A Noted Theologian Responds to a Caricature

"I once heard the president of a Presbyterian seminary declare, 'I am not a Calvinist because I do not believe that God brings some people, kicking and screaming against their wills, into the kingdom, while he excludes others from his kingdom who desperately want to be there.'

I was astonished when I heard these words. I did not think it possible that the president of a Presbyterian seminary could have such a gross misconception of his own church's theology. He was reciting a caricature which was as far away from Calvinism as one could get.

Calvinism does not teach and never has taught that God bring people kicking and screaming into the kingdom or has ever excluded anyone who wanted to be there. Remember that the cardinal point of the Reformed doctrine of predestination rests on the biblical teaching of man's spiritual death. Natural man does not want Christ. He will only want Christ if God plants a desire for Christ in his heart. Once that desire is planted, those who come to Christ do not come kicking and screaming against their wills. They come because they want to come. They now desire Jesus. They rush to the Saviour. The whole point of irresistible grace is that rebirth quickens someone to spiritual life in such a way that Jesus is now seen n his irresistible sweetness. Jesus is irresistible to those who have been made alive to the things of God. Every soul whose heart beats with the life of God within it longs for the living Christ. All whom the Father gives to Christ come to Christ (John 6:37)." 

R.C. Sproul


The Second Law of Thermo and Evolution

Great book and article here.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics,that entropy is increasing, points to increases in disorganization and decreases in usable energy in the universe. How does evolution explain that organized entities arise from disorganized matter? The arguments at the link are detailed and show that evolutionary explanations are inadequate.


Assurance For the Calvinist

How does a Calvinist know he is on the way to heaven? This post is about how one Calvinist sees things.

We can know that we are on the way to heaven if we have faith in Christ (John 6:47). This faith has two parts.

The first part of this faith is a confident assurance that what Jesus says about how to live life is true (John 3:12). This assurance brings us knowledge that we have not, even for one moment, lived free from sin. We have done things that Christ tells us not to do or failed to do things that Christ tells us to do. This knowledge of the right path leads to repentance, turning from our sins to God and His way of living.

This faith is also an assurance that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Not just for sins in general, but for our sins in particular.

Christ is God who became a man. He laid aside His rights and abilities and came to earth. He lived a perfect life. This life is an example to us, but it also gives Him credit for a life lived in perfect obedience to God’s law. He then died on the cross for us. In some way know only to the God of all, Christ took the credit for our sins and suffered God’s infinite, terrible wrath for those sins. He became sin for us that we might become righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:21-31)

Faith is the way we take credit for what Christ did for us. The credit for our sins is taken away from us because of His sacrifice, and we are given credit for Christ’s perfect life. The work is outside of us (“extra nos” in Latin). It’s not about what we do; it’s about what is done for us by Christ. When we have faith, the perfect God loves us perfectly because we are credited with perfection. When God looks at us, we are perfect because of what Christ did.

But how can we personally tell if he really believes? How can a person tell if his own faith is genuine? The most useful is Galatians 5:6. It says that what counts is “faith working through love.” Christians do love Christ. Not perfectly; sometimes not even well. R. C. Sproul puts it this way, “I am not asking whether we love this Christ perfectly; I am asking whether we love this God and this Christ at all” (Chosen by God, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1986, p. 166).

We sin, sometimes often. We even sin the same sin over and over. This sin clouds our thinking and convinces us we do not have real faith. But God does not desert us. He always comes to our aid. He helps us to look to Christ and what Christ did for us.

Maybe an old Baptist theologian can help:

The believer in Jesus, who has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, will never utterly fall away from Christ and be lost. He is not free from temptation; he may, through neglect and failure to employ the means of grace, grieve the Holy Spirit and bring reproach on the himself and the people of

God. He will, however, turn away from his sins and return to his Christian duty; he will not be content in the wayward life. It is the mark of the child of God that he cannot be happy in a life of sin. (E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs, Chicago: The Judson Press, 1912, p. 53)

The God who saves Christians preserves their faith. He works in Christians to will and to do His will. He does not leave us in life’s battles without a champion.

True Christians will never abandon the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. True Christians can rest confident in their salvation.


A Helpful Review of Whosoever Will

Trevin Wax has a helpful review on the book I’m blogging through posted here.

He is more balanced than me.

[5/8/10: Here's a book review from someone who is much more sympathetic.]


Calvinism and Whosoever Will, Part 2: John 3:16

Continuing a Presbyterian layman’s critique of Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism by David L. Allen and Steve Lemke, I want to look into the verse most often quoted against Calvinism in Baptist circles. That verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV).

Jerry Vines uses this verse in a crass way against Calvinism on page 14: “The phrase ‘that whosoever believes” responds to five-point Calvinism, which says Christ died only for the elect.” Once again, a Baptist sets up a straw man of Calvinism to be knocked down by his relentless logic.

Calvinists believe that God loves the whole world (everyone) in some sense. We believe that the love God has for the world is the reason that God sent His only Son to die. We believe that Christ’s death was enough to pay the penalty for everyone’s sins such that anyone who does believe on Christ will be saved. That is all that John 3:16 teaches, nothing more.

There was nothing deficient in Christ’s death. The Eternal God-Man suffered infinitely in His soul. His death could pay for everyone’s sins. The offer that “whoever believes will not perish” is a real offer. This offer is evidence of God's love for you. 

If you do not know Christ, there is nothing outside of you keeping you from knowing Him and placing your faith in Him. God’s not forcing you to stay away! You are staying away because, in the final analysis, that is what you want to do. You have no excuse.

But the ‘want to’ is the key. All people want to stay away from Christ. We are all dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We are God’s enemies by nature and by choice, and we cannot please God (Romans 8:7). We are all together become unprofitable, unable to do anything good (Romans 3:12). None of us can come to Christ unless the Father who sent Him grants it to us (John 6:44). In fact, we cannot even see His kingdom, much less enter it (John 3:3, note that this is the very chapter in which the verse in question resides).

The last time I checked, dead men do not do anything. Mortal enemies do not lay down their arms. Coming to Christ in faith is something good. One has to have the requisite authority and power to grant another one something. And you cannot purposefully walk through a door you cannot see / perceive. God must act to change the heart of a person before that person will want to repent and believe the gospel.

The verse does not say that Christ died for everyone. It says that whoever believes on Christ will not perish.

In and of itself, John 3:16 has nothing to say about Calvinism. It only teaches what Calvinists affirm.

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