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A Note To Calvinists

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tulipDear Calvinist,

I respect you. I am humbled by your deep reverence for Scripture. I have no doubt in your love for the Lord and your thirst for truth. Many of your Reformed friends, through their writings, have helped me grow as a preacher and have taught me how to better understand the mysteries of God.

Because of your high regard for God and His Word, I know you will give honest consideration to the following passages – passages that I personally struggle to reconcile with the teachings of John Calvin. Please think about these questions: 

1. Is it true that “Christ died for all” and that “in Christ all shall be made alive” while at the same time Christ only died for a limited part? 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:22

2. How can a saint “escape the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and then again be “entangled in them and overcome” if the Spirit of God forever preserves the saints? 2 Peter 2:20-22

3. How could a Hebrew Christian “fail to obtain the grace of God” if they were at one point in the grace of God? Hebrews 12:15

4. How can God extend His goodness to people to lead them to repentance if they cannot repent? Romans 2:4

5. How can a man have his name “taken away” from the book of life if it was never in it? Revelation 22:19

6. Why are Christians commanded to “grow in the grace” of the Lord Jesus Christ if grace is irresistible anyway? 2 Peter 3:18

7. Why did Paul think it was possible for him to be “disqualified” of his salvation? 1 Cor. 9:27

8. How could Judas have been “lost” if he was not at one point “kept in His name”? John 17:12

9. How can God not “show partiality” if He has overlooked some of mankind without offering to save them? Acts 10:34

10. Can God “consign all to disobedience” that “He may have mercy on all” while simultaneously passing over a part of man without having mercy on them? Romans 11:32

11. Why does God “command all people everywhere to repent” if not everyone can repent? Acts 17:30

12. Did God bring grace and salvation to all people, or did he only offer it to the elect? Titus 2:11

13. Did Jesus say, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” when He fully understood that many couldn’t believe? Mark 16:15-16

14. Is Peter correct in saying God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” when God did not give “all” the privilege of repentance? 2 Peter 3:6

15. Does God “desire all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” while at the same personally predestining most to condemnation? 1 Timothy 2:4

16. How did Judas fall if he didn’t have a right relationship with God to fall from? Acts 1:25

17. If one cannot help but stay with the Lord, why did Barnabas encourage saints to remain faithful? Acts 11:23

18. How can a man be “restored again to repentance” if he hadn’t genuinely repented once before? Hebrews 6:6

19. How can a man be “sanctified by the blood of the covenant” and then “trample underfoot the Son of God”? Hebrews 10:29

20. How can the Gospel be “good news of great joy that will be for all people” when it contains no message of mercy and hope or love for much of the human race? Luke 2:10

21. Why did Jesus say, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” knowing that many couldn’t repent? Luke 13:3

22. How is it possible to “destroy one for whom Christ died” without destroying one of the elect? Romans 14:15

23. Is the Hebrews author correct in telling the early Hebrew Christians, “While the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it,” knowing full well that it was impossible for them not to reach it? Hebrews 4:1

24. Are those whom the “Master bought” the elect? And if they bring upon themselves “swift destruction,” are they not bringing swift destruction on the elect? 2 Peter 2:1

25. How can a man have his name blotted out of the Book of Life if his name was not in the Book earlier? Revelation 3:5

26. If God sent His Son into the world that the “world might be saved through Him,” did His Son pass over much of the world without giving them the opportunity to believe? John 3:17

27. Was Peter saved? Was he also at one point in his ministry condemned? Galatians 2:11

28. How can a just God judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ and His Gospel when the possibility of accepting Gospel was not offered to the world universally? Romans 2:16; Acts 17:31

29. Does God not “take pleasure in the death of the wicked” while not giving many a choice but to experience eternal wrath? Ezekiel 18:23

30. Why did Jesus “gather the children of Jerusalem” when He knew many were condemned, without choice, the whole time? Matthew 23:37

What If?

Suppose, for a moment, that a Christian really could forfeit his salvation. Could the Bible communicate this concept any more clearly?

Suppose God universally extended to mankind the ability to choose. Could the Bible make this any more obvious?

(And, is it possible to reconcile the above questions with Calvinism without writing an entire book for just one of them?)

I am not so much soliciting a response[1] as I am just appealing to your integrity as a student of the Bible.

Love Offers A Choice

We understand that one of the inseparable characteristics of God’s nature is His love (cf. 1 John 4:8). Yet, how can He love all of mankind without giving mankind the choice to love Him in return? Does He force His Spirit into the hearts of some, while refusing His Spirit into the hearts of others? True love gives others the choice to love in return. Is the God of Calvinism (who predetermined who will be saved) more loving than the God portrayed in Scripture (Who plainly seems to have extended the offer of salvation to all people)?

Please give this honest consideration, as I know you will. I understand the reality of God giving mankind a choice to obey Him is not without tremendous theological consequence. If human beings really do have free moral agency – and if they can elect to fall from grace just as well as they can choose to accept grace – then Calvinism crumbles.

Your fellow lover of God,
Ben Giselbach

Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.


Notes:
[1]
Though, I myself am diligently pursuing truth. If you can help reconcile the above passages with Calvinism, you can E-mail me at ben@plainsimplefaith.com.
This article is an expansion of Benjamin Franklin’s, “A New Catechism For Calvinists,” The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Pages 93-95.

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4 Responses to A Note To Calvinists

  1. Scottie Squyres October 15, 2013 at 5:13 PM #

    Scottie Squyres Answer to Question #1-Scripture clearly says that “all have sinned and fall short.” This means that every human was destined for eternal hell, but God, who is rich in mercy, provided a way back to Himself through Jesus Christ. If every human being was headed to hell then God had to provide a remedy that could save all people. Christ died for All, but scripture also clearly says that not all people will be saved. The Blood of Jesus is sufficient to save all people, but it is only effective in those individuals who repent and trust in Jesus for salvation. “Christ died for All,” but only those “In Christ shall be made alive.” A person is made alive by being in Christ. I have no way of knowing who the elect is; therefore, I follow the command to “Make Disciples” and share the gospel.

    • Chuzzlewit October 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM #

      Scottie,

      The first petal of Calvinism’s ‘TULIP’ {saw what you did there Ben} is “Total Hereditary Depravity” which to Jean Calvin’s mind justified a destiny in an eternal Hell for every human being save one. This, of course, is a great deal different than Romans 3:23 […all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory…] where condemnation awaits those who have actually and personally sinned never choosing through the obedience of faith to gain access to God’s grace. [Romans 5:1-2]

      Calvin’s conception of a capricious and arbitrary “Sovereign” God consigning people before their very existence to eternal punishment is very different than the real God of us all who extends His mercy to everyone and grants it to all who choose to accept it.

      In the interests of Long-Walling,
      Chuzzlewit

  2. Julian (@ThatsJulian) October 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM #

    I started to respond to a few of them, but then I saw you aren’t looking for a response. So I’ll just say that your questions have answers if you’re willing to look for them…and there are probably plenty of credible online resources. Whether you’ll find those answers convincing or not is another matter, but rest assured we’ve thought about all of these questions at some point in time.

    • Ben October 15, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

      Julian,

      I don’t want you or anyone else to feel like I’m challenging them to respond, turning this into some sort of theological debate. Going back and forth over 30 unique points would be exhausting for any site’s ‘comments’ area. However, I do encourage you to respond if you are want to help me. Email me whatever you want to ben@plainsimplefaith.com. I can guarantee I will read and give careful thought to whatever you send me.

      -Ben

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