I really liked this article. I have a hard time at church because it is so diverse in theological perspectives among its members and I am still trying to understand what is true in relation to God's sovereignty, God's will, God's plan, God's gift of free will, God's working all things together, God's elect, God's foreknowledge, God's .....I think the terms are often blurred and I hear Calvinist preachers like John McCarthur blur the lines horribly when he uses terms like determined. He appears to be a hyper-Calvinist, but then he writes articles vehemently against hyper-calvinism. I love apologetics and it seems like reasoning with God one can infer that Calvinism is most definitely false. It seems like there are clear defeaters to the doctrine of Calvinism that proves it false ie. God's wish for all men to be saved, for none to perish, and for all to come to repentance. These verses are often said by Calvinists to only be applied to God's elect, but you almost have to put into the text something that seems clearly false when you read these passages plainly. I wonder if there are two ways of understanding God's will...? His preferred will and His permitted will. I have loved getting acquainted with William Lane Craig and his explanation of Molina's --Molinist position. This position makes God's Sovereignty and man's free will have legs where you are not left saying, "This just doesn't make sense and we cannot understand it". With the Molinist position God is not the author of confusion and one can make sense of these seemingly contradictory elements of truth.
Muting the Objection of Conscience and Creation
There are many Calvinists both dead and living who have earned my admiration over the years. Our doctrinal disagreement does not mitigate my respect and admiration for them as men of God. Some of the greatest open air preachers and evangelists during the first and second Great Awakenings were Calvinists.
A Calvinist I deeply admire is Greg Bahnsen, one of my favorite Christian apologists who taught me, through his writings, books, and sermons, the presuppositional approach to evangelism and strengthened my belief in theonomy - the belief that governments and nations should obey God's Word in all matters. When I prepared to listen to a CD that he preached on the subject of Calvinism, I grew concerned that my worldview was going to come crashing down. I have never heard Bahnsen say anything where he wasn't overwhelmingly persuasive. I felt for certain he was going to bring a probing application of presuppositional apologetics to prove that Calvinism was true, necessitating a sea change in my theological beliefs.
What I heard from him, however, was the opposite: rather than a vigorous appeal to conscience and creation to prove the veracity of the Calvinist system, he advocated rather a suspension of our rational faculties and the muting of the predictable objection of human conscience. He did so based upon a passage from Isaiah, which is often misinterpreted. I'm sure you've heard a preacher say it: "God's ways our not our ways, and God's thoughts are not our thoughts." They often interpret that to mean that we just cannot understand God, and therefore shouldn't try; just accept the truth of His Word by faith. However, a cursory perusal of the passage reveals the gross error in this thinking.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:6-9
If your ways aren't God's ways, you shouldn't just accept the conflict as unavoidable - you should repent. If your thoughts aren't God's thoughts, you shouldn't give up trying to think God's thoughts - you should repent. That's what this passage plainly means. To interpret this passage to mean that sincere Christians cannot understand God or His thoughts or ways is absurd.
Before one fully embraces the Calvinist system, they must first fall prey to the unstated presupposition that we must suspend our rational faculties and mute the objection of our consciences to simply accept by faith whatever God's Word says about how He governs. First of all, this is an impractical mission. Without our rational faculties we could not even understand Scripture, much less build a cohesive theological system. In order for Calvinists to suspend their rational faculties and mute the objection of conscience, they first must engage their rational faculties to come to that conclusion, and enlist the mandate of conscience to submit to the Word of God. Thus, the unstated presupposition of Calvinism is false based upon what Calvinists in fact do. Calvinism's conclusions so plainly contradict the testimony of nature and conscience that we must constantly be reminded by Calvinists like Bahnsen at the onset of their defense of their theological system that "God's ways aren't our ways" and we just need to accept Calvinist doctrine in spite of its apparent contradiction to self-evident truths.
It is not a sin to reason. "Come let us reason together, saith the Lord." It's as if Calvinists think that God made our bodies and the devil created our intellect and reason. No, we are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy mind." According to Romans 1, the conscience is a reliable source of truth, informing us about God's power and authority.
What Calvinists Know vs. What Calvinists Believe
Calvinism can be proven false by the impossibility of the contrary. That is, if Calvinism is the true doctrine of Scripture, the testimony of God through conscience and reason contradicts the testimony of God through Scripture. When two testimonies contradict, one of them is false. A falsehood isn't less of a falsehood if you deceive yourself into calling it true. Calvinism makes God a violator of His own law as conscience and as Scripture defines His law. You don't need to know the Bible to know that Calvinism is false any more than you need to know the Bible to know that 1 + 1 = 3 is false. Some truths are self-evident, and don't require Scriptural proof. All that is necessary to affirm a self-evident truth is to understand it. What Calvinists know about everything else refutes Calvinism. What they know from creation and conscience refutes what they believe.
Calvinism is as false as atheism is, and for the same reason: both Calvinism and atheism deny self-evident truths, truths that all sane men know from conscience and from nature. Consider the case with atheists: atheists do not need to read the Bible to know their error. Trying to refute atheism through appealing to Scripture is like trying to read Greek to someone who doesn't speak Greek. If we recite God's Word to try to convince an atheist that Christianity is true, we may be no more convincing than a Muslim who recites the Koran to prove Islam true. We are unlikely to persuade atheists through appealing to the testimony of the Bible alone. The best way to refute atheism in my experience is through appealing to what atheists already know about morality and justice. This is how the Apostle Paul dealt with the Athenians on Mars Hill, he appealed to what they already know to teach God's truth. To refute atheism, appeal to the testimony of their own conscience. The conscience is the soul-winner's ally behind enemy lines. The sinners' conscience shows the work of God's law in the heart and mind, and reveals their guilt before God (Romans 2:12-16, Romans 3:19). Make the atheist see that his ethic cannot justify itself, much less justify his moral indignation against what he considers to be evil. Make the atheist see that he is morally and intellectually bankrupt to defend his own views of morality and justice. Make the atheist see that Christianity can explain what the he believes and does better than atheism can. Thus humbled, he may be more likely to develop a listening ear for the truths of Christianity.
This approach may not only be employed to prove the Christian faith true and atheism false, but it can also be employed to prove the truths of the Christian faith. The theologian objects: isn't God's Word the standard for Christian doctrine, and if it is, do we need to appeal to the subjective consciences of men and to frail human reason to educate them on the principles of the Christian faith? Yes, the Bible is the Word of God and is the standard for doctrine; you'll find no shortage of Scriptures in this tract. But it is the Bible that says that creation also testifies to God's glory and speaks God's words (Psalm 19:1-4). It is the Bible that affirms that God created the conscience to testify to the truth of God's authority, God's law, and the sinner's guilt for violating it.
"The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [hold back, or suppress] the truth in righteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse; Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened" (Romans 1:19-21).
It is when we know the truth, but suppress it and transgress it that we become "without excuse." It is when we "clearly see" and "understand" our obligation to submit unto His authority and we hold back that truth from swaying our hearts and minds that we become "without excuse."
"Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified... For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness..." (Romans 2:12-15). In this chapter, Paul shows that the Jews aren't special just because they received the law - they must keep it also; and the Gentiles can abide by the same moral commandments "by nature" if they will only follow their conscience.
No sinner will be able to plead on Judgment Day "I didn't know" or "I couldn't comply" - good excuses only if true.
Refuting Calvinism with Scripture may be a more cumbersome way to refute Calvinism. The Bible's a big book, and both sides come to the debate podium with dozens and dozens of passages that prove their point. Appealing to conscience cuts to the quick, bypasses the faulty paradigms through which Scripture is misinterpreted, and leaps over dozens of misinterpreted "proof texts" to exalt the undeniable truth.
All Men Know That Knowledge of Right and Wrong Is Necessary for One To Be Capable of Sin and Guilt
What does nature and conscience show us about morality? These testify that men know right from wrong. Even an atheist has an intrinsic knowledge of right and wrong. Even as the atheist aggressively defends the myth of relative morality, if you were to steal his car, seduce his wife, or punch him in the nose, he would protest your behavior as wrong. Even a thief knows it's wrong to steal - try to take the possessions of a thief, and see how he likes it. He'll say, "You have no right to take my things." All sane men know this moral law and apply it in life, even if he denies it in theory.
Thus, the simple definition of insanity in a court of civilized law is an inability to distinguish between right and wrong. If someone truly has no knowledge of what behavior is morally appropriate, they are "with excuse." As Romans 2 says, the conscience justifies or condemns every moral act; the Gentiles, though they be "without law" that has been written on tablets of stone, they are condemned for violating the law that has been written on their hearts and minds. When God's gavel falls against sinners on Judgment Day, their conscience will "Amen" God's decision. His law and authority are self-evident to all sane men.
"To Him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to Him it is sin" (James 4:17). Knowledge of right and wrong is a prerequisite to sin. Just as a radio may stop working if it is dropped on the ground repeatedly, so a tender conscience may stop protesting if it is repeatedly neglected. But an initial, inward knowledge of right and wrong is absolutely necessary for someone to have the capability to be moral or immoral.
All Men Know That Sin Is Personal and Voluntary
What else does conscience and creation tell us about morality? All men intrinsically know that capability is a necessary prerequisite to obligation. All men known that they can do what they should do, and they can choose to not do what they should not do. Our character depends upon our voluntary actions. If a thief had stolen an atheist's car and were captured, and were to argue in court, "I couldn't help it," the atheist wouldn't buy it, and neither would a sensible jury or a just judge. The excuse itself is an insult to the law, indicting the law for daring to prescribe a prohibition against an involuntary action that cannot be avoided. If the criminal truly couldn't help it, then the act shouldn't be criminalized. All men intuitively know that sinful behavior is voluntary.
"Sin is a transgression of God's law" (I John 3:4). What does God's law require of you but to personally not lie, or steal, or commit adultery or covet? What does God's law require of you but to personally worship the Lord you God and honor your parents? In short, God's law requires of you to personally love your Creator and love your neighbor, for all who comply with these two will do all of the others (Romans 13:8-10). God's law doesn't require you to obey for your neighbor nor for your neighbor to obey for you - that's impossible. God's law requires of us only what we can do.
God didn't create us wrong. Such a doctrine is an insult to the Creator. If God creating us faulty is the cause for all of our faults, then God's at fault for we are His handiwork. Just as the painter is responsible for his painting and the potter for his pottery, the Creator is responsible for His creation. But God didn't create us to sin, thus, He is blameless for our sin. He created us with the ability to sin just as He created the angels, but He did so in order to give us the ability to love. There was risk in creating beings with the capacity to rebel against God, but for God, love was worth it.
There's nothing in our design that makes sin inevitable. We "can by nature do the things contained in the law" (Romans 2). God made all men upright, but they have sought out their own inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29). We were created "for Thy [God's] pleasure" (Revelation 4:11) - not for Satan's pleasure. The Bible clearly says that our bodies were not designed for sin (I Corinthians 6:13). Sin is contrary to our design, and that is why it hinders our longevity, minimizes our potential, and spreads misery. On the contrary, if we exercise our bodies and our faculties in accordance with our design and God's will, "Happy are ye" (John 13:17).
If an addiction has brought the sinner into slavery to his habit, the sinner still came under that yoke of his own choice. "He that committeth sin is the servant to sin" (John 8:34). Peter's epistle testifies that a man is brought into bondage by that which overcomes him. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obeys, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:16). The moral nature of a liar, a thief, a drunkard, and an adulterer is acquired through "yielding," and thus, the sinner is responsible. We may pity a sinner who has been enslaved by a terrible drug addiction or sexual addiction or any other harmful habit, but we don't just pity them, we also blame them.
If someone is truly unable to comply with a command, then they have no obligation to comply. Our obligation is to "love the Lord your God with all" - if "all" isn't enough to fulfill the requirement of the law, it's not the fault of the one loving, it's the fault of the unjust standard. If I instruct my child to take out the trash out to the road within two minutes and through no fault of his own the bag rips and trash spills, it would be unjust to blame him unless there was carelessness on his part. We all know that morality respects intention. A just moral code squares with our nature and ability. A just moral code is fit for the way we are designed. If a moral code commands of men that which is impossible or contrary to our design, such as insisting that we grow six inches taller at will, or flap our arms to fly over a building, or run 100 miles per hour, no sane person would consent that an obligation to comply exists. If someone is truly unable to comply, they are "with excuse" in the court of just law. If my two-year-old son truly is unable to drive my car around the block, then he is not obligated to do so even if I command it, and if I were to command him to do so, that would be unjust and tyrannical. All sane men and angels know this. Might doesn't make right. Just because I can punish him for doing that which he could not help but do (like wreck my car), that doesn't justify it.
"Oh that there were such an heart within them," God sincerely exclaims, "that they would fear Me and keep my commandments always, that it might be well with them" (Deuteronomy 5:29). That's God's will, that's God's wish. God's eyes roam to and fro through the whole earth, looking to show Himself strong on behalf of those who voluntarily have pure hearts. God was grieved over the sin of Noah's generation, but Noah was a perfect man and found grace in God's sight (Genesis 6). Exodus 32 and 33, Psalm 78, and Isaiah 5 and many other passages prove God did everything he could for the people to obey Him; He expected obedience, and was sincerely disappointed with disobedience. Why would He be disappointed and grieved if sin weren't voluntary, but were predetermined by God and as fixed and inevitable as the rise and fall of the sun? Unless Scripture is deceiving us, making it appear that God experiences hope and disappointment when He really does not, these passages prove that purity of heart and sinfulness of heart are voluntary acts.
Jesus taught that the state of heart is voluntary, and outward acts flow from our state of heart (Matthew 15:17-20). "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33-35). The root is the heart, and the fruit are the outward actions; if our outward actions are sinful, it is because our heart's not right with God. "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart" (Deuteronomy 10:16). "Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will you die, Oh house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31). "Purify your hearts" (James 4:8).
God changes the sinner's heart by way of the influence of His law and love, not through any force (as if it were possible to force one to love another.) Our state of heart is voluntary, and thus, God is ecstatic in Scripture when He finds a man that is pure in heart, and He is justly angry and disappointed with the wicked.
That "all have sinned" does not approve that all can't help but sin. That's non sequitor reasoning and illogical. It's unbiblical: there are many in Scripture who lived sinless, at least for part of their lives: Noah, King Asa, King David, Job, and the parents of John the Baptist. And these lived under the Old Covenant, whereas we have a "better covenant" with "better promises" according to Hebrews. Peter said that Jesus set an "example" for us "who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." Jesus' example is one that we can follow; Jesus said that "greater works" would we do when He went to the Father. Without Him we can do nothing, but with Him all things are possible - especially His will, and it's not God's will for us to sin. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from [sin]" (I Thes. 4:3).
All Men Know That Repentance Is Voluntary
If sin is voluntary, so is quitting sin. We know this from childhood. If a boy is playing in a playground and a little girl bites down on his finger, he knows intuitively that the girl shouldn't be biting his finger. But he also knows that the girl can stop biting on his finger. The boy yells "Stop!" fully expecting her to stop. If a man goes to his car in the parking lot, and sees another scraping a rock across the side of his car, ruining his paint job, he knows intuitively that this man should not be doing this. He yells "Stop!" and expects him to. He knows intuitively that the man can stop. One doesn't need to know the Bible to know this. If sin is voluntary, so is the cessation of sin.
I had a friend confess to me that he couldn't stop looking at pornography. I asked him if someone pointed a gun at his head as he walked past an aisle of dirty magazines, and threatened him, "I'll shoot you in the head if you look" - do you think you'd be able to not look?
He nodded. "Of course."
"Well," I replied, "fear not them which can kill the body, but afterward have nothing that they can do. I will forewarn you whom you shall fear; Fear Him, whom after He has killed the body, has power to cast into hell. Yeah, I say unto you, Fear Him" (Luke 12:4-5). I told the man that if he would fear the God who could cast Him into hell more than he would fear a man with a gun at his head, then he would discover that he could stop. "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil," Proverbs says.
This is everywhere the message of the Bible: "Stand in awe and sin not" (Psalm 4:4). "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well... Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow..." (Isaiah 1:16-18). Man can quit doing evil, and this voluntary repentance is a condition for forgiveness both in the Old and New Testament.
"Go and sin no more" (Jesus, in John 8:11).
"Awaken to righteousness, and sin not" (I Corinthians 15:34).
"Forasmuch as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind, for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (I Peter 4:1-2).
"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God... Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded" (James 4:6-8). Cleanse your hands! Purify your hearts! You do it! In essence, quit!
Man is "without excuse" not to.
All Men Know That Righteousness Is Impossible Without Voluntary Cessation of Sin
Justice can never make repentance for sin optional. If the law forbids crime, the only thing a criminal can do is to come back into obedience to the law. This doesn't atone for past crimes, but it keeps him from persistent violation of the law. But if a man who commits evil loses the natural ability to commit that evil, such as when a burglar is locked up in prison, or when a child molester becomes a quadriplegic, we do not automatically assume that the criminal becomes a good or righteous person. Unless the cessation from sin is voluntary, it's not virtuous.
Even an atoning sacrifice can never make repentance optional for transgression. If a son stands before a judge who is also his father, and the father steps out of the judgment seat to pay the fine for his son, the son is not thereby given a license to violate the law with impunity. If that son goes back out and violates the law, the fine has not been forever waved; if he violates the law, he comes back under the penalty of the law again. It would be unjust to grant perpetual righteousness in the eyes of the law to one that continued to violate the law - and we all know that. If there is to be righteousness in government and liberty for the people, the law must apply to the pauper and the prince, to the king and the homeless beggar, to the policeman and the pastor. If the government makes exceptions for privileged classes of criminals or judges with favoritism, the government has become unjust and tyrannical. God, the Bible says repeatedly, does not judge with respect to person, or favoritism.
Even a sinner may forgive another who has expressed remorse for stealing from him, for example. However, if that thief continues to steal, this either shows that he was not truly repentant, or that he has repented of his repentance and is worthy of prosecution, not pardon. One's conscience would never be constrained to continue to forgive a criminal who was not repentant: "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). God doesn't forgive the impenitent, and being nicer than God is not an obligation conscience places upon men. Jesus prayed that those crucifying Him would be forgiven, but that prayer was not answered until Pentecost, when many of those who cried out "Crucify Him" repented (Acts 2). There is no pardon without repentance. If faith lacks repentance, it is the kind of faith that the devil has, who believes and trembles but does not submit (James 2). An intellectual assent to the facts is not the "faith unto righteousness" that "worketh by love." Repentance is an attribute of authentic faith. "Do we make void the law through faith?" Paul asks in Romans 3:31, and then answers, "God forbid, we establish the law." Repentance is defined as a return to obedience to divine law, which is impossible without faith.
In the Old Testament, God did not accept Israel's atoning sacrifices if they were not repentant, if they did not cease from sin (Amos 5, and Isaiah 1). As a matter of fact, He despised their sacrifices and their Sabbaths if their worship was not annexed to repentance.
Even after the death and resurrection of Christ, repentance was a condition without which we could not be saved by the blood of Christ. Luke's version of the Great Commission is that "repentance and remission of sins would be preached in His name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). From Peter's first sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2, to his sermon in Acts 3, to Paul's sermon on Mars Hill, repentance was a pillar of the Gospel message. Jesus' death for our sins did not make sin inconsequential or tolerable.
Even in the church, when professing Christians sinned or the church became infected with sin, repentance was necessary to be forgiven. Recall the word of the Lord to the lukewarm Laodicean church in Revelation 3: they must repent in order to be forgiven and keep their candlestick and not be cast out. Jesus' blood did not wash away unforsaken sin. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" because we need an advocate with the Father (I John 2:1-2). Repentance was a condition without which no one could be cleansed from sin. If a professing Christian did not repent of sin, churches were not instructed to ignore his sin and treat him as righteous anyway because of the blood of Christ; no, they were instructed to reprove that professing Christian in an increasingly harsher fashion until the hypocrite repented or until they excommunicated them from their church and "delivered him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh" in hopes that his soul may be saved (Matthew 18:15-18; I Corinthians 5). In every place where Paul rebuked sin in the churches - Colossians 3, Ephesians 5, I Corinthians 6 - he warned them that those in the church who sin "will not inherit the kingdom of God." God's grace doesn't make sin safe. Sin is still deadly, the soul that sins still dies. The blood of Christ isn't atoning for our sin when we continue sin in spite of it, but rather, we "trample it under foot" and treat the spirit of grace spitefully, and come under the judgment of God anew (Hebrews 10:26-39). It would have been better to never have known the way of righteousness than to, after we had known it, turn from our repentance back to sin (2 Peter 2).
Receiving a pardon and adoption into God's family does not remove our ability to choose, nor does it make the wages of sin something less than death. At some point in eternity past, Lucifer - a sinless, perfect angel - seduced a third of the holy angels into following him in rebellion to God. Jude picks the fallen angels as an example of what will happen to us if we rebel against God. Throughout the New Testament, I Corinthians 10, Hebrews 3 and 10, Hebrews 11, etc., the inspired writers pick Israel as our example of God's chosen people facing judgment and captivity and being cast away. Even in the perfection of heaven, angels and holy men will not lose their ability to choose, and if at some point in eternity future mankind were to rebel against God as Lucifer did, then he would face banishment and condemnation. God judges without respect to persons. The blood of Christ grants a pardon and changes our hearts through faith, but it does not grant license to sin without retribution.
All Men Know That Guilt Is Based Upon Our Personal, Voluntary Acts
What is the testimony of conscience with regard to justice? We all know that it is wrong to condemn someone merely for the sin of another. We call it a travesty and unjust to punish a man who has committed no infraction but is being punished for the unlawful actions of another. Even careless sinners become enraged when an innocent man faces execution. Even if the criminal is the "head" of the home, nation, or race, each member of that home, nation, or race only possesses personal guilt for personal sin, not their leader's sin. They may suffer for the sins of their forefathers in this life, but on Judgment Day God will judge them based upon their own deeds, not another's. Justice does not measure us by another man's actions.
The sin of racism is indicting someone of guilt or considering them worthy of mistreatment simply because of an involuntary attribute such as the color of their skin. It is a sin of tyrants and abusers to punish others for doing something that they could not help but do, or not doing something that they could not help but not do. Acts that are worthy of punishment must be voluntary acts. We all know this intuitively. A sane man cannot feel guilt for doing something if it was impossible for him to avoid. If a father verbally and physically chastises his son because of the circumstances surrounding his conception, or because of a deformity with which he was born, or because of something beyond the child's control, the child must believe a lie in order to believe that he is worthy of punishment. It is impossible to own authentic guilt for an involuntary act or attribute.
Scripture confirms this repeatedly. In Ezekiel 18, for example, God declares that His judgment comes upon men personally for their own sin, not their forefather's: "I will judge you, every one of you according to your ways." The son shall not die for the father's sin, God declares to Ezekiel. God gives personal commands in Scripture and expects men to personally and voluntarily obey. He judges men based upon their personal choice.
Moreover, we all know that the penalty must be sufficient for the crime. If I were to command my three-year-old son to drive my SUV around the block or receive a hundred whippings across the back with my leather belt, who would defend that penalty? None of you would! You'd probably call Children's Services on me. Even child abusers can, if they are sane, plainly see that this is abuse. All men would judge me a cruel tyrant. We all know that the penalty would be unjust in large part because the commandment is unjust; the child is unable to comply with it and is innocent even if he disobeys an unreasonable commandment. A just penalty is appropriate for the infraction.
This is the testimony of God as He reveals it to us through conscience and nature. This is "the law of God written on [our] hearts", "our conscience bearing witness" to it.
Calvinism is Self-Evidently False
How do these self-evident truths refute Calvinism?
Calvinism teaches that God is the author and Creator of sin.
Calvinism teaches that God has prescribed a law that is impossible for man to keep; because of the sinful nature with which man is created, he is unable to comply with God's commands.
Calvinism teaches that sinners are guilty and deserve eternal punishment in hell because of Adam's sin; even before they have the capacity to commit a personal infraction against God's law, the unelect are hellbound because they "sinned in Adam's loins."
Calvinism teaches that either damnation and salvation come to the sinner apart from any choice of his own. The sinner is unable to resist sin, and the elect are unable to resist God's grace. On Judgment Day, rewards and punishments are disseminated based upon decisions God rendered from the foundation of the world, apart from any moral act of those thus rewarded or punished.
Calvinism teaches that the atonement of Christ literally pays the penalty due for all sin. Those for whom Christ died - the elect - can never be condemned for continuing to sin; Christ was condemned for them, making them righteous even if they live unrighteously. Calvinism teaches that Jesus did not "taste death for every man" but only for the elect.
To see the monstrous error of Calvinism, one doesn't need to be familiar with the Scriptures; one need only comprehend the self-evident truths it blatantly contradicts. Calvinism is an utter contradiction to the testimony of conscience regarding the law of God and the holiness of God. To love the God of Calvinism, we must first close our minds to the cruel, tyrannical, and arbitrary attributes of the Calvinist's God. The honest angels would condemn God if He were to judge men so. The martyrs of the past, who braved the flames and beasts of mighty tyrants for the love of God and truth, would, if consistent, risk their well-being to condemn the Calvinist God for exhibiting the same tyrannical qualities - willing all sin, legislating unjust laws that are impossible to keep, prescribing cruel penalties not fit for the crime, and judging with favoritism. The Calvinist God violates His own law, which forbids intending sin. Might doesn't make right; just the Calvinist God has the power to send aborted babies to burn forever in hell because of Adam's sin, that does not make it righteous or just. God's law defines God's character, and He is a loving God whose judgments are just. The angels don't fly in the throne room crying "Sovereign! Sovereign! Sovereign!" - no, they cry, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" And we are to be holy as He is holy. Not cruel, arbitrary, intending sin, and unjust like the Calvinist's God, but loving, reasonable, and holy, like the Creator.
Calvinism is like atheism: it is a stubborn adherence to darkness is defiance of light, all its proof texts and admirable proponents notwithstanding.
Thanks you very much for this!!
I would only add that I have observed Calvinism as "the most subtle beast" in the field of Protestant Christianity.
Until one studies and becomes able to recognize the various strategies used in the language of false-advertisement, one is vulnerable to the subtle language trickery overwhelmingly deployed by Calvinism. Calvinist apologetics is 99% perception-manipulation with a determined deflection of all probative analysis. We need to come to grips with the what scripture calls "strong delusion". We don't want to see Christians in that light. But in the light of Calvinism, we owe it to God and scripture to grapple with it as a reality. To the question of Calvinisms origins, I would point to the fact that all pagan deities are depicted as having two (Dualistic) natures. The Greek gods Pan, and Zeus for example. This "Dualism" is manifested as a deity who embodies both benevolence and malevolence. Let us consider Lucifer as the blue-print for the Dualistic deity, for he is both "Angel of light" and "great accuser". We have dark witches and white witches. How could a Christian's perception of the God of scripture, manifest in Jesus Christ, be distorted to the point where he attributes to his god this Dualistic nature? The Dualistic deity came into Christianity, and was a prevalent view of God within the Gnostic Christianity of Augustine's day. *Double*-predestination finds its genesis in the Dualistic deity. A doctrine that paints the deity as the sovereign embodiment of both good and evil. This "yin" "yang" doctrine merged into Christianity and then declared itself orthodoxy.
I read your article a bit bemused and a bit amused. I have believed these hated calvinist truths for quite some time and must say they have been one of the greatest blessings of my Christian experience. To clarify for 'Chrissy', Charles Spurgeon was a thorough-going calvinist among many others we all esteem, such as John Newton, William Carey, John Knox, etc. Ian Murray comments on Spurgeon, "The point at which he diverged from both Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism is that he refused to rationalize how men can be commanded to do what is not in their power. Arminians say that sinners are commanded, therefore they must be able; Hyper-Calvinists say they are not able, therefore they cannot be commanded. But Scripture and Calvinism sets forth both man's inability and his duty, and both truth's are a necessary part of evangelism - the former reveals the sinner's need of a help which only God can give, and the latter, which is expressed in the exhortations, promises, and invitations of Scripture, shows him the place in which his peace and safety lies, namely, the person of the son of God. . .Spurgeon took these two truths, man's duty to believe and his sinful inability to do so, and used them like the two jaws of a vice to grip the sinner's conscience." Spurgeon himself, "We may preach to you, but you will never repent and believe the gospel. We may lay God's commands, like an axe, to the root of the tree, but, reasonable as these commands are, you will still refuse to give God his due; you will go on in your sins; you will not come unto Him that you may have life; and it is here the Spirit of God must come in to work in the souls of the elect to make them willing in the day of his power. . .I charge you by the living God, I charge you by the world's redeemer, I charge you by the cross of Calvary, and by the blood which stained the dust at Golgotha, obey this divine message and you shall have eternal life; but refuse it, and on your own heads be your blood for ever and ever."
I can not thank you enough for this. I prayed tonight to find a resource such as this. I have lost my son to Calvinism. It is destroying our relationship with him. He just turned 18, and is a vulnerable young adult because of his diagnosis of Autism. Everything is black and white. He tells us every day that we worship a false God because we follow a false doctrine in the United Methodist Church. I can't begin to tell the other challenges, and how people have turned away from in our youth group at church...as he tells young children they are going to hell. He became friends with a youth who attends John Pipers church here in Minneapolis and has brought him there. Now that he is 18, he attends. I feel like we are losing him more and more each day. You have given me some words of hope that I can pray upon and begin to understand. Thank you.
Excellent. This is how Finney preached before the judge (in his audience) in Boston. He closed the Bible and said, "We'll open this when we need to." And so Finney began "reasoning together" of first truths all people are conscious of (thus called "common sense"). This is what Paul did in "my gospel" of Romans 2, in which he states that anyone always doing right would inherit eternal life on legal grounds. Then when Finney got them to see they were 1) sinners on the basis of their own conscience's judgment, and 2) without excuse, ... he then opened the Bible to preach Gospel Justification, refuting Calvinism and its unjust notions of "imputation" that thinking New England was rejecting. Before the presentation was over, the old judge crept up on the floor behind Finney, hidden by the pulpit, and cried out for how such a wicked sinner as he had been could really be saved. Youcan read more in Finney's Autobiography. We now call this entire period of American history "The Second Great Awakening."
There is Absolutely No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church visit www.vaticancatholic.com
Stunning: Acts 15 Proves the Papacy (24 mins) http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/st-peter-acts-15-bible-papacy/
For devastating proof from the Bible that Protestantism is a completely unbiblical and man made false religion that leads souls to Hell (see the proof yourself) http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/bible/#.VKMdimoDAJg
@Tony McGurk @Authentication Martin Luther admittedly had much interaction with the Devil. “These [demons] would haunt the imagination of Martin Luther who had visions, which he believed to be actual physical occurrences, of the devil hurling [excrement] at him and his hurling it back. Indeed, in one of his many anal combats with the devil – in which Luther would challenge the devil to ‘lick’ his posterior – Luther thought the best tactic might be to ‘throw him into my anus, where he belongs.’” (H.W. Crocker, Triumph, Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001, p. 237.)
The word 'Catholic' is a Greek word that means 'universal': the Church is universal. Universality refers to the oneness and absolute necessity of the Church: all people from all ages need to belong to this one and only Church to be saved.
In fact the Protestant heretics are refuted by Apostolic Father Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch in his last Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 8, 110 A.D.- “Apart from the bishop, let no one do anything that pertains to the Church. The only true Eucharist is the one performed by the bishop or by him whom the bishop has appointed. Wherever the bishop is, there must be the congregation, just as wherever Jesus Christ is there is the Catholic Church.” So in his last letter right before his martyrdom - the great Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch Syria - refers to the Christian Church as 'the Catholic Church.' There is truly absolutely No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church seewww.vaticancatholic.com
Watch the following is a 15 minute video entitled: "Alert: Revelation 18:2 Just Happened"http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/catholicchurch/vatican-prophecy-apocalypse/
@Authentication Thank you for these links. I was a Jehovah's Witness for the past 20 years & left 7 or 8 months ago as I could no longer agree with many of their doctrrines. Especially after I was warned by congregation elders not to discuss my doubts with any one else in the congregation or I'd be guilty of promoting apostate thinking.
Prior to being deceived by the JWs into believing they were the true faith & was an ex-Catholic. Since leaving I've shopped around many protestant denominations but don't feel I really fit into any of them. I visited your links out of curiosity & the things I read have me now reconsidering the Catholic Faith again. Maybe God is calling me to return...
Hi, Thank you for this post. I have seen much damage done in individuals and church's in my local area as a results of people leaving what they first believed and going into the errors of Calvinism. Something that puzzles me is why did God use some of the old great men of God who adhered to some or all points of Calvinism? I know that Surgeon believed in some aspects of Calvinism, yet God used him mightily. I know we are not all perfect, but Calvinism totally changes God's Character and it can wreck someone's faith.
Mr. Johnston, I agree with this. I have been in a church that teaches Calvinism for the last few years. I thought at first that I agreed with part of it ( total depravity) until I figured out what they meant by total depravity. I agree that it is a monstrous error. Most people in our Church still don't understand what Calvinists are trying to teach us. And I think if they would just come out and say "You can't choose God. Only He can choose you." or "Jesus only died for a chosen few." most would not accept it because it really does present us with a different God, "the Calvinist God" than the God of the Bible. Not a God who makes people to sin to accomplish His will or does not give some an opportunity to choose him. This is not the God that I know and have a personal relationship with. The One who hears our crys and our prayers when we truly seek Him.