Thank you thank you thank you! I stayed up all night reading this!
I have been struggling with Romans 9 and that is so true about the definitions of words playing a huge role in understanding... I knew this but could not think of it in any other fashion and sadly I think this is how conversion to Calvinism takes place... Just can't imagine anything BUT that....
But I just wanted to thank you on your analysis it's the BEST I've read and I've been studying this for years or so... A lot of questions I had were answered and things I never thought of before..... God bless you thank you!
Many times I cried wondering if I was serving a different God than I thought or what I knew.... Am I predestined to hell etc? But it seemed like all I could find was evil if I don't accept their doctrine... That's why I don like it (that's what I'm told) but I knew that, this was like someone putting poop on a spoon and telling me my tastebuds were bad!
Also I question why Calvinists think Paul didn't mean it when he said he wished the "unelect" to be saved and would trade himself "an elect" for theirs. Do they think Paul is going against God's election just before Paul gives his biggest speech in "support" of election?
Also in the following chapters salvation comes to Gentiles due to Israel's rejection... But wasn't it not by "he who runneth or willith"? Also Paul says God did NOT reject His people whom He foreknew.....
So Calvinism is inconsistent and needs to rewrite the rest of scripture to fit... Just thought I'd mention a few of my own thoughts....
Love you a lot, God bless you and use you to spread His love and Gospel.
I'm a little tired so my grammar may be off, but Im so glad God lead me to this... People who I love dearly are Calvinist so I've spent hours studying it and such; trying to think it out so I can help others walk in deeper truth.
with much gratitude.
You are right. If people take a few steps back, they can see that Calvinism is contradictory with so many points and themes of Scripture. Your points are good, further examples of Calvin's fallacy.
... Interestingly, I also stayed up most of the night. (Please forgive my bad grammar and lack of coherency. ) An atheist has recently sent me an email with his supposed "inconsistencies" within Scripture, and almost all of his discovered "errors" are the result of Calvinist theology! He's pointing out the errors of Calvinism, but he is blaming all of Christianity! I don't think Calvinists realize the consequences of their doctrine. It's not just a matter of academics, because it indeed affects how people talk about God (Job 42:7-8). It gives doubters an excuse to blaspheme God (Romans 2:24; II Samuel 12:14). It needlessly destroys unity among believers, detracting from our influence in the world (John 17:20-23). And, it also affects our obedience to practical points of salvation, like baptism and confession. Almost all of the misconception about baptism stem from a Calvinist viewpoint.
... Well, if I can help in any other way, please let me know.
Yes it's sad, I noticed too when atheists point out faults in calvinism and attribute the cruelity to God... That they couldn't serve that God. Calvinists usually smile in joy because it fits their doctrine, it "prooves" it. It's sort of a catch 22, make something people would reject, then claim people won't accept it because they're evil. Sure, people are evil and won't accept God, but adding unnecessary things to it and saying God decreed abortions to happen... It's just silly.
But I go to a Bible study and most of the older men/teachers are more reformed in their theologies. What's sad is that they say there's a "contrasting" view in scripture of calvinism and arminian.... But honestly I think there's only one Word of God and both schools have things mixed up. I just find that arminian theology to be really different depending on who you ask. Calvinism has a more systematic foundation to it due to it's origin etc. Atleast in my experiences.
But I'm supposed to be having a Bible study on 1 John 4 Tuesday I'm getting ready for. They asked me to teach. I wanna focus on verse 2 and 3 about those who deny Jesus's flesh (people in gnosticism and docetism)
I'm not sure if you have heard or studied those groups at all? I have been lately and It appears St. Augustine had many influences added to the church because he used to be a form of a gnostic "machiean or something? I'm just getting into it but they held to a predestination point of view and different forms of "special/elect knowledge" for salvation. There's more to it, and gnosticism has influenced different teachings even today from mysticism, to prophecy, to viewpoints on heaven... Just interesting.
I look forward to reading more stuff on your site
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianis ... _free_will
Augustine lived a fairly dissolute life before his later conversion, and he spent some time studying Persian philosophy (like Manichaeism), including the inherent evil of all flesh, which appears to have influenced his later "Christian" beliefs.
As you know, Gnosticism originated a few hundred years before Augustine, but they do appear to share some common errors. But, I must confess that I only have cursory knowledge of these topics outside the Bible.
Your friends' "contrasting" view of the Bible is very pernicious. Their statement is consistent with my experience with other Calvinists, who would rather sacrifice their belief in a rational God who communicates to us (Ephesians 3:3-5; II Timothy 3:16-17) than accept that their cherished, contradictory philosophy is wrong. They must develop a fondness for "mystery", because they cannot reconcile their beliefs entirely with Scripture. Many will openly admit - if pushed sufficiently - that Calvinism (or Christianity, as they see it) is not logical and should not expected to be. For example, see this forum post and response:
When one consciously, openly turns his back on the Spirit's sword, the Word of God, then there is no doubt in my mind that he has committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. If you cannot wake them up to the clarity and understandability of Scripture (Ephesians 3:3-5; II Timothy 3:16-7; II Peter 1:2-3; etc.), then I don't think you'll make much - if any progress elsewhere.
Please be alert to this danger and warn them where you can. You can read more on this point, the understandability and precision of Scripture, here:
http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles ... rstandable
This is such an important topic that I would like to eventually pull this section out into its own article, but for now, it is included in the topic of presumption in interpretation.
BTW, I understand that I John 4:6 is contextually conjoined with your study of verses 1-3 of the same chapter. If we do not teach what the apostles taught, then unity will be impossible (I Corinthians 1:10; I John 2:18-19; Romans 16:17; II Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6, 14).
Thanks for your zeal and diligence for the Lord. I pray you find these thoughts helpful in your studies.
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth (II Thessalonians 2:9-12),
It seems like lately more and more people are turning calvinist... and my trying to combat their teachings is seen as "man based" and "works based" salvation and I'm goign against God's grace.... I dunno I feel like I'm losing the battle and trying to get my unsaved friends towards God and trying to get my Christian friends away from false doctrine it's just overwhelming and depressing...
I wanted to ask if you had a good way to combat calvinism without having to go SUPER in depth? I mean, if not that's fine... but yeah... I don't know.
Thank you for your time
First, about discouragement: Keep in mind that in the battle between good and evil, evil outnumbers good, but that is of no consequence, if we are on the side of God and truth (Judges 7:2, 7; I Samuel 14:6-23; Matthew 19:26). The sad but real truth is that there are few who will be saved (Luke 13:23-30; Matthew 7:21-23; I Peter 3:20). I've recently had some similar email exchanges with some other young men, who shared similar struggles. If you don't mind, I'll copy and paste them at the bottom. If you study each of the scriptures, I think you'll find the passages to be greatly encouraging.
Second, about reaching Calvinists: Please keep in mind that this is not a simple error or misunderstanding over a single fact or verse. It represents a fundamental fallacy in one's core belief in God. This creates a prejudice that filters every verse they read and interpret. However, if people are honest, they will change. Such people (not all or most) just need time and patient, kind, humble, repeated exposure to Scripture. There's a reason why the Devil is anxious to get people distracted and divert the minds from Scripture (Matthew 13:1-4; 18-19; Luke 8:11; I Peter 1:22-25; II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 3:15-18). It may take months or even years to get through to them. Don't feel like you have to resolve or galvanize them within a few days or weeks. Long term Bible studies of books, like Acts or Luke, in addition to focused studies on Calvinism may prove helpful.
A lot of people associate Calvinism with orthodox Christianity, because it was taught by the Catholic Church and Protestant Church since Augustine and Calvin. You need to identify their fundamental assumptions and challenge them with questions, just like the so-called orthodoxy of Catholicism must be challenged. The gospel is only "man based" if it came from men. If you are teaching God's truth, then it is God based! Make them go back to Scripture. Make them read the verses out loud. Get them to explain the verses to you. Calvinism is logically consistent with itself and its assumptions. They will not personally challenge their assumptions unless they read enough verses that say otherwise. Ask them to explain inconsistencies with their view and Scripture. In essence, you will work best, if you think of yourself as the voice of their struggling conscience. Just keep asking questions and ask them to reconcile inconsistencies. Of course, you will have to explain and teach the truth from Scripture. You can't just tear down (II Corinthians 10:3-5). You also have to build up (I Corinthians 3:5-15). But, questions aimed at their conscience will be the most effective in causing them to stop and think. Just know when to stop. Give them time to think, if it is a relationship that has time (i.e., family, friends, co-workers, etc.).
If you reconcile Romans 4 and James 2 in your mind, you will go a long way toward understanding the answer to their question about works, grace, and faith, and you will be able to answer it. They key is to let the context define the words. Paul and James are not using "works" the same way in the two contexts, which is evident by their descriptions of the word. Let me dig up some material on this point, and I'll email it to you.
In many ways, this is like being a baby all over again. You have to learn to walk and talk all over again. You are going to fall down a lot, and some gibberish is going to come out of your mouth too. But, keep trying! Giving up is not an option. Like our earthly parents, and contrary to Calvinism, God's hands are extended toward all of us (Acts 17:26-27)! Keep reading, studying, talking, praying, and reflecting (II Timothy 2:15). Like everything, the more you do it, the better you get.
Hang in there! Keep up the good work!
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth (II Thessalonians 2:9-12; Isaiah 66:4)!
Other Correspondence - Hopefully this will help you too!
Don't be discouraged. I think the truth of the matter is that every generation has its own battle (Judges 3:1-6). The nature and timing of that battle may vary wildly, but regardless, we have what we need to overcome (II Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18; II Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 8:31-39). The question is, "Are we being faithful in our generation and to them?" (Acts 13:36; Genesis 6:9)? I have every confidence you have been and will be. Turning our back helps no one and hurts everyone (Ezekiel 33:1-9; 3:18-21). With love, pursue the salvation of every opportunity given to you (Matthew 13:3-9; II Corinthians 8:12), knowing that the apostasy of some will grieve us deeply (I Corinthians 3:10-15), but the final salvation of others will bring the greatest joy (III John 4; I Thessalonians 2:19-20). With repentance and forgiveness, whatever the past may be, we must move forward with thoughts and hopes only toward the present and future (Philippians 3:13-14). The conclusion of all battles always has been and always will be in the Lord's hand and on His shoulders (II Thessalonians 2:1, 8-12). So, don't let the Devil put too much on your shoulders. And, no matter what, you are never alone (I Kings 19:18; II Timothy 4:16-17; John 16:32; Hebrews 13:5-6). ... I hope you find these verses helpful, as they have been to me.
The key, I believe, is not to focus on any one individual, except Christ. I think Jesus demonstrated the proper attitude most saliently in the case of the rich young ruler. Putting the texts together, Jesus reaction to him is, "He looked at him ... loved him ... and said ...". We need to carefully analyze those with whom we interact out of love for them. Also, from this we learn that love says what needs to be said - at all costs. It is a selfish love that desires the relationship more than the other's salvation. So, prepare yourself (as you already have done and are doing, Ezra 7:10; Matthew 7:1-3; II Timothy 2:15); look carefully at what people say; give them the benefit of the doubt (I Corinthians 13:4-7); but it also never hurts to ask questions humbly to eliminate doubt; and then say what they need to hear, just as Jesus did. Maintain humility always - in your heart and tongue - just as you are already doing (James 4:6-10; Proverbs 15:1)! Wisdom begins in part by recognizing that we are ever children (I Kings 3:7-10).
I remember being younger and not wanting to turn into a bitter, old, cynic, who saw a hardened false-teacher behind every comment or question. Certainly, some valiant soldiers in truth become jaded after many wars. Just the little bit of experience I have accumulated has introduced me to enough arguments for error that I find myself recognizing error where others don't yet recognize it. (I'm confident and hope they will see it in time too.) Like all struggles, frequent struggles with the same opponent will teach you his "moves". However, I have also found that frequent disappointments in others - as well as self - bring a constant challenge to maintain hope. These two factors - experience and disappointments - cause the old warrior to be misjudged and sometimes rightly judged at the same time.
Remembering my own failures and naiveness helps me to be patient and merciful with others, and above all, remembering the price paid and that the world still stands also helps me to hope, because the Lord Himself lets the world stand in His hope at His mercy (Romans 8:18-21). And, He is too knowledgeable and too wise to blindly hope in error. If we are still here, then there is still some people left to influence for good (I Kings 19:18)! It may be a "lurker" reading our Facebook posts, whom we never know is even there. It may be someone watching us stand up and resist the Devil that is emboldened to do the same (Philippians 1:12-14). It may be that we are serving a generation that we will never know this side of eternity, who is reading what we write right now - maybe even in another country! Regardless, we serve the Lord, and He's clearly not done with this world. So, we have hope and work to do! So, take joy in life, but whenever you touch on serious things - as you rightly and frequently do, write not just for the benefit of the other person, but for the silent reader, and the generation to come. Write and speak for history.
Some day, you'll meet them, and they'll thank you - maybe even help you, and you can praise the Lord together!Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, For you do not know what evil will be on the earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2)
I have a feeling I'm telling you what you already know. ... Thanks for the encouragement and admonition! Hang in there! You are doing a great work! And, I praise the Lord for it and you. May the Lord be praised in all things!