Brian Abasciano addresses this oft repeated Calvinist argument against conditional salvation here:
This provides the initial definition of ‘believe’ by equating it with ‘receive.’ When we accept a gift, whether tangible or intangible, we thereby demonstrate our confidence in its reality and trustworthiness. We make it part of our own possessions. By being so received, Jesus gives to those who receive him a right to membership in the family of God.
‘Become’ indicates clearly that people are not the spiritual children of God by natural birth, for we cannot become what we already are. This verb implies a change of nature. The word children (tekna) is parallel to the Scottish bairns– “born ones.” It emphasizes the vital origin and is used as a term of endearment (cf. Luke 15:31). Believers are God’s ‘little ones,’ related to him by birth.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, pg. 32)
The implications are obvious. The new birth is received by faith and we become God’s children through faith. John 1:12 simply cannot be made to comport with the Calvinist claim that regeneration precedes faith. Indeed, it proves that contention false.
Back in 2010 J.C. Thibodaux started what would eventually become a four part series on Romans 9, with special focus on the problems inherent in the typical Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9. This short series was slow going as it did not conclude until 2012. For that reason it can be hard to follow the series by just looking through the site. Since it is a very good and concise critique of the typical Calvinist approach to Romans 9 as a proof-text for unconditional election, and because these posts continue to get a lot of traffic, I thought it would be good to highlight them together in one post:
Since this passage often comes up in discussions of election and is often put forward as evidence for the Calvinist view, I thought I would share this brief Q & A from the ??Questions?? page,
Question: Can you tell me how you view 2Th 2:13? Thanks.
Answer: That passage comes up as supporting Calvinism some times, but I think a careful reading of the language supports Arminianism better than Calvinism (as is so often the case). First, Paul says that they were “chosen” through…belief in the truth. That would most naturally be understood as faith being the means through which they were chosen (just as we are saved by grace through faith). So basically, we have a passage that says they were chosen “through faith” which is exactly what Arminianism claims, and is counter to the Calvinist view that we are chosen unto faith.
Now Paul also says they were chosen through sanctification, but we know that sanctification and the reception of the Spirit that sanctifies us is also by faith in Scripture (Acts 26:18; Gal. 3:2, 5, 14). We are “set apart” to God and marked out as belonging to Him through the reception of the Spirit of promise, and all of this is through faith.
The other issue is “from the beginning” in this passage, which probably has reference to the beginning of Paul’s ministry among the Thessalonians (there is no reason to take it as a reference to eternity or the beginning of time as Calvinists often do). It would be like saying. “from the very start, you were receptive to God’s working among you, receiving God’s salvation and becoming His people through faith and the sanctification of the Spirit.” There is also a textual variant issue at play in this passage which has “chosen as first fruits” rather than “from the beginning” here, which might convey the same basic idea of them being the first to embrace the Gospel in Paul’s ministry in that area.
Regrets are problematic in determinism as they often presuppose belief in free will (though that is not necessarily true of all regrets). I touched on this same topic long ago in this post: Struggling With Regrets. Another related post I hope to expound on in more detail sometime soon is Sacrifice and the Nature of Human Freedom. A great article that touches on some of these issues and many others with regards to the presuppositions inherent in a coherent reading of Scripture is Glen Shellrude’s Calvinism and Problematic Readings of New Testament Texts, Or Why I Am Not A Calvinist.
David Allen Soundly Refutes John Piper’s View on Limited Atonement and the Genuine Offer of the Gospel