Monday, August 8, 2011

Irresistible God? A Considerate Search into Calvinism, Part 4 of 7

Irresistible Grace is another topic of contention. Were this doctrine true, then believing on Christ (the criterion for salvation according to the New Testament) is mistaken. God quickens someone to eternal life before the gospel can even be heard or believed on; in other words, your choice is removed because according to Calvin, were you left to yourself you would never believe the gospel.

Therefore God saves you before you are even aware of it and faith is unnecessary; then you hear the gospel and believe it because God grants you grace to! What happened to “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17? There are many more such passages in the Bible. Man’s will or choice is rendered void; God has chosen for you, and you will believe because He elected you to believe; your decision merely becomes the response of a higher will co-opting you and choosing on your behalf. I do no contest that God the Holy Spirit does not draw men to the Son (John 12:32); but man is capable of drawing back, Hebrews 10:39.

Is this grace? Christ preached about those the Father draws coming to Him, but He also condemned men for refusing to believe, and pled with men to believe on Him for eternal life. In fact John 6:65 appears to be the clarification of the concept of being “drawn” as mentioned in verse 44. Jesus tells the Jewish crowd: “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” If we follow the Bible’s teaching that salvation is for all men then this passage means the Father is drawing all men to Him so that they might be saved. Note it is not written that all men will be saved; only those who are first drawn and then “come, verses 35, 37,” and “believe, verses 35, 40;” obviously the same thing. This is fitting since God the Holy Spirit came into the world to convict it of its need of Christ and its ungodliness, John 16:8-11. The “drawing” may occur many times when the gospel is clearly preached by the power of the Holy Spirit, 2nd Corinthians 5:20. God has granted us the privilege of coming to Christ in faith; it is nothing man can demand of God, but only something God in mercy gives of His sovereign will, Romans 9:15.

All of Jesus’ pleading is reduced to stage thunder if the doctrines of Calvinism are true; for Christ more than anyone would have known who would believe because He already gave them faith to believe; the rest He denied so He might destroy them. The entire Bible becomes a repeated farce as God “pleads” with a vast majority He already knows can’t hear Him! Why? So they might be held more accountable and without excuse. This is not Biblical, moral, or logical. How can man be justly punished for only doing what he is compelled to do? How can they be without excuse when, according to Calvinism, they possess no free will? God strives with men until they adamantly reject Him, Genesis 6:3; and then He begins to harden them. No man knows when this occurs; that is God’s business. But moral responsibility and divine punishment make sense if this is so; Calvinism absolves man of his responsibility by removing from him his God-given responsibility.

If man is incapable of choice, and our ruin in Adam so depraved our will that it is subordinate to our desires (which are always evil) then God in essence engineers evil, because He engineered the Fall, and every repercussion thereafter. Murder, rape, theft, war, abortion, etc, are the byproducts of God’s elective purpose in the unregenerate because He was pleased to harden them and turn them in that direction, so He might punish them. Punish them for what, one must inquire? Doing only what God created them to do, apparently. This is not just judgment, and the reason we are so repulsed is because God instilled a conscience in man that makes this thought abhorrent; that our Creator could be more tyrannical in His sovereign will than His creatures could ever perpetrate. Again and again, Calvinism appears to be the product of a brilliant human mind, both Calvin and Augustine: a Roman Catholic mystic who was greatly responsible for implementing and endorsing so much of the heresy that permeates the Roman Catholic Church of today.

Augustine, who most Calvinists admit John Calvin derived most (or all) of his doctrines from, is called a father of the Roman Catholic Church. In Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin cites Augustine more than 400 times as an authority that should silence argument. Yet Augustine also advanced the heresies and false doctrines of Mary worship, state churches, compelling the ungodly into church by force, executing heretics, baptismal regeneration, the replacement of Israel by the church, allegorizing Genesis’ creation account and Revelation, et al. Augustine was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, and Calvin was heavily influenced by Augustine. Much of what Augustine taught was incorrect and unbiblical; yet many proponents of Calvinism confess that John Calvin’s inspiration for the five points of Calvinism (not defined as such until after his death) was taken from Augustine. I find such a tainted source as one of Rome’s greatest champions a poor place to draw doctrine from. John Calvin began to write his Institutes when he was a convert to “Reformed Christianity” by perhaps two years.

One last thought about Irresistible Grace: if such grace overwhelms a predestined, Totally Depraved sinner to become one of the elect, why is their life not a shining example of His Irresistible Grace every day thereafter? Conformity to Christ-likeness and spiritual maturity are God’s intended goals for every saint; why do all of the elect not demonstrate this? Would God grant Irresistible Grace only to save you, and not to mature you? Or are the elect capable of resisting God’s will once they have been regenerated? Thoughts to ponder.

Again, God desires all men to be saved as the Bible declares, but man must believe on Jesus Christ as preached in the gospel to be saved. The criteria for salvation is faith in Christ, as the New Testament goes to great pains to teach; see John 3:15-17, 36; 5:24; 6:35; 7:37-38…the list goes on and on. God’s justice must be satisfied before mercy can triumph over it. Faith is not a work, as the Bible declares, Romans 4:4-5; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9. Man believing on God for eternal life is tantamount to every leper, sick or maimed person coming to Jesus during His earthly ministry. They recognized their deep need, Jesus’ ability to supply that need, and pled for His mercy. Jesus was happy to respond to their faith, and every time God received the glory. Those healed praised God and worshiped Jesus; see John 9:38 for an example. God won’t believe for us, which is exactly what Calvinism states He will do, in no uncertain terms.

The elect will be saved because God’s will cannot be thwarted, while the reprobate will suffer eternal punishment because God determined to send them there; it was His sovereign pleasure, and His will cannot be thwarted. But if man’s moral capacity to believe the gospel when it is heard is removed, then any talk of “morality,” “judgment,” “justice,” “mercy,” and the like are pointless: everything hinges merely on a script arranged by God from eternity past, and all who live (elect or reprobate) are only playing the roles God cast them in. This is fatalism. Word this any way you wish, but Calvinism in all honesty makes God a puppet master, not genuinely concerned with saving men but working out some mysterious secret will that pleases Him to save someone apart from faith in Christ, while condemning others for no reason, though He could save them. This is the God of the Bible? Or is this the God of John Calvin? As I stated before, God either extends His hand in mercy to all—that whosoever may come—or He withholds it from all and sentences us, without exception, to Hell. Calvinism proposes to resolve the apparent limited power of a God who wishes to save all but “cannot” by suggesting that He actually doesn’t wish to save all, nor does He love all, despite many Scriptures that state entirely the opposite. Calvinism limits the Holy One of Israel, Psalm 78:41.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that Calvinism limits God far more than whosoever will. John Calvin's doctrine involved a lot of other questionable teachings as well because he was not willing to accept God's word at face value.

    Great Post.


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