Calvinism – the losing debating team!
This post is written in response to a recently-received email from a calvinist who will remain nameless other than he is a calvinist.
Calvinists do tend to come up with some ridiculous statements when trying to defend the indefensible. I so often wonder just why they are prepared to demonstrate themselves to be fools when trying to defend their non-Biblical doctrines from the Bible. But, they are determined to be seen as Christians, and, not only mere Christians, but the better, more on-the-ball Christians who serve a more sovereign God who shows more grace to fewer people. (Were you expecting another “more” there? Sorry, that’s one thing the calvinist God will not ever do: his grace will only be shown to a very small minority of people. The calvinist God just doesn’t care enough about most of the people he allegedly created; as far as he is concerned, they can all go to hell! Literally!)
God having the final say proves man has no free will?
But, don’t just take my word for it. Observe what the calvinists demonstrate themselves to be! Here’s a comment recently received in an email from this calvinist: I can see that we also agree that even though a man calls out to God for salvation it is God who has the final say, which tells me that mans free will is non existent. Now, what sort of logic is that? How does having the final say (or the last word on a matter) prove that it is the only say? If I have the final say on a matter of disagreement between myself and another person, it is foolishness to suppose that the other person therefore had no free will to oppose me!
In fact, God desires that all should be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and that if anyone calls upon the name of the Lord, he will be saved (Romans 10:13). God offers the gift of salvation to all mankind and sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). God asks man to respond to this offer of salvation, promising to save to the uttermost all who come to Him (Hebrews 7:25). When man responds, he is trusting in God’s promise to save him to the uttermost, and then God, being faithful to His promises, has the final say by accepting that person into His family as a child of God.
God’s final response is the culmination of a series of actions, but calvinism would have me believe that because His response is the final one, therefore it is the only one? Even the word “final” is defined as “coming at the end of a series”, so the final say would have to be that which comes at the end of a series of “sayings”. But, this is the logic of calvinism: that defines its logic as that which agrees with its doctrines; anything that doesn’t agree with its doctrines is therefore illogical.
Using logic to read the Bible leads to error?
But, says the calvinist, for me to use logic to determine truth is unacceptable. Clearly I am not to be permitted to use logic unless it is calvinist logic.
Let’s take another example from this calvinist email to further demonstrate this calvinist avoidance of logic: Now you refer to Rom 3:10-18 as man simply being unwilling to seek after God and this is a great example of you adding your logic to the express teaching of this verse. It matters not; even if man was willing (which he is not) he does not seek for God, can Paul be more specific about this verse, no he cannot. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS; NO ONE SEEKS FOR GOD, irregardless of mans ability to seek or not. If we were to add implications to scripture as you just did and not read it as literally as possible then its open slather for all to put their own two bobs worth in and how are we to ever come to the truth of God’s word. There are rules to follow and we must follow them. (sic)
So what is it that I said that was so logical yet so wrong? I had written: You quote Romans 3:10-18, yet not one bit of it can deny that it is merely the total unwillingness of man to seek after God; it can never be read as man not being able to seek after God. It says there is none that seeketh after God and yet where does it say that none are able to seek? Otherwise you cannot use this to prove man’s total inability to seek after God, just his total unwillingness to seek (which remains a matter of free-will!).
I simply pointed out that “not seeking after God” could not be re-written as “cannot find God”. “seeketh” or its negative “seeketh not” are acts of the will. When you look for (seek) something, you also have the option of deciding to not look for something. Unless qualified otherwise, “seeketh not” can never be re-defined as “can not”! Now that would indeed be illogical!
In similar fashion, I have been told by the same person: John 3: 3. (man must be born again first before he can repent and believe.) In this super clear verse our Lord and saviour himself tells Nicodemus that he cannot even see the kingdom of God unless he is born again first, surely that puts to rest that regeneration must take place first and foremost.
What the verse does say that Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. But calvinists then redefine “see” to mean “believe in” or “have faith in”, and suddenly the verse says what they want it to say. And this person has then stated that a man must be born again before he can repent and believe, based on this bit of verbal gymnastics.
Note the following from another calvinist teaching on John 3:3:
Further, Christ places regeneration by the Spirit as a requirement before one can “see,” i.e., believe or have faith in the Kingdom of God. He states quite emphatically that a sinner who is born of the flesh cannot believe the good news of the Kingdom until he is born by the Spirit. Thus according to the teaching of Christ, we believe because we are “born again.” We are not “born again” because we believe!
(P 8, Studies in the Atonement, Robert A. Morey)
However, proper Bible study must rely upon careful analysis of the context of the information, the meanings of the words in the Greek or Hebrew, the consistency of the derived meaning across the whole of the Bible, and particularly not reading into any verse information that is just not there in the first place. This may be termed a method of logical analysis. I highly recommend such a method to calvinists in order that they might seek the truth and see the error of their ways (or doctrines!).
When God uses foreknowledge, it isn’t really foreknowledge?
So, let’s look further at this email. It says: You have misinterpreted 1 Pet 1:2a the word foreknowledge (foreknown) does not refer to awareness of what is going to happen (for God never learned anything, he already knows all things) but it clearly means a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of the Lord.
Did he actually say that foreknowledge does not refer to awareness of what is going to happen? Does he realise that Luke, as a doctor, used a lot of medical terminology in his 2 books (Luke and Acts)? Foreknowledge is just one of those many medical terms. Foreknowledge is the Greek word prognosis which was first used as a medical term by Hippocrates as early as 400 BC.
“Prognosis (Greek πρόγνωσις “fore-knowing, foreseeing”) is a medical term for predicting the likely outcome of one’s current standing. (Wikipedia)
One of the earliest written works of medicine is the Book of Prognostics of Hippocrates, written around 400 BC. This work opens with the following statement: “It appears to me a most excellent thing for the physician to cultivate Prognosis; for by foreseeing and foretelling, in the presence of the sick, the present, the past, and the future, and explaining the omissions which patients have been guilty of, he will be the more readily believed to be acquainted with the circumstances of the sick; so that men will have confidence to intrust themselves to such a physician.”
For 19th century physicians, particularly those following the French school of medicine, the main aim of medicine was not to cure disease, but rather to give a medical diagnosis and achieve a satisfying prognosis of the patient’s chances. Only several decades later did the focus of efforts in Western medicine shift to curing disease. (Wikipedia)
Also note To trace the course of a disease through its various stages, and to be able to see what is portended by symptoms in different diseases and at different stages of those diseases, was an art upon which Hippocrates laid great stress. He called it πρόγνωσις (that is, “prognosis”), and it included at least half of the physician’s work.
(Hippocrates Collected Works I By Hippocrates Edited by: W. H. S. Jones (trans.) Cambridge Harvard University Press 1868)
And the calvinist thinks that foreknowledge does not refer to awareness of what is going to happen? If a doctor gives you a prognosis of what your future might be like if you should continue as you are, then is that not based upon an awareness of what is going to happen according to his expert understanding? And if Luke were a doctor, then he, too, would have been very much aware of the full meaning of such a word when he penned Acts 2:23 – Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
And it would be difficult to understand why Paul, who travelled so much with Luke, would not also have known the proper meaning of the noun form of prognosis (proginosko) when he penned For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).
And Peter, who had more contact with Paul and Luke than any other of the 12 disciples, wrote Elect according to the foreknowledge (prognosis) of God the Father (1 Peter 1:2).
So you will find it difficult indeed to prove that foreknowledge does not refer to awareness of what is going to happen, when the most logical and accurate translation of this medical term is, in actual fact, an awareness of what is going to happen. Of course, calvinists are forced to prove foreknowledge to be something else, because if foreknowledge is simply God’s perfect knowledge of the future, then all the other calvinist beliefs are shot down in flames!
And the calvinist writer of this email says: Now if you can find me one verse where it can be emphatically proven that God predestined his chosen elect because He first saw that we will choose him first, I will surrender in defeat. Sir, you are a liar, for I have given you 1 Peter 1:2a and you have refused to see the proper understanding of the verse. You are so obsessed with your belief that God unconditionally chose an elect group from the beginning of the world, that they (and only they) would go to heaven, and that no man may have the free will to decide one way or the other for himself. You say that such foreknowledge cannot explain the predestination of God. You said: If you study the true meaning of predestination you will realize that by looking into the future first before predestinating anyone does not give true meaning to the word predestined so your understanding of 1 Pet 1:2a is flawed.
But how can that be so? If God should use His foreknowledge (His perfect knowledge of the future) to determine who to write in the Lamb’s book of life, written before the foundation of the world, then do you tell me He is not allowed to do that? And having chosen His elect according to His foreknowledge, can God also then predestinate those people to be saved for all eternity according to His promises to save to the uttermost? After all, if God has a list of His elect from the foundation of the world, then He will do with that list of elect what He promises to do, regardless of whether the election is unconditional or conditional upon foreknowledge. How does being conditional upon the foreknowledge of God change one iota of what God says He will do with and for those elect of His?
Whether the election is conditional or not cannot change what God does with His elect group. Calvinists say the election is unconditional; the Bible reveals that it is conditional upon God’s foreknowledge. But regardless of how the election has been determined, God will use that list to determine the salvation of everyone on it. The true meaning of predestination is that anyone on that list will be saved to the uttermost according to God’s promises. It’s actually the list of the elect that saves everyone on it, not whether the list is unconditional or not! This waffling on about my understanding of 1 Peter 1:2a being flawed because of predestination must also condemn the calvinist election as well, for predestination is according to that list, not how it was obtained. So, we’ll let the Bible have the final say on this: Elect according to the foreknowledge (prognosis – which does indeed refer to an awareness of what is going to happen) of God the Father (1 Peter 1:2).
So how are the calvinists going to try and win this debate? They continually avoid facing the issues I raise by trying to dismiss good argument with unacceptable excuses. Here’s their chance to demonstrate that they can actually read the Bible alone for its truth. Thy word is truth – John 17:17.
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