Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Calvinism: Contrary to God's Character

Since the start of my undergraduate education, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different Christian beliefs. This has created interest in, and has sometimes forced me to, examine these beliefs to see if there is any credibility. One of the major ones I’m familiar with now is Calvinism.
John Piper is a prominent Calvinist preacher beloved by many

I’ve learned the core beliefs of Calvinism through study and debate with friends. I’m not saying that there aren’t passages that seem to support their beliefs or that I have all the answers off the top of my head. But the biggest argument against Calvinism is the reality of who God is as explained in the Bible. This is not an in-depth analysis of TULIP; perhaps that can come later. Rather, I want to look at a few key attributes of God that conflict in a major way with the Calvinist definition of “predestination”. These make it just about impossible for me to ever think God chooses ahead of time who will go to Heaven and Hell:

“For there is no respect of persons with God.” –Romans 2:11

“Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” –II Chronicles 19:7

“Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment…Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just? Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly? How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.” –Job 34:12, 17-19

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear…” –I Peter 1:17
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…” –Acts 10:34

In the article, “God is no Respector of Persons,” Caleb Colley says:

The Greek word translated “respecter of persons” in the King James Version of Acts 10:34 (“God is no respecter of persons”) is prosopolemptes, a word that refers to a judge who looks at a man’s face instead of at the facts of the case, and makes a decision based on whether or not he likes the man (Lenski, 1961, p. 418).

Thus Calvinism meets its first contradictory truth in the Bible. The belief is that God makes His grace irresistible to some so that they must become Christians, but others He refuses. This would show an obvious respect of persons with the Righteous Judge. He who does not respect persons will not predetermine different eternal fates for people. To arbitrarily choose Hell for one person and Heaven for someone else most certainly does not hold true to what His Word says about Him.

Colley also opens up a number of verses that show the free will of man:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve…” –Joshua 24:15

“For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings…” –Isaiah 7:16

“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!” –Matthew 23:37

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” –Revelation 22:17

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” –Ezekiel 18:20

Every person is responsible for his own actions. Furthermore, every person has the opportunity, of his own free will, to choose to accept or reject God’s mercy.

I have been told that I diminish God’s sovereignty by believing so strongly in free will. On the contrary, it makes the better case. If God chose ahead of time, there would be no need for prediction. But when God does not choose for people, but still knows who will choose of their own free will, His sovereignty is put on display. God is entirely possible of knowing who will be saved without actually forcing them into Heaven.

Under the reasoning of Calvinism, God created Adam and Eve AND caused them to sin. It wasn’t enough just to know; He had to do it. James 1:13 tells us that God does not even tempt us with sin, much less force us to. God created Adam and Eve, yes, knowing that they would sin. But He did not cause them to sin. In the same way, God created me knowing that I would be saved. But He did not choose salvation for me.
John MacArthur is another prominent Calvinist preacher.

Furthermore, the Bible’s promise is clear on the availability of salvation:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” –John 3:14-16

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” –Romans 10:9-13

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” –Revelation 22:17

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered…” –Joel 3:28, 32

Peter applied Joel’s message on the day of Pentecost, the springboard of those events to come:

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” –Acts 2:21

Let’s examine the Greek word translated “whosoever”:

Pas – all, the whole, every kind of

The word pas has the denotation of parts of a totality. The context of John 3, as we all know, is of the whole world. Hence, anyone (“all”) on the Earth who believes on Jesus “will have everlasting life.” This is a fatal blow to a belief that claims God is partial to some but not all. Calvinist Bibles must come with a lot of asterisks.

As I mentioned, Calvinism is a perverting of God’s nature. Possibly the hardest thing a Calvinist must grapple with is a special attribute of God:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” –I Peter 3:9

In the midst of discussing God’s coming judgment, Peter was inspired by God to pen these words. God’s justice demands that He punish the wicked (Nahum 1:2-3), but His love for the chief of His creation is mighty. He is merciful well beyond what we deserve (Psalm 103:8). He desires to know us. Every one of us. God wants “whosoever” to repent and begin a relationship with Him. He does not desire for anyone to go to Hell.

Under this attribute of God, if He were to predestine us He would predestine us all to Heaven. But the Bible is clear that there are people who face eternal punishment by God. If you are not a Calvinist, the explanation is very simple. God wants us to repent and turn from our destruction. But He is just and will punish the sinner. Although He wants us to be saved, He will not force us, but rather gives us the free will to choose to come to Him – just as He did with Adam and Eve in the beginning.

We have equality in that we are all born sinners and are all in need of God’s mercy. Calvinism destroys that equality under the belief that God has predestined some people to go to Heaven, and has chosen others to go to Hell. This also makes the Great Commission pointless. Any arguments I have heard about God still allowing us in His plan are rather unconvincing, since these same individuals believe that the “elect” have already been chosen. If our fates are sealed regardless of what we do, evangelism is pointless. In fact, any service to God is pointless. But since Calvinism is an unbiblical belief, there is no reason to explain away massive parts of the Bible that speak to God’s merciful nature, our free will, and the command to tell the world about the life they can have through God.

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