A recent Time magazine feature, which highlights “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,” has been making the rounds on the theological ‘nets. Coming in at #3 is “The New Calvinism,” which author David Van Biema describes as “Evangelicalism’s latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination’s logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time’s dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.”

Justin Taylor’s blog Between Two Worlds is mentioned in the Time piece, and Taylor thinks “David Van Biema did a very nice job at seeking to find out what’s really happening and to identify some of the key beliefs and voices.” Shane Vander Hart similarly calls Van Biema’s piece “a pretty fair summary.” (Taylor also points to another Time article highlighting a “Calvinist comeback,” dating from 1947 and which relies heavily on Clarence Bouma of Calvin Seminary.)

One place where Van Biema is certainly right is to point to hymnody as a relevant source for gauging the spiritual state of the church. Van Biema opens his piece by noting,

If you really want to follow the development of conservative Christianity, track its musical hits. In the early 1900s you might have heard “The Old Rugged Cross,” a celebration of the atonement. By the 1980s you could have shared the Jesus-is-my-buddy intimacy of “Shine, Jesus, Shine.” And today, more and more top songs feature a God who is very big, while we are…well, hark the David Crowder Band: “I am full of earth/ You are heaven’s worth/ I am stained with dirt/ Prone to depravity.”

In a critically important article for the interaction between Reformed theology and the broader evangelical world in Calvin Theological Journal (vol. 43 [2008], pp. 234-256), Calvin Van Reken (professor of moral theology at Calvin Seminary) examines the changes to the Christian Reformed Church’s Psalter hymnal over the years.

In “Christians in this World: Pilgrims or Settlers?” Van Reken compares the “old” vision, captured in a song like “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” with the “new” transformationalist vision, which is represented in omissions or alterations of “older” hymns.

He gives Rev. George Croly’s “Spirit of God, Who Dwells within My Heart,” which dates from 1867, as an example. When Croly wrote the song, it began, “Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, / wean it from earth.” In its current form, the song begins, “Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, / wean it from sin, through all its pulses move” (emphasis added).

Van Reken concludes that “Rev. Croly was praying in particular for grace that would help him be weaned from attachments to this world. In Reformed churches today, this is rarely sung or spoken. After all, because our world belongs to God, should we not feel at home here?”

As Van Reken also notes in the article, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew Philip Yancey passes along the words of his former minister Bill Leslie, who “told him that as churches grow wealthier and wealthier, their preferences for hymns changes from ‘this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through,’ to ‘This is my Father’s world.’”

It’s worth considering as “The New Calvinism” becomes a force for changing the world the extent to which “Calvinism,” or better “Reformed theology,” is also changed, and not always for the better. Van Reken’s critique and engagement with the “new” view is an important one that ought to be thoughtfully considered by all proponents of “The New Calvinism.”

There are some real positives in the new vision, and some correctives to the old vision that need to be taken seriously. But as Van Reken summarizes, “The new vision can also generate a real problem: It focuses all our attention on this world and the good we can do. In so doing, the hope of heaven can be diminished, with the result that some come to love the world and the things in it. In a word, it helps us become worldly.”


  • Roger

    It has been sad for me to watch John McArthur and Charles Swindoll embrace the Calvin’s predestination. Muslims also believe that Allah micromanages life, but they are honest enough to admit that Allah causes people to sin. Are Calvinists willing to admit that? Maybe so, they are quick to surrender free will, but it makes nonsense out of the many verses in the NT in which Jesus and the disciples beg people to repent.

    When discussing predestination, I always go to the parable of the wedding feast in which the king invites the nobility to his son’s wedding. The nobility, representing Israel, refuse, so the king tells his servants to invite the rabble in the streets (gentiles). After the wedding feast has begun, he finds one of those at the wedding without wedding garments on (the righteousness of Christ) and has him thrown out into outer darkness. Jesus concludes the parable with “Many are called but few are chosen.” In that passage Jesus demonstrates that God’s selection is not arbitrary, as Calvinists claim, but is based upon our response to the call.

    Also, in the parable of the sewer and the seed, Jesus never mentions predestination, only our response to the hearing of the gospel.

  • jaiotu

    Contrary to what Roger says, Jesus and the disciples are not seen in the New Testament BEGGING people to repent. They COMMAND sinful man to repent.

    Comparing the Calvinist view of a Sovereign God to the Islamic view of Allah is fallacious, and is an often-repeated statement from those taking their theology from Liberty University or preachers who have graduated therefrom. God does not CAUSE sin, but God decrees sin exist. And let us not forget to get our council from the WHOLE of God’s word; Isaiah 45:7 tells us “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The non-Calvinist must either ignore these words or dance around the plain meaning of the text in order to mold God into the image of their imaginations.

    When discussing Predestination, it is much better to turn to a didactic passage than to a parable. While the parable here is useful, and does teach predestination (it says few are CHOSEN, not few CHOOSE,) attempts to make a parable “walk on all fours” can lead to interpretations that don’t line up with the rest of scripture. Let us not forget Romans 8:28-30, where the clear teaching of God’s word is that our election is an action of God not based on any foreseen goodness in sinful man.

    And, while the parable of the sewer and the seed do not mention predestination; neither do many other Biblical passages. The mere fact that predestination is not in view here does not negate God’s work in predestination.

    “Jesus answered them, “I have told you, but you do not believe it. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify on my behalf, but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep.” John 10:25-26

    Please note, that the Jews whom Jesus was talking too were not Christ’s sheep because the DID NOT BELIEVE, instead THEY DID NOT BELIEVE BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT HIS SHEEP. Without election and predestination, this could not make sense. Before they could believe, they would have to first become Christ’s sheep. Christ’s sheep

  • SWolf

    Contrary to what Roger says, Jesus and the disciples are not seen in the New Testament BEGGING people to repent. They COMMAND sinful man to repent.

    So as opposed to reaching his hand out in love to give one a chance to love in return, we have a dictator commanding by fiat to love?

    God does not CAUSE sin, but God decrees sin exist.

    God allows sin, but is not responsible for it, we agree there.

    And let us not forget to get our council from the WHOLE of God’s word; Isaiah 45:7 tells us “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The non-Calvinist must either ignore these words or dance around the plain meaning of the text in ordr to mold God into the image of their imaginations.

    Context, context, context. In many Bibles evil is interpreted as calamity. Isaiah was talking about natual disasters, disease, etc, not the theological evil. Look at the verse before it.

    6That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other,

    When discussing Predestination, it is much better to turn to a didactic passage than to a parable. While the parable here is useful, and does teach predestination (it says few are CHOSEN, not few CHOOSE,)

    Why were they chosen? Because they HEEDED his call! It’s a two way street. What would be the point of reaching out to someone if you had no intention of letting them go to the feast?

    attempts to make a parable “walk on all fours” can lead to interpretations that don’t line up with the rest of scripture.

    So can quoting scripture out of context.

    Let us not forget Romans 8:28-30, where the clear teaching of God’s word is that our election is an action of God not based on any foreseen goodness in sinful man.

    Yes, it says THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, not those who God has chosen to love. He knew who was going to freely accept Him from the very beginning. That is very different than God directly forcing.

    And, while the parable of the sewer and the seed do not mention predestination; neither do many other Biblical passages. The mere fact that predestination is not in view here does not negate God’s work in predestination.

    “Jesus answered them, “I have told you, but you do not believe it. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify on my behalf, but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep.” John 10:25-26

    I understand the linguistic reasons you believe this. Using everyday reading of the passage however it states but they are not of his sheep because they refuse to believe even after all his works and refuse to listen, not because he chose to have them not believe because they weren’t arbitrarily chosen.

    Please note, that the Jews whom Jesus was talking too were not Christ’s sheep because the DID NOT BELIEVE, instead THEY DID NOT BELIEVE BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT HIS SHEEP. Without election and predestination, this could not make sense. Before they could believe, they would have to first become Christ’s sheep. Christ’s sheep

    That’s an incorrect reading of the passage, and runs contrary to many other things Jesus said. The prodigal son makes no sense if read with this in mind, nor his chastisement of the Pharisees.

    Actually, that hits the main problem with Calvinism. If there is no free choice, the entire Gospel message does not make a lick of sense. The thought that man is responsible for sins he has no choice but to commit is contrary to Justice. Why would Jesus choose to die for sins that GOD BY FIAT forced humanity to commit? Why would Jesus chastise the Pharisees for their lack of faith when it is BY GOD’S FIAT that they have no faith. A house divided against itself can not stand, and a god that chooses to force his creation to refuse to believe in him is insane.

    God is all powerful over his creation, sure, but that’s only part of the picture and not all of it. This misinterpretion was why the quasi-police state Calvin set up in Geneva went into existence. This is the logical consequence of Calvin’s theology. If might makes right, then there’s no room for love.

  • jaiotu

    SWolf,

    I completely understand why you are so quick to defend mankind’s freewill against and over God’s sovereignty. Even Christians, saved by God’s Grace, must contend against sinful flesh, and that sinful flesh rebels against accepting the ultimate reality of God’s complete control over the universe. No problem. That is the default understanding of fallen man and it is the default understanding that we read into the text of scripture. I’d like to correct some of your assumptions, if you don’t mind:

    So as opposed to reaching his hand out in love to give one a chance to love in return, we have a dictator commanding by fiat to love?

    This is an argument from emotion, not from scripture. In the United States, we have an understanding of what a dictator means that is almost always negative. When we call someone a dictator, it is usually intended to shed a bad light on the person. Yet, most Evangelical Christians are more than willing to ascribe the role of dictator to Jesus Christ after the Second Coming, where he is pictured sitting on David’s throne ruling the nations with a Rod of Iron. And remember, even if you represent the Gospel Call as “reaching his hand out in love to give one a chance to love in return,” the penalty for rejecting that love is still eternal punishment in Hell. This, still, sounds like a dictator, doesn’t it? God does not freely give man the ability to create his own eternal destiny. It’s either eternal life or eternal punishment for rejecting God. There is no “in-between.”

    Living in a nation ruled by a democratic republic unfortunately translates into misunderstanding against the monarchical nature of God. God is not an elected official, neither does he leave things up to a vote. He is a Soveriegn Lord who issues COMMANDS not requests.

    Context, context, context

    Agreed. Context is entirely relevant and is the goal of all good expository preaching. So, let’s look at the context.

    Yes, one possible translation of the Hebrew word “rah” here is Calamity. However, your assertion that God here is talking merely about natural phenomenon is not actually supported by the text and is, like I original stated, dancing around the text. Context is important. Since you had us look back to the immediate preceding verse, let’s look into the verses that follow, specifically verse 9; “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
    Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’

    Perhaps this sounds familiar? Paul, in his epistle to the Romans quotes this verse of Isaiah as part of his argument regarding predestination, anticipating precisely the arguments that you make against God regarding His right to choose. Let’s look at that passage from Romans 9, remembering that Paul’s usage of Isaiah 45 in Romans 9 helps us to understand the context, since the Apostle certainly could not be accused of quoting Isaiah 45:9 out of context:

    “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

    So here we read that God’s mercy DOES NOT depend on Human Will. It is entirely of God who will have mercy on who he will have Mercy. If fact, to illustrate this Paul shows us how Pharaoh was raised up BY GOD for the specific purpose of showing God’s power through Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s Word and God’s servant, Moses. In fact, when we read the story of Exodus, we read that God took an active role in hardening Pharaoh’s heart against God. There is nowhere that we read any mention of God “reaching out in love” to Pharaoh. God chose to pour His wrath out against his wrath against Egypt and to show mercy to Israel why? Because Israel chose God, or because go chose Israel? This is key. You see, Paul anticipates that mankind will complain against God, seeing His sovereign choice in creating some vessels for honor, and other vessels for dishonor as being injustice. From man’s perspective, this would be bringing evil (or calamity) on the vessel intended for dishonor, according not to man’s choice, but according to the fashioning of the Potter. Yet the Scripture makes it clear that we have no more right than a lump of clay does in complaining about the purpose for which we have been fashioned. Remember the words of Joseph to his brothers in Genesis 50, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The key here again is intent. Selling someone into slavery, especially your own brother is evil. Joseph’s brothers intended and planned this evil act as an evil against Joseph. However, God intended and planned that this evil act would be used for God’s greater good. God sovereignly intended this act of evil would take place. But as Paul says in Romans 8, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” we can know that, if ALL MEN (everyone, without exception) are “called according to His purpose,” then all things must also work together for them also. This would mean that everyone, even those who reject Christ, since they were called, must be therefore rewarded with good. Either God calls only the elect, or the universalists are correct and no one actually goes to hell.

    Now. Back to the parable of the wedding feast.

    Jesus is of course using hyperbole here. The situation is outrageous. A king invites people to a wedding feast. In reality, these people would not have passed up such a wedding invitation. Not only would it be an invitation to free food, but it’s also just plain rude. And especially outrageous for these invitees to kill those bringing the invitation. Of course, Jesus isn’t presenting a real wedding feast here, he’s describing how people respond to the Gospel. People actually killing someone for inviting them to a wedding is outrageous, but it is a good illustration of the persecution that those who preach the Gospel can expect from the world.

    Those who rejected the king’s invitation represent, in general. The people on the highways are strangers whom wouldn’t normally be invited to a wedding feast. These represent the Gentiles, whom the Jews despise. The workers gathered together all of these, both Bad and Good. And not just those Gentiles who may be reckoned good, upright citizens, but also the bad. The invitation is given regardless of one’s moral behavior.

    Now, importantly, you said, “Why were they chosen? Because they HEEDED his call! It’s a two way street. What would be the point of reaching out to someone if you had no intention of letting them go to the feast?

    Very good question! Why do you suppose the king invited the first group? The parable says that they weren’t worthy to come to the feast. If they weren’t worthy, why did the king call them? Paul answers this quite exactly in Romans chapter three; “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

    You say that they were “chosen because the HEEDED his call.” That’s not quite the whole story here. They were chosen when the king put forth the call. There is not a single indication the anyone from the second group who were called rejected that call. Even the one who came not dressed in wedding garments HEEDED the call. Yet he ended up in outer darkness.

    Once again, this is a PARABLE. Many times, Jesus explains His parables to the disciples, thus giving us a clear explanation of what the parable means. He does not do this with this parable, thus we should interpret this parable in light of clear teaching, rather then interpret clear teaching by our assumed understanding of the parable. Thankfully, Paul’s teachings regarding election, the effectual call of the Gospel and predestination are clear enough that, if we are only willing to allow scripture to interpret scripture, gives us a framework in which to understand this parable.

    So can quoting scripture out of context.

    Agreed. Since I can assume that, unless you reject Paul as an Apostle, you will agree that Paul would not have quoted Isaiah 45:9 out of context in the Gospel presentation of Romans 9, then that you will agree with me that my original citation of Isaiah 45 is, in fact, in context.

    Yes, it says THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, not those who God has chosen to love. He knew who was going to freely accept Him from the very beginning. That is very different than God directly forcing.

    No. You assume that God knew who was going to “freely” accept him. Let me ask you, did God know that Paul was going to “freely” accept Him, or did God use His own means to affect a 180 degree turn around in Paul’s life on the road to Damascus? I hold that Paul’s conversion is the rule, not the exception. God uses means to call the elect. God prepares each of His elect so that, once they are Born Again, they will respond to God’s call through the exact means that God intends.

    Regarding my quotation of John 10:25-26, you said, “I understand the linguistic reasons you believe this. Using everyday reading of the passage however it states but they are not of his sheep because they refuse to believe even after all his works and refuse to listen, not because he chose to have them not believe because they weren’t arbitrarily chosen.”

    Seems like you are agreeing that the passage linguistically says exactly what I say it does, but you are refusing to read it the way it is actually written. You’re right. The “everyday reading” of the passage refuses to allow the language here to speak for itself and substitutes the clear teaching that they did not believe because they were not Christ’s sheep with the man-centered idea that they were not His sheep because they refuse to believe. That’s not what the passage actually says, but because it doesn’t agree with your traditions, you are willing substitute the reality of the Word of God with one that more quickly agrees with your preconceived beliefs about the role of man’s free will in salvation.

    “That’s an incorrect reading of the passage, and runs contrary to many other things Jesus said. The prodigal son makes no sense if read with this in mind, nor his chastisement of the Pharisees.

    I would disagree. The parable of the prodigal makes perfect sense to me. Nor do I see anything contrary in Christ’s teaching here with any of Christ’s other teachings.

    a god that chooses to force his creation to refuse to believe in him is insane.

    You’ve just said that you don’t believe in the God of the Bible. As already illustrated, God was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that, all the while that he was using Moses to bring about the emancipation of Israel, he was also using Pharaoh to hinder that emancipation. It would appear that God is working against himself, a “house divided,” as you say. Yet what is clear is that God is using both of these acts for a single purpose; to glorify Himself. Likewise, God puts forth a general command to all of humanity to repent, knowing that He will only mercy those on whom he will have mercy, the elect. He is glorified by his great show of mercy that he should spare even so much as a single one of us, and he is equally glorified in the unelect sinner by showing forth His perfect, Holy Justice.

    This misinterpretation was why the quasi-police state Calvin set up in Geneva went into existence. This is the logical consequence of Calvin’s theology

    This is an argument from emotion, not based on historical fact, and intended merely to color all of Calvinism with an argument against the man John Calvin. We’re not called Calvinists because we follow John Calvin, and defend everything that the man ever did or ever said. To reduce the argument to this level is to completely ignore the history itself.

  • Roger

    I haven’t visited this debate in over 30 years, so it’s kind of comforting, but kind of depressing, too, that nothing has changed. The arguments for and against Calvin’s vision of predestination are pretty much the same as they were when he first came out with it.

    Rules for interpretation, hermeneutics, exist and I’m certain that Calvin’s predestination violates most of them. The plain sense of scripture is that God sometimes commands, but very often begs people to repent. Remember Jesus crying over Jerusalem because he wanted to gather them as a mother hen gathers her young under her wings? Jesus doesn’t say that he knows that he can’t gather them because they were predestined, so weeping over them doesn’t make any sense. He wept because they refused his invitation, not because he had predestined them to hell before the foundation of the world.

  • SWolf

    I completely understand why you are so quick to defend mankind’s freewill against and over God’s sovereignty.

    I said nothing of the sort. God is entirely sovereign. Man has free choice given to him by God. There is no contradiction

    Even Christians, saved by God’s Grace, must contend against sinful flesh, and that sinful flesh rebels against accepting the ultimate reality of God’s complete control over the universe. No problem. That is the default understanding of fallen man and it is the default understanding that we read into the text of scripture. I’d like to correct some of your assumptions, if you don’t mind:

    And I’ll do my best to state why Calvin’s seminary is giving a very poor understanding of God’s eternal love for ALL of humanity :).

    This is an argument from emotion, not from scripture.

    The shoe fits, however.

    Yet, most Evangelical Christians are more than willing to ascribe the role of dictator to Jesus Christ after the Second Coming, where he is pictured sitting on David’s throne ruling the nations with a Rod of Iron. And remember, even if you represent the Gospel Call as “reaching his hand out in love to give one a chance to love in return,” the penalty for rejecting that love is still eternal punishment in Hell. This, still, sounds like a dictator, doesn’t it?

    The penalty is self inflicted. Hating God makes one hate himself, since he came from God. How can this irrational hatred result in anything else BUT eternal torment?

    God does not freely give man the ability to create his own eternal destiny.

    But He does give the choice of which eternal destiny to choose.

    Living in a nation ruled by a democratic republic unfortunately translates into misunderstanding against the monarchical nature of God. God is not an elected official, neither does he leave things up to a vote. He is a Soveriegn Lord who issues COMMANDS not requests.

    He is a Soveriegn Lord who humbled himself to die a humiliating death on a cross in payment of the sins of a people. The Calvinist idea of God glorifying himself and the biblical understanding of God glorifying himself seem to be at odds.

    Yes, one possible translation of the Hebrew word “rah” here is Calamity. However, your assertion that God here is talking merely about natural phenomenon is not actually supported by the text and is, like I original stated, dancing around the text.

    No, you are taking the wording most convenient to your theology.

    rah; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral):– adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease(-ure), distress, evil((- favouredness), man, thing), + exceedingly, X great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Incl. feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.).

    let’s look into the verses that follow, specifically verse 9; “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
    Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’

    I read: Why do you question what God brought about in your life? Why do you question why God created you? This verse is more in line with my interpretation than yours.

    “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

    A Calvinist digging up Romans 9 is about as predictable as the sun rising in the morning. *cracks knuckles*, let’s roll!

    This is stated well in Job. There’s nothing in here that states God arbitrarily damns people.

    So here we read that God’s mercy DOES NOT depend on Human Will.

    I never said that it did depend on human will. My point is God shows his mercy to ALL people, and ALL people have a choice to accept or refuse the offer.

    It is entirely of God who will have mercy on who he will have Mercy.

    And he showed mercy on all of humanity by Jesus’ death on the cross. Do we accept his Grace is the question. It is still solely through God’s grace that we are saved.

    If fact, to illustrate this Paul shows us how Pharaoh was raised up BY GOD for the specific purpose of showing God’s power through Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s Word and God’s servant, Moses. In fact, when we read the story of Exodus, we read that God took an active role in hardening Pharaoh’s heart against God.

    WHOA WHOA WHOA!

    Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.

    Exodus 9:34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.

    Sounds like Pharaoh did a little hardening of his own. So Pharaoh refused to acknowledge God, and God hardened his heart afterwards ( a logical consequence)

    There is nowhere that we read any mention of God “reaching out in love” to Pharaoh. God chose to pour His wrath out against his wrath against Egypt and to show mercy to Israel

    Moses came several times to Pharaoh demanding to let his people go. God in His foreknowledge knew he wouldn’t. No problem here. That doesn’t entail double predestination however.

    why? Because Israel chose God, or because go chose Israel? This is key. You see, Paul anticipates that mankind will complain against God, seeing His sovereign choice in creating some vessels for honor, and other vessels for dishonor as being injustice. From man’s perspective, this would be bringing evil (or calamity) on the vessel intended for dishonor, according not to man’s choice, but according to the fashioning of the Potter. Yet the Scripture makes it clear that we have no more right than a lump of clay does in complaining about the purpose for which we have been fashioned.

    So God has intentions for how you should live your life, and for things that happen in your life, and we have no right to question their eventual goodness. This is stated very well also in the book of Job. Still none of this implies double predestination, that he also determines your eternal salvation from the start. Are you getting to your point?

    Remember the words of Joseph to his brothers in Genesis 50, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The key here again is intent. Selling someone into slavery, especially your own brother is evil. Joseph’s brothers intended and planned this evil act as an evil against Joseph. However, God intended and planned that this evil act would be used for God’s greater good.

    God allowed the evil act to occur and made a greater good out of it. Whatever man’s actions, the Lord can make good come out of it. He is God after all :). That doesn’t mean he actively made it happen, he passively allowed it to happen, though he could have stopped it if he wanted to.

    God sovereignly intended this act of evil would take place.

    Nope. God never intends evil, it would be to CAUSE sin and would go against his very nature. Unless you want to backpedal and agree with Roger that God is the architect of sin(an act of evil) you don’t have much footing. Evil is an attempted deprivation of Good (unless you’re a dualist). He allows evil for the higher good of giving men the chance to choose him freely.

    But as Paul says in Romans 8, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” we can know that, if ALL MEN (everyone, without exception) are “called according to His purpose,” then all things must also work together for them also. This would mean that everyone, even those who reject Christ, since they were called, must be therefore rewarded with good. Either God calls only the elect, or the universalists are correct and no one actually goes to hell.

    1 Timothy Chapter 2:
    1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    4Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

    2 Corinthians 5:14-15: For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

    Romans 5:18: So, as through one offense, there resulted condemnation to all men, so also, through one righteous deed, there resulted justification of life to all men.

    So…. when are you becoming Universalist Jordan? :)
    Perhaps there’s a flaw in your reasoning somewhere?

    Jesus is of course using hyperbole here. The situation is outrageous. A king invites people to a wedding feast. In reality, these people would not have passed up such a wedding invitation.

    A rather big supposition.

    Not only would it be an invitation to free food, but it’s also just plain rude. And especially outrageous for these invitees to kill those bringing the invitation. Of course, Jesus isn’t presenting a real wedding feast here, he’s describing how people respond to the Gospel. People actually killing someone for inviting them to a wedding is outrageous,

    That was an allusion to Christ’s passion.

    but it is a good illustration of the persecution that those who preach the Gospel can expect from the world.
    Those who rejected the king’s invitation represent, in general. The people on the highways are strangers whom wouldn’t normally be invited to a wedding feast. These represent the Gentiles, whom the Jews despise. The workers gathered together all of these, both Bad and Good. And not just those Gentiles who may be reckoned good, upright citizens, but also the bad. The invitation is given regardless of one’s moral behavior.

    That’s a decent enough interpretation.

    Why do you suppose the king invited the first group? The parable says that they weren’t worthy to come to the feast.

    Christ through His sacrifice made them worthy.

    You say that they were “chosen because the HEEDED his call.” That’s not quite the whole story here. They were chosen when the king put forth the call. There is not a single indication the anyone from the second group who were called rejected that call.

    So it’s safe to assume they all accepted? Bad logic.

    Even the one who came not dressed in wedding garments HEEDED the call. Yet he ended up in outer darkness.

    The garments represented the good works. This is similar to what Jesus said about not everyone who says “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven if they were wicked people in life. Also a good refutaiton of sola fide.

    Once again, this is a PARABLE. Many times, Jesus explains His parables to the disciples, thus giving us a clear explanation of what the parable means. He does not do this with this parable, thus we should interpret this parable in light of clear teaching, rather then interpret clear teaching by our assumed understanding of the parable. Thankfully, Paul’s teachings regarding election, the effectual call of the Gospel and predestination are clear enough that, if we are only willing to allow scripture to interpret scripture, gives us a framework in which to understand this parable.

    Romans does not imply double predestination. Whenever a Calvinist says to just interpret based on scripture, he always means through Calvinist lens.

    No. You assume that God knew who was going to “freely” accept him. Let me ask you, did God know that Paul was going to “freely” accept Him, or did God use His own means to affect a 180 degree turn around in Paul’s life on the road to Damascus?

    Um, both? why the either/or?

    Seems like you are agreeing that the passage linguistically says exactly what I say it does, but you are refusing to read it the way it is actually written. You’re right. The “everyday reading” of the passage refuses to allow the language here to speak for itself and substitutes the clear teaching that they did not believe because they were not Christ’s sheep with the man-centered idea that they were not His sheep because they refuse to believe. That’s not what the passage actually says, but because it doesn’t agree with your traditions, you are willing substitute the reality of the Word of God with one that more quickly agrees with your preconceived beliefs about the role of man’s free will in salvation.

    When someone says 100 times a point, and then states one other thing that seems contradictory, you don’t throw out the 100 and grasp at the one, you either state a contradiction or try to reconcile it. He was saying that they refused to even think of a possibility that Jesus was who he said he was.

    Let’s look at a few more things Jesus says:

    Luke 5:31-32 Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
    I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

    Why call to repentance? Doesn’t he already know the elect?

    Luke 6:46 A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?

    So God is commanding, and there is disobedience?

    Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

    So he is calling and they are not heeding his call? Sounds like JESUS WANTS TO SAVE EVERYONE.(thanks Roger for the comment above)

    You’ve just said that you don’t believe in the God of the Bible. As already illustrated, God was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart,

    I’ve demonstrated otherwise.

    Likewise, God puts forth a general command to all of humanity to repent, knowing that He will only mercy those on whom he will have mercy, the elect.

    He’s issuing a command to people to repent when they have no choice in the matter. It’s all by God’s fiat that they repent and by his fiat that they are saved. With all due respect, if that’s what they’re teaching you in Seminary I would recommend you ask for your money back.

    He is glorified by his great show of mercy that he should spare even so much as a single one of us, and he is equally glorified in the unelect sinner by showing forth His perfect, Holy Justice.

    Your god seems more like a narcissistic puppeteer.

    The God of the Bible showed his eternal love for his sinful people, as was shown countless times as Israel turned away from the Lord. Love is a choice, and an action, and one can not be forced to love by definition. Our freedom is the greatest gift the lord gave to us, as we were created in his Image, and therefore acquired partially the freedom God himself enjoys. Our hearts always contain a longing for the Lord, but it’s our choice whether to follow it or not.

    This is an argument from emotion, not based on historical fact, and intended merely to color all of Calvinism with an argument against the man John Calvin.

    You shall know them by their fruits. In any case, the above demonstrates sufficiently why Calvin was wrong.

    We’re not called Calvinists because we follow John Calvin, and defend everything that the man ever did or ever said. To reduce the argument to this level is to completely ignore the history itself.

    I understand debating Geneva’s virtues is a losing battle on a forum dedicated to individual liberty. I’ll leave it at that since that’s not the crux of my argument.

  • http://www.youtube.com/jaiotu jaiotu

    SWolf,

    First, let me clarify; I am not Jordan. My comments are my own and should not be confused with those of the author of this article. Your comment seems to suggest that you might be confused on this matter; my fault for posting under a nickname instead of my given name. My name is Patrick.

    Second, I’m not going to take the time to respond to everything that you’ve posted. In my experience, these kind of debates tend to spiral out of control into lengthy arguments. Both of us are now posting comments that FAR exceed the size of Jordan’s article. I’m going to nip that in the bud.

    You’re statement regarding refuting Sola Fide says quite enough. Your obviously not merely opposed to Calvinism, but the entire Protestant Reformation in general. I do not possess the time or inclination to carry this debate down this road, especially in light of the fact that doing so would mean hijacking Jordan’s blog post to discuss issues that go far beyond the intent of this article. There are other forums more suited to this kind of conversation and debate.

    Peace and God Bless,
    Patrick

  • SWolf

    Whoa! Egg on my face! n any case, it was a pleasure debating, Patrick. God bless.

    -Tomas