What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Issues in Calvinism

Steven Hayes
Dr. Steven Hayes Continue in My Word
"To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)
The Five Points of Calvinism (i.e., TULIP) are a logically consistent soteriological system. Beginning from the first point, Total Depravity [1], the subsequent points of Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints seem to necessarily follow. It is this elegant and logical consistency that can be very intellectually satisfying, accounting for Calvinism's power of attraction for many thinking believers. Logical consistency alone, however, is not the standard of truth. Rather, "[God's] word is truth" (John 17:17), and it is against the absolute standard of "the law and the testimony" (Isaiah 8:20) that every claim must be measured.
calvinism tulip

Total Depravity

The deviancy of Calvinism from the plumb line of Scripture begins with its understanding of Total Depravity. Scripture asserts that the unregenerate man is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). Calvinists understand this assertion to mean that "the sinner is so spiritually bankrupt that he can do nothing pertaining to his salvation" [2]; he cannot even respond to God by exercising the personal faith required for salvation (Acts 16:30-31) without first being sovereignly regenerated by God [3]. From Paul's use of the word "dead" in Ephesians 2:1, Calvinists construct the metaphor of the unregenerate man as a corpse (R. C. Sproul) or a cadaver (John F. MacArthur); since a literal corpse would not be able to respond to God in any way, the unregenerate man cannot either. Many Calvinists prefer the term Total Inability over Total Depravity to better express this concept, but based on their own analogy of corpse/cadaver the most accurate expression would be utter inability.
Metaphors (by definition) are partial, incomplete representations of reality; they inevitably break down when pressed too far. The Calvinist's metaphorical construct of a physical corpse for the unregenerate man goes too far. For example, a physical corpse, in addition to being unable to believe, is also unable to sin, and yet the unregenerate man has no impediment to such an activity whatsoever. Scripture clearly presents a picture in which all men are commended by God to believe in order to be saved (e.g., Isaiah 45:22; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:30-31), along with the implication that it is possible for unregenerate men to do so (e.g., John 6:40; 7:37; Revelation 22:17). The Calvinistic construct of the unregenerate man's abilities/inabilities clearly lies beyond the true picture one sees in Scripture. Thus, although the subsequent four points may logically follow from the first, they suffer from an unbiblical understanding of Total Depravity that proves fatal for the system as a whole.
For additional analyses of Calvinistic teaching compared to Scripture, see:
Endnotes
[1] "The view one takes concerning salvation will be determined, to a large extent, by the view one takes concerning sin and its effects on human nature. It is not surprising, therefore, that the first article dealt with in the Calvinistic system is the biblical doctrine of total inability or total depravity." David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1963) 24.
[2] Steele and Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism, 25.
[3] An axiom of Calvinism is that regeneration precedes faith.

2 comments:

  1. Systematic deconstruction of the TULIP points is great to see laid out in such a thorough manner, but I think there is one single verse that refutes it: God is not willing that any should perish. The Calvinists forget that salvation is a covenant. A covenant isn't a covenant unless it is between two (or of course more) parties, and a covenant does not become binding until both parties agree to it. No one can force another into a covenant. Jesus said "this is my blood of the new testament/covenant, which was shed for MANY for the remission of sins.
    Not willing that any should perish, yet his blood was shed for "many"? (Why not all?) What about the rest of them which He is not willing for to perish, yet for whom, ultimately, his blood was not shed? If I die and bequeath seven family members a thousand dollars, and only three ever show up to claim it, did my death in any way enrich the other four? No. Was it my desire (and provision made) for it to do so? Yes! But God's Word is written from "hindsight" of God's position outside of time. He knew before the foundation of the world how many and which ones would reject His gift. I grew up in a Calvinistic church. My own parents didn't even know that was the official stance of the church, (obviously it wasn't preached upon) but because I briefly attended a Christian school affiliated with that denomination, I was taught the specifics and at that age, I didn't give it much thought. When I began studying the Bible extensively on my own, just me, with the Bible and the Holy Spirit teacher, it wasn't hard to see that Calvinism's points don't hold up. But when I say this to anyone of my friends still in that "tradition" they act as if I have blasphemed God. And it doesn't help to remind them that John Calvin was not one of the holy prophets and original writers of scripture. It's just that intrinsic to their overall doctrinal baggage. The point in this article that Calvinism appeals to the pride of intellect, is spot-on!

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    Replies
    1. Your points are good. The problem is that they confuse some of the Old and New Testament.
      It is always good to hear the testimony of someone who has been raised in a religious system and comes out of it knowing what they are talking about from their 1st hand experience that nobody can deny.
      After many years of studying Calvinism and involvement with Reformed Presbyterian and Baptist churches, I finally gave up even discussing the subject. It is to no avail.

      Now let´s look at the fruit.
      Just by studying the biography of Calvin and the history of Calvinism and what happened on Geneva should be enough to convince people that it is a man-made system using the Bible as justification of their doctrines.

      The Scriptures enjoin us to imitate good role models like Jesus and Paul. Why would I want to imitate a man who was a despotic ruler, lording over the populace of Geneva, putting those who disobeyed his laws in prison, had several dissenters put to death and controlled everybody with fear, punishment and retaliation?
      Even John Fox, the Scottish reformer encouraged one of his English lady disciples to accompany him in his travels in the south of France for long periods of time because the poor soul was bored with her husband who was not as spiritual as John Knox. What kind of behavior and example is this for a man of God to counsel a wife to abandon her husband for her intellectual, spiritual pursuits.

      Even the word ”reform” should give a clue about the intent of the Reformers. Can we really hope to change or improve the corrupt, false Roman Catholic Church man-made system?
      And let´s not forget the “Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants”. Were they Inspired by the Holy Spirit who teaches us and guides us? Is there any place in the Scriptures where Jesus of Paul commands us to start a religious civil war and wars between countries with a regular army while the common populace is suffering from deprivation, hunger and diseases?

      So not even getting into a theological discussion, we can see the great errors of such systems.

      Yesterday I was meditating on the woman at the well. Here we have Jesus in person, revealing WHO HE IS, Messiah and WHAT HE DOES, give eternal life to a stranger and a pariah among the jewish people.

      According to John 4:25 the woman said: Christ will explain everything to us. Isn´t it what proclaiming the Gospel is and teaching the scriptures that point out to the Savior and his works for mankind?
      Then, the townsmen believed the testimony of the woman and asked Jesus to stay with them so they could hear his words for themselves and they ended up knowing that the Lord was the Savior of the world.

      The Lord is the living God, we have his Spirit dwelling in us and we have his Word teaching and guiding us in to all truth. We believed because we heard the word, it was explained to us, and we chose to believe because Jesus drew us to with love, mercy and grace, offering pardon if we accepted his terms, nothing compulsory, nor irresistible. Many years ago, I looked up the word “to draw” in the Greek as used by Jesus when he said in John 12:32-33 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
      It doesn´t mean to drag forcefully as in a fish net, but to attract to oneself without compulsion or coercion.
      Isn´t it what the Great Commission entails: to go and teach what Jesus commanded , so people would repent, believe, be saved and receive the gift of eternal life? Isn´t it how we come to believe and become born again when the seed of the Word is planted in our heart and the Holy Spirit marked us with his seal as his property?
      I read in one of the books I read that Calvin never gave a clear testimony of his being born again of the Spirit. Well, that would explain a lot!

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