The two major shortcomings of Calvinism

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by thisnumbersdisconnected, Feb 17, 2014.

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  1. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    While much of what Calvinism teaches is biblically sound and true according to God's word, there is, I've decided, a major problem with it, and that is the balance it displays – or rather, I should say, a lack of balance. When half the truth is held up for emphasis, without thought or attention to the other half of truth that provides the proper balance, error results. That is where I view today's Calvinists. I say "today's" because such was not always the case. Calvin himself was well aware of the balance required for his views to be theologically sound. Those who espouse Calvinism today are out of balance with Calvin, and the Bible.

    For example, Calvinists emphasize election from eternity past as unconditional. That is absolutely true. But they are careless in providing biblical balance by ignoring what is also true, that salvation in the temporal world is conditional. Only through saving, justifying, regenerating, sanctifying, life-giving union in Christ does salvation come, but that is only God's blessing for those who end their open rebellion against God, humble themselves, and come in genuine, repentant, fully surrendered faith. Calvinists will be quick to point out that such is the gift of God, and that is also true. However, it is just as sound and true biblically that faith is the requirement of God for salvation.

    God is sovereign, as Calvinists often repeat, much as Buddhists repeat unintelligible mantras. But man is also responsible, and that is a sticking point for most of them. They don’t believe man is capable at all, to the point that God must reach into the cesspool of humanity and pull out, like a floundering catfish, the depraved individual He chooses to save today. The Calvinist view is unbalanced, and disregards much of biblical truth, that part of it which inconveniently contradicts what they want to believe. It is not about what we want to believer, but it is about what God reveals about Himself, and His plan for salvation.

    We would anticipate that, if such biblical balance were not the case, we would see this Calvinist half-truth revealed in God’s word. Election would be the only essential of salvation discussed. That is not the case. Throughout Scripture, we read that faith, the Greek pisteuo, a word used in the New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul to adopt, trusting in Jesus as God and believing Him to be able to aid either in obtaining salvation or in doing something that is pivotal to salvation. It is this faith, or it’s lack, that is pivotal by which salvation or destruction are decided.

    Calvinist thought in the modern age would lead one to expect John 3:16 to read: “ … that whoever was not going to perish but was going to have eternal life would believe in Him.” Obviously it does not, but instead says, “ … that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” The subtle difference between those two readings is that, despite God’s absolute sovereignty, there is also the specific implication in the second reading that we are responsible for our belief, not God, as Calvinists would have us believe. Though only God is capable of supplying faith, we are responsible for receiving faith from Him. We are capable of rejecting it, as clearly indicated by “whosoever believes.” Nothing the Calvinist can say will be able to refute that, though they certainly try.

    Throughout Scripture, belief is pivotal to salvation. That is why we preach to men – to implore them to believe. No less than Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a “Calvinist hero,” himself said that very thing. Belief results in justification and forgiveness, it results in reconciliation with God and the life-giving, regenerating indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Belief results in adoption, spiritual rebirth into God’s family, and inheritance of His riches in glory. On the other hand, unbelief results in a man dying in his sins, it results in the wrath of God, it results in eternal destruction. Belief cannot be simply one of the fruits of the Spirit given in some uninvited regenerational indwelling, else it would not have been given such an ostensibly pivotal role in whether a man goes to heaven or to hell. As I said, the invitation that man is responsible for answering comes from God, and man is empowered by God to answer positively. But man can reject both the invitation and the empowerment, leaving him lost in his sins.

    Calvinist imbalance in interpretation of the Scriptures produces two errors. First, it results in an overly supreme view of how God works with men to accomplish His plan. Calvinists portray sinners as being locked behind obstacles to faith that are impossible to overcome, and God is seen as regenerating men without any regard to their own will in the matter. What I’m trying to get you to see is that such a one-sided, transcendent scheme is unnecessary – that there is a more Biblical and more essential way to understand biblical salvation.

    Unbelief is never mere ignorance of the truth but is always rebellion against the God of that truth. That is why the opposite – faith – is so pivotal to understanding how God works. Belief itself never mere mental assent to the truth but must always be a repentant submission to the God of that truth. It is not necessary to an unconditional election that the responses of men be irrelevant. If God implores all men to come, and only saves those who do come, it fits perfectly with election if God is responsible for whether or not a man is ultimately persuaded to come, which He obviously is, as Scripture declares. It is one-sided, unbalanced, half the truth, to believe man is incapable and must be lifted, floundering, out of the stream of sin whether he will accept the “hook” or not. God knows all men completely, and knows exactly how much persuasion would be needed to bring any man to his knees in repentant faith, and God is in charge of all circumstances, including length of life.

    The second error is the unbiblical and hidden assumption of an indifference in God toward the non-elect. Calvinists appear to assume that if God had any desire toward saving the non-elect, then He would have elected them. It is an overly simplistic view of God that fails to consider that the demands of the justice in God’s nature may have required Him to accept what is repugnant to Him, the perishing of so many, for the greater purpose of accomplishing His plan for His glory. They see God can simply doing whatever He wants without giving thought to His first basic characteristic, that of being the embodiment of pure, unconditional love. Their view paints God as capable of going against His own sense of justice, which would be to go against Himself. God cannot, God will not do that. It is impossible for Him. Therefore, the basic tenet of Calvinism is also impossible.

    The fact is that if Adam had not sinned, then all men would have been elect. In order for God’s plan to include the sin of mankind in Adam, it would have to include the tragic results of that sin. Sin must have results, and the sin of the race in Adam has the necessary result of only a remnant being saved in the end, not because God allows the sinful to die, but because they allow themselves to die.

    Ezekiel 33, NASB
    11 "Say to them, 'As I live !' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' “

    2 Peter 3
    9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    The difference between these two views of God is reflected in how God relates to the non-elect. If God is seen as having indifferently passed over so many for election, then He is seen as having little to no compassion toward the non-elect regarding any offer of salvation or any desire for their salvation. But if God is seen as a God who truly loves all, and who did not pass over so many out of any lack of love toward them, but only as a necessary judgment on the race as a whole, then God can indeed have compassion toward the non-elect and can indeed make salvation available in such a way as to make their destruction a matter of their own refusal and not merely a matter of God refusing to offer to save all who would be willing to come.

    Though the thoughts are mine, and most of the words are mine, much inspiration and some copy for this thread comes from the following Internet articles.

    Calvinism critiqued by a former Calvinist
    The Calvinistic TULIP
    A primer on hyper-Calvinism
    Got Questions? Calvinism vs. Arminianism, which view is correct?
    Missing balance in Calvinism
     
    #1 thisnumbersdisconnected, Feb 17, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2014
  2. Inspector Javert

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    Great Post :applause::thumbsup:
    ^^Therein lies the rub.^^
    God's "unconditional love" is one of those imbalances which is actually the crux of why most non-Calvinists deny Calvinism.

    When we try to express that....all a Calvinist hears is us saying:
    "No fair"...."God is LOVE"...."But I thought Jesus was NICE"...blah blah.

    They think that non-Calvinists are simply pot-smoking hippies who simply don't get that "free-love" isn't how God operates. There is a debate right now in the Theology section about what God's greatest virtue is....

    Calvinists maintain that, whatever it is (they'll accept anything).....it isn't "love". IT CAN'T BE!!!

    They will entertain arguments that it is his aseity, his Omipotence, his Omniscience, his Sovereignty......anything.....

    But, they WILL NOT accept, that it is "love." No way, no how.

    I don't know if you were around when this link was being bantered around, but Dr. Jerry Walls said this so ably:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Daomzm3nyIg for a debrief...begin at about 55 mins....

    Walls sums up this divide quite ably.
     
  3. JonC

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    There are issues that I have with both sides of the debate. With Calvinism, it is more in the debate rather than in the doctrine. It does appear to me that some present a narrow view and ignore or alter difficult passages or doctrines that do not support their view (even if it does not negate the position). You provide a good example in John 3:16 (insofar as providing an example of this occurring, see MacArthur’s study notes). Often such passages are interpreted through doctrine rather than allowing scripture to establish doctrine. Perhaps this is a defensive measure…I don’t know. But Calvinism itself is not dependent upon such misrepresentations of Scripture (if you recall, Calvin opposed restricting the word “world” to only the elect in 1 John 2).

    I am not sure about your point with the word “believe.” πιστεύω is also the belief that James notes the demons possess. I doubt that the demons believe, in terms of a faith indicating “conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul to adopt.
    I would suggest that Paul gives a good balance to the topic in Romans 9. The first half of the chapter deals with God’s sovereign election, but the author shifts towards human responsibility towards the last of the chapter and in chapter 10. It is interesting that he does not appear to consider it a tension as we often do. And certainly, the unbalance is not Calvinism, but the understanding of some Calvinists. Paul, after all, was a Calvinist :smilewinkgrin: (sorry, couldn’t help it).

    Your second point is, IMHO, unfounded. It is broad-brushing (something that I am often accused of) the understanding of some Calvinists into an entire theological system. I sense the same imbalance in your assessment here. You say that “the sin of the race in Adam has the necessary result of only a remnant being saved in the end, not because God allows the sinful to die, but because they allow themselves to die.” The conclusion that sinners allow themselves to die, apart from God allowing them to die seems just as unbalanced and unbiblical as God allows them to die apart from their own hand in the matter.
     
  4. prophet

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    Jn 16:2-3
    2 They shall put you out of the synagogues:yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
    3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

    Doth not the blood of righteous Michael Servetus cry out from the ground?

    John Calvin "knew not the Father".
    No one who hath known the Father and the Son, has ever persecuted a dissenting believer to death.

    Calvin has the Salvation testimony of Saul of Tarsus, not of Paul.
     
  5. JonC

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    I am sure that there is a point to your comment…just not sure what it is. There is much to Calvin to distain, and much to his theology that is objectionable. There is much to object in the lives of Whitefield, Luther, Wesley, etc where they do not live up to their reputations. These were men, and they were also products of the world in which they live. Perhaps you should start a thread about the flaws of religious leaders of the past. Anyway, unless I have missed the point about the thread, it was about Calvinism - the doctrines - and not John Calvin himself (your post seems oddly out of place).
     
  6. Reformed

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    The OP is subjective, anecdotal, biased, and without any convincing proof to support its thesis. It attempts to reference Calvin and Spurgeon without quoting either. Two words in the first sentence, "I've decided", say more about the OP than the OP does about Calvinism. The OP is nothing more than an opinion piece, an editorial.

    Which Calvinists are careless? Which Calvinists are unbalanced in their theology? Which Calvinists deny that "faith is the requirement of God for salvation"? Apparently the author of the OP is not acquainted with the Reformed (Calvinist) teaching, "Sola Fide".

    I am a Calvinist preacher and I certainly emphasize the need to believe the Gospel message. The Calvinist pastors and elders I rub shoulders with would use the label "heresy" to describe the belief that sinners are saved solely by election and without justification by faith. The Philippian jailer was told, "Believe in the Lord Jesus,and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). The Calvinist understands that only the elect will exercise faith (belief), but faith must be exercised notwithstanding.

    Hit pieces, whether they come from Calvinists or Arminians, preach only to the choir. They accomplish little else.
     
  7. convicted1

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbs::thumbsup:

    Brother Quant's royalty check will be mailed out June 31st...
     
  8. prophet

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    We are discussing the major problem with Calvinism. My guess is that he was a tare, since he flunked the John 16 test.

    Having been founded by a man who held the truth in unrighteousness , is a major problem, no?

    There is a reason that Calvin's followers aren't allowed to color a picture without Spurgeon, Gill, Calvin, or Mac picking which crayon they use.
     
  9. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Unlike your assessment of it, right? :laugh:
    I never pretended it was anything but a personal critique.
    Exactly. So what?
    I'm more than familiar with it, ascribe to it, and defend it regularly. Your first question is the crux of your paragraph. Who is careless? That was stated in the quote you snipped for your post. Most of the modern Calvinists, if not all of them, hold to a doctrine of election that is unbiblical, and though many deny they would not preach the gospel, allegedly because they don't know who are the "elect" and therefore they must, to be sure none are missed, the view nonetheless holds to an exclusion of man's responsibility, and if you want a Spurgeon quote, here it is, speaking of the concepts of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility:
    Then you shouldn't be. You should be a gospel preacher.
    Then you are exceptions, not the rule.
    Sheesh, and just when I thought maybe you understood election. You don't. Election does not determine who is saved. Election determines who is justified, "conformed to the image of His Son."
    I don't know. This one seems to have raised your hackles some.
     
  10. JonC

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    I see what you are saying, but the answer is “no” – it is in no way a major problem. The “Calvinism” that is debated here is centered around the Doctrines of Grace as presented in Reformed doctrine – not John Calvin. It is a far cry from Calvin’s theological system as a whole.

    Servetus was a condemned heretic by both the Catholics and Protestants. He was tried and sentenced to death by a council. It is true that Calvin’s objection was that he be beheaded rather than burned – but not because he desired a more “merciful” execution but because he wanted him executed as a traitor (burning was for heretics). Calvin was certainly responsible for his persecution and execution. But the question is why? Why did the crime of Servetus warrant death in the minds of the Reformers? When the Reformers broke from the Catholic Church they maintained what some would consider “Romish” doctrine – specifically the union of the Church and state. The civil government was viewed as the arm of the Church. Luther and Zwingli were no different in this regard. To them, “heresy” was not a matter of exercising personal convictions – it was a betrayal of the Church and also a betrayal of the State. Calvin’s argument for execution because of his heretical teachings was a matter of treason – not personal liberty. That does not make the Reformers right – but there is much more to the story than you are considering. It was a different time with a vastly different worldview. It is also a result of Reformed doctrine (the doctrine of the Reformation period) that Calvinists reject. I suppose that no one would object to saying that if his involvement with the execution of Servetus was the sole criteria that proved him unsaved, then he will have many “hero’s of the faith” to keep him company.

    As Baptists we (in general) benefit from the doctrines that Luther brought to light during the Reformation. Do you find it odd that we do not reject justification by faith alone because Martin Luther was instrumental in the deaths of “heretics”? By your assessment, the truth should be repressed because of Luther’s involvement in the death of Christians. I do not see the logic in that assessment. Calvinists are not “followers” of John Calvin – as stated, there is much to Calvin’s teachings that have been rejected.


    I hope that this helps understand why I reject the conclusion that the sins of Calvin are ample cause to reject doctrine simply because they were affirmed by John Calvin. Calvin did not “invent” Reformed theology – his views of God’s sovereignty, predestination, and election were derived from previous interpretation. The scope of the Atonement, of course, was a post-Calvin issue. I would think that you could formulate a better argument against Calvinism by sticking to the doctrines rather than reaching for straws. I hold to a Calvinistic understanding – but there are good arguments against this position.

    BTW, if you are genuinely interested in learning about the Reformation and their view of Christendom, it is a very interesting topic. You will appreciate the reasons behind what occurred during that period in history (as well as the absolute necessity for the Reformers to cling to doctrines we now reject – such as infant baptism).
     
    #10 JonC, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2014
  11. Yeshua1

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    Do we all deserve to be judged and found guilty of being sinners before Holy God?

    can God choose to whom were to have their sins propiated fully by death of jesus?

    can those of us bent away from God actually break our own wills and flesh to come unto him and be saved?

    Doesn't God reuire the sinner to get saved to receive jesus thru faith?

    How is that not being personally responsible to him, as ALL have sinned, and all are judged and comdened rightly by him before salvation?

    isn'r basic problem here is again we would not be giving humanity enough 'credit. free will" in all of this?
     
  12. JonC

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    I don’t think that it is a matter of giving humanity enough “credit." I can understand a “Calvinism” that denies human responsibility existing and causing problems. This is not a figment, but a matter of history. Think of nineteenth century America, for example. “Calvinists” refused to evangelize and refused to engage in missions because this would be usurping the sovereignty of God. These anti-missions Calvinists were, by all definition, Calvinists. But they were in error by the doctrine that they rejected. Other Calvinists, e.g., R.B.C. Howell, took the anti-mission church to task. The problem is that non-Calvinists take a fringe element and applies it to the whole. The problem is that they apply their own definitions and rationale to Calvinism. The problem is that they invent straw-men and never truly understand Calvinism in its own context. The problem is that it goes both ways.
     
  13. Yeshua1

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    that which you quoted was me stating that seems to be the arminian nn cal retort, that we just refuse to allow for man free will, or intentions to come to God ourselves get considered!

    And it does seem that MUCH of the agnst posted here is what hyper Cal hold to, not the more 'traditional" viewpoints!
     
  14. JonC

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    Gotcha :thumbsup: . I agree. The observed “imbalance” in the OP is not inherent to Calvinism – only in the minds of some (regardless of theological disposition).
     
  15. prophet

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    Those others "heroes" of the faith flunk the John 16 test, as well.
    By their fruits, ye shall know them.
    They didn't know Jesus.
     
  16. JonC

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    So you reject justification by faith…it is, for you, a matter of human merit through work (perhaps penance)… because the doctrine was a central teaching of Luther who you confidently state currently resides in Hell (if you believe in a literal Hell, as Calvin certainly taught it to be literal)?

    For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:10)
    This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:22)

    These Reformers did not invent the doctrine that they held. You can continue to condemn these men, as you would many of the OT hero's, but that is not dealing with the OP. The topic is doctrine, not men.
     
    #16 JonC, Feb 18, 2014
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  17. Yeshua1

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    paul seem to hold the view that NONE would EVER get justified before god by works of the flesh, by keeping the law, as sinful fdlesh IMPOSSIBLE to do that on its own merits alone!
     
  18. prophet

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    Jesus said that people who persecute others for believing in Him, do so, because they haven't known Him.

    Jn 16:2-3
    2 They shall put you out of the synagogues:yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
    3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

    Does this not establish cause and effect?
     
  19. Yeshua1

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    we are already saved by God UNTO good works, Not to Good works in order to ahve Him be able to save us!
     
  20. prophet

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    I have no idea how this relates to what i posted.
     
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