CALVINISM'S BLIND SPOT

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by William C, Feb 15, 2003.

  1. William C

    William C
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    Calvinism’s first blind spot is concerning there teachings under the doctrine called “Total Depravity” or better stated, “Total Inability.” They use analogies from scripture which speak of being “dead” or “enslaved” as support to prove that man’s will has been so corrupted, so “depraved” that it cannot in any way positively respond to the “general calling” of the gospel presentation or the “general calling” of the Holy Spirit which scripture clearly teaches is a “genuine universal calling” that goes out to all mankind.

    The real scriptural backing that Calvinism uses to support this theory is very convincing at first sight, because it does clearly teach that man cannot come to God without his first enabling them to come. Arminians don’t disagree with this, but the difference is that we believe the “general call” of the gospel along with the interpretive revelation of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to “enable” whosoever hears that call to respond in faith and repentance.

    The Calvinist insists that man is too corrupt, and cannot respond to any “offer” of salvation regardless of how genuine it might be laid out by the scriptures. Therefore, they contend that there must be a second more powerful calling than the first. An “effectual calling” that only comes to God’s “elect” and will most certainly and effectually lead them to faith and repentance.

    Where do they find support for this teaching of “Man’s Inability” and the “Effectual Calling” in the scriptures? It is there. Man’s inability and effectual calling are clearly taught in scripture, but Calvinist misapply them, taking passages that are intended for one purpose and applying them to another unrelated issue. Please let me explain:

    The blind spot for Calvinists is there inability to differentiate between scripture’s teachings concerning man’s fall (original sin) and it’s teachings concerning the hardening of Israel for the purpose of in grafting the Gentiles (as explained in Romans 9, 10 & 11).

    These teachings include passages such as:

    “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes; Therefore I [Jesus] tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [speaking to Israel] and given to a people [Gentiles] who will produce fruit.” Matt. 21:42-43

    “…You will be ever hearing but never understanding…this people’s heart has become calloused…otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” Acts 28:25-28

    “What Israel sought to earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect (refers to the Remnant in verse 6 who were Jews that were not hardened of which the apostles were the first fruits) The others were hardened, as it is written: ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day…because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious…I [Paul] make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as fristfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy.…But they [Israel] were broken off because of their unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant [listen up Calvinists], but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God; sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. [ouch] And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Rom. 11:7-25)


    We can see from this passage that there are three groups of people:
    (1) Remnant – those chosen from among the Jews to carry out God’s plan of redemption, namely the apostles;
    (2) Hardened Israel – those given over to their depraved hearts, blinded by the callousness and unable to believe Christ because of the veiled message and active hardening (for a set time) of God for the purpose of in grafting the Gentiles.
    (3) Gentiles – those being grafted in through faith in the gospel message which is the power of God unto Salvation first to the Jew then to the Gentile.

    Each of these groups are very distinct in the scriptures and as readers we must be careful not to apply teachings concerning one of these groups to a universal Soteriology for all mankind. WHICH IS THE MISTAKE CALVINIST MAKE!

    If you were blind to the teachings concerning the “hardening” of Israel for the purpose of in grafting the Gentiles I could see how you would mistakenly misapply texts like those found in John chapter 6 to man’s total inability. It does say, “No one can come to me unless he is enabled by the Father.” That sounds like everyone is hardened doesn’t it.

    But what does that verse mean in the light of the teachings concerning Israel’s hardening?

    Who was Jesus’ audience in John 6? Israel: Hardened Israel and the Elect Remnant. Jews are questioning him about how to fulfill the works that God requires. He tells them that the work of God’s requiring is “to believe.” They go on to ask for signs and Jesus says to the Jews who, according to scripture are being hardened, “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

    Who are “all that the father gives” to Jesus? The ones who have not been hardened. The ones who have been reserved from Israel for a divine purpose. The remnant or the apostles! How do I know for sure?

    Keep reading. Verse 64 goes on to say, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enable him…many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him…You do not want to leave too, do you? Jesus asked the Twelve…Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?”

    In the light of Israel’s hardening this passage in no way must mean that everyone is “chosen” in the same way that the “twelve” were “chosen.” They are the Remnant spoken of in Romans 11, which is not talking about Gentiles at all. When John 6 took place the message hadn’t been taken to the Gentiles yet. Peter hadn’t had his dream about allowing the Gentiles in and Paul, “the apostle to the Gentiles” had not yet been called.

    I can hear one of you thinking, “What? Is he saying that people are saved in different ways? That’s not possible!!!”

    We are all saved by Grace, which is accomplished in the propitiation of Christ on the cross. But God implements various methods of bringing salvation about in the lives of his people, as clearly seen in these passages.

    (1) The Remnant were Jews from God’s elect nation. In Salvation history, these were, “holy firstfruits” (Rom. 11:16) “set apart from birth;” the first fruits of grace; the first to be called by Christ; the first and only to be appointed as Apostles through a divine calling. These were the unique messengers who were authorized by the Sovereign decree of God to usher in the gospel of Grace through faith in Christ. Of which the nation of Israel was elected to do: provide the means of redemption to the world.
    (2) The rest of the Jews were hardened until the full number of Gentiles comes in (Rom. 11:25). In Salvation history, these are hardened for the purpose of grafting in the Gentiles and with the "hope" of "arousing envy” within them (Rom. 11:11-14). If they believe in the message they can be grafted back in. So salvation comes to these through faith in Christ IF God has “enabled” them to be grafted back in. (Rom. 11:23)
    (3) The Gentiles were not hardened as Calvinists seem to assert in their teachings of Total Depravity. “They will listen!” (Acts 28:28) They are the “foolish” ones that the scripture speaks of that will “accept what Israel rejects.” Gentiles belief and acceptance of the gospel through faith provokes envy in the hearts of the Jews. “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” (Deut. 32:21/Rom.10:19)

    In summary, scriptures dealing with Jews in the Hardening and Effectually Calling process during his ministry on earth should not be applied to a doctrine of Salvation for all mankind. Here are some questions for Calvinists to consider:

    1. The Remnant spoken of in Romans 11 are those chosen from among the Jews that avoid hardening, supernaturally received grace, and were revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom. How does scriptures treatment of the Remnant differ from its treatment of Hardened Israel and the Gentiles? Why?
    2. Why doesn’t this apparent difference contradict Calvinism’s doctrine of Soteriology which assumes that all men are hardened in the same way as Israel was hardened in the first century; therefore insisting that all believers must be called with an irresistible calling as were the elect Remnant?
    3. Why would Paul “hope to arouse” the Jews to “envy” in order to “save some of them” if Paul truly believed it is God’s “effectual call” that will ultimately lead to their salvation? Could it be that envy could be a motivator of man’s will? How many people are working long hours and building up debt, and striving with all their might to keep up with the Jones. Envy is a powerful motivator of man’s will! How does the Calvinist handle this obvious teaching that man’s will, affected by envy, can lead to salvation?
    4. Where does scripture specifically link Gentiles “inability” to respond to the genuine universal call of the gospel?
    5. Where does scripture specifically link “irresistible grace” or “effectual calling” to the Gentiles?

    Without these links Calvinism assumptions that “Total Inability”(hardening) and “Irresistible Grace”(effectual calling) apply to the salvation of all who are saved are completely unfounded. Therefore totally undercutting their entire foundation for Soterilogy.

    I await your answers.

    With Respect,
    Bro. Bill

    P.S. I realize this is a long post, but if you really want to debate the issues it requires that you deal with all of information and not just little cliché statements that we so flippantly bat back and forth, so please just take a few minutes and read through this. Thank you for you time.
     
  2. Pastor Larry

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    Bill

    Having read fairly widely and being conversant with the issues at hand, I can say with good confidence that you are not even in the ballpark on the vast majority of your arguments, this one included. You have constructed a number of assumptions and proceed on the basis of that assuming your assumptions to be correct. However, they clearly are not, as has been demonstrated in other threads. Total depravity and inability are clearly taught in Scripture and have nothing to do with Romans 9-11 and the hardening of the Jews. Such doctrine is based on teh clear statements regarding the ability of natural man.

    Thus, your pursuits in this forum have so far been off base with respect to the actual issues of conversation that proceed in the theological world. I encourage you to reevaluate your whole approach here, to examination the assumptions from which you operate in order to arrive at a solid conclusion.
     
  3. Rev. G

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    What about 1 Cor. 2:14? Or Rom. 8:7-9? Or Jn. 3:18-20? Or Rom. 1:18-32? Of course, there are a lot of other verses as well. Perhaps you missed these because of your blind spot.
     
  4. William C

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    Pastor, with all due respect to you, isn't this a forum for debate of the "assumptions" that we believe the scriptures support? You say that my arguments are based upon my assumptions which can be clearly refuted, but you yourself are either not willing or able to support your assumptions in the light of these arguments nor are you willing to "clearly" show that my "assumptions" have no bases.

    You avoid dealing with any of the questions I presented or addressing any of the issues that I brought up. You are treating me like Arminians have often treated you on this board and quite honestly I expected more from you than that.

    If you don't consider my arguments valid at least show me enough respect to tell me why they are not valid scripturally. I have done that for you in every post you have presented, most of which you have simply ignored....revealing.

    Just because I'm not the typical ignorant Arminian that you are used to dealing with on this board does not give you the right to merely dismiss by arguments as being based upon my assumptions. What do you think the Yelsew, 4study, and the other Arminians base their arguments upon, scripture? Are you saying they too don't make assumptions too? Are you saying that they have scriptural support for their assumptions and I don't, so somehow they are worth addressing and I'm not! That's just nonsence. It's a ploy to avoid arguments that you don't know how to handle without having to actually think for a change. Your "pat answers" don't work on me so you just label me and dismiss me. It's easier that way I guess.

    My conclusions in this post are drawn directly from the passages I presented and no refutation was offered for those conclusions.

    If you don't want to debate me, that's fine. But don't pretend that you have already refuted these arguments, because you have not. You have only labeled them and dismissed them. That's all. Therefore my conclusions stand waiting for refutation and not mere dismissal.

    With all due Respect,
    Bro. Bill
     
  5. Yelsew

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    Brother Bill, I generally agree with you and believe that you hit it out of the ball park. However I have difficulty with this,
    The truth of the matter is that God has already enabled man to not only hear the calling, but to believe the calling is for him as well as all other men, and to repent from his sinful way, change his own direction of travel, and return to the standard God established for man. And God provides his Holy Spirit to support the one who believes and acts on that belief.

    The Cross of Calvary marks the demarkation point where God enabled man to hear the call, believe the call, repent, and return and thus be regenerated into the Family of God. It is a done deal, God is not going to do more than he has already done for man. It is now up to man to respond to the call just as it was up to the prodigal to recognize his state and get up and return to his father. If you do not believe, you are self condemned, and will die in your unforgiven, unrepentent state! And you will be cast into the lake of fire at the final judgment.
     
  6. Frogman

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    To apply this parable in this way is to assume man to be born children of God. Man is not so born, if so, why does he need the new birth? Man is born deprived, universally, of all nations. To disregard this is to build your own blind spot as to the nature of God and of man.

    Man was created in the image of God, except that man is corruptible and God is not. Man was corrupted by the fall; now all men who are born since, must come to Christ through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, or none will come at all, without the intervention of the Spirit, which is by the will of God, there is no man who knows or understands his need to come to Christ.

    Bro. Bill, even when scripture is used to refute you, your claim is the same, that you have been labelled and dismissed. So refuting you is futile, this is o.k., but to continue to cry foul because you have been labelled and dismissed is tiring.

    I respect your right to present your argument as you see it. I do not believe scripture supports you collectively. As I have said before, if you would be objective about the matter, I can prove that men should cut off their appendages because of offenses. But this is not collectively supported by scripture, so, I stick to what is found from beginning to end and compare spiritual things to spiritual.

    Whether I agree with you, Yelsew, Romanbear, or any other in support of the 'free-will' of man, I would gladly stand next to you and defend your right to believe these things. But, this does not mean I have to commune, or fellowship with you. If that means I am labelled as ignorant, then so be it. I can handle being called ignorant because it is not a doctrine of mine nor any other man which I espouse, the Glory of my beliefs rest upon Christ, and does not turn upon the free-will choice of a sinful creature.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas

    Bro. Dallas
     
  7. Yelsew

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    Did not the Prodigal separate himself from his "wealthy" father because of sin? He wanted to sow wild oats, etc. He did not want to merely split from dad and build his own "empire" as dad had done.

    The Parable stands as an illustration of what man did with Father God, and what Father God does for man who recognizes, realizes, repents and returns to God. Sorry you don't see that from your impirical lofty point of view!
     
  8. Frogman

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    We are born children of disobedience. God redeems His elect from this number. Until we are redeemed, we are children of disobedience, loving and doing a lie more than the truth.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  9. William C

    William C
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    I Cor. 2:14 -- If you would have read my post you would see that I, along with all Arminians, believe that man cannot receive truth unless it is revealed by the Holy Spirit. This revealing or discerning, however can be accomplished through what the "general calling" such as is seen in Rev. 22:17. The Calvinist insist that their must be a second more "effectual" revealing from the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish salvation. This is what is not supported in the text.

    Rom. 8:7-9 -- this passage says nothing about a sinful man's "inability" to believe the revelation that is brought by the Holy Spirit through the power of the Gospel. It is merely speaking of those who have the Spirit verses those who are still in the flesh. It does not say man cannot have faith or believe in Christ because of their flesh or their "carnally". It merely says that men cannot please God when they are in the flesh. This is a truth in which we all agree. You must apply your assumption based upon other falsely applied scriptures in order to use these passage as support for your view. It does not stand alone as a support for Calvinism nor Arminianism for that matter. Why? It only addresses a point in which we agree about, it does not address "Man's inability" to respond to God's call.

    John 3:18-20 -- Once again this verse cannot stand alone as support for either view. It merely addresses the difference between those who believe and those who don't or between those who practice darkness and those who practice truth. It doesn't address man's inability to respond to God's geniune call to faith and repentance. Also, it could be argued that the "men who loved darkness rather than light" were the men who rejected light. Who rejected Jesus when He was on earth? The Jews. So, this verse COULD be refering to "His people's" rejection or hatred for him because of their hardenness to the things of God. Either way it says nothing in support of "Total Inability."

    Romans 1:18-22 -- Once again this passage does not answer any of the questions presented. We all agree that sin have affected us in a huge way. We both agree that God has in a sense bound all men over to disobiedence so that he may have mercy on them all. (Rom 11:32) But the scripture doesn't say that the Gentiles were hardened as were the Jews. Again this passage says nothing about man's inability to respond to God's geniune call of the gospel. It merely teaches our common doctrine concerning sinfulness of mankind.

    Who has the blind spot now? None of the passages say anything about man's inability or God's effectual call, yet you seem to think they do. Who is the one bringing their assumptions to the text?

    You must assume that John 6 is applicable to the Soterilogy of all mankind and that the general calling of the Holy Spirit through the gospel is not sufficient to "enable" its audience to respond.

    Assumptions, Assumptions, Assumptions

    Where is your scriptural support???

    With Respect,
    Bro. Bill
     
  10. William C

    William C
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    The truth of the matter is that God has already enabled man to not only hear the calling, but to believe the calling is for him as well as all other men, and to repent from his sinful way, change his own direction of travel, and return to the standard God established for man. And God provides his Holy Spirit to support the one who believes and acts on that belief.

    The Cross of Calvary marks the demarkation point where God enabled man to hear the call, believe the call, repent, and return and thus be regenerated into the Family of God. It is a done deal, God is not going to do more than he has already done for man. It is now up to man to respond to the call just as it was up to the prodigal to recognize his state and get up and return to his father. If you do not believe, you are self condemned, and will die in your unforgiven, unrepentent state! And you will be cast into the lake of fire at the final judgment.
    </font>[/QUOTE]The difference between what you are saying and what I'm saying has no real affect on the debate at hand, since we both do agree that God has "enabled" all who hear the message to respond.

    But their is one big difference. The Bible never says that the Cross is the "demarkation point" at which time everyone was "enabled" to respond. This removes the necessary working of the Holy Spirit which comes in the presentation of the gospel to all who hear it.

    Your position seems to state that the Holy Spirit enables people to respond apart from the presentation of the Gospel. That to me is not scriptural and will only hinder your efforts in debating Calvinists who are very aware of the scripture's teaching in this matter.

    I beg of you to reconsider your position for the sake of the gospel and the power with which it comes to all mankind.

    With Respect,
    Bro. Bill
     
  11. William C

    William C
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    We are all born children of disobedience. Agreed, nothing about this implies that anyone is unable to respond to God's geniune calling of repentance and faith.

    You have ignored my questions and my arguments by simply restating your assumptions without any scriptural support. Is Npetreley rubbing off on you? [​IMG]
     
  12. William C

    William C
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    Pastor Larry, Rev. G., Dallas

    Can any of you address any of the 5 questions that I presented. How about just number 3:

    3. Why would Paul “hope to arouse” the Jews to “envy” in order to “save some of them” if Paul truly believed it is God’s “effectual call” that will ultimately lead to their salvation? Could it be that envy could be a motivator of man’s will? How many people are working long hours and building up debt, and striving with all their might to keep up with the Jones. Envy is a powerful motivator of man’s will! How does the Calvinist handle this obvious teaching that man’s will, affected by envy, can lead to salvation? (Romans 11)

    How does this teaching in Romans reconcile with your beliefs of man's will?
     
  13. Yelsew

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    Applying labels to one is your judgment of that one, and you are ALWAYS wrong in doing so!
     
  14. grateful4grace

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    What part of "Without me ye can do nothing" don't you understand?

    grateful4grace
     
  15. Frogman

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    In regard to your question concerning Paul arousing envy among the Jews; I would say that Paul understood the need to preach the Gospel among all peoples; God has His elect, Paul did not know who anyone of these were any more than we do, but, Paul's commission was to preach the Gospel. He did this, and he was contented to permit God to call whosoever He willed and he was content to trust God in what ever condition he was in; because this condition was seen by him as divinely appointed opportunities to preach the Gospel.

    Modern efforts teach us we must make these opportunities ourselves, thus much of the effectiveness of the Gospel is hindered, why, because the doors that are being walked through, were opened by divine appointment.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  16. William C

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    And what part of the power of the Holy Spirit in the presentation of the gospel do you not understand?

    We don't disagree that nothing can be accomplished apart from Christ. It's your misapplication of my beliefs that lead you to that false conclusion.

    Can someone be saved apart from Christ? NO

    Can someone believe in him apart from the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16)? NO

    Would the gospel exist apart from Christ's work? NO

    Would the gospel have the power unto salvation apart from the Spirit's calling? NO

    Does that necessarily prove that the Spirit's calling MUST be absolutely and undeniably "Irrestiable?" NO

    Does the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ prove that man is completely unable to respond postively to Christ's genuine calling in the power of the gospel? NO - NO - NO

    If I say yes to His call he gets all the glory, if I say no to His call I take on all the responsiblity!

    Now that's a paradox worth accepting!

    With Respect,
    Bro. Bill
     
  17. William C

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    Yes, he did understand that need to preach the Gospel among all people and no he didn't have any idea who would belief his message. And I agree he had to trust God Spirit in the power of the gospel message to affect the lives of those who heard his message.

    Dallas, all of that has nothing to do with my question. How does the characteristic of "envy" lead to "salvation" if man's will is not involved. You avoid that question by answering another question that we don't disagree about.

    What purpose does "envy" play in the role of salvation unless it is to affect man's will or desire?

    CAN ANY CALVINIST ANSWER JUST THAT ONE QUESTION FOR ME SO WE CAN POSSIBLY MOVE ON TO ONE OF THE OTHER 4 THAT HAVE GONE UNANWERED?
     
  18. Primitive Baptist

    Primitive Baptist
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    When God ordains the end, He also ordains the means.
     
  19. William C

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    Your cliche answers are merely avoiding my arguments.

    What was God's end desire in regard to man? 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4 says His desire is that no one perishes but for all to be saved. Paul teaches that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

    The "end" is Reconcilation.

    What are the means that God ordained to reach those ends? In short, His ordained plan included the hardening of Israel (Rom. 11) except for a Remant who were to divinely appointed to preach the message of the gospel to the Gentiles who unlike Israel "will listen" (Acts 28:28). The ones who hear the powerful message of the gospel and believe it by faith which will always lead to repentance will be saved. The rest will turn away and follow their own natural lusts and desires and get what their refusal to beleive deserves.

    Here are the ordained ends and the means. Nothing you say answers any of my questions or my arguments. Your "pat answers" don't fly here.

    With Respect,
    Bro. Bill
     
  20. William C

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    Did not the Prodigal separate himself from his "wealthy" father because of sin? He wanted to sow wild oats, etc. He did not want to merely split from dad and build his own "empire" as dad had done.

    The Parable stands as an illustration of what man did with Father God, and what Father God does for man who recognizes, realizes, repents and returns to God. Sorry you don't see that from your impirical lofty point of view!
    </font>[/QUOTE]Well stated Yelsew! [​IMG]
     

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