Interpretation · Doctrinal · Calvinism

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 10 – Romans 9:16

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the third portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God gave to the man Jesus the spirit without limit. God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to according to Romans 9:16 John 1:12-13.

My friend is trying to teach me that God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to, and he refers to Romans 9:16 to support this claim.

So let’s read the passage and try to understand his point.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Ok. I may be a bit daft, but I am not sure where faith is referred to in this verse, unless faith is the “it” at the start of the verse.

So what is “it”?

Let’s consider the immediate context.

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
Romans 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

So the “it” in Romans 9:16 reaches back to the question posed in verse 14 – that is “Is there injustice on God’s part?” Faith doesn’t seem to be referred to here. As a matter of fact, this chapter does not address faith until verse 30, (14 verses later!) where it appears that the gentiles received a righteousness by faith. Verse 32 speaks of the Jews not attaining righteousness by faith, but by seeking to attain it by works. This is the only two references to faith in the chapter, and it doesn’t appear to address God’s willingness or reluctance to provide faith to anyone.

Oh, and the subject of faith (or belief) was last referred to in Romans 6:8, speaking of the resurrection, but not of God restricting faith or belief from anyone.

I am not sure why he referred to this verse to teach me that God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to. Let’s see if the next set of verses in John 1 help us understand his thoughts.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Philippians 2:13

A few weeks back, I published the first of a series of posts offering 60 second video discussions on alternatives to the popular Calvinistic teaching in our churches these days.

The videos were provided by Dr. Leighton Flowers, and addressed a number of topics that related to Calvinism and it’s resultant effects on the believer.

Since then I have provided a few additional videos describing different aspects of a provisionalist perspective on the Scriptures.

The following video supply’s a good review of Philippians 2:13 and is offered to you for your consideration.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 9 – John 6:65

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

This is another favorite verse of the theologically deterministic thinking folks, Calvin’s disciples that is.

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

Why? Why did Jesus tell them that no man can come to Him unless it is granted him by the Father? Let’s take a few moments to check the context.

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
John 6:61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?
John 6:62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Jesus had just finished teaching a hard saying, that is that He was the bread of Life. In verse 51, Jesus equates Himself with the true manna, and instructs those who would live forever to eat of this bread. This is a very very hard saying for a good Jew to understand, since it may imply cannibalism.

Fun with words: cannibal - languagePRO

Of course the Lord meant it spiritually, and this was a genius move on the Lords method of winnowing out the ones who were simply following for the wrong reasons.

Are you following for the sake of the food (and miracles)? Or are you following because I am the true Deliverer, even if my message seems hard or difficult?

The Jews were in a tizzy, taking the message literally.

There are two audiences in this passage – the literalists – those who question the ability to eat of the Messiah’s actual flesh (WOW) and those who understand the message as a symbolic or spiritual message. Note that verse 60 opens the immediate context, where the disciples speak of the “hard saying” The message is the topic!

Jesus responds, asking if they are going to take offence at the message. After the bread message, Jesus actually warns them of more difficult saying that will be coming, such as in verse 62, speaking of His ascension. Things weren’t going to get easier for those who sought to follow Him!

Verse 63 is a defining verse. My very first preaching in a church was based on this passage, and looking back, I had it all messed up. Nevertheless, my understanding now is as follows.

  • The Spirit gives life. (The Spirit doesn’t force life)
  • The flesh is no help (Eating the body of the Messiah is not the message!)
  • The words that Jesus spoke are spirit and life. Jesus, in giving the message, was providing the spirit of the message and was the method the Father was using to bring men to the Messiah and life.

Now to our supposed proof passage.

.. “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Jesus is speaking of the reception of the words He provides to the masses, not of some secret mysterious will that is conjured up in the minds of some theologians.

Lets consider the action of the Father in this verse. The one coming is granted by the Father. It seemed a funny word to use in this translation, but after reviewing some study books, found it is synonymous with “enabled”. The same idea of the Father enabling the one coming is similar in our previous post on John 6:44.

Enable / Compel

There is a difference.

To be enabled does not equate with to be compelled. I can enable my children to attend a function by inviting them, providing times and addresses and durations for the event. Many may come, but one may not come. Enabling my child to attend does not compel them, or force them to come to the function.

So lets wrap up some of our thoughts. The words of Jesus are the focus, and the words of Jesus include the enabling of those coming. Peter admitted to understanding this when challenged if they will leave the Messiah. He answered – “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The gospel is the invitation. The words of Jesus is the life giving message. The message was believed, and Peter (along with most of the remaining disciples) knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God. This belief was a result of hearing the message Jesus preached and taught.

As an aside, for my friends who are leaning in the deterministic camp, consider that Jesus chose Judas (vs 6:70), yet was the very one that betrayed the Lord, that fell from grace. That is if he ever walked in grace at all! How is it that the one chosen should be the one who betrays? This is confusing if the choices were made before the foundation of the world!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 8 – John 6:44

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

This post will consider what many Calvinist’s may consider their most powerful proof text. I know when I was deep into this philosophy, this was my go-to text to prove that natural, fallen man would not come to the Father, unless the Father quickened him first.

John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

One of the stronger arguments for this passage, from a Calvinist standpoint is the use of the term draw in the passage. Many would suggest that the term actually is synonymous with dragging, or compelling. If this is accurate, then this needs to be admitted to and we may need to reconsider our outlook on this topic.

There are a few verses that include this word that may support the drag/compel idea

Acts 16:19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
Acts 21:30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut.
James 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

Each of the above verses translates our term as “drag”. Let’s continue with Strong’s definition.

ἑλκύωhelkýō, hel-koo’-o; probably akin to G138; to drag (literally or figuratively):—draw. Compare G1667.

Strongs provides some support for the term to by synonymous with “drag”.

One more resource – let’s consider Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words for a bit of enlightenment on this term “Draw”

“to draw,” differs from suro, as “drawing” does from violent “dragging.” It is used of “drawing” a net, Jhn 21:611 (cp. No. 1, in ver. 8); Trench remarks, “At vv. 6 and 11helko (or helkuo) is used; for there a drawing of the net to a certain point is intended; by the disciples to themselves in the ship, by Peter to himself upon the shore. But at ver. 8 helko gives place to suro: for nothing is there intended but the dragging of the net, which had been fastened to the ship, after it through the water” (Syn., xxi).

This less violent significance, usually present in helko, but always absent from suro, is seen in the metaphorical use of helko, to signify “drawing” by inward power, by Divine impulse, Jhn 6:4412:32. So in the Sept., e.g., Sgs 1:4Jer 31:3, “with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It is used of a more vigorous action, in Jhn 18:10, of “drawing” a sword; in Act 16:1921:30, of forcibly “drawing” men to or from a place; so in Jam 2:6, AV, “draw,” RV, “drag.”

Notice that Vines describes this drawing as “drawing by inward power, by divine impulse”, and links two verses using this word in the gospel of John. This is important since it is the same author, the same book and the same speaker. But let’s move on with our consideration of John 6:44 before we consider the implications John 12:32.

Consider that the verse doesn’t state “No man comes” but that “no man CAN come”. The drawing of God the Father gives ability to the one coming. It does not state “No man will come…” In short, it is similar to a my sending out invitations to 100 folks in my neighborhood to a party on Saturday. All 100 people have been invited and they can come. Will all 100 people come? Maybe. Maybe not. The invite simply gives them the ability, it does not produce the outcome, it does not necessarily impact the will of the invited. When we place the emphasis on the term “draws”, without considering the intent of the drawing, we can come up with a deterministic slant to the verse.

Is this the message Jesus is giving to the crowds?

Lets check out the context of this passage to get a bit bigger view of the teaching the Lord gave to the crowd on that day.

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–

Jesus repeats the condition of the one who comes to the Father, speaking of all being taught of God, and that those who have heard and learned, are the ones who actually come to the Father. Those that actually have come to the Father have exercised their will by listening and learning (note past tense!) from the Father.

So, the Father draws those to give them ability to come, and yet there is the decision to hear and learn that is required in the ones who come. (They actually read the invite and decide to come to the party!)

But wait – there is more!

Remember when Vines connected the term draw from John 6:44 with John 12:32? This becomes a bit of a problem for those who would demand that it should be understood as a dragging that is irresistible, that cannot be refused.

Remember that those who teach of a deterministic salvation would demand that God determines who is saved and who is eternally lost. That God chooses who is “dragged” into the Kingdom, using John 6:44 as a proof text.

Fair enough, for if that is true, that is that the term is to be understood as a literal “dragging”, we have great news, for the Lord used the same term in John 12:32.

Let’s read it the way our Calvinist friends understand the term “draw”.

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will “irresistibly drag” all people to myself.”

Does this not tells us that all people will be irresistibly dragged into the Kingdom, that all people have been chosen to be included in the salvation provided by Jesus death on the cross.

Simple deductive reasoning of these two verses, using the Calvinistic supplied definition of “draw” as “drag”, produces the result that God chooses everyone that has ever had a heartbeat.

My point is – using one or two verses to support a teaching may be a very unwise approach for the believer. There are many teachings in the church nowadays due to the emphasis on a few well chosen verses.

Regarding John 6:44, my personal thoughts are that we have a living God that is active in our lives before we decide to follow Him. He sends “the invite” allowing us to decide for Him. He has provided the Savior for our forgiveness and justification, the Spirit of God to comfort and direct us, and the love of the Father to woo us to His side. His patience and mercy are everlasting, and His grace is abounding towards us.

To consider the drawing as dragging cheapens the invite.

I have never “dragged” folks to my party and found that they ever had a good time. I imagine they would just look at me and wander off, shaking their head.

No, the very act of love that the Lord displayed for all is the greatest of reasons to accept the invite. Forcing an acceptance implies that the singular greatest act of love was not quite enough.

Thanks for taking the time to read and consider. I would appreciate a chance to honestly discuss this verse and topic, and look forward to an edifying discussion.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Free Will & God’s Soveriegnty

The big debate.

Free will and God’s sovereignty.

So many straw men are set up, giving both sides enemies to argue with, yet to no resolve.

The following clip may give you something to consider in relation to the debate.

The following 10 minute clip addresses some claims of a Calvinist and the response was helpful. I hope you find it informative, or challenging, depending on your position. Take a few moments to consider the question with Dr. Flowers.

Thanks for joining me in this series on Calvinism.

Years back I came out of this system of thought. I am grateful for the blessings of a loving God that has expressed His love lavishly, beyond human comprehension.


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Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – The Inescapable Love of God

Sometimes I get confused with all the details, and need to pull back and look at the forest instead of the trees.

Such is the case in this post. As some of you may recognize if you follow my blog, I have dipped into the theistic determinist discussion of soteriology. Wow Carl – bring it down a bit eh? What did you just say?

Calvinism. Did God choose certain people to be saved and damn all the rest?

It is a logic that seems to be flawless, and I spent close to a decade in it until I snapped. It was becoming more and more confirmed in my mind until it wasn’t. I should not have considered what some other passages in the Word might be saying.

But back to the forest idea.

Recently I picked up a book titled “The Inescapable Love of God”, by Thomas Talbott, and within the first 1/4 of the book, found three general propositions that are contradictory.

Let me share them with you. This information is found in pages 43 – 45 of the aforementioned book, along with a few verses that are used to support the statement.

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself.
    • 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Romans 11:32, Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:22, 3:31-33
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world.
    • Ephesians 1:11, Job 42:2, Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 46:10b & 11b
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.
    • Matthew 25:46, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, & Ephesians 5:5

These three propositions cannot seemingly exist together. With three propositions together creating a contradiction, it became necessary to strike out one proposition to provide the basis of one of three historically accepted Christian theologies. This is the intent of the following three sections.

Calvinism

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world.
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

Let’s strike out the first proposition.

The remaining two propositions provide the basis for the logical framework of Calvinism. This particular thinking arose with St Augustine, (354 430 AD). My understanding is that this teaching existed previous to the Augustine’s promotion of it within the church, but was within a Persian religion called Manichaeism. Christianity had not previously taught the deterministic philosophy associated with this religion. That is, until St Augustine popularized it.

God has the power to save all, but has decided to choose a limited number of souls to save in order to bring greater glory to Himself.

In this philosophy, God’s power and justice are emphasized but it is not within His redemptive love to reconcile all sinners to Himself.

Summary statement – God’s love is questioned

Arminianism

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

This time, let us strike out the second proposition

This has been my default position, except for a decade of Calvinism beginning in the late 90’s. I simply ignored the aspect that Arminianism implies a restriction of God’s power in the plan of salvation. Of course my teachers would not emphasize (or mention) this weakness, so my ignorance was well founded, but still without excuse.

Arminianism is a teaching that was somewhat codified by Jacobus Arminius followers. Jacobus was a student of Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza, and in his study, rejected Calvin’s theology. Arminius and his followers taught that God loves all, but has granted free will to His creation, giving His created beings choice. This choice impacts God’s ability to save, (and therefore reflects on His power).

In this philosophy, God’s love and justice are emphasized but it is not within His redemptive power to reconcile all sinners to Himself.

Summary statement – God’s power is questioned

Universal Reconciliation (UR)

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

This time, let us strike out the third proposition

UR is a teaching I had always rejected assuming there was no justification from the Word to consider it. I was surprised to hear a claim from a teacher I respect, that in the first four centuries of the New Testament church, a majority of theological schools leaned to this doctrine. Origen, as far as I can tell, was a major proponent of this teaching in the first century.

UR implies that God’s holiness is limited, a holiness that demands eternal suffering in hell for sinful acts performed against Him. UR teaching does not reject the concept of punishment after death, but the eternality of it. UR teaches of judgement after death, but that hell has an exit door to it.

I know, I know – Scripture doesn’t teach that Hitler could leave hell after a period of time! That is and has been my response my entire Christian life. This is because I only listened to the one who stated their case first!

Proverbs 18:17

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

But as I have mentioned in my purpose for this blog, it is important to at least consider other Christian teachings, to test them and understand their scriptural basis, if any. Not testing a teaching is a blindness we should not allow.

In this philosophy, God’s will and power are emphasized but it is not His redemptive purpose to punish sinners eternally in hell.

Summary statement – God’s holiness is questioned

Conclusion

The three philosophies are supplied here as a 30,000 foot overview, immensely simplified. As stated in the introduction, the intent is to pull away from the details and try to get a general overview of three positions. I am currently looking into UR since I have not spent any time in studying it, and have considered the other two positions earlier in my faith.

I hope this post will generate edifying discussion and I look forward to others providing assistance in my research of all three philosophies.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 7 – 1 Corinthians 2:14

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

My friend continues with his verse list, intending (I believe) to supply a volume of verses with seemingly obvious messages that support his teaching of Calvinism.

The next verse we are to consider is a verse that Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, and when considered in the larger context, may not have the intended effect my friend assumes. But lets read the verse before we go any further.

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

Lets consider the larger context. Paul speaks of wisdom in the beginning of this chapter to the most carnal and foolish saints of all his church plants.

1 Corinthians 2:6

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.

Who would consider the church Paul is addressing to be mature? Is that something anyone reading may argue, that the Corinthian church, or even the bulk of individuals in the church were mature? Could Paul be implying the following message to his childish church?

Yet among the mature (but not you guys!) we do impart wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:7

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

When did you impart this secret and hidden wisdom Paul? Did you preach this secret and hidden wisdom as part of the gospel message to those lost Corinthians? It seems in the beginning of chapter 2, Paul writes he proclaimed the testimony of God without lofty speech or wisdom, but with only one message – Jesus Christ crucified.

In other words, he preached the gospel to these Corinthians at the start. He did not disciple them. He preached to them! Discipling was to come later!

1 Corinthians 2:10

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

God reveals the deeper wisdom through the Spirit, and as believers in the Messiah, the Corinthians had no excuse to ignore the deeper things as they sought to follow after God as dear children. God’s spirit, who lives in the believer, is willing (and able) to communicate this wisdom if the believer is open and willing. Alas, it appears the Corinthians may not have been willing. Alas, they may be acting like a natural man – Yes, it appears a believer may act as a natural/carnal man.

1 Corinthians 3:1

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

Brothers are addressed as babes in Christ. Not mature. Not ready for the deep things of God.

So where does this lead us to.

Paul is saying that the things of God in verse 14 is a discipleship issue, not a salvation issue. The Corinthians were believers, and yet not mature. The context of chapter 2 is of wisdom for the mature. The natural man, whom the Corinthians are acting like, cannot understand the deep mysteries of God This is the Corinthians responsibility – that is to receive the wisdom of God in their following Christ.

For the natural unregenerate man, the responsibility is not understanding the deep things of God, or the hidden wisdom of God. It is to repent and believe the gospel. In so doing, the the lost man finds life in the Son.

Let’s get things ordered in a chronological manner, for our God is a God of order.

This I believe is the context of the passage.

But even with this overview, my friend may argue that I am being too general, missing the point or provide some other reason to argue. Fair enough. But what of it? Does the verse, on it’s own teach of the inability of the lost to decide for Christ? Let’s see.

My friend speaks often of the natural man not accepting the things of God because he is dead in sins. Ooops I mixed two verses there – I’m sorry. Let’s try this again

The natural man doesn’t accept the things of God because they are foolishness. The natural man hears the message, makes a judgement on the message and does not accept it. Does the verse say that he cannot accept it? Not yet at least. It seems the natural man’s inability isn’t described so much as his poor decision making skills.

But Carl, the very next clause in the verse states that he is not able to understand the things of the spirit. Is that because he is dead in sins (Oops – did it again!) I mean because he is not spiritual. Yes. of course!

So where does this passage teach that the natural man always refuses to believe the gospel? Yes, he decides (intellectually) against the message, and yes, he cannot understand the spiritual things of God. This seems clear. What is still unclear is where this verse states that the lost can not repent and believe the gospel.

If only Paul had added, “and he can not believe the gospel from the heart and he can not voice his confession unless God first regenerates him”

Let’s try the passage the way I think my friend understands it, (with the italicized portions added to hopefully supply clarity on my friends behalf).

The natural person does not accept the gospel the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand the gospel them because they are spiritually discerned, and he cannot believe the gospel from the heart and he can not voice his confession unless God first regenerates him.

OK so where does this lead us now.

Paul is speaking to a carnal immature church, believers that had not progressed, true saints according to the opening verses of the letter. Yet he delves into speaking of a wisdom that is for the mature, and that the natural man doesn’t accept or understand.

But that simply makes sense. The sinner needs to believe in order to have the spirit of God in their life, in order to seek out and accept the deep things, the wisdom of God intended for the mature.

When I became a believer at approx. 9:30 pm on Feb 19 1981, I repented of my sins and trusted the Lord Jesus for my salvation.

  • Did I (as a natural man) accept the things of the Spirit of God, that wisdom that is imparted to the mature (vs 6), the secret and hidden wisdom of God (vs 7)?
    • Of course not. I needed the gospel of Jesus, the milk of the word that gives life to those who believe. The wisdom that is imparted to the mature is for the mature. I was a baby! (Kinda like them darn Corinthians!)
  • Was I (as a natural man) able to understand the wisdom that is imparted to the mature (vs 6), the secret and hidden wisdom of God (vs 7)?
    • Obviously not, but I was alive once I believed! For the next four decades I sought to understand the wisdom for the mature, the secret and hidden wisdom of God, through study of the scriptures, hearing God’s direction and learning from other believers!
    • I just don’t see the sinners passage into life to be dependent on knowing the secret and hidden wisdom God intends for the mature.

So, I am not convinced this passage supplies a solid argument for the inability of the sinner to decide to believe. But, my friend supplies a plentitude of verses that I will continue to look through. We will see!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 6 – Romans 9:15, 18

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

Romans 9:15 – For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

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

This set of two texts, as proof texts for individual election are very powerful if provided without the general context. All those of the reformed inclination focus on these verses and seem to give more weight than any other verse or set of verses that might temper or provide guidance in the overall teaching of the New Testament.

As reading this set of verses in Romans 9, I have suggested a corporate reading of the text. One way to consider this viewpoint is in the following “picture”

A king wished to be entertained by a singing group, and called upon a nearby town to provide a singing group. All the townspeople had an opportunity to join the singing group, and eventually, one month before the appearance before the king, a group was established.

Of course, as the day of appearing before the king grew near, an occasional singer may fall sick, choose to drop out or simply give up. Also during this time, those within the town have changed their mind and requested to join the group. In the kings invitation, the stipulated requirement was to provide the choir, not specific people to make up the singing group.

In front of the king, on that fateful day, the choir sang before him and the invitation to perform in front of the king was a success. Specific townsfolk decided (willfully or otherwise) to either join or ignore the opportunity. But the calling (invite) was for a singing group. Specific people in the group still retained the freedom the join or abandon the opportunity, yet the calling of the singing group was complete.

As you read through that feeble attempt to explain my understanding, there will be those who find fault in the picture. That is to be expected, since I (as all others) are looking through a glass darkly. I do not want to imply this is the only way to understand Romans 9, as a text on its own.

Yet, in the larger context of Romans 9-11, I find passages that have a very inclusionary feel about the gospel.

Rom 3 has clearly stated that

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God

Pauls theological teaching on the gospel of God comes t a close with Romans 22 and immediately prior to the praise Paul beaks into of the inestimable riches, wisdom and knowledge of God, he makes the following summary statement.

The supposed calling of a specific individual election to salvation, prior to the foundation of the world seems to be left behind in this summary statement.

How could Paul, in giving so strong of an argument convining his readers of the sinfulness of all in Romans 3, and continuing with the all inclusive language of God consigning all to disobedience in verse 32, then immediately restrict His ability to have mercy on only a subset of the all?

Romans 11:32 tells us of the intent of God consigning all to disobedience. He desires to have mercy on all.

Following are a number of translations for the reader to consider of Romans 11:32, in order to quell any doubt as to the intent of the apostle

KJV
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

NKJV

For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

ESV

For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

RSV

For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

NIV

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Thanks for dropping by.

As many who read this bIog may know I have spent many of the days of my pilgrimage in dwelling on specific passages that seem to support my thinking. I spent many years rejecting any teaching (or passage) that seemed to challenge a specific belief. I found I wanted to indoctrinate others to find support for my own faith, as opposed to simply seeking a balanced view of the Scripture, not emphasizing one portion of the Word over another. This is far more difficult than it may seem, and although I believe my intentions are good, my skill level at navigating through this effort is far inferior to many who may read this blog.

As always, your comments are appreciated and will be considered as they are delivered. Thanks again, and may your day be blessed



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 5 – Romans 9:16

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy

This is the big one! The verse that seems to answer all questions when it comes to determinism, a lynchpin in the Calvinistic understanding of the sovereignty of God. When the topic of free will comes up in relation to soteriology, Romans 9 seems to be the passage used to defeat all arguments. I am not convinced this is so.

First A Plea

I realize that some may read this and will immediately discount my thoughts. That is expected. When I taught the “doctrines of grace” I too discounted all who challenged me. Romans 9-11 is considered the hotbed of Calvinism. I make absolutely no claim to resolve the debate of it’s interpretation, but only to supply an alternate perspective to the deterministic approach.

For those who refuse to consider any alternate teaching, they themselves have set themselves up to be the arbiters of truth, judging others as opposed to understanding another position and showing grace to others.

They may be completely convinced of their position, and of that, I salute their arrival. For myself, I previously lived a life of “superior” knowledge, looking down on others and their thoughts. (Romans 1:22) Out of that life attitude, I offended, judged, tore down, and condemned many that were walking a better Christian life than myself. (Galations 5:15)

I readily admit that it is difficult to consider a differing opinion, since it opens the reader up to admitting an error. Admitting error is often called repentance in the Body of Christ, and is to be celebrated.

It is important to remember that the Christian life is Christ, that Christianity is not principally a teaching (John 5:39) but a Person, a Person that has been raised from the dead. My second birth occurred due to my repentance of sin and faith in the One who had the right to be my Judge, and yet He sacrificed Himself for a lost sinner. This simple truth has set me free. He is full of grace to the ones who reject Him, revile Him and run from Him.

Back to Verse 16

Who is receiving the mercy? This, in my opinion, is the crux of the matter. Does this passage refer to individuals or nations, that is corporate entities?

This passage is dependent on the context and hinges on a phrase found in Exodus 33:19. Let me try to recount the context.

Exodus 32, Moses is on Mount Sinai, with the children of Israel below, beginning to grumble. During the time on the mount, the Lord informs Moses of the sin of Israel in worshipping the golden calf. The Lord tells Moses to leave Him alone in order that the children of Israel may be consumed.

Moses goes into intermediary mode, (forgoing the potential honor of his own nation from his loins), and reminds the Lord of His promises to the fathers. The Lord relents of His consuming judgement upon His nation, His very own people. Yet judgement came upon certain individuals – 3,000 died at the hand of the Levites.

Exodus 33 Moses receives a command to leave Sinai and head to the promised land. Moses needs assistance in this huge effort of leading the nation of Israel, His people to the promised land. He needs God’s presence with him on this assignment.

Moses was given the promise of God’s presence to go with him and to give him rest. Moses pushes, and makes his demand – If you do not go up with US, do not lead US up from here. He had been given the promise of God’s presence, but Moses sought the presence of God for the nation, the people of God.

God promises His presence for the nation, and then Moses asked to see His glory.

The Lord states

Exodus 33:19

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Let’s think about the context. Moses had found favor in the sight of the Lord. (Ex 33:17) The nation of Israel had definitely not found favor, but had rebelled and sinned against the One who delivered them.

It seems this phrase

And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

is referring to the nation of Israel, and not an individual, since God’s relationship with Moses had been defined earlier in the passage.

Whoa Carl – that is such a tenuous statement. My Calvinistic teaching demands that the mercy shown in this context is on individuals, and not a corporate mercy. This cannot be the correct interpretation, since it conflicts with my theology!

No comment. Lets continue.

Malachi 1:2-3

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob

but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”

I see the verses above defining the one who is loved as being the corporate entity of the nation of Israel, as opposed to a singular person. Although the passage states that “Esau” was hated, it is the nation of Edom that is referred to in the expression of the hatred. Esau was long gone and his fate had been sealed by this time. But the prophet speaks of a national disaster that befell the nation of Edom, when he defines the “hatred” the Lord has for Esau. Jacob, meanwhile was back in the land and still in existence by the time of Malachi. Surely the nation of Israel was loved by God.

Back to Romans 9:16. With this background and understanding, the mercy spoken of in Exodus 33 was being shown to a nation that had sinned greatly in front of the Lord. His people had rejected Him as He sought to offer His covenant to them.

Is there not a parallel with the condition Paul was in the midst of? The physical nation of Israel was predominantly rejecting the new covenant, just like they rejected the covenant at Sinai.

The very promises of God were being questioned, in the midst of the nation rejecting the opportunity. And Paul was answering these challenges by using verses specifically chosen that define the mercy of God on a corporate entity. The nation of Israel had many blessings as defined in 9:2- 3.

As I mentioned earlier, I am supplying an alternate framework to consider the Romans 9-11 passage, which makes sense to me. Since the name of this blog is “Considering the Bible” and not “I have all truth”, this is offered for your consideration, and not blind obedience!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 4 – Psalm 14:1-3

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the first portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

You are always using Human reasoning instead of scripture. God can change and has to change a person’s will to be saved. Ezekiel 36:26 John 3:3-8 Romans 3:10-12 Psalms 14:1-3 even though you think he can’t interfere with natural man’s will and someone will have to tell me how one person believes the Gospel the true gospel that is and another doesn’t. No freewill advocate can give me an answer. They ignore that question.

Psalm 14:1-3

Psalm 14:1 – To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
Psalm 14:2 – The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
Psalm 14:3 – They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

This passage is attributed to David, very likely during the persecution of King Saul, or the rebellion of his son Absalom. It is a dark day for David, no matter what, and the psalm expresses his utter despair, and his expectation of the Lord’s deliverance.

It is interesting that David does not say “everyone born says in his heart, “There is no God….” Nope – David has a specific type of person in mind, a fool. This passage my friend has supplied, describes a portion of humanity from David’s perspective. As we considered in our previous post, the Apostle Paul applies this passage to all, (calling us all fools!) yet even the universality of sin does not support my friends contention that a man cannot respond to the grace of God.

Verse 2 speaks of “the children of men”. This moves the reader from considering the category of fools, to that of all humanity.

And yet we have a number of instances in the Word of those who are “devout”.

A good example of the ability of a lost person to respond to God is found in Acts 10, where Peter is told to visit with a dirty Roman centurion. But wait a minute Carl. This fella Cornelius, in verse 2, is called “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people and prayed continually to God.” He was obedient to the vision, (whereas Peter had to be shown his vision 3 times!)

What a terrific story, and upon reading it, it seems that Cornelius was seeking to hear and understand, and it was Peter that was a bit reluctant to obey. So backwards to what we should be like.

Nevertheless, Psalms 14 speaks of a person that is corrupt, does bad things, does not do good things, who turns aside, and has become corrupt. (By the way, if this fool has always been against God, what does it mean when he say he turned aside? That he has become corrupt? Could the one described have been seeking God, in some way previously, and has since “turned aside”, has “become corrupt”?)

This passage describes fools, (and the rest of us). It might not be comfortable to hear it, but hear it we must.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses my friend supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 3 – Romans 3:10-12

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the first portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

You are always using Human reasoning instead of scripture. God can change and has to change a person’s will to be saved. Ezekiel 36:26 John 3:3-8 Romans 3:10-12 Psalms 14:1-3 even though you think he can’t interfere with natural man’s will and someone will have to tell me how one person believes the Gospel the true gospel that is and another doesn’t. No freewill advocate can give me an answer. They ignore that question.

Romans 3:10-12

The next passage my friend brings to the table to support his theology is Romans 3:10-12. Such a famous set of verses describing the fallen state of man, and the universality of sin in the human race.

Romans 3:10-12

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

In Romans 1 Paul is describing the Gentile world and their wretchedness in front of God, and in chapter 2, he continues with descriptions of sinfulness. By the time he gets to Romans 3:23, he has made his point. All have sinned, both Gentile and Jew.

Remember the problem that Paul was addressing in the letter to the Romans was the division between Jews and Gentiles within the body, how the Jews were acting self righteous and the Gentiles seemingly took too many liberalities. Division was rampant, and we all know how Paul felt about division!

Could the passage be chosen by Paul in order to level the playing field of the different parties reading it? As we say in Texas, all y’all are sinners. All y’all are in the same bucket!

It doesn’t seem to address the sinners abilities to repent, only that they are sinners through and through, and that they have no power to redeem themselves.

Let me try to explain my understanding this way.

If I am drowning and not able to swim, and going down for the third time, I am as good as dead. (Ephesians 2:5) Yet if a boat comes along and rescues me, I only need to stop my struggle and accept the rescue. In words that sound biblical, I need to repent of my own works and receive the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is there any glory in the rescue for the drowning person? I think not. Next time you see a rescue being reported of on the TV, notice who gets the glory.

My friend, we are all sinners, drowning in the cess pool of our own filth, our disobedience only growing with each day of rejection. There is a Savior that is seeking the lost and desiring to commune with the believer. He is the One who desires to live with us, or better put, for us to live with Him, for there is a difference!

I think I may have wandered from the topic, and would like to remind the reader that the emphasis of this passage is the universality of sin on a fallen world, and that it does not describe one who cannot react to the offer of a good gift given to them.

The next passage my friend refers to for consideration is Psalm 14:1. This is the very passage Paul quoted from in the previous portion. David’s context is different and it may be wise to consider the background upon which this passage was written.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 2 – John 3:3-8

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the first portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

You are always using Human reasoning instead of scripture. God can change and has to change a person’s will to be saved. Ezekiel 36:26 John 3:3-8 Romans 3:10-12 Psalms 14:1-3 even though you think he can’t interfere with natural man’s will and someone will have to tell me how one person believes the Gospel the true gospel that is and another doesn’t. No freewill advocate can give me an answer. They ignore that question.

The next passage my friend provides for consideration is John 3:3-8

John 3:3-8

3 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 – Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 – Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 – That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 – Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 – The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Awesome passage of the Lord speaking to one of His people, an Israelite – one who is a religious leader in Israel. One who is interested in this new Prophet. Yes he comes under cover of darkness, but Nicodemus comes to the Messiah, and queries Him.

He is joining into a discussion with Jesus, and this shows his desire to understand. Nowhere does the passage state that it is God’s moving in his life that is making him ask questions, and nowhere does it deny God’s actions in Nicodemus life. That is a moot point in this passage.

Note that Jesus states a prerequisite for entering the Kingdom of God, but doesn’t assign any responsibility (either to God or man) to perform the action (of being born again)

Verse 7 may give us a bit of a hint. You Nicodemus, you must be born again. Jesus didn’t state a fact that some would be born again. This statement is in the command mode. You MUST be born again.

It seems the responsibility is squarely laid upon Nicodemus. Again I want to be clear that the specific actions Nicodemus is to perform to become born again are not expressed in the passage my friend supplied. But alas, Jesus begins to give a hint regarding the prerequisite for being born again a few verses later.

John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Ok Nicodemus – you aren’t even believing earthly things.

  • Why bring up the topic of belief?
  • Why is Jesus addressing Nicodemus’ attitude toward His teachings?

A bit later in the passage, the following verse pops up

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Nicodemus has been told of the requirement of being born again. Then Jesus speaks of the responsibility of the one who must be born again.

If it is only “of God” that this requirement (of being born again) is being taught, then it follows that God is responsibile to give Nicodemus life in order for him to believe. Yet Jesus speaks of the necessity of faith.

Surely, if it is God that Nicodemus must wait on to receive life before he can believe, this conversation with Nicodemus seems a bit confusing.

I suppose the conversation should have ended with the following terse statement from the Lord.

Just go home Nicodemus – Sure you got questions, but you can’t understand the answers until My Father regenerates you. Then you will have faith, and be born again. That’s that!

Huh. That conversation doesn’t seem to occur in this passage. After reading this passage, I am not convinced my friends position is strengthened, (or even supported) by the passage.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Romans 3:10-12

The next passage my friend brings to the table to support his theology is Romans 3:10-12. Such a famous set of verses describing the fallen state of man, and the universality of sin in the human race.

Romans 3:10-12

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

In Romans 1 Paul is describing the Gentile world and their wretchedness in front of God, and in chapter 2, he continues with descriptions of sinfulness. By the time he gets to Romans 3:23, he has made his point. All have sinned, both Gentile and Jew.

Remember the problem that Paul was addressing in the letter to the Romans was the division between Jews and Gentiles within the body, how the Jews were acting self righteous and the Gentiles seemingly took too many liberalities. Division was rampant, and we all know how Paul felt about division!

Could the passage be chosen by Paul in order to level the playing field of the different parties reading it? As we say in Texas, all y’all are sinners. All y’all are in the same bucket!

It doesn’t seem to address the sinners abilities to repent, only that they are sinners through and through, and that they have no power to redeem themselves or even a desire to do so.

Let me try to explain it this way. If I am drowning and not able to swim, and going down for the third time, I am as good as dead. (Ephesians 2:8) Yet if a boat comes along and rescues me, I only need to stop my struggle and accept the rescue. In words that sound biblical, I need to repent of my own works and receive the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is there any glory in the rescue for the drowning person? I think not. Next time you see a rescue being reported of on the TV, notice who gets the glory.

My friend, we are all sinners, drowning in the cess pool of our own filth, our disobedience only growing with each day of rejection. There is a Savior that is seeking the lost and desiring to commune with the believer. He is the One who desires to live with us, or better put, for us to live with Him, for there is a difference!

I think I may have wandered from the topic, and would like to remind the reader that the emphasis of this passage is the universality of sin on a fallen world, and that it does not describe one who cannot react to the offer of a good gift given to them.

The next passage my friend refers to for consideration is Psalm 14:1. This is the very passage Paul quoted from in the previous portion. David’s context is different and it may be wise to consider the background upon which this passage was written

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Psalm 14:1-3

Psalm 14:1 – To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
Psalm 14:2 – The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
Psalm 14:3 – They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

This passage is attributed to David, very likely during the persecution of King Saul, or the rebellion of his son Absolom. It is a dark day for David, no matter what and the psalm expresses his utter despair, and his expectation of the Lord’s deliverance.

It is interesting that David doen not say “everyone born says in his heart, “There is no God….” Nope – David has a specific type of person in mind, a fool. This passage my friend has supplied, describes a portion of humanity from Davids perspective. As we considered above, the Apostle Paul applies to all, yet even the universality of sin does not support my friends contention that a man cannot respond to the grace of God.

A good example of the ability of a lost person to respond to God is found in Acts 10, where Peter is told to visit with a dirty Roman centurion. But wait a minute Carl. This fella, in verse 2, is called “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people and prayed continually to God.” He was obedient to the vision, (whereas Peter had to be shown his vision 3 times!)

What a terrific story, and upon reading it, it seems that Cornelius was seeking to hear and understand, and it was Peter that was a bit reluctant to obey. So backwards to what we should be like.

Nevertheless, Psalms 14 speaks of a type of person that is corrupt, does bad things, does not do good things, who turns aside, and has become corrupt.

This passage describes a group of fools. Paul, in the passage above applies these very verses to his audience in order to place us all in the category of fools.

It might not be comfortable to hear it, but hear it we must.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy

Romans 9:15 – For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

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

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I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

John 6:44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

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I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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

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As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the third portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God gave to the man Jesus the spirit without limit. God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to according to Romans 9:16 John 1:12-13.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the fourth portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

He told the Pharisees you don’t believe because you aren’t my sheep John 10:26 He didn’t say you aren’t my sheep because you don’t believe That should kill the idea of free will on the spot. If you analyze the Garden of Eden account with Eve you will see the serpent was baiting Eve with free Will through the delusion of gaining the knowledge of good and evil which was a stone cold lie.

John 10:26 – but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the fifth portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Natural man can’t tell the difference between good and evil and Jesus said none are good except for God. They are responsible because God is Sovereign. He has the right to do with His creation as he sees fit His righteousness isn’t to be judged by fallen man’s sense of righteousness imputed from the Garden of Eden. Belief is the work of God John 6:29

John 6:29 – Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the sixth (and final) portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God is saving a people unconditionally Romans 9:11 according to election God promises to save a people and He can’t wait around for someone who has no desire or the ability to come. I will rely on scripture that he shows mercy unconditionally to whom he chooses.

Romans 9:11 – though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls–

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – 1 John 2:19

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

I was driving home from helping my son install some ceiling fans, and as I was listening to Free Bird, it occurred to me that some within the Christian faith claim the Bible teaches “perseverance of the saints”. I know – an errant thought, but stick with me for a minute.

But first, let’s look at the verse that stirred my thinking during the middle of Free Bird, and then we can delve into the dark crevices of my thoughts.

1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Perseverance of the saints is not a troubling teaching in my mind, but to be practical, we have to admit that it is a time dependent truth for each of us. Some believers will use this verse to claim that only true Christians remain faithful, and with that I have no argument. True believers continue to believe.

The time component is what sticks in my craw, when I hear that some believers that are living today, claim that they are in a contract with the God of the universe that is iron clad, and without conditions. That initial faith is their ticket to heaven. They will end up in heaven no matter what happens, no matter what they do, or no matter what occurs in their faith.

Let me try to explain it as I heard it in my head as I was conversing with myself on the way home – Don’t worry – I turned Free Bird off during my self conversation!! Carl – admit it – You were talking to yourself!

Carl – 1 John 2:19 teaches that true believers continue in the faith

Anti-Carl – Yes that is true, and those that left the faith were either never a believer, or that they abandoned the faith.

Carl – Oh I am sure the author intends the reader to see those who did not continue in the faith to have never been a believer

Anti-Carl – So you say, but lets get practical. Are you a believer?

Carl – Of course.

Anti-Carl – How do you know you will continue? Can you foresee the future?

Carl – Of course I cannot see into the future, but God will keep me. He has promised.

Anti-Carl – Many folks have claimed a promise from God and yet have walked away. What makes you better than them?

Carl – They were liars, even self deceived.

Anti-Carl – Again, the only assurance you have of eternal life is that you have faith at the point of death. Until that time, you cannot guarantee anyone of your continuance, since it is expressed in action (continuing with believers) as opposed to simply a feeling or a belief. It seems the security you boast in is highly time dependent and somewhat fragile until the end.

Carl – I refuse to hear you anymore!

Remember, dear reader, that the Lord’s promises are many times conditional on our heart response, our obedience, our listening and doing. Our faith is not to be based on head knowledge alone, but on a willing heart that seeks to follow Him.

Your thoughts?

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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 1 – Ezekiel 36:26

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the first portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

You are always using Human reasoning instead of scripture. God can change and has to change a person’s will to be saved. Ezekiel 36:26 John 3:3-8 Romans 3:10-12 Psalms 14:1-3 even though you think he can’t interfere with natural man’s will and someone will have to tell me how one person believes the Gospel the true gospel that is and another doesn’t. No freewill advocate can give me an answer. They ignore that question.

I suppose the first issue to address is the reason for his comment above. I had asked a question regarding God’s will as my friend understands God’s will. If I understand him correctly, God has absolute control over every decision made by every human, and that God’s will can never be resisted.

So my original question was……

How do you explain the Lord’s frustration with Jerusalem as He entered the city before His passion? He was willing but the people of Israel were not willing.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Matthew 23:37 ESV

Seems the people got their way.

Nevertheless, lets consider the first portion of my friends comment. His initial comment is followed by four Scripture references. I have supplied these passages below, and will attempt to understand his reason for providing to support his statement.

Ezekiel 36:26

Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

What a great verse, speaking of the sinful nature and the darkness and hardness of the sinners heart. Ezekiel was specifically speaking to the sons of Israel, and of their restoration to the land. From verse 22 through verse 32, Ezekiel records the phrase “I will” 13 times referring to God’s intent with the children of Israel.

This passage speaks of God’s overarching care, protection and provision to His wayward, sinful people. Upon getting to verse 26, it is clear that the Lord Himself gives the new heart, gives the new spirit, removes the heart of stone, and gives a heart of flesh. There is no debate upon these gracious gifts of God to His people.

One item that is not addressed in this passage is the responsibility of the sinner. Of course, my friend assumes the sinner has no responsibility in receiving the new heart, but I don’t see Ezekiel expressly stating that. Nowhere does Ezekiel come out and state – You sinners are unable to respond to the grace of God. You are completely without any responsibility in God’s work with your nation. You have to be completely passive!! As a matter of fact, you couldn’t respond if you wanted to.

Shucks, I don’t see Ezekiel stating that!

Ezekiel continues with verse 32, telling of the reason for the gracious gifts of God toward His people in the future. These future promises were provided through the prophet Ezekiel, in order for the people to know of His future actions. Then Ezekiel caps off the message with the intended response that is expected.

 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

The Lord will act – Be ashamed now. There is a response expected prior to the Lord’s acting out His promises. There is a responsibility on the part of the Israelites.

But that is not all, regarding the will of God that Ezekiel teaches us. Let us look at verse 37 of the same chapter.

 “Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.

The Lord allows the people of Israel to ask of Him for a particular request. This seems odd if the Lord’s will is determined from time eternal, before creation. The entire issue of prayer is a difficult topic to understand if the Lord’s will has been locked down prior to creation. (Dang it is difficult to understand no matter what!)

It is obvious that Ezekiel emphasizes God’s will towards His people in this passage. There is no doubt. Yet with this emphasis, God seems to invite the will of men (in praying to God) to participate in the work of God. This is surely a mystery and yet He invites us.

For prayer does change things!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response – Intro

As this blog has proceeded through a multiple of topics, I have received numerous comments and non more interesting than from a fellow blogger that finds my responses to his comments lacking in Scriptural support.

The topic of concern is the sovereignty of God and the Calvinist debate. He has denied the moniker of “Calvinist” but as some have said – A rose by any other name is still a rose.

This seems to be a common thread in the discussions, since his understanding of key terms in the topic seems to carry a different definition than mine. He also tends to “drop” Bible verses after his claims, intending to prove his point. This is a common method of argument that I have used too often, that is of peppering the discussion with proof texts.

Lately the following comment from my friend was provided and in response I wrote back “Job 1:1”. Figgered I would proof text him – it was an attempt to be a bit funny, but alas, even as I posted the response, I realized I needed to do better. (And responding in the comment section is sooo difficult.) Hence this side bar of posts to a comment within this topic.

Below is the comment I will be responding to through a series of posts in the following weeks.

You are always using Human reasoning instead of scripture. God can change and has to change a person’s will to be saved. Ezekiel 36:26 John 3:3-8 Romans 3:10-12 Psalms 14:1-3 even though you think he can’t interfere with natural man’s will and someone will have to tell me how one person believes the Gospel the true gospel that is and another doesn’t. No freewill advocate can give me an answer. They ignore that question. Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit. God gave to the man Jesus the spirit without limit. God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to according to Romans 9:16 John 1:12-13. He told the Pharisees you don’t believe because you aren’t my sheep John 10:26 He didn’t say you aren’t my sheep because you don’t believe That should kill the idea of free will on the spot. If you analyze the Garden of Eden account with Eve you will see the serpent was baiting Eve with free Will through the delusion of gaining the knowledge of good and evil which was a stone cold lie. Natural man can’t tell the difference between good and evil and Jesus said none are good except for God. They are responsible because God is Sovereign. He has the right to do with His creation as he sees fit His righteousness isn’t to be judged by fallen man’s sense of righteousness imputed from the Garden of Eden. Belief is the work of God John 6:29 If Adam and Eve weren’t able to get it right, how can you put such faith in a fallen nature that loves darkness instead of light. God is saving a people unconditionally Romans 9:11 according to election God promises to save a people and He can’t wait around for someone who has no desire or the ability to come. I will rely on scripture that he shows mercy unconditionally to whom he chooses.

In each of the following posts, I will be addressing a set of verses he refers to within a portion of his comment. I will attempt to supply context to his comments when required, and look forward to a hearty discussion as we venture through his concerns.

I do hope you will join me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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

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As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the third portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God gave to the man Jesus the spirit without limit. God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to according to Romans 9:16 John 1:12-13.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the fourth portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

He told the Pharisees you don’t believe because you aren’t my sheep John 10:26 He didn’t say you aren’t my sheep because you don’t believe That should kill the idea of free will on the spot. If you analyze the Garden of Eden account with Eve you will see the serpent was baiting Eve with free Will through the delusion of gaining the knowledge of good and evil which was a stone cold lie.

John 10:26 – but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the fifth portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Natural man can’t tell the difference between good and evil and Jesus said none are good except for God. They are responsible because God is Sovereign. He has the right to do with His creation as he sees fit His righteousness isn’t to be judged by fallen man’s sense of righteousness imputed from the Garden of Eden. Belief is the work of God John 6:29

John 6:29 – Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com


As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the sixth (and final) portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God is saving a people unconditionally Romans 9:11 according to election God promises to save a people and He can’t wait around for someone who has no desire or the ability to come. I will rely on scripture that he shows mercy unconditionally to whom he chooses.

Romans 9:11 – though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls–

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Not Enough Gift(s)?

Most of my readers know I have 5 children. Occasionally, I would come back from a work related trip and bring them a gift.

It goes without saying that I would bring 5 gifts. (And a gift for my favorite wife, of course.)

Coming in the door, at least in the early days of the family, the kids would greet me and I would ask if they wanted a little surprise.

Of course, they all responded in the positive, and they would ask to reach in my pocket to get the gift. Fun times for them and me. (Wifey got her gift a bit later!)

As they got older, one or two of the older children would consider it childish to huddle around and ask for the gift, but I always bought 5 gifts to bring home. (And a gift for my favorite wifey – don’t forget her Carl!)

The gifts represented, in a very small way, my love for each child, (and my wifey!) When I got home I would ask all the children if they wanted a gift, even as they got older. And when I brought gifts home, it was for all the kids, even if I feared that one or two of them would ignore the offer.

Should I have saved my pennies when I figgered one or two of my kids might not have wanted a gift? If so, could I offer a gift to all my kids, or at least maintain that understanding within the family?

This is the very problem a Calvinist must address when he evangelizes. How can the Calvinist offer the gift of salvation to a lost person for whom Jesus did not die? For you see, a Calvinist believes in a limited atonement, or that Jesus died only for the elect, that specific group of humans that will believe.

As believers, we don’t know who the elect are, so Calvinists may seem duplicitous in providing an invitation of salvation to one for whom Christ did NOT die for.

The following 5 minute clip addresses this question and I found it helpful. I hope you do too. Take a few moments to consider the question with Dr. Flowers.

Thanks for joining me in this series on Calvinism.

Years back I came out of this system of thought. I am grateful for the blessings of a loving God that has expressed His love lavishly, beyond human comprehension.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Was Jesus a Bigot? How would you Respond?

This 5 minute teaching starts out with a somewhat surprising statement about Jesus being a bigot. I came close to going on to some other topic until Dr. Flowers brought it together

Check it out.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Humbly Proud

Dang but for the oxymoronistic tongue tying, paradoxical topic of proud humility.

Is it possible to be proud of your humilty?

If I humble myself under the mighty hand of God, is that something that will result in pride?

Gosh golly gee willikers – What type of question is that Carl. It must seem to consist of a irreconcilable difference, and yet there are some who may consider it to be possible.

Give the clip below 5 mins of your time, and then ask yourself the same question

Let me know what you think. Just don’t yell!!!


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Is God Really Loving?

As you may expect, I am providing another 5 minute video addressing concerns that Calvin may have had as he developed his theology.

Of course, he has some responses to these concerns, but at times I fear they are lacking.

One of the key character attributes of our heavenly Father, is the love of God. As a matter of fact, the Word states that God is love.

1 John 4:8 – But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:16 – We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

These two statements, from the apostle John, seem to be a clear declaration of His character. With the added witness of the Son’s self-sacrificial act of obedience to the Father’s will, the love of God is a preeminent theme of the Word.


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Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – A Slaves Freedom

It has been a few weeks since my last post on Calvinism and I have noticed that posts questioning Calvinism are responded to more than any other topic I have addressed lately.

Why?

Why is this such an emotionally charged topic? There seems to be a visceral reaction to this topic, as if the very questioning of Calvinism is so heretical that all the guns have to come out! How sad that calm discussion, with each of us considering the others argument, is so rare. Good pertinent arguments that are directly related to the specific topic at hand are of so much more value.

Job 6:25

How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?

But alas, an issue that seems to be prevalent in these discussions is the erecting of “straw men”, in order to fight against the “real enemy”. You know how it works. You believe the sky is blue. I am against that statement and argue it by stating the water isn’t the same blue. And the statement is correct – the water isn’t the same blue. But the original proposition was not addressed – just some “straw man” that was soundly refuted!

This video that is provided is a good example of erecting a “straw man” argument. It is a 4 minute video that is worth watching, whether you are a Calvinist or not.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting!


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