “raised up” is the one who is both drawn and comes, but since the passage never says that all who are drawn come, your interpretation is a very forced and unnatural reading of the text.  So the burden really is on you to do the “convincing”.

SBG: Your use of John 16:7-11 is questionable not only becuase it is unraveled by the exposure of the error in John 12:32, but also from the very next chapter (John 17:9-10), “I pray for them, I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you have given Me, for they are yours, and all mine are yours and yours are mine and I am glorified in them.” Further, all those who are given receive eternal life from Christ, this is why He has been given authority over all flesh. (John 17:2-3).

First, you have exposed no error in John 12 except the error that you have made in wrongly assuming that “draw” must mean irresistible “dragging”.  Second, John 16 is in no way “unraveled” by John 17:9-10 as those passages are a specific reference to Christ’s disciples.  This is clear from the language of verses 7-18.  It is especially clear from verse 12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave Me.”  This is clearly a specific reference to the disciples alone.

But it gets worse for your interpretation in the second part of the verse, “None have been lost [of those you gave Me] except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.”  Here we clearly have Jesus saying that one “given” Him by the Father was lost. But it even gets worse as later Jesus does pray for the world, that the world would be saved through the disciples and their teaching (vss. 20, 21).  This is in perfect harmony with the Spirit’s universal work of convicting the world of sin and unbelief (John 16:7-11).  So my interpretation is confirmed and strengthened by John 17 rather than “unraveled” by it.  This illustrates the potential problem with stringing together lists of proof texts.  All one has to do is examine the language and context to see that these passages are being misused by you.

SBG: Further the Apostle in Hebrews 2:13: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me”

This says nothing about whether or not such were given conditionally or unconditionally.  Faith as a condition for belonging to Christ (and remaining in Him) is all over Hebrews, and it is only through being “In Him” that we are “elect” (Eph. 1:4 cf. Hebrews 3:3-6, 14).

SBG: Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”

A couple things to remember is that in the first century a major problem was the Jews arguing that Gentiles could not receive salvation without being a Jew first. This was the argument of the Judaizers (Gal) and the overarching sediment of non-christian jews. The greek word “All” can either mean all as in head for head or all as in some of all types.

Rev 5:9: ” You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,”

I am sorry, but I don’t see the word “all” in your quote of Revelation.  You are going to need to do better than that to prove that “all” in Titus 2:11 actually only means “some of all types.”  Do you really think that Paul meant, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to some of all types”?  It is telling that you need to draw from a passage in Revelation to try to make your point, since there is nothing in the context of the Titus passages that would restrict “all” to “some of all types”.  If there were, we probably wouldn’t see you jumping to an unrelated passage in Revelation to try to make your case.

SBG: If it is not all in the collective sense, then it would have to be head for head, which is an impossibility because millions of people even today have never heard the gospel so that they could believe.

Neither have “some of all types” or “all tribes” heard the gospel so they can believe it (in accordance with the typical Calvinist claim that unreached tribes serve as support for unconditional election against Arminianism).  A better interpretation is to see that God’s gracious revelation is given to all, though the extent and function of that revelation leading people to Christ depends on certain factors.  Not all are immediately presented with the gospel (for a variety of reasons), but this does not mean that God is not at work to lead everyone to the possibility of receiving and responding to the gospel.  If they respond positively to whatever measure of grace they are exposed to (whether through natural revelation or otherwise), God will continue to work in them, drawing them closer still, even ultimately leading them to an encounter with the gospel by which they might be saved (through missionary work, visions, etc.).

Part of this also entails God working through the example and testimony of those whose lives have already come to fully share in God’s grace through faith (Rom. 5:1, 2).  For this reason, Paul focuses on God’s grace being revealed to all to remind Timothy and those he will teach that the grace of God that has been revealed and that believers have received should result in a holy life (vs. 12).  Those who have received God’s grace must live in harmony with the revelation of God’s grace to all, so that none that God is reaching out to with His universal grace will be made to stumble by our example (Titus 2:10, 12-15).

SBG: Romans 10:14-15: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?…” I have heard that Wesley because of his errant views of Scripture thought that God would draw people through general revelation, but such an idea is severely foreign to Scripture. (Also see Ecc 8:16-17 clearly teaches that general revelation will never lead a person to a true knowledge of the God of the Bible. But rather only enough to condemn: Rom 1:20)

Rom. 1:20 doesn’t say “only enough to condemn”.  Rather, it says that because of God’s universal revelation, those who reject it are “without excuse”.  Why are they without excuse?  Because they could have accepted it instead and potentially been led to repentance as a result (Rom. 2:4-16 cf. Acts 17:26-28).  Rom.2:4 is another powerful testimony to God’s resistible prevenient grace since it is clear that the kindness of God described there is for the express purpose of leading to repentance.  However, this grace can be finally resisted by showing contempt for this grace and coming under the ultimate wrath of God in divine judgment (vs. 5).

SBG: Further, the passage you display in from Titus actually teaches the effectual work of Christ, which contradicts your view grace and potential atonement.
Titus 2:14: “who did give himself for us, that he might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; ”

There is nothing here about atonement being made only for some and nothing that contradicts the universal provisional nature of the atonement that is expressed in 1 Tim. 2:1-6.  It is perfectly natural to move from the universal to the particular.  This in no way implies that the particular limits the universal (forcing the universal language to be understood in extremely strained ways that are contrary to the natural reading).  The grace of God (in the specific provision of atonement) that has appeared to all has special application for us who have received this grace by faith (as I explained above).  Likewise, in 1 Tim. 4:10, God is the Savior of all men (provisionally), but “especially of believers” who have had this universal provision applied to them through faith.  It is the simple difference between provision and application, an important distinction that seems so obvious and yet is so difficult for Calvinists to recognize.

SBG: Not only does the passage you quote denote the work of Christ on the cross as a “ransom” which is a full payment for a slave to be free. It also displays Christ’s intent, to purify a peculiar people. The book of Hebrews and the correct doctrine of atonement, (which starts with His office of High Priest not proof texts that use the world “all” and “world”)

Are you really suggesting that when trying to determine the scope and extent of the atonement, we should not look to passages which specifically address the scope and extent of the atonement?  The passages that specifically address the extent of the atonement all use universal language, yet you are saying that we should discount that due to passages that do not even address the scope and extent of the atonement, but rather focus on the application of the atonement to believers. Surely you see what a backwards hermeneutic that is?

SBG: The work of the High Priest in Leviticus is composed of two parts, oblation (propitiation) and intercession. This is when the high priest would slay the animal (oblation) and then sprinkle the blood before God at the Mercy Seat (intercession). We see from the true doctrine of atonement, which is the office of High Priest that intercession is no more than a display of the oblation. Therefore the intercession bestows the gifts of the oblation cannot be of greater scope than the intercession and vice versa.

This conclusion here doesn’t follow.  Neither the oblation nor the intercession was effective for those who were outside of a covenant relationship with God (through faith).  But this doesn’t mean that nobody outside of the covenant community could join the covenant community and thereby come to enjoy the benefits of the atonement.  Indeed, foreigners could join God’s people and come to enjoy all the benefits promised only to God’s covenant people (e.g. Isaiah 56:3-6, which, by the way, further shows that election is primarily corporate and individuals only become “elect” by being joined to the “elect” body, which is only by faith in the new covenant.  Likewise, those who are members of the elect body can be cut off from that body and become “non-elect”, cf. Rom. 11: 16-25).

Again, it is simply the difference between application and provision (and even in the OT, there was a universal aspect to the atonement, since it was possible for non-Israelites to “become” Israelites, as explained above).  You conflate the two aspects of atonement while Scripture recognizes the difference.  Hebrews specifically addresses Christ’s atonement in the context of His ministry as a high priest, and yet Hebrews has no problem describing Christ’s provision of atonement in universal language (Hebrews 2:9).   That is because there is no conflict between Christ’s high priestly work and the universal provision of atonement, despite your attempts to create one.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with the nature of atonement being primarily penal-satisfaction either (I hold to the penal-satisfaction view).  As you point out, these passages have to do with the benefits of the atonement for those who are partakers of the new covenant; yet, we become partakers of the new covenant by faith.  So again, you have confused passages that speak of the application to those who are in the covenant, with passages that speak of the universal provision of that atonement.  It is the universal provisional nature of the atonement that makes it possible for anyone (and everyone) to enjoy the benefits of the atonement by becoming the covenant people of God (the elect) through faith.  For more on this see my series on Provisional Atonement .

SBG: Last text you presented was 1 Tim 2:1-6 has the same problems. The same problem is displayed. A lack of context and a view of atonement that is not based on Christ’s office as High Priest as presented in Hebrews and Leviticus 16, but instead based on proof texts and the word pas, pamos, pan. The High Priesthood of Christ establishes the doctrine, not the word “all” because “all” has an ambiguous meaning and has nothing to do with any of Christ’s offices.

This is just another example of your backwards hermeneutic in action as explained above.  “All” does not have an “ambiguous” meaning in those passages which specifically address the extent of the atonement.  Rather, its meaning is very clearly universal.  Any ambiguity would seem to lie squarely in your reluctance to accept what these passages are plainly implying, due to your prior commitment to unconditional election.  God’s intent and desire to save all is also clearly expressed in passages like 1 Tim. 2:1-6 (this is why even many who call themselves Calvinists reject limited atonement).  John 12:47 is especially damaging to your claims,

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”

Here Christ plainly says he came to save the world and that those who do not keep His word and reject Him (verse 48) are among those He came to save (i.e. they are specifically identified with the world He came to save).  Big, big trouble for Calvinism!

SBG: In the next section I think this is worth responding to:
“It is if Calvinism is true. If Calvinism is true then God irresistibly caused these people to hate Him. Now, Calvinists may not want to own such blunt language, but the above statement is in perfect harmony with traditional Calvinist thought [1]. In Calvinism, everything is controlled by God.”

First, God irresistibly makes people hate him, is certainly not representative of the calvinist position. I think you make a straw man with the hyper view, their are differing views among Calvinist about this issue, you should not be so general and then present it as fact.
The Bible teaches that Natural men are haters of God because the are children of the devil after the fall in the garden. (Psa 51:5)

This is not the hyper view.  The traditional Calvinist view holds to exhaustive determinism and bases foreknowledge entirely on God’s irresistible decree.  I explained this in the post. Those who reject this are not rejecting hyper Calvinism, but traditional Calvinism.  Did God decree the “fall in the garden” or not?

SBG: John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil and the desires of your Father you want to do…”

(Also I would just say as a tangent thought John 8:47 clearly refutes prevenient grace. “He who is of God hear’s God’s word, therefore you do not hear, because you are no of God.”

“Not of God” simply means that these Jews were not in right covenant relationship with the Father when they encountered Christ and His claims.  Since they didn’t know the Father they naturally would not recognize the perfect expression of the Father in the Son, nor would they recognize the Father’s teaching in the Son’s words (John 8:19, 20, 42, 54, 55, cf. John 5:37-40; 7:16, 17 12:44, 45).  As long as they reject the Father and refuse His teaching, they will reject the Son and His teaching (which is also the Father’s teaching, John 12:49, 50) and will not be given to the Son (John 6:37, 44, 45).  None of these passages say anything about an unconditional eternal election being behind the description of these Jews as “not of God.”  Such an idea is only read into these passages by Calvinists.  For a detailed exegesis of these various passages in John against the typical Calvinist view, see Robert Hamilton’s essay, The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep

SBG: The prevenient grace view says they should have been able to hear and then decide because prevenient grace frees them from their natural ignorance of spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14), but the reality is that they where still “of their father the devil” which is the reason why they are not “able to hear” (John 8:43). Jesus says they are not able to hear even though Jesus is preaching and the Spirit is working.

First, 1 Cor. 2:14 is addressing infants in Christ (3:1) who are acting worldly because they are resisting the Spirit’s work that would bring them to spiritual maturity so that they might understand the deeper spiritual teachings that Paul wanted them to receive.  Instead, they were caught up in quarreling over who their favorite apostle was (3:1-4).  It is not describing the inability of depraved unbelievers.  They are already saved.  However, it does highlight that God’s gracious efforts can always be resisted, even by believers.  It is also wrong to assume that being free from ignorance means that one cannot still resist that thing that has been revealed.  Many persist in using alcohol, drugs, and tobacco with full knowledge of the harmful and potentially dangerous consequences.

Second, as mentioned above, their inability to hear was not because God wasn’t working, but because they were resisting that working.  Clearly, Jesus is still trying to reach them (8:27-31, 36, cf. John 5:44; 10:37, 38), which would be senseless if He viewed them as hopeless reprobates. This is especially evident in Christ’s statement to the same sort of resistant Jews in John 5 where Christ both declares their inability and yet tells them, “…not that I accept human testimony, but I mention it that you may be saved”, vs. 34.  This is especially relevant to my point since the “testimony” Christ refers to is the prior testimony of John the Baptist. Christ then points them to other “testimonies” like His miracles, the Scriptures in general, and Moses, obviously implying that through the acceptance of these testimonies they may yet be enabled to “come to” Him and be “saved”, cf. vss. 39, 40.

Jesus’ method of discourse is actually a rather common teaching technique used for the purpose of admonishment in order for the “students” to fully realize their situation with the hope that in realizing it (coming to grips with this important revelation) they will be spurred on to change (i.e. repentance).  I work in schools daily and see this type of teaching technique used all the time.  It is similar to a Math teacher saying, “how can you expect to do division when you haven’t even learned your times tables?  You can’t do division while you remain ignorant of multiplication.”  Such instruction is not meant to highlight a hopeless state.  It is not meant to express that the student can never do division.  Rather, it is intended to get the student to re-examine the reality of their current state and how it makes further progress impossible, with the hope that they will learn what is required in order to move forward (e.g. John 5:41-45).

Likewise, Jesus is actually using much of what He says for the purpose of getting those who are listening to re-examine their present relationship to the Father and thereby realize that they are not in a proper position to be making such judgments about Christ and His claims, with the hope that they will yet “learn” from the Father so that they can come to a place where acceptance of Christ and His words is possible (e.g. John 5:33-47; 10:34-39, cf. John 6:45, etc).  Had they already learned from the Father (been receptive to God’s grace and leading through the Scriptures, the prophets, the ministry of John the Baptist, the miracles of Christ, etc.), they would have immediately recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, Shepherd and King of God’s people, and been given to Him.  Yet, not all hope is gone, for they may yet learn if they stop resisting the Father’s leading.

Christ’s teaching on drawing in John 6:44, 45, therefore, is not just descriptive, but for the purpose of admonishment, that they might be careful not to spurn and resist this drawing and miss eternal life and the promise of resurrection.  God’s working in prevenient grace and drawing can be complex and operate in different ways depending on the person and the situation.  God approaches us from a variety of angles.  These passages illustrate that.  Yet, we dare not assume that because the operation of prevenient grace on the human heart and mind doesn’t necessarily reduce to a simple equation or formula, God is not still working.  Indeed, God is always working (John 5:17). There is much more that could be said on this, but this alone is sufficient to overturn your objection to prevenient grace based on these various passages in John.

SBG: Again you say: “So God caused Adam to sin and then punished Adam for perfectly fulfilling the decree of God in such a way that Adam had absolutely no power to resist. ”

But this is unscholarly rant and a poor representation of the view you are trying to refute. Again, your refute a straw man and not the real thing. Most Calvinist believe that Adam had ability to either sin or not sin.

Sorry, but this is simply false.  Are you really suggesting that most Calvinists believe that Adam had libertarian free will?  John Calvin sure didn’t and he had no problem saying that the fall was decreed by God, calling foolish anyone who disagreed.  Was John Calvin a hyper Calvinist?  Likewise, the traditional Calvinist position has always been that God’s foreknowledge is based on His eternal decree so that God can only foreknow because He decreed it.  This was also Calvin’s position.  So if Adam could have “not sinned” (as you claim) then, according to traditional Calvinism (and John Calvin), God could not have foreknown Adam’s sin since God cannot foreknow libertarian free will choices, but only what He has decreed to happen.  So the traditional Calvinist accounting of foreknowledge means that God could only foreknow the fall because He decreed it.

Surely, you are not suggesting that Adam could have acted contrary to the eternal decree of God, are you? If not, then your defense and rebuke is groundless and all that I have said necessarily follows. If you don’t think that God decreed the fall then you are not a traditional Calvinist.  That’s fine, but you can’t fault me for slandering or misrepresenting Calvinism just because you personally disagree with a major traditional tenet of Calvinism.

SBG: Adam’s sin was not caused by God, this is just blasphemous and a lie / misrepresentation.

Again, if God decreed the fall, and foreknew the fall only because He decreed it, then the cause of Adam’s sin was certainly God’s decree, which Adam was powerless to resist.  If you don’t like it, maybe you should not be a Calvinist.

SBG: God was not involved in the fall, He left Adam to himself, surely God could have applied grace and protected Adam, but He did not see that as fit.

Are you suggesting that God denied Adam the grace to resist temptation, making it impossible for Adam to keep from sinning?  If that is the case, then how can you say that Adam had the power to “not sin”?  He had the power to resist a temptation that he was powerless to resist?  What?

SBG: But while you kick against the goads of Scripture, I suggest one text that clearly presents God’s sovereignty:
Eph 1:11: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will”

I never denied God’s sovereignty.  Rather, I fully affirm it.  I affirm that God has the sovereign right to give His creatures a measure of free will and to hold them accountable for the choices they make.  I affirm that God has the right to make salvation and election conditioned on faith, and I affirm that this is exactly what Scripture teaches.  If you want to deny God these sovereign freedoms and divine rights, that’s on you.  Just because I deny the false Calvinist claim that sovereignty = exhaustive divine determinism, doesn’t mean that I deny God’s sovereignty.  I only deny the bizarre Calvinist definition of sovereignty.

Your quote of Eph. 1:11 does nothing to help your case.  Eph. 1:11 is big trouble for Calvinism.  Calvinism says that we are predestined to faith, but Eph. 1:11 locates predestination “In Him” and Eph. 1:13 says that we come to be “in Him” through faith.  Likewise, Eph. 1:4 locates election “In Him”.  Since election is “In Him” (since through identification and union with Christ we share in His election) and since predestination is “In Him” (since through identification and union with Christ we share in His predestined inheritance), and since we come to be joined to Christ by faith (Eph. 1:13), then it follows that one becomes elect and predestined by faith, the Arminian view exactly!

SBG: Again you say: “When the exhaustive decretal determinism of Calvinism is in view, questions like, “Is that God’s fault?” should be answered with “Yes”.”

This is again a baseless suggestion and a straw man. Most Calvinists believe in a soft determinism called compatiblism. This is clearly taught in Gen 50:20:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Compatibilism is still determinism.  It simply means that free will is supposedly “compatible” with determinism.  So it is still true that God predetermined everything, including every sin that would ever be committed in such a way that those sins could not have possibly been avoided.  Appeals to compatibilism do nothing to solve the difficulty.  I actually addressed compatibilism in the post, since in compatibilism the will is still controlled by God.  All compatibilism does is redefine free will so that it means the freedom to do what we want or desire.  But since our wants and desires are still controlled by God (even according to compatibilism), it doesn’t solve anything.  The will is still completely determined by desires that the person has no control over.  So I wasn’t fighting any straw men and my claims were not baseless.

To say that God purposes to bring good out of evil, or that God can use even behaviors that do not please Him to accomplish His ultimate purposes (which is all that Gen 50:20 is expressing) does nothing to prove “compatibilism”.  Passages like this can just as easily be understood from the view point of libertarian free will.  One must read the concept of compatibilism into these texts.  Therefore, while they may not necessarily contradict a compatibilist view, they cannot be used to prove it.  In other words, compatibilism is not “clearly taught” in such passages, despite your assertions.

SBG: And very strongly in Isaiah 10:5-16 when God first raises up Assyria to punish Israel and then punishes the nation that He uses to punish another because of what is in their heart. Here is the text:

““ Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
6 I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath
I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 Yet he does not mean so,
Nor does his heart think so;
But it is in his heart to destroy,
And cut off not a few nations.
8 For he says,

‘ Are not my princes altogether kings?
9 Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,
Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
11 As I have done to Samaria and her idols,
Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?’”

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on MountZionand on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”
13 For he says:

“ By the strength of my hand I have done it,
And by my wisdom, for I am prudent;
Also I have removed the boundaries of the people,
And have robbed their treasuries;
So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.
14 My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people,
And as one gathers eggs that are left,
I have gathered all the earth;
And there was no one who moved his wing,
Nor opened his mouth with even a peep.”
15 Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord, the Lord[a] of hosts,
Will send leanness among his fat ones;
And under his glory
He will kindle a burning
Like the burning of a fire. ”

Several things to point out. First, there is no autonomy in this passage. There is a compatibalism between the will of the Assyrians as wicked sinners with evil hearts (Gen 6:5 & 8:21) and the righteous justice of God with His sovereign decrees.

I can basically agree with the second sentence in your conclusion here, but this does not mean that the Assyrians had no free will in a non-compatibilist (libertarian) sense.  In other words, just as with your other quote, passages like this are just as “compatible” with the Arminian view (and I would argue, more compatible).  See below.

SBG: Particularly notice verses 5-7 and then 13-15. The point is clear that God is absolutely sovereign and man is full responsible.

Again, all these verses show is that God can use the intentions of others to accomplish His purposes.  Arminians wholly agree with this.  It is not even contrary to Arminianism to say that God sometimes controls the wills of people to accomplish His purpose or to execute judgment (surely, it was not Nebuchadnezzar’s will to lose his mind and act like an animal, Daniel 4:28-37).  Arminians only hold that God gives man a measure of free will.  Man’s will is not unlimited, nor does it operate in a vacuum.  Free will, when rightly understood, operates within a framework of possibilities.  See this post for a good description of the limits of free will from an Arminian perspective.

However, this passage does not address the idea of God controlling someone’s thoughts, desires and actions and then holding that person accountable for the desires, thoughts and actions that God irresistibly controlled.  The passage actually teaches the opposite.  The Assyrians became an instrument of wrath in God’s hands against Israel because they were already bent on conquest.  Therefore, they were already perfectly suited to be the rod of God’s wrath and correction.  God used them to punish His people, but He had no need to irresistibly cause them to.  He did not control their desires and wills to go against Israel.  There desire was already to conquer other nations (verse 7).  God simply directed the Assyrian’s attention towards His people, a people that God had, up to that point, protected from such a devastating conquest.  But God did not control their desires.  Indeed, their intentions in attacking Israel are displeasing to God (verse 7-11)

Their intentions are especially sinful because they attack in arrogance, not even believing that YHWH is a true God.  So God will punish His people through the Assyrian invasion, but also punish Assyria for their arrogance in thinking that their conquest was due only to their superior strength in believing that the God of Israel was no different than the false gods of the other nations they had conquered.

Now why should any of this contradict the idea that man has libertarian free will and yet this in no way prevents God from accomplishing all that He plans?  God is not threatened by free will.  He isn’t so small that He cannot be sovereign over a world where there are wills that He does not directly control. Nothing in this passage suggests that God irresistibly controlled the wills of the Assyrian people and then held them accountable for what He caused them to do.  Rather, God punishes them because their wills are not in harmony with God’s ultimate purpose (to punish His people).  Instead, their wills are bent on mocking God in their arrogance, believing that the success of their conquest was because there was no God inIsrael (verses 8-11).   It is for that reason alone that God punishes them.  So again, there is nothing in these passages that force a compatibilist interpretation.  Therefore, they do nothing to prove compatibilism.  Indeed, they make more sense from a libertarian viewpoint.

SBG: You say: “Rather, he just assumes throughout his discourse that God cannot enable all depraved God haters to turn to Christ without needing to do so in an irresistible manner. ”

But the problem you don’t seem to understand is the Mr. Washer starts and ends with the Bible. He doesn’t start with imported philosophical values and doctrine that makes the Bible contradict itself. God could enable all men to come to Christ, He could have even used resistible saving grace. But the problem is that the Bible does teach this, that’s why Washer doesn’t teach it.

Well, obviously I disagree.  All you have done here is made an assertion.  I counter assert that Paul Washer’s understanding of election and Scripture was indeed influenced by imported philosophies (just as I repeatedly pointed out in my post).  I further assert that he did not start and end with the Bible, but with unfortunate theological assumptions that the Bible doesn’t really support at all.

SBG: In the next section you say: “What kind of glory would that be exactly? Those who hate God do so only because God caused them to, and those who love God do so only because God caused them to. ”

But again you are just ranting.

No.  I am just pointing out the obvious given fundamental Calvinist assumptions.

SBG: You are battling the same straw man that has no weight. God doesn’t need to make anyone hate Him, natural men are already very good at that. (Romans 8:7-9, Col 1:20-21. etc, etc.)

But you are just parroting Washer here and ignoring the fact that I already addressed this very argument.  It is not enough to just lay the blame on “natural man” without considering how this became man’s natural state in the first place.  As I repeatedly pointed out (even in the sections you have already quoted of my argument), if decretal determinism is true, then man never had any control over his state or over his thoughts, desires, wills, or actions.  At some point you need to deal with the heart of the problem and the heart of the problem lies in the ultimate fundamental Calvinist assumption: Exhaustive determinism.

SBG: Your battle is against a straw man of “hard determinism” which is referred to many calvinists as the hyper view. Your whole argument against calvinists here is based on a straw man fallacy.

As I already pointed out, so called “soft” determinism is no less deterministic than so called “hard” determinism.  Calling it “soft” doesn’t change the fact that God still exhaustively determines everything.  The only difference between “hard” and “soft” determinism is that hard determinism realizes that the compatibilist redefinition of “free will” is a ruse and embraces the obvious: there can be no real free will in a universe that is exhaustively determined by God.

SBG: You say: “Again, Paul Washer can’t help talking like an Arminian in order to defend his Calvinism. He seems to quickly forget that at the heart of Calvinism is the fundamental assumption that God sovereignly controls everything, creating serious problems for his claims of personal accountability for hating God.”

Again, this is your straw man. A hard determinist position and Infralapsarianism versus Supralapsarianism. This is a debate in house, but you are not fair to the audience in the way you beat up straw men instead of speaking honesty in love.

What is really “not fair” is how Calvinists try to hide the reality of their views behind “softer” language.  But when pressed, even “soft” determinists admit that God has determined everything.  Exhaustive determinism in Calvinism isn’t an “in house debate” at all.  It also isn’t fair that you bring in “supra” verses “infra” as relevant to the point.  It isn’t.  Both supralapsarians and infralapsarians hold to exhaustive determinism (determinism is not the point of contention between them, but the “order of decrees”).  Both supralapsarians and infralapsarians believe that God “sovereignly controls everything”, so they are both in the same boat when it comes to the points I am making.  I have in no way been dishonest, nor have I beat up any straw men.

SBG: Your idea about the “heart of Calvinism” is just silly and proves my point. Please see Isaiah 10 for help that you may better understand the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.

Please see my response to your use of Isaiah 10 above.  I don’t even disagree that it presents the biblical teaching on God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, but that is only because it actually supports the Arminian view, rather than the Calvinist view.  But you are wrong if you are truly claiming that exhaustive determinism is not at the heart of Calvinism, for it surely is.

SBG: You say: “Again, why did they hate him? Because God decreed this for them from all eternity.” referring to Joseph and his brothers. Here it becomes obvious that your rant is mainly emotional rather than logical and Biblical.

Look at Genesis 50:20: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
We can see that God sovereignly decreed it but the brothers are judged for what is in their heart. This is the same as what is clearly taught in isaiah 10:5-19.

I already addressed this above.  This passage can be understood from an Arminian perspective in the same way that Isaiah 10 can.  The Arminian view is not “incompatible” with these passages and these passages do not prove Calvinist compatibilism (they don’t even imply it).

SBG: You say: ““Choice” doesn’t even make sense in Calvinism.”

This is your straw man again. To you it doesn’t make sense. That is why you seem so hot in your approach to this rant. But the Bible clearly teaches compatibilism as already shown. Calvinists do say people don’t make choices, you build up the hyper view and then destroy it. But even Calvinists hate the hyper view…

I did not deny that Calvinists claim we make choices (I assume you meant “Calvinists don’t say”…, rather than “…do say…”).  I only claimed that the language of choice doesn’t make sense in Calvinism, despite their using the word.  If God controls our thoughts and wills, then we never have any real options to “choose” from.  Therefore, we never have any choices (and again, even “compatibilists” admit that God controls our desires and wills.  They locate “freedom” only in the power to act in accordance with our desires, without ever denying that God controls these desires.  That is why compatibilism solves nothing.  It makes fee will “compatible” with determinism by redefining “free will” in a deterministic sense.  In the end, compatibilism means only that determinism is compatible with determinism- brilliant!).  If you are still confused about why “choice” doesn’t make sense in Calvinism, see my post The Reality of Choice and the Testimony of Scripture.

SBG: You continue: “Again, the student nails it. God must draw us, but there is no reason to assume that this drawing cannot be resistible, rather than irresistible. There is likewise no reason to assume it cannot enable all who hear to believe.”

I have already shown why your view of grace is not Biblical.

See above for why your claims against my “view of grace” have not been successful.

SBG: But again. Jesus says in John 8:43 that the reason they do not hear is because they are not “able” to listen to His words. If prevenient grace as you hold diligently to was true Jesus would not have said this. If your view is true, prevenient grace would have enabled them to believe and Christ would have said something about their refusal to believe out of their own autonomy. But, this is not what jesus says. Instead, although the preaching was present and the Spirit working, they were still not “able.” Your whole argument is based on an imported idea that is not only foreign to the Bible but also not supported by the texts where you would expect it to be supported.

Likewise, I already dealt with this above.

SBG: You say: “And there it is, the unbiblical attempt to make “dead in sin” mean “the inability of a physical corpse.”

A person actually doesn’t need to go to Eph 2 to describe inability. Mr. Washer chose this passage, but there are many other passages that say the same thing. Not only John 8:43-47, which reveals that its not about prevenient grace because even with preaching they were not “able.” instead it is because they are still natural and in the flesh, “You are of your father the devil…” (v. 44) and then verse 47:

1. He who is of God hears God’s words
1. You do not hear
2. Therefore, you are not of God.

Again, I already dealt with this above.  I also showed in the post that Jesus plainly says the spiritually “dead” will “hear” unto salvation, which completely undermines Washer’s argument.  Also, I never claimed that inability was not a Biblical concept.  I never claimed that it was not taught elsewhere in Scripture.  What I denied (and Scripture denies) is that this inability is comparable to the inability of a corpse so that only regeneration can make faith possible.  That is a conclusion wrongly drawn from the Biblical concept of being “dead in sins.” I made this very clear in my post.

SBG: It’s not about prevenient grace and a man rejection even though they had the ability. Jesus clearly teaches that this has nothing to do with it. Therefore He says… again… “because you are not able to hear…” this is denoting ability not the decision of the human will. 1 Cor 2:14 is also helpful.

Again, please see my comments on the John passages above (as well asHamilton’s excellent essay).  Please see my treatment of 1 Cor. 2:14 above as well.

SBG: You say: ” Paul Washer says that one must become a child of God (be born again) before one can put faith in Christ, the exact opposite of what John and the apostle Paul taught!”

Your problem is a lack of distinction between regeneration and adoption.

The burden of proof is on you to show a distinction between becoming “children of God” and becoming “sons of God.”  Are you saying that one can be a child of God and yet not be a part of God’s family?  Or are you saying that one can be adopted into the family of God without becoming God’s child?  Both are by faith and becoming a child of God is no different than becoming His son (or daughter).  If there is some important distinction to be made here, you haven’t shown what that is.  Regardless, John 1:12 is definitive by itself,

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”

The right to “become children of God’” is given only to believers who have received Christ by faith.  The passage could not be any clearer in teaching that faith precedes “becoming” a child of God, and even Calvinists admit that becoming a child of God in this passage refers to the new birth/regeneration (as verse 13 makes clear).  But you think that verse 13 contradicts this when you write,

SBG: You make becoming a child of God depending of the decision and will of man but John clearly says
John 1:13: “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

How can it be that they were born not of human decision but your say that its all about God enabling men to make a decision? this is hopelessly contradictory.

Let’s look at the entire passage:

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name (which simply clarifies how we receive Him, i.e. by faith), he gave the right to become the children of God- children not born of human descent (literally, “of bloods”), nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.”

Verse 13 makes it clear that how one becomes a child of God is based on God’s prerogative alone.  It is not the automatic result of Jewish heritage or ancestry. Rather, the new birth is a supernatural act of God (rather than the result of a natural birth, by the “will of the husband”) given only to those who believe in His Son. If the Jews were left to decide the condition of salvation, they would leave it in their heritage (which is proven by the fact that most Jews refused to “receive Him”, verse 11) but the decision as to how one becomes God’s children is God’s alone, and God has decided that only those who receive His Son by faith will become His children.  God is the one who decides and has made the condition faith in His Son.  Being a Jew is not enough (which, by the way, is the same basic issue being discussed inRom. 9, esp. see verse 16)

So there is nothing in verse 13 that would undermine my interpretation of verse 12, nor anything that would force us to understand verse 12 in a way that would make nonsense of the specific and deliberate language being used (that one becomes a child of God through faith).  Verse 13 isn’t saying that there is no decision involved in the condition for receiving Christ (faith).  Rather, it is saying that God alone is sovereign over the decision regarding who will become His children, and He has sovereignly decided to that only believers will be His children, without regard to heritage or ancestry.

SBG: Also, it should be said that in the Greek “tekna” which means “children” does not appear in John 1:13. Instead it uses a pronoun to describe why the people received Him.

This isn’t really relevant.  “Children” is supplied by some translations because it is obvious that the pronoun refers back to “children” in verse 12.

SBG: John 8 is very clear. But also in John 10:26:

“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.”
Jesus says the reason people do not believe is the result of them not being His sheep. He does not say they are not sheep as a result of their unbelief. Your position is the exact opposite of what Christ said not only hear but also in John 8.

Again, see my comments above and Hamilton’s essay on the order of election in John’s gospel.

SBG: You say: “In fact, the Bible clearly puts faith before regeneration.”

Not only does John 1:13 contradict you because faith is a decision it is the will. John clearly says people are not born of the will.
John 3:3: “Unless one is born again he is not able to see thekingdom ofGod.” How can a man choose and put saving faith into an object if he can’t even see it…

John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
First notice that the flesh only ever brings forth flesh. But you seem to think that the flesh can be the factor that brings forth spiritual life… Further it is the Spirit who brings forth a man’s spirit.

On John 3:3, 6 see my post, Does John 3:3, 6 Teach that Regeneration Precedes Faith?  As far as the flesh and the spirit, no one ever claimed that it is not God alone who regenerates by His Spirit.  We meet the God ordained condition of faith to receive life, but God alone is the one who gives us life in response to our faith.  We cannot regenerate ourselves.  Faith is total dependence on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  That is why faith doesn’t “earn” anything and is the perfect condition for receiving the free and undeserved gift of life and salvation from God (Rom. 4:4-8).

SBG: John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing…”
But if two people are brought forth by prevenient grace then still in their flesh and one chooses and another refuses…. it is actually that man’s flesh that profited everything.

I think you are missing the point of this passage as well. Just as in John 3, John 6:63 is simply saying that God alone can give life by His Spirit. Jesus goes on to say that His words are spirit and life (i.e. they spiritual and life giving).  Therefore, only by receiving His words can we attain life.  It was the Jews’ misguided focus on the natural that prevented them from seeing the spiritual implications of what Jesus was teaching them (about eating His flesh and drinking His blood).  This is why Christ directed them to the fact that His words are spiritual and give life.  He is trying to get them to refocus (rather than seeing His words in purely physical ways- literally eating His flesh, etc.) so that they can learn the spiritual implications of what He has been teaching them.  As mentioned before, this is just another example of Christ continuing to reach out to those that Calvinism would have us believe were hopeless reprobates.

SBG: 1 Cor 2:14: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

Your whole argument is bases on imported views, ie prevenient grace which has already been refuted. John 8, though the Spirit was present and Christ was preaching the people were not “able” to listen… John 8:43… the implications are obvious.

You say: “Rather, God’s drawing is what enables a faith response and thereby makes a “choice” possible.”

But the Bible says; “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Not of the will of the flesh (NKJV).

Just like Washer, you seem to think that just repeating the same thing over and over is somehow sufficient to prove your point.

SBG: I didn’t mean for this to be so long,

Well, now we are even.  If we discuss this further, let’s stick to one or two points and dramatically shorten our comments.  I would also suggest starting your own blog where you can make long responses like this outside of the confines of a discussion thread and just leave a link to your comments that people could follow if interested.

 SBG: …but its not right for people to read something like this and not sympathize for those who may be misled by the saturation of errors.

This is exactly why I felt I needed to respond to Washer’s misguided teaching on election.  It bothers me how many have potentially been led astray by his erroneous arguments.

SBG: Also, your problem with evil is refuted by the Book of Job.

How so?

SBG: Job’s friends’ rebuke is your rebuke.

Not at all.

SBG: When God appeared what did He say? He didn’t even tell them why bad things were happening to Job, He simply declared His sovereignty and made them repent.

True, but irrelevant.

SBG: Further Chapter one clears up that satan was on God’s leash

Satan was on “God’s leash” only so far as God set limits on what he could do to Job.  This is a far cry from what is implied by Calvinist determinism, which would force us to see God controlling even Satan’s desire and will to attack Job and challenge God in the first place.  It is the difference between “being on a leash” (which is far more in line with the Arminian view) and being a hand puppet (which is essentially the Calvinist view based on the unavoidable implications of the doctrine of exhaustive determinism).  You may also be interested in this post I wrote on Job a while back.

So while I appreciate your zeal for truth, I don’t see that your comments and objections to my interactions with Washer’s discussion on election really hold up.  In fact, it seems that many of the points you have made actually serve to further undermine the Calvinist view of election and support the Arminian view instead.  Of course, I will not be surprised if you continue to disagree.  I respect your opinion; I just think it is wrong.  However, I am proud to consider you a brother in Christ and I trust that God will continue to lead you into truth as you seek Him.  May we both be very careful in how we approach Scripture so that we do not find ourselves missing what the Spirit of God is trying to communicate to us.  All of us have misperceptions and none of us have perfect theology.  That is all the more reason to rely on His Spirit in allowing Him to correct those misperceptions, whatever they may be.

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34 Responses

  1. Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to write all this, for all the people who will take time to read it.

  2. Based on the early portion of this post, I also want to thank you for actually engaging this Calvinist – not so much to convince him (Ha!) but to provide fodder for people like me, who are mulling over the issue of whether to combat all these long-exploded errors.

    I’m too busy to slog through it all right now, but I am happy your post scrolled up on my WordPress tag surfer this morning, and now I have your blog subscribed on my blog surfer (so all is well).

    Press on.

  3. 1. Assertions about someone hating the bible

    2. Too long of a response to be constructive

    3. Can’t entertain he might be wrong

    =

    Pearls before swine.

  4. Hello Steven,

    “1. Assertions about someone hating the bible
    2. Too long of a response to be constructive
    3. Can’t entertain he might be wrong
    =
    Pearls before swine.”

    I said before that “savedbygrace” was a Calvinist troll. Apparently others did not believe me then, hopefully this is transparently obvious now.

    If you read the extremely long tirades by him/her, you noticed he/she brought up the same weak and unpersuasive arguments over and over again.

    Besides these arguments that Ben did an excellent job of thoroughly demolishing (Ben you really did a great job in both of your long postings refuting “savedbygrace”) “savedbygrace” kept interjecting these nasty little digs. False claims and personal attacks of Arminians (e.g. “your God is puny”, etc. etc. etc. etc.).

    I suggest that “savedbygrace” be left alone at this point as any further interaction with this Calvinist troll is both a waste of time and will only invite more acrimonious personal attacks of Arminians by “savedbygrace”.

    People sometimes misunderstand what Jesus meant by the “pearls before swine” comment. He was not saying that you do not present truth to people nor that there are times to engage in reasoned argument about certain points. He was however talking about a situation in which you find after presenting truth to someone they show that they clearly don’t want the truth, and if you then keep presenting it to them they will only become hostile and turn on you to attack you (like an angry pig that does not appreciate the precious pearl presented to it).

    “Savedbygrace” showed from the beginning that they were a Calvinistic troll with their mind made up merely looking to attack Arminians and Arminian beliefs. Ben provided responses as did others, and “savedbygrace” does not appreciate the truth shared with him/her and is continually making these snide comments.

    You are right Steven, this has become a case of casting pearls before swine.

    Robert

  5. I’m afraid that we have run face to face with your tradition.

  6. SBG,

    I view most calvinists as honest people who misapply the implications of certain passages of scripture. I enjoy learning about God and His truth, and that includes entertaining different points of view and ideas from people regarding scripture. I am not scared of truth, my heart is open because it looks for it.

    If you cannot entertain the fact that you might be wrong, you have a classic case of a hard heart. Your last post showed more than your knowledge, it showed your heart towards genuine people who disagree with you. I’m not concerned about your Calvinist position as much as I am concerned for your search for truth.

  7. “1. Assertions about someone hating the bible”
    I made an assertion that is obvious. If what i’m saying is true, this only follows. Anyone can love a theology they made after their own heart and their own mind. This does not mean that their theology come from the Bible, that’s why the author reacts the way he does.

    “2. Too long of a response to be constructive”
    Or, you might as well say, “i’m too lazy to read this”
    This does not surprise me.

    “3. Can’t entertain he might be wrong”
    And you have done this? At least I show why I think the way I do. Instead of taking your method of lazily accepting what this person tells you. The blind leading the blind; everyone falls into a ditch!

    You call me a “troll” and “swine”
    The hypocrisy of you doing the same thing your called me out for doing is uncanny.

  8. SavedByGrace, how about you tell us what you really think?

    Seriously though, if you are going to post responses this long then you should start your own blog and post links to it here. You are trying to takeover other peoples posts when the combox should only be for shorter responses to specific points or verses relating to Calvinism/Arminianism.

    By the way, would you be offended if I called myself “SavedByGraceThroughFaith”?

  9. “SavedByGrace, how about you tell us what you really think?”

    lol, I can’t help that the Bible is the joy of my life. but I’m not trying to take over any posts. Sorry, perhaps I should have responded so long in the past post. But this post seems to be to be directly pointed at me and my thoughts… so I don’t see the reason why I shouldn’t respond fully.

    But! I will say that I think I have got everything out and do not desire to continue with anything new.

    About the name: Of course not. you can pick whatever name you want. What you think that means doesn’t change the tensing and casing in the Greek for 2 Peter 1:1 along with several other texts.

  10. 1. So if people don’t agree with you, they hate the bible? Not sure I agree with your logic there, since you weren’t born a Calvinist. Guess in your uneducated state you were a bible hater like the rest of us?

    2. If I copied and pasted every article from this site into the combox as a response, at what point would it no longer be constructive?

    3. I explained my attitude toward the bible above. You have displayed your attitude toward learning by the tone you use in your responses. You can challenge me on my open-mindedness if you wish, but I think turning the question on me is more of a simple admission that you came to this site not to learn, but to hear yourself talk.

  11. Many Christians hate these Biblical doctrines. Are they not saved? I never said this. God is using your inconsistencies in His sovereign plan. God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

    After all, the tone of this entire site is polemic. You should not be startled when someone replies in the same way. The author clearly made this an open debate, should I then not respond fully? Just because someone makes a response doesn’t mean that the logic of that response is sound. it does not mean that the things he said have any value in a refutation.

  12. As an FYI, I write my comments for the most part from a mobile phone. Forgive any typos, as the mobile version doesn’t allow changes to posts that I’ve made. And no, I don’t do this while driving :)

    Anyway, SBG, I’d love to interact further but addressing everything is something I can’t do from a mobile phone, but let me say this regarding your last comment about God using our inconsistencies as part of His divine plan.

    You never acknowledged what Ben called you out on, and you never seem to understand – if you accept God decreed, controls, draws, drags, everything that occurs, you have to accept God is the ultimate author of sin and the evil actions in the world. Yet we know from scripture that:

    God hates divorce
    God hates a lying tounge
    God hates every false way
    God hates vain worship

    And I could go on and on. I trust you know the above passages. Here’s the point – for God to decree those things, and then to state that he unequivocally hates them, goes against His very nature. We know God cannot deny Himself.

    It’s like your passage in John… People opposed to God were not of God, they were doing the desires of their Father, the devil! It is not consistent to think that God wants liars and truth tellers, adulterers and faithful spouses, confusion and peace. Yet you say God decrees confusion, and desires both arminian and Calvinist to butt heads for all time. God desires that I am an arminian, and “who can resist His will?”

  13. SBG,

    I have unapproved your initial post until I have the time to review it and decide if it is appropriate. If you indeed claimed that I hate the Bible because I disagree with you, then that is a real problem. Also, I plainly told you I did not want any more long responses both in this post and in the comment thread of the other post. I will go through your comments when I have the time and possibly respond to whatever parts I feel should be addressed.

    It is very easy to create a blog. You seem to have a lot of time and like to debate these issues. If you want to write long posts criticizing Arminianism and Arminians, you can do that on a blog. No one can say anything about how long your comments are. You can operate your blog in any manner you like. Likewise, I can operate my blog in any manner I like as well. I explained to you that extremely long comments make discussions cumbersome and way too time consuming (at least for me). I addressed your comments out of respect and out of a desire to help you see another perspective. I understand you want to defend yourself, but we can’t keep going back and forth with 20+ page responses.

    I would also ask you not to leave “you tube” videos in these comment threads as well. I think I mentioned that to you once before (in fact, I think you were the one who originally left that Paul Washer video in a comments thread which prompted me to address it- that would explain a lot). You can leave a link, if it is appropriate to the discussion, but do not post the video.

    I trust you will respect my requests concerning further comments.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. Dearest Saved by Grace,
    I still do not know your name?
    I must say that it grieves my heart that all the “Christian” forums that I have come across, which are not too many, allow people to blog under a synonym. I wonder why those that are truly in Christ need to wear a mask. Does not Christ deliver us from exactly that same thing? Are we not called to be living epistles to be read and known of all men!?
    I fear, the people that need to hide behind a mask, have not availed themselves of the real freedom one has in Christ. I do understand that even if synonyms where not allowed, people could use a false name. Well that would be lying. We all will have to give account one day before the God of glory, and we all know what it says in 1 John about liars. The sad thing is that hiding behind a mask is in reality only a more subtle form of lying.(Hiding ones true identity)
    Does not the scripture clearly declare in 1 John 4:20
    20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
    If we have something to hide in our communion with the brethren, I wonder if we are not doing the same in our communion with God! Or how can we in earnestness and truth seek God’s guidance together through His Spirit if we are concealing something so basic as our true identity!?
    Dearest Ben I apologise for being of the subject here.
    Saved by Grace, I have read your last long post and am greatly saddened by it. Up until now I saw some common courtesy which now has all but gone. This has revealed your true colours. Having listened to the video you posted, I actually wonder if you are James White? There seems to be a similarity in the way you (both) communicate! It saddens me having to say this, but the main similarity is that in all the things you say, there is no Love ! Please hear me, I am not even seeking to address all the points you are making , many things you are saying I can agree with, but even if everything you said was right , 1 Cor.13:2 sais
    2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing
    If our desire to know God through the study of His Word does not cause us to love Him more, and therefore love the least of these His brethren as we love Him, then I fear we have come to be the people Jesus spoke to in John 5:39

    There is no doubt the Bible makes it clear, God is Sovereign, but if our need of comprehending His sovereignty causes au to distort His being Love then we have lost what is more important! It seems to me that most Calvinists in Heaven , instead of worshiping God with Holy, Holy, Holy, they will say Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign. The completeness of Gods person is revealed in His holiness, all His attributes are without contradiction expressed in His being Holy! The scripture is clear, understanding Gods sovereignty is not the evidence for salvation! Love is!
    This is why I have, and will continue to listen to Paul Washer, though His is wrong in his Calvinism, He teaches and preaches with a heart that has been transformed by the love of God! I know he says what he sais out of a heart of love.
    It is my prayer for you that you may come to know our saviour in this same fashion. If I was you, I would refrain from any teaching or preaching until that has become a reality in my life, for otherwise I would become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal!
    Sincerely in the love of Jesus
    Rudi Kunz

  15. ” if you accept God decreed, controls, draws, drags, everything that occurs, you have to accept God is the ultimate author of sin and the evil actions in the world. Yet we know from scripture that:”

    You don’t get it. God is sovereign. I never said God needs to control anyone for there to be sin. Men love sin, they do not need to be forced to sin. God just lets them do what they want.

    Ben:
    “I trust you will respect my requests concerning further comments.”

    Of course you delete my post, you can only debate when you have control. This does not surprise me. It is typical of a person who know they are believing a backwards theology.

    Rudi:
    If you can listen to that exegesis and not accept it. You have a problem, and its not me or James White. You simply do not accept the Bible. You have gotten just enough of modern Christianity to come to Jesus, but you don’t accept the Bible fully.
    This is also typical for arminians. Even when confronted with truth, they just refuse it.

  16. but knowing this type of site and the way it is ran, i copied my typing before I posted it so that when you deleted my rebuttal to your post about me i could re-share it. Its strikes me as odd that a person would post a whole article about someone and then delete their rebuttal. I guess this is just par for the course regarding this site.

  17. Wow. What blatant disrespect. Like I said before, pearls before swine.

  18. So its not disrespectful to make an article about me and then not allow me to respond?

    Do you know that term “swine” is a term peter is using to refer to a reprobate? So you call me a reprobate then I call arminians haters of the Bible because they reject:

    The Biblical doctrine of: Election, Sovereignty, man’s depravity, the effective work of Christ, the power of Christ to keep His sheep, of regeneration, and I’m sure others…

    Seems like you my friend are a hypocrite. you should not be surprised when a person
    1) Contends earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)
    2) Tears down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 2:10)

    The deletion of my rebuttal only reveals one thing, the integrity of this site.

  19. When I say arminians reject those doctrines this is what I mean, man is placed into the role of God in everyone of them:

    Election: Instead of God being free in election; man is the basis of election (man elects God (w/ faith) then God elects them) (man controls election)

    Sovereignty: God is sovereign up to man’s free will, which He is not willing to violate (man is sovereign)

    Man’s depravity: man is not depraved and helpless, man is the decision maker and driving force of salvation after prevenient grace, which is not effective. (man’s free will controls salvation)

    The effective work of Christ: Christ’s work can only be as effective and fruitful as man’s free will makes it. (man controls the effectiveness / fruitfulness of atonement)

    Perseverance: its not that the sheep are kept safe by the shepherd (John 10:27-29) its that the sheep are kept by their ability to stay with the shepherd (perseverance is man’s work)

    regeneration: is not according to the free grace of God, man must decide to believe so he can be regenerated (man controls regeneration)

    You see, in every place where God should be centered, arminians have dethroned them with their golden calf – free will.

  20. SBG,

    I thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

    You said something to the effect that you are a person who:
    1) Contends earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)
    2) Tears down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 2:10)

    IMHO, these debates and discussions don’t decide anything. They are merely an opportunity for us to discuss what we see in the Scriptures. You (and other Calvinists) may believe you are “tearing down arguments” offered by Ben. Ben believes he is doing the same to your arguments and others, such as myself, agree with his points. You are obviously passionate and persistent and have done your homework. But that in and of itself does not make your points exegetical and others eisigetical. Both Ben and William Birch (at thearminian.net) have done equally extensive study and research into this subject and I’ve found them very convincing. In the end, you proclaiming yourself correct carries very little weight (certainly no more than any one else here). Making a long post doesn’t give you any more credibility than me opening up a bunch of links to Arminian sites and copying and pasting them in as my argument. All the points you made in your last post are simply Calvinist dogma and philosophy. Until I see Jesus standing beside you declaring you right, you are merely offering your opinion, and last time I checked, everyone has one of those.

    That said, it’s Ben’s blog. He has a right to do as he pleases and sets the rules. If you’ve ever been to the Crosswalk forums, they have terms of service (TOS) that all users agree to abide by. Ben has, IMHO, respectfully requested certain things of you, and you have not respected his requests. He has every right to delete your post and he loses no integrity by doing so. And it has nothing to do with your arguments. There aren’t any arguments that you are making that haven’t been made before. I’m sure if you simply observed his rules and made shorter posts, they wouldn’t be deleted. I’m sure you’re not the first Calvinist to post on this blog.

    You said this: “So its not disrespectful to make an article about me and then not allow me to respond?”

    And the answer is, no, it’s not disrespectful. The fact is, he did allow you to respond, but he requested that you do so in a particular manner (shorter posts and links to videos rather than embedding them in the post). You had the opportunity to take the higher road, but decided not to honor his requests.

    There is one privilege that Ben cannot take away from you: like everyone else, you have a right to be wrong.

  21. I would humbly challenge you to listen to this detailed exegesis of Romans 9.

    http://mp3.aomin.org/JRW/Romans9.mp3

  22. Can someone with more power than myself stop the troll?

  23. Hello Ben,

    Steven asked:

    “Can someone with more power than myself stop the troll?”

    Ben I have repeatedly stated that “savedbygrace” is a Calvinist troll. His/her every action has proven this to be true.

    You even nicely suggested that he/she have their own blog if they want to write up such long comments. You also told them not to include YouTube and to shorten their posts. He/she has not complied with your requests at all.

    My suggestion is simply, delete all of “savedbygrace’s” comments, prohibit him/her from posting here anymore.

    The one thing a troll does not want is to be eliminated from the discussion. That goes against their pride and also shows their comments to be worthless. So Ben stop the trolling by him/her by deleting all of their posts and prohibiting them from further posting here.

    Ben you did a great job in exposing the errors of Calvinism in your two posts on Washer’s view of election and your direct response to “savedbygrace”. You dealt with the errors in a very logical and civil way. You strongly showed the superiority of Arminian views over the Calvinistic views. But you don’t have time for this troll and others do not appreciate the trolls extremely long comments or total disregard for the requests that you made of him/her.

    Thanks in advance for eliminating the trolls comments and removing the troll.

    Robert

  24. Robert & Steven, you are the greatest hypocrites of them all. Get that Rudi? Or is it only the Calvinist that can’t communicate aright, by your 20th/21st century church standards that deny an absolute truth in favor for a tendency to embrace whatever anyone feels? You know it is a free country!

    It would not surprise me if the author of this article would write about someone and then delete their rebuttal. it reveals the integrity of this site and the inability for arminian theology to stand against the calvinist (aka Christian) truth. Admit defeat and remove my response… oh wait, you already did that… ok, admit defeat and delete all my dialogue leaving only your haphazard response and inconsistent theology so that you can deceive more people with this site… give it some time and you are likely to do this…

    And Robert and Steven reveal the desire for the standard and largely ignorant arminian to reject the Bible in favor of the lie. Bathe in your ignorance then.

    The reason why you have problem with truth is because you love the lie.

  25. Dearest SbG,
    I praise God that Ben has not deleted your second post, even though he did promise to put the one back up he removed if he deemed it appropriate, and even though you have again and again shown compete disregard for his rules for posting! I must admit though I may not agree in every respect of these rules, I believe it is the love of God expressed in me wanting to submit to them ,out of love and respect to Ben who seeks to run this site for the honor and glory of God!

    Your opposing views may cause you not to agree that honors God and therefore you think justified to ignore his rules.

    However as I, with sadness and a heavy heart,shared with you that the major problem with your last long post was the lack of love with which you wrote it.
    I believe you have caused the Calvinist argument far greater damage by that and by your disregard for the rules on this site that I would never remove them. For they are ultimately the greatest argument against Calvinism, by the mere fact of what these doctrines produced in your life !

    I do love you SbG, even though you still are hiding behind a mask and do not want to enter into true communion with me(us)!

    Dearest SbG, I do admit that I do not know the scriptures to such detail as you do. I have never gone to a seminary, most of what I know is not so much by studying the Bible back and forth and trying to fit everything into what I already know, though I know the danger of doing so, when I come across a passage that I do not understand, I am seeking God in prayer and desire to hear from the Holy Spirit what He meant when He wrote it. I do not seek any other source, I want to hear from Him allone. This however does not limit God so He was not able to reveal the meaning of it through someone else, I just do not seek someone else but Him! This I do at all cost, meaning if He in any of these passages reveals to me that even say my Arminian
    understanding is contradicted, then so be it, I want to know Christ for who He really is at all cost. If this means some of my most treasured doctrines are toppled over so be it !
    You see dearest SbG I can recognize your argumentation, because I used to do it , you need to be right ( it is not about wanting or needing to be right, but out of a desire to know Him more that we should be here),I know the feeling, you have stated just above that the people on this site should admit defeat! This is not a debate, it is meant to be iron sharpens iron, we ought to challenge each other with insights of God revealed in His word to each one of us, so that together we may grow not just in head knowledge of Him, but in heart understanding so that our lives will show forth more and more of Christ!

    It is my heart felt desire for you, that the knowledge you have about Christ, would become a knowing Him intimately!

    The words we speak they will reveal
    A heart of true contrition
    Or do we seek to have concealed
    A Pharisees condition

    Chorus:
    With all your heart draw nigh to God
    Until you see His face!
    There you behold the cost of Grace,
    Where Jesus took your Place

    In sincerity of the love of my Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ,
    and only because He first loved me,

    Rudi Kunz

  26. Is it that I believe a lie, or that your theology is unconvincing? Coupled with your character, it’s no wonder I disagree with you.

  27. SBG,

    I did not delete your comment. I unapproved it. I moderate the comments on this site. I don’t do this because I am afraid of debate. I do it because some people do not interact properly on these issues. I have specific blog rules. I have made it very clear to you why I do not want extremely long comments. You have disregarded that. In fact, you have reposted your comments with some snide remarks about my intentions and this site in general. If you repost them again, I will unapproved all of your comments.

    When a person first comments here, that comment awaits approval. Once I approve a comment, that person can then comment without needing to be approved. I had not had the time to review your last comment (though it was obvious you did not adhere to my request to keep further discussion shorter). I glanced at some of it and at some of the comments in response. Those comments suggested that your rhetoric was not appropriate. That is why I unapproved your comment until I could review it further. I still have it and it was not deleted. Unfortunately, I have found that your rhetoric is not appropriate.

    I also made it clear that I was willing to discuss these issues further with you, but in a more focused manner. So it is not as if I told you that you couldn’t comment any further or “defend” yourself. I only asked that you narrow your focus for the reasons I have already described more than once. It is unfortunate that you make assumptions about my intentions. You did the same thing in your comments with some really unfortunate and over the top rhetoric.

    Still, I made it clear to you that I would review your comments when I got the chance and possibly address parts of it. Why don’t you tell me what issues you think are most important to address? Keep to just a few and try to keep your comments concise. If you do that, then we can continue (you can even refer to certain sections of your comments to be addressed, since I still have them).

    However, if you continue to make claims about me and my intentions, without knowing my intentions, then you will no longer be welcomed here. If you continue to disregard my requests about further comments, then you will no longer be welcomed here. You don’t have to agree with how I am running my blog, but you should at least respect my requests (especially as a fellow believer, unless you don’t even consider me a believer). As has been mentioned many times, you have the freedom to start your own blog and run it however you like.

    Also, I would really like it if you read some of the articles and posts I linked to in my post about Washer and in my response to you. It doesn’t seem to me that you have done that, yet you seem to insist that we look at White’s exposition on Rom. 9 (which I have done long ago, along with reading “The Potter’s Freedom”, which I own).

    This goes back to something I mentioned awhile ago, asking you how much you have read from Arminian works. Could you name some books you have read by Arminians? I think this is important considering your claim that Calvinism is so often being misrepresented by me, etc.

    I hope we can continue to discuss these issues in a manageable way, with love and respect for each other, even if we strongly disagree with each other on how to interpret the Bible. I believe you are very wrong about how you interpret Scripture to support Calvinism, but I assume you are trying to approach the Bible as honestly as possible. Please extend to me the same respect.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. SBG,

    After looking some more at some of your comments and rhetoric, you might benefit from a thoughtful reading of these articles:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cage_Stage_Calvinism

    http://www.jacoballee.com/?p=460

    You should also review my blog rules, if you haven’t already:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/important-blog-rules/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  29. I read through SavedByGrace’s loooong comment.

    SBG appeals to use the word “obtain” (lit. “to receive by allotment”) 1 Peter 1:2, and points out the word isn’t used to express a person willingly receiving a thing offered. This doesn’t produce problems for the Arminian view, because we do acknowledge that faith is worked by God in us, but also recognize that what is conferred by God isn’t necessarily done so irresistibly. For instance, the same term is used of Judas, who obtained a part in the ministry (Acts 1:17). To say Judas had no choice in the matter and couldn’t have refused based upon that wording would be quite the logical leap. So to say election is conditioned upon faith -or more specifically upon one receiving the faith that God works in them by His word (cf John 6:45, Romans 10:17) is quite in line with scripture. He argues that Christ can’t have obtained eternal redemption by making redemption possible, but it’s quite evident that one who opens the door for obtainment of a thing to those who are willing to receive it has in fact obtained it for them (by any intelligible vernacular anyway).

    His counter for Ben’s exegesis of Eph 1 is comical: He argues against Ben’s use of verse 13 as part of context because it comes after verse 4 (?). He also declares without argument that the sealing of the Spirit is necessarily permanent, then repeats his oversimplification fallacy for the term “obtained.” Responding to Ben’s exegesis of 1 Tim 4:10 ["God is the Savior of all men (provisionally), but “especially of believers” who have had this universal provision applied to them through faith."] he suggests that savior simply means “preserver” while employing a red herring by asking if Ben is a universalist, when Ben clearly stated that the saving was provisional. He also asserts that believing to obtain salvation and salvation by divine allotment are mutually exclusive, again without argument as to why this would be so, as God could easily choose to allot salvation to those who believe.

    SBG insists Romans 9 is teaching individual election, appealing to Romans 9:6 insisting it has nothing to do with “nations” (a strawman to begin with), but insists it denotes individuals. This falls flat because 9:6 specifically describes one of the groups (“For they are not all Israel”) Paul subsequently uses in his analogous comparison. SBG appeals to the nouns in Romans 9 being singular, apparently not recognizing that singulars are often used in scripture to reflect collective entities.

    He makes a nonsensical assertion about Ben trying to refute the OT with the NT, and tries to deconstruct his own “nations” strawman. He also argues that we’d have the same objection as put forth in verse 19; the catch is that we do believe in divine hardening -which hardening was the basis for that hypothetical objection to begin with. He also insists That Rom 16:13 (“Greet Rufus, elect in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”) talks about individual election, though this actually describes persons who are elect, not how.

    He insists that the term “draw” as it pertains to people in John 12:32 denotes irresistibility because the same term is used for “dragging” people before courts etc, apparently oblivious to the facts that a.) metaphorical language is often employed in scripture, and b.) that people being dragged/pulled/etc by authorities regularly resist. J.P. Holding observes,

    I respect Sproul as a teacher immensely, yet it is clear he has not worked in a prison, as I have! Even the poor, even Paul and Silas, though “compelled” had options to get out of the situation. They could have bitten and scratched their “draggers” or gouged their eyes out. They could have run or fought. Of course that may well have cost them their lives, but then that matches just as well with the sinner fighting off prevenient grace. You do so at the cost of your eternal life. src: http://www.tektonics.org/tulip/ulip.html

    SBG argues that giving precedes coming in John 6:37, which doesn’t address Ben’s argument. He makes the argument,”This is how “All that the Father gives [Christ] will come to [Christ]” He draws them. How many people that are drawn in verse 44 are saved?? ALL OF THEM. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” (v 37)” -which conflates being given to with being drawn to Him. He also insists that being drawn is “interchangeable” with being raised up and believing, conflating the one drawn with the one coming to Christ in John 6:44. One being drawn can come, nothing in the text indicates that he necessarily must. He insists that Ben employs “backwards hermeneutics” to interpret John 6, though offers no argument.

    To Ben’s observation that Jesus prayer in John 17 concerns His disciples SBG can only offer a non-specific appeal to “tendency that Christ gets broad and narrow in His prayer.” When Ben observed that Jesus ultimately did end up praying for the world (that they may believe, vs 21), SBG counters “Jesus doesn’t say that He is not praying for the world and then say that He is praying for the world,” not recognizing that these are simple delineations of the subjects of separate requests. Most amusingly, he asks, “Does Jesus ever ask the Father for something that the Father doesn’t give Him? No.” as some weak justification for an incoherent tirade about Ben making God weak. The prayer, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me” immediately comes to mind.

    He drops the standard proof-texts for perseverance not recognizing the use of general statements of assurance for promises and their exceptions in scripture, ridiculously citing John 10:26-29 -as if apostasy involved “plucking” one’s self (?) from something, which doesn’t even warrant rebuttal.

    SBG complains that provisional atonement doesn’t “fit” with the Levitical priesthood, whatever that means. He also cites Matt 1:21 as proof that Jesus will save His people from their sins, not recognizing the conditional nature of one being grafted into His covenant people. He further complains that Ben makes Christ’s blood weak and ineffective because it leaves some people unredeemed, confusing provisional nature for weakness. To Ben’s question on Titus 2:11, he demonstrates that “all” *can* mean “some of all types” to prove that it must *only* mean that. Lacking context, this is apparently the best he can muster.

    SBG tries to make the case that the Jews couldn’t hear Christ because their father was the devil (and therefore their nature was corrupt); this idea doesn’t conflict with Ben’s argument that the reason they couldn’t hear was because despite God’s working, they resisted Him. God works in us through grace to overcome our nature that we may believe, and so come to Christ to receive life in Him.

    When Ben pointed out that God sometimes may control men’s wills to some extent for some purpose, SBG insists (without argument) that he’s contradicting himself. He appeals to Jer 10:23 with a creative attempt to put words in Ben’s mouth, and yet again without argument insists that Ben’s view contradicts Prov 21:1 as well. To defend compatibilism, he asks, “Have you ever chosen something, while not coerced, that you didn’t want?” Which doesn’t follow, since one’s desires are a component of his will, and not utterly uncontrollable.

    Against Hebrews 2:9, SBG declares, “notice that it was because of the Children have partaken of flesh and blood, not the world,” when the issue being discussed is for whom Christ tasted death, not who partakes of it (IOW, he’s using a red herring). He employs the old canard of “if Christ died for all, all would be saved,” completely overlooking the fact that our position entails provisional atonement. He makes the same error when declaring that if Christ’s death leaves anyone under the power of the devil, that He “really didn’t do anything.” He also appears to make much of atonement for all not being like the animal sacrifices in the OT, which is no difficulty considering the obvious differences that already exist (e.g. repetition vs singularity). SBG cites John 12 & 18 (which have limiting factors in the context), apparently to prove that “world” is also limited in John 12:47 (where there is no such element). He insists we can’t rightly quote 1 Peter 2:24, “Since He didn’t die for you specifically, but rather, some nebulous penalty that really was undefined” and “There are real sins that were in Christ’s body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).” “Sin” and “eternal damnation” seem pretty well-defined to me.

    SBG wildly asserts that Ben believes “it is the free will decision of the flesh that determines if a man would be regenerated!”, failing to recognize the work of grace in freeing man’s naturally enslaved will. He also displays a poor familiarity with the subject matter, e.g., “You seem to think people can prepare themselves? What about prevenient grace?” -as if the workd of grace and preparing one’s heart were strictly singular events.

    When Ben asked for evidence of some distinction between becoming a child of God and becoming a son of God, SBG insists that Ben has a problem of lacking study on regeneration and adoption, but doesn’t get around to explaining how this distinguishes children of God from sons of God. To Ben’s pointing out that the relationship between man and God is personal, SBG counters by conflating a *saving* relationship with a personal relationship. He cites that man is God’s enemy, but fails to recognize that even being an enemy is a relationship one shares with a personal entity, not what amounts to an inanimate object (which fallacy he repeats to establish his fallacious version of “sovereignty” from Isa 10:15)

    He also makes the outright laughable argument, “1) God is sovereign 2) God makes man a little sovereign C: God is no long sovereign” Missing the principle of delegation altogether, which doesn’t affect the authority of the one doing the delegating.

    For John 5:25, SBG contends that the dead hearing Christ and living refers to the future resurrection, ignoring that Christ states “a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

    In response to Ben’s citing Nehemiah 9, SBG claims the verb mashak is Pual (and cites the definitions thereof to disprove Ben’s argument). He’s mistaken: its stem is Qal, which means “to draw (and lift out), drag along, lead along, drag or lead off, draw down” and similar definitions.

    Other statements just border upon complete incoherence, e.g. “I find this quite amazing. You say that its God’s prerogative alone?? Then you make it contingent on man’s free will? This is ridiculous.” (?) Prerogative and contingency are two distinct concepts. He employs a ridiculous series of arguments from silence, e.g. “Does Jesus talk about LFW in John 8:34?”, John 8:43 (“There is no free will in this passage”), and Jer 13:23 (There is no LFW there).” He also declares, “This is the reality that you reject. Not all people are sheep, some are goats.” -when no one is arguing this idea. When Ben pointed out that it’s God who gives us life in response to faith (faith itself doesn’t give us this), SBG accuses him of contradicting John 1:13 for reasons apparently known only to him (since the passage agrees with Ben’s statement, that it’s God who gives us the new birth). He then throws a complete temper-tantrum, going on to baselessly accuse Ben of contradictory logic and “rank semi-pelagianism.” He curiously insists that Ben turns into a “pelagian” when he explains John 5:41-45, but never explains how his accusation would even make sense or how the passage would contradict Arminian theology. He makes numerous other assertions, e.g. Ben “stretching” or not understanding passages such as Isa 56, Lev 16, 1 Cor. 2:14, Gal 2:20 all without backing. Other bizarre leaps of logic include citing Psalm 51:5 to prove man is “condemnable in the womb” (?).

    He asserts that Ben’s problem with Calvinism isn’t because of evil, but because of God. SBG apparently thinks he has magical powers to determine why people believe what they do. So yeah. He insists Ben is painting Calvinism in a way that many would disagree with, but to Calvinists who hold to exhaustive determinism, he’s merely showing where the logic inevitably leads.

    A lot of nothing mostly. Same old fallacies and contrived silliness we’ve seen before mixed with an unhealthily large dose of pompous put-downs.

  30. In response to Ben’s citing Nehemiah 9, SBG claims the verb mashak is Pual (and cites the definitions thereof to disprove Ben’s argument). He’s mistaken: its stem is Qal, which means “to draw (and lift out), drag along, lead along, drag or lead off, draw down” and similar definitions.

    SBG really misses the point here anyway. I never made any reference to the Masoretic text. The point was that in the LXX (the Greek translation of the OT), the word used is the same as the Greek word for “draw” in John 6 and 12. This means that the translaters of the LXX did not see the Greek word for “draw” as an irresitible dragging (the same word used in John 6 and 12). They used it in the context of resistible drawing. That ruins the argument that the word can only be used of irresistible dragging.

  31. Excellent reply. I enjoyed reading this. Calvinism is wrong!!!

  32. I was a Calvinist before. I was really convinced by my pastor that Calvinism is THE theology of the Bible. As a new Christian, just new in the Bible, I really found his arguments very convincing. I was taught that Arminianism is wrong and to be avoided like the plague.

    I regularly visit this site. It’s in my favorites. If only I knew these arguments before, I would never have swallowed Calvinism hook, line and sinker.

    I was a Calvinist but deep inside I seriously questioned God’s character and nature. I said with a very heavy heart: “We can’t do anything about that. That’s just the way it is. God is like that. I’ll just have to accept it and live with it. That’s the teaching of the Bible.”

  33. I would like to say that I’ve thoroughly appreciated the resources available at this blog and others, so thank you. I have always leaned Arminian, even before I ever explored the issue of election from the other side (mainly because I wanted to know what the Bible taught about perseverance, too).
    I’m no great exegete, but I do love searching out the truth of matters in the Bible, and I must say that the work you referenced by Mr Hamilton about the meaning behind being ‘sheep’ in the gospel of John has been tremendously helpful. It’s wonderful how difficult parts of Scripture seem to just sort of fall into place as you study!

  34. Yvonne,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I am so glad you found that article helpful. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him and His truth.

    Ben

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