calvinism

Calvinism

and why I am not

 

Introduction

 

Over the years I participated in many discussions between Calvinist and non Calvinist friends who are all fine, passioned and well versed Christians and it's about time to archive my conclusions in case I am tempted again to participate in another discussion about Calvinism because I noticed it is an ever returning subject.

 

Calvinism | Reformed theology (among other things) is the teaching that Adam & Eve willingly choose to disobey God and because of this sin their offspring (thus the whole human race) is totally depraved and lost the ability (per Romans 3:10-12, the apostle Paul quoting Psalm 14/53) to turn to God and live.

 

A second main pillar in Calvinism | Reformed theology is the belief that God in His mercy (per John 6:44) is solely responsible for electing some, while the rest of humankind is denied access to Jesus. [John 6:44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him] and thus willingly by God are created and rejected destined to burn in hell.

 

  1. In Calvinism God is portrayed as unwilling to save everyone without telling why.
  2. In Calvinism God is portrayed as willing to save some without telling why.

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The Calvinist | Reformed way of reading Scripture

 

Calvinist | Reformed people will go at length to defend their theology on the below passages from Scripture until it no longer makes any sense.

Passage

Content

Calvinist | Reformed interpretation

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that only God's elect will believe in him and shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

Acts 17

26 - And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

 

27 - that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

27 - that some elect should seek God, in the hope that some elect might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from some elect of us,

 

 

 

 

 

Act 17

30 - The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

 

31 - because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

All people sould repent because all will be judged, doesn't mean those who do repent belong to the elect and will be saved.

 

 

 

2 Pet 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that some He elected should perish, but some He predestinated should reach repentance.

 

 

 

John 7

37 - On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

 

38 - Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

37 - On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone (of the elect) thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

 

38 - Whoever (of the elect ) believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

 

According to Calvinist doctrine anyone or whoever (per John 6:44,65) can only mean those who are drawn by Father God.

 

 

 

1 Tim 2

3 - This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

 

4 - who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

3 - This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

 

4 - who desires only some He selected to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

 

 

1 Tim 2

5 - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

 

6 - who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

It's comon among Calvinists to say Christ did not die for all, only for the elect.

If John, Paul and Peter were Calvinists then they were spreading untruths giving

people (believers and unbelievers) false hope.

 

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On John 6:44 and 65

 

44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

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

 

In Calvinism God (by election) decides (permits) who can come to Jesus, God doesn't want to save everybody. John 3:16, Acts 17:30, 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 tell a different story, that it is God's desire to save everybody. Both can't be true, either John, Paul and Peter told untruths or the Calvinist interpretation of John 6:44, 65 is wrong. Here is a different take on John 6.

 

John 1:11 - He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

 

versus​

 

The Purpose of This Book [ESV]

20:30 - Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

In other words, one of the major themes in the book is the rejection of the religious Jews to believe Jesus was the promised Christ while notable He came to His own. We know that the Jews (and the 12 also for quite some time) expected a reigning Messiah and not a serving and suffering Messiah which played a major role in their unbelief and rejection.

 

In John 6 Jesus again is faced with the unbelief of the Jews, even among those who followed Him, after the speech many left (v66). And I think the key verses 44 and 65 are to be understood in this context.

 

44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

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

 

The belief that Jesus was the promised Christ, the Son of God (20:30) had to be given by the Father to break through the granite wall of unbelief and the wrong expectations of the promised Messiah.

 

John 6 was (is) about a Jewish problem, not ours.

 

We (gentiles) don't have a Jewish inheritance, we don't have to break with the law of Moses (a way of living) to accept Christ as the promised Messiah. Consider the following analogy to understand the Jewish perspective and suppose God would send a real prophet with signs and wonders to reveal some things that are hidden from the beginning of time. And how hard it will be for us Christians to accept new Scripture. It will be as hard as John 1:11 as quoted above. To accept the new revelations John 6:44, 65 might apply to some (many?) of us as well.

 

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On Romans 3:9-20

 

9 - For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,

 

Introduction how Paul is making his case that all people are sinners and are accountable to God. Followed by 6 quotes (v10-18) from the Old Testament that proves it. Among those six a quote from Psalm 14 and 53 which are almost similar.

 

10 - as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one;

11 - 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 Calvinism this quote from the Old Testament is taken to the extreme as to say that human beings utterly incapable of believing in, obeying, or pleasing God. By doing so, Calvinists remove the human will from the equation. If we are not capable of making a decision to follow Christ, salvation cannot be on at the basis of the human will, and must instead be on the basis of God choosing who is and is not save.

 

The question arises if Paul is giving v10-11 a new meaning (such as total depravity as Calvinism does) or should we interpret Ps 14 and 53 as they were meant to? I say the latter. A close reading of both Psalms the context is in the last sentence, it speaks about the Babylonian exile of approx 500 BC and the return of the Jews after the 70 years of exile. Surely these were bad days, they were exiled for a reason and living under pagan religion did not make things better and so the former verses match.

 

Ps 14:7 - Oh that the salvation of Israel [were come] out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, [and] Israel shall be glad.

 

Ps 53:6 - Oh that the salvation of Israel [were come] out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, [and] Israel shall be glad.

 

The apostle Paul did not make a case for Calvinism, the conclusion of these 6 Old Testament quotes is in v19;

 

19 - Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

 

Also:

 

Matt 16:27 - For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

 

By necessity, this requires that human beings have the ability to choose good or choose evil. If we do not have this ability – if we are incapable of choosing good – then it logically follows that we cannot be justly held responsible for our evil. This is the reason why people can be found “not guilty on reasons of insanity” in the court of law. Without a meaningful will ability to choose good or evil, one cannot be justly held responsible.

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Closing comment

 

1 John 4:8 - Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

  1. In Calvinism God is portrayed as unwilling to save everyone without telling why.
  2. In Calvinism God is portrayed as willing to save some without telling why.

 

Both points are untrue, it's God's love and desire that all should reach repentance (2 Pet 3:9) because (lucky for us sinners) for God so loved the world (John 3:16).