I have a sincere question about Calvinism - (please no fighting)...

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Scarlett O., Feb 4, 2011.

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  1. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    First, let me say this is something that is burdening me for personal reasons as there are about 4 young couples in my church who are embracing Calvinism. They are TERRIFIC young couples deeply entrenched in faith and evangelism and I love them very much. Two of the couples have children and the others eventually will. There is something that I would like to talk to them about, but I am afraid of offending them, so I must take the coward's way out and bring the question here.

    I'd like to interject the question, not to stir up anything, but because I really would like to understand.

    First, here is my understanding of the doctrines of grace and Calvinism. I've copied and pasted this from a Calvinistic site. The parts in red are the parts I cannot adhere to according to the totality of the scripture.

    If all of mankind is being punished for the sins of Adam and Eve and are born "punished", then why would God punish them further by never loving them and never offering them the gift of His grace?

    The reprobates are punished twice, it would seem according to Calvinism.

    The are punished merely BY being born. They are born destined for hell because of Adam and Eve and predestined for hell because they are the non-elect or the reprobates.

    And they are punished FOR being born this way because when they die they will spend an eternity in hell for something that was pre-ordained for them to do. In other words, they were predestined to be born a punished reprobate and to be punished for all eternity for being born punished.

    That makes no sense to me. It doesn't even fit with something as elementary as John 3:16 nor the Great Commission.

    If it's true that God will refuse to save the reprobates or the majority of the world and will only save the "elect" or the minority, then why would one bring a child into the world? To me, it would be like play Russian roulette, with your child's soul. The odds are, Calvinistically speaking, that the child born will be a reprobate and doomed for hell no matter WHAT the "elect" parent does to raise the child in the Christian faith.

    Wouldn't someone who considers himself to be a member of the elect do a much GREATER good in adopting children that are already born and not taking the chance on bringing another reprobate into the world?

    This is something that I cannot reconcile with the Bible. I would truly like a sincere answer from anyone who calls himself or herself a Calvinist as to how they reconciled their beliefs about the predestined elect and the unfortunate pre-destined hell-bound-from-birth reprobates with their decision on having their own biological children.

    I am not looking to debate anyone and am not looking for a fight. I will NOT fight. I just am burdened and need an answer.
     
  2. Skandelon

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    Scarlett,

    I used to be a Calvinist but I will not attempt to speak for them, that wouldn't be fair. They are more than capable of answering these questions in regard to what they believe.

    However, you should know there are many different forms of Calvinism, just as in any group, so sometimes things can get a bit confusing. As a former Calvinist and one who has studied this subject for many years I believe the root of Calvinism's error begins with their doctrine of Total Depravity, which teaches:

    "Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not - indeed he cannot - choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ - it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation - it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner's gift to God."

    When I was a Calvinist I believed that all men were born in a condition where they are "ever seeing but not perceiving." As seen above, this is what the doctrine of Totally Depravity taught. Men are born totally unable to willingly believe the gospel...they are blind, deaf, and spiritually dead. I believed, as most Calvinists, that the gospel (apart from prior regeneration) is like water off a duck back...it goes in one ear and out the other...it can have absolutely NO positive effect upon a totally dead and depraved man.

    Now, however, I don't believe this to be the case. Don't get me wrong, I do still believe the condition described above is a real condition, but it is not a natural (from birth) condition of man. It is condition of a "hardened" man. One who has clearly seen and clearly heard and clearly perceived for a period of time, but who has also continually refused to accept the truth (example: the pagans described in Romans 1 who are "without excuse" because they did clearly see and understand the divine nature of God but refused to acknowledge him as such).

    Hardened men have "grown calloused" over time, but they were not born that way. This is why scripture warns that we should not allow our hearts to grow hard. (Heb. 3)

    Calvinists and I both agree that just because the truth can be clearly seen doesn't mean that it can be clearly perceived. The difference is that Calvinists believe this to be true of all mankind from birth, I do not. I believe passages such as Acts 28:21-28 support my view.

    Three mistakes I believe Calvinists make:

    1. They mistakenly apply passages having to do with God's choosing to save the Gentiles while temporarily hardening the Jews to support their view of the depravity of man's heart and God's election of certain individuals. Passages having to do with the hardened Jews are often used by Calvinists to support their doctrine of Total Depravity. Passages having to do with the revelation of God's choice to allow Gentiles entrance into the Covenant of grace are used to support their doctrine of Unconditional Election. (Example: See in John 6 how those Jews couldn't believe and come to Christ? That must prove all men are born in the same condition that the Jews were in during the time Christ was on earth)

    2. They misapply passages that are in reference to the way in which God chose his divinely appointed apostles by applying them to the method God has chosen to save all souls. Proof that God sovereignly hand picks his messengers in no way proves that He sovereignly hand picks who will and will not believe their message. (Example: See how God effectually called Paul? That must prove God effectually calls all believers)

    3. They fail to recognize that in the two passages that the term "predestination" is mentioned it is in reference to those who already believe. Believers are "predestined to be conformed to Christ's image." And believers are "predestined to be adopted as his sons." Neither of these goals have been accomplished in our lives but if we believe in Christ, God has predetermined that we too will be "adopted as His son and conformed to his image" in the future. (Example: God has predestined us to be conformed and adopted as sons, so that proves he also predestined certain people to become believers)

    I know that is a lot, but hopefully it will provide some clarity to why I have rejected Calvinistic doctrine.
     
  3. Aaron

    Aaron
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    Do you believe God hardened Pharoah's heart, or do you believe that Pharoah hardened his own heart?
     
  4. Amy.G

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    I would like to add that is why most people are saved at a young age. The older we get, the more hardened we get.
     
  5. quantumfaith

    quantumfaith
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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:

    It seems so much easier for children to believe, than it is for adults.
     
  6. Amy.G

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    Pharoah's heart was already hardened against the Hebrews and against God. That is why he persecuted them, pushing them into slavery and killing their babies.

    Moses lived 40 years in Pharoah's house so he knew of the Hebrew God, therefore there is no excuse. He could not say "God made me do it"

    However God did harden his heart to the point of no return, but it was a judgment against him.

    This hardening is clearly laid out by Paul in his letter to the Romans.
     
  7. quantumfaith

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    Scarlet,

    I have had this discussion (about children) with a former pastor,(Historical Baptist) I knew and he unashamedly showed the tension in his heart with regard to the "hope" that his children would be found among the "elect". As a parent, it caused him much anxiety. I do not know how or if he has resolved it for himself.
     
  8. Amy.G

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    Such is the kingdom of God. :)
     
  9. quantumfaith

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    It was both.
     
  10. Skandelon

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    Yes, both.

    There are two types of biblical hardening; each are described in detail below:

    1. Self-Hardening of the heart goes beyond the tragic obtuseness of our inherited condition in the Fall of man. Working on the fertile soul of our innately immoral hearts, the act of sinning hardens the heart into a stubborn rebellion against all that is good. So, people may harden their own hearts, in sinful rebellion, in bitterness, or in sheer self-will. (Ex. 9:34-35; 2 Chron. 36:13; Zech. 7:12; Dan. 5:20; Eph. 4:18; Heb. 3:12-15)

    2. Judicial Hardening -- In a few instances such as Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Ex. 7:3; 9:12), Sihon, king of Heshbon (Deut. 2:30), and the Hivites living in Gibeon (John 11:19-20), it is said that God hardened their hearts. Apparently these people were so irremediable in their rebellion against God that God entered into the hardening process so that he could accomplish his purposes in spite of, and yet in and through, that hardenness. It is God's prerogative, as God, to do this (Rom. 9:18-21). That they are morally responsible for their condition is a theological given, and we are warned not to harden our hearts as they did, a command that would make no sense if hardening were simply God's act (1 Sam. 6:6).

    Israel's hardening as a nation (as with Pharaoh) was an act of self-hardening followed by God’s act of judicial hardening as clearly portrayed in the scripture (Matt. 23:37; Rom. 10-11).

    God tells Isaiah that Israel, with its calloused heart, will reject him as God's messenger when he goes to them (Isa. 6:9-10). The event was taken as prophetic by Jesus (Matt. 13:14-15) and Paul (Acts 28:25-27) as referring to Israel's rejection of Jesus as God's Messiah. For Paul, Israel's hardening paved the way to a ministry of ingrafting the Gentiles (Rom. 10-11; Acts 28:28) and was not intended by God to be final, but only until the fullness of the Gentile’s ingrafting was accomplished.

    Only the Word of God has the power to cut or pierce a hardened heart (Heb. 4:12) and he has given that word through his Son, the Apostles, the scriptures and by his Spirit all of which can be resisted and ignored as seen throughout the Bible as the hardenness and callousness of the heart only grows thicker with each act of rebellion.
     
  11. Aaron

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    Did God love Jacob and hate Esau before either were born? My questions are for Scarlett.
     
  12. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Hmm, I didnt get saved till is was in my 50's.....honestly I was having too much fun to be saved. I think your going to find guys today postponing marrage until their 30's & beyond. Why wouldnt you put your entire focus into your career & have fun then do the responsible thing in your 30's 40's & even 50's. Religion wasnt something I cared about till I started having kids & then it was who's going to take them to church Blah blah blah & then who cared about Religion when I was making money....I couldnt have cared less & that was my sin.
     
  13. Amy.G

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    You are not in the majority. Ask any pastor how many people get saved in their old age.
     
  14. Aaron

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    What is clearly laid out is that God hardened Pharoah's heart. The narrative tells us that Pharoah would have let Israel go several times.
     
  15. Aaron

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    So, you're saying that we can be saved only till we've sinned too much, while there's still something in us good enough to choose God.
     
  16. Amy.G

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    No I'm not Scarlett, but this is public forum. :)

    God "hated" Esau in the same way that Jesus said to "hate" our mother and father and love Him.

    God's choice of Jacob was to be the father of Israel. It did not have anything to do with salvation of his soul.
     
    #16 Amy.G, Feb 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2011
  17. Skandelon

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    Scarlett,

    If someone where to ask you, "Did God love Jacob and hate Esau before either were born?" Ask them what Jesus meant when he taught, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple." and if that contradicts his command to honor your parents and love others as yourself?

    Ask him if God hatred for Esau and love for Jacob might simply reflect God's choice of one for noble purposes (being the head of the nation that brought us Christ), and the other for common use (being the head of Edom)?

    Just in case... ;)
     
  18. quantumfaith

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    :)

    I was speaking of children EWF,,,,,children.
     
  19. Skandelon

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    Nope. I'm saying we are born sinners in need of reconciliation with God, but not hardened and calloused to the revelation of God and thus can respond to His call to be reconciled. Only after one "becomes calloused" are they in the condition where they cannot see, hear, understand and repent.

    As Paul explains: "Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: " 'Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. 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!"

    Notice the word OTHERWISE. It tells you what they COULD do had they not "become calloused."
     
  20. Don

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    And the problem with using this as an example of Calvinistic teachings...is because everyone knows, Pharoah wasn't saved; and letting Israel go wouldn't have saved him either. Instead, God used the opportunity to further show His glory.

    When the subject is salvation, stick to examples that show God prevented someone from salvation.
     
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